Not much to see over here…

An update-non-update here. I’m still around and alive, but just haven’t felt much like blogging.

The boys are doing well. Heat wave #12 just ended (Nay and I took most of the week off to keep from melting). He’s working on his beach ball body. I’m just working. Jiminy and Subi are doing well too.

In riding news, Nay Nay has completely lost his left lead. It’s gone. I’m sure we’ll find it again, but in it’s place is a lovely right lead that requires absolutely zero set up or prep. I ask for the canter and there is a right lead. Go figure? That’s how the left lead used to be. It seems that when I lunge before riding, the left lead returns. When I don’t? We… struggle. So yeah. Saturday I didn’t lunge and it took several attempts to find it. Sunday? I just couldn’t deal so we picked up the canter over a jump… Not what I should be doing, but I couldn’t. When we lunge? It’s usually there more consistently.

My ride Saturday, despite the left lead issues, was actually fabulous. We haven’t jumped much lately, just a few fences here and there, but for whatever reason, I felt brave and Nay was game for whatever I tossed his way. Before I knew it we tackled pretty much everything in the ring and jumped around over the entire course. I mean, why not? Nay’s only rule? No trotting.

Sunday on the other hand… I seem to get intimidated by other horses. We started off with one of the junior hunters who happened to be schooling over a legit course of 3’6″ fences. She WAS nice enough to call out her jumps/course when I asked, but that sort of set me off into a ball of nerves. It’s not that Nay was up or anything or impacted by the jumps, but… When she was done, I lowered everything to a nice 2′-ish height and was joined by 2 others and just could NOT focus. Since we jumped a lot the day before, I planned to just pop over a few things and be done. We did a couple singles and a bending line and were fine and decided to tackle Saturday’s new edition. We made it through the in and then slammed on the breaks at the out. It wasn’t the jump, it was me not providing direction. So I circled back at the trot and Nay said no. So we canter and then I taught him to say no. This was the first legit NO when there was no reason (the last NOs were 100% me saying, I don’t think I actually want to this. This no? Nay decided that he got to decide). Then he decided again that he didn’t want to.

It actually took me THAT freaking long to wake up and ride my horse. I got pissed off, spurred him, and he popped up more than he should have. I actually regretted not having a crop at that moment. BUT, realizing that he was being an ass*, I kicked him hard canter a circle and did not take my leg off or lean forward until he was off the ground… Honestly, he knew exactly what he was doing…

*The popping is what he does when he doesn’t want to get into the trailer. This is NOT acceptable behavior and at this point, one tap of the crop/stick now has him launching into the trailer thanks to a few…discussions…when he pulled some crap a couple months back when he decided that he no longer loaded after all our trailer loading lessons… He occasionally forgets, but quickly remembers. This is the first time that lesson has translated from ground to riding.

Anyway, he landing through in a full change and we did the jump again without hesitation before calling it a day. I realize I created the problem entirely, but it’s nice to know that I can fix my own problems vs just creating them…

The thing with Nay is that he doesn’t stop because of the jumps. He stops because I tell him to stop at the jumps. It appears I need to not do that…

The mental part

Nay Nay standing by brick wall/red gate jump
That red gate scares me but we tackled it on one of our recent rides. Nay Nay didn’t care. He said, “easy!”

I finally had my first lesson in… close to 2 months? yesterday. Last week was cancelled due to a medical emergency on my trainer’s part and I didn’t manage to reschedule due to… work. This week? We FINALLY managed to get a lesson in. Hopefully I’ll have a couple of lessons before the Pony Finals hiatus…

It’s interesting. My rides over the past 3-4 weeks have been great. Nay Nay has been a saint. Truly. He’s been quiet. And, if we’re being honest, he’s been a big old lesson pony, pretty much just carting me around. And yet we take a lesson and everything falls apart.

Why? Because somehow I overthink everything and Nay Nay feeds off of my nervous energy. Or at least that is my interpretation of it.

We have not missed ONE left lead in about a month and yesterday we struggled to pick up the left lead. I just could not pick it up. Why? No clue. We rode with 2 others in the ring and I think I was more focused on what they were doing than what I was doing. I really need to focus on myself, but sometimes it’s just hard. It’s not like Nay Nay was taking off with me or being stupid (he wasn’t), we just COULD NOT pick up the correct left lead. And then it got into my head. So, I’ll need to work on that. We struggled some to the right, but picked that one up a lot more easily? It seems with the right lead, as long as I can get him loose and bendy, we can USUALLY get it. The left? No idea. It’s usually just there unless it’s a day where it isn’t.

We worked simply with our outside line. Starting off just trotting the out on a half circle. Then, we tried to canter on the left lead over it. After failing about a million times, we just let Nay Nay canter into it on the wrong lead and then, thankfully, he realized how off balance he was and landed correctly and we continued and cantered over it a few times on the correct left lead.

Jiminy grazing in the backyard
Update on Jiminy… He let himself out in my backyard the other day.

Next, we trotted in and cantered out of the line the other way and landed on the right lead. With all the issues I’ve had with the right lead, I don’t know that I’ve actually ever cantered in this line, but we landed, held our canter and cantered the line once or twice improving our landing and corner the second time through. Can I just say how much I adore this horse? He is SO STABLE over jumps. He doesn’t care if I miss a distance, he doesn’t get upset if he gets hit in the mouth, he just wants to jump. He is starting to understand what holding means and is happy to go for the add (even though he loves the long one) if I ask. And he’s just getting so consistent. Cantering in to a jump with him no longer feels scary like it used to now that his canter is getting consistent. And, all those trot fences are starting to pay off with his consistency at the canter.

Nay Nay and Subi at the fence
Friends one minute, biting each other the next… Subi doesn’t appreciate Nay’s insistence on dunking his hay in the water…

Having conquered the line to the right, we did the same to the left. Trotting in first, landing correctly, and cantering in. Trotting in was lovely. Cantering in was nice too, but whether it was me or Nay just getting tired, I don’t know and we took the rail down over the in. I’ve noticed that sometimes Nay gets a touch lazy over the smaller fences and doesn’t always pick up his feet unless I really add leg at the base. It’s not because he doesn’t know how, but more because it’s small and why put in effort? He usually clears the boxes and doesn’t bother with the top rail. Raise the top rail or put 2 rails up? No issue at all. But less and he puts in minimal effort which means I have to work harder…

Nay Nay in the paddock
This horse has too much personality. I think I’ll keep him…

All in all, it was a good lesson. I just need to focus on me and not everyone else in the ring. I seriously found myself staring at others when I should have been looking between Nay’s ears. Not good, not good. And the one time I did focus 100% on me, I almost crashed into another horse… So then I became even more hyper aware of the others… Why is this sport so mental? I’m so convinced he’s going to react when lately he really doesn’t care. Nay LOVES summer heat.

close up of Subi's nose
Subi doesn’t want to be forgotten!

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that all my problems this lesson were self-inflicted… We’ll see if I can improve from here…

Lack of blogging

I’ve started about 6 posts over the last few weeks and haven’t finished any of them. Why? No clue.

Nay in cross ties pawing as usual
Same goofy Nay Nay as ever.

I took a couple of weeks off due to a strained shoulder/pinched nerve (not horse related). But otherwise? Things have been fine. I just haven’t had the motivation to finish a blog.

Nay spooking at a cat
Said hello to a cat. Spooked at said cat.

The horses are good.

Nay is fine. He’s happy enough to be back in work. He enjoyed retired life, but generally likes having a job which is good considering after a year and a half being barefoot, I finally had to throw front shoes on him. It was time. He’s been OK barefoot, but this summer has been hard and he’s been foot sore more often than not. My trainer and farrier agreed that it was time.

Otherwise nothing exciting.

Left lead canter

Nay does Nay things and we’ll start lessons back this week.

Boring blog but at least I finished it? Maybe I’ll actually write something interesting next time around…

Nay grazing
Working on his beach ball body

Nay and the Big, Bad, Scary Trailer.

This is the story of the scary trailer or, how I accidently taught my horse to self load.

When I first got the trailer back in April, Nay said, “HELL NO.” And wouldn’t load.

I hired a trainer and he started hopping in. I could walk him in and out. And then he let us close him in.

Then she introduced self loading and he thought the concept was confusing but did it a couple times though it never clicked.

Then I tried to self load.

We lost the ability to load at all.

It took a lot of treats but he started loading again. As long as I walked him on, he would follow and I could do up the butt bar from inside the trailer (awkward, but it worked). Or, someone else could do the butt bar while I held his head.

Then, 4 weeks ago? He said nope right outside the trailer. Unlike all the other times, this time he wasn’t scared. He just didn’t want to.

It started off slow. He hesitated outside the trailer, but if I asked him to back up a few steps and then walk forward? He’d get on. Then that stopped working. After that? He’d ONLY hop on if someone got behind him with a stick.

Once he was on? Completely fine. He just didn’t want to.

So, Erik would help me load and then I’d get someone at the barn to help me load to go home. This worked. Until…

I tried to ride one Saturday morning and no one was home.

I tried everything and could not get my horse in the trailer. Nothing I did worked. Nay wasn’t scared, just convinced that he did NOT have to get in the trailer.

Finally, on the verge of giving up, I looped a long rope through the trailer slats, clipped one end to Nay’s halter and held the other. And annoyed the shit out of him.

For 3.75 minutes, Nay was one PISSED OFF THOROUGHBRED.

You see, when I held his lead rope, he was convinced he could exit stage right. But, now? The trailer added some strength that my arms didn’t have. He fought a good fight. He pulled and realized the trailer was stronger than he was. He popped up once or twice (not high because he’s Nay and he’s all bark), he stood with his head high pondering what bad life choices were out there for him. He gave me the side eye. And he walked on to the trailer and stood stock still while I did up the butt bar.

Normally, I’d have ended there and called it a day, but I was actually pissed off that I had to work harder than he did so I hauled him off and rode.

Going home, we tried the same rig. He was on in 30 seconds.

We continued that for about 2 weeks.

Then I forgot to set it up.

It turns out, this configuration of the pully and stick were exactly what Nay needed.

Because, the first day I didn’t set it up? We walked to the trailer, I gave him the same signals as I had before, and Nay walked right on. We’ve repeated this every ride and he’s been self loading with no issue ever since.

It’s almost like jumping. Once he figured it out, he really figured it out.

Horses.

Lesson recap — the one with the dead horse.

Not too much going on here. Or at least no media. I’ve ridden and failed to charge my pivo since the battery died 2 weeks ago… Great, right?

Our rides have been pretty consistent. Nay has energy and I’ve had to pretty much ride through it. The deal is he needs more work than I’ve given him and I don’t currently have the time to fit in an extra day or 2 right now. Honestly, 2 days/week of PT is really helping out my schedule… I’ll get there eventually. But, we’re figuring it out.

Right now I lunge and/or free lunge pre ride. Saturday I free lunged and he was good but still felt like a canon about to explode. I wanted to pop over a couple jumps and, well, Nay launched into jumper mode. Up and down motion vs forward. So, I hopped off, lunged (30 minutes INTO my ride), and then got back on. He was an angel, shrinking back down to his normal size…

Sunday I rode with friends. He was quiet on the line, but a bit bothered by one horse we were riding with. We worked through it but we did canter a bunch of 10 meter circles to get over ourselves… After that? Much quieter. Honestly? It was more theatrics vs anything else, but based on where my friends were standing, Nay’s attitude, and his… exuberance, I felt the 10 meter circles were safer than trying to pass friends and risk kicking. Nay isn’t a kicker… most of the time. Unless he’s pissed off or feels boxed in. He was MUCH better over his fences (we just trotted some little stuff) and didn’t fall into jumper mode. Supposedly he actually resembled a hunter?

Which brings us to the point of this post. The dead horse.

I got out early on Tuesday for my lesson with a goal to lunge. I started to and had a quiet horse. But, see, things don’t go as planned.

I plan for a lot of situations.

But does anyone plan for a dead horse? Or, more accurately

A horse being gelded outside of the barn during your lesson?

So, here I am, holding Nay when suddenly a horse is sedated and on the ground, then on his back with legs flailing.

Nay’s response?

WTF? They’re MURDERING HIM. HORSE MURDERERS.

My trainer was not in a rush and suggested I lunge some more. Now Nay had energy and I got some good work out of him at the trot and canter (we’re still working on the walk). Increasing and decreasing circle sizes and transitions. But, he put his energy into that.

By this time the procedure was over and the horse was lying “dead” on the ground. We let Nay glance over for a moment or 2 before I hopped on and we began our work at the far end of the ring, away from the corpse.

Honestly? He was good. We had some really nice trot work, even continuing down close to the dead horse area. Cantering was decent, but to the left, there was a lot of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm similar to Sunday. So, lots of head tossing and all that. It turns out that, at this point, I need to just ignore this and let him toss his head and make whatever fuss he wants to make so that he can establish a pace on his own without me micromanaging. I sometimes get too involved and my trainer just wants me to let him take care of himself. Part of it is he’s looking for me to take the control and is becoming dependent. A few rides with me just not riding every stride should take care of this. As I was reminded, all he does is toss his head. He doesn’t move his hind end AT ALL. So, unless he takes off, let him figure it out. Like everything else, this should be short lived. We actually held the canter for a while, including several trips over an awkwardly placed pole, maintaining the lead (pole was across the center, but at an angle).

To the right, we struggle with a counter bend. Last week we discussed my need to pick up the lead a throw my head down to check, losing the canter, the lead, and ending up with the wrong lead in quick succession. Part of it is that Nay has developed this habit of throwing his hind end to the outside and once I feel that I panic and know I won’t get the lead. The advice I received was pretty much as follows: get the bend (if possible), outside leg/spur IMMEDIATELY followed by both calves. Only after we’re moving forward can I check my lead (I say this because I can easily feel the lead, but I NEED TO LOOK ANYWAY BECAUSE I NEED TO — don’t ask… old habits). Since I started doing this, our right lead success rate has improved dramatically. In fact, we picked the lead up Tuesday when we were counter bent (we had the bend, lost it, and STILL got the lead. Part of it was that I was confusing Nay by unintentionally pulling him out of the canter as he was stepping up into it. So, issue not fixed, but getting better? We had to work on bend in the canter, but it was better. I’m not sure why we’re struggling so much this way when we were so strong. Body work in the future? Need to find someone and $$ under a couch cushion. Pole work was harder this way but successful and we maintained the lead.

And jumping. This was hard. We trotted singles at the far end of the ring. Dead horse started to wake up so there was some action, but mostly Nay wanted to be a jumper and wanted to play. I struggled with the balance between slow and actually moving forward (vs up and down). We started with a small vertical off the left, landed, then approached from the right. We did that a few times, keeping the playing to a minimum.

Next? We did our stone boxes, landing and halting. First time I really struggled coming in as the balance between too slow (not stop slow but need put too much effort based on pace) and I want to bolt/side step/hop towards it. Then, based on too much jump, I didn’t quite release enough and we played on the landing. Second time was better paced but still playing coming it. But the pace allowed for a better jump, better release, and more control on the landing.

We called it there and decided we’d just live to jump another day.

Honestly? It could have been worse. After all? How many people ride with a dead horse next to the ring? By the end of the ride, the dead horse disappeared and Nay could NOT figure out where he went…

Inconsistent like the weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riding updates

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

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

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

Apologies for pivo unsteadiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dizzying rides

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

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

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

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

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

Trot work

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

Left lead canter work

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

Jumps! Nay’s favorite thing…

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

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

Right lead canter and jump exercise

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

New jump!

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

Sometimes you win and sometimes you…don’t.

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

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

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

Hahahahahaha.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Nay Nay had other ideas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best hay feeder ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hay Hay everywhere

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

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

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

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

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