Ranger Recap: It’s all in the canter

We’re FINALLY having gorgeous weather! High 70s, no humidity, and sunny. Perfection. Seriously amazing weather. If only summer wasn’t ending. I have serious issues with the end of summer. I also have serious issues with students returning to school [all college students in DE need to take remedial street crossing EVERY SINGLE SEMESTER. A few have returned to campus and already are causing street crossing problems and classes haven’t even started…]

Anyway, due to timing (I was early, someone else was late),  I ended up riding with Katherine and Mikey, which meant nothing other than I got some breaks here and there while she jumped. Sometimes it’s nice to get breaks? It also meant there was a little less variety in fences as  I stuck with my fences at the  2’6″-2’9″ height while she had her 3′ fences.

Flatwork Takeaways:

  • USE MY INSIDE LEG DAMNIT. Ugh. I don’t know why, but my inside leg did NOT want to cooperate in the beginning. Regardless of the direction, sometimes I just don’t have  an inside leg. Eventually my inside leg woke up and helped me out on turns and we could successfully circle around our fences without looking stiff as a board…
  • Occasionally I have the habit of turning my head sideways which then unsquares my shoulders. I need to stop doing this so it doesn’t become a bad habit that I need to undo. When I look ahead, STOP TURNING HEAD SIDEWAYS IMMEDIATELY!
  • When transitioning from the trot to the canter on the right lead, without fail, I rush the transition and pick up the wrong lead. It DOES NOT MATTER WHICH HORSE I AM RIDING. I need to stop rushing. I need to take my time and think about my transition (I have a terrible habit on Batty of screwing up just this trot-canter transition ALL. THE. TIME. and it appears it’s not a Batts issue but a me issue. Oops.)

Ranger ❤

Over Fences:

We warmed up both directions with our outside single. Normally this jump is easy. I decided to start cantering left lead away from the road. For the LIFE OF ME I could not hit the right distance and we had an OK spot but not a great spot. My trainer said I had the canter for the distance, but backed off at the last minute.

From the right lead, we had the same, nice canter, though perhaps an inch more forward and hit a gorgeous spot. Ranger didn’t entirely lift his feet so it was a tad clunky, but other than that… Sometimes though I still think about the jumps which make me think this one was probably in the 2’9″ range vs the 2’6″ as a pole was added later to make it 3′ for Mikey’s final course. So, that’s my excuse for looking at least the first time.

We returned to the left lead and I got the same damn spot. So I repeated it again and this time, I changed my canter. We actually got a better spot and I got a lecture. We don’t change our canter to fix our spots. Which I know. But, unable to figure out what I was doing wrong, I figured I could just ride a little faster and it would solve the spot issue. It did, but that wasn’t the solution we were looking for. True, I know it’s true. We ride the same canter the whole course. If I need to, I can lengthen or shorten, but the canter SPEED must stay the same. So, me picking up an entirely different paced canter was not the solution. Establish pace then make an adjustment to stride length if needed, not to the actual canter itself. Does that make sense? We want rhythm.

Finally, I tired and starting to have a mental block with this stupid jump, I decided that it wasn’t my canter, it wasn’t necessarily even my stride length, but my approach. Ranger was sort of dragging me at the turn so  I was holding him a little too deep in the corner. We weren’t turning later, but by staying out longer, I was adding in an extra stride and not seeing as well as I should have because I was fighting him. So,  instead,  I changed my approach and staying off the rail and cut the fight with Ranger (by staying out so long before,  I had to first fight to keep him out, then fight to turn because, hello approaching gate). The turn was easier,  I was able to stay steady to the fence and then keep him moving for the forward spot. Finally we got it and could move on.

Course work! Yay! Basically, our course consisted of right lead to the outside single, around to the (tight turn) to the inside (christmas tree) line in 3 around to the outside line in 4.

Course 1 (no video):

We started off well enough and actually the first half was the best we did. Our single was perfect as well our inside line. I HATE the turn to the inside line because it’s SO easy to turn late and basically you pretty much have to turn at the jump your second jump of your outside line and not take out the standard. Then, depending on the entrance, move up for the 3. All of this was really good. But, on the landing, we had too much speed and I starting fighting we Mr. Strong Head and we didn’t stay out. He pulled, I pulled BACK instead of up and we cut our corner and had a terrible approach to our line. Despite that, I seam to have an excellent ability to correct in lines and the 4 worked out nicely. I just made WAY too much work for myself.

Course 2 (Ignore the commentary…):

First jump: the distance was great, but we fell in on the landing and swapped. We regrouped with the simple change, but it took a stride or 2 or 3 to re-establish our pace which was critical because we were near the gate and needed to keep MOVING. Then we chipped the in of the line but moved up to for the 3. Then instead of riding the horse I had, I rode the horse I had last course and held him out (GOOD), but slowed him down (BAD) in case of pulling (none in sight because he realized who was riding him the second I lifted him up). As a result, I rode him towards NOTHING and then had to work entirely too hard to make up for it through the rest of the line.

Lesson learned: I need to ride what’s under me, not what I rode last course.

Course 3 (continue to ignore the commentary):

First jump: We seemed to be nailing this jump all day. On the landing however we were both able to stay balanced and square which fixed are issues of last time. Maintaining our pace, we had a nice ride to our inside line and continued to hold the canter to our outside 4. Of course, I saw NOTHING and we have a long spot, but it didn’t matter because, Ranger. The line rode well and we ended there. I love this horse.  Seriously, I love this  horse.

At this point, I have no idea how large anything is. And that’s fine. The out of the outside got a top rail for Mikey to make it 3′ and then we both called it a night. A year ago this lesson I had my nice crash of Batts. Now I don’t even care what I jump. I think I’ve come a long way?

Again, Ranger.


Oxford in the summer

Recapping : Ranger, Subi, and life challenges

Sorry for the radio silence here. Work sort of started taking over my life again and I forgot to blog…

My swollen, eye returned (mostly) to normal thanks to mass steroids and I was able to have my regular lesson on Ranger last week. Now, trying to recap the lesson,  I’m reminded that I really should have recapped sooner because much of the lesson was a  blur… oops.

Some of the highlights:

Flat work:

  • Ranger was as stiff as a board in the beginning and decided to pay me no attention at first when I asked him to bend. It took an insane amount of leg and hand and effort to start getting any response.
  • It occurred to me that there was some sort of camp this week which meant kids…
  • I asked Ranger for some small circles around jumps and after our 3rd attempt he FINALLY softened and realized who was on his back and I had my Ranger back and we started bending.
  • Once we worked out the kinks at the trot, his canter was LOVELY. Truly, truly LOVELY.
  • Our halts were gorgeous as well.
  • My trainer reminded we that I am the only advanced rider or rider with any sort of education that rides him so I get to do all the reschooling. Which is why I got to have “fun” in the beginning of the ride. But, it’s also why when I get through to him, he gives me 150% (I think it’s the pounds of carrots and peppermints that I stuff down his throat after lessons and the fact that I don’t hang on his mouth).
  • I rode with my new boots and didn’t feel as secure because, new boots. But, supposedly my leg looked fantastic…


Over fences

  • The plan was to do more, but we ended up working on 3 jumps the entire lesson (which was fine since it was HOT and I was feeling strange still from the steroids–unlike a normal person,  I get wired and restless and tired and add in heat and I just felt weak).
  • The course was our inside single brown boxes towards the road around to our inside line of the straw bales to the stone wall oxer (or whatever the second jump was). The plan today, unlike our normal forward course, was slow steady, and holding with the add. So, the line was to be done in the 6 vs the normal 5. [In the picture below, the inside single is the brown jump in the middle and the inside line is the one with the white winged standards. The heights were different but at least I found a semi accurate picture?]img_4573
  • First time through we were fine for the first jump, but it turned out I learned we could have been slower, but I didn’t slow down enough on the landing. Ranger started pulling a bit because he’s just STRONG.  But, because we took the scenic route, (read: we wiggled our way to jump 2 in our line), we managed the 6.
  • Take 2, same thing. First jump was fine, then too much speed, but then we move up for a 5. The 5 is nice. I mean, really, really nice. He’s not out of control.
  • Take 3, repeat.
  • Take 4. This time we talked first about lifting and tugging him up. I came in MUCH slower and managed to land slower from the first jump. But, turning to the line, even trying to lift him up and lightly tug tugging, he started pulling and we got the  5. Let me tell you, this horse is strong. I mean, really, really STRONG. He was a big head and when he uses it… He’s STRONG. He’s not bad, he’s not anything, but strong.  So, the really take away was that I have to be way more aggressive to shorten him up. I was a little passive that time.
  • Take 5. Gorgeous first jump. He was off his front end, super collected, shorten right up, landed, stayed collected, and we held that stride right to the first fence of our line (good boy Ranger!). In the end, despite EVERYTHING, by staying perfectly straight, I ended up legging him at the end up for the 5 because I saw that despite everything that we weren’t going to fit the 6 and I didn’t want the half stride chip. So I made the decision to get a nice 5 vs an ugly chip/crash/trot stride.  My trainer said she’s not sure he could actually fit in the 6, but what she wanted was that ride. We ended there.

Take aways:

  • Trainers comment: 2’6″ has become easy. It’s starting to look small?


In other news, the vet was out on Tuesday for vaccines and Subi also got his teeth floated. The other guys get done by the dentist, but at this point, I just suck it up and get the vet to do Subi so that he can get sedated. He’s been acting even more strange about food lately so I was hoping she’d find an issue with a tooth, but they all looked pretty OK (He has amazing teeth for a senior.  Actually, I think the statement was he has amazing teeth for pretty much any horse), but he’s so sensitive that hopefully the float will help anyway. It did last time. That said, he was super drunk from very little drugs. Falling over drunk. We had to hold him up drunk. Once he was back out in the field, he was still a little hung over but I didn’t think anything of it, but after work, when I came out to feed him meal 2 of 3 (he’s currently on the 3 meal a day plan…), he just stared at it. I eventually swapped it out for chopped hay which he did eat. Dinner time 3 hours later, he just sort of moved his lips around in his soaked cubes after much coaxing to even show up to his bucked. Breakfast the next morning? Ate no grain, but did managed to polish off a bucket of chopped hay (I skipped meal 2 yesterday). It was only last night, a full 36 hours after the sedative that he attacked he meal with gusto and seemed completely alert and normal. This morning he ate his grain (mixed with beet pulp) and chopped hay and was waiting for breakfast when we came out to feed.


Horses. Are they trying to drive me insane?

And because I can’t leave anyone out, my poor puppy decided to have her seasonal allergies start back yesterday so we had to have an emergency vet appointment for her yesterday as well (0-100 in severity overnight. She and I were up all night while she itched and cried non stop. This happens every year and every year I forget to get meds to have on hand…). I don’t need money at all, do I?



The Dangers of the Dover Tent Sale

I have a lot to catch up on riding-wise as trainer was away at pony finals and Ranger was mine for the week so we had a few nice rides, but instead I’m going to focus on the disaster or success that was the Dover Tent Sale…

Thanks to some encouragement, I headed over to the Dover tent sale on Saturday morning to look for paddock boots. I’ve basically been without paddock books since  last August when mine completely died and instead of replacing them, I replaced my tall boots which also happened to die. In defense of my ariat tall books, I bought them in 2004 and they owed my nothing. So, the fact that the zippers finally died in 2016, I really couldn’t complain. Not having money and having plans to take Batts to Ludwig’s Corner to show,  I replaced the tall boots and have been riding in them exclusively since August.

And now, a year later, I’m less than thrilled with my new tall boots. I mean, I found that I  like them, but they’re actually too big. Last time I was at Dover, I tried on a pair of the Heritage tall boots in regular calf (mine are wide) and they were too tight. So I found I was out of luck temporarily (Dover was happy to take them back if I found something that fit better). That day, I just wasn’t in the mood to try on too much and they were out of a lot in my size anyway (and I didn’t have  my boots to return anyway).

So, tent sale. I found a gorgeous pair of tall boots right away but again, calf was too big. See, for some strange reason, in my attempt to find paddock boots, I wasn’t frustrated to search through the Dover Basement boxes… Which is how I found myself trying on a pair of full calf Ariat Quantum Crowne Pro Field Boots. With little to no wear that fit perfectly. Best part was the lack of elastic (I never thought I’d say that but I’m convinced that’s the issue with my current boots). Dover took $75 off the DB price to make them really affordable. At this point I had a pair of cheap tall boots. And no paddock boots.

I eventually found a black Ariat zip paddock boot. Singular. But was never able to find its mate. I found a brown variation but not the matching black one. Unwilling to sort through any more boxes, I gave up. Eventually I settled for a new pair of Tredstep Spirit paddock boots (tent sale price was much cheaper). They’re fine. And it’ll be nice to have something to wear other than tall boots on trail rides because, at this point, I think I prefer to actually ride in tall boots.

To make matters or damage worse, I went BACK to the tent sale on Sunday because I needed electrolytes and in all my purchases forgot them the day before. I saved $5 so that was something (and they’re cheaper than my local feed store anyway and no sales tax). I also picked up a Dover Basement bridle for Batty for $10 (w/o reins) for Batty. No pictures of that because when I got home, I went in to my trailer tack compartment to grab my bridle and managed to get stung by a wasp right above my eye. Disturbing pictures below…

Today, nearly 72 hours later, was the first day I woke up actually being able to open my eye. Between a steroid injection, 6 days of oral steroids, an RX for an Epi-pen, lots of ice, and benadryl, it’s been a fun few day.


Again. And. Again. And. Again. Repeat.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but Every. Single. Time. This.  Happens. I get so frustrated.

It’s August. And we’ve made it about 1 year and 3-4 months with Subi eating.

So why am I shocked that he’s suddenly decided that eating is optional again?

And yet I am.

I swear this horse will be the  death of me.

He was eating fine and now. BAM. He’s suddenly leaving at least a half a bucket of grain behind. I have no idea why. I never have any idea why. He just DOES THIS.

He sort of didn’t eat Saturday, but only left a 1/3 of his grain behind at breakfast.

Sunday my husband said he left maybe a handful or 3, but that’s pretty normal.

Monday: half his grain.

Tuesday: half his bucket.

What’s worse is I know, even before he eats that he’s not going to eat well. He’s not waiting at his spot for breakfast either. Normally he hangs out waiting  for breakfast, but nope, not now. I have coax him into walking up to his tree for breakfast. His a little better at dinner, but not really.

That sad thing is this is normal.  We go through this ALL. THE. TIME.  But, I had a nice year plus of false security of EATING where I forgot that my horse doesn’t eat.


20 year old pain in the ass

I’m going to try a reset and see if I can get him eating again, but who knows.  We’ll start back with just a scoop of Omalene 200 (but I have a feeling the feed store didn’t give me the Omalene 200 RT — the wet version — so I may need to spend more and  get another bag of the wet extra gooey stuff to try and be more appealing. I don’t want the dry stuff) and see if I can get him eating that. If I can, maybe I can slowly mix back in the Equine Senior?

Feeds Subi Won’t Eat:

  • Triple Crown Senior
  • Purina Ultium
  • Strategy
  • Buckeye Senior Pellet
  • Buckeye EQ8 Senior (I think we tried this one?)
  • Nutrena Safechoice Senior
  • Purina Omalene 500 (we ate this for a year plus before it became a no go)
  • Purina Equine Senior Active (ate this for 3 years before the formula changed)
  • Nutrena Proforce Fuel

Anyway, today I hate my horse. I’m sure I’ll feel differently when he decides to eat again.

He likes Progressive Senior Sweet but I can’t seem to get it without driving 80 miles to Bucks County and I just can’t do that right now.