Ranger Recap: Turning in the air

This week’s Ranger Recap focused on turns.

Rather than our normal hunter courses and occasional roll backs, this week was completely focused on deliberate turns in the air.

We started off with the outside single (away from the road) around to the skinny (turning before the mess of other jumps) to the in of the outside line backwards (3 strides).

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The trick with this was to ensure that I kept Ranger’s stride short enough to make the turn (heading towards the barn, he likes to lengthen) and to keep him off of his front end so I could turn him. That said, this exercise went surprisingly well despite not having that much time to turn…

Next we did the exercise in reverse, sort of. So, we came up the outside single away from the road to the skinny towards the barn to the out of the outside line (see handy image…lol)

course002This went…less well than the other direction. We struggled (it didn’t help that I sort of injured my hip and had no right leg the entire night) and basically rode without any inside leg and we missed the skinny the first time… On repeat I forced myself to use my leg that was super weak and got through the exercise but it was…not the prettiest.

Finally, we added a whole bunch to the first exercise. So, outside single away from road, immediate turn to skinny 3 strides to in of outside line backwards to end jump turn out of inside line backwards 4 strides to inside single to 2 strides to green jump. Confusing? Hell yes. I had the other rider go first because I was so lost.

course003 The first time through I made it though jump 6 before I looked at the ground and ducked around it… Not exactly a success… Lol. We repeated jump 4-7 where Ranger decided to try and BOLT approaching jump 5 but thankfully we survived. On re-approach, I was able to collect his stride and successfully accomplish the course at hand.

Take aways? It is REALLY hard to ride when you have 1 good leg. Wednesday night my hip was hurting so much I could barely walk. Yesterday is was much better, but I just felt weak. That weakness just made everything harder. It was fine, just harder. Overall, not the easiest day to do these exercises. Still, definitely a welcome change from the normal hunter courses.

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Ranger Recap: Drowning.

It’s warmed up here in the mid atlantic but the rain is back. We had 2 glorious mostly rain free weeks (so, there was some rain, but mostly dry) weeks. And then yesterday happened. My paddock and yard that had begun to dry so nicely? Yeah no. SO MUCH MUD. I’m drowning. Sinking is probably a better word. It is AWFUL.

So, after being washed away walking from building to building on campus yesterday (stupid college campus with terrible drainage and work schedule that left me with meetings on the other side of campus), I convinced myself that I really DID need to ride. So I ventured out to ride. Last week? We were outside in the outdoor for the first time since last year. Last night? Back inside. Yuck. At times the rain was so loud I couldn’t here instructions. So I made my own… Completely fair, right?

Anyway, it was humid (rain) so Ranger was slow and behind my leg a bit so… fun. Spent time working on that and getting his head up. He just wanted to drop and pull. Not so much in a drop and drag kind of way, but more so in a get heavy and fall on his face? My least favorite Ranger ride, especially when I’m struggling to keep him in front of my leg.

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We started off just working on a large pattern. Down the purple single (towards the in gate) and back around away from the gate to the Swedish oxer (orange jump on ugly diagram). We repeated this 3-4 times until we maintained a forward GOING pace to both jumps. Supposedly in his previous lesson (he did a 1/2 hour with a kid to who kicks and causes Ranger to gallop) he was bolting to the single, but mostly I just had to worry about getting him to carry himself. No drop and drag was happening. Initially despite getting to the fences at nice spots, we lacked…power, but once I found a better canter, everything improved.

Next we reversed the pattern. So up the single away from the in gate (tight turn to the purple single), down down the Swedish oxer towards the in gate and continuing to the outside line (purple on diagram) in the 6. All would have been fine, but I got in my head because I started listening to chatter. Find the straight line. Leg, power, 2 hands. And got in my head. So, Ranger noped out of it when he felt me not ride. We circled, I used my inside leg this time and all was good. We continued around, did the whole pattern, and everything was good.

We did another course or 2 and I completely forget what they were… Sorry. I can remember the courses my lesson mate rode? Not helpful…

To end on, purple single away from the in gate, around to the Swedish, outside line again, around to the skinny (green single). I HATE skinnies, but since I actually rode, it was fine. We had done the outside line 3-4 time by this point, but Ranger tried to NOPE out of it and I had to use so much leg/had to keep him on course. He as a little annoyed at me but thankfully all was good. He was SO hoping I wasn’t paying attention by that point (he was tired), but…

Over all, it was a good lesson. But my legs were dead. I paid getting off and manage to pull something in my hip. Then, overnight got a charley horse in my left calf. So I’m a mess today… Need more water and probably less coffee but…

Ranger Recap: Ride Defensively.

The frigid cold finally hit the Mid Atlantic yesterday in the form of crazy wind gusts and plummeting temperatures (gusts were up to 50mph during the day). Nonetheless, after cancelling last week due to a migraine, I dragged myself off to the barn to see possibly my almost favorite horse ever.

I was warned that he’d be grumpy, angry, and possibly crazy and that the kids can’t work him through that, but I said I was up for the challenge. Now, Ranger is a draft cross. I’m used to thoroughbreds and warmbloods being up. Ranger being up isn’t like that at all. He doesn’t get up, he gets heavy.

I got on and he tried to convince me he needed a nap. So we worked on trotting with energy and eventually I managed a forward trot knowing that everything could come out over fences. My trainer eventually asked me to through in halts and backs. This is when you could tell he was faking as it took everything I had (and several attempts) before I could halt without Ranger pulling his large head to the ground. Eventually, I was able to keep his head up, but the struggle was real…

After a while, we added in the canter which was surprisingly lovely. However it took a few strides to get my body back were it needed to be (why? no idea but I started the ride a bit forward). After 3 or 4 or 5 times around the ring, we added in the in of the outside line on a circle, in an attempt to tire him out before really starting over fences. We did this 6 times, with the first 3 being nice, then I got passive and Ranger NOPED to the outside. See, I came up to the most PERFECT spot on the most PERFECT stride so I didn’t add extra leg and since we had already jumped it, I didn’t use extra hand (both hands to the inside). Ranger saw the inch I gave and took a mile. I need to be on the ENTIRE ride. Ride defensively. On repeat (x2) no issue.

We switched directions, cantered around 3-4 times,  and did the same thing over the outside single on the other side with no issue.

Feeling “warmed up,” we started down over the inside single heading towards the in gate and then were to come around to the outside line in a holding 7. The inside single is the jump that Ranger loves to OMG LAUNCH over because it’s heading home and GATE. Sure enough, right as we turned, I felt him go for the bit, but I was able to tug his head up early and a couple follow up tugs brought us to a perfect spot. It was really nice and Ranger was slightly pissed that I had his number… We stayed way out but unfortunately, I didn’t keep enough outside leg on him for the line and he noped out of it. That was the last NOPE of the night and sort of woke me up… Circling back WITH outside leg, we got down the line in the 7, continued around, did it in a 7 again, evenly woahing at strides 1-3, continued around and did the line again, this time in a 6. And then we got to walk. Finally.

Next, the word “skinny” came up. Since everyone knows how much I love skinnies…. the plan was to approach the inside single from the opposite direction (away from the in gate) and then stay close to the wall to do this crazy awkward inside line of a skinny to oxer. The issue with the line (in addition to the blasted skinny) is that everyone wants to turn too soon and then the horses assume that they’re jumping the outside single vs the inside line which is not the normal diagonal line but off set so you go all the way around the corner and part way around the side before you turn.

So first time through, we started, and another pony was in hacking so I had a bad corner to my jump because she decided to be in her own world so I circled defensively and Ranger had an “oh shit, she means business” moment when I forced him through a tight turn and made him bend… Ha. Our inside single was perfect and then I forced him to stay OUT and wait for the skinny which in turn made the line an easy 6.

Ultimately, we put in all together. Down the inside single towards the in gate (check). Outside line in the going 6 (check). Awkward skinny inside like (check). Inside single away from in gate (check). Could not have ended with a better course.

The jumps may not have all been picture perfect throughout the lesson, but as my trainer said, it was some of the best riding I’ve ever done. I rode defensively most of the lesson because I needed to. If I gave anything away, Ranger ducked out. I had to ride to the base and over or else we were going around. Lol. When Ranger has energy, THIS is how he shows it. But, it was fun too and great for my confidence. A year ago, I wouldn’t have trusted myself that I was strong enough to ride him through everything. Last night? No issues.

Ranger Recap: Cold. Air. Can’t. Breathe. Oxygen. Required.

We’ve been having some strange weather here lately. It’s been warm, it’s been cold, it’s been snowing, it’s been raining, the snow’s melted… Yeah. So, due to a crazy weird storm that mucked everything up, I didn’t ride Thursday and rode Sunday instead. Yay daylight! Except, it was super cold and we rode inside… It’s winter so I’m anticipating this becoming the norm for the next few months.

Anyway, it was nice and quiet when I arrived though Ranger’s OMG BEST FRIEND (this time, Texas) was in the ring so he stared in anxiously in love from the cross ties while I groomed and tacked up. Seriously, that horse is falls in love with any horse from his field. It’s crazy. He needs to get over himself… 

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Once in the ring, he was a gentleman. Me, however, struggle to keep him moving. He was poky and slow and my legs felt like lead. Ranger was stiff so that didn’t help. Eventually he loosened up enough that our circles resembled the appropriate shape. I realized though the lesson was going to be a struggle and breathing was difficult. Once we picked up the canter, we cantered, and cantered, and cantered, and cantered. Circling small circles on each end, focusing on where I was seated and the placement of my outside hand and shoulder. We found balance eventually and continued on. And then started on simple changes to find the right rhythm. Finally, after what felt like a half hour, we walked. And I started gasping for breath. 

Breath never returned and we started to jump working on a circle over a single, first on the left lead, then on the right. We did this about a half dozen times each way, mostly focusing on both the ride in and ride out–turning with 2 hand to the fence, turning in the air, making sure landed with pace and maintained a steady pace, etc. 

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Next we moved to our outside single around down the inside of the ring (long ride) to a Swedish oxer. First time through I was weak to the single (but made it work) and then over rode to the oxer.  Next time though I actually had pace and it worked). Then we did the same 2 and continued around to our inside line…

Success did not happen. 

So I came into the in lacking power, but to a nice spot. I added leg, Ranger extended really nicely and I found the distance. Except, I took my leg off and just assumed he’d cart my butt over. And he laughed in my face and said, “nope you idiot.” Having ridden outside most of the recent lesson, I’m used to wing standards and 10 foot wide jumps. Inside many of the jumps are not winged and the jumps are 8 foot wide. Add being passive…Fail. Advise? Ride the entire time. And start from the beginning. 

Gasping for breath (SERIOUSLY), I started over and the second attempt was MUCH better. Though the first jump was kind of a miss…

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At this point, I could barely breathe, so I had to do 3 more jumps before I could dismount. Outside single around to the outside line. I promptly missed some distances and had to continue around and repeat. I asked if I could circle before the outside the second time, was told no, things looked good/I was fine, so I continued made it over a gorgeous line and halted. The thing was, my issue wasn’t the line, but rather that at that point I flat out could NOT get oxygen into my lungs. I have NEVER not been able to breathe like that while riding. I eventually dismounted, still gasping for breath Ranger got the biggest hug for not dumping me. 

He had another lesson (a walk learning to trot lesson) so he cooled out while I tried to breathe/found my rescue inhaler (fail) and it wasn’t until steroids that night and sleep that I finally could breathe normally again. The ring was freshly watered and wasn’t dusty so I’m guessing it was the cold air? Needless to say, Ranger eventually got a huge amount of treats for taking care of me… 

Ranger Recap: Blame.

I want to start this post off by saying my lesson this week was everything last week was now. Incredible. Perfection.

But, it revealed some holes(?) in my past training that I want to talk a little bit about while also recapping my lesson.

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In one of her recent recaps, the everything pony talked about how old habits from old lessons and old trainers resurface during lessons with new trainers. Stuff that’s so ingrained that we don’t even think about it. It’s not necessarily the heels down or closed fingers or the mechanics of riding, but the mental stuff that sticks with you in ways you don’t realize until you are riding with someone new. Now, caveat, my trainer isn’t new, I’ve been riding with her consistently for 2.5+ years now and have taken a few lessons with her before then. But, I rode with my previous trainer for much longer, multiple times a week at times, plus I rode with other instructors at her barn, in her program. So, I was fully ingrained.

Last week, I had issues with the one stride. I didn’t steer aggressively. Then, I didn’t do enough to get us over the skinny. It didn’t take a lot to get over the 1 stride and after 2 attempts, we were over and had no issues. The skinny, I struggle with, despite my best attempts, I still AM 100% certain I WAS DOING SOMETHING WRONG and a better rider could have gotten Ranger over.

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Last night, we were warming up on the flat at the trot. It was windy, but warm so we were light on flat work. Trainer mention I need to work on bending him more (his nose wanted to point out despite my best effort). To the left, I managed to get him bending (holy crap, my inside leg was THROBBING), but to the right, nothing I did worked. “I have no right leg.” “It might not be your right leg. If he’s not listening, escalate. Kick him with your inside leg.” After kicking him, we did some circles and I got him bending better to the right (I struggled with our circle/pole exercise to the left, however, I misunderstood the point was to go OVER the pole the until I was halfway through the exercise to the left the first time, so… that was the bigger issue. Lol)

During our walk break, my trainer mention that an 8 year old has been riding him and causing his right drift. I brought up that I was taught to blame myself for all the issues and never blame my horse. My trainer flat out said that is bull and sometimes it is the horse. All of the issues last week were caused by right drift. Yes, I was passive, but, I rode straight to the jumps with equal leg pressure and normally that would have been enough. I did then share that I hate 1 strides (and bounces) and left to stew about dying… She agreed that I do better when I can just get my course and go so that lesson wasn’t the best fit for me. But, my riding wasn’t the entire problem. But, I take 100% of the blame when stuff goes wrong even when it may only be 50% my fault (or less or more). Much of this is because I don’t see myself as a competent rider. I need to work on that. But, it was a really good and necessary conversation that we had.

So, after this, we canter and I rode. First, supposedly, I picked up too much of a canter? Rare for me! But, I’ll take credit here. We were outside and it didn’t feel fast so I asked for more. But, with the wind, it was supposedly too much. And, Ranger was leaning in on the corners… I was told to halt and back, but as I asked for that canter, instead I just lifted and balanced and he came right back to me which made my trainer happy. To the right, the leaning was worse so I kicked which got him fast, but, he got off my leg which then allowed me to balance him. I did have issues keeping my right hand by his shoulder so I’ll work on that for next week…

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We started back and forth over the quarter line jump. Basically, working on straightness to it, even pace, and halting on the landing. Right lead was actually easy and I made the turn without issue (I struggle SO MUCH with that turn). Left lead we were able to canter a circle first to establish pace, then a slight steadying tug UP and again, all was good.

Next we came down our quarter line around to our outside single around to the inside single oxer. Once again, the quarter line was easy, the single was fine in that I rode to it and fit what I saw and wanted in to it. Now, the spot was our worst spot of the night but it was 100% adequate. It wasn’t a chip and it was completely deliberate, but it wasn’t as lovely as every other jump of the night. But, as I struggle SO MUCH with that jump, I’ll take it. After that jump, we headed towards the in gate where Ranger got a bit excited and thankfully I adjusted early and we nicely jumped that fence.

We ended with a course. Outside line in a 6, inside line in a 6, outside single, and inside oxer. Every. Single. Fence. Just. Happened. Perfectly. Seriously. I can’t even describe it. So, the inside like was a 5, but the 5 was there. We were going home, he was in front of my leg and it worked. Heading to the outside single, I felt the right drift early and was able to get him OFF my leg and move him over and finally nailed the distance I wanted. The outside line was nice, the oxer was lovely.

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Halloween for horses? 

My trainer thought it was a good idea to end while we were ahead. I agreed. I didn’t miss one distance and Ranger was perfection.

Ranger Recap: Laughing at me.

So it was bound to happen. I finally had a crappy lesson. At least for the first time in a while. I’m pretty sure I never wrote up my last lesson, but too late.

Nothing starts well when you get there and 1. notice everyone is riding in the indoor and 2. are early (enough) and are told to get on as soon as possible to ride with the other girls.

I typically ride at 6:30 so arrive between 5:50 and 6:00 which gives me enough time to groom, relax, and hop on by 6:20. So, being told to hurry up so I can ride with the 6:00 lesson is never a good sign. And, it turns out everyone was riding inside because the rated show was indoors this weekend. This sort of meant that I wasn’t going to a priority because 1. lesson person and 2. children’s hunter and larger division pony in my lesson. So yeah. Granted, I was defeated before the lesson because I hate rushing.

I won’t go over our warm up/flat work because it was decent enough. I’ve been struggling with bending on straight lines with him. He’s being ridden by a lot more kids now and no one works on bending at all so I get on and it’s 1000% harder for me. So… Corners/circles/etc. are fine, going straight? way too much work. Especially as my inside leg wasn’t working (both directions interestingly enough).

As the other pair were the focus, I didn’t jump as much. I can’t complain as this rarely ever happens. But, when it does, it’s frustrating. I didn’t help things but not being on my game. But… I started off with my nemesis. A 1 stride around to a skinny. Except, I had to wait a while as my trainer kept messing with it while I sat and contemplated my impending death. Lol. But it’s true…

So, when it was finally my turn (other girls were jumping other more fun stuff), we jumped the in, I gave zero direction and Ranger NOPED out to the right. So, we turned, cantered back around, and Ranger NOPED at the in (twice I believe. The second time I was actually trying and he grabbed the bit, laughing all the way, ha! Ha! HA!). Thankfully, anger got in the way of my fear of death (I seriously despise 1 strides) and I picked his massive head up and got him through the damn line a couple of times…

We next added in the skinny and again had the SAME problem (thankfully, he stopped playing with the 1 stride once he realized I was not not jumping it). So, my trainer is on a skinny kick. This one is NOT as bad as the skinny in the outdoor that was so skinny that, jumping the center, I tapped my foot on standard, but that freaked me out. This one was hard to get to and I kept overshooting the approach and Ranger first got his eye on the out of the inside line… So, first step was correcting then trying to get straight. Except we ducked out to the left. Ugh. Instead of going back to it, we repeated the entire thing and I’m pretty sure we got over it the second and third time, again, sitting deep and LIFTING a big and ultra heavy head. But, it’s been a while since Ranger has tested me that much.

Finally, we were to end with the skinny, around to the 1 stride around to what was a bending line of our picket fence jump to oxer in what was anticipated to be a 7. But, the damn skinny. See, the first few times we did the skinny, my trainer was standing near it and then she was down towards the end of the ring. And Ranger was not having anything to do with it. Finally, I was told to forget my distance (I saw my damn distance every time and rode to it and then lost it when Ranger dropped and rolled–well, not quite, but I could not get on the same page when I knew where I wanted to be) and just get over the jump. Lol. So, I fought him, we lost our canter, ended up trotting the skinny (at the distance I wanted because, I can’t let everything go). Then, from there, the one stride was easy (the out now being an oxer but that didn’t matter). While I was concerned about the picket jump to the oxer, it was mostly because I despise the picket (it’s my death fence) and the oxer was a much larger than anything else we had jumped that night. I was told it would probably be 7 strides but we jumped the in out of a forward canter and landing, Ranger was so in front of my leg that I saw that 6 that I just went for it vs fussing. After all the cruddy first fences/lines, it was nice to have SOMETHING look nice first time through and to ride aggressively.

In the end, I’m not sure what to make of the lesson. It wasn’t great. Part of that was because I wasn’t riding well. Part of that was because I was down on priorities list. But, Ranger doesn’t test me like that often. He’ll test me when I’m not trusting my eye (ie: add if I don’t keep my leg on). But, it’s been a long time since I’ve dealt with this ducking out stuff. So, it was a good reminder to stay square, keep leg on to the base, and lift his head UP a half an inch as needed when he STARTS to feel a tiny bit heavy…

I may not have enjoyed all of it, but I’m pretty sure Ranger had fun. He had a twinkle in his eye every.single.time. he ducked out. You could see him laughing. He has too much personality…

Ranger Recap: I forgot how to ride…

This post could also be titled: Don’t do yoga before you ride…

It was also a week of boxes and shipments and we all love boxes, especially when they don’t cost anything! And even when they do…

First box? New helmet ordered on IHAD! I ordered the Trauma void and then spent hours debating whether it fit (I had tried one on a few weeks ago so I knew the size was right). I also realized that my old One K helmet did NOT fit (plus was giving me headaches again–the last thing I need). Thanks Michele for laughing at me and thank you to Amanda @ 900 Facebook Pony for helmet fit advice from pictures and random text messages! I’m still not sure I love the look, but it’s comfortable and it definitely fits. I’ll do a full review one of these days!

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Next box? ~$300 worth of Kensington fly stuff! I won an Instagram drawing a few weeks ago and now am the proud owners of lots of fly garb. All my guys already have fly sheets (Batty and Jiminy JUST got new sheets this year) but Subi’s is on his 4th summer so he was the recipient of the prize package. Fly sheet, fly mask, fly boot, tail cover (not really sure about this one), and a matching lead rope. At some point I might splurge and get a matching neck cover, but, as I don’t use the neck cover on Subi too much, he may just use his current next cover on with this sheet… Who cares about matching… I’ll dress him up this weekend and take a picture. The mask MAY be too big as he usually wears a cob mask and the smaller size was listed as arab (on the package it’s listed as cob/arab) so we’ll see. It’s a new style so very few reviews. Regardless, it’s still nice to win stuff!

Now, lesson time! Thanks to a weird  kumbaya day at work, I ended up doing a lot of yoga instead of working (less the 90 minute intensive research class I had to teach while the rest of my colleagues were running around playing video games and painting rocks). I love yoga, but it’s been a while. As a result, I felt it when I hopped on Ranger last night. Flat work was fine. Did a lot of extending and collecting at the canter.

Over fences, we started out working on an extending/collecting exercise over the center line (maybe 1ft fences). First time in, 10 strides, next length in for the 9, then collecting for the 10, then back to the 9, then 10, then 11, then 8. One time I overrode for an 8 instead of the 9, but ultimately, you get the idea. The fences weren’t the issue, the stride length was.

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Next we took it to the inside single around to the inside line. Goal was to do the inside line first in a holding 7 then a going 6. The single was fine, the holding 7 was fine, reapproaching the single was fine, the 6, less so. I failed to keep my right leg on him as my leg was starting to die by this point and because of a lack of a straight line, we ended up with a 7 vs 6. So continuing around, we landed from the single, moved UP, stayed straight, and got the 6. Easy, no issue (this time).

After this we did the other inside single (oxer) around to the outside line (4 strides) back to the inside line in the 6. This was, er, less successful. As we turned to the oxer, Ranger had a moment of GALLOP in his mind (he caught his eye on the outside line vs the oxer) and I had to collect). Despite that, the oxer wasn’t terrible). But, we landed and didn’t exactly regroup and sort of flew to the line and while I collected as necessary, I failed to ADD LEG at the base and we chipped before thankfully finishing the line semi successfully. The inside line was OK.

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On the reapproach, I stayed out longer before the turn to the oxer and there was no attempt the gallop as Ranger did NOT get his eye on the wrong jump as my turn was better and direction was clear. The turn to the outside line was again so much better. BUT, where I completely failed was the inside line… OMG. I landed from the in and just lost it. We did the line in a 7 and it was ugly. So, I was to go to the other inside single and go back around to the inside line. Except… I completely FAILED at that. (legs DEAD and no heel and shaking legs re: yoga coming in to play)

Let me just mention this. It deserves its own line.

Ranger is a SAINT.

Ranger SAVED MY BUTT.

I have no idea how WHY we got over the jump OR how I stayed on.

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Summer is ending quickly…

First he thought we were jumping the brick box NEXT to the single then realized I was likely thinking single and said, “Idiot, I’ll jump that, hang on fool.” And jumped from the base of the fence about a foot higher than the jump so that he cleared it. I landed in a HEAP on his neck. But managed to stay on as he cantered around the corner and decided he’d throw in a front change just because… (I’ll while I’m promising him so many cookies and peppermints to make up for my mistakes).

Needless to say, we restarted and I regrouped and got my leg under me and we jumped both of the damn jumps/lines. They weren’t perfect, but I believe at that point, as it didn’t look like I was going to die, my trainer decided that was a close to perfect as things were going to be. I made promises never to do yoga before I rode ever again and off Ranger and I went for a walk (where he proceeded to spook at a horse running and bucking and almost unseating me AGAIN–thankfully I had decided to put my feet back in my stirrups as there was NO strength left in my legs to hold on to his side jump and spin).

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My new helmet ALMOST got a crash test.

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Ranger got an INSANE number of peppermints and cookies.

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Ranger Recap: omhumidity

I FINALLY had a lesson Thursday after 2 lesson free weeks. First I was away on a much needed vacation (where I spent the week covered with ice packs barely able to walk because of an allergic reaction to some sort of biting/stinging creature that took me 14 days to recover from — not seeking medical attention was not a good idea but I’m also allergic to prednisone). Then trainer was away at pony finals. I did ride Ranger (Dr. Ranger in case anyone asks) while she was away though it was insanely hot. But FINALLY a lesson.

But, it was crazy humid. Seriously, I almost died. I wanted to pass out several times during my lesson. And I’ve lost just about all strength in my right leg thanks to stinging injury… We got on early and the previous lesson was running late. So I took a nap on Ranger while the cantered for a bit before I was advised to start trotting (sorry, napping was a better idea). Thankfully, Ranger came to play and we had a nice forward trot and, at least on the left rein, incorporated some nice bending. And, because there is nothing more you want to do when your horse is moving forward, we also decided to add in some sitting trot circles… Ugh. To the right, nothing was as easy. As I mention, I have less than NO right leg and Ranger does not like to bend to the right. I am helped by the fact that I am the only person that can get him to bend (we worked a lot on bending last week when my leg was in worse condition). Eventually we walked, other rider worked on her changes then it was time to canter.

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Major success at Pony Finals for one of our riders! 3rd o/f, 3 overall, champion welsh in mediums!

Because I’m an idiot, I decided to pick up the left lead first. Our easy direction. At this point I was already exhausted. Humidity was killing me. I really need to work on the hard stuff (right lead) first. Instead, we cantered for what seemed like an eternity: circling, lengthening, etc. before we finally changed direction. To the right, the balance was not there. I could feel my legs shaking from the start and no amount of right leg plus hand could get his head where I wanted it. Of course, my outside hand started becoming ineffective too so there’s that. But, we had a moment where the balance came suddenly. While our trot circles suck, right lead canter circles don’t. And suddenly Ranger was round, bending, and balanced. So, at the canter, I need to remember to circle early, balance, and then work down the sides until I can achieve that balance with him elsewhere. Part of it is that he’s a lesson horse that no one else does any of this, but still…

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(at this point I downed my entire bottle of water and proceeded to die while the other rider started jumping before we joined in)

The exercise was to trot into the outside line and canter out in the 6 (I think… It’s been a few days). First time through we got a 7 as we just had no momentum into the in of the line and had to land and work. After that, realizing that the trot we needed was almost a canter but still a trot (basically forward with energy–these weren’t tiny fences though obviously not massive either), it worked. We did this several more times until no more thinking was required. The other horse did one more fence and left the ring (Ranger was less than impressed, but was joined by another horse which softened the blow).

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You can see the out of the outside line (not an oxer in this picture) and the log jump. You needed to pass the out of the line before turning to the log. (The inside single is the tree/brick wall half cut off by this picture)

Next we cantered into our inside single and were to go around to the log jump and then back to the outside line. Except, nope. Fail. The single was fine, the single was great actually. We moved up to a gorgeous spot. The log though. Drive by. First drive by in a while. It’s a hard approach as you have to go by the out of the outside line and turn to the log there (and the log is a skinny). But, being that you’re already cantering down the quarter line… So we reapproached, this time I used twice as much leg and hand and sat back and Ranger grabbed the bit, gave me the middle finger, and laughed in my face. My shoulder still aches from that one. So I got angry back, pulled up, added leg, and at least did quite let him pass it even though we had no change of getting over it. At that moment, Ranger realize I wasn’t once of those little kids he gets to drag around. With a more conservative approach, a couple tug, tugs, we got over the damn jump. Then we did the whole thing twice. The first time was decent. The second time we moved up to everything and called it a night. Sometimes you just don’t want to mess with a good thing.

 

 

Ranger Recap: Getting back in the swing of things

I FINALLY had another lesson after 2 weeks off from lessons due my trainer away at horse shows (I did get to ride Ranger but not as much as I had hoped due to migraines and a heat wave that, quite honestly, left me not wanting to ride).

But it was so nice to be back that I took absolutely NO pictures so deal with old media?

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Never too much of this face

I got on a bit early and just chilled on Ranger. He’s really a good couch. To be perfectly honest, if all I did that evening was sit on his back, I would have been 100% happy. I can’t describe how much I love this horse. He’s perfection is ALMOST every way (my ears will talk about that later…).

We did out normal w/t warm up with circles while the lesson before us was finishing up. Forward, thankfully, wasn’t an issue, though circles were and the effort it took to loosen Ranger up to right to get him to bend was something else… He was stiff as a board. Supposedly he was worked some already (beginners), but based on how much his neck resembled a 2×4, I’m guessing I was the first person to ask for any sort of bend. He rented the bend not the work. He has quite good work ethic. Eventually he gave in to my inside leg and rein and relaxed his neck and we achieved a nice bend and moved on. So exciting. Seriously. Like watching paint dry. On a 2×4.

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He’s the best

Cantering was nice. Our first direction. Relaxing and lovely. Then his friends left. And all hell broke loose. I mean, he was lovely and well behaved just a bit forward and screaming at the top of his lungs. See, Forrest was in the ring with us and OMG I LOVE YOU BFF FRIENDS FOREVER. So, yeah. Screaming. Ranger’s downfall. My poor ears. It got old. Really. Really. Fast. But, we forgot we were fighting me on bending so win?

We warmed up with a our log jump by cantering in, landing and turning and reapproaching based on whichever lead we landed. So turn right and approach from the right if right lead, left if left lead. We landed each lead 1x and then moved on. Meanwhile, my trainer had her daughter set up fences and don’t let a 9 year old put up jumps… Some of the fences were up already from the previous lesson, but now I have 2 3′ fences, a 3′ oxer, and a small line and a small vertical to warm up with. Thanks. For the oxer, the directions were to put it up a bit (it was 2’6″) and then she asked if she could make it an oxer… Oy. “Sarah doesn’t want to jump small jumps…” — Actually, Sarah doesn’t care!

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Old view of the course. Jumps at different heights but you can see the log. Landed and either went right or left and reapproached.

We started off with the vertical (which was actually the second jump on our inside) heading towards the barn around to the other inside line. The line was nice and small (2’3″) and while I was nailing the single vertical, I struggle SO MUCH with the approach to the in of the line! First time through, I cut my corner a touch and chipped. Second time, I stayed out, but then we had left drift. Third time OR fourth time (I lost track), we were to continue around to the massive 3′ oxer that I was giving the side eye… Thankfully I rode the line better this time and didn’t die with the oxer… MASSIVE outside leg was required to keep a certain pinto from left drift to the inside line.

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Where the X with blue/white standards would be the vertical and the tree jumps would be the inside line (can’t see the second one well but bother were similar height 2’3″ ish).  Outside singles can be see here too but just raise them a lot make the one left of screen an oxer and the inside jump is between the stone pillars

We changed things up the next time and moved on from this and instead did the OTHER outside single around to the inside single around to the outside oxer again. I’ll be honest, I never 100% got this. I got each part, but never completely put it together. And the more I started thinking, the less things worked. And we all know, thinking IS NOT A GOOD THING, at least with me. So, I would get the first jump, and then my trainer would tell me NOT TO CHANGE ANYTHING so I would somehow interpret that to mean SLOW DOWN and change my pace rather than keep my leg on… then guess what? The spot I would see would suddenly disappear! Amazing how crap like that happens and we’d chip a 3′ fence… But still clear it because Ranger is a saint. SAINT. Or, we’d swap coming up to it to make it work… Or, I’d ride PAST the distance. Then I’d realize I’m an idiot and fence 3, the oxer would be perfect. Or, I’d screw up jump 1, and come to my sense and jump 2 and 3 would be perfect. Basically, jump 3 became perfect. So, finally, getting exhausted, after attempt 4 or 5, I asked if I could leave out jump 3 because I didn’t want to start screwing up that jump after 5 perfect attempts in a row… So after another go or 2, we then just had jump 2 to contend with after perfect jump 1…

Believe me, it is possible to continue to screw up a single fence multiple more times…

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Saint.

Finally I decided to pick up my canter half way around the ring, start counting my 1-2, 1-2s OUT LOUD and what do you know? Perfect fence. I had just gotten in my brain and not given myself enough time to establish a pace… Ranger wasn’t helping either as by that point he was back to calling to Forrest… And trying to slow by the gate… I think picking up the canter early he realized I meant business…

Thankfully, by jumping that fence well, we ended.

Ranger got to reunite with Forrest (well, first there was screaming in stalls, and baths, and almost accidental turn outs of the 3 horse in their 3-some Mikey). And eventually, my hearing returned to normal.

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COOKIES

Ranger Recap: Jumping through the black clouds

I haven’t been blogging much. Honestly life has been busy and sucky and I haven’t felt like it. The weather in SEPA has been ugly and rainy and hot and humid and gross. And I temporarily moved to Atlanta for a conference. And I really haven’t had much content and too much content. And who knows?

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Sometimes kids detonate fireworks in your mailbox…

I had a fabulous lesson 2 weeks ago and a great one the week before that. But, 2 weeks ago I didn’t get around to blogging because I left the next day for a conference and by the time I got back (conference was energy sucking), I forgot all of the details. But I remember Ranger being incredible. And I rode inside. Because rain.

Sometimes your husband falls through the ceiling… And stuff isn’t properly framed.

Last night I finally had another lesson and the weather held out for a lesson outside! My back has been KILLING me (why? no clue), but improved enough not to cancel. I was thrilled to see Ranger. He was happy to get treats. He works for food.

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And your horse is really gross. 

After some warm up on my own (ow my back), we did a little more trotting, some halts (thank you Ranger for halting with you head up and making me look good). And circles. To the left our tiny circles were LOVELY. To the right, my hip was stiff as a board (strange because my other hip was killing me on Saturday/Sunday when I could barely walk) and we had to circle a couple times before our attempt was deemed acceptable.

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Jiminy got a new fly mask!

 

That said, cantering was lovely. Flowy forward canter. One left to right flying change (SO MUCH EASIER OUTSIDE) then flowy right lead canter. A quick right to left flying change, being careful not to ask him to speed up until we hit the center of the ring. And then we walked. Such a good boy.

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Devon 3 and under lead line insanity. 

We started off working on a figure-eight over the log jump. So, we cantered in left lead, turned right in the air, cantered back over it, turned left in the air, then continued back over it the same way we initially approached it. We did this 4-5 times. Other than being directionally challenged while this exercise was explained to me, I actually really enjoyed this. Ranger was slightly confused as everything was new to him as it was a new course so today was the first time for everything. I rarely get to be the first one to jump him over the course. So much more fun.

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New course!

Next we cantered right lead over our inside single (stone pillars going away from the road) and then continued around to the inside line (blue and while standards starting with the TINY brown pole). The tricky part was that the line comes up VERY quickly so if you don’t look as you’re landing, you’ll miss it. That said, my issue was the jump was tiny and Ranger didn’t care so I had to almost over ride the in of the line. The other issue was the first time I failed to realize where the inside single was and I turned first looking at the out of the inside line… then I correctly but had the wrong canter and Ranger was a bit heavy… Take 2, Ranger was better but wanted to be strong (though he listened PERFECTLY WELL). Take 3, we had a lovely canter to the inside single and I just touched my fingers to the reins once to lift him up and he stopped his attempts to be heavy. The inside line was perfect as well and I FINALLY got effort for the baby in (the out was actually a significant jump). This time we continued around to the outside single which was light and perfect. Ranger thought for a moment about being heavy, felt my finger tug (seriously, that was ALL it took) and got right off his front end. THIS HORSE IS PERFECT.

We took a short break (humid as hell) before ending with the inside single (stone pillars jumped the opposite way–heading towards the road rather than towards the in gate) around to a bending line. To get to the first jump you had to go between these 2 stone pillars basically going close to the the outside one around what could also be jumped as a single on the outside. We jumped everything perfectly the first time and ended there. My trainer was convinced he’d be wiggly, but there was no wiggles from him at all. He was just on. Perfect horse.

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Simply the best. 

Because Ranger works for food, he was stuffed with peppermints before I turned him and his friends out… Evidently I made him wait too long for treats. I slacked on my treat giving duty. Oh well, sorry Ranger. I owe you.