Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Equinpilot CPEAP Trivia Contest

Nicole is currently hosting an excellent contest to raise awareness for the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program. Check out all the details on her blog to participate yourself, and be sure to further explore CPEAP's program yourself while looking for trivia answers. I've really enjoyed reading her stories from working with them herself.

The way her contest works is to answer her four trivia questions from the program's website. So here goes:

1. When was the Caisson Platoon Equine Assisted Program started? May 2006.

2. What are at least three benefits of equine assisted therapy? Improves center of balance, improves self confidence, and improves mental and emotional outlook.

3. Students complete lesson reviews twice each lesson which helps record the therapeutic effects. 

4. This picture shows an important facet of the program. What is it?

soldiers helping soldiers

Bonus: Recently arena letters were purchased for the program. Why did fence letters work better than letters on cones? For riders that struggle with balance issues, looking down at cones is harder than looking at the fenceline for letters. 

Make sure to check out not just the contest, but all of CPEAP's  website as well!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Burgundy Hollow HT - N

As my last show of the season, I was expecting a lot of good things.

First and foremost, I was expecting us to win and nothing else was going to be acceptable. Why? Because our local t.v. channels never show Ravens games, and for once they actually were. I warned Bobby that anything less than a blue ribbon was unacceptable, and if I was going to have to miss watching my favorite team play only to lose at this show, he was going to the Amish. 

Spoiler: For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, you saw that we did not get a blue ribbon. So Bobby is now in a pasture with a bunch of skinny dairy cows where we dumped him on the way home. 

Another spoiler: Not really.

Dressage

We got to the show a couple of hours before dressage because we had so little time between dressage and jumping that I wasn't going to be able to walk my course then like I usually do. The parking area was insane with lots of people parking their cars next to trailers instead of in front of them which obviously took up an entire parking space for people with horses. Way to be dicks, people. We finally managed to squeeze our way in right next to the rope around the course, and then spent the next hour watching horses slam on the breaks or refuse to get near the table we were parked next to. 


I mention this because Robert was also watching the action, and he was totally pumped he was at a show where he would get to do his favorite kind of jumping. When I tacked him up, he clocked me in the back of the head with his own giant dome while swinging it around to watch a horse freak out about the jump behind us. He went prancing off to the warm up where he was equally pumped to be right next to the horses going through the water complex which is inconveniently placed directly next to dressage warm up.


Bobby was a hot, tense mess for the entire warm up. He was yanking on me and completely blowing through my half halts. I went in with thirty minutes to warm up and literally trotted nonstop the entire time. He just would not relax. He was way too busy focusing on the horses on cross country to do anything like bend (and I tried lateral work and counter bending all over the place), or slow down (though I got a small response to halt halts right before we went in), or fucking stop pulling

"what is this dressage you speak of? JUMP ALL THE THINGS!"

Needless to say when we went into the ring I knew it wasn't going to be much of a test. Bobby wasn't remotely soft and while he didn't go zooming around and was pretty obedient, this was going to be a high scoring test for us. 


We ended up with a 37.4 which is number three on his worst dressage scores ever list (Why, yes. I do keep track. Is that OCD? No, of course not.), but still managed to put us in fifth.  

Stadium

I got Bobby sponged down and settled back into his hay after dressage and promptly doubled over and fought back vomit. I'd been drinking Gatorade like crazy all morning, but sitting in the sun and riding in the unexpected heat just hit me like a fucking wrecking ball (Thanks, Miley.). I was shaking and barfy, and combined with being a little nervous for stadium anyway I wasn't sure I wanted to go through with the rest of the show. 


But after sitting in the shade and sipping water, I tacked up last minute feeling a little better. Last show of the year, bitches! It had to be done! 

Bobby was a little behind my leg warming up over fences, but I kept at it and finished only when I felt him go forward to the jump. I got in line with one person to go in front of me, and as I turned around to make a circle outside the ring, the steward blew the whistle for the other horse to start and Bobby went shooting forward, leaping into the air while simultaneously spinning back around to face the ring. Awesome. This was going to go great.


We finally got into the ring for our turn and Bobby was on fire. However, his on fire was not really what I had in mind. He was so hot/excited/tense/fucking retarded that he just bounced around in place with his face in mine while I dug my spurs into his sides and clung to my grab strap trying to get him to just go forward


Obviously that did not make for a pretty round. There was much deer leaping and flailing, and at one point he jumped a 3' vertical from completely underneath the fence without so much as rubbing the rail. Obviously I also let out a swear word at that point. However, Bobby may be a complete asshole at times, but he does not like touching wood and we finished clear. He was very proud of himself. I was just glad it was over. 

Cross country

The rider behind me walked down to the start box with us and asked how long it'd been since Bobby had come off the track. I was like, "....four years. You know, not four days." Fortunately she was also on a hot OTTB who was coming over from the jumpers and was doing her first event and was able to commiserate. 

The first four fences were pretty straight forward. No problems over one and two, the weird terrain on three shifted Bobby a little too far left and I almost took out the flag with my foot, and four he must have thought too closely resembled a stadium fence and got a little hoppy to it. 


Then there was the dreaded fence five where the Starter and BN riders had been running into so much trouble (including a few falls). It was a long, slightly downhill run to a wide table decorated with hay. You had to balance back for the terrain, but still ride forward to get a good jump to the big fence. I felt Bobby suck back several strides away as he took a good look at what was apparently the most terrifying hay in existence, but I closed my leg and gave us some vocal encouragement (because what would a course be unless I was obnoxiously blathering to myself the whole time?) and he galloped right over it. Good pony!!


Right as we were about to cross the road, the jump judge held up her hand and called out something to me. I thought for a second there was a car coming, but once I got closer I heard her say "Hold". I pulled Bobby up and was told the rider in front of me had a fall and had to get a ride off course in the ambulance. She ended up okay, but must have been shaken up pretty badly. We walked around for a little over five minutes before we were cleared to go again. 


Fortunately, the next jump was a pretty straight forward hay feeder that we went right over, then down and around to the ditch that Bobby spent a long time looking at as if he wasn't quite sure he was willing to put in the effort to actually jump it or just canter on through it. Like, I'm glad he's not afraid of ditches, but I do wish he'd show them a little more respect. He decided at the last second he could put in a modicum of effort and lift his feet over it. 


Easy peasy for the next several fences. I was just trying to get Bobby's front end up and maintain some control, but there wasn't anything I was really worried about. He was locked on to the double barn combination and we didn't have another stupid run out there this time. I tried to haul him back to a trot approaching the water since the downhill entrance to it caused him to balk at it earlier this year, but he was having none of it (listening to me, that is). He decided to show me his bravery by leaping into it instead. Thanks, bro.


Last jump was another simple coop and we were clear! That's how you finish out the season!


Bobby got stuffed full of cookies back at the trailer. He may be one of the naughtiest horses in the world, but he is one brave cross country pony and he really does love his job. We ended up finishing on our dressage score and moving up to third place overall. He got a giant bag of cookies with our ribbon, but he refused to eat them so they went to his buddy Memphis instead. 



Now that we're done with shows for a good long while, Bobby gets a mental vacation and will only be hacked around on trails for awhile. I can't let him sit or his butt will fall off. Prepare yourselves for boring posts, is what I'm trying to say. 

Wait, what's that? I almost forgot something?

BUH-BAM. HELMET CAM:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Real time

First of all, thank you for all the condolences about Baby K's passing. They made me cry, but I appreciate that you guys totally get the sense of loss. It's been tough.

I had another post queued, but I didn't really like it all that much so I scrapped it and figured, what the fuck. I'll just do a real post about what Bobby and I have been doing this week to prepare for our final show of the season. It will be "brief" and heavy on the media. Fave!

(As a quick aside, if you never get another post from me again it's because the snap peas I'm cooking have combusted and blown up the entire fucking house. Why are they popping so loudly?!)

Sunday

I finally went out to the barn this past Sunday. My barn mates put up with a lot of intermittent blubbering on my part before I even got my horse out which was nice of them. I had planned on doing a dressage ride, but the weekday BM showed up and asked if I wanted to go on a trail ride with her an a couple other riders. Um, yes! Way better than dressage!

those are some photogenic horses right there.

BM had gotten permission to ride on land across the road which opened up tons of trails for us. Finally! Just in time for bow season to start! Oh, well. At least we can go out on Sundays.

perfect gallop stretch

Monday

I finally put in my dressage school on Monday. Bobby was lovely as long as he was going long and low. He wanted no part of doing actual work. I let him get away with it for most of the ride, but did manage to run through our dressage test once. I might have done a little more work after that, but the infamous "I have no concept of spacial awareness or sharing the arena" came in and immediately stuck her horse on the longe in the middle of the ring as I was finishing my last canter circle...also in the middle of the ring.

I mean, really.

Tuesday

After my dressage ride the previous day, I dragged out all the standards, poles, and fill in the outdoor that had been put in the corners for J to drag the ring and set up a legit course. Bending lines, related distances, placing poles, yada yada. It took me close to an hour to complete since I was starting from scratch and when I was done I was pumped to ride it first thing the next morning.

I got to the barn, got Bobby tacked up, grabbed another horse that needed to get turned out in the paddock by the outdoor, and headed up. There I discovered one of the barn girls had dismantled my entire course to set up three barrels to play with her young horse she almost never rides. I was seething. I turned out Dollar and marched back down to the barn to hand BM his halter.

Turns out, BM had told the girl I was planning on jumping and she pulled the course down anyway. I was mature about it. I didn't punch anyone. Instead I reorganized my weekly schedule and moved my conditioning day up.

following the pig dog up a hill

Pig, Bobby, and I headed across the road to our newly opened trails and did some trot and canter sets. It was a beautiful day for it and both the pony and puppy were perfectly behaved. Still. I was puh-retty annoyed I was going to have to set all those jumps up again.

pig skipped most of the conditioning work to stalk gopher holes, but she did do a little bit.

Wednesday

I went to the barn early to help BM do stalls so we could go down to the fair to watch the harness races with BO. That was a blast as BM used to train and drive trotters so she was able to explain everything to me (Why are the overchecks so tight? What is that pole for? Do they all wear hobbles? Why are their manes so long? My knowledge of harness racing is limited.), and I got an extra serving of greasy, sugary fair food which is never a bad thing.

i loved this trotter. he looked like a big happy puppy,
even as he was putting distance between himself and the rest of the field. 

I ran home to let Pig out for a frolic before heading back to the barn to reset my course. Hubby was nice enough to stop in on his way home from work and grab a couple of pictures and video for me as I was finishing up.


Bobby did great, but more importantly I did great! I was seeing every distance--even if I could see it wasn't going to be a perfect one, I saw the long or short and was able to prepare--and I was thinking constantly. Yeah, pretty much never happens.

We didn't do a full course, just jumped most of them as singles and did two combinations. I'm planning on doing an intense schooling tomorrow.


For the bending line, the first time I came through it Bobby was too quiet (WHAT.) and he rolled the first pole out and chipped in an extra stride in the line. I knew I had to keep him packaged to make the short turn to the first jump, but then I had to land and leg him on to get the forward five. And I did!

Miracle!!!


Thursday

Which finally brings us to today. I got Bobby outfitted in draw reins (Oh, the horrors. I've discussed my choice to use them when I feel it's necessary ad nauseam on this blog, but feel free to bitch if it makes you feel better.) and did a brief flat ride in the indoor to avoid the rain. The draw reins remained loose and unused until people started arriving for a lesson and stood around talking just out of sight from the arena. Then they were activated, and I was very thankful to have them to keep Pea Brain's attention on me and continuing with the good work instead of instigating a fight about being an asshole/hollow-backed llama.

See? Perfect situation for their use.

Jump school tomorrow, show prep Saturday, and show on Sunday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FMNM Blog Hop: If Bobby had a theme song...

...he'd actually have at least three.

For when the ladies are in sight:


For when he comes off a jump course double clear:


And for when we're struggling through a dressage test:


You want a better leg yield? You better work, bitch.

Thanks for the blog hop, Alyssa at Four Mares, No Money!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wrecked

Friday morning Darcy was hit by a car in front of our house and killed. Obviously we are devastated and having a very hard time coping with this. Look for queued content for the rest of this week, and enjoy some puppy spam in the meantime.

first day home

playing in the hay field

with her bunny

no stick is too big to chew on

cow dogs don't always herd cows

Thursday, September 18, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop: Why do you do what you do?

Love this blog hop from Jenn at Stories from the Saddle! The question is why you ride in your specific discipline.

For those of you that have been reading my blog for any amount of time, or for anyone adept at looking to your right and reading show recaps from the sidebar, you know that I am not a single discipline sort of person.

We show dressage:

#winning

We event:

oh, god, we are all going to die.

And we are very serious gamers:

legit competitors.

So I guess for my blog hop, it's more like "Why do you do all things sort of well, instead of focusing on one thing and doing it really well?"

Answer: Because that is boring as shit.

I started off with Bobby wanting him to be my big event horse. Eventing was something I had just started to explore with Red when Bobby officially joined us down here in PA; I didn't think Red had the brains for cross country, and I knew he didn't have the willing attitude for a decent dressage test. Bobby was (and is, when cooperating) pretty fancy on the flat, and he had that long, rangy look of an event horse.

lowest dressage score everrr.

We started there. But while flat rides and jumps are all well and good, trail riding is even more fun. So we did a lot of trail riding between events. Then we did straight dressage shows to get more ribbons feedback. When my barn told me about the open show at the rodeo every year, I rediscovered my love for a good western saddle and taught Bobby to barrel race.

look at that happy gaming horse face!

However, you can't go to a gaming show just to barrel race. Obviously I had to teach him poles and keyhole while I was at it.

we take things very seriously.
clearly.

It turned out that not only is doing all the things way more fun....Bobby is actually really good at everything I've tortured him with so far. He has yet to show up to a show of any discipline and not come away with a ribbon, or in the case of gaming where you don't always get ribbons (WHAT. I KNOW.), at the very least a top time in one of the events.

not being remotely spooky really helps matters

We'll continue our cross discipline tour because I can't imagine something sparking my interest so intensely that I'd be willing to give up all the other fun things we do. Also, I think Bobby would implode if he had to do the same thing day in and day out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Oh, boo hoo

Monday I rode a dressage horse. He was quiet and soft and cooperative. He was ridden in the indoor.

happy horse slobbers

Tuesday I didn't ride.

Today I rode a plow horse. A really fucking poorly trained plow horse. One prone to tantrums, unable to steer, and one that is really good at yanking your arms out. He was ridden in the outdoor.

Getting Bobby's brain switched over to flat work in the outdoor--where we primarily jump--has always been a struggle for me. I'm not talking just this summer. It's like every fucking year we have to revisit this. He goes blowing through my outside leg on circles, he doesn't think he can go in a straight line off the rail, and according to him if he's not lengthening his stride, then he shouldn't be doing anything.

So it was actually like riding a really strong plow horse that hasn't been taught the basic fundamentals of steering off your seat and leg, doesn't know what a half halt is, trots like a pogo stick, and flings his head about when asked to bend.

Welcome to riding Bobby. Aren't you all so jealous that I get to be his "partner"?

post ride plow horse slobbers--the kind where you fling it all over your face.

We did eventually come to an agreement, and we were able to end with him trotting around rhythmically on a loose rein stretched out and relaxed, but what a fucking mess getting to that point. Sometimes I just want to beat him, but I'm trying to get calm here.

Just. Stay. Calm.

Also, I am so annoyed with this mother fucking right front hoof. The deep sulcus thrush is almost entirely gone. It's looking awesome. But now the side of his frog is all rotted again.

UHSJHFKJHKJNAKNDEKJH!!!!11!!

left front: awesome frog!
right front: squishy, smelly, fuck you frog.

The whole right front just makes me a little homicidal. This is how I feel about it:

i hate you!!

Basically this was just a pointless post where I whine about how my horse is schizophrenic and I hate his feet.

To make it worth reading, I need some advice. I know horse people love nothing more than doling out their opinion on things, but sadly for you this is fairly tame. Tell me about the fit of this figure eight:

yay or nay?

That's all I've got. It's been a slow few days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Product Review: SOTM spur straps

It's a day off for Robert, so what better time to do a product review on something sparkly? I think I've proven to be pretty inept at product reviews thus far, but I keep on doing them anyway. You're welcome.

Awhile ago I won a pair of custom spur straps created by Spur of the Moment on etsy from Stacey at Behind the Bit. Stacey got in contact with me right away to get my information and confirm which stone style I wanted. A day later, the owner of SOTM also emailed me to confirm again.

i chose number 32, but they're all fabulous.

Then I honestly kind of forgot about it. A couple weeks later, Sasha (the owner/creator) emailed me again to let me know she'd been busy showing, and that she'd be getting my order out as soon as she could. I ended it receiving it in another week or two.

Now, being the winner of a contest and getting the item completely for free, I didn't feel like I should be bothering anyone for a faster shipping date. I don't know if Sasha would have expedited the process if I'd asked, but I will say she was very prompt when I won, and I appreciated her giving me an update on her own accord on why I hadn't received the spur straps yet. That said, I also can't say if my shipping time was the norm or not.

Now for the actual product review!

at our last dressage show

The spur straps are black leather and are 18" long. The leather quality is alright. It's a little stiff, but it doesn't look cheap, and with more rides they'll probably soften up.

The decoration is also just alright. Pretty, yes, but certainly not the highest quality. The prongs that hold the stones on look a little suspect, and the embellishments around the stones are simply painted a matching blue over some also painted on gold.

The decoration is held onto the strap by a clear fishing line looking material. It's thick, and I'm actually less worried about that breaking than the stones falling off. You don't notice the line at all unless looking at it up close.

close up for details
 
At $30 a set, I'd probably buy these for a friend as a gift. If I wasn't as poor and/or cheap as I am, I'd also probably buy a pair for myself to switch up for shows. I love the extra bling on my boots and I've gotten several compliments on them so far. They're pretty yet subtle--two things I love--but I'm not sure how they'd hold up to every day schooling.

just ignore my sad dropped boot. the shiny!!

 If you're interested in a pair, check them out here!