Ranger Recap: We go to a show and I don’t pass out!

After not showing since… February? I finally agreed to show again. I almost could have showed last weekend but didn’t and then agreed to show this weekend. For what it’s worth, it was both a better decision and a worse decision. Better because as it turned out I got to split the hauling costs again (yay for $34 hauling!), but it was hot (last weekend was humid as hell and rainy, but not sunny so…?) and sunny and hot and I don’t do heat. (Plus, the jumps were tiny and everyone basically agreed that we didn’t care and just not to raise them for the horses (it was a combine pleasure pony/horse division so they just left the fences at 2″)). Honestly I was hot and didn’t care. Other negative for this show? Pleasure is normally 2 flat and 1 over fences. This show was 3 over fences and 1 under saddle. Under saddle in pleasure is Ranger’s strength normally so… But, it turned out to be a positive…

[We didn’t end up having a lesson on this week as my trainer was at a show so I just went out and rode and had to force myself to jump a bit. I trotted and canter and Ranger was tired, I was tired and thought, “he’s perfect, why do we need to do more?” Meanwhile the teenager in the ring with me was doing mini courses and all that. Meanwhile I was happy just to sit on Ranger and plod around. That said, we did (eventually) pop over a few fences. Our hay bales in both directions (yay! the tug method worked beautifully!), a skinny single a few times, and the outside single. With a little nagging, we did our outside line twice as the first time I had no pace (nerves… — in my defense, the second fence was a solid 2’6″+ (though it felt bigger) oxer that I’m not entirely sure I should have jumped outside a lesson–not that Ranger had any issue with it…) and added for an ugly 7, the second time I had pace and rode for a nice 6. We called in a day and went for a walk to cool out. Then I bathed him, scrubbed half his grass stains out to see how clean he’d be on Friday… Very. I just had to wash his legs. And he stayed clean outside overnight in a storm Friday night into Saturday. Good boy!]

img_4163

I don’t know what that child is doing but… or who that child is actually… 

So the joys of hunter shows. We got there at 12:30 and my ring was just getting ready to start short stirrup eq. So I got to watch Ranger and his kid. He was adorable though they didn’t get much love from the judge. He was in the bottom of the ribbons, but looked adorable doing it. Kid’s eq wasn’t bad either. After that it was down to the trailer for grass and water and then time to watch the other ring for a while. And wait. Because that’s what you do at hunter shows. Wait.

What felt like a couple hours later (and probably was), it was time to retack Ranger and realize that pretty much none of the girths in the trailer fit. I managed to squeeze him into a stretched out 44″  (I had a 52″ in my car… that wouldn’t help either)–we usually wear a 48″? I guess I need to keep an old girth of Subi’s around just in case… Too many pony girths! And hit the schooling ring. We had a ring conflict as children’s horse/pony combined was about to start right as I was heading in to school (my schooling break consisted of short stirrup hunter and pleasure pony/horse combine) so I made the executive decision to school myself. For right or wrong, I basically went in, jumped everything once in 1 direction (all jumps we were to do in both directions but whatever), didn’t die (though people started falling) and then one of trainer’s kids told me I could stop and leave so I did. Whatever, I was fine with it. I needed to jump something and the schooling was for me, not Ranger. Sorry Ranger.

Then it was untacking and saddle swapping for short stirrup so that Ranger could do that division. He did decently over fences (2 seconds and a first) and then AGAIN failed under saddle. Seriously, this judge did NOT like him under saddle. Then it was a saddle swap and my turn. By this point, they had decided only to raise the jumps to 2 ft and put small gates/boxes under what didn’t have stuff, but when my coat went on and I declared my goal wasn’t to pass out, I decided I really didn’t care. I was told I need more ambitions goals. But, think back to my first show when the goal was not to die. I think not passing out is a fine improved goal. At least I’m not worried about not dying!

img_4164

yay courses! I took a picture so I could look at it and then instead forgot I had a picture of the courses… 

So first class in and I go in and promptly pick up…the wrong lead because I’m a complete idiot. But, whatever, we never had the goal of picking up the correct lead right?

Second class, I almost forgot the course right before walking in. The course was fine. Goal was the pick up the right lead. I stopped caring after that part. Nothing to write home about. My turn to the inside single sucked as I turned too late. Oh well. The rest was ok. And with all our courses we cross cantered a lot because it’s Ranger and we don’t exactly have our changes so whatever.

Third course. Same as the first. Right before the first jump there’s a nice crash in the other ring. You should be able to hear it. I don’t know exactly what happened other than it sounded like someone crashed through a jump? No one died or fell, but… It was really loud. I was dead at this point so survival because the goal. Spots became long. Or short. And ugly. I barely had a canter at the end. I don’t know how I made it out of the ring. I was dead.

Somehow I still needed to hack. Oh how I just wanted to die instead. So we hacked. I was dead. And the ring was tight since all the jumps were still up and there was no where to go… It was fine. I rode around on a loop and got my leads and rode fine. The judge did everything she could to find something wrong. Hacking is our strong suit. Which is why we were third. Then they announced the o/f portion and I managed a 1st (1st course, must have missed the lead…), 2nd, and 2nd. So, my strong suit of the hack was our lowest placing portion. The judge did NOT like Ranger on the flat. Though the 3rd was his highest placement u/s that day.

Ended up Reserve for division which was fine. Thank you Ranger for carting my butt around and keeping me in the saddle. You are 100% the best!

img_4170

Ranger Recap: Differentiating between the half halt and the tug tug

Lessons 2 weeks in a row? Shocking! But once again, seeing Ranger was the highlight of my week. After all, when your week includes things like window estimates, dying pool pumps, migraines, and kitties (!!!!), ok, forget the kitties, how could Ranger NOT be the highlight of the week?

I did not steal kitties Quijote and Sancho from their family, but I thought about it…

img_4158

The Lasagna kitty was NOT impressed by our visit with kitties.

Well, maybe the kitties were the highlight, but other than the kitties, Ranger certainly was MUCH better than that other stuff!

Ranger (and Ranger’s adorable new pasture mate)

Unlike last week, Ranger has a bit more energy to offer (not that he was fast or anything, but just slightly more energetic than asleep). Me on the other hand? I was back to being lopsided and riding on the flat with my right shoulder in the air and my hand raised… On top of it, my right hip was hurting all day (I think it’s finally better as of today) so I was riding even more lopsided so I’m sure that wasn’t helping. Eventually I guess I evened out? Or my trainer just stopped nagging me about it. Who knows. Flatwork wasn’t my strength this lesson. I was doing too much with my hands so compensate for my hip?

We started off trotting in to our outside line in the 7. Ranger had other ideas and 2 strides out broke into a canter and while we did manage a 7 (I still had too much energy and had to woah late), less than pretty would me my description. Second time through, I was able to actually ride to it and we trotted in nicely and I was able to maintain rather than woah at the last minute.

img_4120

Single and straw bales

We then moved onto our outside single and thankfully cantered in nicely to that and then continued to our inside straw bales coming down to our in gate. The goal here was not to let Ranger get too fast and charge to the gate, because, being Ranger and having a bit of energy, we might do that. Coming around the corner, I felt him pick up the pace so I half halted and he slowed down-ish and but still pulled so I half halted again and he slowed but pulled again and but did not speed up. In my mind, mission accomplished?  And we came to the most awkward spot ever where I held, he added and it was super ugly. My trainer was happy I held so we didn’t take the super launch but… before we could talk, we continued around to jump 3, our white oxer around the corner to the inside  outside line we had just been doing. We actually managed to keep our pace and jumped it nicely…

img_4116

our oxer and second fence of the outside line

So, our discussion and the point of this post.

Coming in to the straw bales I had been half halting to slow Ranger’s pace, but when I half halt, Ranger slows down, yes, but he gets really heavy on the forehand. So, instead of half halting, we introduce the “tug tug” method. Basically, a couple of short tugs, encouraging him to shift his balance off of the forehand whereas the half halt just gets him heavy. (Alternatively, if he gets really fast and draggy, we halt and back).

So, 3 jumps take 2. This time, the first jump was again fine. Employing our “tug, tug” method, we had a much better attempt at the straw bales and continued to the oxer which again was fine.

img_4115

Outside single collection of boxes ?

To end on, we would attempt the whole thing one last time. Except, we can never just end on good enough. Because after having the best first three jumps, really nicely employing a lovely tug, tug to the straw bales, and moving him up to the oxer, my trainer had us continue down our outside vertical (first jump jumped the opposite direction towards the in gate). This was a test to make sure I really understood the tug, tug method. Evidently not only did I understand it, but during this lesson I could use it AND move up to an appropriate spot. This this with this is, the “tug” really doesn’t do too much to change Ranger’s speed, at least once he realizes who is riding him. All it does is changes his balance. It gets him off the forehand and using his hind end so that he can really jump well and it make it even easier to set him up for the fences. Even coming towards things like in gates. He is so well trained to do what his rider say so to that if you add leg, he WILL speed up. If you point him to a fence, he WILL jump it. (Alternatively, if you point him away from something, he WILL skip said jump.) So, if you tell him to get off his front end, he will, but he won’t unless he’s told to. So, after the outside single, we were told to continue around to the outside line in a 6 and since I remembered to keep my leg on around the in gate corner and going away AND remembered to look, the line was easy (and small). And Ranger was perfect. Because he is. We might have finished here or with another jump. I remember finished on another part of the ring. But that was several days ago. So there’s a chance we rejumped the outside single just because. If we did, it was easy because  Ranger is Ranger. And at this point he realized there was no point to test me because I won the battle of the tug tug.

img_4111

Best Ranger Horse.

We finished with a nice walk along the fields to cool out. I enjoyed it, Ranger just wanted his carrots. Going to attempt to show soon (next weekend? Eeek). Really bad idea financially, but when are horses ever a good idea?

Meanwhile, it’s humid here. I’m stuck at work. Fun times.

img_4159

 

 

 

How to ride The Grumpy Chestnut

In all my posts lately about Ranger, I haven’t written a lot about Batty. In fact, after our few disastrous rides, I haven’t really WANTED to ride him. So far this year, we’ve had a grand total of 3 rides.

So, with summer coming up, I had to change that.

img_4067

Why not pick the hottest day of the year to ride again?

img_4068

I was going to haul out on Sunday morning, but instead, I decided to sleep in (7:30 just seemed so nice…), and then the idea of hooking up the trailer just seemed like too much work. I was already making excuses. So I decided to ride at home. I decided to try and bring the fun back for both of us and created a little playground in my backyard highlighting what Batts likes (crossrails, hills, and fun) and avoiding what he dislikes (anything that’s not a crossrail, solid jumps, too much work, non fun stuff, collection, etc.). So Batty watched me set up his course/playground with extreme interest and when I finally went to catch him, walked up to me rather than away from me (often I can’t catch him…)–huge change.

We also made 2 other changes. I lunged him lightly at whatever pace he wanted (to the left he chose the trot, to the right he chose a combo of a trot and canter) and I stuck a nose net on him to see if we could do anything to combat the violent head tossing he was doing the last few rides. He didn’t love the nose net but the head tossing did NOT resurface so… ???

img_4077

Surveying our “playground” — what you can’t see is the steep hill after the extreme right crossrail or that the crossrail right in front of Batts head goes up an nice incline after

After lunging we warmed up with some trot and canter sets up the hill by my driveway before we visited our “playground” in the backyard. It was already freaking hot by this point. The plan WAS to be off by 10 but we didn’t actually get on until 10 so… Oops. Either way, we didn’t do a crazy amount. But, we visited our poles and crossrails and had a look. A certain chestnut eventually got mad a me for making him look and then stopped but then started launching himself over his crossrails and “galloping” up his hills afterwards. He was having fun. At one point I tried to trot my one crossrail to the next one but someone would have nothing to do with it and insisted we canter to it and gallop out and up our hill, but other than that… I’m pretty sure I looked like a little kid on a pony I was laughing so much. I had no control either. If only I could do cross country with crossrails… he’d shine at that… But ONLY that… Crossrail champion of the world.

img_4084

So sleepy!

So what did this tell me? No idea.

img_4074

Walking back after a walk through the development to cool down because we do stuff like that because, why not?

But, he wants the fun back in the work and ring work just ain’t fun. Crossrails and hills? That’s fun. Weirdo. Batts is an odd one.

img_4090

Happy Grumpy Chestnut!

Well, he did take off on my after I untacked him and pooped in my neighbor’s lawn… So he wasn’t 100% well behaved…

img_4092

Diet? what diet… Oy.

Ranger Recap: Do I remember how to ride?

I FINALLY got to see Ranger again on Thursday and, while I’m not sure he remembered me, he certainly remembered that I keep treats in my helmet bag. It was a stressful week so my goal going in was just to enjoy myself and leave in one piece. Thankfully my trainer had the same idea in mind.

img_4045

We had a slightly longer warm up than normal on the flat (it HAD been 3 weeks and only 2 lessons in the last 5 weeks…) and I sort of had to remember how to ride. Ranger was pretty quiet which was a good, but very interested in a counterbend, which was less than good as it required MORE LEG than I had. We incorporated some halts and bending and eventually sorted everything out. We even picked up an even canter which was really nice until I forgot how to steer and almost crashed him into standard  when I misjudged a turn canter a circle on the left lead… I was bound to find rust somewhere!!! We redid the circle and thankfully I remembered to actually use BOTH hands and steer… And turn and me head and look… Amazing what planning can do.

img_4043

Once I actually caught my breath (I’m out of shape…), we warmed up with our outside line and TROTTED in (I haven’t been allowed to trot into a (non-gymnastics) line since… September?) in 7.  Ranger was perfect and we continued around to canter in to it in a 6. Again, we did it well. But, heading away from the in gate so why would it be bad?

img_4033

Next we cantered up our outside single, down our inside single (hay bales towards our in gate), and then up our outside line. Goal was to maintain the consistent pace. We repeated this a few time. The first time the first jump was fine, but I can’t say I saw the best spot. The hay bales were nice considering we wanted to speed up, but I managed to half halt him into a nice quiet spot, unfortunately, we then slowed TOO much and then I got too relaxed headed to the outside line and saw nothing when I was told to move up. So I kind of got a bit left behind and had to move him up a bit to the 6. Second time through I was happier with the first 2 fences, but I think we chipped the first fence of the line? Or I could be making that up. All I remember was the last time through I finally nailed the spot of the first fence, held my pace to the hay bales, maintained to the outside line, and did NOT need to add leg for the 6. I think we ended there. Jumps were small which was nice for my first lesson back.img_4038

Ended the evening with a nice walk around the property, just me and Ranger.  Thursday evening was the first time we say real sun but temperatures were actually nice so it was nice to be out just walking around.

img_4036

I’m alive… sort of.

Short recap, but I am alive.

I’ve barely ridden this past month (good riddance May!) and managed to miss my last 2 lessons due to work travel. (Thank you work conference in Seattle that also had me miss the entirety of the Devon Horse Show).

img_3903

Yay for latte art

But, hopefully work has settled down and I can start riding again. Lesson this week and I can finally see my Ranger again! I miss him.

Miss that face! But, work (hopefully) calmed down and most students are gone!

Meanwhile while in Seattle, this little bugger nearly needed to find a new home.

Free to a home? Free to any home? He’s so damn lucky he’s cute.

Recently he’s been a turd. After 2 years of ownership, he’s started testing fence boundaries and breaking through fences and escaping. We put up electric and that worked until it didn’t which was day 2 of my trip. I got a frantic and angry call from my husband that Jiminy was loose and could not be caught.

Eventually he was herded into the paddock and then the shed. The next day he was released and got loose again… This time the calls were MUCH more angry and divorce was imminent. However, beyond the screaming (what the hell was I to do from Seattle?!), Jiminy decided his best place to escape was down the tree lined hill between the fence and the woods where he got caught up the fence between a downed tree branch, old pallet, and the fence and patiently waited for assistance. If there is ONE this I can say about this turd, he doesn’t NOT panic when stuck and understands when the fight is over. Humans are here to untangle you from the messes you get yourself caught up in…

img_4024

At that point, Jiminy was jailed. I told my husband to leave him stalled  until I return with hay and water less we repeat the near divorce proceedings again. Since the mid atlantic has been without much sun, we turned our charger off and this gave it some time to (hopefully) fully charge as well. Since my return, he’s been on supervised turnout with the assistance of an attached lunge line (it’s his ball and chain) –he’s fine with it– in the paddock. We added an additional strand of electric fence polywire Sunday but I realize we’ve got a bleed underground which is probably why the shock is so weak and the battery/solar charger is running down so quickly (we used the plastic tubing to bury our wire, but we’re just going to replace it with the underground wire since I can hear the stuff buried under the gate pulsing…). So, we need to fix that before he can resume normal turnout. But, Sunday everyone spent some time out on the grass and  he was a happy pony for several hours.

Then there was that moment I thought he was dead…

The other boys are doing well. Subi is Subi. He’s happy, eating well, and I thought was super sound, but still is having these skip trot moments behind that even my husband is noticing. My one dog does this thing were sometimes she trots on 3 legs (skipping one hind leg). My husband is comparing it to that. I haven’t seen it, but he’s noticing every once and and while he’s avoiding that one hind leg with the stifle issue. Overall, he’s happy and pasture sound, but I’m feeling justified retiring him. It’s usually after he goes for a nice gallop that he’s hitchy.

img_3974

If he had muscle, he’s be fat. But, no sign of ribs, he’s round and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

img_3981

Always my best boy

As for this guy, he needs to get back into work which HOPEFULLY will happen now if life has settled down some. I need to call the farrier again (for some reason never got a scheduling call back…) and the dentist, but I should still be able to do something with him in the mean time. He’s a little hivey and it turns out his fly sheet had a big hole in it I forgot about. With all these other expenses, I’m going to try and get it repaired by the blanket lady (she thinks it can be salvaged), but I need to wash it first so I don’t need to pay for that. So, hopefully I can to that today… In the meantime he’s got one of Subi’s old one’s on… He’s busting out the front. My husband compared it to the pudgy guy who wears a too tight fitting v-neck t-shirt, but that’s body-shaming… Half of his belly is hanging out too. But, better than nothing…

img_3998

When your mom makes you where your older, skinnier brother’s hand me downs…

Ranger Recap: Do we have brakes?

So I never wrote about last week’s lesson and at this point I barely remember it so I’ll just jump right into this week’s lesson. But my quick note about last week was to say, Ranger is back to being 100% sound. He’s feeling good. And, as a result, he’s a different horse to ride…

img_3598

reusing old media again…

Last night we were welcomed with some (relatively) cold weather for May and wind. 50s. And Ranger was feeling a little full of himself. And I guess he hasn’t been ridden much? So we started off with a forward trot… And I was told to let go of his mouth. Didn’t even realize I was holding his mouth. Usually  I’m aware of these things… See, I didn’t even want to ride last night. Work is kicking my butt and I’m just stressed and done with the world. But, my husband told me to ride and I’d feel better riding so I went and I did, because, well, Ranger is Ranger and makes things better.

So, once consciously made sure I wasn’t holding his mouth, added in some trot-halt transitions mostly to see if we had any brakes. Right now, Ranger is more or less being ridden by me and one other kid with an occasional ride by another adult who more or less only rides on the flat? So, he’s not doing too much. I guess Ranger was ignoring the kid earlier this week so we started by installing brakes. Now, he pretty much always listens hacking so this wasn’t actually an issue. From here we added some sit trot circles around our log jump where I had to remember not to lean in. At the canter, again, similar stuff. Increasing pace along the sides, collecting in corners/circles, and NOT FALLING IN when we circle, specifically on the left lead. Ranger didn’t help by focusing on jump while we circled and since I didn’t balance him as well as I should have… I mean, we circled, it was just ugly. Needless to say, we had to repeat that exercise.  Anyway we finished our warm up. Ranger was fine, but very focused on the gate [due to the incoming storm, everyone was in for the night so SOMEONE had a bit of an attitude about being out while his friends were all in the barn].

Jump-wise we started on the left lead cantering over our log jump directly towards the in gate, the same jump we had been circling all during our flat work. The tricky thing was not only that we’d been circling it, but also that, we had to turn in the air so that we could turn between the inside line and the outside line as the outside line was on the rail. So, basically a super tight turn. Goals: Not to drive by the jump, steady pace, plan for landing. We actually had a really nice jump and landing, with the exception of a certain pinto trying to snatch the reins from my hands approaching the fence… So, next time through, a series of tug-release, tug-release to the fence. Not so much as half halts as we weren’t actually slowing him down or changing our pace as the pace here was perfect, just minding manners… no dragging me at the last minute. Sort of successful, sort of not. We did this a few times until we finally got it (once, we broke as he finally accepted that I meant business and took it as a cue to trot..).

From here we moved on to the outside line (right lead) along the fence. First time through I was asked to canter the first jump and then HALT to ensure that I had brakes. First jump was lovely and then fail. We had 2 lovely jumps in a 7 but never managed a halt. Broken brakes.  I could have cut in to ensure that I got the halt, but I figured that wasn’t smart… So next time through, goal was come in quieter (tug-release more half-halt natured) and then demand the halt. Lift his head and be firm (and harsh if firm fails). So, we came in nice and quietly with a shorter rein and landed and halted within 2-3 strides. I’m pretty sure I scared the crap out of Ranger. But he gave me a perfect halt.

img_3595

More old media, but a look at the outside line

Thanks to the perfect halt, we picked up the canter and this time, asked him to do the outside line in a holding 7. We came in at the same pace as the halt and the 7 was easy. We landed, kept the canter, and continued to our line, this time asking for the 6. Of course, I added JUST a bit too much leg (and didn’t take it off on 4-5-6 ) so we chipped a bit. One more time and we had a lovely 6.

From here we cantered in our white inside single (which was a simple 2’3″ vertical) and continued around to our line in a 6. Nice, easy and simple. Good boy Ranger.

We ended working on our other outside line. The deal was if I did it nicely we could end after the first time. Which is to say I think I did it 4 times? My trainer first asked if it looked too high to which I said no, it really just looks normal height. See, sometimes I have height issues with jumps. These were only 2’6″ and we’ve jumped higher but usually only the 2nd fence and not as much lately since Ranger’s been ouchy (though I’m pretty sure we did a couple week’s ago?)… Who knows. Anyway, this stemmed a conversation where my trainer was planning to tell me the line was the exact same height as the second jump in the line I was just jumping but since the height wasn’t bothering me, the pep talk appeal was useless. I have to say though, I love how quickly my trainer has figured out my brain… Telling me to do stuff doesn’t work, but coming up with appeals really does.

So the line. So much for going well. Remember our brake exercise? The goal was to teach Ranger we had brakes. But, instead it taught me we had brakes. So, coming in the first time, SOMEONE was way too enthusiastic (jumping home heading towards in game = WOOHOO). Not only did he try and launch himself, he was zig-zaggy and drunk-horse-like. But, thanks to my newfound brakes, we actually got through the line. I think I got a 6, but had I not held him, it would have been a 5. Or we would have done a fly by. So, we tried again. This time, I tried to hold more coming in but he still launched himself over the first fence and then I held too much and we got a 7…  (long spot plus too much holding). Then I think we got a good spot but I still held too much for another 7. Then I think we finally got a good spot and I held for 1-2-3 and let go for 4-5-6 to have a nice 6. With that we got to end and someone was VERY happy to go inside.

Because Ranger isn’t being ridden much right now, my trainer offered to let me ride him on weekends that he’s not at shows thinking that extra rides with a competent adult with help. He probably won’t need it once it gets hot, but for now… I probably need to double check, but I’m all for extra rides on Ranger…

Ranger Recap: being bold with big(ger) jumps

Another week, another Ranger recap.

img_3593

New ring set up

As I mentioned last week, Ranger has been dealing with some…soundness issues? He’s just been a little gimpy-ish lately. Off but not lame? And, he works through most of it. The best I can describe it is sort of a muscle soreness and the more he stays still, the more he stiffens up and the worse he looks and feels. The more he moves, the better he feels and looks. He was definitely feeling gimpy at the trot though and I was thinking about bowing out of the lesson…

But once we cantered, first of the right, he REALLY loosened up and moved out and started feeling good. And actually felt decent and even then to the left, his less good direction (even on a good day, he STRONGLY prefers his right lead. 9 times out of 10 he lands on the right lead). At this point, I started to feel less bad. So, after cantering we stood around and waited for the lesson in before me to finish jumping and got a  little stiff. So, before jumping, we cantered around on the right lead again and re-loosened up.

We started off trotting in to a pole to a vertical 2 strides to a hay bale combination. The goal of this exercise was to come in slow enough that we were trotting, apply calf NOT heel, and add enough leg to have enough energy to carry us over the hay bales. We were also approaching this on a half circle. First time through we completed the exercise however it wasn’t exactly with the necessary energy. To make it easier on Ranger, we changed our approach from the left to the right (tighter turn due to the set up of the ring, but easier for him direction-wise).  This time through, I added the appropriate calf and off we went at the base of the vertical. I do have to say, last night Ranger was jumping the crap out of his fences. His hind end… So, with that in mind, we approached a third time and  Ranger took control and I therefore did NOT add leg. This meant our speed was BEFORE the pole not at the base of the jump. It worked, but was not what my trainer wanted. So, I had to redirect our energy for our next attempt, really focusing on a quiet approach, energy on the takeoff, calf on the landing, etc.

img_3597

You can sort of see the 2 stride combination here (blue winded standards)

Then the bales became an oxer and I screwed up and Ranger saved my butt. Since this jump wasn’t small to begin with, adding the back rail shouldn’t have made THAT much of a difference so I didn’t change much. So I had the same approach, slow/steady, and then sort of forgot to add leg since Ranger had been taking care of me and moving steadily the last couple of times anyway. This time, he didn’t. Somehow my saintly horse jumped it anyway and saved my butt. Thank you Ranger. That jump felt huge as we jumped it in slow motion. Needless to say, we immediately were forced to do it again, using leg this time (my legs WERE on empty). Thankfully, I had enough to get over and Ranger, not wanting to work that hard, helped me out and over jumped the oxer… I love you.

After a quick break, exchanging a quick story of my stupidity and how I accidentally applied for a job a prison librarian a few years ago without realizing it… we moved onto something else. Inside white rails around to the outside line along the fence.

So, the weird thing about this was the approach to the white rails was tight and strange. Basically, right between 2 jumps and the mounting block and don’t jump the wrong thing type of thing… One of those know how to steer kind of thing. But, we could land right and then continue right lead around to our outside line. Again, Ranger was jumping the crap out of these things. After the first one where we moved up for a nice spot, we were a little slow and instead of holding back, I actually listed when I heard my trainer say forward and drove Ranger forward to his next line and, again, moved him up for his line and kept moving up for the 6. I was not only seeing spots, but I was moving up to them, riding forward and aggressively. I guess I need to learn to trust my eye since its routinely there and when it’s not, nothing bad happens with Ranger. And he responded, again, by jumping the crap out of everything. Seriously, he gave me 159.75% last night.

img_3596

Strange skinny entrance to white rails (jump 4 on left)

So, we did it again and added in a 4th fence, inside single off the corner with the brown boxes which actually felt huge (especially since a certain pony was over jumping it). The first single was fine, easy even, but the line, not as great mostly due to the entrance to the first jump.  Basically, the line is ALMOST on the rail, but not quite, so I was staying on the rail a little too long so it was impacting the first jump slightly. I mean, it was fine, but a little forced. The second jump in the line was good, but I had to ride him a bit up to it due to the approach from the first jump. Then as I’m turning the corner, something my trainer said made me realize there was a jump 4 and we continued to that. And Ranger sailed over it because he’s awesome and was jumping amazingly well.

img_3595

Outside line. The first jump was strangely larger too which made the thing odd… Pony standards top hole! Or maybe there was another rail since we don’t normally jump with extra jump cups…

Our last time through (which may or may not have been the next time as I thought I did the 4th jump 3 times), we finally fixed the line. So, after having a nice approach to the first jump (I’m so glad I didn’t start screwing something else up), we stayed slightly off the rail so that I could have an easier time getting to jump 2. It worked and that just made the line flow so much easier. The 6 was there though Ranger was getting a little tired (or maybe that was me?) so I still had to work to keep us going. Thankfully, since we were landing right, no changes were required and off to jump 4 we went. Wasn’t my favorite jump of the night, but decent enough to end with. Seriously though, that horse gave me his heart last night. Love him so much. Once he loosened up, you could tell he felt GOOD. And wanted to move. Or at least jump.

img_3598

The BEST Ranger pony in the world. 

My trainer made an interesting comment about my riding last night. While I am usually accurate and have an abnormally good eye, I am rarely that bold, forward, and confident. Evidently I need to ride like that more often…

Another adult in the lesson before me who was cooling out her horse while I was jumping some commented after how I was jumping some big jumps. Which fine, some where, but… I kind of responded that we do sometimes and that it’s nice to get back to it and I guess it surprised her that I’ve done this before? I mentioned that I had a retired gelding who I did a lot with years ago (which I did. When he was actively in work, we did jump 3’+ in lessons) and also a stopper who I don’t really jump anymore. I just don’t like people making assumptions. Of course, if she were actually there every week, she’s see that tonight’s height wasn’t exactly anything new either…  maybe my confidence was but the height not so much. Of course, it’s Ranger. He can do anything.

Ranger Recap: [Insert Witty Title Here]

Due to the ugly storm we had last Thursday, last week’s lesson was moved to Saturday morning (though, as it turned out, by the time my lesson rolled around, it was clear and sunny… go figure?). Of course, Saturday morning was sunny, windy, and chilly… Of course… But dry? Then last night’s lesson was back to my usual Thursday night time slot. So, this is my attempt to recap 2 lessons in one… With some media accompanying the lesser of the 2 rides… Of course. Because I can’t ever remember to record when everything is perfect. Those rides just need to live in my memory and everyone will just have to believe me when I tell you it was PERFECTION.

 

So Saturday morning.

What better way to start the weekend then with a visit with my buddy Ranger. I forgot his carrots unfortunately so he had to settle for peppermints. He likes peppermints, but I think he prefers the peppermint AND carrot combination. Anyway, we had the choice of riding in or out and despite the cold, I chose out. I mean, we’ve been cooped up inside most of the winter and it’s just nice to be out. Of course, I didn’t actually realize how strong the wind was… Nonetheless, outside we went. After a warmup on the flat where my hand were a little higher than normal (pattern here…), we moved on to jumping and it was a nice let’s hit all my spots again kind of day, the kind of day that never gets recorded on camera… A few months ago I mentioned that my trainer said I really DO have a crazy good eye so there might be something to that and this spot for spot thing might NOT be a fluke, but still.

That said, after the first jump (so this is all random highlights since I honestly don’t remember half of the lesson other than not missing a single spot and getting all my strides so this may not be the first jump but rather the first time doing the outside single because, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure we started with the log jump while we were cantering after first cantering a small circle around the damn thing. Evil. Evil I tell you. But, it was fine and we jumped it since I seem to actually know how to steer these days), our outside single on the left lead. We jumped it fine, excepted landed on the right lead and a certain Ranger-horse decided that he did NOT want to come back to trot his change so we fought around the corner until he realized I was NOT taking no for an answer and then we got the change and continued to our inside oxer without missing a beat or a the spot or changing pace.

img_3514

So, supposedly this is the issue he does sometimes with the kids. Except they DON’T get him back and then he gets fast (they hang on him since he doesn’t comeback to them) and then they head to the next jump speeding on the wrong lead and… I mean nothing happens or anything but… Yeah. So, after that explanation, I was told next time, if he gave me any trouble coming back after the single for the simple change (he STRONGLY prefers his right lead), halt, back him up a couple of steps, then ask for the canter. Of course, unlike the kids, while I had to work for it the last time, I actually got the change and re-settled Ranger and jumped the second jump without any drama which led Ranger to an “oh shit” moment–way too much work… So, the second time through, we landed, he immediately came right back to me, easy simple change, and we were on our way with a balanced canter. His drama didn’t work on me so he certainly wasn’t trying that again. He’s way too smart for that.

I think we added in the outside line in the 6 and got the 6 first time and then added the inside in the 6 and got the 6. I can’t remember what, if anything else we did. But, it was an adding lines/jumps as we went and someone was perfect. Love him to death.

And evidently he’s MUCH happier too. The child he really hates quit. And said child is NOT the one I regularly split trailer fees with which is even better.

Thursday.

For as good as Saturday’s lesson was, last night’s lesson was just…off? I don’t know. It was part me, part Ranger, part just energy? I don’t know. But, I remembered my carrots so all was good in the end. And that’s what matters, right?

On top of that, lots of energy/activity in the barn due to a rated show today/tomorrow… So, baths, grooming, tack cleaning, and braiding. Not really anything I need to deal with. I enjoy local stuff and schooling shows, but rated shows are way out of my budget. Besides, I’d rather ride Ranger than anyone fancy anyway.

Ranger was a bit…I don’t want to say off, but maybe stiff is the right word? He worked out of most of it, but I definitely felt it mostly to the left. If we stayed to the left, he was fine. If we made a bunch of turns and direction changes, that’s where we just couldn’t stay consistent. He tried his heart out for me though. He earned his 4 carrots and an extra several peppermints.

After a warm up on the flat where AGAIN my hands were a mess. Actually, trotting they were first fine then my right hand was a mess then my right shoulder started interfering as well. Actually at one point my whole right side was a mess… My mostly my right hand… I have no idea. When we where circling this was most problematic… So, my right hand needs work. Lots of work. How does one work on a right hand? Especially when the right hand isn’t regularly an issue? But, at the same time, if Ranger was having issues with his left lead and falling in, it might all be impacting my right hand/side issues too… TBC next week…

The lesson before me was doing horse show prep on Ranger’s former BFF Forrest. (I think he is a former BFF as Ranger didn’t even care when he left the ring…) She worked really hard (strides) and all I could say was “I don’t want to work that hard!” I didn’t work that hard in that sense, but in a different sense… Eeek. I started by cantering (left lead) over the natural vertical around to the really skinny green single (REALLY skinny). Both are awkward to approach. So, while it’s only 2 jumps, basically I had to steer. My favorite! And, again, unlike a normal person, I regularly turn late which is often the reason I miss spots, not due to not seeing them. However, I turned early (meaning, on time) for the first, got my change, and turned right at/after the first jump of our outside line and got my wiggly pony to the center of the skinny. And when I say center, I mean the jump. Because this thing had NO CENTER. There was the jump or going around the damn thing.

img_3513

green side of the skinny… This jump has seen better days. I didn’t notice until the picture which I guess means I’m not looking at it? 

But, that wasn’t good enough. Instead of doing THAT again, we had to do that whole thing backwards. So, down the skinny (white side) and up the natural. Holy crap. Once I worked out how the hell I was even going to approach the damn skinny (which looked even skinnier from this side (I have to take a picture of this thing–which will prove 1) it is as skinny as I’m saying or 2) it’s not as skinny as I’m claiming [eta: I held of publishing so I could add pictures. you judge. it’s pretty skinny but is it that skinny?). So, we pick up our canter, and my perfect Ranger starts drifter right then left then right then left. And suddenly TIME. SLOWS. DOWN. And I realize I don’t want to jump this damn evil jump. Which means I HAVE TO JUMP THIS JUMP. So, somehow, using all the leg strength and rein and steering power I have, 2 strides strides out, I realize I can actually make him jump this thing so we do and continue to the natural and (which in this direction was easy) jump that nicely. I wish we had that skinny on video because I’m pretty sure it was impressive. My trainer’s reaction was priceless. She was convinced we were going around it, impressed we made it over, but then said the jump itself was really nice. I guess that’s why you ride every last step. Better yet? We did NOT have to repeat that jump! Success!

img_3512

White side of the skinny. That one flower box and 2  BROKEN poles. Not full poles, BROKEN poles. The thing is maybe 3ft wide.

So from there we did some other jumps/courses in some orders/combinations I don’t remember. But I think the outside line, the outside single, and that natural jump were involved…

Then the wheels fell off a bit. We ended with the weird turn to the brush jump that a few weeks ago I could not for the life of me figure out how my trainer wanted me to approach that thing. I just DID NOT GET IT. Thankfully, I remembered this week.

img_3515

Evil a few weeks ago, no problem this week

So we started off with that, and cantered around to the inside line (6) and then were to continue to the outside single. However, that single was just NOT. Working. We would get our change late (left lead), went slightly wide, and could not establish a steady pace. It would be choppy and then the jump was a mess. The first time through was the better of the 2 approaches.

The second time through the turn was so bad I circled but the canter was still a mess and the spot wasn’t there and Ranger took out part of the jump (I cut that from the video because I just felt back about that incident…). Me being me, I blamed myself though part was his stiffness yesterday. To end on, after telling me he’d be FINE, we cantered once around to establish a steady pace, we simply jumped the single and he felt much better so there really is something to be said about the changes of direction making things harder on him yesterday.

Again, I stuffed him with treats to thank him after.

No paper chase for me today. The people I was to go with tried to talk me into coming anyway, but… They said they were mostly walking and if Batts attitude was better now, I’d go for it, but it’s not. My trainer actually offered me the opportunity to take Ranger today since she’d be at the show which was super awesome, but, honestly? I’m not the most experienced hauler yet and even though it’s only 7 miles, I’d rather not haul someone else’s precious cargo. Besides, I’ve got an out step up stock that works SO WELL for me, but not for everyone. And, at this point, I’ve talked myself out of the paper chase. But, it was an amazing offer that makes happy that I’ve found a good barn family. And there will be other paper chases. Plenty of them. So today I’ll take advantage of the horse show and haul Batt over and ride him instead. And hope he doesn’t try and kill me…

 

Because what’s better than a half clipped mini?

I seriously have the world’s BEST luck with clippers.

Seriously.

My. Luck. Sucks.

This past fall I did a bib clip on Jiminy with my Andis AGC 2 Speed Clippers before he turned into a yak. This was fine until we hit the 70s in November and he started sweating to death. The other thing about Jiminy is that even though he grows a yak coat and SHOULD be able to go blanketless, he  hates being cold and wet and LOVES his blankets. He would also love living in a stall all winter. Being a mini, I wouldn’t mind him using some calories to keep warm though…

img_1889-1

Fall bib clip (his first clip ever, such a GOOD BOY! seriously this pony is amazing!)

So, in November, I decided I’d clip him (my farrier actually had been pushing me to body clip and finds it really helps with mini management) since he was a ball of mini-yak sweat. So I pulled out my Andis clippers and found his yak coat had grown way too thick and, after an hour and a half, I had a mini with a destroyed coat. For the sake of the life of my clippers, the lack of daylight, and my sanity, I gave up.

The next morning, I purchased brand new pair of Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster Clippers. I stood in Tractor Supply debating between those and the Lister Star Clippers and ultimately ended up with the Oster at the recommendation of someone else in the aisle who owns both and preferred the Oster. Plus I read lots of reviews on Amazon, Dover, Smartpak, etc. I did NOT buy Tractor Supply’s 3 year extended warranty because, at that point, I didn’t have an extra $100. Cue regret.

img_1954

I fell in love way too soon… 

img_1957-1

Such an adorable clipped pony, even if he is giving me the stink eye…

So, Jiminy got clipped (minus face/legs because why bother? He’s hanging out in my backyard). I meant to clip him a few more times, but I never did. He’s been looking raged lately and it’s been super warm and he’s not shedding out so I finally got around to clipping him again on Monday. Body, legs, and all. He’s not a yak, but definitely needs a clip. It’s been in the 70s and 80s during the day so he’s been hot and sweaty, poor guy!

So, imagine my surprise when I start clipping with my clippers that I used 1x back in November and halfway through part of Jiminy they sputter and DIE. They never got hot. His yak coat wasn’t a yak coat. That was this fall. They didn’t even struggle this fall. Monday I clipped for MAYBE 25 minutes with breaks to clean the hair out and this happened.

So, now my poor 36″ miniature is half clipped. If it gets cold, I have to come up with some crazy blanketing solution.

Such a pathetic state. Terrible pictures courtesy of my husband. Breakfast
remains courtesy of Batts…

I spent $30 to send the clippers back to Oster and I can only hope that they will honor their limited warranty because I cannot imagine I did anything to ruin these clippers in 1.5 uses. Even the lady in the Oster warranty office was shocked. She asked me 4 times how many times I used them. She kept repeating they’d take care of me. I can only hope. If not, I’ll be posting something on their social media accounts… She felt I’d have something back in 2 weeks.

So much for clipping Batt this week… He’s shedding out, but… He looks gross. I can use my Andis clippers on him, but they’re so slow in comparison… I got spoiled in my brief time with my Oster clippers… But I can’t afford to buy a new pair…

Changing plans… the story of one pissed off chestnut.

Once upon a time there was a chestnut gelding known as the Batthorse… Said Batthorse lived a happy life. Said Batthorse ate and rolled in the mud, got really dirty, and hung out with his friends, Subi and Jiminy. Said Batthorse lived the retired life. “Life is good,” thought the Batthorse. Said Batthorse lived the retired life, or so he thought.

Then one day, life changed. Life became bad.  And THIS is the story of one pissed off chestnut gelding.

img_3417

“It I close my eyes and concentrate really, really, really hard, maybe I can be maybe this is all just a really bad nightmare. Or maybe I can pretend this isn’t happening. Or maybe I can just fall asleep. Or maybe she’ll forget I’m here.” (ignore poorly adjusted noseband made worse from rubbing then fixed after pictures)

So for the first time since the end of December, I decide to try and ride the Batthorse. We were planning to attempt a paper chase this month, but due to illness and weather, that was becoming a more and more unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, a certain chestnut’s poor behavior sort of cemented his fate and this paper chase just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, this is why I don’t make goals people!

Normally bringing Batts back from extensive time off is easy. He may be out of shape, but he generally has a good attitude about it. This time however… Since the ground has been AWFUL (through the area, paper chases, point to points, and a whole lot of other things have been cancelled and postponed) combined with monsoon rains on Friday (and a flooded basement FML), I decided to haul out to my trainers on Sunday for a ride. Generally she’s at shows on weekends anyway and doesn’t teach so weekends are a good time to ride. This weekend was no exception (yay rated shows).

This thing needs a trip through the car wash… But he loaded without
issue which showed he truly had no idea what he was in store for…

So, the place was pretty empty when we arrived and thankfully the big rig was gone and I was able to pull around (u shaped driveway on a corner so I came in on one road and can leave on the other) — which is good for me since backing up isn’t a strength –especially when I’m rusty.  Unfortunately, that’s where the good stopped.

Mr. “All I Did On My Winter Vacation Was Eat” sort of, kind of out grew his 52″ double elastic girth though I managed to get it on with some choice words. Seriously though, how does he outgrow a 52″ girth? He’s not that big? And my billets aren’t short?  Every year we come out of winter needing a diet. So, grumpy, we headed into the barn, bridle in hand, with a bad attitude. Inside the barn, he was at least curious about his surrounding but got mad that I wouldn’t let him in a stall to eat someone else’s hay. Once our bridle was on, we stopped by Ranger’s stall, dropped off a peppermint (yes, I’m mean, but I did give Batts one too), and headed out to the ring.

OMG. This horse is fat. I mean FAT. I nearly pulled a muscle once I got on. I got used to Ranger who is wide, but not that wide or that fat. But Batts? OUCH.

img_3415

“You really can’t be serious!” says the Batthorse. This is the look of complete denial.

I got on an immediately thought things were going to be OK. I mean, he didn’t take off with me. But, I did regret not wearing spurs on bringing a crop. We didn’t exactly have our forward button installed. We puttered around at the walk for awhile, me adding leg, while a certain chestnut pinned his ears at the slightest pressure… Eventually I picked up a trot on a loose rein…

…then the head tossing, flinging began… and continued… but we managed a lazy trot around the ring and all was well. We trotted and trotted and trotted. And tossed and flung and tossed and flung and tossed and flung. I added leg and we tossed harder and pinned our ears but failed to actually increase our pace… When I FINALLY managed a slightly forward trot, we walked and watched a buckskin mare avoid capture for a while. Batts found this QUITE entertaining. Don’t get ANY ideas.

Then we trotted again. Then I tried and failed to cantered. “ZOMG NO!” said the Batthorse, tossing his head in anger and frustration, trying to run me into the fence and losing all ability to steer. Suddenly we were a wild-horse. Trotting a million miles a minute and we WOULD NOT CANTER. So we trotted and trotted and trotted as fast as possible. And I got in mean mom mode and introduced circles. So we circled, and trotted, and circled, and trotted, and circled, all while flinging our head in disgust (meanwhile Buckskin Mare was captured). Eventually, Batty decided that cantering was WAY easier than circles and we cantered around in the slowest canter ever before resuming our circles the to the right before canter to the right and finally being rewarded with a walk break.

img_3419

One pissed off pony.

While we rested, we were joined by a couple of pony kids and the recently captured buckskin mare. Whether he was tired, over it, or just feeding off of the ponytude (honestly, they’re well behaved ponies — 1 was up and showed energy by swapping but that was it… and Bucky, well, she’s a mare), but our behavior… In true Batt fashion, we decided to do things our own way.

Determined to spend the last bit of our ride cantering (after a brief chat with a pony mom), I grabbed a crop that I located (or what was left of it) and attempted some cantering… It was…well, I stayed on? After a tiny bit of trotting, we started to the left and did ok? Despite the constant flinging, seriously, did he suddenly become a headshaker overnight? And one or two minor “bucks*,” it was uneventful. On his best of days he’s more comfortable to the left. On his worst of days he’s 100000x more comfortable to the left.

So, stupid me, I save the right for last. And he was PISSED off. And really did try and “buck*” me off (*this idiot horse barely can buck without a rider on his back–he isn’t coordinated enough and can only lift his hind end about a foot off the ground–with a rider on his back he just drops his head between his knees really really hard and fast and thinks he’s bucking even though his hind end doesn’t do anything*). He actually caught me really off guard despite lifting him up at the canter and sitting up and back. Idiot horse grabbed the bit, yanked his head and dropped it so hard and fast between his knees I actually fell forward a bit. If he had gotten me off… We cantered a bit more for that and then backed down an entire long side simple because I was angry. He doesn’t back well–not that he can’t more that he doesn’t want to. Well, he has never backed so well or easily. We ended there and headed inside for a brief shower (and I may have showered Ranger with some peppermints).

img_3421

Home. He didn’t think he’d live to see this moment

Despite the long recap, our ride wasn’t actually that long. Lots of walking, lots of fighting, lots of pain for both of us. But, definitely no good Friday paper chase. If our attitude was better, I’d get the rides in to make it happen. But, it’s not, so why push it? There’ll be other chases and we’ll get back in shape when we’re back in shape. I’m not going to kill myself to ride every day the next 2 weeks.

But, if anyone’s up for a trail ride soon, we can certainly do that!