Cavaletti Clinic at Blue Goose

I still need to recap my semi crappy lesson from last week where I seemed to forget how to ride, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

On Saturday, Batty, my friend Sandra, and I decided on a whim to head over to Blue Goose for a cavaletti clinic with the stable owner Darcy. She was nice enough to let  the 2 of us split the session and the whole thing just seemed super casual and a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. All media is either my own paint diagrams or videos of Sandra riding. Warning this post is super long.


For those of you who don’t know, Batts used to HATE poles. I mean, HATE, HATE, HATE poles.  He’d stop at them, duck out. If he’d go over them, he’d jump them like they were 4 feet high. If you’d have told me 7 years ago that I’d be taking him to a cavaletti clinic, I’d have told you you were insane.  But, thanks to one boarding facility were he had to cross a pole daily to get to food and water, he quickly got over some of his fear. The rest dissipated over time. Now ground poles aren’t too bad. Ground lines are something to look at, but poles, no big deal.

One thing I did NOT do was give him any bute or lunge him. He’s been SO SOUND and loose lately that I didn’t think to do anything. Friday night was really cold and I’d had a lot of mud… As a result, he was super stiff and it took him a long time to loosen up. But, we did push through. He gave NO indication that he did NOT want to work. This horse will always tell you when he doesn’t want to do anything. He was ears forward and curious and willing the entire time. But, I could have prepped him a little better… Mostly just with some lunging…. My fault. It’s winter and  he loosens so much better and faster without a rider on his back (He’s a little off, especially to the right but he’s OK to work and is more comfortable the more he works).


so. exhausted.

So we arrived and thankfully I was able to follow another trailer in to the field or else I would have turned down the driveway and discovered the gate was closed and would have had to back down the driveway like another trailer… Signs people. But thanks to leaving later than planned, I had a nice trailer to follow and  was able to park in the field as planned. We tacked up and headed down to the ring with 4 other horses, all of whom knew Darcy. We were the odd ones out.

We started with just a simple exercise of trotting over one pole turning to the left at the end of the arena and then ultimately trotting over other pole turning right towards the end and coming back up through the center and repeating.


First easy pole exercise

Poles were added and we continued alternating which direction we turned coming up off the center.


Building on it…

Then more poles were added and we continued alternating not only up the sides but up and down as well. We were allowed to pass the side by side as well.


More poles! This one showed my weaknesses until I figured my position out.

Batty and I had some issues with multiple poles and we were trying to jump them at times rather than just trot. He wasn’t JUMPING, but jumping. The issue stemmed from me as I would tilt slightly as the base of the pole and Batts would take this as a cue to be enthusiastic and jump rather simply trot. To change this,  I needed to sit deeper and engage my core and pull my shoulders deep to encourage him too trot rather than jump. I also was told to stop looking so far ahead and to look down at the pole one pole ahead since we were trotting them and not jumping. The combination of these too things really worked and we soon trotting through without issue. Darcy very quickly asked though if I were a hunter rider… Um… Yes…


Super cute barn kitty. 

At one point early on, one of the horses took off bucking and unseated her rider. We all halted and though she came super close to Batt, Batty just looked at horse with a look that said, “Why the hell would you work that hard? Are you insane?” That’s my horse. Why join in antics when you can just stand. I think I was holding the buckle why we were halted…

The last exercise I rode was more of the same with some diagonals thrown in. I wasn’t sure HOW Batty would take it. I screwed up the directions the first time and got lost (what a shock!). Basically, we headed over the sets of 3 poles heading toward the barn/sheds turned right went over the diagonal pole shoot thing turned and went up the center line.


The last exercise I rode

The horses were a little tense going through the diagonal part so we were encouraged to scratch their withers to keep them calm and them make a fuss on the landing side. Batt was a star considering he’s done NONE of this (I mean, he’s done poles, but nothing this hard). I was complimented for my ability to keep him slow and not tense up on the reins. Once I figured out the body position thing, I didn’t need to be told again. I’m pretty good about having super soft hands.

At this  point, Sandra hopped on and ran him through the 2 poles and 3 poles while Darcy swapped the course (she asked me how Sandra rode and I said semi similar which is true-ish).  She mostly just commented to Sandra on making sure she helps him out by lifting him up some–Sandra’s long rein weakness.

Their exercise was completely different. Focused on straightness. Basically, it was a long line of poles both to go over and through. As the end there were 4 pieces of lumber forming an X. The needed to cross the center of the X and then continue trotting over the remaining poles. This was BEYOND what Batts has EVER seen or done.

This horse was a star. He struggled in places but made it through (especially the X part). It took few times but eventually he did it without any canter steps. We were proud. At first Sandra clucked at places, but Darcy explained just to close your leg/thigh instead as clucking introduces more stimulation that he doesn’t need. He was MUCH better without the cluck. But, clucking is so ingrained!

The last exercise (after everyone turned down the option to down something at the canter) was just for Sandra. Everyone else left the ring, but luckily Batty doesn’t care. It was just another straightness exercise but without the x part and more poles to go over. He did it SO well the first time that we called it a day there.

We chatted for a few minutes after mostly about Batty and his history and how she could see his wheels turning. You could see how much fun he had and we both said we’ll do this again (though we’ll probably each do a separate clinic) — she’s doing winter clinics at Pink Ribbon Farm in Oxford. He reached confident and fun, but not cocky and bored.

All and all and really fun morning. Can’t wait to do another one! I liked Darcy’s teaching style too. While it was more about the exercises here, I got some nice tips that I can definitely use. Batty liked the farm too which was definitely a plus!


Happy 7th Anniversary to the Batthorse!

7 years ago the Batthorse joined the family!


Officially the Batthorse! On our way home! Or not… First failed trailer loading day. 

He officially stopped being Batman and became Batt, Batty, Batts, or Batiste if we’re being fancy (or in New Bolton…), or the Batthorse.

His story is a simple one. I’ve known him forever. He came to my old barn (not the one in the background of the picture but the barn at the Phelps School which is no more) as a “5 year old.” Year later we learned he was likely a 2 year old.


young batthorse

His owner chose to donate him to the lesson program because he was too much horse for her and she was going to get hurt. He was quiet, but green broke and she was a dead beginner and learning to steer and post and trot and well ride. So, she started taking lesson on our draft horse that had 2 speeds (slow and slower) and we took Batman.  I rode him, he was green as hell (can say I loved him, we barely got over jumps… see the theme? as he’d slam on brakes, duck out, or over jump… It was…not fun. But despite being green and wiggly, his gates were awesome and he was quiet. But, my instructor and I weren’t sure he’d stay.

But, the next day he ripped off 3/4 of his hind hoof and earned 9+ months of stall rest. And then coming off stall rest he was leased by a barn kid wanting a project. Then he entered the program with some “training.” Though still stopped at everything. Poles, crossrails, etc. But, he was forgotten about.

He eventually became the MOST AMAZING walk/trot horse EVER. He could trot for days without spooking or getting too fast or ducking to the inside. Eventually he learned to teach people to canter. He got better with poles and crossrails with advanced riders if he could look at things.


I worked with him a lot when I started teaching and developed a great friendship with one of my closest friend’s Sandra over this horse. She started riding him (and riding with me when the instructors she rode with left our barn) after college and  fell in love with him. Now, though all his issues and colics and drama, we both still adore him, even when we want to murder him… But, we figured him out.

At one point she tried to buy him only to be presented with some outrageous figure. When I moved Subi and was looking for a second horse,  I tried to buy him, no response. So,  I bought Hayley (I loved that mare and miss her dearly, but she was a financial train wreck–though Batty hasn’t been THAT  much better with his New Bolton stay).

A year later, 7 years ago today, I was eating breakfast and drinking tea with my mom when I got a text from my trainer. I had JUST finished working for her that past weekend and the ties were cut or were being cut or something.  The text simply said, “I’m getting rid of Batman.”

I read the text to my mom. Her reaction? We need to get him. Whether I keep him, Sandra keeps him. That could be figured out later. “Text her back and ask how much.” This was followed by a reasonable price (I’m pretty sure he’d have been sent to someone who would have sent him to auction so that she could  have kept her hands clean.) followed by “Buy him!”

As a result, it’s my mother’s fault I had 3 horses. It’s all my mother’s fault. A fact she is very proud of…

It wasn’t the right time for Sandra to take on ownership and then I was too emotionally invested. We ended up with a partial lease situation that works.

7 years later he’s still with us. He’s had some stupid impaction colics which drive me insane including one long stay at New Bolton with round the clock fluids… He’s had lots of trailering issues (including that day I officially took on ownership and he decided he wasn’t leaving the property… or when he wouldn’t leave New Bolton). But, he’s overall a pretty happy grumpy chestnut.

Happy 7 Year Anniversary to the Batthorse!  Here’s to 7 More!

Ranger Recap: Roll Backs and Batts and the arctic tundra

So last lesson it was before  EVIL that is daylight savings time. So it was darkish but not dark if you know what I’m saying? This week’s lesson was  DARK. DARK, DARK,  DARK, DARK, DARK! I hate this time of year so much. We have an indoor, but don’t use it until we absolutely need to so we were outside under the lights. In the dark and miserable work that is winter. I mean, it was fine and not that cold, but it was  DARK.


Biscuit says it’s DARK outside.

Last lesson we worked on bending lines. This week was roll backs. I forgot that I like rollbacks? I mean, I  haven’t actually done roll backs consistently (at the canter) since, well, Subi. And they weren’t our forte. Though we always did really well at the circle of death so maybe we did do well? I actually can’t remember. It’s been too long.

So, in my course drawings last week, I forgot a jump. Rather than try to update that one, I attempted to redo it. It’s still not to scale, but I used paint rather than a sharpie. So, ???


It’s definitely not as special as last week’s art, that’s for sure… But, tough. We started off by cantering in to jump 1 and in the air, opening up my left hand and turning my head to look at jump which yes, was a nice tight turn. We did get the turn, but a certain pinto pony was NOT helping me and landed wrong EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. no matter what  I did. Thank you Ranger. We repeated this a few times just to try and  get the lead and to make sure once I was over the jump, I was steering with 2 hands.

Just breaking text up with pictures

From here, we added on jump 3 and  4. 3 was the straw bales and  4 was the out of the outside line. 3 was fine the first time as and  continued to be OK as long as I went into my corner and the out was decent every time even if I screwed up everything else. I’m realizing I have no issue riding out of problems because, again, I have a weirdly accurate eye. We ended up

Next we added in 5, our brownstone plank jump to our outside single. Again, Ranger is perfect, I saw my distance, it worked. It was easy.

We did end up cantering down to 2 as a single, around to the straw (3), and continuing to 4 because I screwed up my corner and distance to the straw once and the roll back was getting  hard because of the lack of lead, but, that’s a different issue. Jump 4 was lovely even when I screwed up 3. I’m noticing that my 2 point is getting really strong and I’m not grabbing mane half the time (not that I’ve needed to, but habit) because I REALLY  don’t need to? I feeling really tight and secure? I mean, the jumps have be lovely, but now they’re really nice? Pony is perfect.

We ended with an easy outside line. I just sat there and didn’t know what to do. I’m loving the courses. The easy lines are terribly boring now! But, either way, I love this horse!

As always, we ended we with lots of carrots and peppermints before I sent him out to field where Forest and Elliot where waiting anxiously for him… Seriously, the three of them need to get over themselves…


Friday also started off with the funeral of Nicholaus Nicklebottom, beloved friend who left his mark and bound us together. RIP Nicholaus! The OVERLORD has taken his place. The OVERLORD is NOT NICE. [update: the OVERLORD has gone missing since he started service Friday morning…] Yes, this is what we do at work….

As nice as it was Friday, it was miserable on Friday/Saturday. Windy and FREEZING. Which is why Saturday I had to lead a trail ride at 10am… At 6:30am it was 19*. Wind chill of 11…

So Batty and I headed out to Marsh Creek at 8am in the arctic temperatures and made it there when it was till below freezing. While the sun was out, it didn’t help too much. But, thanks to Mountain Horse Stella Polaris winter boots, 2 pairs of riding pants (I don’t know where my winter riding pants are…), wool socks, base layer shirt, super warm Noble Outfitters cowl fleece thing (I need to review this), down vest, and a down coat, I was pretty warm. Plus, I threw on Subi’s old quarter sheet which was a touch too small, but whatever. We were warm, though for some reason I forgot to put on gloves because I’m an idiot.  Also, it was NOT 30 degrees at 10 am… And the wind chills…


I was mid sentence when the picture was taken… Batty was mid sleep. His stomach is too big for that quarter… he’s too big for his 52″ girth. He’s just too big right now. 

Regardless Batty was perfect. Because he just is. Even though I barely managed to get his feet clean enough for his boots… But, whatever.

Hopefully paper chase next weekend!

What happens when you don’t ride your horse for 2 months…

Apparently nothing.



I last got on Batty just about 2 months ago when I last got stung by a wasp. On August 30th. I haven’t ridden him since mostly because I was afraid to open my trailer and his bridle and girth are girth are in there are I needed to make sure  there  were no wasps. I rode him Saturday. November 4th. How did he react?

I wore spurs and carried a crop.

I used said spurs to ask for extension. I didn’t use the crop. He pointed his toes, extended when I asked, and trotted around, ears forward, happy as a clam, like he’s been doing this every. single. day. since August 30th.

Seriously horse?

No drama. No fireworks. Nothing.


It was a gorgeous day!


He even cantered. Granted, he made it about 1/3 of the way around the ring first on the left lead before he got tired. Then half way around.  But he cantered.

To the right he was a bit stiff at the trot before he loosened up and was fine. Right lead canter was ugly and short strided, but no one died and the second and  third attempts were nicer.


Zen mode!

For a horse that hates ring work, he  LOVES THIS RING. We usually only ever play in this ring, even  when I make him work. I’ve never made him jump big scary jumps at Retta’s place.  I’m never over faced  him here.  We only ever play here and trot and  canter and  sometimes jump cross rails (though not this time).  And our visits usually end with trail rides. The other ring we ride at he doesn’t love.  We took lessons there. He had to jump big, scary jumps. Even though we don’t jump there anymore, I think there’s an element of PTSD? Anyway, he so much prefers Retta’s even though his feet prefer the footing elsewhere.

He spent much of his day hanging  out in a paddock making new friends before we hit the trail with clients. For not being out on a trail for a close to a year (Thanksgiving paperchase when my hoof boot cable broke)? He was foot perfect and happy.


One. Pooped. Pony. (happy to have his boot repaired!)

Seriously horse? I couldn’t ask for  more  perfection.

(The video isn’t actually upside down)

Ranger Recap: Candy Corn and Artwork

Did you know horses are big fans of candy corn? For the record they are. I did not know this until last night, but Ranger assured me CANDY CORN IS SO DAMN GOOD. So, now you know.


I didn’t have a lesson last week and other than a trail ride 2 Saturdays ago, I haven’t ridden since my last lesson. So, yeah. I was expecting to be rusty. But, it was a warm night (60s in NOVEMBER in the evening?!?!) and Ranger was  pokey until the ponies left and then he had JUST enough speed to be perfection in a pinto large pony-sized package.


After warming up with our standard w/t/c and circles (we bended!), my trainer warned me we were doing something different. Yay? I drew pictures to illustrate… I’m sorry.

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A not to scale overview of the new course. Some jumps may not be placed in the right location.  Some jumps may be missing.  Jumps that aren’t labeled aren’t important. Jumps that are labeled are important. The rock is important. 

We started with course 1. Of course, when this all started,  I didn’t  know that there was going to be a course 1. Or 2.  Or 3. Or 4. Or that these exercises were building onto each other.  Oh how naive I was… But, after asking lots of questions (it wouldn’t be a lesson without be over analyzing the exercise…. We took on course 1.


Left lead canter to straw bales canter out to the rock. Slow trot to the log jump canter out of the logs to t he green jump land and  halt. 

Interestingly enough, despite my analysis, it was actually easy. Like really easy. I’m not sure it should have been, but it was? First off, last night, the straw bales became my new favorite jump. It was just a  lovely jump and our approach was nice every time and we could do no wrong. It didn’t look big, but it wasn’t tiny. Just a solid 2’6″ fence that didn’t bother me at all. He landed well and balanced and on the right lead we happily cantered to our rock, trotted our log jump, and cantered to the green single (which I later learned wasn’t a single…). Easy.

Course 2 was similar but not?

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Canter left lead to the brown boxes. Land and canter to the left of the rock. Slow trot to lot jump canter out to the first fence of the outside  line. Halt. 

And it went just as well. Of course, I needed to walk the first turn to see HOW to ride it before I actually rode it because I’m insane, but… Picking up the canter, made sure I took a wider approach to the brown boxes, but other than that, the jump was fine. It rode just as well as the straw bales as was a similar size as scope. The rest was just as easy. The hardest part was the halt as Ranger was like “OMG LINE!” but we halted, just not as fast or as straight as I’d have liked. But we got it.

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Left lead canter to straw bales canter out to the rock. Slow trot to the log jump canter out of the logs to t he green jump continue to oxer. 

The only real mistake of the night came with course 3. Everything was fine through the green jump. However, we rode out of that conservatively and Ranger just assumed we were cantering around the corner and never saw the oxer. I then steered to it with 1 hand rather than 2 and basically brought him to nothing. Being the incredible horse that he is, he saved my ass and jumped me out of  the shit spot and just knocked the back rail of the (impressive) oxer and saved my butt. But, needless to say, we were required to repeat and I was required to RIDE out of the green jump.

On repeat, it was all fine. We landed from the green jump and I actually moved him up and looked at the jump. I used 2 hands to steer (what a concept) and Ranger, not liking to make mistakes even when they are my fault, jumped the shit out of the oxer which was, as I indicated, the only jump that I found impressive of the night (so 2’9″ ish?). He was NOT touching it.

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Canter left lead to the brown boxes. Land and canter to the left of the rock. Slow trot to lot jump canter out to the outside line in a 6.

As we started our final course, Ranger’s quarter started to expire. Whoever was in the indoor finished their lesson/ride and turned off the lights so Ranger decided that HE NEEDED TO BE DONE TOO. So, upon trying to pick up my canter, he started to ignore me then a wrong lead then no canter… Rather than chase him, I decided start over. Then he started screaming for his field mates.  So I halted, got his attention back on me, and asked for the canter and the good boy that he is, realized that the right answer was a left lead canter.  Without recapping the whole thing, he was foot perfect the entire time.

We ended there.

It was seriously one of the most fun lessons I’ve had in a while. It gives me something to focus on other than the size of the jumps or the jumps themselves and also allows me to rely on my eye which, evidently, is my strength as  rider. My trainer keeps reminding me that I have a scary good eye… I get upset when I miss spots, especially when I miss the same distance over and over again because it seems, I don’t miss distances (except at horse shows). So what’s my strength as a rider?  I have an abnormally good eye. So this exercise let take advantage of that and focus on lots of other stuff. And if nothing else it was fun.

Then Ranger got lots of carrots and candy corn. Because he’s perfect. And needed to cool off. And I needed to entertain him while he cooled off. And he’s seriously impatient.

He’s lucky I love him…