Ranger Recap: I rode a horse again!

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Not Ranger but these 2 fools are worthy of photos too.

After almost a month off from riding, I finally rode again!

Between my conference, 1 short, wonderful lesson (that I may or may not have recapped), getting seriously sick, and then Devon, I basically did NOT ride at all in May.

But, it’s June now and I finally got to ride again. And, I remembered how to tack up! I’d say I remembered what I horse looks like, but I sort of deal with those daily. But tack? Yes, I remembered how to do that!

Ranger. I love that horse.

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No photos just food.

Anyway, I was running a touch late and got to the barn to see a whole bunch of trailers… It was strange as Thursdays are usually dead. Anyway, I tacked up, rushed out to the outdoor to see all these people I didn’t know. Seriously. No one. Well, Forrest was in the ring, but other than him? I knew not one horse, pony, or rider. So, I got on, said hi to my trainer, and realized right away that things were running behind. Lol. Anyway, instead of warming up, I walked over to the rail and chatted with my trainer’s sister instead for about 10-15 minutes (because even though I was late, I still made it into the ring with 10 minutes to spare before my lesson started…)

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This duo… no words. 

Finally, I had brief trot warm up before another long walk break… Then to canter? I basically was used to teach a rider in the previous direction her leads. So, I’d canter some, she’d tell me if I were right or wrong (FYI, I always picked up my correct lead), then I’d walk or halt, and try again. It was… an interesting exercise for her and annoying for me and Ranger.

Eventually they all finished up and left the ring and norm restored.

We warmed up over our outside line (far side next to the pasture), working on riding Ranger’s back legs in a bouncy collected canter in an adding 7. No issue at all. Next, same line in a more forward 6 but still riding the back legs without adding speed. Fail. I got the 6, but rode his front end not the back end. So, we went back to the 7 to get the feel of the bouncy short stride coming from behind, no issue before maintaining that and just letting go and adding leg. Got it. And the 6 was right there.

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ring from my last lesson but I’m pretty sure most of it hasn’t changed

From here, we moved on to our next course: inside single (stone pillar standards) towards the barn/in gate, inside broken line (straw bales to straw bales — white standards by both mounting blocks to the white wing standards) in a 7 around to the outside line in a 6.

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Barn kittens in a stall… 

The first time we were heading directly to the single with a perfect canter to a perfect distance and suddenly chipped. A certain idiot (you choice who is at fault) decided that it was A-OK to drop and drag at the last second so chip we did… a quick halt and back and we started over again. Take two included a tug up and no drop and drag and a lovely forward distance. The broken line was nice (I’m getting so much better now at riding the bouncy canter and his hind end) the outside line was good as well. I would have even been happy to end there.

But, we don’t do things just once. After all, since I haven’t ridden in a month, why end on doing some well once? So we did it again. And you know what? It was even better. Ranger was bolder on both lines so I didn’t need to add as much leg while also focusing on keeping everything rocking back. He was just there. I’d say eventually he’ll get there naturally, but… I’m the only one asking so probably not. Still, he fights me less and less each time so, yay?

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Ranger says later!

In turnout news, it appears Ranger has divorced (been divorced from) his BFFs Mikey and Forrest and now has a new BFF Coco. He’s less than enamored with Coco but give him time?

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Ranger’s new turnout buddy, Coco

New normal: a photo recap

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posing for peppermints…

First off, thank you everyone for your suggestions for ulcer preventatives! I started him on the Animed Ulc-R-Aid (and Subi’s eating it), but I might switch/add the Purina Outlast. I’m not sure yet. Regardless, I’ve been lazy and I could order the Ulc-R-Aid online and it got here overnight whereas I would have to drive 3 miles to the feed store (I haven’t actually been to the feed store yet) for the Purina and figure out a container for it…

img_0400Beyond that, Subi has been feeling good lately. Really good. Really, really good. Stall life agrees with him. He’s sound. Sounder than he’s been in years. To the point that I’m considering un-retiring him. What will that look like? I don’t know. But he has energy. Normally I turn him out and he gallops around, bucking, rearing, and rolling for a good 10+ minutes with a few trot and canter steps for me to evaluate his soundness. For the last few weeks, I’ve been staring at him, amazed at just how good he looks. So, we’re going to start on the lunge line (I purchased a cavesson and surcingle) and see where this goes. If he can hold up, great! If not, back to retirement he goes. He’s off all medication and joint supplements and I’m not willing to medicate to keep him un-retired (but if he needs them for the winter when he’ll be off again, fine). But we’ll see where this goes…

The one morning I bring my phone out, he decides NOT to act like a fool.

I also came across some old videos (thanks Facebook memories) from 2011. Both of us were A LOT younger back then. Videos are crappy quality, but it was nice seeing this version of Subi! Today, 8 years ago.

Meanwhile I ordered Batty a hay steamer. His heaves seems worse on small bales though they’re not dusty. Eating inside obviously doesn’t help. But add in the time of year, allergens, and all that, we’ll see how this goes. If we need to get through spring with prednisone, we will, but I’d like to avoid the devil drug if necessary (I’m allergic so I’m curious how I’ll react to grinding pills I’m allergic too…)

Jiminy? He’s the same. Some days he’s well behaved, others he’s being shipped off to TN… It remains to be seen where he’ll end up.

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Subi and his mini-me

But, spring is finally springing here in the mid-atlantic!

And Ranger? He’s the best! I never did recap my lesson, but… It ended like this.

And all was right in the world.

Happy Birthday Old Man!

Today is Subi’s 22nd birthday! After a rough winter (and being off most of last year), he’s feeling super sound and I’m starting to wonder why I’m not riding him… I mean, he’s sound. He’s REALLY sound. REALLY REALLY REALLY sound. And then I watch him careen around the field and come to my senses. THAT’S why.

*plus, I doubt he’d stay sound if I were to ride him. There’s no way I could just hop on for a light ride… lots of lunging would be required.

We didn’t celebrate this morning. In fact, he was reprimanded for poor behavior (not rearing like a few weeks/month ago, but rather forgetting his manner because…grass. That I can handle though words were exchanged).  Happy birthday?

Anyway, without further ado, some pictures of the old man!

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Defeated.

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The 3 amigos on a sunny Sunday

Defeat.

I was hoping that my vet appointment would bring answers. Instead, it just leaves more questions.

Subi definitely has cataracts, but the conclusion is that he has enough vision (basically they’re in the center of each eye, worse on the right, but similar in each eye) that he can see and it shouldn’t impact his peripheral vision…

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Jiminy was convinced I had food.

But, at the same time, he is acting like he’s seeing ghosts so they could be freaking him out and the vet agreed that he IS sensitive. We’ve seen it before. Something bothers him and he has an unexplained reaction. A tooth is SLIGHTLY sharp, he stops eating. He is chilly, he shivers uncontrollably. He doesn’t like the taste of something in his feed, he won’t eat for days even if the offending item is removed. He’s dramatic. This could just be that. His eyes could be playing a role and making him uncomfortable and he doesn’t know how to deal.

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Idiot boys just keep staring.

It could be something else. So, since he’s doing pretty well with the daylight, we’re holding off additional tests until we need them. Next stop? We’ll draw blood and test for lyme though he’s showing no sign of any other symptoms… We’re also pulling him off his equioxx for now since he’s feeling REALLY good and he doesn’t need to feel that good on a daily basis. Honestly, I don’t need him bucking, rearing, and bolting around the field like a freak regularly. He can run around but are the antics necessary? I’ll keep it on hand for when his arthritis acts up and/or the ground gets hard. But, now that it’s warmer and the ground is soft? The vet agreed we can hold off.

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Jiminy comes to visit.

Otherwise? He got his teeth and a combo vaccine. His teeth were in really good shape. Surprisingly good shape since he was due in August and we both decided to hold off because the weather was gross and hot. But, to be honest, he probably didn’t need to get floated. It was good to get him done, but very little was necessary. Despite the drugs, he expressed his disapproval. After almost keeling over drunk last time around (he actually almost fell over from his dose), he didn’t get as much so he was barely drunk this time. Just enough to do his teeth without drama (but still with protests). He has NO issue with the float, but HATES the stupid head thing that keeps his mouth open… lol.

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Freaks in action. 

Anyway, I’m feeling defeated. And I’ll be feeling broke when I get the bill. Lol. Batt and Jiminy got their vaccine and all is good in the world. Batty is in good weight?! And Jiminy is doing fine as long as he doesn’t gain (has ONE stupid fat pocket though the rest of his weight is perfect).

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Waiting for the vet with me this morning

That’s my story. I quit.

Trusting your eye and turning off your brain

Be warned, this may be more of a philosophical post than a traditional recap post…

In today’s edition of Ranger Recap, I’m going to try and talk about my last 2 lessons. 2 weeks ago was my first lesson in about 3 weeks. The lesson was fine except I could NOT ride a distance to save my life. I was going to say I couldn’t see a distance to save my life, but that’s not true.

The issue was, I say the distances, I saw EVERY. SINGLE. DISTANCE. And then missed every distance. Or most of them. The problem being that instead of riding the distance I saw, I didn’t trust my brain. I changed something and then the distance wasn’t there.

And this was so frustrating.

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I have mentioned it before, but I have a very accurate eye. Why? No idea. But I can see distances very well, especially for someone who isn’t riding much. If I rode more, chances are my eye would be pretty damn close to perfect. But, that’s how accurate my eye is.

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Gross mini anyone? He’s trying to be an appaloosa? 

The issue came last lesson that I started second guessing the distances. Instead of turning, seeing the distance, and riding TO it, I turned, rode 4 strides, and said, “Oh shit! Maybe that’s not what I should be riding to!” and changed something. This had me riding past the distance. Or, when I finally accepted that the distance I saw turning the corner (seeing the distance 10-15 strides away ISN’T ideal FYI — but that’s where I see things) was THE DISTANCE and stopped fiddling, I then failed to add leg for the going stride. And we’d chip.

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Always judging me… 

We started off in that lesson with baby fences. 2′? And I really couldn’t see anything. Granted, I didn’t panic, but it was HARD. Then my trainer hiked the fences up to help me out. It was so much easier to see, but then I stopped trusting my eye. (NOTE, there was 1 fence I nailed every time, 2 fences I screwed up every time, 1 I then fixed, and 1 we drilled until I finally didn’t screw up).  We got through it, but it wasn’t pretty.


Based on last week, I was dreading this week. Migraines all week and I wasn’t disappointed when my lesson was rescheduled from Thursday to Sunday.  Sunday it was pouring and we were inside.

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Constant judgement

Barn was empty when I got there so I had my Ranger time and a full 40 minutes to groom and relax. So necessary.

The rain and cooler weather and possibly not being out overnight left me with a energized horse. He was forward and wiggly. We had a long flat warm up and lots of circles and two point and circles in two point and drilling my position in two point. Then cantering. Larger circles. Small circles. Focusing at the canter shifting between 1/2 seat and 3 point. In our small circle dropping my outside shoulder and sitting on my outside seat bone. Then lengthening. Then, because when you haven’t done lead changes, why not work on that in the indoor? Which we missed at first but eventually got in the corner and the collected the canter back up and repeated our circles before halting with Ranger’s head up (he likes to root if given the opportunity).

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This face does not judge. Unless you stop stuffing him with food. 

Over fences we warmed up with a large figure eight exercise — single around to short ride to another single back around and repeat. We did that a few times before turning it around and doing that the other way. After the lead change, Ranger was a bit excited, but nothing crazy. We then turned back around and did the first single around to the long ride to our oxer focusing on steady pace and even. We. Hit. Every. Single. Spot.

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Judging me, judging Hermione (who is suture free and doing very well!)

As the ride continued, we added in fences, working 3-4 jumps at a time. Always riding forward, working on straightness because Ranger was NOT providing that and keeping the forward going. My eye was accurate and the only change was that once I saw something, I just started counting 1-2, 1-2 to maintain a steady rhythm. If Ranger tried to pull down (not forward, down), I tugged up to rebalance and back he was on his hind end, moving forward. Everything was right there.

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Best face.

We struggled with 2 lines. One inside where my turn wasn’t perfect. We made it work the first 2 times (first turned too late… shocking, then didn’t use 2 hands) but once I used 2 hands AND outside leg it was easy and I didn’t need to work. The only real issue was the bending line and that was not Ranger but me. First time through we did the oxer around to the line and I didn’t like the oxer and failed to let that go. The in was actually nice, but I got nervous heading to the out oxer (it wasn’t huge, but it was close to the wall and made me twitchy) and looked at it and saw the spot and then stopped looking at it and rode right past it. Consciously.  So we did it again. I did the add just to get me over it. Before jumping the second time my trainer yelled “you guys jumped in the Dixon Oval and that jump is making you nervous?!” Lol. Third time was gorgeous and forward and we called it a day.

Well, I called it a day. Ranger had a do a w/t lesson with a tiny bit of cantering which is cute and terrifying. Supposedly he’s good if he likes the kid. If he doesn’t, he can’t do the w/t lessons. He just takes off cantering and gets faster, and faster, and faster. Oh Ranger…

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Best face in the world. 

Anyway, my takeaway from this very long post. I really need to trust what I see, what I FIRST SEE, and go with it. Once I see something, I need to focus my brain on something, anything, whether counting, singing, or conversing with Ranger about anything. But, trust that I can and do see the spots. I wish I wouldn’t see distances so early because that is part of the issue. Seeing something 12-15 strides back isn’t ideal as that’s a long time to stick with a plan. But, that’s where I’m at. Trust it. Go with it. Commit. And stop interfering. And it’s all better when Ranger is more up like yesterday. When he lazy, it’s so much harder to stick with the plan!

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.

 

Quilted Jiminy!

A mostly wordless… Friday post to share this amazing quilted Jiminy courtesy of Olivia from DIYHorseownership! I won her Easter contest and picked up an amazing quilted Jiminy complete with ears (that I missed in the box at first thanks to exhaustion and brain-dead-ness thanks to a 3 day work training in Pittsburgh…)

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Quilted Jiminy!

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Non quilted version

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Well behaved version with Ears!

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Non stuffed, less well behaved version with ears

And, to complete this, some fun from my trip to Pittsburgh… How many librarians can you fit in a hotel shuttle? Then answer is way too many when your shuttle driver’s name is Henry and you’ve been staring at large pages of text all day… And it shouldn’t be snowing at the end of April in PA. Just saying.

 

The Great Easter Egg Hunt of 2018 (or not)

I have a lot to recap including a lesson on Ranger and so much to do at work. But instead, why not share some silliness?

Olivia @ DIY Horseownership is holding an Easter Contest — You can enter too on her blog. And, Saturday after a long day when I was losing my mind, I figured it was as good of a time as any to participate. So, I what did I do other than make horse cookies and hold an Easter Egg Hunt for Jiminy?

The plan was to follow her Pill Hider Horse Treats (rules stated you could use any of the homemade horse treat recipes), but I didn’t have any apple sauce and didn’t want to go to the store (keep the part in mind later) so I used canned pumpkin in its place. So, basically, my treats were a hybrid between the Pill Hider Horse Treats and the Pumpkin Horse Treats.

But the recipe was super easy to follow until I realized that I did NOT own a mini muffin pan. And was not planning to buy one. Enter modification number…6? So I used a large muffin pan and made some large muffins and then still had batter. They take an hour to cook and if I did multiple batches, I’d never  be finished and I needed sunlight for my Easter Egg hunt! So, I found muffin cups and started dumping batter in those. So I ended up with less than pretty muffins, but it worked…

Biscuit approves… This kitten is TROUBLE.

Of course, while the muffins were cooking, I realized I was missing a key element of the hunt. The costume. So, I left my husband with a core instruction: Make sure the house doesn’t burn down. And headed off to CVS in search of bunny ears. The struggle was real folks. BUT, success! 3 pairs of bunny ears remained and I purchased the best pair. (I could have picked up apple sauce…)

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I came home, house still standing and waited for the cookies to finish Then, when they were FINALLY finished, I sped up the cooling process (thank you refrigerator) and out we went for a photo shoot, egg hiding session, and THE HUNT!

It was dinner time for the boys so Jiminy was the only HUNT participant. But, they all participated in the taste test and photo shoot. Subi, pickiest of them all, is IN LOVE with the cookies. Probably because they don’t have apple in them. He is NOT a fan of apple sauce… So, the pumpkin in a hit.

MORE COOKIES!!!!

But the star of the show? Jiminy.

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Yes,  Jiminy

We didn’t allow him loose for the hunt as he can escape from the round pen and he was a little distracted by grass…

Nonetheless, he’s utterly adorable…

He was very disappointed when he found the last “egg” and didn’t get to stay and enjoy the green grass… Let’s just say, grass is the last thing he needs 🙂