Square Peg, Round Hole

So, I have lots to update on, but instead I’m going to stick with what’s grating on my mind. I’ll get to the other, more fun, stuff another day.img_1433

Since my quite spectacular crash off of Batty a few weeks a go, I’ve sort of been questioning a lot of things. Am I asking him to do stuff he can’t do? Am I asking him to do stuff he doesn’t want to do? Am I causing all sorts of problems? Am I causing all of our stopping issues? Is it physical? Is it mental? Is it me? Is it him? Can a pro fix this? What is this? Am I going to get hurt fixing whatever this turns out to be?

So here is the thing about Batty and falls and all of that. Fall happen. I don’t actually care about falling. They come with riding and while we try to avoid them and minimize the risk, the only way to avoid them completely is not to ride. I am not willing to do that. So, it comes down to calculated risks. But, the other side of the coin is Batty has NEVER been consistent over fences. I remember when I first rode him as a green broke 5/6 year old (who was actually we later learned a green broke 2 year old) 12+ years ago wiggling and zooming to jumps and slamming on the breaks, ducking out his hind end… He eventually got more consistent, especially over plain jane crossrails and verticals. But, he’s never been confident or consistent over any jump with build up or anything solid underneath. This horse used to slam on the breaks at a ground pole… So, it should surprise me that we have issues…

Then there is me. Without going into issues, I’m at the point in my life where i need to minimize the risks. I need to avoid too many falls and concussions. I need to avoid head injuries and more concussions. I have too many issues with migraines (and right now am just in a holding pattern until I can get into see neuro in November, but that’s a whole other story). So, this brings me to this week’s lesson…

My trainer has offered me to get on Batty and school him over jumps and I finally took her up on the offer. So, after warming him up on the flat, she got on him to basically see who was the issue. Me or him (I’m quick to always blame myself even though deep down I know the issues I rooted well beyond me). With a lot of the same struggle I have, she schooled him over and over 3 jumps until he was consistent and confident over all 3, licking and chewing. Then I got on and did the same (I was fine for 1 and 2, struggle for 3,  but, that was me). We got through it and then ultimately had a talk.

Trainer basically said it’s amazing I haven’t come off more than I have because when he stops it’s not a normal stopper motion. He swings out his hind end and it comes out of no where. He doesn’t look at the jump, doesn’t drop his head, and doesn’t give warning (well, when we stopped at jump 3, he warned me as we ran out of gas 4 strides out, but that’s different). He’s never going to be consistent. If we jump him daily, he’ll likely get better (aka memorize these jumps), but the second something changes — be it the ring, a jump, etc.–we will be starting over from scratch. So, the advice? We stop trying to jump him. He’s sound. Physically he can do it and more and he can do it easily, but it’s just not for him.

So Saturday we went on a trail ride and soon we’ll start looking for paper chases and stuff like that. Just need to find people to do stuff like this with. We’ll still try and take a lesson here and there to keep up with our flat work, but no more solid ‘hunter’ jumps. That’s just not him. But give him a field to gallop through and he’s a happy horse… Regardless, he’s with me for life.


So, for the time being, I’m going to take lessons on one of her lesson horses who can pack me around over 2’6″ for the winter and reassess in the spring. We’ll see where I am financially in March. If I have the funds, I might see about putting Subi in training for a month to see what I have. My mom asked right away about Subi but it’s almost October… Why get him in shape just to give him the winter off in 2 months? I know I don’t have the time to commit to what he needs in the winter but I can probably do enough for spring/summer/fall. So, we’ll see. I’m hoping my family will help me out with training. The downside of all of this is, right now he is sound, but he’s 20 in January. Will he be sound back in work? I’m only willing to do so much maintenance to keep him comfortable when I know he’s comfortable retired. So, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Hopefully we’ll know what he have pretty quickly and can back out of training if he can’t hold up  and I’m happy popping over 2′-2’3″ if that’s all he can do and skipping changes if it keeps him sounder. Hopefully by the spring I’ll be healthier too.

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.



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!



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.



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!


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.