Middle School Bully.

Long time no post. That’s my new theme.

I just haven’t had all that much to say.

I’ve been dealing with the usual vertigo, migraines, and then someone pulled a shoe… So there was an unplanned vacation. And remnants of hurricane Ida rolled through and a tornado touched down in my small little town about 2 miles from my house. No damage here, but lots of damage nearby.

Despite all those interruptions, Nay Nay and I have actually made massive progress. While his left lead isn’t what I’d call reliable, it’s not a fight. We can and do pick it up every ride.

Since that awful lesson a few weeks ago, his lead has been pretty solid. In fact, I’ve found that as long as I set him up properly, he can and will pick up the lead. Shocking, right?

So what do we do?

First, it all starts at the walk and trot. In the (not so distant) past, I’d ALWAYS do a long warm up with lots and lots of circles, but my warm up wasn’t necessarily efficient. Now the goal of our time at the walk and trot is to make sure Nay is responding to leg/spur. If I use my left leg/spur, he’d better move over and off my leg immediately. It’s not a request, it’s a demand. If I ask him to bend, he bends. It’s amazing that once I stopped being wishy washy and started setting him up, everything else fell into place. So, at the walk and trot we established the correct shape, moving off my leg, holding the bend through corners and circles of all sizes, etc.

Nay Nay wearing orange fly boots
The side eye is everything

Next? I started holding a crop. I don’t NEED a crop, but the crop actually makes me more aware of where my hands are. It’s helped a lot. I stopped with the crop because I worried that Nay would get fast (I worry too much) but the damn crop doesn’t make him fast. Just like the spurs don’t make him fast. He doesn’t care. I use the crop more when he’s in the cross ties and won’t stop pawing. To him the crop is a tool, not something that tells him to speed up. So yeah. I find that I can use it against his neck as an anchor point when I need to remind myself hands to the outside and it helps with the bend and indirect rein. I also find that it helps me keep my hands closer together and lower. Why? I don’t know. I guess so I don’t have the crop swinging all over the place? Plus, if we do get into trouble, I can actually use it vs kicked or smacking him with my hand.

Finally, when I actually ask for the canter? 3 major things. Don’t rush. It doesn’t matter how well he’s set up if I rush, I will fail. Hands to the outside (Nay does start to anticipate at this point so we’re going to have to ultimately work through this piece). And finally, outside leg WAY WAY WAY back and tap with the spur. This is key. It tells him to get his back legs in and now is also his command to canter. At this point, most of the time if I just bring my leg back, Nay will launch into the canter. But the placement of my outside leg has been a game changer.

In my lesson yesterday, my trainer was actually impressed at how good his canter looked. Both leads actually. He fights going into the canter. Kind of a “I don’t want to! Groan, grunt, snort. Fine, I’m doing it, I’m so happy!” It’s funny. The fight is getting there. Getting to do what he doesn’t want to do. Once he gets over the hurdle? He doesn’t care. The fight usually makes you think, is it pain? But with Nay it’s more an attitude thing. He’s SO sound right now. We’ll get to this more in a moment.

We spent a little while cantering a circle over this tiny stone wall at the end of the ring. It was maybe 12″? But it was a good chance to work on maintaining the left lead and also the pace of the canter. Nay tried to play a bit in the corners (he was being a bit extra), but otherwise it was no big deal.

Next we worked on stringing together 2 easy jumps in a figure eight. First trotting and halting after each and then maintaining the trot throughout. We had moved down to the scary end of the arena (down by the road where people were mowing across the street), but generally while I care, Nay doesn’t. He’s a lot of things, but spooky isn’t one of them.

We walked up to look at the first jump which honestly pissed him off. He’s kind of over that practice. Lol. And then trotting to it he started crowhopping like a fool. It wasn’t the jump. Instead of continuing, I circled to get my balance, but I should have kept going. My mistake. But we reapproached, crowhopping and all, and popped over it. The jump was fine. He didn’t actually even overjump. He doesn’t do that anymore. And halted without issue. Then we tried to trot to the next fence and scooted and crowhopped and tried to pull out all the stops as we headed towards jump 2. We stopped and then managed to turn towards it, antics and all, and hop over it. Again, the jump was fine. It wasn’t the jump. On the landing, Nay got his head between his knees and had a party, but we halted. Rinse and repeat. Approach to the first jump the second time was fine. Turns out he wasn’t going to fight that one. And we halted and continued. The second AND third times to jump 2 were more of the same. He was slightly better on the landing the third time and I continued to hold a conversation with him hoping it would help (maybe it did? I was told to talk to him so I told him to stop being an idiot because I didn’t appreciate in the kindest softest voice possible). Finally on the 4th attempt we skipped the halt and maintained a better trot without any crow hops on approach or landing! The next time we added in a 3rd jump, trotting a broken line. We ended by holding the canter through the last 2 jumps.

He’s such a good boy!

In the end my trainer was impressed by how brave Nay has gotten over fences. Honestly? He LOVES to jump. I said that most of our issues come when we trot into things. He’s fine trotting but that’s when the crow hops happen or he anticipates. She said that picking up the canter is the thing that he fights so once he is cantering? He has nothing left to fight. Right now all of this is a training issue. He’s a moderate bully, kind of like a middle schooler. He’s trying to figure out what he can get away with. He’s trying to employ scare tactics to get out of work. He’s not trying to get me off his back. At no point in his crow hopping extravaganza was he ever trying to get me off his back. He wanted to get out of work. When we kept going despite the scare tactic? He stopped immediately.

Lesson here? Be brave and he’ll knock it off. He’s testing the waters to see what he can do and what he can get away with. He’s cheeky but he’s not mean. He’s not a bad bully, but he’s a bit of a bully.

That said, we are going to try a different bit. Just an elevator for a little bit. Same double jointed mouth piece he likes, but our hope is that the leverage will help me when he gets his head down or when he gets super heavy. I also need to tighten his noseband again… Oops. I keep it really loose but evidently too loose.

It’s all fun and games until someone needs…an attitude adjustment.

Well. Not really.

I’m trying to get back into the weekly blog routine. So here I am, blogging about pretty much nothing. But I’m blogging?

I left off with our left lead struggles. And Nay Nay’s temper tantrums. Since then? The weather has been been gross. We had heat wave #478932 of the summer. Nay got a few days off. And rain. I guess it’s the rainy season now? It’s gross. And now Ida is heading this way and 3-8″ of rain are heading this way tomorrow evening. Everything is muddy now so I’m sure more rain is exactly what we need…

OK. Real update.

Saturday.

It was humid as all hell but I decided to ride anyway. Due to the weather and the fact that it looked like rain (despite the weather app indicating only a 40% chance of showers) I decided I’d ride inside. And then the skies opened up. And stopped. And opened up. And stopped again. I decided to lunge and Nay seemed quiet. So I hopped on and he still seemed quiet? We walked around over some pole and everything was great…

Nay Nay and Subi hanging out in the shed
These 2 refused to leave the shed Saturday morning… It wasn’t raining. I had treats. Subi wanted to visit. Nay wouldn’t let him. It was a battle of the wills.

Until we were joined by a spunky little western stock thing. And Nay pretty much lost his shit. I managed to keep him trotting around on one end of the arena, introducing circles and controlling the crow hops, but every few minutes? Nay would explode and jump and spin. Over. And Over. And Over. We’d regain control and things would seem OK and then the crow hopping would start again.

After awhile I felt like we started to make progress and took a brief walk break. After all, Nay did what I asked. He moved forward. He trotted forward. And the crow hopping actually sort of kind of stopped. And then he exploded. It wasn’t bad, I mean, it’s Nay. He doesn’t do bad. But, I just was done. I tried to trot him forward but I couldn’t really get forward from the trot. So I gave up and threw him back on the lunge line and lunged the snot out of him. And then lunged some more.

Post-ride sweaty pony
Very sweaty pony

I did get back on afterwards even though Nay Nay was hot and sweaty and tired and his brain was spent, but I decided I didn’t care (judge me). My goal was to walk around on a loose rein. So we did. He screamed (his timer had gone off). I decided to push my luck and trot. So we did. On a loose rein. It was also nice, minus the screaming. Then, really pushing my luck, we picked up the left lead canter. First time. There was no screaming. I called it a day, hopped off, and Nay screamed in my ear.

Sunday? The weather was a lot nicer. I lunged again and Nay Nay was much quieter but also much more willing to move out (we were outside, his preferred place to ride). I probably lunged a touch longer than I should have, but after Saturday, I did want to push him harder than I had Saturday (lunge 1).

The ride itself? It was pretty good. I got on and Nay was quiet. He was a little resistant to bend, but generally good. And he picked up the left lead right away the first time. We struggled if I didn’t ask properly — he wants me to put both hands to the outside and bring my outside leg back — like WAY WAY WAY back. If I rush the transition? I tend NOT to bring my outside leg back. He also struggles with the lead when he gets tired. But, when he’s tired he gets heavy as well so I found that if I halt and back AND ask him to lift while backing? he figures out right away that getting heavy is way too much work for him.

We also worked on the right lead and while he was a bit confused (both leads? we do both leads?), we didn’t fight and got that one too while using the same tricks (while also then asking for the left immediately after to reinforce the point).

Hermione
All this talk about horses and not talk about Hermione?

We ended our ride with a couple of single trot fences working on either landing the lead or simple changes and just not getting super heavy. It was rough (Nay was tired so the leads got harder), but we got it.

Temper tantrums and left leads

Biscuit kitty
Maybe I should sell this one…

I’ve been stewing on how to write about my lesson last week. It was one of those lessons where you just want to sit in a corner and cry about being the world’s worst rider. Or turn your horse over to a pro and say, “FIX HIM!” Or post an add and sell him. It honestly… sucked.

Nay was quiet. He was happy. The lesson just sucked.

We had a REALLY nice warm up at the trot. Nay was listening to my leg. He moved off it. He moved over. He bent. He did EVERYTHING I asked. I can’t remember if we trotted both ways but I THINK we stayed left. The trot wasn’t the issue. In the past the trot led to a cruddy canter. But not now. I mentioned that Nay is better when I lunge first which led my trainer to theorize that the canter issues are either ME or that Nay is sore. I think that the issue is me. Nay happily lands left from jumps. He is perfectly comfortably cantering left once we pick up the lead. He just doesn’t want to pick it up.

Anyway, we go to the canter and it takes a couple asks but we get it. It wasn’t actually all that hard. Our focus was basically securing my left left to his side, pushing my outside leg back, and tapping my spur to ask Nay to bring his hind legs in (while bringing my hands out). And it worked. He got it.

And we cantered.

And then we asked for it again. And what do you know? It went even better! Nay was good. Tap for the legs and launch into the canter. Could we have discovered a miracle?

HA. No.

Nay Nay standing in cross ties in orange fly boots
He’s really lucky he’s cute
View from behind Nay Nay's ears
I do like these ears… and Chester County countryside

It was that moment that something clicked and Nay just decided that he wanted nothing to do with it anymore. He had enough. I was struggling with my body. I wasn’t leading forward (thank god), but was tilting in. Nay was sick of it and pulling through not dragging. The use of the spur was pissing him off as well. He knew what we wanted and wanted nothing to do with it. We added so halts and backs and circles in. I regretting my decision not to wear gloves (actually I didn’t until my lack of gloves were mentioned). I have the blisters to show for the lesson…

Eventually, I said out loud my fear. I’m not good enough to ride this horse. I can’t do this. He needs a better rider than me.

My trainer’s response. To ignore me. And tell me he’s having a temper tantrum of epic proportions and to kick him. Kick him harder.

So I did.

And he launched into a left lead canter. What the fuck?

He knew what we wanted. He just didn’t care.

So we cantered. And cantered. And cantered so more.

I was exhausted when we stopped.

We then tried to trot over an end jump which he tried to nope out of. Not the jump. My steering. When we finally got over it (I needed right hand then left hand with right leg — awkward approach) we landed on the damn left lead and continued over it to the left and the trot and canter about 10 times before calling it a day.

Turns out I needed to have a bigger temper tantrum.

View from behind Nay Nay's ears as we look at the end jump
And that damn end jump…

I needed to ride the next day but… life. And ended up not riding again until Saturday. Nay was up. Like run around the indoor up. I could have lunged but… I let him free lunge instead.

I got on and had a power keg under me. Despite all of that, he didn’t try and pop or do his vertical trot, but just wanted to go go go. So we trotted and half halted to the left over and over and over again.

Until he had enough and he decided we were cantering. I could have pulled him back but he picked up the most gorgeous left lead canter. Seriously.

So we cantered around for several minutes. Circles of all sizes until I needed a break. All while I questioned where the hell the canter came from. After a short break, I trotted and asked again. He briefly offered up the incorrect (right) lead but the second I brought my right leg back (way back) and tap tap, the left lead was there. We cantered, trotted, and leg back, left lead again. And again. And again.

We called it there because there was no reason to mess with my horse offering me exactly what I wanted.

I’m not sure if something clicked. I’m not sure if he understood. I’m not sure if I just got mad. I’m not sure. But Saturday was good. I needed good. It was a win for the day. I’ll take it.

The mental part

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson recap — the one with the dead horse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I plan for a lot of situations.

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

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

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

Nay’s response?

WTF? They’re MURDERING HIM. HORSE MURDERERS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riding updates

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

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

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

Apologies for pivo unsteadiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dizzying rides

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

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

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

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

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

Trot work

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

Left lead canter work

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

Jumps! Nay’s favorite thing…

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

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

Right lead canter and jump exercise

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

New jump!

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

Who is this horse?

The many sides of Nay continue to come out. Green horses, eh? LOL.

We set a new record. 2 weeks in a row, 2 lessons in a row. Shocking.

Tuesday morning rolled around and Nay and I set out for another lesson. I’m enjoying morning lessons for now until all the kids are out of school. It’s nice and quiet with just barn staff and a couple of adults around. My kind of day. But, for 10am in May, it was also hot. And humid. 97% humid.

Interestingly, the heat and humidity didn’t seem to bother Nay. Thinking about it, he’s always had energy in the heat and humidity. This horse HATES being cold, but likes the heat? Of course, he raced in Florida so maybe my New York bred is just built for summer…? Who knows but last summer on super hot and humid days (I remember being told to try new things when it was hot/humid because he’d be quiet), he’d always have excess energy. Always.

This ride was no different. He was ready to explode like Sunday, but he was still more forward than out last lesson. No tantrums we had to work through at the trot which is always nice. And I skipped lunging because, heat. We’ll see how much lunging I do in the summer.

Prior to the start of the lesson, I mentioned to my trainer our left lead troubles. Basically, last year’s right lead issues have manifested on the left lead. Typical. We drilled that right lead and Nay, being a pleaser, thinks the answer to most questions is right lead. Warming up at the trot, we worked on the noodling that I’ve been fighting as of late to the left. In the past, we spent a lot of time pushing inside leg/spur to move Nay’s body over however, Nay has taken some of this to the extreme. Over sort of means exiting the arena into the grass or crashing into the light pole, or a bunch of other things. So, I was reminded that taking BOTH hands to the inside (outside rein against his neck) still has its place and suddenly? we’re not struggling to stay in the ring… Using the outside leg isn’t wrong either… Oops. When you ride in an arena without a fence, you realize that staying in the ring is hard sometimes… We never got a fence back when the ring was expanded last year…

Instead of going right, we first worked on the left lead canter. I trotted, was told to canter, immediately pulled back, Nay broke, asked again, and picked up the wrong lead. This led to a discussion about what happened. I wasn’t sure. I just felt discombobulated. It wasn’t even that I could tell I was on the right or wrong lead — I wasn’t thinking “what lead am I on” as I didn’t get that far in my thinking, I just tried to do collect and nope.

So we tried again. This time, my instructions were to canter and move forward BEFORE I worried about the lead. We again picked up the correct lead and Nay bulged all over the place. Once we established the canter (5-6 strides), I was allowed to touch my reins to correct the dive to the outside. We cantered once around and talked and figured out my issue. And Nay’s.

Basically, I asked for the canter and if Nay is set up properly (hind end to the inside), he’ll pick up the correct lead. If I feel him bulging, I immediately want to course correct. If I do so right away (because he feels out of control in all ways — speed yes, but mostly balance and steering), Nay thinks, “Oh! Right, we only canter on the RIGHT lead. I’m sorry!” And trots. If I canter a few more strides no matter how ugly it feels, he is able to establish the canter and then we correct the shape. Then once the shape is corrected (hands to the inside, outside leg, even cutting the corner some and staying closer to the jumps than to the grass to give us more space to make the turns), we can adjust the pace (close and opening my fingers seems to work well for rating the canter.

We did this a few times and worked on the right lead (and trotted too…). Nothing exciting that direction. LOL.

Jumping wise? Nay has changed from a quiet horse to a forward and BOLD horse over fences. I’m not really sure who he is except that I think he thinks jumping is FUN. We started off with the Astroturf brush box single to the left, trotting in and he jumped the crap out of it, almost jumping me out of the tack (theme). Being the good boy he was, he landed left and we cantered in a few times, trying to rate coming in. He was pretty good collecting once we were straight, but on the circle approaching? He wanted to get to that jump. On the final circle, he spooked at something and we had to halt/back and had a discussion (me, not him) about the necessity of halting immediately when stuff like that happens… It wasn’t a bad spook and my plan was to circle and keep coming, but my trainer’s point was he’s green and she wants the halt and back to bring his focus back to be. Point noted.

To the right? More of the same except I struggled with the rating and straightness to the fence as Nay REALLY wanted to go. We took a couple of long spots because I just didn’t collect hard enough (he was strong, not out of control, just strong and determined). Point noted.

We ended with a new fence that my trainer wasn’t sure we’d be successful with. It was the in of the outside line. Just some boxes with a gate (though the gate might not have been visible at our height). 2ft-ish. Last year he’d have had a heart attack. This year he was pissed off I made him look at it (well, he refused to look at it). We paused in front of it and chatted at my love for trot fences. Yes, I’m strange, but I adore trot fences and I know everyone thinks they are hard, but I adore them, I’m confident at them, I can see distances to them, and if I’m nervous, give me a trot fence any day. I spent 6 months trotting fences on Subi 2x/week when I first got him (up to 2’6″) and I’ll pretty much trot anything. LOL.

Anyway, we trotted in and again, Nay jumped the shit out of it, landed left and continued back around. We very much had to worked on collecting because someone thought this jump was awesome… Once we landed wrong and I asked too late (hind legs were already to the outside). Once Nay even tossed in a full change on the landing to show just how special he is. And once I didn’t hold enough and we took a flyer. Really. And almost crashed into a standard on the landing (no steering — Nay doesn’t steer on his own). And somehow I managed NOT to fall off? I mean, I almost did, but I saved it.

And with that, I have a new horse. He says he doesn’t want to be a hunter, but rather a jumper. But whatever he is, he’s bold and brave and it’s very different. I’m also going to have my trainer hop on him at the start of my lessons here and there (thinking 1x/month) just to make sure I’m not screwing him up too much.

Maybe this weekend I’ll have media?

Nay Nay-locks and the Three Rides

Nay Nay in cross ties sticking out his tongue wearing floral boots
He has the best personality

For the first time in a month, I FINALLY took a lesson on Nay Nay (no media at all because why would I have media?). The lesson was wonderful, the rest of my rides were… less so. It seems like I had 3 different horses on my 3 different rides. All (well, many) of Nay’s personalities came out this week.

I’ll start with the lesson. It was Tuesday morning and the weather was absolutely fantastic. It was warm and sunny and just perfect. The majority of the lesson focused on flatwork. Bending, using my inside leg/spur, and making sure Nay moved off the pressure. He’s SO MUCH BETTER going right vs left. To the right, because he is SO MUCH stronger now, we focused the order of operations: leg/spur, inside hand to get the bend, then take hand off the neck.

Eventually, the canter. Right lead is good, but we’ve lost the left lead. I mean, we got it, but it took a few tries.

We kept our jumps small. Just a small astro-turf covered box which we trotted over once and then cantered over in a circle a few times each direction. To the right, he’s super quiet while to the left? He’s fine, just occasionally gets a touch… speedy. Not fast, just speedy. The right used to feel speedy and then we found balance. Now the left feels that way. So we need to figure that out. We trotted then cantered a small gate a couple of times before calling it a day and going home.

We followed up Tuesday with a Saturday ride. It was sunny, but windy. Not like Friday (50-60 mph gusts), but still crazy windy). I considered riding outside but after putting a jump back up (as well as chairs back up), they promptly fell over. I decided to take advantage of the indoor. What I had was a tense horse. I lunged and still felt like Nay was ready to jump out of his skin. He was quiet when I led him around the outdoor, but inside? Eh. He wasn’t bad, just not good. I never even cantered. I felt like I valued life and chickened out. We did a lot of halting and backing and trotting (and scooting). It was fine, just not fun. I did trot him over some poles and a cross rail and he was fine. He even jumped a small vertical with flowers and never got fast, but I wasn’t able to get rid of the tension the entire ride. His tension brought me tension. I was out at the barn solo so I didn’t push very far either.

Nay Nay grazing next to the ring of fallen jumps
Hanging out next to the ring of fallen jumps
Marble with the lilac
Lilac season (and Marble — it’s always Marble season)

Sunday? I anticipated an empty barn as it was listed on the schedule book as a no lesson day but there were several cars when I arrived. I dragged my husband as I wasn’t feeling well. Wind came back, but nothing terrible and temps were back up in the 80s. By the time I was out in the ring outside, all other horses had cleared out. Nay didn’t have the calm aura of yesterday when we first walked outside, but with the warm weather, I decided not to lunge. We started off with some tension, but mostly energy. We trotted for a while, just working on moving over when I asked. I held him together to the left (scooting stopped after a minute or so — too hot for antics), but to the right? I finally gave in. He wanted to canter. All he wanted to do was canter. So if he wanted to canter? We’d canter for as long as I wanted to canter which was much longer than he wanted to canter. I then tried to canter to the left but failed. I could not uncurl him and before either of us got frustrated/confused, I stopped. Instead, we trotted our green astro-turf brush box, landed the left lead, and cantered for several minutes. Nay decided to play as much as he possibly could, but he’s Nay. He doesn’t (usually) buck or bolt, just tosses his head and flings his front legs without actually doing anything.

We ended by trotting and cantering the same jump to the right and he was quieter that way. I could have done more. He probably needed more. But we were successful and I was tired. Sometimes you end on a good note.

There are times that you think, “My horse feels like he’s going to run off with me!” But Nay was never actually running off with me. He just had energy. Why this week brought excess energy, I don’t know. I’m sure he needs to be ridden more, that can never hurt. Regardless, if he keeps up this level of energy, I’ll learn to ride it. It’s better when it’s without the attitude! Sunday was much better than Saturday, but he was still a dream to ride (and much less of a workout) on Tuesday!

Forward and Back

The never ending trailer loading saga continues. Because, of course it does.

Nay met with the trainer again on Tuesday and had a lovely session. He loaded every time and even made fabulous progress self-loading. While it took time, he did great self-loading and with some pressure, would get on every time. He was also fine with the butt bar and the door closing. This were going great.

Nay Nay headshot
Always getting in face fights with Subi…
Nay Nay headshot
Good boy

Were.

Thursday the dentist came out and everyone got their teeth done. It was also cold. Freezing. Windy. 40 was the high. With everything going on, we didn’t practice.

Friday? Nay loaded fine with me leading. Then I tried to self load and everything went to hell. Suddenly he was pulling me across the lawn and I couldn’t even get him to load with me leading. I think this was the point that I decided to sell him and was writing up his sale ad. That’s how quickly things unraveled and how bad it got. Eventually my husband came out and with him leading and me getting him straight (and pushing his butt), Nay stepped up on the trailer and we called it a day. He wasn’t upset that he was on, he just didn’t want to set up on?

Nay Nay full body giving side eye
Side eye prior to our loading issues…
Nay Nay in trailer
Maiden voyage!
Nay Nay in crossties
We made it!

Saturday, despite everything, I decided if I could get him on, I’d go out and ride. He only had a month off… So, with my husband’s help, we got Nay on. Me leading, my husband behind with a touch of encouragement (just a tap with the stick to unstick him–it worked and he loaded). We made plans that when I was ready to leave, he’d come out to the barn and help me re-load.

So, off Nay went on his maiden journey. He was fine in the trailer. Being in the trailer isn’t an issue. Just getting on. We lunged. We rode. We popped over some fences. We tried to canter (I mean, we did canter, but OMG keeping the canter on an out of shape horse is HARD). We fell asleep. We untacked. We tried to come home.

I made the mistake of TRYING to load myself. Right when I was ready to leave, trainer’s husband pulled in with a trailer of horses and Nay got completely distracted. He ended up helping unstick Nay and he loaded no problem, but we’re going to have to figure this loading thing out…

Nay Nay between the ears
Missed this so much!

Sunday, I planned to try again but Nay had a minor belly ache that resolved itself very quickly (he was pawing/stretching but by the time I finished brushing my teeth he had pooped and looked comfortable — probably just a little gas). Anyway, I just decided to give him the day. Later that afternoon I did a 15 loading session. Me on the trailer with treats and the clicker, my husband behind him with the stick. Load click treat praise. Off. Repeat. After 2 times, no stick was needed. We’re going to try again and just skip the self loading for awhile.

Nay Nay in outdoor ring
Best boy (as long as he loads on the damn trailer!)