Quick update

Smug but happy

Long time, no blog. What can I say, I have a list of excuses, but honestly, I just got burned out from life and had little to nothing to write about. So I didn’t.

The horses are good. Really, they are. Subi is trying to eat. Somedays he is successful, somedays he thinks he knows better and eats less than I’d like. Jiminy is doing well. He’s eating all the hay and more and is breathing is doing pretty well. Seasonal allergies suck, but he’s enjoying steamed hay and zyrtec and life is good.

As for Nay, he’s chugging along.

Yesterday marked his 3 year gotcha day. It’s hard to believe he’s been part of the family for 3 years. It feels like both forever that I had him and just yesterday that I still had Batt.

In terms of health, we had a little colitis flareup this fall but he’s getting back on track. I’ve come to accept that fall into winter will ALWAYS be hard. I added a high dose pre and probiotic and while he hates it, he does eat it. He’s on the high dose for problem children. LOL. I’m also waiting on results of his full gut panel to see what (if anything) he’s lacking. Full analysis takes 10+ weeks so I anticipate January/February for those results. But, that plus his mash plus chopped hay plus his supplements plus this new batch of hay that he thinks is pretty great seem to be keeping him comfortable. So, we’ll see.

Riding wise? We’re riding. Nothing fancy or crazy. I actually had a nice bareback ride the other weekend and found that my horse really bends even bareback. Who knew? All our work is paying off. We only walked and did a little trotting, but he was very good.

A year ago he would have completely melted down during the lunging. Maybe I can’t ride during it, but at least I could do ground work.

Sunday I rode again. He was high as a kite when I went to tack up so I tossed him on the lunge line to come back to Earth. And he did. Then another horse joined up and was a bit of a mess. Nay worked through it. And, kept it together as best he could when this guy was spinning, rearing, and bolting. Turns out he wasn’t broke and the whole situation was… a bit of a mess. When Nay, a nervous wreck, willingly trotted a nice circle on the line with all the drama at the other end, I took him outside to ride.

The outdoor was a bit boggy and wet for my liking, but riding inside wasn’t exactly an option anymore. So we pushed through. Nay immediately relaxed and we trotted and attempted a canter. But, I never ended up putting my spurs back on or grabbing a crop and Nay was pretty much physically and mentally exhausted from our lunging session. We got our leads but barely held the canter for a full circle (it was… pathetic). If I took my leg off to kick, we broke. Squeezing did nothing. So, I picked up the canter a few times, asked to trot, and called it a day. Happy and listening were good enough for me.

So that brings us up to date. Nothing exciting.

3 years

Some days it feels like forever ago and other days it feels like yesterday. 3 years ago we lost our Batthorse.

It’s funny, I’ve been pretty good lately and today? Not so much. Batt was a lot things (including a pain in the ass), but he was the epitome of security. Of safety. Even when he was flight and all that, he was just solid underneath you.

Man do I miss him.

Catch Up

I feel like I write this post a lot. I honestly just haven’t been up to blogging as of late. Work has kicked my butt this fall and riding has been on the back burner. Between that and my regular health crap, it’s just been hard to keep up with everything.

But, I should do a quick update on the kids.

Subi:

We like MUD. A lot.

Back in October, we celebrated 16 years together. It’s hard to believe he’s been in my life that long. But, he’s definitely starting to show his age. After all his medical stuff this summer, I’ve been struggling a touch with his weight. He’s just been ping ponging a bit. We swapped him from a complete senior feed to a senior concentrate and after an initial “I hate this and my life,” he’s actually eating it. He was eating alfalfa cubes and pellets every night, but he’s been a bit iffy with them the last several weeks and I’ve had to cut volume. It could be multiple reasons including the change in feed or the fact that the last 2 bags of cubes are hard. Like REALLY hard. Subi has a brand preference based on what soaks well. These are them but the amount of water we’ve been adding to make them soak is insane. I’m almost wondering if they’re mislabeled and not straight alfalfa. I’ll be getting a new bag this weekend so I’m hoping things will sort themselves out. Prior to this, I was considering adding oil to his cubes, but now that it’s hit or miss how much cubes he’ll eat, I’m probably going to add an extra fat source to his senior feed and hope I can add some more weight before winter.

Jiminy:

Finding Jiminy in his stall when you left him in the paddock…

Other than looking like a molding potato, Jiminy is living his best life. I switched his feed from a ration balancer to a vitamin/mineral supplement and other supplements and at night he gets it mixed with fibre beet and in the morning he gets it mixed with a handful of sainfoin pellets. He’s also getting Stable Feed’s Prickly Pear for glucose support and zyrec because, allergies. Honestly? He’s doing great. He gets steamed hay at night that seems to be all he needs (being in seems to increase coughing, but the steamed hay — fresh or up to 24 hours old — is perfect for him and he’s fine on a round bale with his muzzle outside, even if he tries to burry himself in it). He’s living his best life. We were between rounds last week and despite having hay out, Jiminy got bored, found a weak spot in the fence, exited, heard voices, and decided to visit my next door neighbor who was working in his garage shop. Just walked right on in to visit. This happened on a day no one was home so they brought him home and locked him up in the barn. Meanwhile, Nay Nay and Subi spent the entire day in the shed and couldn’t be bothered to even notice Jiminy took off… It was raining and they don’t do rain.

Nay Nay:

My complicated problem child. Nay Nay is mostly fine. Really. But, I’m realizing fall is very tough on him. He’s showing signs of a slight colitis flare. No diarrhea (he never has diarrhea, just super stinky poop that slightly changes consistency) and his eating habits change. He backs off hay and stops being an eating machine. At this point, he’s still eating, but not eating the same way? He eats his fibre beet every night (thank you.) and does eat his night time grain. Breakfast grain is hit or miss. He is eating chopped hay, but is back to only wanting store bought chopped hay vs my home chopped hay. I may need to experiment with what I chop. I’m sure he’ll eat mostly chopped alfalfa, but I try to get a little orchard in it. I might just need a fancier cut of orchard to chop or a nice timothy. So, I may purchase chopping hay specifically for this purpose. I don’t mind buying chopped hay for him (and if he’ll ONLY eat that, so be it), but at $25/bag, I’d prefer to supplement it with home chopped hay. I’ll play around this weekend.

Handsome boy. I did end up clipping him as well

He’s more iffy with long stem forage (which makes sense because long stem forage isn’t great on the gut of horses with colitis). He does eat at the round bale, but not for hours at a time. At night, he’ll eat some steamed orchard grass hay, some alfalfa, and some steamed alfalfa. I’ve just been steaming him whatever and seeing what he’ll eat. I may actually try steaming orchard, letting it dry, then chopping it. That way if there is any dust, it’s gone… that might be something to try…

Despite all of that, he’s been LOVELY to ride when I have ridden. I haven’t taken many lessons (1 in October), but he was a gem. I then had an unexpected hiatus because of truck issues (keep reading) but this past weekend he was LOVELY again and yesterday I snuck out a lunch and again, wonderful.

Honestly? He’s just been quiet and fun to ride. He’s getting his leads. Our trot is SO MUCH BETTER (we started halting and backing at the walk before we trot and that improved our trot so much). And other than dying at the in gate going left, life is good. Yesterday I just working on cantering over a little 12″ fence on a circle in both directions, holding the lead, and it felt great. He also held his right lead canter on a tiny circle when a buggy (he HATES buggies) came down the road and listened to me vs losing his mind. The only thing I could thing do do was canter a small circle as I just picked up the canter and didn’t want to stop. And? it worked. He said OK. I’ll focus.

Post ride snooze. I feel like half his hair has already grown back!

Anyway, nothing has been exciting, but it’s been GOOD. Good is great.

The Truck:

Yes, my truck gets its own update. Unfortunately.

A couple of weeks ago I went outside to turn my truck around so I could hitch up the trailer (plan was to clip Nay Nay that afternoon but I needed to connect the trailer so I could tie him to it). As I was backing up the trailer, I found myself flying backwards with my foot on the ground. I lost my brakes. Completely. Thanks to my e-brake, I was able to stop in my neighbor’s yard, but it was absolutely terrifying.

Thankfully, AAA towed the truck over to our garage who fixed the right front brake line (it appears the left front line was replace when they replaced a front caliper in August) so our front lines are good to go. The back lines were replaced a few years ago. So, we should be OK, but I’m still slightly terrified to drive.

Maryland 5* Recap

I’m about 12 blogs behind because I’m too tired to blog, but I might as well post a little bit about my favorite event of the year, Fair Hill.

I cut back my volunteering significantly this year because I’ve just been so burned out. In the end, I just worked the in gate for Young Event Horse jumping on Thursday and Friday and while I could have done more, I’m OK with this for this year.

Just gives you an idea of the conditions…

I’ll be honest, Thursday was…less than great. I LOVE working the in gate. It’s one of my favorite volunteer jobs–you get to chat with the rider before they ride, see the horses up close, almost get taken out (thanks Mike), and overall, it’s just a good job, but Thursday? Thursday was… in less than ideal conditions. It was raining for a while. Then there was a deluge. And, let’s be real, after a while, it doesn’t matter how many rain coats you have, you can’t really stay dry. But, waterproof pants ARE the way to go. What Thursday did have going for it was 1. It wasn’t cold and 2. I spent a good amount of time standing in the horse ambulance (which was parked in the wrong place, but whatever) and 3. I had my truck parked near the in gate which let me sit down when needed.

And then the rain got worse… I was very impressed by the last few horses who were going around the course in pretty much a deluge. No video of them as I was trying (and failing) to stay as dry as possible, but… Condition were less than ideal. The ground stayed surprisingly good.

Much prettier morning!!

But for as bad as Thursday was, Friday was GORGEOUS. The footing was surprisingly good, mucky in spots, but decent.

There was some communication issues first thing in the morning with the announcer. I found out later that they didn’t have a radio for the first 6 riders so they were just guessing who was on course. This led to mistakenly calling the first rider as Boyd Martin vs whoever it actually was (I don’t have the order in front of me). But, it did lead to one of my favorite interactions of the day.

Trusty post

Boyd came down early to watch. Near the in gate in a holding area where the next rider can watch, warm up, or walk around. They have a true warmup area up the hill, but they can also warm up a touch near the gate. One the previous rider finishes, they can school the water/look at jumps/warm up in the ring. Anyway, Boyd was the second rider and more or less followed the first rider down to see what the course looked like. As the announcer was announcing all of Boyd’s accolades and accomplishments, information on his horse, and other such information, Boyd looks down at me and with a straight face says, “you know, I’m Boyd Martin.” The only thing I could think to say back was, “ya think?” But in hindsight, “No shit,” would have been a better response. Anyway, that was my entertainment of the morning.

After 2 exhausting days, I ended up just taking it easy during cross country day. Normally I try to walk as much of the course as possible, but I wasn’t feeling it. I never made it down to saw mill. I stayed closer to the main arena and just moved back and forth between a handful of jumps. While I missed seeing the saw mill area and larger parts of the course, it was a nice, relaxing change without feeling like death at the end of the day. Well, almost. I did spend too much time at the StableFeed booth and ended up buying a bag of Sainfoin pellets and getting a 40lbs bag to my truck during the break between the 3 and 5* was… not fun. But, the folks at StableFeed are great. So too the ladies at Botori and DappleBay (I only shopped Botori clearance and scored a nice pair of Adlers in petite at more than 50% off — way better than cuffing the leg– and a $20 shirt I already own because I love it).

Sunday I splurged for seats as my husband joined me for the day. After the running around the other 3 days, I’ve really grown to love stadium day. Our seats were great and it was just a fun, enjoyable day. 4 days later I’m still exhausted!

All about Nay Nay

Another week, another blog post?

Nay Nay in sticker form
Nay Nay in sticker form from the Sticker Lemon Press

Throughout August, I was following the 1 ride a week routine. I wasn’t feeling well (let me tell you, vestibular migraines are the worst kind of hell), but I mostly forced myself on once a week. Mostly? I walked. Walking was good. Trotting sucked. Cantering didn’t make me want to pass out. But, in order to canter? I had to trot.

For the most part, this worked. We walked. We worked on bending and building muscle. Nay was super good. If I felt good we did a tiny amount of trotting and then cantered a lap each direction. Otherwise we just walked.

Sticker Nay Nay wearing a saddle and boots from the Sticker Lemon Press
Sticker Nay Nay #2 courtesy of the Sticker Lemon Press

2 weeks ago Nay just wasn’t feeling it. He was GREAT at the walk and then promptly had enough. Of course this coincided with other horses joining us in the ring, a puppy playing under the deck, and me not putting on Nay’s sound muffling bonnet. Nay decided that this was just too much to handle. We could NOT go anywhere near the deck. We did a lot of backing and a spin or two and were generally an utter turd. I managed to get my trainer’s daughter to walk us past the deck twice and it was fine. And then a few minutes later? Turd mode. At this point my vertigo was in full force and all stimulation was…not helping. Nay thought the pony having a lesson (basically walk trot) was the best thing to… spook at because of course he did. Mostly, he was bored and needed a good butt kicking. At this point, one of the girls who works for the other trainer offered to hop on when she untacked her ride after one more spin, I hopped off (and then almost fell over from dizziness) and we waited.

Nice hot and sunny day for a walk

And that was probably the best choice. He was actually a good boy though she admitted that he has a really good spin to him (yep! He won’t buck you off, but he is quick with the spin). But, after a couple smacks with the crop that he deserved, Napalm learned that it is MUCH EASIER to trot past the deck vs spook at it. Way less work. And with that? He was good. He trotted, cantered, and picked up both leads. He needed the work.

He’s really starting to fill out

The following week (this past weekend), I was feeling better, but decided not to push my luck. I lunged and then hopped on. Nay said way too much work, but was utterly perfect. Again, he picked up his leads and his canter was lovely. We trotted a tiny fence to end. Nothing major (we were both exhausted), but we jumped for the first time in a month. More of a miracle? We rode Sunday too. We’ve been struggling with the left bend (this was our good way, but we’ve improved to the right so much) so I ended up adding a left spur and it made all the difference. We also rode with 2 pony kids and usually I end up not doing much when the kids are in the ring because kids. But, the one was actually told to stop chasing me and stay out of my way so she doesn’t get kicked (Nay doesn’t kick, but “stay out of my way” didn’t resonate where as “don’t get kicked” seemed to) and I had a lovely ride. They let me canter solo (I have no issue cantering if I know where others are going, but I can’t do the 3-ring circus stuff (especially during a vestibular episode–Sunday was definitely verging on one)) and I popped over a small fence at the trot twice and canter once to end.

We haven’t earned halter snacking privileges yet…
I do love him, even if he’s Napalm somedays and Nyet Nyet other days. Somedays? He’s good old Nay Nay

Monday I felt beat up. I didn’t have it in me to haul out to ride. So I pulled a page from Stacie’s book and decided on a bareback snack hack. Nay HATES riding at home and decided to be Napalm for a while, but eventually after grazing near his friends, he calmed down and I felt safe enough to hop on….except I couldn’t figure out how. I tried stacked buckets. Nope. A ledge. No. Eventually, not wanted to die, grabbed my mounting block, carried it down by the other boys, and got on, but seriously? Once I was on, we snacked more, walked some circles, and snacked for 15 minutes and then wandered to the trailer and halfway up the driveway. I need to do this more often because I think it’ll be less of an issue the more I do this. Anyway, way more work than I planned, but the actually sitting/snacking part was completely fine.

There was also an incident earlier in the week where Napalm left me with a bloody and potentially broken nose, but we’re not talking about that…

Subi, Subi, Subi

Still handsome

Long time, no blog. I have about 5 draft posts that I’ve started and not finished. The usual excuses, but mostly I just haven’t felt well for the last few weeks and blogging has taken a back seat.

But Subi? It appears he isn’t getting enough attention or financial interest from me. And he decided to change that.

Back in July I had the dentist out about a month early (5 months vs 6 months) since his teeth appeared to be bothering him. He had a molar we were watch. Yep. It was time for the tooth to come out. Fractured. Great, right? So, we scheduled that for early early August.

But before we could have that taken care of…

..we had to deal with hives.

I was treating his hives with benadryl and it WAS helping. Until it stopped.

On a really, really hot day, I found him coated in lots of hives, stocked up legs, and a swollen sheath.

And it was Saturday. Because OF COURSE it was Saturday. Nothing ever happens when it isn’t Saturday.

Thankfully I was able to get in touch with the vet on call and she had someone leave some meds out for me at the clinic and I was able to treat without a farm call. Subi was NOT impressed. I was also to cold hose, but Subi had other ideas and my life was more important than cold hosing. Between banamine, drugs, and benadryl, eventually the swelling and hives dissipated.

Happy drunk post tooth extraction

But back to teeth. We scheduled the vet and dentist to come out and had the tooth removed. It was broken in half, but in a streak of good luck, while the nerve WAS exposed, nothing reached the sinus cavity. Lots of pain, but the second it came out (with lots of drugs), Subi was feeling MUCH better. He lived in a drunk state for a little while until I gave him dose of banamine and then MAGICALLY the drugs wore off and he decided it was time for turn out. Only Subi. Thankfully he was great about letting me rinse his mouth out with a syringe for several days (they suggested a hose, but we agreed on the syringe–this was better than drugging him for the hose method).

Which brings us to more hives. Because why not? Thankfully I still had meds on hand. But Subi no longer eats benadryl. Though it appears he does eat benadryl inside an oatmeal cream pie…. Try it if you need a pill carrier…

And finally? The abscesses to end all abscesses. Or, the Sunday I thought I was going to have to put my horse down.

2 weeks ago, Subi developed an abscess in his front right hoof. It started to drain. Stopped. Started. Stopped. Started. Life was good. Then, Friday it stopped again and we were back to being gimpy again. Now, Subi isn’t sound. Ever. Not anymore. But he isn’t falling over lame either. So, I just went with it. And Sunday morning, I turned him out per usually. He was fine enough. Playing with Nay, rolling, etc. Which is why the following scared the crap out of me.

Around 1pm, my husband comes running inside, raids the oatmeal cream box, and tells me to get outside. “He’s not dead. But you need to get out here.”

Subi is flat on his side. Panting. Refusing/unable to get up. His gums have color but he won’t move. He won’t try and move. He’s just breathing really, really hard. I run back in for a thermometer. 100 even. He won’t eat the pie.

Looking old and depressed

When my husband found him, Nay was curled up next to him and Jiminy was standing guard. Now Nay is up, poking him with his nose every few moments. Subi just keeps putting his head back down.

With my husband pulling, me pushing his back, we do get him up eventually. It felt like an hour. It was probably 10 minutes. At this point he’s trying not to put weight on either right hoof.

Abscesses. Right front AND right hind. WTF.

I decided to soak both feet in white lightning and then wrap (I have handy soaking boots that I never have used) and after soaking his hind, a huge chunk actually breaks off so yeah. I managed to wrap both hooves as well and stuffed them each in his easyboots to avoid duct tape. The hind was easy, but the front was rough as he refused to put much weight on the hind and pretty much made me shoulder most of his weight. Still feeling it days later.

Still, it’s 4 days later now and this morning he’s “sound” so it was worth it.

Anyway, enough Subi. Enough.

Flatwork Bootcamp.

Nay Nay posing for a selfie
Such a goofball

I was super excited to sit down and write this post and now that I’m here, I’m struggling. I think it’s because I have zero media? Hopefully I can remedy that next weekend (I’m pretty sure we’re going to hit “It’s too hot to ride” temperatures this weekend, but you never know).

We started our flatwork bootcamp in the last lesson I wrote about using the controversial draw reins and I’m going to say, the changes in how much progress we’ve made have been incredible. Now, even when I’m not DOING anything you can see improvement. This was the connection that Nay just wasn’t understanding and I wasn’t able to teach him. For know, we’re primarily working with his front end and adding forward impulsion from behind.

My first solo ride I primarily stuck to the walk and trot (I thought about cantering but we were both exhausted and then people showed up and I decided just to quit). Going to the left has been great. But, I was visibly struggling to the right. Nay would lock up and I’d have to work really hard to get everything in place: bending, moving over, AND moving forward. Honestly, at times it was just too much. When it’s too much, we tend to work on making the good better which is probably why the right sucks so much?

Which brings we to lesson 1. Immediately the crappy right was brought up and I was advised to stop working to the left (so much). Ugh. Yeah.

After seeing how hard I was working, I was given a small spur for my right leg. And then we spent so much time analyzing my right side. See, it turns out my entire right side just sucks (my words). I am so weak to the right, BUT I also have like no turnout in my right hip so I struggle to get the spur in or my heel in at the girth. It actually hurts. So we worked on my right heel. I can turn my ankle out, but we wanted the turn out to come from my hip to give me greater control. Lots of stretching in my future. So we spent a lot of time at the walk and trot at the right working on that bend with my heel in.

Nay was…less than thrilled. You see, there were horses in the ring which is fine, but they were there in his space WHILE he was trying to learn knew stuff and a spur was bugging him. It was kind of all too much for him. But we pushed through.

Post ride bath looking like a goat
Post ride bath for the win!

We cantered left first and it wasn’t pretty. I had to keep the spur off him and keep him forward AND keep my reins short enough (new canter theme) so we did a bit of bouncing vs forwarding especially when I lacked so steering… Ugh. The right was better but I about killed my shoulder by not keeping my reins short and someone kept launching me forward. He tried so hard, but it was a lot for him to take in.

I had homework for the next day and directions for no spur. So we worked on all the same things and the ring was quieter (9amish again — we were all trying to beat the heat), but just 2 horses. He was much better, but so tired. The heel lesson the day before seemed to stick and suddenly he started moving off my heel which ACTUALLY STAYED IN THE CORRECT PLACE!!! Everything felt good except for the canter which was messy and I couldn’t keep my reins short enough despite constant shortening…

Which brings me to Thursday’s lesson. This was the hottest, muggiest day yet for out 9:30 lesson. All these rides in a row really paid off. We initially talked about riding with the spur again after the day off, but after Nay was so good on Wednesday (and I couldn’t find my super tiny vs only tiny spur), I decided just to risk now wearing one. When my trainer saw just how good he was without it, she was on board with the plan. The new plan? Wear as needed for a ride here and there and he’ll either get used to it or it’ll just be a good tune up. Either way, my leg will get stronger. But for now, not wearing it was the correct choice.

At the walk Nay Nay was FANTASTIC. I warmed up on my own a bit just to press his buttons. The ring was quieter (Nay’s preference), but we weren’t alone. My trainer was finishing up a lesson and someone was hacking and there may have been another horse in training. But it didn’t feel chaotic. Once it was our turn? Nay showed his stuff. We started to the left and quickly were told that we didn’t need to practice that direction. To the right? It was also very good. When we were standing still, I was corrected for something I was corrected on last lesson and I guess over corrected. You see, last lesson Nay, when relaxed, always looks left, so I was to praise him when he looked right. Now? I need to ask him to stand straight and look forward. So we worked on not letting him shift to one direction or another. To be honest, I don’t actually care as much about this, but I’m willing to be conscious about keeping him straight when I ask.

Next we working on trotting around to the right, using both the entire ring and also circling. The difference from last lesson was that we did a lot of nothing vs constant reminding to bend. He had the carriage for the most part when trotting around so my job was just to do nothing unless I felt him start to slip, then add heel then hand as needed. He was so good. Towards the end, I got tired (mentally) which showed (physically) so we lost it a bit on a half circle. Future point of reference, stop before you get to this point.

We took a walk and water break and then did small circles. Points to remember: get the bend and connection BEFORE you circle. Easy enough but it’s not that I remembered to do this. I really struggled with the place I was told to circle. However, we were circling around another horse and I’m pretty sure Nay just did NOT want to be that close which is why we kept losing it all. The second we made the same circle in 2 other places? All good. Only difference? No other horse. Even circling right by the gate.

Finally, the canter. Even though we worked only to the right, we still cantered left and started out that direction. Before, we discussed my rein issue. I THINK a huge part is that it’s been so freaking hot out that Nay is so sweaty that my reins just get wet and slide out of my hands. Anyway, for now, the advice is for me to not ride with gloves* and to knot my reins. I can knot each individual rein or just knot them both. Yesterday, I just knotted them both and it worked really well. If I go the individual route, I’ll probably get crappier reins to knot. For now though I like this method.

dripping with sweat following our lesson
He’s melting! That was HARD WORK.

*I hate gloves. I FINALLY got myself consistently riding with them a few years ago (it took YEARS) and I struggle with the idea of not riding with them. So, for now I’m pulling them at the canter and only at the canter.

To the left the canter was amazing. Once again, we just picked up the lead. It’s just been there. None of the popping issues existed and we just let him canter around and stayed out of his way. It was fantastic. Probably the nicest left lead canter I’ve had. To the right, the transition was lovely and the canter was pretty good. I did circle because I’ve gotten so used to circling, but again, it was good. I need to work on not leaning in and dropping my outside shoulder will help, but otherwise? Unlike the last 2 rides, the canter felt significantly better.

Anyway, all of this to say, I finished my lesson and for the first time in a long time, my trainer and the person watching (who rode with me the last 3 days) commented on just how much progress he made since Tuesday. It was truly astounding. We worked hard. He worked hard. And was dripping with sweat to prove it.

He’s getting Friday off and I’m going to try to drag us out early Saturday morning (on my 8:30?) before we start yet another day in the 90s.

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty

I had a very eye opening lesson this morning. I debated not blogging about it because, honestly? Everyone has opinions. But, at the same time, this is my horse, my journey, I can blog if I want to, right?

I approached my trainer about my current mindset. And let’s be real. I’m struggling. I need direction. Getting back into riding this spring after everything we went through from mid fall through March, taking it easy WAS the right choice. But, we’re both relatively healthy now. And now I NEED more to keep me motivated. Light and low-key is good for winter or when I feel like crap (which will be back, I’m sure, I have chronic health issues), but I actually am doing OK. So I basically said that.

Since we overhauled me position (still a work in progress), my trainer said that if Nay was her horse, she’d overhaul his body awareness to improve his flat work with an ultimately goal of teaching him his changes.

None of that, in and of itself is controversial. Or, at least I don’t think. But, my trainer is a believer of using draw reins and using them properly (hence my thoughts on not blogging).

See, I’m not against draw reins OR any other tool. But I want to know why I’m using it, how I’m using it, and I want to know that I’m using the tool properly. We used them briefly a year or so ago prior to me getting sick and I ended up not feeling comfortable using them on my own so I stopped. This time, there is no winter circuit so I should actually get some lessons IN the draw reins in between practice rides to reinforce the lessons rather than me just learning something once or twice and getting lost.

Anyway, we spent a good 1/3 to 1/2 of the lesson at the walk just work on bending and changing direction and changing the bend back and forth while being aware of the bend and avoiding the counter bend. Plus, maintaining a marching walk. We weren’t focused on the hind end today, just the front end, the forward, and the bend. It was a good way to see that tugging my inside hand back really DOES get him unstuck. I’ve been told this constantly, but I only seemed to get it today. Plus, as always, inside hand to belly button to around turns which is finally becoming second nature.

A tired Nay Nay post lesson
One tired Nay Nay

Next, we moved the trot and applied the same thing with less turns and change of direction. But, the same idea. Interestingly enough, we’re far better bent to the left than the right. I like the left, but Nay’s been better to the right recently? Whatever. We started loose with a tighter braided rein just emphasizing FORWARD (key of the day). Then shortened the draw rein slightly. The goal here was to maintain the bend (easy to the left, harder to the right, but we got that) AND maintain forward. So, it was shorten and leg forward so that we emphasized that shortening the draw rein didn’t mean to slow. Praise (I had to find a word other than good boy since that = halt… er. “Yes” seemed to work well). Then do it again. We started VERY long so we never getting him short, but rather working with him to feel the contact and such. He definitely was not upset by it and less confused by the end.

Finally, we tried the same at the canter. Just on a half circle each direction. We started to the right, his good canter direction where we picked it up and promptly lost it… but after recollecting were successful. Interestingly enough, the right was HARD, I had to work hard. Granted, he was very much on his front end and not using his hind end which we’ll be addressing next lesson next week, it was a lot of work. To the left where we’ve been 50/50 with picking up the lead? Easiest canter transition I’ve had in forever. All the bending we did early on, he just stepped right into it and I never felt like I was going to lose the canter. Usually I struggle to keep the left but not today.

So my homework is to practice primarily at the walk and trot like today. Then toss in a couple half circles at the canter. We’ll regroup next week and go from there, bringing the hind end into our training.

In a rut

I’ve been struggling with this blog lately. I haven’t really known what to write. My rides have either been decent or I’ve been riding a ball of tension. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Overall, I’ve just been in a bit of a rut. And, when I’m in a rut, I struggle with motivation to ride which makes the problem…worse?

I’ve had some good and some bad rides, but mostly I’m just struggling TO ride.

One thing he is good at is hanging out at the trailer.

Between the weather (hot and rain and storms) and health (fly spray chemical burns and vaccine reactions — Nay is a hothouse flower plus me having some fun allergic reaction some sort of insect bite), I have not ridden consistently over the last several weeks. The less I ride, the harder it is to ride.

Over the last few months, I’ve taken fewer lessons, taking off the pressure. But, at the same time, I think I’m in a place where I need lessons to force me to ride? Or a ring at home. Since the home arena isn’t happening, lessons it is. I have one this week and 2 next week. Hopefully, this will be enough to get me back on track?

Anyway, riding now, good or bad I’m trying just to ride. And good or bad, useful or pointless, I’m also trying to blog.

Oh Flies.

I’ve started a handful of other posts and haven’t finished any of them. That’s my life right now. A series of unfinished blog posts.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you will know my current drama is fly spray. Or, more specifically, Nay Nay’s allergy to permethrin and/or pyrethrins. Subi too, but his is nowhere near as severe as Nay Nay’s.

It started last year. I was using Ultrashield Black and I noticed their skin was slothing off. I stopped using it and went back to Repel-X. Things were fine except that it didn’t work well. I had a quart of Pyranha, same thing. I quickly donated the left overs of both fly sprays to the barn and stuck with the Repel-X and some Mosquito-Halt (which we were OK with as well) and tried EcoVet. No one liked that one (but skin didn’t fall off).

This season, I started with Mosquito-Halt (I have a quart sitting around so Jiminy will be well covered). Then Nay Nay started getting funky crud, I switched to watered down Repel-X and we were OK. Then some more crud, but nothing too terrible until suddenly…

You may need to scroll to see the actual photo…

One day we were fine and then, chemical burn. He’s actually pretty OK about it, but it hurts me looking at it. He also has some spots on his left hind leg of all place. Subi also has the start of minor slothing, but nothing like this (just looks like a snake shedding skin).

Anyway, no more chemicals for the boys. They’re going natural fly spray only. This morning I hit the feed store when they opened at 7 and picked up a selection. I have a couple others on order so we’ll see what works.

In riding news, Nay has been fabulous up until the last couple of rides where he’s just been a bit full of tension. That said, the last 2 rides have had fuller rings and kids on ponies in every which direction. He was miserable last ride so I ended up taking him inside, tossing him on the lunge line where he was… quiet. Then I got back on and he was tense-r. I rode through it and questioned my life choices. In the end, I guess I just need to ride it?

Sharing video of the canter. Despite the tension (that was actually quiet), the canter was actually very quiet. Better than the trot. Turns out, if I just stay still and keep my hands still, Nay relaxes, especially at the canter.