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.

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. 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. 

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."


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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Double Dose of Good

I had my horse show up with a working brain in his head the past two days, and hot damn was I glad to see it.

I wrapped up a rather stiff and mediocre ride on Friday with me completely dropping the reins in disgust as Dopie head wagged his way around the arena, paddling his front legs high up through the air like Michael Phelps in what Farrier lovingly refers to as his Demented Morgan gait. Which is quite frankly insulting to Morgans everywhere.

Fortunately for all parties, I was super busy on Saturday and the only productive horse thing I accomplished all weekend was scrubbing my tack clean while Opie got a massage. His massage lady complimented him for being in pretty fucking good shape. A little sore in the hind end, but nothing out of the ordinary for a dressage horse. His was tight in his neck--his weapon of choice--and had one reactive spot on the right side of his back which was why I had her out in the first place.

we're currently fluctuating between naked weather and 30*.
in the same week. worst state ever. 

When I swung back aboard Monday morning, I had a much looser and steadier horse. Like, I could ask for right bend again. Winning!

Right from the get-go we both felt locked in. I think I should clean my tack more often because that extra smidge of stickiness that comes from leftover saddle soap always makes me feel glued in a little tighter. Plus, you know, I should just clean my tack more often. Aside from that though, I had a horse that felt spicy, but was completely willing to take a half halt and focus. We ran through our warm up without incident beyond nearly getting wiped out by fighting birds, and I moved on to the sitting trot without having to spend extra time at the walk like I sometimes do to get Dopes to take a breath instead of anticipate.

those ears. so donkey.

Sadly I can tell my workouts are doing what they're supposed to and firming up the flab. Or at least making it more susceptible to being told what to do. (Sadly because that means I have to keep doing them.) There's needs to be a manual for fat, lazy dressage riders. "Don't want to stop eating Cadbury eggs or extend your workout past twenty minutes? That's okay! Here's how to activate your lower fat roll instead of the upper."

Ugh, I would buy that.

has no time for my shit.

The sitting trot is reaching levels of adequacy for both of us finally. Dopie is relaxing and staying loose in his back, no doubt in relation to me jouncing around less as I remember where certain muscles exist and how to bring them into play. From there, with that better connection and engagement, I'm getting much better canter transitions. Of course now they're only coming from the sitting trot, but probably they'll be there for a First test depart by May 4th, too. Hopefully at least.

Dressage is boring to write about though, especially when it goes well, so on to this morning's fun!

finally got him all his harness bits and pieces. he was less interested in fitting them
than in wondering why i was being so stingy with the candies.

I've been collecting harness and cart parts all winter, and I finally got everything I need. I think. The cart needs to come home to get a face lift and some adjustments to the fittings since it was too big for Opie when we got it, but that has to wait until my truck gets back from being torn into a million parts at the garage. The new girth was the last thing to arrive yesterday, and I was super excited to take advantage of clear skies and driveway (even if it was only 30*) to pull the cart out and play with everything.

I let Opie snoot the cart quickly before putting his outfit on and ground driving him to start. As soon as I stepped away from him with the whip he kicked out and gave me ANGRY SIDE EYE SO MAD because he did not enjoy his in-hand work this winter. Once he realized what game we were actually playing--the one where he strolls around and gets candy for seemingly no reason--he was like, "Oh, okay! Off we go!"

heading into the brush because i can't steer with one hand.

We did a few figure eights around the indoor before heading out and looping the parking lot a couple times. He was so chill I figured I'd go ahead and hitch him. If he felt squirrely we'd work on standing and be done. If he continued being good I'd lead him around once.

Of course he was a gem apart from wanting to turn around to beg for cookies (bad horse!), so I clipped the lead rope to his bit and did a lap. I was so proud to see him pushing against the shafts all on his own instead of just cranking his neck around while his body kept going straight that I stopped him to switch out the lead rope for the lines and ground drove him from behind the cart. Same excellent steering so I jumped in for the final lap and he cruised around making the snug turn back into the parking lot like a complete pro.

parked, but ears cocked back to listen for cookie wrappers

I let him be done there since it was more than I'd intended to do with him starting out. He felt like he'd never missed a day though. In fact, it appeared someone taught him a little something about steering while the cart sat under a tarp all winter. Whatever, I'll take those driving elves all day.

I can't wait to get the cart home for its makeover, mostly so that all the fucking straps and buckles fit and lay how they're supposed to. I don't know what kind of sixty foot monster they had hooked to this thing, but things are in the weirdest positions and my improvising isn't necessarily the safest method. See floppy, crooked breeching above. But it works for a few laps around the driveway which is all we're going to get until winter decides to leave for real anyway.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Test Riding

This morning I stuffed all the jump standards into the corners of the ring, pulled up 1-3 on my phone to look at it for the first time since the new tests came out, and did our maiden run through.

Wow it was so bad!

Okay, fine, in all fairness the test itself was probably the best part of the ride. Opie was a total gem in a busy arena yesterday afternoon and I got on expecting much of the same. Instead he found the arena doors terrifying because the sun was melting the snow off the roof and it was dripping into a puddle just outside the closed doors.

Basically haunted, duh.

one never knows where serial killer water drops may lurk

As such, our warm up was a hot mess from step one. Aside from him being spooky--genuinely flinging himself sideways and snorting, not just breathing hard once as is usual for him--I was running through the test in my head to memorize it and was distracted myself.

Fortunately I clued in when we picked up the canter and it was the nastiest jarring thing alive. That seems to be a solid tell that someone is neither supple nor off his forehand so I went back to the walk, got some good work there, picked up the trot again, and had a flaming retard.

not a flaming retard, but also not from today

I ended up getting off and putting him on the longe in side reins to let him run around like a fool while I was on the phone with another boarder. A good romp both ways, a cookie shoved down his throat, and I got back on. 

He felt much better after that. I trotted him around a couple times to make sure his brain was somewhere in his head and turned up centerline to begin our test.

We have been practicing halt transitions up the whazoo lately. Walk-halt, trot-halt, halt-trot, whatevski-halt, we've done them all. So of course the first halt he stumbled over his own feet and almost ate shit. That being a patented Opie move--and one of the reasons we do so much trail riding because feet are a thing--I brushed it off and came around for another try. This time he didn't trip on air, but he did halt and instantly throw his head up.

Nah, bro.

I'm finally getting a handle on the canter transition head fling, there's no way it's going to start creeping in on any other transitions. After a brief CTJ, he suddenly remembered what staying on the bit was and off we went for the fifteenth time.

The first trot lengthening was more fast than lengthened because he was still a little tight. The leg yields and 10m circles are getting much, much better, moreso to the right than the left. Counter canter is fine as always. 15m circles are fine, lengthened canter is always good and I'm feeling like I can probably bring him back in some semblance of time and order in this test. The walk is always the star, and the final lengthening was right where I wanted it. 

And the halt was a 10.

Overall not a bad first trip. I want to run through it in its entirety a few more times this week so I can figure out where I need to dig in and clean things up. I should probably take a look at 1-1 at some point, too. 

That will have to wait another day though as Dopie got his vaccines after his ride. To make up for it he also has a massage scheduled next week, and sooner rather than later I'll have to call the worst-scheduling dentist alive. But then we'll be all set and ready for show season to begin!

he's very excited, i promise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Layout of a ride

Dopie did some #werk this weekend. Short, sweet, to the point, thank god for no dramatics work. And I got media from it!

(I'm only just now writing about it because he got Monday off because I don't like to work too many days in a row, and yesterday I had to scamper home post haste to hover over my computer to make sure I got Hamilton tickets. And neither day I felt like I had enough to go on for a full post because I'm still a bit sticky going back into this whole blogging thing. I figured I'd do a post after another ride was in the books.)

(I don't know why I thought that paragraph needed parenthesis. It started as just one sentence and then spun out of control.)


BM has dubbed dopie the silverback gorilla after his body clip because beef cake.

Let's work our way back from this morning, shall we?

After his two days off, in which I skated him across the edges of the icy parking lot to park him into his pasture where he and his friends had a small chunk of field that wasn't choppy or iced over to mill about in, I was expecting him to be a bit fresh and sassy.

As much as Opie can be at least.

check out his wild spook in the corner around 30 secs in

With the arena doors open to let in some fresh spring 35* weather--so balmy, I know!--I set out two sets of ground poles, got on, and immediately started doing walk-halt transitions. Fortunately, Opie was being perfectly sensible and went about his business without incident. 

We cruised over the 4' walk poles a couple times each way, did a few rein backs and turn on the haunches, and moved on to the trot where we leg yielded in and out to the set of 5' poles. He was a little spicy at the trot, he needed a half halt every now and then to keep from rushing, but he felt loose and straight and that's all I aim for in the warm up. 

i'm here to tell you that you can leg yield while pulling on the inside rein.
i do dressage training in my own special way, what can i say?

Lately my ride gets blocked out like so: Walk on a long rein, letting Opie take as much as he wants as long as I can still feel the bit. Into the trot on the same long rein, doing lots of circles, some spiraling in and out, leg yields on and off the rail, and if he's feeling particularly supple I'll throw in some shoulder-in as well. From there I pick up the reins and the horse and go back into the walk where we hit the lateral work some more. Once he's feeling connected and compacted, into the sitting trot for--you guessed it!--more lateral work. I also bounce him in and out of a "collected" trot into a "medium" trot. But for toddlers. 


I actually swapped the sitting trot and the canter this morning because I hadn't planned on doing much of the former. It was cold, he's naked, and he was feeling a bit tight in his back. Wowza though, what a difference. Like, not a good one. Apparently Opie needs thirty straight minutes of moving sideways to show off that dreamy, dreamy canter.

This morning it felt like poo. I stuck with it anyway because I wasn't really cantering for long periods. Instead it was transitions across the diagonal galore. He's getting much sharper off my leg and he's finally stepping right into it from both the walk and trot. His head still flops about in outer space while doing so, but at least that's one thing crossed off.

going to look into bone corsets to support my floppy core at this point.
seems better than sit ups. just asking my aching fat roll. it doesn't want to leave.

I finished with a smidge of sitting trot today because I wanted a short, compact trit trot to go back through the 4' poles. The first time pass, Opie stepped on every single one, but I gathered him back together and represented. The second time he boinged through just like he was supposed to and I immediately halted, gave him (more) candy, and quit there.

To finish out Sunday's ride, I thought he might enjoy going over the two Xs set up. Under the first was an empty flower box which actually haunted. Obviously. He wobbled all over the place cantering up to it, thought about stopping, got booted, and launched from a mile out.

didn't get eaten by flower box demons tho!

In the midst of him bolting off on landing, I was all, "Opie, that seems excessive. What if we just trot this plain X instead?" And Opie was like, "Pretty sure all of life is haunted. Not being tricked into going near that bitch either." So instead we walked over it as a pole and finished, as always, with a good stretchy trot.

all day every day with the stretching.

I have loads more media, but I think I'll wait to share that for another post. Spreading the media love out for weeks!