Monday, September 26, 2016

September TNEC Hunter Pace

Another month, another pace at the barn! Of course I didn't have my own horse to ride on this one because he's not sound at the moment.

(ahahahahaha, cue nervous laughter and facial twitch Bobby's mystery lameness instantly provokes whenever anyone brings it up)

lovely barn mom: so what's going on with bobby?
barn friend b: calm the fuck down.

Yeah, anyway, more on that ongoing fucking saga later in the week as MOAR EXPERTS take my monies and try to come up with an answer.

Fortunately, the perks of being in a big boarding barn are that there are lots of horses to go around. BM put me on good old Dumb Dumb Momo to take a couple of kids out on their first pace to make sure they didn't make bad decisions or die. You know, the usual.

momo bravely takes the lead touring the front field. these kids were awesome riders!

Poor Momo is still trying to find his way around here. BM has put a ton of work into him both in training and working with the barn's horde of body workers, but he's just kind of a dope. A good natured dope, but a great big dummy nonetheless. I took him over a few of the smaller logs, and he was so busy being amazed by the great outdoors (that he's ridden in many times) that he'd basically just trot into them, kind of stumble over them, and then continue on inspecting the wonders around him without a care in the world. A brilliant event horse he will never make.

He does, however, have an incredible jump in there and by the time we were almost done I was able to do a couple jumps with him where he was like, "Oh, right! Pick up my feeties and jump the jump! I know how to do that."

probably the third attempt at getting him to focus on this.

I had a quick break where I could eat my lunch, and then Shooter's mom showed up so we could go out together. I took Oz out with her and B on Rafiki. Despite being terrified of the ribbons marking the trail, Shooter was so cute jumping all the things with much enthusiasm.

Ozzie also had much enthusiasm. His version of hunter pacing is to be in the lead and go really fast and do whatever Oz wants the end. My version of hunter pacing is: listen to me, bro. We had a few abrupt canter to halt transitions because we were supposed to be trotting, and he started off super pissed at me for making him jump the jump next to the jump he wanted to go over. The nerve, I know.

gigantic creature doesn't actually have to jump over these things.
angry because i'm asking him to land on the correct lead. nobody tells oz what to do!

He's got such uncomfortable gaits--especially his canter--that I felt like a complete beginner being bounced out of the saddle half the time, and it doesn't help that he expects you to sit the fuck down and leave him the fuck alone when he comes up to a jump. Any other approach leads him to giving you the finger and casually cantering to the side. Lesson horses have their own rules, yo.

Despite our disagreements about obedience and team work, I still had a lot of fun and our team ending up coming in fourth. Add that ribbon to the five thousand other fourth places I feel Bobby and I have won this year. It basically looks like we're waving the white flag of surrender on my ribbon rack at this point. #mediocrityrules

victory gallop

When we were done, I went back into the ring and made him do a few minutes of dressage work. His lessor went to college so he's back to lesson riders only--none of whom get after him to actually engage that post-legged back end. BM told me to get on him whenever I want so he gets forced to use the right muscles occasionally.

perfectly capable of being fancy

I'm grateful to still have horses to get on, though I'd like nothing more than to ride my own horse. Or at least have that "3/5 lame, possible dx: EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN" scratched off his vet report. 

although bobby says mugging people for their
lunches instead of work is just fine with him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Let's start this off by saying no Bobby news is not good Bobby news. Bro is lame as fuck, and I'm anxiously waiting for the vet to come out Friday and steal all my monies to get to the bottom of what is no doubt a re-injury to the DDFT he mildly fucked up last summer. That shit it not mildly anything this time around. Shit is like, RAWR IMMA EAT YOUR HORSE'S WHOLE LEG.

But I mean maybe he just tweaked something and he's just a little sore, right?


"don't care, just want cookies and nothing faster than a stumbling walk, thx."

In the meantime, I have full access to good ole Shooter who I absolutely adore riding.

worried about all the things. he's a sensitive dude.

Now that I've gotten a few more rides in with him and spent some more time with him on the ground with the thought of "This is my riding horse" instead of him just being another boarder in the barn (Seriously so lucky his mom is so nice and is sharing him!), I've got a lot better understanding of what his quirks and past training are.

Let me preface this by saying this is a nice horse. He's very light in the bridle, he moves off your leg without drama (except when he's so tired oh god what is two rides in two days so fat and out of shape), and I can put him pretty much anywhere I want him.

However, like any horse, he's got some holes that with BM's help both his owner and I are going back and helping him out with. I think a trainer somewhere in his past focused more on how the overall picture looked and not so much on the mechanics. He frames right up, but without a whole lot of egging there's not much power coming from behind. He also likes to curl and plow onto the forehand, and I can't imagine either of those things does his neck arthritis any good.

adorbs. he regularly flats in an elevator, but i
couldn't find his bridle this day so he went in boby's
french link. he was fine in it, so with his mom's permission
i think we'll just switch him over to a snaffle. 

Right now I'm working on throwing the reins at him in the canter so he can learn that it's okay to come up and out. Once he gets it he's so much looser in his entire body, and you can feel his whole demeanor soften like, "Ahhh, that feels pretty good!"

His lack of hind end strength--and overall strength as I think he was sitting for a bit before J was able to bring him up here--really shows in his jumping. He doesn't get rude or rush or play or anything like that, but even over the little X we were jumping the other day, I saw a distance and put my leg on to tell him to take it, and he almost had to stop and sit to get the oomph to get us over.

He also dives onto the forehand so bad the last two strides before the fence it's like his entire front end just disappears. Fortunately he's such a good boy about taking direction that lots and lots of leg lifts him up, but there's going to be lots of dressage and lots of tiny jumps in his future to rebuild that booty.

We did a little trail ride with W after our last ride, and despite some warnings from his mom that he might be a spaz, he was a star. He had one spook coming around the corner of the gazebo thing by the pond that was basically one quick step sideways, and then another stop and start coming back around the corner of the barn. He also gets a little squirrelly coming inside in the morning when he has to clear the back barn. I think he just preventative spooks because he's such an insecure dude.

not insecure. just broken.

This weekend is a hunter pace at my barn, so I'm hoping I'll be able to take him if he's available. If not I'll just steal someone else because MY HORSE WON'T BE SOUND FOR IT.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Media Dump

riding bestie came up friday! we took chancey
and bobby out for a long trail ride, but first i found
these amazing pony sized polos and forced them
onto chance with my amazing wrapping skills.
you're welcome, chance.

at the corner of this field, chance was leading and i looked back to find bobby running
sideways into weeds. sarah casually called out, "bobby's pulling a bobby!" aaaand that's how
you know you have good riding friends who don't get upset when your horse is a dick.

how cute is tiny little old man chance? he's beyond
any doubt turned out to be the perfect fit for bm's program
and everyone in the barn absolutely loves him. 

after tack shopping at a new store (not the one with the weird lady, tracy!), we came
home and made dessert waffles...with a side of doritos and ice cream. come party at
my house. we eat super healthy here. (yes, that is a bowl of melted butter.)

winona got her spay and hernia repair friday.
she came out of it feeling super as evidenced by
being super naughty and jumping on the table. obvi
picture of a kitten in a cone had to be taken before removal
of said kitten from the table. naughty but look how cute!

also on the docket for the weekend was an update for the bathroom! our entire house
is tan--tan paint, tan carpet, tan everything. the bathroom was the first step in bringing some
real color to the whole place. the paint's more green tinted than the pic shows, and i love it.

had an awesome ride on shooter this morning.
one of these days i'll do an in depth ride report on
him. he's a ton of fun while still giving me plenty
of things to work on.

bobby and sparky sharing lameness stories. i think i might have finally gotten bobby
to the point where's he's solidly lame which i know sounds awful, but vets can diagnose
lame horses. they can't diagnose horses that magically are completely sound one day but not he other.

one of those legs is not like the other, even after
soaking in a bucket of ice water. i also finally banned
him from halters since he loses and/or destroys them daily.

kind of a bummer though because he's really looking great right now. kitten's surgery
was the vet allowance for the month, so bobby will have to wait a bit to get some imagery done.
he says he's super sad. being a pasture pet is so awful. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Another extra face

Alongside playing with lesson ponies all last week, I was also officially introduced to the newest dude in the barn. Shooter's actually been here for about a month coming up from Virginia, but his mom is an ER doctor and her schedule doesn't overlap with mine so I didn't know much beyond what I was briefed by BM and from handling him for turnout. Being a doctor, J doesn't have a lot of spare time to ride Shooter, and she was looking for someone to get on him a few times a week to keep him in shape.

BM volunteered me for the task and J and I met up so she could show me how he goes and give me his full story.

i spend most of my time with him telling him
how jealous of his luscious forelock i am.

He's an eleven year old 3/4 TB 1/4 Percheron who's had dressage and eventing experience, but sadly now has neck arthritis. Despite that limitation, you can tell he's had a lot of good training put into him. It's nice to get on something that has such a solid dressage foundation and just goes and does his job. He is, however, what I would describe as insecure.

He gets a little spooky, a little distracted, but instead of it being dirty it's more like, "OMG, please hold my hand and tell me everything is okay!" Yesterday was only my second ride on him, but I think I've already got some good tricks in keeping his sensitive brain on track. Shoulder-fore on a circle helps him, and he likes his lateral work a lot.

me: let's take a good picture so i can send it to your mom!
shooter: like this?!

I'm super pleased to get the ride on him because it will help me take the pressure off of Bobby. I see jumps set out, or I pull into the driveway and see all the cross country jumps, and it gives me a bad case of grabby hands. This is the first time I've dealt with a horse that I have to take footing into serious consideration with (also probably the first time such rock hard footing has ever been a factor--stupid drought), and it's hard for me to put the brakes on fun things.

It's especially hard when said horse really wants to do the fun things, too. I tacked Bobby up in his jump tack yesterday morning and we went to the outdoor to repeat the exact same ride we had last week where he threw a tantrum, got stuck in a corner, could not horse, and went mysteriously sort of lame. Unsurprisingly he was a lovely soft creature because jump tack meant surely there were jumps coming so YAY.

bad horse.

I rewarded him with a short school and a trail ride afterwards with W where we did pop over a few jumps out back. I had to resist doing anything else because as we were walking by the jump field, Bobby not so subtly angled his way into the gate. Bobbys love the jumping, landing on cement be damned.

Today Shooter got the day off and Bobby and I went out for a leisurely trail ride.

strolling between the alfalfa

Fortunately the back fields are lush grass which means the footing is still soft and springy. We did a little course of cross country jumps a couple times for something to do. Bobby was happy to frolic around jumping whatever I pointed him at and then coming back to meander down the trails where the ground was harder.

Tomorrow Bobby will probably do such exciting things as getting his hind feet trimmed and being chucked outside after extra cookies while Shooter will get to carry the work load.

Monday, September 12, 2016

OCBSC Hunter Pace

A little while ago a saddle club (Who knew those were actual things and not just a book series?) just west of Rochester decided they were going to host a beginner friendly hunter pace at one of the local parks. I didn't have much interest in it because there were only going to be a few jumps, all set at 18" or lower. Very beginner friendly.

However, a whole bunch of girls from the barn wanted to go since the pace down at Cohocton is too hard core for riders whose trail experience extends to some walking and trotting around the barn property. BM begged me to sign on as an outrider for a couple of the least experienced girls. I was still feeling pretty meh about the whole thing until money was dangled in front of me for trailering and my entry fee got covered. Alright, fine. Give me monies for riding my own horse. I guess I can do it.


Of course last week I dealt with some mysterious NQR-ness in Bobby's RF that earned him the week off to laze about. Friday morning I stuck him on the longe to make the decision if I was going to be able to take him or if I'd have to take Momo and lo and behold he was sound as could be. I definitely feel like the culprit was too much jumping on hard ground making him sore, and his mini vacation was all the doctor would have ordered, buuuuut....awfully suspicious that flat work made him lame and not the jumping itself.

Not saying it's all in your bad attitude head, Bobby....

Oh wait. Yes I am.

half of the group from our barn

Since Bobby was a jigging, sideways running, fire breathing dragon at the last pace and I was going to be responsible for beginner-type riders lives, I gave him a dose of Quietex before we left. It was a good choice as he was content to stand patiently and let Chance and Romeo school over the jumps, and while he had happy, perked ears the whole ride, there was zero jigging involved.

We got there plenty early to avoid the worst of the heat so we were the first team out. I made my poor children head right off at a trot and keep up the pace until we hit the woods and there was no choice but to walk. The pace started off pretty stop and go as the actual paths themselves were beautifully maintained, but we had to cut through basically a deer trail for quite awhile before getting dumped out in an open field and then hanging a sharp right through a mowed strip through the weeds following the power line where we were on walk-only hole watch.

Most of the trails were through the woods so we were in shade most of the ride which was amazing. Once we made it through the first big open field, we had to cross a road, wind through some more woods at the walk, and then we hit the "creek crossing".

also bobby's face upon seeing the creek

The creek was completely dried up as we haven't had significant rain up here in, oh I don't know, six months or so. That didn't change the fact that it was an almost vertical drop down into the super rocky bed and then a vertical climb right back up the other side. I should have gotten a picture, but I was too busy telling my kids to dismount and stay out of their horse's way should they think about trying to leap down into it or leap out of it. Fortunately everyone carefully picked their way down, across, and up and we were all able to get back on without issue. Maybe not the best path for a beginner geared trail...

Our other group of riders was just coming to the field we'd left before crossing the road and Romeo--who at this point had been content to truck along politely because Bobby is his bitch lover--saw them and could barely be convinced to move from his statue pose. He then turned into a complete dick, and I taught a mini lesson on how to convince an old, grouchy lesson pony to get the fuck over himself and pay attention.

bad romeo towards the end trying to be rid of his rider.
bobby's just cheesing for the cameras.

The pace was only supposed to be six miles, but the group later posted it was seven. I know that doesn't really seem like much, and honestly the ponies were all fit to fight right up to the end, but it seems like a really long time when you don't know the trails and you have no idea how much longer you're supposed to keep following the damn ribbons. Once we burst up the hill and saw our group of parents and supporters, we were all happy to know the end was in sight.

how cute are my grinning children?

The kids did a great job of keeping up with the pace I set. We did a whole lot of trotting for long stretches, and they never once begged for mercy complained. We crossed the finish line in an hour and nine minutes--eleven minutes faster than the optimum time and ten minutes faster than our barn's other group with the more experienced kids. Ribbons (!!) will be sent out this week, but we finished fourth with the other team winning. Don't care, still got satin, and still got to say we won the speed race.

outrider ponies say babysitting kids is tough work.
better give us extra cookies!

Even though there weren't any jumps that were exciting for Bobby and I, the trails were still great and the park was close enough to the barn that I'd definitely do this pace again. It might also be our last "show" for the season as I'm leaning pretty heavily towards not entering the jumper derby. The ground is basically cement from a summer's worth of no rain, and I'd rather have a sound horse to play with over the winter instead of an intermittently sore and grouchy one.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Give me your horses...and pony.

Old Bobby Magee is momentarily out of commission. I begged Farrier to try to make an abscess magically appear, but once again all she was able to do was compliment him on his rock hard tootsies and send him on his way. We think we're dealing with some soreness in his bum leg from jumping on hard ground, so he's taking the week off before doing a low key hunter pace Saturday. It's short, and we're only there to escort two kids on their first pace so there will be no jumping or cantering and probably minimal trotting. He'll either hold up for it, or he'll become lame enough that, you know, he's actually lame and I can see where he's broken.

trying to convince the barn cat to come to him.
arthur says he's not an idiot and won't be chewed on, thank you very much.

In the meantime, I was able to get two jump lessons on three different horses in the past two days!

Yesterday W grabbed Apollo, I got Oz, and we headed out back to the jump field. I've ridden Oz twice before way back in the winter/spring when BM put me on him to try to give my confidence a boost over fences. He's the most perfect lesson horse in the whole world because he just goes around and does his job, and if you try to change his job he ever so politely tells you to fuck off.

Warming him up on the flat was tough work. He's an absolute giant with not-so-great conformation so he's gets away with murder in the lesson program as far as not actually using himself. His trot was rocketing me out of the saddle until I finally got him put together, and then I couldn't get him to pick up his left lead to save my life until BM was basically like, "Ask him the exact opposite way you would ask any other horse on the planet" and we got it. Lesson horse problems, yo.

The jumps were set between 2'3" and 2'6" which are basically ground poles to this horse, and I knew from riding him myself and watching him go around lots of times that he puts zero effort in to his jump, and if he's going to run out, he slowly does it from about five strides away. I was still a little nervous to jump him anyway, and I clung to his face approaching the first jump which made him do exactly that.

Once we got that out of the way, I was fine nerves-wise. He pulled the same stunt coming into the line because I tried to steer him with my reins to get him straight instead of my leg, and Oz says no touchies on the reins when jumping, thank you. After that we were good to go, and having BM tell me to push my hands way forward kept both of us happy for the rest of the course.

hanging out watching pony be naughty

Apollo was being super naughty for W (so naughty that BM got on him after me and schooled him even more), and she was really beating herself up over it, so we switched mounts because she loves Oz and I love flatting Pony. The little shithead went right into dressage boot camp, and then I was feeling brave enough to pop him over the first jump in our course a few times. That might not be exciting to anyone else, but the last time BM tried to get me to jump him I was too scared to do anything but walk him over a six inch jump.

pony was ANGRY at me for making him work

This morning I climbed aboard dear Momo, fondly referred to around the barn as Dumb Dumb. He's such a sweet dude and so cute, but he really is as dumb as a rock. He had such incorrect training at his last home that it's basically like riding a super, super green bean. I don't mind flatting him because when he gets it he's so fancy, but the dumb really shines through as he tries to figure things out.

His biggest problem is that he has zero sense of self preservation, and when I asked for the first canter depart he face planted almost instantly. When I tried to kick him forward and basically lift him back onto his feet, he was just like, "LOLZ, it's okay! I don't mind when we fall down!" Once his two halves are talking to each other and his attention is on you, he's great. It's just making sure his brain is switched on before doing anything that's the tricky part.

it's hard being dumb dumb

We did lots of trotting around to make sure we weren't going to fall down again before coming to the first jump--all cross rails for this dude. He's a cute jumper, but again--he just doesn't get it. He also slings his head into your face once he sees the jump and it makes both you and him lose sight of where your distance is. Not the best jumping logic, dude. As we kept going around, trotting our little course of cross rails, he started settling into it and making better decisions and we were able to quit on a relatively good note.

I was able to pick up a couple of good tidbits from BM from all three rides, but mostly it was really good for me to be able to jump jumps on a horse that isn't mine and not be paralyzed with fear. It's easy to lose sight of how much progress I've made with my confidence when all the sudden loping around a 2'9" course (last week) with Bobby feels totally boring. But being able to look back and know how much trouble I had getting over absolutely anything with those first two horses--the steadiest jumping horses in the barn--right after my crash, to today where it's not a big deal is a big deal.

Thanks, lesson ponies, for a good pick me up after my own horse gave me a pretty shitty week.

bad horse.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Saturday morning I received my gift from Olivia of a custom stall sign. We've all been drooling over the too cute ear bonnets she made Emma and L, but honestly I was way more jealous of the amazing stall sign that she made Stephanie. I was absolutely thrilled when I opened up the package and saw that Olivia had used the same technique to craft Bobby.

She used this picture taken by Niamh of Bobby and I at Plantation a few years ago:

I think how pleased Bobby was with it is pretty easy to see...

purple pins!
obviously that was an excellent design choice!

"wow, look how amazing i look."

fanciest stall in the barn now

and then he tried to see if it tasted as good as it looked

He was actually a little bit obsessed with checking it out. I don't know if he was in love with the smell of the stain or what, but it most definitely got the Bobby stamp of approval--and mine too of course! Thank you so much Olivia!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

When is it time to jump?

I think it's funny that quite a few us here in blogger land have "discovered" an important part of jumping all at the same time, so I'm curious to get everyone else's take on how important flat work is before moving on to over fences work.

Now I'm not just talking about how you go about warming up before you get to your jump school, though it would be fun to touch on that, too. How long do you warm up before moving on to jumping? Are there certain exercises you do on the flat to get your horse using his or her body better? Or do you just coast and put in the bare minimum before moving on to the far more exciting things (Honestly, still sounds like the best option even though I'm trying to do better.)?

What I'm really curious to read about though is how confirmed you feel a horse needs to be on the flat before you really start to jump the big jumps. Is a fairly reliable w/t/c good enough for you to start popping over 3'+? Or do you feel like your horse should be a solid First level horse before jumping more than 2'6"?

Personally I feel like it's a pretty case by case basis. For instance, there are two horses at my barn I'd call green over fences.

One of them is a five year old Morgan who got broke out last year. He's super confident, smart, and naturally well balanced. While he can w/t/c, it's not the prettiest thing in the world, and he gets bored with flatting so quickly that he usually finds something naughty to do to amuse himself. He spends a lot more time jumping because he likes it, and he doesn't even have to try over 3'. Does he need to be more schooled on the flat? Oh hell yes. But it doesn't seem to hinder his jumping ability.

The other one is a 14 year old OTTB that BM bought a couple months ago. He came in with jumping experience, but was so poorly trained, under weight, and incorrectly muscled that it was like restarting him from square one. He absolutely cannot get away with not going correctly on the flat before he moves on to anything more than the 2'-2'3" he schools now. He would literally fall on his face if he tried. He literally falls on his face sometimes just walking around.

Weigh in! I want to see what everyone else thinks!