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.

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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).

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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.

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First easy pole exercise

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, ???

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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…

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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…

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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.

Seriously.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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…

 

 

October 10 Questions

October 10 Questions from Liz from In Omnia Paratus!

  1. Most equestrians quote fall as their favorite season to ride. Are you one of those that does? Or maybe not; what is your favorite season to ride, if so?

I hate the fall. I’m an odd one yes, but I’ve always HATED fall. I hate losing daylight, I hate it getting cold, and I hate, Hate,  HATE the angle of the sun. I  HATE THE ANGLE OF THE SUN! I have always had the worst headaches of my life in the fall. So there is that. Plus the impending doom of the winter doesn’t help either. At least after winter there is spring, but after fall there is only winter…

So no, I’m not a fan of fall. But the riding weather is great.  If only it stayed lighter and the sun wasn’t so deadly!

  1. Do you clip your horse in the fall? Or maybe you wait a little longer?

I clip Jiminy (less his head and legs) in the fall. I should have clipped him in September and then again in November, but I was lazy and waiting until last week so I don’t know if I can get away with one clip or if I’ll have to clip again in December… Last year I did a bib clip in September and full clip in November. Either way, fall has just been way too warm.

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If I’m going to ride Batty,  I’ll probably do a modified chaser clip soon. It’s still so warm that he’ll be fine unblanketed for several weeks and since he’s so fuzzy, he’ll probably be more comfortable anyway. He gets 1 clip for the season and  that’s it.

  1. Have any costume riding events in October on/near/around Halloween? What will your horse be dressed as? What about yourself? What would you dress as if money/time were absolutely no issue?

Nope. Not a costume person, but I’m sure Jiminy could be fun to dress up…

  1. Is your horse afraid of any autumn colors? Or maybe has a certain quirk that appears only in the autumn?

Nothing that I can think of… I’m sure the hoovers try and eat dead leaves but….

  1. Pumpkin spice. It’s everywhere right now. Find any natural pumpkin [squash] spice-esque recipes for your horse?

Haven’t tried anything. I’m sure Jiminy would eat anything. Subi wouldn’t. And Batty could go either way (he says yes to everything but fig newtons, bananas, watermelon, and cough free powder).

  1. We’re getting to the end of the calendar year, any final few “big-bang” shows to look forward to?

There was a show this weekend but I decided I’m broke and no more shows on Ranger this year. Just can’t afford it as much as I’d like to.

But, a friend of mine is trying to convince me to do a schooling dressage show on Batty in the  beginning of December. Forget the fact I have never ridden a dressage test in my life… So we’ll see about that one… Since  it’s close and I can haul myself and no trainer fees and I can do 1 test, I could swing it. We’ll see…

  1. Winter is coming. What are you doing to winterize your trailer/rig/car?

Errg. My trailer is only about 4 years younger than me… It’s survived this long… Meanwhile I plan to actually take my truck to the car wash this winter to make sure  we wash the salt off the bottom of it…

  1. Do you have any autumn traditions you/your horse follow?

Survival? Hopefully some trail rides… is it even fall if it’s still in the 70s and 80s? Seriously PA?

  1. October in many places marks the beginning of deer hunting season. Does this affect your riding at all? Do you wear blaze orange or modify your schedule to accommodate the season?

When I take out trail rides, we do try and remember to wear orange/neon yellow vests and talk a lot. I think it’s either small game or bow and arrow season right now in PA? Hunting allowed except for Sundays in PA.

  1. What are you most looking forward to goal-wise as the final months of the calendar year approach?

Again, surviving. Also trying to actually ride and death of the bees! I definitely want to ride and maybe do the Black Friday paper chase at Fair Hill this year. I rode with strangers last year and had fun so we’ll see… Batty needs to get in shape!

Fair Hill FHI Musing (Part I?)

So I’m not actually sure how much of an actually recap this is going to be. My brain is still fried from Fair Hill almost a week later but I do have a lot of media to post. Most of it I haven’t even started sorting through. Hopefully over the next week or so I’ll post some of it.

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Tayler Stewart and Ideal Contini — I’m in love with this horse, especially after watching the pair’s stadium round. 

Overall, it was a great year at FHI and the first year I managed to attend the event in its entirety (though Sunday morning I needed to drag myself out of bed and if I didn’t have my volunteer shift, I’m not sure if I’d have gotten there for the 2* or 3* stadium–I’m glad I did!).

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Grace Fulton and Wild Orange

High level takeaways (I can’t seem to handle more than this):

  • The weather was less than ideal and I was  NOT adequately prepared and purchased more clothing than necessary including first a grey cowl because I was freezing despite wearing what I though were enough layers and a blue FHI jacket that Michele talked me into (not really but it’s fun to blame her for all purchases like those boots this summer…). I really needed gloves, but I was too lazy to drive home and get gloves and refused to buy any (the only really warm gloves were in the Dubarry booth and I don’t buy nice gloves or I cry when I lose them).
  • I lived on the crab soup.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan

  • I wish I had ventured in to the tea tent before Sunday. OMG the tea was amazing and the volunteer tent had coupons for free tea… I could have used that… every day?
  • The cross country course walk with Jennie Brannigan and Tim Bourke was incredibly interesting. Jennie had to leave part way through for YEH awards so we mostly walked the 3* course with Tim (who, by the way, was one of the NICEST people I got to meet and took the time to introduce himself and talk to everyone on the course walk). Media from this  to come. It was a shame he had so much trouble on cross country… I also almost crashed into him before his stadium round. I did NOT hear him almost walk RIGHT INTO HIS PATH as he was approaching fence 1 after resetting the damn Devoucoux fence… Sorry Tim! At least he and Obie went double clear…
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Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy

  • So nice to meet people including Michele, Emma,  Rachael, and others!
  • My dog is a traitor… Turns out she decided she will ONLY take french fries from Michele and when my friend Sandra walked away for a phone call, Hermione had a near panic attack… Thanks Hermione, I  love you too.
  • Had a nice chat Saturday with Muggle’s rider, Nilson Moreira da Silva. He told us that Muggle was exhausting to ride and hurt his back because he was such an athletic jumper. But Muggle looked exhausted at the end of cross country and barely made it through the last couple fences.

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Cornelia Dorr and Louis M (So disappointed that stadium did not go well.  He looked exhausted and she looked tight.)

 

  • Saturday was probably the nicest day weather wise though I think they called for nicer weather on Sunday. Sunday rolled in rainy and freezing with predicted temperatures reaching 75… Yeah. I got there just in time for the CCI 2* Stadium and the wind was blowing and it was drizzling and I was again freezing. Reminded me of Thursday. I managed to survive the 2* before I hunted down tea and realized I couldn’t handle more  crab soup (until next year crab soup). Then in was time for JUMP CREW.
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Will Coleman and Off The Record

  • Probably the most volunteer shift of mine was jump crew for the CCI 3*. There were 5 of us (include a 10 year old kid who worked HARD) and we got to sit in the middle of the ring surrounded by straw bales and probably had the best view of the course. The bleachers while OK did NOT provide the best view of the course. As jump crew, we had a few jobs: put the jumps back together, re-position poles (bow down) after hard rubs, and STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE HORSES (1 near fail was pretty good–sorry Tim!). In the CCI 2*, Buck often would tell the jump crew to adjust stuff so with 3 horses, we were afraid he’d be yelling at us, but thankfully no riders yelled at us to change things. We got off easy. While it was work, it was actually fun. And it was nice being IN the ring. Definitely volunteering for jump crew next year for both the 2* and 3*. Granted,  I somehow missed Boyd Martin though I obviously watched him and just failed to notice it was him. We were all sort of brain dead by that point. At the end we also reported that jump 13 was down when there was no jump 13 so…

Savannah Fulton and Brave New World

  • Afterwards we were asked to stay and deconstruct the rings. Pull down the flags, pull the plants, sort the plants, etc. Unlike some shows, the majority of the plants are on loan from neighboring nurseries and are returned afterwards whereas some larger H/J shows (IE: Devon) the flowers are  donated and sold after. The mums were donated and  the boy scouts were going to sell them. Which we didn’t  know. But, the people handling flowers just told those of us helping out if we wanted mums to grab them and hide them. So we each took 4 (of a million), stuck them in our straw hut, and went back to work. When we were leaving and carting our mums to our cars (since we were told we could drive in and then realized we couldn’t bring our cars in since no one had and extra vehicle pass) — thankfully a nice courtesy golf cart rescued us — we saw the boy scout mum sale. Oops.
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Tamra Smith and Glock Pullman (So happy for her to get the win on Sunsprite Syrius.  She was so ecstatic after her stadium round! 

Anyway, more musings and media later, but overall it was a fun (and exhausting) 4 days!!

On an unrelated note, I finally opened my trailer and did  NOT get stung by a wasp. I also clipped this idiot…

 

On an unrelated note, I finally opened my trailer and did  NOT get stung by a wasp. I also clipped this idiot…

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He’s lucky he’s cute and seriously easy to clip (though he requires the big clippers for  EVERYTHING… I can’t do anything with my Andis clippers on him… not even his face… which won’t get clipped till spring.)

 

 

Ranger Recap: “I have to warn you, it hasn’t been a good day.”

Following abnormally warm weather, today was wet, cold, and miserable and a nice day to ride in the toasty indoor ring. Which was why we were enjoying the wet and windy weather in the puddle filled outdoor… (by the time my lesson started, we enjoyed all these things under the lights).

It’s never a good sign when I show up and am immediately warned by some of the other students that EVERYONE has fallen off today, including the trainer’s daughter who was bucked off by one of her ponies. Great. So I grabbed a mud covered grey and brown paint version of Ranger, worked on grooming, and contemplated my escape. Eventually he was clean and the rider in the lesson before came in and chanting, “I DIDN’T FALL OFF! I DID’T FALL OFF! I DIDN’T FALL OFF!” I’m pretty sure there were cheers… That can’t be a good sign. Her mom told me things were crazy out there and asked if she was sure I wanted to go out…. That made me wonder if NOT falling off was the success of the lesson, not the that the lesson was fabulous…

Anyway, I looked at Ranger, stuffed in his mouth, tossed on my helmet, put on his bridle, and headed out to see my fate…

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Just keep looking at that face…

A lunge lesson was finishing up and a 5 year old was battle her once slow now speedy pony around the ring at the canter. As I walked in the ring, my trainer looked at me and said, “I have to warn you, it hasn’t been a good day.” Way to instill confidence… Ranger and I took off trotting and I could see what she meant. His attention was NOT on me. But we trotted and trotted and trotted. And trotted through puddles where I insisted he use as much energy as possible (he did NOT appreciate that that was the only stop he could speed up — the HARD PLACE — but still, his attention was NOT on me. And things didn’t improve when the lunge lesson and the 5 year old headed out for a short walk around one of the fields and proceeded to leave the gate WIDE OPEN which angered Ranger immensely. He tried to insist on leaving the ring and then when he realized that was NOT happening, he tried to speed towards the gate. Yeah, no. Gate was soon closed but speeding attempts continued so we added some halts and backs much to his chagrin… We eventually added some circles, but while they looked decent, he was never really with me. That said, he was lovely at the canter which lately has been our best gait. Leg required through out sticky, puddle side, some upward tugs required heading towards the in gate, because gate = fast, but nothing that took much effort.

We started working back and forth over our outside single. First starting the “easy” direction then the hard way. First time was actually perfect mostly because we didn’t rush and I didn’t overthink. It’s amazing how that works. Now if only we could end there. Second, “hard” direction, was less lovely but… effective? Mostly we worked on upward tugs to keep him from dropping his monster head and dragging me to the fence. But, the spot was ugly so in my opinion = fail. Evidently the exercise was not about the spot but about the ride and the ride was fine, but… since it didn’t all come together… I don’t like bad spots and I have appear to have an abnormally good eye so not that we’re making me adjust too many other things, I’d not always able to adjust to the spot I should get and I HATE IT. Evidently I’ll get back there once I get used to getting him back on his butt… Grr. Repeat first “easy” direction and instead of being good it sucked. I turned late, didn’t ride to the spot I saw, rode the right side of the jump, chipped it, yeesh. Ugh. I think we repeated this and then when I remembered to TURN (and use both hands) and give the TINIEST of tug ups in the corner because a certain pinto was convinced he knows EVERYTHING, the jump worked. Amazing. When I do things right things work? Then the hard way I got him on his butt with some tugs, allowed him to move up and get a bit forward because it was just easier and he was extending, not pulling, and thankfully the jump worked.

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He can talk you into anything…

We then did this same lovely exercise with our straw bales. First time going towards the road the jump was fine, but SOMEONE decided to act abnormally and drag on the landing (going away from the barn?!). So we eventually halted, backed hard, and repeated the jump (to a less great spot that I tried not to dwell on but dwell indeed since I’m remembering it now). Landed, got a lovely halt (I lifted coming in since he was trying to drag me to something in the corner… the jump, the gate, who knows….), backed just because and then was told to do it the hard way…. Strangely enough, the hard way, heading DIRECTLY TO THE GATE, was actually easier? Mostly because we weren’t picking up our canter while heading to the gate and had time to stabilize? He was forward, but listened and got off his front end and the jump felt fabulous.

We then moved to the “hard” inside line which, once I figured this line out 2 weeks ago (when it took most of the lesson), it stopped being hard. The line was super easy (it’s a stay out on the rail forever and then turn with both hands. The line does NOT work if you turn early — well, you can get the second jump to work, but the first jump doesn’t work) and the height didn’t bother me at all! I even forgot about the puddles.

We ended with the evil jump, Straw bales around the stupid boogey jump (the weird inside single that Ranger likes to bolt towards half the time). The turn is hard mostly because I turn way too late and then add the fact that I’m usually trying to prevent someone from taking off… Mostly I have a fear of this jump. Bribe was jump well and end… Gahh. So, we did the straw bales towards the road landing correctly (thank you Ranger!) and I actually remembered to turn my head AND tug up a couple of times. The turn was supposedly perfect though I was a bit conservative and the spot wasn’t quite there (I held more than I needed to because I don’t trust him AT ALL on this jump). But, thankfully we’re focusing on the ride, not the distance and it was awful (I wasn’t thrilled, but when am I if the spot isn’t perfect?). But we decided to take it as I did what I was asked to do.

But we are poorly behaved when we want to GO OUT or EAT TREATS

​All in all, we were successful and supposedly won the night. We did much more than stay on and had a fairly normal and strong lesson. I love Ranger. He’s fun and just enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. And we get along. As my trainer said, we’re soulmates. Though, it’s really just all the treats I stuff into him to keep him tolerating me…