Weekend Trail Rides (or, Batts and Bailey take on Fair Hill)

Nothing too exciting to report. We had a really nice weekend weather-wise (in other words, unseasonably warm), so lots of trail rides. Saturday, I took out a nice couple down at Marsh Creek and on Sunday, Batt and I explored Fair Hill with a friend of mine.

Saturday was just my usual Marsh Creek excursion. I didn’t bring Batts down due to the warm temps, not having clipped him yet, and 2 new horses who had arrived the evening before from auction. I figured they needed some quarantine before I exposed Batts to them. So, I took out Sam instead. (For those of you who don’t remember, Sam is the 17.1 Belgian-TB cross who is pretty much dead quiet despite being 6).

For size reference refresher, here’s Sam…

Anyway, I like taking Sam out on trails as he’s slow, steady, and keeps up with his slow and steady buddies Poe and CT. Batts has no issues leaving CT behind… Despite his long legs, Sam doesn’t actually mind moving at a snails pace…

Needless to say, Sam was less than impressed by the whole thing. But, it was a beautiful day and he was a good boy. Hunting season has started in the park so we all wore our neon vests, but thankfully no hunters were hidden in our path. Nothing like a 17 hand fraidy cat jumping in place… We only did that once, walking back to the barn when we spooked at the barn pickup truck pulling in behind us carrying grain. How can you spook at dinner?

Sunday morning I finally got around to clipping Batts and Jiminy. Batts has been super fuzzy this year and Jiminy is always fuzzy. I hate  how sweaty both have been. I decided to try a bib clip with Batt and a chaser clip with Jiminy. I may end up with a chaser clip on Batt and a full clip (minus head/legs) on Jiminy, but we’ll see… Thankfully, both are good about clipping, unlike a certain other chestnut… (I’m pretty sure Jiminy has never seen a pair of clippers before but like a good mini, he takes everything in stride).

Instant Pony Weight-loss Technique! Batty, on the other hand, was less than impressed…

Later that afternoon, Batts and I headed out to Fair Hill to meet my friend Terry and her horse Bailey for an afternoon trail ride. She leases one of the barns out in the park, but despite that, we rarely ever get out to ride together. We were planning a short ride as Bailey is 28, but we sort of got lost and ended up staying out for a good 2 hours. They horses had a good time though. Unfortunately, while Bailey knows the park really well, we can’t give him his head as he’ll take us back to Fair Hill Stables as that was home base for a long time for him. As for Batt, Batt never likes going home so he’s no help. We eventually just turned around and took a longer route back and were find, but our cross country efforts were interesting… Bailey decided hills were meant for galloping up (seriously, you’re 28…) while I’ve learned that Batty is seriously the most incredibly amazing trail horse every. I’d have no issue with him galloping his hills or really anywhere, but I know Terry isn’t necessarily comfortable and was just trying to keep Bailey in hand so I figured I’d help out by NOT cantering up those hills, as tempting as it was for both of us. Bailey was good for Batty as well. All our bridge issues we faced in the past when out alone? No issue! He followed Bailey over without hesitation.

I seriously love this horse!


Best Batthorse Ever!


Batty and Bailey returning home

Holy (2 Point) Batman!

In that moment you all have been waiting for (in other words, in that moment I have been waiting for), the Batthorse got to try on his Batman saddle pad this morning!!

I had a late meeting at work so I figure why not take advantage of the cold, rainy-ish, migraine free (knock on wood) morning and ride my horse! It also gave me the opportunity to time another 2 point.

Needless to say, Batts was NOT amused.

But, he looked adorable and the pad did fit (I was concerned about the size as I based it off of a clean pad that I realize was clean because I never used it since I don’t like the way it fits…).

As for 2 point, I’m glad October is coming to an end. I’m getting bored with 2 point and there are only so many podcasts I can listen to. I’ve mostly been walking in 2 point but the boredom today was too much I that I would have been open to trotting, but, wet ground, slippery leaves, not riding in arena… yep, more walking. Needless to say, we were bored.

I did break the elusive 30 minute mark and try as I might, I just could make the 40 minute mark. My legs just could. not. do. it. I got off and was completely jello-legged. Overall, I’m still pretty happy with my time. And there is still a few more days to hit that 40 minute mark… We’ll see.


I think, in general, my 2 point as improved a lot.  I’ve been trying to focus on even weight distribution between my little and big toe, not pushing my heel down too far, keeping contact with the saddle and my knee (this is a hard one for me), and keeping even contact with my lower leg. The toe thing made a huge difference in terms of time and stability (I push my heel down too far and I’m back in the saddle hence the short early times and the even pressure just makes it easier to hold). The second I made that change, my balance just improve 100%. But, I think the biggest improvement has just been more lessons and correct riding overall. More strength and confidence overall? I’d like to think I’m a stronger and more effective rider than I was this time last year. Hopefully that’s true? Regardless, once October is over, I’m not 2 pointing for a long time. Maybe a few minutes, but none of this craziness!


weekend roundup

Nothing too exciting to report. Pretty uneventful week filled with lots of migraines and a fun work trip to Dover, DE (note, I don’t like Dover at all). Fun, right?

In non-migraine news, it was ridiculously warm all week with temps near 80 which is not normal for the mid Atlantic in October. So, of course, everyone was miserable with their fuzzy coats. I’m still debating weather to clip Batts and Jiminy, but if I’m going to I should probably get to it sooner rather than later. I waited until Thanksgiving last year for Batts which was way too late. Hopefully I get to it soon. My farrier was out on Monday and encouraged me to clip the boys. I certainly won’t do a full body clip (I was thinking about it for Batty, but i’m too lazy and cheap to buy another new blanket with hood) but some sort of trace clip should be fine. Though a hood was tempting to help grow back his missing mane. But, money. But, I have enough well fitting high neck blankets for Batty that I’m not going to bother with anything new. So trace/chaser clip will need to do.


Diet may be needed soon…

As for Jiminy, he hates being cold, but he’s so hot right now with his coat that I don’t really have a choice. Plus, he loves his blankets so… Seriously mini. You were supposed to be the easy one!

As for Subi, he needs all the coat he can grow. And blankets. I did order him a new discontinued Rambo for super cheap on Wednesday while stuck in Dover so hopefully I can retire his 10 year old Rider blanket to an emergency spare. It’s still waterproof and holding up, but after 10 years, it’s seen better days. I’d rather not use it as a spare anymore and just hold onto it for emergencies.

I cancelled my lesson on Thursday (migraine) and rode Sunday on the Ranger horse. We sort of picked up where we left off with the gate around to the triple (after flatwork and sitting trot which I sucked at this week). Thankfully the triple started out as well as we ended with and my brain didn’t get overly involved which is always a good thing. After that, however, we introduced the evil 2 stride. My issue with this was that I had to canter in the first time (fine, no big deal) and no nothing (much bigger deal). Thankfully, unlike a normal person who cuts corners, I usually go to wide which helped me with the 2 stride where I needed to be wide to come in straight. It was actually fine. Of course, instead of just doing the 2 stride, we needed to continue to the triple which sucked the first time since I failed to add enough leg and the first jump was ugly. The next few times were much better. We may have done another line in here but I don’t really remember. Overall, it was a short, but productive lesson. Sometimes I feel lessons might not be the full length, which would bother me, bit I didn’t feel I were getting so much out of the lesson? If that makes sense? We’ve also gone way over when I’ve sucked so… Anyway, I just love this perfect horse who makes me look like I know what I’m doing. I’m sure i don’t but it’s nice to feel that way sometimes!


Other than my lesson, the Batthorse worked hard all weekend. On Saturday he came down to Marsh Creek for lessons and a trail ride. One of my adults hopped on him for a lesson and he was a good boy though completely took advantage of her at times. His opinion? Good boy= Whoa. Yeah. But, he trotted around like a champ, trotted his poles (though when she had super long reins the first time he did canter over them and was VERY proud of himself), cantered around like a perfect pony, and even popped over a crossrail a few times (happily walking over it several times first). He hasn’t been a lesson horse for years, but he didn’t seem to mind the light lesson work.

After the lessons he joined me on a trail ride in 40 mile/hr winds. Not that Batty cares about no wind. He had a bigger issue when one of the horses tried to take the lead from him… Anyway, despite the wind and cold, I think he was happy to be out in the park. I tried to do 2 point on the trail ride which was a little interested, but managed about 15 minutes….

Sunday after our lesson I pulled Batts back out of the paddock for another ride to time our 2 point. He was none too impressed. I guess 2 days of work in a row violates our contract… Anyway, we just walked around the woods while I timed 2 point and listened to a podcast. Seriously 2 point is easy on Batty thanks to his downhill nature. Grabbing made/touching his neck pitches you forward so it’s actually easier NOT to hold on. Batty was happier to learn he didn’t need to work so he happy to walk forever. Anyway, we hit the 25 minute mark (finally!) and I’m surprisingly not sore today. I feel a lot stronger doing 2 point after lessons so jumping must be getting me stronger.

Anyway, no lesson next week. I work Thursday night (normal lesson time) and trainer is a show all weekend. So, instead, it’ll be a weekend of trail rides. Saturday at Marsh Creek (assuming a bring Batty again) and Sunday at Fair Hill. I’m hoping that the ‘on location’ riding will help with contract violations…

Rounding up ponies, or something like that

Updates are hard without media…

So some of these post are useless without pictures, but I’ll do the best I can…

Not too much to report on on the horse front. The boys continue to do well though mostly just spend there time stuffing their faces with hay and grumbling about a lack of food… The feed store was out of alfalfa cubes a few weeks ago and so we got timothy/alfalfa cubes instead. Subi has always been hit or miss with cubes, but I like the benefits of alfalfa. It seems timothy/alfalfa cubes are the way to go and are a BIG hit with him. He’s actually enthusiastic about evening cubes now. We’ll see how long he keeps this up, but… I’d love to actually up with cubes in the winter, but that might be pushing my luck. Still, in the mean time, it’s nice he’s so enthusiastic about food. On top of that, he’s back to eating flax too. All of this means he’ll probably stop eating in January just to drive me insane..

Sunday I had a nice ride on Batty. By nice, I mean I tortured myself with 2 point for longer than intended. I set a timer that failed to go off so instead instead of staying up for my targeted 5 1/2 minutes, I ended up in 2 point for an awful 12:36.64. At the walk. How I did not fall asleep of boredom, I do not know. How my legs did not fall off, I do not know. How, 2 days later, I managed to hobble around, I do not know. But, listening to a podcast while in 2 point did make things more tolerable. As did a very happy and pleasant horse. He’s not normally this happy or pleasant, but I think the fact that I wasn’t asking him to actually work much helped a lot… After the torture of 2 pointed ended, we did some trot sets up and down the hill for a while and then I let him gallop up hill a few times before calling it a day.  Then I conveniently decided to fill up a water trough, forgot about the hose until we came out to feed dinner, and noticed I flooded the paddock… Ooops. Only 2.5 hours of extra water… At least the round bale was sitting on a pallet?

Prior to my 2 point fiasco, I had a lesson earlier in the day on Ranger, where I more or less learned that I’ve been 2 pointing wrong most of my life. Well, not wrong so much as less correct. We don’t necessarily work on 2 point specifically in lessons, but I was warming before we started and my trainer started commented on position and all that. Turns out my heels are down to far to the point of being ineffective. So, the goal becomes concentrating less on heels and more of distribution of pressure between the big toe and the little toe (I already and pressing into my heel enough) to ensure that I’m keeping enough contact with my lower leg. Huge difference just bringing the little toe into the equation (and I’m blaming the little toe for all the pain felt as a result of the 2 point with Batt–but I certainly felt SO MUCH MORE stable making that minor change).

Anyway, back to my lesson. I love that little horse so damn much. He’s so perfect for me right now. He’s so broke on the flat that everything is just easy, but all my faults just are just magnified (my ineffective outside arm seems to move forward while circling for some reason…) so I really know what I need to work on. He’s super comfortable and steady too. What he is, I have no idea, but he’s truly amazing for me.

We warmed up trotting into a simple line focusing on where I’m looking (UP toward the second jump and not at the base of the first…). First time through I didn’t have enough energy and sort of held and we trotted into an un-energetic 7. Added leg to trot into a 6 the next time that actually looked better. Then I screwed up cantered in… I don’t know why I couldn’t pick up my damn lead. Then when I did, I needed to circle to get my rhythm, and unlike normal people who cut corner, I am the opposite and turn too late. So, we worked on that until it was nice.  Then the conversation turned to “you’re going to think I’m crazy” and of course anything that starts with those words… So, left lead canter to a single towards the in gate) around to the outside triple (4 stride to 4 stride). Me: stops breathing. Before we start, we break it down a bit and remember that this horse will stop and NOTHING and all I need to do is steer as he does duck in a bit so in between the triple I need to pull hands to rail (triple was against rail which actually made it easy) and LOOK UP TO LAST FENCE OF TRIPLE until I’m approaching that fence and then look out of ring.

So, our first attempt was interesting. Coming to the single, Ranger decided OMG JUMPING TO IN GATE and decided to actually speed up and brain said OMG I DIE but as we approached in gate, Ranger said, time to stop and my leg barely said keep going, so, going to the triple it was wiggly and slow and ugly, but we made it over all 4 jumps. Trainer asked my opinion. Me: It was really ugly. Trainer: Did you get over jumps? Me: yes. Trainer: Are prizes being given out today? Me: But… Trainer: Goal was to get through it. Did you stop, crash, die, etc.? Hit him in the mouth? No. So, attempt 2 was pretty much perfect. We still rushed the first jump a bit (a little bit of OMG JUMPING TOWARDS IN GATE) but not (OMG DIE from me) and I was more prepared that he was going to pull me towards the quarter line while cantering to the first fence so I was able to use more leg and hand to have a better spot. And then landing I was prepared to just look up and ahead and then start adding leg as we approached the in gate so we didn’t have a debate about stopping which led up to a perfect spot at the the first jump of the triple. A little leg and steering in the air allowed him to just carry me over the rest of the triple and with that I survived. So, when I was told to do it again and add in the 6 line we started with, I actually said OK.

Was out 6 jump course perfect? No, I think the triple was prettier the second time, but our first jump was the best the last time (FINALLY no more OMG JUMPING TO IN GATE!!! from Ranger) and I finally had a nice turn to my 6 stride. So, for not having done a course in at least 7 years,  I was pretty happy. The jumps are small right now which is fine. I need small though I don’t think the height really matters with Ranger. He’s just amazing and exactly what I need. If he were a little smaller, I might be able to fit him in my backseat and take him home with me… img_1606

I’ve ridden so many greenies over the years that I’ve learned to ride defensively or super well schooled horses with soundness issues that I’ve been very limited in what I can do, or modified HOW I ride to best support the horse. Or lesson horses that we pretty much limited to cross rails or had little to no education or soundness issues or both. Or “Wenglish” horses that were just interesting… I’ve had little chances to just ride a really well trained schoolmaster. For where I am right now, I need to bring my education back up. Subi is the exception as he was pretty well trained, but, my trainer at the time never got on him. Granted, I didn’t do training board, but I’ve learned even if I had, said trainer wouldn’t have actually ridden my horse, just charged me for service not rendered (not always the case but was the case during the period of time when I was a boarder). But that’s a whole other rant that I’m not getting into.

Happy 10 Years

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to my Subi. Other than some friendships, he’s my longest relationship to date. Some days I want to kill him, some days I want to murder him, some days I cry about him, but I always love him. There’s only one Subliminal and he’s what I’ve got.

He’s a few years older, a little greyer, a lot out of shape, but at 19, he can still buck to the moon and back (a trait I’d have been happy if he’d have lost). We spent the afternoon grazing and grooming (I enjoyed the last part, him, not so much), got a mane trim (he didn’t enjoy that part either), took some picture (still didn’t enjoy that),  ate treat (carrots and peppermints POISONED with apples) and ran around like a crazed lunatic when I turned him back out. Bucking, rearing, and otherwise acting foolish. But, he’s still my best man. ( He was happy to eat said evil apples when they were being offered to his brothers later. )

So, Subbadub, the original of the 3 chestnuts, the one who started this whole mess, here’s to you. Here’s to many more. Here’s to more grey hairs, though I suspect most of them will me mine. I’d tell you to act your age, but you won’t. That’s just not your thing. You’re unique as they come. You’re picky as they come. You drive me insane most of the time, but I love you to death. Thanks for being my first horse. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.



Catching up

Life’s been sort of crazy lately between work, work, work, and more work, plus migraines, life, and all that. I finally got in a couple of lessons on the Ranger pony and am learning to jump again on a horse that doesn’t stop which is an interesting experience that I’ll get to soon. Of course, no real pictures make posts hard. Batty was pretty much off since our last lesson and though he was retired. Huge shock to his system when we hauled out this morning for a ride…

Work. Not going to get into it, but it’s amazing how you can like you job and hate it all the same. Add in a crazy fall semester, stressed out college students, and some days I’m ready to just walk out and quit. I mean, I can’t, but it’s really tempting some days. Had a multi-day conference this past week, a “local” conference which basically meant a 25 minute commute to the train, 45 minute amtrak ride into Philly, a quick SEPTA transfer, and a half mile walk to get where I needed to be by 8am. 5:51 trains are fun. 4:25 alarm clocks are not. This got old by day 4. Then, my first day back at work I was in before 7 to teach an 8am class. Friday, I was so excited to sleep in till 6:30, just to be woken up by my husband at 3am because our basement was flooded by crazy rain and a broken basement window. So, yeah, it’s been fun. He stayed home to clean, I helped clean and then went to work.

Lessons have been pretty good. It’s really strange going from a stopper to a horse that has no stop at all. So we’re working on my brain which still at times insists I’m going to die, even though realistically I know I’m not. It’s not that I’m afraid to jump, I’m not, it’s just that Batty’s pretty much ruined my confidence. So, introducing Ranger, 15 hands of perfection. He’s point and shoot, steady, and wonderful. Exactly what I need right now. Just working on small and simple right now, but I’m told I’ll be doing full courses in a few weeks. We’ll see about that. I don’t think I’ve done a course in… 6 or 7 years? Yeah…But, he’s seriously adorable.

Anyway, after a rough week, I needed mental therapy and decided to haul Batty over to my other barn this morning to ride with friends during their lesson. They lessoned, I just did whatever. Shock to my poor horse’s system. He thought he’d been retired to live a life of eating. He was not amused. Or well behaved. He actually broke the clip on his halter once we got there… But, despite the antics and stupidity, he was pretty good. I’m really amazed at how good his flat works has become, even with a few weeks off. He carries himself around the ring rather than relying on me to carry him. He’s balanced in both directions at the canter and we even bend. Best of all, he’s happy and relaxed. (all the grumpiness is really just an act.). Despite the decision not to jump him anymore, I’m not opposed to crossrails and little verticals. Stuff he’s comfortable with. We’re just not doing the solid, built up hunter jumps that are frying his brain

So, as I stood in the middle of the ring watching everyone jump around their crossrails (barn focusing on adults and fun), I decided to see what Batty thought about one and walked him up to a tiny one. For the first time in his life, he actually walked over it. Normally he’ll break into a trot or stop turn and trot or jump from a stand still, but nope, we walked over the damn jump. Minor major accomplishment. Of course, I was unable to repeat it and when I turned back to it he immediately decided we. were. trotting. now. Granted, the most lazy trot possible, but, a trot. We eventually added energy and did the line of baby cross rails. He would have preferred to canter, but tough. I was aiming for low key and success today.

So, Batty’s decided he wants to be a trail horse who gallops up hills and goes on paper chases and explores random places and driveways and jump cross rails, because, why not…. Of course, he’ll also be happy being a world champion eater, retired from all other work, but that’s not currently an option at all so he’ll have to settle for next best. This isn’t frying his brain. The other stuff was. Nothing wrong with keeping him happy, and this is him happy.


Grumpy Chestnut Photoshoot, take 6