Monday, April 29, 2019

Give and Take

On the business end of things first, Dopes is now officially (baby) toothless!

so much better looking than the one that was fused to
his jaw and had to be cut/pried/yanked out.

The dentist the barn uses wouldn't get back to me after weeks of trying to get in touch with him, so I ended up going with someone else. Fortunately she was great to work with and got Dopie floated in no time. He had a couple points in the back, but the fun part was the last retained baby tooth of the four Opie originally had that the other dentist had left in for a reason I don't remember got to come out. This dentist gave the tooth a wiggle, pronounced it loose enough that she felt she could get it out pretty easily, and then did just that with nothing more than a lip chain for the final yank. No drugs, no fuss, Opie spit a little blood out and went right to stuffing his face with the rest of his breakfast hay.

She said the rest of his mouth looks perfectly normal which probably means it's time for him to come up with something else weird and/or horrifying. Although perhaps he's maimed his legs enough times this year to cover that for awhile.

Knock on wood!

"herp derp i'm still a child."

Opie had himself a nice three day weekend. Or maybe not so nice as I was snug as bug in my house watching LRK3DE while he had to hang outside with his friends not working, but braving another wave of winter weather. You guys, it snowed again Saturday. I can't.

I rode him in the relative warmth Thursday afternoon and sir was LIT. As in, breathing fire and ready to conquer mountains endless canter. He didn't feel at all wound or tense or anxious though which was fantastic. He really does seem to have taken a breath over life and settled back to his normal level of neurotic.

BUT STILL SO STRONG AND FIT AND READY TO CANTER FOR FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT.

"easy, fuego" was my canter mantra and it made me giggle.
i crack me up.

One of Hubby's favorite past times is to reminisce over how bad of a horse Bobby was. For some reason all the tears and tantrums and meltdowns that everyone's favorite giant awkward moose brought me never really endeared Hubby to Bobby. I do my best to defend him--he might have smashed me into walls for virtually no reason countless times, and caused me more angst than any horse owner should have to go through, but he did bring some nice things to the table--but my last couple rides on the young Dopie Horse have maaaaybe lent some credence to Hubby's complaints.

I was never able to ride Bobby with Mr Tappy because as soon as he saw the whip come out, forget it. Ride over. Did he get touched with it? Didn't matter, its very existence was too offensive to handle. Cue the string of Bobby Nopes: backing up, flinging himself sideways, pinning you against solid objects, laying down (my personal favorite because I'm not sure you can actually be any more melodramatic than laying down under saddle), refusing to move one solitary inch...

Me: Can we do that thing you know how to do perfectly well?

Bobby: What about no.

Me: But you know how to do it. Just do it.

Bobby: YOU SAVAGE I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU EXPECT ME TO BOW DOWN TO YOU I WILL FIGHT TO THE DEATH AND TAKE YOUR MOTHER DOWN WITH ME.

throwback to this artwork by nicole. #bobbyproblems

Really all those were all in his repertoire, and it didn't have to be over something as tangible as the whip. Rides often consisted of some form of drama. You had to just assume that he absorbed something out of the whole process and cross your fingers that he would deign to show it off at some point in the future.

Opie isn't immune to a tantrum. He's #childgenius, but he's also a young horse with a questionable work ethic being asked to learn hard things. The difference between the two is that when Opie tries to say "No" he usually flings his head in your face. Sometimes he'll duck out and try for a spin.

And that's it. Keep asking, let him know you're serious, make sure it's clear what you're asking for, and by the end of the ride he's doing it to the best of his ability. There was no moving on from a tantrum with Bobby. If one got started, write off the rest of the ride.

Opie is....wait for it....trainable. There's give and take in our rides.

"you give me candy, i give you anything you want."

I wrote in my last post that Mr Tappy got introduced to Opie for help in getting him off my right leg. I had to use him for the first time for backup for just that this morning. In the left lead canter, he went right to laying on my outside leg and bulging out against the rail to the point of scraping my boot along the kick board. I tried leg, then spur, then one snap of my wrist to let Mr Tappy chime in when I got no response.

Opie fucking rocketed into the sky and porpoised for several strides before I was able to bring him back. Then he went right around and tried the same damn evasion again. This time I tried a heavier spur--no response--followed by a lighter spank. Same rocket launch, but a quicker recovery. The third time I only had to use my spur to get my point across, and by the fourth trip past the trouble end he was straight and off my leg.

The end, story over.

We went right back to work, ran through 1-1 twice without incident, and finished with good head scritching snugs because we were both very happy with things.

loves a good head snug almost as much as candy. which is a lot.

Bobby taught me a lot. More than I probably ever wanted to know about managing and riding a high drama special needs freak show. There were so many things I loved about him and so many incredible things he gave me that no other horse will ever be able to replicate.

This whole partnership when the going gets "tough" though? The whole "I ask, you try, maybe I need to ask a couple more times before you do try" thing?

I kinda really like this horse so much more. I see what you're saying now, Hubby.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Everything is Broken

Or, to put a positive spin on things, "Back to Basics (Even though I feel like we never actually left them...)".

But really. Everything is broken.

Fortunately, every time I say that show season starts in just a couple weeks, a week goes by and we're still a couple weeks out. Eighteenth winter has sent us into a weird twilight zone. May 4th is approaching at some point in the near future I can say with certainty at least. It just might be snowing then as well. That leaves me with plenty of time to fix things... or everything.

current state of dressage.
this picture makes me laugh and laugh because i honestly have no idea what's happening.

Things that have gone to shit in the past fifteen seconds. Because we started out last week with some really good rides, and then towards the end of the week we couldn't horse at all. Currently the halt, the connection, the hind end, the forward, and the sideways are all missing. What can we do?

GOOD QUESTION.

i haven't broken the walk yet, praise baby jesus.

Alright, I'll stop being dramatic. Things are kind of falling apart, but we're talking #childgenius here which means I just put the pieces back together. His tummy meds have seemed to help with his general life anxiety while I'm around although BM reported that he spent one evening last week twitching out of his skin in his stall for no apparent reason so I added a magnesium supplement to his diet as well. He seems mentally able to go to work now though.

From the beginning!

The halt is a product of working on the rein back. Opie is A Good Boy at the rein back. He knows he's A Good Boy, and he knows he gets A Good Boy neck scratch every time he performs it well. Now when I ask for a halt, he pauses for a second, and then wants to show me what A Good Boy he is. Which is all well and good, but that leaves me with no actual halt. I've scrapped the rein back for now and instead have been convincing him he's An Even Better Boy when he just halts and hangs out. He's suspicious of this change, but we came up center line at the end of our ride this morning and he threw down a 10 halt. All is not lost there.

nobody can do a broken wrist like i can.

The connection is fine as long as I don't do weird things with my hands. FAT CHANCE OF EVER STOPPING THAT, DRESSAGE. Thank god for Hubby being dragged out over the weekend because I was like, "Dear fucking Christ, this has reached new levels of weird." My ride this morning was much improved when I stopped bending my poor horse's neck and steered with my legs and seat instead.

made lots of square turns at the canter today. it was clearly needed.

The hind end, the forward, and the sideways are all tied in together. None of them want to participate.

for fuck's sake, just gooooo.

He was being such a fucking slug yesterday I finally just booted him and chased him down the long side. When I brought him back to the trot, he was vastly offended but at least sort of went forward.

"lady, have i mentioned lately that you're the worst?"

Then we got into an argument about not bashing my leg into the wall. My right knee has been killing me lately. The weather has been weird and both my knees are pretty fucked up in general, but this has been some next level shit. Yesterday I was all, "Wait. This feels like deja fucking vu." Last year around this time I was dealing with massive hip pain in my right leg that went away once BM discovered Opie wasn't using the right side of his back at all and was throwing me painfully out of whack. This year it seems like my knee is being thrown painfully out of whack having to work double overtime to (unsuccessfully) try to get my horse to stop blowing through my right leg.

Bring in the sideways problem, and then bring in our friend Mr Tappy, Mr Spanky's long necked cousin.

no rail work for you

I'm not good with the dressage whip. I never use it because I've never had a horse that's taken well to its very existence. My experience with whips has been occasionally carrying a jumping bat, but beyond that I got nothing. I'm perfectly proficient with spurs, but my poor old lady knee needs some backup.

I used Mr Tappy a couple times last spring with Opie when I first started teaching him about moving over. He understood the concept, I put Mr Tappy back in my trailer, and there it remained for the rest of the year. When I brought him back out this morning, Opie was convinced the tickle on his bum was for going forward instead of over. A couple of corrections and restarts of the ask, and suddenly I had a horse stepping the hind leg over promptly. He got all the scratches and good boys, and the entire rest of the ride not only did I have over, but I also had a very easy forward. I think it's time to learn to ride with Mr Tappy more often.

not always grumpy when he has to do real work

So things are breaking, but they're getting fixed. Thus is riding horses which brings us to the age old question of why do we torture ourselves with it? I don't know, but I feel like spending more money will make me feel better! Tomorrow Dopie gets his teeth done and then he's officially set to kick off the year.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Warm Weather Reprieve

I think I'm going to become one of those riders where I only sit on my horse above 60*. But not above about 85*.

Therefore I am moving elsewhere because #worststateever; it only meets those parameters for maybe two weeks cumulative here.

or i'm going to trade my neurotic thoroughbred in for an icelandic pony.
BECAUSE LOOK AT IT.

We randomly had a couple nice days of weather in the upper sixties, low seventies last week and it turned Sir Tweaker Pants into such a lovely creature. He was quiet, he was responsive, he didn't scream like a fool for his friends. He did such grown up things as grazing on the lush green grass in-hand without rearing in my face and standing calmly in the crossties with only one nervous poopies instead of four.

He has a whole year off the track now. He can indeed act like a grown up.

....at least when he's melting to death.

having a soak while spying on people.

I arranged my riding schedule around making use of every single nice day we had (that being three) and conquered some serious things on my list.

On the first day we hit the canter hard--moreso mentally than physically. Opie has a ballin' canter when it gets round and rolling. He also has a canter that's like riding a bike with two flat tires and no handle bars. Lately he's been starting out with the latter, but a few transitions from canter to walk or trot and back again get him tuned in pretty reliably. Once I get the nice canter though, I'm totally guilty of expecting him to just coast along in it, and when he starts bulldozing into the ground I'm like, "Oh well! Better either quit there or do a few more transitions from trot or walk!"

But nah, that's not going to work in the middle of a test. So I've been slowly--because slowly is how I learn--forcing myself to work a little harder and do the transitions within the canter itself. Sometimes that means riding literally from one half halt to the next with no rest in between. The resulting canter is amazing. I mean, my legs end up shaking like sad puppies at the end of it, but I'm eternally optimistic one day neither my legs nor my horse will need that much constant support.

was being the creepiest of creepers on people saturday

Day two was a "fun day". I had my fun in the beginning of the ride, and Opie got to have his at the end of it. Right off the bat I took him out to the pond on the property and we played the fun game called, "You will cross this two inch water runoff ditch, so help me god." SO FUN! It was fifteen minutes of NOPE from Opie, but I've learned as long as I don't let him get turned around his tantrums are mild at best. There was much stamping and side eyeing and snorting, but in the end he crossed the "creek" both ways multiple times and lived to tell the tale.

His reward was to get to play with poles which he very much enjoys, and he even got to finish popping over the two 2'6" verticals left standing in the ring.

Both rides were--excluding the time spent throwing shade at the creek--about twenty minutes total because we went from 35* and snowing to 70* and sunny overnight so I didn't want to stress his already angst ridden self out. But damn, a melting horse is so lovely to ride.

The final day of warmth was another trip to the park, this time with BFF Mo!

mo was so happy to get back to the park that he even out-walked
the biggest walker on the planet a few times

It was the perfect was to celebrate the summer season which has now come and gone. Back to eighteenth winter and a chance of snow tonight.

might ride my horse again in a couple months if it gets
out of the lower 40s. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Batten down the hatches

Because shit's about to get real up in here.

Show season is three weeks away and counting, although I very cleverly allotted a few weeks between the first show and the next for both volunteer hours (because you guys know how much I had to beg for them last year), and to fix all the hot mess areas the judge pinpoints.

Right now I'm identifying them as:
  • Everything.
  • The end. 
"HAI THERE IS STIMULUS EVERYWHERE NOT REALLY BUT LET'S PRETEND."

Opie has been suffering from an intense case of Spring Stupids and it's really starting to wear thin. I started him on ulcer meds yesterday just to cover all my bases, but to be perfectly honest I think the only ulceration he's got going on is in his brain. 

Between the screaming, the flying backwards during/after the screaming--even when he's on the lead rope "just chilling"--and the general attitude of, "If I can't do it fast, I'd rather not do it at all.", I have removed all emotion from my rides. Which is great because I react to nothing. I'm like a fucking zen ninja. But also I kind of ride to enjoy myself so when we do stumble onto something good and productive, TOO BAD BECAUSE ZEN NINJA FEELS NOTHING.

feels the need for cookies. except when weaving himself into
an angsty mess because no zen ninja over here.

I've ridden through both 1-1 an 1-3 the past two days. The tests themselves have ridden great. If we go with the trend that Opie is better off property than on, we should be just fine to show. If we go with the current trend of flying through the air or getting obscenely stuck behind my leg while warming up, we might not get to show because someone will be banned from the premises.

LOL JK, Bobby went flying through the air in the middle of tests and everyone was just like, "Wow, so well handled, good for you." #ZenNinja

an accurate depiction of how short and gross he can get that cobra neck coiled up

The biggest problem with this horse is that from day one "Try" has not been in his vocabulary. If he can get away with kind of sort of doing it and looking cute, yay he's the winner let's take a breaky break! But he's a grown up First level horse now with an eye on Second and the body parts must do things. 

I think that's been part of his recent drama. I'm asking him to step it up and really do the work now, and that's hard and he'd rather just not, thanks. It's not new work though. It's still transitions and lateral movements and adjustability, it just all needs to be sharper and better. Which sucks. Because hard.

would rather play bitey face with BFF all day

It's in there though, and it will start to come out more consistently eventually. This morning, after he got done trying to bolt to X because things happen there (Spoiler Alert: nothing was happening there, I was trying to ride the counter canter loop.), he threw down some of the bounciest and biggest lengthenings yet and got done feeling very good about himself. 

More of that, less of this:

"sorry not sorry i just reared in your face because bff screamed
and i had to scream back."

In other news, the vet was out today to do vaccines on most of the horses in the barn so I had her take a looksie at Opie's never-healing pastern wound from getting cast three months ago. She agreed that it seemed like an interference issue and if he never stopped knocking it, it was never going to close. Her other thought was that he might have chipped off a bit of bone and it's trying to push through, but with how sound he's always been and complete lack of signs of infection she found that incredibly unlikely. 

She gave me a steroid cream to use sparingly to see if we can combine that with his ankle monitoring bracelet snugged up against it to get it fully healed before show season starts. It's maybe dime sized now--at most--but it really shouldn't be there at all at this point. If that doesn't work, we'll xray anyway to make sure things look good on the inside and go from there. 

he's looking butt high lately. hopefully we don't go through another summer of
ugly growth spurts!

He has tomorrow off because it's been four straight days of the hardest leg workout of my life and I'm over it. Hopefully Thursday finds us both in better shape.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Just what the therapist ordered

An update on Opie's legs (all four of them in case you forgot): They're fine, he's fine, literally almost nothing to see here a couple days post-dumb. He had a farrier appointment Wednesday morning, and since I try to be a considerate client and not put poor Farrier under a creature ready to explode, I stuck Dopie on the longe before she came.

He hadn't been worked in three days at that point, but when I let the line out he chose to trot and canter on his own at a perfectly sensible and balanced pace. I stopped him, gave him a candy, and switched sides. Again, things were going swimmingly until his BFF/Soul Mate let out a scream for him and Opie left.

Like, peace, bitch. I've got a Soul Mate to return to.

things were so going well.

He dragged me more than halfway across the ring before I got him stopped. He wasn't down with that though and reared in my face. Repeatedly. At which point he got spanked with the whip and put on a two inch circle until his brain was back in his head, and he returned to trotting around like nothing had happened.

I warned Farrier that he was being a Grade A Shit Head lately. She looked over at him standing on the crossties with his eyes bugging out and his head trying to touch the ceiling and we braced ourselves for a good time. Fortunately he only tried to set back against the crossties once (when BFF once again screamed for him), but by the end of the appointment he was hanging out with a drooping lip and a cocked leg.

"me? cause drama? never."

After two weeks to get through of a laundry list of repairs, I finally got my truck back Tuesday night from our new--and fucking amazing--mechanic just in time to drop my car off for its second appointment (which is still under warranty, thank fuck). With old lady Growler running like a brand new vehicle, I decided spur of the moment it was time to take our first outing of the year. Since we're supposed to be bombarded with rain and snow for the next eternity, even though it wasn't warm yesterday the sun was enough to get me out to the park.

apparently no one else thought it was nice enough to ride.
we were all by ourselves.

I expected Opie to be a little jiggy once we got there, but my main concern was the trailer. I was dreading all those months of hard work I did last year getting this horse solid about trailering had been lost over the winter when he didn't go anywhere. Never fear, #childgenius here, he walked right on both times and stood rock solid while I scooted behind him and latched him in.

not that there wasn't side eye obvi.

In fact, he was A Very Good Boy the entire trip. The only time he made a peep was the spot he always calls out--at a lodge in the distance he seems convinced is a barn. He was flat footed, calm, unconcerned by the several asshole drivers that sped by him, strolled past the wildlife without a thought, and had a lovely loose, swinging back the entire ride. He was happy to stretch down on a long rein or get picked up and trot lightly on the bit.

a slow meander is about as fast as you can get the deer to move

these geese were so obnoxious.
just trying to wade over here, bros.

He wasn't entirely perfect. He did try a couple half-assed Nopes about such arduous tasks like walking over a muddy dip in the ground and walking through leaves blown up against the base of hills instead of launching over them. Life it hard, yo. We also finished the ride in the branches of an apple tree within feet of my trailer. He took offense to a cement block and whirled around directly into the tree. I didn't even mind getting smacked in the face by a branch because I knew he took the brunt of it. Way to self-punish, you tool.

regrets nothing.

He gets today off because even though it was a shorter ride than I usually do when we're there, the two brief canters showed that while homie might be strong as an ox right now, he needs some help in the cardio department. Hopefully winter ends some time this century and we can ditch the arena to start the fun fitness work!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Can't make it last

Two good boy days in a row last week was apparently all Opie had to offer.

After a good dressage ride that Monday, an excellent session with the cart on Tuesday, on Wednesday our young Dopie Horse couldn't steer.

Or really just horse at all to be perfectly honest.

"hai, hello, i am feral and retired now, bai."

BM walked into the ring near the end of my ride as I was attempting to get Opie to trot/jog/move in a semi-forward direction on the quarter line because he couldn't help but keep bashing my foot into the kick boards instead of getting off my outside leg. This was VERY OFFENSIVE to Opie--that is, not being allowed to run me into things. He was like a drunk toddler, and BM was all, "Wow, Opie. Much worm. Very wiggling."

We finished by popping over a 2'6" swedish oxer a few times right out of stride because that was easier in his head than going in a straight line. Whatever, broski.

wants to be a jumping horse. fell down and into a crossrail
the next day. does not get to be a jumping horse.

On Thursday he was better, on Friday he was dreadful. I had no horse in my hand for the entire ride. When I first got him we had to work hard to get him stretching out because he liked to curl up into this cute but very fake frame where it looked like he was going around nicely, but there was literally no contact with the reins. He came out of that this summer and has being doing really well. Not so much Friday.

Up, down, sideways, it didn't matter where his fool face was, I couldn't get an ounce of weight in my hand from him. It was like my reins were attached to air only my horse wasn't being light and lovely, he was being a bit of an asshole.

The next day? Perfectly fine.

celebrating tacos, side eye, and these banging new breeches.

Sooo, I'm going to just keep plugging away I guess. Hopefully next month when show season kicks off we'll be able to put more than one ride together without reverting back to "what is horsing what are legs my face doesn't exist oh no I fell down again."

That is, IF SOMEONE WOULD STOP BLEEDING ALL OVER THEMSELVES.

all 4 legs. because balance.

Sunday morning Hubby and I went out to the barn for a short list of things to accomplish: the monthly confo picture, mark where we needed to move the breeching dees on the shafts of the cart, and load the cart up to bring it home for a makeover.

The hay guys pulled in with a delivery right when we got there--thus blocking my confo background--so we decided to half-harness Opie quickly and cross the cart things off the list first. Opie was down with this. He wanted to wander a bit as I girthed him and flopped the breeching over his back, but we pulled the cart up to him without issue and he hung out begging for cookies while we marked the cart and double checked the fit.

From there? I do not fucking know. He went from zero to a thousand in half a second with no warning whatsoever. He was shifting around a bit, and I don't know if he bumped into something and it scared him or something on the harness pinched him when he moved or he just spontaneously combusted.

Whatever it was, he started tweaking and ripped the lead rope out of my hand so hard and fast it gave me rope burn. He tried to take off towards his field, but the cart wouldn't let him turn like he wanted to and he got stuck up against the fence which freaked him out even more. Fortunately things started breaking. He snapped both shafts in half, spun around and somehow ended up in the body of the cart (at which point I died because I thought for sure he was about to break all his legs), the buckles on the breeching broke, and he freed himself to run down the driveway towards the main road while I stood there like, "........wut."

It was so fast, and so violent, and so random that I wasn't even processing it. I snapped out of it and rounded the bend to the driveway to see Opie get to the main road and turn around with half of one of the shafts still banging against his side. He saw me, lasered in, and galloped right back to me, screeching to a halt and stuffing his head in my chest while I still pretty much just stood there like, "......wut."

Also fortunately, the fitting I had done last Tuesday had involved replacing some of the cheapo harness parts with new buckles and straps goods so I was able to unbuckle the back strap with one hand and thumb the girths loose with the other and everything still attached to him fell away in about two seconds just like it's supposed to. If he hadn't ripped the lead rope out of my hand and bolted, I would have been able to get him out of the cart just as quickly and easily.

I noticed free flowing blood on the RF but nothing else right away. I stuffed him in a stall to come down off his crazies while I helped Hubby clean up the harness and cart pieces. Upon further inspection he'd managed to scrape up all four legs to varying degrees, but by some fucking horse god miracle nothing went beyond skin.

the morning after. the RF (top left) bled through the gauze, but
other than that nothing too exciting.

How he didn't managed to maim himself worse, I honestly don't know. I can't imagine how much worse it could have been if things hadn't given away. A couple grams of bute in, he seemed perfectly sound this morning. I left all but the RF unwrapped while he stays on stall rest today to let everything dry out while the fresh 3" of snow melts outside. He's probably earned himself about a week off to let everything scab over and any soreness dissipate.

In the meantime, Imma be over here burning a few twenty dollar bills as a sacrificial offering in case you need me.