Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Excessive

I was trying to think up a catchy title about pee, but for some reason nothing came to me.

Yeah, we're going to talk about horses peeing for a hot minute. This blog dives down into the deep, gritty underworld of horse stuff. It's just who I am.

possibly the most judgmental creature on the face of the earth

For the past week or two, the stall cleaners and myself have noticed an increase in the amount of WET in Opie's stall. He's always been a piglet, but it's been more along the lines of a gross gelding that likes to weave a lot so everything gets walked around.

That alone didn't really make me raise any eyebrows, but when I unloaded him at our show over the weekend the second he cleared the ramp he parked and started peeing.

And peeing.

And peeing.

It was like that part in the first Austin Powers movie:

you're welcome for this

The pee was almost clear colored, and once he was done he went about his life normally. Except during the time we were there--from around nine in the morning to maybe two in the afternoon--he must have peed at least six or seven times. Only one of those times was a normal length pee. The rest of the time he'd pee just a short stream while he was eating his hay and not seem to think twice about it.

It certainly explained the wet stall, but I'm not sure why he's peeing so much. Obviously as I was sitting there twiddling my thumbs thinking up worst case scenario (My horse has Pee Cancer!), I went to Doctor Vet Google.

My options were as follows:
  • Pee Cancer. Duh.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Diabetes. Probably from the large amount of candy he gets fed on the daily.
  • An ulcer that gets triggered by life itself and the pain can only be released by peeing.
  • Eating too much high moisture grass, which there is zero possibility of because it hasn't rained here in ten thousand years. 
  • He's in heat. Okay...I can probably rule this one out pretty quickly.
  • Boys are gross and pee a lot.
Now you all know I love throwing money at vets for my horses weird ailments. Nothing normal is ever wrong with them after all. But before I put the call in for the vet to draw blood and examine Opie's man bits, have any of you ever experienced this?

The pee doesn't have a funky smell to it, and it's not a weird color. He drinks solidly, but he's not sucking down bucket after bucket. No temp, and nothing else seems the least bit off with him. Tomorrow I'm going to snap on the latex and go digging with Castile soap to see if maybe he's just got a giant bean in there?

That would be a nice and easy fix. Which means it's got to be Pee Cancer instead.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fox Run Summer Schooling Show

Oh my goodness gracious, you guys. So much to say about this show, and it really all centers around the judge. I know I bring you a judge story almost every show which either makes me a horribly judgmental person (probably) or... no, I've got to be just super judgmental myself. Maybe I should be a judge!

To fully appreciate all of this, you need to go back and read this post.

If you're like, "Fuck no, I barely want to read this post." I'll summarize for you. Because I'm judgmental but also super helpful.

in summary, i'm a beautiful rider and my horses are always
elegant and well behaved.

In Bobby's Second level debut--and first show of the season--he was a total nutter and in typical Bobby fashion spent a better part of both tests experiencing Extreme Feelings about the canter work. The judge gave zero helpful feedback, her comments rarely matched her scoring, she audibly laughed at our super tense attempt at the canter serpentine, and when we were done she called me over to berate me. In the end we won both tests against other people with a 49% and 51%.

Obviously at that point I vowed to never ride under her again. She's an L graduate and not an actual licensed judge so I felt like that was going to be pretty easy. I avoided her once before, but they still hadn't announced the judge for this show by the time I sent in my entry.

When I found out it was her, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was like, "Off with her head! And my entry!" and the other part of me couldn't stop cackling to Hubby about how I wanted to take my certified #childgenius in front of her to see if she would rip him apart when every other judge on the face of the planet is obsessed with him.

let's be real, he's kind of adorable 

Clearly I ended up going although I'm sure Hubby was done hearing about how I couldn't wait to see how we scored in front of this judge within about five seconds of being in the truck with me.

I'd never been to this farm before and we ended up missing the turn off and driving in a giant circle around the outer edges of Buffalo before my phone got us back on the right track. It's a beautiful place and everyone was really nice and helpful. I'll definitely go back next year. Bonus that they gave out bigger than usual ribbons and it's hosted by our neighboring GMO which meant it counted towards the Joint Upstate year end awards.

opie gave a lot of side eye to himself in these mirrors

I gave him about twenty minutes to warm up, and it was probably about twice as much as he needed. Not that he was tired or had passed his best work by the time we got in the ring, he just spent twice as long stuck in the ring with the above Fresian stallion who would not stop screaming. He was being really well behaved, he just wouldn't shut the fuck up.

Opie never answered though, which was a relief, but the indoor was directly across from the outdoor show ring so when we went out to do our test and the Fresian kept calling and calling, Opie was like, "Okay. There has to be a reason for all this excitement. Maybe if I look around nonstop I'll find out what it is!"

prancey dancey at the gate waiting to go in because noises! everywhere! can't
stand still!

Training 1

As we made our lap around the outside of the ring, Opie started tightening up. I learned my lesson from the last show that really all I can do is push him forward and hope for the best because god knows if I try to ride him, the judge blames me for any and every thing that goes wrong.

Unfortunately, one of his big tells of tension is a head wag. Even at home, if I get after him over something and then let him have a walk break on a long rein, he'll sometimes wag his head. It's like he can't weave with his feet so his head weaves instead. I really don't know what to do for it because it doesn't matter what my connection with the bit is. It's definitely just comes from him, and all I can do is try to make his tiny brain happy again.

right out of the halt he started going waggy waggy

He got a 7 for the first halt, and then a 6.5 for the first trot circle with the comment, "Wagging contact, topline tension." YUP.

In the near background, Khal Drogo the Fresian was still bugling away and as we came into the corner for the canter depart, Opie craned his head around for a looksie. He did this at his very first show, too, with the same result: he picked up the wrong lead. I got him corrected right away and at least this time he carried on in the canter without issue, but it still got that movement knocked down to a 4.5.

6.5s for the next two movements, and then a 9 for his medium walk and 8 for the free walk which he finally actually stretched down for. Opie's walk has always been a total dream, and I can always count on that to score well.

just beautiful

The right lead canter depart was right in the deepest, sloppiest corner so that was...expressive and earned the comment "fussy", but we finished with a couple of 7s and 8s with collectives being the same for a 71.956% and the comment "Lovely job."

not our best test, but certainly not as bad as the last show

That earned us a 2nd place, and I went back to the trailer test and ribbon in hand waving them around and cackling some more to Hubby who did not give two shits. It felt less like redemption and more like someone had told the judge that these were schooling shows so stop being such a colossal bitch which then made her go in the complete opposite direction and over-score everything.

You can't win with me. It's true.

one day i'll learn to tuck my pelvis underneath me.
maybe.

We had a three hour break between tests. About forty minutes before our next ride time Opie started getting really obnoxious at the trailer so I went ahead and got both of us ready again. I hopped on and wandered by the indoor to tell the ring steward we were out and about, and then went started making laps around the barn. I didn't want to spend all that time working him because he didn't need it; he just need to do something with himself. I let him meander around on the buckle snooting things at will before the ring steward called out on one of our passes that I was on the deck--a good twenty minutes early.

very rigorous warm up routine right here

That gave us around five minutes so I went in the ring to do a quick trot and check to make sure both canter leads were working. He really didn't need anything more than that and went into the ring super relaxed like the Dopie horse I enjoy riding so much.

Training 3


The summation of this test is that the judge just really fucking loved Opie. He could do no wrong. Our lowest score was a 7. We got a 10 on the medium walk and a 9 on the free walk. He didn't stretch the whole time for the trot circle (Which--grr--he's been doing so well on that at home! That's going to be the focus this week.), but she didn't care. 7 for that anyway. 9.5 for the trot out of the canter. 9 for gaits, 9 for rider position, 8.5s for the rest of the collectives.

never going to see scores like that again so even
though they're ridiculous i will admire them anyway

All that rounded up to a 81.363% which won the class. After our final halt, the judge asked me what breed of horse he was. I told her he was off the track since last November, and she just shook her head and said, "Wow, that's a great horse."

me telling the judge what's up while opie long distance begs hubby for candy.
he was obsessed with hubby saturday and always knew right where he was.

I mean, you guys can watch the test. It's not anywhere close to an 81%. But he was calm and relaxed and steady and that's all I personally expect out of him at this point. Having the video is also good because I can see a few spots that I know need work for this upcoming weekend's return to rated competition.

I was pleased to come home with a couple more nice ribbons, and I got to dig around in the prize box for high point (blingy browband coming to an Opie near you!). Bonus that Opie loaded and unloaded like a complete pro both times.

However.

The little mother fucker swung his head around to look to see if his BFF was at the gate waiting for him when we got home right as I went to clip the chain over his nose, and he absolutely crushed the top of my hand into the divider bar. Like, I instantly hit the deck saying bad words and crying really hard because I was pretty sure he'd just broken my hand. Fortunately for his continued life, it doesn't seem to be anything worse than deep bruising. It still hurts like a bitch, but everything's working like it's supposed to.

you are so good. except when you maim me, asshole.

This morning he gets another day off so that he can fully enjoy his massage. Must be nice, Opie. I'll just be over here popping Advil and icing my hand.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Already Written

Dopes has been back in "work" since this weekend. Technically he never really left work (except for his heat vacation while he threw himself about in melting tantrums because Nature), but I think we can all agree that prancing about over jumps didn't feel much like real work.

mother fucking zoomies time, on the lookout for jumpies

Instead he's been sent back to earning his show horse keep in the dredges of dressage land. This has been going both exceedingly well and simultaneously quite fucking poorly.

It's funny though, because there have been a handful of posts over the past week-ish where I was like, "Wow. Who needs your own blog when you have so many other people writing all the shit you want to say!"

So I bring to you #dopiedoesdressage (conceptualized by Tracy--I don't even have to come up with my own damn hashtags anymore!), as written by other bloggers.

Teresa wrote a clinic recap, and one part really stood out to me:
I brought Carmen up to the corner closest to the piles of wood and trees and began to work on the ground work exercises. She was doing (in my mind) really well with them. Nikki came up and watched for a bit and then said- 'she's not really focused on you though is she?' 
I looked and saw that, indeed, Carmen was attending to the outside.
With the big arena doors open, the front of the ring looks out over the parking lot and into the front of Opie's paddock. You know, the one where his pony soul mate resides with him. He's gotten much better since I've had him about not taking every opportunity to scream his fool head off, but he still keeps an eagle eye on the fenceline every time we pass the doors.

I feel like he's doing the work, but ever since reading that post I've been super aware of how much he might be going through the motions, but he's not actually with me. It's made me really make sure to do something either in one of those corners or as we're passing--shoulder in, haunches in, maybe a quick trot-halt-trot transition.

Your life revolves around me when I'm in the saddle, bro. Not around Apollo.

the view from the ring. this was about 15 seconds after i turned
him out in the morning and he couldn't believe i was sacrificing
him to the great outdoors yet again. 

Then Emma posted about how the horse has a job and needs to do the job, and while of course we always try to be fair and kind, sometimes the horse needs to have the rules more clearly laid out in front of them and made to do the fucking job. Even if they don't wanna.

Opie is the quietest laziest horse I've ever had, and I've spent so much of my riding career managing tense horses and not pushing for fear of dramadramadrama, that it's verrrry easy for me to fall into the trap of letting him get away with the bare minimum--and even that feels like slave labor to Opie sometimes. 

Emma's post and the mindset it put me in tied in closely with Catherine's clinic post about how the horse needs to be responsible for carrying the forward on their own. So that's been getting tied into the last few rides as well. Focus on me, not on the great outdoors. When I say move off my leg, I need you to go. And when you do go, I don't want to have to kick you every other stride to make you keep going.

how opie feels about that nonsense

Those are more generalized ideas and concepts that I'm working on implementing right now, but more specifically I really need to get his canter up to par. Almost every single test I've gotten a comment somewhere about his tense back in the canter--usually combined with getting somewhat above the bit in the depart or an abrupt downward transition into the trot.

The canter in general has always been Opie's weakest gait. He doesn't particularly want to do it, and while I can now cue him into it like a normal horse and he steps right into it (unless he's being a lazy, distracted cow staring out at the field), it takes a lot to keep it going without legs and body parts flying every which way. I've made myself stop trying to micromanage and override it so much and ride it like it's already this beautiful, developed canter which has helped in some aspects.

But from Kelly's post:
When I ask Rio to shorten his stride and carry his step a bit more, he sometimes breaks to the trot. He KNOWS that isn’t want I want, it’s just easier. Knowing this, I often accept a flatter/longer canter, because I am scared that if I ask for too much, he’ll break.
I'm still oh so guilty of doing the same thing. This morning I really made myself ask for more and not accept the multiple attempts at quitting. And you know what? What a great fucking canter! The up and down transitions out of it are still a work in progress, but I've reread Nicole's transitions post multiple times now and I'm going to make Opie read it through me multiple times until we get them better.

being held responsible for your body is hard work

Each ride has topped out at maybe twenty minutes. I don't want to drill him, and while he'll certainly offer to quit at the first chance he gets, when I tell him he needs to try harder, he'll try harder. He's not getting upset or frustrated and that's very much how I want to keep it. Our next show is this Saturday--a schooling show--and then the next weekend is a two day rated show which I'd really like to improve those canter scores for.

will absolutely work harder for extra cookies

Next week he's got a got a massage scheduled and the saddle fitter is coming out to make sure everything looks right as we dive into part two of show mania. But maybe I won't have to write my own posts about that either since everyone does such a good job of blogging all on their own!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Ponies in the park

Saddest story you're going to hear today: Dopie's vacation from Doing Things ended this weekend.

Whomp whomp.

Sunday, a large group of riders from the barn got together and did a trail ride at the park followed by grilling and snacking and frolicking.

all dem ponies!

It was the kickoff to a long stretch of adventures coming up for young Dopie Horse. Hunter pace season ramps up at the end of the month, and we still have six shows to get through on the calendar. Plus I'm excited to attend the Courtney King-Dye clinic my GMO is hosting next month albeit sans Opie.

But in the meantime, he got loaded on my trailer with his pasture mate Momo (which he walked right on for, no hesitation) and unloaded at the park (which he backed off the trailer for with zero dramatics) with giant eyes as he realized that for once he wasn't being ridden in a vast horseless wasteland--THE WHOLE BARN CAME WITH HIM!

he doesn't even count mo as a real horse in the field when his
bff gets taken in for riding, but they were besties for this trip

um, serious besties. every time mo got out of sight opie
started screaming. i'm worried about how this is going to
play out this weekend when he goes back to showing alone.

BM went right back to the barn to pick up another load of horses, so the six of us already there got tacked up and went for a short 45 minute loop. Since I was the only one there who knew the park, Opie was defaulted to leader the whole day. He marched along on a loose rein without a care in the world, even when the horse right behind him started breathing fire and jigging sideways into the back of him. He can be a serious pill by himself sometimes, but he makes up for it by never feeding off of other horses dramatics.

boopin' along in a new part of the park for him

dragon horse behind us mostly settled down

BM finally made it back with the second load of horses and I climbed back aboard to wait for everyone to assemble. Dopes hung out patiently watching everything go on around him. I got on and off of him in my saddle and bareback multiple times throughout the day, and he stood quietly every time I clambered aboard from my mounting block, or a bench, or the ground. He stood still each time we had to stop to wait for the slower horses to catch up, or when we stopped to peel off in groups to run around.

I have to make sure I put that out there because right off the bat when the big group set out together he pulled two Little Shit stunts.

supervising

We came to a narrow water crossing--one he's passed over pretty much every time we've come to the park--and there were a couple of kayakers unloading on the other side of the bank. He's seen kayakers before, and while these people were pretty fucking oblivious to the fact they needed to get out of the way, they weren't doing anything scary.

Opie slammed on the brakes and kept rearing and spinning away, smashing into the group crowded in behind us because the majority of them are pretty fucking oblivious to trail riding, until I finally booted him closer to the water. He was ready to go in until one of the kayakers got in and paddled just behind the reeds to lurk.

THANKS, SUPER HELPFUL.

That kicked off another round and spinning and rearing until I asked unflappable Momo to come up from the back of the group where A was stuck babysitting the stragglers. Momo plowed right in and Opie followed behind him without a second thought.

when we came out on the beach he dragged me right into the
water. 

Into the woods, not far from the crossing, we came around the corner and ran into three men walking. They politely said hello and stepped to the side of the trail to let us all pass. THIS OFFENDED OPIE GREATLY. Nevermind that we'd already passed another group of hikers with a barking dog no less and managed to walk right on by them.

Enter more theatrics, slamming and spinning into the horses behind him. Thank fuck for steady school horses that got a little wide eyed but never attempted to retaliate against the naughty baby body checking them left and right. I managed to get him stopped sandwiched in between two other horses and shimmied off his side to yank him out in hand. 10/10 do not recommend as it was super dangerous, but he was not going to move forward with me on him, and the three horses behind me had zero interest in being "brave" and leading.

I took a crop from another rider, got back on, and gave him two solid whacks behind my leg. He thought about getting nappy again over a row of giant logs, but I spanked him one more time and he didn't give me any problems from there on out. I really think he was just being a child and wanting to see if he could get away with sacrificing one of his friends to do the "hard work" of leading. He's crossed that water plenty of times before, he's been up close to kayakers plenty of times before, and he's sure as hell run into people plenty of times before.

oh hey look. kayaks in the background that floated right in front of us without
issue a few minutes later. 

After our first water play break, we stopped at a big, hilly field to let everyone romp around if they wanted. A and I took Opie and Momo to the bottom of one of the big hills and let them rip up it. There was, uhhh, a moment I was like, "Oh, fuck. I can't stop this thing." but some good comes from a history of galloping racehorses and I finessed him back like a boss. Then he hung out with a hind leg cocked and watched everyone else gallop around him also like a boss.

Our last pit stop was the boat launch where everyone waded way in and enjoyed the lukewarm water. Opie went in up to his belly and enjoyed a serious splash fest while Momo circled around us with his head completely under water. A and I looked at each other and were like, let's do this thing. We went back on shore, dumped our saddles, and went back out.



It's been so dry here this year that the pond has gotten ridiculously shallow, and we kept going out and out waiting for it to be deep enough to actually swim. I'd handed my phone off, but unfortunately she wasn't recording when we finally found a drop off and Opie swam about like a majestic grey sea horse while I giggled and squealed like a child, clinging to his mane and trying to keep the drag on my legs from pulling me off.

Most. Fun. Ever.

basically my face the whole time

i tried to get a picture of his water line but he just wanted to
follow me over to the grass for a graze

Then things kind of went south. Someone's bridle got broken, other people didn't want to go in the water, a childish pout went on that I had to turn back in the shadow of the trailers to rectify even though it had nothing to do with me, and I vetoed the extra fifteen minutes I was planning to add by going a longer route.

We got everyone untacked and dug into food while ponies grazed. BM took the first load back to the barn, and there was some more whining from the second group so I sent them off across the road to ride some more while they waited for BM to get back. Hopefully everyone got what they wanted in the end. Not my problem if they didn't. Take it up with management, yo. I'm just the GPS.

Hubby joined us with the dogs to eat and hang out, and A and I jumped on bareback to flop around the parking area while we waited for the group of riders to come back alive.

we are beauty we are grace.
we are tired and ready to punch people in the face.

i took him over to the trailer to throw his bridle on which meant he could no longer
see mo. commence screaming melt down. fucking horse.

Overall it was far less of a cluster fuck than I thought it was going to be. I did not have high hopes for this ride at all between the experience level of some of the riders and the off-property reputation of a couple of the horses. Everyone behaved miraculously well though, and I actually enjoyed myself (mostly). I kept getting requests to take people out during the week when I come, but... yeah, no. I think I'll keep my solo rides to myself, thanks.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Living that retired life

Oh wait.

It's just called excessive heat warnings. Or excessive bug warnings.

Or turns out my horse cannot even in the summer.

"OH GOD I'VE BEEN IN NATURE FOR 2 SECONDS MAKE IT END."

Dopes got his feet done last Wednesday, I gave him that day off, and then pulled him out bright and early Thursday morning for a ride before this stretch of heat warnings kicked off on Friday only to find him covered in full body hives. It took a few days, but I finally managed to knock those out.

In the meantime, I was having to go back out to the barn at noon to bring him inside, hose him down, and lock him in his stall with his fan. As soon as he finished his hay outside he'd start walking the fence line and body slamming his pasture mates in an attempt to get rid of any bugs. I finally caved and bought my very first fly sheet when I went down to PA to visit Riding Bestie Monday (at which time I also just had the barn worker leave him in all day since I wouldn't be there to save him).

sporting his own clothes and bobby's hand me down mask
and boots. we're all about reuse and recycle here. 

Being swaddled seems to have made him happier, and this is supposed to be our last day of 90*+ weather for awhile...which really means nothing since 85* and a trillion percent humidity feels hotter than the dry 96* we had yesterday. I'm looking forward to a cooler tomorrow anyway as it was already 80* when I left my house at six this morning. It took me all of two seconds to decide even with his new clothes Opie wasn't leaving the safety of his stall. He was having a meltdown over the one fly circling his belly and wouldn't pull his face away from his fan to come get his candy. I've never owned such a summertime princess in my life.

i tried to get him out for some grazing when i got back monday. it lasted maybe
three minutes total before he was going back in his stall with or without me.

Between the hives and the heat, it was a full week of "vacation" time before I climbed back aboard this Tuesday. I expected Opie to give me a little bit of sass after doing nothing but a couple of longes in a halter during that time, but I ended up with the complete opposite. I actually climbed off halfway through to grab a stick because he was so behind my leg.

The walk and trot work both felt perfectly fine. The canter felt like he had a flat tire that was causing him to pound the ground like an elephant and tip over while turning where I had to pull him to a stop a couple times for fear of crashing. That's when I got the whip, and with a few spanks I suddenly had a horse that could be bothered to get off his front end and hold himself upright a little bit.

aaaand splat, right back to the forehand.
it's a lazy, quitting horse work in progress, yo.

Yesterday Hubby had the holiday off and obvi I was in dire need of new media so I got the barn done and was on the horse by 8am. Game time decision, I decided it would be more fun for all parties involved if we did some jumpies.

10/10 opie approved

There were a couple singles set up in the ring, a log leftover from the barn prepping for a hunter derby last weekend, and a one stride. I made the singles crossrails, and set the one stride as a crossrail to poles or vice versa. Dopie loves going over the log so that was left as is.

I wanted videos of the jumping since jumping Xs isn't the best for pics, but I told Hubby to hold off while we schooled through the one stride first. Opie has never done one before so I wanted to do some work with him figuring out his feet and knew it wasn't going to be pretty.

LOLZ It wasn't.

"YEAH, I AM SO GOOD AT THE JUMPING!"
i love those happy horse ears.
"JK WUT R LEGS DO NOT KNO OR CARE."

I've gotta give it to the kid, though. He doesn't have a stop in him. Even after several blundering attempts through the line before I shortened the striding up by about 3' to make it easier for him, he was raring to go right back through and try again. For this being maybe the dozenth time he's jumped, I got him sorted out in no time and he was coasting through at the canter confidently and without too much rail throwing.

He's never cantered a course in his life, but off we went to give it his first try!


HOW CUTE IS HE CAN YOU EVEN.

I saw the long spot to the log, kissed and closed my leg, and he was like, "Yep, I got this!" I stuffed a candy into his mouth, let him have a quick walk, and then we went for round two.



At which point he thought he was a pro and zoomied around. He took the first jump down because who needs to actually jump and lift your legs over such tiny things? He came out of the one stride on the wrong lead but also bearing fucking down which is why you can see me check him so strongly. Happy fucking horse ears the whole time though HE'S SO CUTE YOU CANNOT EVEN.

Round three:


I had Hubby put the sorry little starting X up to a 2' vertical hoping it would get him to lift his legs--which it did. He swapped over to the right lead coming out of the corner which I felt, but it was still balanced and we were landing on the right lead anyway so I let him hold it. The one stride was a little spastic, and then he tripped and lost his balance before the last jump so I circled him to give him enough time to regroup. I love him trying to figure out his leads all on his own though BECAUSE HE'S SO CUTE.

I had Hubby make the diagonal X a 2'3" vertical since Xs were obviously becoming very boring when you're the best at jumping (or think you are at least). Opie's only jumped that height once from a trot and he launched over it in a tangle of baby antelope on roller skates legs, but I could tell he was feeling pretty invincible so we came right around to it in a new course in the canter.

AND HUBBY BASICALLY MISSED IT.


It was glorious, I promise. As soon as we finished the course I hopped off and stuffed ALL the candy in his face and told him what a #childgenius he is.

I love that he genuinely seems to enjoy learning, and I think this slooooowww process of figuring out how to be confident with one's feeties on the flat is going to keep paying off in keeping him feeling like a little stud over jumps. As long as they fit in the schedule, kiddo will definitely be doing some of the fun local hunter shows next year.

so much candy and scratches for the dopie horse


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Unfun Work

The unfun work is the work you have to do to get to the fun work. It seems like it should be fun work because it's technically the same thing as the fun stuff, it just hasn't reached the fun level yet.

In case you're still wondering what the fuck I'm talking about, I coined this phrase this morning on a trail ride (fun!) while my horse was screaming his fool head off and his face was about two inches away from breaking my nose (decidedly unfun!).

To be used in a sentence: "Opie, you mother fucker, this is exceptionally UNFUN!"

spotted: nothing.
A VAST LAND OF HORSELESS NOTHING.

I wanted to clock a couple more hours towards my TIP trail riding goal but I didn't want to go through the hassle of trailering to the park so we marched off into the suburban wilderness instead. Opie's done this trail ride before last December, but it was with two other horses. This time he was alone. And not only was he alone, we left the barn so early that no other horses were outside yet.

So basically it was a post-apocalyptic wasteland where Opie was the only horse left alive (except for the one ancient swaybacked horse hanging out with a donkey that we porpoised by that doesn't count because neither creature so much as glanced at our majesty). He knows this because he spent the whole two hours sending out a distress signal that was never returned.

I do think this horse doesn't mind a trail ride. He's a little stud at the park, but he's been there enough now that it's old news. It's now a fun ride.

Trail riding down the road from your own safe house is, apparently, still new and therefore unfun. And unfortunately the only way to make the transition from one to the other is wear down his soul and spirit keep doing the same thing until it also becomes old news.

Growing up is hard work, yo.

it is pretty out this early though.

Along the same lines of unfun and being alone in a horseless wasteland, Opie's first cross country jumps!

My barn has a bunch scattered around the property for the mini hunter paces they host, but the majority of them are located in the front field where Opie gets turned out. Normally I would count that as a plus since he goes out there every single day and is familiar with the area. But I know this little horse, and I know his little brain would instantly wonder only about where his BFF was.

Fortunately, last Friday I talked a barn mate into coming out with me for the first time on the other horse Opie and his BFF get turned out with. We walked to the top of the field to warm up, she went right, I went left, and she disappeared behind a large bush.

ALSO KNOWN AS THE BLACK HOLE OF DEATH ABANDONING OPIE IN THE HORSELESS FUCKING WASTELAND.

There was a large tantrum. There was a lot of air time. Someone got spanked. And then Momo trundled back into sight, spewed forth from the black hole like horsey magic, and Opie deigned to trot around like a deranged Saddlebred on 'roid rage for awhile until his brain finally settled back in his head.

Unfun.

angry cobra neck because angry

To his credit though, he was super for the three jumps we played over. I've only just started consistently cantering him over things because it's taken him awhile to be trusted to be held responsible for his own feet and staying upright, but he's starting to really get the hang of it. We trotted the first jump, trotted the hanging log the first time, then cantered over the coop and the other two jumps a couple times apiece without any issues.


He's gotten really good about waiting to see if I have any input about where to take off instead of just winging it and going crashy crashies. I'm all about the horse figuring out how to save themselves and see their own distance, but I also need them to be tuned in. Especially when they're young and dumb. He didn't make a bad choice the whole time though (well, in regards to jumping), and we finished up in the ring with some beautiful trot work.


He finds this stuff easy now that all that hard dressage work is settling in. Could he go out and do an Intro HT right now? Probably. Is that even remotely on my radar? No. So please don't suggest what a fun event horse he'd make. Eventing around here makes me angry.

wondering if his bff magically got turned out while he was
standing here. spoiler alter: bff still in the barn where we left him.

I want to keep jumping, and I want to keep trail riding, so I need to keep slogging through the unfun as it comes. Could he be worse? Of course. But he can always be better.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Reset

One of my goals this year was to make sure I don't get caught up in what anyone else is doing. I've worked hard to make that happen, and every time a hint of envy or jealousy or self-doubt tries to creep in I immediately shut it down. Your horse is not my horse. Your struggles are not my struggles. Your wins are not a direct challenge to me to do better.

However, I did get a little carried away and start to compete with myself. I got caught up in wanting to make up for last year's lost show season, and Opie progressed so well and took everything I threw at him so mostly easily that I was able to jump right in and show show show and push push push.

Then an emotionally upsetting deviation from his schedule the day before yet another show really threw him in a mental tailspin. Fortunately it coincided right when I was planning to give him a week off anyway. Unfortunately, it happened at all.

i swear he has different snoot spots every time i look at him.

I spent that week doing a lot of grooming, cookie feeding, and nothing else. Opie started to get a little reactive though. His BFF is a bit of a mental case, and it felt like Opie was starting to pick up on his tendencies to get wide-eyed and twitchy over absolutely nothing. While I firmly believe the week to himself was a very good thing for both of us, I was eager to give him and his hamsters a job again.

We've been doing mostly long and low work followed by long trail walks. The next show isn't until the 14th, and I feel like I have ages before I have to check in and make sure he's show ring ready again. It's a great feeling as every ride has had zero expectations finally.

lots and lots of walking

Opie has responded by being super relaxed yet responsive, and all the sudden he's figured out how to stretch down at both the walk and trot. He's taking the reins all the way to the buckle and flicking his giant clod hoppers out and loving his newly discovered freedom. I still have to remind him to balance himself as he gets so carried away he starts to sort of somersault forward and out of control, but I'm hopeful we'll have an actual stretchy circle from now on instead of just having to write that movement off.

a very good pone also starting to really figure out leg yields

I've also tabled lessons for the time being. There are a few reasons, but mostly that I don't want to feel like I have to get something done by Friday to make sure I'm not wasting my own or BM's time by spending the entire lesson getting my horse to focus because I didn't feel like drilling him during the week. BM put us on a good track with the basics and I'm not doing much right now beyond making sure the w/t/c aren't a complete mess. I can handle that all by my lonesome.

We've also been doing some jumping, including Dopie's first (very small) cross country jumps! I'll make that its own post. It's really not that exiting, but I'm going to need some blog fodder for awhile.

he never stopped coming when called so he must not have been 
too mad at me. or he just really loves carrots.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WW: Greying

Opie is my first grey horse. Before him I've never paid much attention to the greying process of other people's horses, so watching how his coat and markings have changed already even in the short time I've owned him has turned me into kind of an obnoxious child. (Shout out to my barn mate who patiently listened to me as I giddily pointed all things out to her the other day.)

dopes the day i bought him off the backside
10/21/17

he's starting to get a lot of brown on both his shoulders
6/2/18

sometimes it looks more red than brown
6/20/18

what i originally thought was a large white sock all the way up
has turned out to be a normal sized sock with lighter grey hairs
filling out the top of it. it's really noticeable now when he's wet.
6/10/18

and this great big white blaze...

is actually just a great big white snoot that only extends halfway
up his face. the rest is just lighter grey hair--with maybe a star snuck
in there at the top as well!
6/18/18

For those of you with greys (either currently or in the past), how much did your horse's appearance change as they lightened up? Did it take them forever to start to change shade, or was it within a year or two? I'd love to see some posts with pictures on this, too! Lauren just did a really interesting one!