Weekend Happenings

I’m suffering a bit from the blahs right now. I’m not in the holiday spirits and lacking motivation about pretty much everything. Mostly I’m just in need of time off of work and am looking forward to 18 days off work (I’m including weekends) as I took the first week of January off in addition to our week closure between Xmas and New Year. Hopefully, that will help me relax and recharge.

I also was able to find Nay Nay’s winning race from 2014

I did have a fun weekend. On Saturday, I visited Northview Stallion Station with a friend for their open house (I’ll post about that tomorrow) but with the weather being gross (super windy and overcast), I just decided not to ride. Sunday I was feeling anti-social and decided on an afternoon ride to avoid barn company…

Subi napping and Nay Nay standing guard
My favorite boys

And everything looked good. I arrived to an empty barn and was 3/4 tacked up when I was joined by a fellow adult rider. And then another adult and her daughter, home from college. At that point, my quiet ride turned into a mini riding party. It was fine. Nay enjoys riding with Fiona and Houston, they’re his buddies at the barn, but my attempt to be anti-social was thwarted.

Thankfully despite my wishes to be anti-social, Nay was in a good mood and super relaxed. He offered me some nice trot work and a lovely canter. I’m still cantering solo inside, but he picked up both leads and forced me to push him around the ring. I’m enjoying the cluck, push, and squeeze to keep him going. After everyone else had warmed up, we took turns jumping. I was low energy so I didn’t plan to do much, but Nay was thrilled to pop over some fences and show off. We started off with trotting the 2 outside singles to the left then cantering the first one.

Next time around? We took on the inside single, cantered the outside single. Trotted the inside blue jump. Nay landed the lead but as I hadn’t jumped the crossrail this direction, I brought him back to the trot, planning to trot the other single. He had other plans and picked up the canter again once we were straight which is how we found ourselves cantering on the wrong lead to the outside single. We ended with the other outside single the other direction.

One course from this weekend

After that, I think I ended with something very simple, but I can’t remember and I have no video proof.

At this point, I let the daughter of my riding buddy hop on Nay for a few minutes just to see how he’d look/go with someone else. She’s a strong and competent rider who can ride anything and everything. Nay was less than impressed but a good boy. He was a bit quick at first at the trot but quieted down after a few laps. At the canter? She struggled with leads until I explained that he REALLY likes you to exaggerate your aids and bring your outside leg way back. Immediately? Canter on the correct lead. He was super quick to the right (he’s quicker to the right with me, but not quick) but if you play with your fingers, he’ll slow right down. To the left, he was much more manageable. She trotted him over a crossrail and hopped off. Definitely agreed he has springs over jumps.

It was good for him to have someone on his back and for me to watch him with someone else. He definitely prefers me and all my bad habits. And that’s OK. It’s also nice to see that he doesn’t miraculously go better with a better rider. But, he did ok too. I’m his person, but occasionally I might ask him to letter others hop on.

The goodest, goodest boy

Sunday marked Nay Nay’s 2 year anniversary. If you had asked me earlier this fall, I’d say we were a mess. But right now? We are in the middle of some of the best rides we’ve ever had.

The changes I wrote about last post are really paying off even though they’re not even a couple of weeks old. But Nay is a different horse. I can’t even describe it. He’s relaxed, happy, and just… zen?

First time on bareback! He didn’t care. I fell off the mounting block the first time I tried to get on…

After a good weekend of rides where I even had to grab a crop because I COULD NOT KEEP MY HORSE GOING (one reminder and that was done and over with), I sucked it up and texted my trainer last minute to see if she had an opening for a lunchtime lesson the next day.

Despite being colder, despite riding inside, despite being in a lesson (I tend to be nervous for lessons), I had the exact same horse I’ve had for the last several rides. My trainer was shocked at the difference. It’s been at least a month? since our last lesson? Nay was relaxed, stretching for the bit, and slow. And me? I warmed up walking around without stirrups so I could force myself to sit IN the saddle vs perch ON the saddle.

Post lesson goodness

I explained the bit change (I had to remind her which bit she switched me to) and she couldn’t argue with how relaxed he was. And after a nice time trotting around where we focused putting my leg back on and messing with my hands, we worked on the canter which was even better? I need to lean out a bit in the corners and such and apply a little outside leg to the right in the corners so we don’t get stuck, but he never tossed his head once and had “never looked more calm or relaxed, ever.”

Then we just chatted about Nay. Whatever changes I made I need to keep. I told her in addition to the bit, I just cut rice bran and the flax and am basically letting him eat as much alfalfa as he wants (she didn’t know if too much alfalfa was making him uncomfortable, but he’s eating more than he was before when he was super grouchy and my vet told me to load up on alfalfa for his ulcer history).

I ended up bring up the weight comments. Not directly the “you mentioned he looked thin” part, but that I was receiving mixed advice and losing my mind. She looked at him and said he looked great (which he does). And said that everyone’s opinion is based on discipline. In general, for a thoroughbred, he’s fat. For an eventer, he might even be considered overweight. For a hunter, people would probably try to get 300lbs on him (I said I doubt they’d manage and she agreed but said that wouldn’t stop anyone from trying). But that from a body conditioning scale, he’d have an excellent score. So I’m just going to leave it as he’s fine and I’m not trying to get him to be hunter obese.

Best ears. Standing by the one jump we didn’t jump!

After all that we did a little jumping. I have not done more than trotting some singles in months. Well, I cantered one fence off a circle, but other than that… But we just started by trotting a pattern of basically every fence in the indoor. So outside single around to inside single, inside line (trotting both fences), outside single, inside single (the other direction). Then we repeated this, skipping the last fence. The second time through the goal was the hold the canter any time possible, basically, canter if we landed the lead. The only time we cantered was the inside line. Final time? Trot the first jump then simple change and canter the rest, trotting into the line. I blew the turn for the outside single so I circled, but we did everything. All of our distances were long cantering in, but we had a steady pace which was the goal so we ended there.

My trainer was actually thrilled. Nay has a history of going long, especially when out of practice, so the long spots didn’t bother her. He didn’t care AT ALL and didn’t speed up on the landing. Just jumped and continued on. The point of the exercise was just to jump and not change anything. Not micromanage. Not ask him to lengthen or shorten to get a better distance but to hold a steady pace and not change anything. He did and going long didn’t bother him one bit (me? haha, but it was fine).

Seriously, who is this horse? He was so relaxed and happy. I just can’t!

Changing Various Variables

Something has been up with Nay Nay for the last couple of months but I just can’t quite identify what is off. Something is, but I don’t know what. Gut feeling?

Back in the summer we had lead issues, but he was still MY horse. I didn’t have issues with him and nothing felt off.

Then we sorted out the leads and I started worrying about his weight. And he started leaving feed behind. I started worrying more. Then I added back his western alfalfa and he stuffed his face with that and left more grain. I pretty much was at a loss.

Logic says change 1 variable at a time so that you know what works. But, WHY would I follow logic?

In one of my last lessons, my trainer mentioned that she suspected Nay might be in touch of pain as he would toss his head when we made tight(er) turns. He did NOT react with wide sweeping turns or on the straight sides of the arena. This got me thinking. I had done a bute test and had no change, but she suggested robaxin. I’m NOT against getting the vet involved and/or medication especially if it was muscular/medical/pain related, but SOMETHING was telling me to play around with some other things first. The head tossing started when we changed bits from the D-ring snaffle to the 3 ring elevator. The mouth piece stayed the same, but obviously the functionality of the bit was different.

So, last weekend, after Nay had YET MORE time off, I put him back in his snaffle and… he DID NOT TOSS HIS HEAD ONCE. In fact, he just seemed thrilled and happy head wise, if otherwise completely out of shape. He felt more relaxed than I felt in months.

Throughout the week, I made other changes. Last week I pulled him off is powder supplements because he just hasn’t been into them (platinum performance ::cue me crying::) and then when he still wasn’t cleaning his bucket, I cut the rice bran. He immediately seemed to start eating better without the extra fat. Hmm. Today? His demeanor just seemed… better? He still doesn’t eat a lot of hay overnight, BUT I keep telling myself he gets 10lbs of western alfalfa. How much do I expect him to eat on top of 10 lbs of alfalfa? The alfalfa is packed with protein and nutrients so everything he eats on top of that is good. Out in the field he eats when he wants. How much? Who knows. I rarely see him eat but here and there I see him at the feeder. And the hay disappears. The boys finish a bale in 2-3 days (out 12 hours/day). So they all do eat. Nay just likes to hang out, just like Subi.

Anyway, today’s ride? Nay was even better than last week. I had to grab a crop for the canter because someone was too relaxed, but I feel like I have my horse back. He’s not tossing his head. He feels relaxed. He’s using his hind end. And our rides just don’t feel… stressed? I DO feel a little “dragging” going on here and there so perhaps the elevator may make an occasional appearance, but I feel like all the head flinging was bit related vs pain. And now that we’re off rice bran? He feels even better.

So which variable is the cause of all this, no idea. But sometimes changes are what we need.

A bunch of little updates

I have a light morning catching up on email and monitoring chat before I’m off to a funeral (my husband’s uncle who I only met once), so I thought I’d post a few little updates.

Subi:

Subi looking out his stall window
Best old man

Thankfully it appears he’s come through the cellulitis scare relatively unscathed. We just needed to do the high sweat for 2 days (thanks to me buying enough material for 2 additional days when things looked pretty bad Saturday) and a few extra days of standing bandages. He was VERY against antibiotics and bute (but appreciated the flavored bute being force-fed vs the antibiotic/applesauce force-feeding) but got better with each day. By the last of the 7 days of antibiotics, he was a gentleman about it. Angry, but a gentleman. FYI drenching syringes are the best. He went off his feed for pretty much his entire course of antibiotics but it’s Subi. I’ve learned not to worry about stuff like that. He had hay, carrots, and peppermints, and whatever grain he chose to pick through (he started to eat a little on day 5). He’s back eating again and cleaning his bucket.

Jiminy:

Someone got clipped on Saturday and was both incredibly well behaved and incredibly poorly behaved. He loved the attention and he loves getting clipped, but his timer ran out plus I clipped his legs. He had some crud I wanted to get after (turns out it wasn’t on his skin, but I couldn’t know that with yak hair)… I probably should have put him away and finished the legs another day, but… Anyway, I ended up breaking out my small clippers (Jiminy hair has a habit of killing ALL my clippers). Thankfully my wahl 2-speeds were up to the task and didn’t crap out like my Andis 2-speeds… Anyway, we pushed through someone may have gotten to celebrate with a poptart… The other boys ONLY like the brown sugar poptarts so I have a box of some crappy flavor that only Jiminy will eat. He gets them VERY occasionally (usually a half a poptart at a time — 1/4 package) as a treat.

Nay Nay:

I’ve ridden a grand total of once since my lesson. Between Subi and work, I also had emergency dental surgery that sort of knocked me out of commission. And then the weather turned cold and I just didn’t feel like riding Monday or Tuesday of this week.

Nay Nay grazing outside the indoor
super skinny thoroughbred.

The other thing is he’s just been weird? I mean, he’s been trying SO HARD to be good, but tossing his head like crazy at certain times. It’s not a tooth issue as those were done very recently, but it’s something he started doing more after we changed bits. The bit change fixed several issues. He doesn’t root anymore or do the drop and drag tantrum thing and because of it, our leads are SO MUCH BETTER.

That said, I think he hates this bit. Nay is very good at going with the flow, but he definitely doesn’t love it. I’m thinking I should put him back in the old bit and then use this one every few weeks as a tune-up? There are definitely great things that came out of it, but I miss the softness of the plain D. So, we’ll see. Obviously, if nothing changes, that’s not the issue. But, I’m not as relaxed with my hands with this bit because I don’t want to accidentally hit him so I think I’m inadvertently causing an issue too… Granted, the issues are exacerbated in the indoor where more steering is necessary…

Blanket Bars:

I’ve been trying to figure out how to hang/store my blankets. I wanted to get blanket bars, but several places were sold out, I didn’t want bars with bridle hooks (they’ll be facing Jiminy’s stall), I worried that the one on Nay’s door might interfere with the door opening, and certain places kept tacking on oversized shipping fees… Anyway, the cost for what I needed kept jumping to close to $100 OR I had to wait until places had them back in stock… So January. Yes, some were available now, but… I just couldn’t commit.

DIY blanket holders

I ended up going the cheap DIY route. I bought screw eyes, chain, and clips and for less than $30, I had 3 blanket racks for my boys. They may not be the prettiest, but they’re functonal. I can let out the chain if I need to hold more blankets, tighten the chain if I need to hold less, and unclip the chain if I don’t want to have anything on the stall/door front. It’s working out great so far. The entire thing went up in 10 minutes including the use of a level.

The Portagrazer:

Hermione snuggled in a heated blanket
Far cuter than a portagrazer

Early this spring, I bought a portagrazer from someone local for $75 and I’ve regretted it ever since. I hated the thing. I marked that as the worst purchase ever and I’ve been meaning to resell. A month or so ago, I filled it up and tossed it in the shed. Subi went to town. Then, after being terrified of the thing, Nay Nay fell in love too. While won’t use it in the stall, it’s super handy for an extra feeder in the field. Nay Nay spends half the winter (and summer) in the shed sulking because it’s too cold/windy/wet/damp/dark/light/buggy/hot/dry/whatever. He has opinions. I don’t humor him with hay. But, if I’m going to have the portagrazer, I’ll fill it a few times/week. I still find it to be overpriced for what it is, but for $75, it MIGHT end up worth it…

Well, crap.

It’s just about 1pm and I’m about ready for bed. Or a nap. That pretty much explains my day.

I went out to feed this morning and found that Subi hadn’t touched his grain last night nor had he eaten his alfalfa cubes (there was an indentation so he had a bite or 2, but that was about it). And, he just looks, blah. Lethargic and blah. He was a little blah last night, but he’s generally been blah when it’s dark outside. But, he’s been eating so I didn’t think much of it. While it was strange that he went to his hay vs his grain, he is Subi so he does strange things on an irregular regularity.

So, I searched for my thermometer which disappeared in my hay room (that I desperately need to clean) so I donated mine to the cause (add a new human thermometer to the shopping list) and bam. 103.2. Just a touch (er, a lot) high. Subi runs around 99. So, the temperature explained his behavior. At that point I also noticed that his left hind was very stocked up, but there wasn’t much (any) heat and he wasn’t bothered by ME messing with it.

Before I administered banamine, I put a call into the on-call vet who immediately suspected anaplasmosis, one of the most common cause of fevers in our area. She said she’d be out to look him over and give IV antibiotics in about 30 minutes (we’re still not yet at 7 am).

When she arrived (around 7:30), she still thought anaplasmosis, but kept looking at that leg. He was definitely more reactive when she was messing with it. Now, it’s Subi and he definitely lets me do more than he lets others so… ? Her first thought was the anaplasmosis with secondary cellulitis. And, the initial plan because IV antibiotics plus a high sweat for his leg. But, before we did anything, she reached out to my regular vet.

He may or may not have tried to take out the vet while getting wrapped…

After conversing, they decided that they were going with primary cellulitis simply due to the unilateral swelling whereas anaplasmosis would likely not display with unilateral swelling (swelling would be seen bilaterally). So, cellulitis seemed more likely. So, we’re starting with SMZs, Tri Dex paste (Trichlormethiazide and dexamethasone), and bute plus wrapping. And since Subi is the WORLD’S BEST PATIENT, life will be fun…

Wish me luck. If you never see another post, you all know why.

The boys are hanging out inside today, but as long as his fever is down, they can head outside tonight (he’ll get a standing bandage tonight). Tomorrow, one more high sweat then hopefully no more wrapping and/or just standing bandages.

Rogue left leg

I had my first lesson back yesterday.

The day was GORGEOUS, especially for November. 65 and sunny. Seriously. Lovely.

Nay was pretty happy and I was…not. I was spooky and reactive to a reactive horse in the ring. I once point when Nay was looking in the direction on this horse but… past it, I mentioned my tension and fear and my trainer was honest. Nay isn’t even looking at the horse, he’s watching the horses in the field beyond the ring who were…drinking water. Yes, I was spooking. Typical me.

Things to stop doing:

  1. Spooking at horses in the ring. It’s bad enough when a horse spooks, we don’t need humans spooking too.

But whatever, this horse scared me. And I was bothered. My trainer basically told me to pick up the canter, she didn’t care what lead I got she just wanted to canter. I wanted to micromanage to get my brain focused on something. Anyway, the horse finished his session and walked and I relaxed (wtf Sarah), pointed to the corner, and evidently picked up the nicest left lead canter transition that my trainer had seen me do since we started having lead issues. So we cantered on half the ring (I refused to go down to the far end until I felt comfortable) and we had no issues (Nay isn’t actually bothered when horses leave the ring either) and that was that.

Anyway, supposedly I need to stop micromanaging because it’s driving Nay crazy. Shocking, right? Lol.

Things to stop doing:

  1. Spooking at horses in the ring.
  2. Micromanaging my horse. This drives him crazy and annoys him immensely. I mean, it annoys me when supervisors micromanage me…

But then there was the right lead. Before we picked up the right lead, I mentioned I’d been struggling. Not necessarily picking up the lead, but just cantering because my right leg feels weak. Supposedly this shouldn’t matter, but I continued that my left leg feels so strong that I feel like I am counter bending.

Evidently, my right leg IS NOT weak, but rather my left leg is the problem. Turns out, my right leg is in the right place, but it feels ineffective as a result of my left leg. I’m riding off of the inside of the calf of my right leg and my toe is pointed forward on my right foot. This is good and correct. This is also why I sometimes have issues getting my right spur on vs left spur because my legs/feet are in two completely separate positions. Shocking, right?

My left leg? I’m riding off the back of my leg/calf which is causing my heel to grip into Nay’s side. I’m also sitting into my left heel which has caused my body to shift over to the left side of my saddle. This makes for my left leg to feel extraordinarily tight, but it turns out, it’s not tight in the right place. My left leg does NOT move. My right leg, on the other hand (foot?), does move/swing, but that is in part because I’ve shifted so far over in the saddle that I can’t keep my leg connected.

Things to stop doing:

  1. Spooking at horses in the ring.
  2. Micromanaging my horse.
  3. Riding with the back of my left calf and sitting on left side of my saddle.

So in order to fix this, we started by first having me sit in all different positions to feel the difference. This was weird. Nay thought we were crazy. We then also had me only focus on the damn left leg and pointing that toe forward which theoretically fixed the calf issue. Every few strides, I was to look down and I identify if I looked straight. Through all of this, Nay was very curious if he really should trot or just walk or stand still. But, he does understand a good cluck and shuffled forward even if confused by my ever-changing position… WTF Mom was his opinion of things…

My homework is to buy some velcro (or procure some from my basement because I’m sure I have some) and velcro my left stirrup to the girth for a few rides. The goal is the build some new muscle memory but also allow the stirrup to safely detach when necessary. I also need to shorten my right stirrup which has been feeling long thanks to sitting on the left side of my saddle. And just work on trotting and cantering until this feels normal.

Overall though, the comments were that Nay looked happy and relaxed. He does get a bit tense/reactive when we make tight turns whereas he’s 100% fine with all straight lines and sweeping turns. So, we need to look into that to determine if it’s an actual problem, muscle weakness, or just some overall body soreness. He’s not lame, just does some head tossing. He used to head toss a lot more but as he got stronger, he stopped so we’re guessing he’s just a little sore as he’s developing muscle. But, we’re also going to pull blood since I haven’t done that in a while and it never hurts to do a regular check for Lyme. And ultimately, if he needs some short-term maintenance, he needs some maintenance. Building strength and muscle is hard. Though fixing my position will help…

Time off and Finding fun again

I’ve spent the last few weeks just feeling burned out. Ever since Fair Hill, or honestly, even before Fair Hill, I’ve been struggling with the motivation to ride. Then the comments about Nay’s weight combined with the weather combined with neverending vertigo/vestibular migraine combined with life, I’ve just pretty much given myself permission to take a break.

Until this weekend, I’ve averaged less than 1 ride for most of the last 30 days. And you know what? The world didn’t end. I need to remind myself that if I take time off, the world doesn’t end.

I’m still struggling to find motivation, but there’s less… pressure?

I also pulled off my spurs and set down my crop.

You see, my leg was doing something funky and it appeared that I kept pushing a spur into Nay consistently. I hadn’t been doing it until I started and then I suddenly couldn’t stop. Nay would pick up his canter and then react every time the spur touched him. NOW, he didn’t buck, he didn’t crow hop (other than the time he really moved his hind end over and hit the wall and reacted to that…twice), but just was unhappy. I tried to pay extra close attention to my leg which caused me to mess with my hands which caused me to get extra tense which caused me to not enjoy riding. I was so hyper-focused on my damn leg that nothing else worked. So that wasn’t working.

So, when I went to ride the other weekend, I pulled my spurs and decided to just ride. And I’m going with that.

I’m also letting Nay Nay play in the indoor pre-ride when at all possible. He thinks it’s fun and since he’s 1000% perfect on the lunge line (even though it’s not his favorite thing), it’s nice for him to let loose. I don’t like him playing on the line, but I don’t mind him playing in the indoor. And, while I was nervous after turning the indoor into a turnout place, just because he plays in there, he was actually a gentleman when I rode inside last weekend (for the first half of our ride).

This weekend I actually rode twice.

Saturday, he was a madman playing. I’ve NEVER seen him buck more in his life. And when someone opened the door to see how long we’d be inside so they could bring in a green horse (we were fine since all Nay needs in 5-6 minutes and they hadn’t even groomed or tacked up), he took that as an excuse to launch into yet ANOTHER bucking and galloping fit. Of course, I didn’t video at all on Saturday.

He was great for his ride outside. We cantered forever and I realized just how weak I am to right. I need to work on that…

Sunday, Nay got to play again but was far less energized. He was spooky but tired from the day before. Nonetheless, he was good boy other than his slow-motion spook the burn pile at the canter — the same burn pile we did NOT spook at while it was still smoldering the day before… But, once I made him stop and look, he was fine.

We ended with 4 jumps. We trotted an easy outside line that I completely messed up the first time, trying to hold when there was NOTHING to hold to… Nay still jumped everything and looked back and me after like I was a fool… But, we did it again, I let go, and life was good. We also did an easy diagonal line which we also did the day before and he was foot perfect. Considering we haven’t jumped in… a while, we ended there.

I will say, cantering without spurs is OK. Nay is picking up the left lead without issues and the right lead has been going pretty well. Right lead issues are mostly me, but he is still getting it. If we don’t get it, it’s mostly lack of pace and a nice pony kick seems to help. Honestly, he’s VERY out of shape now and it’s nice.

As for his weight, I asked my farrier on Saturday who looked at him and told me he’s fine and I’ll never get 200lbs on him. He also didn’t see severely underweight. Unlike the vet, my farrier actually likes some weight on horses and said he looked great. He’s not one to throw out compliments. He is the one person who told me it was time to put Hayley down years ago… He’ll tell me the truth even if I don’t want to hear it. He took his time looking at Nay, pointed out his round butt, how his ribs are completely covered and unless you press hard, you can’t feel them let alone see them. He’s also very much a thoroughbred and will never look like a warmblood — some thoroughbreds can look like warmbloods/quarter horses, most don’t. He sees a lot of horses and said he wouldn’t be embarrassed to take Nay anywhere. So. Yeah.

W.W. I’m alive

I should blog. And I will. But after 9 days at Fair Hill and a conference Monday and Tuesday (virtual, but still), I thought I’d pop in. recap coming.

I rode my horse who had 13 days off. He was a gentleman?

Such a good goober

Stay tuned for actual content.

So magnificent.

Addressing tension, stress, and…excuses.

Honestly, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. And this is going to be a media-less post because I just don’t have any. I do have pictures of a new car because there’s an entire story about my car getting rear-ended by a Mennonite (and private Mennonite church insurance) as part of a 4 car incident), but that’s a story for another day…

Anyway, due to car-crap, work, and life, I rode Friday, Sunday, and then took a lesson on Tuesday (yesterday). Friday Nay Nay was pretty incredible. Nay was quiet. We were 100% alone which… isn’t safe, but, feeding time was soon and I figured if something was going on someone would find me. So bad, but since Nay was feeling so trustworthy, I did whatever I needed to do. My routine is that I do lunge before riding so I felt comfortable to get on but even trotting around, Nay was just… perfect.

After a nice trot, I actually warmed up over our boogie fence from my previous lesson first at the trot, then cantered it a few times. He was great. No crow hopping, no resistance. He was a tiny bit speedier at the canter, but mostly I think it was because I was a touch loose.

From here? We moved to the canter and cantered both leads. Then I worked Nay hard over the small fence at the end of the ring. It was tiny (12-18″ no standards) first at a trot, then cantered circles over it several times, working on maintaining a steady pace, shortening when I needed to, working on the turn, and all that jazz. Interestingly, while Nay bends SO MUCH BETTER to the right, I am so much more comfortable to the left. So the exercise was easy to the left, harder to the right. As a result, we worked harder to the right.

Feeling tight, we went back to the exercise from the last lesson (the rollback to the jump I warmed up earlier). The first jump wasn’t an issue, never is. BUT, Nay tried to pull his antics to the second, but I was tight, confident to the second (we DID jump it several times) and closing my outside leg, Nay groaned and jumped it without actually having much of a fit. We did this a few more times and the only issue was he was speedy on the landing, but no problem arose again with the approach. I THINK the issue is when Nay gets tired or decides he’s done? He says haha nope. But once he realizes he needs to work, he gives up. My confidence plays a role too.

Sunday I wasn’t feeling it. He was a spooky mess, but we rode and everything was fine. I just wasn’t feeling it. We went through the motions. Just nothing to write home about. I didn’t push it, but it was fine. Nay did nothing bad, but I just didn’t enjoy anything (the days you ride because you should not because you want to?).

Which brings us to Tuesday. The weather sucked. Nay was a touch tight? I lunged outside and he was wild. Then we came in the indoor where my trainer was finishing a training ride and Nay proceeded to almost jump me off. Basically she picked up the canter and Nay decided to jump and spin and spin and jump. I hopped off and Nay Nay proceeded to stand like a PERFECT GENTLEMAN and try and snuggle. Bastard.

When my trainer finished her ride (filled with antics), I turned down the opportunity for a brief free-lunge/chase around the indoor and jumped back on. Obviously Nay had my number. We started off trotting and man was there tension and we were determined to ride out the freaking tension. We trotted. Faster. Faster. Faster. Nothing I did was fast enough. We got there. I had to stop pulling with my left hand (it appears I pull with that hand). But we trotted forever, ultimately at speed. Then we cantered, first to the right.

The right was interesting. Nay was still full of tension. We picked up the lead and held it until he decided that he wasn’t at all interested in the right lead and swapped and suddenly we were on the left lead. “I don’t care.” was my trainer’s view point so we continued counter-cantering for about 5-6 minutes as fast as Nay wanted to go. This tired the shit out of him and once we was quiet, I trotted a step and we continued on the correct lead for several more minutes. The goal was canter as fast as he wants on down the long side and allow him to collect down the short side.

We trotted a quick change of direction and cantered AGAIN, this time to the left. The left was… interesting. There was a touch of tension but this was my fault. I was pressing my spur into him (my saddle was moving a touch — I was using a fuzzy girth vs his preferred professional choice girth) so he kicked the wall and then had a tantrum… twice. But, the key with Nay is that, in this case, he WAS trying to do what I asked. Spurs (this time my left spur) told him to move his hocks over) and he did, into the wall. He realized that wasn’t the right reaction so he got upset because he wasn’t sure what I wanted. He may buck/crow hop, but he does NOT try to get me off. Never. That isn’t ever his goal. I’m not the stickiest rider, but I never feel like he’s trying to get me off. Subi? Yeah. Nay, nope.

So we kept the canter while focusing on the placement of my leg. OMFG. So hard. Basically overcompensating knee in, heel out. It was…extreme. But we got it. And eventually walked. We did finish with a few small jumps which were of no issue.

We stopped chatted awhile about anxiety. Mine, Nay’s. While I sat with my feet out of the stirrups showing how relaxed we both were…

My trainer brought up ulcers and suggested I either treat or scope. He’s lost some weight and is more reactive, but I think the weight is more due to weather and all the grass gone. I need to up feed. Nay tends to stop eating when he has a flare (he stops eating hay and/or feed and he’s still eating). He might just need winter rations to make up for less grass. He is much quieter outside of lessons vs lessons and he’s always reactive during rainy/gross weather. I’ll toss him on some ulcer meds (he’s on preventatives so I DON’T think we’re dealing with ulcers) vs scoping as he’ll respond in a couple of days if its ulcers.

The big problem is… me. I get crazy nervous for lessons. I tense up. I need to release tension because Nay feeds off me. We ride on our own, especially when the rings are empty? Nay is a puppy dog. No tension. Just a lesson horse. But, we warm up differently. We lunge, yes, but we walk around on a loose rein for a while until I want to trot (5, 10, 15, 20 minutes depending on the day). We trot FOREVER. 20 minutes, sometimes more. First slow. Then faster. Lots of change of rein. Circles of all sizes. By the time we move on, we’re both relaxed and happy.

It’s hard to do this kind of warm up before a lesson just due to real life (I usually ride during the day during my lunch break), but I’m going to see if I can get on and just walk around for 20 minutes and work on relaxing. I think my nerves are setting us both up for failure. For some reason, lessons make me nervous. They always have. Every trainer, every horse. Even lessons on RANGER ffs. And that horse was a saint.

So yeah. How do we fix me?

Unpacking the tantrum aka green horses are hard

Nay Nay looking at an arena full of jumps
Saturday was GORGEOUS riding weather

I’ve been struggling to blog lately. I’m not entirely sure why. Partially it’s due to health, I mean, everything is always due to health, but no one is reading this blog to hear me talk about chronic migraine and chronic vestibular migraine. But that’s all been in full force and I’ve felt like crap.

But it’s more than that. I just don’t know where I am riding wise? I’m in this new phase which, quite frankly, isn’t a lot of fun.

Things go great and then all of a sudden SOMETHING sets Nay off. A jump. A place in the arena, a horse in the field, being asked to move forward. And he has a fit and basically says, “No way in hell, bitch!” There is squealing, there is crow hopping, there is antics, but never, at any point, is Nay ever actually TRYING to get me off his back. Mostly, he’s aiming to STOP the forward motion. Somehow he’s gotten my number. Scare tactics work. Crow hopping temper tantrums when he’s tired and DONE working are his way of trying to get out of further work. I MUST have stopped at some point and walked to collect myself?

Nay Nay between the ears
Despite his antics, he’s always willing to go out and work

This all started a few weeks? A month or 2 ago? Sometime this summer. We had an amazing ride the day before and jumped EVERYTHING in arena. Literally. I cantered the entire course. Even the jumps that scared the shit out of me. He carted me over everything. The next day, I didn’t want to jump him, but I was planning to do my normal flat ride and jump 2 or 3 jumps just because I tend to pop over a fence or 2 most rides. We’re talking mostly 2ft. I cantered our easy 2ft fence and decided to do the “scary” 6 stride line which was a touch larger, but NOTHING hard. I didn’t ride to jump 2 and Nay said no. I rode back and actually rode. He decided he didn’t have to and stopped. We had some antics and I actually put on “Oh shit, I’m teaching my horse to stop” pants and smacked him and he jumped, landed, did a full change, we cantered back over and all was good.

Nay Nay and the "evil" yellow jump
The jump that caused issues for 2 lessons

Flash forward, we’ve had a touch of “Bully-behavior” since. Most notably, the damn left lead and that awful lesson. That said, the lead has been SOLID since. Both leads actually. I fought, I won. He’s fought the trailer a touch, but again, he’s at the trailer, he gets the F on. And he does. Sometimes he just takes 90 seconds vs 2 seconds. And after it took 90 seconds 2 days in row, I added a chain and now we’re back to 2 seconds (I’d practice at home but at home it is NOT an issue — we load all day every day). So, the answer is taking no shit the first time.

So, prior to the my most recent lesson, we had a jump issue creep up at this yellow fence. He was amazing all lesson and then we approached this random fence and he started crow hopping. Once he realized that he had to jump the fence even if he was crow hopping towards it, he ultimately stopped. So, after the lesson, we practiced circling and bending up in the corner towards that jump (SO MUCH WORK AND GROWNING) and then the jump was his reward for so much damn flat work. Never had one issue with the fence. He did try it the second day we tried this exercise at a different fence (previous day this behavior didn’t even crop up), but I was able to keep squeezing him forward much more easily than with the yellow fence. After 2 approaches he maintained his gait and all was well.

Nay Nay standing in front of a paddock
Sometimes he’s lucky he’s handsome…

Which brings us to the last lesson. Once again, he was PERFECT. Flat work, cantering a fence on a circle in both directions, etc. We worked on a bending line/rollback to the left and again, lovely. Then we reversed the direction and first jump, fine, second? the damn tantrum. Now, the fence was the SAME fence that we had issues with (same direction) way back this summer, but like 18″/2′ high. The first time I had to circle back, the second few times felt wildly out of control, and then we broke to a trot (but the trot was lovely). Then I we maintained a canter, but I involved too much hand… I finally found the right rhythm and we got it, but damn, this is hard!

Ultimately I can tell that part of it is mental (I was THINKING about the jump), part of it is just a random jump that Nay decides to just have a freaking tantrum. We need to push through it as he WILL get over it when I force him over. It’s not the jump. He has no concern about jumps. He is crazy brave over fences and doesn’t give a shit if I catch him in the mouth (SORRY!) though I’m pretty good about being consistent with my release. But, these baby antics are definitely something I’m learning from!

Nay Nay resting his head on a saddle rack
Heads are hard to hold up…

On a different note, we did switch his bit from a d-ring to a 3-ring elevator about a week, week and a half ago. My trainer requested the bit change as she wasn’t thrilled with his drag and drop antics at times. He’s light in your hand…until he’s not. So, we’d ask for him to halt and he’d pull you down. Then if you asked him to back, you’d have to back and lift. Having the leverage is nice when I need it, but I’m trying SO HARD to be vigilant of where my hands are and what they’re doing. Honestly? Nay doesn’t care about the bit. I may still try a happy mouth version to see if he prefers that and I do want bit guards, but knowing Nay, THAT will be what he objects to…

ROOTD
No riding photos, but here’s my ROOTD.. crappy photo, but…

It’s funny, I’ll have had Nay for 2 years in December, but I feel like I’ve only really had him 100% healthy since March/April. He was sort of healthy last year after we solved the ulcer/soy issue. But he still wasn’t eating properly. At the end of March, I finally found a supplement that worked for ulcers AND feed that he’d eat and he’s fatter and fitter than ever. I’m riding an entirely new horse. And it’s HARD.