Working on homework

As I mentioned last post, Nay Nay and I are on our own for the next 3 weeks. Free to learn a lot or make a lot of mistakes. Only time will tell which path we chose…

Prior to my trainer leaving, I asked for homework. What do we need to work on? Or rather, what should we work on? The answer? Jumps. Getting over them. First time. Getting confident.

See, remember back to that unfortunate incident of the brown boxes? That might have wrecked my confidence a bit… I’m not sure if it did anything to Nay, but me? Maybe… Since then Nay has been pretty good and has learned a LOT.

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Someone got a new girth on Saturday too…

We’ve added spurs and he’s learned that when I add spur he is to go FORWARD. So, if I add them before the jump? He needs to go forward OVER the jump. For the most part, this works. But, sometimes? We die. The thing is, Nay isn’t being bad. His rider is being indecisive and NOT adding spur/leg and as a result, NOT telling him forward. Nay he then left to decide on his own, do I go left? do I go right? do I stop? do I go forward? While he CAN walk over everything, he generally doesn’t because he’s convinced he can’t because his rider is convinced he can’t and it’s a bad combo. If I’m not confident, he’s not confident… And, after one skirt around, time 2 is harder.

So, at the end of our last lesson, my trainer basically told me, I need to get over this first jump thing and fix it now before it is an issue. That’s my job for the next 3 weeks. I can set up as many small fences as I want and just repeat. He can walk**, he can trot, he can canter, but he needs to go forward before I ruin* him (*my word).  ** he can supposedly walk over ANYTHING in the ring, barrels included, I disagree so we’re not trying that! LOL

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Learning is hard work!

Saturday it was FREEZING. Literally. But, I dragged Nay’s sorry butt out and we rode. I set up a couple of tiny fences. A single, a pole to flower boxes and decided that was good. We started off walking over everything because why not? They were tiny and Nay was stiff from the cold so it made our warm-up more interesting. Needless to say, he didn’t care. We had a lovely trot and worked over the pole and then a trailer pulled up next to the indoor right as we were about to canter bringing back a horse. In the past? Nay would be gone mentally. And while he was distracted and our left lead canter wasn’t great, I didn’t lose him. But the right lead? Best right lead canter EVER. We even had a nice circle at the canter! Seriously! Then we started our jump practice and had zero issues. We jumped everything both ways, added leg at the base (whether needed or not), and called it a day.

Sunday things warmed up some so we were back out to try it again. Nay was less than thrilled (I interrupted his morning snooze), but tough luck. He fell back to sleep in the cross ties as I decided to have a long chat but we quickly got to work in the ring where I decided to tackle my demons.

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These flowers? No issue problem!

Instead of sticking to a pole and flowers, I decided we’d tackle the scary brown boxes we struggled with so much that fateful lesson. I removed the gate, but we WERE going to jump it! The single was set to a small vertical with flowers and kept it that way and I left the flower boxes as flower boxes (no pole) after the brown boxes.

Like the day before, we warmed up with a nice trot where Nay had no energy. That said, energy finally came out at the canter where he let me know his displeasure at being asked to work. Once again, our left lead sucked, but eventually, he settled into a decent enough (though very forward) left lead canter and cantered a nice enough circle. But the right lead? Once again? AMAZING. Last lesson I was told to shake my reins at him approaching the first corner to get him to keep the canter. Who the hell knows why, but ever since doing this, his right lead canter has been strong and consistent. We can hold the canter, canter circles, and his balance is improving each time out. His canter circle was super balanced too. SO PROUD!

We trotted over the small vertical once to warm up and it was super easy. The headed up to the boxes…

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But we jumped THIS LINE TOO! Including these scary boxes!!!!

We casually looked at the boxes because I needed to… This wasn’t part of my homework, I admit it… But, we did it without approaching it if it makes sense? We came at it from the plain side. So, maybe we jumped it backwards, but whatever, I had a ground line, but first time up to it, he was gunning to go up and over. I added spur and without hesitation? Up and over. Next time, we WILL do it without looking at it first. We continued to the flowers and cantered out of those where he got so much praise. We repeated a few times before he got a bit lazy and almost took out one of the boxes…

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Super proud. 

Next, we did the vertical around to the in of the outside line which was a small verticle/plank. That wasn’t an issue but Nay didn’t find that one very exciting either (and barely saw a need to pick up his feet). After one more trip over his brown box line, we called it a day.

Sunday’s ride also was the first ride that didn’t include any screaming from Nay!

Weekend update, part 1

I think I’m going to split this update into 2 parts because 1, I have a lot to say and 2, I have a lot of media. So, rather than making this post crazy long, I’m going to just try and have 2 sort of, kind of long posts? Let’s be real, I’m long-winded!

After my crap ride last Saturday, I took Sunday off and didn’t ride for a week (winter is hard and I worked all week). And, I’m being honest,  I was nervous. A month ago? I’d probably have been pleased with last Saturday’s ride. I do need to address riding with other horses. Not being with other horses in the ring, but RIDING with other horses. Still, I need to let that go. But, due to nerves, I begged my husband to come out and serve as moral support. Now, I agreed he could sit in the truck, but I needed him there.

Despite my nerves? My mud-covered beast was a saint. Relaxed. Happy. Goofy.  But completely gross. It took me about a half an hour to get him clean pre-ride and even then his tail was still mud covered… I just can’t. LOL. Anyway, enough mud, but we had a nice relaxed grooming session (barn was quiet–yay horse shows) followed by a nice ride.

As I mentioned last post, we’ve been introducing Nay Nay to spurs. Well, he REALLY gets it now. Saturday? Right spur? One step forward, one step backwards, then immediately shifted over! GOOD BOY! Left spur? Just shifted away from the spur. Such a smart guy! Then, walking he was SO GOOD about moving away from the spur. I’m SO HAPPY with him. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

At this point, I pulled Erik in to take some videos. Just what he wanted to do… LOL. We started off at the canter  to the left and it was fine. I’m having this issue here and there to the left that I’m a little too passive? So I ask and Nay Nay says sure! And canters and immediately trots so I need to make sure I ask and maintain. But, the left lead isn’t our issue.

The right? It was a mess. I need to follow up with my KEEP LEG ON from the left lead AND remember to add inside spur approaching the corners. Basically, I need to stay on step ahead. Things were made a little more challenging because 1, I kept worrying about the lead when we lost the canter (It was emphasized on Sunday to stop worrying and just canter for now) and 2, Nay Nay was super focused on Erik and as we passed each time, he kept craning his neck around to see him. Granted, my lack of leg and messy hands didn’t help. But those things NEVER help, do they? LOL.

(you can really see how gross his tail was…)

Spoiler, we worked on stuff on Sunday…

Rather than ending there, I decided I wanted to jump a cross rail (and eventually a small vertical with boxes under it). The cross rail was no big deal. In fact, the first time? Lovely.

The second time? Boredom.

The boxes, a bigger deal in that they took more effort, he was tired, but not in that they caused any actual issue. He got over them each time. The first time through was in slow motion, the second time, was much better though we took the rail with us. The third? Confident and perfect. So, it’s all a timing thing and also getting used to using the spurs to say, yes, move FORWARD over the jump. This was also a topic of Sunday’s lesson. When we all feel like we can walk over? No issue. When there is a question of, “can we walk over this?” The hesitation is there. In reality, he could have walked over everything, but neither of us are sure of that…

Sunday lesson recap coming tomorrow!

Business with Batt: Weekend Adventures, Part II – Going Solo

 

Because when it’s 70 degrees, summer, and other than a haul out the day before, you haven’t been anywhere in 14 months, why NOT haul out for a trail ride at Fair Hill?

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Any why not go solo?

What could go wrong?

Sunday I decided to take advantage of another day off and take Batty out to Fair Hill for our first solo trail ride…ever.

Honestly, I’ve never been big on the idea of solo trail rides, but if I don’t have people to ride with, why am I letting that stop me? So, solo trail ride it is…

 

And, it was a complete non-event.  I rode 1 handed, holding the buckle almost the entire time. I let Batt choose our route part of the time…

We made no friends despite the plethora of trailers, stuck with our own plan, and didn’t even get too lost. And honestly? It was a really nice way to spend the late morning/early afternoon.

 

his groaning is a little special…

We wandered through trails and saw the sights, tackled bridges (!!!!) including the bridge that tried to kill both him and Remus last June, wandered through the covered bridge, and “galloped” through fields until we eventually “found” our way back to the trailer (with a tiny bit of help from google maps). The only thing that would have made the day better? Hoof boots. Batt needs a trim and his renegades don’t currently fit so he was a bit sore on gravel but whatever.

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They could have a guard rail here… there was one on the other side… 

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Enjoying life

The covered bridge series… [this bridge used to be scary, but it’s been a non issue lately. people like to fish next to it and “jump out” which is spooky… plus people are always taking pictures]

 

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This bridge caused so many headaches in the past. Including last time with Michele. Once when I was out, I had to hop off and beat him over. Not really, but hopping off and use of a crop was involved. And this time? We just walked over. I went the long way to avoid it and then decided to see if he’d walk over once I was at a point that it didn’t matter. Go figure…

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We ran into a few horses along the way, no one could believe it was his first solo ride.

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Open field! Happy horse! 

He was a VERY good boy.

Onto our next great adventure! (stay tuned for less fun updates about a horse who isn’t eating and may have ulcers again…)

 

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So sleepy!

 

Weekend wrap up

I already posted about Sam, the giant horse, but I figure I should catch up a little on the rest of the weekend.

I’m trying to get back into lessons again and had my first lesson (in a couple of years) scheduled for earlier last week. Of course, a storm was moving in so about 40 minutes before my lesson, we rescheduled for Friday. Storm dissipated completely and it was sunny (though raining) during my would be lesson.

Lesson on Friday was a little earlier than was convenient, but being a holiday weekend, I decided I could skip out a little early. So, when 4:30 came around, I headed out. Just to get to my car as a bolt of lightening struck and knocked out power across the university campus. No rain at this point either. Of course, I park in a gated lot which meant that the electric gate didn’t work to let us all out. Calls to parking and public safety were useless and no one necessarily wanted to be “the one” to break the gate. Eventually, we decided to drive through the handicap ramp and sidewalk to exit the parking lot. Fun times, but no cars go stuck. I’m not sure if it would have been as successful if it were raining…

My drive home included lots of sun, lots of rain, localized flooding, localized heavy winds, and downed branches. Oh and more blinding sun. I got home to find heavy rain and part of a tree on my round pen. Another fun project. Still, radar looked looked like it would clear out, 6pm showed 0% percolation, and no lesson cancellation. Because of the rain, I ended up rushing out last minute (we had a long 1 mile drive…) and felted rushed pretty much until I was actually on Batts.

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Round pen repairs needed again….

While I’ve worked with this trainer very briefly a few years ago, I was still nervous because that’s me. Nerves and stress. Add in crazy 90% humidity and I was feeling sort of wonky to start out.

Overall, the lesson went pretty well and we’re going to try and stick to an every other week schedule (I’d love to do more, but my bank account objects) and I’ll haul in on off weeks to hack in the ring. We worked on pace, moving off my leg when asked, bending, and energy. Needless to say, we rocked our halts and downward transitions, but it was suggested I start wearing spurs with him again since he was zero respect for my leg. Right now we’re following the whole ask with leg once, then demand with crop. I’ve avoided spurs lately as my leg sucks and swings though trainer has indicated that it really doesn’t in reality… So, back on spurs go, at least for flat work.

We actually did some jumping which surprised me as I was expecting a flat lesson. I don’t know how much I’ve posted about Batty, but he’s a former dead quiet, bombproof lesson horse who would be absolutely perfect if he weren’t a stopper… A reluctance for jumping combined with getting hit in the mouth by a variety of riders and all of that… Even poles were an issue at times (stopping or trying to launch over them). Anyway, since I’ve had him, I haven’t done too much jumping. I didn’t jump him at all for the first few months and then boredom hit and poles were reintroduced as were cross rails. He has his moments, but for the most part, he’s pretty good with simple, boring cross rails of varying heights. Even boring (read empty) verticals were pretty consistent too and he’d occasionally pop over a 2’6″ bland vertical. Then, with all of his soundness issues and abscesses last year, he hasn’t really jumped much. Anyway, a few weeks back he popped over some cross rails and a tiny vertical and then the following week we fought a little with our jumps since the one cross rail was trying to eat him… After successfully trotting a few cross rail courses, we haven’t actually popped over anything since.

So when trainer suggested some fences, I wasn’t entirely certain. Especially since we were facing actual solid jumps (brush box and some astroturf covered thing). They were tiny, but solid. Determined he could walk over them, we worked on the whole forward motion thing. Lots of crop and kicking later, he finally made it over to lots of pats and praise. Second time was quicker success, third time was immediate. Then we trotting it before moving onto the second jump. Astro turf is scary, but having learned from the first jump, we eventually made it over, and then immediately made it over the second time. Once he was over, he was good. We trotted the line once then trotted in and cantered out and called it a day. Batty was pretty darn pleased with himself. He’s a strange one and moves very quickly from OMG something’s living in that jump and it’s going to eat me to Mr. Cocky and Proud of Himself (from there we move onto “I’m bored and can’t be bothered to put in effort” but we didn’t get that far).

Anyway, post lesson we were both exhausted and sweaty. After a nice cool shower (using cross ties! which appears we’re fine with again) we headed home to a thoroughbred who missed his Batthorse very much…

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the masked men

On Sunday, we were supposed to go to a fun little schooling show at my friend’s barn, but due to low entries, she cancelled. Instead, we headed out to Fair Hill for a trail ride with Erik and the dogs.

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My best girls (and Erik)

Armed with a broken crop, I learned bridges are something we need to work on. He was find with the first bridge until a car went under it and then no go. Darn broken crop didn’t help me much. Second bridge was scary because of the sound the small piece of metal made when he stepped on it. I eventually got off and forced him over it (again, damn broken crop) and considered it a success. The covered bridge however was no issue at all and he happily crossed that one (that was the bridge we had issues over last time). Still, considering he was out there without other horses, he did pretty well. Stuck mostly to the walk as my Hermione dog did NOT like me getting that far ahead and since it was warm, I didn’t feel like stressing my already tired pups (Marble got to lay in the creek so she was happy). I did let him canter up this small hill a bit once the dogs were back at the truck and that seemed to make him happy. Strange horse likes cantering up hill.

Arrived home and the boys were happily reunited. Well, Subi was happy, Batt just wanted to eat and I can’t same Jiminy actually cared.