Friday, January 30, 2015

Conformation Review: Bobby Magee

Make sure you guys check out this excellent post from Breeches and Boat Shoes about basic conformation. I love the way she breaks it down and explains everything, and of course I had to immediately do the same thing to a picture of Bobby.

Sadly my horse isn't even remotely as cute as Ax--like, not even in the same galaxy as cute--but it was still fun to critique the mule beast...until I got to the head comparison, and then I closed my eyes and drew some lines really quickly.

Fuck, my horse is ugly.

So I bring to you an analysis of Bobby's conformation, and how it either helps or hinders him in the various disciplines we participate in.

Length vs. Height


Bobby is actually pretty balanced from this point of view. I know. I was surprised myself.

Helps: Well, it certainly doesn't do anything for him looks-wise. It helps him feel superior to those that don't fit in a box?

Heartgirth vs. Legs


Bobby's legs are longer than his heartgirth which surprised me. When you look at him, he doesn't have those super model long legs that make him look as tall as he is. They're also as thick as tree trunks. But when you stand next to him, you can appreciate the fact that he's a big boy. I guess tall kids don't always have to have sexy legs.

Helps: I won't give this horse credit for much athleticism, but he's got one fantastic gallop.

Hinders: Sometimes he can't figure out where his legs go, and then the flailing starts.

Topline vs. Underline


His withers are way higher than his croup. They're also exceptionally long. His underline is longer than his topline.

Helps: Nothing.

Hinders: My crotch during bareback riding.

Forequarter vs. Hindquarter

wow, i kept getting better and better at drawing my red box.
fuck you, geometry. 
His forequarters are significantly longer than his hindquarters. He's got that massive Mighty Magee rib cage and a notoriously weak hind end.

Helps: Power around on his forehand.

Hinders: Oh, I don't know. Perhaps this little thing we dabble in occasionally called dressage? Seriously, it's so hard to get this horse sitting on that tiny ass.

Shoulder vs. Back vs. Buttock


Bobby's shoulder is longer than his buttock, and his back is longer than both...combined.

Helps: Let me tell you, when he comes flying into a wide as shit jump and decides to take it from a mile away, the absurd length of his back is definitely an asset.

Hinders: Everything else on the planet.

Head vs. Body


All of these are equal except his heartgirth. Not as embarrassing as I thought it was going to be!

Hinders: Beauty contests.

Buttock vs. Hip vs. Stifle


His stifle to hip is the longest. The other two are about equal.

Helps: Support joint supplement companies and his chiro's yearly income.

Hinders: Collection, engagement, other basic necessities to simple correct self carriage.

Make sure you guys check out Terise's post so you can do some actual learning!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

#chomped

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday of my horse hanging out with other horses at their water trough right after they'd been turned out. I was going to share them as a lazy as hell Wordless Wednesday photo post, and be all "Look! My horse has friends!" because that doesn't ever really happen.

sharing with a friend!

But then I got to the barn today, did the most half-assed grooming ever that basically just involved picking out Bobby's feet and picking up my brush but not actually using it (he's body clipped and heavily blanketed--who needs brushing?), and quickly tacked up in a jump saddle and bridle--no breastplate or neck strap.

So I was surprised when I went to give him a pat on the neck just before getting on and saw this:

#chomped

I poked it and fussed with it for awhile without any reaction from Bobby, so I decided to carry on with my ride. It was fucking cold out first thing this morning, so I was already planning on keeping things super short anyway.

We've done two dressage schools this week, both of which Bobby was really good for. I've set out to be extra positive and rewarding in every ride--like over the top obnoxious in praise. I don't want my horse to hate me. Because that's a real thing with this dude, and he is easy to anger. But good vibes and all that, right? Keep Bobby's ego stoked, and keep me from going slowly insane.

more friends!

Eventually we did have to get back to over fences work though. In an attempt to stop a flail attack before it even happened, all I set up was a single 2'6" vertical with generous ground lines. I made the approach a little shorter from the left--Bobby's good direction-- and did the quickest warm up ever before turning in for the jump.

I told myself to lower my hands and lean back in an active attempt to not fuel Bobby's head in the air silliness which also pulls me forward into the fetal position and then we're all just pissed and potentially dying. Aaaannddd.....he was a total fucking rock star! He didn't change his rhythm a beat and jumped it totally calmly.

YAY!!!!

I circled him once to make sure our canter was still where I wanted it and came around again. Aaaannddd.....same thing!!! I brought him to a halt at the end of the ring, immediately got off, and shoved three cookies down his throat while giving him lots of pats and head scratches.

Two balanced and sane jumps over a not-inches-off-the-ground fence? We're definitely calling that a win at this point.

I treated his bite with a hot compress and slathered some Handy Salve on it afterwards. I've never used the stuff before (I got it from Stephanie in her awesome birthday giveaway package), but it says anti-inflammatory and antiseptic right on it, and it was the only thing in my first aid box that wasn't frozen, so we'll see if it helps at all.

usually alex is all grouchy faces and no bite, but i'm blaming him for the chomp mark.
and also that bobby is the biggest loser in a herd of horses.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WW: Sled Dogs

we learned last year that pig can't be next to anyone because she picks fights.

burton (BM's aussie) was a total rock star this year.
mags went right to work and never did anything wrong.

burton keeping everyone in line as mags tries to visit with her daddy

steaming past BM. these hounds can cruise when they get going!

only the puppy had energy left for the last leg

but she was done once she was unhooked.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TOABH: Worth A Thousand Words


Yay, Beka's Blog Hops! In keeping with my "You will not bring me down anymore than you already have, fucking January" mental mindset, I'm going to take this one seriously and actually post some nice pictures of Bobby.

Yes, that's right. They do exist. Prepare to be blown away.

robert one month after i officially signed his bill of sale

my all time favorite picture of him. one day i'm going to get this made into a paper cut

hunting for jumps and looking too cute doing it

when not throwing tantrums, he's a super dressage pony

and even when throwing tantrums, he has his moments of looking fancy

proof we can be friends

and proof that we can like each other

and finally, proof that bobby can look like a fit and shiny tank of an event horse.
sometimes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Positive Energy

After expressing my Debbie Downer feelings in my last post, I really want to go into the weekend with a positive attitude. Bobby got a dressage ride on Friday that he was pretty much a champion for, and that I followed up with a walk only trail ride (damn you, frozen ground!), in effort to boost his self esteem a little.

Dear Bobby,

You are not always the worst creature on the fucking planet. Just sometimes.

Love,
Your Mom.

"wut?"

I'm such a good motivator.

I also played around with him a lot on Friday, taking extra time with grooming, putting his fancy prancing polos on, and stuffing him full of cookies as I tried to get a shot that could rival Courage's outfit posing. If nothing else, I got a lot of awkward pictures to pad later posts with.

only bobby isn't actually all that cute, and his outfit is kind of shlumpy.

hold on! he can look cute!

On Saturday, after playing with the puppies in the fresh four inches of snow all morning, I went out to the barn and did absolutely nothing productive, which was just what the doctor ordered. I got on Bobby bareback and played in the outdoor. I even got fancy and wrote my name in the snow with my horse. Then I tried to take a picture of it with my ghetto as shit phone and failed completely. But still. It was awesome.

watching the puppies play

Sunday morning we finally returned to jumping, but not in the anxiety producing, WHY DO YOU WANT ME TO GO FAST AND THEN GO SLOW MY BRAIN IS EXPLODING, jumping. I set up an easy grid that Bobby's been through dozens of times before--a bounce, one stride to an oxer. He can get as fast as he wants into it because the bounce forces his feet to slow down and move correctly, and that way he's always set up perfectly for the oxer and I never have to move a muscle.

which means my position stays boss.

Plus the oxer always ends up being massive at the end, and the dude needed to know he still has jumping balls. Bobby loves to jump big jumps. Bobby does not like this being relegated to cross rails bullshit.

We started off with just the bounce set up and the oxer as poles on the ground. I'd set the bounce too wide, so we had to get that adjusted before we could really get going. Once through from each direction, and the oxer went right up to 3'.


No problems, as anticipated. This is an easy peasy gymnastic for Mr Magee. I had Hubby bump it up two holes to 3'6", and even with an audience that stopped by to watch briefly, Bobby stayed focused and cruised right through.


3'6" is about the top of Bobby's comfort level. It requires effort on his part, but he can still jump it easily. He's not the scopiest creature on the planet, and he doesn't usually put much effort into tucking all his body parts up over any fence. But he's a big dude, and his height makes up for his lack of bounce off the ground. So I told Hubby to go ahead and put it up the last two holes to 4'. We've jumped that height a few times in the past without issue, but it's nothing that's ever going to get done on a regular basis.

I gave Bobby a tap on the shoulder just before take off to tell him to make sure he picked up his tootsies all the way, and he hopped right over without hesitation.


And it felt awesome. He can push off when he wants to, and feeling that extra little kick in the air from a horse that's not much for added flair in any part of his movement (Well. Not the good kind of flare anyway.) was fun as hell.

blurry video still from blurry video.
go, pony, go!

And there's helmet cam, but it looks identical to when we did this grid a few weeks ago:


I tried to make a side-by-side, but my computer was all, "I cannot computer right now. Please get back to me later. And by later I mean never."

He was so funny after each fence--he made a beeline directly to Hubby every time, remembering how he got a handful of grain after going through the grid during our last lesson. He got cookies this time, and loads of praise from both of us. He needed his ego stroked, and I needed to feel like I can still jump this fucking horse.

Mission accomplished.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Dutch Hippo

I've gotta be honest--I try to make this blog as tongue in cheek and sarcastic as possible, and I have no problems mocking both myself and my horse because really, #noshame, but lately I've been pretty down about my riding. Sometimes I have a hard time looking back and realizing how far Bobby and I have come. This horse used to flip shit about getting near a ground pole, let alone actually going over it. He couldn't canter a circle of any size. His ability to keep his brain in his head and not go flying backwards over the slightest of problems didn't exist.

Alright. We might still be working on that last one.

It seems like each winter we start off back at square one, when really we're just running into the same problem every year. Bobby hates the repetition of every day drilling in the indoor, and his delicate sensibilities cannot deal. #mindblown if you know what I mean.

Since I've been in such a slump lately, and feeling like I'm working my ass off and gaining no ground, I asked everyone's favorite barn buddy if I could ride her horse. 

team rob and big

You guys have heard me mention Sarah and Memphis lots of times. Usually it's when I post pictures of her falling off or almost falling off. Memphy is a 17yo Dutch Warmblood who used to do the Big Eq. Now he's just fat and puts up with all of our shenanigans, and I love him dearly. He is my horsey equivalent, much like Bobby is Sarah's. Bobby and Sarah are strange creatures that enjoy being athletic while Memph and I would have no problem sitting on the sidelines eating cake together and bemoaning our lack of cardio capabilities. 

"hello, fairy cookie mother. where is the candy?"

I couldn't think of a more enjoyable horse to ride, and one who would give me a boost of confidence over jumps. Since Sarah is out with a knee injury, she was nice enough to let me take him for a spin last night...even though he hadn't been ridden for two weeks. "No problem!" I said. "He doesn't need to be longed! He'll be fine."

I brought him into the indoor and he immediately went on high alert. He got a smack for trying to yank the reins out of my hands and we headed over to the mounting block. I swung my leg over, down went the head, and up went the back as he started bouncing off in baby warning bucks. I didn't even bother with a walk. I just sent him right off into the trot and we bombed around for awhile until the hump in his back disappeared. 

Even when he's being naughty, he is so fancy. He's not as schooled on the flat as Bobby is, but his natural movement is sooo much better than my creaky Thoroughbred's. 

besties. 

I practiced trotting up to a jump first, keeping my legs off of him and sitting chilly just like I'm working on with Robert. Only with Memphis, he actually listened and trotted calmly up to and over the jump. Sarah, BO, and I all cheered and Memphis went right to his mother to get petties for being such a good pony. He even cantered the jump without changing pace once, and while I know his jump training is miles beyond anything I will ever be able to accomplish on Bobby, it was still nice to feel like I was sitting calmly and therefore my horse was jumping calmly. 

See how that works, Bobby? Caaaallllmmmmm.

So thanks for letting me ride your fancy ass saint horse, Sarah, even if he did try as hard as his fat self could to buck me off. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Horse Hubby: Buy Me All the Things!

This is basically the week of Steal All of Lauren's Posts because I have no blogging creativity of my own. I'm okay with that. Something like "imitation is the highest form of flattery", right? That said, after Lauren's Horse Husbands: The Money Talk post, I wanted to delve into how Hubby and I manage our finances with a horse in the equation and only one of us bringing in a paycheck. I don't work. I have super high anxiety about dealing with society. I also have super high anxiety about being in control. So basically I'm like an OCD hermit, which is pretty much my ideal life.

best horse hubby.

When Hubby and I met, I was working at a horse farm that Hubby was renting an apartment from while he was farming. Yada yada, lots of things happened, and eventually I stopped working at said horse farm, moved with Hubby to a different place, and started working for/with him. It basically involved me sitting on any number of tractors for any number of hours a day, and then going home and making dinner out of spaghetti and butter. 

Welcome to farming in upstate NY. It is not a high paying job. 

It's also a seriously fucking miserable job if you're not really all that interested in growing corn. Disclaimer: I'm not really all the interested in growing corn. Eventually Hubby got a job offer down here in PA, we moved, and Hubby started bringing in a twice-monthly paycheck.  

Because of the farming past, a time of my life I wish to never have to repeat or revisit, I feel I'm owed an eternity of Hubby financing my horse hobby. I told Hubby this, and he was basically like, "Well...yeah. That's true."

Not only am I an OCD hermit, but I am also a boss at Jedi mind tricks. 

um, wrong jump, hubby.

So how do we make an expensive hobby like boarding and showing a horse work when it's Hubby 's money that's paying for it? Seems like the perfect time to use some fucking bullet points!
  • Make yourself invaluable. Hubby goes to work every day and brings home the paycheck, but I do everything else. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, grocery shopping, bills, cooking, vacation planning, etc. This is probably the only way this arrangement works for us. If I just sat around and did nothing all day, we'd have some serious issues. But I work hard to hold up my end of the bargain, and all Hubby has to do is come home and eat.
  • Budget everything. With every paycheck, I have a list for how every dollar is going to get spent. This way when I do have a show coming up, I know exactly how I'm going to pay for it without having to worry about whether or not it's taking money out of something else. I'm in charge of the checkbook and making sure bills get paid, but I also sit down with Hubby and show him how his money is getting spent. 
  • No frivolous spending. We don't spend money on pretty much anything extra--if we get a pizza once a month, we're living large. We don't eat out, we don't go drinking with friends, we're not at a movie every weekend. There are plenty of fun things to do for free, and it helps that we both like being outdoors. 
  • Buy cheap things. Pretty sure I'm the only horse blogger that lives by this rule. If I want something fancy, something expensive, I ask for it for my birthday or Christmas. Otherwise I have to buy it out of the regular budget, and that means it had best be cheap. I'm totally okay with this. I don't need big ticket items to ride my horse. A $100 girth or $300 bridle is not going to make me ride better. I don't need a $60 baby pad or a $150 par of open front boots. My tall boots don't need to be custom...or even real leather. 
  • Be smart in picking shows. Until our stadium is improved, there's no reason to renew my USEA membership and go to recognized horse trials. But even without that as a factor, I try to pick the cheapest shows. I only go to one days so I don't have to pay a stabling fee or for a hotel, and in Area II, schooling shows are essentially exactly the same as a recognized show--run over the same course, just not timed. 
  • The horse is not a pet. That's always been Hubby's number one rule when it came to funding the horse: I'm not allowed to have one that I don't use. 
how a horse husband survives the wait between ride times.

Hubby also knows how to ride, and genuinely likes horses, but sometimes I do feel like I'm taking advantage of him when he's been working six days out of the week and on the seventh day I make him wake up at three in the morning to drive me to a show. But Hubby pointed out that there's a light at the end of the horse showing tunnel for him: summer is for my shit, and the fall and winter months are for his shit. Horses go on the back burner, and he gets to spend all his time hunting and trapping. 

Hopefully that comes out as a somewhat cohesive post. It was interrupted halfway through by me having to go murder the puppy for gallivanting off to the neighbor's yard (which is not close) and pretending like she couldn't hear me when I called her. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SMTT Equestrian Scavenger Hunt

I might have taken some liberties with Lauren's idea for an Equestrian Scavenger Hunt, but I feel like I tied my pictures in about as well as some Google search results could. So enjoy the PWS version...and by that I mean be jealous of how photogenic my most majestic of horses is. 

1. The most magical Fresians of all the Fresians.


dark bay coat, long flowing locks, and that patented fresian uphill neck.
totally magical.

2. A 10+ jumper.


10+? more like 100+.

3. A horse we can all call Shenanigans! on


horse jumps coop four times without issue.
fifth time acts like coop is horse-eating monster. 

4. The (best) worst clip job you’ve ever seen
i call this the "nobody panic. my clipper blades are in the mail."
partially finished, fully horrifying body clip.

5. The cutest miniature horse on the planet
robert shows off his bow. barefoot transitioning buddy
joey shows how impressed he is.

6. Bitchiest. Mare. Ever.
that grey ottb mare looking all sweet and innocent is actually satan to geldings.
and bobby is madly in love with her.

7. Funniest horse meme/cartoon
we prefer to just copy other people's genius. 

8. The most matchy McMatcherson outfit
all eventers win at matchy mcmatcherson outfits

9. A most saintly creature
"will work do anything for cookies."

10. The Black Stallion Returns… 2015 style
i feel like majestic horizon posing is just as much a part of the black stallion brand
as rearing. and bobby doesn't rear. it interferes with how fast he can fly backwards. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not Above Bribery

I'm pretty much over January and its smothering, suffocating January-ness. It's like, "Get out of bed? Why? It's fucking January."

"Shave my legs? You don't get that fucking privilege, January."

And of course, "What fucking blog? JANUARY HAS STOLEN MY BLOG'S FUCKING SOUL."

Basically, there is one thing I give a shit about right now, and that is stuffing my fucking face with food. Fuck anyone with January weight loss ambitions. You know what keeps weight off while you compulsively eat one chocolate chip cookie after another? Nervous twitching about this month never. fucking. ending.

let's face it. when a river like the susquehanna freezes over, it's not a good month.

Alright. Have we all gotten enough profanity for the day? Let's move on. I have actually been riding my horse, and I did take a lesson over the weekend. Plus it's been like 35* for the past few days which is pretty much summer, right?

After last Tuesday's lesson, I did a dressage day and another jump day. The dressage day was fine. At least I don't remember any massive explosions or dramatics, so it must have been fine enough. But the jump day? Horrendous. Bobby was back to square one indoor jumping fuck face shenanigans.

Which is really very frustrating because we don't have these issues in the outdoor. Of course we do also have them at shows, so basically being in the indoor is like being at a show--that is, a complete disaster. Needless to say, I was looking forward to getting some more advice on Sunday.

"i heard we were jumping later. just resting up for best results!"

Well. Bad news.

This is what our future jumping competitions are going to look like:

video

I'm not even allowed to ride my horse over fences any longer. I am that incompetent.

Ha, no. Just kidding. But Bobby would probably be down with that arrangement. We started off with sending Bobby through a two stride to one stride grid that eventually went up to all cross rails. Every time he went through, he got a cookie until I ran out of cookies, and then he got a handful of grain. Basically, "Look, Bobby! Jumping is so fun!"

Eventually I got on and we went through the grid again with me holding my neck strap and Hubby standing at the end of the line of jumps with more grain. "Look, Bobby! That crazy bitch is on your back, and jumping is still fun!"

I'm not totally convinced he was convinced. I think he was mostly just exhausted from running around for forty minutes first, but here we are:


And this is what we finished with:


We did a single cross rail a couple of times, and he trotted the turn in and picked up the canter to jump it, but it was a quiet canter. Again, though--he was lathered and blowing hard at that point. Running my horse to exhaustion and still having him pick up the canter when presented to a fence isn't exactly what I'm going for.

So I had mixed feelings about the lesson. The problem is I'm not sure what exercises to do to go about getting what I want, so it's hard for me to go into a lesson and be like, This is what I want to work on today. But isn't that kind of the point of paying someone else? To have them help you fix your problems? This is partly why I stopped with lessons before. I know it's a process, but I don't have unlimited funds to not make at least a modicum of discernible progress with every ride. Maybe I'm just being ridiculous here. Maybe it's just January.

on the plus side, the best trail at the barn has finally been cleared.

I did go back out to the barn yesterday to see what I could do on my own. The barn was packed, but fortunately everyone was finishing their rides instead of starting. I pulled Bobby's mane while I waited for the arena to clear, packed my pockets with peppermints, and then set up two cross rails.

His warm up was tense and stiff, but that might be left over from how hard he was worked the day before. I eventually got him plugging along well enough and started jumping. One of the problems we'd identified in the first lesson was that I lose my balance a bit as Bobby turns in for the fence. To combat that, I sat a little deeper in the turn because just leaning my upper body back wasn't doing it. The scooping seat definitely helped.

If he was quiet enough over the jump, I would halt him immediately afterwards and give him a cookie. He never stayed rhythmic enough to keep a consistent pace all the way to and over the jump, but even when he moved up, it was never rude or rushing. He flung his head up a couple of times, but I have to train myself to drop my hands when he does that instead of playing into it and following his fussy face upwards.

I kept the ride short and cookie filled, and I ended feeling like I had a rideable horse who wasn't going to start having an anxiety attack and fling himself in every direction. And upon reflection, that is what I want as my end goal. Bobby is never, ever, ever going to be a hunter horse. I could care less about that. I want a horse that I have control over, and whose brain remains in his head no matter where we're jumping.

why can't we be friends?
"because i hate you."

It wasn't rocket science getting there. It was staying calm, taking lots of breaks, and probably overdoing the praise. I guess I'll stick with that process until we run into another set back--at which point I'll set up a concise plan to take to BO and have her help me with it. Blindly trusting I'm going to get what I want out of a lesson doesn't work for me.