I wish I had a more elegant title to this post, but this is basically where I am at. Saturday ended up being a decent day weather wise. Sure, it was damp and in the 40s, but it wasn’t actively raining. So I was able to ride in the outdoor. All good things. My plan was to put in a Dressage ride with a focus on connection and bending since May was coming off of back to back jump lessons. (by back to back, I mean lessons on Tuesday and Thursday but no flat ride in between)
The ride started out well. I carried a crop, just in case I needed to reinforce the leg aid, but she was in front of my leg and even a bit spicy. No big deal. We did a lot of walk/halt/walk transitions before stepping into the trot. When we moved into the trot, she threw her right shoulder into my right leg to come off the connection and fling her head up in the transition. UGH.
I brought her back to the walk and tried again. Same result. I halted and asked her to move her right shoulder around in a turn on the haunches. Nope. Nope. Nope. She did not need to do these things, she is a JUMP HORSE now. NOT a DRESSAGE horse. (These pics disagree)
MMMmmmmk. Let’s break it down further. Walk on a small circle and bend her neck around the circle. NOPE. She flung her head up and threw her whole body to the outside, stumbling sideways and flinging her tongue out of her mouth.
Alright, I am thinking… maybe this is physical. Maybe she is pretty sore and stiff from the jump lessons and bending her neck hurts. (Anyone else immediately fall down this rabbit hole?) Then, she saw a horse being ridden over across the field from the other barn. And She Lost Her Mind.
Suddenly, she could bend all the way around to the right, while cantering, to try and see the horse behind her. Any kind of half halt was met with head flinging and tongue wagging. It was 45 minutes of me just trying to get SOME kind of response from her so that I could end on a good note. I ended up just riding her super straight and doing some collected/extended transitions in the trot (where to be honest, she had some moments of actual suspension).
Unfortunately, I still got off feeling frustrated and annoyed. I gave May a proper cool down, put some thrush stuff in her feet (standing in the mud at the hay bale for hours on end is a great recipe for thrush), and used from probios cookies to do some stretches JUST IN CASE.
However, it is one thing to have a really bad ride and have to go back to basics consistently with a horse that has talent. It is another to do it with a horse that is basically a BN horse AND has been a BN horse for 3 years.
I know other people have worse rides. Rides that are genuinely dangerous. This ride wasn’t dangerous. It was just like… (trying to find a not super crude thing to write here)…. it was like writing a post where every time you finished a paragraph, it totally disappears on you.
I think May got Sunday off, so today will be the follow up ride to Saturday. Then, my half leaser is out of town for the holidays, so I have her to myself for a while… and some extra time to actually ride. Maybe the weather will hold out, and we can go on a hack. BUT as Michele knows… it will probably rain.
Anyone else just want to turn their horse out into a field for the rest of winter and hope that Spring is better? (Also, gave up on the new WP editor and went back to the classic. Best decision EVER)
It had been MONTHS since my last jumping lesson. Actually, I just looked back and… Yup. It has been FOUR MONTHS… which makes it the fourth jumping lesson of 2018. BUT that also means that I got TWICE as many jumping lesson in during 2018 than I did in 2017. That counts as improvement, right?
I was totally inspired to take this lesson after watching a friend of mine tackle this exercise a week earlier. However, I am sure no one is surprised to find out that thing were a bit rough around the edges. (Also, apologies but the lesson was at night, under the lights, in the cold, and I didn’t want to expose the helmet cam to all of that… so there’s no media)
After warming up, we started trotting through a fan of poles at the end of the ring. It was similar to the exercise below, but there were four poles and they were just on the ground.
I had a lot of trouble to this going to the left. May really wanted to fall out through her right shoulder, and I felt like I couldn’t quite keep it in the line I wanted. Definitely something to work on. The canter was somewhat better than the trot, but May kept wanting to jam in an extra step before the last pole (keep this in mind).
Going to the right, the exercise was a lot easier, because all I had to do was regulate how fast her right shoulder came around… a lot easier than trying to pull the right shoulder in and around.
Next, we started setting the groundwork for the main course. This:
To get May moving forward and get me riding a line (the whole purpose of the above set up), we started with creating a circle from the yellow vertical to the green. In both directions, I messed up either my line or my rhythm the first time, but totally nailed it the second, so we didn’t spend much time on this.
Then we moved onto the full exercise. The verticals are set exactly 4 strides to the placement poles and the placement poles are one stride from the oxer, so as long as you take a fairly direct line but jump all the elements straight, it is 5 strides from each vertical to the oxer and the oxer to each vertical.
A couple more notes about what makes this a bit unique. Our ring is not 100% flat. It angles slightly towards the barn, which means that coming towards the barn things are easier than going away from it. This totally becomes relevant, I promise.
NT tells me that I am most likely going to get a forward 6 to the fences and trying for the 5 will likely leave us too unbalanced to do the exercise correctly. Doing 7 will either leave us dead in the water or on too wide a line. I nod, and then immediately tell her that I feel nervous. She gives me a funny look.
Our first course went in this order: Green, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow. I ride the green perfectly with a great pace… Then I take a feel coming towards the oxer, and May adds an extra stride. This means we are kind of dead in the water and we add again to the red… BLAH. I kick on, but the orange and yellow kind of go the same way. NT notes that she liked my pace coming in, but I took my foot off the pedal once I had to actually jump and turn. She’s not wrong.
We do it again. The Green, Blue, Red combination goes REALLY well, and I am feeling good. BUT remember that the ring slopes down in that direction… I ride the Orange pretty well… and then don’t kick enough towards the oxer. It’s a bit of a stretch for May to get over the placement pole, and instead of stretching AGAIN over the low, wide oxer, she shoves in an extra stride… takes down most of the oxer… I do manage to kick on and get 7 or 8 strides to the Yellow, so we finish… but not in great form. The oxer gets rebuilt, but I can almost feel May losing a bit of confidence here. I am DETERMINED to give her a positive ride.
We change up the course a bit to keep May from anticipating where we are going. It was SUPPOSED to be Yellow, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow. Buuuuut I forgot where I was going at the end, and I end up doing Yellow, Blue, Red, Orange, Blue, Green.
Why do I forget where I am going? That’s right, because I still can’t get the distance from the Orange to the Blue to work out properly. I close my leg, but May keeps giving me this response like “this is as forward as I will go.” I am not sure if I am having trouble committing, or if she is just used to a different ride from my half leaser, but either way, she is going forward… but she is not in front of my leg.
“Gallop in a bit like you’re going XC this time.” I nod. I go. I gallop. I jump the orange. I get four PERFECT strides to the placement pole. I close my leg on the fifth stride. The distance and pace are REALLY good. I lean… and May JAMS in an extra stride and jumps pretty much straight in the air. I get thrown up IN FRONT of my saddle and on her neck. My thought? “I can’t afford a new helmet right now.”
Luckily, May is still my partner in this whole thing, and she flings her head up, throwing me mostly back into the saddle. I scramble my way back and manage to get her stopped before she carried me over the green. Everyone was very impressed with my save, but I was fully freaked out. May has always been the horse that as long as I have a decent pace, she will safely get us to the other side of the jump. That decision though, was not the safe decision. Honestly, I am still kind of freaked out by it.*
My trainer confirms that everything looked good, but May decided that she needed to make the final decision on that one. Again, a lot of this probably comes back to the fact that it has been 4 months since we had a jumping lesson and this set up was really difficult, but she had really just not been fully responding to my leg all night. I’m not sure who suggested it, but my trainer ran back to the barn to grab me a longer jump crop. Something I could reinforce my leg aid without taking my hands off the reins.
To test the gas pedal, we went back to the second exercise of just circling from Yellow to Green. It was way better, and I felt like she wasn’t sucking back behind my leg to assess each jump. So we adjusted the exercise again:
As you can see, we were now starting on the line I was having the most difficulty with. ALL I WANTED was to get the first line right. We jumped in, I rode forward, we got 6! I turned to the green. Another 6! I rode forward to 4. Never got straight to it… and got down that line in 5…. Yup, definitely more in front of my leg this time. However, doing the five put us way too off balance for the Orange, so I had to bend it out a bit and I got 7. But it was SO MUCH better with the crop in my hand. May was taking me to the fences again, and I felt like we found our usual groove. She puffed herself up and pranced back to the middle of the ring.
NT was also MUCH happier with that performance. For our last course, she just wanted me to do just the Yellow, Blue, Orange line to fix those distance, and then circle back through the fan exercise we had started the day with. (I think she was checking my breaks and balance)
Either way, we nailed the bending line, and May came right back to a perfect dressagey-canter to bounce through the poles and then halted easily to end our ride.
*I am going to add a note here. May HAS done similar things before when she loses confidence in me. The below video from Kent is a perfect example. After the combination, May was just DONE saving me, so we had a run out. Once I rode better, she went perfectly again.
Today? I am sore and still feeling a bit back on the heels from the experience. BUT I am super proud of the fact that I didn’t give up in this lesson, and I didn’t decide it was just too hard for us. I kept riding, and I ended the lesson with a much more confident and trusting horse than I started with… even if things got REALLY messy in the interim. I will probably dissect my feelings a bit more in my next post. Until then, have you ever had a lesson that had to hit a pretty low LOW point before ending great?
I have a confession to make. A lot of reviews don’t “do it” for me. I love seeing how everyone feels about how a product performs, feels, fits, etc., but I often have the nagging sensation in the back of my head saying, “well, how is it going to look after YEARS of abuse?” Because, when it comes to where I am investing my very limited budget of horse stuff, that is where I want to put my dollars. In the things that last.
SO – here is a review of a couple of bridles that I have now owned for YEARS.
Dover Figure Eight Bridle
Seriously, I bought a bridle from Dover… at least 5 years ago. I was looking for a sub $200 bridle with a figure eight and a mono crown. I had a nunn-finer bridle that I really liked, but it wasn’t a figure eight, and it really as a reddish-brown color. I wanted CHOCOLATE.
This bridle fit the bill. My original impressions included the sheepskin on the middle of the figure 8 being WAY TOO FLUFFY. I always had plans to trim it, but to be honest, I was too afraid of making it look worse. When I dabbled in some hunter/eq classes, I ended up buying the matching fancy stitched browband and crank noseband for this bridle. It definitely wasn’t the same price as the bridle when I bought it… Link here
So how is it 5+ years later?
Clearly, I still really like it. It is in everyday rotation at the barn, and it gets polished up and brought along for SJ and XC at horse trials. Is the leather as buttery soft as the Vespucci bridles I remember from 20 years ago? Nope. It has held up really well, but instead of softening, a lot of the leather has kind of wrinkled into position.
While it hasn’t started cracking or anything like that, I do feel the leather just might be, after all this time, and all the use, coming towards the end of its useful life.
Harwich Padded Dressage Bridle by SmartPak
I guess they don’t really make the same bridle anymore, so this might just be commentary on quality and all that. This bridle was a pretty serious impulse buy. I had bought a Dressage saddle, and I wanted a bridle that would match. (It was also part of the same order as a girth and leathers… neither of which I use anymore.)
Either way, this bridle has been in and out of rotation since February of 2015, so I think I have used it enough to have some thoughts.
1 – The reins are HORRIFIC. I mean HORRIFIC. I ended up putting the Micklem rains on this bridle after getting that bridle.
2 – The leather quality is crap too. Sorry. Not Sorry. They must have rubbed this thing in motor oil in the photo on the website, because it does not clean up like that.
3 – I still kind of use it. This bridle is… somewhere. It makes it into the rotation when I need a third bridle for some reason. (i.e. I want to put a happy mouth in May’s mouth when the temp dips super low, but I don’t feel like changing out my main bridles). I should probably sell it, but it doesn’t seem worth the effort for the $50 it might be worth.
This bridle was a gift, and I have had it two years. That also makes it the newest bridle in my rotation. It is also the most expensive.
The most hilarious part of this bridle is not the amazing, awesomeness that is the anatomical benefits to the horse. Honestly, I am not sure how much May really cares. I might be able to convince myself that she’s a touch more steady in this bridle vs. the figure 8 or traditional bridle with a flash. However, I do not think it is a $200 difference, so to me, that’s mostly irrelevant.
The reason I really like this bridle? It sits in such a different place on her face that it is perfect when she gets any rubs from her muzzle. There it is. Right there. The best part of this is that it keeps me from worrying about the bridle rubbing in the same place as her muzzle.
As for quality, it is a nice bridle that looks nice and, I think, flatters May’s face pretty well. As mentioned above, I did upgrade the reins, and I actually use thinline reins on it now. Would I buy it again? Not sure. I am happy with it, but there are places that I wish it fit just a SMIDGE better, and it isn’t that adjustable. There are so many options on the market now for anatomical bridles, and I bet there is something out there that would fit better.
What about you? Any bridles that you have had a long time and are still in love with?
THeSe REVIEWs are NOT SPONSORED, AND THE ITEMS DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW WERE PURCHASED BY ME or a FAMILY member WITH our OWN MONEY.
We are halfway through No Stirrup November. Posts have been rolling in of various bloggers and their sore muscles, strength progress, and just general struggles. Me? I have ridden without stirrups… twice? I think?
Now this hasn’t been due to pure apathy about No Stirrup November. It more has to do with life, weather, and daylight savings. Prior to daylight savings, I was able to round up a couple of no stirrup rides after work. Now, however, riding during the week means riding in the dark under lights.
While May isn’t bad or spooky under the lights and in the cold, she is definitely not her typical self. On top of that… my winter breeches are SLICK (any recommendations here?). To add insult to injury, the weather has just been plain nasty and my schedule has made it very difficult to get out to the barn.
I’m not giving up though. Failure only really happens when you give up on something (or it kills you… whatevs). So I am determined to continue to drop those stirrups all winter and come back even stronger in the Spring! (maybe, one day, even with new media) Maybe tomorrow I will even get my first weekend ride in since… forever ago.
One thing has been going really well though. Since joining the gym last week, me and my friend have made it to 3 classes: 2 spin classes and something that I can only describe as some kind of hellish combination of yoga, pilates, and barre. Even after a bath last night, I am INCREDIBLY sore, but it feels good to keep my body moving even when I can’t make it to the gym.
What about you? Have you been able to take advantage of No Stirrup November?
Not a lot going on so far this week, so Amanda’s 25 Questions blog hop came at the absolute best time. Let’s get into it!
Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?
I dont think there has ever been a question of me doing anything else. Sure, I played soccer until high school and then a bit for fun in college. I played softball until middle school… I am sure I played a bunch of other random sports in between. (does marching band count?) However, I have always needed horses to keep me sane. Just ask the hubs.
What was your riding “career” like as a kid?
I guess my “kid” time can be broken into my experience at two different barns. One was a small barn, under a dozen horses. I did everything there from teach at summer camp to riding potential lesson horses. All the rules were broken when we hopped on horses straight off a truck from Mexico and jumped them over barrels in a round pen. Seriously…
I showed welsh ponies and cobs as a young jr. Typically they were really young 3 – 5. I helped break one or two of them. One I have kept tabs on, and he has gone on to show 3rd level dressage. Cool dude. One day, I will get myself a cob/thoroughbred or warmblood cross. If wishes were horses.
In my later teens, I rode at a hunter jumper barn. I went to exactly one A rated show, but I groomed at helped out at some of New York’s most classic h/j venues: HITS, Old Salem, etc. I still rode anything under the sun, but definitely also developed all the bad habits that come along with riding or unpredictable green horses. There was one horse that I rode on and off for almost 10 years. When I broke my hand, he was the one I got on first.
If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?
Ugh Boo. Without a doubt, Boo. This is not my photo, nor me riding, so I blurred out the rider’s face. This was… many years ago, so before Facebook was a thing for high schoolers (or middle school?), no idea how old I was at the time.
Anyway, Boo was an Irish Sport Horse. He is BY FAR the most athletic horse I have ever ridden. He was the type that, if you pointed him at the fence to stop, he would happily jump over it and just keep going. I wonder now what it would be like to ride him with all the tools I now have in my toolbox (and as an eventer).
I would love to own something like him now, but I doubt I would ever be able to afford it! I kept tabs on him for a bit after he left. He ended up owned by a vet in southern NJ.
What disciplines have you participated in?
Western Pleasure, English Pleasure, Pleasure Driving, Eventing, Hunter Jumpers, Dressage…
Most of my experience pre-late teens was more at generalist english barns.
What disciplines do you want to participate in some day?
Reining would be super cool. I think there is a barn around here.
Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?
Nope. I have only ever owned 2 as an adult, and one as a kid.
What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid?
Welsh Cobs. Hands down.
If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?
Probably Germany. I used to speak fluent German, and I just love the country. The UK would be a close second.
Do you have any horse-related regrets?
I’ve stayed at a few barns longer than I should’ve. I also regret not being able to put as much time and training into May and myself as I have wanted to the past couple of years. We should be going Novice, but now I am not sure that we will get there together.
If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?
Right now? Mary Wanless. I think bio-mechanics would make a big difference in some challenges I have had in all three phases.
What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?
A traditional 3 day event format. Even at BN, I think it would be an incredible learning experience.
If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?
Honestly, I am not sure. I would probably still be involved in horses, and May wouldn’t go anywhere. But horses can be incredibly emotionally draining.
What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal?
Right now? Training level hahahaha. Although, one day I will probably switch to pure dressage.
What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?
My horse life has always been kind of a collage of horses. I could say Sport – the broken down quarter horse who was so terrified on cross ties that he visibly shook the first time I worked with him. He turned into a very dependable 2′ horse.
I could say my friend’s horse Henry, who was by far the best trained horse I have ever sat on. I should probably say the horse I owned before May. He taught me a lot about myself, my passion, and how to let go of something that just isn’t working.
If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?
I would have more time and money…. Isn’t that true for everyone? hahaha
If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?
The Kentucky Horse Park is still on my wish list. Hopefully, I can make it a reality in 2019!
If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?
Have you ever thought about quitting horses?
Yes. Many times. My original plan was to sell my previous horse and take a break before going shopping again. The universe had other ideas.
If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?
Everyone would be more concerned about horse welfare than money and fame.
What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Hah… buying May. I am amazed everyday I ride her at how cool she has become.
As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?
I want to say jumping, but I am not sure that is true. I have been so out of practice with my jumping that it is not fair to say that fear is growing with age. I would have to say now that it is probably riding horses that I am unfamiliar with. I used to climb on EVERYTHING and ANYTHING. (how about some REALLY old video for fun… you probably want the sound off)
What horse-related book impacted you the most?
Go ahead and laugh, but I don’t really read/listen to horse books. And I read A LOT. So… Black Beauty?
What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?
I really like a thinking horse. I am not sure everyone does, but I want my horse to give me their opinion. It tells me they are engaged and actively thinking in their work, even if I don’t always appreciate their opinions.
I cannot stand horses that want to hurt their rider. If you have never been on one, count your lucky stars. I got on a friend’s horse one day. He was incredibly talented, but I rode him halfway around the arena and a walk and then got off.
What do you love most about your discipline?
I would love to say that I love that no one cares what horse you’re riding, that it is more about ability than aesthetics. But honestly? It’s not really true in eventing. SURE, no one cares if you are riding a thoroughbred vs. a warmblood, but I have definitely gotten some disparaging comments about May.
So I will say that I love the challenge. I love that I am competing against myself. My goals are independent of those around me and directly related to things I can control. And ride times. I LOVE ride times.
What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?
Strength and fitness. Officially down 15.5 lbs (don’t laugh, I am proud of that .5) and definitely starting no stirrup november tonight.
I have ridden/trained/dealt with MANY fairly dumb horses in the 20+ years I have been riding. And I love dumb horses. These horses took patience and repetition to truly teach them concepts, but once learned, those lessons were set in stone. Teach a dumb horse to ground tie, and it could be scared out of its wits and wouldn’t move an inch.
Now, I do not own a dumb horse. I own a very smart mare. I didn’t really think horses could deeply reason or scheme or really PLAN until I met this mare. A mare that could learn the rules, and learn when she can break them. Case and point.
This weekend, my sister and dad were in town. My sister and I decided to take a quick trip to the barn to pet May/feed her cookies/ pick her feet. Almost the whole barn was at one of the last horse trials of the year, so I knew things would be fairly quiet.
We showed up to the barn, and we walked towards my trunk to grab some treats and a hoof pick.
What did we see? This face… looking rather put out at being caught in what is (definitely) not her stall. Fully in the stall. No food in there. No chain up. Just hanging out.
My sister, who has spent a lot of time around horses as a kid, immediately starts looking around for a halter. “Don’t worry about it,” I tell her. “She knows where she’s supposed to be.”
So we start walking towards her stall and… she comes with us. Face full of all her opinions about it.
I opened the chain to her stall. The chain is still up. She doesn’t do this with brute force. She weasels her way under the chain…. and only when the barn is empty for a significant amount of time. Maybe she has figured out my trainer’s normal schedule and knows when things are “off”. I have no idea.
Either way, she was quite put off when we closed and secured her lower door. She even gave my sisters a snort when she told her to “be good”. This mare…
So… anyone have any recommendations for a stall guard? Doesn’t need to hold up to a horse leaning on it. Just needs to keep her from going under it.
Also – a friend of a barn friend is coming out tomorrow to give May a try. She just sold her horse and moved to the area, so she is looking for something to ride without taking on full horse ownership. Fingers crossed!
Does it feel like everyone is talking about their horse’s feet a lot more this year, or is just because I am obsessing over it?
ANYWAY, we pulled May’s shoes during the first week of September. The dew from a typical hot KY summer was taking it toll, and May had managed to lose both front shoes. There is nothing like wet grass and rock hard ground to encourage shoes to come flying off of hooves. I was literally sending pictures like this to my farrier with calm messages such as, “THIS SHOE IS ABOUT TO COME OFF AND I HAVE A SHOW IN 3 DAYS.”
Mind you, these photos are from June. So things got WORSE.
Luckily, my farrier is not one for such dramatics, and he dutifully came out each time and fixed her up. He and I agreed that the issue was really microbes getting underneath the shoe and into the hoof wall. What was my breaking point? When he couldn’t clinch down nails on her black hoof because the hoof wall was just SMOOSHING away. (technicaly terms, but it made me a bit nauseous).
I tried a round of white lightning, which stopped the progression, but it couldn’t cure the issues going on UNDER the shoe or behind the nails. I put May on a hoof supplement, but the weather in KY continued to work against us.
At my last horse trial, my farrier was there. He came by to tighten her shoes and check on her, since he was going away for a week. I asked out glue on shoes, and he indicated why that probably wouldn’t work for us right now. He pulled out a shoe that would allow him to put the nails in different places because anywhere we had put a nail was just crumbling away.
“Well,” I started, “what about taking her barefoot again?”
His first question, “when’s your next show?” I shrugged my shoulders.
“If we don’t compete again this year, it’s not the end of of the world. I haven’t signed up for anything.” He nodded and agreed that pulling the shoes would probably be best. We would wait out the rest of this cycle as much as we could to let her grow as much hoof as she could, and then we would pull them.
And pull them we did. Then, hurricane Florence passed through KY, and we had one of the rainiest September on record. I think the pictures speak for themselves:
Immediately after pulling and trying to leave as much hoof as possible.
Better photos about one week after pulling shoes. (Her back feet are barefoot and BEAUTIFUL)
Right after 5 week trim. Leaving these photos big for everyone.
Are they perfect? No. They are still in the process of changing shape and growing out the nail holes. Are they a lot healthier? Definitely. The hoof is dry, hard, and a lot stronger than it had been. I think once those nail holes fully grow out, we’ll be in good shape going into winter.
As for her comfort level – May was really comfortable in her hoof boots the day after being trimmed this week, and I was riding her completely barefoot towards the end of her last cycle. Fingers crossed that when I get back from my trip this weekend, she will be comfortable without boots again.
On a different note, woke up this morning to 50 degrees of fall greatness. ❤
October in KY is usually one of my favorite times of the year. The heat and humidity drops away, the evenings are bright and pleasant, and the leaves start to show their colors. Except for the first 10 days of this month (I am still counting tomorrow). The first 10 days of this month, this year, have been my worst nightmare:
What the above doesn’t show is the humidity and lack of any kind of breeze… which brought “real feel” temps into the 90s. Even the nights were hot and humid. How does May feel about it?
The poor girl has already really grown in her coat. And, do you see what is at the end of this week? Those are 50s with lows in the 40s. Ugh.
So last weekend, May accidentally got Saturday off when the husband and I forgot to completely remove the groceries from my car before I went to the barn. 90 degree temps mean you CANNOT store meats and cheeses in your car for any extended period of time. The adult in me won out, and I went home after picking her feet.
Then on Sunday, May got an easy hack around the field. Maybe 10 min trotting, 3 minutes cantering, and the rest of the half hour walking. She was covered in sweat, and it took a solid chunk of time to get her cooled out the way I like.
This weekend is a total wash, as we will be out of town for a wedding. 🙂 Although, I may have also taken off Monday just so that I could squeak in a riding day. I don’t really have the time at work to sacrifice a whole day, but you only live once and work will still be there on Tuesday.
I am coming to the conclusion that clipping is probably on the docket this winter, but poor May thinks that is just terrifying. What about you? Has fall fully rolled into your neck of the woods yet?
When I found myself at a loss for topics for today, Tracy came through with inspiration. Then, Olivia joined in on the hop to officially make it a party. If you haven’t checked out their versions yet, do that first!
The partnership between Emily O’Leary and her horse, May as Well, began about as unconventionally as any horse partnership could.
“I was debating just selling my current horse and taking a break for a while. No matter what though, I knew I wanted a plain bay gelding.” Emily admitted, before continuing. “Then, I drunkenly made a trade offer on the internet for a short, yellow mare named Krimpet.”
It turns out, that their first ride wasn’t even that magically. “Oh, I couldn’t steer at all, and we didn’t jump anything higher than maybe 12″. My first thought was that she would probably easier to sell then my current horse.”
However, the two have stuck it out and entered the sport of eventing together. Going from W/T tests and crossrails up to a recognized horse trial at the Beginner Novice level. Let’s open up the stall door and learn more!
May Really Didn’t Steer
While there definitely were videos of May navigating around courses in her sale ad, it didn’t immediately translate to her new role as Emily’s mount. “During our first lesson, she tried to run out of the arena, and she couldn’t make a 30M circle.” It was a steep learning curve, where May learned that life was just easier when she went along with whatever crazy thing Emily asked her to do.
She Was Always Show Perfect
At May and Emily’s first competition together, they did an elementary level combined test. “I remember being terrified because the warm up for SJ was in an open field, and I hadn’t yet ridden May in an open field.” Emily had nothing to worry about, as May was a total pro.
She Has Some Non-Negotiables
May is pretty laid back about everything. Does that new OTTB need a horse to pony off of? May will do it. Did the new dog at the barn just do a zoomies through May’s feet while she’s on the cross ties? She probably didn’t even wake up. However, there are two things that May simply cannot handle.
Fly spray is best delivered through wipes, thank-you-very-much. May lets all her handles know through snorting, wide eyes, and prancing in place that the act of heedlessly spraying her with STUFF is not to be tolerated. Meanwhile, clippers should be avoided at all costs, unless they come with cookies at LEAST the quality of Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses. Sugar free substitutes will not be tolerated.
She Is Often Underestimated
It has been assumed that May is a Dressage-only horse, a companion horse, and a retired broodmare before. She will sleep on the cross ties, wander around on the trails, and sunbathe while other school XC fences around her. However, when it is time to go to work, she is all business. As one Equine Dentist once said, “Wow, she really gets up there. You wouldn’t think that just looking at her.”
You might not know it just looking at her, but those that have ridden her have never forgotten it.
It gets pretty easy to forget that May is a “mare”. She is totally cool with other horses getting in her personal space, I have never seen her swish her tail and pin her ears at anyone, and 90% the time, she just wants to get on with the thing. Whatever the thing is (eating, turnout, going back to her stall, riding, jumping, etc etc etc)
In fact, May apparently took some kind of small adventure on Sunday. The barn was out at a small show. When they left, May was tucked into her stall. When they came back, May was somehow in a stall on the other side of the barn. NT went over to her normal side of the barn to see what was up, and then she heard hoof beats behind her. May had re-escaped from stall #2 and was sheepishly making her way back to “her stall”.
My theory? May ducked under her stall guard, wandered around the barn to see if there was any grain dropped on the floor. Spotted some food in stall #2, and decided to spend the rest of the day there. I think she is going to be relegated back to having the bottom half of her stall door closed when the barn is empty, especially now that the weather has cooled off a bit.
So how does May remind us that she is, indeed, a mare? She has OPINIONS.
Last week, I decided it was time to put May back into real work. She is sound now barefoot, and seemed perfectly happy to drag me around again. So it was time to reintroduce some real work. I threw on my Dressage saddle and grabbed my Dressage whip. The ride was planned to be fairly easy – reestablishing contact and bend.
Our warm up went fine. She was a bit stiff off both legs, so I returned those with the help of the whip. She got a bit tense while I was schooling the whole “one leg means move over” thing, but she quickly relaxed once we had a few successes. Great. I picked up the canter to the left and had a nice easy bend and lope in that direction.
Then, we went right. If you remember, bending right has been our issue lately. So, when she went to lean through her right shoulder, I lifted my inside hand and added my inside leg more firmly. As a result, she MELTED DOWN.
I mean, full on temper tantrum. Throwing her head around, stumbling over herself, shooting forward, sucking back, etc etc. For maybe a solid 2 minutes. What was I doing? Keeping my right hand up and my right leg on while cursing quite loudly. Here’s the thing with May. No matter how much she escalates, I can’t give in or escalate with her. I have to be firm, clear, and consistent.
After her meltdown, she gave me a big huff and bent nicely around my right leg. I put my whip and cell phone down, since I didn’t want to really use either if she decided to have another meltdown, and we went back to work. She picked herself up through that shoulder, quickened the inside hind to compensate for the new balance, and moved better going over her back.
At this moment, NT came to the ring and complimented me on how well she was working to the right. I think I and both the other riders in the ring with me (both advanced riders thankfully) had a good laugh as we informed her about May’s mini drama series.
She may be a REALLY good mare, but she is still a mare. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. What about you? Does your horse sometimes hit you with overly dramatic opinions?