Ranger Recap: Lightning, thunder, and rainbows, Oh my!

We had some really gorgeous weather this week which was spent tending to Batt’s abscess. Exciting, right? As of this morning, it’s still there. I have a message into my farrier so hopefully I’ll be able to get him out. But, we’ll see. We have days he look better and then, nope, right back at square one. All of this makes me think it starts to drain and then closes back up. This morning I pulled off his wrap (meant to do it last night, but lightning storm) and didn’t see anything and when squirting iodine on his hoof, I got a reaction (major reaction) on his heel (and found a soft spot there too). Then I started prodding his heel like any good mother. More reaction. More iodine in squirting on his heel, more reaction. More prodding. So, I’m assuming the abscess is coming out his heel? At least it explains all the toe walking and why turns are the hardest thing ever. But, with all my prodding, I will win Mother of the Year. I’ll deal with it more when I get home.

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Lovely scar tissue hoof… this is what happens when you rip off 3/4 of your hoof as a 2 year old… It looks ugly but when he doesn’t have an abscess, he’s sound on it. Moreso than when we tried to make it look good. Lots and lots of scar tissue…

I also turned him out for a while the other day with his soak bag because I was lazy and had other stuff to do. Jiminy tried to eat the bag. Again, Mother. Of. The. Year.

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Can you spot the teeth marks?

But, enough about Batt, on to Ranger!

Ranger was NOT HAPPY TO SEE ME AT ALL.

He lost his BFF Elliot. Elliot now goes out with Coffee, rodeo horse turned princess (trainer’s husband’s new rodeo horse who was NOT happy to be out in the storm last night because he’s a princess now). Ranger is out with Mikey and Forrest now. He’s just as obsessed with his BFFs so who cares? Anyway, his friends were outside, he had already had a lesson earlier in the day, and I was there to make him work again rather than just give him carrots? What the hell man?

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Former BFF Elliot

So, we were poorly behaved in the cross ties. Normally poor cross tie behavior waits until post ride. Not today. Ugh. And it was looking ominous outside. Double ugh.

So we finally made it outside and watched the last course of the pony ahead of us. Then we proceeded to truck around the ring like crazy people at the trot. Thankfully after one circuit, Ranger came to his senses and decided to listen to me and returned to a normal trot. Meanwhile the sky became more ugly. We added in the circles and it’s finally clicked that if I add inside leg FIRST then we don’t fall in AT ALL when we circle. Anyway, our circles were lovely and balanced, regardless of size and impressed my trainer. Yay!

We walked and then, being warned that the storm was imminent, picked up the canter. I think we may have only cantered one direction… We cantered around, circled some, and then added in this “tiny pile of poles resembling a cross rail” and continued doing that landing right lead about 4 or 5 times before asking to land left. Which we actually did successfully. However, after landing left, I actually died and needed a break. So we walked.

Highlight of my week? I finally have a utility sink. And a crazy complicated feed program…

We next cantered over the log jump around around to the outside line that I love. I could NOT for the life of me see the spot to the log. We added and I jumped ahead because ???

Next, we did our white oxer and were to do the inside broken line around to the outside line. Except I turned back to the log because I can’t follow directions. And I didn’t even jump the log well and chipped it.

So we started again. And talked about how when I have the longest stride possible, it’s hard to adjust. So instead, I collected my reins and his stride and actually rode and followed directions. And you know what? It was better! Shocking! We landed on all our leads and hit our spots and everything was nice. We were a little forward landing from the in of the broken line and I had to collect a bit after stride 2, rather than sitting for stride 1 and 2, but the line worked out well. I also needed to woah a bit for the outside line, but again, I adore the line and it worked out perfectly.

We took a minute to catch our breath (OMG humidity) and managed to get one last coarse in (thunder was rolling in). This time, we rode conservatively to prove we could. If we’re more forward, we can land the lead, but the conservative ride, nope. So we missed every. single. lead. Ha. But, he was a good boy and did everything I asked. We got in the barn and the skies opened up.

And the lightning started.

And we waited.

And waited.

For 30 freaking minutes until I felt safe enough to turn him out. So much lightning. And rain. OMG.

Ranger had a melt down. While all the horses were melting outside because… rain. Ranger was melting down, because, OMG no friends inside with him and he needed to be OUTSIDE OMG NOW.

Idiot.

On my way out, I came across the most incredible rainbow.

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Most amazing rainbow. And a random stranger’s house. 

And then another storm.

Stuck in a rut.

Following the drama of last week (I did, by the way, receive my final paycheck), I spent all week looking forward to a trail ride on Saturday with Michele.

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Pathetic. Freeloaders.

Less a fabulous lesson on Ranger that almost didn’t happen due to a conference that had me out of town on my usual lesson day, the week basically sucked. I could talk about my lesson, which was FABULOUS, but I find when I have terrible weeks and my life sucks, for some reason, I feel the need to keep my lessons to myself. Let me just say that Ranger can cure anything and the lesson ended with the jumps getting hiked up for a final course. We cooled out with a walk around the fields and just for a moment, all was right in the world.

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Ranger fixes problems.

Good mood vanished pretty quickly when I headed over to the vet to pick up meds for Batts allergies/heaves to find that even though they said they’d leave it in the pick up box (that I couldn’t find), it wasn’t there. One bag of stuff was, just not mine. Ugh. Next morning I got up at 3:30 to head to a conference where my first presenter was LATE. And a whole lot of other drama. Finally on Friday, got back to vet, found out someone else had picked up my meds, got the meds…

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Conference views

Which brings us to Saturday. Feed horses, all seems good, got out to open the gate and notice Batt is toe walking on his right hind. Shit. He’s not lame yet, but he’s not sound. Abscess. I text Michele in disgust cancelling our trail ride, toss a muzzle on Jiminy, throw the horses on grass, and basically sit in my backyard and cry. I had a why me pity party. It wasn’t pretty.

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Toe walking and proud of getting out of work. 

Then I got a text from the mom of the ONE STUDENT I didn’t contact about me no longer teaching (I only taught her 2x, barn owner taught her once or twice) as they have no loyalty to me. I ASSUMED that the idiots were contacting my students to tell them the change of instructors… But, I guess not? They were letting me know a neighbor was bringing her over, but… Nice. Professional. Anger resumed. I didn’t respond. Who knows if she was even having a lesson today? Not me.

Yesterday Batty was sad, gimpy, and in pain. My friend Sandra came out and we tackled his hoof which I failed the day before… He got the full treatment. During a 45 minute white lightning soak (FINALLY have IV bags to soak in), we removed about 40 pounds of hair, pulled his mane, brushed out his tail, and let him graze. After the soak, he got his hoof covered in iodine then an ichthammol wrap (in which he tried to murder me for holding his hoof up for too long). Hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon. Assuming I have the patience, I’ll do another soak tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the pollen is OUT OF CONTROL. And the coughing is out of control. Ugh.

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Disillusioned.

I considered not writing this post.

It’s more personal than a lot of things I post.

But, I have a blog for writing and reflecting on horse related things. If not times like this, then when?

As some of you may know, I have been teaching riding lessons on and off for a number of years. I started in college for my old barn and trainer at the time. She was…crazy, but most horse people are crazy. Or at least a lot of them are? Either way, the teaching paid my horse bills. It allowed me to afford board and lessons when I bought Subi. It made horses possible. I taught after I graduated. I taught through grad school. I taught until I started my first job in academia. And then I game notice and quit. I was mentally scarred due to some passive aggressive shit. I said I’d never teach again. This was 2010.

3 years later, I found that I needed money and a friend of mine offered me the opportunity to start teaching. We had both worked for the previous trainer. Things were to be different. She had her own barn, she learned what not to do. And for the past… 5 years, I have been teaching some lessons and leading trail rides. Not a lot, just once a week. When things got tight, I spent a summer working both weekend days and it almost killed me, but I did was I needed to do. There were a handful of days that I cancelled (business trips, 1 horse show, a couple vacation, when I was sick — though I usually dragged myself out, etc. BUT RARELY in 5 years).. Or students cancelled. But we weren’t a lesson factory. The old barn I was chastised if I cancelled even if there was a foot of snow on the road, the roads weren’t plowed, and all my students had already cancelled…

But, this past Saturday, I mentioned that there were 3 Saturday’s this summer where I either couldn’t teach (1) or I couldn’t do trail rides (2). One was due to the a business trip (an annual conference where I’m always away for a weekend in May) and the others I was willing to teach, but not do the trail rides that day (if there were trail rides) — 1 for a wedding, the other for a family reunion. My boss was cold but told me to email her the dates.

Yesterday I saw a posting for a trail guide for Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday shift was my shift. I was suspicious and was debating how to confront her about this. I hadn’t yet done this.

This morning I was fired via text message:

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I have not responded. If I didn’t need my final pay check, I probably wouldn’t reply at all. I instead contacted all my students and told them I would not be teaching any more and answered questions they had as best I could. While the text indicates my students are down, I have the same number of students I had last fall and last summer. I am in no different place then I was last year. So, the excuse is just that, an excuse. Why? I don’t know. My students are upset.

I did let my allies at the barn know because I’m sure some sort of rumor about my departure will come about. What? No idea. I just want people I considered friends to know the truth (and my students). But I’m sure some story exists. I was immediately removed from the barn’s internal facebook group. As was my good friend who also rides with me. I guess she was fired from the barn too…

But I’m once again disillusioned by the horse world. I’ve once again been let down by the horse world. I just want to go hug Subi and Batty and Jiminy and Ranger. I won’t see Ranger this week (stupid conference and I can’t seem to get my lesson rescheduled either). But, there’s a reason why I don’t ever want to work for my current trainer… I don’t want to mess with that relationship.

People are crazy. Horse people are crazy. Maybe I need a new hobby. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I need a new part time job.

I could go on and on about all the things I disagree with. All the things I would change. But I won’t. I will say, after 5 years of employment, who fires someone via text message? Without a real reason?

I’m done teaching. For good.

Ranger Recap: Escape to Zen

It’s been insanely stressful at work lately (understatement of the year, but this blog isn’t about me melting down about work), so a lesson with Ranger was exactly what I needed.

Goof.

He was already ridden that day (and, as a result, was super clean) and supposedly spent a lot of time leaning in. But, he was super pleasant to ride. While slow and a bit pokey, I faced none of the typical leaning issues and we circled without issue and played none of our regular “GET OFF MY RIGHT LEG” game while trotting around or circling. Maybe he sensed my stress and was going easy on me? Maybe he was happy to have me on his back? Maybe he got it all out of his system earlier? Who knows, but all I know is “he would not stop leaning in the entire lesson” according to my trainer with his earlier rider. I faced none of that. Lucky me? Anyway, he was a DREAM to ride. Love my Ranger.

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Log jump (on an angle next to the green) with the real plants next to it

 

After a low key trot and canter warm up and a quick review of changes (we did one right to left and moved on), we started by picking up a right lead canter and started over the log jump heading away from the road (new course, yay!). Then, we continued to our outside line against the fence in a 7. Supposedly because the log jump is narrowish (ok, it didn’t feel that way, but I guess), Ranger likes to duck out), but there was NO hesitation, ducking, anything and we cantered over nicely and continued around (with a simple change because we. could. not. land. on. the. correct. lead. to. save. our. lives. at. all. during. the. entire. lesson. I think Ranger thought it was funny?) to the outside line in a 7. Every once in a while there is a line that I love. It’s this outside line. I cannot explain how much I just love this line. It is set up to perfection. Everything about it is perfection.

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My lovely outside line

There wasn’t much to perfect (seriously. LOVE that line) so instead of turning to the outside line, we turned instead to our small white oxer after the log jump and then continued around to the broken line with the trees. The log was good, the oxer was eh (Ranger was a little slow so I ended up moving past the spot) and then the line, the first jump was again perfect, but then I again and too slow of a horse and rode too much to get too much pace and yep, move too far beyond the spot to a chip. Not that it mattered because it’s Ranger. But…

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Full course including inside broken line (stone walls with tree standards) and white oxer with the blue and white standards

So we did that again. This time the wasn’t as good, I had a better but still not 100% perfect ride to the oxer and finally stopped over riding when it came to the broken line. Took me long enough, right? Then we continued around and added in the outside line and once again it was just perfection because it is. I 100% LOVE THAT LINE. It’s just so easy.

Instead of jumping the log away from the road again, we changed things up and took it towards the road. This direction I actually felt him think SLIGHTLY about doing something, but it wasn’t even any effort to keep him straight and he didn’t really try. It was a half hearted, “are you paying attention? yes? never mind.” Type of thing. We continued around down to our blue and white gate jump as a single towards the in gate and then came up to other outside line (I can’t remember the stride). This was the only time all night (the line) that Ranger had ANY energy and I had to actually land, woah SLIGHTLY and the just sit there. He was so completely perfect all lesson it was incredible. Have I mention how insanely perfect this horse is?

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A nice view of the blue and white gate (we jumped it from the other direction where there are a whole bunch of flowers)

We ended on that course, because, I really couldn’t top anything. The jumps were low and easy, but who cares? The strides were fine even if I couldn’t see spots all the time (my eye wasn’t working which I hate as that is not normal for me).

All in all though, it was a great lesson and just super..consistent. We took an insanely long walk around the paddocks to cool out which I needed just to decompress mentally.

Ranger grumbled as his friends were out eating his hay, but he enjoyed himself. It’s so nice it’s finally light and getting warm. I missed my post lesson walks. I really needed them.

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How could you not love this guy?

Fair Hill Blogger Trail Ride

Taking advantage of a quiet evening reference desk shift to catch up on this blog. Saturday afternoon we FINALLY had our much planned blogger trail ride at Fair Hill with Michele, Emma, and Emma’s barn mate Amy and her horse Punky. I think Emma first mentioned a trail ride almost 2 years ago and it FINALLY happened! Michele and I had a planned a paper chase this past fall that was cancelled then a ride that we bailed on when life, weather, and, er, musicals got in the way.

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And this nose. This nose ALWAYS is in the way.

Too bad this trail ride happened because Michele is a terrible, mean person [who rescues me from airports and work and takes my blankets down to slower, lower Delaware] and is ditching us for TN. I mean, who is going to rescue me when I get stranded somewhere next? Obviously NOT my friends and family… Remember, it’s ALL ABOUT ME!
Selfish rant over. And, no, you can’t take Jiminy to TN.
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Putting Michele to work and making her hold my horse. And Batty’s posing because, that’s what he does…

After all this terrible weather we’ve had, Saturday was GORGEOUS! The pollen count wasn’t terrible either which was helpful as Batts’ heaves and allergies have been acting up. Enough that Michele and Emma thought I was contemplating bailing. No. But, had he been as bad as he was the previous week when I tried to get on him for my 1 “ride” since Thanksgiving, I’d had to have. Poor horse was coughing up a lung thanks to so allergies… But, everything settled since then and whenever the vet gets his Hydroxyzine in, he’ll start that 2x/day. Anyway, with 5 minutes of w/t on the lunge line and a 5 minute ride at the walk both a week before and no other work since Thanksgiving, we headed out to Fair Hill. Because, that’s completely normal, right?
Michelle taking a picture of me taking a picture…
So, Batty is THAT horse who is born broke and always quiet. This was no exception. His coughing was generally OK except when he was a. Ignored  or b. Bored. As long as we were doing something fun (ie: NOT returning to the trailer.. we sulked and had LOTS of feelings about going home. Mostly that included dragging our feet because we’re not normal), no coughing occurred. But, when we were in the trailer alone being ignored? Cough. Strange horse.

Anyway, we had a great time. Batty and Remus were the perfect pair. Remus was up Batty’s butt and Batts didn’t care (the joy of a former lesson horse…). Batt DID cause Remus to spook once over this plastic thing on the ground that he was sniffing at by turning sideways which was highly entertaining since Michele managed NOT to fall off… But all bridges were crossed, all water was crossed, and bravery was accomplished. We did make Angry Faces at Charlie for some reason though… Sorry Charlie…
Overall, the company was fantastic! I wonder why I don’t get out to Fair Hill more often considering I’m 15 (20-25 with the trailer) minutes away. So many trails to explore. And all Batts wants to do is explore. Had circumstances been different, some trotting and cantering would have been lovely! But, considering how out of shape a certain chestnut was… the walk was ideal!
Hopefully Michele and I will get out again before she heads to TN. So much more exploring to do!
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Sir Charlie!

Of course, as great as our ride was, drama followed me home… After passing a tiny Amish cart pulled by a Shetland pony, I almost got run off the road by farm equipment… Nothing like a tractor that can’t fit in a single lane approaching you when your hauling. I certainly wasn’t moving off the road. Somehow he managed to pass me with about 6″ to spare… I just sat there gritting my teeth. Then I arrived home to find that Subi had been screaming since I left 3 hours earlier (he’d been running too but got tired and resorted to just screaming). Lesson learned: When I take Batt out. DON’T put Subi and Jiminy on grass. Jiminy cares more about grass than Subi and Subi cares more about Batty than grass or Jiminy. At least when they’re in the paddock, Jiminy stays close to Subi and he’s not THAT dramatic.

Clean at Fair Hill, muddy within 5 minutes of being home

Drama. I don’t need it.

These two… tale of two quarter horses with opinions.

And because I can’t leave out the biggest drama queen of the bunch… Geldings.

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Subi’s lucky I love him…

Quilted Jiminy!

A mostly wordless… Friday post to share this amazing quilted Jiminy courtesy of Olivia from DIYHorseownership! I won her Easter contest and picked up an amazing quilted Jiminy complete with ears (that I missed in the box at first thanks to exhaustion and brain-dead-ness thanks to a 3 day work training in Pittsburgh…)

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Quilted Jiminy!

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Non quilted version

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Well behaved version with Ears!

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Non stuffed, less well behaved version with ears

And, to complete this, some fun from my trip to Pittsburgh… How many librarians can you fit in a hotel shuttle? Then answer is way too many when your shuttle driver’s name is Henry and you’ve been staring at large pages of text all day… And it shouldn’t be snowing at the end of April in PA. Just saying.

 

Ranger Recap: I’m so tired.

I have NOT recapped my lessons in the last few weeks. Not because they haven’t been good lessons (they have), but mostly because we’ve been stuck inside, have been working on rollbacks and I have had absolutely NO MEDIA and and work has been insane. Rollbacks are really hard to write about when you don’t have so much as a picture of the course. And then I sort of got tied up with work (or taxes) and never managed to even try and recap. Oops.

I’m not much better this week, but at least I rode outside?

I was in DC/Bethesda for the first half of the week for a workshop at the NIH on research data management. I only bring that up to clue everyone into my mental and physical state going into my lesson last night. My legs were burning (SO. MUCH. WALKING. NIH campus is huge) within 2 minutes thanks to comfortable (yet probably not ideal) shoes from earlier in the week and I was exhausted and not really able to take in direction? As long as I didn’t need to think, all was good. If I needed to think? haha!

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My train… Boarding without a platform… Platform 9 3/4 I guess?

We started off with a lovely FORWARD trot. Ranger was happy to be outside (though a little grumpy his OMG BEST FRIENDS were outside in the field next to the ring eating his hay) and moving nicely to the left. My left leg was not dead. We hopped over the poles that were in our one outside line working on straightness (so, there was a pole then a little shoot then another pole |    =    |   (the last pole had flowers with it). This direction was easy, though we did that a few times. Then we changed direction, and tried it to the right twice, adding in some circles and halts. To the right, OMG right drift and right leg = DEAD. And, after doing that twice, we picked up the canter and it became EVEN HARDER with the damn drift. But, the goal was canter the thing in 8 strides (easy), then canter it in 9 strides, really collecting (not hard, but the god damn drift), then 8 strides (easy), then 7 strides (easy) then 8 strides (OMG I’m dying)  then walk. The hardest part was that we essentially cantered 5 times around the ring and my legs were protesting so much. Well, my right ankle was mostly dying. See, I was paying with the swelling in my feet from the stupid trip…. Then we moved to the other direction and Ranger just naturally moved FORWARD. And the 8 was too fast and yeah we struggled. So, it took a couple times to get a nice 8 because I was already tired. But, essentially we did an 8 and then circled until we had the canter for the 9, then got him too forward for the 7 (oops, I was aiming for the 6…) then tried again and got the 7 then walked and I collapsed and took a break.

After a walk break which wasn’t as long as I’d like, Ranger and I were assigned our next task: cantering into our inside green oxer (an 8 canter), shortening our canter to our log (9 canter) which was a super tight turn as it was basically a tight half circle to the log out of the inside line and then immediately to the other outside line in the 4 (7 canter).  We actually made it through the first time, but had a little too much canter for the single. But, when in double, I’ve learned to move up rather than be passive and the jump was nice. But, Ranger was leaning on the landing making jump 2 hard. Take 2 wasn’t as nice as we landed wrong from the single (which was too slow) and turned late and it was ugly-ish. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but not great? Take 3 was better, but the simple change still was taking throwing me… Finally, take for was as perfect as I could make it and I think we thankfully didn’t do a take 5.

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You can sort of see the log?

From here we cantered right lead over our other inside single towards Ranger’s OMG BEST FRIENDS (idiot) and then came around to our inside line. My brain was seriously fried at this point so I just decided to count 1-2-1-2 to hold a steady pace and not mess with him. Our pace felt fine though I did here my trainer tell me I didn’t need to gallop… Oops. Our first jump was gorgeous and then I forgot to stay out for the line (it’s a super hard turn and if you don’t stay out, the line DOES NOT WORK AT ALL) but then Ranger drifted because I had no right leg and it all worked out and the in was perfect and then we drifted slightly and the out oxer was perfect, even though, gallop. But, because we can’t end on almost perfect (ie: gallop), we did it again.

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So brown single (with the blue and white standards) around to white boxes inside line

So last time through. Goal: NO drift and NO GALLOP. I basically approached the single with the same 1-2-1-2-1-2 approach and thankfully we had an even more perfect jump (no OMG BEST FRIENDS this time) and then landed and I continued to 1-2-1-2-1-2 myself to the next jump and we jumped STRAIGHT through the entire thing. Ranger, knowing he was complete PERFECTION got a hug and then started yanking at the reins… Brat. Thankfully we ended or I would have said no. Seriously, it was the nicest jumps I have done in the longest time. Don’t make me top that.

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Reunited with BEST FRIENDS Elliot (bay) and Mikey (grey)

The Great Easter Egg Hunt of 2018 (or not)

I have a lot to recap including a lesson on Ranger and so much to do at work. But instead, why not share some silliness?

Olivia @ DIY Horseownership is holding an Easter Contest — You can enter too on her blog. And, Saturday after a long day when I was losing my mind, I figured it was as good of a time as any to participate. So, I what did I do other than make horse cookies and hold an Easter Egg Hunt for Jiminy?

The plan was to follow her Pill Hider Horse Treats (rules stated you could use any of the homemade horse treat recipes), but I didn’t have any apple sauce and didn’t want to go to the store (keep the part in mind later) so I used canned pumpkin in its place. So, basically, my treats were a hybrid between the Pill Hider Horse Treats and the Pumpkin Horse Treats.

But the recipe was super easy to follow until I realized that I did NOT own a mini muffin pan. And was not planning to buy one. Enter modification number…6? So I used a large muffin pan and made some large muffins and then still had batter. They take an hour to cook and if I did multiple batches, I’d never  be finished and I needed sunlight for my Easter Egg hunt! So, I found muffin cups and started dumping batter in those. So I ended up with less than pretty muffins, but it worked…

Biscuit approves… This kitten is TROUBLE.

Of course, while the muffins were cooking, I realized I was missing a key element of the hunt. The costume. So, I left my husband with a core instruction: Make sure the house doesn’t burn down. And headed off to CVS in search of bunny ears. The struggle was real folks. BUT, success! 3 pairs of bunny ears remained and I purchased the best pair. (I could have picked up apple sauce…)

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I came home, house still standing and waited for the cookies to finish Then, when they were FINALLY finished, I sped up the cooling process (thank you refrigerator) and out we went for a photo shoot, egg hiding session, and THE HUNT!

It was dinner time for the boys so Jiminy was the only HUNT participant. But, they all participated in the taste test and photo shoot. Subi, pickiest of them all, is IN LOVE with the cookies. Probably because they don’t have apple in them. He is NOT a fan of apple sauce… So, the pumpkin in a hit.

MORE COOKIES!!!!

But the star of the show? Jiminy.

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Yes,  Jiminy

We didn’t allow him loose for the hunt as he can escape from the round pen and he was a little distracted by grass…

Nonetheless, he’s utterly adorable…

He was very disappointed when he found the last “egg” and didn’t get to stay and enjoy the green grass… Let’s just say, grass is the last thing he needs 🙂

Ranger Recap: Proof in video

Thanks to a wide range of circumstances, my Thursday lesson was pushed back to Saturday this week.

It was really pretty earlier in the week…

It was all fine. Thursday would have meant that I got to ride with snow falling off the roof of the indoor which is always fun. Plus my neck/back was killing me for some odd reason… Who knows. I’m a walking disaster. Regardless, I find it really odd to ride during the day these days. Anyway, it all meant that Michele! came out and served at videographer once she navigated around Amish buggies… That’s the problem with Saturdays…

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My lesson started with a pokey, blockheaded Ranger. Evidently he’s been a little difficult over the last week. So, during our initial w/t flat work, we did a lot of trot/halt/back transitions until I finally got him off of his front end and on to his butt. We also did a lot of tiny circles at the trot and worked on not falling in. Finally we got some square halts where it didn’t feel like Ranger was going to try and drag me onto the ground (it was that kind of a day to start out… He’s got a BIG HEAD). Somewhere around this point, Michele showed up.

At the canter, the focus was mostly forward down the long sides and making Ranger collect use his butt in the corners. Then, to start off to the right, we circled and I failed to realize that with the new course, the jumps were on the long side and proceeded to almost crash into a fence. BUT, we managed not to and didn’t lose our canter. It was just not pretty. Take 2 was nicer. Then on the other side of the ring, tiny circles at the canter were the goal. I should have know this was a clue for things to come. Left lead was uneventful… Just a circle or two…

Our warm up exercise was…evil. It was a figure eight exercise over a cross rail. Thankfully I do NOT have a video of it. Basically, we cantered left lead over this cross rail, then landed turned right and cantered right lead (TIGHT TURN) over the cross rail, landed, cantered left lead again over it. I think we did it 3 times? I mean, it went fine, I just didn’t like the exercise.

From here, we did the same cross rail (cantering in left lead), but instead of  turning back to the cross rail, we instead went to the outside line against the rail). First time through I kind of lacked the power I needed and we did an ugly 7. The second jump was the EVIL death jump that has the invisible spikes… YES they are there and they pop out at you when you go over it thank you very much. But, the second time through, I actually rode the damn thing and we got the 6. My issue the first time was I was still in the holding mindset from the tight turn to get back to the cross rail (we had to turn at the first jump of the line) rather than a going mode to make the line.

Next we worked on our inside single which wasn’t an issue at all. This was the only place that I could feel Ranger occasionally want to get strong but a tiny lift was all he needed. From the single we continued to the cross rail bending to the second jump in the outside line (AKA the death jump). It was fine. No issue at all. We only put the 3 together once?

Finally we ended with our course that took me a few times to get right. We started we the outside single which first time we proceeded to take a rail down. Next we came around to the inside line in a 6. I got the simple change late though the turn, while hard (it’s one of those you have to wait for it turns, but I turn late so those work for me), wasn’t an issue. That said, I let Ranger pull me a bit and we sort of sucked in the line and got in tight to the out of the line…

Take 2 was better spots, but Ranger was severely distracted. His BFF Elliot walked in and instead of picking up his feet, he was focused on Elliot. So we took out a bunch of rails. Because, idiot.

Take 3 was FINALLY the course we wanted. We added on to it by continuing to our outside line and then continuing to our inside single.

Anyway, we called it a day from there. The bad news was Ranger had to do double duty and will have to do double duty on Thursdays from now on. Sucks for him. AND I’ll lose my Thursday zen tack up time. But, hopefully come summer the kid riding him before me will find another time to ride and I can find my zen time again.

Ranger Recap: Changes

My recaps lately have been really…bad. I have no media and my brain just can’t quite retain the course in the ring and without a picture of the layout, I can’t adequate describe anything or even draw my own course map. So, apologies in advance. Brain power has been a struggle this week. Migraine fog? On a positive note, this is blog #4 for the week. Woah!

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Migraine fog or Ugly weather fog?  The sky was scary this morning… And it was snowing

Flat work part 1:

We just did some basic trotting. Mostly working on moving out and nothing overly exciting. The big thing was my outside hand/arm and I was to focus on pulling it back instead of pulling out as Ranger was diving in a bit during the lesson rather than staying on the rail, regardless of the amount of inside leg I stuck on him.

Eventually we started adding in our pole down at the close end of the ring, making a circle over it and ensuring that we stayed even, straight, and all that. Also that my stupid arm pulled back instead of 12 feet out… and turning with 2 hands. You know, all those things because trotting a pole is hard man. Oh, and  I could run over a little  while pony or large chestnut gelding carting children because that would be bad. We also got to do the entire thing, circles and all, in 2 point where I impressed my trainer with my 2 point and  strength of holding 2 point. I considered mentioning my 2pointober championship of yesteryear, but decided that instead of holding 2 point for 30 seconds, I might actually have to hold it for some significant  length of time.  Yay for past victories!

The canter was  more of the same. For some odd reason, I started  off with an awkward forward lean, but once I corrected that, I was ok.  For there, we basically worked on our circle over the pole and thankfully in both directions I managed several fabulous circles of varying sizes were I didn’t take out ponies or people and even had some lovely tight turns. Circling over the pole was my success  of the  night thank you very much.

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Ranger has better things to do than hang out with me… 

Over fences fails:

We started basically with a half circle over the second jump of our outside line (left lead canter). First time through it was fine, but I didn’t quite see the spot and… yeah. No, incorrect. I saw the spot, I just failed to do anything about it. second time through I thankfully chose to ride and moved Ranger up and success, lovely forward fence. Life is lovely when I chose to ride.

Next up, same thing but the other lead and the other side. So, right lead canter half circle to the second fence of the other outside line. This time I  actually rode to the jump, we had a perfect spot and…took down the top rail? Ranger failed to pick up his feet, convinced the fence was the same size as the other fence…  So, we did it again and much better. Thank you Ranger…

From here we started to hit the point of failure. So, we started to with an inside single (right lead) around to our first jump. So, roll back. Except, the first time through I was so preoccupied with the fact that we landed  on the wrong lead that I screwed up t he spot for the second fence and we launched over it and Ranger saved my butt (time number 1 of the day). Considering the fence had gone up, I owed him.

Second time, we did a simple change because we couldn’t seem to land correctly to save our lives and improved but….

We then did our other inside single around to the other jump on the outside. OMG. Holy saving  my butt (mega save #2). Again, we screwed up the lead. We tried it again.  Simple change, slightly better. Then we just had to land, canter around, and just did the last jump as a single and it was fine. The big issue was after the simple change, we just lost momentum. I could  NOT get back the canter before and as a result, we never could get to the spot I saw and instead  of chipping, Ranger decided to launch. I owed him BIG TIME.

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Like hang out with Elliot

Flat work part 2:

After failed jumping efforts due to lead issues, I was given the option to jump more or learn to do changes on him. My trainer basically is the lead change master. (She loves to take on horses just for lead changes).   Me? I’m not great with changes. Subi had auto changes so I never actually learned how to do changes. I just basically set him up by staying balanced and he did them. Towards the end of his carrier, I did have  to ask a little, but I can’t say I asked the right way. Or maybe I did, but not the way my current trainer may have wanted me to ask. Basically, I did use some hand. Other than Subi, the other horses I’ve ridden have pretty much had no changes or auto changes. So, yeah. And evidently if I wasn’t riding Ranger  I’d be riding Forrest. Forrest is easy and perfect with Subi-like looks and changes, but… I don’t think I could ride him. He’s too much like Subi. I can’t. I just couldn’t. I don’t want  to ride a Subi-like horse. I don’t want to ride someone that remind me  of what I’m missing… No, no can do.

So, Ranger. His are “easy” just the case of getting used to balance and the right amount of speed. We mostly just worked on keeping my hands still and shifting my weight from center into left or right stirrup and kicking/adding  leg/speed as I passed through the  center of the ring. Each time we did eventually get it, but not at the right place. I need to give leg firmly ONCE rather than lots of little kicks. So, stuff to work on.

I did almost fall off once after getting  the change and Ranger was quite proud of himself. The light was changing and the other trainer stepped/moved and decided to spook at her shadow in the light just because and ducked in violently. He was VERY proud of catching me  off balance as he had JUST gotten the change. Thank you Ranger. I love you too.

Anyway, I slowly started to  figure it out and  despite a mini pity party (I mentioned that the kid riding him must be much better/stronger since I got to hear how she’s doing well with him with changes and  all that blah, blah and my confidence has taken a hit….) but whatever. We all have those  moments.

In the end, Ranger was most excited about treats. And  turnout with his BFF Elliot. Yeah. OMG. Those guys…

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OMG! BEST FRIEND! We were just turned out at the exact same time and somehow got separated as we walked to separate hay piles… MUST NOT HAPPEN EVER AGAIN!