Monday, December 31, 2018

Goal Review and 2019 Goals

I can't remember if I usually combine these or if last year was an outlier and I made two separate posts since I was dealing with two separate horses. Regardless I think we're all okay with there only being one goal post on record.

2018 Goals:

1. Fully outfit Opie in all his own necessary gear. I put this down planning on getting him his own jump saddle and another blanket to add to his collection but ended up doing neither. I'm crossing it off anyway because I decided the saddle wasn't yet worth the investment when I could borrow a barn mate's for the few times I felt like jumping in something besides my dressage saddle, and after getting a full winter under our belts I think he's good to go with the blanket set up I have now. I did get him sorted out with bits and bridles, so he officially has his own Opie-specific set up now.

2. Figure out the best show routine to make Opie comfortable off property. Dude much prefers hanging out at the trailer or ringside where he can creep on other horses. He wasn't too happy having to be stalled for the one whole show we had to get one at. He also won't eat his breakfast in the barn on show morning, but he eats his hay great in the trailer and then I just give him his grain once we get there. I'm very routine oriented and I think it's helped him settle at shows. He was a complete pro by the time the season wrapped up. 

3. Complete 25 hours for TIP trail riding patch. Well over 25 hours! Although they still haven't sent me my patch. Better email them about that...

4. Be able to trailer Opie by myself. Through pain and suffering and all the training in the world, I can now say this kid is reliable to haul solo.

5. Smooth out the basics. AKA learn to canter. Done! Also learn the basics of being a dressage horse. Done! He's now got a couple different trots and canters, he leg yields, and if you close one eye he's got a perfectly acceptable SI and HI. 

6. Don't get hung up on how everyone else is progressing. I think writing this down made it more concrete in my head. There were several times throughout the year when I wanted to get caught up in comparisons, but I immediately shut it down and focused back on myself. I did fucking awesome this year. There are a lot of other people that did even better, but that doesn't diminish any one of the teeny tiny things I accomplished this year a single bit.


2018 opie, complete with some ugly AF growth spurts

2019 Goals

1. Make First Level our bitch. Solidify all the necessary movements so they come easy peasy: the leg yield, trot and canter lengthenings, and counter canter (even if it's kind of a fake counter canter at First). 

2. Fix the canter transitions. Up and down. They both suck depending on the day, and what a stupid area to lose points in.

3. Get another 25 trail hours logged. I already have 7 recorded. The next prize needs 50 hours I think, but that's not happening in a year for me. 

4. Go to two new places. Show venue or trail adventure. I want to explore some more areas around us.

5. #dopiedoesdriving. Get him back to work with the cart so he's a reliable driving horse at home. Make sure steering is a thing!

6. Learn to braid a forelock. I am a straight up forelock braiding retard, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Stretch goals:

I ran into the problem this year where I got all my goals crossed off well before the year was over and was kind of floundering with what to do with myself. So in case that happens again, these are next on the list to give me something to work towards.

1. #dopiedoesdriving... off property. Take the pony and his cart to the park and see how he does in the wide open world.

2. Muddle through the movements from Second. A better shoulder-in and haunches-in, increase the oomph needed for medium gaits, and get Opie more relaxed and active with the sitting trot.

And you know what? Not a stretch goal or even a regular goal, but I'm going to write it down again anyway. Don't get hung up on how everyone else is progressing. Another year, another new level, still only on me to get my horse where I want him to go. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Year in Review, Part Two

Opie started off July still in quasi retired mode. We finally kicked off the return to "real" work with an eye on the next block of shows coming up by leading a massive group of riders from the barn on a field trip to the park followed by a grill out. It was a shit ton of fun, and Opie got to do his first official four off the floor swimmies.

giggling like a maniac on my sea horse

Our return to showing was a good one despite riding in front of a judge I had the worst experience ever with on Bobby. Opie was a star at another new facility and came away with his first high point award on an 81%. The next weekend we returned to rated competition for another two day show. On the first day, despite warming up beautifully, the tests themselves were in the brand new indoor facility which was a lot for a young Dopie Horse. He did his best for a green bean, but the judge was only impressed with the giant moving Warmbloods all day across the levels. We came away with two thirds anyway because he is #childgenius. The second day he was much more settled. His scores went way up and we ended with a second and first. We ended the month trying a little cross country schooling at home where Opie was straight Satan.

my saddle pads were so disgusting by the end of the season. no bleach could save them.
definitely getting a new pony wardrobe next year. 

August was our last month of showing, but we filled it to the brim with three shows at three different places. First up was a GMO show where Opie crushed both of his tests and came away with another high point award. From there we went to the inaugural dressage show at the state fair grounds. After being so distracted in the new indoor at Houghton, I was worried the massive scale of this place would be too much for Opie. It was also his first time being stalled for a show, but he handled it like a pro. He--and every single other horse--was suspicious of Satan's altar the open judge's stand, but he still laid down two almost identical scores for two second places.

such a show pro 

I audited and volunteered at my GMO's sponsored Courtney King-Dye clinic before our season finale which wasn't a dressage show at all. Instead #dopiedoeseventing! He'd just started cantering jumps, had done a handful of 2'3" stadium fences, and could jump logs in the fields mostly without falling down. Seemed like he was ready to me! Obviously he was perfect. Actually he was pretty awful for his dressage test because he was in the wide open world instead of a ring, but he cantered around the entire stadium course like a champion and only had one honest "Da fuq is that?" stop on cross country. He finished feeling so proud of himself.

it's okay if you cannot. i cannot either.

obvi deserves double the pics

Following that success, we kicked off September with hunter pace season. We got two in this month which was a good thing since it soon started raining for all eternity and the rest of the calendar basically got cancelled. I also went wild got horse ADD and bought a cart. Because why not.

October was a lot of trail rides, and I was able to check off my twenty five hour goal for the year. Dopie continued his driving practice and I was finally (Well, finally, as if a month after buying the cart and deciding he was going to be a driving horse is an infinite amount of time.) able to get him hitched and driving around by himself.


Things slowly came to a halt in November. We were still plugging away at our dressage work, but not with any intensity. The big party this month was collecting our year end awards for all those shows!

satin, satin EVERYWHERE!

We finally started slowly getting back into real work in December. And I use that term loosely. When we did put forth the effort though, the year's worth of training showed up and I could tell that this kid got the right education this year. He feels correct, and he feels happy in his work. That's how I want every year to end!

After all the shit that 2017 brought, 2018 was definitely the year I needed. Now I just need to reel everything back in and set myself up for a more realistic 2019. I don't know if we can ever recreate the unicorn-ness of this year (although quite frankly all the times Opie was a real dick about the trailer and that time I thought for sure he'd broken my hand helped keep it in check), but I know that if we accomplish even a fraction of what got done this year we'll be in a good spot.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Year in Review, Part One

Well, no one died or developed alien life forms on their bodies so I think it's safe to say 2018 was a great success here at Poor Woman Showing.

The End.

juuust kidding! as if i would miss a chance to brag about this child genius. 

Opie and I went out and filled the year with activities, to the point where it's still kind of crazy to me that this was his very first year off the track. Everything we did this year, everywhere we went, was a brand new experience for him and yet I feel like I have this horse who's a seasoned professional in whatever I've thrown at him.

Of course being a natural child genius only gets you so far, and all his wonderfulness didn't just poof into existence. A lot of hard work went into making sure I had what I wanted in an equine partner, and sometimes the drama vastly outweighed the fun.

So let's go all the way back to the beginning!

wow so talented.

We didn't do much in January because of the record breaking cold, and while I don't have a set temperature limit for riding, I do have a limit for how much I want to ride after doing barn chores every morning in record breaking cold. BM finally called my horse out for being a terrorist though, and basically told me to do something with him before she killed him. The handful of rides I did put in were typical greenie rides. He was good when he was good, and a hot mess when he was bad. Probably the biggest thing that came out of January (besides Opie's official fifth birthday on the 13th!) was that I completely quit on the canter. It was so awful that there didn't seem any point in doing anything with it until other parts of his body started to get stronger and more coordinated.

Opie came up foot sore on the hard ground in February and was off and on for most of the month. Packing his feet and occasional Bute got him through it, but I headed that monster off at the pass this winter and put pads on him a couple weeks ago. This was also the month that I finally looked in my horse's mouth and discovered he had extra teeth. Which was awful. He had those pulled without incident, got the rest of his teeth floated, and went back to business without a care in the world.

SHUDDER.

We also started lessons, and BM forcefully reminded me that the only way to improve the canter was to do the canter. So I slowly started incorporating short spurts of canter in half seat. It involved a lot of porpoising and head flinging, basically no balance or rhythm, and would often end with him straight up face planting into the ground when he tripped over his own legs. When I say he's a falling down horse, I'm not kidding. This horse ate shit more often than any other I've ever ridden.

Apparently February was a very busy month--mostly because we lucked into some gorgeous spring-like weather--and I also started Dopie's Death Box Training in earnest. His go-to trailer move was to load just fine before immediately bolting backwards off of it. I trailer by myself a lot, and obviously having a polite, safe horse in a Death Box is imperative anyway. We did a couple sessions with minor improvements, and then BM and I decided to go for Opie's first field trip. The trip to the park was a lot of fun and Opie showed off his great adventure brain, but it took us a solid half hour to get him on the trailer at the barn.

the best at adventures

In March, we put our heads down and did #werk. More trailer practice, and lessons galore. Opie's trot was really starting to come along as he learned that he could stretch his neck out without falling on his face. The canter was still hit or miss with a heavy lean towards the miss, but everything going on was run of the mill green horse problems. We had one big breakthrough at the end of the month where BM finally unlocked why I was finishing every ride with excruciating hip pain. Opie was dropping one side of his body and throwing me completely out of whack. Once she got on and felt what was happening, we came up with a game plan that got the horse and my hips straight.

Guess what we did in April? MOAR TRAILER PRACTICE! With the kick off to show season just around the corner, it seemed like we worked in the trailer or on the ground with the trailer in mind pretty much every time I was at the barn. Opie got infected with a bad case of the baby racehorse spring naughties and was an unfocused fool for the majority of our rides. He did, however, accomplish his first real jump school, jumped his first 2'3" fence (from the trot, fell down on landing, and then cantered off), and went on his first solo field trip. He was a satanic monster for his trip to the park, both for riding and for trailer loading, and I was experiencing some "Oh shit. Show season is basically here whether we like it or not." feelings.

first real jumpies

We kicked off May with the first show of the season right off the bat. I was flying completely solo, but the trailer gods smiled on us and I was able to get Opie there and back with zero drama. He was quite the pill about waiting at the trailer, but had moments where he was able to settle down and pull from his hay net and he never once tried to break free. That was a big win for a horse who had at that point already killed FIVE halters in his short time with me. For the riding itself, he was the same horse I had at home: green and lazy but honest, and he came home with a fourth (68%) and a second (72%).

No rest for the fancy, as the next weekend we were back at it for our GMO's first show of the season. Even in that short week between shows, his confidence in himself skyrocketed. It was like he went from young, green, the world is so big horse to the worldliest horse alive. He had been places. He had done things. He was #childgenius. He was still a squirrelly monster at the trailer, and our trailer neighbors were like, "I can recommend some great calming supplements!" but once again as soon as I was on him he was a cool customer. He just likes doing the things, not waiting to do those things. The judge loved him and we got a score over 70% for the second show running. There were no ribbons awarded at this show, but both our tests would have won based on scores.

There were three weeks before the next show and we spent it doing a lot of hacking out and fine tuning the basics. We finished the month of by going on another solo trip to the park where Opie was perfect for the riding, but a gigantic asshole about loading both at the barn and at the park.

second ever show.
not bad for a horse that was banished from cantering at the beginning of the year.

June started off with three rated shows crammed in one after the other. The first weekend was a two day show where we'd done Opie's first show. Opie still pined away for friends at the trailer, but he was also still a total star for the riding. On day one I was the second ride of the day and, half asleep, I followed down the previous rider's crooked center line. The test was quiet and solid, but my stupid mistake cost us first place by point two percent! Still bitter over this. He was much less focused for the second test though, and finished third. The second day he was again unfocused for the first test and just really felt like he was still a green horse. Which he was. That only garnered us a fifth, but I pored over the judge's comments and rode my lady balls off for the final test to get us a 68% and Dopie's first official blue ribbon.

The next weekend we went to a new facility. Opie had had a bad day prior to this show, and it transferred over to him being awful at the show itself. He was full on baby racehorse and couldn't relax to save his life. We somehow eked out a fourth and a second regardless, but we were both ready for a break from showing at that point.

We spent the rest of the month alternating between time off, trail rides, and learning about jumping. We also learned about the Unfun Work, but for the most part it was a lot of time off and a good mental recharge.

tense and naughty, but looking cute because sneaky

I originally planned on making this one post, but we just did too much! Part two to follow tomorrow!

And, as a reminder, throughout the year show links can be seen on the sidebar. Once that year is over, they all go up top to the page appropriately titled All the Shows. You can use the search option also located on the sidebar if you want to go back and read something that I've referenced because I'm much too lazy to link back to topics throughout the year like more thorough bloggers.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Jumper Night


I don’t normally post on the weekend, but I wanted to get down a quick post on Christmas jumper night for posterity before the holidays and my wave of year end wrap up posts. Because they are many. And they are coming.

I entered Opie in the 2’3” division which ended up being shared with 2’6”. That meant there were a few 2’6” jumps thrown in—of which Opie has jumped one, one time.

I was feeling a bit trepidatious about this, not because I was alarmed by the height, but because I didn’t want to put Opie in a bad situation. He doesn’t know much about jumping, and I don’t want him to learn that jumping involves being piloted by a questionable jump jockey over fences that over face him.

screenshots from the one video that got taken. you're welcome.

Plus he wasn’t going to get the warm up he’s used to when I do jump him. That being a thorough dressage school which results in a balanced, collected canter. Instead he got a warm up ring with six other horses navigating our narrow ring filled with jumps. Opie isn’t a fan of sharing space because he’s had several instances at shows of oblivious fuck wits that run into him or cut him off. He kept pinning his ears and trying to stop every time a horse got near him so he didn’t have to deal with sharing his personal bubble.

By the time we started our first course—gambler’s choice—he was “warmed up”, but not connected or through. Also this is me so I had zero game plan going in.

Opie jumped the first two fine, knocked the third one after I circled him in indecision, jumped the fourth, and then took a big spot for a big jump to the fifth. And then I was locked in a corner not wanting to do the 2”6 two stride line and basically just quit until time ran out.

out of the two stride

Unlike last year, where he was about two months off the track and couldn’t stand still to save his life, this time around he parked it with the other horses and was happy to hang out waiting until called upon.

The second course was better, and good old honest Dopie hopped over everything with little input from me. He even blew through the two stride—his first, and his second time over 2’6”—game as the #childgenius he is.


While the final course was being set, I took Opie out by himself and got him trotting around. Being solo, he finally settled like a good dressage horse and was moving beautifully. While he was going around, I was like, “Whoa whoa whoa, what is this course?!” There was an oxer, a one stride, bigger jumps, and the gate with the missing middle slats that’s Opie’s bugaboo.

I figured Opie would get around it, but that’s not what my goal was. I want him to be confident and keep thinking jumping is SO FUN. I didn’t want to chase him around tight turns to bad distances and big jumps.

So I opted to take that lovely trot, turn it into a lovely canter, and hit just the oxer—literally the third one of his life, the other two being in his course from the event in August.

He was perfect and cantered away very pleased with himself. I stopped him at the end of the ring, jumped right off, stuffed candy in his face, and let him be done.

love this adorable pony sized kiddo

Overall not what I originally had in mind, but it turned out fine in its own way. Opie got loaded with extra cookies, snugs, and attention from everyone in the barn, so the night was a win in his book!

merry christmas from the dopie horse!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Eat My Money

After a week my eyes seem to be mostly back in order, thank fuck. They had consistently just hurt throughout the day, and my right one still seems a bit wonky, but I'm blind in that eye anyway so it can do it's own thing.

Fortunately that means I can return to blogging!

Unfortunately I don't really have anything exciting to blog about.

Fortunately I still have a couple posts chilling in my drafts folder!

pretty much have done nothing with this creature but take his picture and dope
along bareback. not even on the same day. 

Much like my last post dredged up from drafts, this one follows the line of experimentation with little thought and zero science put into it. Because that's what I bring to the horse world. Find insightful, researched posts elsewhere.

Opie came off the track in good weight. He was obviously racehorse fit, but he didn't have that drawn, tucked up look that a lot of Thoroughbreds can be seen with. When I brought him to his new home, he went right on ulcer meds, tons of gorgeous hay, a relatively low grain diet, and got introduced to turnout his second full day of being there. He came from a nice barn and had a good transition into his new one.

one day you'll be a white beluga whale like momo

But he was also only four years old and midget sized, and while he never really went through that ugly transitional phase from racehorse to riding horse where all the old muscles disappear before any of the new ones come in and transform them into beautiful butterflies, he did go through some awkward AF growth spurts where he look a little unthrifty for my taste--my taste being round rolly poly hippos.

I didn't really want to up his grain to anything over the 3 quarts he was already getting twice a day so I went down the supplement rabbit hole instead. Honestly it's one of my favorite places to explore.

First up I tried Bobby's old combo of Cool Calories and TriAmino. This eventually got Bobby fat even with his genetically gifted monstrous rib cage and just generally awful looking body parts. It did okay for Opie, and I kept him on it for the entirety of the winter and into the spring. He didn't necessarily look skinny, but he was definitely holding more muscle than weight and still looked like a young racehorse at our first show.

meh. didn't help that he was being an anxious fruit loop at the trailer all morning.

While at that show, I was talking to a trainer who recommended Purina Amplify for extra weight. I'd vaguely heard of it before, so did an online search and found that my local feed store could order it for me. I dropped the Cool Calories but kept the TriAmino for another month or two and fed the Amplify throughout the summer. Again, Opie did fine on it. Nothing drastic, but he was still going through stages where he'd look just how I wanted him and shoot up or out into a growth spurt and look not at all how I wanted him.

two months of amplify

The Amplify turned out to be a giant pain in the ass to order through my feed store, and since I wasn't seeing anything jaw dropping as far as its effects, I quit on that and went in search of something else.

I finally decided to try a tub of DAC Bloom. It was supposed to last a month, but even with the extra large portion I was feeding, it lasted me a solid month and a half. That was a good deal, it was easy to get through Big Dee's, but it smelled and looked weird. It's essentially supposed to be Cool Calories with added minerals, and it kind of has that Cool Calories texture, but in yellow with bits and pieces in it. Opie wasn't a huge fan and it usually took him both feedings to clean it out of his bucket. Plus the more I read about--after buying it, as one does--it seemed like to have it really make a difference you needed to also feed MOAR DAC PRODUCTS. Which was not going to happen.

three months of amplify. some days he looked like a tank like this, other days
he looked scrawny still. 

I would casually scroll through the ever popular weight gain threads on OTTB Connect and kept seeing people suggest Nutrena Empower Boost. (Along with lots of bat shit crazy things, but that comes with the territory.) My local feed store theoretically carried it, but after all the fuckery with the Amplify I wasn't eager to deal with them again. The Tractor Supply by the barn didn't carry it at all, the one by my grocery store carried it but never had it in stock, but of course the one that I never go to for anything always had it in supply. I grabbed a bag once the DAC Bloom finally ran out, and added it to Dopie's twice a day two quarts of Carb Guard.

It's basically fancy rice bran. It also has a bit of an off-putting odor to it, but Opie doesn't seem to mind it in the least. He cleans it right up every meal every time. And, most importantly to me, it gave me instant gratification. It started to fill Opie out right away, and he's holding his roundness.

Each 40lb bag costs me $34 and I buy it every two weeks. Feeding two pounds a day, it obviously lasts a bit longer than that, but my organizational OCD is satisfied to buy it at the same time I get dog food. I just chuck the extra bag on the shelf with the rest of the barn's grain until I need to refill his tub. It's definitely the most expensive option I tried, but I'm super happy with the results and will keep him on it for the foreseeable future.

He turns six next month so I'm crossing my fingers he's done with growing and will hold all his calories this summer.

i would like to see this beefer all next year please.

Does anyone else have to feed supplemental weight gainz to their horses? Do you also like to spend money on things without doing more than cursory reading? I would recommend it. Life lessons learned an all that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bare minimum

I sacrificed my sanity and went to the barn both days this weekend to get media. That meant braving the indoor with potential lessons and /or hacks going on with no guarantee whoever was riding could steer. Fortunately on Saturday I squeezed in between two Haffie lessons, and on Sunday I finished up right as the mad influx of riders poured in.

I had Hubby take pretty much all video since winter indoor does not make for pictures, and I wanted a check-in on how things were actually going since I still can't comfortably swing lessons. It turned out to be super helpful as I was instantly like, FIX ALL THE THINGS.

However, as far as blogging goes, I won't get into too much detail. I'm having to really limit my screen time as once again my eyes are causing me a lot of problems. I definitely wouldn't recommend getting a concussion that knocks you blind because even a couple years later it's still fucking with me. Or I have vision cancer. One never knows.

would take literally cutting off my head to get rid of my eyes some days.

So I'm bringing you media, but it's going to be hastily edited video clips. Maybe once my eyes stop hurting whenever I use them I'll revisit them and write some more about the rides. For now, nah.

Saturday's ride wasn't the best. I was super distracted and wound up over the barn traffic that was causing my horse to be super distracted and wound up. We basically fed off of each other and things were sloppy. But we did get some counter canter practice in:



Not the prettiest, but getting steadier each time. Any time he doesn't face plant I'm happy. #smallwins

After looking through those videos Saturday evening, I asked Hubby to come back out again the next morning. I wasn't happy with myself and wanted to clean a whole lot up on my end. I pulled in right as Opie was getting turned out with his bestie which put both of them in full childish tantrum mode when they got separated. Opie got beat in the aisle and then put on the longe to get some of his rage out. Fortunately he was over it by the time I got on and we had a pretty productive ride.


His canter departs are getting steadier. The downward transitions are hit or miss on how badly he's anticipating the half halt meaning trot or walk instead.


But the canter itself is really getting somewhere despite me having no fucking idea what to do with my body during it.


And that's all I've got. Editing hurt my eyes so I did the bare minimum. And Hubby missed the lateral work which wasn't much that weekend anyway. It was enough to give me a good, long list of things to tweak for both myself and Dopie. Like for fuck's sake, make that contact steadier!

He got Monday off while I went down to PA to meet Riding Bestie's perfect newborn nugget, had a long longe in a halter yesterday, and then came out firing this morning. Hopefully I'll be able to write more next week!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Runaway

Some of you may remember the amazing, sassy British trainer I got the chance to work with for a few months before she passed from cancer. Everyone that ever rode with her loves to throw around Val-isms because she had a way of phrasing things that made you collapse with laughter while still making a completely valid point. Few rides go by without a Val-ism popping into my head over something I or my horse is inevitably doing wrong.

Starting with last week's reintroduction to lateral work in hand, one of the things she yelled at me with Bobby came screaming back to the forefront with old Dopie Horse.

"HE'S WALKING OFF WITH YOU."

It's like running off but without the running. Equally as fucking effective though.

On the ground, it took shape with him trying to evade by bulldozing over the top of me. He never once broke from the walk, and the evasion probably leaned more heavily towards trampling than walking off, but it was there.

But in my ride yesterday it was everywhere.

I cleared the ring of jumps so there would be no temptations lurking and got down to a good dressage school. Once again he warmed up great with the highlight being the canter. He's even starting to really own the counter canter.

After a quick stretchy walk break, I picked him back up and started to leg yield. Right away at the walk, he didn't really want to step under and was basically just angling towards the center line walking quickly so that tah dah, we've arrived at out destination! I grabbed a Mr Tappy and tapped the haunches to ask them to get in on the game plan. That was offensive and we had a brief interlude to work through a tantrum at the trot/jog where--sad story--he still had to leg yield with his hind end involved even if he wanted to flail about instead.

Once he got over himself and the whip in my hand, we went back to the walk. I wanted him to step over, but I wanted to get it done without him being a locked up tense rage monster.

And here I got walked off with again. Each time I asked for more reach, he'd walk off with me instead. He's sneaky. He doesn't rush or hurry, he just opens up his patented power walk with his gigantic step and whoops, somehow we've run out of ring.

So he got kicked out of kindergarten leg yields and put back in preschool. One step over. Halt. One step over. Halt. No matter what form the evasion takes, you don't get to ignore the aid, sir.

Visiting the haunches in, same thing--he doesn't want to step the hind leg under while keeping the bend. It's one or the other and he will walk right out of it if he can. I ended up remedying that by coming into it out of a 10m circle, getting a couple steps and then sending him into a big trot as a reward.

A chiro visit will get scheduled when I can afford it to make sure everything is in alignment back there, but in the meantime he can certainly do the movements on the basic level I'm asking for. Without being a wild walking horse.

Does anyone else's horse try this slow motion evasion?

Monday, December 3, 2018

You've missed nothing

I do love a lengthy blog silence.

Or so it seems at least.

The good news is that Opie and the barn help survived his two week vacay with everyone coming out the other side with no missing body parts or beatings of note. Proof that he's grown up in his year off the track, and hopefully this means I'll be able to slot him in some more break times in the future without fear of him going feral.

"hai hello i feel like it has been longer than two seconds since my last cookie.
plz remedy asap."

The day after getting back from Illinois (ugh, so tedious, 0/10 recommend family time), I did the barn and then got Dopie cleaned up and ready to return to the world of the working horse.

jk, first and foremost i dug out some garland for stall decorations. priorities.

The first two days back I stuck him on the longe and did some in-hand work with him. Despite the current crazy flip flop weather where it snows six inches one day and then is in the upper fifties the next (YAY MUD), this is New York and I know we'll be in the negative double digits before we know it.

Because Worst State Ever.

So I've been tossing in a couple minutes of in-hand work here and there to prepare for when it's too cold to want to ride, but I want to give my horse something mentally to do besides standing in multiple layers of clothes. And I do love me some good ground work.

taken not even a week apart from the first picture.
make up your mind, weather!

He has, however, had three whole rides now. Taking the world by storm, I know.

His little break did exactly what I hoped it would do for both of us: reset the mental button. When we last left off, I didn't want to work, Opie didn't want to work, and we were telepathically sending each other great big middle fingers just for existing. Actually when we last left off I was bathing in satin, but telepathic hate waves was what was really going on.

It happens in every partnership for a hot minute, and if you say it doesn't I'm sending a telepathic middle finger to you. Also I don't believe you.

But back to the good!

i am in desperate need of new riding media.
this little butterball is cute to look at anyway.

Opie has been light and pliant and willing, and I've been calm and focused and clear. We're back to being friendsies. We've lost some straightness--that's assuming we actually really had it nailed down in the first place which....we maybe had not--and sometimes bending is taken as a suggestion, but those are some good basics to hit on quickly the first few rides back without being like, "Wow, okay, you're perfect! I demand a 10 lengthening right now." Yeah, the in-between is a tough place for a Type A to habitat.

We've been doing 10m circles in the corners to back up that bending is a hard rule. Lots of walk and trot work down the quarter lines for straightness. Forever and always with the leg yields. Ten million transitions to wake up and look alive. And then just floating around in the canter because it is looovelyyyy.

And a lovely canter means we get to do the jumpies!

"i sent this jump halfway across the arena and then my mom
ran me into the wall and i remembered i had legs."

He's had two "jump schools" in those three rides. The first one I set up the above three jumps--a single X on the diagonal and a 3 stride line. He's never done a related distance before, but I figured what better time than now. He started off beautifully. Cantered right over everything right out of stride and just felt like a beautifully schooled adjustable dressage horse hopping over some tiny fences.

Then #dopiedoeseventing came out, and he was all, "Bitch, please. I know all there is to know about jumping. Watch how much more fun this is when we just go fast!" After straight up galloping through the 3 stride one time, coming back through and biffing the distance to the first jump before plowing through the second, we did a few canterhaltmotherfucker transitions. Then we trotted in and cantered out before being allowed to canter again. Fortunately he is not a dumb horse, just SO EXCITED to do the jumpies, and he realized that lovely canter was what was making the jumping so easy and fun and he went right back into it to finish on a good note.

And did a few laps of victory trot that I was like, damn son because bro was struttin'.

i had a massive carrot tucked into my grooming tote for after
riding and when i came back from grabbing something else
it had somehow disappeared. don't ask opie where it went,
he doesn't know.

After a really good w/t/c warm up this morning, there was a different arrangement of jumps in the ring so I let him pop over the 2'3 vertical once before I planned on moving on to something else. He launched and over-jumped it by a good foot and landed feeling very proud of himself. Only then every time we passed one of the other jumps he kept trying to drag me over them instead of flatting so I finally gave up and let him get a couple more jumpies in.

The only condition was he wasn't allowed to turbo jet at them and land with a giant bucking yahoo fest which was a sad, sad story, but he eventually acquiesced and got to put a course together.

I'm excited to be able to do some more jumping to break up the dressage doldrums next year without worrying about him eating shit and landing on his/our head(s). That was definitely a concern before, but the dressage doldrums are what got us to this point. It's a double edged sword, poor Dopie Horse. 

he is literally never fed ever. absolute starvation victim.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Satin Ho Life

I've been absent lately for no particularly good reason. In a nutshell I've just been too lazy to write a coherent post, so haven't even bothered trying to write a non-coherent one.

The Dopie Horse is still alive and kicking. He's five days into an impromptu vacation and so far has been behaving himself. I hope that lasts for another week because I won't be getting back on him until I come home from visiting my mom in Illinois for the holiday. Historically he's turned into an ill behaved rage monster when not in steady work à la Bobby, but BM put the fear of God in him the other day when he tried to start shit in the afternoon, so hopefully he doesn't terrorize the poor barn workers too much. 

He got worked a couple times at the beginning of last week before I pulled the plug and quit on him. Neither one of us wanted to work with each other, and even Farrier picked up on us being grumpy assholes to each other when she did his feet. So vacation it is, and hopefully we're both in a better mood and ready to work when I get back around to riding again. 

penguin season is officially here to stay

In the meantime though, over the weekend I got a fabulous satiny reminder of how amazing my little #childgenius is when he's not just being a child.

clean sweep!

My GMO's year end award banquet was on Saturday. We sat with the owner of the barn that hosts the schooling shows and she was aghast that we'd driven two hours just to eat (a gross) dinner and collect a couple ribbons. Clearly she's not well acquainted with me.... #satinhoforlife

We also sat with a couple other women who cleaned up, and our table was draped in tri-colors by the time the evening was over. I haven't met very many members personally throughout the year, so it was nice to meet some new people in a setting where no one was distracted by riding or taking care of their horse. I'm basically two hours from anywhere in any direction, so I don't have a lot of interaction outside of shows. Hopefully now that I know a few more faces I won't feel like such a loner loser next year. 

But what we're really here for is the ribbons!

and the shiny!

My GMO does year end awards for recognized shows and their own schooling show series as well as a couple other odds and ends. Opie was champion for both the recognized and schooling shows at Training, and I got the above platter for my rider achievement award--which is way fancier and more fun to have on display than the certificate USDF sent me.

year end ribbons. also is this creature not the cutest thing alive?
yes. yes he is. 

In annual tradition, I hauled our year's worth of ribbons out to the barn for a photo shoot. I got there and Opie was hanging out at the fence with his forelock knotted with burrs in a unicorn horn, and BM and I were like, "Yep. Clearly a fancy ass show horse."

wow so noble. 

Once I got his forelock untangled and wet down, the mud washed off his legs, and the majority of the shavings picked out of his tail, he got dragged outside where Hubby quickly had to take over holding him while I decked him out because he does not have the patience for standing still shenanigans. And then he was not impressed with being outfitted in flapping things.

"fuck you guys."

But he eventually got bribed with enough candy so it didn't look like we were torturing him.

candy solves everything

Overall Dopie ended up out of the top three only three times this season: his first show where he was fourth in his first ever test, a fifth at his first recognized show, and another fourth at the recognized show where he did his test screaming for his friends and being a tense childish asshole. He was high point two different times with an 81% and a 74%. 

The last thing I'm waiting for to truly close out the season is to see if we did well enough to qualify for one of the joint GMO awards--we have three GMOs in western NY and they have a couple of awards for people that show across all of them. Those won't be announced until December though, and I have no idea how we did compared to anyone else so I'm not going to hold my breath for those. 

And who cares because I have enough satin to bathe in at this point if I want!

should have put the double on just to hold everything.
#childgeniusproblems

Okay, that's enough bragging and being annoying. Back to radio silence as I venture out to the midwest and hope my horse doesn't terrorize anyone too badly while I'm gone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It's always something

Opie has been up to some CRAZY STUFF over the past week or so.

One day we wandered around bareback in a halter and then he ate grass while I sat on his back and talked to BM.


Another day he learned about steering with the cart in the indoor. There was a tantrum. He learned tantrums don't get you anywhere with a cart attached either. And then I had steering again.


I rode him on Friday which was a lot of starting to go out to the rail to trot before getting psychically run into, cut off, or chased by a woman who leases one of the Haffies who could not steer to save her life--or Opie's. I finally just parked it in the middle of the ring between standards and the mounting block until she was done unapologetically careening around. Opie shares my vast displeasure of riding with people who have no ring manners, but once we were able to navigate without having to duck into a corner or slam to a stop he was was super.

He then got the weekend off, and I climbed back aboard Monday for another dressage ride. NY finally decided to get on the rain train and is catching up for a summer of drought conditions in earnest so our trail riding seems to have finally come to a close.

exactly my feelings.

The rain has come with weird temperature swings. Over the past few days we've had low 40s with wind and rain, low 40s with wind and sun, and upper 50s with wind and rain. Sometimes in the same day. Just the worst. Opie felt pretty lethargic and sluggish when I got on him yesterday--an upper 40s with wind and rain day. I didn't think too much of it as he's naturally a pretty lazy horse, but we'll come back to it later.

Aside from having to keep legging him on, he was in one of his #childgenius modes. The upward canter transitions are finally getting there. No surprise it's come from getting him super connected in the bridle first and then he just steps right into them. They're maybe not as sharp as they could be, but I'll come back around to that once I feel like he's confirmed with the through-ness.

The down transitions are still not where I want them. They're progressing, just at a glacial pace. I'm struggling with getting him to stay forward into them when he wants to die and splat the second he thinks I'm asking him to come down. We'll get there eventually. The canter itself, at least, is amazinggggg.

"duh, lady. now give me candies."

He has randomly developed an aversion to the letter E. But only tracking right. Every time we pass--be it at walk, trot, or canter--he bulges way out away from it. Nowhere else in the ring, and never going left. Whatever, bro. Straight lines are overrated I guess.

We finish the real work part of the ride with sitting trot. I incorporate lateral work throughout the ride, but usually come back to the leg yields quickly and then finish with shoulder-in and haunches-in. The leg yields are now easy, but they'll need some outdoor love to work on the geometry in the First test because I run out of room in the narrow indoor.

The shoulder-in is much more relaxed although they can still get better. The haunches-in is currently still riding the struggle bus. At the walk they're fine. At the trot he loses all bend and just wants to stare at the wall while his haunches wing out to the inside of the track. He needs his front half and his back half to work together but apart which is too much for his brain at the moment. But honestly he used to be so awful at the shoulder-in too that I didn't it was ever going to be a thing and now it is. So I shall persevere!

what a mug

I was going to ride him again this morning, but when I went into his stall to groom him I noticed he had barely touched his breakfast grain. I shook it around and convinced him to eat a couple mouthfuls while I stood there, but he quickly shunned it and went back to his hay. Opie is a pretty aggressive eater--you can go in while he's eating, but only if he knows you'll smack the shit out of him if he tries anything--and he basically lives with his face buried in his bucket until every molecule has been cleaned up, so that was definitely weird.

he's really quite a tiny tyrant the majority of the time tbh

He was chowing down on his hay though, his gums and gut sounds were normal, his poop looked normal, and his temp was normal. He wanted candy (as always), and was alert and interested. BM offered him a handful of a different grain and he happily cleaned that up. I started him on Empower Boost last weekend which is a rice bran type grain supplement that he gets twice a day, but he's been cleaning that up without issue.

I ended up giving him the day off and riding Chance instead who was a very good boy. When I walked back past Opie's stall afterwards he was sullenly picking out one pellet of grain at a time and eating it. Confident he wasn't going to fall over and die I left him to it, and when I got home BM texted me that he was viciously eating the rest of it.

So possibly he was just having a childish tantrum over life or he has Eating Cancer, I dunno. With the lethargy yesterday and the wild weather swings I'll be keeping a closer than usual eye on him in the meantime.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Unending Tale of White Breeches

One of my unwritten goals this year was to cut way back on unnecessary horse expenditures. Forget the vet and farrier bills--those don't count as I'm never going to apologize for throwing dolla dolla bills in the air in that category.

However, I did spend almost five thousand dollars on tack and gear last year. That's an obscene amount of dolla dolla bills. Of course a lot of that was from the Stubben I bought that didn't work for me which I then sold, and the County that replaced it. The last $1,000 of the County got paid off this year (which still makes me twitch a little as this saddle was more expensive than my horse trailer, never mind the bargain-priced horse himself), so I know that year end number is again going to be higher than I want. But I do feel like I tried to keep a wrap on my spending on everything else.

One thing I couldn't get away from shelling out money on was a new pair of white breeches.

MUCH TO MY FUCKING DISMAY.

much loved old breeches at dopie's second show

My old breeches were a now discontinued pair of Devon Aires with a suede full seat and unobtrusive velcro bottoms. They had no back pockets and deep enough front pockets that I could stuff my phone in for walks without worrying about it falling out. The belt loops were generous enough to fit my C4 belt without being so large that I had to go out and buy an obnoxiously wide belt to fill them. The fabric was soft and light, and I could chuck them in the washer without any special treatment. And I think they cost me all of $60 when I bought them six years ago.

Basically they were the most perfect breeches ever.

Until the crotch split wide open beyond all repair.

it was at this show where my horse was a colossal shit. death of favorite breeches
and naughty AF baby horse did not make for a fun day.

I happen to be in the minority in that I love the look of white breeches. I also really enjoy keeping my grey horse clean so maybe there's just something inherently wrong with me. It turns out that part of the reason I'm not adverse to wearing them is because my original pair were so flattering. They never showed any lumps or bumps, they weren't flaunting my panty line (and bitch please, I am not wearing a thong for a horse show), and I didn't have to worry about anything being see-through. When I started shopping, I realized that not all breeches were created equal forgiving.

I wanted to keep my budget for a new pair around $100. I personally don't think that's an absurd request, although I appeared to be in the minority. I've never paid more than that for a pair of breeches in my life, and I don't plan on ever doing so.

My first go-to was Riding Warehouse. I don't usually shop there because their selection is so limited and their shipping is glacial out to the east coast, but every now and then I find a crazy good deal in their closeouts. I ended up with two pairs of Horze breeches for $40. I had a pair of Horze breeches a million years ago and I remembered them being a thicker fabric, but nice enough.

not horze breeches. 

These ended up being the most unflattering breeches ever. I'm not sure how such thick fabric can create such a lovely display of thigh cellulite, but these did beyond imagining. I tried them on, took one look in the mirror, and sent them right back. The other pair I bought were purple, and while I rode in them one whole time, they didn't sit right on me either and they moved on to Andrea.

After a lot of browsing, I decided I liked the look and reviews of the Equine Couture breeches. The best price I found on them was on Victory Canter, so I placed my order and waited.

And waited some more.

After not getting any confirmation of shipping in over a week, I finally emailed them--because those of you that have used Victory Canter before know that email is the only way to contact them. Which is weird. To their credit, they replied quickly. Only their reply was, "Oh, we don't have 32s in stock anymore. We sent you an email that said that!" They hadn't. "We can send you a 30 or a 34 instead." I'm a 30 in pretty much everything, but I'd read that these run small. At this point, I had a show rapidly approaching and just needed some fucking breeches. I conveyed that urgency and told them to send a pair of 30s.

we had fancy prancing to attend to!

Again, to their credit, they made up for their mistake and overnighted me those bitches post haste with a promise of free returns if they didn't work for me. I tried to shimmy into them and barely got them over my thighs. Forget zipping them. Plus they were way too short. I was deep in the crazy trenches at this point and desperate for breeches, but I wasn't that desperate. I emailed my friendly customer service contact and asked her to facilitate a return. She got me a paid return bag within a couple days and back they went.

Where I then waited some more.

After nearly two weeks of waiting for my return to pop up in my checking account, I emailed again and, to their credit (anyone else getting annoyed at this point?), the money popped right up.

IN THE MEANTIME!

The saga comes to a unsatisfactory close.

these fucking breeches.
flattering from the ground, THE WORST in the saddle.

I finally just went and bought a pair of Pipers. Because SmartPak gets things to me quickly and cheaply. They're the silicone grip full seats with a different fabric from the regular run of the mill Pipers. Which is great because those are heavy and hot and last for shit. I like the fabric on these, and they didn't add to my propensity to sweat like a pig at shows. #klassy They fit great and they don't show my underthings--panty lines or fat lines.

They are, however, the. fucking. worst. to ride in.

there they are, slowly eating my stirrup leathers.

So at first it was just that they chafed wherever the silicone grip lay against my leg. Fine, that's fair, I'm a sweaty person and it was a hot summer. I applied Body Glide the next time out and solved that problem. But they were also sucking my stirrup leathers up under my leg in the saddle. I had to pull the tail of the leathers out of their keepers and let them dangle so they would stop bunching under my thigh as I rode. And they just stuck more than I needed them to. Like when I had to go back to change my stock tie and my ass was essentially glued to the saddle which meant I half slid, half ripped myself free and earned a giant saddle stain down one leg--which then took five thousand soaks and washes to get out.

I was over buying breeches at that point, so I finished out the season in them, but they will be getting stuffed in my trailer as an emergency back up pair next year. I'm not looking forward to going through the process of trying to find the perfect pair again, but these just won't do.

old breeches last ride. they were as done with life as opie was.

Has anyone else experienced such a colossal cluster fuck when it came to buying one single, solitary item of clothing? Or am I the only crazy person that can't make a pair of fancy pants work for shows only?