Friday, August 29, 2014


This week is going to be the week of busyness. The week of stress. The week of no rest.
Horses are stressful.

Suzie decided to go dead lame at the start of a trail ride, so I’ve started her back up on her anti-inflammatories. Already she seems better, so fingers crossed she continues to progress because there is a Clinic on Sept 1-2 and a Show on Sept 5-7 that I was hoping to take her to. It just rips me apart inside to see her in pain, but I know at least it is not from my doing. She was barrel raced and barrel raced hard – her shoulder is absolutely fucked and I just need to manage that pain. And with Tally here, I haven’t been riding her as much as I should’ve and now her muscles are all weak and… blah. I could go on and on about it and just set myself up to cry again, but I have to do what is right by my mare. She needs long walks, stretching and to be ridden. I used to think that leaving her in the pasture and riding Tally instead was somehow better for her, but it’s not. The absolute worst thing for a horse with arthritis is to sit idle… And I feel awful for that.

Tally is good – she scraped up her leg before I brought her home but was never lame or anything. Right now it’s just fighting the bugs. I swear, I brought her in for grain and her chest had little noseeums all over. Ugh. I just shudder thinking about it. It was GROSS. Like… a good TWENTY of them were just feasting on her flesh. *shudders*. EW. I put a ton of SWAT on her and doused her with flyspray and she already seems better, poor girl. The bugs seem to leave Suzie alone, thankfully.

Riding bareback and bridleless because she's a badass.

So, now that the girls’ update is all over, my horsey week will go something like this:
Sunday – Run out to get hay.
Monday – Clinic (I am planning on taking Suzie for the clinic and riding Tally afterwards… but if Suzie is not sound I will ride Tally in it).
Tuesday – Clinic
Saturday – Show day. English classes with Tally.
Sunday – Show day. Western classes with Suzie.

My my, that’ll be A LOT of hauling. Thankfully both girls are great at loading/unloading and it’ll give me a chance to spend a lot of gas money learn how to haul better.

Oh Suzie mare, what are we going to do?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Show Picture Spam

She's a Jumper, not a Hunter.

Practicing the scary jumps on Friday night.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

We Survived and Conquered... Kind Of

The BVX Show was simply awesome - it was a lot of work and I am still feeling the ill effects of lack of sleep and four days worth of hard riding, but I am very happy I went and even more happy I was able to bring home a few ribbons.

Yes, we totally Dressaged it in my CC saddle.
On Wednesday evening we hauled out and got to the grounds around 7PM. Tacked up and rode the mare around a bit and she felt good, a bit fresh, but good. I hadn't ridden her for about four days, which was a bit stupid on my part, but life has a way of getting busy and I just didn't have the time to prepare like I initially would have. D (owner of Tally) said Tally trailered well and she seemed happy to be at the Fair - looking around and being quite curious and calling out to her stable-mates.

Thursday morning was Dressage. I had my ride times at 9:45am and again at 1:30pm and D was going to be my reader, and I would be hers. Since D was riding two horses, there was a lot of running back and forth reading for her and helping her switch over horses since the Show Office only gave her about 30min between horses (and she had to completely switch over tack!). My first Dressage test was a complete disaster. I was nervous, tense and bracey. Tally mimicked me and we had a bit of a discombobulated Dressage test which included some awesome Ay-rab giraffe impressions and some trotting during our free walk. We scored a very low, and embarrassing 48% which placed us DEAD last, although I cannot completely fathom why we placed as low as we did because several other competitors had worse tests than I did - complete with one pair who cantered pretty much the entire test.

Jumper pony in the Hunter ring, what what!?
We did redeem ourselves for our second test, although I was still nervous and Tally was feeling pretty damn fine. Our second test earned us a score of 56% which was a great improvement, but still was quite an embarrassing test. The judge was very inconsistent with the scoring and I heard of several other competitors who had very odd remarks and scores on their tests which didn't make me feel so alone and so shitty about my ride.

After Dressage Tally got her legs cold hosed because I'm a shit-show when it comes to legs. Being cooped up in a small stall all weekend drove me completely insane and every chance I could I was out walking Tally, linimenting and cold hosing her legs. You should've seen my freak out when she had GOD FORBID A SMALL AMOUNT OF SWELLING. PUFFY LEGS BE GONE.

Fancy Hunter.

Friday morning was Flat classes - Tally was very strong on the bit and literally ripped my arms off. She had NO brakes and we placed quite poorly in most of the classes. Having twelve other horses zooming around with a horse who hadn't been ridden much in the last two weeks was not a good idea. However, other than just being slightly out of control during our hand gallop, it went well. I literally was pouring sweat after each class because it was so damn hot and I am so out of shape that trying to switch from a extended canter to a collected walk was NOT fun. Oh, and compiled with the fact that our English Flat judge was a WESTERN judge, the pattern Equitation class was SUUUPER fun, NOT.

Look out, we are fourth place badasses!
 Pretty much none of the traditional English horses were in the ribbons - most of the Breed Show AQHA and APHA horses placed well, though. During our one Hack class, Tally and I managed to pull a fourth place out of six, which was respectable considering the girls in the class were all regular riders instead of being weekend warriors like me.

My last hack class went something like this, though:
"I'm so tired, maybe I'll just try and sit along for the ride..."
"Tally... please slow down."
"OK, hand gallop? We can... whoaaa ok now we really are galloping. Awesome... Tally please stop gaping your mouth open..."
"Oh, I lost my stirrup...."
"I give up."
I'm also not ashamed to admit that I went for a nap Saturday afternoon.

I did pull Tally out Friday night and we did some practice jumping because y'know, I've only jumped her three times since I've had her... 

Pretending we know what we're doing in the Hunter arena.

Saturday morning I pulled Tally out for Hunters and immediately I noticed she had gashed her leg. In short, I'll say that I went on to publicly cry and blubber like a fool in front of pretty much everyone because of how I must've hurt Tally and how she's going to die and so on and so forth... Stress and being tired is a fantastic combination.

Mare says, I do this shit in my sleep.
D, Tally's owner told me to shut up and ride and after much deliberation I got on and popped over a few warm up jumps and what do you know, Tally was just fine. Out of the four Hunter classes I was entered in, we placed in two and earned two respectable 6th place ribbons. Each class had about 10-12 riders, so I figure we did pretty darn good.

I was happy with our courses and although we did not seem to be the judges favorite despite getting all our leads (and perhaps being a teeeeeny bit too fast), I was happy that I didn't A) fall off or B) get any refusals. She was a perfect packer for me around the jump arena and I was very, very happy with her.

Posing in front of a jump we pretended to compete over with the ever-awesome Show
In all, the weekend was great. Tally is over at D's place until I can haul her back and overall I am very happy I went and competed although I probably looked like an unprepared, giant shit-show. Tally mare was good to me, and despite our short-comings I had safe, clean and quiet rounds in every class I did. It was a long weekend, filled with rodeos, hot dogs, horse shavings in my shoes and 4-H showers with no pressure. Oh, and I also got slightly intoxicated.

More photos to come!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Kid Safe" Horse

Fat pony enjoys a chance to be lazy.
Suzie has played the role of "babysitter" several times now since she became mine. It's just part of life here, and if you cannot safely pack a kiddo around, you don't belong in my barn.

Don't shoot me down so quickly, though. I was always brought up around riders who let multiple people, of varying ages and equestrian experience, take their trusty mounts for a ride - be it a trail ride or a few cool out laps after a lesson. In my mind, I don't want a horse that I can't throw my niece up on while she visits for part of the Summer. What kind of fun would it be for her to sit there and brush a horse all Summer?

Learning how to lead. Suzie says "ZZzzzzZZz this is boring!"

At first, given all the trouble I had trail riding Suzie, and the issues SO had when he rode her, I was skeptical she'd make a good beginner mount. However, she yet again proved me wrong and actually seemed to enjoy the "easy" work. Suz just plodded around the pen at the slowest walk known to man and would stop randomly along the rail, testing my niece's abilities and her patience.

She was, in essence, the perfect kids horse. And from then on, she became a regular mount for Rae whenever she visited. And more recently, she's become a nice "starter" pony for my nephew Calder, who is barely even two years old.

It has been interesting watching how Suzie interacts with the small kids and how she begrudgingly accepts their requests - provided they ask a few times and they are sure they want to trot (she seems to think Rae is just joking when she asks her to trot). And to think this is a mare who was dumped at a Rescue after getting drill teamed the shit out of. For a mare that should get hot while ridden, she is pretty lax and unflappable.

The last time Rae rode Suzie we had gone on a small little trail ride, followed by a short lesson (mostly of Rae jogging Suzie around the backyard) and the naughtiest thing she tried to do was turn around and go back home. Fortunately, it didn't take much to correct her or insist that she follow me on Tally.

Trail riding this Summer.

I think horses are great for kids - they teach a sense of patience and bring such life to their eyes. I know the countless hours I spent in the company of a horse has taught me infinite wisdom I would never receive anywhere else other than the barn. I am so thankful and greatful I have had the opportunity to have horses into my life, and I am so tickled that I get to share that treasure with my nieces and nephews. I can only hope that as they continue to grow, they keep that spark of magic and mystery that is horses.

Suzie says, "Aren't YOU the one babysitting this tiny human?"
 Horses who are good with kids hold a special place in my heart.

Long live the horses and ponies who put up with horse crazy kids.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Riding Back to Front

Riding front to back.
 The concept of riding "back to front" is such a lost art that I find many people are taught "non-traditionally" in the sense that getting a horse to arch his neck and look presentable is achieved using force (ie. hands). The essence of getting a horse to carry itself and be "on the bit" gets lost in translation so much that even I succumbed to the "make your horse look pretty!!!" group that always seems prevalent in the horse industry.

My first riding lesson with M was a huge wake up call to me, and a painful observation that I rely on my reins far too much. M had me walk and trot around the arena with zero rein contact and the purpose of the exercise was for me to control both Tally's speed and steering. Suffice to say, I failed miserably. But, it was a very humble experience.

Seat and legs must always come before the hands. Always. A horse and rider who are reliant on the reins will make a fickle pair indeed.

The lessons have come ever so timely, and on Wednesday when I pulled Tally out and went for a ride in the 25C heat, I found that "happy place". I had her between my legs and every movement was so effortless, so purposeful. The reins were just.... there, and I had no reason to use them. Every stride was controlled by my posting and every turn was brought on by my legs. It was weird, looking down at my hands and going, "Hmmm... these haven't moved in a while."

Light aids make a happy horse.

The canter has improved tenfold and instead of me leaning and gripping into it, I am sitting up tall and sitting deeper into my seatbone and ask with more purpose and in return, I receive such a lofty, quiet canter in return.

Towards the end of our school, I found Tally became rushy, bracy and a bit on the forehand. I did work her out of it, but she kept slipping back into that "brace and rush" mode. I do attribute it to the fact that it was as hot as hell and she was dog tired (just dripping sweat!!). We did have a lovely school and I was very, very pleased with the results.

Only five more days until the Fall Fair show! I know we aren't 100% yet, but I have no qualms that we will have safe and respectable rounds.

My schedule looks like this:

Friday (tonight): Work and Flat ride.
Saturday: Work and Jump ride.
Sunday: Off
Monday: Work and Flat ride.
Tuesday: Work and trailer Tally to Danielle's house. Danielle is hauling Tally (she owns her) as well as her other horse she will be competing on since SO and I will be bringing the Human Trailer with us.
Wednesday: Work and trailer 3hrs to the Fall Fair. Hope to arrive around 7PM and get Tally settled in, etc.
Thursday: Dressage
Friday: English Flat
Saturday: Hunter O/F Classes.
Sunday: Pack up and go home!

Whew. This week is going to go by in a blur, let's hope I stay on and maybe get one ribbon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Do You Want?

They may not seem relevant yet... wait for it.
A funny thing, life is. It changes our goals and what once was a necessity is now nothing more than a small piece of desire. Our dreams filter into this vile of life and love and every once in a while it gets shook up and when the dust settles, we are left with a new path. A new venture. A new story that is yet to be told.

I've been flip flopping back and forth the last few weeks about what I want, horse-wise. I have a long list of desires, goals, and memories I want to make happen! Unfortunately, my list is rather long and my goals are pretty much all over the place. Some are pretty cut and dry, while others would take some time to really process.

So what is at the top of my list right now? (And I say right now because my ideas and wants change weekly).

A pony.

And not just any pony - a driving pony.


I mean, come on! How ridiculously awesome would that be?!? A little miniature pony just trotting along at mach-10 speed, just being as cute as hell... SIGN ME UP.

I've been looking, hounding, and stalking classifieds for the last two weeks and I have yet to actually even find a driving mini/pony. There are none very close to where I am and half of them are basically only halter broke.

So I did what any other logical person would do - I put up my own "looking for" classified...

And now... we wait.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Radio Silence

This past week I've been more than quiet - and I apologize for that!! So, in order to gain your forgiveness, here is a brief (kind of!) recap of my week!

Since it was my week off from work, it was quite busy!

Sunday - Fixed the back pasture fencing so I could turn the girls out on it this week. Annnnd I THINK we had a late dinner with the MIL and that was about it.

Monday - Brother's birthday and family time!

Ha ha, you fell off you loser.
 Tuesday - Brought in a load of hay and had a jumping lesson on Tally in the evening. We worked on getting brakes during jumping and basically did a "jumper jump-off" style course. There was a Swedish Oxer that I had to go over and turn sharply to the right. Well, I thought "right" and Tally thought "left" and...  I fell off. Got TONS of sand in my nether-regions and I swear I could hear the "crunch crunch" of the sand in my lady drawers as I posted the trot afterwards. Ew.

 Finished the lesson on a decent note, though.  Boo hoo poor me. I did still manage to ride Suzie and work a lot on steering without assistance of the reins (ie. direct reining or neck reining) and all of it was BAREBACK. Can I get a whut-whut!

I got home and.... could NOT move. My neck was stiffer than a board and I couldn't even get my pants on. That'll keep you humble.

Wednesday - Ouchie. Woke up SUPER duper sore. Neck was stiff, hips were sore and I was just ouchie. Also had a sore throat. Awesome. I opted to not go riding, but instead I took the nephew out to go visit the horses and he helped me out with some chores. Child labor? Yes please. Other than that, had some friends over and vegged.

Also, initiated plan "Make Hubs Want to Buy me a Pony" (I've always wanted a little driving mini...). Hubs and my brother also demolished the bathroom since we are redoing it. I can still hear the hammers banging into tile and dry-wall...

Thursday - Woke up feeling more sickly. Great. Tried to power through my day and Hubs was in and out of the house all day and we had the plumbers over, so I had to keep vigil at home/clean up the constant dry wall dust. My order of horsey stuff came in - only ONE pair of breeches fits properly (cause no body likes saggy bums!) Yay!

This is why I love her.
  In the afternoon I went out to see the horses and because I'm pining for a driving pony, I ended up ground-driving Suzie... she was good. So I hitched her up to some rotten wood (for some weight) and she pulled it no problem. The wheels began to turn and I saw a little tyke's wagon in the shed and dusted it off and pulled it behind her, she didn't care. Hitched her up to it and walked around... didn't care. Ground-drove her while the wagon puttered along... still didn't care. So... yep. I hopped in the wagon and hadher pull me around... I mean, HOW RANDOM CAN YOU GET.

First off, I don't need a lesson in how awfully shameful and red-neck my entire set up is. I get it. It's about as unsafe as unsafe can get. I'm lucky that I have a mare who will tolerate my shenanigans. Basically, the wagon is attached to two leadropes which are attached to the stirrups - yah yah, I know. I literally went around in the wagon for maybe one full 20m circle - wagon wheels aren't big enough and were making it hard to pull with weight.

Annnnnd I also lunged Tally because she looked like she needed something to do. And boy did she ever - she basically trotted like a MACHINE for a good 15 minutes.

I went home and fell asleep on the couch at 5pm. Didn't even eat dinner. I migrated to the bedroom sometime around 6:30 and didn't come out again until 13 hours later. That's what a fever'll do to you, folks!

New bridle is so pretttttty.
Friday - Still feeling pretty crappy, but better. Horse show on Saturday and it's not looking good. I hummed and hawed about it, but with feeling like utter crap, I decided I wouldn't be going.

Went to the next town over and picked up groceries, fly spray for the horses and dog food. Stopped off at the Campsite by the lake and visited my sister and her kiddos and then came home and worked more on the bathroom. Hooray for bathtubs on the lawn.

Tally after lunging on Thursday. Same "new" bridle - yay for sharing!
Saturday - Last day before work. Ew. Glad I didn't go show - still feeling run down. Moped around the house for a bit, mowed the lawn, etc and then went out and lunged Tally and rode her - she was pretty good! I think the lunging helped get out all her "stupid" attitude so I will keep it in my training regime I think (lunging 3x a week). It evens her out a bit, I think. We worked on getting those downward transitions with only legs/seat and no reins. Much better. It poured rain on us and I got home soaking wet.

Ended the night by shaving the BIL's dog. LOL. How ridiculous and random.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lesson Recap July 31st

The lesson yesterday was exceptionally enlightening and more than once, a lightbulb went off inside my head. "M", who gave me a lesson, was perfect - she knows exactly what she is talking about and by the end of the lesson, Tally and I felt like a million bucks (at least I know I did!).

We played off of the fact that Tally is, by nature, a speedy mare. The first thing M had me do was to control Tally's gaits with JUST my seat and legs. We did a lot of slow walk/ fast walk and slow trot/ fast trot work to get her attuned to me and just feeding off of my seat. We dived into 15m walk to canter transitions as well and also some lengthen trot.

It was amazing.

My favorite saying from M was, "Feel it, ride it, put her there." It is such a simple thing, yet we over-complicate riding all the time!

My favorite moments were:
  •  when M had me canter a 15m circle around her from a walk and I found that I have a lot of bad habits on the left rein. I ride with uneven hands - I need to bring my inside hand back and my outside hand forwards. I also need to collapse that right hip a bit more. When I rode straight, our canter transition was flawless!
  • when we practiced "bottling up the energy" on the short side and corners and when going across the diagonal, "letting her go"!! It was an amazing feeling to have her lengthen out like that!
  • after the lesson, when I realized that we hadn't worked on anything to do with the reins - and guess what?! Tally was connected through the bridle for a good portion of our lesson without me fussing with her head. Funny how that works.
My take away information was simple; forget about her head. And don't freak out when she gets speedy - go back to using seat/legs combination to get her "back". I don't NEED my reins to bring her back or to get her in a collected state of mind and body.

We've come up with the idea of doing one flat ride and one jumping schooling per week so we can get into gear for the show. Yee-haw!

Friday, August 1, 2014

July Recap/August Goals

Suzie says, "It's about time you got some damn lessons!"

First off, tonight I have my FIRST lesson in TWO years!!! Can you believe it!? I've been riding for the last two years without any trainer/instructor. Oh boy, and sometimes it shows, haha! I'll be riding Tally tonight - I rode her on Wednesday night and she was a complete jerk-face until I let her trot around like a retard for about 10 minutes.

Suzie, on the other hand, was a complete doll when I rode her Wednesday. We worked on some trail-work and a few "mock" reining patterns. She was cool, calm and the whole "work on the walk to fix the trot" worked like magic again. Annnnnd we rode one handed!! WAHOO

Suzie's July recap/ August goals!

July Recap, Suzie: 
  • Participate in the July show and have a positive experience! Remember, it is JUST a fun show and mistakes are OK. I'd call this a success! Aside from the fact that Suzie didn't have adequate time to be properly "warmed up" and working in a "sensible" frame of mind, we didn't do too badly for her first show.

  • Work with new split reins and ride one handed more. HUGE success. The last three rides I've put on her have been 80% one handed. Look at us go!
  • Work on using JUST legs/seat to cue Suzie and don't rely on neck-reining/direct reining to turn. Success. While I didn't really school with this intention, the one-handed riding really put a damper on the direct reining! Suz is better at it, though!

  • Maintain her weight and muscle her up! Trail riding!!!  Ginormous FAIL. Suz has lost a bit of weight recently, but I've upped her grain and forage intake. Annnnd we have done zero trail riding. Wahhh.
  • Take LOTS of pictures. I call this a fail too. The other day I took my camera out with the intent to take photos and I forgot that I had it.

August Goals, New:
  • Participate in the 3 in 1 Breed show and have at least ONE good class (doesn't mean I have to place, but to have one class that I feel good about! Both mentally and performance-wise).
  • TRAIL RIDE DAMMIT. This is important!
  • Ride bridleless in the arena at a lope - hehehe.
  • Gear up for the schooling shows in September! I realize it's a very broad statement, but there isn't really something I want to "focus" on because after this 3 in 1 breed show, I want to let Suzie just toodle around a bit more and instead of trying to expand her ability, I want to REFINE it, if that makes sense? Like, I don't want to introduce anything more difficult, but I want to refine all that we've been working on.

July Recap, Tally:
  • Trail riding! Good for muscling, endurance and stamina! This mare loves trail riding, according to her owner, so it'd be a great endurance-builder! Another fail. Sad face. Working 10hr days just doesn't permit me going for a trail ride afterwards for a few hours... Like Suzie, she's gone out for a "dinky" ride or two, but no "real" trail rides.

  • Attend the July schooling show and do a jump course, and try not to lose my marbles! SUCCESS!!!!! My LAST jumping class I got a 2nd place and didn't freak out.
  • Work on developing that canter a bit more! It certainly is better, but not where I'd like it to be.
  • Attempt to ride with spurs to get "more" from her. I decided against this. This mare doesn't need spurs just yet.
August Goals, New: 
  • Put in some SERIOUS schooling before our August show (3 day show) and BE confident about riding in it! (Which reminds me, I need to send off the entry forms!)
  • Take 1-2 riding lessons a week. Both flat and jumping.
  • TRAIL RIDE THIS MARE!! She enjoys it and it's great for stamina and she is more than just a "machine." Taking her for a trail ride is relaxing for both of us.
  • Work on her ground manners - standing tied (ie not pulling back), picking up her feet, desensitizing, etc.
And as a general post for both gals, PICTURES. I NEED PICTURES.