Grumpy Chestnut: We jump stuff

Somehow I have a happy horse again. I mean, he’s grumpy and he’ll always be the grumpy chestnut, but at he’s a happy, grumpy chestnut.

I haven’t hauled him out ANYWHERE in a while so we’ll have to see if he’s happy attitude continues when we go ride in a ring (or, if the attitude was due to the 2 abscess he had even though he was sound on his right front…). Either way, Grumpy Chestnut, aka Batts, is back to his old self.


Note the crazy dogs around us… He still loves his nose net…

Just like last time, we kept  the ride relatively easy. A quick warm up on the lunge line (he’s just happier that way), some trotting and cantering hill work (SO GRUMPY when I won’t let him just canter up the damn hill), then off to jump all the things in the backyard. By all the things, I mean 3 crossrails and some ground poles (ground poles we did 1x because I stuck them too close to the trees and wacked my head against the branches…).

So I decided I would walk idiot horse up to our first crossrail and let him look. Because that’s how we roll. Well, someone wouldn’t get near it and had a temper-tantrum. HOW DARE I TRY AND MAKE HIM LOOK AT THE DAMN FENCE! HOW DARE I THINK SO LITTLE OF HIM! HOW DARE I! HOW DARE I! HOW DARE I! It was going to be THAT kind of ride.

See, let me remind you, Batts is a stopper. We have jump issues. THIS is why I ride Ranger. When your trainer tells your no amount of training will likely fix the issue (and your horse was just miserable)… Yeah. So I like to make him look. Well, not happening today.

So I circled, tapped him with the crop (extra encouragement to hopefully remind him that yes, we would be JUMPING), and closed my eyes.  We’d do one of two things. Jump or slam on the breaks and realize he needed to inspect the jump. Today we launched ourselves over with complete confidence. We were NOT inspecting jumps. It was a Batts is right, I am wrong kind of night.

So, I decided to trust him and trotted the other two crossrails (sans inspection) where we also launched over with enthusiasm… Go figure. Sometimes this horse is confident? It’s kind of scary. But, he is crossrail champion of the world.

He wanted NOTHING more than to canter the broken line between two of our crossrails. The first time I WOULD NOT let him. Pissed him off so much. Second time I gave in and we did it, but you can see the slight hesitation at the base. Lovely that now I was going to have to ride… Damn you horse. Make me work? Later?

The first several jumps, my Hermione dog was having fun running up the hill along side of us (several feet to our right). Batts is NOT a dog horse (that’s Subi). But you can tell he was having fun when that wasn’t even annoying him. He learned long ago not to mess with them (and they know when to get away from him), but it’s amazing when he’s having fun. Meanwhile, my cat started watching our antics from the window, with great confusion…

He didn’t quite love the other fence as much after the first time through (boredom) and I was too lazy to put them up to a larger crossrail, but he still had fun “galloping” up his hill. He’s such a weirdo.

And I did make myself go back and redo our bending line, adding leg, and thankfully it was a success. It’s still hard to trust a horse who has such a stopping history, but he loves his crossrails and seems to ADORE jumping uphill on grass. Go figure? I’m telling you, if Batts could go jump a cross country course of all crossrails and MAYBE a water element (we’d have to school water a bit, but eventually we’d be OK with it), he’s LOVE IT.  Seriously. I’m not sure how he’d do with banks, but again, it’s solid jumps that freak him out, so he might actually be OK with those. Weirdo.


I do have a log from a downed tree I want to see how is with… It’s small enough to walk over… I just need a good place to put it permanently so that my husband can mow around it without messing with the mowing flow…


“I jumped all the things!” So proud of himself!

Ranger Recap: We go to a show and I don’t pass out!

After not showing since… February? I finally agreed to show again. I almost could have showed last weekend but didn’t and then agreed to show this weekend. For what it’s worth, it was both a better decision and a worse decision. Better because as it turned out I got to split the hauling costs again (yay for $34 hauling!), but it was hot (last weekend was humid as hell and rainy, but not sunny so…?) and sunny and hot and I don’t do heat. (Plus, the jumps were tiny and everyone basically agreed that we didn’t care and just not to raise them for the horses (it was a combine pleasure pony/horse division so they just left the fences at 2″)). Honestly I was hot and didn’t care. Other negative for this show? Pleasure is normally 2 flat and 1 over fences. This show was 3 over fences and 1 under saddle. Under saddle in pleasure is Ranger’s strength normally so… But, it turned out to be a positive…

[We didn’t end up having a lesson on this week as my trainer was at a show so I just went out and rode and had to force myself to jump a bit. I trotted and canter and Ranger was tired, I was tired and thought, “he’s perfect, why do we need to do more?” Meanwhile the teenager in the ring with me was doing mini courses and all that. Meanwhile I was happy just to sit on Ranger and plod around. That said, we did (eventually) pop over a few fences. Our hay bales in both directions (yay! the tug method worked beautifully!), a skinny single a few times, and the outside single. With a little nagging, we did our outside line twice as the first time I had no pace (nerves… — in my defense, the second fence was a solid 2’6″+ (though it felt bigger) oxer that I’m not entirely sure I should have jumped outside a lesson–not that Ranger had any issue with it…) and added for an ugly 7, the second time I had pace and rode for a nice 6. We called in a day and went for a walk to cool out. Then I bathed him, scrubbed half his grass stains out to see how clean he’d be on Friday… Very. I just had to wash his legs. And he stayed clean outside overnight in a storm Friday night into Saturday. Good boy!]


I don’t know what that child is doing but… or who that child is actually… 

So the joys of hunter shows. We got there at 12:30 and my ring was just getting ready to start short stirrup eq. So I got to watch Ranger and his kid. He was adorable though they didn’t get much love from the judge. He was in the bottom of the ribbons, but looked adorable doing it. Kid’s eq wasn’t bad either. After that it was down to the trailer for grass and water and then time to watch the other ring for a while. And wait. Because that’s what you do at hunter shows. Wait.

What felt like a couple hours later (and probably was), it was time to retack Ranger and realize that pretty much none of the girths in the trailer fit. I managed to squeeze him into a stretched out 44″  (I had a 52″ in my car… that wouldn’t help either)–we usually wear a 48″? I guess I need to keep an old girth of Subi’s around just in case… Too many pony girths! And hit the schooling ring. We had a ring conflict as children’s horse/pony combined was about to start right as I was heading in to school (my schooling break consisted of short stirrup hunter and pleasure pony/horse combine) so I made the executive decision to school myself. For right or wrong, I basically went in, jumped everything once in 1 direction (all jumps we were to do in both directions but whatever), didn’t die (though people started falling) and then one of trainer’s kids told me I could stop and leave so I did. Whatever, I was fine with it. I needed to jump something and the schooling was for me, not Ranger. Sorry Ranger.

Then it was untacking and saddle swapping for short stirrup so that Ranger could do that division. He did decently over fences (2 seconds and a first) and then AGAIN failed under saddle. Seriously, this judge did NOT like him under saddle. Then it was a saddle swap and my turn. By this point, they had decided only to raise the jumps to 2 ft and put small gates/boxes under what didn’t have stuff, but when my coat went on and I declared my goal wasn’t to pass out, I decided I really didn’t care. I was told I need more ambitions goals. But, think back to my first show when the goal was not to die. I think not passing out is a fine improved goal. At least I’m not worried about not dying!


yay courses! I took a picture so I could look at it and then instead forgot I had a picture of the courses… 

So first class in and I go in and promptly pick up…the wrong lead because I’m a complete idiot. But, whatever, we never had the goal of picking up the correct lead right?

Second class, I almost forgot the course right before walking in. The course was fine. Goal was the pick up the right lead. I stopped caring after that part. Nothing to write home about. My turn to the inside single sucked as I turned too late. Oh well. The rest was ok. And with all our courses we cross cantered a lot because it’s Ranger and we don’t exactly have our changes so whatever.

Third course. Same as the first. Right before the first jump there’s a nice crash in the other ring. You should be able to hear it. I don’t know exactly what happened other than it sounded like someone crashed through a jump? No one died or fell, but… It was really loud. I was dead at this point so survival because the goal. Spots became long. Or short. And ugly. I barely had a canter at the end. I don’t know how I made it out of the ring. I was dead.

Somehow I still needed to hack. Oh how I just wanted to die instead. So we hacked. I was dead. And the ring was tight since all the jumps were still up and there was no where to go… It was fine. I rode around on a loop and got my leads and rode fine. The judge did everything she could to find something wrong. Hacking is our strong suit. Which is why we were third. Then they announced the o/f portion and I managed a 1st (1st course, must have missed the lead…), 2nd, and 2nd. So, my strong suit of the hack was our lowest placing portion. The judge did NOT like Ranger on the flat. Though the 3rd was his highest placement u/s that day.

Ended up Reserve for division which was fine. Thank you Ranger for carting my butt around and keeping me in the saddle. You are 100% the best!


Ranger Recap: Differentiating between the half halt and the tug tug

Lessons 2 weeks in a row? Shocking! But once again, seeing Ranger was the highlight of my week. After all, when your week includes things like window estimates, dying pool pumps, migraines, and kitties (!!!!), ok, forget the kitties, how could Ranger NOT be the highlight of the week?

I did not steal kitties Quijote and Sancho from their family, but I thought about it…


The Lasagna kitty was NOT impressed by our visit with kitties.

Well, maybe the kitties were the highlight, but other than the kitties, Ranger certainly was MUCH better than that other stuff!

Ranger (and Ranger’s adorable new pasture mate)

Unlike last week, Ranger has a bit more energy to offer (not that he was fast or anything, but just slightly more energetic than asleep). Me on the other hand? I was back to being lopsided and riding on the flat with my right shoulder in the air and my hand raised… On top of it, my right hip was hurting all day (I think it’s finally better as of today) so I was riding even more lopsided so I’m sure that wasn’t helping. Eventually I guess I evened out? Or my trainer just stopped nagging me about it. Who knows. Flatwork wasn’t my strength this lesson. I was doing too much with my hands so compensate for my hip?

We started off trotting in to our outside line in the 7. Ranger had other ideas and 2 strides out broke into a canter and while we did manage a 7 (I still had too much energy and had to woah late), less than pretty would me my description. Second time through, I was able to actually ride to it and we trotted in nicely and I was able to maintain rather than woah at the last minute.


Single and straw bales

We then moved onto our outside single and thankfully cantered in nicely to that and then continued to our inside straw bales coming down to our in gate. The goal here was not to let Ranger get too fast and charge to the gate, because, being Ranger and having a bit of energy, we might do that. Coming around the corner, I felt him pick up the pace so I half halted and he slowed down-ish and but still pulled so I half halted again and he slowed but pulled again and but did not speed up. In my mind, mission accomplished?  And we came to the most awkward spot ever where I held, he added and it was super ugly. My trainer was happy I held so we didn’t take the super launch but… before we could talk, we continued around to jump 3, our white oxer around the corner to the inside  outside line we had just been doing. We actually managed to keep our pace and jumped it nicely…


our oxer and second fence of the outside line

So, our discussion and the point of this post.

Coming in to the straw bales I had been half halting to slow Ranger’s pace, but when I half halt, Ranger slows down, yes, but he gets really heavy on the forehand. So, instead of half halting, we introduce the “tug tug” method. Basically, a couple of short tugs, encouraging him to shift his balance off of the forehand whereas the half halt just gets him heavy. (Alternatively, if he gets really fast and draggy, we halt and back).

So, 3 jumps take 2. This time, the first jump was again fine. Employing our “tug, tug” method, we had a much better attempt at the straw bales and continued to the oxer which again was fine.


Outside single collection of boxes ?

To end on, we would attempt the whole thing one last time. Except, we can never just end on good enough. Because after having the best first three jumps, really nicely employing a lovely tug, tug to the straw bales, and moving him up to the oxer, my trainer had us continue down our outside vertical (first jump jumped the opposite direction towards the in gate). This was a test to make sure I really understood the tug, tug method. Evidently not only did I understand it, but during this lesson I could use it AND move up to an appropriate spot. This this with this is, the “tug” really doesn’t do too much to change Ranger’s speed, at least once he realizes who is riding him. All it does is changes his balance. It gets him off the forehand and using his hind end so that he can really jump well and it make it even easier to set him up for the fences. Even coming towards things like in gates. He is so well trained to do what his rider say so to that if you add leg, he WILL speed up. If you point him to a fence, he WILL jump it. (Alternatively, if you point him away from something, he WILL skip said jump.) So, if you tell him to get off his front end, he will, but he won’t unless he’s told to. So, after the outside single, we were told to continue around to the outside line in a 6 and since I remembered to keep my leg on around the in gate corner and going away AND remembered to look, the line was easy (and small). And Ranger was perfect. Because he is. We might have finished here or with another jump. I remember finished on another part of the ring. But that was several days ago. So there’s a chance we rejumped the outside single just because. If we did, it was easy because  Ranger is Ranger. And at this point he realized there was no point to test me because I won the battle of the tug tug.


Best Ranger Horse.

We finished with a nice walk along the fields to cool out. I enjoyed it, Ranger just wanted his carrots. Going to attempt to show soon (next weekend? Eeek). Really bad idea financially, but when are horses ever a good idea?

Meanwhile, it’s humid here. I’m stuck at work. Fun times.





How to ride The Grumpy Chestnut

In all my posts lately about Ranger, I haven’t written a lot about Batty. In fact, after our few disastrous rides, I haven’t really WANTED to ride him. So far this year, we’ve had a grand total of 3 rides.

So, with summer coming up, I had to change that.


Why not pick the hottest day of the year to ride again?


I was going to haul out on Sunday morning, but instead, I decided to sleep in (7:30 just seemed so nice…), and then the idea of hooking up the trailer just seemed like too much work. I was already making excuses. So I decided to ride at home. I decided to try and bring the fun back for both of us and created a little playground in my backyard highlighting what Batts likes (crossrails, hills, and fun) and avoiding what he dislikes (anything that’s not a crossrail, solid jumps, too much work, non fun stuff, collection, etc.). So Batty watched me set up his course/playground with extreme interest and when I finally went to catch him, walked up to me rather than away from me (often I can’t catch him…)–huge change.

We also made 2 other changes. I lunged him lightly at whatever pace he wanted (to the left he chose the trot, to the right he chose a combo of a trot and canter) and I stuck a nose net on him to see if we could do anything to combat the violent head tossing he was doing the last few rides. He didn’t love the nose net but the head tossing did NOT resurface so… ???


Surveying our “playground” — what you can’t see is the steep hill after the extreme right crossrail or that the crossrail right in front of Batts head goes up an nice incline after

After lunging we warmed up with some trot and canter sets up the hill by my driveway before we visited our “playground” in the backyard. It was already freaking hot by this point. The plan WAS to be off by 10 but we didn’t actually get on until 10 so… Oops. Either way, we didn’t do a crazy amount. But, we visited our poles and crossrails and had a look. A certain chestnut eventually got mad a me for making him look and then stopped but then started launching himself over his crossrails and “galloping” up his hills afterwards. He was having fun. At one point I tried to trot my one crossrail to the next one but someone would have nothing to do with it and insisted we canter to it and gallop out and up our hill, but other than that… I’m pretty sure I looked like a little kid on a pony I was laughing so much. I had no control either. If only I could do cross country with crossrails… he’d shine at that… But ONLY that… Crossrail champion of the world.


So sleepy!

So what did this tell me? No idea.


Walking back after a walk through the development to cool down because we do stuff like that because, why not?

But, he wants the fun back in the work and ring work just ain’t fun. Crossrails and hills? That’s fun. Weirdo. Batts is an odd one.


Happy Grumpy Chestnut!

Well, he did take off on my after I untacked him and pooped in my neighbor’s lawn… So he wasn’t 100% well behaved…


Diet? what diet… Oy.

Ranger Recap: Do I remember how to ride?

I FINALLY got to see Ranger again on Thursday and, while I’m not sure he remembered me, he certainly remembered that I keep treats in my helmet bag. It was a stressful week so my goal going in was just to enjoy myself and leave in one piece. Thankfully my trainer had the same idea in mind.


We had a slightly longer warm up than normal on the flat (it HAD been 3 weeks and only 2 lessons in the last 5 weeks…) and I sort of had to remember how to ride. Ranger was pretty quiet which was a good, but very interested in a counterbend, which was less than good as it required MORE LEG than I had. We incorporated some halts and bending and eventually sorted everything out. We even picked up an even canter which was really nice until I forgot how to steer and almost crashed him into standard  when I misjudged a turn canter a circle on the left lead… I was bound to find rust somewhere!!! We redid the circle and thankfully I remembered to actually use BOTH hands and steer… And turn and me head and look… Amazing what planning can do.


Once I actually caught my breath (I’m out of shape…), we warmed up with our outside line and TROTTED in (I haven’t been allowed to trot into a (non-gymnastics) line since… September?) in 7.  Ranger was perfect and we continued around to canter in to it in a 6. Again, we did it well. But, heading away from the in gate so why would it be bad?


Next we cantered up our outside single, down our inside single (hay bales towards our in gate), and then up our outside line. Goal was to maintain the consistent pace. We repeated this a few time. The first time the first jump was fine, but I can’t say I saw the best spot. The hay bales were nice considering we wanted to speed up, but I managed to half halt him into a nice quiet spot, unfortunately, we then slowed TOO much and then I got too relaxed headed to the outside line and saw nothing when I was told to move up. So I kind of got a bit left behind and had to move him up a bit to the 6. Second time through I was happier with the first 2 fences, but I think we chipped the first fence of the line? Or I could be making that up. All I remember was the last time through I finally nailed the spot of the first fence, held my pace to the hay bales, maintained to the outside line, and did NOT need to add leg for the 6. I think we ended there. Jumps were small which was nice for my first lesson back.img_4038

Ended the evening with a nice walk around the property, just me and Ranger.  Thursday evening was the first time we say real sun but temperatures were actually nice so it was nice to be out just walking around.


I’m alive… sort of.

Short recap, but I am alive.

I’ve barely ridden this past month (good riddance May!) and managed to miss my last 2 lessons due to work travel. (Thank you work conference in Seattle that also had me miss the entirety of the Devon Horse Show).


Yay for latte art

But, hopefully work has settled down and I can start riding again. Lesson this week and I can finally see my Ranger again! I miss him.

Miss that face! But, work (hopefully) calmed down and most students are gone!

Meanwhile while in Seattle, this little bugger nearly needed to find a new home.

Free to a home? Free to any home? He’s so damn lucky he’s cute.

Recently he’s been a turd. After 2 years of ownership, he’s started testing fence boundaries and breaking through fences and escaping. We put up electric and that worked until it didn’t which was day 2 of my trip. I got a frantic and angry call from my husband that Jiminy was loose and could not be caught.

Eventually he was herded into the paddock and then the shed. The next day he was released and got loose again… This time the calls were MUCH more angry and divorce was imminent. However, beyond the screaming (what the hell was I to do from Seattle?!), Jiminy decided his best place to escape was down the tree lined hill between the fence and the woods where he got caught up the fence between a downed tree branch, old pallet, and the fence and patiently waited for assistance. If there is ONE this I can say about this turd, he doesn’t NOT panic when stuck and understands when the fight is over. Humans are here to untangle you from the messes you get yourself caught up in…


At that point, Jiminy was jailed. I told my husband to leave him stalled  until I return with hay and water less we repeat the near divorce proceedings again. Since the mid atlantic has been without much sun, we turned our charger off and this gave it some time to (hopefully) fully charge as well. Since my return, he’s been on supervised turnout with the assistance of an attached lunge line (it’s his ball and chain) –he’s fine with it– in the paddock. We added an additional strand of electric fence polywire Sunday but I realize we’ve got a bleed underground which is probably why the shock is so weak and the battery/solar charger is running down so quickly (we used the plastic tubing to bury our wire, but we’re just going to replace it with the underground wire since I can hear the stuff buried under the gate pulsing…). So, we need to fix that before he can resume normal turnout. But, Sunday everyone spent some time out on the grass and  he was a happy pony for several hours.

Then there was that moment I thought he was dead…

The other boys are doing well. Subi is Subi. He’s happy, eating well, and I thought was super sound, but still is having these skip trot moments behind that even my husband is noticing. My one dog does this thing were sometimes she trots on 3 legs (skipping one hind leg). My husband is comparing it to that. I haven’t seen it, but he’s noticing every once and and while he’s avoiding that one hind leg with the stifle issue. Overall, he’s happy and pasture sound, but I’m feeling justified retiring him. It’s usually after he goes for a nice gallop that he’s hitchy.


If he had muscle, he’s be fat. But, no sign of ribs, he’s round and happy.







Always my best boy

As for this guy, he needs to get back into work which HOPEFULLY will happen now if life has settled down some. I need to call the farrier again (for some reason never got a scheduling call back…) and the dentist, but I should still be able to do something with him in the mean time. He’s a little hivey and it turns out his fly sheet had a big hole in it I forgot about. With all these other expenses, I’m going to try and get it repaired by the blanket lady (she thinks it can be salvaged), but I need to wash it first so I don’t need to pay for that. So, hopefully I can to that today… In the meantime he’s got one of Subi’s old one’s on… He’s busting out the front. My husband compared it to the pudgy guy who wears a too tight fitting v-neck t-shirt, but that’s body-shaming… Half of his belly is hanging out too. But, better than nothing…


When your mom makes you where your older, skinnier brother’s hand me downs…