2pointober

In an attempted to provide motivation, accountability, and strengthen my weakish legs, I decided to participate in 2pointober sponsored by Viva Carlos and Equestrian At Hart. My leg is weak and it just seemed like a good idea. I didn’t participate last October so this year it is. I’m not expected to do well, but I am curious to see how much I can improve by the end of the month. If I’m motivated, maybe I’ll keep going through winter too. It definitely can’t hurt.

Anyway, it was cold and windy (thank you 20* temperature drop overnight) and I decided to hop on Subi for the challenge. Now, I did lunge him to get the craziness out of him (I haven’t been on in 2 weeks, it was colder, and the ground was wet/slippery) and let him figure out the footing in the round pen. He had a couple stupid moments (first one he actually put effort into his buck/rear combo, second, not so much) but after 10-15 minutes of trotting, I got on. What can I say, I’m a wimp and some days my confidence needs lunging more than others. Right now, it’s better for me to do that and get on and have a good ride then not and either not ride or have a bad ride. I had too many of those bad rides over the past couple of years.

Because of the ground and honestly? my confidence, we stuck to the trot for 2 point. Baseline is 5 minutes and 22 seconds. Way more longer than I thought. I felt OK at the time (though really sore at the end), but my thighs hurt more now. I’m suffering a bit from jello leg syndrome.

After our 2 pointing, I did a bit of trotting each way and called it a day. Subi was perfect and quiet, but since I was riding in the grass round pen and it was super mushy/wet, it wasn’t worth risking falls/injuries.

Anyway, that’s this week’s 2pointing. We’ll see where I am next week!

Time to start blogging!

It’s time I started blogging. I’d say again, but I never really go started to begin with. But, I need a way to stay accountable with my riding/horses as well as a good forum for me to vent about my horse related frustrations! Current plan it to blog to myself, but if anyone out there ever starts reading this, that’s OK too.

Who I am:

I am an (almost) 30-something (eek! how did THAT happen) rider who has been involved with horses for more than half of my life now. I started riding weekly a hunter/jumper lesson barn through high school. After high school, my mom stopped paying for my lessons and I started working off my lessons and riding 2-4 times a week. I also showed IHSA and learned a lot doing that. Somewhere along the way, junior year of college maybe? I started teaching up/downers in lessons/camp. I love teaching, but hate the drama surrounding it! Anyway, I’ve always been better on the ground then on a horse, but that’s OK with me. I stayed with the same barn for years, first buying my first horse, then through first “real” jobs and grad school. I eventually moved my guy to a self care barn, bought a second, then a third, then moved a few more times before finally settling in with my ponies in the backyard of the house I now share with my husband. I stopped teaching in 2010 because real life (aka real job quite a distance from barn where I taught with terrible hours) and recently started teaching again last year (at a new, less drama filled place) and am enjoying it again. I also lead trail rides in the warmer (non winter) months which can be enjoyable as well.

Outside the horse-world, I am a librarian.

What I do:

As I mentioned, I began riding hunter/jumpers. When did equitation through IHSA in college and showed hunters (minimally) when I got my horse. I’m not necessarily a competitive person and I never had the money to show as much as I needed to (both for me and my horse). I stopped working with a trainer years ago (terrible, but that’s life) and am learning here and there from many people. Right now, I just like riding my horses and having fun. I do a little bit of everything, but at this point, just consider myself a pleasure rider.

Who I ride:

I have 3 horses: Subi, Hayley, and Batts. They’re all chestnuts and are all in there teens.

subi1

Subliminal

Subi is my now 17 year old thoroughbred. My original. He’s the love of my life even though we’ve had some rocky years lately. I don’t do that much with him anymore beyond light rides and stuff, but hopefully, we’ll do more in the coming years.

Hayley was horse number 2. I love her to death though she does little more than eat. She’s about 14 now, but soundness is just not there (navicular plus some arthritis). She’s got major hind gut issues that no vets can figure out but right now she’s happy and comfortable so… I did hop on her for the first time in about 2 years last month and she was pretty sound. But, the next time I worked her, less comfortable. Hayley lives to eat and is the first to vocalize when breakfast should be served!

hayley

Hayley

Batts was the 3rd edition (and final edition while everyone else is still alive) to the crew. I wanted desperately for him to by horse number 2, but my trainer/boss at the time wasn’t willing to part with him at that point. Of course, 1 year later she was… Batt was formally known as Batman and is now formally known as Batiste, but in reality, he’s just Batts of the Batthorse. He does need a Batman saddle pad though… Anyway, he’s as quiet as can be and safe, safe, safe. I think everyone needs a safe, reliable horse. I love him to death though the other 2 are way more cuddly and affectionate. Batt just likes food, galloping up hills, and walking down random driveways when we ride around through developments. He like motorized equipment like tractors, lawnmowers, and snow plows, and generally doesn’t make sense. He’s a strange guy buy he’s Batts.

batts2

Batts

Goals/plans for the future:

With the horses at home and finances an issue, goals are limited. I recently bought a trailer and hopefully in the future (when I’m comfortable driving), I can start taking the guys out for trail rides and the occasional lesson, and maybe even a schooling show or 2. More than that? Not in the cards, but as long as I can continue to have fun and enjoy my kids, it’s all good.

More blogs to come, 1 in honor of 2pointober!

Today.

Riding this afternoon with my friend Sandra. Having someone to ride with DEFINITELY makes riding at home easier. I’m so happy she’s been able to follow me and the kids wherever we end up. Yes, she gets a good deal to pretty much ride Batts whenever she wants (though it usually only ends up being 1x/week) for virtually nothing, but still, it’s excellent for me too. It’s freezing and frozen out, but the scary winds of yesterday are gone! We usually ride in the mornings, but when it’s so cold, afternoon should be better. Plus, Erik’ll be home from work and can babysit the needy dogs. They (read: Hermione) can’t stand that I’m home and they’re inside and they insist on crying (well, howling) the entire time I’m riding. They could be outside but they feel the need to start playing underneath the horses’ feet while I’m riding. They only do that when I ride… Thanks guys.

Sometimes the having the horses at home is a pain. Sometimes I don’t want to deal with mud (don’t get me started), frozen hoses, poop (Hayley’s endless diarrhea is another days post), and not being able to walk outside with the OMG FEED US WE’RE STARVING reaction from the herd (they’re waiting a the fence line by 7am each morning… probably earlier but it’s dark out so I can’t see…). But having them outside my bedroom window does have some good points.

Batts and Hayley attacking their morning hay.

Batts and Hayley attacking their morning hay.

Excuse the crappy cell phone picture. I was leaning out my window and trying to keep the screen from falling to the ground… Batts is on the left (ignoring me as usual) and Hayley is on the right.

So the plan for this morning is to go out and pick sticks so that the woods are cleaner for riding today. Hopefully we can have out trot track now.  Then I need to make a trip out to Walmart (my least favorite store, but convenience of location wins) to get a different sized picture frame so I can wrap holiday gifts. For some reason I can’t count…

Goals for the ride? To stay on. Seriously.

All kidding aside (maybe.), today’s main goal is to get Subi’s butt working. We’re going to work on a nice FORWARD walk. Then add in head carriage. Then if that goes well and he’s not dying (he’s super out of shape and we haven’t worked on this hard stuff for way too long), CIRCLES, still working his butt and moving forward.

I’d also like to get on Batts so hopefully Sandra will be willing to pony swap so I can work my leg some more. I’d love nothing more than even 10 minutes of no stirrups (well, love is an overstatement, but I need it!). Plus, even if she just walks on Subi, it does make me feel better so watch someone else on my horse.

If all else fails? Back up plan is a “trail” ride, or rather, a ride through suburbia. Then Batts can be disappointed that he doesn’t get to go down every driveway. I’m convinced that horse is looking for a new home. He loves nothing more than to walk down driveways. Streets aren’t necessarily exciting, but driveways? OMG. But really, the goal is work.

And if I survive all that, dinner at the in-laws tonight (it still feels so strange to have in-laws). My mom, her husband, and my aunt will be there too, but… Raclette! Nothing better than raclette!

As an act of accountability. I’d better be back tonight/tomorrow to report on today’s ride.

Accountability.

So, part of the reason I decided to start this blog is for accountability. It’s so easy to say you’re going to do something, but at the end of the day, saying is not doing. If I write something down, it’s there in print and it’s harder to deny something to myself. Verbal statements are so much easier to deny to myself. Anyway, where am I going with this…?

Accountability. I need to set goals and stick to them.

When it comes to horses, I have 3, but only 2 are ridden. I keep saying I’m going to try and bring my mare back, but it seems her soundness issues always surface once I have the idea that I’ll get her back in work. Or she gets an abscess. Or we fear founder. Or stomach issues. Or there’s 12 feet of snow. Or something else completely ridiculous. I’m not entirely convinced something won’t happen if I put her back into work again.

But, just because the Hayley-Mare is a young retiree, doesn’t mean the other 2 are. In fact, they desperately need to work. So I need a plan for each one of them.

Subi: I think right now I just need to get 0n him consistently and make him work. If the ground is a mess or I’m not comfortable trotting/cantering because he’s decided he should be a circus horse, there is no reason that he still can’t work, hard, at the walk. Part of the issue right now is he is SO out of shape and trotting on the soft, hilly ground is super challenging and it’s easier to act stupid then to actually work. As he gets into better shape, the terrain won’t be as much of an issue. So I need to just get on him as often as possible and get his butt working. A couple years ago we worked hard on carriage and engagement and the poor horse was exhausted after a good 45 minutes at the walk. While we later moved on to the trot and canter, there’s no reason why I can’t spend a few weeks drilling this stuff again at the walk. Besides, the time in the saddle, working, even at the walk, will help me get my leg back…which brings me to the root of the problem.

I lost my leg. I didn’t ride consistently thanks to life, weather, time, work, and I lost my leg. It’s hard to be confident or trust your horse when he’s acting stupid and you have no leg. Without my leg back, I can’t stay on when he decides to act like an idiot. Then I lose confidence. Then I ride less. Then I get myself into situations where I have a horse who decides to act like a nut case thanks to lack of work…

Batts: I have 2 hard keepers in the winter and then I have Batts. Somehow he’s managed to put on even more weight in the last 2 weeks. How? I do not know, but his weight gain plus lack of fitness (in part due to weight gain) make riding him…interesting. He can have all the time off in the world and he’ll still be pretty much dead quiet. He’s got his issues, but bucking is not one of them (thankfully he doesn’t have a clue how to buck so when he tries, he more or less drops his head and if he’s lucky, gets one hoof about 6 inches off the ground).  For his sake, he needs to work and he can help me get my leg back. Over the next week, I’m going to try and get on him as much as possible. Hopefully I’ll have the “track” in the woods cleared out so he and I can really work. He needs a refresher course on using his hind end and I need to do some no stirrups work. So perhaps for the next week or so, each time I work with him, we spend 10 minutes without stirrups at the trot (though with his lack of fitness, I’ll probably have to do 5 minutes and 5 minutes because at this point, I’m not sure if he can even trot for 10 minutes…). How much else I do will depend on how much huffing and puffing is going on. But we can definitely work on using his hind end and possibly some hill work at the walk?

So. I have a plan. It’s in writing. I need to stick with it.