Category Archives: horseback riding

Things I Love: Part 1

I’m pretty frugal when it comes to purchasing horse items. I’m typically two years behind “the hot new trend” as I want to see if things last, and all the hype sticks around. Therefore, when I do make a purchase, and I love that purchase (whether new or not) I feel like celebrating it and sharing my love for it. So, here are three new to me items that I am over the moon about.

1. You all may remember that Amanda C kindly gave me her Lund bridle when she upgraded to a new one. I had been searching for a bridle that would fit June and not having much luck. Her bridle was in excellent used condition and it fit June really well. In the meantime, Lund ended up sending me a pair of reins to match the bridle, which was great, as I was riding around in non matching, black reins (Horror!)

When I got these reins, I instantly fell head over heels for the entire bridle. I now had a really nice bridle that fit my horse well and as an added bonus, it had really nice leather and looked great too.

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stock photo from Lund

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Cute pony, cute bridle

The leather always looks cleaner than it is, and it’s really soft. Plus, at the price point of under $175, you honestly cannot beat the bang for the buck. Honestly, I just love this bridle. So much, in fact, that I chose to ride in it, rather than my other new bridle, to June’s first Arena Cross event.

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Ignore side eye, she loves it too!

2. IMO no bridle is show ready until it has a browband with some bling. I’ve always been unimpressed by pre made browbands, and could never find one I was really excited about. When I found out about Dark Jewel Designs, and that you could make your own browbands, I was SOLD. I now have multiple strands and multiple set ups. Amelia is great to work with and most recently really worked with me when I wasn’t sure what size would fit June and my bridle. We ended up on a cob size curved band with snaps. The great thing about the snaps is it is SO easy to remove the browband and change it out. Plus, it makes it a little bit longer so you can slip wider bridles through the sides of the browbands.

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I credit our lucky 4 leaf clover for the success we had last weekend. It’ll be our go to xc browband for a while

Dark Jewel Designs browbands range from over the top blingy to a subtle hint of shine. I have both ends of the spectrum and love them all equally. And while I really love the newest ones I have, I find myself still loving the ones I purchased a couple of years ago. They last and keep their bling.

4. My Secret Santa this year hit it out of the park. I mean Michelle got me some amazing things, including an adorable purple tote with June’s name on it and  something else I really ended up loving:

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The Tough 1 Great Grips Brush

Sure, its purple. But that isn’t the main reason I love it. I love the fact that it bends! It’s so great for cleaning legs and other parts of the horse that aren’t flat. It’s my go to brush right now. Is it fancy and soft? Nope, but it’s perfect for getting dirt and mud off. It wraps around the horses legs so you can clean both sides at once! Hello time saving tool! I just love this simple brush and am so happy I now have one!

3. My biggest purchase of the past year was my horse trailer. Going from a tiny two horse with no tack room, to a much larger two horse with a full dressing room was a serious upgrade for me. But, beyond the size, I can’t say enough good things about how this trailer hauls. Despite being more than twice the size of my last one,  my truck pulls it without an issue. Even with two horses in there this past weekend, I didn’t feel a thing and the truck chugged along nicely. It’s so spacious for the horses and incredibly inviting. I’m so happy I made the upgrade and just can’t say enough things about how much I love it.

 

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When I first purchased it. It now has a level hitch

The dressing room has four windows and is HUGE and I’m looking forward to setting it up for show season so I can sleep in there. For me, this trailer is everything I wanted, and I’m just so excited to have a trailer both June and I love.

So those are the material things I love. I have lots of stuff I like, but it isn’t worth raving about. These items make me happy, stand the test of time and in my opinion, were super solid purchases.

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Two Years Ago Today

It was two years ago today that I retired Georgie as my competition horse. Man that day sucked.

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Our last event together- Training 3Day at Rebecca Farm

Being where I am now though, two years later, I almost feel like it’s ok that it happened. Don’t get me wrong. I miss riding Georgie. Especially when it comes to how safe and secure I felt going cross country.

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But, I get to see her and feed her treats every day. I can hop on her once a week and enjoy being on a broke horse. I care for her when her junior lessee is out of town, and she still uses a bunch of the tack I had for her. Honestly, she is still a part of my life on so many levels. Which is what I had hoped for when I stopped competing her.

And now I have this special baby monkey horse named June. Who is teaching me so much. And while she isn’t making anything as easy as Georgie did, I have to say, just like Georgie, she really does have a heart of gold. Sometimes I don’t verbalize how much I appreciate June and how much I love having her.

When I got Stella as a teeny tiny puppy, I kept comparing her to my senior dog Montana. Montana was the easiest dog ever, and I kept wanting Stella to be just like her. As a young dog, there was no way Stella could meet the expectations I had for her if I wanted her to be like Montana who I had had for many years. I worried that Stella was less than because she wasn’t Montana.

And look how that turned out. Poor Siri…

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The two that can do no wrong

So, while I may compare June to Georgie, or be sad that I don’t have a solid Prelim cross-country horse anymore, I realize that what I do have with June is pretty damn special. She makes me laugh and smile, but she also makes me ride well, and be incredibly thoughtful in my riding. Where Georgie was easy, June is a challenge. But it isn’t a mean-spirited challenge in any way. We probably match each other equally on a scale of who is more opinionated. And just like Georgie, she’s game for pretty much anything. I hope I can keep her curiosity and willingness intact, as they’re two things I really love about her.

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AND she looks good in purple!

So, while two years ago I was pretty much in shambles, I’m happy to report that time did heal a broken heart. Along with a sassy young mare named June.

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When Your Child is a Phenom

You’ve undoubtedly met the parent who thinks their child is a phenom. The parent can be seen speaking in a muted voice,asking lots of questions about the upcoming show schedule, taking up a lot of the trainer’s time, and always thinking one step ahead. (Forgetting that horses are fragile creatures, and that thinking one step ahead leads to heart break.) We have had a few of these parents in our barn and I just roll my eyes at them.

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But then, I got June, and I BECAME them.

Except, my “child” is a horse. Which may be better? Or worse? Heck if I know.

I worry that June has too much talent. Especially for little amateur me. But then I get ecstatic about how easy the work we’re asking of her is. I laugh at how little energy she puts into jumping a 2’6 jump. I watch her trot and  swoon. Instead of listening to what Sarah is saying as she trots her across the arena, I think “man she is going to have a nice extended trot one day.” I’m insufferable when it comes to my phenom.

But then, fortunately, reality sets in. I get on my horse and she’s inconsistent in the bridle. I can’t pick up the right lead. Hell, I can’t even get her to trot over poles without falling on her forehand. My horse may be a phenom, but we’re not bound for the Olympics with me on her back. This team is as average as they come.

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Much talent. Much Phenom.

And, what I’m learning, just as those parents will have to, is that being a phenom doesn’t just happen. It is a hell of a lot of work, and more than just natural talent. It doesn’t matter if my horse came out of the womb doing pirouettes. If I can’t harness that, and work my ass off on all the other miniscule things that are important, we’ll never get around to actually performing pirouettes.

June is the fanciest horse I’ve ever had. And by fancy, I mean, she was bred to do the job I’m asking of her.  Even though the work isn’t as hard for her as it may be for other horses, it doesn’t mean she naturally engages her abs, rocks back and is light on her forehand. It doesn’t mean I can trot down centerline, and just sit there, hoping the judge will be dazzled by my horse’s incredible movement. Nope. Sure doesn’t. I have to continue to ride every friggin step. And lets not forget, June may be fancy by my standards, but there will always be a fancier horse and better rider out there. Always.

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Weird. I ride like shit, she goes like shit

 

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I ride well, she goes well

And this may sound obvious. And I guess it is. But up until recently, I’ve been half heartedly starting my horse. Dedicated to getting her ridden, but not asking for much. If she wants to pull through my hands I let her. She wants to be inconsistent in the bridle, that’s fine. In my mind, I shouldn’t have to work as hard  because she is a nice mover and talented. Image result for ridiculous gif

I’m not a naturally talented rider. I work hard and have good horse sense, which is my saving grace. But even if I was, I’d still have to work hard. Especially with a green bean. I watched Sarah ride her the other day, and she was working, working, working. Thinking, working,thinking, working. June looked great, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Even for a pro who is literally doing everything correctly at the exact right moment. So, ya know, like, the opposite of me. I kinda check out during rides instead of staying engaged mentally and physically the entire time. And that’s gotta change.

So, moving forward, every time we enter the arena, or have a lesson, we’re working hard. We’re only as good as the work we’ve put in. If June has phenom potential, well I better not look like I’m a waste of space on her back. My dream is to one day go Prelim with her. But for now, I need to concentrate on being able to do a 20m circle in a walk/trot dressage test. Cause hell, that’s going to take a lot of work.

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First Plan of 2019: Meh

In my Plans for 2019 post, I mentioned that our first big plan was a clinic/lesson with Gary Mittleider. This was our first lesson with an instructor other than Sarah. Going into the lesson I was feeling pretty good about things? I mean, I know June is a green baby but I figured we’d be ok with what was asked of us.

But then the lesson I had prior to this clinic put me in a horrible head space. June and I have struggled with the canter going right. In this particular lesson I COULD NOT GET THE RIGHT LEAD. Like, it wasn’t happening. Left- lovely. Right-unattainable. We worked and worked and nothing. To the point where Sarah said “I don’t know how you feel but do you want” and I yelled “YES” knowing that she was kindly asking if maybe she should hop on June and try. Not surprisingly she got the correct lead immediately.

This was tough for me. Not because I was surprised, I mean Sarah is a pro with lots of experience on baby horses. But because this was the first thing I was absolutely unable to do. And it was clearly completely my issue. I MAY have broken down a little post lesson and may have said “Why am I even starting this horse? I’m ruining her!” Dramatic? Yes. But I was feeling like shit and, well, maybe head space when starting a baby horse should be a blog post of its own.

So, I knew, going into the clinic with Gary, that the right lead canter was perhaps going to be an issue. But I decided to not worry about it. So many other things to work on! Right lead canter may not even come up. Cause, you know, there are so many times in clinics when you only go left. Uh huh.

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This was the fakest smile I have ever produced

For me, the toughest part about riding in clinics is that you are part of a group. Therefore, if something isn’t going well, or needs work, you can’t just stop the planned exercise and work on that one thing. There are other people in the group who can’t not progress with the exercise because of one horse. So, lesson number 1? We’re probably not ready for a group lesson. This exercise was advanced for where June and I are currently, and therefore, we really struggled. And instead of just working on what we were struggling with (which was a multitude of things) we would kind of just move on and make it work, and IMO that’s not really beneficial.

To start the lesson, Gary had us trot a ground pole on the right side of the arena, turn left, pick up the canter, and canter over a ground pole on the other side. Lovely, simple, and straightforward. But, June was SO distracted by the ghost at the north end of the arena that when we trotted the ground pole, she then spooked right and as Gary was yelling “Straight Line!” we were trotting like drunken sailors. I picked up the canter, got her to stop looking out, and instead look to the upcoming ground pole and we cantered to it. And then June decided she needed to show off a wee bit.

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Yeah yeah June, you’re super impressive

But what was worse was that she landed, and instead of coming back to the trot, just grabbed the bit and kept cantering. So, we got reprimanded for that. And did the exercise again. Again, unable to go straight after the ground pole, but this time we did just canter over the other one, and we did come back to the trot, even though it didn’t look pretty.

After the other rider went, he asked us to do the same exercise, but going right. We were ok over the ground pole at the trot and then picked up the wrong lead; Gary hollered just to keep going. And she did this AGAIN.

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If she would just listen to me, we could actually get to jumping things meant to be jumped

So, June was distracted and a bit eager for most of the lesson which was not helping. We did that line well enough (although always on the wrong lead) that Gary did set a couple of tiny jumps. And, well, things didn’t get better.

June ran at the jumps, and I wasn’t getting her to adjust at all. She was spooky and distracted which was making everything I was asking that much harder. At one point, things really just started to unravel. We  would start by going left, and then change rein through the middle of the arena. We were asked to pick up the right lead canter, make a sharp right turn and jump a tiny jump.

It was all fine until we would change rein and get ready to canter. There were horses tied up on the inside of the arena and I knew that if I got too close to them June would probably kick them. So now, I’m trying to pick up the correct lead, which I hadn’t done once in 45 minutes, turn, AND jump.

It got worse and worse. We never got the correct lead, and trying to turn your unbalanced green horse on the wrong lead, to a jump on about a 15 meter circle? Not gonna happen. At least with this team.

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This picture gives me anxiety

And it ended up looking like this

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Do you see me kicking like a Pony Club D1??

 

June was done. She would stop about two strides out and NOT GO FORWARD. So, we took another break. And I would love to tell you that it was all unicorns and perfection after that, but it wasn’t. Gary was great- he probably was as frustrated with the lesson as I was, but he chatted with me for a while afterwards and kept reminding me that the most important thing to have when you’re riding a baby horse- is a sense of humor. Mine was lost about 15 minutes into the lesson unfortunately.

We agreed that having Sarah ride June and get the right lead canter solid was a good idea. Lucky for me, Sarah likes June. Even better, she was willing to let me take her to dinner and construct a plan for June’s immediate future. I was pretty much ready just to give June to Sarah, but instead, we agreed on a training plan, and I think it’ll work out really well. We’ll both be riding her, but I’ll be working on refining what June already knows and she’ll help the progression to new things and getting June to really understand what is being asked of her.  I’m really lucky to have such an incredible trainer and friend.

So, 2019 plans didn’t start off with a bang. But that’s ok- baby horses will never make things a linear path. Actually, horses never make things a linear path. I still love this mare so incredibly much, and I’m hopeful we’ll be less frustrated with each other after a little reprieve.

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Weather has been so nice she got to enjoy a blanket free romp in the snow!

 

 

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Best Yet

I was really really excited to write a recap on my most recent jump lesson. But work has been busy, and I have family coming into town tomorrow and I just can’t settle down enough to write a thoughtful play by play.

So, instead, you’re getting a recap through pictures. But just know this. It was super fun, and left me with so much homework. But I am so incredibly excited about June’s potential.

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We cantered over two poles to a jump. I had to work really hard to maintain rhythm. June was like a torpedo to the jumps

At first it was just a simple crossrail. But June wanted to pull me along to it, so I had to work really hard on keeping the uphill balance and not letting her take over.

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She was just like “easy, peasy, yawn, what’s next?” Meanwhile I was trying to remember how to jump and do a million other things

We had to work off the left and right, and our right lead canter has been, well, less than stellar, or consistent, but I was really happy with how we were able to work within the canter in this lesson and actually make some changes. Progress!

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Sometimes June took the long spot. Especially when she would take over and drag me down the line

But I worked and worked on getting this to improve. I wasn’t making changes quick enough, or insisting soon enough, but it got better as the lesson progressed.

And then, the crossrail became a vertical (yes it’s a vertical in the last photo but ignore that). June and I have never jumped a vertical before! So exciting!!

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Lets just say it was no problem for her

Going left I could get a fairly adjustable canter. Going right, well, we had to go right a few more times than left, but in the end it was far better than in the beginning.

And June just kept jumping out of her skin!

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I think she likes jumping.

June is just a natural jumper. It was so easy for her. Which meant I had to work hard on getting her to the first pole and not letting her drag me past our distance. I had to work on keeping her in an uphill frame. I had to keep my elbows moving and my leg from clamping (less successful with this..). My take away was that I can expect more from her than I was. I need to instill what I want from the get go, cause June is pretty sure she doesn’t need any help from me.

At the end I asked Sarah how high the jump was. 2′? 2’3? She paused and got the measuring stick. Almost 2’6! What??? We went from jumping crossrails to jumping 2’6 and I had zero fear, zero trepidation and it was SO FUN.

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Because I have the best friend ever, I asked her to stand next to the jump and look excited. And she did! And June just posed naturally, lol.

I think I have been grinning ear to ear ever since.

But OMG so much to work on. And I am SO EXCITED!!!

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When a Pony Ride Cures What Ails You

I had a really craptastic day Tuesday. After getting some really bad news about a family member, I went out to my car and found this:

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God Damn you, Siri. I had started letting her out of her crate when she was in the car because she had been doing SO WELL. We were about 6 months post crate when she decided the passenger seat of my Subaru was really tasty. I about lost it and considered just leaving her in the parking lot and driving away.

But, instead, I put her in her crate in my car and drove to the barn. Being sad while also fuming is a weird emotion to try to describe. I tried my best to let it all go, as I had a jump lesson on June in 60 minutes.

Thirty minutes later, as I was tacking up June, I was still a bit of a sad/angry mess. So, before starting to lunge June, I asked Sarah if one of two things would be possible. I explained my current state and how I really didn’t want to get on June and have an explosion of emotion. So, would she consider riding June? And if that wasn’t ideal, could we just jump a grid or something simple where I didn’t have to think “turn here, remember your course?”

Sarah was game to ride June, but also game to set up a straightforward jump exercise. Since June has been feeling great, and I really, really, wanted to ride, I decided to hop on her.

And I am so glad I did.

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So happy with herself

We’re almost three weeks into the Gastrogard and for the last couple of rides, June has felt like a different horse. She is calm on the lunge line, but really forward under saddle. It’s really lovely. She used to be a bit of a kick ride, but recently I’m having to execute half halts and do lots and lots of transitions to get her to listen to me and not just trot as fast as she can. I never knew I would enjoy a forward horse this much, but it’s been really fun. Also, the buck, while I am sure it is still in there, seems to have gone on vacation. I ask for the canter and she canters. Our transitions are smooth and just not an issue.

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We even worked on cantering a circle over this pole all on our own!

Excited to do some jumping in our lesson, we started by working on maintaining a nice rhythm as well as staying straight through a set of poles on the ground. Sarah brought two flower boxes out and set them up at the third pole in the line. She asked me to walk up and over it. June’s ears shot forward as we approached it but she didn’t waiver. After doing this a couple of times in each direction we then approached it at the trot. She gave it some room as she jumped over, but it was calm and lovely. She landed in the canter and was easy to bring back to the trot.

As the lesson progressed, June got a bit stronger in the bridle. She began to anticipate the jump and would quicken through the turn and hollow as we approached. So, as often happens with green horses, we stopped worrying about a jump lesson, and instead worked on remaining calm with a consistent rhythm. And while I love that June appears to love jumping, the last thing I want is a horse who is like “WE JUMP NOW! MUST GET TO THE JUMP!” And moderately loses its mind. Instead, I want a horse who thinks “We’re jumping? YAY! Ok, fine, I’ll maintain this rhythm, ok, I’m adjustable, ok, fine, your way works.” That’s the hope, right? We worked a bunch on approaching the line of poles to the jump in a walk, trot, circling, and just asking her to relax and listen to what I was asking. In the end, I have to say, she was really great and I am loving this forward horse I have, especially as she begins to listen to my aids and understand what I am asking of her.

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I’m also loving how she just voluntarily stands for a conformation shot

Our second to last time over the flower boxes she did this funny little hop on the backside. I wouldn’t call it a buck, or even a kick, it was more like she was trying to swap leads and just hopped. Instead of pulling and clamping  I laughed and just kept going. Guys, I didn’t freak out that she was going to buck. Sarah, asked me to come through the line one more time. So, we came back to the trot, appoached the line calmly without having to circle first,  jumped the flower boxes, and cantered on the back side without issue. It’s like if I stay calm, she stays calm.

This ride, although simple, was the highlight of my day. If I can ride June this calmly even when my mind is racing, it must mean that she makes me happy. Because even when we had to work through her hollowing and quickening, nothing escalated. We just slowly worked on understanding what was expected. She never got pissy or naughty. She just acted like a green horse. And I reacted kindly and fairly. And it was SO FUN.

Sometimes, a ride on your pony really is what helps.

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Out and About with a Baby Horse

Since June is only a couple of weeks back into “work” I’m trying to have as much low pressure fun with her as possible, while ultimately getting her fit enough to be back in lessons and regular work. I’m trying to mix it up a bit, a day of lunging in side reins followed by a hack around the the property.

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While the sun is setting way too early, this sunset sure was beautiful

I’ve arranged to have her turned out at least 5 days a week for a couple of hours and it seems to be making a difference in her whole attitude. Now, every time she comes out of her paddock it isn’t necessarily to go to work. When we do go to work she seems more relaxed and just…happier. I’m sure this will change if we get lots of snow, but for now, we’re both really enjoying the fact that she gets to wander grass pastures and enjoy some June time.

I’m working on increasing my confidence on her, and riding better should things go awry. After lightly lunging her the other day, I decided to ride her out on the fields surrounding the property. I have hand walked her out there lots, but as we know, ghosts are most likely to appear when we’re on their backs.

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We have an irrigation canal, which in the summer is an impromptu drinking spot for lots of critters. Usually Siri is flushing birds and digging for voles. June clearly remembers two ducks that flew out in front of us this summer and nearly hit her in the noggin. Now she gives that canal the major hairy eyeball. But, knowing it’s empty and there is nothing to fear, I made her walk as close to it as possible. She gave one very impressive spook just so I knew she was serious that it is SCARY, but we were able to walk along it quite reasonably after that.

I put my big girl pants on and even trotted one stretch. I’ve never trotted her out there alone, and guess what? It was totally fine. And even kind of fun!

Feeling brave and like we’re on the right path, I accepted an invitation to go to our local cross country course and play around while people were schooling some jumps. I figured this was a great next step. See how June would be in a situation that could mimic a show, or a clinic. I arrived later than everyone else and when I got to the schooling field, the other riders were leaving to return one student to their trailer. I lunged June around some jumps and she was calm and listening well to me. I saw that some riders would be coming back to us shortly, but June did not seem to care that we were out there all by ourselves. So, I decided to once again, put on my big girl pants and hop on her by myself, alone in the field. As I looked for a log to use as a mounting block, a horse at the trailer nearby began screaming for her friends. This got horses at the boarding facility wound up. And now the two horses returning to us were in full view. Was it too much for June? Would she buck me off the minute I got on her and start galloping and screaming?

Nope.

She let me get on, we walked around, joined the other horses, watched as they jumped some jumps and had a very grown up experience about the entire thing. In fact, June was just about perfect for the entire experience. I was really, really proud of her.

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I also had her walk up to the prelim table in the field, just to give her some inspiration for the future….

Two highlights that really sealed the deal for me:

  1. June is a bit ditchy. Once, when she got away from me in the jump field while I was lunging her, she gallop across the alfalfa field back to home. All the sudden she just slammed on the brakes and wouldn’t go any further. When I caught up to her I realized she didn’t want to cross the ditch the wheel line made. We worked on it a bit out in the field, but again, this was someone’s crop field, and they probably didn’t want my horse in it to begin with, so I kind of just filed it away for later. So, when we got to a rutted road in the field, I shouldn’t have been surprised that June would slam on the brakes. Using what I learned from a Hawley Bennett clinic years ago, I just walked June alongside the rut, just asking her to see it from both directions. Then we walked to where the rut ended, and was just a normal road and I asked her to cross. And she did. And I kept telling her how brave she was. We walked a little further and she continued to cross. Finally we got to where the ruts were quite large and ditch like, and she walked across them with ease.  Smartest and bravest young pony ever.
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    I even had her stop in the middle so I could get a photo
  2. The second moment wasn’t as exciting, but still was a great moment. I decided to leave the group a little early, as I wanted to walk June away from them and through a new part of the facility by herself. June didn’t object at all. We passed two young horses playing, some chickens, lots of farm equipment and people riding. She got a little concerned at one point, but I was able to keep her going and it was a lovely, drama free ride.
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Plus I stayed nice and warm in my new Horseware coat!

These outings are helping me bond with her as well as build my confidence. She is such a fun horse and capable of so much. I don’t want to get lost in thinking that “training” only pertains to jumping and dressage. There’s so much more to training a youngster and for me, these two outings were some of the best training rides we’ve had so far!

 

 

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Back In Business Part 2

When I arrived at the barn the day following June’s vet visit, I had already heard from barn management that she happily ate all her breakfast. I had relayed very specific instructions about PM feeding, but when I arrived, they hadn’t been implemented, which put me into a bit of a tizzy. But, in taking June out for a walk, to assess how she was feeling, I realized all would be well. Back to her usual antics, she immediately tried to pull me over to the grass pasture as we walked the property.

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Back to normal!

And then, as we got farther away from the barn, the wind picked up, and June started to feel a bit fresh. When the neighbor’s horses whinnied to her, she about lost her mind and began fancy prancing with her tail over her back, as if she was now a Paso Fino.

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Mom do you hear them? They are calling for MEEEEEE

While I had strict instructions to just take her out for walks for a couple of days before putting her back into work, I knew mare had some steam to blow. And rather than have her get silly in her paddock, I decided to let her blow it off in the large outdoor arena.

Oh I am glad I did

After that, I knew she was really feeling back to normal. As Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs said after seeing the video “What do you think when she does that? Yay she is feeling better or oh crap I have to ride that?”

Definitely a mix of both???? lol

Fortunately, when I rode her a couple of days later, she was a very good girl. I didn’t ask for much at all, we mainly just walked around and then picked up the trot for maybe 5-10 minutes. I had lunged her beforehand, and she was forward but not silly, always a good sign. In the trot under saddle she would reach for the contact and while it was inconsistent, I was happy she remembered a bit about leg to hand and what the expectation is.

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Thanks to Michelle at Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit I have a new barn coat to keep me warm!

I’m excited to be back at it with her and hopefully we’ll enter a schooling dressage show next month!

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Back in Business. Until We’re Not.

A week ago I made the drive to pick up June and bring her home. I would be bringing her home in my new to me trailer and was nervous, as she had only driven in it twice, and those were very short trips. This would be a solid 5 hour drive. But, she seemed comfortable in the trailer thus far, and fingers were crossed we wouldn’t have any issues.

When I arrived to pick her up she was happily eating hay with the other horses. She heard my voice as I approached her and she turned, pricked her ears and looked at me. While she didn’t come running to me, it was cute that she recognized my voice and didn’t run away.

She loaded right up and we were headed out. My truck pulls the trailer incredibly well, and the stabilizer bars on the hitch seem to really help. I didn’t feel any shifting in the trailer, and unlike most times when I haul her, I allowed myself to relax a bit. I stopped about 3.5 hours into the drive to get fuel and check on June. She was happy and comfortable. While she did paw a bit once I opened the door, she wasn’t wide eyed or frantic. Success! I have to say, I’m really in love with this trailer! And it seems June is too!

Her first week back started out well. She had been living on about 50 acres, and while I imagine she did quite a bit of walking around, she’s pretty, um, plump, so I figured she’s pretty unfit. Tuesday I did some round pen work and she was very good. She definitely got bored quickly, but I didn’t ask too much of her in her first day. Wednesday I just ran her around the arena and spent some time grooming her. She got Thursday off, and Friday we went for our first ponying trail ride!

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She and Siri had a quick discussion

Thanks to my friend Meg, I rode Smokey and ponied June. June was really, really, good. Not a foot out of place, and she soon realized Smokey needed her space and wasn’t messing around. I was really happy about the entire experience and think June enjoyed herself.

On Saturday I stopped by the barn after work, so everyone had left for the day. June was in her shelter despite there being hay in her feed tub. June is typically a hoover, so I was surprised she wasn’t eating. I took her for a walk over to one of the alfalfa fields to see if she’d want to eat. She didn’t, which was unusual. Highly unusual.

I brought her to the indoor to see how she would do on the lunge line. She pooped right when we got in, which is normal for her, and stood quietly as I groomed her. She was ok on the lunge line, but a bit lazy. When I took her back to her pen, she went right to her feed tub. I watched her for a moment and figured I would get a call if she was off in the morning.

I didn’t get a call and so I was surprised to show up and once again find June in her shelter and hay strewn everywhere. Clearly she had not been eating.

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Hmm… suspicious

I called the barn manager and she agreed that June hadn’t been eating well. Frustrated that no one had thought was strange, I called the vet. Because I really missed emergency vet visits.

The vet arrived and initial exam showed good gut sounds on the left, but not the right.  Normal heart and respiratory rate. The veterinarian sedated June and gave her Banamine IV. Fecal exam had some dry feces at first, with softer, more normal feces further down. Then she had a naso gastric tube inserted so she could get all sorts of goodies pumped into her. She was a good, dopey mare for all of it

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I was instructed to remove all hay from her paddock and see if she would eat a flake in the AM. She was already much brighter heading back to her paddock, whinnying to her friends and stepping out. She was PISSED when I tied her so I could remove the hay, and when I untied her she immediately went to her feed tub and then looked at me like “mom! WTH!”

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A much happier June walking back to her paddock

I’ve given instructions to the barn’s staff to call me if she doesn’t have an appetite in the AM, but I think (as does the veterinarian) it was a mild impaction, and we are on the road to recovery. Poor mare got hauled here, put back into (light) work, new hay, new feeding schedule, all sorts of weather changes and she can’t walk and graze all day long like she was. Sort of the recipe for a colic. The biggest bummer is that I hadn’t started her on Smartpak’s Colic Care yet, so now will have to wait a year in order to sign her up for the program. (If they have a record of colic, they need to be colic free for a year prior to signing up for the benefits). I’m considering getting her insured sooner rather than later, and am considering insuring her for major medical rather than going the ColicCare route. Any thoughts about experiences with great insurance would be appreciated!

So there you have it! June’s first week back was anything but boring. I’m hoping to get back in the saddle for some walk rides this week, and hoping we will pick up where we left off (minus the falling off) again soon!

 

 

 

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Jumping Georgie

So much to post about, especially now that JUNE IS HOME!

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So fuzzy! And clearly thrilled to be back to posing for pics

But that will get it’s own post. And since she’s not doing much that’s exciting currently, we’ll start with something uber exciting! My jump lesson on Georgie!

I’ve been riding Georgie weekly for about a month now, and decided that since my tailbone feels better, I would try a jump lesson. It’s been ages since I have had a proper jump lesson. Sure, I’ve hopped some cross rails with June and even cantered an entire course, but that’s very different from riding a broke horse in a lesson.

Warm up was me letting her walk a bit, picking up the trot I wanted, and then moving into the canter. In the canter she wasn’t allowed to lope around on her forehand. I had to work on getting her up, onto her butt, forward, and adjustable. All in two point. After three times around the arena each direction I was out of breath and my legs were on fire.

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Why do we lose riding fitness so quickly?

I knew I would be unfit, but since I run regularly, this was still embarrassing and worse than I expected. However, in those 6 circles around the arena, I was really impressed with how adjustable Georgie was and how responsive she was to my aids. Honestly, riding a horse you know so well, who’s buttons are ingrained, is so nice. I know what to ask, how to ask it, and how she will respond.

We got right to the jumping exercise, as it was obvious I was not going to have the stamina to waste working at the canter…

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Sarah had set up three jumps across the diagonal. Each were one stride apart. We started with the first two jumps as poles on the ground, and just the middle jump was set (at about 2’3). We added the other two jumps and then Sarah would have me jump the line, turn left, angle the middle jump and come back down the line. We then added to this exercise, and it got more and more difficult. Jump through the line, hard turn left, angle the last jump, come around the arena, angle the middle jump the opposite direction, come around the arena, angle the first jump, and then hard turn right back to the exercise and through the grid one last time.

Here is a 3rd graders rendition of what it looked like:

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Ok, I know, 3rd graders can draw better than this. Also, I forgot to put it on the diagonal.

We obviously worked up to that sequence of jumps, and I am actually surprised we got to that because I was not riding well. After about the third jump I was exhausted, and all my bad habits came back to me. Slump my shoulder forward, let my lower leg fall back. It was really awesome. In watching the videos I was pretty disappointed in myself.

If I really worked at it, I could keep my sternum up and open, my calf on, and ride well. But the minute I had to make a turn, or do something else that involved my attention, it all went to shit. Angling the jumps was tough, and I wouldn’t get Georgie on the line soon enough, but mare is as honest as the day is long, and she kept just figuring out what I wanted and jumped what I pointed her at. The jumps stayed at 2’3ish so she really did not have to put much effort in, which is the only reason I think Sarah was ok with all of this.

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So, I have a lot to work on. And I hope to keep riding Georgie weekly so that I can keep working on it. I need to push myself a bit outside of lessons as well as in them. I’m so lucky to still have Georgie around, as quite honestly, jumping her, and feeling that comfortable, is something I have really, really missed.

 

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