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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

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It’s so hard being Ranger!

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

 

Saint horse, you cure everything.

Burnout.

I was planning to write this earlier and then work got in the way.

And then I got an email today that shouldn’t have ruined me but did.

Here’s the thing about me. I care. Way. Too. Much. So, as a result, I either put no effort into something or I put 110% into everything. There is nowhere in between.

I’ve been joking with Michele about her taking Jiminy to TN and she’s not allowed to, but in the back of my mind, I keep thinking, what if I did send Jiminy to TN? That would leave me with Batty and Subi. Obviously I’d never be able  to ride again, but if I got rid of Batt, then I’d just  have Subi. Could I board him somewhere? Put him down? WTH? I know  I’m just stressed.  Stressed with work, stressed with life. Stressed with money. Stressed with migraines. And burned out. And it’s raining. And everything looks like crap.And my yard it washing away. And nothing is good.

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Mini for sale?

And I’m not having fun. I feel like utter crap. I need to ride and enjoy at least Batt and things will be better and I know  it. But then weather sucks ALL THE TIME and I don’t have  anyone to ride with and I’m not exactly motivated to start solo trail riding through Fair Hill…

And then Batt ruins not ONE but  TWO  fly sheet (one was repaired and the other was on it’s last legs) and the 2 I bought both didn’t fit…

And then I checked my personal email  (that I don’t check obsessively) and had the most WTF email from my former boss. And I’m back to being upset and done and  in tears about my former teaching job. I wasn’t fired, but position was eliminated (but part of it was advertised before I was let go) but here is huge long list of all the reasons why I’m a terrible person….:

*complained about the horses (I regularly described a few of them as saints and did try to explain that a few of students where terrified of a couple and blamed the issue on the student — FOR RIGHT OR WRONG)

*complained about the people (I miss my students terribly so I’m not sure where this came from)

*turned away those you didn’t want to teach (I turned 1 student away because I was told I could.  They regularly NO SHOWED even when they confirmed they would be there. Didn’t return calls/texts, then cancelled 5 minutes before the lesson or just failed to show up. Then when he was there, it was as struggle. Then they’d fall off the face of the earth for a while. )

*only wanted to teach those that could get their own horse (I was happy to catch/tack up???)

*only wanted to teach older teens or adults (I just happen to like adult beginners. Meaning first time on a horse adults. I do better with them then teens or kids. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t teach the others?????? I was happy too. I  had an 11 year old, a 13 year old, a 56 year old, a 17 year old, and  a 70 year old who just stopped riding). 

*only wanted to teach certain hours/days  (I’m sorry, I said I only wanted 1 day/week. Once I was allowed to do Saturdays, this was the day I stuck with (unless doing make ups). I work an hour 20 minutes from the barn.  I  leave work at 5. There are no lights (I did teach teach from car lights once, but it wasn’t safe).

*appeared annoyed if asked to do a trail ride (I guess I  just have an annoyed appearance. I just like to know when there are trail rides. Though maybe the time when I was soaked through and frozen from torrential rain I may have been annoyed.I thought I w as just cold.)

 

*complained when you didn’t get a tip for trail rides (I once made the statement that I don’t care if I ever get tips for trail rides. But, the trail ride that called constantly making complaints and changes and  showed up late and blah blah…Then I was asked by then boss if they tipped. I said no. That may have been my one exception to my tipping rule. But, had they said thank you and  not complained about wearing a helmet? That would have been nice too.)

*didn’t pick up after your students (I’m not the last person in t he barn. I  swept up after  my lessons, but I wasn’t the only lessons of the day. Maybe  I should have swept up after the boarders or the owner’s daughter’s lessons, but…)

*had to clean up after you and your lessons every week (If this were going on every week, why was nothing said?)

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I want young,healthy,and sound back.

*didn’t make sure horses were cared for properly after lessons (I did. To the point that several times I double checked that a couple horses were  OK  to go out. I also purchased my own fly spray to use on horses for trail rides  and lessons because none was provided for the lesson horses. It was the cheap bronco stuff, but it was better than nothing. I also sunscreened noses before turn out or applied stuff to rain rot…)

*didn’t even ask lesson people to participate in horse shows (I did. They said no. Or one showed until she decided didn’t enjoy it. )

What you also fail to remember or tell anyone, are the many things that we did for you, including:

 Helped you with lessons and to get ready with trail rides (I guess thank you wasn’t enough)

Let you bring your horse for the day (I always asked and I always said thank you)

Gave you vet advice on many occasions (I have certainly shared this. Do you need a list?)

Took off a day of work to come be with you to put Haley down (  While I don’t talk about this much at all, this counts as one of the kindest things anyone has ever done. But, I have mentioned it and the people who need to know, know.)

Treated you as one of our barn family (I apologize if I forgot my  place as the hired help)

Paid you fairly (at least 30%) of lessons/trail rides (I’m sorry if I should have been paid less than this?????)

Provided you with new lesson people (yes? I scheduled some, others chose to ride elsewhere  or failed to ever respond. 

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Even he looks happy.

You treated my customers as though they were only there for your financial gain and not mine.  Your actions came at a price to my business and impacted it negatively, so if you want to read the above and then tell me again that I’m the one that was unprofessional or lacked integrity, go ahead and try. (I was either fired or my position was eliminated.  You cannot have it both ways. Maybe I lack integrity, but, as the owner of a business, if I was this terrible of a person and that terrible of a horse person, why was this NOT ONCE DIRECTLY DIRECTLY DIRECTLY addressed to me? Dear Sarah, these are all t he things you are doing wrong. Please improve by this date or you will need to go. Thank you, the Management. ? Yes, in person would be better, but things don’t work that way… I haven’t responded, I don’t know that I will. I’m not sure I have anything I want to say. I’ve said it all here. I’m sure we have mutual acquaintances and maybe  she’ll read this blog and comment (joy of moderated comments). But,  I don’t care. I’m  done. )

The truth has multiple sides. I don’t know what it is. I just know that I’m sick of putting  my heart and soul into things and getting  flattened.

I really hate the horseworld sometimes.

And horses?  They take so much out of you. Is it worth it?

Does anyone want to a horse? Do I really mean that? I don’t know.

But I miss this.

 

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I miss days on this horse.

 

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Ranger Recap: Lightning, thunder, and rainbows, Oh my!

We had some really gorgeous weather this week which was spent tending to Batt’s abscess. Exciting, right? As of this morning, it’s still there. I have a message into my farrier so hopefully I’ll be able to get him out. But, we’ll see. We have days he look better and then, nope, right back at square one. All of this makes me think it starts to drain and then closes back up. This morning I pulled off his wrap (meant to do it last night, but lightning storm) and didn’t see anything and when squirting iodine on his hoof, I got a reaction (major reaction) on his heel (and found a soft spot there too). Then I started prodding his heel like any good mother. More reaction. More iodine in squirting on his heel, more reaction. More prodding. So, I’m assuming the abscess is coming out his heel? At least it explains all the toe walking and why turns are the hardest thing ever. But, with all my prodding, I will win Mother of the Year. I’ll deal with it more when I get home.

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Lovely scar tissue hoof… this is what happens when you rip off 3/4 of your hoof as a 2 year old… It looks ugly but when he doesn’t have an abscess, he’s sound on it. Moreso than when we tried to make it look good. Lots and lots of scar tissue…

I also turned him out for a while the other day with his soak bag because I was lazy and had other stuff to do. Jiminy tried to eat the bag. Again, Mother. Of. The. Year.

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Can you spot the teeth marks?

But, enough about Batt, on to Ranger!

Ranger was NOT HAPPY TO SEE ME AT ALL.

He lost his BFF Elliot. Elliot now goes out with Coffee, rodeo horse turned princess (trainer’s husband’s new rodeo horse who was NOT happy to be out in the storm last night because he’s a princess now). Ranger is out with Mikey and Forrest now. He’s just as obsessed with his BFFs so who cares? Anyway, his friends were outside, he had already had a lesson earlier in the day, and I was there to make him work again rather than just give him carrots? What the hell man?

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Former BFF Elliot

So, we were poorly behaved in the cross ties. Normally poor cross tie behavior waits until post ride. Not today. Ugh. And it was looking ominous outside. Double ugh.

So we finally made it outside and watched the last course of the pony ahead of us. Then we proceeded to truck around the ring like crazy people at the trot. Thankfully after one circuit, Ranger came to his senses and decided to listen to me and returned to a normal trot. Meanwhile the sky became more ugly. We added in the circles and it’s finally clicked that if I add inside leg FIRST then we don’t fall in AT ALL when we circle. Anyway, our circles were lovely and balanced, regardless of size and impressed my trainer. Yay!

We walked and then, being warned that the storm was imminent, picked up the canter. I think we may have only cantered one direction… We cantered around, circled some, and then added in this “tiny pile of poles resembling a cross rail” and continued doing that landing right lead about 4 or 5 times before asking to land left. Which we actually did successfully. However, after landing left, I actually died and needed a break. So we walked.

Highlight of my week? I finally have a utility sink. And a crazy complicated feed program…

We next cantered over the log jump around around to the outside line that I love. I could NOT for the life of me see the spot to the log. We added and I jumped ahead because ???

Next, we did our white oxer and were to do the inside broken line around to the outside line. Except I turned back to the log because I can’t follow directions. And I didn’t even jump the log well and chipped it.

So we started again. And talked about how when I have the longest stride possible, it’s hard to adjust. So instead, I collected my reins and his stride and actually rode and followed directions. And you know what? It was better! Shocking! We landed on all our leads and hit our spots and everything was nice. We were a little forward landing from the in of the broken line and I had to collect a bit after stride 2, rather than sitting for stride 1 and 2, but the line worked out well. I also needed to woah a bit for the outside line, but again, I adore the line and it worked out perfectly.

We took a minute to catch our breath (OMG humidity) and managed to get one last coarse in (thunder was rolling in). This time, we rode conservatively to prove we could. If we’re more forward, we can land the lead, but the conservative ride, nope. So we missed every. single. lead. Ha. But, he was a good boy and did everything I asked. We got in the barn and the skies opened up.

And the lightning started.

And we waited.

And waited.

For 30 freaking minutes until I felt safe enough to turn him out. So much lightning. And rain. OMG.

Ranger had a melt down. While all the horses were melting outside because… rain. Ranger was melting down, because, OMG no friends inside with him and he needed to be OUTSIDE OMG NOW.

Idiot.

On my way out, I came across the most incredible rainbow.

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Most amazing rainbow. And a random stranger’s house. 

And then another storm.

Stuck in a rut.

Following the drama of last week (I did, by the way, receive my final paycheck), I spent all week looking forward to a trail ride on Saturday with Michele.

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Pathetic. Freeloaders.

Less a fabulous lesson on Ranger that almost didn’t happen due to a conference that had me out of town on my usual lesson day, the week basically sucked. I could talk about my lesson, which was FABULOUS, but I find when I have terrible weeks and my life sucks, for some reason, I feel the need to keep my lessons to myself. Let me just say that Ranger can cure anything and the lesson ended with the jumps getting hiked up for a final course. We cooled out with a walk around the fields and just for a moment, all was right in the world.

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Ranger fixes problems.

Good mood vanished pretty quickly when I headed over to the vet to pick up meds for Batts allergies/heaves to find that even though they said they’d leave it in the pick up box (that I couldn’t find), it wasn’t there. One bag of stuff was, just not mine. Ugh. Next morning I got up at 3:30 to head to a conference where my first presenter was LATE. And a whole lot of other drama. Finally on Friday, got back to vet, found out someone else had picked up my meds, got the meds…

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Conference views

Which brings us to Saturday. Feed horses, all seems good, got out to open the gate and notice Batt is toe walking on his right hind. Shit. He’s not lame yet, but he’s not sound. Abscess. I text Michele in disgust cancelling our trail ride, toss a muzzle on Jiminy, throw the horses on grass, and basically sit in my backyard and cry. I had a why me pity party. It wasn’t pretty.

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Toe walking and proud of getting out of work. 

Then I got a text from the mom of the ONE STUDENT I didn’t contact about me no longer teaching (I only taught her 2x, barn owner taught her once or twice) as they have no loyalty to me. I ASSUMED that the idiots were contacting my students to tell them the change of instructors… But, I guess not? They were letting me know a neighbor was bringing her over, but… Nice. Professional. Anger resumed. I didn’t respond. Who knows if she was even having a lesson today? Not me.

Yesterday Batty was sad, gimpy, and in pain. My friend Sandra came out and we tackled his hoof which I failed the day before… He got the full treatment. During a 45 minute white lightning soak (FINALLY have IV bags to soak in), we removed about 40 pounds of hair, pulled his mane, brushed out his tail, and let him graze. After the soak, he got his hoof covered in iodine then an ichthammol wrap (in which he tried to murder me for holding his hoof up for too long). Hopefully he’ll be feeling better soon. Assuming I have the patience, I’ll do another soak tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the pollen is OUT OF CONTROL. And the coughing is out of control. Ugh.

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Disillusioned.

I considered not writing this post.

It’s more personal than a lot of things I post.

But, I have a blog for writing and reflecting on horse related things. If not times like this, then when?

As some of you may know, I have been teaching riding lessons on and off for a number of years. I started in college for my old barn and trainer at the time. She was…crazy, but most horse people are crazy. Or at least a lot of them are? Either way, the teaching paid my horse bills. It allowed me to afford board and lessons when I bought Subi. It made horses possible. I taught after I graduated. I taught through grad school. I taught until I started my first job in academia. And then I game notice and quit. I was mentally scarred due to some passive aggressive shit. I said I’d never teach again. This was 2010.

3 years later, I found that I needed money and a friend of mine offered me the opportunity to start teaching. We had both worked for the previous trainer. Things were to be different. She had her own barn, she learned what not to do. And for the past… 5 years, I have been teaching some lessons and leading trail rides. Not a lot, just once a week. When things got tight, I spent a summer working both weekend days and it almost killed me, but I did was I needed to do. There were a handful of days that I cancelled (business trips, 1 horse show, a couple vacation, when I was sick — though I usually dragged myself out, etc. BUT RARELY in 5 years).. Or students cancelled. But we weren’t a lesson factory. The old barn I was chastised if I cancelled even if there was a foot of snow on the road, the roads weren’t plowed, and all my students had already cancelled…

But, this past Saturday, I mentioned that there were 3 Saturday’s this summer where I either couldn’t teach (1) or I couldn’t do trail rides (2). One was due to the a business trip (an annual conference where I’m always away for a weekend in May) and the others I was willing to teach, but not do the trail rides that day (if there were trail rides) — 1 for a wedding, the other for a family reunion. My boss was cold but told me to email her the dates.

Yesterday I saw a posting for a trail guide for Saturdays and Sundays. The Saturday shift was my shift. I was suspicious and was debating how to confront her about this. I hadn’t yet done this.

This morning I was fired via text message:

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I have not responded. If I didn’t need my final pay check, I probably wouldn’t reply at all. I instead contacted all my students and told them I would not be teaching any more and answered questions they had as best I could. While the text indicates my students are down, I have the same number of students I had last fall and last summer. I am in no different place then I was last year. So, the excuse is just that, an excuse. Why? I don’t know. My students are upset.

I did let my allies at the barn know because I’m sure some sort of rumor about my departure will come about. What? No idea. I just want people I considered friends to know the truth (and my students). But I’m sure some story exists. I was immediately removed from the barn’s internal facebook group. As was my good friend who also rides with me. I guess she was fired from the barn too…

But I’m once again disillusioned by the horse world. I’ve once again been let down by the horse world. I just want to go hug Subi and Batty and Jiminy and Ranger. I won’t see Ranger this week (stupid conference and I can’t seem to get my lesson rescheduled either). But, there’s a reason why I don’t ever want to work for my current trainer… I don’t want to mess with that relationship.

People are crazy. Horse people are crazy. Maybe I need a new hobby. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I need a new part time job.

I could go on and on about all the things I disagree with. All the things I would change. But I won’t. I will say, after 5 years of employment, who fires someone via text message? Without a real reason?

I’m done teaching. For good.

Ranger Recap: Escape to Zen

It’s been insanely stressful at work lately (understatement of the year, but this blog isn’t about me melting down about work), so a lesson with Ranger was exactly what I needed.

Goof.

He was already ridden that day (and, as a result, was super clean) and supposedly spent a lot of time leaning in. But, he was super pleasant to ride. While slow and a bit pokey, I faced none of the typical leaning issues and we circled without issue and played none of our regular “GET OFF MY RIGHT LEG” game while trotting around or circling. Maybe he sensed my stress and was going easy on me? Maybe he was happy to have me on his back? Maybe he got it all out of his system earlier? Who knows, but all I know is “he would not stop leaning in the entire lesson” according to my trainer with his earlier rider. I faced none of that. Lucky me? Anyway, he was a DREAM to ride. Love my Ranger.

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Log jump (on an angle next to the green) with the real plants next to it

 

After a low key trot and canter warm up and a quick review of changes (we did one right to left and moved on), we started by picking up a right lead canter and started over the log jump heading away from the road (new course, yay!). Then, we continued to our outside line against the fence in a 7. Supposedly because the log jump is narrowish (ok, it didn’t feel that way, but I guess), Ranger likes to duck out), but there was NO hesitation, ducking, anything and we cantered over nicely and continued around (with a simple change because we. could. not. land. on. the. correct. lead. to. save. our. lives. at. all. during. the. entire. lesson. I think Ranger thought it was funny?) to the outside line in a 7. Every once in a while there is a line that I love. It’s this outside line. I cannot explain how much I just love this line. It is set up to perfection. Everything about it is perfection.

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My lovely outside line

There wasn’t much to perfect (seriously. LOVE that line) so instead of turning to the outside line, we turned instead to our small white oxer after the log jump and then continued around to the broken line with the trees. The log was good, the oxer was eh (Ranger was a little slow so I ended up moving past the spot) and then the line, the first jump was again perfect, but then I again and too slow of a horse and rode too much to get too much pace and yep, move too far beyond the spot to a chip. Not that it mattered because it’s Ranger. But…

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Full course including inside broken line (stone walls with tree standards) and white oxer with the blue and white standards

So we did that again. This time the wasn’t as good, I had a better but still not 100% perfect ride to the oxer and finally stopped over riding when it came to the broken line. Took me long enough, right? Then we continued around and added in the outside line and once again it was just perfection because it is. I 100% LOVE THAT LINE. It’s just so easy.

Instead of jumping the log away from the road again, we changed things up and took it towards the road. This direction I actually felt him think SLIGHTLY about doing something, but it wasn’t even any effort to keep him straight and he didn’t really try. It was a half hearted, “are you paying attention? yes? never mind.” Type of thing. We continued around down to our blue and white gate jump as a single towards the in gate and then came up to other outside line (I can’t remember the stride). This was the only time all night (the line) that Ranger had ANY energy and I had to actually land, woah SLIGHTLY and the just sit there. He was so completely perfect all lesson it was incredible. Have I mention how insanely perfect this horse is?

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A nice view of the blue and white gate (we jumped it from the other direction where there are a whole bunch of flowers)

We ended on that course, because, I really couldn’t top anything. The jumps were low and easy, but who cares? The strides were fine even if I couldn’t see spots all the time (my eye wasn’t working which I hate as that is not normal for me).

All in all though, it was a great lesson and just super..consistent. We took an insanely long walk around the paddocks to cool out which I needed just to decompress mentally.

Ranger grumbled as his friends were out eating his hay, but he enjoyed himself. It’s so nice it’s finally light and getting warm. I missed my post lesson walks. I really needed them.

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How could you not love this guy?