Monday, July 30, 2018

Fly, Opie! Fly!

no, i don't mean take off with me, you little fucker.

Because thinking of how many more times this season I still have to ride the same god damned Training tests is starting to make me a little twitchy (three more times apiece), I gave Opie the whole week off decided to change things up a bit this weekend.

He did, in fact, end up getting the week off although it was unplanned. I didn't realize beginner horse camp was last week until I showed up at the barn Tuesday morning to feed and Children. I attempted to ride Wednesday but lasted maybe five minutes before I got off in annoyance. Because Children.

So instead Opie spent the week eating carrots and weaving at the fence because his soulmate was inside most of the time for said children and his other pasture mate doesn't count as a real horse ninety nine percent of the time.

trying to peace out to go find soulmates. the theme of sunday.

I got to the barn super late for me on Saturday with everything crossed that lessons would have cleared out by then and lucked out that everyone was driving out as I was driving in. I snagged one of the barn girls that was meandering around the ring bareback for a trail ride, grabbed Opie from the field, threw his bridle on, and headed out bareback myself.

For essentially not being ridden in a full week he was great. We did have a moment where he trotted up the last part of our hill and I clung to his mane bouncing around frantically giggling as I tried not to slide off the back of his round pony body.

I finished the ride in the ring under tack. He was a total star for it. I'm starting to work in earnest on putting a real lengthening on, so we did a ton of back and forth at all three gaits just getting him familiar with adjustability without breaking. A few really nice turns on the forehand, and then finished with some real shoulder- and haunches-in at the trot.

he is so good at the dressage stuff. just look at him.
alright, he was only a little asshole most of the time, not all of it.

On Sunday I decided we were going to jump in the front field. I didn't have a particularly solid reason for it. It was a nice day and I had originally planned on going to a hunter pace, but the thought of driving for yet another weekend when we're showing yet again this upcoming weekend just didn't excite me so I passed. Plus I still have memories of the front field being a fun place for easy jumping with Bobby. Obviously the first and last time I was out there with Angry Cobra Opie wasn't enough to deter me.

Hubby and I brought all three horses in from the field, got Opie groomed, and then took his monthly confo pic quick.

current status: adorable.

I got him tacked up in a barn mates borrowed jump saddle (because barn mates are the best) and then headed back out front where Opie immediately started screaming nonstop on the off chance BFF Apollo had poofed back into existence in the field while Opie wasn't watching.

Spoiler Alert: He hadn't.

Opie proceeded to try all sorts of evasive maneuvers to get back to the barn, none of which worked. Once Hubby made it up to the front Opie settled down and stopped making noise because he loves Hubby.

After a slightly wild w/t/c warm up, I started us off with the baby coop.

always has an eye for hubby

It involved nonstop Angry Cobra on approach and then we landed and he abruptly bucked and tried to take off to the barn. Again.

bye felecia. 

But I persevered! And got the same result some more!

locked onto his end destination: not this field.

Eventually ripping his face off sank in a little bit and we ended on that jump marginally successfully.



Then around to a hanging log which didn't give us any grief last time. This time Opie discovered the beauty of the run out--only he didn't quite get the hang of it and still jumped while running out so that he was really only jumping air.

super cute form over that nothing, dopes

I got that shut down then moved on to the skinny hanging log.

nope

The fucking Angry Cobra neck kept getting in his way of seeing the jump so when we got up to it he was like, "Da fuq did this come from?!" So I parked him in front of it and let him snoot it for a moment:

jump here, dummy

And brought him back around one more time:

well. he did go over.

I left it at that because I was pretty much done with the head in my face, rabid neck strikes, ripping my arms out trying to leave shenanigans. We finished with the tire jump in the shade of the trees that he cantered right over twice because apparently that's not scary at all.

still don't trust you not to take off on landing, little horse

I'm disappointed that I spent the entire ride pulling on my horse, and I'm annoyed it was because the entire ride my horse kept trying to leave the area at a high rate of speed. Talk about the Unfun work. The only way he's going to get over having to have friends around at all times is to be shown that life can go on without them, but damn if my shoulders aren't in love with this method.

In the meantime, back to dressage land.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

WNYDA Summer Fest II

I was the second ride of the day on Sunday with my next test being about thirty minutes behind that. It meant a 4am wake up call, but it almost meant we'd be in and out and free to spend the rest of the day doing other things.

all done, time to go home and be productive go back to bed

While still dark, Hubby had pulled the trailer right up to the barn where the outside lights had it illuminated inside and out just fine. Opie said NOPE. It was less a "I don't want to get on the trailer" than a great big "I'm not leaving my friends again, thanks."

He kept staring into the barn every time I stopped him at the ramp. That's a big old NOPE from me. He can stop and take a break from the circling as long as his attention is on me. There was a lot of drama and rearing and when I wouldn't let him throw himself into the side of the barn he tried to throw himself at me instead. After ten minutes I brought him to the ramp yet again and he dropped his head and let me pet him without paying any attention to the barn. I let him hang out there for a minute and told him he was a good boy before asking him to walk up which he finally did without fuss.

It was pouring rain the whole time, that good old fashioned sideways sheeting shit that we really needed but came at a rather inopportune time, which made the whole ordeal that much more fun. On top of that I'd woken up to my body being like, "Being a woman is great!" which is decidedly false. The easy hour and a half drive down turned into a two hour white knuckle bitch fest while my rig basically swam the last twenty minutes there was so much water on the road.

Up on the hill where the college is the rain had cleared up to a slow drizzle and I got Opie tucked into his breakfast under a cooler. He was kind of a distracted fuck the whole time as it was early enough horses elsewhere were also being fed and making noises that he had to pay rapt attention to. Obviously.

To make the whole thing more fun, as I backed Opie off the trailer Hubby informed me half his hind hoof was dangling off. I was like, wait are you referring to the blood on his leg? No, that was it's own thing. In the drama of flinging himself around the parking lot he'd managed to take a chunk off the outside of one of his feet and give himself minor road rash on the same leg's cannon bone.

if you're wondering why he wasn't wrapped, it's because he
somehow managed to get a bandage bow on a front leg on the
trailer ride down the day before and i was too paranoid to wrap
any of his legs the next day. joke's on me!

The chunk of foot came off with one tug and I rasped it clean to see if there was any real damage. Fortunately no, just cosmetic. The blood on his leg I scrubbed clean, dabbed some peroxide on, and it was good to go--really nothing more than a tiny spot of a scrape.

I finally got both of us dressed, attempted to dry my saddle off one last time before I got on, and then headed over to warm up. As we were walking by the barn the TD stopped me to tell me my stock tie was sacrilegious and offensive to all of mankind bending the rules on conservatism.

I honestly thought she was joking at first. This is the fourth recognized show I've worn it to, including the day before, and no one had told me it wasn't allowed. In fact the TD at the show last month told me it was really fun and cute. BECAUSE IT IS. But no.

"The judge even said to me yesterday, 'What's the story behind that stock?'" Which I barely refrained rolling my eyes over because the judge was wearing a fucking bright pink sport coat so who is he to say the four inches of my light teal stock that's visible is offensive? And also I just didn't really believe her. Houghton is a conservative Christian college--one where unicorns are apparently the work of Satan. I don't fucking know. I asked her if she wanted me to change it, and she told me if I had another one I probably should.

Back I went to the trailer to change into my throat-crushing white stock where my sticky AF silicone grip asshole breeches glued to my wet saddle as I shimmied off and caused me to get a great big black saddle stain down one thigh. Then I got back on and soaked my ass through. SO THAT WAS GREAT.

it's a pretty stock tie, it just chokes me out.

The warm up was a mad house as there were five horses stuffed into the small size dressage ring because no one wanted to ride in the rain. Unsurprisingly it was actually less of a cluster than when I went back in for a quick t/c right before my second test and there was only one woman in there who managed to commandeer the entire ring and almost crush me into the wall with great fucking regularity. Because there's always a Dressage Queen.

Anyway, Dopes actually warmed up nice and relaxed and forward. The third rider in our T1 class had scratched all his horses for the day so it was just Opie and the lovely mare.

Training 1

Opie was a thousand times more relaxed and focused than the day before. I think it helped that it was just Hubby in the bleachers and the photographer at the rail which was a whole lot less to get distracted by. He felt super the whole test, and after the morning I'd already had I was glad to have the good Dopie horse back in action.


We got a mix of 7s and 6.5s with a solitary 6 for the second 20m trot circle that kind of got away from me in the steering department. 7s for collective marks except for another 6 for submission with the comment "connection." "Nice pair--work to create a back to front connection to keep horse more balanced and through in transitions. Good job." Much more to work with than god damn "Nose out." 67% scored just under the mare for a nice big red ribbon.

We went back to the warm up since a bunch of people had ended up scratching for the day which left the show running early and we didn't have much scheduled time between tests anyway. One of the trainers in the ring was like, "There's that little baby Thoroughbred I love!" when Opie went by. "I've seen him everywhere all year and he's so cute!"

it's true. he's basically the cutest thing alive. 

He'll be an easy sell if I ever can't get him on the trailer and have to leave him behind somewhere. Five dollars and he's yours so long as I don't have to deal with the drama anymore.

Just kiddingggg.

alright, sometimes he does look a bit like a donkey.

We didn't do much between tests. I parked Opie in a corner and hung out for ten minutes until the ring cleared of all but the DQ. When the ring steward said the horse before me was next in the ring I did a quick t/c with him and then went back over to get fawned over by the bit check volunteer.

Training 3

This test wasn't quite as steady as the first one. It felt a bit rushed again and like I couldn't quite keep up. Still, mostly 6.5s, 7s, and 7.5s with a much redeeming and best scoring yet 7 for that fucking stretchy trot circle! I was pumped he actually went down and gave it the old college try for the very first time in a test. Sadly we ended with a 5 for the final halt because it wasn't immobile. Watch it--it's actually kind of funny. He halted not square and paused so I went ahead and saluted. Only Opie was like, "That's not right! We halt square always!" and took it upon himself to fix that mistake and square himself up.


7s and 6s for collectives with the final comment, "Nice pair--work to keep horse in front of your seat and leg. Be careful not to drive at your seat in the canter. Try to sit deeper and activate from leg to create energy. This will improve balance and connection. Good luck." This judge had great comments for both tests which I always appreciate looking back on to learn from. 66%+ won the class by a whole fucking lot. Like, embarrassingly a lot. I'm not sure what happened to the other two riders, but I'll take my blue ribbon and run.

yay, not yellow!
note stained brand new breeches. 

And then I went home, took a shower, and went back to bed for three hours. Because I'm a grown up that needs naps sometimes, okay?

Monday, July 23, 2018

WNYDA Summer Fest I

I'm hoping to keep these recaps nice and short since I had such excellent ride times that didn't leave me any time to wander around the facilities finding things to do to amuse myself and therefore opening myself to long winded ramblings about how my horse grazes.

Whoops.

I've already started!

Opie loaded and unloaded like a superstar on day one. I left the trailer stashed down the driveway while I went to check in and see about parking since they had a whole bunch of random shit everywhere with their new building still sort of under work. He managed not to maim himself while he waited, and then hung out quietly eating his breakfast and reassuring himself his new soulmates were in sight until it was time to get tacked up.

soulmates acquired: check.
the view up there is really pretty!

We did a couple laps around the barns before I started my warm up. I had more time than I wanted, but I always think it takes longer to get dressed and tacked up than it actually does, and once I start the process Opie doesn't like standing still anymore. From there I joined one other rider in the outdoor, but Opie had his head on a swivel and had zero interest in tuning me in. I left that ring and went into the small indoor instead.

He warmed up w/t/c there beautifully. It was a really small turnout for the whole show this time for some reason, which left the only two other horses/riders in my T1 class an Olympic medalist and a pro on a super nice young mare we've been competing against all year. Obviously with those odds I wasn't expecting to blow anyone out of the water, but Opie was moving so well I felt I had a really good chance of--if not beating at least one of them--scoring right up there with them.

We did what we needed and still had extra time, so we wandered back out to the outdoor where a few more horses had appeared and did a little more trot work there. It wasn't as good as the previous work, but it felt fine and we headed over to the new ring to wait to go in.

Training 1

Houghton finished their new arena/teaching building just in time for this show. It's gorgeous. It's got brand new GGT footing and is well lit and set up great for spectating. It's also a lot for a young horse who gets distracted every single day of his life by routine things.

waiting to go in on sunday. he marched right in to the bit check area and hung out
patiently, charming the volunteers while they told him he must have been an awful racehorse.

There's windows everywhere including an entire wall of them behind the open judge's stand. One long side is metal bleachers that had quite a crowd in them as we rode right before the lunch break. Opie was understandably pretty bug eyed by everything. I let him walk a lap the first time and he gave quite the hairy eyeball to the judge's stand when we passed it. Fortunately the judge gave us enough time to lap the ring once more at the trot before he blew the whistle.

The test was not so hot. Opie was tight and googly eyed and kept trying to stare at every noise the people in the bleachers made. Not being particularly in-tune to me, he'd get quick and then feel my half halt and immediately take it as a cue to stop doing whatever he was doing--as in, just stop altogether. Needless to say the rhythm and tempo weren't quite so flowing as one aims for.

warming up sunday

He also felt like he had about ten legs going in every different direction. I don't know if it was just from how distracted he was and the distinct lack of steering that brought that made things feel a little dicey or if he just couldn't figure out what to do with the fluffy cloud footing he was prancing on.

We did our final halt and were walking out when the announcer came over the loud speakers to announce the next rider and Opie scooted forward like someone had jumped out behind him. Again, it was just a lot for him to process.

The judge understandably wasn't too impressed. We got 3rd out of the three of us with a 61%+. Every. Single. Comment was "Nose out." Every. Comment. Now I know Opie was distracted and certainly not steady in the contact, but good grief. Think up a new comment. (I have to whine about something every show clearly.) The judge didn't seem too impressed with anyone the whole morning. Everyone was in the upper fifties and low sixties except for the two horses in my T1 that both scored really well.

I pulled Opie's bridle but left him saddled to let him eat for a bit before we had to go back for our second test.

getting to be such a pro about hanging out patiently. even if he does still have
permanent side eye. 

Training 3

Training 3 felt a lot like Training 1 but faster. Like, we couldn't steer faster and he found things to be distracted by faster. I'm sure the show photographer got some really good pictures of me grimacing for ninety percent of the test as I tried to finesse some sense of control into the high speed chase that was going on in the ring.

Our comments were, again, mostly, "Nose out" with a couple additions about the transitions being abrupt and one about tension. Hysterically the stretchy circle which felt like a game of start-stop where I attempted to half halt, Opie attempted to halt halt, I kicked Opie on, Opie jetted off, repeat, got the comment "tempo steady". But still a 5. Because there was a distinct lack of actual stretching going on.

I was happy to have that test behind us as it wasn't the most fun to ride. We managed a 62%+ for another third--beating several people this time and actually only scoring 1% behind the girl that usually beats us in this test by a lot. The Olympian won by quite a bit more obvi.

i'm really good at taking flattering pictures.
and i know those ribbons are giant, but yellow.

Even though the tests didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, especially since he warmed up so well, I'm happy enough with how he handled himself. He could have come completely unglued in there, but didn't react any worse than a horse his age and with his experience had a right to. Bonus that he was such a pro for every other aspect.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow's better results but ten thousand times more outside fuckery!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

All Systems Go

First off, thanks everyone for their input about Opie's pee! I never thought that would be a sentence, but here we are. I haven't been able to give him a, uhhh, deep cleaning yet because it turns out he's quite shy about such business. I awkwardly in a way only a horse person would find acceptable went in for a close look while he was a little bit dropped to see if I could see or feel anything alarming, but at the very least there's not a giant pee tumor or something hiding in there. I'll have to try a little bit of sleepy drugs next week to see if I can't get him to drop all the way for a thorough examination.

........

And this is why horse people are weird.

In the meantime, I'm going to give him two weeks of ulcer treatment mostly just because. He shows heavily so it's not going to hurt regardless. I'll keep an eye on it, but of course, as horses do, as soon as I typed out that post I've noticed his stall has been significantly more dry. So who knows.

keeps a (side) eye on everything himself. 

In other news, I got a couple of minor maintenance things checked off for Dopes this week.

On Monday he got his massage. Unlike his last one, as soon as she started digging in he was like, "Oh right. You're the lady that rubs my butt. Bring it on!" His lower lip was droopy and quivering, and he kept trying to sit on her to get her to really dig in. Sir knows what he wants. He had a knot on the right side of his neck where he likes to fake being on the bit, but other than that he was in pretty good shape. She said he looked much better than last time.

you could fit a lot of candy in that dangling lip

Today he got his saddle checked out by the fitter. She also does body work and said his back felt really good. The saddle didn't need more than a little extra flocking put up front. It wasn't much of an adjustment bulk-wise, but I could immediately tell the front of the saddle had been lifted when I sat in it which felt much better for myself. We'll do a re-check sometime over the winter just because his body keeps doing weird growing horse things.

growing in all the directions.
except for side eye. already a certified full grown pro there.

This weekend we're returning to the rated world for the last time this season. I got awesome ride times both days for the first time ever at this show which instantly put me in a good mood. I have to get up pretty early Sunday, but I'm also done before nine so total win. 

Opie has had two rides to prep, and right now I'm divided on whether I want to ride him or just give him a longe tomorrow. That seems like not a lot, but less is often more with this horse, and I really put the hammer down on him Tuesday and Wednesday over the canter. 

he only got worked on the longe the day before his last show.
it involved a lot of flailing but he finished looking really good.

The canter has been a lot of arguing over holding oneself up and not quitting every time I so much as twitch my ass cheek. Half halts are a thing at the canter, and it's non-negotiable that I can ask for one and still expect the horse to steer. The departs were also put on repeat.

I ask.

He flings his body parts around dramatically.

I bring him back to the trot.

He has Opinions and Feelings about this.

I do not care and quickly ask again.

This used to be an entire lesson. Like, how many times must I ask Opie for a canter depart before we get one without falling down/running away/being a llama/all of those all at once?

all of those all at once.

Now it's maybe five or six corrections before he deigns to take input and give me a marginally normal depart. In fact on Wednesday he stepped right into the left lead--his weaker lead--like a complete pro twice in a row. So I know we're getting there. Slowly but surely.

As for the quitting, that's been getting interesting as he tries to think up new ways to Opt Out. He really likes the "half halt means quit", but catching that in a split second with a spur usually crosses that off the list quickly. Then he tries the "I can slow down but my power steering no longer works." Letting him run himself into the wall once a ride crosses that off as well. The other day he tried "I spooked so I'm bolting! Oh, you don't want me to run off so I'll come back to the trot right away." Nah, son.

My thighs are getting a really good workout, but once we battle through all the evasions the canter he does give is getting to be something nice.

And then there's the walk and trot ADD problem.

v confused about the weed whacker on the other side of the ring.

I mentioned before that he can see out to the gate of his pasture from the ring, and it's really starting to become A Thing to stare out there. He has nice floppy listening ears around three quarters of the ring, and then as soon as we round the corner facing the door, ping! Up go his little giant ears.

It was working to do lateral work or transitions as we approached/passed the door, but now when I ask for the lateral work he gets fussy--he doesn't want to do it because it interferes with his staring. I think that's going to turn into a big ground work session as I'm pretty much over it. There's nothing out there to even stare out besides the empty paddock.

arthur says he's ready to help load

So that's where we're at. My goals for this weekend are to keep him focused for the entire test so we don't pick up the wrong lead again, and to keep him relaxed enough so the dreaded head wag doesn't show up. Anything else is a bonus. We're returning to real horse showing so sadly those fancy 70%+s aren't going to show up in next week's recap!

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!