Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Goals

Usually I smush my goal wrap up into the year in review wrap up, but since Robert and I did so much shit this year I'm smushing it into the new year's goals.

And fuck you, blogger. "Smush" is a fucking word.

So let's revisit 2014's goals.

Performance Goals

1. Diversify! Cross that bad boy off. We went to more gaming shows than we did dressage shows, and we did horse trials while were at it. Plus I broke out the cart a couple times this year just for funsies.

2. Dressage it. Two championships, one reserve champion, and one high point award at First Level in three dressage shows this year. Done and done.

3. The Big T. Noooo, we failed at this one again. I just couldn't get my shit together for stadium, and my amigo wasn't much of a help. We would have aced the dressage though, and Novice cross country fences looked like a snooze all year, so that at least is a win.

Personal Goals

1. Monthly Goals. Nailed it. Every month like scheduled clock work. Not only are these great filler for when I'm feeling lazy and have nothing to write at the beginning of the month, but they're also fun, and force me to pick things to work on that month instead of just aimlessly doing whatever.

2. Barefoot Education. Yeah, my horse is kind of a walking advertisement for barefoot trimming by yours truly. No bigs, no bigs.

barefoot hops like a boss.

I was dreading looking back on this year's goals because I knew I hadn't met that Training goal, and so I assumed I'd failed at everything else as well. But that was the only thing we didn't do, and I'm not even upset about it. I just wish, you know, that we didn't suck so very fucking badly at stadium is all.

On to 2015, bitches!

Performance Goal

1. Year of the jumping. Dudes, it's got to be done. No diversifying this time around. 2015 is going to be about getting around as many jump courses away from home as humanly check bookingly possible. We're going to have to dabble in hunters. We're probably going to get lost in jumpers. But if it pays off for eventing, it will be worth it.

Personal Goal

1. Zen and the Art of KEEP CALM AND LEG ON. (Bonus if you got that reference.) My only goal for myself is to not feed the crazies in my head. I want calm, cool, and collected jumping rounds. Focus, Carly. Focus.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year in Review, Pt. II

Round two of the 2014 year wrap up. This is the first year blogging that I had to split the year into two parts. We kind of did a lot shows. We kind of are awesome. (Syntax? What's that?)

July was our scheduled break month, but I still planned on going to the local rodeo for their fun night with the barn. The rodeo grounds are maybe three miles from the barn, so this was about as low stress a "show" as it gets. We worked most of the month on barrels and some keyhole, and despite torrential rain the whole morning leading up to the show, the footing was perfect by the time we went in. Bobby ran his fastest keyhole time ever and just missed the top six out of masses of people. He was his typical lopey, dopey self going in for barrels though, and sine I'd taken my spurs off we weren't competitive in the slightest. I finished off the month by going on vacation with the in-laws which is never a good time. When I came back, Bobby was lame.

hanging out at the gate waiting to go in for keyhole

The start of August had me dealing with Bobby's stifle wanting to lock up. A lot of walking trail rides and walking rides period kept him limber enough, but I finally hauled him up to the chiro for a serious fix. We determined that all the barrel work and a possible pasture incident combined for one very, very roughed up hind end. Fortunately she was able to get him all sorted out and we were back in business for the next show. We also celebrated one whole year of Bobby being barefoot!

At the end of the month we went down to Delaware for the DVCTA HT. The terrain for dressage warm up was a little ridiculous and we had to deal with slippery early morning grass, but Bobby still put in a respectable dressage test. Then we ran into my nemesis: mother fucking stadium. I bombed it, and decided to retire after crashing into the fourth fence. We still ran cross country though, and finally put in a clear, easy round.

slip sliding away

Two weeks later we were back in Williamsport for the first show of September and our third dressage show of the year. Bobby was perhaps not on his best behavior, and pretty much refused to leg yield, but we still managed to win the first two tests and place second in the third which got us another Champion for First Level. Yay for local schooling shows? Yes, yay. I love ribbons.

The last show of the year was back at Burgundy Hollow. Bobby was a hot mess for dressage. With cross country running literally right beside the dressage rings, he had zero attention span for the flat work. We scored our third worst score ever at 37.4 and started the day off down in fifth place. Stadium was my patented cluster fuck, but Bobby doesn't like touching poles no matter how much he's hopping around in place and we were clear. Cross country was a breeze, and we finished the day by moving all the way up to second.

clearing the horse-eating hay

Want to check out the full list of this year's show achievements in one consolidated post? Then click here.

October was our designated vacation month where Bobby still actually got ridden. We did tons of walking and trotting around our cross country field's hills to keep Bobby's hind end engaged, but no real work happened. 
November somehow turned into jump month, and we spent most of our rides doing crazy jumper courses at low height, and normal courses with some bigger heights. It was good for the jumping, but not so good for the dressaging.

So in December I kick started the dressage work in earnest, and Bobby decided that a low, loose neck was something he could offer for the first time in his life. Aside from that, we dealt with the usual end of year dressage one day, jump the next, be bored all the time.

all the ribbons

So overall a waaaaaay better year than last year. Having a sound horse was obviously key, but letting go of the pressure of moving up to Training on such a structured schedule was also a big help. One of these days years I'll get out of my head and ride a respectable stadium round. Then we'll be able to do really fun things. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year in Review, Pt. I

'Tis the week of goals here at ol' PWS! I put off doing my year in review nonsense fabulousness and next year's goals until I could combine them with January's monthly goals. That way they're all together and my organizationally obsessed mind will be super happy.

So brace yourselves. Four whole posts on nothing but recaps and ever-elusive goals. Let the madness begin.

there's always madness when this mule face shows up.

The year started off with Bobby doping around not doing much more than general fitness stuff as he started back into full work after several months of doing nothing thanks to his barefoot transition. I had the chiro out mid-January to do an adjustment on him and to work on any issues that might have come up while he adjusted to having new feet, and the new body that went with them.

By the time February rolled around, Bobby and I were not jiving. He was having serious attitude problems, and for most of the month I only did ground work with him. I set the standard that if he didn't get his shit together, and our show season didn't go like I wanted it to because he was once again throwing random, unnecessary tantrums, this year was going to be the last I tried to make our relationship work. He was going to be sold otherwise.

However, all the ground work did seem to help, and by March I was back to riding him regularly. I was able to participate in a jumping clinic with Samantha St Jacques. Nothing earth shattering happened, but overall it was a really great reminder of the basics, and of things I knew, but needed to be told again.

SSJ clinic

In April, with a dressage show first up on the horizon, we mostly worked on the flat. At the back of my mind though was this constant anxiety that the show schedule I had so thoroughly thought out for the season was too much pressure. So I scratched it in favor of picking shows month by month and only doing what I thought sounded fun. Bobby had a Lyme flare up at the end of the month, and he got a week off right before our first two shows of the season.

Our barn show was the first of four shows in May. We just competed in the gaming events and a trail class because the very next day we were going to our first dressage show of the year. The dressage show was the definition of a cluster fuck thanks to a complete lack of organization. It was our debut at First Level and Bobby got two 60%s and a 63% under a judge that literally was not even watching us for some of the tests. We ended up with two seconds and a first for Champion.

WRC dressage

At the end of the month we made our yearly eventing debut at Burgundy Hollow. Bobby had another week or so off thanks to an abscess, but in true Bobby form it didn't hamper us much. His dressage was so-so, scoring a 33 and putting us in second. He was his typical nut job self in stadium, and we picked up four faults when I circled him too close to a jump because I had no control. Out on cross country, he turned on the auto pilot and coasted around with zero issues until the very last fence on course--the second half of a combination that I didn't bother, you know, steering to and he calmly ran out. We ended up in fifth.

Three days later I learned of a gaming show an hour away and decided I really wanted to do it. Being spring, Hubby wouldn't be able to get off work to go with me, so I made my very first solo trailering trip and managed not to kill anyone. Yay, I'm a grown up! Despite his first time running the pattern, Bobby got a sixth in poles to start the evening. He followed that up with a fourth in keyhole and a sixth in barrels against some legit western ponies.

being pros at plantation

We kept the show train rolling into June and headed down to Plantation. Bobby picked up our lowest dressage score to date of 22.6. We had one of our most controlled, rideable stadium rounds ever, but still knocked a single rail--which wasn't bad since almost every other horse was pulling rails, too. The cross country looked terrifying, but Bobby cruised around without issue until he took random offense to a jump into the water and picked up two stops. Naughty pony. That pushed us out of second place into well out of the ribbons. But it didn't matter because afterwards we got to hang out with Alli and Niamh!

blogger meet up!

The next weekend we went to another last minute gaming show where we did the usual three events and added on handy horse. Bobby only picked up a sixth for handy horse, but he still ran his fastest keyhole to date. He was done with life by the time the packed show got around to barrels, and I was done with everything when we had to wait around for two more hours trying to get a horse onto the trailer.

western ponies also have to do ponying duty

The last show of the month was another dressage show. We were running super late due to road construction and traffic, and I had approximately ten minutes to tack up and warm up--which was made even better when there wasn't actually anywhere to warm up. Bobby was pretty much a mess for all the three tests, especially since we ended up doing all of them back to back, but his first, second, and third places earned us Reserve Champion, and his 66% for 1-2 was High Point for the show. Unfortunately Bobby also came home covered in bug bites that he had a massive allergic reaction to that earned him a vet visit, Dex, and several days off.

We were ready for a serious break from the non-stop showing at that point!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

TBT: Merry Christmas from Robert

Because sometimes you have to shove a snowball into your horse's sheath so he stops being inappropriate in his Christmas pictures.



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Viva Carlos's December 10 questions

1. What horse size do you prefer to ride? I used to be totally in love with smaller, catty horses. But now that I'm eventing and the jumps are getting bigger and more solid, I really love that a tall horse makes things look smaller when you're on their back.

giant bobby, tiny red pony. 

2. Do you school in tall boots or half chaps and paddock boots? I flat in paddock boots and half chaps, and I jump in tall boots so that I can slather them in Leather Grip.

3. What do you do with your ribbons after shows? Hang them on my wall like a fucking child and revel in their prettiness. Because if I have to pay $200-300 a show, I damn well want to look at a fifty cent ribbon any time I want.

4. Do you ride/board at a large show barn or a small private barn? A small show barn where I am the only eventer, and one of...oh, two? people that aren't in BO's lesson program. Way to ostracize yourself, let me tell you.

red pony shows the general equine feeling towards bobby.
bobby shows his patented response to ponies that don't like him. 

5. Have you ever seen a horse give birth? Yes. I had to pay three years worth of tuition for it too and call it a class. Worth it? No. But then tiny babies of any sort don't really do it for me.

6. What is your favorite breed? Yay, Thoroughbreds!

7. Favorite tack brand? Yay, anything I can afford!

8 . Would you ever buy used tack? Bitch, please. Would I ever eat an entire package of oreos in one sitting? That's pretty much what you're asking. And obviously the answer is a resounding yes.

9. Ever been on a carriage ride? My horse gives carriage rides--or prissy cart rides. But I have been on several real carriage rides with real carriage horses, and none of them looked like they were being abused.

10. How often do you go to the tack store? Once or twice a year. My tack store is really far from my house, really expensive, and run by people that make me feel like I have "Poor Woman Showing" tattooed on my fucking face. I just shop online.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TOABH: Shining Star


I finally feel like I can participate in one of Beka's blog hops! The last two were equally great topics, and I loved reading everyone else's responses, but I felt that Bobby's story has been rehashed so many times on this blog that I just couldn't do it again. But I can do a little "new" material for this bad boy.

From Beka:

Let's talk about the biggest achievements your horse has accomplished.  I'm not talking about you as a rider - I want to know what your ponykins has done to make you proud.  Is there a glorious satin collection, did he/she figure out some dressage movement that took months to learn, or are is it just a great day when your butt stays in the saddle?  It's not all about shows or the things that people see.

first day in harness.

We all know by this point that poor Bobby does pretty much everything I can think up for him. He puts up with a lot of shit, but one of the things I think is the absolute coolest about him is his driving ability. 

I've always wanted to drive my horses because driving is fucking awesome. I never got the chance to try with any of my other dudes thanks to a lack of cart, but my BO is actually pretty into driving herself. She taught me the basics on a bomb proof driving pony, and between her and BM we dug through her things and found a fully working set of tack for Robert. 

second day in harness, first day dragging something.

Bobby was already a pro at ground driving thanks to our collective college education, and he raced and trained in blinkers so the closed bridle was no big deal for him. After getting him outfitted, I ground drove him all over the first day. 

On the second day he pulled a tire and was backed into the cart for the first time.

second day, first time meeting the cart.

On the third day I made a deal with my BM to help her with chores if she'd help me get him going with the cart. BM has a long history with harness horses and breaking horses to drive in general so I knew we were in good hands. 

Bobby was a bit of a mule the first few days BM drove him (I led them around), but BM let nothing faze her and by the end of the week Bobby had learned to lean into the harness and pull, and he was trotting with BM fully in the cart. 

Exactly one week from the first time Bobby had ever worn a harness, I climbed in for our first solo adventure. Bobby didn't put a foot wrong and plodded along like a totally broke cart horse. 

first solo trip!

I don't drive him much because the cart is too small for him, but he can go six months to a year without so much as seeing a cart and get hitched right back up without having to revisit anything. So while I'm not big on waxing poetic about my horse, he is pretty fucking awesome sometimes. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bullet Points

I've missed several bloggable days due to Friday and the weekend, and those are days I don't like to blog on. And really there wasn't anything so exciting happening that I thought I was doing a disservice to those who hang off of my every word about my lug headed mule, especially since those people do not actually exist.

So in the spirit of getting caught up quickly without putting more than the barest amount of work into multiple recaps, I'll sum all that jazz up in bullet points. Because I love them.

  • On Thursday I set up some jumps in the indoor--a one stride, an oxer, and a vertical. 
    • Bobby was a complete pig and didn't want to listen to me whatsoever. He started off casually coming to a stop at the oxer. Since I was looking down and not really committed, I let him get away with it. Then he did it again with my leg on and a dricing seat. That I didn't let him get away with. He got his booty over the third time.
    • He then changed his modus operandi to flinging himself over everything as quickly as he could, so I set out the retard poles for him, and he eventually blundered his way over through them often enough that he started to pay attention to his fucking feet and back off. 
    • I have four helmet cam videos of the ride that perfectly encapsulate what any given ride on Bobby is like, narrated with lots of profanity by yours truly. 
2'3" vertical on a circle L

2'3" vertical on circle R

2'6" oxer

one stride

  • On Thursday I also captured this picture of him with spit all over his giant head:
keeping it classy

  • On Friday we did a brief dressage school in the indoor. 
    • His canter work to the right was much better to the left which was surprising since it's usually the opposite. His left lead is feeling very stuck the past couple of times, like he's cantering in place. I ask him to step out and go more forward, but he doesn't want to get round and then is just bouncing around faster. He does better with lots of transitions though.
    • We worked through Training A to finish the day, revisiting each transition until it was perfect. The test is pretty sloppy in one continuous run through right now, and I feel like I'm going to have to reteach him his trot lengthenings.  
    • I also did his feet!
i don't think that RF will ever not make me fucking crazy


  • On Saturday we went up to the outdoor--finally! The footing was great, and right when we got started Hubby pulled in on his way home so we got some pictures. 
    • Bobby walked out of his stall with massive amounts of slobber and drool coming out of the right side of his mouth which was a little alarming. I cleaned it up, and BM, J, and I all dug around in his mouth but saw nothing. I offered him a peppermint that he ate without trouble, so I figured I'd throw the hackamore on him and see how he went. My only guess could be something that was in his hay as he most definitely was not choking (my first concern), there was no smell, and he didn't have anything bleeding, swollen, or stuck anywhere in his mouth. 
    • Despite being distracted by literally everything on the planet and spooking at every inanimate object he could find, he didn't seem to be in any sort of distress. Naked Bobby on a cold day in the outdoor is fun. Who am I kidding? Bobby is always a tool up there.
    • I also felt like I was reaching for my stirrups so bad. I don't know if someone rode in my fucking saddle the day before which they better fucking not have or I will end them, or maybe my legs were just so cold they didn't want to stretch like they usually do, but it was not fun.
"zomg, there are horses in the indoor! i can see them!!!!"

"you may think i'm listening, but i'm about to spook at that barrel."

and then you just have to give in and laugh at him.

    • His canter both directions was...less than ideal. Horses were being led back out to the paddock next to the arena and there were a ton of people walking around the driveway to and from the barn to the indoor. Cantering involved a lot of this:

having a flail.

  • On Sunday I did nada.
magsie moo is one giant baby.

  • On Monday I made two exercises with his helper poles: three trot poles to an X, and a 2'6" vertical with a pole at 9' on either side. 
    • He started off fine with the trot pole exercise. It's one we've done lots of times, so that was no surprise. After a few times through, I circled him at the end and came over the vertical. Fine to the right, so we moved on to the left. Fine the first two times, then he did a dirty stop. He got spanked, represented, and went over.
    • And then things went to shit. I brought him back to the trot poles and he wanted to canter through them. So I kept yanking on him to slow him back down which made him want to throw his head and canter even more. We finally got that sorted out and went back to the vertical...or tried to. He wouldn't go near it because he knew I would pull on him.
    • At that point was I was violently cursing the indoor because it turns me into a raging, bitchy, neurotic, tense, spaz over fences. WITHOUT FAIL, EVERY YEAR. I dropped the vertical to an X so it didn't become "a thing" in either one of our heads, looped my reins, and rode my well trained dressage horse off my seat. Of course he went just fine after that. 
    • In conclusion, stop stealing my fucking soul, indoor!

And now we enter another round of in-law "family time". You're well taken care of though. I've got lots of filler waiting in the sidelines.

content for weeks!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Secret Santa Gift!

I got my blogging Secret Santa in the mail today.

...and no, I didn't take any cute, artsy pictures of the package in various stages of opening because as soon as the tape was cut, I saw caramels and caramels only.

Obviously that means my Secret Santa was Jen!

After I'd eaten one caramel and was working on putting another in my mouth, I moved on to the other item in the box which was what I had not so subtly asked for: a Mango Bay belt in purple so I could hang with all you cool kids that have one (or ten).

trying to be all bloggery mcposerson

The design Jen chose was perfection and the belt itself is awesome--except for the fact that I had to get Hubby to show me how to use the loopy buckle things. But don't hold that against belt design. Hold that against me being blonde. (And no, I do not have red hair, so help me god I will punch you in the vagina if you suggest that.)

trying to convey my emotions to the puppy who is trying to eat the cat who is
trying to climb the tree. 

Jen told me I had to blog the fuck about my impressions of the belt, but I am fucking horrible about product reviews. However, I do love me some fucking bullet points.

So.

The belt is:
  • Nice, thick canvas.
  • The purple is the perfect shade of purple if you're me.
  • It fits easily around my less than ideal waist shape.
  • Even idiots can figure out how to fasten it if they have a non-idiot to help them the first time.
  • Pretty design. Yay, ponies.
  • Fits perfectly in my thin belt loops.

trying for dramatic belt posing. because i'm trying to make that a real thing.

See? The worst at product reviews. But I appreciate the gift and the added bonus of some delicious as fuck caramels. Thanks again, Jen!!

trying to snuggle an upside fat cat without throwing out my back. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Remedial

I'm having a lot of fun reading about fellow bloggers working hard on collection, and changes, and lateral work, and for once I'm not totally jealous Bobby isn't performing at the same level. I've actually taken the beast back to basics this month. Since he spent all of October essentially being a trail horse, and all of November being a jumper, we lost quite a bit of finesse in the ole dressage ring.

However, when I came back from Illinois, Bobby had magically had half a brain transplant and decided stretching was a thing he could maybe sort of do sometimes. And that is ten million times better than what we had before. So we started back on the flat with a bit of an edge over previous breaks, and not fighting with a tense, overly sensitive child prone to tantrums has allowed me to explore a whole world full of new options that most people get to experience with their just-backed three year olds.

i parked bobby in the driveway and went storming through the barn to fetch one
very naughty puppy who was due for a CTJ about listening. yay for a horse that ground
ties wherever whenever.

Since we can now start the ride off with some legitimate long and low work that Bobby offers all on his own, I can focus on maintaining a rhythm though half halts and keeping a proper bend. The half halts also serve to get Bobby stepping under himself a little more which just makes him all the more round and soft.

He usually starts to get a little short and tight in his neck after a couple of changes of directions at the trot. There's a cure for that, too! Now I can ask him to halt and back up every time this happens, but I don't have to worry he'll take massive offense to being corrected and just go flying across the ring like a bat shit crazy asshole.

Half a brain transplant. I tell ya.

i love a freshly clipped horse, even if it's a long and awkward looking horse.
god, he's so ugly unphotogenic. 

He's even allowing me to work on his canter. I've been bemoaning how strung out and choppy it's gotten. During my last ride, I was like, "Well, hello, Self. You can fix his trot through transitions and rein backs. Why should the canter be any different?" And Self was like, "You are so right."

So we did canter to halt to back to walk to canter (because a rein back right into an acceptable dressage canter is not yet in Bobby's list of skills) and voila! I had a nice round horse--even to the right! He started off curling under a bit, but I shortened my reins a hair and lifted my hands and he lifted his poll up with them.

Being more connected and using his body so much more effectively has also really helped with this lateral work. I feel like I'm working harder, too, but he's tons more expressive in his gaits.

"someone put toys on my wreath!"

I know a lot of people find dressage boring as shit, but I love it. I love being able to control every inch of my horse and have him work so fluidly and easily. Fancy prancing, ftw!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Too Cute Tuesday: "I brought Christmas!"

Which is exactly what I said when I walked into the barn with all my left over Christmas decorating shit. And I also said, "It's been too long since you've been dressed up in fucking awesome outfits, Bobby!" He walked over to the stall door and gave me his half-assed filly nicker in greeting, so I added, "This will be a million times better than the Think Pink photos! You don't even know how much fun this will be!"

Also, I know "TCT" is not a thing (yet), and that there is nothing too cute about my horse, but I'll include a picture of Memphis to make it legit.

christmas hippo!

After sorting through my sad pile of scraps, BM pointed out the massive wreath of BO's that they had yet to hang above the barn and went to go get it. It's built around a metal frame that we obviously didn't want to hang from a pony's neck, so we dug out a collar and settled it on that instead. 

Then it was time for the decorating to begin.

sarah has been feeling left out of the blog lately. so here she is "fixing" my fucked
up christmas tree. clearly she failed. way to let the team down, sarah!

BM helped me drape the wrapping paper and tuck in an old tree skirt as a butt doily. Sarah affixed a bow on Robert's nose, I tucked the Santa hat into his bridle, and away we went.

"durh, how do i look?"

fucking awesome is how you look, bobby!

We tried everything we could to get Bobby to put his ears up and pose. But we all know my horse is broken, and his posing is pretty much the biggest FAIL ever. 

the puppies were more than happy to pose for the rattling sugar cube box.
bobby not so much.
"wut?"

We finally decided it was more Bobby-esque anyway with his ears flopped over sideways.

pretty much sums him up on a daily basis. 

But we did manage to get a couple with sort of forward ears and a sort of less than vacant expression. 

i envy you all your pretty horses. 
but i win at having the most tolerant creature on the planet.

Then we posed for a family picture.

note memphy checking us out in the background, waiting his turn. 

And one more of Memph because he needs some props for also putting up with us:

daww, that tongue. i can't even. 

I'd shoved Bobby off to the side while we decked out Memphis, and he kept himself busy by eating the corn stalks BO had put up for fall decorations. He was not pleased when Sarah tried to get him to stop eating them so he could carry the collar back up.

delish
after a hearty game of tug of war.
and right back at it.

We have the best ponies ever.