Catching up with the boys

Not too much to write about. It’s been a rather uneventful week. This post will mostly be a useless pile of pictures.

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Big and Little

I took Wednesday afternoon off for a farrier appointment so I got to spend some time with my boys. It also happened to be 60 degrees which is crazy for PA in February, but whatever. The next day we got snow (though the storm pretty much missed us completely), but going from 60 to 19 in a day is always fun…

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How many horses does it take to fill a water trough? Too many when they help drain it while I ‘m trying to fill it…

Anyway, my boys being the idiots that they are, took advantage of being unblanketed and unsupervised for 5 minutes while I paid the farrier to go and roll and get gross that that they needed to be groomed AGAIN so before I could reblanket since temperatures were already dropping. I love my horses, I really do. I think I mentioned that Subi and Batty hate being groomed? Yeah. They love dirt and hate brushes. Yeah. Jiminy loves being brushed. He also doesn’t like getting dirty. He, however, did not use his unsupervised time to get gross because he’s a good mini.

“Hi Mom! Look what we did while you were gone!” Idiots.

So, they all got brushed. And they didn’t like it. But they got clean.

And thanks to the lovely weather everyone got reblanketed. This has been the strangest winter in a long time.img_2838

No lessons this week as trainer was is MS for a show. I got to go out a hack Ranger (I almost bailed because it was cold and I had a headache) though I really didn’t do much… I was there alone. It was windy. Tan Dan was stalking me. It was cold. Horses hadn’t been out that day, but at least I got to ride? Mostly I just focused on circles and tried to avoid running over our stalker cat…

 

 

Riding the whole course [for the coolerette]

Going into our final show of the series, I had one goal and one goal only.

Win the damn division for the series. No pressure.

Well, actually, there wasn’t really too much pressure since we were leading by 30 points and just needed to show up. If the second place person showed up, won everything, and I stayed home? Then I could lose but that was really about it.

So, in reality, goals were the normal ones: not dying, remembering my course, and, well, riding.


Seems easy, right? Except I’ve sort of had the spectrum of lessons lately. 2 weeks ago I probably had the best lesson of my life. I meant to blog about it but I didn’t. It started well and I was happy. Then when I thought we were finished, the jumps went up. I saw pretty much all my distances but one. We had a talk about how good and consistent my eye is and how consistent it has always been, especially since I’m only riding once a week right now. I disagreed, but then again, I will agree that I’ve always lacked confidence. I feel like my old trainer ingrained in me that when you do well it’s all the horse, when you make mistakes, it’s all the rider. Therefore, I’m a passenger who tries to allow my horse to do well and try to to get in the way too much. 

Of course, sometimes a good lesson is followed by a bad one. Not to say the following week was bad, but I just felt…off. My eye wasn’t there and I couldn’t always get the canter I needed for a couple of singles. We crashed one.. made it over but dismantled the over in the process. Of course I was made to finish my course. Lines (mostly) were fine, just the damn singles. I saw nothing so either I over rode or was passive. Plus I just fell loose… we got through it and ended with an acceptable course (our 3 or 4 try) but I just wasn’t thrilled with it. 3 months ago it would have been a great lesson.

So the show. Confidence level wasn’t high. Brain was having evil thoughts. But Ranger is Ranger. Of course it was crazy freaking cold (started the morning at a balmy 19*F) and way more waiting around the last show. So, while I had a million layers on, once I actually put on my boots and show gloves and removed some layers, I was freezing. My trainer was nice enough to hold Ranger and another horse while we warmed up before schooling as I pretty much stopped feeling my fingers and toes (I was offered toasty toes but I’m so weird about anything in my boots). Thankfully I warmed up fast standing next to the heater in the indoor and I was able to survive schooling (other than taking out a jump…oops sorry!).


So our course was a long ride to an inside oxer which I was a touch slow to so we chipped around to an inside line (going 4) to my challenge, keeping him out to use my corner but still steering to my inside single [I’ve alluded to it before, but Ranger drifts and isn’t always the easiest to steer combined with my TERRIBLE habit of turning late and dropping my shoulder–he isn’t hard but he is happy to take advantage and laugh at me when I give him the option]-we absolutely nailed this corner and jump (and as a result I forgot goal 3 was on going) around to both outside lines the first in a 5 which was fine the second in a 3 (well, 4) because I forgot to ride and Ranger assumed my lack of direction indicated we were doing a courtesy circle. Instead, SUPER ugly jump as he saved my butt. [i was so tempted not to share the video but why not, right?]


Thanks to someone copying my lovely last line and some other errors, we walked away with a 2nd over fences. We followed that up with seconds in our flat classes as well. and another reserve champion. I’m happy as a whole, but honestly just didn’t feel as on as I should have. But, regardless, Ranger is the best. 


And we got our series grand champion coolerette. Goal accomplished!

Ranger jumps stuff! Or, another lesson recap

In light of all the craziness going on in the world, I thought I’d focus on more positive things, like this week’s lesson on Ranger. For some reason, some weeks I ride like crap and can’t see a distance to save my life. Other weeks everything just goes right. Which is probably a good thing considering my thoughts on the state of the world. And the state of my life (nothing major just stupid things like $400 electricity bills and $300 septic bills). And mother nature. And barriers in the road. Or rather my driveway.

 

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Yesterday morning’s fun surprise…

Anyway, last Thursday I had a very much needed fabulous lesson on the wonderful Ranger. Sometimes I get really excited about bringing Subi back and actually riding him. And then I have such fun with Ranger that I wonder why I need to even bother. So who knows what I’m going to do. Right now I don’t actually care so that decision can be made or not made later.

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“Me, misbehave? Never!”

So I sort of had a 1/2 private, 1/2 semi private lesson which worked out sort of nicely. We each did our own thing, but it gave me some time to watch, but also be motivated (nice TB starting on flying changes). Also learned that Ranger and I will start working on changes soon. Evidently Ranger does changes which I did not know. So, something to work towards. After a nice warm up, we started with the evil hay bale jump and around to the outside line in a 6 that I struggled so much with a couple lessons ago. However, it was way lower than before and the start of the lesson. Somehow, we nailed it first time for both jumps. Repeated almost as successfully though a little bit of a drift in our line. Then we moved to our inside green single (right lead) around to the inside line in a 6. I’m finally getting it through my head that when I don’t see my spot, instead of holding to nothing, I just need to pick up a forward canter until I see something. The lazy holding canter is getting me nowhere but the forward canter is. I can then SEE spots and either hold or go. I actually managed to see my spots first time through. Scary. And we got our 6. Scary again.

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Hopefully you can figure out jumps based on ring picture above. Hay bales far left, outside line far right, jump with green is the tight turn jump with 1 short standard…, inside line (pink and black to wall/oxer thing), other inside single is the white single boxes

 

At some point we took a break. And then some of the jumps went up. Like my nice outside line that became an oxer (second jump only increased). And the white single. And the green inside single that’s not green on the other side. Then things got scary, but they were going so well that the really didn’t? And that’s what really was scary.

So my trainer had me canter up the white boxes around to the green single that’s not actually green on the other side (the turn is crazy tight so goal was to look, sit up, and use BOTH hands–I tends to sometimes forget to use both hands) and continue to the grey and white oxer (broken line) in a 7. My response was “you’re crazy.” But we actually accomplished it pretty well  hitting all our spots perfectly the first time. The second time I was more confident, and the third time it felt easy, almost fun.

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Ranger selfie

As a result, we ended with a course. Inside white boxes single, around to green/not green single broken line to grey and white oxer, outide line in a 6, around to inside line in a 6. Basically every jump but the evil hay bales. And success! The entrance to our last inside line wasn’t perfect, but instead of sitting like a sack of potatoes and letting Ranger get lazy and add for the 7, I sat up, added leg, and moved him up to for the 6. I was tired. I didn’t want to repeat the course. And thankfully, with that, we called it a night. And Ranger got what I’m pretty sure was a 1lbs carrot. I think he likes me. Trainer mentioned I might be his favorite. I think it’s all the carrots I bribe him with.

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That face…

Winter Schooling Show Series #2

Where I last left off,  I had a really good pre-show lesson which is actually not a common occurrence. I remember back to showing Subi as well as showing IHSA and regularly the last lesson before a show would usually suck. Regularly things would either suck from the start or they’d be going ok and then we’d push it until magically they’d suck. So, last lesson was sort of an anomaly for not sucking. Either that or the other obvious answer. Ranger is just perfect.

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Unlike last show where pleasure pony and horse were combined, we were separate this time around. Of course, my division sort of fell apart after anyway after some scratches and some less than ideal schooling. Nonetheless, we still had slightly larger jumps which definitely made things a little easier. The course was pretty simple. Outside line, around to inside single, inside broken line, to outside line. Unlike last time around, Ranger WASN’T flying and we decided that, thanks to the slightly larger fences, we were going to ask him to leave out the stride rather than holding for the 6. So, the goal was FORWARD the entire time (he was  doing the add for his cross rail courses and 2ft courses with his 2 kids earlier).

Schooling went really well, better than our actual course (I screwed up the turn to the third line and which resulted in an ugly chip… and we were just holding the canter rather than simple changes in our actual course as requested by trainer so some cross cantering/lead issues) but since I’m willing to post the video evidence, you can tell its 1000x better than the last course.

Thanks to class size, we came away with a second and I made it my mission to win the hacks. After all, Ranger is the epitome of a pleasure horse and managed to pin well in a much larger class (2nds) last time around. As it turned out, there were only 2 of us hacking so my goal became not to do anything stupid and to win the damn classes.

And that we did. Well, we almost did something stupid, as I was trotting around on loose reins and Ranger did think about leaving the ring for a moment, but other than that! Thankfully he’s reliable, has great downward transitions, trots around on a loose rein, etc. I love this guy!

Hacks are boring, but my husband was a good sport and actually recorded stuff…

 

Needless to say, it was a successful day and we walked out with a second, 2 firsts, and champion. Thank you again Ranger for carting my butt around.

Goals this week were to once again: 1. Not Die and 2. Remember My Course. 3. (NEW) Remember How to Ride. Over all? Success!

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lesson recaps

What else to do on a Friday afternoon than recap my last couple of lessons? It’s better than bemoaning the future of the world…

Thanks to some pretty awful migraines this week, I never actually got around to recapping my lesson last week. I’ll try to do that, though most of my memories from last week are sort of lost. What I do remember was last week was cold. The start of our lovely cold snap that lasted far too many days. Thursday night wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely the start of the cold snap.

Ranger has been a little lazy lately and this lesson was really no different. I rushed to my lesson after receiving a message telling me the lesson before me cancelled and asking if  I could get there earlier (I’m the last lesson of the night). I couldn’t quite be ready at 6, but I think I was on by 6:10ish so not bad!

First surprise of the night, new course! No more evil 2 stride! After warming up with a lot of bending and counter bending, we started with the evil jump (that weird hay bale jump that I hate so much). Except, instead of being the second jump in the 2 stride, it was a single on the outside. First time through we cantered over it to the left. Strangely enough, the jump was perfect. My trainer did NOT see the spot I was holding to, but I held him to something and the whole thing just worked. Somehow.  Thanks to that, we didn’t need to do it again to the left. Cantering to the right wasn’t nearly as successful. Must have done it 3-4 times just working on turning soon enough, having enough canter… I couldn’t see a distance to save my life, which was OK, distances evidently were NOT the point of the exercise. The point was my turn to the stupid evil jump. I finally turned soon enough and we moved on. For some reason I just fear impaling myself on that picket fence of the jump… I hate that damn thing!

img_2310 From here I think we did an inside single, goal being FORWARD canter. My issue is if I don’t see a spot, I hold. I need to ride forward instead of holding to nothing. The second I starting moving forward, I could find the distances. But, insecurity led to HOLD. We did this around to the inside line which I was told I needed to do in a 6 so it was land and GO. Since we were heading to the in gate, it actually worked.  Then we something (it’s been a week) around to an inside single. So, it was probably an inside single around to another inside single. I was warned it was tight, but I figured it was similar to where the jump was previously as it looked like it was in a similar location. Yeah, not so much. First jump was fine, I turned a little late, though we had it, Ranger likes to drift, I dropped my shoulders, and there we were skirting right around the damn jump.

Ooops. Way tighter than I thought. (Piece of foreshadowing. That stupid jump would set the tone for my entire lesson the next lesson). Reminder? I need to remember to steer a LITTLE (or a lot) earlier. And use both hands. So we did it again and I say back, and I remembered to ride the entire time. And we jumped the stupid jump.

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The best!

From things got harder. See, by this point, I was tired. Ranger was tired. And lazy. And we were heading AWAY from the in gate. We jumped some jump in the ring or 2, I don’t remember, the continued to the outside line which was actually huge and did that going away from the in gate and were to do it in a 6. Except we managed a 7 and a 6.5 and some superman stunts. I mean, we got through it and Ranger got lots of thanks for saving my butt, but by this point I was dying. So, allowing me no time to breathe, I think I picked up my canter at the far end, gave him a massive kick, jumped the first jump, kicked, did the second, and it was less of a superman effort. Kept my canter, and FINALLY got a perfect 6. Holy crap. I swear that horse saved my butt.

Needless to say he earned his carrots!

And because this was the week of weather swings, we went from freezing last week, 8 degrees on Tuesday morning to the 60s on Thursday for this week’s lesson.

For the first time in a couple of months, we rode outside. Just as I was finally getting used to the tight walls! The ring was wet, it was dark, and it certainly felt strange to be outside, but we really can’t complain about lessons outside at night in January!

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Who, me?

Unlike last week, very short warm up (honestly, it was so warm, Ranger was already warmed up). I’m getting better at picking up a forward trot with him which is nice. It’s so easy to get a lazy trot with him. While cantering, the other person riding came flying off which definitely upset Ranger when the other horse left the ring, but otherwise…

We warmed up with some weird skinny, angled single at the end of the ring. On a tight turn. Trotted it to the left once before cantering in. Basically, me working on looking ahead, steering with both hands, and looking on the landing. The left actually went really well once I stopped focusing so much as to where I was turning and just started looking at the jump. The right was OK trotting in, but once I kept my canter we had a nice repeat of the tight turn last week, dodge and duck last minute. Ooops. I dropped my shoulders, steered with 1 hand and not both and Ranger laughed and me and said, “I don’t think so!” So, I trotted it again, and then remembered to ride, squared my shoulders and actually steered and what do you know? We did it! It’s amazing what riding actually does! I think I had to repeat 3 times, the 3 was actually the suckiest spot, but that point I was riding it confidently enough that he wasn’t going to even try anything. Go figure, riding works…

We moved on to cantering a 2 jumps in a figure 8. First jump, we were a little forward (hello, in gate), second jump was perfect, and I think we continued around to t he first jump again, this time half halting to actually get an appropriate pace. We did and moved on.

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He really is the cutest!

 

We ended by cantering in to our outside line towards the in gate and TIGHT turn to an inside single, the goal being control for the line and turning in time for the single. First jump was perfect, I gave a firm half half, he came right back to me, and then the second jump was right there. We turned a little early for the last jump and jumped it at a slight angle, but considering how much he drifts, evidently this was 100% OK and acceptable.

We called it a day here. I was happy and confident and didn’t want to mess with that. Show on Sunday.

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Muddy boots thanks to a great lesson outside!

I rode my own horse?

Since I’m still in denial that it’s 2017 and I’m back at work (which is quite a challenge considering I’m back at work), I actually rode the Batthorse for the first time since the (day after) thanksgiving paper chase the Friday before New Years. Between work, weather, and the whole colic thing, Batty once again thought he was retired. So, Friday morning when I walked him over to the trailer, he was a little, well, surprised.

We headed over to my friend’s barn at Marsh Creek since I was feeling cheap and didn’t feel like paying anyone ring fees. Somehow that justified a 50 minute trailer ride to ride outside vs a 5 minute drive an $15 ring fee to use an indoor. But, I have actually hauled Batts over to the place I take lessons since I started riding Ranger and I don’t know… I know they were at a show, but I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way. I’m sure at some point I’ll bring Batt again, but for now, we took the cheap(ish) way out.

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“TREATS!” We eat for a living now…

The ground was a little iffy in the beginning, but thankfully other thank a couple of icy patches, the rest of the footing was nice. Despite having had a month off, Batts was dead quite, meaning, at some point I was going to pay in his own unique way. Soundness wise he was OK, but not quite 100% but that’s also what I get for him having had a month+ off. It didn’t stop him from running around like a lunatic the day before either (PSA starts: his back hoof is also currently crap thanks to tearing apart as a 2 year old. As a result, he has a lot of scar tissue and regular cracks that result plus a couple growing out abscesses, one of which grew out at the crack and broke off, this happens at least 1x a year. He’s sound on it, but it accounts for the slight unevenness and will be fixed at next trim. Anyway, vet and farrier agree that it doesn’t affect him to warrant time off and he’s fine to work through all of this. I’ve known him ~12 years, owned him 6, this is regularly the case. In addition, time off = weight gain = loss of fitness. He’s always more comfortable was he’s lighter… He’s currently wearing  his 52″ girth on the 2nd hole on each side rather than the 3rd and 4th hole… PSA  over).

So we trotted, we canter, we were super quiet and dead. Stiff to the right (damn all the flat work we did this summer and then lost my not doing any real work since Ludwig’s Corner Labor Day weekend…), loosened up some. One of the lesson kids trotted him around a little and he was a good boy for her. Then I got on and all hell broke loose…

See, Batty doesn’t get up like normal horses. He doesn’t really buck. He doesn’t exactly take off. He doesn’t do anything. But, he get ideas in his head and basically stops listening. Rider becomes a passenger and he tries to take control. Some times successfully, sometimes not. He decided we were going to jump. Cross rails, but jump nonetheless. Before I had any idea what was going on, we were heading towards a cross rail at a power walk. So, then I was able to take control and trot it a few times before he got bored. We did a few others before attempting a little course.

That’s when the antics started. Our first attempt, we landed the white single and promptly jumped (all 4 feet off the ground), followed by a full body shake, tried to take off at a “gallop” and then continued on, pissed off that I made him trot into his last line and canter out, adding as many strides possible in between because he was pissed off, then landed and “bolted” down the long side once, extra proud of himself. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that course on video.

We did the course again without any enthusiasm, this time, pissed off about the last course, we trotted the line. Then repeated our line just to prove we could trot in, canter out, regardless of the number of stride we included…

Overall, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the day. And,  despite not driving the trailer all the often as of late, I successfully backed into (!) and down the driveway without assistance! Usually I need my husband to meet me at the top and guide me in and stop traffic. Considering this time last year I wasn’t even driving the trailer (and Batty wasn’t even getting in the damn thing), we’ve come a long way. My driveway sucks… I need to post a picture of it but think long, narrow, and the need to back in and down… I use the street that’s not quite perpendicular to assist but it’s really not fun to turn into my driveway.

(side note: show cancelled for this weekend due to cold temps. Rescheduled for next weekend though haven’t talked to trainer to see if we’re still going)

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fun new saddle pad!

Inability to keep my canter not withstanding, or another lesson recap

The best part of working for a university is the paid week off between Christmas and New Years. And while I had so my I should be doing this week, I’ve pretty much spent the week catching up on laziness. Honestly, Monday was spend recovering from Christmas with a migraine. Tuesday was spent recovering from Monday’s migraine and going out for sushi with my mom, and Wednesday was spent seeing Mamma Mia in Philly with husband courtesy of my mother. Somehow that took out more than half of my time off. But, the nice part of the week off was a lesson during the week during daylight hours.

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lazy like a Lasagna kitty this week!

For some odd reason though, my leg wasn’t working too well. And Ranger wasn’t exactly filled with energy either thanks to a day outside in the rain. After a frustrating exercise at the trot and canter over a pole where we worked on my ability (or rather inability) to steer using my outside leg and rein we moved onto some jumping. Where I was met with a Ranger I didn’t quite know. Normally, Ranger is Ranger, but today (in the beginning) he was sort of long strided (and slow) and we canter up to our lovely inside white single jump to absolutely no spot. But, Ranger being Ranger took chip and we moved on from there. Next time, I was little more prepared and actually half halted, got him onto his hind end, and rode him to a nice spot. From there, we cantered a nice circle and cantered down over our inside grey single towards the double doors (one and only time we did this jump this direction). Slightly long spot but decent enough.

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New hairnet that doesn’t induce migraines? Only time will tell. First ride a success. Will review…

From here we moved on to our the same grey single the other direction, continuing our canter around to our outside line in the holding 8. Goals here were the approaches for each line/jump (straightness) and holding for the damn 8. While if I added leg, we could easily do the 7, for some reason we were working on the 8 last week (because last week the 8 was there) and decided to keep the 8 this week. The first time through, the first jump was perfect, the second jump was nice, and then we did a 7 1/2. The second time through, I sort of screwed up and the first jump was ok-ish, but not great, the second jump pretty much sucked, but the plan was the remember to hold at 3, 4, 5,  and 6 and as a result, jump 3 was actually perfect. I can’t remember if this was it or if we did it again.

We ended with a simple course. Trotting into the small vertical at the end of the ring (last week’s crossrail) bending line to the single fence on the rail, continuing to our single inside grey jump, outside line, around to inside white jump. Other than the fact that by this point, my legs were REALLY tired (and I didn’t start with much strength to begin with) and Ranger was NOT helping me out in the corner with my simple changes or really just cantering into the corners…, the jumps themselves were decent. We could have used some pace, but today, pace was not happening. But our spots were there!

In other news, it appears our next show is a week from Sunday…