Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Easter Weekend Redux

Since I have a few rides I still need to catch up on and a Dressage clinic this weekend, so I figured it would be smart to lump everything together lest I run out of time to document everything accordingly!

That being said, the day after our nice, long trail ride, I was more than a little excited. With it being Good Friday, I had the whole day off and the weather was just perfect - prime "outside activities" weather. So it made sense to me to play pony for a prolonged period of time - which is why I decided to haul to the grounds and bring Spud and his tack/cart as well as Annie and hers.

In fact, I was so keen that I also had stopped by an Executive of the Fairground Society's home to pick up keys to the jump container. Back in my 4-H days we used to pull the jumps from the container regularly, but as the club disbanded due to lack of interest and time, the jumps have sat collecting dust. So long as you are a member of the Fairgrounds Society and are in good standing, you are welcome to borrow the keys and use the jumps... provided you put them away afterwards, of course. Which, is all fine and dandy except when you are alone and the jump container is a good 70ft away (give or take), it is a bit of a PITA dragging everything out only to have to drag it all back again.

I made someone else drag the jumps to the arena for me, lol.
Poor Spud.
But, I shouldn't complain. We could just as easily not have access to any jumps.

Anyways, my intention was to play around with some jumps (obviously), to get more comfortable and familiar with the feeling, the distances, and to play around a bit with Annie's responses. For 90% of her "jumping career", I've only done so in a clinic format. Having an instructor there has it's benefits, but it also prevents me from thinking on my own. Whenever I go to a clinic, the act of jumping feels foreign to me as well, since we don't do it often at all outside of lessons. It takes a few jumps, or sometimes an entire lesson, for me to feel "on it" and well prepared.

When we arrived to the Fairgrounds, I had already been doubting my decision to work both horses, but remained stubborn and threw on Annie's saddle before tacking up Spud. I decided to work Spud first, so that I wouldn't be sitting in sweat for a prolonged amount of time (#ridingishard) and because I wanted to see how Annie would handle being tied to the trailer while watching Spud wander off.

I did move her to the opposite side of the trailer so she could watch us better, which certainly made a difference. At first, she was not very happy, but settled into it and ate her hay quietly. She made sure to pivot enough to keep a wary eye on us, but otherwise was just fine. A loud set of motor-bikers had crested one of the hills at the Grounds at one point, which startled both horses, but otherwise it was a quiet afternoon.

Spud felt really good - much less opinionated than he was last year (#nobrakes) and happily went to work. He was a bit speedy and flat, but I expected just as much given the time off. We did a variety of figures, including lots back-swinging walking and slow/fast trot. He hung a bit on my right rein, which he does often, but it didn't seem too noticeable in the big meadow we schooled in.

We finished up with some tight turns via verbal cue and he did really well. His right turns aren't as polished, but they've always been a bit tougher for him to execute smoothly. Still, he did all the things and I was pretty pleased.

As I was cooling him out, I had the brilliant idea to have Spud carry all the jumping stuff to the arena for me. Annie #lostit a little bit when we disappeared from sight, but kept her brain hamsters in long enough for me to load poor Spud with four plastic standards, poles, and associated jump cups. He didn't seem to mind tho, and happily led behind me pulling all the gear. Annie, however, was verrrry suspicious about Spud and his newly acquired appendages. So, I had to untie her so she could sniff everything and not be a giant wimp.

The scariest looking mini ever.
I brought both horses into the arena, off-loaded Spud, untacked him and turned him loose. Annie stood, tied to an arena post while I moved the jump set up around and lined up some trot poles.

At long last, I threw her bridle on and was able to swing a leg over. We had a really good warm up - she was not argumentative in the least and seemed happy to go straight to work. After a series of walk-halts and a few TOH's, we went into some walk-trot transitions, as well as a few trot serpentines like we had done at the Anthony clinic. I remembered to not ride her into the rail, worked on preparing her ahead of time, and it went really well. She didn't resist to my aids like she had at the clinic and seemed happy to be notified of changes ahead of time (whodathunk?!). We did a quick canter in either direction, working hard on having her come back to an active trot.

A few loops down towards the jumps to run through the trot poles and I hopped off to raise the one jump to a large X and the other to a vertical. I mostly concentrated on the X, but had to get off again after I realized I had placed the jump much too close to the arena fencing and it made it difficult for Annie to gather herself in two strides and turn right after. And since my intention was not roll-backs, I moved the jump another two strides back.

The X was initially more to the right, where the empty set of standards
are set up.
Overall, it was a really productive school. I was able to make some executive decisions as a rider, understand how Annie would respond, and how it impacted the fence overall. There were a few times I sat to the fence, realized it would be a gnarly chip and just sat there... and there were other times I held or pushed for the distance. And it worked out really well.

Annie was just bounding over the jumps regardless of my mistakes and it gave me a really great opportunity to fiddle around and make adjustments. In a lesson setting, I get nervous and don't want to make mistakes so my go-to is to either under-ride or over-ride. In this setting, I was able to process the information and figure out what kind of canter I needed and when I needed to ask for more gas (or brakes).

We did pop over the vertical, which made me pee my pants a little. Annie was great and just hopped over, but also knocked it slightly and the pole clattered to the ground. And me, being the lazy rider I am, refused to hop off again to reset it. So, there it lay.

We played around with the X in both directions and finished off after a particularly nice distance and jump. It wasn't a long ride, but it was quite productive. And unfortunately, the arena was a bit gunky from the previous day's rain so I didn't want to overdo it either. It worked out tho, because Annie was keen to be done. After I walked her out a bit, I stripped her tack and set her loose to roll in the arena sand (her favorite).

Unfortunately for me, the work was just beginning. I decided to use Spud's cart again (sans Spud) and loaded all the jump gear into it. Which was fine, until I tried to move it through the wet, thick sand. Yah, not so great.

I managed to get it done after sweating, cursing, and wondering why in the heck I was doing all this work. I got the jumps back into their container tho, and felt accomplished until I turned around and realized I still had to load the horses, their tack, and Spud's cart.

I got it done tho, and man was I happy to get home and shower, haha! It was a long afternoon, but I felt pretty damn accomplished.

That badonkadonk.
The next day however, I was not feeling as keen and gung-ho as I had the day previous and opted to get Spud out for a distance drive solo-style. He did really well, although the drifting to the left and the hanging on the right rein was much more evident. I did some work on correcting that, and we did quite a few series of long-trots through the subdivision. Overall, it was a pleasant drive and Annie didn't seem to mind being left at home.

And as if I'm not crazy enough, Sunday it was absolutely pouring. So I did what any sane horse-person who has a fat mini would do. I went jogging and drug poor little suffering Spud along with me for the 4.8k.

Don't feel too badly for him tho, he didn't even break a sweat.

The rain stayed around for a few more days (today is actually the first sunny day since), and yesterday I was able to swing a leg over Annie and do a quick hack around the subdivision before the rain started again. And thank goodness, because it absolutely poured once I got home from the barn!!

Overall, it was a quick hack. The wind was blowing hard and Annie felt... meh. Not really hot, but not really calm either. And not really... paying attention? She was happy to look at anything and everything but had a really hard time focusing and working with me. I got a bit flustered too, because I had plans of a nice and light stretchy ride and she had no interest in stretching or slow-paced work. Any time I reeled the reins out at the trot, she kinda surged forward, happy as could be.

We spent a lot of time at the walk and I really established that work in the contact did not mean we needed to trot off (every time I picked up my reins from loose rein walking, she was happy to bounce into the trot, haha). And every time I felt her get ready to trot when I did not ask for it, I'd dump the reins at her like, "Nope, we're stretching now!!!"

No photos from the ride, bc my fingers were frozen.
So enjoy a picture of me petting Annie's snoot with boot last Thursday.
She got it together at the very end of the ride and we had a few reallllly awesome canter-trot transition. She also felt incredibly steady towards the end, and I could actually feed out my reins without her marching off. She got many good girl pats and a few carrots for her efforts, of course. I'm not really sure what her deal was, because she didn't feel fractious, she just felt... distant? I can't say I really blame her tho, because at home, the wind was so strong it uprooted our neighbors tarp-tent contraption and had blown it over his fence and left it rolling around in the greenspace behind our properties.

Regardless, I'm still counting the ride as a win because altho she felt like a child in at Disneyland (looking at everything, not paying attention, didn't hear what you said), she got it together in the end and even in the earlier stages of the ride she was rideable. Altho... kinda frustratingly so, haha.

I'm hoping to get one more ride on her before the Dressage clinic this weekend, so wish us luck that the weather stays in good spirits so we can do just that!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

First Trail Ride of the Year

Spud was very upset he had to tread through belly-deep water.
I was able to take advantage of the Easter long weekend and play pony for a majority of it. And thank goodness, because we had an influx of nasty, rainy weather which made riding impossible until late Thursday afternoon.

While we have played around on some shorter trails (namely the one surrounding the fairgrounds arena... it actually used to be a XC course way back in the day), as well as hacking on the open roadway, I don't really lump all into the same category. So for the sake of my own, weird thought process, we had our very "first" long-distance, water-crossing, hill climbing trail ride this past weekend.

Initially, I had thought that we were a bit behind the curve of trail riding, but my Facebook memories recently reminded me that

It was the perfect day for a low-key ride, as the sun had finally poked it's head out (although just slightly before disappearing behind a thick veil of clouds). The horses were happy to be pulled from the paddocks and I chose to throw Annie's bitless bridle on, hoping there would be no theatrics inspired from the unplanned time off.

Ready to rock and roll!
We headed out and logged a really nice 7.5k ride which looped across the highway. The footing was great in most places, aside from one section where there was some hoof-sucking mud which Annie found offensive and flat out refused to budge another step. It took some cajoling, but eventually she relented and puttered along.

The trail featured several water crossings, rocky inclines, and a few sections where we were able to long-trot. Annie was sure-footed over most of it (aside from the previously mentioned hoof-sucking mud), and was happy to plug along and pick her way along the trail. I was mostly along for the ride, only interfering during some of the slipperier parts. Annie was happy to oblige tho, and she was given many good pony pats.

 It should be said tho, that I was a bit nervous initially, because we had to pass a rifle range there were people actively shooting at, but neither of the horses seemed to care. I think it spooked me more than it spooked the horses, haha!

The ride was quiet, and during the trot sets, Annie felt nice in the bitless bridle. She certainly seems to like the side pull action vs the chin pull, so I think I'm going to keep the current set up the way it is. As she continues to get more comfortable with the bitless bridle, I was thinking of playing around with the criss-cross attachment at some point again, but for now we're both happy with the way it is.

All in all, a nice ride and a day well spent! And hopefully our next trail ride will feature some company.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 2

The second day of the clinic saw us getting up earlier than usual, but thankfully not as early as the day previous. My desire to complete several other chores and tasks Sunday afternoon out-weighed my desire to sleep in, so a 9:45am lesson it would be!

I ended up rolling over, thinking I had overslept, and scared myself awake well ahead of time. Any attempts to go back to sleep were foiled because my brain was in overdrive, already overthinking how the day may or may not go. Oh anxiety, you are so treasured.

Spoiler alert.
Once I got dressed and ready to go, I grabbed my helmet and saddle pad that I had left hanging in the living room to dry. I thankfully remembered my riding gloves were bunched up in my grooming tote in the trailer, still soaked from the day before. So before heading to the barn, I threw them on the dash of my truck with the heat blasting in attempts to dry them before my lesson.

Zipping out to the barn, I loaded up Annie, and at the last minute decided to leave Spud at home. My initial idea was to lunge him post-lesson, but after being poured on the day before, it left me with little motivation. Plus, the list of chores I had wanted to complete that afternoon meant I had to be aware of my timing.

Annie was great and unloaded just fine, quietly going to work on her hay while I tacked her up. I wouldn't be riding for nearly 40 minutes, but I figured I'd tack her up, throw a cooler on and watch some of the lesson before us. The weather was more manageable, but cold. My fingertips felt icy as I did up the girth and I cursed myself, wishing I had brought mittens of some kind. I was relieved to find my riding gloves had dried enough that I could wear them.

Jumping some jump filler with cones on either side
(it looks like we're jumping the cross rail, but we
actually aren't!)

I watched a bit of the lesson before us, and took some videos for the riders, who are both friends. The wind was relentless, and I lamented that I couldn't wait for our lesson so I could get warm. It didn't take long for time to pass, and before I knew it, I was convincing Annie to put a verrry cold bit in her mouth (sorry, mare) and swinging a leg over.

We warmed up in the grass and the walk felt good - forward and reaching. Unfortunately tho, the trot was a fricken disaster. She got kinda hot, unwilling to bend to the inside and kept pivoting herself around the circles I attempted to make. It made me revert back to my old habits (hello, Left Rein), and just made Annie pissy. There was a lot of tail flicking, head shaking, and huffing. I contemplated going back to the walk and just waiting for our turn instead of trying to get to a positive place.

This jump gave me heart palpitations.
(See below for the gif of Annie and I going over it ;) ).
I paused my thinking, and alternated a bit between stretchy trot and reminded myself to let. go. of. the. fucking. left. rein. Annie was a bit happier, but was still trying to sneak out on the circles and after a nice one-legged boot to the ribs, she was NOT. HAPPY.

We moved onto canter, which was also a disaster. For the first time this year, she coiled up, bounced, and started cross-firing with her tail cracking behind her. I sat about three or four strides before I simply said enough was enough, brought her down to trot and worked the gait until I felt like she was actually listening and responsive. I sat on her a bit, encouraging her to stretch during those times and she did quite nicely.

We jomped da box!!
Sometimes it's about pushing her past the cross-firing, and sometimes it's bringing her back and saying, "You need to calm your shit."

So we did just that, me remembering to be more Zen and Annie to be less... sensitive, haha. We picked up canter again and I suddenly had a much more agreeable horse beneath me. I sat up, encouraging her to push herself forwards vs coiling up behind my leg. She agreed and we switched directions and cantered the other way without zero issue.

She still felt tense tho, which was kinda frustrating to me, but I just let it go and walked a few laps before going into the ring. We started several minutes late, but once we started, we got right into it.

Some pointers from this lesson (in order):

Big, scary jump and mare takes care of me <3

  • Starting with the walk, Anthony reminded me to make the walk interesting. "Don't wait to be bold in the canter - be bold in the walk first, as it is a more controllable gait." I like to have Annie in a very slow, controlled and collected canter, so this was a good exercise for me, as I vocalized that "I like slow. Slow feels controllable!" And Anthony once again reminded me that control does not come from the speed, control comes from practicing those speeds ;) Gee, who woulda thunk.
  • Annie needs 1000s of forward transitions (working canter to working trot). He did caution me to not overdo this and to not ask for a forward transition every time. Too much of something is never a good thing. He suggested I implement something similar to "2 working canter - working trot and then 1 collected/slow canter to collected/slow trot" and even "working canter to slow/collected trot". The power of keeping things interesting, and honest.
  • Instead of ripping at the left rein (tracking right), think of controlling her right front leg at the canter. You are steering that, not her outside shoulder.
  • Get her head up, looking and interested in her work. She should only be ridden in a "deep" frame 20% of the time. The rest of the time she should be in your hands and looking where she's going. (This makes it sound like I ride her in rollkur, haha, but he's meaning having her poll higher vs a more dressage frame).
  • He had us complete a 5-6 serpentine loop around the arena, alternating posting and sitting trot. Annie had some  resistance during the turns and would fuss with the bit. I asked him about this, and Anthony said it is simply resistance to an aid. It doesn't necessarily mean pissiness, it may simply mean I am using too much of an aid when turning. He said that fences train horses more than we know (for example, when riding serpentines, we turn to avoid crashing into the fence), and he was saying that riders tend to override the turn and instead of simply directing the horses feet, they clamp the outside leg on to push the horse through the turn, clamp the inside leg on to bend thru the turn and block with the outside rein. He said I'm probably doing too much and to just simply turn her - it doesn't need to be complicated.
  • We also did a metric shit ton of canter-trot-canter transitions where Anthony had me on a 40m circle and as soon as we changed directions, I was to grab mane with the left hand and ask for canter. Annie, understandably, got the wrong lead once or twice, but it really changed how much power she had. Typically, I unintentionally block with the left rein and she'll wander into this short, quiet, but no good for jumping canter. Without my rein blocking her, she popped into a rather lovely, forward canter.

Those are some happy mare ears <3 
  • Are you making her better, or are you encouraging a habit?
  • At one point in the lesson, Anthony asked me to do a walk - trot transition and trot down the short side. There was a woman scooping manure in the ring kind of close to the track, so I across the short side to avoid her. Anthony wanted me to do it again, and this time to not sway my path and to commit to the track like he had asked. His reasoning was that just because we run into "problems" doesn't mean we should avoid them (ie. this could be another horse in the ring, spooky coat hanging from fencing, etc). He said by nature, Annie should look at these things and I should encourage her to acknowledge them. He mentioned that jump standards in a ring train riders more than we think, as we often use them as markers in the ring vs riding around/ utilizing them in our work (just like the woman in the ring). It's not to say you should be riding rings around some poor soul in the arena, but it's about riding your plan and instilling bravery in your horse. You expect them to jump spooky jumps, but will avoid a certain situation because it may cause an "issue". School through it!
  • Practice the hardest at trot poles - these are your million dollar jumps, so jump the shit out of them.
  • Allow there to be a thought process about the jumps - you want her to acknowledge the jump from several strides away and say "OK".
  • "Look at the jump, little mare!" Encourage her to poke her nose up and out, while still having a feel of her mouth.
  • Anthony had me jump a little set of jump filler in preparation to jump a vertical with boxes beneath it. He said this when I went to jump the filler by itself before trying the vertical: "THIS is your winning fence, so ride it like it is."

Such a good bean!
We jumped quite a bit, and quite a bit bigger than I'm used to and certainly the biggest I've jumped on Annie to date. I had to have a minor pep talk when he raised the x-rail to an oxer. It was good though, I got brave and trusted her and we had a really, really good ride.

We also did a lot of cantering to fences, which is something I'm not the most comfortable with, esp to the bigger fences (trotting approaches are less scary, haha). Overall tho, I'm super proud of not only Annie, but myself (Anthony may or may not have given me a high five at the end, haha!). 
Still lots of greenness, of course, but never said no once. She got stuffed with many cookies for being a good girl and I'm already looking forward to our next clinic in June with Anthony!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 1

And just like that, the first clinic of the season (for us) is already over. I remember looking at my calendar in February, lamenting that April was so far away and we'd have to wait months before lessons again. And then in the blink of an eye, April came and before I knew it, it was clinic time!

Long-time readers will be no stranger to this particular clinician - I've taken a dozen lessons from him with Annie and had taken twice that in my pre-Annie days. Anthony is blunt, but fair, and has a killer sense of humor that may seem mean, but has a lick of truth to it. I really enjoy my rides with him because he has a sensible approach that makes riding seem so easy (well, it is easy when you remember to just ride your horse). He is great a reading the horses and applying why things did or didn't work for them and he's helped me so much with Annie in the last two years.

Many pats for a good mare.
I was excited, but nervous for this clinic, as I begrudgingly remembered our first clinic with Anthony last year. Yanno, the one where Annie just could not horse and ended up kicking me in the thigh when I sent her out to lunge, became a hot-unwilling-to-steer-mess, broke boards down in the stalls overnight, and then kinda redeemed herself on Day 2 but was a giant cu next Tuesday for the farrier?

Ya, that one.

It would be a bit of an interesting day regardless, because I had Cedar's final puppy class that morning (which took place in the same town, and was actually right across the street from the riding grounds). So, I had to figure out how I was going to approach my lesson - do I haul out, do the puppy class first (leave Annie at the grounds in the stall she had such a "problem" with last year), and then ride after? Or do I ride super early in the morning, and then stick a tired Annie in the stall while I go to puppy class? Or, do I drive out twice to avoid the conflict of the stall altogether?

In the end, I told myself the experience in the stall would be beneficial and since it would not be a prolonged stay, it would be good to "practice". Of course, I brought Spud along for moral support bc he's the #bestpony.

That *was* a ten stride, haha.
And so, I signed myself up as the very first rider for Saturday morning at 8:30am. Which, isn't necessarily that early, but when you have a 45 minute drive ahead of you, it kinda sucks, haha.

Regardless, we all arrived in one piece and both horses loaded and unloaded just fine. Annie was a bit snorty at the grounds, but I just ignored it (bc #zenninja), and was happy to see she was munching her hay despite obviously feeling curious about where we were and why. Spud, as always, was delighted to have his grazing muzzle off and practically inserted his entire face through the hay net holes.

Annie was a bit of an ass and kept pivoting her body into Spud, so I kept pushing her back over. She didn't attempt to kick or try to bulldoze him like last year, which was good. She was a bit wiggly to tack, but for the most part stood quiet.

Did I mention it was freezing cold and raining?

Oh, I didn't?

Yah. It was fucking cold.

No, the video isn't grainy. That's rain. Lots and lots of rain.
I threw a spare saddle pad over my saddle, in attempts to keep rain from accumulating while I finished getting ready. And once I was, we headed over to the mounting block which was #veryscary since several spare jump standards had blown over in the wind and were laying like a stack of dominoes on the ground. Annie snorted, went slightly feral, and then was like "oooooh, they are just standards" as I picked them up, one by one.

And then I realized I forgot my crop. So, back to the trailer. Grab crop, back to the mounting block. And of course, as I swung a leg over, my bottom and thighs soaked up allllll the rain that had splattered over my saddle in those 3 minutes.

I went to go warm up in the ring, but found all the gates locked and decided to just warm up in the grass area instead of dismounting and going into the ring bc #lazy. Annie felt alright, it took a minute or two for her brain to get engaged but she felt ready to work and didn't take long to feel "good to go". We didn't canter on the grass, because I have flash-backs to slipping on ice and didn't want to chance it with the accumulation of rain the ground had received all night.

A diagonal set of trot poles.
Anthony was ready for us anyways, so we plodded into the ring and went over what Annie and I had been up to so far this year (not much, haha) and how much jumping we had done (none).

Here is a good mix of comments and pointers Anthony gave us:

A more active canter/trot transition. Still not great, but better
than what we started with!

  • I have a love affair with my left rein. Even while turning right, I hang on the left rein. Going left is even worse, as I overflex her to the inside. We worked a lot on keeping that hand neutral and instead of flinging her head around, Annie became really agreeable and quiet in the hands. It felt weird tho, because she felt like she was motorcycle turning but nope, she was just straight instead of bulged to the inside.
  • The flexion "feels" right because Annie is short on her left side vs her right. He asked that when I ride right, to encourage her to stretch her left side.
  • My leg is much quieter. I don't have them engaged for every stride and they did zero nagging. Hooray.
  • I need to practice bringing her poll up vs having her in a "deep" Dressage frame. He commented that the Dressage frames have a place and time, but that I need to ride her in a varying amount of frames so I can learn to control and ride all of them.
  • We still have a minor steering on the right lead. My reaction is to sit deep, tighten the inside rein and push with the outside leg to get her out and off. We worked quite a bit on having me sit up, squeezing the outside rein to keep her straight instead of drifting left, and the outside leg to push her back into the circle.
  • She is very tentative in her canter-trot transition. Work on being able to bring her to trot without having to collect the canter up so much and Anthony commented that he wanted Annie to be BOLD as heck in her trot. We worked quite a bit on bringing her to trot and having her GO.
  • Slow does not equal forward. That nice, quiet trot I like to keep her at around the ring? It isn't a an active jumping trot. He wanted me to ride her as if we were actively going somewhere. One of his comments was that I need to make the gait "interesting" and "educational". Meaning - we aren't just plodding along on a Sunday afternoon. We're going somewhere, doing something and we have a purpose. Kind of like last year when he asked me to ride her bolder.
  • Let her be green to fences. You don't need to over-ride, you don't need to discipline her for looking (she should be looking at the fences), and wiggling is OK . Just be there to support and trust in your position and the discipline of your riding.
  • Keep her straight after the jump.
  • Do not completely sit between the fences - he commented that when I sit on her, I sit quite defensively and not only does it impedes the forward motion Annie has, but it also makes my position suffer because I don't get into an active 2 point quick enough. He suggested I ride instead in a modified 3 point. 
Annie really woke up once we started jumping, and at one point we had to do a few figure eight loops to get a working trot back since Annie was verrrry excited, haha. When two other horses showed up for their lesson, she became a little unfocused and hot, but was still manageable. 

Overall though, it was a really good lesson and we managed to ride our first set of bounces and I came out of it with nothing but positives. Yes, there are still things to work on (when is there not?), but I felt like we were finally prepared for the questions being asked and Annie met me more than halfway for a multitude of them. 

I was happy to get out of the saddle at the end of the lesson tho, because I was soaked. The rain had made its way through my jacket, hoodie, and tshirt. Thankfully, I was smart enough to pack extra clothes, but not smart enough to pack an extra jacket or hoodie... So I changed out of my soaking breeches and chose to wander around in the moderately wet hoodie. 

Anthony worked us up to a set of bounces  - we did
a good old fashioned one stride here.
Good Bannie!
Before heading to puppy class, I put Spud and Annie up in the indoor so Annie could roll, and then tucked them into stalls with some hay. A friend that had come to watch me ride (and took the above videos!), sat with me in my truck while I warmed up, and cuddled Cedar (who was a very good boy). When my fingers didn't feel so numb and it was getting close to puppy class time, I did a final check on the horses (both seemed fine and Annie wasn't pacing back and forth like she did last year), and thanked my friend for stopping by in the less than idea weather before jetting across the road.

Cedar's class went well, for those interested, and he has gotten a bit braver with bigger/more bouncy dogs. He passed his class and got to wear a ridiculous graduation hat that he hated, haha.


And another cool thing?

Annie was standing quiet, leg cocked when I pulled up to load them.

Spud was sad he was mostly out of hay, because I literally threw him one handful, haha.
Annie was happy to see me though!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Zen As F*ck

Our first clinic of the year is this weekend (in fact, we already had a lesson ;) ), and I while I am pretty excited to be getting some regular instruction again, I am kinda... nervous about it. The first clinic is always nerve-wracking - getting back into the swing of things, getting the horses out there and doing the thing, riding at a venue we haven't been to in a while. It feels a bit... momentous and scary but at the same time, there is a sense in relief of having someone there for guidance if shit hits the proverbial fan. I mean, isn't that the reason we have lessons? To improve?

An Annie in the wild.
As always though, my insane ability to stress and over-prepare has reared it's ugly head. And while I can appreciate the fact the trailer has been packed and ready to go for a few days pre-clinic shenanigans, I have had to remind myself to calm TF down a few times.
It can be hard tho, putting yourself out there for criticism, even if the instructor is someone you trust, value, and respect. For someone like myself, I always want to be better than last time. Showing the clinician that, "Look, we followed all of your instructions and look how amazing we are!" or "We did 18" cross rails last year, and we are so prepared for this 3'0" course now." Which, isn't always the way it goes.

And we might never be ready for that 3'0" course (Annie might be, but I am firmly in the wimp category, haha) and that's OK. Because our clinician this weekend has never ever made me feel like a

Following our last ride in the arena last Tuesday (April 2nd), we were bombarded with really ugly weather. High winds and a significant amount of rain led to exactly zero pony time until the following Monday (April 8). With the idea of the clinic looming over my head, I knew I had to get the mare worked because showing up for the first clinic of the season on a horse that hadn't been ridden in a few weeks was probably not the best idea.

So I did what any logical person would do when their horse has had
almost a week off.
However, when I pulled up at home I saw a suspicious package sitting outside the front door. One look at the label and I knew exactly what it was and it changed my trajectory of "Get the mare ridden srsly okay" into "Omgggg ride the mare in this fancy new bridle bc its purple and cute omg."

Two Horse Tack was gracious enough to send me a 2-in-1 bitless bridle (one that I had been pining over for months) and there will be a review up once I can ride in it for a few months to really explore all angles (durability, longevity, etc).

I jetted out to the barn, armed with the new bitless bridle and game for a trail ride. Unfortunately, riding after work makes it a bit difficult whilst also owning a puppy and I couldn't justify spending 3-4 hours at the barn trail riding with having Cedar stuck in his crate (the dogs do come to work with me in the afternoons, but still!). The one trail I had intended to ride was an 80 minute circuit and with the recent rainfall, I wasn't sure how stable some of the hills would be, as they often get eroded throughout the year from being frequented by 4x4'ers. I scratched it off the list and decided I would ride the trail around the local arena - the footing is relatively good and at a recent Fairgrounds Meeting it was disclosed that the trail looked great with no fallen trees or maintenance required after our Winter.

I tacked up, deciding to use the criss-cross configuration of the bitless bridle as it provided a bit more "bite" than the sidepull alternative. Annie had had nearly a week off, and I kinda valued my life (a bit), so I went with that choice. Although I clearly didn't value my life that much considering I rode bitless and dragged Spud along.

The cutest
She started off a teensy bit hot, and definitely did not appreciate the chin/jaw pressure. I kept the reins level, with light pressure, and encouraged her to seek down into the contact. She did well after tossing her head in protest a few times, and until she saw someone else walking their horse. She decided to sidepass a bit, snorting and yanking her head around, protesting my attempts at asking her to look to the outside (away from the horse). She got a little prancy but we managed to pass the other person without incident, and Spud toodled along with us quietly.

After that, she seemed to settle more but definitely was more amped than I would have liked. Despite this, I appreciated the forward energy in her walk. As we approached the arena, I had a momentary thought of popping off and changing the configuration to just a sidepull and possibly just schooling her in the ring. Annie, possibly sensing the idea, made a quick left hand turn down one of the several entrances to the trail. I shrugged, deciding that we'd do the loop and then stop at the ring afterwards to change out the attachments and school a bit if I felt it necessary.

I did have to laugh at her practically dragging me to the trail - she does love exploring and I'm glad the weather has improved so we can ride some of the trails now!

The loop was uneventful. Annie settled into a quiet rhythm and we managed to get a little trot set in on one of the less slicker parts of the trail (one portion borders a marsh which is frog habitat and when it overflows it spills over onto the trail). She felt good, and seemed to appreciate the freedom the bridle gave her.

We wandered into the ring and I switched the criss-cross for the sidepull attachment and did a quick trot and canter. She felt much more amicable in the sidepull, although drifted a lot more than she does in a regular bridle.

Heading back, we ran into another group with horses and I ended up having to throw my phone in my pocket (was on the phone with Show Buddy) because Spud decided he wanted to walk right in front of Annie to try and say hello. Of course when this happened, Annie decided her legs grew roots and she could no longer move. Oh, horses. A quick pony club kick and we were on our way.

Following our Sunday hack, I wasn't able to ride until later this week due to vet appointments (Cedar's final shots and Roxy had to get a tick removed ugh), doctors appointments, and school. The only way I was going to be able to get a real ride in before the clinic was to haul to the grounds, which kinda worked out perfectly. It gave me the ability to load the trailer up in advance, plus gave me some good info as to what a trip to the grounds would look like since I want to start hauling a few times a month to cut down on the amount of time I spend hacking to and from, as well as save some wear and tear on Annie's legs (altho, walking to and from the ring is pretty minimal wear and tear).

After class I headed out to the barn and grabbed all my gear, hay, and the horses. Both horses quietly loaded and waited patiently as I finished packing the trailer up.

At the grounds, both dug into the massive bag of hay I had stuffed for our weekend lessons and I fought off hoards of disgusting mosquitoes, who happily buzzed between me and the horses. Poor Annie's tail didn't stop.

Awkward, but happy to be nibbling hay.
I let Spud loose in the ring and clambered aboard. Annie felt... opinionated, haha. And this is something I've been noticing when we ride away from home. It'll be kind of hard to explain but basically, by the time we get to the arena to do work, Annie has had 20minutes of warm up time. While we do some walking exercises on our way there, it certainly is not similar to the walking work one does in an arena. When I hop on at an arena without letting her have her "mosey time", she feels tight, hot, and opinionated. It doesn't feel dangerous, but just kinda fractious energy and she feels ready to pick a fight.

When we ride at shows, I often walk her on the buckle for 10-15 minutes before she feels "ready" to work. And I suppose some of it is "my fault", the other part of the piece is that I need to start hauling to the ring and showing her that life is tough and sometimes we gotta go to work right away. Of course, it goes without saying I'm not meaning we head into the ring and cantering away we go. We warm up at the walk, but it isn't moseying and it isn't on her terms. It's asking for stretching, asking for contact, etc etc.

And because I felt how tight her back was, I knew it would be an interesting ride if I wasn't able to get myself organized, calm, and collected. I felt a moment of, "Oh shit, we have a clinic this weekend." "We don't feel ready. I shouldn't have done this." "Oh crap what if ____ happens."  "I KNEW she'd feel like this."

We lapped around the arena once, on a loose rein and I just kinda pep-talked myself. I'm all about emulating that whole zen ninja shit Carly talked about in her last post, so I kinda just went "Well, you're allowed to feel that way, but it isn't gonna affect the plans I have for our ride and it isn't going to dictate how I feel."

So we started off with a bunch of walk-halt-walk transitions, which Annie was Not Happy about. She would fling her head, root down and gnash the bit. I refused to take the bait, and just sat quiet, focusing off on the distance, and not letting my body get rigid. We walked off and she braced, I kept the contact following, soft, but inviting to be taken.

We moved into some turn on the haunches and she humped up a bit beneath me, cracking her tail in protest and rooting down into my hands. I had asked for one step of her haunches to the left and instead, she flew around a half circle, backed up several steps, attempted to walk forwards (I reminded her to halt), backed a few more circles, rooted the bit, and then stood.

And I just sat there, like the most Zen Thing you've ever seen.

I attempted again, and she swung her hip into my leg, so I tapped her haunches with the crop, asking her to move off of my leg. She repeated the same process as above and I still stayed quiet, just a Zen As Shit.

Annie: "You suuure you don't wanna pick a fight?"
Me: "You do you, girl, but I'm not gonna stop asking for something you know how to do."
Annie: *annoyed* "But I don't wanna." *pouting*
Me: *zen as fuck*
Annie: "Fiiine."

After that brief discussion (wherein I refused to be involved in), we moved on to some leg yielding, baby-shoulder ins, bending to the outside/inside, and a million and one walk-trot transitions. Annnnd...

She was awesome.

Post-ride. Annie got let loose to roll 4000 times while
Spud got lunged.
It took her a little bit to relax in the back, but once she realized I wasn't going to pick a fight, she gave up and went to work. I was able to actually sit on her during the trot without her humping up her back and feeling flat. She certainly wasn't as rounded as she could have been, and her contact waffled, but she felt good. The crop helped quite a bit, especially during the transitions where she wanted to dive into the walk and fall flat. A quick tap of the crop had her bouncing back into a trot, which although wasn't what I was going for, was OK and I let her trot a few steps before asking for an active walk. It took a few tries for her to understand what I was asking, but a few of the transitions felt great.

I hadn't intended to do any canter, but figured why not. Our first canter right felt terrrrible. It was this rocking-horse-going-nowhere-downhill mess, so I got up into a half seat and pushed her into a longer stride. She felt sticky tho, like her front end was stuck and her hind end was just bouncing up and down.

So I brought her down to the trot, did a few lengthens and tracked left. The left lead canter felt loads better and I let her be more open in it than usual - asking for a thundering gallop* (*Annie doesn't know how to gallop, so it was more like a fast canter lol) on a few long sides. It took a few times of me asking her to bring her front end up, but she felt loads better than to the right. She even sat on her ass for a few strides when I played with some collection. She broke, but I ignored it and showered her with tons of pets and good girls.

Don't worry, I tamed her mane before the clinic.
To make sure our right lead wasn't broken, I tried it again and had a wonderful response. We looped around the ring and on the long side, she kinda pulled the reins from my hands and started to lengthen herself out. So, I let her.

She has had a natural tendency to feel super behind the leg and stuck (esp at canter), so I let her take a careening gallop down the long side where she refused to respond to a half halt before the corner so we kinda motorcycle turned to the short side, haha. I didn't mind it tho, I'd rather have her feeling a little uncontrolled but forward. The sinking feeling in my gut during our first canter was not fun.

We finished off with some sitting trot, asking her to do short serpentines, as well as another exercise I'm not really sure what to call. Basically, we go down center line and come off of it into a 10-15m circle, cross center line to the opposite side and loop back down to center line, come up again and come off the opposite side into a 10-15m circle.

I remember thinking, "Whewww, we are so tired now, we must've rode at least 40 minutes" and looked down at the Equilab tracker to reveal we had been riding a whole 28 minutes, haha.

We are out of shape.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Heat Got Us Beat

A reverse barn door vista, haha.
Our final ride of March took place on the 31st, and I had planned on a low-key, quiet hack around the subdivision with Spud. I've been consciously trying to keep his outings to 3x per week, spacing them appropriately and trying to maintain a level of varied work to keep all parties interested.
After a relatively busy Sunday afternoon, I headed out to the barn and was greeted by Spud, who was in a bit of a pickle. You see, I had purchased a new grazing muzzle for him as I had grown less and less fond of the one I had purchased for him years ago. Because of his new diet and subsequent requirement to wear said muzzle, I wanted to give him an upgrade to promote more airflow, easier cleaning, and the ability to be breakaway safe (without having to redneck tie his regular halter with baling twine). It had come in the mail Saturday morning, so I fitted it to him and turned him out.

This guy... he gets into the oddest predicaments sometimes!
Somehow, Spud managed to hog-tie himself with the damned muzzle. The crown-piece of the halter was happily hanging around his neck (the breakaway velcro failed to separate for some reason), and somehow the pony's front right leg had entered through the muzzle, and exited the right nostril hole. Thankfully, Spud is pretty chill and was happily stuffing his face with hay, and looked up nonchalantly. I would have taken a picture, but I was more shocked than anything, and immediately set to work unfastening the velcro and removing his hoof.

I can only assume somehow he got the muzzle popped off his face and ended up stepping through it while grazing.

One of the downfalls of self-board though, is that I didn't really know how long he was stuck like that. Poor guy. Thankfully there were no sources of heat, no blood, no swelling, etc.  He did trip a few times when I lunged him to check for soundness, but I think his leg was asleep from being stuck in position for so long?? Regardless, I decided to poultice his entire leg and give him a few days off just to be on the safe side.

She seems to like the inclusion of cross-ties. We've been spending a lot of time
in them now that I have a real cross-tie, haha. I had the idea of utilizing them for our
farrier appts instead of me holding her, so we'll see how it goes. We're working on getting
her comfortable and happy in them (she was never cross-tied before), and then we'll see
if it makes a difference in her comfort levels re: shoeing. 
I'm happy to say that he turned out to be just fine and we hand-walked a few times before I ponied him again just to make sure everything was OK. I also re-fitted the grazing muzzle and haven't had a repeat issue since.

Damn horses.

So because of Spud's little... self-induced hobbling, I took Annie out solo-style. We did a quick and easy 40 minute hack where I incorporated just over 7 minutes of stretchy trot sets and a little 1 minute canter. Mostly tho, we stuck to a marching walk alternating between contact and stretching. She felt good and I was pretty happy with her!

Post-hack. She's so sweet <3
Our next ride was on April 2nd and I had managed to weasel out of work an hour early, which left me enough time to head to the grounds for a school. I brought Spud along, who was feeling fine (and galloped in the arena while I schooled, haha).

It was an alright ride - certainly not our best. We both felt plagued by the unusual heat (it was so warm I rode in a tank top!) and Annie sucked behind my leg heavily in response. I had also been quite exhausted (I ended up going home sick on Thursday and fell asleep on the couch for a few hours), so wasn't really in the right head space to put in a proper school.

Still tho, I made it work and made the principle of my ride to have Annie in front of my leg. She was also a bit fussy in the bridle, but seemed to settle into a rhythm after a bit. I tried to not focus too much on the bridle connection and instead, turned to having her USE her motor. Which is hard right now. She lacks strength and fitness, and looking back in the videos, I think that is where the resistance is coming from. Our outdoor arena also needs to be leveled and dragged badly, so I can't fault Annie much!

It was kind of a short and sweet ride, mostly because mare and I were both dying of heat and feeling a bit under the weather. We had some good moments eek out of it and I reminded myself to bring a whip next time (I got off at one point and snapped a small tree branch and used it as my redneck whip, lol).

I was glad I took video too, because as I watch, I can see quite a few rider errors - "like gosh why aren't you supporting her?!" - and a few things to work a bit more on (relaxation for that tiiiiight back).

All in all, a few good rides and I'm looking forward to our clinic with Anthony this coming weekend! I was intending to put in another ring ring before the clinic, but just as quickly as the temps rose, they fell significantly and it rained for longer than I would have wished for. Today we will be hacking out for the first time since last Tuesday so fingers crossed the ponies are well behaved and we have a good ride!

Friday, April 5, 2019

It Feels Like Summer

The day following the unfortunate loose horse scenario, I decided to hack the horses up to the fairgrounds arena to school Annie. It's quite a long walk (~20 min each way), so any schooling has to be pre-planned and well thought out. Because I self-board and as such, perform a variety of day to day shores, I have to structure which days I go out and ride in the arena.

I was lucky enough on Friday to have a half day, so took the opportunity to take the horses to the ring.

The view out of my tack room - Annie would have
preferred to just hang out and eat, thank you.
The ride there was uneventful, although when we rounded the last corner of trail to the grounds, I spied some movement and could hear voices. As we got closer, I recognized the people and horses (who were loose in the ring). A non-horsey family from the subdivision had added two horses to their ever-growing hobby farm for their daughter about a year ago - they hadn't done much with the mares when they first got them, but have since thrown their daughter into all kinds of Trainer K camps and lessons, which has paid back tenfold.

It's been kind of cool because in the last few years, horses have slowly become more prominent in the area once again. When I had first bought Annie, there were only a handful of riders who rode out more than once a month. I was the only rider from that area who did shows, or hauled for regular lessons/clinics. And kind of an interesting tidbit; the grand total of horses in the area lurked somewhere around 13 (but out of the 13 horses, only 8 were sound and serviceable riding horses). Now, the tally for riding horses is somewhere around 14, which is pretty cool! Lots of young riders who are learning about horses and the magic of riding!

Anyways, the family is really nice and welcoming. I had to hop off Annie because she got a lil bug-eyed at the two mares when they galloped up to the fence. As I approached, Annie decided to have Stallion Syndrome and arch her neck, snort, and tried desperately to visit. She got a smack to the shoulder and reminded to stand quiet while I talked to the family. I did eventually let them say hi, as the girl's mom wanted to let them meet (lol), and of course it ended with both mares screaming at eachother anyways. The poor girls mom was mortified, haha, but I explained its just what horses do. Their young daughter didn't seem phased and kind of rolled her eyes at her mom, which made me laugh a little bit.

Still some slush and snow in the parts of the trails that don't get much
sun. Apologies for the blurry photo haha.
The Mom and Dad had hauled their daughter and a friend over to ride the horses over some jumps and through a trail gate obstacle, which looked pretty fun. I also realized how ingenious it is to just haul to the grounds vs hacking there. Since they live in the subdivision, it's a no-brainer, but for someone like me (who cannot leave the trailer at the barn), it ends up being close to the same amount of time and even more effort. Although, I did keep this tidbit tucked away and played around with ways to speak to the BO about parking my trailer at the barn for a month or two to haul back and forth to the arena when I'm low on time. What do you guys think? Would it be worth it to haul? Or talk to the BO about leaving my trailer there so I can haul over to school a few times during the month?

Anyways, I'm off track again. After chatting with the girls mom a bit more, I asked if they would mind me riding. They said no, so once they tied up their horses I tied Spud to the rail and wandered in.

Annie was still wide-eyed and huffing, so I joked it was a good thing the girls were there that afternoon, because it's always good to have someone to call 9-1-1. We laughed, I cried on the inside, and clambered aboard.

No photos of the actual ride, so enjoy some pictures of us
hacking home.
Although she felt fresh, she didn't feel unsafe at all. I moved over to the end of the arena, away from the other horses and over to where the sand wasn't as deep and water-logged. It was a really decent ride once Annie quit fussing in the bridle and quietly went to work. Unlike our previous school, she had no #feelings about the canter and no #feelings about turning left, which was a welcome change.

We did a ton of trot-canter transitions and poked at a few walk-canters but nothing crazy. She was really well behaved and we did a few trot and canter leg yields as well, mixing in some simple changes and those well loved 20m circles. I was pretty proud of her - to go from wide-eyed and flighty to settle right into work.

The canters felt great, and aside from one missed lead (which was across a diagonal), she had no issues whatsoever.

She didn't feel as "meh" as she did the day prior, so I was glad that she felt more normal. We finished off with some 2pt cantering and sitting trot and called it a day. But not before trying out that super cool trail gate the one girl's dad had fashioned with two jump standards and some rope!

Tired pones heading home.
I had never thought something like that would weird Annie out, because I can open and close gates from her back. However, this little yellow rope was SUPER offensive and it took several hundred thousand attempts, three dismounts (and subsequent ground work sessions), and one very long walk and trot dragging the rope for her to understand it would not eat her. Which makes it to sound like I beat her, which was far from the case, haha. We did a lot of tossing the rope in the air, dragging it beside us, hand-walking through the motions, etc.

It was an eye-opener in a way though, because altho I don't intend to compete western on this mare, it's good to practice! I was glad for the opportunity, and thanked the girls for letting me use their fake gate and school my mare through it for a good 15 minutes. I also mentioned that if they wanted to set up jump courses or trail courses in the future to let me know, as I would love to help and take Annie through the motions!

We headed back home and I was able to give Annie a well-deserved bath. There is something so satisfying in watching months of dirt and grime be uprooted and spiral with the water down her legs and into the ground below. After that, I turned both the ponies out, dumped Annie's mash into her hanging bucket and headed home feeling pretty accomplished.

One of the many unflattering photos I took. Sorry, Annie.
It feels nice to be ahead of the curve for once - the Winter's worth of manure and hay has already been scraped up into several piles (just waiting for the ground to be less saturated before we get the tractor back there!), the tack room is clean, the electric fence has been retightened and the broken insulators (from fallen tree branches) have been replaced, and who can forget that the riding ring is... rideable?! I'm usually well into May before I'm caught up with all the post-Winter chores. Hooray for feeling like summer!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

A Hack and a Loose Horse

The weather in Northwestern BC has been exceptionally uncharacteristic - I can't remember the last time it rained, and the creeping temperatures have made everyone (including myself) sluggish and subdued.

I can't complain, though. The weather has brought about the opportunity to ride in the arena a full month ahead of schedule, and I've been taking every opportunity I can to get ourselves out and about to start working on our fitness. I signed Annie and I up for two clinics this month, so the ball is certainly rolling and I'm excited!! One of the two day clinics is with our favorite instructor - Anthony, who I primarily rode with most of last year (for a grand total of 7 lessons!). And the other is a Dressage clinic with Derek Huget (I rode with him last January before Annie went for training. I fell off in my first lesson due to a loose girth and have been seeking redemption ever since... now is my chance, haha!).

The very best of frands!
That all being said, life has a funny way of getting busy, so Annie got an unscheduled 5 days off. Which, used to stress me out to no end (we have a schedule and need to stick to it!!!!), but now I kinda just roll with it. There is no reason we need to have structured ride times and days, especially when life outside of horses can get hectic at the drop of a hat.

So while I was missing saddle time, I didn't really stress about it. It is what it is - we make things fit when and where we can! I did manage to squeeze a quick ride on Annie after class last Thursday night and ponied Spud to get his 3x a week cardio in. In addition to wearing a grazing muzzle 90% of the time, he's already starting to look much better. We'll keep plugging away at it, and the whole ponying thing has gotten much better as I continue to take him.

We did a quick 3km loop (40min), alternating walking and trotting. Annie was great, although she felt kind of... meh? I'm not sure if she needs another adjustment or if she was just having an off day, but her movement didn't feel as snappy and purposeful. It kind of just felt like (and I'm over exaggerating here), a blind horse stumbling along a rocky trail. She didn't trip or stumble once, but it just lacked the feeling of purpose and the intention of going forwards towards something. I noted it and allowed her to stretch down and out during the trot sets, which she seemed to appreciate.

It looks cold and miserable, but the sun was just behind the trees!
As we headed home and were just about to round the corner of our street, we ran into two other riders - one was V with Geronimo and the other is a young girl who just got her first horse. V had rode over to this girls house to hand-walk with her to get this girls horse familiar with the area and sights and sounds. Supposedly she hasn't ridden him before, which seems questionable to me (esp for someone who is new to horses), but I just kinda shrugged like "not my horse, not my problem". Annie wigged out a bit, finding it to be the most interesting thing in the world to come upon other horses. It's seldom we do, but since the horse population has grown in the last year, we've run into quite a few horses this year already on our hacks, haha!

I popped off, said hello and introduced myself to the young girl. V and I chatted quickly before I meandered on my way, coercing Annie back to the barn because she was very concerned about where her new friends had gone. I finished untacking, picking poo, and a few other chores before heading home.

As I was driving home I kept getting notifications on my phone, so I stopped and opened them. There is a private Facebook group for the rural subdivision and someone had posted about a "loose brown horse". My gut reaction was that it was Spud ("I thought I had locked the barn door?" "How did they get out?!"). As I scrolled on the comments, another post popped up, "horse wearing saddle, no rider..."

I knew exactly who it was and turned around at one of the pull outs and doubled back to the subdivision. I knew V had been riding Geronimo, but had gotten off to walk with the young girl and her new horse.

When I got into the subdivision, my first priority was to see if V had made it home or not. I was concerned she may have fallen and been concussed somewhere on the roadways. As I drove to her house, I did a quick scan for a riderless horse, but saw none. Geronimo wasn't necessarily high on the priority list though.

You can see V and the other girl wayyyyy off in
the distance in this picture!
I pulled up the driveway and slammed my truck into park, jumped out and rounded the corner of the house to see V and her husband standing by the horse pen with Geronimo. Apparently, V went to re-mount after walking the girl home and Geronimo flailed/ spooked/ bolted and dumped V on the neighbor's lawn before galloping the entire way home. The neighbor had driven V home at the same time V's husband looked out his window to see Geronimo standing at the gate.

Thankfully, V is mostly OK. She's going to be quite sore and I imagine Geronimo will be too, but I feel less sorry for him in this instance!

Of the entire situation, what floored me the most was that of all these people posting on Facebook about a loose horse, not one person cared to check to see if the rider was OK. No one walked outside to check ditches by their house, no one bothered to make a few phone calls. Half of the people commenting weren't sure if the horse had been contained yet or if it was still loose... It wasn't until after I had replied back stating someone had fallen and was thankfully OK that people seemed to care. It actually really made me angry, and I was so glad I was in a position where I was able to drive back out and double check. I guess non-horsey people don't get it, but it was kind of a bummer that no one really seemed to put two and two together (horse is wearing a saddle... maaaaybe someone fell off?).

A lesson though, because I have a feeling a few residents of the area realized just how serious it could have been.