Inconsistent like the weather

Nay doesn’t need a lot. But the ONE thing he needs? Consistency. The one thing I’ve been? Inconsistent.

My last post I wrote that he had energy. Between being sick, I’ve only been able to commit to 3 days a week which just isn’t enough.

Then Memorial Day weekend came and it was gross. Like WINTER gross. Friday night I brought the horses in and Nay and Subi were shivering like crazy. I toweled them off and tossed fleece on Nay and wool of Subi and left them for the night. In the morning? It was 42 freaking degrees and still pouring. The boys got winter blankets on (thankfully someone hasn’t shipped them off for cleaning) and tossed outside. Same thing Sunday. 2 days when it didn’t even hit 50. WTF? Needless to say, I didn’t ride. I intended to ride on Monday, but I felt like crap and didn’t.

Tuesday ride? (No lesson this week due to a scheduling conflict). I lunged the snot out of Nay and hopped on. It was 76. Nay decided to join the ponies and hop and spin. I took my trainers advice and let him gallop around the indoor. It’s not my favorite thing, but sometimes you just have to. He bucked and galloped and galloped and bucked. Then I hopped back on and we walked, trotted, and cantered. The resident western trainer reminded me, consistency is everything. Do that every day and he’ll be back to what I want.

And then I got my migraine botox and was down for the count for 3 days. Seriously. My health is killing me! I almost managed to go Friday, but I couldn’t manage pressure on my forehead yet.

Tired Nay from too much work.
Dripping from too much work.

But Saturday we wandered out in 90 degree weather and rode through it. He had a run around the indoor (he needed it and free lunged himself). Then a good and solid walk/trot/canter.

Sunday? Even hotter. We skipped the free lunge. He was a champ and pretty much didn’t put a foot wrong except for spooking at the ponies spooking at motorcycles. I don’t even know. We even jumped a damn line because why not? That’s how quiet he was. I did a freaking related distance. I don’t do related distances anymore.

So today, I put my big girl pants on and I went out to ride. It was humid as hell though only 80 something at 9:45. I asked and Nay said yes. We struggled a bit with the right lead, but it was WORKABALE. My horse was good. He wasn’t crazy, he was solid.

Nay, fixated on a tree branch, determined to spook
Spooking at a tree branch because why not?

We walked, we trotted, we cantered. we cantered some more. And we jumped. Not much. We trotted in a single a few times then trotted in the outside line. It’s a horse show 6. We did a 10. Then we continued and cantered a long ride to our single that we’d been trotting a circle over. Easy. Peasy. I said collect, Nay said ok. From there? We did it the other direction. Trotted the short ride over the single then cantered INTO the outside line. It was just as collected though cantering in he did an 8.

We ended there. Nay was pronounced ready to give lessons. Obviously not really, but he was that good and that quiet.

Moral of the story? Ride my damn horse, or at least ride him every day it’s freaking hot. He does really well in the heat. Racing in Florida paid off.

FYI it’s pouring right now. It was 88 a few minutes ago and now it’s 76? But the rain can stop since I need to pick up my grain order… And it’s going to 88 tomorrow, 66 on Friday, and 77 all weekend.

Riding updates

Once again, I’m falling behind blogging. Last time I posted, Nay and I had a lovely ride before he bolted on me the next day… We’d been on a 1 good ride, 1 bad ride pattern for quite a while. I ended up switching him off his performance feed and onto the same brand’s senior feed (but not before the feed store had already ordered me a bag of performance) and the senior has made a world of difference. He has energy, but not insane amounts of energy. I’m debating feeding him some of the performance mixed in with the senior (my original plan though now I think the bag will last me 2 months at the rate I want to feed) or just feeding Subi the performance since I’m pretty sure he’ll eat it (and I don’t need to worry about excess energy. Stay tuned tuned…

Anyway, the caveat to all of this is my health is still a mystery and hasn’t been good. My MRI was normal (thank goodness, though some answers would have been nice). I’m doing PT 2x a week and it’s NOT helping. I’ve been able to ride through the vertigo for the most part (until my latest lesson) as long as I medicate. But generally? I feel like utter crap all the time. It’s taking everything I can to ride 3x/week and I know Nay needs more, but…

Last Tuesday, nervous after Nay took off with me Sunday, but knowing it was 100% energy related, I had a really nice lesson. Nay was a gem. Willing, patient, and a star when it came to his left lead. We didn’t do a lot, but what he did, he did well. After some canter work, we worked on these little boxes (that Nay could walk over) in a figure eight at the trot and canter. Leads weren’t a concern since he was a super star earlier so the plan was the trot unless he landed correctly. Either way, he did them in both directions in both gaits and we called it a day.

Apologies for pivo unsteadiness

I rode again Saturday morning after PT. I felt like shit, but my medicine seemed to kick in before I rode. (I don’t take meds for PT though I wish I did!) Nay was super UP in the cross ties despite the fact that it was 85 degrees so I tossed him on the lunge line to be safe. And could barely keep him going. I guess he just didn’t want to stand around? We basically repeated our lesson on Tuesday. Trot work, canter work, then some jumps. I’m trying to bring the Pivo out 1x a week and I managed some video but I don’t know what was up with it because it kept turning around to video the barn… Anyway, I got some video? Nay was wonderful even when a pony was galloping around in the nearby field. We repeated our figure eight from Tuesday’s lesson and then trotted and cantered a single a few times before calling it a day.

Figure 8 jump exercise! In one direction. Pivo crapped out.

Sunday? More hot and humid weather (it’s MAY! In the Mid Atlantic! Too early for July weather). My plan was a nice and easy ride. Just some trotting and cantering. We got out to the outdoor and Nay basically knocked me over when another horse trotted over a cross rail coming towards him. Nice job. Thankfully that was the end of his antics (I guess it caught him off guard?) and he was comatose once I got on. We had the ring to ourselves for a few minutes but were quickly joined by another horse. This actually gave me the chance to work by the road as we chose to split the ring. I haven’t actually worked much by the road lately. Nay didn’t care. We trotted, did some poles, and then cantered left without care (or pretty much any effort). To the right? We struggled. We picked it up wrong then got it. So, when the other horse left, we did some figure eights at the canter with simple changes. Our left leads were perfect, the right less so, but I do thing Nay got it he does need to canter on both leads. We did several transitions before calling it a day.

Finally? Tuesday. I woke up feeling good. Weather was cool and by the time I got ready to ride, I felt like crap. I took meds but I probably could have taken them earlier. I’ve always been OK on a horse, but not this day. Nay was super fussy with his head the entire time I was walking and that make me feel even more wobbly. Trotting felt bad (cantering, less so, but maybe the meds were kicking in). My trainer did tell me to get off if I was dizzy, but I’m freaking dizzy all the time right now so what am I going to do? Nothing? Medically I’m fine unless they can find something… So we pushed through, but it wasn’t the ride I wanted.

Trotting was OK. Nay had energy, but was slow at the trot. He was trying SO HARD to be good. When I first got on, I thought, I should lunge, but I didn’t. I regretted it the entire ride. I planned to lunge when I got there, but there was a horse turned out in the indoor. I hate that. I didn’t want to lunge during the lesson prior, but I should have just taken the first 5 minutes of mine to toss Nay on the line.

Nay’s left lead was fabulous. I mean absolutely fabulous. He’s so confident and balanced now. When lunging, I’ve JUST been lunging to the left. It helped so much. But created a new problem. Our right lead sucks now. So, that’s this next week’s goal. To the right, we lost the balance and confidence. I also someone don’t trust myself and keep looking down. Unlike when we lost the left, we CAN get the right, Nay just gets a little stressed. So yeah. We asked 3 times and picked it up the first and third. Third time he dramatically side passed into it… So, some time on the line to re-establish the canter, lots of praise, and he’ll have it back.

We tried to repeat the figure eight exercise and it just didn’t work. The plan was to do the stone box to the brick box and instead of repeating the stone to go wide to the blue X (the in of the inside line). The first attempt of the stone Nay was jumping sideways with energy and we had to circle before walking over it and cantering out. We managed to get over the brick and then did and up and down trot to the blue. We landed and it took everything I could to get Nay’s head back up. The second partial attempt started the same way before I just said no. I didn’t have the balance to deal with it and he had too much energy. He was good, but damn, not lunging hurt.

I can add also that 2 of those 4 rides also required help loading to go home. Why? No clue. So trailer training is happening again. (If someone walks/stands behind him, he loads right up so it’s a test thing).

Dizzying rides

What to say, what do say. Honestly? I don’t even know how to talk about my rides anymore. My ride on Saturday was as good as my ride on Sunday was bad. I don’t really feel like talking about Sunday, but for documenting purposes, I’ll briefly recap.

Due to some work on both the rings (neither had jumps and both had been freshly dragged), we were forced inside as the outside had sprinklers set up and was being watered. Fine, no problem. The ring felt HUGE. Nay isn’t a fan of the indoor, but we whatever. I lunged then got on and we rode with a friend and her 20 year old (very quiet) mare. Nay was full of energy despite a good, long lunge. He NEVER pulls at the trot, but he was digging down and flinging his head. Despite that, we trotted a good 15/20+ minutes and actually had some nice work eventually (we stuck to half the ring). I decided to try and canter on the left lead and… it wasn’t that Nay kept flinging his hind end to the outside but rather that he kept throwing his head up in the air in anticipating. That said, we got the lead. And then he proceeded to take off on me. I mean, it’s Nay, so it wasn’t race track fast, but he was determined. He DID comeback to me when when I insisted and I had him hold the canter about 5-6 strides, praised the heck out him, and then called it a ride.

He had a shit ton of energy and I wasn’t going to get myself hurt. My friend confirmed everything I was feeling so the galloping was not in my mind (it was not your hunter hand gallop; it was an “I want to bolt” gallop). When she was done I pulled his tack and just had him run around the indoor and work off some steam. He rarely does much, but actually ran around and bucked quite a bit. He’s had a decent amount of energy lately so part of me thinks the sugar/starch in his feed may not be agreeing with him, but then I have other rides where he’s an angel and I question that… He did put on a lot of weight fast though…

Saturday, Nay was an angel. He lunged (we’ve been just working on the left on the line), then it started raining? But we rode out anyway. It stopped but there was pretty much no chance of rain.

I tried to work on using my right leg and not getting dizzy. I’ve been dealing with a ton of vertigo this week so doing pretty much anything has been hard. Riding was OK (get off? Not so great). He was pretty good so I either wasn’t using enough leg or he just wasn’t being dramatic. Both are possible. I had some reaction at the walk, but nothing major.

Trot work

Cantering to the left? I found that our trouble spot generally is over by the pasture fence side of the ring. So, I pretty tried to avoid asking for the canter there. This seemed to work. When we approach that area at the trot, Nay is quick to throw his hind end to the outside and once it’s there, I’m screwed. If I trot through the center and ask where I can keep him straight, I don’t have to manage his hind end as much. There are a few places that he offers me the left lead and I don’t add leg and/or catch him in the mouth and/or bring him back to the trot because I wasn’t expecting it… Well, most the time I just didn’t ask and it caught me off guard. I tried to reward anyway or just not make a fuss. He has a habit of anticipating that doesn’t work. When I ask and he gets it? We throw a party.

Left lead canter work

We followed the canter up with a small jump, trotting in then cantering it. We didn’t quite get the collection in at the canter, but he landed wrong and offered up a nice simple change.

Jumps! Nay’s favorite thing…

Before the right lead, we attempted another jump which I’m leaving off the video not because it was bad (it wasn’t the nicest, but you could see Nay launching in jumper mode ::rolls eyes:: refusing to listen in any way, shape, or form), but the location of the pivo doesn’t really allow you to see anything useful…

We did a tiny amount of work on the right lead. While riding, there was a LOT going on. Tractor work moving heavy stuff and then a bunch of motorcycles (insisting on waving). Everytime we make progress on one lead, the other lead starts to go. Nay was convinced that I wanted the left lead so I have to make sure I’m very careful and clear on my aids. We then followed up with the same jump exercise.

Right lead canter and jump exercise

We ended by just trying out one of the new jumper fences in the ring. He would have been fine to do the whole line, but I didn’t feel like doing the oxer so we just did the first fence.

New jump!

It’s just amazing how one day he’s so quiet and the next he’s a fire breathing dragon…

Sometimes you win and sometimes you…don’t.

My lesson on Tuesday. I thought about not blogging about it because it was just a cluster. But, this blog is primarily a documentation about what happens so, if I choose, I can look back at progress and trends. So, I am blogging.

I’ll start by saying, I barely rode. I think I was in the saddle for 15 minutes. That 15 minutes included me cooling Nay Nay out AFTER the lesson ended.

You see, we decided last week that we’d try some training rides and split up my lessons with training. My trainer would hop on, install some buttons, and then I’d ride. Hahaha.

Hahahahahaha.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Nay Nay had other ideas.

I’ve written a lot about Nay Nay, but the one thing I’ve rarely EVER said is that Nay Nay is bad. He may have opinions. He may have energy. He may have moments. But Nay Nay is never bad. Tuesday, Nay Nay decided to test bad. Nay Nay was a total ass.

Now, part of it was probably my fault. Actually, all of it was probably my fault. I’m happy to blame myself for everything. This is how I grew up. Everything is the rider’s fault. But, Nay Nay was asked a question and said no. And then was asked again and said yes. And then realized that No was a better (more fun?) answer. With this in mind, I’ll recap.

When my trainer hopped on, she spent the first several minutes just working on leg pressure and having Nay Nay more away from pressure (I should have videoed all of this but I was watching). To the left, moving off that left spur is hard. At first, he didn’t understand the question (my damn left leg is weak! I struggle this way so in turn, Nay struggles. This is new, my struggle here, but I’ll possibly get to that in another blog). But, time, patience, reward, Nay started to get it. But, also was VERY happy to try and evade and exit the ring if the option was presented. But with bend and appropriate counter bend, they got somewhere at the walk and trot. Occasionally, Nay had words and opinions of a less “polite” nature and a growl or two put him in his place (no bucking or crow hopping occurred at all, just a minor tantrum).

The right? Utter gentleman. He gets the pressure, it’s easy. Last year, he didn’t bend to the right. Now he’s a slinky to the right. He moves off leg/spur and all is good. But, the same exercise was repeated plus some cantered (which hindsight was a bad idea as when she brought him back, re-establishing the trot plus bend took a few moments).

Then came left lead canter. He was good for my trainer. She picked up the lead 4 times. Walking me through it each time.

So it was time for me to hop on. I did. When asked, we immediately got the canter and it was great. Then we trotted and asked again and Nay decided nope, no more. Despite all the work he had done, everything was in short bursts on half a ring. We were only 15 minutes into the lesson. He’d never cantered more than 1/2 a circle with my trainer each time she asked. But, Nay suddenly had me.

I asked again and… wrong lead. But, I tipped forward partially because it’s me and partially because when I asked (2 hands to the outside but primarily left hand to the outside), he yanked me forward. This continued. I eventually had my body back but Nay said screw you, I’m not cantering to the left. (There was some spinning in circles as well)

At this point, my trainer hopped back on (can I just say how grateful I am that we use the same length stirrups?). We figured that she’d fix it.

Nay had other plans. Plans included a full on, toddler sized meltdown. At this point he is trying to launch my trainer forward. “NO ONE CAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” And trying to exit the ring (towards the nearby field where there is electric fencing (you have to make an effort to get the 8-10 ft to the field to hit the fence but Nay was bound to try). He even tossed in his first buck of the day. He looked and acted like a toddler ready to throw himself on the ground in a full out fit.

He did pick up the canter (several times), but I realize that NONE of this was about the canter. This was a day where he just said no because he could. He wasn’t sore. He wasn’t unsound. He is just used to me getting on and us doing our thing. This was a training thing.

His mind was blown when my trainer got on and demanded he do things vs me asking for things. She doesn’t get nervous/scared/backdown. He pulls antics (never like this), we generally move onto something I’m 100% comfortable so that I don’t have to fight. This obviously doesn’t help matters… Not that I need to push as hard as a pro, but, at the same time, it’s similar to our issues with the trailer. We can get through it, but I need to hold ground, stay consistent, and make sure if I ask for something, I ask for it (otherwise, don’t bother).

My trainer regularly says with green horses every day you are either training or un-training.

My plan is to ride Friday-Sunday. Of course I’ve been dealing with some health crap including bad vertigo so we’ll see. I have PT Friday but assuming I can function, someone is going to boot camp. We’ll just be lunging first. He was a perfect gentleman on Sunday too.

The elusive hay feeder (Slow Feeder Saver Junior Review) and other hay feeders

This post may be a year plus in the making, but also is a testament to my one track mind. Keep reading, I will review the product which is more or less out of stock at ALMOST every retailer in country. Except for one.

Background: When I got Nay Nay, I tried to introduce him to a small hole hay net. He didn’t exactly understand the concept. And proceeded to not eat much (if any) hay in his stall the first night or two he was home. He did eat the flake I put on the ground. But the weekend, I purchased a hay bag with a large opening which worked better except he destroyed it immediately. I then tried a large hole net which worked, sort of, in the beginning. Then Nay’s hay consumption started dwindling. At this point, I didn’t realize that this dwindling was tied to ulcers AND soy allergies. Once he started to feel a little better, he seemed to associate the hay net with his stomach hurting and I could NOT get him to eat from any net in his stall (he did learn to eat from a small net outside — not efficiently — and would eat from other nets/bags outside as well). I tried loose hay but Nay is a hay waster. Put hay out (loose in a pile or even in a muck tub and… his stall looks like the scene of a frat party.

So, last April I scoured the internet for ideas. Non DIY ideas since we were in the middle of quarantine. I was also hoping to allow him to eat with his head down.

Best hay feeder ever

I found the Slow Feeder Saver Junior, the Savvy Feeder, the HelixFeeder, and the PortaGrazer. For the most part, people seemed happy with all of the different feeders. I wasn’t sure how Nay would react to putting his head IN a hay feeder so I ruled out the PortaGrazer. The HelixFeeder was relatively new and I couldn’t find many reviews. I wasn’t sure how much Nay, with his frat boy party style, would trash it. And, considering how much he struggled with the small hole net, I worried that the round circles would be too much. Nay gets orchard/alfalfa AND straight alfalfa (western alfalfa is his preference) in his nets/stall/feeders/what have you and I wanted equal access to the hay.

In the end, I went with the Slow Feeder Saver Junior. The grid was made of nylon vs plastic and I worried about the plastic on his teeth and/or being more difficult to get at the hay. The openings ARE large so maybe it’s not a true slow feeder, but with a thoroughbred, do I need a slow feeder? I need a “Don’t toss your hay around and have frat party” feeder. A review mentioned that the box was sharp, but this has not been the case in my experience. Another few indicated that horses can get their noses through the nylon and scape up their faces. I’d risk a nylon rub to tooth damage from plastic (but I haven’t experienced this in a year of using it).

Nay IMMEDIATELY took to the box. It’s easy to fill, easy to eat from, and hard to toss hay everywhere (but easy to grab mouthfuls to dunk in water). Super flakey western alfalfa does leave a lot of dust that makes the box gross, but this would be an issue with any box, especially if you water bucket is close by and your horse manages to dump water in the box occasionally — clean and empty regularly! But, I loved the think enough that Subi got his own 3 week later and loved it just as much.

Last April/May I bought from SmartPak for $196 plus tax (free shipping). SmartPak no longer carries it.

Jiminy has been using a small hole net because I’m cheap. Except my allergies and asthma have been getting worse. These boxes are SO EASY to fill.

A couple months ago I found a super cheap PortaGrazer locally that I bought for Jiminy. I tried, he tried, but we both HATE IT. HATE IT. HATE IT. He is now using it without the lid. Anyone locally interested in a PortaGrazer? They are great if your horse will use it. I’m willing to try it in the run in as a backup feeder, but I don’t need it.

Hay Hay everywhere

What I found is that not filling hay nets is so much better for my health. So last week I set off on a mission to purchase Jiminy a feeder just like his brothers….only to find that it is out of stock everywhere.

I considered other options but… Obviously the HelixFeeder isn’t one because it is too similar to the PortaGrazer. And I looked at the Savvy Feeder, but I question if what he hates about it is the shape or plastic hay opening (if that makes any sense) and I just couldn’t pull the trigger on buying one.

High Country Plastics (who makes the Slow Feeder Saver Junior) said the grates are out of stock and backlog has led to a 3 month delay (they said August, most distributors have listed a 9/1 ship date). After briefly considering making my own or ordering a box from Germany, I spent a good portion of Friday contacting (or perusing websites) every High Country Plastics in 19 states to see if they had any in stock.

And finally, in Delaware, Ohio. I found hope. Cashman’s had one (well, several) in stock. And the price, even with shipping, wasn’t much more than I paid last year. It’ll be here tomorrow.

While I may find, over time, the grate is too large for Jiminy, it’s easy enough to modify the grates on the feeders. I’m just THRILLED to finally have another.

Who is this horse?

The many sides of Nay continue to come out. Green horses, eh? LOL.

We set a new record. 2 weeks in a row, 2 lessons in a row. Shocking.

Tuesday morning rolled around and Nay and I set out for another lesson. I’m enjoying morning lessons for now until all the kids are out of school. It’s nice and quiet with just barn staff and a couple of adults around. My kind of day. But, for 10am in May, it was also hot. And humid. 97% humid.

Interestingly, the heat and humidity didn’t seem to bother Nay. Thinking about it, he’s always had energy in the heat and humidity. This horse HATES being cold, but likes the heat? Of course, he raced in Florida so maybe my New York bred is just built for summer…? Who knows but last summer on super hot and humid days (I remember being told to try new things when it was hot/humid because he’d be quiet), he’d always have excess energy. Always.

This ride was no different. He was ready to explode like Sunday, but he was still more forward than out last lesson. No tantrums we had to work through at the trot which is always nice. And I skipped lunging because, heat. We’ll see how much lunging I do in the summer.

Prior to the start of the lesson, I mentioned to my trainer our left lead troubles. Basically, last year’s right lead issues have manifested on the left lead. Typical. We drilled that right lead and Nay, being a pleaser, thinks the answer to most questions is right lead. Warming up at the trot, we worked on the noodling that I’ve been fighting as of late to the left. In the past, we spent a lot of time pushing inside leg/spur to move Nay’s body over however, Nay has taken some of this to the extreme. Over sort of means exiting the arena into the grass or crashing into the light pole, or a bunch of other things. So, I was reminded that taking BOTH hands to the inside (outside rein against his neck) still has its place and suddenly? we’re not struggling to stay in the ring… Using the outside leg isn’t wrong either… Oops. When you ride in an arena without a fence, you realize that staying in the ring is hard sometimes… We never got a fence back when the ring was expanded last year…

Instead of going right, we first worked on the left lead canter. I trotted, was told to canter, immediately pulled back, Nay broke, asked again, and picked up the wrong lead. This led to a discussion about what happened. I wasn’t sure. I just felt discombobulated. It wasn’t even that I could tell I was on the right or wrong lead — I wasn’t thinking “what lead am I on” as I didn’t get that far in my thinking, I just tried to do collect and nope.

So we tried again. This time, my instructions were to canter and move forward BEFORE I worried about the lead. We again picked up the correct lead and Nay bulged all over the place. Once we established the canter (5-6 strides), I was allowed to touch my reins to correct the dive to the outside. We cantered once around and talked and figured out my issue. And Nay’s.

Basically, I asked for the canter and if Nay is set up properly (hind end to the inside), he’ll pick up the correct lead. If I feel him bulging, I immediately want to course correct. If I do so right away (because he feels out of control in all ways — speed yes, but mostly balance and steering), Nay thinks, “Oh! Right, we only canter on the RIGHT lead. I’m sorry!” And trots. If I canter a few more strides no matter how ugly it feels, he is able to establish the canter and then we correct the shape. Then once the shape is corrected (hands to the inside, outside leg, even cutting the corner some and staying closer to the jumps than to the grass to give us more space to make the turns), we can adjust the pace (close and opening my fingers seems to work well for rating the canter.

We did this a few times and worked on the right lead (and trotted too…). Nothing exciting that direction. LOL.

Jumping wise? Nay has changed from a quiet horse to a forward and BOLD horse over fences. I’m not really sure who he is except that I think he thinks jumping is FUN. We started off with the Astroturf brush box single to the left, trotting in and he jumped the crap out of it, almost jumping me out of the tack (theme). Being the good boy he was, he landed left and we cantered in a few times, trying to rate coming in. He was pretty good collecting once we were straight, but on the circle approaching? He wanted to get to that jump. On the final circle, he spooked at something and we had to halt/back and had a discussion (me, not him) about the necessity of halting immediately when stuff like that happens… It wasn’t a bad spook and my plan was to circle and keep coming, but my trainer’s point was he’s green and she wants the halt and back to bring his focus back to be. Point noted.

To the right? More of the same except I struggled with the rating and straightness to the fence as Nay REALLY wanted to go. We took a couple of long spots because I just didn’t collect hard enough (he was strong, not out of control, just strong and determined). Point noted.

We ended with a new fence that my trainer wasn’t sure we’d be successful with. It was the in of the outside line. Just some boxes with a gate (though the gate might not have been visible at our height). 2ft-ish. Last year he’d have had a heart attack. This year he was pissed off I made him look at it (well, he refused to look at it). We paused in front of it and chatted at my love for trot fences. Yes, I’m strange, but I adore trot fences and I know everyone thinks they are hard, but I adore them, I’m confident at them, I can see distances to them, and if I’m nervous, give me a trot fence any day. I spent 6 months trotting fences on Subi 2x/week when I first got him (up to 2’6″) and I’ll pretty much trot anything. LOL.

Anyway, we trotted in and again, Nay jumped the shit out of it, landed left and continued back around. We very much had to worked on collecting because someone thought this jump was awesome… Once we landed wrong and I asked too late (hind legs were already to the outside). Once Nay even tossed in a full change on the landing to show just how special he is. And once I didn’t hold enough and we took a flyer. Really. And almost crashed into a standard on the landing (no steering — Nay doesn’t steer on his own). And somehow I managed NOT to fall off? I mean, I almost did, but I saved it.

And with that, I have a new horse. He says he doesn’t want to be a hunter, but rather a jumper. But whatever he is, he’s bold and brave and it’s very different. I’m also going to have my trainer hop on him at the start of my lessons here and there (thinking 1x/month) just to make sure I’m not screwing him up too much.

Maybe this weekend I’ll have media?

Nay Nay-locks and the Three Rides

Nay Nay in cross ties sticking out his tongue wearing floral boots
He has the best personality

For the first time in a month, I FINALLY took a lesson on Nay Nay (no media at all because why would I have media?). The lesson was wonderful, the rest of my rides were… less so. It seems like I had 3 different horses on my 3 different rides. All (well, many) of Nay’s personalities came out this week.

I’ll start with the lesson. It was Tuesday morning and the weather was absolutely fantastic. It was warm and sunny and just perfect. The majority of the lesson focused on flatwork. Bending, using my inside leg/spur, and making sure Nay moved off the pressure. He’s SO MUCH BETTER going right vs left. To the right, because he is SO MUCH stronger now, we focused the order of operations: leg/spur, inside hand to get the bend, then take hand off the neck.

Eventually, the canter. Right lead is good, but we’ve lost the left lead. I mean, we got it, but it took a few tries.

We kept our jumps small. Just a small astro-turf covered box which we trotted over once and then cantered over in a circle a few times each direction. To the right, he’s super quiet while to the left? He’s fine, just occasionally gets a touch… speedy. Not fast, just speedy. The right used to feel speedy and then we found balance. Now the left feels that way. So we need to figure that out. We trotted then cantered a small gate a couple of times before calling it a day and going home.

We followed up Tuesday with a Saturday ride. It was sunny, but windy. Not like Friday (50-60 mph gusts), but still crazy windy). I considered riding outside but after putting a jump back up (as well as chairs back up), they promptly fell over. I decided to take advantage of the indoor. What I had was a tense horse. I lunged and still felt like Nay was ready to jump out of his skin. He was quiet when I led him around the outdoor, but inside? Eh. He wasn’t bad, just not good. I never even cantered. I felt like I valued life and chickened out. We did a lot of halting and backing and trotting (and scooting). It was fine, just not fun. I did trot him over some poles and a cross rail and he was fine. He even jumped a small vertical with flowers and never got fast, but I wasn’t able to get rid of the tension the entire ride. His tension brought me tension. I was out at the barn solo so I didn’t push very far either.

Nay Nay grazing next to the ring of fallen jumps
Hanging out next to the ring of fallen jumps
Marble with the lilac
Lilac season (and Marble — it’s always Marble season)

Sunday? I anticipated an empty barn as it was listed on the schedule book as a no lesson day but there were several cars when I arrived. I dragged my husband as I wasn’t feeling well. Wind came back, but nothing terrible and temps were back up in the 80s. By the time I was out in the ring outside, all other horses had cleared out. Nay didn’t have the calm aura of yesterday when we first walked outside, but with the warm weather, I decided not to lunge. We started off with some tension, but mostly energy. We trotted for a while, just working on moving over when I asked. I held him together to the left (scooting stopped after a minute or so — too hot for antics), but to the right? I finally gave in. He wanted to canter. All he wanted to do was canter. So if he wanted to canter? We’d canter for as long as I wanted to canter which was much longer than he wanted to canter. I then tried to canter to the left but failed. I could not uncurl him and before either of us got frustrated/confused, I stopped. Instead, we trotted our green astro-turf brush box, landed the left lead, and cantered for several minutes. Nay decided to play as much as he possibly could, but he’s Nay. He doesn’t (usually) buck or bolt, just tosses his head and flings his front legs without actually doing anything.

We ended by trotting and cantering the same jump to the right and he was quieter that way. I could have done more. He probably needed more. But we were successful and I was tired. Sometimes you end on a good note.

There are times that you think, “My horse feels like he’s going to run off with me!” But Nay was never actually running off with me. He just had energy. Why this week brought excess energy, I don’t know. I’m sure he needs to be ridden more, that can never hurt. Regardless, if he keeps up this level of energy, I’ll learn to ride it. It’s better when it’s without the attitude! Sunday was much better than Saturday, but he was still a dream to ride (and much less of a workout) on Tuesday!

Forward and Back

The never ending trailer loading saga continues. Because, of course it does.

Nay met with the trainer again on Tuesday and had a lovely session. He loaded every time and even made fabulous progress self-loading. While it took time, he did great self-loading and with some pressure, would get on every time. He was also fine with the butt bar and the door closing. This were going great.

Nay Nay headshot
Always getting in face fights with Subi…
Nay Nay headshot
Good boy

Were.

Thursday the dentist came out and everyone got their teeth done. It was also cold. Freezing. Windy. 40 was the high. With everything going on, we didn’t practice.

Friday? Nay loaded fine with me leading. Then I tried to self load and everything went to hell. Suddenly he was pulling me across the lawn and I couldn’t even get him to load with me leading. I think this was the point that I decided to sell him and was writing up his sale ad. That’s how quickly things unraveled and how bad it got. Eventually my husband came out and with him leading and me getting him straight (and pushing his butt), Nay stepped up on the trailer and we called it a day. He wasn’t upset that he was on, he just didn’t want to set up on?

Nay Nay full body giving side eye
Side eye prior to our loading issues…
Nay Nay in trailer
Maiden voyage!
Nay Nay in crossties
We made it!

Saturday, despite everything, I decided if I could get him on, I’d go out and ride. He only had a month off… So, with my husband’s help, we got Nay on. Me leading, my husband behind with a touch of encouragement (just a tap with the stick to unstick him–it worked and he loaded). We made plans that when I was ready to leave, he’d come out to the barn and help me re-load.

So, off Nay went on his maiden journey. He was fine in the trailer. Being in the trailer isn’t an issue. Just getting on. We lunged. We rode. We popped over some fences. We tried to canter (I mean, we did canter, but OMG keeping the canter on an out of shape horse is HARD). We fell asleep. We untacked. We tried to come home.

I made the mistake of TRYING to load myself. Right when I was ready to leave, trainer’s husband pulled in with a trailer of horses and Nay got completely distracted. He ended up helping unstick Nay and he loaded no problem, but we’re going to have to figure this loading thing out…

Nay Nay between the ears
Missed this so much!

Sunday, I planned to try again but Nay had a minor belly ache that resolved itself very quickly (he was pawing/stretching but by the time I finished brushing my teeth he had pooped and looked comfortable — probably just a little gas). Anyway, I just decided to give him the day. Later that afternoon I did a 15 loading session. Me on the trailer with treats and the clicker, my husband behind him with the stick. Load click treat praise. Off. Repeat. After 2 times, no stick was needed. We’re going to try again and just skip the self loading for awhile.

Nay Nay in outdoor ring
Best boy (as long as he loads on the damn trailer!)

Escalation and de-escalation

Working with Nay over the last couple of weeks with loading has taught me a lot about him. He’s definitely an interesting horse. Especially when I compare him to Subi and Batt. Especially Batt.

2 weeks ago, I asked Nay Nay to load in the new trailer and he pretty much alternated between 3 answers: No, Eff off, and I’m scared. The situation escalated pretty quickly and Nay Nay got nervous, shaking, flying backwards, and all that goes along with it. Me? Pretty much the same. What can I say? I escalate too.

The instant we moved away from the trailer? Nay was calm, quiet, relaxed, and back to his old self. Like a 1 to an 8 to a 2.

Me? I went from a 1 to an 8 to 7 and stayed there until I went to bed and then I woke up and I was down to a 5/6.

The next day? More of the same. I managed to calm myself down and keep Nay Nay from escalating too much (until I ruined it all by applying extra pressure), but the calm we acquired at the beginning allowed the us only to escalate to a 7 vs 8 and when we were finished? back to a 1/2.

When we had the trainer out the first time? She worked on the ground with him a lot. He escalated immediately. He did NOT like the flag she was using (plastic bag on a stick). But, she was working on personal space and moving shoulders and showing him the second he did what we was requested, he got praise and a break. If you didn’t know this, Nay Nay is very big on praise and gets proud of himself when is ego is inflated. He did NOT like the flag and fought like crazy but then he’d allow her to stoke him with it before it was a monster again. After a bit (and some sweating and panting), he’d move his shoulders when required as required. 0 to 9/10 but back down.

At the trailer? More of the same. The instant he received praise? De-escalate. 9/10 to 1/2. Honestly? He ended up so calm that all the sweat dried, he was getting scratches in the trailer, and he had his hind leg resting.

I didn’t notice any of this until Saturday when I had a friend out to help with closing the trailer door. We worked more on loading and all that. Nay never got upset (honestly, not loading immediately is more an “I don’t want to” or a “why” vs a fear thing now) and despite being nervous when the door closed, he was actually better when the door was closed. He had a couple of moments where he escalated (Again, just a no and fighting some applied pressure and then giving in). But immediately was back to a 0. My friend was the one who brought all of this up. He has the tension and then immediately releases it once he does something. Her horse? Carries it all day.

Batt was the same. For a bombproof horse, if there was something he’d fight you about or he’d escalate about, he’d hold that tension somewhere for the rest of the day (hello bridge at fair hill!). Hello working over fences. He’d shut down and pretend you weren’t there. Then if you continued the pressure and eventually got through to him? He’d do what you wanted, but you’d never lose the tense in him for the rest of the day. This was why I really stopped jumping him. He was very closed off and you had to push him to get reactions so if you did get a reaction, he’d hold that tension forever. The more you pushed, the longer the tension would be around (1 day, then if 2 days in a row, it would be a 2-4 day thing, etc.). We faced it with loading until that was fixed with professional help too. And a few other things.

Nay just lets go once he gets it and/or gets praised. Yesterday, the trainer came back out to solidify self loading (in a single stall on the trailer) and work on the butt bar/door. She applied more pressure since he can load and will load every time if you are leading him. He said no. No. NO. And then, after a while (praising once his front feet were on and letting him hang out with his front feet on as long as he liked before adding pressure again), he was on (rinse, repeat several times), adding the butt bar. He was confused, but, like everything, ok. The first time he got a peppermint and scratches, but after that? It didn’t matter. We did close the door and he was fine. 0 to 7 to 1 to 8 (he had a brief moment when his timer expired) to 0 when we swapped halters and he knew he was done.

I will say, my trailer isn’t big. It’s not extra tall or extra wide. BUT if it was any bigger, even set up for 2 horses like it is now, I’d have an issue. Nay can just about turn around… he’ll be fine tied, but seriously horse?