Thursday, January 30, 2014

When in Nome

Or rather, when you adopt the name Nome for your small Pennsylvania town because it's actually colder down here than in Alaska. Someone please explain that to me. 

My BM and I finally got enough snow (though most of it had blown away by today) and enough time off to take our dogs down to the rodeo grounds for a little time in front of a sled. BM used to live in Alaska and race sprint dogs, so she's been dying to do it, and I've been dying to do it because....well, hello. How bad ass is having a dog team?

in their fancy sled dog harnesses, waiting to head out.

BM's Aussie Burton knows the directional commands, so we were counting on him to be our fearless lead dog, and the brains behind the operation to show my pooches the ropes. Burton was not willing to comply. He was being a little bit lazy and a lot a bit distracted by his best lady friends.

good lead dogs are not supposed to turn around to say hello.

We started off with Burton in the lead and Darcy and Pig hooked up as wheel dogs. BM had me run behind the sled as she jogged alongside yelling out commands. Burton got us moving, but pretty much ignored the rest.

good team!
(they'd just gotten cookies which is why they look so alert.)

We played around a lot with the order they were tied in. Burton was definitely happiest as wheel dog (the one that does the most pulling), but my dogs were pretty much clueless about what they were supposed to be doing up front. I could get them to hike up, but I had no control over where they were going. There was a lot of stopping to manually turn the sled the direction we wanted.

burton and pig head out

Pig and Burton did alright, but Pig kept turning around to try to fight Darcy which distracted poor Burton and everyone ended up tangled. Darcy did great wherever she was put, whoever she was put with. I think she'd make a great lead dog once she learns the commands. She was very sensible about the entire thing, even refusing to rise to Pig's baiting.

little dogs in the lead!

We were out for almost an hour, so poor Burton was pretty pooped by the time we wrapped up. But we finished with him pulling up to the cars and keeping everything taut, so he got his cookies for a job well done.

everyone wanted to be a wheel dog today.

Unfortunately, it's supposed to warm up (okay, fortunately) so our snow will probably melt, but if we keep enough on the ground, we're definitely going out again. In the meantime, the hounds will be working on their "gee" and "haw".

Monday, January 27, 2014


I already feel like an asshole for writing this post, but at least it's prefaced by several years worth of "Don't try this at home. No, really. Don't." posts.

Plus, I feel like I have never once led you guys into thinking I make good decisions. Am I right? Of course I'm right.


I really like making page breaks.

So anyway, I had a really awful ride Sunday morning, and it was entirely my fault. Move along; nothing new to see here! I brought Hubby along to do our last set of 2'6" jumping of the month. He was my jump crew, and the blog's video crew. However, your videos are going to be limited because my computer is being the biggest bitch on the planet--like even more of a bitch than Justin Beiber--and I don't feel like cropping out ten minutes of air time as we trot around in circles before the three seconds of me going over a jump.

But I can give you some blurry video stills!

i've lost so much weight since i bought my breeches,
the crotch sags like i've got something to hide.
The problem was my bad decision making right from the start. I put the bridle on Bobby to jump. I don't know why. Maybe from the laziness of switching out reins again. Maybe I just wanted to be able to jump my coming-9yo who's been in training for nearly four years with a bit in his mouth over small fences. Whatever the reason, it wasn't a very good one. Bobby puts up with a lot of my mistakes, though he's no fucking saint, so the least I can do is let him have his one demand: No jumping with a bit.

He actually didn't start off too bad. He had his head llama-ed in the air, and if I squeeze my fingers he'll drop it, but I didn't. Don't ask me why. As such, he came hopping around a turn unfocused and hollowed out and charged the jumps just like olden days.

I stuck with it for awhile. I wasn't snatching his face. I wasn't getting left behind. And dang did my leg feel solid for once. But slowly Bobby started to get more and more upset.

Now I could try to blame it on the weather. It was cold. But it wasn't any colder than it has been, and it wasn't so cold as to cause discomfort while working. Regardless, I took lots of walk breaks between jumps to make sure he wasn't working so hard that he was having to breathe heavily.

I can try to blame his fitness. He's nowhere where he needs to be to competing, but he's certainly fit enough to jump around three 2'6" fences off-and-on for thirty minutes.

He just did not want to play the game if he had to do it with a bit in his mouth. He probably thought he'd already firmly established that this summer, but no. Not when I own you! And honestly I don't even think it was anything I was doing at that point. It was just that he remembers that bit = snatching, and fuck it all if Bobby doesn't hold a grudge for life.

Instead of just writing off the day and being done, I was going to make a point, dammit! This horse can jump around these jumps at a mostly consistent pace no matter what's on his face, or I'm going to hook him to the back of an Amish buggy and send him on his way.

Obviously that didn't go well. I had Hubby drop the oxer to an X and we practiced trotting up to it and over it--something even Bobby can do without throwing a tantrum.

Um, wrong.

He came around the turn and went bolting up to the jump. I pulled the e-brake and stopped him right before the fence. He was not going to pull that bullshit over a 2' cross rail. Well, that just solidified in Bobby's mind that jumping with a bit means he gets his face ripped off. So we kept doing it over and over and over. Bobby bolts, I yank, and then kick him over the jump, he bolts again, I yank again.

Eventually, we got some sort of control at the trot, but he still cantered the last two strides:

I should have just left it at that since I was actually doing any real schooling at this point. We were just fighting. But, no. Of course I didn't!

"Okay, Bobby. You can sort of trot that. Let's go ahead and try cantering it."

Bolt, yank, jump, bolt, yank.

"Okay, Hubby. Make that X ground poles, please."

Bolt, yank, jump, bolt.

He ran me right into the gate despite me pony club kicking him and my spur dug into his side. And then he shut down. He parked his feet and no amount of kicking or turning his head was going to get him mobile again. I took off my belt (No, I didn't beat him with it, guys. Jesus.) and buckled it around his neck. I looped my reins, grabbed my new neck strap, and had Hubby lead us off at the walk. We walked all the way around to the ground pole, walked over it without dramatics, I forced myself to give him a pat and a "Good boy", and I immediately dismounted.

I know I only have myself to blame for all of this, but this horse is just so fucking dramatic. His ability to blow things out of proportion is frustrating beyond belief. I need a horse that can take a joke once in awhile, not one that goes on mental lock down.

I went back to the barn today and gave him a beast of a grooming that he didn't need and three massive apples as an apology. But I also set an ultimatum: If we can't figure it out this season, he's getting sold. I'm wasting my time otherwise.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oh, hey. It's cold here, too.

I've thrown out my personal rule of not riding when it's below 20*. If I stuck to that, I wouldn't be riding for the foreseeable future, and I wouldn't have been able to ride at all last week. This cold winter weather is horse shit. FROZEN horse shit. I remember the first year we moved down here from upstate New York, and there was one day of 0* all winter long. We were like, "LOLZ, silly Pennsylvanians. You don't even know what winter is!"

Do you know how excited everyone was today when it reached twenty?? That's like t-shirt weather at this point!

I rode on Thursday when it was 5*, but it felt like a warm 5* (Is that a real thing?). It wasn't windy, it wasn't damp, and the sun was shining. I set out a set of four trot poles, and Bobby and I spent fifteen minutes walking on the bit and looking lovely, albeit really bored. We did some trotting, went over the poles a few times each way, did one lap of counter canter each way, and called it quits. It was all of twenty five--thirty minutes of mounted work.

waiting for me to put poles away.

Friday, it was all the way up to 15*! I took Bobby back to the indoor and promptly almost fell off.

At the halt.

I was opening the mirrors from horseback and didn't have Bobby close enough to latch the windows back without leaning over his shoulder.....way over his shoulder. So over his shoulder that even though he was standing like a rock, not even turning his head back to try to figure out what in fuck's sake I was doing, I lost my right stirrup and almost rolled right off of him. I managed to climb back upright, re-positioned the ever patient Mr Magee, and hooked the windows.

It was not a high point in my riding career.

 We did a bit more cantering yesterday since it was warmer, but I made sure to give him lots of walk breaks.  He was a raving lunatic the entire time, and I spent most of our trot working holding him back from the canter.

this horse would nap every hour of every day if he could.

I was out really early this morning to try to beat the snow we're supposed to be getting. Only right now it's partly sunny and definitely not snowing. Oh, well. I'm not complaining about clear roads and a driveway I don't have to shovel!

I switched him over to his Micklem since the last time I rode was when I had jumped on Monday in the hackamore, and I didn't feel like putting forth the not-so-enormous effort of switching out reins. I have another pair of rubber reins--which is all I like riding in--but they're really long, and I don't like them.

BO gave me the reward for "the most stalwart rider" this winter. Of course, if my horse was already fit and in full work, he'd be enjoying weeks off at a time, too. But he's had ten bajillion days off already, and he can't keep slipping out of work. That hind end needs all the work it can get, even if it is just walking.

Bobby started off right away lighter than a cloud of floating butterflies made of glitter and sprinkles. He was so forward and soft and lovely at all three gaits as we warmed up. Then I parked him in the middle of the arena to pick up frozen poop in one corner of the arena that was like riding through a minefield, and it was driving me nuts. When I got back on, he was resistant and grouchy, but lots and lots of walking softened him up again.

Of course, once I got him softened, we went back to the middle of the arena to wait for two of the lesson girls to canter and work on flying changes. I tagged on and cantered with the third girl (who was riding Adorable Pony, zomg). Bobby was a star cantering, including producing a perfect flying change himself from R-L. L-R he went bronco-ing sideways because he's not strong enough for that way yet, and no ride is complete without some theatrics. We finished with some really fab sitting trot and a little bit of lateral work.

His schedule still isn't what I want it to be. Like, I still haven't been able to do a second conditioning day because I don't want to do forty minutes of hard work in barely above single digit weather. However, he is starting to look a touch more fit:

left: 12/18/13.
right: 1/25/14

He's got a long way to go still.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

14 Photo Challenge

Better late than never, right? Much thanks to Sarah at Eventing in Color for this one. Check out her blog for the rules (and for adorable Hemie updates).

1. My horse's stall:
bag of carrots: located.

2. Favorite saddle pad:
a gift from my BM!

3. Barn dogs:
BO's poodle Baboo, and BM's Aussie Burton--my favorite dog on the planet.

4. Favorite area to ride:
the indoor, the outdoor, the cross country field, the trails--i love it all!

 5. Between the ears trail ride shot:

6. The bottom of my horse's foot:

7. The hay stack:
the hay stall in bobby's part of the barn.
hay is thrown down from the loft above every few days.

8. My favorite grooming thing:

9. My horse's best friend:
bobby thinks everyone is his best friend, but he spends the most time with memphis.

10. A snapshot from my commute to the barn:
showing PA's ineptitude at clearing the roads two days after it had last snowed.

11. Between the ears at a random location:

12. The cutest part of my barn:
oh my god. the cuteness. it slays me.

13. Favorite piece of tack:
my ecogold half pad, which i no longer need for my saddle.
i'm glad my saddle fits without it, but it hurts my soul not to play with it every ride.

14. Selfie with my horse:
while doing his toes. he is a helper.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WW: Let's Do Trot Sets

Five minutes trot, set one:


Two minutes canter, set one:



Five minutes trot, set two:



Two minute canter, set two:



Five minutes trot, set three:


Two minutes canter, set three:



Five minutes trot, set four:




Two minutes canter, set four:



Cool out time:


Monday, January 20, 2014

Between the ears

I bring to you..........


Which you think should be exciting and interesting and yayohmygodhelmetcam, but quite frankly it's a horrible tease. It's only helmet cam footage of me jumping around the indoor. So you think you should be getting something really fabulous, but you're only getting let down.

And I was going to make an analogy for that, only my mind instantly went somewhere dirty, and I didn't think such sexual innuendos were appropriate for a horse blog. Kind of like how sometimes those horse breeding videos pop up on the sidebar of youtube, and you're like, "The fuck?! Put that penis away!"

This is going nowhere.

Here's the video:

Those were the last jumps of the ride.

I started Bobby off with just the cross rail up of the triple combination and poles for the other two jumps coming in from the opposite direction than that of the video. Holy cow, he was a maniac! As soon as he turned in, it was like a race against his imaginary friend on who could make it through the grid the fastest.

Oh p.s. BOBBY WON.

After blowing through it a few times, I made him halt between the two strides, back, and then trot the pole to the X. That did nothing for future turns. I finally just put the middle jump up to 2' and tried that. Yeah, no. Still cray cray. So I put the middle jump up to 2'6" which is as high as the holes in the standards went (Note to self: ask J to bring down the better standards from the outdoor.) thinking that the bigger height would back him off some. Yeah, no. So I put the last fence up to a 2' vertical since it was such a tight turn and I didn't want it any bigger and came in tracking right. A little better, but still rushing.

Whyyyyyy, Bobby Magee? Why must you flail? The jumps were so small that he was literally taking all of them in a canter stride instead of actually jumping them, but come on, bro! We can't jump through a 3'6" grid in our tiny indoor. You've gotta have a little respect for what's in front of you. Do I think he'll be better when the jumps can get bigger in the outdoor? Tentatively, yes. But we're working in the indoor, so behave yourself!

On a positive note, we were both quite lovely over the single vertical with the barrel. It probably had something to do with me just letting him rip around the arena. That's Bobby's style of jumping, and it suits him well. But it's not good for indoor jumping. And we're doing indoor jumping. So cooperate with indoor jumping rules, tool bag.

conserving energy for under saddle shenanigans. 

And in other news, I was showing off his bow to the girl I was riding with and he ate the peppermint wrapper. That will, uh, pass right through, right?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An offering. No, not a giveaway, you greedy kids!

Bringing a horse back into work is a drag. Fitness work in winter is a drag. There's a fine line of pushing for "Do Work.", but not crossing over to "Oh, shit. I just broke you." It's also an exceptionally boring line, but I somehow managed not to lose anyone over the three months I transitioned Bobby to barefoot, so I'm going to try to make you guys not abandon dear old Poor Woman Showing during this time of trotting and longeing.

Bobby has been doing a lot of this:

his tail is getting so long.

I longe him before every ride without side reins, and if I'm riding english, he also gets a spin in side reins. The other day he also got longed over some trot poles which made him very happy.

I have been trying to break up the boredom of slow work with some time on barrels. Sometimes Bobby seems to like it--sometimes it just makes him a little nutty. However, the rides are short which is something I'm aiming for with every ride at this point, and he's working on stepping underneath himself with his hind legs. Win-win.

I did get some video of the ever-impressive barrel racing Thoroughbred the other day. Alright, so maybe this particular Thoroughbred is not so impressive, especially when he's squeezed into a small indoor--something that doesn't lend itself to a dull barrel pattern--but watching his massive body gallumping around traffic cones is still fun.

His worse direction:

His better direction:

I didn't ask for a flying change between the first two barrels since he's not quite strong enough to do one in such a cramped space yet (or probably ever--that's like three strides!), and it makes him spaz, so he bumbles through, but it kept him relaxed so it doesn't bother me.

He had a solid flat school this morning and has earned a day off tomorrow. Monday conditioning day? Jumping day? One of the two.

Oh, and my offering was videos. Ha, let dooooownnnnn.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Barn Blog Hop

I'm hoarding media from the past two for the weekend on the chance that I don't do anything exciting then. Okay, let's face it: I won't be doing anything exciting. In the meantime, I'm finally jumping on the blog hop bandwagon.

My barn isn't anything fancy--it's actually pretty old and kind of ugly--but it has every amenity Sir Robert and I need and the care is great.

1. View of the barn:

the bank barn was the original structure--BO has added on a lot since she bought it.
her house is in the background to the left.

the aisle when you first walk in, complete with a friendly dutch hippo greeter.
the feed room is straight back behind the gate the the left.

the courtyard where seven stalls are, and three more stalls are in the overhang. 

from the courtyard through here to the main barn

the main barn. bobby's stall is to the right where his giant head is.
the tack room is straight back behind the sliding door.

2. My horse's living space:

12'x14' stall that he's in from 7am-2pm

the uncle jimmy's hanging ball is still alive!
he ignores the giant salt block which is why it's covered in shavings.

he prefers his fancy hanging himalayan salt block.

3. View of the tackroom:

there's a school horse tack room, but all the boarders get their own locker.
i also have a tack trunk in the carriage house with my "keep at the barn, but not in my locker" excess.

4. View of where we ride:

the outdoor and round pen.
the xcountry field goes up the hill in the paddock to the left in the distance.

the indoor

5. My favorite feature:

the turnout situation at this barn is amazing. the run-ins are huge, and
there's so much pasture space things don't get muddy.
this is the front half of bobby's paddock. it continues behind the fence at the top.

Aaand I don't know how to do fancy script or whatevs, so you don't get the fancy link to everyone else on the bottom. Sorry.