Ranger Recap: being bold with big(ger) jumps

Another week, another Ranger recap.


New ring set up

As I mentioned last week, Ranger has been dealing with some…soundness issues? He’s just been a little gimpy-ish lately. Off but not lame? And, he works through most of it. The best I can describe it is sort of a muscle soreness and the more he stays still, the more he stiffens up and the worse he looks and feels. The more he moves, the better he feels and looks. He was definitely feeling gimpy at the trot though and I was thinking about bowing out of the lesson…

But once we cantered, first of the right, he REALLY loosened up and moved out and started feeling good. And actually felt decent and even then to the left, his less good direction (even on a good day, he STRONGLY prefers his right lead. 9 times out of 10 he lands on the right lead). At this point, I started to feel less bad. So, after cantering we stood around and waited for the lesson in before me to finish jumping and got a  little stiff. So, before jumping, we cantered around on the right lead again and re-loosened up.

We started off trotting in to a pole to a vertical 2 strides to a hay bale combination. The goal of this exercise was to come in slow enough that we were trotting, apply calf NOT heel, and add enough leg to have enough energy to carry us over the hay bales. We were also approaching this on a half circle. First time through we completed the exercise however it wasn’t exactly with the necessary energy. To make it easier on Ranger, we changed our approach from the left to the right (tighter turn due to the set up of the ring, but easier for him direction-wise).  This time through, I added the appropriate calf and off we went at the base of the vertical. I do have to say, last night Ranger was jumping the crap out of his fences. His hind end… So, with that in mind, we approached a third time and  Ranger took control and I therefore did NOT add leg. This meant our speed was BEFORE the pole not at the base of the jump. It worked, but was not what my trainer wanted. So, I had to redirect our energy for our next attempt, really focusing on a quiet approach, energy on the takeoff, calf on the landing, etc.


You can sort of see the 2 stride combination here (blue winded standards)

Then the bales became an oxer and I screwed up and Ranger saved my butt. Since this jump wasn’t small to begin with, adding the back rail shouldn’t have made THAT much of a difference so I didn’t change much. So I had the same approach, slow/steady, and then sort of forgot to add leg since Ranger had been taking care of me and moving steadily the last couple of times anyway. This time, he didn’t. Somehow my saintly horse jumped it anyway and saved my butt. Thank you Ranger. That jump felt huge as we jumped it in slow motion. Needless to say, we immediately were forced to do it again, using leg this time (my legs WERE on empty). Thankfully, I had enough to get over and Ranger, not wanting to work that hard, helped me out and over jumped the oxer… I love you.

After a quick break, exchanging a quick story of my stupidity and how I accidentally applied for a job a prison librarian a few years ago without realizing it… we moved onto something else. Inside white rails around to the outside line along the fence.

So, the weird thing about this was the approach to the white rails was tight and strange. Basically, right between 2 jumps and the mounting block and don’t jump the wrong thing type of thing… One of those know how to steer kind of thing. But, we could land right and then continue right lead around to our outside line. Again, Ranger was jumping the crap out of these things. After the first one where we moved up for a nice spot, we were a little slow and instead of holding back, I actually listed when I heard my trainer say forward and drove Ranger forward to his next line and, again, moved him up for his line and kept moving up for the 6. I was not only seeing spots, but I was moving up to them, riding forward and aggressively. I guess I need to learn to trust my eye since its routinely there and when it’s not, nothing bad happens with Ranger. And he responded, again, by jumping the crap out of everything. Seriously, he gave me 159.75% last night.


Strange skinny entrance to white rails (jump 4 on left)

So, we did it again and added in a 4th fence, inside single off the corner with the brown boxes which actually felt huge (especially since a certain pony was over jumping it). The first single was fine, easy even, but the line, not as great mostly due to the entrance to the first jump.  Basically, the line is ALMOST on the rail, but not quite, so I was staying on the rail a little too long so it was impacting the first jump slightly. I mean, it was fine, but a little forced. The second jump in the line was good, but I had to ride him a bit up to it due to the approach from the first jump. Then as I’m turning the corner, something my trainer said made me realize there was a jump 4 and we continued to that. And Ranger sailed over it because he’s awesome and was jumping amazingly well.


Outside line. The first jump was strangely larger too which made the thing odd… Pony standards top hole! Or maybe there was another rail since we don’t normally jump with extra jump cups…

Our last time through (which may or may not have been the next time as I thought I did the 4th jump 3 times), we finally fixed the line. So, after having a nice approach to the first jump (I’m so glad I didn’t start screwing something else up), we stayed slightly off the rail so that I could have an easier time getting to jump 2. It worked and that just made the line flow so much easier. The 6 was there though Ranger was getting a little tired (or maybe that was me?) so I still had to work to keep us going. Thankfully, since we were landing right, no changes were required and off to jump 4 we went. Wasn’t my favorite jump of the night, but decent enough to end with. Seriously though, that horse gave me his heart last night. Love him so much. Once he loosened up, you could tell he felt GOOD. And wanted to move. Or at least jump.


The BEST Ranger pony in the world. 

My trainer made an interesting comment about my riding last night. While I am usually accurate and have an abnormally good eye, I am rarely that bold, forward, and confident. Evidently I need to ride like that more often…

Another adult in the lesson before me who was cooling out her horse while I was jumping some commented after how I was jumping some big jumps. Which fine, some where, but… I kind of responded that we do sometimes and that it’s nice to get back to it and I guess it surprised her that I’ve done this before? I mentioned that I had a retired gelding who I did a lot with years ago (which I did. When he was actively in work, we did jump 3’+ in lessons) and also a stopper who I don’t really jump anymore. I just don’t like people making assumptions. Of course, if she were actually there every week, she’s see that tonight’s height wasn’t exactly anything new either…  maybe my confidence was but the height not so much. Of course, it’s Ranger. He can do anything.

Ranger Recap: [Insert Witty Title Here]

Due to the ugly storm we had last Thursday, last week’s lesson was moved to Saturday morning (though, as it turned out, by the time my lesson rolled around, it was clear and sunny… go figure?). Of course, Saturday morning was sunny, windy, and chilly… Of course… But dry? Then last night’s lesson was back to my usual Thursday night time slot. So, this is my attempt to recap 2 lessons in one… With some media accompanying the lesser of the 2 rides… Of course. Because I can’t ever remember to record when everything is perfect. Those rides just need to live in my memory and everyone will just have to believe me when I tell you it was PERFECTION.


So Saturday morning.

What better way to start the weekend then with a visit with my buddy Ranger. I forgot his carrots unfortunately so he had to settle for peppermints. He likes peppermints, but I think he prefers the peppermint AND carrot combination. Anyway, we had the choice of riding in or out and despite the cold, I chose out. I mean, we’ve been cooped up inside most of the winter and it’s just nice to be out. Of course, I didn’t actually realize how strong the wind was… Nonetheless, outside we went. After a warmup on the flat where my hand were a little higher than normal (pattern here…), we moved on to jumping and it was a nice let’s hit all my spots again kind of day, the kind of day that never gets recorded on camera… A few months ago I mentioned that my trainer said I really DO have a crazy good eye so there might be something to that and this spot for spot thing might NOT be a fluke, but still.

That said, after the first jump (so this is all random highlights since I honestly don’t remember half of the lesson other than not missing a single spot and getting all my strides so this may not be the first jump but rather the first time doing the outside single because, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure we started with the log jump while we were cantering after first cantering a small circle around the damn thing. Evil. Evil I tell you. But, it was fine and we jumped it since I seem to actually know how to steer these days), our outside single on the left lead. We jumped it fine, excepted landed on the right lead and a certain Ranger-horse decided that he did NOT want to come back to trot his change so we fought around the corner until he realized I was NOT taking no for an answer and then we got the change and continued to our inside oxer without missing a beat or a the spot or changing pace.


So, supposedly this is the issue he does sometimes with the kids. Except they DON’T get him back and then he gets fast (they hang on him since he doesn’t comeback to them) and then they head to the next jump speeding on the wrong lead and… I mean nothing happens or anything but… Yeah. So, after that explanation, I was told next time, if he gave me any trouble coming back after the single for the simple change (he STRONGLY prefers his right lead), halt, back him up a couple of steps, then ask for the canter. Of course, unlike the kids, while I had to work for it the last time, I actually got the change and re-settled Ranger and jumped the second jump without any drama which led Ranger to an “oh shit” moment–way too much work… So, the second time through, we landed, he immediately came right back to me, easy simple change, and we were on our way with a balanced canter. His drama didn’t work on me so he certainly wasn’t trying that again. He’s way too smart for that.

I think we added in the outside line in the 6 and got the 6 first time and then added the inside in the 6 and got the 6. I can’t remember what, if anything else we did. But, it was an adding lines/jumps as we went and someone was perfect. Love him to death.

And evidently he’s MUCH happier too. The child he really hates quit. And said child is NOT the one I regularly split trailer fees with which is even better.


For as good as Saturday’s lesson was, last night’s lesson was just…off? I don’t know. It was part me, part Ranger, part just energy? I don’t know. But, I remembered my carrots so all was good in the end. And that’s what matters, right?

On top of that, lots of energy/activity in the barn due to a rated show today/tomorrow… So, baths, grooming, tack cleaning, and braiding. Not really anything I need to deal with. I enjoy local stuff and schooling shows, but rated shows are way out of my budget. Besides, I’d rather ride Ranger than anyone fancy anyway.

Ranger was a bit…I don’t want to say off, but maybe stiff is the right word? He worked out of most of it, but I definitely felt it mostly to the left. If we stayed to the left, he was fine. If we made a bunch of turns and direction changes, that’s where we just couldn’t stay consistent. He tried his heart out for me though. He earned his 4 carrots and an extra several peppermints.

After a warm up on the flat where AGAIN my hands were a mess. Actually, trotting they were first fine then my right hand was a mess then my right shoulder started interfering as well. Actually at one point my whole right side was a mess… My mostly my right hand… I have no idea. When we where circling this was most problematic… So, my right hand needs work. Lots of work. How does one work on a right hand? Especially when the right hand isn’t regularly an issue? But, at the same time, if Ranger was having issues with his left lead and falling in, it might all be impacting my right hand/side issues too… TBC next week…

The lesson before me was doing horse show prep on Ranger’s former BFF Forrest. (I think he is a former BFF as Ranger didn’t even care when he left the ring…) She worked really hard (strides) and all I could say was “I don’t want to work that hard!” I didn’t work that hard in that sense, but in a different sense… Eeek. I started by cantering (left lead) over the natural vertical around to the really skinny green single (REALLY skinny). Both are awkward to approach. So, while it’s only 2 jumps, basically I had to steer. My favorite! And, again, unlike a normal person, I regularly turn late which is often the reason I miss spots, not due to not seeing them. However, I turned early (meaning, on time) for the first, got my change, and turned right at/after the first jump of our outside line and got my wiggly pony to the center of the skinny. And when I say center, I mean the jump. Because this thing had NO CENTER. There was the jump or going around the damn thing.


green side of the skinny… This jump has seen better days. I didn’t notice until the picture which I guess means I’m not looking at it? 

But, that wasn’t good enough. Instead of doing THAT again, we had to do that whole thing backwards. So, down the skinny (white side) and up the natural. Holy crap. Once I worked out how the hell I was even going to approach the damn skinny (which looked even skinnier from this side (I have to take a picture of this thing–which will prove 1) it is as skinny as I’m saying or 2) it’s not as skinny as I’m claiming [eta: I held of publishing so I could add pictures. you judge. it’s pretty skinny but is it that skinny?). So, we pick up our canter, and my perfect Ranger starts drifter right then left then right then left. And suddenly TIME. SLOWS. DOWN. And I realize I don’t want to jump this damn evil jump. Which means I HAVE TO JUMP THIS JUMP. So, somehow, using all the leg strength and rein and steering power I have, 2 strides strides out, I realize I can actually make him jump this thing so we do and continue to the natural and (which in this direction was easy) jump that nicely. I wish we had that skinny on video because I’m pretty sure it was impressive. My trainer’s reaction was priceless. She was convinced we were going around it, impressed we made it over, but then said the jump itself was really nice. I guess that’s why you ride every last step. Better yet? We did NOT have to repeat that jump! Success!


White side of the skinny. That one flower box and 2  BROKEN poles. Not full poles, BROKEN poles. The thing is maybe 3ft wide.

So from there we did some other jumps/courses in some orders/combinations I don’t remember. But I think the outside line, the outside single, and that natural jump were involved…

Then the wheels fell off a bit. We ended with the weird turn to the brush jump that a few weeks ago I could not for the life of me figure out how my trainer wanted me to approach that thing. I just DID NOT GET IT. Thankfully, I remembered this week.


Evil a few weeks ago, no problem this week

So we started off with that, and cantered around to the inside line (6) and then were to continue to the outside single. However, that single was just NOT. Working. We would get our change late (left lead), went slightly wide, and could not establish a steady pace. It would be choppy and then the jump was a mess. The first time through was the better of the 2 approaches.

The second time through the turn was so bad I circled but the canter was still a mess and the spot wasn’t there and Ranger took out part of the jump (I cut that from the video because I just felt back about that incident…). Me being me, I blamed myself though part was his stiffness yesterday. To end on, after telling me he’d be FINE, we cantered once around to establish a steady pace, we simply jumped the single and he felt much better so there really is something to be said about the changes of direction making things harder on him yesterday.

Again, I stuffed him with treats to thank him after.

No paper chase for me today. The people I was to go with tried to talk me into coming anyway, but… They said they were mostly walking and if Batts attitude was better now, I’d go for it, but it’s not. My trainer actually offered me the opportunity to take Ranger today since she’d be at the show which was super awesome, but, honestly? I’m not the most experienced hauler yet and even though it’s only 7 miles, I’d rather not haul someone else’s precious cargo. Besides, I’ve got an out step up stock that works SO WELL for me, but not for everyone. And, at this point, I’ve talked myself out of the paper chase. But, it was an amazing offer that makes happy that I’ve found a good barn family. And there will be other paper chases. Plenty of them. So today I’ll take advantage of the horse show and haul Batt over and ride him instead. And hope he doesn’t try and kill me…


Because what’s better than a half clipped mini?

I seriously have the world’s BEST luck with clippers.


My. Luck. Sucks.

This past fall I did a bib clip on Jiminy with my Andis AGC 2 Speed Clippers before he turned into a yak. This was fine until we hit the 70s in November and he started sweating to death. The other thing about Jiminy is that even though he grows a yak coat and SHOULD be able to go blanketless, he  hates being cold and wet and LOVES his blankets. He would also love living in a stall all winter. Being a mini, I wouldn’t mind him using some calories to keep warm though…


Fall bib clip (his first clip ever, such a GOOD BOY! seriously this pony is amazing!)

So, in November, I decided I’d clip him (my farrier actually had been pushing me to body clip and finds it really helps with mini management) since he was a ball of mini-yak sweat. So I pulled out my Andis clippers and found his yak coat had grown way too thick and, after an hour and a half, I had a mini with a destroyed coat. For the sake of the life of my clippers, the lack of daylight, and my sanity, I gave up.

The next morning, I purchased brand new pair of Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster Clippers. I stood in Tractor Supply debating between those and the Lister Star Clippers and ultimately ended up with the Oster at the recommendation of someone else in the aisle who owns both and preferred the Oster. Plus I read lots of reviews on Amazon, Dover, Smartpak, etc. I did NOT buy Tractor Supply’s 3 year extended warranty because, at that point, I didn’t have an extra $100. Cue regret.


I fell in love way too soon… 


Such an adorable clipped pony, even if he is giving me the stink eye…

So, Jiminy got clipped (minus face/legs because why bother? He’s hanging out in my backyard). I meant to clip him a few more times, but I never did. He’s been looking raged lately and it’s been super warm and he’s not shedding out so I finally got around to clipping him again on Monday. Body, legs, and all. He’s not a yak, but definitely needs a clip. It’s been in the 70s and 80s during the day so he’s been hot and sweaty, poor guy!

So, imagine my surprise when I start clipping with my clippers that I used 1x back in November and halfway through part of Jiminy they sputter and DIE. They never got hot. His yak coat wasn’t a yak coat. That was this fall. They didn’t even struggle this fall. Monday I clipped for MAYBE 25 minutes with breaks to clean the hair out and this happened.

So, now my poor 36″ miniature is half clipped. If it gets cold, I have to come up with some crazy blanketing solution.

Such a pathetic state. Terrible pictures courtesy of my husband. Breakfast
remains courtesy of Batts…

I spent $30 to send the clippers back to Oster and I can only hope that they will honor their limited warranty because I cannot imagine I did anything to ruin these clippers in 1.5 uses. Even the lady in the Oster warranty office was shocked. She asked me 4 times how many times I used them. She kept repeating they’d take care of me. I can only hope. If not, I’ll be posting something on their social media accounts… She felt I’d have something back in 2 weeks.

So much for clipping Batt this week… He’s shedding out, but… He looks gross. I can use my Andis clippers on him, but they’re so slow in comparison… I got spoiled in my brief time with my Oster clippers… But I can’t afford to buy a new pair…

Changing plans… the story of one pissed off chestnut.

Once upon a time there was a chestnut gelding known as the Batthorse… Said Batthorse lived a happy life. Said Batthorse ate and rolled in the mud, got really dirty, and hung out with his friends, Subi and Jiminy. Said Batthorse lived the retired life. “Life is good,” thought the Batthorse. Said Batthorse lived the retired life, or so he thought.

Then one day, life changed. Life became bad.  And THIS is the story of one pissed off chestnut gelding.


“It I close my eyes and concentrate really, really, really hard, maybe I can be maybe this is all just a really bad nightmare. Or maybe I can pretend this isn’t happening. Or maybe I can just fall asleep. Or maybe she’ll forget I’m here.” (ignore poorly adjusted noseband made worse from rubbing then fixed after pictures)

So for the first time since the end of December, I decide to try and ride the Batthorse. We were planning to attempt a paper chase this month, but due to illness and weather, that was becoming a more and more unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, a certain chestnut’s poor behavior sort of cemented his fate and this paper chase just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, this is why I don’t make goals people!

Normally bringing Batts back from extensive time off is easy. He may be out of shape, but he generally has a good attitude about it. This time however… Since the ground has been AWFUL (through the area, paper chases, point to points, and a whole lot of other things have been cancelled and postponed) combined with monsoon rains on Friday (and a flooded basement FML), I decided to haul out to my trainers on Sunday for a ride. Generally she’s at shows on weekends anyway and doesn’t teach so weekends are a good time to ride. This weekend was no exception (yay rated shows).

This thing needs a trip through the car wash… But he loaded without
issue which showed he truly had no idea what he was in store for…

So, the place was pretty empty when we arrived and thankfully the big rig was gone and I was able to pull around (u shaped driveway on a corner so I came in on one road and can leave on the other) — which is good for me since backing up isn’t a strength –especially when I’m rusty.  Unfortunately, that’s where the good stopped.

Mr. “All I Did On My Winter Vacation Was Eat” sort of, kind of out grew his 52″ double elastic girth though I managed to get it on with some choice words. Seriously though, how does he outgrow a 52″ girth? He’s not that big? And my billets aren’t short?  Every year we come out of winter needing a diet. So, grumpy, we headed into the barn, bridle in hand, with a bad attitude. Inside the barn, he was at least curious about his surrounding but got mad that I wouldn’t let him in a stall to eat someone else’s hay. Once our bridle was on, we stopped by Ranger’s stall, dropped off a peppermint (yes, I’m mean, but I did give Batts one too), and headed out to the ring.

OMG. This horse is fat. I mean FAT. I nearly pulled a muscle once I got on. I got used to Ranger who is wide, but not that wide or that fat. But Batts? OUCH.


“You really can’t be serious!” says the Batthorse. This is the look of complete denial.

I got on an immediately thought things were going to be OK. I mean, he didn’t take off with me. But, I did regret not wearing spurs on bringing a crop. We didn’t exactly have our forward button installed. We puttered around at the walk for awhile, me adding leg, while a certain chestnut pinned his ears at the slightest pressure… Eventually I picked up a trot on a loose rein…

…then the head tossing, flinging began… and continued… but we managed a lazy trot around the ring and all was well. We trotted and trotted and trotted. And tossed and flung and tossed and flung and tossed and flung. I added leg and we tossed harder and pinned our ears but failed to actually increase our pace… When I FINALLY managed a slightly forward trot, we walked and watched a buckskin mare avoid capture for a while. Batts found this QUITE entertaining. Don’t get ANY ideas.

Then we trotted again. Then I tried and failed to cantered. “ZOMG NO!” said the Batthorse, tossing his head in anger and frustration, trying to run me into the fence and losing all ability to steer. Suddenly we were a wild-horse. Trotting a million miles a minute and we WOULD NOT CANTER. So we trotted and trotted and trotted as fast as possible. And I got in mean mom mode and introduced circles. So we circled, and trotted, and circled, and trotted, and circled, all while flinging our head in disgust (meanwhile Buckskin Mare was captured). Eventually, Batty decided that cantering was WAY easier than circles and we cantered around in the slowest canter ever before resuming our circles the to the right before canter to the right and finally being rewarded with a walk break.


One pissed off pony.

While we rested, we were joined by a couple of pony kids and the recently captured buckskin mare. Whether he was tired, over it, or just feeding off of the ponytude (honestly, they’re well behaved ponies — 1 was up and showed energy by swapping but that was it… and Bucky, well, she’s a mare), but our behavior… In true Batt fashion, we decided to do things our own way.

Determined to spend the last bit of our ride cantering (after a brief chat with a pony mom), I grabbed a crop that I located (or what was left of it) and attempted some cantering… It was…well, I stayed on? After a tiny bit of trotting, we started to the left and did ok? Despite the constant flinging, seriously, did he suddenly become a headshaker overnight? And one or two minor “bucks*,” it was uneventful. On his best of days he’s more comfortable to the left. On his worst of days he’s 100000x more comfortable to the left.

So, stupid me, I save the right for last. And he was PISSED off. And really did try and “buck*” me off (*this idiot horse barely can buck without a rider on his back–he isn’t coordinated enough and can only lift his hind end about a foot off the ground–with a rider on his back he just drops his head between his knees really really hard and fast and thinks he’s bucking even though his hind end doesn’t do anything*). He actually caught me really off guard despite lifting him up at the canter and sitting up and back. Idiot horse grabbed the bit, yanked his head and dropped it so hard and fast between his knees I actually fell forward a bit. If he had gotten me off… We cantered a bit more for that and then backed down an entire long side simple because I was angry. He doesn’t back well–not that he can’t more that he doesn’t want to. Well, he has never backed so well or easily. We ended there and headed inside for a brief shower (and I may have showered Ranger with some peppermints).


Home. He didn’t think he’d live to see this moment

Despite the long recap, our ride wasn’t actually that long. Lots of walking, lots of fighting, lots of pain for both of us. But, definitely no good Friday paper chase. If our attitude was better, I’d get the rides in to make it happen. But, it’s not, so why push it? There’ll be other chases and we’ll get back in shape when we’re back in shape. I’m not going to kill myself to ride every day the next 2 weeks.

But, if anyone’s up for a trail ride soon, we can certainly do that!