Wednesday, December 5, 2018


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.


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.