I bought myself the best Christmas gift ever, and it's the best because it's also a gift for all of you.
I gathered all my holiday money, gift cards, and some money I'd saved up and finally--like, can we get an Oprah, "FINALLYYYYY!!!" here?--bought a decent camera. No more blurry screen shots from blurry video in the dark indoor because the camera doesn't even recognize there's a horse in the ring! No more show pics where the background is crystal clear but the object in motion, that being me, are almost unrecognizable!
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
|look at us working those hocks and trying to open up sir tiny prancer's stride!|
look at us because you can see ussssss.
Of course to fully appreciate this new fancy thing, I have to get Hubby on board with it. He likes it, yes, but I took 400 pictures when I tested it out with BM as my riding subject over the weekend. Hubby took 180. Not acceptable. I'm trying to run three social media accounts here, Hubby. That shutter better never stop!
So that's my most exciting news for the new year. I'm waiting for some literature to arrive to teach me how to use some of its fancier functions because right now its doing all the work for me. Once I learn what all its buttons actually do (I had to watch a youtube video to see how to turn the flash off. Don't judge.), I will be annoying the shit out of all you owners of fancy cameras so be prepared.
|dopey giant ottb and grumpy as shit normal sized qh. besties for life.|
In actual riding news, I am being so zen in my approach to winter for once in my life. It means I haven't ridden quite as much as I usually do, but that's probably a good thing. Less things to upset Bobby's delicate soul over and whatnot. I basically get on with zero expectations, and if Bobby starts getting tight or tense, I just tell myself to manage it and move on. January isn't the time for drilling new movements into a horse whose Lyme disease can make him incredibly stiff and uncomfortable when it gets cold.
I'm also doing less intense flat work because Bobby has made it clear my dressage saddle just isn't going to fit around his new muscles anymore no matter what size gullet I put in it. Doing real dressage work in a thirty year old Stubben jump saddle is not my idea of a good time, so our flat only schools have been all about the basics.
|its rly srsly hard to sit the canter in this fucking thing.|
Unsurprisingly, the basics--which most definitely need a lengthy revisiting--have started to really solidify. He's so much more supple and willing to bend. He's lightening up on the inside rein, and overall carrying himself lighter and rounder. He occasionally gets behind the vertical, but I give zero shits about that right now. With this long-necked llama, I'd rather him roll himself right up into an over-bent ball that I can push him out of than brace the underside of his neck and prance around with his fucking face in the rafters.
Sometimes I get a little antsy that he's not uphill enough or collected enough or we're not doing enough lateral work, but then he locks his back and refuses to move forward, and I settle the fuck down. Basics are fine. Basics are good. A relaxed horse is a good goal even if nothing else gets done.
|casual every day warm up trot.|
Shifting to something slightly more exciting, after our last "jump school" where Bobby was fine for his three warm up singles before losing his shit completely at the sight of a ground pole in front of a cross rail, I did another "jump school". There was a small course left over in the ring--a 2'6" line down one long side, a 3' single gate, a 2' single vertical, and a 2'3" swedish oxer.
I started off over the 2' vertical and biffed it every. single. time. The frustrating part was that for every. single. stride. I knew I was fucking up the distance because I wasn't riding with enough pace, but I still couldn't just get myself to add leg and go fucking forth and conquer.
|made this X our bitch|
I regrouped on Monday and set up one jump--a big cross rail. I don't know how many more jumps this horse has in his feet, so if I'm going to do repetitions, they're going to be over teeny little fences. In our last school, we hit all the jumps one time apiece and stuck to the 2' jump the rest of the time for a grand total of maybe a dozen jumping efforts that day. It might seem like every ride is jump, jump, jump, but the amount of actual jumping going on cumulatively since coming back is probably less than most of you do in a single lesson.
I warmed Bobby up with the focus of getting him really sharp off my leg and opening up that tiny pony stride. Mentally I was also more with it (Dudes, I was so fucking hungry during that last ride it's amazing I'm still alive.), so when we turned in for our first jump, Bobby was cruising and it came right out of stride so easily.
|so easy i was paying next to no attention to jumping and carrying on a conversation|
with hubby instead. he needs some more practice with the indoor jump pics, but
even this is a vast improvement from the old camera!
We hit it from one direction three times before coming around from the other side and doing it twice more before I asked Hubby to go ahead and make it a vertical. He was like, "Uh, are you sure at this height?" I glanced at it and figured it was about 3'3" or 3'6" and shrugged. Bobby was feeling super forward and responsive without wigging out on approach so I wasn't expecting any stop-start bullshit or the straight up bolting to it.
|first time around|
I know it's probably a bigger deal that I was able to stare down 3'6" (3'3" at the hole with a 3" rail so actual measurement 3'6") and not feel even a touch of fear or trepidation, but for honesty's sake I did chicken out a little bit and come at it from the shorter approach so I didn't have to stare it down for quite so long.
It was a little bit of an awkward turn in from the direction I was coming, and while I made sure to keep my outside leg active to get a straight turn and approach, I didn't support quite as much with both legs to keep the pace. However, Bobby had his thinking cap on and moved up on his own the last couple strides to cover up the lost ground and bounced right over from the perfect distance both tries. For my part, I was happy that my body still sort of knew what to do over something bigger than 2'6". I didn't freak out and stay in the back seat, and I also didn't fling myself up his neck.
|sometimes i miss red's knees to nose jump form, |
but poor awkward bobby tries his best.
The one downside is that he knocked the pole both times. This horse and his fucking boots. If anyone has any suggestions for getting a horse not to abuse the privilege of wearing boots to jump I am all ears. This has been one of Bobby's biggest problems for as long as he's been jumping. Any time any real effort is required, he'll jump the jump, but he has no problem bashing his boots into poles. Without boots? Always clear. With boots? Always bashing. I don't really want to leave them off in case we get into trouble and we wreck. There's got to be a solution out there!
|good britches pats for no crazies|
When we were all done I packed his feet and gave him a gram of bute because I couldn't help myself. Seven jumps in one school is enough to make me pack his feet like we just ran a full cross country course. He looked sound on the longe today, but he got the day off anyway. I'll flat him tomorrow, maybe have Farrier hoof test him just to set my mind at ease, and then we're on to our first lesson of the new year on Thursday! Please stay sound so we can do weekly lessons again, Bobby.
|it likes to pretend it doesn't love scritches.|