Ranger Recap: the lesson that almost didn’t happen

For reasons that I don’t feel like going into (other than saying, I HATE TRUCKS), I almost cancelled my lesson this week. But, for my sanity, thankfully, I didn’t.

For the first time in the longest time, I did not get to tack up. So the entire ride was sort of weird??? I showed up and started getting my stuff together when my trainer walks in and grabs Ranger and informs me that she’ll tack up while I get my boots on. Turns out the previous lesson no showed (or more likely cancelled the week before and no one remembered) and since I was there, she’d tack up for me while I got ready. Ok then. I sort of relish my time tacking up, but… not going to upset the apple cart. img_7981

Thankfully once I was on, I could take my time to breathe before we actually started working and trotting. So I took a few minutes to breathe and stretch before we got to work. That said, I was still carrying and insane amount of tension throughout all of my trot work. Still, I felt like I’m really getting somewhere with bending and Ranger is realizing that I am going to make him and it’s just easier to listen. Part of the issue is I’m one of the only ones who make him bend so… to the left we drilled sitting trot which is TERRIBLE when you are carrying tension. And I’ve had on and off back issues and probably need an mri… OMG. To the right, more of the same, less the sit trot, but two point instead. That said, I don’t think I’ve done 2 point in a lesson around the ring in a while… BUT, my 2 point was impressive so??? Yay?  After that, we walked while Ranger took a few minutes to breathe (humid as hell). I vented. Then it was time to canter. Venting for 5 minutes made me feel SO MUCH BETTER! Tension… GONE. Of course, supposedly I transferred all of it to my trainer, but whatever. Sorry. Nothing exciting about the canter work this week.

Over fences:

We started off cantering over the inside line of 2 TINY crossrails. The goal was to do it first in a super slow 8 strides, trot across the center of the ring, canter it in 7, trot across, canter it again in 8. Basically, exercise in stride length and adjustability.

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Unlike some people, I LOVE this exercise. We succeeded the first 2 times through without any issues. The 3rd time I didn’t use quite enough right leg and we had a bit of right drift and tripped at the crossrail and lost our trot for a stride but, in theory, would have had the 8 had we cantered. So we did it again just to be sure. T

Next we cantered around and did the other inside line. So, the line that has the green tree standards. First time through in a 6, then in a collecting 7. First time through, I had the pace, but remembering the last time I did this line, I cut me corner to prevent left drift which actually causes left drift (I never said I was smart). So, I never had a straight line to the second fence. As a result, I had land and add leg to get there in 6. We did it easily, but it was more work than necessary. So, instead of collecting, we did that again. Second time through, I stayed out until I could see the straight line, made the crisp turn, and what do you know? It was easy. Then we trotted through the center, collected (super easy by the gate) and did the 7, trotted through the center, added leg, and sent Ranger forward and did the 6. This time, when landing, we continued around to the outside single white oxer. Except, instead of steadying my pace, I didn’t see anything and tried to adjust. I forgot to just count 1-2, 1-2… and THEN look for something. But we got over. We did just the oxer by itself and it was easy because I remembered by that point how to ride…

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Green jump around to the oxer. I cut off the ring, but you get the idea… 

We let Ranger walk for a couple of minutes while I got my last instructions. Basically, the end single around the random stone pillar to the brown oxer (out of the inside line we were just jumping) turning right in the air. Ranger was dead at this point so my goal was do it in one so we could be done. Usually that means I’m stuck on his back jumping forever but this time? I was clear and confident. I could feel him getting sticky so I picked up my canter at the far end and just established my pace and he knew I meant business. It just worked? I remembered where I was going and actually rode, using my ring and staying back, but looking ahead and being forward. Interesting that I can do that sometimes…

We cooled out with a walk which had Ranger had fly spray (oops, missed in our rush out), Ranger probably would have enjoyed more. But, overall, a very much needed lesson.

The many stages of dead Ranger

Ranger Recap: Lacking motivation but Ranger cures all.

So I’m going to try and recap 2 lessons here, but I may end up splitting this into 2 posts if it gets long. I’ve just really lacked blogging motivation lately thanks to life. But I’ve had a couple of great lessons that I should really write about…

Alas on with the posting!

Flat work:

As usual, we did our normal warm up. Working trot/halting/circles/you name it. Unlike normal, I was able to really focus on getting Mr. Ranger to cooperate on bending through our circles because he’s a gem and thankfully decided that he’d listen to my inside leg.

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At the canter we reintroduced our changes which…were a struggle. First time left to right we completely missed as I just had too little canter and Ranger noped right out of it, second time through I got more canter so that crossing through the center, when I shifted and added outside leg, he gave me a clean change. Right to left was a lot harder. We completely failed the first time. Second time we got the front only and continued around to try and get the back. Trained told me to kick in the corner and I…didn’t. Third time, same thing. Front, not back, but in the corner I listen, kicked and got the back. Basically, I needed to get the forward momentum from the back end which I was completely lacking which the kick allowed me to get. I so rarely need to kick Ranger that I was just out of sorts completely.

Over fences:

We started off we 3 fences on a circle. A cross rail, and the 2 outside singles.

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Plain jane standard cross rail and the white and blue standards outside single and the white standard outside single (different heights, but same locations)

The goal of the exercise was to ride the jumps in a continuous circle. We did it to the left first 3-4 time, then to the right 2-3 times. Even though Ranger bends better to the left, he likes to land right. So, the left was harder initially, but eventually we fell into the right rhythm. The right was just easy from the start. Key? Don’t rush.

Next, we attacked the single inside jump that gave me so much trouble last week, cantering up and down it 2-3 times each direction. My trainer thought it was the height (even though both the other jumps in our course were 3′ and didn’t give me issues) but I knew it was my brain. She put it back up to 2’9″/3′ and had me canter back and forth. Unlike last week, I remember that I needed to just have a steady canter (I’m back to counting my 1-2, 1-2 canter rhythm when needed to stop interfering) and that even if I screwed up the spot, the canter would make it OK. And the jump was perfect each time… “Well, no issues with that jump today…”

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Last we ended with last week’s course. Cantering right lead over our outside single (blue and white standards). Then MOVING away from the gate towards the inside single that I had finally mastered, and continuing down (left lead) to the other outside single which was now an oxer. Not huge but 2’6″-2’9″.  With a steady pace and confidence, we had no issues and did this a few times before calling it a night. img_7975

 

And like all good rides, we took a nice long walk to cool out, enjoying rural Chester County and the last nice night before monsoon season… or endless rain and floods unlike anything I’ve ever seen….

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I’ll write about this week’s lesson in another post.

 

Ranger Recap: Getting back in the swing of things

I FINALLY had another lesson after 2 weeks off from lessons due my trainer away at horse shows (I did get to ride Ranger but not as much as I had hoped due to migraines and a heat wave that, quite honestly, left me not wanting to ride).

But it was so nice to be back that I took absolutely NO pictures so deal with old media?

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Never too much of this face

I got on a bit early and just chilled on Ranger. He’s really a good couch. To be perfectly honest, if all I did that evening was sit on his back, I would have been 100% happy. I can’t describe how much I love this horse. He’s perfection is ALMOST every way (my ears will talk about that later…).

We did out normal w/t warm up with circles while the lesson before us was finishing up. Forward, thankfully, wasn’t an issue, though circles were and the effort it took to loosen Ranger up to right to get him to bend was something else… He was stiff as a board. Supposedly he was worked some already (beginners), but based on how much his neck resembled a 2×4, I’m guessing I was the first person to ask for any sort of bend. He rented the bend not the work. He has quite good work ethic. Eventually he gave in to my inside leg and rein and relaxed his neck and we achieved a nice bend and moved on. So exciting. Seriously. Like watching paint dry. On a 2×4.

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He’s the best

Cantering was nice. Our first direction. Relaxing and lovely. Then his friends left. And all hell broke loose. I mean, he was lovely and well behaved just a bit forward and screaming at the top of his lungs. See, Forrest was in the ring with us and OMG I LOVE YOU BFF FRIENDS FOREVER. So, yeah. Screaming. Ranger’s downfall. My poor ears. It got old. Really. Really. Fast. But, we forgot we were fighting me on bending so win?

We warmed up with a our log jump by cantering in, landing and turning and reapproaching based on whichever lead we landed. So turn right and approach from the right if right lead, left if left lead. We landed each lead 1x and then moved on. Meanwhile, my trainer had her daughter set up fences and don’t let a 9 year old put up jumps… Some of the fences were up already from the previous lesson, but now I have 2 3′ fences, a 3′ oxer, and a small line and a small vertical to warm up with. Thanks. For the oxer, the directions were to put it up a bit (it was 2’6″) and then she asked if she could make it an oxer… Oy. “Sarah doesn’t want to jump small jumps…” — Actually, Sarah doesn’t care!

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Old view of the course. Jumps at different heights but you can see the log. Landed and either went right or left and reapproached.

We started off with the vertical (which was actually the second jump on our inside) heading towards the barn around to the other inside line. The line was nice and small (2’3″) and while I was nailing the single vertical, I struggle SO MUCH with the approach to the in of the line! First time through, I cut my corner a touch and chipped. Second time, I stayed out, but then we had left drift. Third time OR fourth time (I lost track), we were to continue around to the massive 3′ oxer that I was giving the side eye… Thankfully I rode the line better this time and didn’t die with the oxer… MASSIVE outside leg was required to keep a certain pinto from left drift to the inside line.

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Where the X with blue/white standards would be the vertical and the tree jumps would be the inside line (can’t see the second one well but bother were similar height 2’3″ ish).  Outside singles can be see here too but just raise them a lot make the one left of screen an oxer and the inside jump is between the stone pillars

We changed things up the next time and moved on from this and instead did the OTHER outside single around to the inside single around to the outside oxer again. I’ll be honest, I never 100% got this. I got each part, but never completely put it together. And the more I started thinking, the less things worked. And we all know, thinking IS NOT A GOOD THING, at least with me. So, I would get the first jump, and then my trainer would tell me NOT TO CHANGE ANYTHING so I would somehow interpret that to mean SLOW DOWN and change my pace rather than keep my leg on… then guess what? The spot I would see would suddenly disappear! Amazing how crap like that happens and we’d chip a 3′ fence… But still clear it because Ranger is a saint. SAINT. Or, we’d swap coming up to it to make it work… Or, I’d ride PAST the distance. Then I’d realize I’m an idiot and fence 3, the oxer would be perfect. Or, I’d screw up jump 1, and come to my sense and jump 2 and 3 would be perfect. Basically, jump 3 became perfect. So, finally, getting exhausted, after attempt 4 or 5, I asked if I could leave out jump 3 because I didn’t want to start screwing up that jump after 5 perfect attempts in a row… So after another go or 2, we then just had jump 2 to contend with after perfect jump 1…

Believe me, it is possible to continue to screw up a single fence multiple more times…

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Saint.

Finally I decided to pick up my canter half way around the ring, start counting my 1-2, 1-2s OUT LOUD and what do you know? Perfect fence. I had just gotten in my brain and not given myself enough time to establish a pace… Ranger wasn’t helping either as by that point he was back to calling to Forrest… And trying to slow by the gate… I think picking up the canter early he realized I meant business…

Thankfully, by jumping that fence well, we ended.

Ranger got to reunite with Forrest (well, first there was screaming in stalls, and baths, and almost accidental turn outs of the 3 horse in their 3-some Mikey). And eventually, my hearing returned to normal.

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COOKIES

Riding in Fair Hill (and not getting lost?!?!)

Sunday morning I finally got back out to Fair Hill with the Batthorse. The heatwave broke on Saturday (I, however, was dealing with another migraine rather than riding Ranger) and the weather was gorgeous.

I rode out from the Gallaher lot for the first time. And while the trails in this area were LOVELY, parking was AWFUL. I arrived to find NO PARKING AT ALL (and first thought I was going to have to back in to the one possible parking spot) and then finally noticed people parking on the grass across the street. Thankfully a nice person moved her trailer up to make room for me and I was able to park. Later on the grass area filled up too. But, Gallerher lot = no parking. Just saying.

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I had arranged to meet a couple of random people via the Fair Hill trail riding group on Facebook. When I arrived, there was an empty red stock trailer that I thought belonged to the people I was meeting (also red) so the person I parked next to invited me along to join her group. Once I was tacked up, my real group arrived, but I ended up going out with the new group as the original group was only planning a 40 minute ride. Now, I don’t need long, but 40 minutes is a little too short. So I ditched group 1 and went out with group 2… Since I didn’t know any of these people… Plus the originally group was running late and I was all tacked up and ready to go.

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This brings me to my question: How do you meet people to ride with? Especially when you keep your horses at home? Now, I ride at hunter barn, but primarily with kids on ponies. Most of them are ring kids and they venture out on trail rides 1x per year and beyond that, trails are loops around the fields with their ponies. I like kids enough, but I’m not big on trail rides with 10 year olds… especially on 50k ponies… ha! exaggerating. Maybe. img_7883

Beyond that, most of my horse friends don’t have trailers or horses. I’m no longer willing to ride at Marsh Creek after past “incidents” related to teaching, at least not yet. Wounds are still too fresh. My farrier suggested just showing up at Fair Hill and seeing who I can meet. As long as people are there, that’s not a bad plan. Facebook worked pretty well even though I rode with different people than planned.

Anyway, the ride was pretty nice. Went out with 4 MARES. My poor gelding didn’t care at all. He parked himself mid pack and only coughed when we stood to take a poll if we were continuing on or turning back.

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We did try and take off our bridle once… Any suggestions for a bridle with a WIDE crown piece? I tightened his bit when I hopped off to adjust his boot which twisted, but I’d rather not have him ride with a tighter (than necessary) bit, but idiot Batthorse knows how to take off his bridle (and fly masks — except for the Rambo). Anyway, Batts starts shaking his head and next thing you know, one ear is free of the bridle (or would be if I didn’t catch it). Michele saw this happen last trail ride… I’m thinking a wide crown piece would make this more difficult? This hasn’t been a one time incident and has happened multiple times over the past year or so? With and without fly bonnets. Suggestions welcome!img_7882

Anyway, all and all we were out for about 2+ hours. We went over multiple bridges without incident (all following fearless leaders) with much praise. We crossed tiny creeks and went through woods. Batt was his usually calm self. Love this boy so much on the trail.

I exchanged contact info with our leader so I might have at least one person to go out with again.

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Eating back calories lost from 2 hours of work… 

Dog Days of Summer

Warning, this is a media heavy post…

 

We’re in the middle of a heat wave on the east coast and what better way to to cool off than with swimming and baths?

This is mostly true and 4 of my 5 outdoor or indoor/outdoor animals have appreciated my efforts to help keep them cool. The dogs have spent most of their outdoor time in the pool (we joke we have the pool for them).

And on Sunday I braved the scalding sun and 95* temps to give the big kids baths.

Batty was mostly tolerant.

 

I mean, he’d have appreciated the bath MORE had I not washed his face (face washing = no grazing ) but whatever.

He was gross. I need to wash his tail but that’s another days project. FYI the Rambo SPACE ALIEN MASK still has stayed on. BEST. FLY. MASK. EVER.

While Batty was drying off, Marble took a brief dip in the pool (better the pool than my water trough… her pool when the real pool is off limits…)

I’m pretty sure I skipped giving Subi an actual shampoo bath last year…

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Terrible mother that I am. But he was very appreciative. I skipped washing his face because was being perfect and I didn’t want to stress him.

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Kindest old man in all the land

I could tell his stifle was bothering him based on how he was standing. But, he ran around a bit before and after his bath so… Ugh. Going to keep watching and chat with the vet later. Might be time to try something beyond MSM, but he’s so damn picky… one wrong thing and he’s off his feed 100%. But he’s fat and happy and looking good for a muscle-less retiree.

 

Then there’s this little punk ass.

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Don’t let this face fool you…

Don’t let his face fool you.

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So. Much. Anger. Anger Eating is a sport…

Jiminy does NOT like water.

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Focus on the ears.

Jiminy HATES water.

Jiminy thinks water = DEATH.

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So much anger!

Baths are my way of slowly trying to murder him.

We both made it out alive, but post bath? It was necessary to wipe ALL WATER from his body.

I could have kept him grazing until he dried, but I was hot, lazy, hot, annoyed with him, hot, and didn’t feel like getting his grazing muzzle because he’s fat and didn’t need that much more grass (I let him graze until I was dead). So into the paddock he went.

Let the drama ensue.

Unfortunately, Subi had to join in, though thankfully only for a brief canter and twist.

Jiminy is a punk ass child who had a “mild” temper tantrum. Water is deadly dontcha know?

 

Ranger Recap: sunny sundays

Thanks to horse show season, my lesson schedule has taken a strange turn. I once again rode on Sunday vs Thursday due to horse shows. My trainer is away at shows the next 2 weeks (I could ride Monday but 2 lessons 2 days in a row didn’t seem appealing to my wallet) and I’ll probably try and fit in a lesson next Monday.  In the meantime, I get to put a couple rides on Ranger to ensure his lesson horse brain stays a lesson horse brain. Evidently too many days off isn’t good for him? haha! I miss last summer’s habit of randomly taking off towards one jump/lesson!

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Hermione says summer is for napping

Before I recap, Batt’s rambo space alien fly mask arrived on Friday and has stayed on since then. That thing is intense. Good thing because while his earless Supermask was still on, the entire side was torn. He looks like an idiot, but appears to love the nose coverage. He’s also started a feed through fly thing (no way would Subi eat it even though the smell is mild and I’m not about to mess with him ACTUALLY EATING right now) and they’ve all started SimpliFly

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Looking like an idiot but we haven’t resorted to duct tape, superglue, a staple gun, or teflon tape yet

Ranger:

Despite getting on by 9:30, it was already crazy humid and 80ish and cloudless. Nothing like the low humidity I’m sure we had on Thursday while I was busy being shocking my my electric fence… But, unlike last week, I remember my water bottle and actually drank water throughout my lesson? Progress?

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Who needs Ranger when you have VOLDEbisc? Don’t let that face fool you. She’s recharging. The little hellion was all hellioned out.

Flatting:

Basically, this was an effort in bending and finding energy. To the left, we were fine, we just lacked forward motion. We worked on some circles were when I actually planned WHERE I was circling, it went better than when I didn’t plan where I was circling… amazing how that happens? Then we halted where Ranger wasn’t entirely listening (hands only, not fully engaged so we got to practice that). Then we stopped and talked for a second before trotting to the right. Except Ranger was convinced it was canter time and kept trying to take off cantering around the ring… I probably brought him back to the trot 4 -5 times before he accepted we were trotting… Silly boy. Circling to the right was like turning a 2×4… Lots of playing with my inside rein and encouraging him to relax (NO) and inside leg until finally and then a nice loose rein and we got to trot on. Then we cantered each direction including a small circled to the left around 2 fences…

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Best ears!

Jumping:

So the canter circle would be the basis of our first over fence exercise.  Basically, we were to pick up a left lead canter over the outside single turn in the air and continue our canter, passing only the inside single and do it again. The goal going to the left was to get as close to the cross rail as possible and maintaining a steady rhythm. And, ideally, landing the lead which required steering in the air. We got there eventually, moving up for the right spot and repeated it 3-4 times nicely before walking. Then did it the other way where Ranger bends less nicely, but despite that, it was easier? I don’t know. The first time I had to move up a little more aggressively but then had a bit too much 2 point. After that, we eventually got the rhythm. We were helped by the fact that Ranger likes to land right…

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I should never draw courses… But I have a call number too if anyone needs a book…?

From here we started by taking the long ride down to the cross rail (it was a large cross rail) around to the inside like that I struggle with last week. Unlike last week, the line was more normal sized at 2’6″ ish and I was just in a non-thinking, non-rushing mode, staying steady, counting 1-2, 1-2 kinda mode. It’s amazing how if you just count sometimes it solves everything? Anyway, those jumps worked perfectly.

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Here the course hasn’t changed. Better than my drawing… Because I can’t draw courses!!!!

Next we moved over to the inside single heading towards the indoor and then around to our other inside line. I remembered to stay out and again counted. And for the inside line, Ranger wanted to drift, but, because I didn’t cut my turn to the in, it was easy to fight the right drift and he moved right on over to the center of the jump. Good boy.

But I can send a kitty after you… except she’s scared of humans except for me and erik and is trying to break my house… 

Last we jumped the inside single the other direction (towards the road) around to the broken line. This was probably my only issue. The first time I had to circle as I couldn’t find the inside single (there were a lot of jumps…) and then I realized I’d over shot my turn and I’d miss it if I turned, and finally I remembered to turn on time, but had no pace at all and the whole thing sucked. I was slow to the single, slow to the in, slow to the outside oxer that was just lovely last week so we got a 9 in that broken line that should have been an 8 (or a really going 7)… Yeah. So we did it again. The single was good, the in was good, and then I just had a moment of uncertainty and took my leg off and chipped. Take 3, we skipped the single and just did the broken line and I finally rode the entire thing, not just 7/8th of it.

As always, yay summer, Ranger and I ended with a stroll around the fields, a bath, and I stuffed him with carrots. And, when he gave me that “I’m starving” and “Aren’t I pathetic?” look, I gave in and added in some peppermints because, obviously 7 carrots weren’t enough.

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Ranger is wondering exactly WHY he is looking AWAY FROM HOME. Change of scenery? I’ve got nothing kid.

Batt and the Great Fly Mask Conundrum 

Houston, we have a problem.

I cannot keep a fly mask on my horse.

If someone were holding a gun to my head, a fly mask would fall off of Batt’s head.

I need help.

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I bought a lot of fly masks. Mission. Fail. 

So far this year, Batt has worn several different fly masks and NOT ONE OF THEM will stay on. NOT ONE OF THEM.

He is also extra itchy this year.

We find the fly masks everywhere. In the dirt, in the water trough, in the hay. Just laying on the ground. He shakes his head and OFF GOES THE FLY MASK.

We started the season with the Roma Stretch Fly Mask. It actually stayed on. Until it didn’t. After a week, this fly mask started coming off. Now it’s a failure and doesn’t last more than an hour. If I’m lucky. Maybe I need a cob sized? I don’t know. Maybe I should wash it in boiling water? What do I have to lose?

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It was all so promising and then it wasn’t. 

Next up was the Kool Coat Fly Mask. It looked huge but fit REALLY REALLY REALLY well. And fell off immediately. There was NO WAY a cob would fit on Batt’s head. But, the horse size doesn’t stay on. But, at least Batt had fun looking like a race horse?

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Race horse mode!

Then we tried on the  Kelley & Company Brow Lift Fly Mask w/ Ears but the horse size was way too big. Subi is currently wearing the cob size and it fits him wonderfully. I’m going to return it and get him another cob. It’s not going to hold up well, but it’s cheap and I can see his eyes which I like.

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When your head is heavy, your brother makes a good head rest…  And Subi modeling the Kelly & Co. fly mask. It really fits him nicely (cob size)

Then I put on an old Rider’s International Fly Mask. Didn’t even last long enough for me to make dinner. Granted it didn’t work when I bought it either, but… Cob size.

Next we put on an old beat up Farnam SuperMask II. These have ALWAYS stayed on but tend to rub which is why I was switching around. The damn thing came off. WTH? I found it by the hay feeder and it’s in the wash pile as Jiminy peed on it. Jerk. Anyone want a miniature? No, wait, anyone want an appendix who won’t keep on a fly sheet? I’ll keep the miniature, he’s happy in HIS fly mask…

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Not the same mask or model of mask (where is that one? I have no idea…) but you get the idea. Last summer when Batty had to wear one of Subi’s fly sheets… 

This morning, after retreiving the peed on Supermask with ears, I threw on another Supermask without ears. Maybe the ears are the issue? But he’s ALWAYS had ears????? I have NO IDEA if that one is still on. I didn’t look after I fed. I didn’t want to know.

I haven’t tried a Cashel this year as they’ve never stayed on any of my horses except for Hayley. He has a Pirate mask, but that won’t stay on either. I’m one step away from turning him out with a halter over a fly mask, any fly mask, to see if that helps. Or I can try rubber cement or duct tape. Kidding. Really.

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Once there was a Batthorse Pirate…

He has a Rambo Space Alien Fly Mask coming but I doubt it will stay on. I used my SmartPak store credit from when they fell apart and tried to get me to shop with them again to buy it. So, if it fails, at least I didn’t spend real money on it? And maybe it’ll work for Subi?

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This fly mask fit really well… Maybe I should sew the velcro back on the throat latch? But, if I do that, it’ll probably fall off just like the rest of them. Because my luck = NONE

I also ordered some feed through stuff because I’m at my wits end. He’s miserable. Even with a fly sheet (but less miserable as he was SERIOUSLY OMG MY LIFE SUCKS MISERABLE when I took it off). So maybe they’ll help somewhat? He’s not hivey anymore either. He’s just dramatic.

Any suggestions? Any way to save my horse from bug hell? Better yet, any possible way to SAVE ME FROM FLY MASK HELL?

 

 

Ranger Recap: finding brave

My lesson this past week was moved from a gorgeous Thursday evening to the disgusting humidity of Sunday morning, of course. Despite the early time, it was already ridiculously hot and humid and me, being smart, left my water in the car… this post is also free of relevant media…

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Warming up, the focus was on appropriate trots and emphasizing the difference between a nice working trot and a slowing to an appropriate trot to sit. The emphasis was also on slowing the trot BEFORE I sat rather than sitting and then slowing. So, using my body, hands, and post to control and slow the trot to where I wanted it and THEN sitting. That said, I’ve been having issues with my back lately and even the most comfortable trot (which Ranger really does have) was not welcomed kindly by my back. We worked for a while going back and forth from a forward working trot to a super collected sitting trot. My back protested.

When it was time to canter, I’ll admit, I could NOT sit to save my life. I think I was trying to save my back and found myself forward in more of a half seat than normal. Eventually I got my body back but it ached. A lot. The canter was nothing spectacular and my arms were doing something funky and the more I focused on it, the less natural everything felt. Do you ever feel like the brain just goes into overdrive sometimes? So frustrating.

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We warmed up over our log jump. The goal was just to pick up a nice canter and on the landing, NOT RUSH (hahaha) and turn based on whatever lead Ranger landed on and re-approach the jump. Simple enough with the exception of the not rushing (the not rushing to the jump, fine, the not rushing to turn was a different issue in my brain). That said, it was fine the first 5 times, the first 3 we landed on the left lead, 4 and 5 the right lead. After 5, I just blanked at what I was to be doing I cantered straight… But, the spots were lovely to all the jumps at least until I got lost?

That said, we moved on. It appears my focus wasn’t the point of that exercise and I passed the test. Lol. So from here, the goal was a right lead canter over the inside single going away from the road around to inside line. The whole thing just didn’t work. I mean, we going through it, but with a whole lot of drift. First I turned too early to the first jump? Which I NEVER do. And then to the in of the line I didn’t keep enough right leg (OMG the right leg) then I needed to ride up to the out which we still died out to because the drift (first left then right OMG right) then chipped and the jump wasn’t exactly a tiny oxer though not huge. Still, he saved my butt and got a huge pat.

So we did it again.  I managed to stay out longer and the line to the first jump was SO MUCH BETTER though the spot was NOT as good. Seriously, WTF? I get really angry when miss spots. Since I don’t often. Ugh. Then the turn to the inside line was better but even applying the damn right leg someone still wanted to drift but the rest of the line was better and after fighting to the first jump, we only had right drift the rest of the way (hey, better right drift then right AND left drift) but someone got off my right leg enough to jump the center nicely from the center of the fence.

But, third time was the charm. Having perfected the first fence, I was able to put my energy into fence 2 and turning the corner, lined him up to the center of fence 3, cutting out the drift early and getting him off his right shoulder. We had the pace so the rest of the line was just a waiting game and thankfully I didn’t screw anything up.

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Of course, instead of letting me walk, I then hear “canter him around to the other inside line” which I look at and think there much be a different inside line because the out of the inside line is an oxer that is probably 3′ or close to it. So we canter around, skip the first jump and circle when I don’t see another inside line and then re-approach. See, it’s not that we don’t jump large fences, but most of the time when we jump large fences, they’re not oxers. We tend to keep our oxers to 2’6″… So I hold my breathe, maintain a steady pace, start approaching, realize I need to move up for the first jump, and then throw my body. See, the first jump wasn’t huge. 2’6″, maybe a bit bigger, but nothing scary. We took out the top rail. Then I continued moving Ranger up who was game, and then realized we were going to chip at that pace, woah-ed and we jumped the scary oxer perfectly. WTH? The line was ugly. I did way too much.

We did it again. Once again. I rushed my body at the first fence. Once again, the oxer was perfect. I don’t get it. Why was I jumping the scary fence well and the easy jump not? Probably because I was more likely to die if I rode the scary fence poorly, but…

The third (or 4th I don’t remember), I finally made myself count 1, 2, 1, 2 the entire way to fence 1 just to occupy my brain and NOT RUSH THE DAMN fence. Needless to say, I finally didn’t rush the thing and the line was lovely and Ranger got a massive hug for being the most incredibly horse there is.

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Assuming we were ending there, I relaxed. Until I was told to pick up my left lead canter and canter over the outside single which was another massive oxer. I think I must have given my trainer a look because her response was “Yes, these are all bigger than we normally jump, go jump it anyway.” The one was at least 3′ and looked bigger but may have just been more solid than the other. So I pick up a canter and start counting immediately. About 10 strides out I see my spot and think shit, this isn’t good. I have a nice, quiet canter. The jump is huge. My canter is super quiet. Don’t I need more canter? But the spot is there… See, this is the bad thing about seeing distances… So I just decide to throw caution to the wind and trust that Ranger will save my butt and don’t change my pace and hope leg at the base of the fence will be enough. He easily carries me over probably the easiest fence of the day… from a quiet, quiet canter.

So we do it again, only change being that I’m to take a deep breath (hahaha when I am about 6 strides out) and hit the same perfect distance that I again see 10 strides back. With the deep breath, it’s even more perfect.

We end there.

There was no need to gallop into big scary fences. Just breathe.

And try and be brave.

Or fake it.

Ranger is the best.

How To Get Lost In Fair Hill in 8 Simple Steps

In no particular order…

  1. Find wasps in your trailer: I’m allergic to wasps. Instead of focusing on where we were going, my brain was focused on the wasps. If I can’t get rid of these damn wasps THAT KEEP COMING BACK, I’m getting a new trailer. I DON’T CARE IF IT IS AN OVERREACTION!!!! Anyway, I rushed to Oxford Feed, bought wasp spray, got laughed at in my state, used up an entire can, and proceeded to continue to get ready… Despite all of this, I still arrived on time? Turns out, it still only takes me 15 minutes to get to Fair Hill with a loaded trailer…
  2. Don’t plan where you’re going. We chose to leave from the 273 lot (Lot 1) mostly because it’s the easiest lot to park in, but we had no actual plan where we were going. We started off taking a different trail and within 10 minutes found our way right back to the parking lot.img_7447
  3. It’s too muddy to trot. Enough said. You move a lot slower at the walk stop paying attention after awhile to where you are…
  4. Let your idiot horse pick the way. This is 100% Michele’s fault. Batt does NOT like to take the same path twice. So, after the incident at the bridge where Batt and Remus chose NOT to go over and the idiot children where gawking, we turned left rather than walking straight (the direction I knew). Then Michele let Batty take the lead as he started COUGHING standing behind Remus because he’s an idiot and doesn’t like to be behind and be bored (theory was tested. Coughing stopped the SECOND he had the lead). Then Batt chose every path not taken. This horse usually starts to sulk and shuffle his feet the second he has to turn back for home.  I never promised my horse knew where we were going. In fact, he likes to go where he’s never been before. This is 100% the way to get LOST.
  5. Try to decipher Fair Hill maps. How about a YOU ARE HERE sticker? hello? A map is NOT helpful if you can’t figure out where the hell you are…img_7479
  6. Find your way back to your trailer and tell your horse he is an idiot. He is exhausted and blames YOU for the crazy long ride that HE took you on by getting lost. He also manages to take on his bridle standing in the parking lot (he partially takes in off on the trail but you save it). You pull out of the parking lot at 6:30, 3.5 hours after getting on your horse.img_7466-1
  7. Children and bridges. When you try and avoid children and bridges, you get lost. First off, why are tiny children riding bicycles without helmets? Is it not a law in Maryland? The children had to be under 10. Batt doesn’t actually care, but that’s not the point. I was not in the mood to be near tiny children on tiny bicycles. Nor was Remus. And bridges. The idiots were overreacting to this one bridge and no amount of beating was going to get Remus over it. He was too focused on children. After that, we just wanted out of the area. Running away=getting lost.

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    Finally a brave chicken!

  8. I have no sense of direction. In what world should I be in charge of directions? Just saying….