A Tale of Two Rides

As per the flavor of the month in the blogging community, I downloaded the Equilab app on my phone on Monday. I was planning on having a thorough Dressage school after our very brief jumping session on Sunday. I already knew that Tuesday wasn’t going to be a barn night due to severe thunderstorms being in the forecast and Wednesday is never a barn day as I have to go straight home to take care of the best dog ever. (I might be biased… enjoy the over indulgence in puppy pics this post) As a result, Monday HAD TO HAPPEN.

There are few things better than waking up to some #puppylove #dogsofinstagram

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So Monday was marked on my calendar as a day I HAD to ride. It was also the first business day of the month, causing my work day to be even more hectic and stressful than usual. By the time I got to the barn, I was a massive ball of stress, anxiety, and frustration. I hopped in the saddle, we walked around a ton. May gave me some great work including some lateral work and starting to reach into the left rein when tracking right (a big accomplishment since getting that wolf tooth pulled).

I, however, was horrendous. I’m sure my riding was fine and my aids were correct, but my attitude wasn’t. As the ride wore on, I felt myself asking for more and meeting resistance not with patience and humor (the only two emotions that belong in the saddle according to Mr. John Lyons) but with frustration. After we completed our warm up of all three gaits and some stretchy lateral work, we walked for a bit.

Apparently the dog days of #summer have already begun! #dogsofinstagram

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Then, when I asked her to trot, ready to start asking for the harder work, she popped up above the bit and threw her shoulder through the transition. I am sure my timing was off, or I hadn’t gotten her properly balances before the transition, but I mentally just couldn’t get past that she was being bad and a jerk. Even worse, I was getting more frustrated with myself for not being able to get past my own frustration…. Sounds great, right? So I stopped. I put big loops in my reins, gave her a pat for the work she had done earlier, and we walked a bit longer. The total ride was only 32 minutes… and Equilab tells me that 24 minutes was spent walking.

My next chance to ride was Thursday. I threw my jumping saddle on and planned on just doing an easy flat hack. ~40 minutes, no pressure. When I got to the arena, there were 3, 18″ fences lined up through the middle of the arena. After our rhythm issues on Sunday, I figured it would be a great idea to add that line into our hack. I won’t go into details, because the ride was REALLY boring and simple. However, it was good. I was able to be fair and effective in the saddle, and my horse is better off because I stepped away on Monday.

Ending this post with a old #failfriday 🙂

Riding into Monday like…. 😂😂😂😂 #misseditmonday #goodgirl #fail

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We Jumped! (And Got Video Of It!)

I was scrolling back through my posts to see if I could confirm this, but I am pretty sure Sunday was the first day I did an actual course of jumps in my new jumping saddle… I have popped over a few single fences here and there, but hadn’t actually strung a course together… nor do I think I had jumped an oxer in that saddle… and I know I wasn’t jumping oxers in my Dressage saddle… so how long had it been since we had jumped an oxer… Oops. Oh well.

#marecrushmonday #everymonday #Hunterprospect ? Definitely #huntereq

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(I think that might have been our last oxer… 11 months ago) Sunday was actually really beautiful in KY. We had about 18 hours of dry weather, which was enough for the amazing footing in our outdoor arena to dry up. So I begged and pleaded for the husband to come take video for me. (Really, I just asked since the weather was finally nice enough.)

Hindsight? I should’ve brought my crop with me. The horse with the carriage was out there when I went to get on, so I got on in the indoor and then walked over to the outdoor. No reason to get dumped because I didn’t want to bother to walk an extra 50 feet to a less busy arena. May didn’t seem to have a problem with the carriage this time, which was definitely improvement, but she was definitely just preoccupied with thoughts of what the cart was doing. I couldn’t really get her totally in front of my leg, but she was relaxed and obedient.

My stirrups might actually be a tough TOO short…

Since the jumps were set pretty small, I figured I would just warm up a bit and hope she woke up a bit. (This is terrible horsemanship, but… oh well… I had a relaxed horse.) There was a small box (maybe 12″) set up so that you could canter a 20 meter circle over it, so I started with that. I worked on establishing rhythm without losing suppleness through her body.

Getting back into it! #may #eventing #IForgotWhatTheSunLooksLike #horsesofinstagram

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After a few times in both directions, I asked the husband to turn on the camera, and I pointed out the few jumps I was planning on doing. The footing nearest where he was filming was a bit deep and wet still, so I just avoided that line, but I wanted to pretty much jump everything else. haha

The moment she realized we were doing more than one jump at a time…

My original plan was to get through the course and then clean up the parts that I felt were messy. Mind you, early in the week I had tried to jump a few fences, and I missed to Ever. Single. One. I COULD NOT find a distance. This time, I shortened up my reins a bit, and focused on keeping my hands a bit higher than what I am used to (but what is probably correct), and keeping my reins short enough that my hands were about halfway up her neck. Below is what we got:

Overall? I am really happy with that. The biggest issue is obviously pace. Our pace should be closer to what we have in this clip:

However, the most important thing to me when reintroducing a horse to jumping is to make it as nonchalant as possible. It should feel like no big deal, just popping over a few fences. I can always light a fire under a horse’s butt if I need to… It’s a special skill of mine, so a quieter than expected jump school is a good place to start. Our simple changes were pretty good (although very numerous), and our only small argument was coming to the oxer, where I wanted to hold for no reason coming around the corner. I was wrong, she was right, and I had to pony-club kick for the long spot. Enjoy our small fail photo below:

It is probably also worth noting that I was testing a different bit in this video. A Myler D ring with hooks. No chain, but hooks. Jury is still out on it, but I clearly don’t need the pelham if she keeps going like this! So how do I feel about my jumping saddle around a course and over an oxer? I am pretty damn happy with it still. It doesn’t rock over fences like other saddles I tried. May clearly seems relaxed and happy giving me the long spot in it, and I felt my position was fairly solid given how long it has actually been.

WHEW! Just happy to be doing more than fancy prancing and trot sets though!

Also – who is going to the event-formerly-known-as-Rolex, aka KY3DE, aka Land Rover 3 Day… AKA who knows what they’re calling it now? I will be there for XC with the husband!

Move. Over.

So as May and I have been upping our fitness lately. There is one aspect I have let go. Lateral work.

After getting May’s teeth and joints squared away and getting our fitness back up to a respectable level (still not where I want it, but much closer), I figured it was a good time to see where our lateral work stands. If you read this blog at all last year, you know that, without a jumping saddle, almost all of our lessons were Dressage lessons where there was a strong focus on lateral work. Why? Because as my trainer describes it, May is a body builder… not a ballerina. She needs more yoga before we can achieve real collection.

It makes sense to me, and I did see a lot of progress in her way of going throughout last year. So, I started with the old 40 degree angle, nose to the wall, at the walk exercise.

Dressage Exercixe 1

This one… Black is wall, yellow line is horse (who should be straight) and arrow is direction of travel.

She was really good. She moved off my left leg, held herself mostly straight, and finished the move by straightening out and marching forward through the end of the arena. Awesome. I repeated it a second time with the same results, and then we switched to the other side.

I got nothing. I set her up for the move, closed my outside rein, but my outside (right) leg on, and she threw her hind end through my leg and snapped into a straight line along the rail… No.. not what I asked. I made a small 10M circle,and asked again. Same result. She got a tap with my spur and reluctantly moved her hind end over. Eventually, we mostly got there, but she was still a bit of a pretzel. I didn’t want to drill the move, so I moved on to walking leg yields.

I thought about my trainer’s advice last year. Ride the horse like a table. If you had a table around you, and you picked it up and moved it along the diagonal, without turning, the legs of the table would trace the line your horse’s hooves should follow. It’s a weird visual, but it works for me. Again, I started with having her move off my left leg. We started with the quarter line to the rail, then the center line to the rail, and it was something sort of magical. She kept her body straight, moved at the angle I requested, and I could simply hold the contact with the outside rein. She got a big pat and lots of praise.

indoor-dressage
Old media, you can see how much this helped us last year.

Then, I reversed directions and asked for the same from the right leg. Again, I got no response. Cool. I rolled my spur into her, and she moved on her front end. Even more cool. I tried to hold her with my outside rein, but she sucked her neck back, popped her shoulder further to the outside, and twisted her neck to the right. Ugh. Mare. I straightened her out, rolled my spur into her, and asked again. Same response.

Of course, I didn’t have my dressage whip with me (which only really makes her tense and might not have helped anyway), so I reached back and patted her just at the hip. It was meant to be a “hey, you need to move this part too”, and was definitely not hard enough to cause any pain. However, May took serious offense to the whole thing. She flung her head around, threw her body sideways, and gave me a giant huff. Maybe I just surprised her? I have no idea. It mostly seemed to work though, and I was able to get some correct (albeit very shallow) leg yield off my right leg.

img_7041
Still pretty though… I gotta fix those hands!

The rest of the ride continued in mostly the same fashion. She moved easily off my left leg and tried to ignore my right side. (This is probably the root of my issue of getting her on the outside rein and was probably exasperated by the wolf tooth) I think the issue is still likely related to some general stiffness issues, so I am adding in some carrot stretches and her Back on Track sheet to see if those help. I am also going to continue with the pony yoga to see if it improves.

circles2
Something like this for our next ride?

I think my next ride (hopefully tonight) will focus on stretchy circles where we leg  yield in and out. I think that will help with the stretching and moving over issues. All the mud probably doesn’t help any stiffness of muscle soreness either. -.- In fact, it is supposed to rain 10 out of the next 15 days. Pretty sure KY is going to float away at this point.

ADDED: Found an awesome resource on some carrot stretch exercises and information: https://vetmed.tennessee.edu/vmc/EquineHospital/Documents/EPR/UTCVM_LACS-EquineCarrotStretches.pdf 

A Throwback Fail!

It probably would’ve been best to post this on Thursday to make it a #TBT (ThrowbackThursday) post, but I just couldn’t resist sharing.

Nearly 10 years ago, a friend of my mom asked for some help getting her QH back into shape. He was a cute dude, and he lived in the barn in her backyard with one other horse. She was fairly timid, and he has been out of work. As I always did at that age, I eagerly hopped on. After trotting around leisurely for a while, I asked him to pick up a canter…

 

Ouch… I remember that one hurting. I was trying to be nice, given that he was pretty out of shape. A loose rein, up off his back, and gentle aids. After he put me in the dirt, he was put into the contact and asked to really work. He was wonderful after that… but I was always a bit wary of him. I think I only ended up riding him another couple of times before show seasons picked up and then heading off to college in the fall. Although, I do remember feeding and deicing water buckets for her in the winter.

Honestly, the above probably wasn’t this guy’s fault. (I think his name was Buddy.) He was out of shape and a round-type to start with, so I can pretty much guarantee you that the saddle he had on didn’t fit him right. Now, I would have checked the saddle fit before getting on, but back then, I really didn’t know much, if anything, about saddle fit. Buddy also had a wonky right front foot that, even then, I didn’t think the farrier was handling in the best way.

Live and learn people!

Also – Olivia at DIY Horseownership is having an Easter Contest/Giveaway! I can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures. You can check it out here: https://diyhorseownership.com/easter-contest-and-giveaway/

The Dentist

In the theme of, get all of the maintenance work done before real training starts for the season, May saw the Dentist. Now, I originally was going to put this off a bit, as she wasn’t technically due. However, at May’s lameness eval, the vet stuck her hand in May’s mouth, gave me the hairy eyeball, and asked how long it’s been since she had been done… “Uh… about 8 months,” I managed to stammer.

You know… when the ground looked like this…

The vet gave me a strange look, stuck her hand back into May’s mouth and said, “Who did you use?” Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the guy I used once… 8 months ago. She just shook her head and recommended I try someone different this time and get them done sooner, rather than later. Well… Ugh.

So, in true horse-mom fashion, May had a dentist appointment about 10 days later. I opted for someone that doesn’t sedate unless he has to. I know this is a controversial subject, so all I will say on it is that I have a horse that can be tricky to drug (due to her draft blood), and the horse had just been sedated 10 days prior. If you get your horse injected 2x a year and you do their teeth 2x a year by someone who automatically sedates, that means you are a sedating 4x a year. (you can try to combine the visits, but at the levels we drug May, she only stays “sedated” for about 30 – 45 minutes… not really enough for injections and a full teeth float). I have 0 evidence that this is bad for your horse, but I know all sedation comes with risks (again – especially with certain breeds), so I chose to try someone who doesn’t sedate.

The dentist was recommended by basically the entire barn, and he even showed up on time. It was a good start. He also gave me a weird look when he put his hands into my horse’s mouth… I had just gotten done telling him how she had been done 8 months ago, but that I didn’t think they did a good job. He clearly agreed with me. Although, he was surprised at how fat she was able to be “despite how bad her teeth were.” Not sure if that one was a compliment May… I told him that if she ever started really dropping weight, she’d be at a full blown clinic the next day. At least he laughed at that one.

Definitely no eating trouble here…

He was great though. He took the extra few minutes to get May comfortable, and he also took the time to educate me a bit. I have seen teeth being done many times on sedated horses and non sedated horses. I have spoken to many vets, equine dentists, barn mangers, horse owners, etc etc about teeth. I have looked into horse’s mouths, but this was the first time anyone actually took my hand, put it into my horse’s mouth, and showed me exactly where his concerns were. He ran my thumb over the issue areas, and showed me where to massage May’s face to check for any sensitivity. Then, when he was done, he went through the whole thing with me again, so that I could clearly feel the difference between right and wrong. It was a great moment in my education as a horse person.

I keep talking about her history, and I mention that, when I got her, she still had a wolf tooth on the left side. I gave myself a small, humble brag and talked about how I immediately had it removed. He, once again, gave me the hairy eyeball… oh what now!

“She still has a wolf tooth on the left side.” I stared at him, incredulous.

“What? I saw the tooth they pulled 3 years ago.”

“Well, there’s still one here. Can I take it out?”

“Yeah… of course.” I should probably mention here that this MADE SENSE. I have been struggling forever to get May onto my left rein when tracking right (aka – into the outside rein). This is not at all an issue going left, but it is nearly impossible going right. I was, of course, blaming myself. I figured that I was just better with my right hand because it’s my dominant hand. In reality, it’s a lot more likely that the wolf tooth was causing her pain.

So small… so annoying

The process was relatively quick, and as soon as it was over, May was visibly more comfortable (and totally ready to go back to her hay). Turns out, this was about half a wolf tooth… but enough to cause a problem. As the dentist rinsed off his tools, he said to me, “So for pleasure, companion animals, I only really recommend we do them ever year unless there’s a problem.” I blinked up at him for a second.

“Oh… actually… she’s my competition horse. We event.” Now, it was his turn to be shocked. I pulled out a picture of May jumping, and he took the phone from my hand, as if making sure it was the same horse.

“Well look at that, she really gets up there! If that’s the case, then I like to see them ever 6 months.” Sounded fair to me, and I feel a lot better knowing May is more comfortable now and being a bit more educated on the subject. Unfortunately, I haven’t really gotten to test out how she feels. I gave her the rest of the day off on Saturday, rode her really lightly on Sunday. On Monday, our dryer died and I had to meet the husband after work to pick up a new one, and then it decided to snow 5″ on Tuesday in KY…

Oh well, back at it tonight! Have you ever had any nasty surprises when you’ve had routine work done on your horse?

Learning Through Doing – Trot Sets

Trot sets… or really any kind of planned interval training for horses is still a relatively new concept to me. When I rode in H/J, horses were just ridden for 30 – 60 minutes 4 – 6 days a week. You tried to balance out W/T/C and add in jumping as necessary.

Then, I entered the eventing world, and I had a trainer tell me that my horse needed fitness… “Just add some trot sets into your routine.” (not her exact words, but most of her explanation just kind of rolled off. “How does one do a trot set?” was my first thought. Does one simply trot around aimlessly until they get a bit fatigued and then walk until they’re ready to trot again? Nope. I learned quickly that there should be some kind of plan to this…

Ok, how does on make a plan? I started reading as much as I could on the topic, but I definitely lack the most important element of knowledge in this area: experience.

This year, I am making a more conscious effort to really plan out my interval training with May and to make sure we are gearing up for this season in an appropriate manner. So, our rides lately have consisted of long walks or interval sets to improve fitness… so our rides lately have been boring.

bored over it GIF

The fields aren’t open for riding yet, and our barn doesn’t have access to trails. As a result, long walks are done along the road through the barn (a whole lap takes about 40 minutes so I try to do it twice), and interval training is done in the main arena (thankfully, very large).

Last week, we completed a 54 minute ride that included a lot of walking, 2 – 10 minute sets of trotting, and a couple of short canter intervals. What did I learn? That May is probably in better shape than I am. While she was a bit fatigued after the ride, my back was on FIRE. Definitely time to add some core strengthening exercises to my out of the saddle routine!

Making a Wishlist

With my sister’s birthday approaching, I was determined to get her a great gift. She has a very specific style and taste that keeps up with trends enough to be “on trend”, but most of her items are classic enough to stand the test of time. I also can’t just buy her horse stuff… since she hasn’t ridden in more than a decade and has no plans to start again. (boo)

After spending much too much time scanning through the websites of places I rarely visit (department stores, beauty boutiques, anything that shows up in a mall), I finally caved a bit and asked her if there was anything she wanted. She had a list… on a Department stores website. She forwarded it along to me, and while I didn’t have to search out the perfect gift, I did get to pick something out of a (rather long) list of things that I knew she would love. I could get her someone she wouldn’t just have to return, and I could cater my gift to my budget. Awesome! (budgets are important… unless a pony really needs something)

Since most of my family is 90% unfamiliar with my sport (especially if it is eventing specific), I figured this might actually be a helpful tool for them! I checked around on various equestrian sites (riding warehouse, dover, smartpak, horze, greenhawk, bit of britain), and it looked like only Smartpak, bit of britain, and Dover offered these features. While Dover has an amazing return policy, there isn’t a single actual store in Kentucky and the shipping costs can be a bit outrageous (and slow). Bit of Britain is also somewhere I have ordered form multiple times, but never actually returned anything to. So I decided to build a list on Smartpak!

26 Items made the list. Here are the highlights and why:

Schooling Breeches – Romfh Sarafina & Smartpak Hadley

Schooling Breeches

I own both pairs of these breeches in other colors. The Romfh Sarafina breeches are my favorite pair of pants (ANY KIND OF PANTS) I have ever owned. They are flattering, they are comfortable, they stay up on their own. And they should… They’re incredibly expensive. As a result, I only own one pair, in beige for clinics and shows where I don’t want to wear white (and we’ll get to that in a second).

The Hadley’s are much more affordable. They are SLICK though and not as flattering of a shape. However, I appreciate the fairly classic styling and, for schooling pants, they hit the mark for me. The colors aren’t too crazy without being beige, black, and brown. The rise is a bit higher than the Piper’s, which I like, but they also definitely need a belt, as (you can even see this from the pictures) they are not nearly as high rise as the Sarafina’s.

I did throw in one pair of the Kerrits “power sculpt” riding tights. I haven’t ridden in Kerrits in forever… or tights for that matter, but the marketing ploy of “Power sculpt” got me, and they’re a reasonable under $100 option.

Sunshirts – Kastel & Goode Rider

Kastel Sunshirt

I own 1 Kastel sunshirt, 2 of the Dover Cool Blast sunshirts, 1 tailored sportsman sunshirt, and 1 ariat sunshirt. The Kastel (in a light, butter color) is BY FAR MY

FAVORITE. It is the only one that I actually feel is cooler than a plain cotton t-shirt, it looks flattering, and it actually protects my skin from the sun. I got my original one for an incredible deal, and I would love to add more to my collection.

I was shocked to find that the Goode Rider sunshirt was more expensive than the Kastel’s, but I figured it would worth adding as just another option to try.

Various Show Stuff – Romfh, Ice Horse, Competition Pinny, Tredstep

White BreechesRemember when I mentioned white breeches? Yeah – I have one pair, and I absolutely detest them. I think I might still own them out of a sense of obligation for needing white breeches. (There’s no rule that says you have to wear white, any light, neutral color works). However, I am still shamed into owning a pair of pants that I hate and that hate me. Enter the Romfh Sarafina pants in white… full seat… and beautiful.

I also don’t own a single pair of ice boots. (I know, I am terrible). When I needed to ice May last year, I took the liner out of my BOT quick wraps, filled them with ice, and left that on. It worked and was effective, but I probably shouldn’t be seen in public in them. The Ice Horse Evendura Wraps would just be a nice thing to have. Oh – and laugh you hearts out – I don’t own a pinny. I have begged and borrowed (but never stole) one when I needed one, but it’s probably about time I spend the $14 and get one… I really don’t need a custom one… right?

CollarAnother “wish list” item, would be an interchangeable collar for my tredstep solo pro coat. This is a total whim item. Like, why is this thing $50? But I still think it would look nice on my Navy coat with May in a white saddle pad… without being too much. 

Items I Couldn’t Find

This was a strange thing. There are 11 breastplates on SmartPak’s website (Bit of Britain has 20 and Dover has 12) and not a single one was even the style I was looking for. Every single one attaches to the front D’s of the saddle. (not a great setup for a horse like May, where it is more likely to just pull the front of the saddle down, rather than hold the entire saddle forward). I would much prefer one that attaches to the girth. Like this one from Dover, or this one from Bit of Britain.

Also – my favorite saddle pad is the EcoGold Secure XC Saddle Pad. Smartpak apparently only sells it in White, where Dover had both black and blue, and riding wearhouse had the black version. The blue is really the one I have been eyeing.

Finally, XC boots. I put the outdated version of the professional choice XC boots on my list at smartpak, but it is the new ones you can get from riding warehouse that I am really interested in. I current have the majyk equipe boots (the Gen II versions), but I have been using them for a couple of years now, and they aren’t really in “show” condition anymore. In fact, the one boot is missing almost all of the fabric edging near the bottom. I wouldn’t mind something that fits a bit better. I have been eyeing both the Professional’s Choice Performance Elite XC Front Boots and their Performance Hybrid Splint Boots. Let’s be honest, at BN, we probably would be totally fine with just the splint boots, and they may fit May’s corgi-legs better.

Whew! Well that was a lot. Tell me – what’s topping your wish list right now?

Some Days – We’re a Drama Llama

One thing May has really lacked as we have bumped up her fitness is true connection. Sure, she’ll put her head down and look cute, but the back end wasn’t taking on the workload like it should. Part of this was likely the soreness of the hind end that has since resolved with the injections. My original plan was to do a long and slow walk on Saturday, when the weather was supposed to get up to around 50, and then do real work on Sunday when it was going to be a bit cooler.

Instead, about 40 minutes into our long and slow walk, I realized something. I had no breaks. She wasn’t “running” away with me, but any aids I gave to halt were met with straight up refusal. The head got flung in the air, and she just barreled on. No mare… That’s not how this works. So I spent the next 20 minutes establishing a halt, and I decided that we probably needed a few minutes of actual work.

Might have been cold today. But the sky looked like art. #may #horsesofinstagram

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I hopped into the outdoor arena and began asking her to move off each leg, and I was met with… nothing. I swear some days this horse puts in ear plugs, decides that she knows how to be a trail horse, and that should be her true occupation. Today, however, I had my Dressage whip in my hand. So after she ignored my rather wrong leg aids, I gave her the slightest tap with end of the whip just behind my leg. Cue May flinging herself sideways and throwing her head around like I was beating her to death. The yield got rewarded, and the dramatics got ignored.

After a few more leg yields each way, with less and less drama and definitely no more of the whip, I asked her to step into the trot… And I got “ER MAH GAWD, RUNNING NOW!” I just concentrated on keeping my body still and slowing the front end. Slowly, the weight rocked back, and we finally got some solid work in.

I added in a couple of minutes of canter. (the canter was really nice, and we we were over the dramatics by then.) Then, we went back to walking for another 15 minutes, and we sprinkled in some really nice, soft halts. See the math? Ended up being an hour and a half ride… because she didn’t want to halt.

I did end up getting some (rather poor) media from this. May looks mostly the way she felt, which is a good thing, but GOOD LORD what are my hands doing? Definitely putting more of on emphasis on bending my elbows and riding her up into my hands again. However, I am really happy with how well she is doing with trot poles. This has to be the clearest point of improvement for her after injections. Before, she would try to stuff an extra step into the poles or even just knock them around. Now, she is properly pushing through them, even when she comes in under powered.

Does your horse ever have days where they prefer to be in charge?

Updates with Video

I was DETERMINED to get media on Tuesday. May felt so much better, but I hadn’t had any opportunity to see if she looked better. Haven’t we learned by now that if we are REALLY DETERMINED to get something done with horses on any kind of a timeline, the universe will make it as difficult as possible?

Enter – The Ride That Just Was

I showed up to the barn after work to find some serious winds. The 60 degree day felt more like it was in the 40s, and the sun was stubbornly sitting behind some clouds. I figured video quality wouldn’t be great outside, but it would be fine. I had plenty of time until dark. (In case anyone was curious why May needs a muzzle in March, it’s because the below is her turnout field right now!)

I climbed out of my car. Opened up my trunk. And discovered I had left my tall boots and spurs at home. Fine. I will ride in my paddock boots that don’t zip anymore. Nevermind that I am wearing my slickest pair of breeches. On a positive note, May is responding to getting cookies every time I catch her in the field. She walked a total of 8 steps towards me, and I am calling it progress.

I threw on my Dressage saddle (jump saddle + paddock boots + slick pants + wind + alone = no way… seriously, I would rather ride bareback), and I hopped up. After doing our walk work, I found a great place to set up my phone. I learned over to set it up, and May spooked, shooting forward (like 2 steps, but still). A few 4 letter words left my mouth, and I tried to set up the camera again. Not perfect, but I really just wanted to see a few trot steps (and maybe catch a clip of her going over some poles).

#blurry #ponyspam is better than no pony spam! #may #horsesofinstagram

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I picked up  my trot, trotted through the poles. Then, I had a brilliant idea. I would trot directly away from the camera to assess her back end better. Brilliant! I looked for my phone… and saw it face down in the dirt. The wind had taken it for a ride. UGH! But I am determined. I am an eventer. I do not give up on pony media!

So I went into the indoor. Resigned myself to getting blurry, mostly crappy media, and set up my phone. Then, I realized a new problem. May in the indoor is significantly less forward than May in the outdoor. Without spurs or a whip… I was without recourse. The ride was… blah. Without her securely in front of my leg, the contact was very inconsistent (apparently, forward is important or something). Her canter work was flat and shuffly.. but the walk was surprisingly nice. All the walk work we have been doing out of the ring with hills and such seem to be making a real difference.

I tried doing some lateral work.. that was laughable. She kind of shuffled sideways while flipping me the hoof. I don’t think it was a response to things hurting, but I do think it was response to being out of shape and lacking muscle. It ended up being a short ride, as I felt myself getting frustrated, and I knew nothing good would come after that point. I got off, gave her the rest of my apple, and put her back out in her field.

There is always another day… Especially when the rider’s lack of preparation is 90% of the problem. But I AM HOPING to have better media next week. Maybe even some jump media if I can convince the husband to make a barn trip with me…

How are you all getting back into the swing of things?

One Week Update

Saturday was our “one week” mark from May getting her injections. I wish I had more media to share with you, but I will explain why that wasn’t possible. Promise!

All in all, May felt really good. She has always had trouble through trot poles.This weekend, there were 4 fairly spaced trot poles set up in the outdoor, and we could do them from a slow trot without an issue. She could push through them without falling on her forehand and running past my aides. But why no media? Well, both days this weekend we had to share the arena with the horse-eating carriage.

Today we learned that the cart does not eat horses. #horsesofinstagram #may #isthatspringisee

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In fact, on Saturday, our ride lasted  more than an hour. We walked, like usual, started our trot, then the carriage showed up. May was… not amused, so we walked. We followed the carriage for about 15 minutes. Then, they started trotting, which makes a lot more noise, and May had to be convinced to follow it again. By then half hour mark, we could reliably walk and trot with the carriage in the arena. Then, I tried to canter, and May put up a big fight. Flinging her head around, not allowing me to sit on her, and trying to run off with me… Fun. When I got a decent canter, I let her walk.

Then, the carriage needed a video, so I ended up walking around the arena while they took the video. After the video, I asked for the canter again, and I was able to get a mostly relaxed and collected canter. Whew!

The next day, I showed up to the barn still a bit sore from the day before (holding back the May freight train was a workout!). Of course, as soon as I tacked up, the carriage horse went out to get hooked to his trailer… cool. I went out and got on before they got out there, and another rider lamented that if the carriage came into the ring, she would probably end her ride.

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Nope. No Way. Not doing that. It was one of the first 50 degree days with sunshine in a while. I didn’t have time to stop my ride and pick it up again. We were riding through this.

Luckily, May ended up being a lot more relaxed about the carriage this time around. Not totally relaxed, but at least, totally rideable. In fact, I ended up loping over a few fences with her, all of which she took quietly and out of stride. Good girl!

Hopefully, we can get a real jump school in soon. Has your horse ever seen a carriage? Or have there been any majorly “spooky” things you have had to school your horse through at home?