Sunday, May 28, 2017

Blog Hop: May 10 Questions

I figured I'd hop on the blog-hopping wagon before the month is over - a huge thanks to The Horse is Not Black for the content! Some of the questions were ones I didn't even consider before, but maybe it is because I live where it rains 340 days of the year?

This is what Spring looks like.
1. What are your summer goals?
Aside from all my animals staying healthy, I'd love to take Annie to a show or two, a few clinics, and have her become a more reliable partner by the end of the year. My tentative goal is Training Level, but depending on how she reacts in a show atmosphere, we may stick to Walk/Trot. My goals with her are flexible, mostly because I want her to turn into a solid equine Citizen.

Goals for Spud are to show him in the BVX this year again and a CDE near the end of the year - lack of funds prevented me from hitting some CDEs this Summer, which sucks but it is what it is.

Goals for Suzie this Summer is to be as comfortable as she can be. She is starting to have some bad days, which is really solidifying the decision I made just a short week ago. For right now, we will continue to plug along and enjoy eachother, but the reality of the situation is becoming more pressing, which is really sad.

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?
Not really. I mostly just fly-spray my horses and that's about it. I may have to throw a fly-mask on a few weeks out of the year but our bugs aren't too malicious or terrible.

3. How often do you bathe your horse?
 Not often. I usually give them a post-Winter bath in the Spring and then again when Summer or a show hits. They get hosed off at the end of very hot or sweaty rides, tho.

 4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or not?
Non-equine related, the BF and I are heading to Nanaimo to visit my parents for a week! We haven't been on a vacation in 2.5 years so we are quite overdue for one! We will be taking the Ferry down, which I am partly excited for and partly nervous for.

 Equine-related travel plans are subject to change pending clinics and events, but we will be going to the BVX at the end of August with Spud and Annie. It isn't any kind of extensive haul tho - about 3 hours.

5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?
 Standing in front of a fan, lol.
Also, cold showers.

6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sun bleaching?
 Nope. We rarely see the sun anyways ;)

Au Natural for Suzie

 7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?
 It dépends if it will be a schooling ride or just a trail ride. Schooling rides suck in the heat but sometimes trail rides are fun. When the temperature creeps up to 28-30C (83F+), I'm good with staying home!

8. How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?
 I'm actually really terrible about protecting myself from the sun. I will say that I am pretty vain and like to be tan, especially since my Portuguese skin just soaks up the rays. I do not own any sun-shirts or anything, but will apply sunscreen.

9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?
 With Suzie and Spud, yes. With Annie, no.

I hope to take her maybe one day, but it is something that makes me nervous, especially after Suzie and I encountered a sink hole.

I was surprised I didn't goof and drop my phone.
10. What's on your summer wish list?
 A few things, lol.
  • A set of clippers for Spud
  • Smaller girth for my jump saddle
  • Racing-style breastplate
  • Tredstep Tall Boots 
  • Kerrits Show Jacket in Grey
  • Bates Isabell Dressage saddle (18'' please and thank you very much).
Unfortunately, most of them will remain wishes for a while, haha!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Maps of the Non-Pirate Variety

Last year I downloaded an app reccomended to me by a friend who took up Endurance with her senior Appaloosa gelding. I had wanted to log the hours, miles, and speeds for Spud's fitness journey and to give myself a bit of real-time data to go off of. Why it never occured to me to use it with Annie until now remains a mystery.

Haven't used it in a while, but I found the data
interesting to reflect upon.

The app I use is a freebie from the Apple Store called ''Endomondo''.

It tracks all kinds of cool things like the distance, duration of the ride, your maximum speeds, average speeds, elevation, etc.

I just started to use it towards the end of this month and most of those rides have been trail rides or hacks, but I am going to continue to use it in the ring too. The map portion of the ride might get a little hairy, but it's interesting data to note and it gives me a good idea as to how much time I'm putting into my horses and what kind of exercise they are fit enough for.

An Annie hack.

Same hack as above.
There are some clubs where this information may be useful, as Horse Council BC has a devoted program to those who primarily want to log riding (or driving) miles on their horses. There are neat little incentives to the program, including little prizes at certain hour markers. I am not enrolled in the program, but it is pretty neat.

While I am not necessarily logging the miles for prizes (or to see how far we could get around the world like Ms B over at Project Gingersnap), it is good information to know.

A Spud ride from last year - note the
max speed. This little guy can boogie!
I hope to use it quite a bit more and maybe even work out an excel spreadsheet with all the information and somehow make it relevant and informative. For now, I keep it as a marker of what we've been up to and what we've done.

I honestly haven't played around with the app much other than pressing the ''GO'' button, so I'm curious if I can add commentary, such as if it was an Annie or Spud hack (despite the obvious différences I am sure lol) and if Spud was being ponied or whatever.

Small ramblings, but interesting nontheless!

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Recap of Everything

Finally, I have a quick moment to sit down and recap (essentially this entire month, because lets be real, I sucked at blogging the last few weeks).

Annie: "You suck at blogging"
I rode quite a bit this month, asking new and different questions almost each ride. I've upped the pressure on Annie little by little and have also literally asked nothing of her. We've (well, I can't be so sure about Annie, but I know I have been!) having quite a bit of fun lately and it's been interesting seeing her unfold and develop more.

As with all young, or green horses, the progress is painfully slow but also promising. A glimpse into this mare's future has me smiling and although I still get that weird ping of nervousness every time I tack-up for a ride, I've managed to enjoy almost every ride I've put on her.

The nervousness is normal and I'm starting to get less and less freaked out when it shows up. We are still new to eachother, still developing, still figuring eachothers buttons.

For the most part, we have had really good rides.

Note the tail flip.
There was one wherein we had a disagreement, but it was resolved and sorted right quickly. I had trailered Annie and Spud to the fairgrounds vs riding her over since I wanted to trailer her somewhere without going too far or pushing my luck. The five minute trailer ride to the grounds seemed like a good option. She unloaded just fine and I was quite pleased with her as I tacked her up and clambered aboard - we haven't had any more instances of her moving away from the mounting block on me (save for once at the arena when I had to climb up the arena fencing to get on because yanno... no mounting block, but she is fine with it now).

When I got on her, she was a little jiggy which seems to be her MO - when we leave the barn to go hack or even when I took her for lessons back in February she will start out incredibly forward, almost like she has a volt of electricity up her butt. She tried to scoot off in a trot a few times, and each time I brought her down quietly and asked her to walk.

In an attempt to figure out how to calm her down (because we are still playing around with what works and what doesn't), I started to ask her to leg yield, halt, and do some TOH and TOF.

She. just. could. not.

Suzie just could not when Spud tried to steal her grain.
So when I had asked her to back up, she tensed, froze her back solid, and when I demanded she back up, she hopped in the air and shook her head.

I immediately got after her and we backed up just fine and continued on with our ride.

So, a small hiccup. But it reminds me of when she just. could. not. when I put my leg on her a few weeks ago when she was a bit jiggy/tense and she took great offense to it.

And so, we've been playing around with me asking her to do things earlier into the ride. Mostly, with the hacking out, I'll let her walk as fast as she wants so long as she walks and earlier this month I had started to incorporate half-halts and slowing my own seat down against her so she has no choice but to slow down.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, her "calm down" time has drastically gone from 20-30 minutes to a little over 5. I paid attention to how she acted when I took her out yesterday with a friend and not even 5 minutes into the ride, she settled into a loose-rein walk and altho she was a bit speedier than my friend's horse, she was quiet and walked without rushing or acting up.

Things in her hair, she don't care.
We have also been having some good success with "leaving" other horses and continuing on home. Annie has never really liked when other horses turn around to go home (because we live on opposite sides of the sub-division), and although she has never escalated past trying to turn around and not wanting to go forwards, I feel pretty happy with where we are in it so far. Riding alone can be tricky - riding in groups can be tricky, especially when your group peaces out and your horse is like "Uh... where are all my friends at?" So I'm pretty pleased that altho she's a bit of a dingus about it, she hasn't freaked the eff out because a buddy left. Usually, it takes a good tap with the whip and we walk fast for a good 30 strides and she's all business again. 

Back to the point of what I was trying to explain tho - each hack we do and each ride I put on her, I start asking for leg yielding, bend, stretch, etc. Some rides (like last weekend) I literally ask for nothing other than plodding along on a loose-rein with her neck stretched out. The rides where she is a bit more "uppity", I make more effort to put my legs on her and ask things simply because I want her to realize that she can be tense or flighty, but her passenger is still there and can handle it for her.

This was near the end of our "rearing" ride.
All in all, good rides. We are still piecing together a lot of things and it sounds supremely boring, but it's all important things. Sometimes (especially tonight) I get jealous of everyone who is taking lessons or going to shows, but what is happening with Annie is just as important and has just as much of an impact. The clinics and shows will come, and even though I am missing out on a lot of things right now (not necessarily due to the horse's lack of ability, but moreso due to lack of funds because #poorammyowner), it is important to not sell myself short.

All of this desensitization and rides we do around the block with and without friends are all things that are important. Learning to pony Spud, loading and unloading from the trailer, being calm and quiet as I fly-spray her, etc, all these things are building blocks for the future.

Other building blocks - standing for pictures.
So. Yeah. Boring stuff, but really important stuff.

And I am really happy with her. We will have more outings soon, just to get her desensitized to a busier atmosphere but with how she acted earlier in the year at a busy barn and how she acts with the coming and going of other horses, I anticipate she will be just fine. The unfortunate thing about my area is that there is only a certain amount of events/clinics that happen per month and if you miss one or two weekends, you miss everything for the month.

My recap of this month and goals for next month will be posted soon, as the BF and I are headed to Nanaimo to visit the parents and will be gone for a week and a bit. Hopefully the ponies will behave themselves and Annie and I will resume regular riding when I get back. I think she deserves the mini-vacation so far.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Post In Pictures

Because: Lazy.

Also because: There is only a finite combination of words one can use to basically say "We're still learning things" when it comes to Baby Horse Life.

Trail rode to the Ground with friends last Thursday.

Apprehensive, and possibly annoyed ears having to
stand away from her friends.
She was really good and only sucked into them a few times, but otherwise
went to work and we even trotted alongside a friend and whatnot.
I was pretty pleased with her.
The ride didn't stop there tho, we went on Annie's first
official trail ride! Naturally, she had to be first.

Unfortunately, she also came out of Thursdays ride in
full flaming heat (thanks AJ).
Spud was pretty interested in Annie, but Suzie?
Suzie was disgusted.
Lovebirds for all of 15 minutes.
The next day we did a ride around the block.
Annie was good, but took quite a bit to settle into the ride.
By the end she toodled around on a loose rein, so win.

Another ride to the grounds with N and AJ (and Spud).
She was really good - she plodded along on a loose rein to and from the grounds
much more nicely than a few days prior. We got our bad lead
quite a few times too, which was nice. I have a video that N
took, but because of the way the sun was, you can't see us in the shade sooo... yah.

Spud went for a handwalk around the block - he was
less than enthused.

This past Tuesday, Spud and Annie were hauled to the grounds.
Mare did good - took a bit to settle in and get to work but
once she did I was really happy with her. (I wonder if this
is because we usually hack to the grounds vs trailer there?)
She had a few naughty moments wherein she attempted a little hop in the air
when I asked her to back up, but we worked past that and I got some good back ups from her.
We also worked on TOH, TOF, some trot "lengthens" (more like fast trot across the diagonal
and slow trot on the short sides), leg yielding at walk and trot).
Sidenote: why does Spud touch everything I tell him not to?!

^ The video was taken at the end of our ride, and we are both quite stiff and sore. She is bulging out with her shoulders in this - I was too tired to really correct it and she thought she should be done... so. You may notice how dreadfully deep the arena is -_-, it should be getting fixed soon (I hope!).

Woke Spud up yesterday morning - sorry bud.
Took Annie for a solo ride around the block (when I say around the block
its about an hour ride) and she was SO DAMN GOOD. She usually jigs or
walks reallllly fast for a few blocks but she only did it for about 1/4 of a block
and plodded along on a loose rein. Good girl!

Yesterday afternoon I brought Spud into town to visit my 94 year old grandma and
do some endurance type work with him. After finding out the tire tube was popped and
having to go buy a new one and replace it, we got quite a bit done.

This morning - Spud showing me how much he hates his muzzle.
Don't worry, I tie it with twine so it did exactly what it should've done
if he got hung up.

Old lady Suzie had a spa day and got to eat grass in the front and unfenced
pasture while I did chores.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy 24th Birthday, Momma Tooz

A bit late posting, simply because my writing muse has fluttered away into nothing, but Suzie celebrated her 24th birthday on May 12th.

Unfortunately, I didn't capture photos from the day since it was raining (what else is new) and I ended up blanketing the red mare for the weekend because it is absolutely freezing out.

So to make up for it, enjoy some of my favorite (and less shared) Suzie photos from the last few years:

Love you, old lady.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Changing the Rules

As evidenced by my last post, Annie was a bit shocked to see a ''change'' in the rules, especially when it came to the likes of trailer loading. I don't necessarily like to think it is a complete 180 change from where we were before, but it is more like upping the expectations and pressure. We are slowly but surely figuring eachother out and slowly forming a partnership (I realized I put the word ''slowly'' in the same sentence twice, but I feel like it needs to be reinstated that any forward movement is slllloooowww).

Since I was busy with all the trailer loading stuff and helping out at a show all weekend, I wasn't able to hop into Annie until Monday morning. The Chiro was coming out later in the morning and because I figured Annie would need a few days off after being adjusted, I wanted to ride her prior to the appointment itself.

Things started out OK - she tied quietly altho was a bit dancey when I threw her saddle pad and saddle on. She didn't really play up the antics, just wanted to move her feet around a bit. I had put my jumping saddle on, as I had left the trial saddle at home with my dressage leathers and irons.

Once she was all tacked up and I was ready to motor, we wandered over to the mounting block (ie a bucket) and instead of letting her wander away and just quietly following her wherever she went, I start to incorporate the ''new rules''. Before, I had let her move away but quietly just followed and mounted wherever she stopped.

But now, I had changed the rules and was keen on having her stand still regardless of what I was doing or where we were. I think it came as a shock to her because she seemed pretty offended by this new set of rules - but it took less than five minutes for her to just stand quiet as I mounted and dismounted several times.

That stink eye tho
Off we went for a little hack around the neighborhood wherein she was verrrry forward, as she often is when we first head out. I reminded myself to keep my leg on during times where she felt tense and flighty and to encorporate half halts into the ride as well. The half-halts really did help, but it kind of came unglued when I attempted to add leg-yielding in and she just could NOT leg yield off of my left leg. It grew into her completely ignoring my left leg and shooting forwards, so I decided instead of firing her up on the roads, we'd head home and work on it some more.

We got back to the barn and I worked with her in the front paddock that has no fencing - so it is just an open space of green. I had only lunged her back there once or twice and she seemed concerned we were riding back there. The resistance to my left leg continued and I actually hopped off to do some in hand work because she was just NOT getting it. When I was in the saddle, she was flinging her head and just being a cow about it. The TOF and TOH we practiced were really bad as well - she kept getting stuck going to the right (off my left leg) and would just lock up her entire body. The in-hand stuff went OK - she started out ignoring my whip poking her side but reluctantly started to listen.

I went to pop back on and she started moving away again so we worked on the mounting stuff once more. I got back on and she felt very fired up from our discussion on the ground re: moving off my leg. She also started to suck towards the barn and on a particular circle, she bowed towards the barn and I gave her a sharp kick with my leg. She responded by throwing her head down and giving a half-hearted buck. I responded with another kick and she repeated the offence. I stopped her, jumped off and immediately went to the barn for the lunge line.

I have no problems with antics undersaddle - I just prefer to deal with shenanigans like that in an enclosed area where it is a little more safer.

On Tuesday, I questioned my sanity tho.
Annie got Bad Pony Lunged for a solid 10-15 minutes wherein she attempted to flee to the barn once and was shut down quite firmly. After the lunging, I hopped back on (without any wiggles during the mounting process) and rode her around the area at a walk, ensuring she was listening to my aids. She kept popping into a jog but I felt like that was more due to her nerves rather than being bad. We settled at the walk and she was just fine turning away from the barn and towards the barn.

We did a few laps of trot where she was good and I felt like she responded better because I was using my calves vs my heels like I had been before. I feel like I ride with my heels more in my jump saddle and maybe it pissed her off that I used such a loud aid vs a quieter one like I normally do?

Regardless, there was no need for snobbyness, hence the Bad Pony Lunging.

We also did a TOF both directions and she was SUPER good. I was pleased and hopped off right then and there, solidifying that she had answered the question just right.

So, not the best ride we have had. But, I think in some ways it was an important ride to have.

While I think I could have stayed on and fought it out with her, I didn't really feel like it was the place or time for a head to head battle. I was getting frustrated with her being pissy about something so simple and hopping off to grab the lunge line was the better option in the end.

And she is starting to learn that when I ask for things, she needs to comply somehow. She doesn't need to make a complete TOF or TOH - just make the attempt and I'll be happy. I also think doing these tricky exercises with a fence rail will help since doing TOF and TOH out in the open is a bit harder of a concept for a green horse to grasp.

Chiro said three days off, I said practice mounting and wander around
the back paddock where we had our issues a day earlier with a rope
Still, we will keep plugging away at it piece by piece. For now, asking smaller sections of the question might be necessary for her to truly grasp what I am trying to get her to do.

As for the chiro appointment, I was really, really happy with how she acted (I mean, it could also have been because she was tired lol). She let the chiro assess her, touch her all over, and adjust her as necessary. She was out in a bunch of places, but most signifigantly were her left haunches and left shoulder.

I had mentioned how our ride went and that Annie was really terrible about getting off of my left leg, especially instances were my left leg was the inside leg (so think of her bending her right ribcage around a circle). Chiro had said that she was higher on the one hip, which was causing her less leg mobility behind and it would be more evidenced in a circle. She also gleaned that our right lead issue is probably stemming from the locked up left hip as Annie was compensating on her left shoulder quite a bit. So the whole left sided-foulness may have been due to pain, or it may not have. Chiro said to give her three days off and see if things have improved.

Fingers crossed she is feeling more limber and loosened up!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Trailer of Death No More

As the title alludes, we have had some major break-throughs in the whole trailering business. I do feel like a large portion of the success attributes to the new attitude I took towards the entire debacle.

In my last post, I was pretty somber and down-beaten, which is understandable but not necessarily helpful. I was reaching a plateau with Annie - asking her to get into the trailer nicely and babying her each step she went in was not working, as evidenced by the fact she refused to even step from the ramp to the trailer during a 30minute session on Wednesday last week.

I reached out to a few friends and a mentor and found that my issue may be stemming from the fact that I needed to up the pressure a bit more and instead of just asking and asking and asking, I needed to start telling. I had a gut-feeling that the whole regression in the trailer loading was not only Annie being hesitant, but also testings me.

Annie says "lol I tricked you"
As we all know, horses are incredibly intelligent and I had a feeling that Annie had figured it all out and "had my number" without me even realizing it.

So armed with some knowledge, I headed out on Friday prior to driving out to the horse show I would be volunteering at and went in with an open mind and determination.

For those curious as to how I achieved my results, I essentially needed a way to continue forward pressure on the halter BUT I also needed to be in a driving position (ie. near her hind end). I thought about getting a helper for the exercise, but figured attempting it on my own wouldn't be the worst thing I have ever done and most of the time I load alone anyways.

As far as equipment, all I needed was the rope halter, a lunge line, and a dressage whip.

Essentially, the idea was to run the lunge line through the trailer (I ran it under the divider and back out the opposite stall) so I was able to stand on the ramp. The dressage whip was used solely as an extension of my arm and a driving aid to get her to go forward. The aim was, obviously, to have her go forwards and as soon as she went forwards I would stop driving, let the halter loose and praise her.

The first 20-30 seconds of me asking her to go forwards commenced some serious dancing at the bottom of the ramp and her attempting to turn and remove herself from the forwards pressure on her poll. Instead of giving her the baby voice I normally do, I sternly told her to "walk on", gave her bottom a tap with the whip, and what do you know, she did.

Clearly not very worried considering I was able to
get a bunch of pictures lol.
Her mind was pretty blown over this newfound confidence I seemed to have and after a few repeats of installing this forward motion up the ramp, I pushed her more to step onto the trailer. And much to my surprise, she LOADED FULLY.

And not only did she fully load, but she let me rub her neck, belly, haunches, etc and waited for me to back her out.

As much as people will tell me that I should've stopped there, I praised the crap out of her and continued asking her to load and unload. She was still kind of antsy coming out of the trailer and yanked me down the ramp a few times, but I corrected her simply reloading her and asking her to back up and stop randomly down the ramp. Any time her head went up and she made the motion that she was going to launch down the ramp, I growled at her and put pressure on the halter to ask her to lower her poll.

We continued with the progress we had made on Saturday when I got home from the show and I was really, really happy with her. I opted to use her regular leadrope vs the lunge line and she was really good about self-loading. We got to the point where I closed all the doors except for the hay-manger door so she could look out still.

FWIW, her leadrope is over her withers.
And on Sunday, I brought the Boy out with me and we loaded Spud and Annie and went for a little drive around the street. She was a bit sticky about loading, but resigned and loaded up just fine and let me do up the butt bar and the doors before tying her with the safe t tie ring.

 The drive was uneventful, she moved around a bit for the first few seconds and then settled and I couldn't feel either horse shifting around at all. We did a lot of full stops and at one point, pulled over and stayed parked for a few minutes for the Boy to check the trailer plug.

When we arrived back, she unloaded fast, so we worked on that again and we did a few more loading and unloadings just to reinstill that she must load even if we literally JUST got home.

I wouldn't say that we are 100% road worthy yet, but I feel like I can haul her to a clinic or show now without a fuss. I feel like she may challenge me again down the road about getting on, but for now this is a HUGE accomplishment and I will relish in our well-deserved pats on the back :).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Another Week-Long Post

Things on the Annie front have been busy – the radio silence is simply because I find it a bit difficult to write a comprehensive post on our rides when there isn’t anything particularily interesting to say. We are moving forwards tho (figuratively and literally speaking), which is just about as much as you can expect with a greenie.
So let’s do another weekly recap of what we’ve been up to   

Thursday (April 27th)
Note my mounting block.
I popped out after work and put a little hack ride on her. She has been still avoiding letting me mount up the first try – mostly she will back up every time I get the bucket lined up to mount and then I just follow her with the bucket until she stands. I have attempted previously to get mad at her about it and it doesn’t seem like it helps or is productive, so instead of getting angry or reacting negatively, I just tell her to stand and quietly follow her. I do try to step up onto the bucket, step down, step up, step down, jiggle the stirrup leathers, etc. I don’t necessarily want it to become a game of, ‘’SHES STANDING QUICK JUMP ON.’’

The hack itself was good – she was very forward tho and felt very anxious beneath me. I didn’t play into anything and tried my hardest to really melt my body into the saddle (thank you for the visuals Journey with a Dancing Horse), and incorporated some long and low, leg yielding, slow walk and fast walk with just my seat and for the first bit she was very upset I was asking her to do something when HOLY COW CANT YOU SEE IM STRESSED ABOUT BEING IN THE WORLD. So we kept at it and had some minor success with what she offered – the leg yielding to the right was a disaster but we got a few steps which was productive. She certainly offers more in the arena, but I was OK with what I got. On the way home, we really played with slow/fast walking off of my seat while she was on a buckle rein and I was actually really happy with her.

Friday, Saturday (April 28th - 29th)

Adulting things, work and not much else.

Sunday (April 30th)

^From earlier in the week.

I had a full day of running out to the next town to get a new round bale (we have some stored at a farm 50min away), meeting up with a friend to trial her tall boots, grabbing the trial saddle, and going to a horse show committee meeting. I ended up not being able to grab more grain tho, as I got caught up talking to my friends and the feed store closed by the time I was done gabbing.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well in the evening when I went to drop the bale off at the barn. The horses (Suzie was the first to be like ‘’Peace out, bitches’’) trotted by me to get to the bale when I opened the barn doors. When I had went to catch them, Suzie took off cantering (kind of? It was more like a western pleasure lope complete with the head bobbing because, yanno, she’s lame) and Annie followed suit… just not in the same direction. Instead, Annie went onto the road and tore in the direction of the neighbors yard. Suzie flew after her, with me not far behind with a halter in my hands.

Long story short, mostly because the whole story still makes my stomach turn and it makes me so fucking embarrassed … Both mares ended up wandering into the neighbor’s yard where they were trying to have a pleasant birthday party for their kid. I was able to catch Suzie and one of the ladies from the party, who I had transported a llama for, came over and held her while I tried to grab Annie. She was trotting around, snorting and heaving. It didn’t help the kids were running around and dogs were barking and chasing. The kids ended up going onto the deck with the adults, thank god, and

I wasn't bad... I promise.

Annie actually ended up wandering into an adjoining yard that had a horse in it. I think she saw him from the one little path and was intruiged, so she wandered that way. Two little strands of hot wire were up, but I couldn’t even see them from where I was standing and Annie literally just walked through them – I later was told the little electric fencing insulator things were actually hammered into a rotten tree, so they literally just popped out when she pushed against it. The horse inside of the fence, who has been with a bunch of other horses before (but isn’t now), spooked hard and started to gallop away before attempting to climbed over the one fence on the far side of the little paddock. The fence, which was chainlink, was pretty haggered to begin with and thankfully gave way beneath him and he was contained in a little dog run thing. I was horrified and grabbed Annie as they sniffed noses over the damaged fence and checked him quickly to make sure he was OK before yelling for the owner. When no one responded, I decided the best thing to do was to leave the horse in the dog pen because I didn’t want to go any closer and have him react like that again and I wasn’t sure HOW to get him out of the dog run. So, I turned on my heel and left to take my two girls home and go back to the neighbors to let them know what happened.

>The owner came out of the house and followed me back to the barn – I didn’t even hear her yelling for me I was so shaken and embarrassed. All the horses are fine – the scared horse escaped with one little scratch and I went over the next morning to help fix the fencing. Nothing but the small piece of chainlink was damaged (which I have paid for). It was such a weird, freak incident – the owner even stated it was such a weird reaction from the horse to scale the fence, especially since Annie wasn’t even running at him, she was merely walking.
And where was Spud in all this you ask? Funny enough, Spud stayed at the barn even though I left the doors wide open when I took off after the girls.
Best pony strikes again.
I did go to the neighbors house and apologize to everyone at the party, but none of them were concerned or even upset about it. They were glad I was able to contain both horses and no one was hurt, which is the best outcome anyone can hope for. I have also learned my lesson about unloading bales – the horses will be moved into the other paddock until after the bale is unloaded and in the feed box.

Monday (May 01st) 

We did some lunging work and concentrated on rythmn as well as her sticky right lead. I was still feeling crummy about the events that transpired the day before and my stomach was still doing knots and flips (anxiety is a wonderful thing) so I opted not to ride.

With the lunging, she still had some issues getting her right lead, which has solidified my decision for the chiro (who comes out this Sunday). I noted on the lunge line she will counter-bend herself to get the right lead and if I keep tension on the line to have her bent to the inside, she actually will stop, so that was an interesting tidbit and actually transferred into my ride the next day.

Tuesday (May 02nd) 

I tested out the trial saddle! It actually fits me really well and it fits Annie quite well too. We wandered over to the ring and I brought Spud with us, which seemed to be a good gameplan at first. Annie was pretty amped when I brought her out – not wanting to stand tied, spooking at the saddle pad, just acting really spooky in general. I got on and she refused to budge, and when I gave her a squeeze she tossed her head down on me but another squeeze and she went forwards. I have a few theories about why she acted this way, but I’m not 100% on either. The first is that she was still amped about the whole Prison Break that happened Sunday evening, or the horses are just feeling Spring-time Fresh. Does anyone else have horses that go through this? As the weather gets warmer they are more spooky/fresh?

The first ¼ of the ride was her usual fast walk, attempting to hop into trot once or twice, but nothing too malicious. I attempted to halt her so we could wait for Ty to catch up, and she protested the idea but didn’t really make a huge display about it. Mostly just tossing her head in the air and trying to walk off. Hashtag suchdrama. We walked to the fairgrounds without incident, save for a spook at one of the rocks she had seen 100 times now.

The ride in the arena was probably one of the best we’ve had to date, which makes me happy! We were able to get her sticky lead and she actually got a few steps of stretchy trot, which was awesome! We worked away at leg yielding, halting, backing, trotting serpentines and circles, cantering around the entire arena (I have always been nervous to canter her around the ENTIRE arena because it is so big). 


 I also have a few funny stories for you guys re :this ride – I wore my new Kerrits tights and they have these little grippies on them (in the shape of carrots no less). Well, the saddle is buffalo leather which I guess makes these grippies really happy to do their job. So… my upper thigh got stuck to the saddle during the posting trot, so I kind of went to lean forward to wiggle my leg free and Annie stopped dead like, ‘’What are you monkeying around up there for?’’ Oops. Good to know she has auto-brakes for an unstable rider. And there was also our Pilot Error 3.0 : I tried to ride her like a broke horse and figured, ‘’We are legit ABOUT to turn, I’ll ask her to turn now’’ vs ‘’Hmm the turn is coming in the next 15 strides, I should probably start to tell her to turn because yanno, we don’t steer very good’’. And boy did I pay for my mistake. She ended up turning like I told her, but we ended up pretty close to the fence and I actually ended up wretching my outside leg on one of the posts which was convieniently located right after the turn. The ankle is fine tho, and I learned my lesson about over-preparing Annie about turns cause… fitness and greeness and all that.
The judgemental peanut gallery.
The rest of the ride went well, I was pretty pleased with her – she is quite solid in the arena in terms of listening goes.

When I was finished, I had to dismount to open the gate, and then I played How Many Times Is Cathryn Going to Dismount and Remount.
I stepped up onto the bleachers outside of the ring to mount up, and Annie was hesitant about letting me. A few tries and she let me up, and we started to walk off. Except fucking Spud was busy eating grass and instead of following like a good pony, he planted his feet. I didn’t have enough time to pull Annie up and the leadrope fell out of my hands. So I dismounted. Grabbed Spud, and remounted.
Except then he pulled on my arm and the hoodie I had draped over my thighs fell to the ground. So I dismounted, grabbed the hoodie, and remounted.

Just before I dropped the hoodie. Again.
And then we were off! We made it just down the trail and I went to fiddle with my phone and the hoodie fell… Again. So I dismounted, and then remounted again.
We started off again… and I don’t even remember what happened. I think Spud’s lead dropped again because I just could not human. So I dismounted again. Walked back to the rock she spooked at earlier, tied the stupid hoodie around my waist and remounted. If you are counting, that’s FIVE fucking times I had to get on and off of my horse in the span of seven minutes. I did have to laugh tho, because clearly the Horse Gods were testing Annie’s ability to stand quietly – and stand she did.

Wednesday (03rd)

Due to Annie’s nappiness (balking?), I wanted to get on her again to reaffirm that the little attitude that popped up the day before wasn’t going to rear it’s head again. She was naughty about waiting for me to mount, so I just waited her out until she stood quiet.

The hack around the neighborhood was good, but she spooked quite a bit – at a wet spot on the pavement, a kid yelling, a basketball hoop… all things she has seen before. I am starting to think maybe because the wildlife (bears, coyotes) and such are starting to come out of the woodworks and the days are getting warmer, it is having an affect on her? I have had a few people tell me it is just ‘’Spring Fever’’ especially since she is spooking at shit she’s seen before. She doesn’t seem like she is spooking to be a cow or pretending to be afraid – she spooked at Roxy the other day while I was riding when Roxy sat down to scratch her neck. Thankfully, they are quite mild spooks and most are nothing more than a flinch and sometimes a full blown halt. Still, it makes me curious why she is more reactive now than she was before.
Anyone else deal with this? I’m not upset or annoyed by it, but moreso just curious.
After the failed loading session, we both needed a mental break.
We also did some trailering stuff - sadly she seemed to forget about all of our progress the week before and reverted back to two legs in the trailer and two on the ramp. It was disheartening, and to say that I was disappointed would be pretty spot on in terms of accuracy. There is a show this weekend and all sorts of fun events happening this month that I will probably be missing out on. And it really, really sucks. I am trying so hard to be patient with her, but every so often I get a little jab of ''you aren't good enough'' or ''you aren't the right person for her'' and it really does hurt.
I felt pretty sorry for myself that night, alternating between feeling like I could face this head on to I don't know what to do. It sounds ridiculously stupid, but my mind plays over and over again about situations where I try to load her and she just won't, or her freaking out in the trailer again and hurting herself bad. I know she isn't a bad horse, and I know her reaction was simply a result of feeling trapped. She doesn't understand trailers. Hell, she had only been hauled maybe twice before I shipped her up here.