Square Peg, Round Hole

So, I have lots to update on, but instead I’m going to stick with what’s grating on my mind. I’ll get to the other, more fun, stuff another day.img_1433

Since my quite spectacular crash off of Batty a few weeks a go, I’ve sort of been questioning a lot of things. Am I asking him to do stuff he can’t do? Am I asking him to do stuff he doesn’t want to do? Am I causing all sorts of problems? Am I causing all of our stopping issues? Is it physical? Is it mental? Is it me? Is it him? Can a pro fix this? What is this? Am I going to get hurt fixing whatever this turns out to be?

So here is the thing about Batty and falls and all of that. Fall happen. I don’t actually care about falling. They come with riding and while we try to avoid them and minimize the risk, the only way to avoid them completely is not to ride. I am not willing to do that. So, it comes down to calculated risks. But, the other side of the coin is Batty has NEVER been consistent over fences. I remember when I first rode him as a green broke 5/6 year old (who was actually we later learned a green broke 2 year old) 12+ years ago wiggling and zooming to jumps and slamming on the breaks, ducking out his hind end… He eventually got more consistent, especially over plain jane crossrails and verticals. But, he’s never been confident or consistent over any jump with build up or anything solid underneath. This horse used to slam on the breaks at a ground pole… So, it should surprise me that we have issues…

Then there is me. Without going into issues, I’m at the point in my life where i need to minimize the risks. I need to avoid too many falls and concussions. I need to avoid head injuries and more concussions. I have too many issues with migraines (and right now am just in a holding pattern until I can get into see neuro in November, but that’s a whole other story). So, this brings me to this week’s lesson…

My trainer has offered me to get on Batty and school him over jumps and I finally took her up on the offer. So, after warming him up on the flat, she got on him to basically see who was the issue. Me or him (I’m quick to always blame myself even though deep down I know the issues I rooted well beyond me). With a lot of the same struggle I have, she schooled him over and over 3 jumps until he was consistent and confident over all 3, licking and chewing. Then I got on and did the same (I was fine for 1 and 2, struggle for 3,  but, that was me). We got through it and then ultimately had a talk.

Trainer basically said it’s amazing I haven’t come off more than I have because when he stops it’s not a normal stopper motion. He swings out his hind end and it comes out of no where. He doesn’t look at the jump, doesn’t drop his head, and doesn’t give warning (well, when we stopped at jump 3, he warned me as we ran out of gas 4 strides out, but that’s different). He’s never going to be consistent. If we jump him daily, he’ll likely get better (aka memorize these jumps), but the second something changes — be it the ring, a jump, etc.–we will be starting over from scratch. So, the advice? We stop trying to jump him. He’s sound. Physically he can do it and more and he can do it easily, but it’s just not for him.

So Saturday we went on a trail ride and soon we’ll start looking for paper chases and stuff like that. Just need to find people to do stuff like this with. We’ll still try and take a lesson here and there to keep up with our flat work, but no more solid ‘hunter’ jumps. That’s just not him. But give him a field to gallop through and he’s a happy horse… Regardless, he’s with me for life.

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So, for the time being, I’m going to take lessons on one of her lesson horses who can pack me around over 2’6″ for the winter and reassess in the spring. We’ll see where I am financially in March. If I have the funds, I might see about putting Subi in training for a month to see what I have. My mom asked right away about Subi but it’s almost October… Why get him in shape just to give him the winter off in 2 months? I know I don’t have the time to commit to what he needs in the winter but I can probably do enough for spring/summer/fall. So, we’ll see. I’m hoping my family will help me out with training. The downside of all of this is, right now he is sound, but he’s 20 in January. Will he be sound back in work? I’m only willing to do so much maintenance to keep him comfortable when I know he’s comfortable retired. So, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Hopefully we’ll know what he have pretty quickly and can back out of training if he can’t hold up  and I’m happy popping over 2′-2’3″ if that’s all he can do and skipping changes if it keeps him sounder. Hopefully by the spring I’ll be healthier too.

Fly bonnets, fly bonnets everywhere

So I’m still having fun with all my fly bonnets (or fly doilies as my husband calls them) though I need to start expanding beyond my chestnuts as, unfortunately, chestnuts don’t look good in all colors. Days like this, I’d love to have a dark bay…

I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different patterns and designs and crown/ear patterns and pretty much modifying until I find something I like. I think I’m there, though if you ask me next week, I might tell you differently.

I started with this one:

I like the bonnet itself, but I’m not thrilled with the ear/crown part. It’s just not cleanly attached. Which is why I continued to repeat the same ear/crown few more times…

Other than the actual shape of the ear hole, I really like this one. Event he crown part is less awkward. Plus, random polka dots? It doesn’t sit very well for pictures and could probably use a good press with an iron, but, I still like it…

Then we went and tried out teal. I like teal and chestnuts look good in teal. Unfortunately, I HATE the parts of the fit of this one (mostly the ear wholes/crown), but hopefully I’ve learned from my errors and will fix going forward…

Learning my lesson, I’ve started experimenting. Lots of failures (ie: I don’t like this and aborted), reading patterns, and mostly creating my own based on pieces I like from others. Some work better than others. This next one still needs a little more work (a little more size in the back and sides will help it), but I do like it a lot. Less fun, more mature?

And I just need to get around to finishing this one…

Lots of fun yarn to work with soon too. Anyone need a dark magenta fly bonnet? Or purple?

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Due for a crash landing…

So it’s been a while since I’ve really posted anything. Partly I haven’t had too much to post, but partly I’ve just been dealing so much with a crappy period of nearly non-stop migraines and while some riding has taken place, I’ve had nothing exciting to talk about about and the rest of the time I’ve really been too miserable to care.

While I’ve been feel like crap (hopefully the new medicine regime will get them back under control), Batty’s been feeling pretty good. We’ve had some good hacks, a couple of good lessons, lots of horrific heat, and a nice trail ride or 2. Between the heat, migraines, and pony finals, we missed a lesson while my trainer was a way, but got back on track last night.

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(all pictures are from a ride a couple of weeks ago).

Overall, he was a good boy for our flat work. We’ve really been working on my position at the canter in the corners. I’ve ridden super sensitive, upright thoroughbreds for so long that I’m so used to spending so much time in half seat whereas Batty is a downhill quarter horse so I need to break myself of that habit. Trainer has my half seating the long sides and sitting and lifting through the corners. Makes complete sense, I just need to get myself used to that! We’re getting there. I also don’t always like to side. I can lean back without actually sitting which is bad as well. Old habits die hard…. But, progress is being made, or so I think?

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After drilling flatwork, less trot work today, and more canter work (yay canter circle and my inability to drop my outside shoulder without being reminded in one direction…) we did a little jumping. Trainer decided we’d be nice to Batty and start with something simple and easy. A tiny little gate without any boxes or flowers heading towards the in gate. Well, idiot horse decided to fight today and it took us what felt like forever to get over it, we did eventually but it wasn’t easy. He fought a bit the second time, but after that was fine with it. Strangely enough, he much preferred the jump the other direction. After that we moved on to another, more built up jump and he did much better with that. Wanted to jump it the first time but got over soon after (we sort of practice the walk up to it and ask until he goes over philosophy as they’re small enough that he can carry himself over at this height). This one he was probably the most confident with this jump.

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After our brush box, we moved on to a simple gate and that’s where we found disaster. He actually wanted to jump it, but there was a stupid vine (I swear, the fake vine was annoying the shit out of him) that he was staring at and the footing made noise when it hit the plastic vine…. So, crop, spur, crop, spur, crop, spur, SUPER HORSE LAUNCH OVER JUMP and on the other side we were!!…unfortunately, not together. I just got too much weight in my right stirrup and went flying off and landed hard. It took me a few minutes to get myself together (I feel like for the first 15 seconds I couldn’t make sense when I tried to talk?) which kind of freaked me out but otherwise, we’re all ok.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a fall so I know I was due, but did I have to have a hard fall? I think I whacked my head (it hurts) though no one seems to think I did) and I don’t have so much as a scuff on my brand new helmet (ride 3?) so who knows? This morning my lower back and right hip are throbbing and I have a nasty cut/bruise on my right elbow. I think I’m going to live on Advil today…
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Because we love abscesses

Batty and I have a new tradition. I go on vacation, he gets an abscess.

He was a little wonky at our lesson before vacation. Not lame so much as  a little ouchy up front. We pushed through it as he was find unless we got into the really deep sand and we both survived. We even survived a hay bale jump that he thought was going to eat him alive. But, we got over it and connected 3 big boy jumps together and called it a night.

Not thinking much of it, I gave him some bute for a couple of days, he seemed 100%, and I went on vacation. I had some fleeting thoughts about soaking his front feet with white lightning before vacation, just in case (brain kept hinting at abscess), but honestly? I ran out of time. Between the heat, buying grain before vacation, and picking up our once dead, now fixed lawn mower (and successfully backing trailer DOWN my long driveway), I just didn’t have time. As it was, I don’t know how I got what I got done. So, no front hoof soaking.

Which turned out OK because the abscess turned out to be in him right hind hoof (and he just showed generally ouchiness upfront). Horse sitter let me know Saturday morning that he started gimping a few days before and was walking on his toe and gimping around starting Friday. Considering he was 3-legged lame last summer when she watched him, she wasn’t super concerned and didn’t want to take away from my vacation this time. All was fine, but damn, 9 months without an abscess and I go on vacation and? Abscess.

So we got home on Saturday night and I didn’t deal with his hoof until Sunday. He was miserable, 3-legged, and stocked up in his right hind. Our typical reaction. But, he had no issues gimping to the water, his bucket, and the hay so… Anyway, I did a white lightning soak Sunday and poulticed his leg. Hoof was definitely bothering him and he did NOT want the hoof wrap on (just while his foot was in the white lightning bag), but we survived.

I got home from work yesterday to this:

Popped a 2″ hole out his coronet. And I’m pretty sure it still hurts.

So much so that he tried to kick me when I set to soak with white lightning (had to get husband to help since this idiot wanted NOTHING to do with me messing with his hoof. Then he decided to run away from me (he’s sound at the trot). Needless to say, I was NOT happy with him and I have a bruised thumb thanks to his antics. Anyway, I got my husband to help with a chain and got his soak going and leg poulticed (don’t mind the excess poultice hand prints…) and dumped him him the round pen (that still needs tree limb repairs) and left him for an hour.

After ignoring each other for an hour (the 98* weather didn’t help any of this), we were both in better moods. Removed the wrap without issue. In fact, he even let me squirt iodine in his gaping hoof hole with no issues and didn’t fight the ichthammol either. While he sound, I’m pretty sure there’s more to draw out.

That said, why, of all hooves, do we need an abscess in his already crappy, scar tissue filled hoof? And to blow out the coronary band? So that it can grow down where he’s got plenty of scar tissue and a permanent crack and structural instability?

DIY Fly Bonnets

So, for a while now, I’ve planned to start making some fly bonnets, or head doilies as my husband calls them, and I did start making one last year? But to be honest, lack of motivation sort of stopped the quick project in it’s tracks.

Anyway, last week I finished up one I started a year ago and started/finished a second one this week. The first one has crocheted ears and I just don’t like them (too bulky and weird) so  I’ve got to get back to that one and redo it. For the second, I went with fabric ears. While the fabric is a pain when you don’t have a sewing machine, they’re not horrible.

Anyway, my first fabric ear attempt sort of failed (see picture on left). Despite following a random pattern for ears I found somewhere, they were just too small. They fit on Batty, but were just too tight. I couldn’t even get them on Subi’s head. Who knew his ears were bigger than Batts’? Moral of the story, before attaching ears, make sure said ears fit horse… Much better than trying on a fly bonnet with too small ears in the dark at 10:30 at night. Not that I did any such thing… Yes, my horses are saints.

Ear attempt # 2 was more successful (see picture on right) though I’m still not completely happy with how I attached them (but happy enough not to pull them back off). I did not follow my own advice and try them on before attaching, but I was lucky and they fit (AND I have the pattern for next time (could make them more narrow at  the top too if I want).

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“I am not amused. I have polka-dot antlers.”

I’m happy to report they stayed on the entire ride despite a less than impressed horse (though he was more less than impressed by the spurs I was wearing, the heat, and my insistence that he get in front of my leg and move forward). It was hot and humid and buggy, but he didn’t have bugs in his ears.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how this one came out. Working on a second one that hopefully I’ll finish this week. Then I have lots more fun yarn and fabrics to mess around with. Poor horses, but at least I’m happy?

Anyway, thunderstorms expected this evening and of course I have a lesson. I seem to luck out with lessons and thunderstorms…

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Go Drexel?

Weekend wrap up

I already posted about Sam, the giant horse, but I figure I should catch up a little on the rest of the weekend.

I’m trying to get back into lessons again and had my first lesson (in a couple of years) scheduled for earlier last week. Of course, a storm was moving in so about 40 minutes before my lesson, we rescheduled for Friday. Storm dissipated completely and it was sunny (though raining) during my would be lesson.

Lesson on Friday was a little earlier than was convenient, but being a holiday weekend, I decided I could skip out a little early. So, when 4:30 came around, I headed out. Just to get to my car as a bolt of lightening struck and knocked out power across the university campus. No rain at this point either. Of course, I park in a gated lot which meant that the electric gate didn’t work to let us all out. Calls to parking and public safety were useless and no one necessarily wanted to be “the one” to break the gate. Eventually, we decided to drive through the handicap ramp and sidewalk to exit the parking lot. Fun times, but no cars go stuck. I’m not sure if it would have been as successful if it were raining…

My drive home included lots of sun, lots of rain, localized flooding, localized heavy winds, and downed branches. Oh and more blinding sun. I got home to find heavy rain and part of a tree on my round pen. Another fun project. Still, radar looked looked like it would clear out, 6pm showed 0% percolation, and no lesson cancellation. Because of the rain, I ended up rushing out last minute (we had a long 1 mile drive…) and felted rushed pretty much until I was actually on Batts.

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Round pen repairs needed again….

While I’ve worked with this trainer very briefly a few years ago, I was still nervous because that’s me. Nerves and stress. Add in crazy 90% humidity and I was feeling sort of wonky to start out.

Overall, the lesson went pretty well and we’re going to try and stick to an every other week schedule (I’d love to do more, but my bank account objects) and I’ll haul in on off weeks to hack in the ring. We worked on pace, moving off my leg when asked, bending, and energy. Needless to say, we rocked our halts and downward transitions, but it was suggested I start wearing spurs with him again since he was zero respect for my leg. Right now we’re following the whole ask with leg once, then demand with crop. I’ve avoided spurs lately as my leg sucks and swings though trainer has indicated that it really doesn’t in reality… So, back on spurs go, at least for flat work.

We actually did some jumping which surprised me as I was expecting a flat lesson. I don’t know how much I’ve posted about Batty, but he’s a former dead quiet, bombproof lesson horse who would be absolutely perfect if he weren’t a stopper… A reluctance for jumping combined with getting hit in the mouth by a variety of riders and all of that… Even poles were an issue at times (stopping or trying to launch over them). Anyway, since I’ve had him, I haven’t done too much jumping. I didn’t jump him at all for the first few months and then boredom hit and poles were reintroduced as were cross rails. He has his moments, but for the most part, he’s pretty good with simple, boring cross rails of varying heights. Even boring (read empty) verticals were pretty consistent too and he’d occasionally pop over a 2’6″ bland vertical. Then, with all of his soundness issues and abscesses last year, he hasn’t really jumped much. Anyway, a few weeks back he popped over some cross rails and a tiny vertical and then the following week we fought a little with our jumps since the one cross rail was trying to eat him… After successfully trotting a few cross rail courses, we haven’t actually popped over anything since.

So when trainer suggested some fences, I wasn’t entirely certain. Especially since we were facing actual solid jumps (brush box and some astroturf covered thing). They were tiny, but solid. Determined he could walk over them, we worked on the whole forward motion thing. Lots of crop and kicking later, he finally made it over to lots of pats and praise. Second time was quicker success, third time was immediate. Then we trotting it before moving onto the second jump. Astro turf is scary, but having learned from the first jump, we eventually made it over, and then immediately made it over the second time. Once he was over, he was good. We trotted the line once then trotted in and cantered out and called it a day. Batty was pretty darn pleased with himself. He’s a strange one and moves very quickly from OMG something’s living in that jump and it’s going to eat me to Mr. Cocky and Proud of Himself (from there we move onto “I’m bored and can’t be bothered to put in effort” but we didn’t get that far).

Anyway, post lesson we were both exhausted and sweaty. After a nice cool shower (using cross ties! which appears we’re fine with again) we headed home to a thoroughbred who missed his Batthorse very much…

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the masked men

On Sunday, we were supposed to go to a fun little schooling show at my friend’s barn, but due to low entries, she cancelled. Instead, we headed out to Fair Hill for a trail ride with Erik and the dogs.

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My best girls (and Erik)

Armed with a broken crop, I learned bridges are something we need to work on. He was find with the first bridge until a car went under it and then no go. Darn broken crop didn’t help me much. Second bridge was scary because of the sound the small piece of metal made when he stepped on it. I eventually got off and forced him over it (again, damn broken crop) and considered it a success. The covered bridge however was no issue at all and he happily crossed that one (that was the bridge we had issues over last time). Still, considering he was out there without other horses, he did pretty well. Stuck mostly to the walk as my Hermione dog did NOT like me getting that far ahead and since it was warm, I didn’t feel like stressing my already tired pups (Marble got to lay in the creek so she was happy). I did let him canter up this small hill a bit once the dogs were back at the truck and that seemed to make him happy. Strange horse likes cantering up hill.

Arrived home and the boys were happily reunited. Well, Subi was happy, Batt just wanted to eat and I can’t same Jiminy actually cared.

Does this horse make me look short?

Led out a nice, low key trail ride yesterday afternoon. Sun, temps in the 70s, no humidity. Really nice afternoon ride. Took Sam out– he’s really just massive.

door frame for size reference


massive mounting block for size reference


sam standing downhill next to 2 draft crosses for size reference


Overall, really nice ride and grateful that Candace lets me take out her big 6 year old baby. He’s definitely a nice complement to CT and Poe: the gang of slow, slower, and slowest.