Thursday, March 31, 2016

Watch out for the children!

This week is Spring Break in schools and the barn is hosting a week of camp for a few older kids. BM asked me to do a dressage demo for them to keep their little brains occupied between rides. I chose BN A to do as a demo for them to ride later in the afternoon (no first salute, easy 20m circles at both trot and canter, and you're done), and then BM told me to pick a test I'm going to show so they could see some upper of the lower levels dressage.

I picked 2-3 because it has just enough to keep a beginner amused while watching, but is still easy enough that I could force ride Bobby through it should he choose not to participate this morning.

"i would never be naughty!"

He felt pretty okay warming up, so we moved right along to the BN test. And then he did not feel pretty okay. He was hurrying through everything and we were kind of a disorganized mess. I couldn't even get him to pick up the canter the first try, and we almost ran into the children. Oomph. Hey, kids. This is what a fancy dressage horse looks like!

Only not.

They didn't care obviously, and BM had me run through it again so they could really work on memorizing the movements. It was slightly better the second time around, but once we were done, I took a little time to try to get Bobby more put together. He could get through the motions of a BN test sure, but that wasn't even good enough for a bad Second test.

I was still trying to hurry things along to not lose the attention of kids that didn't really understand what I was doing, so when we finally turned down center line to begin the test, Bobby was still braced against the bit and pretty tense.

I will, however, share the video anyway! That's right. When you've got a group of people standing around, you're damn right I'm going to force my camera onto one of them.


For those that don't want to watch the video (understandably), don't worry. I'll break it down for you again:

A enter collected trot, X halt salute, C turn left: Braced, halt is fine, but then we kind of meandered off a bit before actually trotting again.

Medium trot across diagonal: He was slow to build which was intentional. Stay calm, Bobby. Do not panic.

Shoulder in K to E: Stiff and anxious.

10m circle at E: No dramatics! We're calling that a win, I don't care what it looks like.

Haunches in (Travers? Renvers? Whatevers?) E to H: Again, tracking right and staying calm. Small wins.

Medium trot across diagonal: Slow build again, and right as he starts to hit his stride he starts getting a little downhill.

Shoulder in F to B, 10m circle B, haunches in B to M: Quieter this direction, though my reins are too long.

Halt at C, rein back 3-4 steps: He fell off the ditch created around the ring from the harrow being broken, so he lost his balance right when we went to halt. Then I lost the connection to the bit and while he's not dragging and shuffling his feet in the rein back, his head and neck are like, "K BAI."

Turn at H (?), walk across, collect stride, turn on haunches, repeat other direction: Still no real connection to the bit, and his first turn on the haunches is more like a small circle. The second felt better though you can't see it behind the standards.

Free walk: No stretch, too tense, which is a shame because this dude is the King of Stretch when he's not internally freaking out bro.

Medium walk: I get handsy and grabby and panic and Bobby throws his head up.

Collected canter: Reins too long, not connected to the bit at the walk, let alone the canter. This is where things really start going downhill.

Medium canter down long side: Haunches want to drift in a bit.

Counter canter serpentine: Braced against the bit and not nearly as forward and smooth as he's capable of.

Simple change across that one diagonal: Bobby Spaz because OMGSOHARDHATERIGHTHATECANTER.

Medium canter down long side: Yep, still braced against the bit and working that under-neck.

Counter canter serpentine: See above.

Simple change on that other diagonal: No spaz, so winning?

Canter, then trot, then up center line, then halt, yada yada: And again, see all the aboves.

so glad it was warm enough to hose off after our ride roll in the mud while naked

You know where you go through a ride and have someone video, and when you look at it, you're like, "That didn't feel as bad as it looks!"

This was not one of those times. I knew the whole test through that this was not what we're capable of. When the kids went into the tack room to eat lunch, I got to work getting my real upper of the lower levels horse back.

We started off with a long jag of ground covering stretchy trot to lose the anxiety. Then I brought him back to the walk and slowly--as slowly as he needed--got him up into the bridle off my seat only. When he was ready, we went back to a collected trot and did the whole test through again. The walk and trot work were ten thousand times looser and easier.

The canter though was still not good. It was actually kind of explosive, and I had another couple moments where I just kicked him through it and told him to get over it and just go before it finally came together.

Right now my warm up is going to need more tweaking than the actual tests. If I can figure out the right formula to engaged both his body and brain without making him tweak out in his tiny, pressure-adverse brain, I can ask him to do any move on the planet and he's right there. It's just finding the right magic Bobby potion.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What is your horse's #hashtag?

I know, I know. "Back in my day, it was called a pound sign." Listen, bitches. I'm that old, too. But we're in the age of social media everything, and if you're going to keep up with the cool kids on instagram, you've got to keep your hashtag game #onfleek. (Really still not sure what that means, but..... roll with it.)

Aimee has #couragehasopinions. I'd casually suggest #couragestopbeinganasshole, but that's just me.

Kristen has #specialneedshorse and #furrysoulmate. It shouldn't be hard to tell which hashtag belongs to which horse. Someone is in that relationship is guilty of costing their mother a lot of money on vet bills, and it's not the blaze-faced smushy one.

And lately Bobby has adopted the #bobbyproblems hashtag. His problems are wide-ranging, from not wanting to horse to not looking like a horse.

#whatisthiscreature

What about you guys? Social media accounts or not, what is your horse's hashtag?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

In which we throw a dressage test together

I wrote in my last post about how I was starting to wig out a little bit from not running through any of my tests for this year yet. I did run through 2-2 for the first time the day after I printed it off a month of so ago I guess, but overall--lack of preparation, my Type A brain is about to combust thanks to you.

Obviously, being the ever diligent person I am (ha!), I watched lots of 1-2, 1-3, 2-2, and 2-3 tests on youtube yesterday afternoon, and I was pleasantly surprised that I had a relatively solid memory of all of those tests from reading through them eons ago. That meant that during this morning's ride we were going to do a test or bust!

"let's just bust."
kids spring spreak camp is on right now, so rides
are going to be early this week. bobby says too early. 

Bobby was fucking fabuloso warming up right off the bat. Sweet justice, what a lovely light feather face he was. I would have taken that work into the ring any day. Since I didn't need to do much to him, I kept it short and sweet before going into test mode. Of course, once I was ready to ride, I completely forgot most of 1-2. I mean, I knew the parts, just where they were supposed to go was getting muddled. But I did remember all of 1-3 and that's what we went with instead.

And so I bring you a play-by-play of the movements--all memorized obvi because #genius--of how our second full dressage test practice run of the year went.

"no pictures, just naps."

Enter at A, halt at X, salute, trot off, yada yada: Good! Square, forward thinking halt, trotted off without having to be beaten back into movement.

Turn left, lengthen trot across diagonal only not to F but the one before that in a standard arena: BM: "Ooh, you look so fancy!" Quiet, lovely, forward, no problems.

Leg yield zig zag down the long side: Bobby: "WHAT IS HAPPENING MOVE OVER WHY SO FAST WHAT ARE FEET JUST TRIPPED OVER MY OWN LEG HURRY LEGS WE'RE MOVING HURRY WAIT FOR ME TOO FAST OH NO NOW SIDEWAYS OTHER WAY OKAY REMAIN CALM EVERYTHING IS FINE." Me: "Uh, what was that, BM?" BM: "Extra points for creating your own movement?"

Stretchy trot at C: The shit. Damn, this horse loves his stretchies now.

Retarded fucking ten meter circle right at B, halt randomly and chill at X, another stupid as shit ten meter circle at E: What the fuck even is this movement? I was talking to BM still, but was cognizant enough to remain in posting trot after our stretchy circle so the tiny right circle wasn't too bad though Bobby thought about throwing a fit. Halt was fine, other circle was fine.

Walk at A, free walk across diagonal to letter before H, trot at H: Free walk was ballin' which is a rarity, and while he got a little above my hand coming back to the medium walk, I know it was because I was too quick with the reins and not quick enough with my seat. I demand perfection from Bobby, he's starting to demand it right back. No cheating anymore with this dude.

Canter at C, immediately make a wild 15m circle also at C: I fucking hate this movement. I hated it last year and I hate it this year. Bobby also hated it. He went spinning off into a different dimension when I asked him to canter, but I just kicked him forward and told him to get over himself. Bobby: "BUT SO HARD RIGHT CAN'T CIRCLE WHAT IS CANTER WHY YOU TELLING ME GO FORWARD LET'S FIGHT THIS OUT WHY ARE YOU KICKING ME I DON'T KNOW CANTER BUT MAYBE....okay, false, nevermind! Just kidding, it's fine. Chill mode re-engaged. Let's carry on."

Lengthen canter down long side, canter counter loop down other long side: Fine, fine.

Change rein through trot at X: Fine, though Bobby almost dropped down to the walk instead.

15m circle at A: Fuck you.

Lengthen down long side, counter canter loop down other long side: Whatever, fine, no problems.

Trot at A (?), lengthen trot across diagonal: Solids.

Turn in at B, halt and salute at G: Bobby: "WHY ARE WE TURNING RIGHT AGAIN I THOUGHT WE TALKED ABOUT THIS HATE RIG--oh, it's over? Right, off we go."

the best dressage horse i know.

So. A little dramatic here and there, but when he wasn't having opinions, he was fucking phenomenal. I let him have a long, long walk break, then quietly came back and reschooled the leg yield zig zag and right lead canter work. He was lovely and soft throughout, and I called it quits there with lots of pats and cookies.

Things could be going worse at this point!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hurry Up and Remain Calm

I feel like I'm in a constant mental flux state where one second I'm like, "Hurrrrrryyyyyzzzzz, the shows R coming!" and "Whoa, chill the fuck out, do not break the horse's brain."

I finally got our dressage society's omnibus yesterday and put pen to paper for a real show schedule. First on the docket is a schooling show May 21, a week off, and then our first ever recognized dressage show. It's time to pull my massive pile of tests out and start buckling down on memorizing the whole shebang instead of just schooling the individual movements.

I'm being very careful not to let this sudden rush of anticipation play into how I ride Sir Delicate Princess though. On the one hand, we've had all winter to drill on the flat, so now should be the time to polish up all the things. But on the other hand, six months ago we'd just come back from a summer off thanks to injury, and he barely had a right lead canter. Now we're comfortably (most days) schooling Third, and I feel super solid at Second.

Perspective, yo. Dial it down.

remember that time i was excited because we got to trot for one minute?
no, you don't, because i didn't even blog about it because it was the worst.

Part of my eye twitch the past two rides has been from Bobby reverting back to, "Wut iz a right bend on a circle don't know so hard bye going fast sideways now."

Oh my god, Bobby. If we can't even trot a right circle, how are we going to do any dressage test on the face of the planet?!

But that's only my thought once I get off. It's all a slow, catered-to-a-psychotic-horse process in the saddle. Back to the walk? No problem. Stretchy posting trot? No problem. Collected posting trot? Urhghghg, maybe. Stretchy sitting trot? Possibly okay. Collected sitting trot? NOT OKAY.

things that are not okay to bobby: trot circles and life. 

He feels the same way he did when his withers were out, but Chiro was just out and said they felt perfect. I poked and yanked around on his back today when I was done, and he completely ignored me which he doesn't do when he gets so much as a hair misplaced. I think he's just carrying a lot of tension in anticipation of how hard the work is, and it tightens him up through the base of his neck and front of his back. Fortunately, he is the shit at stretching now, so I've been letting him do a lot of that to reset the old brainski.

He started bracing against the bit even at the walk, so we took a time out from the horrible task of riding a circle until I got him to soften up again. I let my reins stay a little long, but used Trainer's maxim of "Sit for what you want" and, while still posting, changed my seat to tell Bobby I wanted him to collect up and get on with it.

I was proud of myself for finally having the mental and physical abilities to do this from the posting trot because not so long ago, I couldn't control anything while posting. It worked its magic on Bobby, and he packaged himself up and let go of some of his anxiety. I pushed him forward into an extended trot (#legit #wheredidthesegaitscomefrom #sostrong) in this beautiful self carriage that we reached because he wouldn't let me get away with so much rein pressure (Ooh, Bobby, are you telling on me now?!). It was gorg, and I stuffed him with candy and called it quits there.

basically ready to take on grand prix, let's be honest.

In theory, I know that as I quietly break down these individual pieces and perfect them, once we put everything together into a test, they're going to still be perfect. But for so long I've learned my tests by running through them all at once and fixing the problems spots as I stumble into them that it's hard for me to make this switch.

Plus there's SO MUCH to memorize! I'm going to do Second at the schooling show, First and Second at the first USDF show (it's two days) to tack on some scores for a Bronze since I've already paid the membership fees, and I'd like to memorize at least the first two Third tests to have them in my pocket should we reach that point before show season is over.

That's no "circle twice at trot and canter, free walk, aaaand, yep, you're good!" eventing dressage. Ugh, brain exhaustion. Off to go stalk youtube.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Still growing up

The weather ended early enough yesterday morning that after I scraped the ice off my car, I was able to get out to the barn and reunite BM and Bobby for a jump school. I think BM was expecting Bobby to have forgotten everything he ever learned about jumping after his two week vacation, but in the end--aside from the sore butt the first couple days--it seemed to actually do him a lot of good.

He started off heavy in the left rein, but from the ground his new norm for warming up is downright dreamy. His topline has filled out so much, and he just looks thick now instead of like a long, scrawny, ambling moose. All our dressage work is really paying off, though BM did say, "I'm glad I'm not in charge of the dressage!" while trying to get him to let the fuck go of his left rein.

She finally asked him to stretch, and he went right down and took the bit which was never, ever his go-to before. His canter started off slightly on the forehand, but once she popped him over a single X, his whole front end came up and he was ready to get to work. Yay, the jumping!

hmm. there's only one thoroughbred in this field.

Off they went over a single X, and an X bending line to a 2' vertical, then finally the bending line roll back to the single X. Bobby was totally chill and just loped around with minimum input from BM. She stopped to take off her coat after telling him what a good boy she was, and instantly turned around to ask for his cookie. Totes adorbs, Bobby. You are such a mooch. Fortunately my pockets were loaded with candy, so he stopped to get his reward for being the best jumping pony every round.

He was really relaxed and rideable over all the 2'3"-2'6" stuff, and BM even let him do his changes since she didn't feel like he would fling himself into them and get himself all worked up. He was good with the turning, and he never get frazzled when a jump came up out of nowhere.

where could bobby be?

Then I put the two Xes up to around 3', and he started getting a little tense. BM was forcing him to take the gappy distance instead of adding his favorite chippy half stride and burying himself under the fence. He knocked a rail twice just from getting too wound up about life, but when he was on, he looked so fucking good. Damn, you guys. My horse can be for realz fancy.

It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't lose some of his own confidence from constantly making bad distance decisions to fences. Now he's super comfortable at 2'3 and 2'6 again, and even 2'9 when coming off the right approach, but anything higher and it's like he starts to anticipate disaster a little bit.

I'm happy with my decision to take the year off from eventing. Even though he could go out and do it this year, and he's making such big strides in rideability and relaxation so fast, I think in the long run it's going to really benefit him to go slower than he needs, and have him come out next year brimming with confidence in himself.

"lolz, totally worked. she knows nothing."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bobbyyyyyy

BOBBY.

Y U SO YOU SOMETIMES?!

"sorry, can't listen. too busy not listening."

I'm glad the Braideez Review and Giveaway post bumped my ride recaps back by a day. Otherwise I would have written one yesterday and told you all what an over reactive, prone to meltdowns, distracted by life and all its things, insufferable ass my horse can be.

But then, you've already gathered that if you've read, you know, like one post of this blog before.

Instead, let's move on and focus on some positive!

he still has feet! so that's a positive.

I had the barn's farrier trim Bobby for me yesterday because ever since my brain smashing, hanging upside down underneath a horse do physical labor became a major problem. I was able to round up his toes a little bit, but that was about the extent of it. It's still essentially winter, so they haven't been growing much, but his hind feet were getting to the point where they really needed a real trim. I also like to just have a farrier check my work every now and then, Farrier was nice enough to squeeze me onto her list, and I killed two birds with one stone.

I'm very picky about who gets to touch my horse's feet, but I've been watching Farrier work since last July and not only does she do a good job, but she also knows how I trim and that I'm maybe a little bit crazy about how things get done to my horse.

She didn't do much to the fronts but roll the toes a bit--they hadn't been done in about a month so were due--and deemed them perfectly acceptable Thoroughbred feet. I told her he was sound on gravel with them, so it didn't bother me much that his soles weren't titanium strong, and she agreed it wasn't a big deal.

On the backs, she left a little bit of the flare that Bobby lands on because of how cow-hocked he is behind. I was really happy to see her rasp most of it down, but not try to make his foot look textbook perfect. He's so crooked that he needs that extra bit back there. She told me not to be afraid to take it back a little more when I do it, but if I wasn't sure, err on the side of leaving too much.

She gave me a couple other pointers, obligingly made fun of Bobby's mule ears, and sent us on our way. Definitely worth the little bit of money to have them cleaned up by someone else this once.

spring grass is coming.
but also more snow.

Our ride after wasn't great, but we won't touch on that. He finished well, there were some really good moments, and no one died. I don't think giving him that week off after his chiro adjustment was the right way to go upon further reflection. I talked with BM about it today, and we agreed that it probably just made his muscles tighten up. Next time, if we're prescribed rest, I'll just hop on him and walk it out until we're cleared to go back to real work. He's definitely the type of horse that gets worse sitting.

Today I decided to take all the pressure of being an upper of the lower levels dressage horse off and throw my jump tack on him instead. A jump lesson was finishing up when we came in, so we chilled by the mounting block to stay out of the way, but once I sent Bobby off, he was like, "We're doing the jumping!!! BM said go faster to that horse!!! She must want me to go faster too!!!!!"

Um, Bobby, no. Once we reestablished some whoa the fuck down, he actually flatted fairly respectable. BM was like, "He must really clean up at hunter shows." Having only been to one hunter show with him, and indeed cleaning up, I guess. He definitely knows how to rock the round back, round neck, slightly poked nose, low hunter frame. He just doesn't really jump sanely, no bigs.

winning the flat.

I shouldn't say that, because we then did do a very little bit of jumping, and it was supper sane!

BM dropped the 2'9" vertical the previous lesson had been jumping down to an X for us without me even asking, and then left a little 2' vertical up on the other diagonal. We started off with the X on a short approach, and Bobby was so good. Around to the vertical and still so good. We were consistently getting a bit of a gappy distance, but we both saw it and went for it without ever changing the rhythm. Just, there's the spot, it's a good one, off we go.

Off a long approach to the X the second time around, I could see from a good four strides out that we needed to move up. (I'm actually really good at seeing distances. My problem is making my brain respond when I know I need to change the approach to get the distance. Ughhhh, brain.) I closed my leg, and instead of flinging his head and sprinting to close the gap, BOBBY LENGTHENED HIS STRIDE.

Dudes, BM and I have been working so hard to make this his go-to response when leg goes on. He didn't break the rhythm at all--he just opened up, ate up the distance, and jumped from a perfect spot. I was soooooo proud of him. There was much rejoicing and cookie eating, especially since he hadn't been pointed to a jump in two weeks.


We'll see if we get a training ride in tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be a mix between sleet, rain, and ice all tonight, so my chances of even making it out to the barn are slim. Begone, winter!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wet Noodle

Okay, I'll be honest. I didn't actually refer to Bobby as a wet noodle in our ride yesterday. I started off telling him to "Stop noodling. You know how to walk in a straight line."

But that quickly evolved into me saying with great exasperation, "Stop acting like a fucking tripping noodle drunk on acid, mother fucker!" Does that make sense? Fuck no. Was I happy I was alone in the barn when that nonsensical word vomit spewed from my mouth? Well....yes.

Back let's back up to how we got there in the first place.

"fuck life."
surprise! it's actually winter again!

Once I decided I was going to take a break from eventing this year to rebuild my stadium cojones (or just build them in general) and focus solely on showing dressage, I decided I really wanted a fancier bridle than my Micklem to show in. There's nothing wrong with the Micklem--Bobby goes really well in it--but it's brown, and we're slowly trying to class things up over here.

I knew I wanted something with a wide nose band, absolutely no patent finish, and that was about it. Shortly after I started browsing, fellow blogger Cathryn posted a picture of Suzie in a super fancy bridle. I stalked it down after she told me the brand, but I could only find it in a couple Canadian stores and one UK store. I figured, hey, Canada is literally only one lake away, shipping should be super fast down to Rochester.

Ugh, it was the longest nine day wait of my life!

"fuck this snow"

It finally arrived late yesterday morning, and I went straight to the barn to play with it. Bobby hadn't been ridden in almost two weeks at this point thanks to his wonky ass, but we were finally cleared to go back to work just in time for outfits. I don't want to do a full review of the bridle until I use it for awhile, but first impression is that I really love it.

I do not, however, love the bit I bought to go with it. Bobby's been going in a plain single jointed egg butt for the past six months without issue, but I thought I'd try to dressage things up even more by making the bit for this bridle include a french link.

And here we come across the cracked out noodle horse.

those ears are absurd.

I couldn't get this horse to come on the bit, or walk a straight line, or trot a straight line, or bend like he'd been ridden for more than five minutes in his entire life, or do anything ever at all not horsing broken. <--basically bobby.="" p="">
I tried lateral work, I tried backing, I tried half halting to almost a halt and sending him immediately forward, I tried just sending him forward, I tried just halting and flexions. I did all the trouble shooting I could think of, and I was starting to despair because I seriously couldn't even get this horse to walk straight down the quarter line.

Before I let myself get too frustrated though, I got off and pulled the plain egg butt of my Micklem and stuck it in his mouth. The second I picked the reins back up, he was like butter again, like he hadn't ever taken a day off. We did some quick walk work--straight, supple, forward, round--and then off to the trot with the same results.

Fine, Bobby. "The nut cracker action is so abusive!" they say. Bobby says bring it on. He lives for the abuse.

and then surprise! it's spring again.

His canter was super round and active from the get-go which was actually a surprise. As I talked about before, I've been having to get down and dirty to push that left hind underneath him when we first start, but his butt cracking did its job. He did feel a little tight behind going right, but Chiro gave me some stretches he wants me to do for back there, and in my haste to play with the new bridle, I didn't do them before I got on.

Obviously I was happy with that turn of events, but then as we did our walk break, I distractedly (story of my life) let Bobby creep more and more onto his forehand, so when we were ready to trot again, we were basically starting from square negative ten. I went back to trouble shooting, and back to yelling stupid obscenities at my horse, until I finally just hopped off and put him on the longe.

He immediately dropped his head and stretched out into a big, swinging stretchy trot. Durh. Having not ridden in so long (two weeks is so long), I'd forgotten that when in doubt, Bobby loves to stretch it out. After about five circles, I jumped on him again and we had a long stretchy trot to reset the brain switch.

are you sick of head shots yet? me too.

I was finally able to slowly bring him back up to a real working trot, sink my weight into the saddle, and focus on something slightly more exciting than just going straight. We got some good shoulder in and haunches in before Bobby decided he was done with those too. I figured he was tired by this point, so we came back to the walk and tried the haunches in turning into a half pass across the diagonal that Megan suggested. It came out ballin', so after a little more stretchy trot we called it quits.

One thing I noticed was that I need to work on using my right leg more. I'm always so focused on pushing the ever-wandering left hind over that sometimes things on the right are forgotten about. Plus I should just focus more in general. Life long goals and all that.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Braideez Review and Giveaway

Ask and you shall receive, my lovelies!

A lot of you wanted to know about the Braideez I added to my yearly stock pile. This is a product I've used for years and strongly support, so I'm more than happy to share my opinion of them.

baby bobby dressaging in braideez since he began his baby career in 2012.

Specs:

Name: Braideez braiding wire
Price: $12
Where can I buy these wonderful things?: Available right here, but there's also a list on the website that shows stores that carry them. Yay, shopping!

I originally found these something like five years ago when they were casually mentioned in a COTH post. I'm useless when it comes to sewing in braids--I've tried thread, and I've tried yarn, but I eventually just went back to rubber bands. Obviously, even well done, those aren't the best option. You might be able to get them looking tidy (not if you're me), but they do a very good job of ripping your horse's mane out when you go to the braids out. The Braideez slide right out with zero fuss or hair shredding.

taking out braids after dressage last year. 

The Braideez are a coated copper wire that come in four different color options: black, brown, white, and party pack with all the colors. They come in packs of twenty five which might be too few for hunter riders. You guys put like five thousand braids in, right? And then you always want back ups in case you cut one too small for re-use. I only use them for dressage, and I only put ten button braids in, so I've never run out of full sized wires in all the years I've owned these.

epic christmas braids

They are reusable. Mine probably look a little less tidy than others because I leave an extra long tail when I trim them up, and that leaves me more excess to have to wrap around the braid, but I'd rather leave them a little longer and know that any wire I pick up I can put into any braid.

So. For those of you with seriously challenged braiding skills--just how easy are they to put in?

Don't worry. I'll show you!


It takes me right around one minute to do each braid. Between sectioning off mane, spritzing a little water or braiding spray in, ten braids take me no longer than fifteen minutes to blow through. Easy peasy.

Now I know there are going to be naysayers out there. I'll admit it. They can look a little sloppy from close up. But keep in mind I'm far from the world's best braider, and I zip through these as quickly as I can. I also keep Bobby's mane pretty short year round just for personal taste, so my buttons aren't as big and dreamy as some are. Check out pictures online of other people's work if you want to see fancy things. Either way, from a distance, they fit right in with the dressage world.

will model for cookies.

The Braideez also stay in forever. Before I purchased my infamous Hello Kitty neck cover, I used to braid Bobby the night before and just toss him back in his stall. He loves to nap, so the next morning I might have to pick some shavings or hay out, but the braids were always tight. Let us not forget that I left them in for almost a week after our Christmas photo shoot.

Will they work for long manes? Will they work for your tweaking, overly sensitive horse that hates life and all things, but mostly braiding? Will they tighten up enough for hunter braids?

I don't know honestly. However, the owner of Braideez has very generously agreed to giveaway a pack in the color of a winner's choosing! I'd love to see more blog reviews of these out there, and see how they work on other people's horses. Plus I'd just love to share the love of one of my favorite horse products.

How do you win? Simple! Just leave me a comment on what your braiding routine currently is. Don't braid but would like to try them anyway? No problem. Leave a comment saying what you like about the product. I'll do a random drawing Friday night after 9 p.m. EST, so say words by then.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

PRESENTS!

As I alluded to in my last post, I ordered so many presents from Smartpak Monday night. I'm only able to really stock up on any horse stuff I need to replace once a year, so I make sure to take full advantage of it and load up on all the things.

Also on the list to do is get my trailer looked at (this weekend) to make sure it's in primo running order, and see if my truck is going to make it through this year (poor old Growler) and get it all fixed up if it is. But those things are boring.

Let's look at presents!

As I also pointed out, none of these things are remotely exciting. There's a fancy bridle on its way down from Canada (that I probably could have driven up and gotten faster than it's taking to ship) that I'll do a post on when it arrives because that's about the only actual exciting purchase.

Sooo....

she was so excited for presents.
she didn't even care that they weren't for her.
she's kind of a simpleton. 

A new Weatherbeeta sheet (actually from State Line as SP doesn't have much choices for WB) and a new medium weight that was on sale. Bobby was in dire need of a new wardrobe this year. Everything I own except the high neck Mio I bought last year was starting to see the end of its life expectancy. He's had the same blankets since I bought him six years ago, and a couple others he inherited from Red that were even older. And let me tell you, 75" and small 78" do not fit a horse that comfortably wears an 81" and could probably go in an 84" if he had to.

red pony's ancient weatherbeeta.
clearly time for an upgrade.
I love WB products, and they fit Bobby perfectly, so I specifically sought out that sheet. The Mio just happened to be on sale and I also needed another medium, so I stuck that on, too.

not a blanket model.

so dapper. love this sheet.

I'll probably look into donating my other blankets to a rescue. They're not in bad shape, just not spoiled, one owner horse worthy anymore.


Boring. New fly mask (on sale) and a small hole hay net since Bobby ate a giant hole in his other one, and I just chucked it.


New girths! BM and I came to the conclusion that my old girth that didn't have elastic ends wasn't getting tight enough to keep the saddle in place. I've been borrowing hers for a couple months and finally bought my own. The jumping girth fits great. The dressage girth, which I actually ordered a size down from my normal one, was waaaaaay to big. That will be getting exchanged for a smaller size. They're nice girths--identical to my old Wintec one that I loved, but with elastic and the fabric reinforcements on top.


I finally snagged both the RWR hair net you guys kept recommending to me, and my first pair of Pipers! I know you're either in the love or hate camp for Pipers, and I have to say I'm in the love category. I put them on and immediately wanted to buy another pair. In fact, once I see what the damage to my truck is, I will probably definitely be getting a second pair. I guess I lucked out and am the exact shape these were made for because they fit like a dream.


Bobby absolutely, irreconcilably demolished the hind pair of Dover boots he had when throwing a month's worth of tantrums when he decided he could not horse in December, and honestly the fronts are barely hanging on to life. These only come up to a size large, and Bobby wore an XL in the Dover boots, so I was a little worried they wouldn't fit, but they're actually very generous sizing. They're not quite as rigid as the Dover boots, but still look like they'll hold up just fine.

obviously a really good picture showing these off.


And I restocked my Braideez. These are all I know how to braid with, and I had my last bag for something like five years before I just straight up lost it sometime this winter. I have no idea where it went to. These things are awesome, by the way. Highly recommended to anyone that's not a phenomenal braider with thread or yarn like myself.

And that's all! Like I said, a new bridle is also on the way, and probably another pair of breeches, but I think we're all set until next year!

happy st patrick's day from this dude!

What have you guys bought recently as show season begins to descend upon us?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

At least there are fancy pictures

Just a quick update on Robert since I know you are dying for one.

"Where have you been?"
"What have you been doing?!"
"WHERE ARE ALL YOUR FABULOUSLY WITTY AND SARCASTIC POSTS?!?!?"

Whoa. Chill, bro. You have missed absolutely nothing. Bobby has been wallowing around in the mud, getting vaccinated and made fun of by the vet, showing off his conformation picture posing skills also to the vet, and waiting for all his presents.

Dudes, so many presents. I can't wait to show you all what I got, but in summation my order in to SmartPak was both massive and mundane, but it will be here tomorrow which is lightening fast (I put the order in last night!) and exciting to me.

While spending money on pony things, I also took advantage of the sale Area II photographer Amy Dragoo was having that you all probably saw on Eventing Nation and/or facebook and/or everywhere and ordered a couple digital files of Bobby's last event at Plantation. There were a couple of really good ones that were printable, but I already have so many pony pictures around the house, I figured instead I'd pay to bombard social media with them instead. Yay!



Right? So amazing.

The big brown beast got cracked by Chiro this morning, who spent almost an hour working on his butt to get everything right as rain again. He was a HOT. MESS. Fortunately he was perfect everywhere else but in his jaw where he got a quick adjustment, but the wonkiness BM and I were feeling under saddle last week was definitely from a wildly out of place pelvis.

That all got put back to where it belongs, only Chiro said, "You're going to hate me, but no riding for a week!" Boo. Instead lots of stretching the hind legs special broken horse ways to make sure the adjustment sticks, and then back to work next Monday or Tuesday.

I might have another book review coming up, and also maybe there will just be blog silence for several days.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What's in my tack trunk?

Terise at Breeches and Boat Shoes just did a post on what's in her tack trunk. I love these posts because who doesn't love to check out all the random horse crap other people have, so I thought I'd jump in on the fun. (Bobby's training ride got cut short today because his bum has gone all wonky in case you're oh so worried about missing out on something. The vet is coming out tomorrow for routine stuff, and we have a call into the chiro, so he should be sorted out soon enough.)

Hubby had my tack trunk made for me for my birthday last year, and it's giant, but it still only holds a fraction of my shit. Here's what I consider my daily essentials:

Tupperware filled with random shit: extra boots, blanket straps, gloves, stirrups, polos, vet wrap, plastic wrap, and who knows what else. Surrounded by an extra lead rope, bridle, my hackamore, and an extra martingale, all of which probably needs to be cleaned.


Extra saddle pads that I don't use, but have just in case on top of that:


I keep my drawer slid over all that crap. In the drawer I keep: helmet, standing wraps, Dover boots, dressage tests, a couple riding books, whip, extra cookies, spurs, and a box o' bits. My quarter sheet also lived in there while it was cold.


Next to that: the saddle pads I use all the time, a bag of polos I use often, five point, tall boots, box of first aid shit, and my wash bucket with shampoo, sponge, MTG, detangler, and liniment. Also extra apple sauce to go with Bobby's magnesium.


And topped off with my grooming tote:


Saddles and bridle go on top:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Big One One

It's Bobby's birthday today!

Thankfully facebook was all, "Remember Bobby's birthday from last year?" because I had it marked down on my calendar as the twelfth. Whoops. You'd think after eleven years I'd remember exactly when it is. I don't where that date came from, but as it happens I am never unprepared for an animal's birthday. I pulled out a few bags of costumes, dug through one of my trunks, and came up with a sparkly pink tiara and a Birthday Girl banner. After a quick rework on the "girl" part with a Sharpie, I snagged a few apples off the table and headed over to the barn.

these are all of bobby's favorite things

I made him up a birthday bucket with apples, carrots, peppermints, grain, and a top dressing of apple sauce and took it out to the paddock for him. He was like, "Ooh, candy!" (He is his mother's child.), but I reminded him nothing in this relationship comes for free before plopping the tiara on his head and slinging the sash around his neck.

"don't care. have snacks."
"love snacks."

the dollar store is really discriminatory. where are the boy sashes?!
angry because he couldn't get the last of it out. i ended up dumping it on the ground.

Sad story: After his snacks he had a pretty intensive dressage school. Or at least it was intensive for me. I think I did the most work while Bobby was like, "LOL, riding with another Thoroughbred! Look at us! We don't know how to walk. Or trot. But yes, we will canter if you get into half seat!"

It all came together at the end though, and he finally gave me some super medium trot that's been missing for awhile. He got a scrub down when we were done, and then I attempted to graze him on the tiniest nubbins of grass alive.


looking for the remnants of snacks

finally warm enough for all day naked horses!