Long time no post…

I meant to post a couple of weeks ago, but I left for about 10 days of conference(s) hell in gorgeous Cambridge, MD and Chicago. I was home for a grand total of 2 hours between conferences. Not fun. Less fun was arriving in Chicago at 11pm. But that’s a blur.

Anyway, post Chicago haze, I had a few days off from work and a weekend to recover.

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This should have been a good thing and I dragged myself off the sofa to ride Ranger. I had an awesome lesson that I now remember nothing about (sorry). 

Then I continued to mostly sleep the weekend away minus a day trip to DC before heading back to work.

img_0697Before finding myself in the ER on Tuesday where I spend the day.

After almost 10 hours of test, nothing exactly was wrong with me other than a possible (probable) virus and extreme dehydration. First/several attempt at an IV/blood draw didn’t work and they had to abandon my left arm completely. Right arm is still bruised a week later but I no longer look like an IV drug user…

img_0717Anyway, mystery illness later, I’m trying to teach myself to eat with limited success. I’ve spent since Tuesday drinking and eating bland gluten free crackers. It’s pretty pathetic. Jello. And rice. And slowly eggs and last night, tofu, have been introduced. Needless to say, I’m having extreme aversion to food right now.

 

Ranger Recap: flat work.

My lesson this past week moved to Sunday and unintentionally turned into a flat work lesson. This isn’t actually a bad thing, but I convinced my husband to come, watch, and video over fences and we don’t jump. Of course. Seriously? Lol.

We also ended up inside due to an unexpected rain storm…

The extra flat work came about because Ranger was completely ignoring my inside (left) leg. Part of the issue is he’s ridden by mostly kids who he packs around and gets no instruction from. As a result, he doesn’t have to do anything. So, if he isn’t straight? Who cares. If his nose is turned out to the outside of the ring? It’s fine because he’s not really running off with the beginners. And, riding in the evenings, I’m also getting my trainer at the end of the day and we’re not working as hard on the technical “stuff” either.

So, yesterday morning when he was completely blowing off my leg? We got down to business. Part of this is partly unfair when he’s never asked to do this stuff, but he’s also not being asked by anyone else anything else that he’s ignoring so… He also has training in this so he does KNOW how to properly carry himself, but won’t do it if he’s not made to.

We basically spent 20 minutes trotting around working on a slow trot adding inside leg and informing Ranger that when I add ONE leg, the correct response is to move over NOT to speed up. It took a LONG time (hence 20 minutes of circles and bending) but we got there. It took actual kicks but eventually we got there.

Then we did the same thing at the canter, working at an upright canter, coming from his hind end vs long and low from his front end. Some point my husband must have realized this “boring” lesson (I was enjoying myself) should be recorded so he started videoing the canter stuff. I struggled some here but we got it at parts. I was struggling with the shortness of the reins and holding him up to get him on his hind end.

Also struggled with body position and tilting forward…

Adding in a pole and struggling with new way of riding…

Finally we added in a single fence, jumping it both ways (my husband however failed to record 3 of the 4 attempts… why, I don’t know… I can’t take him anywhere!). Coming up it, the first time, around the corner at the far end of the ring, Ranger wanted to duck, run, and get heavy. While I was able to get him back into a nicer canter, I lost all steering coming up the short turn to our fence and it just wasn’t the prettiest (I kind of failed to collect him (the point of the exercise) or look at the jump. At least we made it over. Second attempt was good though the duck, drop, and run at the beginning still existed.

For the long ride, first fence was nice in terms of the jump except I failed to actually do the exercise and shorten his stride and get him on his hind end… Oops. Next attempt? See video for disaster?

The problem was, I added hand, there was NOTHING there. Nothing was coming from his hind end at all. I added leg, and the only power I could get was up front. We called it a day as he was pretty much just spent at that point and had nothing left. The rain stopped and he and I went on a short walk before my husband fed him all the cookies.

I’m off to conferences starting tomorrow so we’ll see if I get any updates for the next week or so…

Ranger Recap: Turning in the air

This week’s Ranger Recap focused on turns.

Rather than our normal hunter courses and occasional roll backs, this week was completely focused on deliberate turns in the air.

We started off with the outside single (away from the road) around to the skinny (turning before the mess of other jumps) to the in of the outside line backwards (3 strides).

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The trick with this was to ensure that I kept Ranger’s stride short enough to make the turn (heading towards the barn, he likes to lengthen) and to keep him off of his front end so I could turn him. That said, this exercise went surprisingly well despite not having that much time to turn…

Next we did the exercise in reverse, sort of. So, we came up the outside single away from the road to the skinny towards the barn to the out of the outside line (see handy image…lol)

course002This went…less well than the other direction. We struggled (it didn’t help that I sort of injured my hip and had no right leg the entire night) and basically rode without any inside leg and we missed the skinny the first time… On repeat I forced myself to use my leg that was super weak and got through the exercise but it was…not the prettiest.

Finally, we added a whole bunch to the first exercise. So, outside single away from road, immediate turn to skinny 3 strides to in of outside line backwards to end jump turn out of inside line backwards 4 strides to inside single to 2 strides to green jump. Confusing? Hell yes. I had the other rider go first because I was so lost.

course003 The first time through I made it though jump 6 before I looked at the ground and ducked around it… Not exactly a success… Lol. We repeated jump 4-7 where Ranger decided to try and BOLT approaching jump 5 but thankfully we survived. On re-approach, I was able to collect his stride and successfully accomplish the course at hand.

Take aways? It is REALLY hard to ride when you have 1 good leg. Wednesday night my hip was hurting so much I could barely walk. Yesterday is was much better, but I just felt weak. That weakness just made everything harder. It was fine, just harder. Overall, not the easiest day to do these exercises. Still, definitely a welcome change from the normal hunter courses.

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“Recent” Purchases

I’ve been doing a little shopping over the last several months. This is both good and bad. Good because I’ve needed some of the stuff, bad because I bought a barn and I can’t really afford to be shopping… Anyway, some mini reviews on random items. Some things are too new for real reviews yet, but initial thoughts.

EquiSteam Hay Steamer £299.00 plus insane shipping at £180

img_0421Batt has a had a chronic cough for…too long. I’ve really avoided the idea of a hay steamer, but hay as of late hasn’t be the best (it hasn’t been terrible either) and I decided to just go for it. Other than making my own (which was the cheapest option but I just didn’t want to go that route because it scared me), I could go with EquiSteam or HayGain. HayGain is US based and was just about $1000. EquiSteam is UK based about $300 cheaper even with the shipping.

I ordered it Friday, April 5th after conversing with Paul who ensured me that they’d ship a US compatible boiler and timer separately. It was shipped Monday and arrived on Thursday from the UK. img_0446

So far, so good! I’ve steamed 3 times so far (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) and Batty eats without issue (no surprise). He no longer dry coughs, but it’s more of a mucus-y cough (he has allergies in addition to heaves) so it’s progress. I’m going to give it a week before deciding if he’s going on Zyrtec too for the season.

Leather Hybrid Halter from Horse Education Company $99 (I bought mine from Tack Shack of Ocala)

img_0244I purchased this for Subi during his “I can’t see” and “I’m going to act like a dingbat” phase. I felt like the chain was starting to cause issues (anticipation) but that I didn’t have enough control without it. I liked the idea of rope halters, but didn’t like using them (plus the excess rope was causing issues at night when he’d see it’s shadow and spook at it brushing near his eye.

End result? It’s ridiculously overpriced, yet I love this thing. And so does Subi. It’s a nice compromise between traditional halter, rope halter, and chain. I also like lunging in it. I’d definitely buy it again. I have control when I need it. It’s well made too.

50 Ft Expandable Garden Hose – I paid $25, this one is $28

BEST PURCHASE OF THE WINTER. Seriously. We don’t have water in the barn (it’s attached to the house) so we have the heavy duty house that reaches the edge of the barn. We got this to make up the difference. It is SO MUCH EASIER to drag this thing around to fill/clean buckets, spray stall pellets, and clean Batty’s wall vs a big heavy duty hose. Plus, at night, we just disconnect and story in an extra bucket in the hay room. So easy and light weight. Whenever we fix the front water spigot, I’m getting another expandable hose for the garden because I love this thing so much.

Partrade Trading Company Ultra Slow Feeder Hay Net – $25 (price has gone up a bit…I paid $19 with prime shipping)

img_9385-1When we switched to stalling overnight, Batty was going through hay as if his life depended on it. So I had 2 options, feed him more hay or move him from a 2″ net to a 1″ net. As he didn’t need the extra calories, he moved to the 1″ net. Thankfully, unlike some horses, Batt does NOT think that he is dying when faced with eating out of a 1″ net. He sees it as a challenge. MUST EAT HAY. I know, I am very lucky. He also eats his hay wet and steamed. He has no issues with most things. Thankfully.

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This next is FABULOUS (I have the purple). It’s huge. You can fit a 2/3 of a bale in there if you want. Probably more. The cord is really sturdy and it just holds up. It’s a good hay net, easy to fill. I don’t know what else to say? I’m steaming his hay in it now so we’ll see how well it hold up to that, but so far so good? I’ll be ordering a second soon to help with hay steaming set up.

 

Ranger Recap: Look anywhere BUT the fence

I have had some really decent lessons lately and yet, I haven’t felt like writing about them. But maybe I’ll touch on a few exercises?

We warmed up alternating between small and large canter circles. The size wasn’t exactly important so can’t necessarily say it was a perfect 10 meter circle (aim small was the goal). But think small balanced circle. The focus was adjusting stride length, getting Ranger off his inside shoulder and shifting his balance. Overall, he was very much listening to my aids and I began to fear something was wrong. Lol. Usually we struggle with the tiny circles but the seemed to work. The “larger” 20ish meter circles we a little uglier.

We continued this to a some larger circles over a pole which was fine one direction and challenging the other. After all the small circles, I struggled to make wider, more sweeping turns. But I got there in the end.

This should give you an idea of jump placement…

Next, the circle pattern continued to basically include the inside single. So, we were cantering a roll back to the oxer. Here is where I started struggling. Not with the fence. The fence was fine, but with the rhythm and the canter. First I was too fast for the exercise. Then my stride felt too choppy. The jump itself, fine. But the canter? It never felt right until the last jump. Finally, we had a discussion.

When do I start looking AT the jump?

The last few weeks, I’ve been told I’m looking too far ahead. Mostly on the flat, but I know that it’s impacting fences too.

See, I turn a corner and I see my distance (or where I should be leaving). It doesn’t matter if I’m 3 strides, 4 strides, or 7 strides. The problem is, I shouldn’t be looking for my distance at that point (unless I’m 3 or 4 strides away). I should just be focused on rhythm. I’m not a pro. And most pros aren’t focused on distances at that point…

So, next lesson. STOP LOOKING AT THE JUMP UNTIL YOU’RE 3 STRIDES AWAY. 

FYI, hardest thing EVERY.

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But cutest pony ever

We changed direction and the roll back the other way to the second jump in the inside line. When I turned, I was about 3-4 strides so I was able to look pretty much right away so it was fine. Rhythm felt better this way and all was good.

We ended up with the following course:

Outside single towards the road, inside single, inside line, outside line.

The plan was to not look ahead (haha). Basically, approaching the first single, I didn’t actually pay attention to that plan because, well, I didn’t have THAT long of a ride to it, but coming to the inside single, I did look the first time, and then immediately stared at the ground until my trainer told me I could look and then continued to see the same distance as I saw 7 or 8 strides before when I had initially looked at the fence… The rest of the course was fine.

We re-did this about 4-5 times only having one error (I focused SO MUCH on what my trainer was saying one time that I forgot to steer to the outside line and Ranger noped out of it… 100% on me…). The looking down before fences will stop, but it’s an attempt to retrain my brain not to find distances 8 strides away and instead just focus on my canter. Eventually I will be able to look at the jump, but right now glancing down is the easiest.

Do any of you look for your distances too early? Any tricks to STOP DOING IT?

 

New normal: a photo recap

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posing for peppermints…

First off, thank you everyone for your suggestions for ulcer preventatives! I started him on the Animed Ulc-R-Aid (and Subi’s eating it), but I might switch/add the Purina Outlast. I’m not sure yet. Regardless, I’ve been lazy and I could order the Ulc-R-Aid online and it got here overnight whereas I would have to drive 3 miles to the feed store (I haven’t actually been to the feed store yet) for the Purina and figure out a container for it…

img_0400Beyond that, Subi has been feeling good lately. Really good. Really, really good. Stall life agrees with him. He’s sound. Sounder than he’s been in years. To the point that I’m considering un-retiring him. What will that look like? I don’t know. But he has energy. Normally I turn him out and he gallops around, bucking, rearing, and rolling for a good 10+ minutes with a few trot and canter steps for me to evaluate his soundness. For the last few weeks, I’ve been staring at him, amazed at just how good he looks. So, we’re going to start on the lunge line (I purchased a cavesson and surcingle) and see where this goes. If he can hold up, great! If not, back to retirement he goes. He’s off all medication and joint supplements and I’m not willing to medicate to keep him un-retired (but if he needs them for the winter when he’ll be off again, fine). But we’ll see where this goes…

The one morning I bring my phone out, he decides NOT to act like a fool.

I also came across some old videos (thanks Facebook memories) from 2011. Both of us were A LOT younger back then. Videos are crappy quality, but it was nice seeing this version of Subi! Today, 8 years ago.

Meanwhile I ordered Batty a hay steamer. His heaves seems worse on small bales though they’re not dusty. Eating inside obviously doesn’t help. But add in the time of year, allergens, and all that, we’ll see how this goes. If we need to get through spring with prednisone, we will, but I’d like to avoid the devil drug if necessary (I’m allergic so I’m curious how I’ll react to grinding pills I’m allergic too…)

Jiminy? He’s the same. Some days he’s well behaved, others he’s being shipped off to TN… It remains to be seen where he’ll end up.

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Subi and his mini-me

But, spring is finally springing here in the mid-atlantic!

And Ranger? He’s the best! I never did recap my lesson, but… It ended like this.

And all was right in the world.

ISO: Ulcer preventatives?

Happy Friday! I have a lesson recap, but I’m feeling really lazy this morning and will type that up later… so I’ll get that posted on Monday.

Anyway, Subi is finishing up 2 months of ulcer treatment (I went the nexium/Esomeprazole route) and it really seems to have helped. He’s inhaling his hay, finishing all his grain (except this morning when he didn’t eat breakfast but a neighbor’s dog was around so I think that had something to do with it), and generally just seems…better.

I am probably safe just to take him off once he’s finished, but I would like to put him on some sort of preventative. So, u-guard or something. Anything you like in particular? Suggestions appreciated! Inexpensive and palatable if possible…

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So much happier these days!

 

Ranger Recap: getting back into the swing of things

I took the week off of work and a side bonus was I was able to move my evening lesson to Thursday morning. It was a gorgeous day. Sun, light breeze, and relatively warm (well, it would be, it was still in the 40s when I rode). Regardless, it’s SO NICE to ride when you’re not stressing about work!

We warmed up on the flat and my legs were not cooperating. Ranger was sleepy so I was finding other methods to get him going. Like using my shoulders to post. Needless to say, this was NOT successful. Eventually though, I figured out how to ride, but the shoulder thing came back to haunt me here and there.

Over fences, we started on a circle over the jump on the end, working on pace and distance. It is SO NICE to ride when Ranger hasn’t been ridden yet. Typically he just does a beginner lesson, but still. He is SO MUCH more responsive. Anyway, the fences were easy and we hit our spots nicely.

Next, we started over a few mini courses. Basically, down our outside single (away from the road), up the inside line, and down the outside line. The outside to the inside were fine, perfect even. The trick with the inside was to maintain pace as we were passing the gate and the lines were forward moving. The outside line was…less great as I didn’t have a straight line to the in and took a long spot, but the out was nice. On reapproach, the course was good.

We did a few more courses, ended with our outside single towards the road around to the straw bales, the inside line, outside line, and inside plain straw bales.  The first time we did the course it was pretty nice except we didn’t maintain a consistent pace. We got a little quick heading to the first inside single (straw bales) though for the most part it was decent.

Being the idiot that I was, I decided to attempt the course again, and have video proof of my worst course of the day. Ranger was tired. I was tired. And well… We ran into traffic heading to the first jump because the only horse in the ring didn’t realize we were heading towards the fence and then I wasted lots of energy circling. By that point, Ranger was dead and… Yeah. But at least there is media? And pretty boots?

Sorry Ranger…

Happy Birthday Old Man!

Today is Subi’s 22nd birthday! After a rough winter (and being off most of last year), he’s feeling super sound and I’m starting to wonder why I’m not riding him… I mean, he’s sound. He’s REALLY sound. REALLY REALLY REALLY sound. And then I watch him careen around the field and come to my senses. THAT’S why.

*plus, I doubt he’d stay sound if I were to ride him. There’s no way I could just hop on for a light ride… lots of lunging would be required.

We didn’t celebrate this morning. In fact, he was reprimanded for poor behavior (not rearing like a few weeks/month ago, but rather forgetting his manner because…grass. That I can handle though words were exchanged).  Happy birthday?

Anyway, without further ado, some pictures of the old man!

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Ranger Recap: Drowning.

It’s warmed up here in the mid atlantic but the rain is back. We had 2 glorious mostly rain free weeks (so, there was some rain, but mostly dry) weeks. And then yesterday happened. My paddock and yard that had begun to dry so nicely? Yeah no. SO MUCH MUD. I’m drowning. Sinking is probably a better word. It is AWFUL.

So, after being washed away walking from building to building on campus yesterday (stupid college campus with terrible drainage and work schedule that left me with meetings on the other side of campus), I convinced myself that I really DID need to ride. So I ventured out to ride. Last week? We were outside in the outdoor for the first time since last year. Last night? Back inside. Yuck. At times the rain was so loud I couldn’t here instructions. So I made my own… Completely fair, right?

Anyway, it was humid (rain) so Ranger was slow and behind my leg a bit so… fun. Spent time working on that and getting his head up. He just wanted to drop and pull. Not so much in a drop and drag kind of way, but more so in a get heavy and fall on his face? My least favorite Ranger ride, especially when I’m struggling to keep him in front of my leg.

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We started off just working on a large pattern. Down the purple single (towards the in gate) and back around away from the gate to the Swedish oxer (orange jump on ugly diagram). We repeated this 3-4 times until we maintained a forward GOING pace to both jumps. Supposedly in his previous lesson (he did a 1/2 hour with a kid to who kicks and causes Ranger to gallop) he was bolting to the single, but mostly I just had to worry about getting him to carry himself. No drop and drag was happening. Initially despite getting to the fences at nice spots, we lacked…power, but once I found a better canter, everything improved.

Next we reversed the pattern. So up the single away from the in gate (tight turn to the purple single), down down the Swedish oxer towards the in gate and continuing to the outside line (purple on diagram) in the 6. All would have been fine, but I got in my head because I started listening to chatter. Find the straight line. Leg, power, 2 hands. And got in my head. So, Ranger noped out of it when he felt me not ride. We circled, I used my inside leg this time and all was good. We continued around, did the whole pattern, and everything was good.

We did another course or 2 and I completely forget what they were… Sorry. I can remember the courses my lesson mate rode? Not helpful…

To end on, purple single away from the in gate, around to the Swedish, outside line again, around to the skinny (green single). I HATE skinnies, but since I actually rode, it was fine. We had done the outside line 3-4 time by this point, but Ranger tried to NOPE out of it and I had to use so much leg/had to keep him on course. He as a little annoyed at me but thankfully all was good. He was SO hoping I wasn’t paying attention by that point (he was tired), but…

Over all, it was a good lesson. But my legs were dead. I paid getting off and manage to pull something in my hip. Then, overnight got a charley horse in my left calf. So I’m a mess today… Need more water and probably less coffee but…