Happy 11th Anniversary Subi!

Yesterday marked Subi’s 11 year anniversary with me.

He was young and spry 9 year old when he joined the family.

He’s now a 20 year old retired senior with some arthritis and hind end issues that are starting to slow him down, but he’s still my quirky and lovable chestnut.

It’s been an interesting ride and he was the one who started me down this road towards madness and I wouldn’t have it any other way… except on those days he chooses not to eat.

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Thank you Subi for 11 wonderful years. Here’s to many more with my Subliminal.

(He celebrated with carrots and peppermints in his breakfast)

Countdown to Fair Hill

It’s Fair Hill week, one of my favorite times of the year! Of course the weather here is anything but typical for early October (yesterday’s 80 degrees, rain, and 95% humidity was disgusting…). Still, I cannot wait for this week!

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So close!

Sunday I had the fun and (mostly) frustrating experience of helping set up the dressage rings for Thursday and Friday. All I can say is when it’s drizzling, windy, and all you have is tape measurers and NO LASER, it’s nearly  impossible to line everything up.

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Stupid line isn’t straight…

Especially the corners.

And when you can’t  have any gaps in the boards on the judge’s side, things get interesting…

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Sadly this wasn’t the problematic ring… I didn’t take a picture of the one that almost made me cry…

Just saying. Straight lines and right angles are hard.

And they shouldn’t allow perfectionists and anal people to work on these things either…

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Taking a picture while driving probably wasn’t the best idea but… 

Next Sunday I’m on jump crew for the CCI 3*. If you’re in the area and wish to volunteer, there are  plenty of opportunities still available. Perks of volunteering include free admission for the entire weekend.

Ranger Recap: Riding through it

Thursday evening continue to be my Ranger time. Pretty much the highlight of the week. However, before I get to that, the REAL highlight of the week might be this gem I found at work.

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Books, glorious books

 

As a librarian doing collection review, we’re currently trying to weed the collection (it’s a 5 year project that involved 3 million books…). Anyway my subject areas are health sciences and agriculture. Fine. But, somehow under health sciences I also have sports and recreation? Somehow it relates to athletic training which lives in the college of health science to which I am the library liaison (yay academia). Anyway, while working on that section yesterday, I found a book called the Big Red Machine. Instead of just looking at circulation stats, I actually opened it up to see if it was about Russia or Secretariat (answer: Soviets). But, this book is a GEM. img_5277

Anyway, I have NOT weeded it from the collection and will be reading it.

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Seriously, this book is gold. 

More later.

the caption is priceless…

Ranger. Ranger. Ranger. What can I say. Last lesson he was SLOW and just wanted to eat cookies. Last night? Slow? Yes, at the trot he was slow.

We had a GORGEOUS canter. That canter should have warned me he was not going to repeat last week’s slowness. Canter took NO effort and NO leg.

We warmed up with my FAVORITE think (sarcasm). Cantering a half circle over our log jump. Left lead was amazing. We had a nice pace, turned with both hands and when I remembered where I was going on the landing, we actually picked back up the correct lead (user error). Right lead? Well, other than that one time when I forgot to keep my leg on him and saw a really nice, but long spot and Ranger laughed in my face and ducked out to the left… So then I remember to keep my leg on and it was fine… Thanks Ranger. I don’t know, I HATE this exercise but it is good for me. Pace was LOVELY. This would NOT last.

We then cantered down the long ride to second jump of our inside line (going the wrong way) with the stone pillars. From here, we were to continue to the other inside line (green line). Last week I had a HELL OF A TIME with this line so the goal was to remember to STAY OUT using both hands and then turn using both hands. To the first jump he felt a touch strong but was OK and then we nailed the line that we struggled with. All it took was 6 times last week for me to finally figure it out. Go figure…

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Perfection. 

From here, we repeated those 2 jumps and then continued down our outside single towards the barn and then continued around to the inside line doing the whole line the correct way. So, again, towards the first jump, he was strong, a touch stronger and I tried to lift, but didn’t. Then we needed NO LEG to the next line, but again the first jump was lovely. The single was actually OK (but a touch quick) for feeling HUGE since no one put the jumps down and it was legit LARGE but Ranger doesn’t care and then the inside line which concluded at what felt like a massive oxer (again, legit big oxer because no one put the jumps down) and I curled up in a ball… We made it through, but it was ROUGH.

So after chatting about somethings (and Ranger offering his thoughts about how he REALLY SHOULD  BE OUT IN THE FIELD WITH HIS FRIENDS BECAUSE ALL THIS WORK WAS ABUSE), we attempted the course again, this time my goal was to sit back and lift him up and not let him drag me around. The first fence was OK. I help him to a closer spot than I’d have liked, but he actually came sort of back to me and it wasn’t a RUSH AND BOLT type of fence. The green inside line a lovely. Since I’ve actually figured the entrance out, I instead focused on the middle and was able to tug up a bit and fit in a nice 6, rather than the OMG RUSH like the time before. We held the canter and a couple tug ups gave up a NICE outside single (though the thing was still huge) and then the inside line was NICE, like let go and just a slight tug and then sit and  wait nice. Somehow during the course I learned how to ride and Ranger remember to listen and it all worked out. And I didn’t curl up in a ball! What a nice change from the course before!

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This is what we think of work. 

This was probably the first ride in a while that Ranger has been strong and forward and that I’ve been able to get him together without needing to halt and back which is our normal solution. We just continued doing what we were doing and kept him in check. I mean, he never truly got THAT strong (been there, done that), but definitely had his moments of “I want to go, Go, GO!” that were building on it that, but I think I stayed ahead of him this week instead of behind which I sometimes do. Either way, we ended after my last course (and  I realized I never actually freaked out out loud about the size of those 2 fences — sort of hard to do that when you’re trying to keep your horse in check…) which Ranger was super thrilled about.

He was less thrilled that he needed a shower and time to cool out… And was super impatient in the crossties… After inhaling carrots and being reminded he DOES know how to walk on properly, he politely waited for me to remove his halter in the field before galloping off to find his friends… Yep, no looking for more treats this week…

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Me, poorly behaved? NEVER!

Nonetheless, he’s still the best. I may get a different ride each week (slow, quick, strong, heavy, light-ish), but he’s always the same, safe, honest Ranger who will NEVER stop at a fence, even if I bury him at an awkward, horrible spot (which I’m happy to say I rarely do). I’ll love him for that forever.

 

Riding the GIANT horse

In an attempt to make some money this weekend, I took a  few trail rides for friend/part time employer in additional to my usual Saturday barn lesson stuff. With good weather, I usually take out a trail ride most Saturdays, but I added in an extra on Sunday as well.

The past couple of months I’ve been riding Peter, our 25-27 auction rescue who isn’t actually quiet enough to put any clients on. He’s quick footed (though wonderful and will NEVER move beyond a nice, forward walk unless you ask him to), but has a pesky habit of not standing and well, hopping when asked to stand. And we have to stand quite often to wait for CT, our PERFECT trail horse, to catch up. His feet barely leave the ground, he’s not trying to rear, but it certainly would freak out any beginner. He’s getting MUCH BETTER  and  if  I ask him to turn and face the other horses, he rarely even does it anymore. But, nonetheless, he’s not client approved… Still, he’s a great trail mount for me, especially at a compact 15 hands… (well, he also doesn’t yet stand for mounting without being held, but that’s improving as well–he’s especially as he’s beginning to be used for light lessons). If it weren’t for his teeth, you’d have NO IDEA he was an old man!

Good old Peter!

So, imagine my surprise on Saturday when I looked at the board and saw my 3 person trail ride has a 5 horses and I had the options for Heidi (our hafflinger mare who I adore, but she’s NOT relaxing), Seairra (No, just no. A TB who gets ridden 1x/year. NO. Not my ride anyway.). And Sam, a boarder’s belgian/TB cross who stands a whopping 17.3/18 hands at 6-7 years old. I chose Sam. A friend of mine joined me and ended up taking Peter (why he wasn’t on the initial list, no freaking clue).

Sam is actually pretty awesome so I took him out again on Sunday. He has issues that are pretty much user error. He’s big and stupid, but generally wants to be a good boy. But his ground manners are atrocious. Which is why, when the first girth a grabbed didn’t fit, my saddle ended up crashing to the ground. I was NOT HAPPY. I ended up needed a 56″ girth AND  girth extender. Holy crap. He had some time off while his owner debated selling him…? Not his fault. But,  I really want to play with him in the ring because he’s so freaking fun.

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Giant nose for a  giant horse…

Anyway, Saturday we stayed in the back of the  pack while Peter led the way and just had a ball hanging out with the slow pokes, chatting and meandering around. He’s such a good boy. It was chilly and the wind was blowing, Sam did NOT care, even when a bicyclist almost ran him down…

Sunday he led the way of our 3 client trail ride and was happy to lead. He was bold and brave and forward. I worked on leg yields and bending on the trail and he went from being an 18 hand board to flexible and fabulous. I can’t wait until I can play with him in the ring!

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It’s not the angle, he really is that big…

Today my arms hurt. I could barely reach to get the saddle on his back or his bridle on (I need a step stool). But, I had fun with Sam! If only his ground manners were better! 18 hands of baby horse… Oy. He’s actually not bad, just … annoying on the ground.

Sam pictures from last summer,  he’s not any smaller, but normally the 54″ fits. This weekend it was a 56″ AND girth extender… So I guess he’s rounder and/or grew? He’s still young… Damn.

Ranger Recap: Feeling SLEEPY. And COOKIES.

Instead of chatting about colic today (which I. STILL. HATE. — but Batts seems to be recovering ok-ishy-ly), I figured I’d do  a lesson recap after my lesson when I actually remember my lesson, rather than days later when I forget my lesson or am too busy to actually recap.

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“Skip the work and FEED ME!”

The last few weeks Ranger has had energy. It hasn’t helped that someone has turned him out and I’ve had to get him from the field.  OMG, the WORST, according Ranger. He HATES being turned  out and then coming in to work. He’s on night turnout so usually he stays in until after lessons and then goes out for the night. So, if he goes out he’s convinced he has no job. If I then catch him, Life=OVER. Which has been the story of my last couple lessons. So, basically the last few lessons have included screaming for friends as we canter to jumps and overall distraction. Add that to the fact that he’s not actually easy to catch… Yeah. Each week we’ve had a boogie jump that includes bolting/galloping over and landing/halting/backing… It’s been fun.

So last night I rushed to get there (some texting with trainer to see if I could ride at 6 vs 6:30 due to a cancel) just to leave my house to a text that said “Oops, I forgot someone, don’t rush.” See, I live 3 minutes from the barn so that sort of didn’t help so from her driveway I texted back, “Ha, now you tell me” and  walked in. We laughed about it (I guess she forgot the 4 year old lead liner), and I was told to come out whenever, but at least Ranger was in his stall. I did take my time grooming/tacking and then when I went out to the outdoor.

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Still looking for cookies…

 

When I got on, Ranger just was QUIET. I mean, he’s always quiet, but I added leg and he just looked at me. I was exhausted from a  night of colic checks and stress, but Ranger? He never takes leg like this. So, I guess he decided it was a  day to make me work. Trainer agreed and we had a nice flat ride including extending under pressure (thanks Ranger–I almost considered a pony club kick!), bending, sitting trot, circles, sitting trot tiny circles, etc. Then we cantered and I died to keep him forward. Seriously horse, HELP ME OUT. Oy. Ranger was sleepy. I was sleepy.

So, we started our warm up cantering left lead over our straw bales towards the road and then around to the barn jump/inside single/blue plank which has at times been our boogie jump. This jump I needed to remember to TURN EARLY and steer to it. That said, today it was easy and Ranger just maintained his pace and I was fine and had no issues. Trainer raised the jumps and we repeated the pattern a couple times adding in our inside green line after the straw bales the second time. It was any easy 6 though I did NOT see my spot at the first fence so sort of got left, but Ranger is Ranger so whatever. Then we moved up nicely for the second fence.

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Seriously the cutest face around…  He got ALL THE COOKIES. 

 

We changed it up from here and cantered DOWN the straw bales towards the barn–our other possibility for a boogie jump and  then were to continue to the other inside single which was also a 6. While we moved UP to the bales, there was no drop, drag, and bolt in sight and it was a lovely fence.  The 6 was nice too and through the 6 corner to the first fence of the line I was able to keep him out and maintain my pace (we were passing the gate and moving AWAY from the barn–life is hard for Ranger…).

Eventually we stuck all of this together. Green inside line, blue plank/inside single/barn jump, outside single, straw bales towards the barn, other inside line. Everything went pretty well but the first jump of the very first line.

My pace was a bit slow (we had only done the line with momentum from other  jumps) and my turn was late/didn’t turn with both hands. So we repeated that line (no video, sorry). Same mistake, this time it clicked that my trainer was saying to stay ON the fence longer (using both hands) and then use both hands to turn OFF the rail. Trying that method, the line suddenly made sense. It’s way harder of a line than I realized before! But, we got it and ended there.

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Do you keep cookies in your car?

As a reward, Ranger got all the cookies in the world and got turned out with his friends. Interestingly enough, he kept returning to the fence to see me (and find out if I had more cookies). Maybe cookies are magic? Last week he was offended by my offering of an apple… And I forgot to by carrots again.

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Please? Another cookie? I came to the fence! Ignore  Elliot.  Me.  Cookies. Please?

I. Hate. Colic.

Seriously.

Colic sucks.

Yesterday after work, I went out to feed Subi meal 2 of 3. All was well. They horses weren’t eating hay (I’m not sure what’s up with that… Same batch as the rest of the hay that they’ve inhaled… Not moldy, smells fine, can’t find anything), but… could be the heat. I decided that I’d run errands and come back and pick through hay to see what’s up.

Came back and jumped into the hay feeder pulled hay out. No dust. No mold. Lovely hay. (Subi not eating isn’t concerning). Jiminy picked at what I tossed on ground. Batts started pawing violently.

Shit.

Then he stretched out in the pee stance.

Shit.

Pawing.

Pee stance.

Shit. Shit.

Belly stare.

Shit. Shit. SHIT.

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Oh the misery (from his last colic 10ish months ago last December)

Now, an hour earlier, he was trying to eat Subi’s dinner, but now colic symptoms. Super agitated pee stance and pawing. While I stared at him cursing, he did walk to the water trough and drank a bit, but…

So, with Jiminy already in the paddock picking at hay,  I squirted some banamine down Batts through and tossed both Subi and Batts  down on the grass and decided to wait it out. Typically my vet’s colic protocol with Batty is withhold hay and allow him as much grass as possible. I usually toss him in the round pen with water, but as he was already agitated, I decided to keep him with Subi instead. Interestingly enough, he trotted himself down and picked at the grass for about a half hour which confirmed my suspicions that we were dealing with a mild impaction rather than gas. Because Batts can’t be a normal horse with gas colic. We have to get these stupid chronic impaction colics…

30 minutes later Subi ditched him and was waiting for dinner and Batty was feeling a little better thanks to banamine. I started him on beet pulp and electrolyte soup (basically super soaked beet pulp shreds and electrolytes and a handful of grain for flavor) and he inhaled that. But, he was still dehydrated.

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A little later I fed the other boys dinner and gave Batts more soup which he inhaled again.

At midnight he greeted me when I came out to check on him and thankful decided to poop while I was out there. He was rewarded with the soupiest soup yet. Subi was thoroughly disgusted by the concoction.

At 3 AM I’m pretty sure he was feeling OK, but he was also looking towards his belly. That said, I was pointing a flashlight at his face and the action of looking towards his belly may have been simply turning his eyes away from the light. The second I moved the light his eyes moved away from his belly.

He received a slightly larger breakfast and had a normal 99.1 temp this morning, but I still feel like something is NQR. I just don’t know what. I think I caught it early. I think he just forgot to drink because he’s stupid like that. But nonetheless…

I just HATE THIS! I HATE COLIC!  I hate that I can’t prevent it.

I don’t ever want to have him back in New Bolton again like he was a few years ago for around the clock fluids. 3-4 days in the Colic Wing… Not fun. I just don’t know. He was part of a clinical study while there and had an ultrasound that revealed NOTHING.

Anyway, he’s getting a few more days off work. It’s a gorgeous weekend too. I guess I don’t need to open up my tack compartment in my trailer yet after all…

I hate colic.

Now I just have to go home and hope he’s OK.

DIY Hay Feeder

Last month, I lost almost an entire round bale to summer heat and a heavy down pour.

It was awful and many tears were shed. In all my years of feeding rounds, I’ve rarely ever lost much hay. Yes, I’ve been incredibly lucky. But, my horses are pigs. But the heat and humidity combined with the massive rain we had this summer were just too much for this bale to take. Moisture from the top, moisture from below. Good bye hay.

So for the first time ever, 75% of a bale molded through. Goodbye $55 worth of hay (or 75% of $55).

So, after pricing out hay feeders, searching craigslist for hay huts, trying to win the lottery so that I could  buy a hay hut, realizing that there was NO WAY I was spending $800 on a hay hut, I decided we were building a hay feeder.

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Easy to move, not easy on wallet…

And then  I got stung by a wasp and instead served as project manager while my husband and father-in-law built my hay feeder.

I found plans online for this feeder and made some modifications to make it work for our situation.  Mostly, I did NOT want the back open to the fence line as we’ll be loading it from the paddock. So, ours is 4 sided and we have a hinge and  latch on the front so we can load the hay. We were originally going to have a shingled roof (I have shingles leftover from our run-in shed), but “we” decided that the plywood was a pain to cut with the circular saw and the shingles would have taken forever so we just bought some cheap metal roofing panels.

 

We ended up building the pieces on our driveway and  assembling the feeder down in the paddock. At the time of assembly, the paddock was super muddy. Usually by August, I can walk out there in flip flops, instead, I was wearing my muck boots if that gives  you an idea as to how bad it was.

And Jiminy was around the entire time, watching. Stalker.

 

All in all, the project took a couple of ours and keeps our hay super dry (and fits a pallet nicely inside to keep the hay off the ground as well).

Jiminy thought we built him a house of his own (he could walk in under the top boards and spent the first night before the roof was added inside the shed hanging out. I think he was annoyed that we stuck hay inside). We are going to added an extra row of boards just to keep more hay inside since SOMEONE (Batts) is a pig, but if I start using my round bale net again, that would probably also solve some of the issue. I’ll probably just add another board about 18 inches above the bottom board.

Overall, the horses LOVE IT. It keeps the hay dry, and we’re on our 3rd bale since installation with little to no waste.  We’re also getting the smaller bales which help (the $40-45 bales), but they’re cleaning up almost everything and the first bale survived some serious rain so success?

Still, we might need to build a second at some point. Then Jiminy could have his own house?

Total project cost ~$200-250?

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There’s hay in my house…

Ranger Recap: Sit back and hang on

Getting to my lesson this week was a success. In my ongoing wasp saga, I managed to get stung AGAIN last Wednesday a week ago (this time on my wrist) and my entire arm swelled up past my elbow towards my shoulder.  To make matters worse, I went to the doctor’s office and saw someone in the practice  who decided I didn’t need steroids and decided instead to put me on what felt like 12 different antihistamines. Except instead on helping, swelling increased. So, an rx for prednisone was called in. Except, it appears I’m actually allergic to prednisone (I was on prednisalone last time) and broke out in hives from the prednisone. But you can’t just get off high doses of prednisone so I’m still on in (last dose tomorrow), but at least it brought the swelling down. After all the fighting to get steroids… On top of  that, I ended up with bronchitis from severely compromised immune system.

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Nicely played facebook… 

Then, on top of all that, work has been hell. 5 classes to teach this week, so, again, getting to my lesson was a miracle. I was exhausted, had a migraine that morning and residual headache, and probably should  have  stayed home. But, Ranger. And I wanted to see him, I was just tired.  My husband convinced me to go and armed with a bag of carrots,  I headed out.

I arrived at the barn to find Ranger in the field. Typically Ranger is in when I show up, but someone turned him out. So, armed again with carrots, I bribed him into coming in, led a crabby and grumpy pony into the barn. Crabby was the best way to describe Ranger. We had to scream multiple times to Forrest and Elliot. Because, how could be separate him from his BEST FRIENDS? How would he survive?  (Elliot asked the same question…)

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After tacking up, I got on and pretty much felt like jello. I’m pretty sure that was the most exercise I had in a  week. I had to dodge ponies and Ranger had to scream to his friends. Then the  ponies left and he had to complain more. We eventually remembered how to bend at the trot. At the canter he did move nicely, but we were a couple strides away from “let’s take off and gallop around the ring” though he wasn’t strong or anything, just pretty much pissed off that his life was terrible and he HAD TO WORK. The injustice of it all…

We also had a  new course, like an entirely new course with some brand new jumps, gorgeous new standards and everything. I was tired so no pictures. But my brain was on overload. Things looked new. We started off trotting over our straw bales towards the barn, landed, halted and backed to basically remind a certain Ranger-pony that was not in control… This went surprisingly well. That said, I was also at the trot. We then cantered up our outside single towards the road which again went well. Spots this lesson were just… there.

Next things got a bit…Hard. We  were  to canter down an inside single around to an easy inside line in the 7. The issue was going to be the single as picking up the canter, a certain someone wanted drop his head and bolt at the jump. First time, I decided to circle because  I didn’t appreciate it which was a good plan, but then I could NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIGURE OUT THE DAMN TURN and the sun was blinding me. Ranger also started looking at another fence which didn’t help matters. Finally, to help a bit, my trainer stood in front of the other jump and reminded me to look sooner. Picking up my canter, lifting him up and NOT HALF HALTING, I was able to actually get a nice distance to the boogie jump, but got dragged on the landing. I got it back eventually and got the simple change and the  inside line was lovely. We repeated and I got him back immediately and it was all good and easy. The line rode really nicely.

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We didn’t jump puppies, but this is what happens when you have no media and you resort to stealing media off the barn’s instagram

From here, we switched to the straw bales and cantered those towards the barn and then continued around to our other inside line in the 6. I was a bit concerned about the straw bales, but other than trying to drop his head at the canter early in the corner, he really listen when I gave him a little tug to lift and then the 6 was gorgeous. It was just a let him go type of line as we were moving past the in gate and I needed to be careful not to interfere. (Don’t let his perfection convince you that he still wasn’t be tortured. There was still much headshaking and screaming for friends and an overall refusal to stand still while we talked about anything….)

Finally, having found my stride, we again cantered towards our straw bales. This time Ranger held the loveliest of canters on a loose rein and I was even able to move him up to a forward distance. Landing, adding leg, we continued to our inside line in an easy 6 and then continued DOWN the  outside single towards the barn with just the slightest lift to remind him not to drop and drag. And we finished with our other inside line in the 7 with a little hold just to make it nice and even. He was perfect.

I cannot explain just  how amazing these jumps felt. It was just one of those lessons.

I had the opportunity to take him for a walk to cool out but Ranger saw the barn, I saw the barn, and hands and legs started shaking. I figured it was a good time to end.

There’s a show on Sunday at the barn. I said no to it and I meant it, but now I’m thinking about it. But, then again I’m so tired I probably shouldn’t. But, it would be nice to go to a show in my backyard with no hauling fees. But right now I’m just exhausted.

Ranger Recap: It’s all in the canter

We’re FINALLY having gorgeous weather! High 70s, no humidity, and sunny. Perfection. Seriously amazing weather. If only summer wasn’t ending. I have serious issues with the end of summer. I also have serious issues with students returning to school [all college students in DE need to take remedial street crossing EVERY SINGLE SEMESTER. A few have returned to campus and already are causing street crossing problems and classes haven’t even started…]

Anyway, due to timing (I was early, someone else was late),  I ended up riding with Katherine and Mikey, which meant nothing other than I got some breaks here and there while she jumped. Sometimes it’s nice to get breaks? It also meant there was a little less variety in fences as  I stuck with my fences at the  2’6″-2’9″ height while she had her 3′ fences.

Flatwork Takeaways:

  • USE MY INSIDE LEG DAMNIT. Ugh. I don’t know why, but my inside leg did NOT want to cooperate in the beginning. Regardless of the direction, sometimes I just don’t have  an inside leg. Eventually my inside leg woke up and helped me out on turns and we could successfully circle around our fences without looking stiff as a board…
  • Occasionally I have the habit of turning my head sideways which then unsquares my shoulders. I need to stop doing this so it doesn’t become a bad habit that I need to undo. When I look ahead, STOP TURNING HEAD SIDEWAYS IMMEDIATELY!
  • When transitioning from the trot to the canter on the right lead, without fail, I rush the transition and pick up the wrong lead. It DOES NOT MATTER WHICH HORSE I AM RIDING. I need to stop rushing. I need to take my time and think about my transition (I have a terrible habit on Batty of screwing up just this trot-canter transition ALL. THE. TIME. and it appears it’s not a Batts issue but a me issue. Oops.)
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Ranger ❤

Over Fences:

We warmed up both directions with our outside single. Normally this jump is easy. I decided to start cantering left lead away from the road. For the LIFE OF ME I could not hit the right distance and we had an OK spot but not a great spot. My trainer said I had the canter for the distance, but backed off at the last minute.

From the right lead, we had the same, nice canter, though perhaps an inch more forward and hit a gorgeous spot. Ranger didn’t entirely lift his feet so it was a tad clunky, but other than that… Sometimes though I still think about the jumps which make me think this one was probably in the 2’9″ range vs the 2’6″ as a pole was added later to make it 3′ for Mikey’s final course. So, that’s my excuse for looking at least the first time.

We returned to the left lead and I got the same damn spot. So I repeated it again and this time, I changed my canter. We actually got a better spot and I got a lecture. We don’t change our canter to fix our spots. Which I know. But, unable to figure out what I was doing wrong, I figured I could just ride a little faster and it would solve the spot issue. It did, but that wasn’t the solution we were looking for. True, I know it’s true. We ride the same canter the whole course. If I need to, I can lengthen or shorten, but the canter SPEED must stay the same. So, me picking up an entirely different paced canter was not the solution. Establish pace then make an adjustment to stride length if needed, not to the actual canter itself. Does that make sense? We want rhythm.

Finally, I tired and starting to have a mental block with this stupid jump, I decided that it wasn’t my canter, it wasn’t necessarily even my stride length, but my approach. Ranger was sort of dragging me at the turn so  I was holding him a little too deep in the corner. We weren’t turning later, but by staying out longer, I was adding in an extra stride and not seeing as well as I should have because I was fighting him. So,  instead,  I changed my approach and staying off the rail and cut the fight with Ranger (by staying out so long before,  I had to first fight to keep him out, then fight to turn because, hello approaching gate). The turn was easier,  I was able to stay steady to the fence and then keep him moving for the forward spot. Finally we got it and could move on.

Course work! Yay! Basically, our course consisted of right lead to the outside single, around to the (tight turn) to the inside (christmas tree) line in 3 around to the outside line in 4.

Course 1 (no video):

We started off well enough and actually the first half was the best we did. Our single was perfect as well our inside line. I HATE the turn to the inside line because it’s SO easy to turn late and basically you pretty much have to turn at the jump your second jump of your outside line and not take out the standard. Then, depending on the entrance, move up for the 3. All of this was really good. But, on the landing, we had too much speed and I starting fighting we Mr. Strong Head and we didn’t stay out. He pulled, I pulled BACK instead of up and we cut our corner and had a terrible approach to our line. Despite that, I seam to have an excellent ability to correct in lines and the 4 worked out nicely. I just made WAY too much work for myself.

Course 2 (Ignore the commentary…):

First jump: the distance was great, but we fell in on the landing and swapped. We regrouped with the simple change, but it took a stride or 2 or 3 to re-establish our pace which was critical because we were near the gate and needed to keep MOVING. Then we chipped the in of the line but moved up to for the 3. Then instead of riding the horse I had, I rode the horse I had last course and held him out (GOOD), but slowed him down (BAD) in case of pulling (none in sight because he realized who was riding him the second I lifted him up). As a result, I rode him towards NOTHING and then had to work entirely too hard to make up for it through the rest of the line.

Lesson learned: I need to ride what’s under me, not what I rode last course.

Course 3 (continue to ignore the commentary):

First jump: We seemed to be nailing this jump all day. On the landing however we were both able to stay balanced and square which fixed are issues of last time. Maintaining our pace, we had a nice ride to our inside line and continued to hold the canter to our outside 4. Of course, I saw NOTHING and we have a long spot, but it didn’t matter because, Ranger. The line rode well and we ended there. I love this horse.  Seriously, I love this  horse.

At this point, I have no idea how large anything is. And that’s fine. The out of the outside got a top rail for Mikey to make it 3′ and then we both called it a night. A year ago this lesson I had my nice crash of Batts. Now I don’t even care what I jump. I think I’ve come a long way?

Again, Ranger.

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Oxford in the summer

Recapping : Ranger, Subi, and life challenges

Sorry for the radio silence here. Work sort of started taking over my life again and I forgot to blog…

My swollen, eye returned (mostly) to normal thanks to mass steroids and I was able to have my regular lesson on Ranger last week. Now, trying to recap the lesson,  I’m reminded that I really should have recapped sooner because much of the lesson was a  blur… oops.

Some of the highlights:

Flat work:

  • Ranger was as stiff as a board in the beginning and decided to pay me no attention at first when I asked him to bend. It took an insane amount of leg and hand and effort to start getting any response.
  • It occurred to me that there was some sort of camp this week which meant kids…
  • I asked Ranger for some small circles around jumps and after our 3rd attempt he FINALLY softened and realized who was on his back and I had my Ranger back and we started bending.
  • Once we worked out the kinks at the trot, his canter was LOVELY. Truly, truly LOVELY.
  • Our halts were gorgeous as well.
  • My trainer reminded we that I am the only advanced rider or rider with any sort of education that rides him so I get to do all the reschooling. Which is why I got to have “fun” in the beginning of the ride. But, it’s also why when I get through to him, he gives me 150% (I think it’s the pounds of carrots and peppermints that I stuff down his throat after lessons and the fact that I don’t hang on his mouth).
  • I rode with my new boots and didn’t feel as secure because, new boots. But, supposedly my leg looked fantastic…

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Over fences

  • The plan was to do more, but we ended up working on 3 jumps the entire lesson (which was fine since it was HOT and I was feeling strange still from the steroids–unlike a normal person,  I get wired and restless and tired and add in heat and I just felt weak).
  • The course was our inside single brown boxes towards the road around to our inside line of the straw bales to the stone wall oxer (or whatever the second jump was). The plan today, unlike our normal forward course, was slow steady, and holding with the add. So, the line was to be done in the 6 vs the normal 5. [In the picture below, the inside single is the brown jump in the middle and the inside line is the one with the white winged standards. The heights were different but at least I found a semi accurate picture?]img_4573
  • First time through we were fine for the first jump, but it turned out I learned we could have been slower, but I didn’t slow down enough on the landing. Ranger started pulling a bit because he’s just STRONG.  But, because we took the scenic route, (read: we wiggled our way to jump 2 in our line), we managed the 6.
  • Take 2, same thing. First jump was fine, then too much speed, but then we move up for a 5. The 5 is nice. I mean, really, really nice. He’s not out of control.
  • Take 3, repeat.
  • Take 4. This time we talked first about lifting and tugging him up. I came in MUCH slower and managed to land slower from the first jump. But, turning to the line, even trying to lift him up and lightly tug tugging, he started pulling and we got the  5. Let me tell you, this horse is strong. I mean, really, really STRONG. He was a big head and when he uses it… He’s STRONG. He’s not bad, he’s not anything, but strong.  So, the really take away was that I have to be way more aggressive to shorten him up. I was a little passive that time.
  • Take 5. Gorgeous first jump. He was off his front end, super collected, shorten right up, landed, stayed collected, and we held that stride right to the first fence of our line (good boy Ranger!). In the end, despite EVERYTHING, by staying perfectly straight, I ended up legging him at the end up for the 5 because I saw that despite everything that we weren’t going to fit the 6 and I didn’t want the half stride chip. So I made the decision to get a nice 5 vs an ugly chip/crash/trot stride.  My trainer said she’s not sure he could actually fit in the 6, but what she wanted was that ride. We ended there.

Take aways:

  • Trainers comment: 2’6″ has become easy. It’s starting to look small?

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In other news, the vet was out on Tuesday for vaccines and Subi also got his teeth floated. The other guys get done by the dentist, but at this point, I just suck it up and get the vet to do Subi so that he can get sedated. He’s been acting even more strange about food lately so I was hoping she’d find an issue with a tooth, but they all looked pretty OK (He has amazing teeth for a senior.  Actually, I think the statement was he has amazing teeth for pretty much any horse), but he’s so sensitive that hopefully the float will help anyway. It did last time. That said, he was super drunk from very little drugs. Falling over drunk. We had to hold him up drunk. Once he was back out in the field, he was still a little hung over but I didn’t think anything of it, but after work, when I came out to feed him meal 2 of 3 (he’s currently on the 3 meal a day plan…), he just stared at it. I eventually swapped it out for chopped hay which he did eat. Dinner time 3 hours later, he just sort of moved his lips around in his soaked cubes after much coaxing to even show up to his bucked. Breakfast the next morning? Ate no grain, but did managed to polish off a bucket of chopped hay (I skipped meal 2 yesterday). It was only last night, a full 36 hours after the sedative that he attacked he meal with gusto and seemed completely alert and normal. This morning he ate his grain (mixed with beet pulp) and chopped hay and was waiting for breakfast when we came out to feed.

 

Horses. Are they trying to drive me insane?

And because I can’t leave anyone out, my poor puppy decided to have her seasonal allergies start back yesterday so we had to have an emergency vet appointment for her yesterday as well (0-100 in severity overnight. She and I were up all night while she itched and cried non stop. This happens every year and every year I forget to get meds to have on hand…). I don’t need money at all, do I?

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