Ranger Recap: Do I remember how to ride?

I FINALLY got to see Ranger again on Thursday and, while I’m not sure he remembered me, he certainly remembered that I keep treats in my helmet bag. It was a stressful week so my goal going in was just to enjoy myself and leave in one piece. Thankfully my trainer had the same idea in mind.

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We had a slightly longer warm up than normal on the flat (it HAD been 3 weeks and only 2 lessons in the last 5 weeks…) and I sort of had to remember how to ride. Ranger was pretty quiet which was a good, but very interested in a counterbend, which was less than good as it required MORE LEG than I had. We incorporated some halts and bending and eventually sorted everything out. We even picked up an even canter which was really nice until I forgot how to steer and almost crashed him into standard  when I misjudged a turn canter a circle on the left lead… I was bound to find rust somewhere!!! We redid the circle and thankfully I remembered to actually use BOTH hands and steer… And turn and me head and look… Amazing what planning can do.

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Once I actually caught my breath (I’m out of shape…), we warmed up with our outside line and TROTTED in (I haven’t been allowed to trot into a (non-gymnastics) line since… September?) in 7.  Ranger was perfect and we continued around to canter in to it in a 6. Again, we did it well. But, heading away from the in gate so why would it be bad?

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Next we cantered up our outside single, down our inside single (hay bales towards our in gate), and then up our outside line. Goal was to maintain the consistent pace. We repeated this a few time. The first time the first jump was fine, but I can’t say I saw the best spot. The hay bales were nice considering we wanted to speed up, but I managed to half halt him into a nice quiet spot, unfortunately, we then slowed TOO much and then I got too relaxed headed to the outside line and saw nothing when I was told to move up. So I kind of got a bit left behind and had to move him up a bit to the 6. Second time through I was happier with the first 2 fences, but I think we chipped the first fence of the line? Or I could be making that up. All I remember was the last time through I finally nailed the spot of the first fence, held my pace to the hay bales, maintained to the outside line, and did NOT need to add leg for the 6. I think we ended there. Jumps were small which was nice for my first lesson back.img_4038

Ended the evening with a nice walk around the property, just me and Ranger.  Thursday evening was the first time we say real sun but temperatures were actually nice so it was nice to be out just walking around.

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I’m alive… sort of.

Short recap, but I am alive.

I’ve barely ridden this past month (good riddance May!) and managed to miss my last 2 lessons due to work travel. (Thank you work conference in Seattle that also had me miss the entirety of the Devon Horse Show).

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Yay for latte art

But, hopefully work has settled down and I can start riding again. Lesson this week and I can finally see my Ranger again! I miss him.

Miss that face! But, work (hopefully) calmed down and most students are gone!

Meanwhile while in Seattle, this little bugger nearly needed to find a new home.

Free to a home? Free to any home? He’s so damn lucky he’s cute.

Recently he’s been a turd. After 2 years of ownership, he’s started testing fence boundaries and breaking through fences and escaping. We put up electric and that worked until it didn’t which was day 2 of my trip. I got a frantic and angry call from my husband that Jiminy was loose and could not be caught.

Eventually he was herded into the paddock and then the shed. The next day he was released and got loose again… This time the calls were MUCH more angry and divorce was imminent. However, beyond the screaming (what the hell was I to do from Seattle?!), Jiminy decided his best place to escape was down the tree lined hill between the fence and the woods where he got caught up the fence between a downed tree branch, old pallet, and the fence and patiently waited for assistance. If there is ONE this I can say about this turd, he doesn’t NOT panic when stuck and understands when the fight is over. Humans are here to untangle you from the messes you get yourself caught up in…

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At that point, Jiminy was jailed. I told my husband to leave him stalled  until I return with hay and water less we repeat the near divorce proceedings again. Since the mid atlantic has been without much sun, we turned our charger off and this gave it some time to (hopefully) fully charge as well. Since my return, he’s been on supervised turnout with the assistance of an attached lunge line (it’s his ball and chain) –he’s fine with it– in the paddock. We added an additional strand of electric fence polywire Sunday but I realize we’ve got a bleed underground which is probably why the shock is so weak and the battery/solar charger is running down so quickly (we used the plastic tubing to bury our wire, but we’re just going to replace it with the underground wire since I can hear the stuff buried under the gate pulsing…). So, we need to fix that before he can resume normal turnout. But, Sunday everyone spent some time out on the grass and  he was a happy pony for several hours.

Then there was that moment I thought he was dead…

The other boys are doing well. Subi is Subi. He’s happy, eating well, and I thought was super sound, but still is having these skip trot moments behind that even my husband is noticing. My one dog does this thing were sometimes she trots on 3 legs (skipping one hind leg). My husband is comparing it to that. I haven’t seen it, but he’s noticing every once and and while he’s avoiding that one hind leg with the stifle issue. Overall, he’s happy and pasture sound, but I’m feeling justified retiring him. It’s usually after he goes for a nice gallop that he’s hitchy.

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If he had muscle, he’s be fat. But, no sign of ribs, he’s round and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Always my best boy

As for this guy, he needs to get back into work which HOPEFULLY will happen now if life has settled down some. I need to call the farrier again (for some reason never got a scheduling call back…) and the dentist, but I should still be able to do something with him in the mean time. He’s a little hivey and it turns out his fly sheet had a big hole in it I forgot about. With all these other expenses, I’m going to try and get it repaired by the blanket lady (she thinks it can be salvaged), but I need to wash it first so I don’t need to pay for that. So, hopefully I can to that today… In the meantime he’s got one of Subi’s old one’s on… He’s busting out the front. My husband compared it to the pudgy guy who wears a too tight fitting v-neck t-shirt, but that’s body-shaming… Half of his belly is hanging out too. But, better than nothing…

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When your mom makes you where your older, skinnier brother’s hand me downs…

Ranger Recap: Do we have brakes?

So I never wrote about last week’s lesson and at this point I barely remember it so I’ll just jump right into this week’s lesson. But my quick note about last week was to say, Ranger is back to being 100% sound. He’s feeling good. And, as a result, he’s a different horse to ride…

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reusing old media again…

Last night we were welcomed with some (relatively) cold weather for May and wind. 50s. And Ranger was feeling a little full of himself. And I guess he hasn’t been ridden much? So we started off with a forward trot… And I was told to let go of his mouth. Didn’t even realize I was holding his mouth. Usually  I’m aware of these things… See, I didn’t even want to ride last night. Work is kicking my butt and I’m just stressed and done with the world. But, my husband told me to ride and I’d feel better riding so I went and I did, because, well, Ranger is Ranger and makes things better.

So, once consciously made sure I wasn’t holding his mouth, added in some trot-halt transitions mostly to see if we had any brakes. Right now, Ranger is more or less being ridden by me and one other kid with an occasional ride by another adult who more or less only rides on the flat? So, he’s not doing too much. I guess Ranger was ignoring the kid earlier this week so we started by installing brakes. Now, he pretty much always listens hacking so this wasn’t actually an issue. From here we added some sit trot circles around our log jump where I had to remember not to lean in. At the canter, again, similar stuff. Increasing pace along the sides, collecting in corners/circles, and NOT FALLING IN when we circle, specifically on the left lead. Ranger didn’t help by focusing on jump while we circled and since I didn’t balance him as well as I should have… I mean, we circled, it was just ugly. Needless to say, we had to repeat that exercise.  Anyway we finished our warm up. Ranger was fine, but very focused on the gate [due to the incoming storm, everyone was in for the night so SOMEONE had a bit of an attitude about being out while his friends were all in the barn].

Jump-wise we started on the left lead cantering over our log jump directly towards the in gate, the same jump we had been circling all during our flat work. The tricky thing was not only that we’d been circling it, but also that, we had to turn in the air so that we could turn between the inside line and the outside line as the outside line was on the rail. So, basically a super tight turn. Goals: Not to drive by the jump, steady pace, plan for landing. We actually had a really nice jump and landing, with the exception of a certain pinto trying to snatch the reins from my hands approaching the fence… So, next time through, a series of tug-release, tug-release to the fence. Not so much as half halts as we weren’t actually slowing him down or changing our pace as the pace here was perfect, just minding manners… no dragging me at the last minute. Sort of successful, sort of not. We did this a few times until we finally got it (once, we broke as he finally accepted that I meant business and took it as a cue to trot..).

From here we moved on to the outside line (right lead) along the fence. First time through I was asked to canter the first jump and then HALT to ensure that I had brakes. First jump was lovely and then fail. We had 2 lovely jumps in a 7 but never managed a halt. Broken brakes.  I could have cut in to ensure that I got the halt, but I figured that wasn’t smart… So next time through, goal was come in quieter (tug-release more half-halt natured) and then demand the halt. Lift his head and be firm (and harsh if firm fails). So, we came in nice and quietly with a shorter rein and landed and halted within 2-3 strides. I’m pretty sure I scared the crap out of Ranger. But he gave me a perfect halt.

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More old media, but a look at the outside line

Thanks to the perfect halt, we picked up the canter and this time, asked him to do the outside line in a holding 7. We came in at the same pace as the halt and the 7 was easy. We landed, kept the canter, and continued to our line, this time asking for the 6. Of course, I added JUST a bit too much leg (and didn’t take it off on 4-5-6 ) so we chipped a bit. One more time and we had a lovely 6.

From here we cantered in our white inside single (which was a simple 2’3″ vertical) and continued around to our line in a 6. Nice, easy and simple. Good boy Ranger.

We ended working on our other outside line. The deal was if I did it nicely we could end after the first time. Which is to say I think I did it 4 times? My trainer first asked if it looked too high to which I said no, it really just looks normal height. See, sometimes I have height issues with jumps. These were only 2’6″ and we’ve jumped higher but usually only the 2nd fence and not as much lately since Ranger’s been ouchy (though I’m pretty sure we did a couple week’s ago?)… Who knows. Anyway, this stemmed a conversation where my trainer was planning to tell me the line was the exact same height as the second jump in the line I was just jumping but since the height wasn’t bothering me, the pep talk appeal was useless. I have to say though, I love how quickly my trainer has figured out my brain… Telling me to do stuff doesn’t work, but coming up with appeals really does.

So the line. So much for going well. Remember our brake exercise? The goal was to teach Ranger we had brakes. But, instead it taught me we had brakes. So, coming in the first time, SOMEONE was way too enthusiastic (jumping home heading towards in game = WOOHOO). Not only did he try and launch himself, he was zig-zaggy and drunk-horse-like. But, thanks to my newfound brakes, we actually got through the line. I think I got a 6, but had I not held him, it would have been a 5. Or we would have done a fly by. So, we tried again. This time, I tried to hold more coming in but he still launched himself over the first fence and then I held too much and we got a 7…  (long spot plus too much holding). Then I think we got a good spot but I still held too much for another 7. Then I think we finally got a good spot and I held for 1-2-3 and let go for 4-5-6 to have a nice 6. With that we got to end and someone was VERY happy to go inside.

Because Ranger isn’t being ridden much right now, my trainer offered to let me ride him on weekends that he’s not at shows thinking that extra rides with a competent adult with help. He probably won’t need it once it gets hot, but for now… I probably need to double check, but I’m all for extra rides on Ranger…

Ranger Recap: being bold with big(ger) jumps

Another week, another Ranger recap.

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New ring set up

As I mentioned last week, Ranger has been dealing with some…soundness issues? He’s just been a little gimpy-ish lately. Off but not lame? And, he works through most of it. The best I can describe it is sort of a muscle soreness and the more he stays still, the more he stiffens up and the worse he looks and feels. The more he moves, the better he feels and looks. He was definitely feeling gimpy at the trot though and I was thinking about bowing out of the lesson…

But once we cantered, first of the right, he REALLY loosened up and moved out and started feeling good. And actually felt decent and even then to the left, his less good direction (even on a good day, he STRONGLY prefers his right lead. 9 times out of 10 he lands on the right lead). At this point, I started to feel less bad. So, after cantering we stood around and waited for the lesson in before me to finish jumping and got a  little stiff. So, before jumping, we cantered around on the right lead again and re-loosened up.

We started off trotting in to a pole to a vertical 2 strides to a hay bale combination. The goal of this exercise was to come in slow enough that we were trotting, apply calf NOT heel, and add enough leg to have enough energy to carry us over the hay bales. We were also approaching this on a half circle. First time through we completed the exercise however it wasn’t exactly with the necessary energy. To make it easier on Ranger, we changed our approach from the left to the right (tighter turn due to the set up of the ring, but easier for him direction-wise).  This time through, I added the appropriate calf and off we went at the base of the vertical. I do have to say, last night Ranger was jumping the crap out of his fences. His hind end… So, with that in mind, we approached a third time and  Ranger took control and I therefore did NOT add leg. This meant our speed was BEFORE the pole not at the base of the jump. It worked, but was not what my trainer wanted. So, I had to redirect our energy for our next attempt, really focusing on a quiet approach, energy on the takeoff, calf on the landing, etc.

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You can sort of see the 2 stride combination here (blue winded standards)

Then the bales became an oxer and I screwed up and Ranger saved my butt. Since this jump wasn’t small to begin with, adding the back rail shouldn’t have made THAT much of a difference so I didn’t change much. So I had the same approach, slow/steady, and then sort of forgot to add leg since Ranger had been taking care of me and moving steadily the last couple of times anyway. This time, he didn’t. Somehow my saintly horse jumped it anyway and saved my butt. Thank you Ranger. That jump felt huge as we jumped it in slow motion. Needless to say, we immediately were forced to do it again, using leg this time (my legs WERE on empty). Thankfully, I had enough to get over and Ranger, not wanting to work that hard, helped me out and over jumped the oxer… I love you.

After a quick break, exchanging a quick story of my stupidity and how I accidentally applied for a job a prison librarian a few years ago without realizing it… we moved onto something else. Inside white rails around to the outside line along the fence.

So, the weird thing about this was the approach to the white rails was tight and strange. Basically, right between 2 jumps and the mounting block and don’t jump the wrong thing type of thing… One of those know how to steer kind of thing. But, we could land right and then continue right lead around to our outside line. Again, Ranger was jumping the crap out of these things. After the first one where we moved up for a nice spot, we were a little slow and instead of holding back, I actually listed when I heard my trainer say forward and drove Ranger forward to his next line and, again, moved him up for his line and kept moving up for the 6. I was not only seeing spots, but I was moving up to them, riding forward and aggressively. I guess I need to learn to trust my eye since its routinely there and when it’s not, nothing bad happens with Ranger. And he responded, again, by jumping the crap out of everything. Seriously, he gave me 159.75% last night.

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Strange skinny entrance to white rails (jump 4 on left)

So, we did it again and added in a 4th fence, inside single off the corner with the brown boxes which actually felt huge (especially since a certain pony was over jumping it). The first single was fine, easy even, but the line, not as great mostly due to the entrance to the first jump.  Basically, the line is ALMOST on the rail, but not quite, so I was staying on the rail a little too long so it was impacting the first jump slightly. I mean, it was fine, but a little forced. The second jump in the line was good, but I had to ride him a bit up to it due to the approach from the first jump. Then as I’m turning the corner, something my trainer said made me realize there was a jump 4 and we continued to that. And Ranger sailed over it because he’s awesome and was jumping amazingly well.

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Outside line. The first jump was strangely larger too which made the thing odd… Pony standards top hole! Or maybe there was another rail since we don’t normally jump with extra jump cups…

Our last time through (which may or may not have been the next time as I thought I did the 4th jump 3 times), we finally fixed the line. So, after having a nice approach to the first jump (I’m so glad I didn’t start screwing something else up), we stayed slightly off the rail so that I could have an easier time getting to jump 2. It worked and that just made the line flow so much easier. The 6 was there though Ranger was getting a little tired (or maybe that was me?) so I still had to work to keep us going. Thankfully, since we were landing right, no changes were required and off to jump 4 we went. Wasn’t my favorite jump of the night, but decent enough to end with. Seriously though, that horse gave me his heart last night. Love him so much. Once he loosened up, you could tell he felt GOOD. And wanted to move. Or at least jump.

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The BEST Ranger pony in the world. 

My trainer made an interesting comment about my riding last night. While I am usually accurate and have an abnormally good eye, I am rarely that bold, forward, and confident. Evidently I need to ride like that more often…

Another adult in the lesson before me who was cooling out her horse while I was jumping some commented after how I was jumping some big jumps. Which fine, some where, but… I kind of responded that we do sometimes and that it’s nice to get back to it and I guess it surprised her that I’ve done this before? I mentioned that I had a retired gelding who I did a lot with years ago (which I did. When he was actively in work, we did jump 3’+ in lessons) and also a stopper who I don’t really jump anymore. I just don’t like people making assumptions. Of course, if she were actually there every week, she’s see that tonight’s height wasn’t exactly anything new either…  maybe my confidence was but the height not so much. Of course, it’s Ranger. He can do anything.

Ranger Recap: [Insert Witty Title Here]

Due to the ugly storm we had last Thursday, last week’s lesson was moved to Saturday morning (though, as it turned out, by the time my lesson rolled around, it was clear and sunny… go figure?). Of course, Saturday morning was sunny, windy, and chilly… Of course… But dry? Then last night’s lesson was back to my usual Thursday night time slot. So, this is my attempt to recap 2 lessons in one… With some media accompanying the lesser of the 2 rides… Of course. Because I can’t ever remember to record when everything is perfect. Those rides just need to live in my memory and everyone will just have to believe me when I tell you it was PERFECTION.

 

So Saturday morning.

What better way to start the weekend then with a visit with my buddy Ranger. I forgot his carrots unfortunately so he had to settle for peppermints. He likes peppermints, but I think he prefers the peppermint AND carrot combination. Anyway, we had the choice of riding in or out and despite the cold, I chose out. I mean, we’ve been cooped up inside most of the winter and it’s just nice to be out. Of course, I didn’t actually realize how strong the wind was… Nonetheless, outside we went. After a warmup on the flat where my hand were a little higher than normal (pattern here…), we moved on to jumping and it was a nice let’s hit all my spots again kind of day, the kind of day that never gets recorded on camera… A few months ago I mentioned that my trainer said I really DO have a crazy good eye so there might be something to that and this spot for spot thing might NOT be a fluke, but still.

That said, after the first jump (so this is all random highlights since I honestly don’t remember half of the lesson other than not missing a single spot and getting all my strides so this may not be the first jump but rather the first time doing the outside single because, now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure we started with the log jump while we were cantering after first cantering a small circle around the damn thing. Evil. Evil I tell you. But, it was fine and we jumped it since I seem to actually know how to steer these days), our outside single on the left lead. We jumped it fine, excepted landed on the right lead and a certain Ranger-horse decided that he did NOT want to come back to trot his change so we fought around the corner until he realized I was NOT taking no for an answer and then we got the change and continued to our inside oxer without missing a beat or a the spot or changing pace.

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So, supposedly this is the issue he does sometimes with the kids. Except they DON’T get him back and then he gets fast (they hang on him since he doesn’t comeback to them) and then they head to the next jump speeding on the wrong lead and… I mean nothing happens or anything but… Yeah. So, after that explanation, I was told next time, if he gave me any trouble coming back after the single for the simple change (he STRONGLY prefers his right lead), halt, back him up a couple of steps, then ask for the canter. Of course, unlike the kids, while I had to work for it the last time, I actually got the change and re-settled Ranger and jumped the second jump without any drama which led Ranger to an “oh shit” moment–way too much work… So, the second time through, we landed, he immediately came right back to me, easy simple change, and we were on our way with a balanced canter. His drama didn’t work on me so he certainly wasn’t trying that again. He’s way too smart for that.

I think we added in the outside line in the 6 and got the 6 first time and then added the inside in the 6 and got the 6. I can’t remember what, if anything else we did. But, it was an adding lines/jumps as we went and someone was perfect. Love him to death.

And evidently he’s MUCH happier too. The child he really hates quit. And said child is NOT the one I regularly split trailer fees with which is even better.

Thursday.

For as good as Saturday’s lesson was, last night’s lesson was just…off? I don’t know. It was part me, part Ranger, part just energy? I don’t know. But, I remembered my carrots so all was good in the end. And that’s what matters, right?

On top of that, lots of energy/activity in the barn due to a rated show today/tomorrow… So, baths, grooming, tack cleaning, and braiding. Not really anything I need to deal with. I enjoy local stuff and schooling shows, but rated shows are way out of my budget. Besides, I’d rather ride Ranger than anyone fancy anyway.

Ranger was a bit…I don’t want to say off, but maybe stiff is the right word? He worked out of most of it, but I definitely felt it mostly to the left. If we stayed to the left, he was fine. If we made a bunch of turns and direction changes, that’s where we just couldn’t stay consistent. He tried his heart out for me though. He earned his 4 carrots and an extra several peppermints.

After a warm up on the flat where AGAIN my hands were a mess. Actually, trotting they were first fine then my right hand was a mess then my right shoulder started interfering as well. Actually at one point my whole right side was a mess… My mostly my right hand… I have no idea. When we where circling this was most problematic… So, my right hand needs work. Lots of work. How does one work on a right hand? Especially when the right hand isn’t regularly an issue? But, at the same time, if Ranger was having issues with his left lead and falling in, it might all be impacting my right hand/side issues too… TBC next week…

The lesson before me was doing horse show prep on Ranger’s former BFF Forrest. (I think he is a former BFF as Ranger didn’t even care when he left the ring…) She worked really hard (strides) and all I could say was “I don’t want to work that hard!” I didn’t work that hard in that sense, but in a different sense… Eeek. I started by cantering (left lead) over the natural vertical around to the really skinny green single (REALLY skinny). Both are awkward to approach. So, while it’s only 2 jumps, basically I had to steer. My favorite! And, again, unlike a normal person, I regularly turn late which is often the reason I miss spots, not due to not seeing them. However, I turned early (meaning, on time) for the first, got my change, and turned right at/after the first jump of our outside line and got my wiggly pony to the center of the skinny. And when I say center, I mean the jump. Because this thing had NO CENTER. There was the jump or going around the damn thing.

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green side of the skinny… This jump has seen better days. I didn’t notice until the picture which I guess means I’m not looking at it? 

But, that wasn’t good enough. Instead of doing THAT again, we had to do that whole thing backwards. So, down the skinny (white side) and up the natural. Holy crap. Once I worked out how the hell I was even going to approach the damn skinny (which looked even skinnier from this side (I have to take a picture of this thing–which will prove 1) it is as skinny as I’m saying or 2) it’s not as skinny as I’m claiming [eta: I held of publishing so I could add pictures. you judge. it’s pretty skinny but is it that skinny?). So, we pick up our canter, and my perfect Ranger starts drifter right then left then right then left. And suddenly TIME. SLOWS. DOWN. And I realize I don’t want to jump this damn evil jump. Which means I HAVE TO JUMP THIS JUMP. So, somehow, using all the leg strength and rein and steering power I have, 2 strides strides out, I realize I can actually make him jump this thing so we do and continue to the natural and (which in this direction was easy) jump that nicely. I wish we had that skinny on video because I’m pretty sure it was impressive. My trainer’s reaction was priceless. She was convinced we were going around it, impressed we made it over, but then said the jump itself was really nice. I guess that’s why you ride every last step. Better yet? We did NOT have to repeat that jump! Success!

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White side of the skinny. That one flower box and 2  BROKEN poles. Not full poles, BROKEN poles. The thing is maybe 3ft wide.

So from there we did some other jumps/courses in some orders/combinations I don’t remember. But I think the outside line, the outside single, and that natural jump were involved…

Then the wheels fell off a bit. We ended with the weird turn to the brush jump that a few weeks ago I could not for the life of me figure out how my trainer wanted me to approach that thing. I just DID NOT GET IT. Thankfully, I remembered this week.

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Evil a few weeks ago, no problem this week

So we started off with that, and cantered around to the inside line (6) and then were to continue to the outside single. However, that single was just NOT. Working. We would get our change late (left lead), went slightly wide, and could not establish a steady pace. It would be choppy and then the jump was a mess. The first time through was the better of the 2 approaches.

The second time through the turn was so bad I circled but the canter was still a mess and the spot wasn’t there and Ranger took out part of the jump (I cut that from the video because I just felt back about that incident…). Me being me, I blamed myself though part was his stiffness yesterday. To end on, after telling me he’d be FINE, we cantered once around to establish a steady pace, we simply jumped the single and he felt much better so there really is something to be said about the changes of direction making things harder on him yesterday.

Again, I stuffed him with treats to thank him after.

No paper chase for me today. The people I was to go with tried to talk me into coming anyway, but… They said they were mostly walking and if Batts attitude was better now, I’d go for it, but it’s not. My trainer actually offered me the opportunity to take Ranger today since she’d be at the show which was super awesome, but, honestly? I’m not the most experienced hauler yet and even though it’s only 7 miles, I’d rather not haul someone else’s precious cargo. Besides, I’ve got an out step up stock that works SO WELL for me, but not for everyone. And, at this point, I’ve talked myself out of the paper chase. But, it was an amazing offer that makes happy that I’ve found a good barn family. And there will be other paper chases. Plenty of them. So today I’ll take advantage of the horse show and haul Batt over and ride him instead. And hope he doesn’t try and kill me…

 

Because what’s better than a half clipped mini?

I seriously have the world’s BEST luck with clippers.

Seriously.

My. Luck. Sucks.

This past fall I did a bib clip on Jiminy with my Andis AGC 2 Speed Clippers before he turned into a yak. This was fine until we hit the 70s in November and he started sweating to death. The other thing about Jiminy is that even though he grows a yak coat and SHOULD be able to go blanketless, he  hates being cold and wet and LOVES his blankets. He would also love living in a stall all winter. Being a mini, I wouldn’t mind him using some calories to keep warm though…

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Fall bib clip (his first clip ever, such a GOOD BOY! seriously this pony is amazing!)

So, in November, I decided I’d clip him (my farrier actually had been pushing me to body clip and finds it really helps with mini management) since he was a ball of mini-yak sweat. So I pulled out my Andis clippers and found his yak coat had grown way too thick and, after an hour and a half, I had a mini with a destroyed coat. For the sake of the life of my clippers, the lack of daylight, and my sanity, I gave up.

The next morning, I purchased brand new pair of Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster Clippers. I stood in Tractor Supply debating between those and the Lister Star Clippers and ultimately ended up with the Oster at the recommendation of someone else in the aisle who owns both and preferred the Oster. Plus I read lots of reviews on Amazon, Dover, Smartpak, etc. I did NOT buy Tractor Supply’s 3 year extended warranty because, at that point, I didn’t have an extra $100. Cue regret.

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I fell in love way too soon… 

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Such an adorable clipped pony, even if he is giving me the stink eye…

So, Jiminy got clipped (minus face/legs because why bother? He’s hanging out in my backyard). I meant to clip him a few more times, but I never did. He’s been looking raged lately and it’s been super warm and he’s not shedding out so I finally got around to clipping him again on Monday. Body, legs, and all. He’s not a yak, but definitely needs a clip. It’s been in the 70s and 80s during the day so he’s been hot and sweaty, poor guy!

So, imagine my surprise when I start clipping with my clippers that I used 1x back in November and halfway through part of Jiminy they sputter and DIE. They never got hot. His yak coat wasn’t a yak coat. That was this fall. They didn’t even struggle this fall. Monday I clipped for MAYBE 25 minutes with breaks to clean the hair out and this happened.

So, now my poor 36″ miniature is half clipped. If it gets cold, I have to come up with some crazy blanketing solution.

Such a pathetic state. Terrible pictures courtesy of my husband. Breakfast
remains courtesy of Batts…

I spent $30 to send the clippers back to Oster and I can only hope that they will honor their limited warranty because I cannot imagine I did anything to ruin these clippers in 1.5 uses. Even the lady in the Oster warranty office was shocked. She asked me 4 times how many times I used them. She kept repeating they’d take care of me. I can only hope. If not, I’ll be posting something on their social media accounts… She felt I’d have something back in 2 weeks.

So much for clipping Batt this week… He’s shedding out, but… He looks gross. I can use my Andis clippers on him, but they’re so slow in comparison… I got spoiled in my brief time with my Oster clippers… But I can’t afford to buy a new pair…

Changing plans… the story of one pissed off chestnut.

Once upon a time there was a chestnut gelding known as the Batthorse… Said Batthorse lived a happy life. Said Batthorse ate and rolled in the mud, got really dirty, and hung out with his friends, Subi and Jiminy. Said Batthorse lived the retired life. “Life is good,” thought the Batthorse. Said Batthorse lived the retired life, or so he thought.

Then one day, life changed. Life became bad.  And THIS is the story of one pissed off chestnut gelding.

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“It I close my eyes and concentrate really, really, really hard, maybe I can be maybe this is all just a really bad nightmare. Or maybe I can pretend this isn’t happening. Or maybe I can just fall asleep. Or maybe she’ll forget I’m here.” (ignore poorly adjusted noseband made worse from rubbing then fixed after pictures)

So for the first time since the end of December, I decide to try and ride the Batthorse. We were planning to attempt a paper chase this month, but due to illness and weather, that was becoming a more and more unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, a certain chestnut’s poor behavior sort of cemented his fate and this paper chase just isn’t going to happen. Oh well, this is why I don’t make goals people!

Normally bringing Batts back from extensive time off is easy. He may be out of shape, but he generally has a good attitude about it. This time however… Since the ground has been AWFUL (through the area, paper chases, point to points, and a whole lot of other things have been cancelled and postponed) combined with monsoon rains on Friday (and a flooded basement FML), I decided to haul out to my trainers on Sunday for a ride. Generally she’s at shows on weekends anyway and doesn’t teach so weekends are a good time to ride. This weekend was no exception (yay rated shows).

This thing needs a trip through the car wash… But he loaded without
issue which showed he truly had no idea what he was in store for…

So, the place was pretty empty when we arrived and thankfully the big rig was gone and I was able to pull around (u shaped driveway on a corner so I came in on one road and can leave on the other) — which is good for me since backing up isn’t a strength –especially when I’m rusty.  Unfortunately, that’s where the good stopped.

Mr. “All I Did On My Winter Vacation Was Eat” sort of, kind of out grew his 52″ double elastic girth though I managed to get it on with some choice words. Seriously though, how does he outgrow a 52″ girth? He’s not that big? And my billets aren’t short?  Every year we come out of winter needing a diet. So, grumpy, we headed into the barn, bridle in hand, with a bad attitude. Inside the barn, he was at least curious about his surrounding but got mad that I wouldn’t let him in a stall to eat someone else’s hay. Once our bridle was on, we stopped by Ranger’s stall, dropped off a peppermint (yes, I’m mean, but I did give Batts one too), and headed out to the ring.

OMG. This horse is fat. I mean FAT. I nearly pulled a muscle once I got on. I got used to Ranger who is wide, but not that wide or that fat. But Batts? OUCH.

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“You really can’t be serious!” says the Batthorse. This is the look of complete denial.

I got on an immediately thought things were going to be OK. I mean, he didn’t take off with me. But, I did regret not wearing spurs on bringing a crop. We didn’t exactly have our forward button installed. We puttered around at the walk for awhile, me adding leg, while a certain chestnut pinned his ears at the slightest pressure… Eventually I picked up a trot on a loose rein…

…then the head tossing, flinging began… and continued… but we managed a lazy trot around the ring and all was well. We trotted and trotted and trotted. And tossed and flung and tossed and flung and tossed and flung. I added leg and we tossed harder and pinned our ears but failed to actually increase our pace… When I FINALLY managed a slightly forward trot, we walked and watched a buckskin mare avoid capture for a while. Batts found this QUITE entertaining. Don’t get ANY ideas.

Then we trotted again. Then I tried and failed to cantered. “ZOMG NO!” said the Batthorse, tossing his head in anger and frustration, trying to run me into the fence and losing all ability to steer. Suddenly we were a wild-horse. Trotting a million miles a minute and we WOULD NOT CANTER. So we trotted and trotted and trotted as fast as possible. And I got in mean mom mode and introduced circles. So we circled, and trotted, and circled, and trotted, and circled, all while flinging our head in disgust (meanwhile Buckskin Mare was captured). Eventually, Batty decided that cantering was WAY easier than circles and we cantered around in the slowest canter ever before resuming our circles the to the right before canter to the right and finally being rewarded with a walk break.

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One pissed off pony.

While we rested, we were joined by a couple of pony kids and the recently captured buckskin mare. Whether he was tired, over it, or just feeding off of the ponytude (honestly, they’re well behaved ponies — 1 was up and showed energy by swapping but that was it… and Bucky, well, she’s a mare), but our behavior… In true Batt fashion, we decided to do things our own way.

Determined to spend the last bit of our ride cantering (after a brief chat with a pony mom), I grabbed a crop that I located (or what was left of it) and attempted some cantering… It was…well, I stayed on? After a tiny bit of trotting, we started to the left and did ok? Despite the constant flinging, seriously, did he suddenly become a headshaker overnight? And one or two minor “bucks*,” it was uneventful. On his best of days he’s more comfortable to the left. On his worst of days he’s 100000x more comfortable to the left.

So, stupid me, I save the right for last. And he was PISSED off. And really did try and “buck*” me off (*this idiot horse barely can buck without a rider on his back–he isn’t coordinated enough and can only lift his hind end about a foot off the ground–with a rider on his back he just drops his head between his knees really really hard and fast and thinks he’s bucking even though his hind end doesn’t do anything*). He actually caught me really off guard despite lifting him up at the canter and sitting up and back. Idiot horse grabbed the bit, yanked his head and dropped it so hard and fast between his knees I actually fell forward a bit. If he had gotten me off… We cantered a bit more for that and then backed down an entire long side simple because I was angry. He doesn’t back well–not that he can’t more that he doesn’t want to. Well, he has never backed so well or easily. We ended there and headed inside for a brief shower (and I may have showered Ranger with some peppermints).

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Home. He didn’t think he’d live to see this moment

Despite the long recap, our ride wasn’t actually that long. Lots of walking, lots of fighting, lots of pain for both of us. But, definitely no good Friday paper chase. If our attitude was better, I’d get the rides in to make it happen. But, it’s not, so why push it? There’ll be other chases and we’ll get back in shape when we’re back in shape. I’m not going to kill myself to ride every day the next 2 weeks.

But, if anyone’s up for a trail ride soon, we can certainly do that!

Ranger Recap: looking back and looking forward

Guy, I love this horse.

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I had my lesson last night and though it’s been a really rough week (it’s spring break, it should be an easy week–it wasn’t–this week has been hard work wise and I feel like I’m further behind plus there’s this whole issue of no drinkable water at my house…), but then there’s Ranger and all is right again in the world.

Seriously, I love this horse. When I started taking lessons again last summer on Batts, it was the best decision. At that time Ranger wasn’t even at the barn. Then the Ranger-type horse (the “I can do everything from beginners to 3′ horse”) was lost to a bad colic and she found Ranger. Then there was my lovely crash off of Batts, my trainer’s subsequent ride on him over fences the next lesson and her suggestion that, after having no more success than I had, a comment that it was really impressive that I rarely came off of him considering how impressive his stops actually are (which until you ride him, you can’t actually feel), and the the opinion that even if he were in full training, chances are he’d never actually be reliable (he might memorize these particular jumps at these particular heights at these particular locations, in this particular light, but the second ANYTHING changes, back to square one). Not to mention we were stressing him out. So, we made the decision to call it quits with him and not jump him anymore and let him thrive on what he does best — trails, flat work, galloping cross country in unfamiliar locations, and eventually paperchases. We stopped lessons and his whole attitude at home changed (I could catch him again whereas towards the end of lessons, my husband had to catch him for me as he’d run from me…). Now we can actually take on small crossrails and verticals as long as they’re airy and don’t have anything solid under them–that’s what messes with his brain.

So with Batty out, my trainer introduced me to her new lesson horse Ranger. In the beginning it was all about learning again to ride a  horse that doesn’t stop, but now it’s just about being in love with an amazing pinto thing.

So last night we rode outside thanks to non-freezing temperatures and daylight (though we do have lights that we didn’t need to use thanks to longer days at 6:30!). We spend a good part of the lesson working on an evil combination that should have been easy but my brain said  DEATH. Seriously. I don’t know why. Especially when the 5 year old pony kid can do it. Basically it was a pole to a flower box to a pole to a jump. My brain said NOOO, DEATH. So we struggled for a bit. Coming in the first time we ducked out at/after the pole since there was a nice opening. I mean, why jump the damn thing when you can skip the evil combination? And Ranger basically told me if I didn’t want to, why should he bother. I was in full agreement. There was also a nice opening to the inside where he could duck out that he took advantage of. I don’t blame him! I didn’t want to do the stupid thing!

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Evil combination that wanted to kill me

So, to help us out, my trainer chose to stand at our opening (damnit! Now where could I skip out?) so I had a few options. Go around to the rail, run trainer over, or jump the evil combination. Well, without much speed, Ranger and I chose the combination and made it through without dying, however, it was ugly as everything should have been 1 stride but we sort of added an extra stride between the last pole and the jump. So, we continued to repeat with me trying to add leg. Eventually, we actually completed the combination the way it was to be done with the appropriate pace and striding, and yes, evil combination is much easier when done correctly. Rinse, repeat, several times.

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More evil.

 

Of course, we can’t just end there and trainer had to keep raising the final jump a couple holes. But, to be honest, the nice thing about Ranger is height doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care so why should I? As long a I actually had pace (for striding purpose to made things easy), the jumps didn’t actually matter)… So once we completed things at the planned height, we moved on.

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Inside single and outside line

We ended with something easy, cantering down an inside single towards the in gate and then up the outside line. Biggest challenges where to not get fast towards the gate and maintain a steady pace and then not die and get slow when passing the gate and keep going so that I could get a nice forward 6 in the outside line (I sometimes get too relaxed and then we lose our pace after the gate and instead do the add). But, this lesson that wasn’t the case. Turning the corner I managed to keep him in a steady canter to a nice spot for our canter, kept that pace through our turn, and moved him up to the 6 for the outside line instead of just sitting there for the line (because, without help he’d probably have added). Go figure, 2 weeks in a row my eye is working…

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The absolute best.

But, again, that’s because Ranger is perfect. Have I mentioned lately that I love this horse? With him, anything is possible. Jumping is fun again. And not scary (well, other than evil combination until we get through it). And I have no urge to jump other horses. Just him, because, why not? He’s perfect. He’s the best.

The gut feeling.

2 weeks ago the mid atlantic had what turned out to be a snow/ice event with 6″ of snow followed by probably 7 hours of sleet and some freezing rain and snow. Basically, all of the snow compacted and  we ended up with 5″ inches of concrete. Then there was a hard freeze.

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Evil, evil driveway

Everyone cares for horses differently. Some people lock up during storms (keep in mind, we were expecting a blizzard and were in the 18-24″ category). Some people turn out. My guys live out with 24/7 access to shelter. They always have. Jiminy and Batty would be fine living in a stall somewhere (though with my set up, this really isn’t an option), but Subi has never been one who does well with stall rest.  It brings him back to life on the track? I don’t know. He’s survived stall rest, but normally stall rest requires some help by drugs. As for stalling part of the time?  It’s never been something he’s adjusted to. I’ve tried it when I had access to stalls, but there is a trade off. The trade off being he doesn’t eat. I can stall him to eat (when I had that set up–we worked our way up to 1.5 hours), but anything more leads to too much paces/walking off weight, etc.

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Post storm shed antics.  Batts and Jiminy needed encouragement to leave…

So, with the storm coming, I packed the shed with hay nets (plus they always have a round bale out elsewhere), filled the unheated paddock trough, and basically fed dinner, added blankets, and said goodnight. Come morning, everyone was hanging out in the shed with no intention of leaving. See, that’s the thing. They’re happy to go in themselves and stay put, just don’t force them in. So, we skipped breakfast and didn’t feed until dinner when the mess had stopped.

 

By dinner Subi was bored and had wondered out (the other bums had to be coaxed out to play with treats–they had food so why leave?).  That night and the next couple of days it was super cold with a hard freeze and you could walk on top of the frozen mess–even the horses for the most part. Which caused problems. See, when Subi would walk, it was step, step, step, leg fall through. Step, step, step, leg fall through. So, he’d be really cautious while walking but…

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So on Thursday (3/16), I got home from work (sick), I looked out the window and notice that Subi was moving strangely. He was off, lame, but not necessarily lame lame if you know what I mean? I walked out and found his entire left hind stocked up with some heat around his stifle. He was definitely reactive when I’d mess with it, but certainly not 3-legged and while there was heat, it wasn’t hot or super swollen. Your could really see how off he was on turns (of course) but the more he moved, the better he looked, the more he stood, the worse he looked. I do want to add on thing about Subi. He isn’t lame. Ever.

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Nothing like finding a nice fat leg…

While most people would say I should have gotten the vet out, I didn’t. If it is a serious stifle injury, most horses don’t come back completely from them. I’m not going to put him on stall rest with hand walking (my shed can be converted to a stall so yes, that is an option). I am NOT doing that to this horse. Without serious drugs, he will cause massive injury to himself and others, lose weight, not eat (and he won’t eat on drugs), and possibly kill himself. For what? I just need him to be pasture sound and comfortable and happy. I’d put him down before I’d do stall rest (a decision I made years before).

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So, right now, we’re doing bute and he’s taking it easy. The swelling and heat are finally gone (yay!). Finally! And he’s walking normally again as of this weekend. But, my gut still says he’s protecting himself. He’s not joining in when Jiminy is carrying on and while he’s the mud lover, he’s less covered then he’d normally be and not on both sides. Saturday morning I gave him a nice grooming and after went to groom Batty (and promptly gave up–see evidence below *it would help if I included evidence*) and Subi did canter up to shoo Batty away but he’s not trotting so… I do want to get him out on the driveway and trot him and see where we stand. I do think that he’s just going to be a pasture pet which is fine.

After fighting with squirting crushed bute in applesauce down his throat,
we’ve mastered the bute-stud muffin pill pocket!

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**World’s Grossest Horse** The others side is actually worse, I just don’t have a picture. Take his legs and add that all over…

I don’t know.  But my gut just tells me something is up. And watching him move. And stand. And carry himself… So it might just be a  strain. It might be a slight tear. Who really knows. But, my job is to keep him happy and comfortable. I owe him that.

And we’ll see where he is. We’ll see if he needs something to keep him comfortable long term. Obviously bute isn’t a long term solution. But, that’s ok.

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Best friend. Always.

Ranger Recap: breaking up is hard to do?

It appears Ranger had a really rough week. He may have had some rough days last week too, though I’m not entirely sure since I cancelled my lesson last minute like a completely terrible person (like 20 minutes before my lesson… I’m awful) because Subi was lame, I freaked out, and then there was the issue of what turned out to be a horrible sinus infection AND the flu for me and a 102.something fever. So, I was probably good that I cancelled. So I’ll update on Subi later, though I don’t really know much and am waiting and seeing, but, honestly, I’m operating under he’s just retired forever. We’re not seeking vet care, he’s not lame, but he’s just off? Another post, another day.

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When you’re sick, sometimes a Lasagna kitty decides she is the cure…

So Ranger. Ranger evidently hasn’t exactly been the best behaved horse.  Which I have a hard time believing because he’s completely perfect. Other than 1 bad lesson last fall, he’s really been nothing but perfect. I’ve had an issue here any there with tight turns when I couldn’t ride and he didn’t help when I refused to sit up or do anything, but he’s basically perfect. So hearing that he’s been poorly behaved, well, I have a hard time believing it.

I got on early and basically just walked around while the lesson before was jumping around. I had no energy so walking around made me happy and I could have been happy doing just that. Then at some point, trainer mention that Ranger really needed me this week. And then mentioned 1) that he looked like the happiest horse in the world, 2) he’s had a rough week, 3) every time she says something like this I get on him and he walk around and prove her wrong and 4) he needs me. I love him.

So we warmed up with some trotting, bending, circles, during which she mentions, causally, that he took off with a child during the week. During that statement I noticed that the previous lesson left the gate wide open so if Ranger wanted to take off and take me to the barn at any point, he was free to do so. I was also asked if I wanted to show this weekend, but I’m busy with fun birthday and family stuff. This is super important** Moving on to the canter, Ranger took even move leg and we did a large circle to the right (easy) and a tiny circle to the left (hard side), down by the stupid open gate. We actually kept our canter. By this point, I had no energy left considering 3 days before I was still barely getting out of bed.

 

So, while I took a quick break, I learned more about poor Ranger’s week. In addition to his ring antics, he’s also broken up with his field mate and best friend Forrest as they’re too attached and are now no longer allowed to go out with each other. I guess being separated left Forrest (or Ranger) bucking/screaming/carrying on all day yesterday or today. Life is tough when you break up with your best friend. As a result, he’s been more crabby this week…

On to jumping. I refused to do any courses do to being dead and really didn’t jump much. Honestly, I was just happy to ride. The girls before me were stringing together 7-8 jump courses and I didn’t want that. So I prefaced jumping with that. So we started with a basic figure 8 with a strange approach basically having to cut between 2 jumps to approach jump 1 and then deep in the turn to the rail around the first jump of the outside line to the other inside single. Surprisingly, we did this perfectly the first time, complete with a nice, QUICK simple change. Now, normally I have a hard time with simple changes on Ranger because I die and we trot too many steps and then eventually get our canter back. This lesson, all our simple changes were perfect, single stride canter, perfect. Why? No idea. Because he’s perfect.

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Not to scale, really bad attempt to draw the course. Several jumps may be missing…

So from there we when the other direction. So, down the first single, then between the 2 jumps (really freaking tight), tight turn to the other single away from the in gate. Despite the fact that when I turned I was, for a stride, looking at the WRONG fence, we got to it and got a perfect spot.  In fact, ever damn spot was perfect. **why can’t I ride like this when I’m showing? Even trainer made the comment about how disappointing it is.

So, despite being dead, we ended by going back to our first single (heading away from the in gate) and then continuing instead to our outside line in our 6 stride. Now, I hate this line and have an irrational fear of the last jump. It’s the stupid picket fence gate and straw bale. I just think I’m going to impale myself on the blunt gate. Why? no clue. Nonetheless… I also suck on the  turn to the line. But, I did my first jump, perfect spot because that was the order of the night, perfect change, because, why not, turned perfectly because, again, let’s not question things, and then the damn spot for the first jump was there. So, in order to not screw up the night of everything being perfect, I made a conscious decision to add leg (we were slow and I saw something), ride, and what do you know, the spot was there. And that was the night of perfect spots, on the perfect horse, that people were spreading false rumors about.

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Perfection.

So I promptly gave him a large hug (again — he got lots of pats and hugs throughout because, well, why not?) and stuffed his face with carrots and peppermints. I try to stay out of his way when I ride, but if Ranger likes me, I think it’s because I stuff him full of treats after every lessons.