Monday, September 23, 2019

Noncompetitive Riding, For Once

Would you guys be surprised to hear that there has been riding going on besides shows? For fuck's sake, I feel like that's all I bothered blogging about this summer. Then a horse tried to remove my toe from my foot, and I couldn't even write about that anymore!

Blogging has turned into a bit of a bummer for me this year though. I'm in a very weird head space where I enjoy interacting with with people through social media...except when I don't. I feel like I'm a very OK rider, and I am so completely happy being a very OK rider. I also feel like that's not an okay thing around these parts. I'm not into living in lessons, or scheduling every minute of my horse's life, or spending every second of my free time consuming intensive training knowledge. No judgement if that's you, but that isn't fun to me personally.

What is fun to me is riding my horse and improving him as best I can to reach my own Opie and Carly oriented goals. No one else has these goals, as similar as they might seem to your own, because no one else is us.

I was finally, finally able to finagle my poor toe into the world's most beat up sneaker which lead to me putting my stirrups back on at the end of my ride Saturday. No one else has seemed particularly impressed by this, but after being stirrup-less and in a post-op shoe for a month, I AM SO EXCITED.

thinking really hard about doing zoomies instead

It let us get back to mandated stretchy rides, cantering without getting taken off with, and our short term goal of being comfortable in a jump saddle post haste so BM and I can go cross country schooling before it snows. (Which, it was almost 90* this weekend, but I know you, NY. It could snow any day now.)

i was so happy to tell bm we jumped a jump, and then she told me her horse
was foot sore. c'mon man! fortunately he should be good to go again soon.

We were able to do some super fun, mostly pointless, yet highly rewarding things in our ride this morning. I had a sneaker, I had my stirrups, the horse was filled with candy, morale was fucking high.

We spent a long time at the walk because that's our fave. I trailered some ponies down to a hunter pace yesterday and two of my barn mates were in the truck with me. They were discussing how BM has been on their cases lately about getting the lesson horses to Walk and not trudge along in lesson horse mode, and how it was so much work. I could not relate. My horse screamed his fool head off Saturday morning, spun around in a circle, almost fell over, and got smacked upside the head for his troubles, but hot damn can he walk.

"MY FRAAAANNNNZZZZZ"
can you hear the drama? because i can.

After getting cooking into his giant, marching, back swinging me nearly out the saddle walk, we threw in a couple leg yields both ways with no fuss. Once I figured out that corralling the shoulder to keep him straight was the key to those, they've been great. Then I decided I wanted to see if he remembered the half pass. We worked on them exactly once this spring and he found them super easy.

First we had to make sure the shoulder-in was good.

It was not.

me: imma pull on you
opie: cool, imma brace against you

After seeing my media from Saturday, I knew I had to stop fucking pulling at the lateral work. He throws his head up, I pull back to compensate for the sudden slack in my reins, he tenses everything, nothing works, the end.

I started off fixing this by dropping ALL contact. Opie was like, "Cool, cool, free rein to do whatevski, here's a little llama anyway."

So then I had to go and fix that, too.

We had to agree to meet in the middle which took the length of both long sides. There was some sitting on the kick boards and plenty of head flipping, but he eventually got it. You no pull, I no pull, still do what I'm asking though, the end. I did still have to work on other stuff. Like, okay, you're soft over your topline, but stop bending your neck like a C. Shoulders being held responsible for things is definitely a weak spot for our Dopie Horse.

We finally moved on to the half pass. He is so good at these, I love him. For all that Bobby loved flinging his body sideways, and how easy he found the rest of the lateral work, the half pass never seemed great. Opie is so good, I can't. He got so many pats and scratches he finally stopped to look back at me like, "If I am A Very Good Horse, you should give me moar candies." SO I DID OBVIOUSLY.

is not shy about expressing his emotions. like how he's here expressing his
displeasure over being asked to do anything when his friends get to go outside

After hitting up a few halts where the new rule is No Llama--Ever....

the halt is not for staring at your adoring fans, sir.

...we moved on to the canter.

He stepped right into from the walk continuing his Very Good Boy streak. I feel like the up transitions to the canter are finally a reliable thing, even if the down transitions can still be a bit hurried/harried. Only took almost two years!

We frolicked around in half seat for a few laps before I decided to see the state of his flying change. Having ridden racehorses, I can pull these out of pretty much any OTTB. I wanted to see how far off from dressage pony changes his are.

They are very far, guys. They're accessible, and they're clean, but they are hands down, "I was a sprinter, see how fast I go the second I get my new lead! SO FAST!!!!!!! The flying part is my favorite part of this game!!!!!" I gave him some candy anyway because at least knowledge is there?

And really he gets candy for everything. Bribery as a means to results is my training motto. Take it or leave it me alone, folks.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dopie Does Roping, Part I

Still here, still stumping around! The cut on my toe is healing up really well, the nail is still somehow attached (during my last appointment, the surgeon told me I could pull it off myself if I wanted and I was like, "LOLOLOLOLOL I THINK NOT, SIR."), and the crushing force of a steel shoe launching itself from one direct point did so much nerve damage that things are basically still numb. I'm able to walk around the house without my boot which is fantastic because that heavy thing is a real ankle torturing bitch, as you guys warned me. Every now and then I'll get a quick stab of pain that's either nerves trying to come back from the grave or a reminder that I have a vertical line of broken bones in there, too, but overall things are going pretty swimmingly in that regard.

I was also told not to ride for another four--now three--weeks, but I think we all know how that's going.

he was very sad there was no swimming at this new park
so he kept parking himself in puddles and refusing to leave them.

I pulled the stirrups off my saddle and have been hitting the trails as much as possible. BM is fully on board and we explored a park down the road from the barn last week with plans to go there again on Friday. We've gone back to Mendon yet again, and Dopes and I have been strolling around the home property on nice days. We've logged seven hours of walking in the two weeks since I got hurt, and so far it's been enough to appease the both of us. Mostly a vacation while trying to enjoy this beautiful fall weather before it disappears for eight months of winter.

However! I'm not here to ramble about trail riding--any more than I already have at least.

Hubby decided he wanted to climb aboard SS Dopasaurus Rex over the weekend, and I fully support any time I get to pull out the western horse outfit.

does he need that tie down? for aesthetic purposes, YES.

Hubby wanted to play #dopiedoesroping and I've never had any issue with any of my other horses he's attempted this with. They've all taken to having ropes flung through the air and inevitably getting thwacked in the head with nary a complaint. Opie isn't at all a spooky horse so I was expecting no difference.

Instead, once Hubby had gotten on and ridden around a little bit, I reached out to hand him the rope and Dopie went shooting sideways.

i'm so glad you can't smell pictures because this horse reeks of pee and pond
scum at the moment. a bath is on his schedule during this brief warm up.

We ended up having to take things all the way back to the ground. First longeing with the rope whacking against his saddle, which he kept an ear on, but was otherwise okay with.

hadn't had real work in weeks and loped around on a loose line. he is a good pone.

Then I had Hubby swing the rope in front of and then next to Dopie several times. Dopes watched with wary interest, but with a steady stream of candy if he stayed still instead of trying to go sideways, this went quickly.


Hubby finally got back on with the rope hanging neutrally in his hand at his side. I put him on the longe while he started shifting the rope around, slowly swinging it back and forth and then gradually holding it out to the side and up in the air. Opie was definitely pretty fucking twitchy about this to start. However, in true Dopie fashion, once he sussed out the game--don't react to the shenanigans going on around you and you get a candy--I was able to let them off the line and they walked around without issue.

Hubby was able to throw the rope out a couple times while I stood at Opie's head shoveling candy into his face until I finally ran out. I wanted to get it on video though, because I'm trying to run a blog here obvi, so he did it one more time.


Opie looking back at Hubby at the end to see where his candy is still makes me laugh hysterically. And then Hubby was like, "One more time." but Opie was like, "NO CANDY NO WORK" and started to get mad so we quit there so I could fetch him a fresh bag of peppermints.

I told Hubby I'd work with Opie during the week with the rope so by this weekend they could hopefully do more. I think it was less a case of being afraid of the rope though, and more a case of knowing his mother wasn't sitting on his back and ready to quash any naughtiness because on Monday....

"couldn't care less about this rope. where's my candy?"

I clambered aboard bareback in my boot, grabbed the rope off a jump standard, and proceeded to bounce it all over his body and chuck it through the air with barely an ear twitch. Hopefully he's as over it with Hubby as he was with me so I can bring you guys some more exciting media!