Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Be Still My Heart

My horse Prisoner makes me feel like a little kid who can't wait to wake up in the morning (ok, so coffee also makes me feel this way, like seriously sometimes I go to bed excited for the cup of coffee I will have when I wake up, legal drug anyone?).  Sorry total tangent there.  Then there is my horse Diva who is so sweet and pretty and also wonderful.  Also, Bridger, still an a$$, but a loveable one who is really straight forward to ride.  And Mojito, he is still here with me and his singsong nicker makes me smile and cry all at the same time.

So lucky, so spoiled.  Even with the crappy parts of life, still forever grateful.

Had to laugh, typed that first paragraph and then was clicking around on the discover part of Spotify...and it found me this song.

Ok, enough mush, onto the pictures that all of us in blogland love!
Is this even real?

Yes we dressage too

Classic XC style jump, can't wait to try it out with him

Blue barrels like no big deal
I set up a fun course on Monday.
Beautiful sky
The top of the arena had a swedish oxer, the middle had two jumps that you could do across each diagonal, the bottom had a 4 stride bending line.  I set it up so you could ride a big figure eight, the idea being that no matter how a jump rode you could just ride positive to the next one.  Often when a horse misbehaves/gets excited it can be remedied by the rider giving them a job.  If you have a jump you can ride towards at any time it helps you give that horse a job and the 'excitement' will dissipate.

The photos are stills from this video.  I started out slow letting him tell me if he was too amped or not.  He was very chill so I kept adding in more elements until he had jumped them all.  Overall I was very pleased with him.  He is very honest about what he is doing, at one point towards the vertical he stuck his head in the air and tried to speed up, as I was about to pull him off the jump to reapproach he was like hey we have to get over that and while he knocked it down I was pleased that he wanted to do the jump.  It was definitely a learning session about distances for him, I try to stay out of his way with a supporting leg so he can figure it out.  There were some long, some short, and some just right, the best part is that he is all about the next thing, an awkward jump doesn't fluster him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tack Swap Blog Hop

So I need to sell some tack, or trade some tack, or something.  Thanks to the 900dollarfacebookpony for organizing!

1. Cliff Barnsby brown full size bridle with flash and padded crown.  This bridle has served me well, but I'm just ready for something different.  While it has a lot of miles it still looks almost new.  It was cleaned and conditioned regularly (and yes those are the original and reins, I also have the flash). $90.00 includes shipping

2. Vespucci black full size figure 8, monocrown. This bridle is absolutely gorgeous!  Beware though, this Vespucci model is known to run large, it is too big even for Diva, you will need a blockier type head to fill this up.  Used condition, with extra holes in the flash strap so it actually fits a horse instead of an elephant.  While used, I would still show in this, again it was cleaned and conditioned regularly. $100.00 includes shipping

3.  Brand new (ridden in once) Grand Prix zip field boots. Size 9.5 (fits like a 9), wide calf, reg height.  Beautiful, soft, will be almost no break in time...but way to tall for me.  The joys of being 5'3" with giant feet. $275 obo, includes shipping.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Catch ride

So a longtime friend contacted me to ride one of her horses in a dressage show last weekend.  She was the secretary so couldn't compete.  I rode the horse for the first time on a Tuesday.  Then on thursday I took her usual lesson with her trainer (wife of my long term trainer/second dad) who I have taken sporadic lessons from in the past.  The lesson went great and the owner and trainer were really pleased, even saying that I was making the mare look better than ever.  Blondie is a sport horse Appaloosa.  Then Sunday I rode First level 2 and 3.  Warm up was amazing and in three quarters of the show ring she was amazing, but she decided that the judges booth was the gate to hades.  Needless to say the scores were not great, but the owner was still very happy and we chocked it up to young horse learning experience.  Worry not, Alyssa came and took amazing shots!  I really am way too spoiled in the picture department.
Thank goodness we are cantering away from the judge's booth/box of doom

It was 95 and humid (rained all night)

Sneaking some pink

Favorite shot from the show

Pretty girl

I guess her neck was fascinating 

So much fun, I actually love showing

Love the red lining on my coat

Wish I could have had the same relaxation in the ring as the warmup!
Can't wait for a dressup show with my horses!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Informal Blog Hop: Transformation

Niamh over at Life of Riley thought of this and I love it.  We all need to look back now and then to really appreciate where we are at the moment (stealing this from my comment on one of Racing to Ride's posts).
Last August (2013):
Contact, what's that?
 And September:
Early jumping attempt
This June (2014):


Building that neck
August (2014):

Slowly developing more uphillness.
Spring 2013:
Still figuring out what a rider is
 May 2014:
Logs like no big deal

Fancy boy
Getting dependable
And because I can't help it lets check out the 48 day transformation of Prisoner:
July 4th:
First ride at the track 
Last week:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PSA: Trail riding

The lovely lady who owns/runs the barn that Prisoner is at made an interesting observation about trail riding today.  This is after I mentioned that while I often enjoy the end result/parts and pieces of trail rides I am often petrified.  She said she has known way more than eventers than you would expect who are not really into trail riding/downright scared of it.  Yup, that's me.  I ride racehorses, will get on nearly any hooligan in an arena or field, start babies, have run Prelim and hope to go further, on trail rides I often think my heart is going to burst out of my chest.  Not from joy.  From sheer terror.  Heck, most of my early riding miles were doing endurance, go figure.  Yes, I believe the good times I have had on trail rides far outweigh the bad times.  I have walked and full on galloped (on purpose for conditioning) these trails for the last 10 years.  I know them quite well, the only time I've fallen out there ended in hysterical laughter (funny story for another day).  I have countless pictures of me smiling and having fun on trails, but there it is, that insidious thing called fear, it knows no bounds, no limits.  Fear and confidence get talked about a lot in blog land, for good reason, it affects a lot of people at some time.  
Having fun
Prisoner went on his first trail ride today.  He was perfect, in fact he dealt with me sword fighting hidden trail riding demons.  Many of the issues could have been eliminated by fewer horses, we had 5 along.  They were all great and I love all the people who went, but Prisoner and I kept getting stuck between horses pulling ahead and trying to stay back for the slower one behind us.  It got him a tiny bit worried and while I rode through it and none of us is any worse for wear, not only is being scared no fun, it is really freaking embarrassing.
P-diddy has cute pink ears
For realz though, I love to gallop out there in pairs or trot in pairs.  Groups worry me, but I can deal with it.  I love looking at the scenery, chatting with friends, feeling the swinging walk under me.  Somewhere in there the wires short circuit and I seriously think I'm going to die or be maimed or who knows what but logic flies out the window.  If you love trail rides you might have trouble understanding this, but maybe you have been fearful of jumps, or loading horses in trailers, or public speaking, or galloping a horse, or dogs, or anything.  None of those things scare me, but trails do.  I wish we had access to wooded trails, not scared there.  Possibly I'm dealing with mild agoraphobia, it took me years to think about taking a picture of the view from the top of the hills we ride on, mostly I just wanted to get off the horse and hug the ground.
Squashing fear, taking pictures from hilltops
Imagine you are nervous about jumping.  You warm the horse up and all is well.  You finally decide to head towards that jump and that 15-30 seconds of approach feel like the end of the world.  Then you jump and the world doesn't end.  Now imagine that 30 seconds of terror stretched out into an undetermined amount of time.  I never know if I will be scared at the beginning, or middle, or end, usually it is a few minutes here and there.  I try and break it down, I'm not scared of hills or terrain (not a fan of next to cliffs, but who is?), different speeds don't scare me.  I really can't pin point it, I think if I could form a purpose for what I was doing I could focus on that instead of the strange fear.  Like jumps, or if someone is visibly nervous I suddenly focus on them and helping them chill and my own fear dissipates.  
Hey yo having fun here too!
I guess I just want to say to the people who aren't scared, don't judge, don't belittle, don't rush, keep us talking.  Just like every other fear and phobia, it takes long slow work and a whole truck load of determination and patience.  Also to those who aren't scared, thank you for putting up with all of us who are, if we snap at you don't take it personally, it is real hard to talk when having imaginary sword fights with stuff you can't even identify.  
Yes, just yes.
We already know horse people are crazy, I'm just helping bring it to a new level!
Take that fear, just get out of here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Yes you guessed it, another post about the wonderous Prisoner.  I can't help it.  I set up a new course to jump and while I didn't measure, I only left one jump that felt small.  It had a direct 3 stride xrail to vertical, three bending 5 or 6 stride lines, and a stand alone oxer.  I just did a short jump school, I would like to do more with the course as it rode well and I didn't utilize all the options yet.  I'm guessing the two 'larger' jumps were about 2'6".
Cleared for take off

P-man is showing some real exuberance for the fences, I have to make sure I don't make him rushy.  He is totally willing though and also willing to learn.  If I half-halt and he doesn't listen or close my leg and he doesn't listen, the next time around he is 110% listening.  He doesn't seem to hold a grudge if it doesn't go quite right or he doesn't understand, I just reexplain (or do a better job of explaining) and he catches right on.
Total trust
The trust I titled this post about can be seen in the release in the above photo.  While not classic (I'm sorry George Morris), it is a habit that only shows up when I am fear free.  While it has arguably shown up on horses that aren't trustworthy, fear has never shown itself to be logical.  Prisoner is trustworthy.  While he isn't an easy 'kick and hang on' ride, he is a good boy.  Yes I have to use the skills I've spent years honing (and will spend the rest of my life continuing to hone) but he puts in an honest effort.  Someone asked today how I got so lucky with him, my response was hard work picking through a lot of lemons, I could also add that gloriously pushy friends helped clinch the deal.
Oxer like no big deal

Hind end to die for
I need to find the photos of my unorthodox release on other horses, but that will be a bit of a project so stay tuned for a follow up post on that.

I've also enjoyed the return of my position.  I'm not totally sure where it ran off to, I was seriously beginning to doubt I had any skillz.  Then, BAM, it is back.  Maybe my position was beginning to doubt if I would ever have a horse with skillz.  Either way I'm enjoying not feeling like a newb.

All the above shots are video stills (thanks to sprinklerbandit for being late to work so you could video! Don't forget to checkout her contest!) incase you want to see the video here it is:

There are some green spots, but I'm not worried since he is totally green.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chestnut Mares

Gigi is doing great post foot abscess.  I think the break was actually good for her, she just seems more ready than normal to work each day.  I've been really pleased with the progress she has made this summer in really using her back and also her self carriage.  She is lighter in the bridle than she was 6 months ago, and more consistent through her transitions.
Engaging the hind end

All the uphill

Matching tails

Redheads on fire

Canter halfpass

This mare has the most incredible lateral work

Free walk bliss

Shoulder fore

Love her in Diva's bonnet
As usual thanks to Alyssa for the great pictures!

There is always room for more work.  I would like to get her hind end even more under her, and to get more relaxation through the underside of her neck.  More work stretching down and lots of transitions (always the transitions) will help with this.  Also transitions within the same gait, forward and back while keeping her sling (tummy) muscles engaged and neck low.  She has such a great work ethic, it is really enjoyable to work on each small thing and then watch the whole picture improve.