Horse Jobs I Wish Could Support My Horse Habit

If wishes were horses… am I right? There is this wonderful idea that seems super prevalent in America that you should “do something you are passionate about.” Honestly, I think such an idea is contributing to the existential crises that most of us 20 – 30 something’s find ourselves in. (I cannot speak for anyone past the age of 30, but my gut feeling is, this may also be true.) Since the age of 14, I have tried to come up with viable ways to WORK at something involving horses while making enough money to AFFORD to own a horse. See what I have come up with:

Professional Horse Shopper

You may laugh because I fully admit that I hate horse shopping. In fact, I didn’t really truly shop when I bought May. Full Story Here. HOWEVER, I really love HELPING other people shop for horses. Just ask a few of my various friends who I have offered more help to then they really want.

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This makes me an expert, right?

I am sure there is a service for the ULTRA rich that involves doing this. It probably also involved connections with top AA show barns, connections in Europe, the ability to speak multiple languages, and probably the willingness to hop on a horse first. Most of which, I do not have and cannot do. (Although, I used to be able to carry a conversation in German).

Plus, my specialty is not in spending 6 figures on anything… other than a house. It is far more in the “find a great bargain at the bottom of dreamhorse where there are no pictures and the use of proper English is questionable.” The problem with this part of the market is, there is rarely extra money for a SUPER thorough PPE… and there definitely isn’t money outside of paying a trainer to find said 4-figure horse.

Independent Saddle Fitter

Let’s be honest here. There is a severe need for independent saddle fitters in the U.S. I live in one of the horse capitals of America (arguably the world), and I have not been able to find a single, really WELL TRAINED, independent saddle fitter.

I looked into it once, and I found out why. It is expensive, time consuming, and risky to become an independent saddle fitter. To really LEARN it, you have to apprentice with someone. Good luck finding a well trained, independent saddle fitter near you to learn from, AND I can almost guarantee you that their margins aren’t good enough to pay an apprentice. So you’d really have to be pretty independently wealthy to go down thispath.

Of course, one could try to supplement their income by buying and selling saddles. But if you make 20% off of each saddle sale (a bit low, but around what I think the service is actually worth), and you sell 4 $1,000 saddles a week. (which is probably too high a rate). You are only making $800 a month… Before taxes. So maybe enough for board after taxes?

Also, let’s say the average saddle fitter charges $300 to come and fit your horse. Just minor flocking or to provide a full consult with wither tracings etc. If you live in a horse-dense area like Louisville, you are probably driving 50 miles a day. In a van, so 15 miles to the gallon? You have to buy that truck too… so that’s an expense. Building good will with trainers and clients probably means a few free or discounted emergency calls. Advertising… a website… equipment… The numbers really don’t add up.

Equestrian Clothing Brand Owner

Workwear

Equestrian Clothing Brands are pretty much everywhere. As riders, we are so amazingly lucky that our sport has finally moved beyond tan breeches, black boots, and polo shirts. While Athleisure has turned yoga clothes into work clothes (in some companies), horse riding gear hasn’t quite gotten that far. How nice would it be to have clothes that can go from boardroom to saddle? (even if the elements of the barn wouldn’t allow you to go from saddle to boardroom without some freshening up)

EVEN BETTER, how about clothes that could do this and come in sizes greater than L or a 30 inch waist.

Classic silhouettes, timeless styles, affordable price point. Face it, when is the last time you spent +$100 on work pants? How about riding pants? How about Riding Pants You could WEAR TO WORK?

Full Time Blogger

This is probably hilarious to most of you reading this blog. I am not someone who has an incredible platform for blogging. I just have a really cute horse and enjoying being a part of the equi-blogging community. I enjoy talking about my horse and horses in general to literally anyone who will listen.

However, I like having my point of view, my voice. I think it is important to talk from a relatable place of being an Adult Amateur with a full time job, a husband, and limited resources. And let’s face it, there is no one banging down my door wishing I would write for them about short, fat, yellow horses. I do own the domain mayaswellevent.com, and it will, one day, be it’s own webpage. But even then, it will be pocket change. I will keep doing it though because I have really enjoyed the journey.

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What about you? If you could trade your traditional 9-5 for a horsey job, what would you do?

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AEC Live – How to Watch

Just an FYI that AEC (American Evening Champtionships) started yesterday. You can watch the whole event FOR FREE at Ride On Video.

Live Scores/Times are available here: Startbox Scoring

Below is the broadcasting schedule, all times are in MDT.

MAIN CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31st
CROSS COUNTRY

Training 8:30AM – 11:55AM
Preliminary 12:25PM – 2:35PM
Intermediate 3:00PM – 3:40PM
Advanced 4:10PM – 4:55PM

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
SHOW JUMPING

Training Horse 8:30AM – 8:50AM
Jr. Training 9:10AM – 9:50AM
Training Amateur 10:30AM – 11:10AM
Training Rider 11:30AM – 12:05PM
Preliminary Horse 1:00PM – 1:50PM
Jr./Y.R. Preliminary 2:10PM – 2:35PM
Preliminary Amateur 3:20PM – 3:45PM
Preliminary Rider 4:00PM – 4:10PM
Intermediate 5:00PM – 5:25PM
Advanced 6:30PM – 6:50PM

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd
SHOW JUMPING

Novice Horse 8:00AM – 8:25AM
Jr. Novice 8:35AM – 9:15AM
Novice Amateur 10:00AM – 10:55AM
Novice Rider 11:05AM – 11:55AM
Beg. Novice Horse 12:45PM – 1:05PM
Jr. Beg. Novice 1:15PM – 2:15PM
Beg. Novice Amateur 3:00PM – 3:50PM
Beg. Novice Rider 4:05PM – 4:40PM

SECOND CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
CROSS COUNTRY

Novice 8:00AM – 12:20PM
Beg. Novice 12:40PM – 4:55PM
Introductory 5:15PM – 5:50PM

THIRD CHANNEL
(Watch Live Now)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1st
SHOW JUMPING

Festival Training 12:15PM – 1:15PM
Festival Preliminary 2:30PM – 2:50PM

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd
SHOW JUMPING

Festival Novice A 9:00AM – 9:40AM
Festival Novice B 9:55AM –  10:35AM
Festival Beg. Novice A 11:45AM – 12:25PM
Festival Beg. Novice B 12:40PM – 1:20PM
Festival Introductory 2:10PM – 2:50PM

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I have no rights to any of this. All broadcasts are the property of Ride On Video LLC.
©2018 Ride On Video LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Any unauthorized reproduction if this broadcast is strictly prohibited by law.

Goals Wrap Up & Cuteness

After a week of mostly lazy riding and reflecting on our horse trial, I think I have gotten enough distance from ER MAH GAWD I LOOOOVE my PONY to actually review the goals I had set ahead of time. (Honestly though, OMG I LOVE HER.)

Dressage Goal: Score below a 35

Done! We scored a 29, which is higher then the 24.2 we got at our last horse trail. Again though, that was from a soft judge, in an outdoor arena, and for a test we had done a few times before. I am super happy about the 29, and the consistent 7s & 7.5s in the collectives.

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Show Jumping Goal: Ride Forward!

Is anyone surprised that riding forward led to a clear round? Anyone? How about any of my current and past trainers that have been telling me to do this for YEARS? Nope. Didn’t think so. We definitely had some bobbles and less-than-ideal distances, but since we were riding forward, May was easily able to sort through things.

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Cross Country Goal: School the Water

The water was way more spooky then I was expecting. Half in the shade, deeper than expected, a bit of algae, and surrounded by other jumps that made it feel a bit claustrophobic. I kept my leg on, and we went into it without incurring penalties. May got lots of pats and love (and then tried to walk into the drain, and I had to hustle her away from it).

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Overall Goals:

  • No Negative Self Talk: SUCCESS. Created a plan for the water and SJ with my trainer and executed without hesitation.
  • Utilize visualization: I probably rode through the SJ course in my mind about 5 times. Did it go exactly as well as my visualized course? Nope. But it definitely helped me stay focused on what mattered (Balance, pace, line instead of the perfect distance)
  • Stay Positive: This was easy because each phase went really well. It was a long day, but an unbelievably fun one.

And the Cuteness

One of the girl’s from my barn was featured in Eventing Nation for her adorable helmet cam footage. Before her round, I helped her put on her new galloping boots. During her round, you can hear the whole team cheering her on. Mind you, her round went at nearly 4PM, after we had all been at the show since about 8AM. Did that matter for the riders, parents, and people that came to help? Nope, and that is part of what makes eventing so much fun.

I thought May’s ears were too cute to handle, but this takes it to a whole other level.

The Video

Eventing Nation Article

Is there anything better then a girl and her pony?

Return to XC

Last Wednesday, I received a text from my trainer, “Thinking about going XC schooling on Friday afternoon. Are you interested?”

Excuse me? Interested? I was DYING to go. My immediate response was, “I’d love to!” Cue panic. See, I work 8 – 5, M-F, and I really don’t have extra vacation days sitting around this year for various reasons. Luckily, it was Derby week, and I live in Louisville, KY. As a result, the whole city shuts down at around 12PM on the Friday before Derby; however, I work at a company that is heavily tied to the stock market, which DOES NOT close on Oaks Day.

So what does a still-pony-crazy, 20-something do? She slyly asks her boss and the rest of their team what their Friday plans were (after she had already committed to the XC schooling with her trainer). Luckily, everyone seemed to have plans to either take Friday off or leave around lunchtime. Woohoo!

So on 1PM on Friday, I packed up my bags, changed into some of my nicer riding clothes in the bathroom, and hopped in the car on a mad dash to the barn. I got about halfway there before the thought of, “I should really eat” popped into my head. A quick stop at a nice gas station, 1 protein bar, and 1 giant bottle of water later, and I was off again! So eager in fact that I was at the barn about an hour before anyone else would be ready to go. Oh well, May could use the extra grooming time to try and get MORE HAIR off of her.

But then, of course,  my mind wandered, as I have never actually trailered off the property with my current trainer. Would she want May’s saddle on for the 3 minute drive? (no joke, that’s how far we were going) Should she wear her XC boots for the trip? Should I used the lead rope with a chain or without one? Etc. Etc. Etc. Turns out, I don’t really think my trainer cares much, as long as I have some kind of plan and logic. Ultimately, May shipped sans-saddle, but with boots.

When we arrived at the XC venue, I had another thought. My horse hasn’t been off the property since we moved there more than a year and a half ago. Would she be a total beast while I was trying to get ready? Nope. She was perfect. She hung out by the back of my SUV, eating grass while I tacked up. She even stood mostly still to let me get on. Then, she pranced her way towards the XC jumps.

We started at the water, an old nemesis of ours. The water was big and dark with whatever grows in those ponds. I put my leg on. I kept my eyes up… and May wandered into the water as if she has never had a problem with it… Cool horse. Real Cool. We splashed around a bit, as our XC partners for the day were my trainer on a thoroughbred and another boarder on her standardbred. Neither of those horses had ever gone XC schooling before. After splashing a bit, my trainer walked her horse out of the water and over one of the smallest log I had ever seen. It looked fun, so we followed.

We then headed to the main field with jumps, and we walked over a few more really boring logs. My trainer explained that, for the less experienced horses, we didn’t want to make XC a big deal. It should just be like trail riding with things in the way that you go over. May and I hung out a bit, while they continued to familiarize themselves with the itty bitty logs.

 

Then, my trainer told me it was my turn. She immediately gave us a small course of 4 jumps. We started at the bottom of a hill, did two jumps, climbed up the hill, jumped a jump, then proceeded on mostly flat ground to the last jump. Feedback of the day? Don’t throw your body with your horse. Let the horse come up to you. I am not sure I mastered it at all the whole day.

We ended up adding the red house to the mix, a small combination (that was set for a nothing distance, and then two slightly larger green houses (which were actually set to a real 4 stride line. May didn’t look at anything, took me to each jump, and cantered politely in-between fences. The biggest feedback was to try and get May’s balance back WAY before the jump, like 8 – 10 strides. This way, I could get the balance back and then allow up to the fences, instead of getting into a fight at the base. I think it worked!

 

We only did it a couple of times as the big hills took a lot out of May, and the whole point was to just have a positive experience. We walked around a lot while the other riders put together a course with some smaller jumps and easier terrain questions. Once everyone was feeling especially confident, we went on a long trot to the ditches. Now, this venue is great because it has the baby-ist of baby ditches. I mean, this thing is about 12″ wide and 12″ deep. I pointed May at it, not making a big deal about it, kept the eyes up, my hands forward, and my leg on.

What did May do? She stepped in it. Just very politely, down into the ditch, and then up out of the ditch. My trainer just stared at me for a second and then said, “well, that’s not really right.” We tried again, with more leg, and she stepped over it. I even popped over the larger ditch a few times. We might have 99 problems, but a ditch ain’t one!

 

Overall, I was over the moon with Ms. May. She, as usually, was the exact same horse off the property as she is at home. Have you been able to get off the farm and do anything fun lately?

3 Years With The Corgi Horse

Three years ago, my trainer and I drove to PA with one horse in the trailer. He was tall, handsome, and as athletic as I could ever need. We returned with a short, kind of strangely built, corgi horse (and me with a lighter wallet).

It was probably a trade that made no sense. My old horse was easily jumping around Novice courses. He was brave, flashy, and even registered, but our relationship was in tatters. I had very few rides that didn’t end in tears, and he was just as miserable.

May (then known as Krimpet aka Too Many Cupcakes) was about as green as any horse I had ever ridden. Steering was optional, rhythm didn’t exist, and we needed about 20 – 30 trot steps to get the canter. However, she was clearly brave, smart, and pretty unflappable. In the end, that was all I needed. I loaded her into the trailer, shrugged at my trainer, and said, “If it doesn’t work out, someone will want her as a trail horse.” In fact, the below was the best pics we could get of her the first day:

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It’s been three years, and I can pretty confidently say that it worked out. (And I’ve gotten a lot better at photographing her)

Blog Hop: What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know

Big thanks for Olivia for some blogspiration. She recently posted this topic on her blog, and I just had to tackle the idea!

Apparently, I am having a bit of a throwback week this week. (sorry, not sorry). I am going to go back a few years, to just before I bought my first horse. Let’s call it, “5 things I didn’t know I didn’t know about owning a horse”.

1. This is your responsibility only.

This one seems obvious right? You’re buying a horse and that horse is your responsibility.  However, it really comes down to how it is YOUR responsibility ONLY. Your trainer, barn manager, and friends may all be incredible resources for you on this journey, but this horse’s training, happiness, welfare, and health all fall on your shoulders. Be ready to educate yourself beyond your core group.

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2. You will feel guilty, and that is ok.

Shocking to no one, owning a horse is expensive. Owning a horse you want to train and compete is VERY expensive. I have always made enough money to support my horse habit, and I have always responsibly reined back my expectations for myself and my horse when funding just didn’t cover my goals. However, it is still expensive. Even spending the bare minimum, I still often feel guilt. I should be riding more, doing more, succeeding more.

Horses don’t work that way though. Just enjoy what you are doing, make sure you aren’t spending beyond your  means, and remember that a horse doesn’t care if it has the newest, fanciest anything. She really just wants a carrot.

3. You will fail, and it will make you better.

Failure in horse ownership takes so many paths. I have failed to prepare my horse properly for a competition. I have failed to recognize the signs of ulcers. I have failed to call the vet immediately for an injury that I thought was minor that turned out to need more extensive help. I even failed to make my first horse into what I hoped he would be. Now, however, I am a more educated horse owner, rider, and trainer, and every horse I touch is better off because of it.

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4. You will succeed.

I recently downloaded a mood tracker on my cell phone. I wanted a better sense of what impacts my moods (food, caffeine, hormones, etc.). Most of my ratings hang out in the middle of the scale, kind of like a Dressage test. There are lots of 5’s and 6’s and 7’s, even the occasional 4. However, after my first lesson of the season, I pulled out a 10. I was beyond myself. I called my husband just to word vomit to him all the amazing things I did with my horse in 28 minutes. I get the same high after a great horse trial and, sometimes, even after that perfect Dressage transition.

5. Ignore the Rail birds

Rail birds take all forms. They are the catty teenagers (and adults!) on the sidelines at show that feel the need to comment on your troubles. (Fun fact, it is not fun to watch the video after a rough SJ round and hear this commentary in the background.) There are friends and trainers that will try to put you into a box surrounded by what you “should” and “should not” do. There are COUNTLESS people on the internet that will love to critique your position, horse, tack, weight, and more. These people don’t matter. The beauty of riding, and eventing in general, is that this is a sport of you and your horse. Buy the horse you want to ride everyday, and then go out and ride it whenever you can.

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After 6 years of horse ownership, I have grown a ridiculous amount, and I know I still have so much to learn. What about you? Do you have any advice for yourself prehorse ownership?

Birthday Lesson!

So yesterday was my birthday, so I am not going to apologize for the lack of media here (although, that should be changing soon!). It was one of those birthday that just happens between the time you can legally drink and the symbolic “decade” birthdays. Solidly out of my Mid-Twenties though and into my Late-Twenties. As an extra special surprise, I got a text from my trainer on Monday morning. All it said was, “Lesson at 6:30 on Tuesday? Jump? :-D”

Obviously, I answered with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” (followed by about a million smiley faced). Then, I sort of panicked. See, May and I have only kind of loped around fences super casually, and I didn’t get the weekend at all to prepare. Saturday we did some long and stretchy stuff, and Sunday we did some walking.

My “crop circles” from Saturday. Three 20M circles connecting. Love using this to get stretchyness and relaxation. 

We also have only had 3(?) jumping lessons with this trainer over the course of the year and a half I have been at this barn. The last jump lesson was a year ago. (I am not counting the impromptu lesson we had where I jumped around tiny jumps in my dressage saddle… but I guess I could.)

Most of my trainer’s clientele are either actively competing or planning on competing at the Training/Prelim levels this year, so sometimes, she cranks the jumps up. So, in a totally normal reaction to stress, I polished my boots up, wiped my saddle down before my lesson, and worried about having forgotten to grab a clean white pad to replace my teal, fuzzy, and now very hairy saddle pad. (I don’t think my trainer cares about any of this in reality, but I needed to do something to “prepare.”)

I got on about 20  minutes before my lesson to let us warm up before the lesson started. Unlike trainers of my past, my current trainer likes to get right into jumping or Dressage or whatever it is we are working on that day, so it is best to be warmed up before we get started (unless we are working on building or fixing a specific warm up routine for whatever reason).

While I was warming up, another lesson was going on. This woman at my barn competes Saddlebreds in the breed competitions, but she has fallen in love in eventing and is retraining her REALLY successful Saddlebred mare to be an eventer. I think this was one of their first jumping lessons, and let me tell you, that girl has hops! My trainer was laughing about the variety of horses in her barn, going from training a Saddlebred to my little draft cross mare. It makes it fun and interesting, and it shows just how many tools she has in her tool kit.

Onto my actual lesson! Below was the general set up of the arena. There were two outside lines that aren’t shown on the below, but we didn’t jump them, so I didn’t include them. I think it’s busy enough as is!

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So where did we start? Well, we started with my trainer explaining that this would be a gymnastic-type lesson to see where we’re at. Works for me!

We started with trotting that single orange pole at the top. Literally. One pole on the ground, at the trot. My trainer had me establish rhythm and had me focus on NOT pushing May past her rhythm, which was actually a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. We ended up having to do this twice, each direction, to get it right. Then, we moved to the set of three, teal, poles next to it. Each of these were raised on one side in an alternating fashion.

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Like this, but slightly higher on the raised sides. (not my photo, full credit and a good video here)

Again, the focus was keeping the rhythm even and a little slow. To get the power and push from behind without the horse trying to run through the exercise. Thanks to the first exercise, this one was pretty easy. We got it quickly, and were able to move on.

Tired jumping pony. (really liking this bit btw)

We moved onto the “Circle of Love”, which is the circle of blue jumps and blue cones in the above diagram. (my trainer REFUSES to call it the Circle of Death). Either way, it was a 20M circle with 4 jumps, and 4 sets of cones. At first, she only had 2 of the jumps up, but we were able to do that with absolutely no problem, so she made it up to all 4 jumps after 1 circle. Moral of this story? I do not need to throw my body over fences, and I need to be more comfortable with correcting quickly after a fence. I would say the first time through in each direction was rough, but once I got over the idea of letting May lift me out of the tack instead of throwing my body around, it got a lot easier.

My trainer explained that the goal of an exercise like that would be to first be able to get through the exercise comfortable in both direction. Then, to get the same number of strides between each fence. Once that is established, then you can make it more difficult by going outside the cones and adding 1 additional stride between each fine, and then weaving inside the cones and getting 1 fewer stride between each fence. She said this is something you would build over time, and wasn’t something we should try to drill into the horse in a single session.

She was pretty impressed with how quickly we figured it out, and was even more impressed with the fact that May wasn’t huffing and puffing after it. Fitness is working! (for her… this was the hardest I had worked in the saddle in a while, and I was feeling it!)

So what was next??

Next was an exercise in adjust-ability. We moved onto the three purple poles in a straight line down the middle of the arena. Not sure if any of you remember an earlier post, but I had jumped through these in a super open 3 to try and jump from a more open stride. Yeah… not the focus of this lesson. I was told to jump in and just let it happen in 4. We did that once in each direction, and then my trainer told me to do each of them in 5.

Now, May now knew that these were a 4, and turning an open 3 into a 5 is a pretty big ask from the big lady. The first time in, she blew off my half halt before the first fence, blew it off between the first and second fence, and my trainer told me to halt before the last fence. We did, and then we tried again. It continued to be REALLY difficult for her, and there was a told of dramatic head throwing. However, she was completely capable of doing it. For my part, I had to think of getting a real Dressage-Like canter. I mean, I was visualizing the canter I need to get a solid leg yield across a diagonal type of Dressage canter. I needed to keep May really high through the poll and shoulders. I don’t think I have ever asked this horse to collect her canter this much, and you know what, I should be. A couple of times, we close momentum and ended up in the trot, but I just circled and asked again. If she went through the jumps correctly, she got to canter on a more forward stride and looser rein as a reward.

So how do you build on that? You jump a very technical course with very low jumps!

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We were instruction to come down the purple line of jumps in a 5 to a 4, go around the 9 o’clock jump on the circle of love, go between the cones, jump the 6 o’clock jump on the circle of love, go through the next set of cones. Then, we had to complete the S patter, by jumping the gray diagonal jump, turn to jump the last 2 jumps of the purple pattern in a 4, and then make a right turn to jump the oxer. After the oxer, we had to keep our line to fit through the super tight opening between the middle purple jump and the teal, raise poles.

So how did it go? Well, the first time, I wasn’t able to get the 5 to the 4. I didn’t push May forward over the second jump, and we just didn’t have the power to get 4, so we started again, and we nailed it. I came around to jump 4, which she jumped a bit big, which left us big to jump 5… and then I promptly forgot where I was going. My trainer told me, “I knew you forgot because you were looking at the wrong end of the arena.” whoops!

You can see the narrow path we had to take here. 

We restarted at jump 4, since May seemed to really understand the purple exercise. I rocked her back for jump 4, kept the bouncy canter for jump 5, demolished jump 6, cross cantered to jump 7, got my balance back around the corner, and jumped 8 beautifully before easily keeping our line through the small opening before ending our course. Was it pretty? Nope. That’s why you do these types of things with small jumps.

We decided to end on that note. Sure, the 4,5,6,7 line could’ve been cleaned up a bit, but we kept our rhythm and our line, which was the whole point. Since she jumped 8 so well, we through that was a great note to end on.

Another pic of that square oxer at the end. The purple and teal jumps in this photo are the purple jumps from my diagram. The circle of love was the same height. 

And today? I am so sore! hahaha. Can’t wait for the next lesson! (we also might have put a local schooling horse trial on the calendar for next month. Stay tuned!)

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.

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.

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 🙂

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.

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#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.

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