Wednesday, June 24, 2015

JFDI

It's been hard getting into the groove to want to blog this week, and when it starts to feel like a job, I quit. Because there are few things in life I hate more than working.

Ha, no. Just kidding.

.............

No I'm not.

bobby gets me.

I've been riding the heart broken train with the rest of the equestrian blog-o-sphere because I love Lauren like a hunter princess turned jumper princess but still my go-to hunter guru sister, and I've been dealing with plenty of heavy shit in my own life lately. It's piling up, but I'm dealing with it mostly through stress eating which I can get away with because then I stress all the calories away.

Seriously, there are no better diets out there than being a fucking neurotic mess literally one hundred percent of the time.

i also take selfies with my dog because she's my only friend.

Before I dive into riding recaps (preview: failure), I want to acknowledge the amazing secretary for the Genesee Valley Hunt HT this weekend. This is my first multi-day show, and I'm doing day one solo, so I've taken it upon myself to just go full on crazy bitch and freak the fuck out about everything.

I've been like, "Madame Secretary, please hold my hand and pat my head and tell me all will be well and also how to get to the fucking new dressage area because help."

And Madame Secretary has responded with, "Sure thing, demented girl. All will be well. Remain zen. I will help you in all the ways."

tried using phone for video. did not excel.

When I last left off, I think we'd just finished with a totally amazing jump school where Robert was very good. After that....we did another dressage school or two, jumped with Hubby there to document, and jumped again.

Flatting was good. I still need to make a conscious effort to not collapse my core and lift my fucking hands up more, but I pushed Bobby for his best, and he delivered. There might have been brief moments of sass, but the good outweighed the bad. I'm feeling ready to drop our last dressage score by a lot Saturday.

As for our documented jump school? Here, let this one picture sum it up for you:


I set up a diamond with two strides between each jump. The two strides were fine. The mother fucking approaches to the first jump--no matter which one it was--were the bomb dot com. And by that I mean they blew serious....

Well, I'm not sure how much I want to start making phallic jokes on a horse blog. That seems slightly inappropriate.


I persevered for awhile, but nothing I was doing was making any difference. The take off was just a hot mess.

Then Bobby started playing his favorite game: I have boots on, yes I do. I have boots on, watch me crash through everything I touch because I have boots on. Listen bro. I want to fucking accessorize. I want to put my fucking purple duct tape on something, so learn to pick your damn feet up regardless of what your outfit is.

lolz, SMASH.
can't touch this.
oh, wait. YES HE CAN.

I finally quit and had Hubby drop everything to poles. Which we walked. And then trotted. But never cantered. Because he could barely find a distance to the pole.


Bobby got a day off, did some fancy prancing, and then we addressed the Appropriate Distance for Take Off, So Help Me God problem. Obviously this involved placement poles. A lot of them. And a one stride for more poles no such thing as too many poles.

Bobby came through the first time like a fucking kamikaze pilot. Then he realized poles. I slipped my reins and let him figured out his feet on his own. There was much crashing and smashing, but when we came through the next time, and the times after that, someone took stock of what the fuck was going on and behaved like a gentleman.

To finish on a fun note, we figure eight-ed over this thing:


Because if there's one thing Bobby's good at, it's skinnies.

and looking super smart.

Then I got off and tried once again to figure out what the shit is going on with his RF. I do not understand its random swelling. It's not hot, it's not squishy, it's not painful. It's just stocked up looking around his ankle, and only when it feels like it. I thought it might be an abscess, and then I briefly freaked the fuck out that he was foundering, but no. His feet are icy cold and not tender.

Whatever, Bobby's leg. One more push for the show this weekend, and then you get some time off.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flat to Fences

It's no secret that good flat work transfers over to good jump work. It gets preached at to everyone ever all the time. So it's no surprise that when jumping Bobby today, the same issues I've been working through during our dressage schools cropped up--namely losing control of the shoulders through lack of straightness.

barn cat life is tough

Warming up, I tired out my legs early by really working on making Bobby go correctly. I'm totally guilty of copping out on good flat work when getting ready to jump, but the falling in while trotting was a little too much for even my lazy ass. Fortunately, my brain is easily inspired by pretty, fancy, shiny things, and feeling Bobby start to straighten out and step under himself while tracking up like a grown up pony kept me entertained and focused.

At the canter I had him gallop forward and then come back without curling under. I shortened my reins up a bit more and had my hands further up his neck, but overall it wasn't too difficult. I think a lot of the curling/diving down comes from the tension of being in a show atmosphere. Never a bad thing to practice either way.

oh, those ears, robert.

Our jumping exercise for the day was one hundred percent for my own benefit. I set up two 3' verticals next to each other in the middle of the ring. Today was "roll back without fucking pulling over the jump, dammit" practice.

no.
stop it.


Bobby was pretty much just along for the ride. The dude did no wrong over jumps today. He was forward but quiet, he waited to the base, and he cantered calmly off waiting for direction. After almost two weeks off from jumping and several days of doing nothing, I was super proud of him.

After doing each jump a few times by itself off of each lead, I commenced roll back procedure--simplified down to: DO NOT PULL IN THE AIR.

Or: ONE STRIDE STRAIGHT AFTER LANDING.

Basically my goal was to stop anticipating the turn and wait until we were done getting over the fucking jump before making a lovely, swooping half circle around to the other jump. We're not jumpers. We're eventers. We're not gunning for a tight time at this point in our lives. Calm is good. So is not pulling down the rail because you're pulling on your horse's face in midair. Just saying.

bobby "ran away" while i went to get his fly spray.
you rebel, you.

Being in the proper mindset to use my usually scattered to the wind brain, I was able to dominate that exercise pretty quickly and easily. The only problem I ran into was controlling Bobby's shoulder to keep him straight on approach to the jump. We had a bit of the old right drift creep up a few times. Straight shoulders for life, yo.

Since I hadn't been on for very long as everything was going pretty swimmingly for once, I decided to finish off with working on a figure eight through the middle of the ring by taking the jumps at an angle. Bobby's a rock star at angled jumps, so that wrapped up before too long.

We finished the ride by cantering through the lake in the outdoor a few times just for giggles.


Hopefully I can drag Hubby out this weekend since we won't be at a show. I need some new around the barn media!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Feeties

Look what arrived at my door yesterday!

ooh. ahh.

Finally equipped with a hoof stand again, I went out to the barn to tackle Bobby's feet for reals. And sweat like a dirty whore. This state is the worst. It's all, "Oh? You don't like inches and inches of rain every day? Fine. I'll just make it ten bajillion degrees out instead. Happy?"

No, New York. I'm not happy. You fucking suck.

But anyway, Bobby. I'd been out the previous days to scrape the layer of mud off of him and feed him cookies while he took his three day vaca. Getting his feet done was the last step to going back to work.

the cleanest day. also admire how he can make himself look like he's starving when he's not
being allowed to eat grass. those are fake ribs, you cow.

Without further ado....

The fronts:


The LF is fine. That's my good child. It doesn't ever give me any problems. If all of Bobby's hooves were as kind to me as the LF, I'd be one happy horse bitch. But then there's the RF which has always been a total cluster fuck. Not just for me, but for every farrier that's ever touched Bobby.

At this point, it almost actually looks like it wants to turn into a club foot. I just....don't even know. I don't know what to do with it. If the heel isn't contracted and low, then it looks contracted and too high. If the toe isn't a mile too long, splitting, and flared out, it's looks like this instead.

My last farrier said there's probably something fucked up going on inside structurally, and I'm inclined to agree. However, this is a sound on rocks and gravel horse. He jumps cross country without ever taking a mincing step. He trail rides over anything with a big, swinging stride. I'm loathe to fuck around too much with what his foot wants to naturally do when he isn't lame or even uncomfortable.

Now the bitches:


The most obvious thing that stands out is the big ass honking flares on the outside. Those stay. I've taken them off before and made Bobby very angry. They're ugly as shit, they make me cringe every time I lift his feet, but they're a part of the sound barefoot horse picture. Unfortunately.

Bobby's hind feet drive me as crazy as his entire hind end. It's only fitting that they look a hot mess. He's got loose stifles, mile long pasterns, and is embarrassingly cow hocked. Massive flares and a tendency to adopt the bull nose look fits right in.

I plan on taking off even more toe in the next couple of days. Thanks to said hind end, Bobby has a hard time getting comfortable while I trim these puppies, and I end up working twice as hard to keep him happy while maintaining a good grip and actually being able to take anything off.

I don't think I'll ever be happy with how my horse's feet look in pictures. They're better in person--probably because the flaws are less noticeable--but I just don't think he's ever going to have cookie cutter, picture perfect hooves.

But the hoss is sound. That's most important.


We did end up going back to work this morning. I flatted in my jump saddle for about twenty minutes, most of which was no stirrup work. I want to really focus on pulling my shoulders back and keeping my torso long, and what better way to do that than drop your irons and not have to worry about what your legs are doing? Besides burning and begging for mercy of course.

Tomorrow should be an easy jump school. Hopefully the outdoor is finally dry enough that we can use it for the first time in weeks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rolelu Stables Dressage Show

My prep for this show was a little different than usual as we'd just run around a horse trial the Sunday before, and while I pretty much always give Bobby the day before a show off, I ended up flatting him Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Three days to work through some remedial problems (like walking and keeping his shoulders from spiraling off into space) and learn three new tests turned out to be a little more daunting than I thought it was going to be.

Nevertheless, our Friday ride was really good. As long as I could duplicate that feeling at the show and not forget any movements, I knew we'd dominate that shit.

Although I should clarify that technically I only had to dominate myself....in a not weird way. Because of low entries, tests were being scored on percentage only: score below a 65% and get a red ribbon, or score above 65% and get a blue ribbon. Being a schooling show, I was hoping those scores weren't too far out of reach.

love this canter

Bobby warmed up really well in the indoor. Unlike when we were here last month for the CT, he didn't look around once and went right to work. After a quick w/t/c warm up where I couldn't have asked for anything better, I did a couple of leg yields, lengthened the canter, and then headed outside down to the dressage court.

Unfortunately, Bobby lost a lot of focus once we were down by the ring. There were a few people milling around at the top of the hill overlooking the ring and you could see the horses out in their paddocks. We also had to wait while they reset the ring from small to large size. I took him back into the indoor while they did that, but the second he was back in there, he relaxed and went to work. I brought him out again, and his attention disappeared again.

First 1

He was quiet enough heading down center line. If nothing else, this horse knows his job once show time comes, but I knew right from the get-go that our work wasn't going to be what we'd done the day before.

not up to par, robert

We coasted through the first half of the test, really only nailing our stretchy trot. That was a definite win on its own though because getting Bobby to stretch at shows has been impossible up to this point. Then we hit the walk work. We managed a 7.0 for the medium walk which was probably a little generous, and then a 6.0 for the free walk because it involved staring at people.

He got above my hand when I shortened my reins back up, and in an attempt to keep him from looking any more tense, I left my reins too long and didn't get organized fast enough by the time we had to pick up the canter. He was crooked and counter bent and ended up picking up the wrong lead. I got it corrected immediately, but blew that movement for a 4.0.

actually from 1-3 which is why the trot looks better

From there, the rest of the test got pretty sloppy. The footing was super deep from the never ending rain so his lengthenings were almost nonexistent because he just couldn't get a hold of the ground. I lost his shoulders in the fucking 15m circles as predicted and didn't get above a 6.5 on any of that.

We did manage to salvage our score a little bit by nailing the change of rein and the ensuing canter transition. We got an 8.0 and 8.5 on those, and then an 8.0 for his final halt because the halt is Bobby's bitch. Our final score was a 67.77%

I was disappointed with what I knew was a pretty lackluster effort, but I came out determined to ride the next tests stronger.

First 2

There really wasn't any place to school Bobby outside the ring, and there wasn't much room to do anything but barely squeeze around the court, plus I was trying to make sure I knew my test without having to pull my phone out of my sweaty bra (a horse girl's gotta do what she's gotta do), so I didn't really accomplish much in getting Bobby in a better frame of mind--or body.

first lengthening

We started off feeling just okay. His had a little more push in his trot lengthening, and we turned in at K to do our half circle before leg yielding over to M. Then the judge rang the bell. I was like, "What the fuck did I do? There's no way I've forgotten something this early in the test!"

She started reading off the movements and asked if any of that sounded familiar. I stared at her for a second because I'd just done exactly what she'd read. I told her that yes, that's what I'd ridden, and that I had just done my leg yield from L to M--was that not right? Turns out she just wasn't watching when I did my half circle so she had us restart from there and didn't give me an error. Good thing because I'd ridden the movement.

This is what I get for showing at unrated dressage shows. Remember that glorious moment last year where I halted at X for a full minute before the judge remembered I was in the ring?

leg yield

Whatever. I like dressage, but not enough to ever pay the ridiculous fees to show in it rated. I'll take my silly judges and sillier ribbons and shut up about it now.

Anyway, we carried on after that, did a worse leg yield than the one before that didn't get judged, only got a 6.5 on it, picked up some 7.0s and then failed at the free walk again. The rest of the test was obedient, but nothing to write home about. I got control of the 15m circles a little more this time around at least.

trying to maintain control of the canter on the circle

The one thing we did consistently "meh" on in all our tests were our canter lengthenings. Does anyone have any good examples of a First level canter lengthening they can share? I'm probably not letting Bobby lengthen his frame out enough while lengthening his stride in fear of him falling on his forehand, but at the same time....I don't know. I guess I'm just confused on what judges are looking for.

i assume this is a stretchy trot and we're not just free wheeling along

With a pretty consistent line of 7.0s across the board, this test scored a 70.0% I thought that was exceptionally generous, but I'm a naysayer and we were at a baby schooling show, so whatever.

First 3

Bobby started to get a little sassy at this point, but that actually works in my benefit as long as I can keep it from tipping over to full on tantrum. He gets a lot more reactive, and I can channel that easier than working with a slug.

leg yield zig zag

Our scores were either hit or miss--we either got an 8 or a 6.5. Awesome as shit leg yield zig zag, boss stretchy trot, fail horse on the ten meter circles. Pathetic walk work, bitching counter canter loops.

once upon a time bobby couldn't even canter a straight line.

Another total miss on the canter lengthenings, finally a solid hit on the trot lengthenings. We finished with a drop mic 9.0 final halt. Our collectives were also good, and aside from a comment on working more at the walk (yup), she was very complimentary on Bobby and me--though looking at these pictures I want nothing more than to yank my shoulders back. We ended that test with a 71.47%

favorite picture of the day

Despite the inflated scores and three more blue ribbons, I wasn't totally happy with the show. My only goal was to go in and ride my lady balls off to get every point I could, and I definitely didn't do that.

However, this was our first time doing these tests at a show and the very first time we'd ever run through all of 1-3. I've ridden Novice A approximately ten million times, and it's one thousand percent less complicated than any part of these tests, so I just have to carry that goal over to next weekend.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rolelu Stables Dressage Preview

In which getting to the show involved more adventure than the show itself. Bobby is in the middle of a several day vacation after back to back shows, so I'm breaking the show up to two parts for blog fill. It's just a dressage show. None of you are going to die from anticipation, I promise.

i have no media of my own, so you're stuck with these kind
of low quality pics i paid the show organizer for.

First we have to celebrate that I backed my truck up to the trailer in the exact spot it needed to be in to get hooked up on the very first try with zero adjustment. I got out to see where I was and blew myself away. I will never be able to replicate that feat, but it was an awesome start to the morning.

I met BM outside the barn as she was turning a horse out, and she informed me that Bobby had just thrown the fire extinguisher at her. I was like I would have too LOL, hysterical! Apparently he was pissed that he was still in his stall when his field usually gets turned out first. He screamed his brains out at me when I got into the barn, but once I started wrapping his legs (and had returned the extinguisher back to its rightful place on the wall), he settled down.

distracted horse can still find it in himself to nail his halts

Then I get around to his RF and notice the whole leg is swollen. I couldn't find any heat or any specific point of swelling. I thought he might have just stocked up being in his stall most of yesterday thanks to storms, but it was weird that no other leg had fluid in it.

So I took him out to the arena, put him on a circle both ways, and saw nothing. I didn't want to waste my gas taking a lame horse to a show just to have to turn back around, so I jumped on him bareback in his halter and quickly put him through his paces both ways. Still nothing.

I figured it was going to get wrapped one way or another, and since he wasn't lame, I'd hope the swelling went down by the time we got to the show. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened. I think he might have stepped on himself or knocked his ankle against something as there were a couple of minuscule scrapes in that area, and it just blew up from not moving around. Once the wrap was off it was back to normal, and he never did take an off step.

he actually stretched in the trot for the first time ever in a test!

I finally got us all sorted out, loaded up, and headed off to the show. Only, about half a mile down the second longest stretch of road I have to drive, the road turned to loose stone as they've apparently torn it up to resurface. I wouldn't have been comfortable driving my car on it at the speed limit, and I certainly wasn't going to take my trailer over it. Since creeping along at thirty miles an hour for twenty miles wasn't an option, I turned down a side road and rerouted us through town.

The problem with going through town is of course the never ending stop lights. And a higher risk of running into douche bag drivers--like the cop I almost hit. I was crawling up to a red light in the right lane with one other person in front of me. Apparently Mr Cop just couldn't stand to be in the left lane where there were several cars between him and the stop line, so he angled right over to my lane from a stop.

If I had been coming up to a green light instead of a red and hadn't already been slowed way down, I would have slammed right into the side of him. There was absolutely no room for him to pull in front of me like that. He continued to weave in and out of lanes in a big fucking hurry for whatever reason. Put your fucking lights on if you really need to be somewhere, fuck face.

this is bobby's fuck face circling the ring before the second test.
his "fuck this" face.

We made it to the show with no further incidences, got parked, unloaded, yada yada just fine. Likewise I didn't have any problems heading home until I was only two miles from the barn whereupon I ran into an epic bike marathon for Diabetes awareness.

And almost hit a biker.

Like, holy shit, I almost killed you, asshole.

Also, I fucking hate bikers.


I came cruising up to the top of hill doing fifty five, and as soon as I crested, there was a fucking biker huffing and puffing his little old heart out in the middle of my lane. When there is a wide shoulder, get your fucking ass on it, bikers.

I laid on my horn while simultaneously holding onto my emergency trailer brake button (that thing is the biggest boss feature ever--it's seriously so cool) so as not to blow out my truck brakes and/or send us jack knifing trying to not hit this fucker. By some miracle he moved over enough while I slowed down enough and got over to the middle of road, and the oncoming traffic was able to emergency reroute to their shoulder that no one died.

But holy fuck I almost peed myself.

I seriously hate bikers.


My dressage test summaries are going to be a total snooze after near-accidental manslaughter.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

You better work, bitch.

Two dressage posts in one week is just painful. But power through! We're doing the world's most low key dressage schooling show Saturday, one I'm almost embarrassed to have entered, so I'm going in with the mentality to use my rides as a meter to how far I can push Bobby for real beast mode work without exploding his brain and losing points on every movement due to tension.

The more I think back on last weekend's dressage ride, the more I get disappointed in myself for just dialing it in. I have no right to complain about our score if I don't put in the effort to get every point we can.

what's that? you want some recycled flat pictures?
alright fine. if you insist.

My rides this week have been centered on pushing Bobby for more--and pushing myself to actually ask for it. Bobby's a well schooled dude. I've put some fun buttons on him over the years, and he's really coming into himself this year. He's getting strong in all the right places, but more than that, he's getting more and more confident in his own abilities.

He's a hard horse to work with sometimes because--despite outward appearances--he's incredibly smart, and he doesn't like to make mistakes. If he thinks he's caught on to something, he automatically goes for it. If it's not what I want, he gets vastly offended and brings on the tantrums.



Lately though, I've felt like I can get after him a little bit more to step up to the plate and think things through instead of just reacting. We're heading across the diagonal at the canter. Are we going to do a simple change? Flying change? Come down to a trot at X and stick at that gait? Or are we going to hold the lead and do a counter canter loop?

Questions like that used to blow his brain apart because he'd just pick the first thing that came to mind whether it was what I wanted or not, but now he waits and listens.

This new horse is a fun one to work with. The last few rides involved a lot of walking, but when we got to the trot and canter, I'm able to demand that little extra bit without fear of repercussions. In turn, I've gotten a horse that's rounder, more connected, sitting deep, and giving me that coveted bouncing feeling of true impulsion and hints of real collection.

back to this show on saturday!

Now it's up to me to actually ask for the fancy. Mental preparedness? Probably not one of my strongest points...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WW: Horse Show Scenes

If you follow me on instagram or are friends with me on facebook, you've probably already seen all these. Oh well, too bad! There's nothing more boring than prepping for a dressage show, so you're getting recycled filler for today's post.

horse show morning sunrise

best dressed award. and most enthusiastic horse award.

taking out braids after dressage

the after afro.

we got this canopy for horse shows. bobby instantly made himself at home under it.
he's happiest when parked in the middle of things, even if he's basically sitting in your lap.

digging for snacks in the cooler.

"what did you find?! where are the snacks??"
note that there's nothing even in my hand, but that prehensile lip is still probing.

i eat well at horse shows. and i am not ashamed.

with all the rain we got last week, someone was bound to get stuck...
fortunately it wasn't us!

the only reason for boots: to accessorize with duct tape.