Ranger Recap: sunny sundays

Thanks to horse show season, my lesson schedule has taken a strange turn. I once again rode on Sunday vs Thursday due to horse shows. My trainer is away at shows the next 2 weeks (I could ride Monday but 2 lessons 2 days in a row didn’t seem appealing to my wallet) and I’ll probably try and fit in a lesson next Monday.  In the meantime, I get to put a couple rides on Ranger to ensure his lesson horse brain stays a lesson horse brain. Evidently too many days off isn’t good for him? haha! I miss last summer’s habit of randomly taking off towards one jump/lesson!


Hermione says summer is for napping

Before I recap, Batt’s rambo space alien fly mask arrived on Friday and has stayed on since then. That thing is intense. Good thing because while his earless Supermask was still on, the entire side was torn. He looks like an idiot, but appears to love the nose coverage. He’s also started a feed through fly thing (no way would Subi eat it even though the smell is mild and I’m not about to mess with him ACTUALLY EATING right now) and they’ve all started SimpliFly


Looking like an idiot but we haven’t resorted to duct tape, superglue, a staple gun, or teflon tape yet


Despite getting on by 9:30, it was already crazy humid and 80ish and cloudless. Nothing like the low humidity I’m sure we had on Thursday while I was busy being shocking my my electric fence… But, unlike last week, I remember my water bottle and actually drank water throughout my lesson? Progress?


Who needs Ranger when you have VOLDEbisc? Don’t let that face fool you. She’s recharging. The little hellion was all hellioned out.


Basically, this was an effort in bending and finding energy. To the left, we were fine, we just lacked forward motion. We worked on some circles were when I actually planned WHERE I was circling, it went better than when I didn’t plan where I was circling… amazing how that happens? Then we halted where Ranger wasn’t entirely listening (hands only, not fully engaged so we got to practice that). Then we stopped and talked for a second before trotting to the right. Except Ranger was convinced it was canter time and kept trying to take off cantering around the ring… I probably brought him back to the trot 4 -5 times before he accepted we were trotting… Silly boy. Circling to the right was like turning a 2×4… Lots of playing with my inside rein and encouraging him to relax (NO) and inside leg until finally and then a nice loose rein and we got to trot on. Then we cantered each direction including a small circled to the left around 2 fences…


Best ears!


So the canter circle would be the basis of our first over fence exercise.  Basically, we were to pick up a left lead canter over the outside single turn in the air and continue our canter, passing only the inside single and do it again. The goal going to the left was to get as close to the cross rail as possible and maintaining a steady rhythm. And, ideally, landing the lead which required steering in the air. We got there eventually, moving up for the right spot and repeated it 3-4 times nicely before walking. Then did it the other way where Ranger bends less nicely, but despite that, it was easier? I don’t know. The first time I had to move up a little more aggressively but then had a bit too much 2 point. After that, we eventually got the rhythm. We were helped by the fact that Ranger likes to land right…


I should never draw courses… But I have a call number too if anyone needs a book…?

From here we started by taking the long ride down to the cross rail (it was a large cross rail) around to the inside like that I struggle with last week. Unlike last week, the line was more normal sized at 2’6″ ish and I was just in a non-thinking, non-rushing mode, staying steady, counting 1-2, 1-2 kinda mode. It’s amazing how if you just count sometimes it solves everything? Anyway, those jumps worked perfectly.


Here the course hasn’t changed. Better than my drawing… Because I can’t draw courses!!!!

Next we moved over to the inside single heading towards the indoor and then around to our other inside line. I remembered to stay out and again counted. And for the inside line, Ranger wanted to drift, but, because I didn’t cut my turn to the in, it was easy to fight the right drift and he moved right on over to the center of the jump. Good boy.

But I can send a kitty after you… except she’s scared of humans except for me and erik and is trying to break my house… 

Last we jumped the inside single the other direction (towards the road) around to the broken line. This was probably my only issue. The first time I had to circle as I couldn’t find the inside single (there were a lot of jumps…) and then I realized I’d over shot my turn and I’d miss it if I turned, and finally I remembered to turn on time, but had no pace at all and the whole thing sucked. I was slow to the single, slow to the in, slow to the outside oxer that was just lovely last week so we got a 9 in that broken line that should have been an 8 (or a really going 7)… Yeah. So we did it again. The single was good, the in was good, and then I just had a moment of uncertainty and took my leg off and chipped. Take 3, we skipped the single and just did the broken line and I finally rode the entire thing, not just 7/8th of it.

As always, yay summer, Ranger and I ended with a stroll around the fields, a bath, and I stuffed him with carrots. And, when he gave me that “I’m starving” and “Aren’t I pathetic?” look, I gave in and added in some peppermints because, obviously 7 carrots weren’t enough.


Ranger is wondering exactly WHY he is looking AWAY FROM HOME. Change of scenery? I’ve got nothing kid.

Batt and the Great Fly Mask Conundrum 

Houston, we have a problem.

I cannot keep a fly mask on my horse.

If someone were holding a gun to my head, a fly mask would fall off of Batt’s head.

I need help.


I bought a lot of fly masks. Mission. Fail. 

So far this year, Batt has worn several different fly masks and NOT ONE OF THEM will stay on. NOT ONE OF THEM.

He is also extra itchy this year.

We find the fly masks everywhere. In the dirt, in the water trough, in the hay. Just laying on the ground. He shakes his head and OFF GOES THE FLY MASK.

We started the season with the Roma Stretch Fly Mask. It actually stayed on. Until it didn’t. After a week, this fly mask started coming off. Now it’s a failure and doesn’t last more than an hour. If I’m lucky. Maybe I need a cob sized? I don’t know. Maybe I should wash it in boiling water? What do I have to lose?


It was all so promising and then it wasn’t. 

Next up was the Kool Coat Fly Mask. It looked huge but fit REALLY REALLY REALLY well. And fell off immediately. There was NO WAY a cob would fit on Batt’s head. But, the horse size doesn’t stay on. But, at least Batt had fun looking like a race horse?


Race horse mode!

Then we tried on the  Kelley & Company Brow Lift Fly Mask w/ Ears but the horse size was way too big. Subi is currently wearing the cob size and it fits him wonderfully. I’m going to return it and get him another cob. It’s not going to hold up well, but it’s cheap and I can see his eyes which I like.


When your head is heavy, your brother makes a good head rest…  And Subi modeling the Kelly & Co. fly mask. It really fits him nicely (cob size)

Then I put on an old Rider’s International Fly Mask. Didn’t even last long enough for me to make dinner. Granted it didn’t work when I bought it either, but… Cob size.

Next we put on an old beat up Farnam SuperMask II. These have ALWAYS stayed on but tend to rub which is why I was switching around. The damn thing came off. WTH? I found it by the hay feeder and it’s in the wash pile as Jiminy peed on it. Jerk. Anyone want a miniature? No, wait, anyone want an appendix who won’t keep on a fly sheet? I’ll keep the miniature, he’s happy in HIS fly mask…


Not the same mask or model of mask (where is that one? I have no idea…) but you get the idea. Last summer when Batty had to wear one of Subi’s fly sheets… 

This morning, after retreiving the peed on Supermask with ears, I threw on another Supermask without ears. Maybe the ears are the issue? But he’s ALWAYS had ears????? I have NO IDEA if that one is still on. I didn’t look after I fed. I didn’t want to know.

I haven’t tried a Cashel this year as they’ve never stayed on any of my horses except for Hayley. He has a Pirate mask, but that won’t stay on either. I’m one step away from turning him out with a halter over a fly mask, any fly mask, to see if that helps. Or I can try rubber cement or duct tape. Kidding. Really.


Once there was a Batthorse Pirate…

He has a Rambo Space Alien Fly Mask coming but I doubt it will stay on. I used my SmartPak store credit from when they fell apart and tried to get me to shop with them again to buy it. So, if it fails, at least I didn’t spend real money on it? And maybe it’ll work for Subi?


This fly mask fit really well… Maybe I should sew the velcro back on the throat latch? But, if I do that, it’ll probably fall off just like the rest of them. Because my luck = NONE

I also ordered some feed through stuff because I’m at my wits end. He’s miserable. Even with a fly sheet (but less miserable as he was SERIOUSLY OMG MY LIFE SUCKS MISERABLE when I took it off). So maybe they’ll help somewhat? He’s not hivey anymore either. He’s just dramatic.

Any suggestions? Any way to save my horse from bug hell? Better yet, any possible way to SAVE ME FROM FLY MASK HELL?



Ranger Recap: finding brave

My lesson this past week was moved from a gorgeous Thursday evening to the disgusting humidity of Sunday morning, of course. Despite the early time, it was already ridiculously hot and humid and me, being smart, left my water in the car… this post is also free of relevant media…


Warming up, the focus was on appropriate trots and emphasizing the difference between a nice working trot and a slowing to an appropriate trot to sit. The emphasis was also on slowing the trot BEFORE I sat rather than sitting and then slowing. So, using my body, hands, and post to control and slow the trot to where I wanted it and THEN sitting. That said, I’ve been having issues with my back lately and even the most comfortable trot (which Ranger really does have) was not welcomed kindly by my back. We worked for a while going back and forth from a forward working trot to a super collected sitting trot. My back protested.

When it was time to canter, I’ll admit, I could NOT sit to save my life. I think I was trying to save my back and found myself forward in more of a half seat than normal. Eventually I got my body back but it ached. A lot. The canter was nothing spectacular and my arms were doing something funky and the more I focused on it, the less natural everything felt. Do you ever feel like the brain just goes into overdrive sometimes? So frustrating.


We warmed up over our log jump. The goal was just to pick up a nice canter and on the landing, NOT RUSH (hahaha) and turn based on whatever lead Ranger landed on and re-approach the jump. Simple enough with the exception of the not rushing (the not rushing to the jump, fine, the not rushing to turn was a different issue in my brain). That said, it was fine the first 5 times, the first 3 we landed on the left lead, 4 and 5 the right lead. After 5, I just blanked at what I was to be doing I cantered straight… But, the spots were lovely to all the jumps at least until I got lost?

That said, we moved on. It appears my focus wasn’t the point of that exercise and I passed the test. Lol. So from here, the goal was a right lead canter over the inside single going away from the road around to inside line. The whole thing just didn’t work. I mean, we going through it, but with a whole lot of drift. First I turned too early to the first jump? Which I NEVER do. And then to the in of the line I didn’t keep enough right leg (OMG the right leg) then I needed to ride up to the out which we still died out to because the drift (first left then right OMG right) then chipped and the jump wasn’t exactly a tiny oxer though not huge. Still, he saved my butt and got a huge pat.

So we did it again.  I managed to stay out longer and the line to the first jump was SO MUCH BETTER though the spot was NOT as good. Seriously, WTF? I get really angry when miss spots. Since I don’t often. Ugh. Then the turn to the inside line was better but even applying the damn right leg someone still wanted to drift but the rest of the line was better and after fighting to the first jump, we only had right drift the rest of the way (hey, better right drift then right AND left drift) but someone got off my right leg enough to jump the center nicely from the center of the fence.

But, third time was the charm. Having perfected the first fence, I was able to put my energy into fence 2 and turning the corner, lined him up to the center of fence 3, cutting out the drift early and getting him off his right shoulder. We had the pace so the rest of the line was just a waiting game and thankfully I didn’t screw anything up.


Of course, instead of letting me walk, I then hear “canter him around to the other inside line” which I look at and think there much be a different inside line because the out of the inside line is an oxer that is probably 3′ or close to it. So we canter around, skip the first jump and circle when I don’t see another inside line and then re-approach. See, it’s not that we don’t jump large fences, but most of the time when we jump large fences, they’re not oxers. We tend to keep our oxers to 2’6″… So I hold my breathe, maintain a steady pace, start approaching, realize I need to move up for the first jump, and then throw my body. See, the first jump wasn’t huge. 2’6″, maybe a bit bigger, but nothing scary. We took out the top rail. Then I continued moving Ranger up who was game, and then realized we were going to chip at that pace, woah-ed and we jumped the scary oxer perfectly. WTH? The line was ugly. I did way too much.

We did it again. Once again. I rushed my body at the first fence. Once again, the oxer was perfect. I don’t get it. Why was I jumping the scary fence well and the easy jump not? Probably because I was more likely to die if I rode the scary fence poorly, but…

The third (or 4th I don’t remember), I finally made myself count 1, 2, 1, 2 the entire way to fence 1 just to occupy my brain and NOT RUSH THE DAMN fence. Needless to say, I finally didn’t rush the thing and the line was lovely and Ranger got a massive hug for being the most incredibly horse there is.


Assuming we were ending there, I relaxed. Until I was told to pick up my left lead canter and canter over the outside single which was another massive oxer. I think I must have given my trainer a look because her response was “Yes, these are all bigger than we normally jump, go jump it anyway.” The one was at least 3′ and looked bigger but may have just been more solid than the other. So I pick up a canter and start counting immediately. About 10 strides out I see my spot and think shit, this isn’t good. I have a nice, quiet canter. The jump is huge. My canter is super quiet. Don’t I need more canter? But the spot is there… See, this is the bad thing about seeing distances… So I just decide to throw caution to the wind and trust that Ranger will save my butt and don’t change my pace and hope leg at the base of the fence will be enough. He easily carries me over probably the easiest fence of the day… from a quiet, quiet canter.

So we do it again, only change being that I’m to take a deep breath (hahaha when I am about 6 strides out) and hit the same perfect distance that I again see 10 strides back. With the deep breath, it’s even more perfect.

We end there.

There was no need to gallop into big scary fences. Just breathe.

And try and be brave.

Or fake it.

Ranger is the best.

How To Get Lost In Fair Hill in 8 Simple Steps

In no particular order…

  1. Find wasps in your trailer: I’m allergic to wasps. Instead of focusing on where we were going, my brain was focused on the wasps. If I can’t get rid of these damn wasps THAT KEEP COMING BACK, I’m getting a new trailer. I DON’T CARE IF IT IS AN OVERREACTION!!!! Anyway, I rushed to Oxford Feed, bought wasp spray, got laughed at in my state, used up an entire can, and proceeded to continue to get ready… Despite all of this, I still arrived on time? Turns out, it still only takes me 15 minutes to get to Fair Hill with a loaded trailer…
  2. Don’t plan where you’re going. We chose to leave from the 273 lot (Lot 1) mostly because it’s the easiest lot to park in, but we had no actual plan where we were going. We started off taking a different trail and within 10 minutes found our way right back to the parking lot.img_7447
  3. It’s too muddy to trot. Enough said. You move a lot slower at the walk stop paying attention after awhile to where you are…
  4. Let your idiot horse pick the way. This is 100% Michele’s fault. Batt does NOT like to take the same path twice. So, after the incident at the bridge where Batt and Remus chose NOT to go over and the idiot children where gawking, we turned left rather than walking straight (the direction I knew). Then Michele let Batty take the lead as he started COUGHING standing behind Remus because he’s an idiot and doesn’t like to be behind and be bored (theory was tested. Coughing stopped the SECOND he had the lead). Then Batt chose every path not taken. This horse usually starts to sulk and shuffle his feet the second he has to turn back for home.  I never promised my horse knew where we were going. In fact, he likes to go where he’s never been before. This is 100% the way to get LOST.
  5. Try to decipher Fair Hill maps. How about a YOU ARE HERE sticker? hello? A map is NOT helpful if you can’t figure out where the hell you are…img_7479
  6. Find your way back to your trailer and tell your horse he is an idiot. He is exhausted and blames YOU for the crazy long ride that HE took you on by getting lost. He also manages to take on his bridle standing in the parking lot (he partially takes in off on the trail but you save it). You pull out of the parking lot at 6:30, 3.5 hours after getting on your horse.img_7466-1
  7. Children and bridges. When you try and avoid children and bridges, you get lost. First off, why are tiny children riding bicycles without helmets? Is it not a law in Maryland? The children had to be under 10. Batt doesn’t actually care, but that’s not the point. I was not in the mood to be near tiny children on tiny bicycles. Nor was Remus. And bridges. The idiots were overreacting to this one bridge and no amount of beating was going to get Remus over it. He was too focused on children. After that, we just wanted out of the area. Running away=getting lost.


    Finally a brave chicken!

  8. I have no sense of direction. In what world should I be in charge of directions? Just saying….

Ranger Recap: rollbacks and craziness

First off, just want to thank everyone for the kind comments. I appreciate them all more than I can say.

I also appreciate this thing. Because, Ranger cures all.


How can this face not make you smile?

But, unlike last week’s perfect lesson, this week’s was decidedly NOT perfect. It was, well, hard.

But, hard means brain engagement which means that I can’t think or dwell on life. WHICH is not a bad thing. At all. So, yay?!


Ranger was less enthusiastic… 

We started off with our typical basic warm up. Trotting, trot circles, all of that. Then my trainer decided she didn’t like my post. So, we did the stupid “up, up, down” exercise where you rise for 2 beats, sit for one to ensure that you are sitting softly and really controlling every beat of the trot. Yeah. It sucks and you have to think constantly or it’s impossible. And I’m thinking, “riding all these years and I can’t post? WTF?” But, I managed to forget thinking about life so that was a success… Then, the bigger struggle came. Posting normally. COMPLETELY impossible. After finding the “up, up, down” rhythm, it’s impossible to post normally. Just saying. Ugh. Finally managed to post again.

Cantering wise, we picked up a lovely quiet and almost dead canter. But, as I was feeling that way, I just went for it and enjoyed the ride. I’m pretty sure we started with the right lead. Then, at some point, we cut through the center for our right to left lead change. I did need to remember to actually move from a dead canter to a real canter in order to get the change, but being outside, Ranger does the change without anything but a slight weight shift and a tiny kick. I don’t know if it’s just that they’re easy for him now or if it’s being outside… left lead canter was more of the same. We went back to being dead until it was time to do our flying change. Easy again. Then we walked. Because he is perfection.

We started off cantering into (left lead) the white outside single towards the road turning in the air BEFORE the wall of jumps and continuing around to the other outside single. The picture below shows the basic placement of jumps (the plain brown rails/standards has moved slightly so that you land facing the gate) though the super tiny jumps are actual jumps). First time through the turn was fine, but I continued turning rather than staying out once I got towards the second jump, if that makes sense? Second time, significantly better.


Next, we kept the first jump the same, but instead of turning to the second outside single, but we instead made the tight turn to the brown boxes/blue and white standards and continued around to the brown plain rail/standard jump heading to the in gate (which is why the picture above isn’t quite accurate). Going over the first fence, I sort of forgot to turn, so Ranger assumed (incorrectly) that we going straight. He listened (because he is a saint) and turned anyway, executing a perfect full change even though we almost died and barely escaped the green tree and made it over the brown boxes and the around to the plain rails nicely (halting on the landing).

We did that again, making sure we were to actually NOT DIE. But, the plan was to continue around from the brown rails to the out of the inside line (blue and white standards. It went fine.


best view ever.

Next time through, we continued on (building blocks for brains like mine that don’t work… I think at one point the words “are you insane?” came out of my mouth) after the out of the inside line around to the log jump to the second tree jump as a broken line. Except, this time we chipped the first jump and the entire thing was super ugly as I never really got a nice rhythm. I pulled hard over the brown rails and but could NOT land on the correct lead. Despite this, we continued to the out of the line without a simple change and got a crappy spot. The log to the tree though was nice.

Next, we rode to the SAME SPOT of the single (SAINT HORSE) and then either stopped or continued to the brown before starting over… I can’t remember. Either way, we were eventually told to reset.


So happy

At some point, we rode our final course. We FINALLY managed a nice enough (all my first courses had nice first jumps and then I lost it? who knows…)  first jump, an OK second jump) and FINALLY nailed the lead over the brown rails!!! With an established rhythm, we were fine to the blue and white and the rest of the course was easy. Actually, even when the course sucked, the last 2 jumps were always easy…

We ended there, thank goodness. Ranger was tired. I was tired. And why risk having to do more? Ranger saved my butt more times than should have been necessary with that first jump… Or that blue and white jump thanks to be screwing up the lead out of the brown rails…


Gorgeous night!

We ended the evening with a leisurely walk around the field. I enjoyed. Ranger? Who knows. He wanted his treats, but I’d like to think he had fun. Though I’m sure he’d have appreciated the shorter route, not the long one I took…


It’s so hard being Ranger!

Stuffed with treats, he finally got to join his friends.


Saint horse, you cure everything.

Ranger Recap: Jumping through the black clouds

I haven’t been blogging much. Honestly life has been busy and sucky and I haven’t felt like it. The weather in SEPA has been ugly and rainy and hot and humid and gross. And I temporarily moved to Atlanta for a conference. And I really haven’t had much content and too much content. And who knows?


Sometimes kids detonate fireworks in your mailbox…

I had a fabulous lesson 2 weeks ago and a great one the week before that. But, 2 weeks ago I didn’t get around to blogging because I left the next day for a conference and by the time I got back (conference was energy sucking), I forgot all of the details. But I remember Ranger being incredible. And I rode inside. Because rain.

Sometimes your husband falls through the ceiling… And stuff isn’t properly framed.

Last night I finally had another lesson and the weather held out for a lesson outside! My back has been KILLING me (why? no clue), but improved enough not to cancel. I was thrilled to see Ranger. He was happy to get treats. He works for food.


And your horse is really gross. 

After some warm up on my own (ow my back), we did a little more trotting, some halts (thank you Ranger for halting with you head up and making me look good). And circles. To the left our tiny circles were LOVELY. To the right, my hip was stiff as a board (strange because my other hip was killing me on Saturday/Sunday when I could barely walk) and we had to circle a couple times before our attempt was deemed acceptable.


Jiminy got a new fly mask!


That said, cantering was lovely. Flowy forward canter. One left to right flying change (SO MUCH EASIER OUTSIDE) then flowy right lead canter. A quick right to left flying change, being careful not to ask him to speed up until we hit the center of the ring. And then we walked. Such a good boy.


Devon 3 and under lead line insanity. 

We started off working on a figure-eight over the log jump. So, we cantered in left lead, turned right in the air, cantered back over it, turned left in the air, then continued back over it the same way we initially approached it. We did this 4-5 times. Other than being directionally challenged while this exercise was explained to me, I actually really enjoyed this. Ranger was slightly confused as everything was new to him as it was a new course so today was the first time for everything. I rarely get to be the first one to jump him over the course. So much more fun.


New course!

Next we cantered right lead over our inside single (stone pillars going away from the road) and then continued around to the inside line (blue and while standards starting with the TINY brown pole). The tricky part was that the line comes up VERY quickly so if you don’t look as you’re landing, you’ll miss it. That said, my issue was the jump was tiny and Ranger didn’t care so I had to almost over ride the in of the line. The other issue was the first time I failed to realize where the inside single was and I turned first looking at the out of the inside line… then I correctly but had the wrong canter and Ranger was a bit heavy… Take 2, Ranger was better but wanted to be strong (though he listened PERFECTLY WELL). Take 3, we had a lovely canter to the inside single and I just touched my fingers to the reins once to lift him up and he stopped his attempts to be heavy. The inside line was perfect as well and I FINALLY got effort for the baby in (the out was actually a significant jump). This time we continued around to the outside single which was light and perfect. Ranger thought for a moment about being heavy, felt my finger tug (seriously, that was ALL it took) and got right off his front end. THIS HORSE IS PERFECT.

We took a short break (humid as hell) before ending with the inside single (stone pillars jumped the opposite way–heading towards the road rather than towards the in gate) around to a bending line. To get to the first jump you had to go between these 2 stone pillars basically going close to the the outside one around what could also be jumped as a single on the outside. We jumped everything perfectly the first time and ended there. My trainer was convinced he’d be wiggly, but there was no wiggles from him at all. He was just on. Perfect horse.


Simply the best. 

Because Ranger works for food, he was stuffed with peppermints before I turned him and his friends out… Evidently I made him wait too long for treats. I slacked on my treat giving duty. Oh well, sorry Ranger. I owe you.