Friday, December 30, 2016

The Cost of 2016

Mentally is was fucking taxing and imma take a few years to pay that loan off. lolz jk, mental taxation never ceases with horses, amirite?

Anyway.

It seemed that at the end of the year I was writing checks left and right to the vet and the farrier, and I thought for sure that I was going to tally those two areas up and fall dead in disbelief. Really though, they weren't as bad as expected.

Inspired by Karen's horse expenses posts, let's take a look at what Bobby cost in 2016! (It's cold. The weather is shit. My horse isn't doing much. Bear with me.)

Supplements: $822

  • This is the only one I rounded on. Bobby's SmartPak's run around $65 a month, and I bought a 50lb bag of Magnesium at the beginning of the year I'm still feeding out.


Farrier: $315
  • This doesn't seem like much until you consider Bobby was barefoot and trimmed by myself up until the first week of October. We're feeling super confident that he'll be able to go in nothing more exciting than plain flat aluminium shoes next cycle, so while shoeing is going to be a regular added expense next year, at least it won't be a crazy expensive one.
Lessons: $80
  • I paid next to nothing out of pocket because I worked off all my lessons and training rides. When Bobby got injured and lessons stopped, work went towards taking money off my board instead.
Board: $4,735
  • Starting in January I'm going to try to pay for a bulk block of monthly lessons which should be easy enough to fit into the budget with the break I get doing barn chores. Hopefully.
Vet: $1,168
  • Basically nothing, right?! I included body work in this total which makes the vet work seem even less expensive. I mean, what's a few x-rays and lameness exams in a year's work? Never mind that those x-rays were essentially useless and I never got a solid diagnosis with all those lameness checks.
Shows: $1,385
  • Gas included with entry fees. I never stayed overnight anywhere so I didn't have to pay for a hotel or stall. 
Tack/Gear: $1,866.75
  • Mostly spent on riding gloves I think? This section was anything from fly spray to blankets to miscellaneous tack--bits, bridle, reins, etc. 
Misc.: $1,326.78
  • Memberships fees and truck and trailer repair/upkeep costs. 
Overall total: $11,698.53
  • A mere drop in the water, yes? And in case you think your horse husband is the best...you're wrong. Hubby's response? "Happy Carly: Priceless."

What about you guys? Did this year drain you dry, or run about par for the course? Any areas you know you spent more on than usual? Do you total your year-end horse expenses, or do you not want to go anywhere near those numbers?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2017 Goals

I thought I did a decent job last year of making goals that were specific enough to be achievable for once instead of my usual, "DON'T MAKE PEOPLE CRINGE IN STADIUM YAYYY!!"

I mean, still a worthy goal, but breaking that down into, "Don't drift directly into the right standard while approaching from a crawl" was both better defined and easier to work on. I'm hoping to continue that trend this year with a broad range of goals for both Bobby and myself.

2017 Goals

Dressage:

1. Stay present while riding at shows. I'm very guilty of dialing it in when showing. If I can get my horse somewhat relaxed, I basically quit there and stop riding. I'd like to work on riding bolder and asking Bobby for more instead of settling for the absolute bare minimum he'll give me.

2. Focus on year-end awards. I'm switching GMOs for dressage this year from WNY to CNY. I liked the staff, the organization, the facilities, and the entire vibe so much more at the CNY show I went to than the ones I showed/volunteered at for WNY. They're also a little kinder when it comes to racking up scores for year end awards, and I'd love to garner even more satin if we can swing it so I'm going to make their shows a priority.

3. Ride a Third Level test. Obviously only at a schooling show. Individually, all the pieces are installed at a basic level right now. Putting them together for an entire test is going to need a whole lotta work and polish to accomplish this by the end of show season.  

Jumping:

1. Attend at least one horse trial. Pending vet check in the spring to see if horse will get cleared to return to cross country.

2. Stay quiet on approach to the jump. Oh my goshhhhh, stop lifting my hands two to three strides out!!! Also stop over-riding with my seat once locked onto a distance. Basically just sit chilly and support with my leg.

the third or fourth year of doing these and i still get disappointed that my horse
is just straight fugly. going to try to glam him up for next year. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

But I love them

I know ride recaps aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they're the reason I have a blog. They're also far and away (okay, maybe second only behind show posts) my favorite things to read on other people's blogs. All that collecting and consolidating of information to look back on is the shit. Likewise, having a ride where there's information to collect is a highlight of my seriously tiny bubble world. Dear Everyone: I'm a hermit, please just leave me alone and stop expecting me to be social.

After getting adjusted by the chiro, Bobby had one flat ride where we could turn right again, a day off due to the weather, and then we played in the snow before he got a week off while I was away at my mom's.

my dressage saddle is about to be for sale if anyone wants a perfectly nice tekna
that no longer fits this beefer.

Thursday was my first ride back, and the second we walked away from the mounting block I had to go to work. Bobby was crooked as fuck--or AF, as you hipsters say--and I started the bending battle. Bobby's finally getting better about being supple and bendy, but he does it at the expense of going forward. We spend a lot of time at the walk during our rides discussing how it is actually possible to do both at once.

I forced myself to stay conscious about pushing my hands forward to allow his neck to follow them out or he gets all crimped at the base of his neck. Forward hands, forward march, inside leg to outside rein, and we were finally ready to move on to the trot.

forward trot, too, sluggish mcsluggerson

We alternated between circling half the ring to using the entire long side, having to focus really hard on not letting him hang off my inside rein--especially if the inside rein was my left rein which is Bobby's favorite rein evar. He'd get frustrated with me about forcing this issue, and he'd get even more upset when I'd still expect him to carry on bending around my inside leg when there was no rein there to dump his giant head into. We had to come back to the walk a few times to reset, but once he got it at the trot he was a gem in the canter.

I really want to get his canter jumpier, longer, and bigger this year. We were appropriately marked down for a shitty dull canter in several of our tests this year. So many people throughout the years--both pros and casual observers--have remarked how much they love Bobby's canter, but I'm almost glad judges weren't impressed with it. I think it's a shit canter and I don't like riding it.

However, as he's getting stronger and real collection is becoming a thing, it's starting to get that elusive bounce per ounce. I'm also able to manipulate it a little more. Lengthening his stride instead of just running is a real thing now, and he's quite a bit lighter than he's ever been in the past. As per usual, this horse finds counter canter very easy, so I let him take a "break" between directions and do several laps and some serpentines to break up the monotony.

The lateral work is...coming back. He was out in his withers and lower back which made him very angry and rabid about doing any work to the right before getting adjusted, but was also strangely pretty fucked up in his left shoulder this time around, too. He's pretty okay with everything to the left, and he's starting to realize that it doesn't hurt to do things to the right anymore. It's a work in progress, and a lot of times I struggle with what's physically plaguing him and what's just in his princess brain.

On Friday, I had Hubby meet me at the barn after I was done with chores to get some jumping video. Bobby was a dragon to warm up, but he was actually surprisingly sane to jump. He maybe wasn't entirely sane picking up the canter in the first place, but once pointed in the right direction, he kept a lid on it.


We warmed up with the singles first. A blue vertical on the diagonal, a gate off an angle, and the oxer on the rail.



We took a little bit of a Hail Mary to the oxer, but I saw the distance from a few strides out and went for it, and instead of trying to jam five extra strides into the base, Bobby actually listened and went for it with me. He's a big horse, and clearing 3' from a little farther out wasn't exactly a real effort for him.

From there we moved right into the triple combination. Maybe not the best idea, but I set it at an inviting two to two with small fences. Bobby could. not. do. it. He did two and a half to one and a half the first time, and then two to kind of two the second time while nearly falling onto his face when landing off the last jump because he'd fallen so far onto his forehand. I had Hubby scrap the middle fence and put the final fence down to poles while we worked through a progression from that to two cross rails.




I tried to go big with three cross rails, but no. Bobby suddenly couldn't function over the ground pole in front of the first fence and basically lurched through the line several times before I quit and told BM she was probably going to get a Bobby ride for a holiday present. Someone needs a little related distance tune-up, and I don't want to fuck with my confidence by having to get ugly to do it myself.

Instead we finished up with a little more trotting, playing around with pushing his stride open and bringing it back. Even that was a little Bobby-like when I turned him loose down the long side and he got to winging his front end out so far that he his back end couldn't keep up and he almost fell down, got upset, and then sat on the wall in protest. Oh, Bobby. Never a dull moment.

NEEDS MOAR UPHILL ALL THE TIME, GIANT LONG MOOSE HORSE

Friday, December 23, 2016

Blogger Secret Santa

My Secret Santa gift was waiting for me when I got back from Illinois Wednesday night. I knew it was from Alyssa because she was afraid it wouldn't get to me in time and didn't want to leave me wondering where my fabulous secret pony presents were. Of course they ended up getting here well before Christmas, and then I felt like a schmuck for actually making my Secret Santa wait until after Christmas to receive her gifts because of the timing of my trip. (They should be there Tuesday, I promise!)

If you guys are friends with me on facebook, or follow me on instagram, or are burdened with having my phone number...or live with five states of me, you probably already know the main part of the gift from Alyssa. Without further ado:


You. Guys.

That is my horse wearing a tiara on a purple background giving the most Bobby look a Bobby can give.

My past Secret Santas have been amazing, don't get me wrong. I've received some excellent gifts that I still use on a daily basis, but...

I mean, how do you top this?

Also included in our package was a hilarious pair of socks that would have been a perfect gift all on their own:


And, of course, cookies for Bobby. They were the same kind his vet in PA used to dole out to him so he was very happy to eat them all in one go. 

This Christmas I'm kind of a frazzled mess with some house stuff that's going wrong and the general anxiety having to spend time with people brings me, but there's no way I can look at that painting and not smile. It's a reminder of all the wonderful people out there who share my passion, and who have helped make this journey a little bit easier.

Merry Christmas from Bobby and I!

never forget.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 10 Questions

Thanks again to L for providing content while I'm away in Chicago!

1. Does your horse need shoes? Well he does now. Whomp whomp. A small sacrifice to having a sound horse that I can still do whatever I want with.

2. What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate? Having spent a long time on both sides, I honestly can't say one is better than the other. If your horse can go barefoot, do it! If your horse needs shoes, do that! Not every horse can do both.

3. Favorite season for riding? Summer. Dry footing for trail rides, horse shows, and you can always ride early enough to beat the heat around here.

4. How many shows do you think you've gone to? I was never really into showing until well after I'd graduated college, so doubtless not as many as most of you, but I've still gotten around a fair bit.

5. Do you consider yourself a good rider? I'm not a very self-confident rider in that I'm not ever comfortable giving myself credit for anything I might actually do well. Self-doubt is my jam. I also ride alone 99% of the time, so I never have someone there being like, "Wow, you're doing so well with your horse! Well done, you." Honestly I'd rather err on the side of thinking I suck and try to improve than err on the side of being delusional, talking myself up to internet strangers, and thinking I don't need to improve.

6. How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse? I think there's a lot you can get away with without being the most knowledgeable horse person out there. Does that mean you should have ten horses on two acres with no fucking clue what you're doing? No. But you don't necessarily have to be a snotty know it all bitch genius to own a horse either.

7. Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer? No, none of them throughout the years. If I don't agree with what a professional I'm paying is doing, that's it. No more paying the professional.

8. Describe your dream horse. I just want an OTTB gelding with a good brain. Having fun is more important to me than having being ultra competitive. Also Thoroughbreds always. Only.

9. Does anyone in your family ride? Hubby can ride and has no problem letting his input be heard during my rides. Other than that, no.

10. If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? Why? Mmm, maybe Valegro? I'd never be able to jump any of the top level horses in any of the other disciplines, so what would be the point? But Valegro is adorable, and if he could just do all his magical movements while I sat there doing nothing, that'd be great. #fantasyland


Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Year in Review

This year had to have had the biggest swing from where we started to where we ended of all my years of being in horses. It's been absolutely crazy reading back on old posts and looking at what Bobby and I were going through in the beginning of the year. Our entrance into full time dressage show horse land almost seems like it didn't even happen, and I'm actually kind of astounded at just how bad my confidence issues over fences were. If ever there needed to be a ribbon awarded for mental victory won, this was the year to receive it.

All our problems conveniently (for sake of recapping) started right off the bat in January. Bobby had spent all of the previous month being a feral dragon doing flat work, but I was figuring out ways to combat that--most of it revolving around making the dressage rides short and sweet while upping the over fences rides to keep his brain happy.


That got halted instantly when Bobby bungled his way through a one stride, throwing me up his neck, and the front of my helmet connected with the top of his skull so hard it gave me a serious concussion. I spent a week sitting in my dimly lit living room doing nothing, unable to even put my glasses on because my eyes refused to focus and trying to see anything made me nauseous. When I finally climbed back aboard, I was faced with the complete and total loss of my confidence over fences of any height. I recruited BM who started doing one to two training rides on Bobby a week while I played around on lesson horses (and ponies!) attempting to speed along my confidence recovery process.

By February, BM had installed a fairly reliable half halt over fences on Bobby and had moved on to working diligently on getting him lengthen his stride in the canter. It became obvious that Bobby had a serious confidence issue with jumps himself due to being the actual worst at seeing a distance. I had progressed from riding my horse to a stop in front of the smallest of fences and bursting into tears to feeling pretty okay over cross rails. I even managed one whole 2'3" vertical two times, which at the time felt like a monumental win.

Apparently we didn't do much in March besides buy some basic necessities, do a blog hop or two, host a giveaway, and celebrate Bobby's eleventh birthday. That sounds like a lot listed out, but it doesn't appear we did a whole lot of actual riding.


In April, BM and I were working hard trying to find the root of Bobby's tension under saddle. He'd tighten up his lower back so much that he'd start to look lame. In between body work, time off, and free jumping sessions, I continued to plug away at working on regaining my confidence over fences. It was a mixed bag--one day I could pop over a somewhat sizable oxer and the next I'd get so anxious I'd start to shake just looking at a large cross rail. Meanwhile BM plugged away trying to get Bobby to relax and be responsible for himself. Most importantly, Tracy came to visit!

May brought our first shows of the year. We headed around the corner for a hunter show first. I didn't take advantage of the ample warm up time, and when we went into the ring for the hack section, Bobby slowly unraveled. We made it over one whole jump in our o/f division before I had a complete melt down and had to excuse myself from the ring. The absolute terror of jumping made no sense, but it was real, folks.


We followed that up making our Second level debut at one of our GMO's shows. Bobby also unraveled there and lost his shit in a serious way in the canter work. I debated giving up any riding besides wandering aimlessly on trails after having bar none the worst experience with a judge in my life. Winning both your tests with an average of 50% against other people is not something to celebrate.

We hit the shows hard in June. We went with the barn to the second hunter show in our local series, but this time with a whole new game plan--warm up only, no showing. BM had to yell and poke and chase, but we managed to school several fences several times with Bobby only being a little bit of a nutter. I for sure wasn't ready to attempt to show over fences, but it was a good forward step regardless.


We made our rated dressage debut and increased our scores by nearly 10% from our first attempt at Second. We also did two hunter paces, one at the barn and one down in Cohocton. Bobby was a jigging nut case for the second one and worked up a massive muscle knot in his back that required even more body work!

pc: megan stapley, used with purchase

We did three dressage shows in July, but a lot of my focus was still on jumping. I was getting more comfortable with 2'3" being our norm, and even hit up 2'6" without too much fear on occasion. Our first dressage show of the month, Bobby held it together for the first test, but then pulled a Bobby and lost his shit for the second test and neatly took out half the arena chains.

We finished our rated dressage season (yeah, it was really short lived) with a weekend, technically two different shows outing. We dealt with some tension and with me just dialing it in, but still managed to snag our first score towards our Bronze at Second.


August was the month for buckling down and conquering jumping from a long approach in preparation for our final hunter show of the season. I really, really wanted to finish by being able to make it around a full course without having a panic attack. We worked tirelessly over 2' jumps with the longest approaches I could set. More than anything, I feel like this is what finally got me over the hump. Having to maintain a canter without getting grabby or fucking anything up was the hardest mental exercise ever, and once I conquered it I was basically golden.


We cleaned up in the hack division of the hunter show, getting reserve champion, and then went and completed all three courses in the o/f. It was a sloppy mess, but I got over every single jump the first time with a big smile on my face. We finished out the month doing our first 3' fence since my crash.

September was a mixed bag. I did one last hunter pace on Bobby before he came up lame, and then did another one of the barn's paces on two different horses. I also picked up the ride on Shooter.

We tried the wait and see game with Bobby's lameness, but finally at the end of September/the very beginning of October, I had the vet out for what initially looked like it was going to be a RF leg lameness. False! Bobby presented as 3/5 lame on the LF foot. Farrier put plain steel flat shoes on him, ending his three year barefoot run, but when that didn't help, the vet came back out to x-ray. Her diagnosis was severe navicular changes, but then I went on a super fun adventure of sending the images to everyone and nobody agreeing on anything.

Fortunately, Farrier turned out to be a genie and shoeing changes made him instantly sound. We started back into work, and by the end of the month we were able to low key participate in our barn's last hunter pace.


I started upping Bobby's work load in November, and he stayed completely sound. I even introduced a little bit of jumping again, and not only did he not go lame, but the high I'd ended on when we had to stop jumping in September was still there and I no longer had any fear coming up to fences.

December has seen the return of the slightly demonic flat work Bobby. He rears his ugly head--and he rears it really, really high--every year around this time. Keeping that in mind, I'm trying to keep everything as low pressure as possible. If he needs our ride time to actually just be turned loose in the ring to romp around time, then that's what we'll do.

Overall we ended the year with:
  • seven firsts
  • two seconds
  • nine thirds
  • six fourths
  • three fifths
  • one sixth
  • and a reserve champion

As far as our goals for the year, on Bobby's side the focus was on correcting his right drift over fences and growing the fuck up--aka stop being so overly dramatic about literally anything he didn't find appealing. With BM's jumping boot camp, and training boot camp in general for the both of us, I can definitely say any right drift on either of us has been eradicated. 

The growing up? While the quick dressage show recaps sound like he was still a wild flail stallion, he has learned to stand up to the pressure a little more. He might lose it, but he can come back from it now. He's never going to a quiet, relaxed horse under saddle when the going gets tough, but now that he's holding on to at least one brain cell than can be accessed in times of duress, we're able to work with each other more and bring him back to sane horse land slightly faster.


I had three goals for the year. I don't know that I can say I knocked the "push for more" goal off the list. My main fail at shows was that I didn't do that at all. I stayed on the safe side of letting Bobby dink around in an attempt to not have any blow ups, but our scores reflected that in that I didn't push even when I could have. This is going on next year's list. I know Bobby is capable of producing more away from home, I just have to step up and ask. 

I did, however, nail the jumping out of an open stride goal. It took me all fucking year to get there, but damn it, it got done!

My final goal was selling Bobby if push came to shove. Obviously he's still here, and the only one to thank for that is BM. She pushed me to stick with him, but she also turned him into a horse that I would actually want to keep. Beyond any doubt, without her work with us this past year, Bobby would have found a new home and this blog would have gone in a very different direction.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Fail and Fotos

After two days of storming, the wind and the snow finally settled down this morning. We started off with a roasty toasty 11* which was warmer than it got all day yesterday, and I was able to get everyone turned out to frolic in the fresh foot of snow--or to just stand around and eat their hay because fatties. Obviously this meant the day's priority was a bareback snow ride!

even the best backdrop i could come up with
can't make bobby look dreamy

I barely had my leg over Bobby's back before he was plowing off into the drifts, out on his own Bobby mission. I'm glad I have a horse that loves snow rides as much as I do, although I do wish he'd keep the porpoising in the canter to a minimum.

just really loves snow, okay?

We strolled around for awhile, enjoying the beauty of nature and occasionally getting offended when snow dropped from the trees onto us. I eventually jumped off, hung up my quarter sheet on a jump, and sent Bobby off to be photographed.

"wait, where are you going?"
distracted by having to stuff his face back in the snow.
again.

When I was done, I kicked the snow off one of the log jumps and lined Bobby up so I could get back on. Bobby kept stepping forward to try to eat tree branches right as I was about to jump up, but I eventually got him wrangled to where I needed him. Or so I thought.

I don't know if this counts as a fall, but it was bound to happen with my last post. I pushed off with one foot while swinging the other one over, but the foot still on the log slid on the snow and I crashed down underneath my poor, tolerant horse. He stood there like a statue while I laughed hysterically until he finally took one careful step sideways and looked back at me like, "What in the actual fuck are you doing down there?"

"y u so stupid, human?"

I brought him around to the other side of the log which was a bit taller, and after some exceptionally awkward scrambling, I was able to shimmy my way back aboard. Poor, poor Bobby.

"y u so ugly, bobby?"

We spent another ten minutes out wandering around before heading in. I stuffed half a bag of butterscotch candies down his throat and then sent him out front to hang with his boyfriend for the day.

how can you not ride in this?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Overdue

For landing on my ass, that is.

My large white friend:

"OH GOD THERE'S WATER DRIPPING OFF THE ROOF DON'T LEAVE ME HERE ALONE"

Nearly got the better of me this morning. He'd managed to get himself a long weekend with a loose front shoe I didn't wan't to risk him tearing off until Farrier could come out to do him. Combine that with rapidly plummeting temps and his already coked out tweaker brain, he came out of his stall looking for anything to lose his shit over.

"OH GOD IT'S COMING FOR ME ISN'T IT"

I made a smart life choice and stuck him on the longe first. He's usually a lazy plug to longe, but the second I stepped away from him he blasted off into a power trot and kept himself going. Perfect, I thought. He's such a fatty still that he'll be tired and reasonable by the time I get on.

Yeah, he wasn't. He was still feeling super fresh when I swung aboard and I immediately went to work keeping his spinning wheels focused. Poles, lateral work, lots of smaller circles, and changes of directions finally got him to the point where he started to come back down to earth. He remained steady at the trot and was actually being super with the pole exercises I had set up all around the ring.

Then we passed one end of the ring that we'd already passed a hundred times, and he pulled his classic teleportation at a high rate of speed spook move while I was mid-post. My ass was literally hovering over air while I stood upright in my right stirrup. My left leg was like a vice against the left side of the saddle, refusing to complete the unplanned dismount. Fortunately at that point, his fat self was like, "Wait, whut?" and he'd slowed to a walk. I grabbed a handful of mane and plunked my ass back into the center of the saddle and booted him right back over to where we'd left.

nothing but drunk gold fish between those pony-sized ears

I haven't fallen off in well over a year, but between Shooter and Pongo it's bound to happen sooner rather than later. Do your no stirrup homework, kids. It gives you thighs of steel that turn into excellent ass-saving devices.

What about you? When was the last time you had an involuntary dismount?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#ottbproblems

I kind of got distracted from the Pongo story by getting caught up in binge watching Westworld. #sorrynotsorry

With him getting cracked this morning alongside Bobby (Chiro's take on Pongy: "His whole right side is a mess...but he is cute.") and earning himself a few days off, I figured I might as well go ahead and recap my short time riding him since BM bought him.

he takes getting tacked up very seriously

He's a sweet dude on the ground. From day one he ground tied in the aisle way, and he's since progressed to cross tying and being left alone without moving so much as a foot...okay, he might move his tongue because he is the biggest cookie monster I've ever met.

He stands great at the mounting block, waiting to walk away only until you ask him. His downward transitions get an A+ -- he walks and halts off your seat pretty much instantly.

From there he gets a little more fresh off the track-y.

"grass is poison. don't trust nature, you guys."

He picks up the trot fine with a little leg and a cluck, but he's very stiff in his hind end. His hind legs move like some strange carriage horse, and he's reluctant to open up his stride. He's already had one massage and got the chiro today, so hopefully that helps loosen him up even more.

The canter? Yeahhh. He's actually super to the left, unsurprisingly. He doesn't pull or fuss, and he's able to balance himself just fine. To the right, he can maybe pick it up correctly in the front, maybe not, but the hind end hops around totally confused. That leads to him losing his balance and flailing/falling.


Aside from riding things, he's had typical tummy troubles. He's being aggressively treated for ulcers, and he's finally rabid about eating his hay and cleaning up his bucket as soon as it's put in front of him. But he's a sensitive dude. He doesn't like being reprimanded, and every time something rocks his little world he thinks the end is nigh and goes into full-blown, "Oh god, my ulcer is explodingggggg" mode. And then he gets extra meds and feels okay again.

For instance, he gets turned out with Momo who he annoys the shit out of. They were rearing up on top of each other (ugh, boys) right before I went to bring them in. Momo must have landed a good one on him (Which, I should point out, he deserved. He antagonizes the shit out of poor Mo.), and it dawned on him that, ouch, that sort of hurt. So he went and broke into full body sweats and acted like he was colicking.

"are those cookies i hear?!"

Now we get to the part where he lost his riding privileges for a short time.

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, I forced Hubby out to take us on our first trail ride. Hubby got on Bobby to be our voice of reason and punching bag/pony horse. Pongo followed Bobby out of the indoor and around the barn without a care in the world. Then we came to a puddle that he had to go through to continue down the trail. Bobby had to come back and retrieve us, and once Pongo was attached to his pony he strolled right across.

But Pongo and a pony don't really mix. He instantly loses all independent thought once he pairs up. He can't steer, he doesn't listen to whoa or go, and god forbid you try to get through to him in any way because he goes into melt down mode when you try to correct him. I figured, whatever. It's not the end of the world if we have to get ponied for our first trail ride. Carry on.

first ride/ponying after BM bought him

He jigged, but he wasn't spooky or being stupid--although I'm sure poor Bobby disagreed. Then we came around a corner of the field and for whatever reason he lost his shit and body slammed Bobby, burying him in a bush to the point where Bobby was like, "I cannot carry on, I am stuck in this bush, fare thee well." Of course, that left Pongo all by himself in the lead with no cognitive abilities so he went to his go-to evasion and started rearing.

I had my neck strap on so I never once thought he was going to get me off, but he got to the point where I did think he was going to lose track of what his feet were doing and just straight up fall down. That's not something I care to experience on horse back, so I wrangled him to a point where I could jump off safely.

I led him back most of the way to the barn before getting on again. I tried to give him the chance to go forward and trot or canter it out, but nope. Back to the rearing and now also spinning to get away from Hubby and Bobby who were trying to grab him. Again, I didn't once feel like he was going to dump me, but nonstop rearing gets no one anywhere, so again I finally got him to a spot where I was able to safely jump off. Then he got a solid crack in the neck as he tried to keep rearing in-hand. I don't think so, buddy boy.

"not me! look how sweet i am!"

He was fine once I got back on him in the ring afterwards (that's when the video was taken), but BM and I solidly agreed it was time he learned a little independence and body awareness via ground work. He's got to learn to take care of himself and not check out when the going gets tough. He's been in longeing boot camp, and he's definitely learning about boundaries and doing what you're asked as soon as you're asked it.

Being expected to be a riding horse is a really tough job.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ASSFS Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location

A blog hop from Sarah is keeping the content rolling! I also love seeing all the different demographics of where people keep their horses, and how they vary so much from place to place.

Bobby lives one town east of Rochester, close enough that you can see hints of the glorious Rochester skyline (that being one building that I'm pretty sure is an apartment complex) as I drive out there from home. It's very much a suburban area, and while there are close to a dozen horse farms and a scattering of hay fields within a five mile radius of where I board, they're all smack dab in the middle of neighborhoods with nice houses and manicured lawns. It's by far the strangest set up of barn life I've ever been at. In fact, I think the land that the barn sits on is zoned for housing and not for ponies.

Average costs:

  • Trim $35
  • Front shoes $80-90 (although LOLZ not anywhere close to what I pay for Bobby's sneakers)
  • Monthly stall board $425-$550
    • I don't know anyone that really does pasture board around here. It gets so fucking cold, windy, and snowy that I don't think it's a popular thing. 
    • When I was searching for barns, I noticed almost all of them had surcharges for all the add-on services: blanket changes, booting, holding for vet and farrier, etc. One even charged you extra for turnout. 
  • Hay (square bales) $5.75
    • The majority of the hay around here goes to the track so it's all premium quality, hence the premium price. 
Weather? Anyone that's ever lived in WNY can go ahead and laugh at this one. The weather here changes by the hour--and I mean it can be 50* and sunny one hour and 30* and snowing its ass off the next. Because the barn sits so close to Lake Ontario, it gets a lot of wind. They do, however, usually end up with a lot less snow than we do at my house which sits a little further south. Last year's winter was very mild, and this one has been so far, too. I've lived in NY before though. It can get down to negative double digits with 4'+ of snow for weeks on end. Conversely, 90* in the summer isn't at all uncommon. NY sucks.

Riding demographic? Mostly hunter barns. Really basically all hunter barns. You have to head south to Geneseo to run into eventers and the driving people. There are a couple dressage trainers around that I would never use, and one or two big western guys, but hunter land rules in my area.

Frustrating things?
  • The vet. The main vet is a large practice with several doctors. While they're easy to make appointments with because they have so many vets on staff, they're expensive as shit, and from what I've heard there isn't a single one that people actually prefer. Bleh. I'm going to have to bring someone new in for spring shots to see if I trust them enough to ultrasound Bobby and give me a clear reading on his legs. I'd like to feel confident knowing I can go back to eventing without blowing any important soft tissue structures to smithereens. 
  • Lack of trails. Because it's a suburban area, unless you want to go wandering down busy paved roads, there's not really anywhere to go for more than a half an hour meandering walk around hay fields close by. I can trailer out to Mendon which is only half an hour away, but having to trailer out for trail rides is kind of a bummer to me. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Officially official

Bobby is now back in full, unlimited work. We've returned to all Second level work, and we're on week two of jumping 2'6" without holding back to only three or four efforts. On Wednesday, he'll have hit eight weeks of being in his wide-web, aluminium, rocker toe, wedge shoes (without ever pulling them while gallivanting around in his field which he does on the daily--so yay, being barefoot did help his feet get healthy in that regard, but also yay having a farrier that doesn't fuck your horse's feet up!) and will be transitioned to something with less bells and whistles. Farrier's goal is to get him down to a plain old flat aluminium shoe the cycle after this.

As I started putting pieces of real work back into his schedule and he never took an off step, there didn't seem to be a point to throwing the brakes on everything. Had he ever come up sore or swollen anywhere, I would have backed down. 

But he didn't. He's sound, his legs are cold and tight, and his feet haven't been even remotely ouchy. He's sticky to the right which is his tell that he needs to see his chiro, who should be out some time next week. 

going to be bummed if i have to buy even more
bell boots in a new size to accommodate no more high heels

I was bugging Farrier last week about him (again), and she just shook her head and still couldn't give me any possible diagnosis that would explain why he went so instantly sound the day he got shoes on. As we take away the degree of the wedge, we'll see if it effects him at all. The x-rays showed that the angle of his coffin bone was wonky as shit, so maybe the lift in his shoes relieved pressure inside his foot. If he goes lame, we'll go back to fancy shoes, no big deal.

In the meantime though, let's move on to fun things!

I dragged Hubby out Saturday evening to get some jump school video because no one in their right mind could want more than two weekends in a row of flat school footage (lol jk, I could, but do it for the blog, right?).

rivaling emma for screen caps of questionable quality

Perhaps even more surprising than having Bobby plopped back into jump land is having me plopped back into jumping land. Like, you guys, remember that time I was fucking terrified as fuck to jump fences...for like eight months? And wasn't that like...three months ago?!

Yeah, over it. 

I mean, I feel completely fucking silly for ever being afraid to jump. What even was my deal? Just add leg and if you need to half halt, your horse is beautifully trained so do it. He won't stop, he won't bolt, he'll just go over the jump.


Of course, that's easy to say now after those eight months of BM boot camp where she basically retrained my horse over fences and gave me multiple therapy sessions every single week. Hard work pays off, both mentally and physically, and I feel super focused and able to think over jumps now. Bring on next year!


I didn't set up a full course or anything when we got there Saturday because I didn't want to torture Hubby any more than I already was. I straightened out the few jumps that were already mostly set up: a 2'9" vertical on the diagonal (see second video), a 2'6" oxer on the quarter line, a 2'3" two stride on the other diagonal, and a 2' vertical off of a circle (see first video).  

It took some engine revving to get Bobby cooking because I'd snagged him in the parking lot as he was being brought in for dinner so he wasn't exactly pleased to be hanging out with me. The green jump was off a sharp turn off the wall which is the exact opposite of what we worked on for so long--hunter courses with their full long side arena approaches (which I'm crediting to fixing my brain the most). This was a big issue with the burgundy line. The turn into the line taking the gate first was super sharp and tricky, and Bobby was having a hard time getting it into his head that he would turn and BAM there was the fence nowgojumpgo. 


We'd either jump in awkwardly, or twice he puttered to a stop in front of it like, "Whaaa-? Where did this come from?" I finally grabbed a whip, trotted up to it, and gave him one spank behind the leg as he started dying out. That got his attention and we were good to go from there. Well, once I dropped the whip again.  

It was obvious where our weak spots are right now. I started off being really lazy with my position. I was consciously aware of my heel creeping up over the first few fences, and I was like, "That's stupid. If you know you're doing, you can damn well stop doing it." So I did. My leg is solid as shit over fences. Laziness is the only reason it should ever be swinging. 

Mostly though, it was apparent how little course work we've done all year. Bobby would jump one jump and then think he was done and needed snacks and petties before he could move on. Yeah, no. I really had to ride him hard on landing from one jump to the next in the first half, but once we started stringing things together with frequency, he caught on. And then he got snacks and petties.


When I first got on, I did think the vertical and the oxer looked a little daunting, but once we started jumping, they didn't faze me in the slightest. I would have had no qualms about raising them, but this was only our second weekend where we did more than one or two jumps one or two times apiece, and I didn't want to push too fast. We have all winter to be stuck in the indoor practicing over bigger jumps.


Sarah didn't get Pongo video, but Hubby did on Sunday so stay tuned for that story!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas comes to visit

Riding Bestie Sarah was up from PA first thing Friday morning with a plan of attack. We'd decided beforehand that we needed to do a good costume for Bobby because it had been too long (I mean, one week is too long, so the months since it had been last was obviously pure torture).

For our Christmas pictures this year, I'd originally thought about doing a Mr and Mrs Claus theme. I was going to get a beard and appropriate Claus outfits and everything, but then I couldn't find anything affordable practically free that I liked, so I switched that to doing Santa and an elf. There was an elf costume I was eyeing up, but I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to make it fit a horse.

Then Sarah stepped in.

great minds 

Forget Santa. Turning Bobby into a bona fide Christmas tree complete with a tree attached to him was a way better idea!

I dug through my tubs of left over Christmas shit, and then we hit up the dollar store on the way out to the barn to get even more shit. Sarah hacked and jumped Bobby while I beat Shooter (who was being such a lazy pig) before we tossed Shooter back outside and took Bobby to the back of the barn. There are a few stalls back there that are for the smaller horses/ponies that don't have sky lights over them like the other stalls do so they're darker--as in, they make lights show up better. We commandeered a stall from K who was in the process of mucking out and set up shop.


We started with the basics: two types of garland, ribbon, and a banner that was supposed to read "ho, ho, ho" but somehow only ended up with one "ho". Not sure how that happened... Sarah secured the red tree as a horn while I started wrapping lights. T was like, "I can't believe he's just standing there!" And I was all, "He thinks he's tied. Only he's just plugged in." #bobbyproblems

the tree was a little precarious

We stuck a few bows and ornaments on him and strung up the battery powered Happy Holidays light strand. The giant gold bow got plopped on, and then we were left facing how and where we were going to put the Christmas tree. K helpfully chimed in (we had quite an audience at this point), "Just put it between his ears!"

Well, duh!

kind of bummed the fake snow on his legs didn't come out clearly

We popped the cheapie side panels out, tied it down with some red ribbon, topped it with a Santa hat, and were good to go.

one lit up ho

I guess I've always taken my horses for granted because I've gotten so many comments of, "I can't believe he lets you do that!" I just...wouldn't ever expect him to not do it. But really that goes for all the horses I've owned. Maybe I just pick a good brain above everything else (god knows soundness isn't one of my strong suits). He's not Saint Bobby. He's a horse with rock solid ground manners and a foundation of trust in his owner. Don't under-sell your horse, people. Try it yourself before you assume your own horse can't or won't put up with such shenanigans.

maybe you don't feed enough cookies for your pone to tolerate this.
trainer's tip: feed cookies constantly.
Merry Christmas from Bobby!