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.


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.


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…

That was fun!, or another lesson recap

For the first time in a while, I actually had my regular Thursday evening lesson.

But, being me, I have absolutely no media to add to this post so I needed to resort to a drawing. Sadly the drawing was not to scale, but… tough.

All I can say is I’m having so much fun on Ranger. Everything is just so easy. So easy. Almost too easy at this point? I don’t thing riding has every felt easy like this? I’ll get to this at the end of the post or if I don’t, maybe another post, because it is still as work day and I am at work which means, I should be, well, working. But I lack motivation and I don’t want to deal with people. After telling this to my mom last night her advice was to tell everyone “Begone Satan!” Um, not exactly what I expected to hear from my mother…

So, back to my lesson. I mostly warmed up on my own while the previous lesson finished up. I tried to work on a forward trot and lots of circle (mostly to stay out of the previous lesson’s way). Our canter was actually really nice and forward as well which was nice too. Everything just felt good. And I wasn’t a mess which was even better.


My attempt to draw my course… No where to scale, but in attempt to save paper… (you can trot a nice circle around jump 1 and fit 8+ish strides between 1 and 2)

We moved on to jumping soon after and decided to focus less on height this week and more on length of course. So, trainer knocked down jumps first time in a while that she lowered jumps even though I’m pretty sure we did everything at the height they were last lesson. I’m trying not to read into these things though. Height shouldn’t matter. I jumped these jumps well Sunday so why should I care that I didn’t jump them in this lesson? Anyway, we warmed up trotting into a broken line crossrail to the outside single just focusing on a steady pace landing, halting, and staying straight. Strangely enough, we pretty  nailed it the first time which raised expectations for the rest of the lesson. At this point, the other horse left the ring which usually causes Ranger change his behavior slightly, after all, his friend is leaving. It doesn’t actually matter which friend is leaving or if he’s ever met said friend before. So, with this in mind, we repeated the exercise, anticipating an increase in speed, but honestly, he stayed pretty steady so we continued on and canted up our inside single and continued on to our outside line. The single was perfect, the outside line wasn’t mostly because turned a little bit late… Surprising, right? That said, after the first attempted when I actually remembered to look ahead, the outside line was fine and right there. I think part of my issue with turning late at times is I don’t always look ahead? Or, I look too far ahead and I’m afraid I’ll turn too early and cut my corners so I turn too late. I have no idea.


Borrowed media from last week to see jumps 8 (green) 9 (hay bales)  3/7(grey), 6 (white), 4 (pink/black outside line), 1 (crossrail)

Since 5 jumps wasn’t enough, after a few times we continued after the outside line and came up the other inside single. This was the single we started with last week so no big deal. I think we did this once. Then, it was continue back down the other inside single the other direction (jump 7) and up our 2 stride for our 9 jump course. I can’t remember the last time I did a 9 jump course. 8 years ago? Most of my hunter courses were 8 jumps or at times 7, but rarely ever 9. So, this was good for my brain. Even better, I didn’t get lost! Unfortunately, we only did the course once as it was pretty perfect. We might have drifted slightly in one line, but not enough to warrant redoing anything or I’d have tried to get a video. Seriously though, this was some of the best riding I feel like I’ve done in a while.


Which brings me back to my first point. Everything feels easy. Too easy. Not boring, but easy. Trainer asked me while I was untacking if had thought about buying a jumper since we all know Batty isn’t that and showed me a video of a cool big quiet looking gelding. I’m just completely not in the position to buy a horse. I mean, I have 3. And it’s fine, but man, do I want a horse. It was sort of that moment that showed me how much I want something like that. Big, quiet, easy to the jumps. But, I don’t have the funds. Forget month to month lack of funds (because that’s so not there right now either), I don’t have purchase price either, not that I know what that would be.

Which brings me to Subi. At some point, I probably do need to have a serious conversation with her about him and see if restarting him is an actual option. I’m probably way stronger of a rider to do it myself now than I was a year (or even 2 or 3) ago, but, at the same time, I do need the assistance of a trainer or facility where he can be ridden every day in the beginning. I can’t do that at home. So, if my current trainer can do that at a price I can make work, good. If not, I can send him out to someone else (I really liked the guy who taught Batty to load and I’ve seen him ride–really good all around horseman who I’d trust though I’d have to send Subi a good 6 – 8 miles from my house rather than 1.1 miles). So, I don’t know. If trainer will take him on, I might still take him to other trainer for some trailer loading lessons. Mostly to teach him to self load. Because, if I do start taking him places, I need him to self load. That’s one thing he doesn’t do.


My office picture wall

So the next question, am I crazy to think about bringing Subi by soon to be 20 year old gelding back into work? He’s had a year off and about 2 year of minimal work before that, but he’s generally had little to no soundness issues. Most of the time off has been because of me. I lost my confidence and with him, not having a really place to ride has really been a struggle. If I can make it work regularly hauling out for lessons and hacks, and only occasionally needing to ride at home, he could probably stay in a routine…  20 isn’t that old, right? He can still run around and buck like a 5 year old (this is where I see him aging. I no longer say 2 year old). He’s lost a lot of top line/muscle, but even in work he’s never had a great topline…

Lesson Recap

I finally got a lesson in on Sunday. I cancelled Thursday a week ago after Batty colicked. While he was feeling better, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to ride after stressing about him all day. I wonder why? And then this past Thursday we sort of were dealing with an arctic vortex of sorts and with highs at 21* and wind chills making it feel like 1-5*, needless to say, we cancelled. So, luckily we rescheduled for Sunday. And, after Saturday’s ice storm, Sunday was rainy and in the low 50s at 11am… It was really kind of odd. No wonder I’ve been having all these migraines. The weather really needs to stop ping-ponging.

Ranger had a couple of other lessons that day which is completely not normal for him. So he was already warmed up when I got there (he also had an easy lesson after me). We did a quick warm up on the flat and the lack of riding really showed in my leg. Ouch. But, once we both agreed that we were going to actually move, we sort of did that. See, sometimes we have trouble when I relax maintaining a nice, 15mph trot. But, when my legs are dead, it’s hard to KEEP. MOVING. FORWARD. But, we didn’t dwell at the trot once determined we could trot and moved on the canter where again FORWARD was the mission. We had a respectable, but not great canter to the right, but a fabulous, forward canter to the left, until it was commented upon where upon we broke into a trot. Yeah. So, once again, we cantered, then were forced to be MORE FORWARD than ever before before we could finally halt and then walk. We are big on downward transitions to a halt. Canter to halt. Trot to halt. Jump, land, halt. We like to halt.

So, after catching our breathes and regaining feeling in my leg, we warmed up by cantering into a single on the diagonal with the intention of landing to the left of the ground pole on the landing and halting. Of course, I didn’t take a great picture of the whole ring to get an idea of the line coming in, but this will have to do. Basically, the intention was to use my entire ring and corner, turn after a jump that isn’t pictured, and take the long ride to the white box and land on the left of the ground pole. I happen to be the strange person out there and always turn to late rather than too early like a normal person so the fact that I nailed my turn was quite a success! Then, land and halt in the corner.


First exercise (white box) and 2 stride 



After we did that a few times, adding leg because Ranger was sort of lazy, we cantered down our other inside diagonal single (grey plank/wall thing) towards the double doors on the left side of the ring that aren’t part of the picture. Slightly harder angle and I did cut this one a little late the first time, because, I can’t turn too early like a normal person, but we had enough time to correct and still jump straight. Actually, all in all, my turns were pretty decent considering drifting, especially in the indoor, is something Ranger does incredibly well…


Feeling super happy with that, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear the next words, “2 stride” from my trainer. I don’t like 2 strides all that much and for some reason, the second jump in this 2 stride has been scaring the crap out of my for the last few weeks. I’ve been giving it the side eye every time we’re in the indoor, hoping I don’t have to jump it. So far I’ve been lucky. This lesson, my luck ran out. It just looked big and intimidating or something.


Stupid 2nd jump in 2 stride

Anyway, coming into the 2 stride, it was a similar approach to the first jump, but instead of turning after the jump, we had to turn AT the jump. One of those, if I turn too late, I’m going to miss my 2nd jump, the one that scares me. Great.


Another view of the dreaded 2 stride (and no views of the rest of the ring…)

Thankfully, other than not exactly adding enough leg, we survived the first time through. Which of course meant we had to repeat again. And again. But, the jump didn’t eat me. But, thanks to Ranger’s drifting habit, coming into the first jump, it was a lot of right leg and both reins to the left. But, the second I was over the first jump, left leg and both reins to right to keep him straight. Still, straightness won out today.

But, we couldn’t end there because that wound’t be fair to me. After all, I was comfortable and happy (and shocked that the first jump of the 2 stride that in the past might have seemed intimidating was fine as easy), we had to put it all together. So, after a nice long walk break while some boarders cantered their horses around after multiple days without turnout while Ranger watched thinking it seemed like way too much work, did out mini course. Basically, cantered our single white box, around to the grey single, (big kick) around to the 2 stride. I overshot the 2 stride slightly the last time, but he was actually moving nicely and adjustable that it didn’t matter. I had enough time to straighten him up before the first jump (thankfully) so we were able to call it a day after that! Or at least I was. Poor Ranger had 1 more lesson… I hung around after to groom and make sure he got his carrot. He was fine, but had no idea why he worked so hard! He rarely does multiple lessons but after having much of the week off…

In other news, my 3 bums are doing fine. Batty’s up to 3 gallons of water in his breakfast. I don’t know how much he drinks and how much Jiminy ends up wearing… Jiminy meanwhile protested Saturday’s weather by taking up residence in the run-in shed and refusing to leave. Poor guy just hates winter. I don’t have as much sympathy as I should. Subi’s happy as long as he gets to wear multiple blankets and Batty’s happy as long as he gets to eat. Subi’s starting to enjoy chopped hay so… maybe Mr. Picky will have another source of calories?


December 10 Questions

December 10 Questions courtesy of L at Viva Carlos – why not give it a try this month? Thanks to the weather and life, I haven’t actually ridden since the show 2 weeks ago…

Does your horse need shoes? Maybe. Subi was shod all around for years. When I moved him to self care and got Hayley, I kept them both shod for the first year but they both were so uncomfortable with the snow. I’m sure Subi was always uncomfortable with the snow, but it’s amazing how when you’re not seeing your horse 1-2x/day, you don’t see those things. Anyway, my farrier and I decided against snow pads and pulled shoes that next winter with the plan to put them back on in the spring. That was… winter 2010? He’s been barefoot ever since. If we ever get back into hard work, we MIGHT need shoes, but his feet are FABULOUS now. He used to be 3-legged lame when he lost a front shoe. He was also the horse that got drugged to get his feet done. Maybe the issue was the farrier? I have no idea. But, as of now, he doesn’t need them. Going barefoot in winter was the best decision and the results likely would have been different if we pulled shoes in the summer (that happened once and was a disaster, but the farrier/circumstances were different… full care, bad management, long story). Batty is fine barefoot up front on good surfaces but needs boots on trails. He’s also abscess prone and would benefit from shoes in some situations. But, because I’d pull for the winter season and I don’t want to do pads, we keep him barefoot. We use boots when necessary and adding flax to his diet has helped a lot. He has a terrible, misshapen hind hoof as a result of tearing off 3/4 of it as a 2 year old…


What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate? If a horse needs shoes, great. If a horse doesn’t great. If a horse’s needs change, fine. One view doesn’t fit all. If boots help, great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. If they’re retired and comfortable in the field/paddock/whatever barefoot, who cares what they need to be more sound, they’re retired.

Favorite season for riding? Temperature-wise, spring and fall. Light wise, summer. I am the weird person who actually hates fall. I hate the fact that it’s getting dark, I hate the angle of the sun, I hate the fact that migraines get worse. I hate that everything is dying. I hate fall. Yes, I’m strange.

How many shows do you think you’ve gone to? Not that many. Before this past show, it’s been about 7-8 years since I went to a show.  I only showed Subi a handful of times a year (3ish) since that was all I could afford (2007-2009) and then college shows. So all of those.


Do you consider yourself a good rider? No. I’ve always considered myself way better on the ground than on a horse. I’m certainly not an equitation rider either. I can be effective though. I’ve been told lately that I’m much better and stronger than I think, but…

How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse? No real answer than this. As long as a person is willing to ask questions and has access to people with knowledge, I don’t think their is an amount of experience necessary. Or, people can have a lifetime of “experience” and ownership and have no clue about care thanks to full care situations. I really knew nothing until I moved to self care.


Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer? Yep. Made worse by trainer also being barn owner and my boss… And passive aggressive… One such issue was barefoot incident I alluded to above. Many incidents existed…

Describe your dream horse? Something quiet and brave with no stop and no spook. Large, adjustable stride, but not fast. Good ground manners and good personality. Gelding. Not a mare. I don’t do mares. Hacks alone or in groups. Cross country or rings. Same if ridden daily or off for a weeks. Lives outside too! Yes, I’m asking for a miracle. And costs me nothing! Haha. Basically, I want a Batty with Subi’s jump and stride but probably in a warmblood body. Color isn’t important, plain is fine, though something comfortable would be nice, but honestly isn’t necessary! I find my super large bouncy trot thoroughbred comfy! Basically, I just want brain without a spook or a stop who can pack me around!

Does anyone in your family ride? Not really. My husband with hop on if I beg him to but I can’t say he rides. But, at least he’ll take a trail ride with me if I ask. Too bad I don’t have 2 trail safe horses!


If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be and why? Not really sure at this point. I’d probably just say either a super fancy 3′-3’6″ hunter packer that I could never, ever afford, or, if we’re  being really unrealistic, some crazy fancy small pony hunter just because that would be awesome.

Feeling better

So after lots of fluids and being banished to the round pen, I went to work post colic vet visit and came back to this:

And three more piles of poop which I took picture of but I’ll spare you all from. He was thrilled to have dinner that night (soaked grain, beet pulp, and some timothy pellet soup). The next morning I removed him from round pen rest (and stopped the screaming) and delivered lots of soaked cubes and soaked chopped hay. We stuck with that for 24 hours 

Saturday morning we reintroduced hay and life returned to normal and Batty proceeded to eat like there was no tomorrow. Instead of soaking all meals, I’m back to feeding soup. So he gets 2 gallons of warm water in added to each feeding… stupid horse. Stupid impaction colic. Now we add December to spring to times I get to worry about… 

but he’s happy again…

Because colic is fun.

I love my horses I really do. And because I love them, I take care of them when they do things like get hurt or sick or colic. But seriously, why must they do these things? Wouldn’t they rather spend my money or better things like tack or grain or treats or paper chases? Or spend my time going on trail rides or exploring? No, of course not.

Which brings us to this morning. We went out at 630 like we do every morning to feed. Erik divided, I bucket prepped. Except when I placed Batts’s bucket in front of him, he stretched, he pawed, he bit Jiminy, he stuck his face inside, but he didn’t eat. The dreaded, frickin’ colic.

So we grabbed the banamine, squirted it down his ungrateful throat, and removed breakfast. A little later, I came back out, armed with a halter, clothing other than my pajamas, my cell phone, and took him for a walk. He had moderate grass interest, but all did some rolling and pawing. Around 830 I decided to call the vet but thanks a staff meeting it was still the after hours service so I decided to call after 9. In the meantime we practiced trailer loaded, POOPED(!!!!!), felt better, ran around the round pen like an idiot, felt worse, called the vet, layed down and grazed until the vet came.

Vet on call came armed with Batty’s colic history and decided drugs and a rectal were in order first. Of course, more poop first (!!!). As expected, small impactionwas felt, but it was doughy and she though it would resolve itself. So we tubed with lots of fluids and hopefully that’ll be it.

In the meantime, Batts is stuck in the round pen and he’s none too pleased. He can have all the grass he can eat and if he passes more manure, soaked grain (1/2 ration normally but since his is so little he gets it all) and soaked beet pulp tonight. Tomorrow he gets soaked cubes and maybe hay. Needless to say, he’s pissed off. Let’s just hope for poop…

Ranger goes to a show

For the first time in about 7 or 8 years, I went to my first show this weekend (unless of course you count Batts’ trip to Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show, which counts, but doesn’t since we went to have fun and just sort of hack sans trainer and try not make fools of ourselves). Anyway, it was a small schooling show series. Anyway, Ranger and I were planning to show in Pleasure Horse and after our bad lesson 2 week ago, that seemed like a good plan (last week’s lesson was much improved–Ranger has initially moved from night turnout to day turnout (8 hours to 4 hours) but after taking off with little kids, and basically continuing doing what he was doing with me (ducking out of jumps, ignoring hand/leg, and otherwise just being unhappy), he was returned to night turnout. He’s happy Ranger again. Life for him is good.). Jumps in pleasure were going to be 2’6″ which would be fine. Less than we jump in lessons.  Of course, they ended up combining pleasure pony and horse so we ended up jumping 18″. I can tell how far I come when I think is how tiny the jump are. Of course, larger jump would have probably made things easier as we got fast since it was easy to basically rush the lines coming home (and I sort of forgot to ride) and all that… If he actually had to put effort into jumping something, we might have had a prettier course. Oh well. In the end, I had 2 goals. Not to die and to remember my course. I did both so success!


Leave it to my husband to take awkward pictures while schooling…

We ended up with a 3rd over fences and 2 seconds in the hack and reserve champion overall. Considering we rode against some really cute kids on really cute ponies, I’d say that was a huge success! Of course, Ranger is adorable too.

Anyway, not a bad reintroduction to showing! We’ll see where we go from here. I’m not interested in anything major (rated, multi-day), nor am I interested in show every weekend, but some local shows, sure, why not?