Category Archives: horses

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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What’s in a Name?

I take show names VERY seriously. I’m always thinking of good names and forgetting to write them down for the future. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve tried to think of clever names for our horses, even if I was the only one in my family who thought our horses needed anything beyond the name we used in the barn. One year I even went so far as to save up my money and get a stall plaque for our horse Mouse with the name I had given him- Frequent Flyer. My Dad was kind enough to put it up on his stall, not even questioning the fact that I had renamed his horse.

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Mouse. Man this horse was fun to jump!

When I got my first horse as adult I thought endlessly about what I wanted to name her. Her current name, Hillary, was the same as my sister’s, so I knew that had to go. Being obsessed with everything Irish, I named her Kilkee, after a small seaside village in Ireland. As for her registered show name? I knew I wanted it to be a nod to U2, the band I have loved since grade school. And so, Kilkee’s Beautiful Day became her registered name. I LOVED it. Even if it was a mouthful.

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This was Buttons. The Irish horse I did not bring home. But I decided that if I had his name would be Dartfield’s Dream Maker

The only bad part about leasing Georgie was I couldn’t change her name. And while I deemed her The Sweetest Thing (another U2 song) for unrecognized shows, her “show name” was always just.. Georgie.

And so, clearly, I’ve given a lot of thought to June’s show name.  And while I thought I had one all figured out, now I’m doubting myself.

Because June is a warmblood, and I got her from a breeder, her name comes with some contingencies. Apparently, in this new world to me, warmbloods are supposed to have names that begin with the letter of their sire.

So, June’s sire is Riverman, and therefore her name should start with an R.

And, her breeder, before I bought her, had already named and registered her with USEA as Riverine.

Which, if I am being honest, I don’t like at all.

But, June’s registered name is still Riverine and will be for a little while longer per an agreement with her breeder. And, that’s fine. Other than her 4yr old FEH class, I haven’t taken her to a recognized event.

Knowing that I don’t want her name to stay Riverine, yet wanting to stay with the U2 theme, I got to thinking. Here’s my choice of songs that start with R:

Raised By Wolves
Red Hill Mining Town
Red Light
The Refugee
Rejoice
A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel
Running To Stand Still

And while Raised By Wolves would actually be apretty funny show name, it may not be appreciated by those who raised her…And she’s actually far from feral. I LOVE the song Running to Stand Still, but it seems to be asking for a jump refusal?

So, I decided to stretch my scope a little bit and moved to an album name. Rattle and Hum. Not my favorite U2 album, but I liked the idea of the name. A little bit rough, a little bit smooth. I figured this characterized our relationship. So, currently, her unofficial show name is Rattle&Hum

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Her recognized name is Georgie, her barn name is Pig Pen

But there’s been something nagging away at me. One of my most favorite names for a horse, and one I have been DYING to name a horse, is: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.

Any Friday Night Lights fans reading this blog? If there are, you’ll know that before running out onto the field, the football team would rally around each other and yell “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

And, since that show gives me ALL the feels, I would get goosebumps every time. (Also, if you’ve never seen the show- give it a shot. It’s actually NOT about football, and is so incredibly well done.)

But, that name would not start with an R. So it went out of contention pretty quickly.

And then this happened:

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Taylor Kitsch, one of the stars from Friday Night Lights came and played hockey against our local semi pro (ish) team

And I totally fan girl’d. I went to the games and was the only one cheering for the Austin Wolves, our home team’s rival. And it was a blast.

And I started thinking about the show, and how much I loved it, and also, more importantly, how much I loved the message of Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

Maybe it’s totally cheesy? Maybe I’m over thinking it? But besides most U2 songs, there’s not much else that gives me such strong feels as much as this show does. (Some seasons and story lines more than others..)

So, what’s a girl to do? How important is the whole sire thing? I guess the real question is, how important is it to me? And the answer is not very. I clearly root for the underdog, so I don’t care that everyone knows I have a Riverman baby (although I do name drop him here a lot- sorry about that.) I also don’t “owe” anything to anyone- I’m not campaigning this horse for anyone. I’m pretty sure people aren’t going to watch us go around and immediately try to find out who her sire is.

So, do I buck convention and go with my heart? I’m leaning that way.. but a part of me sometimes has a hard time bucking convention because I don’t want to upset anyone. Even people I don’t know. Sigh. It’s a problem.

And here are some more photos of Taylor Kitsch on the ice, because I hope I’ve got some fans reading this blog.

So, let me know your thoughts. And also if you’ve got some great names you’re dying to use.

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Black Friday on Wednesday

I’ll be honest. I LOVE Thanksgiving and hate that it gets overshadowed by Black Friday sometimes. I mean, isn’t the entire point of Thanksgiving to be thankful for what you have and who you are surrounded by?

But the other part of me, the frugal part who loves a deal, can’t turn a blind eye to Black Friday. And I secretly love Amanda C’s Black Friday post, even though some years I come away without a single purchase.

This year though, there were a couple of things I had my eye on. And, because I just wanted to get the shopping done, I started shopping on Wednesday, hoping I could get it all done before prepping for and thoroughly enjoying, Thanksgiving.

And, well, I got it all done before Black Friday, thanks to Riding Warehouse.

In my opinion, RW did a couple VERY smart things. For one, giving 25% off all purchases is a huge selling point. I ended up purchasing a new black show coat from them, something I really, really, needed. Going into the purchase I had a couple of requirements. I wanted a moderately feminine design with a hidden zipper. I wasn’t sold on one brand, although I  loved my Horseware coat that I previously had. Upon some perusing I found an Equine Couture coat that was on clearance. It met my criteria and while I’m not entirely convinced it’s not a bit too Michael Jackson looking, a 50% off pricetag caught my eye and had me taking the plunge.

I’m hopeful I love it and June and I will be moonwalking to many amazing dressage tests. Or something.

So, I purchased the coat and was like DONE!

But then, a few hours later I was like “Sh*T! I need winter riding gloves!!”

And this is where RW did the second incredibly smart thing. The gloves didn’t meet the $50 minimum for free shipping, so I was hoping I could add them to my existing order. I contacted Customer Service via online chat and was told that my order was already packaged (holy quick processing!) and therefore the gloves couldn’t be added.

But they would be happy to waive the shipping costs if I would still like to purchase the gloves.

They made it so easy. I used the same payment method, and before I knew it, I had another email confirming the purchase of my new Heritage Spectrum Winter Competition Show Riding Gloves

Also, 25% off and no shipping costs!

So, with Thanksgiving and all the joys of family, friends and food behind you, if you haven’t already, get shopping. And may I recommend Riding Warehouse? I am so impressed with their customer service, ease of use and obviously their amazing products.

I already have my eye on this saddle pad. Let’s see if I can get through today without purchasing it….

 

 

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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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Remembering Why I Ride

With June on vacation, and me still healing, I figured there wouldn’t be much interesting content to write about. But, since I’m feeling better, I’ve picked up two weekly rides. One on Georgie, and one on Tommy. They’re both different rides (Tommy is an Intermediate eventer who I am just getting conditioning rides on), but I’ve come to enjoy them both a lot.

Today it was 60 degrees out and sunny with no wind when I showed up to ride Georgie. I realized it was the perfect day to ride her out in the jump field. I’m riding Georgie partially for me- so I have something to ride until June returns, but also partially for Georgie. She’s acquired some “I’m ridden by a junior and asked nothing” habits that could probably be schooled a bit.

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Georgie when she realized we were headed away from the arenas and out to the field

So, my plan for today was to work on half halts and not letting her run through turns. We worked on this for a bit. I would execute an S turn and not let her run through the change of direction at the trot. It went pretty well and she began to listen to my aids and do what was being asked.

But, instead of drilling it into her, I decided that since it was so beautiful out, we should probably just enjoy being outside.

I walked Georgie to the edge of the field and her ears flew forward. She knew what was coming. I gently put my leg on and said “canter.”

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The moment she realized half halts and S turns were a thing of the past

And there we were, cantering along the field, on a crisp fall day, in the sunshine. I remembered why I loved this horse.

I love her because I feel safe. I love her because I can canter and just enjoy it. No spooking. No antics. Just wind in her mane and my face. She could go as fast as she wanted and it would be fine. She wasn’t going to run away with me. I was safe, happy, and enjoying everything horseback riding should be.

In my post ride recap I told Sarah what a good time I had, and how nice it was to gallop on my #1 mare. But then couldn’t help myself and launched into how Georgie’s canter is like it was the first day I ever rode her, and how I saw her shorten, shorten, shorten to the jump at the schooling show this weekend, and how a half halt takes a lot of work on her again. She clearly isn’t the mare she was when I stopped riding her, after years of work together.

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I’ve always loved galloping on her

And after I said it, I got upset with myself. Because, really, who cares? She is still the honest horse with so much heart that I fell in love with. Who cares if she isn’t prelim ready? Who cares if she carts a junior around safely but doesn’t look fancy? She is having a good time, and she deserves it.

And those moments where I get to gallop her along the fields in the crisp autumn sunshine? All I need to care about is how lucky I am to still be able to do that.

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When You Can’t Ride, But Your Trainer Can

Thanks to June, I’m not doing much riding. Apparently, when you land directly on your tailbone, it hurts a lot. For a really long time. From what I’ve read, I could be out of commission for up to a month. Now, I don’t know if my tail bone is fractured, or merely bruised, but what I do know, is that doing pretty much anything is incredibly painful.

The good news, bad news, is that 4 days post fall, I was planning on going on vacation. I had been hoping to ride June the day I left, but there would be no riding since I could barely walk. But then, as I limped around, unable to sit, sleep, or do anything else without pain, I realized this was the perfect time to have Sarah ride J for me!

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See that blip up there? That’s Stella. The fact that she is walking that much faster to me can give you an idea of how much pain I am in.

I was so excited to have Sarah ride June. I hadn’t seen anyone ride June since I have been working with her, and I knew she’d get a great schooling ride with Sarah. On the other hand, I was a bit worried. June is far from broke, but what if I had done a crap job starting her so far? What if everything was wrong?

Good news. I hadn’t messed everything up thus far. As I had hoped, Sarah was able to hop on June and show me what she is ready for. What I should expect from her. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but what was great, was that June tried hard and was willing to work hard. I was able to see what we needed to work on, and what I shouldn’t accept from her. (Grabbing the bit is a no no. This sounds obvious, but when you let it happen for long enough you just assume it’s normal).

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June looks so happy despite working hard!

I assume there are going to be a few more June/Sarah rides happening, since I still can’t sit down without wincing. I’m excited to see how much June progresses by the time I am able to hop back on her!

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In the meantime, I’m going to just try to keep running away from those mini golf cougars.

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