Friday, June 26, 2015

You're a Bitch

I am of course speaking to mother nature on this one. 

After my initial freak out and frantic texting to my people, complaining and begging for assurance that it will indeed, be okay, I then kind of realized it's not the end of the world. I just really wanted this to go well. But if it doesn't, it is what it is. 

Must. Relax.   

If he doesn't get on the trailer, so what. If we don't make it in time, who cares?

Well, I do in reality, but I'm trying to pretend to not give AF outwardly. 

Bacardi also made me feel better by actually loading in the trailer last night. 

Granted, it took him an hour and we were both a sweaty mess, but he got on quite calmly. No flipping over either. AND he backed off straight like a normal, grown up horse would. 

Progress. 

I then looked up the weather. 

Of course, it's not looking good. 

Surprise surprise, considering it rained for a week straight last week. 

I've been stalking the forecast like a clinically insane person for the last 24 hours too, and it's really not getting any better. 

There's a "chance" of storms in the morning, but considering the weatherman predicted "considerable downpour" and flooding , I'm expecting the worst. My phone has also been going off every hour with flood watches and it is currently storming like a motherfucker outside. 


And OF COURSE it's supposed to clear up the second I'm done with all four of my rides. Of course. It would do that.

And would you just look at Sunday -_- 

So I'm trying to stay positive. Yanno, just forgetting about the forecast, praying the rain holds off and those 30 and 50 percents remain just a chance. 

But knowing ohio, it will downpour until  my chance to load and ride has come and gone. 

Hey only $80 lost right? 

Either way my tack is clean AF. 

I did ruin my super expensive half pad though. No one told me you cant machine wash them even on delicate. Apparently washer enjoy the taste of sheepskin and will devour it with no trace. 


And the sheepskin is no longer fluffy. I fail. Fucking fail. 

But tack is still clean. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Flip Flop


First off, thank you all for the positive vibes. I know I got a little witchy there for a minute, but I felt it needed to be said. I am always amazed by the number of people that remain interested in our story, and for that, I thank you loyals!

Secondly, I'm sure we are all aware of Lauren's plight over at She Moved To Texas. I have no wise words or sweet condolences that haven't already been said, I just wanted her to know her community is here for her & I feel her pain deep in my heart. Prayers have been murmured for you Lauren. 

Thirdly, I was feeling ready and excited for the show because of this....


Holy trot. Such roundness. Very engagement. 

...But now I am exceptionally nervous for this schooling endeavor I've signed myself up for. 

All week I've been getting my ducks in a row for the first show I've attended in almost 2 years. Even though it's just schooling and I'm showing greener than grass, it's still exciting. 

I forgot how fun show prep can be! Only truly sick humans, aka horse people, would think laundry and vehicle prep is fun, but here we are. Bustling and hustling. 

Bacardi has been an angel all week too and I've been playing around with his "look". 


 
Besides having the ability to moose exceptionally hard and eat grass the second I'm not looking, he also looks incredibly sexy in white...so we will be reppin' New Vocations with our white ambassadors pad. 

I really want his own bridle too, specifically a PS of Sweden, because this one is Yankees and doesn't quite fit him. Especially with that BOT headband, but it'll do for now. 

He's been feeling ON and I can't explain my relief over this. He was exactly this wonderful last year around this time too. Perhaps he's just a summer and fall horse and winter riding is off limits. *weak laughter*



I just....my feels. He's really showed up to work this week and I was hopeful about our dinky Intro Level class. Like maybe we could actually get a few decent scores our first time out. 

One thing we really nailed down is our halts. 

Two things rarely practiced in dressage is the walk and halt and in general his are both horrendous. For basically a year, I had yet to get a quiet AND round AND square halt. Pick one was more like it. And his walk was messy and loafing. 

Lately though, in leaps and bounds both the walk and halt have improved. He's less fidgety in the walk and stays in front of my leg and the halt is mostly square and not hollow. Go B!


It might seem silly to some to consider this means for celebration, but holy shit this is a win. 

So I was feeling exceptional last night and went to bed pumped for the weekend. 

That is, until I saw the ride times this morning. 

I literally think I'm the first rider to go. Meaning 8AM bright and early. 

Generally, this wouldn't be an issue at an event because we would already be there, and would normally be a good thing...but this causes a whole mess of anxiety for me. 

For one, loading. If he takes even 30 min to get on, we will be late. So fuck.

I even consulted with my vet back and for most of the week regarding safe ways to take the edge off his extreme anxiety with trailering. We found a solution so I am hoping this helps...but it still puts pressure on us having to be there ridiculously early now.  

Second, we have zero time to relax before tacking up. None. And this is his first show. Even if I start loading up at 5am in the dark (which is impossible) we still most likely wouldn't arrive until 7:30am because we have two trailers and four horses coming and a 30 min drive. So fuck. 

Third, I ride all four events within 2 hours...and then I'm done. I'm terrified this will be sensory overload for him. Switching tack, bustling to get ready, warmed up etc. I really thought they would have the lowest levels go last...so fuck. 

I'm just perplexed that the lower levels go first at this show and not last. I've literally NEVER been to a show where the lower levels go first. Ever. And I signed up thinking we would have HOURS to chill. 

I'm trying to remain calm


Literally everything I was trying to avoid most likely will happen. I intended on this being the most relaxing event asked Of this horse and it might end up being the most stressful and I am FREAKED. I'm about to just say screw it this is in the too hard pile but I already paid for it. Not much but I still paid for it. 

GAH GAH GAH. 

SIDENOTE, how adorable is his face when I walked away from him to turn the camera off...he's like "human, why are you leaving me, come back!"


Adorable. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

None of My Business

The blogging world can be a fickle place. 

I've made a post like this before, but I feel like I should say it again. Because obviously I can't keep my mouth shut and it's only my blog. But that's none of my business.

And I will say now there are no pictures here. I wrote this on my iPhone and it's lengthy. 

It's a well known fact that once "it's" on the internet it is there to stay and there for ANYONE to read. You are putting yourself out there for anyone to critique, judge and make snarky comments about. I've been in this position many times and come under fire for statements made in here or actions of mine. Which is all fine. I acknowledge the "blogging risks" and continue because usually I don't give a rats ass. 

However, recently, the comments generated here have made me want to close this blog down and keep a lid on our story. 

I've always been one of those to share struggles more than successes because for one, I find they make a better read and more can learn from it, but I am also humble in my approach to success. I don't like sharing it much. It makes me feel like I'm bragging, even if it's earned. 

And that's why I blog. To share my story. My struggles. My experiences. My journey. And a lot of it, especially recently, has been a real bitch. 

Acquiring the horse known as Bacardi was a hasty decision. I barely knew what I had coming, but I knew I wanted him. I haven't regretted it for a second. Not once through the injuries to myself, himself, the tears of frustration or anger. Not one time. It's all a journey. And I love every second. He's my horse and I bought him for a reason. 

The struggles make the successes even better. Especially the little ones. Like when he finally let me halter him in the field. Or walk through his stall door without fuss. Or trust me enough to be still for the vet, sort of. It's those tiny things with this horse that makes it all worth it. 

Sure, we haven't gone to a show yet and won a blue ribbon. That stings a little coming from showing often, to not at all. Yankee was a saint and beast and Bacardi is not him and that took a minute to get used to.  But then again, I don't have much money for that anyways and he's not ready for a large show. He will be someday. But not now. And I'm fine with that. 

Like I said. It's the journey. 

And it's really starting to bug me when people tell me what to do. 

I've said this before, but apparently there are those it there offended by me calling my horse a lunatic or insane and feel the need to demand I do this or do that. 

Fucking lighten up. 

It's called sarcasm and it's my way of dealing with the ridiculousness of the situations. I've never owned a horse as complicated as him, with as many issues. And you know what, I don't care. He's mine and I love him for it. 

So please, continue to judge and make statements and assume I'm not doing everything in my power to help this horse. It's fine. You just don't know. 

I know you can only see what I post, and that's my fault, but please, take a step back and try not to assume I am some idiot blundering around with a problem horse going "omg what are this how do I train". 

No. 

Stop. 
 
I have never ever claimed to be an expert or a trainer, but I have been around horses long enough and worked with enough trainers and learned how to deal with almost any behavioral issue thrown at me. 16 years experience actually. That's some years. Most of it spent paying damn good money for trainers. 

So please for the love of God stop suggesting I get one. We all can't afford to throw money at everything horse ownership involves. You don't know my life and I don't know yours. I do the best I can with what I can. 

If I didn't think I could handle it I would've sold him long ago. If I ever sell him it would be due to lack of funds, and that's it. 

I got this. But Rome wasn't built in a day. Bacardi won't be fixed in a year. He may never be normal. But I am willing to be there for him and help him out to the best of my ability.  

So for those of you out there that care, please stay tuned, as you are about to get a rundown of what I have done with this horse regarding his trailering issue. Because for some reason I feel the need to defend myself. Why, I don't know. 

You must first see before you can judge,  and not one of you besides Amy has actually seen his behavior in person. It is baffling. 

One moment he will be relaxed, ears flopping, chewing, head in my lap and calmly step up onto the trailer. Chill with both front feet and either get in...or won't. And the second he won't it's an immediate change in demeanor. A flip of a switch. His eyes go white, ears go back, he rears backwards and sometimes flips himself over. I literally do nothing. It's unpredictable. He either will or he won't and I can never tell. 

To get him to the point of loading nicely, before the accident, I tried every method I knew. And a whole mess of it was an absolute nope. 

First we did groundwork. A LOT of it. Responding to my body. Moving away, moving with, listening to my voice. Taking everything I've learned from natural horsemanship classes and trainers over the years.

 Yes. I've done this. This is where I started, as anyone with a brain should. 

Once we got good at moving from pressure and games and all that shit we started clicker training. Which he fucking loves. He picked that up faster than any horse I've trained with clickers. He learned a few basic tricks to grasp the concept and we moved on. 

So we started using that to learn trailer good, not bad. 

Step. Click. Step. Click. Repeat.

 (More like ask horse to step forward away from pressure. Step. Click. Treat. Repeat. Ask horse to lift foot w whip. Click. Ask again. Ask to put foot on trailer. Good. Click. Treat. Repeat. And so on and so forth until you're sick of it, over and over until you creep to the trailer and eventually get on.)

And within 3 sessions I had him loading no problem. Holy fucking shit it worked, who would've thought. 

Then, once, we trailered out for a ride. He got right on. Great ride, awesome, wonderful, pats all around. 

Would not get back on. I tried for an hour. 

Cue bitches in surrounding area bullying their way in your business and demanding to "help" you. 

Me, being speechless and feeling helpless. Allowed it, because why not. I can't get him on w my magic voodoo clickering. 

Mistake. 

Within an hour he had broken two halters, 3 lunge lines, and skinned many hands. 

I also learned attempting to pull him on from behind with lines makes him flip over. Whips make him freak the fuck out. Absolutely no one can stand behind him or he will rear immediately.  Like thrashing, kicking, throwing body around. He got loose twice. It was horrible. 

I spent the next hour an a half feeling like the worst owner in the world for letting someone else "help" and trying to gain his trust back. Eventually, he just seemed to give up the fight and got on without pause. Like, just decided, ok I'll get on now. 

What. 

So for the next few weeks we went back to square one. Groundwork. Trust. Etc. 

He always showed up and remained calm...for the most part. 

Until he wasn't. 

The mood swings were insane and unexplainable. 

When this happened I would back off. Less pressure. Less. Less. Get him calm. 

This helped. A bit. 

And then he would get right back into being obstinate. 

So I tried a method I learned with Spirit. 

Anytime he make a single flinch backwards, make it hell. Back up for 40 steps. Hell 60. Then lunge him away from pressure. Make him work. Make it suck. Backwards not fun. Backwards means work. Forwards good. Forward treat. 

And he learned quick. 

This in tandem with clickering was our ticket. 

He was fine for months. We just rarely went anywhere because of time. But I still practiced. Occasionally we would have a hiccup and we would revisit our "backwards bad" discussion and he would concede. 

Now to present day. 

Cue accident. Bewilderment. Astonishment. Confusion. 

Why did he throw such a tantrum that day. I changed nothing. 

So I gave it two weeks. 

I started over with clickering as I knew nothing else would work. No amount of force would help, only hurt. Whips, not okay. Hard pressure, not cool. 

So I took it slow. Whatever. I wanted my horse to be okay with this. 

Fed him "in" the trailer. Well. His feet on the ground and his head in the trailer. 

Parked the trailer next to his stall with the doors open. It's still there too. 

Ride near it. Played with him near it. 

Then started groundworking and clickering him near it. 

Then started asking him on. 

And he would get halfway on. Calmly. Rationally. And then explode. So I never pushed him. 

I would bring him back. Rub his face, sing to him because he likes that, until he was calm again. Start over. 

Usually I would end on a good note aka feet in trailer, but he would never stay. 

I was so frustrated. 

And then Saturday happened. He continued to refuse my trailer. He got right on Amy's, and then refused on the way home. 

Explain that. 

My reasoning is just that he's scared. Understandable. 

It does not explain why he gets on sometimes and not others. And why he will be perfectly calm and then not. Unless he has some off form of horsey PTSD...which I'm beginning to think is real. 

So unless you have a real suggestion like the Doctor who commented (thank you my lovely, I will respond to your comment), please refrain. Because force does not work with this horse and his moods are unpredictable.

Call me crazy or insane or what have you with your dictionary definitions, but this horse needs patience and understanding and I am giving him that. No amount of "other" training will make him stop rearing. I've tried. I've done my damndest to not pressure or freak him out. But he's a fucking horse. They have their own minds. I can't explain it or control it. 

But please, for those of you who think you can deal with this better than me, come on down. I'll even feed you dinner and let you sleep in the guest room.  

I would just appreciate if the snide, no named comments about myself and my methods would cease. Or at the very least get the balls to leave your name and stand behind your comment. 

I'm not going to kill my fucking horse. In fact, I'm doing my best to prevent that. 

So thanks. 






Sunday, June 21, 2015

Existing and Resisting

Howdy.

No I'm not dead.

Though I'm sure it seems like it from lack of posting.

I just can't be one of "those blogs" thats posts when there's no riding going on. And theres been almost zero riding going on.

If its not Bacardi injuring himself, its the damn weather. I shit you not, it rained for 5 days straight here. FIVE days. This isn't TX, but seriously, we are drowning. And before that, my allergies were so horrible, it was crippling. So I've basically just been existing...wishing I could ride.

We've been doing a lot of this too
So of course the logical thing to do when you haven't ridden in 2 weeks  is sign up for 2 shows right?

Right.

Motivation.

I won't lie. There for the span of 2 days, feeling extremely overwhelmed with life and shitty from allergies, I contemplated selling the horses and just being a normal person. I was justifying it from a monetary standpoint. But lets be real. I couldn't do that.

I might still have to someday, but right now is NOT the time.

A girl needs her horse.

Even if said horse is a frustrating red ball of frustration.

I say this because while we weren't riding, I was working with him trailering 15 min here or 20 minutes there whenever there was a break in weather or my schedule.

It is not going well.

Every damn time he flips himself over backwards and I'm not even pressuring him with a whip, or anything else for that matter. I'm simply standing there, waiting for him to take a step, then clicking and treating. Thats it. And he will get one foot in, and then explode. Literally. Backwards and uppp up up and over. Like a fucking idiot.



Ask Amy. She saw him do it twice yesterday.

His hips now look like hamburger meat and in addition to his face scar he now has cuts on his shoulder & legs as well. Add to that, he will not gain weight and looks ribby AF and his summer coat is kinda long so he's always sweating. He looks horrible and I'm just like yeah sure lets take the hag to a show, why not.

I was determined to take him schooling saturday because I had time and DAMMIT it stopped raining. But the backwards antics would not cease. Luckily Amy showed up and rescued me, and he went right  in her trailer.

Despite the fuckery, we had one good day of training. Thank god, since our show is next week. He did give me hell getting back on the trailer home though and I literally cried about it. Only took 40 minutes for him to get back in. So that was fun. Amy is a saint and I love her. That is all.

Being very good yesterday
The link to a short vid of us is HERE and if you want to see an adorable video of him rolling in water, click on my Insta over there in the sidebar (theres also a short vid of us jumping that ^ jump) ----->

Now before you get all preachy and say "omg Monica you have a show in a week and you've barely been riding the horse", calm down. I entered us in ground poles/crossrails and intro levels dressage CTs. HAHAHA.

Because thats what we need right now. It will be his first show with me, off property, we have to trailer there, and hes never seen a dressage arena before in his life.

Main goals:

Stay in arena
Stay on horse
Don't refuse fucking groundpoles because groundpoles

I'm going to try my very best to not give a shit about how we place, or what score we get or if he stays on the bit the whole time...because its his first show.

But the competitive eventer in me will be throwing tantrums that we aren't jumping 3 ft yet or doing flying changes, though outwardly my mantra will be "this is his first show, this is his first show" and all will be fine.

SO because I'm competitive, I have side goals too. One is keep the geometry. Intro is not hard. Theres no cantering. We can do this. I've been practicing transitions. I would like to have our down transitions clean. Also a square halt would be nice. We've been practicing that too.

Sidenote, our canter is atrocious and I'm actually relieved intro level has none. Like whoah its bad. I guess thats what trotwork on a straight road for months will get you -_-

NEED to dressage.

We will also be making the trek to KY (if he gets in my trailer) for Champagne Run. Yankee will be there and he's trying to qualify for the AECs one last time with that show. I'm SO SO excited I get to see my horse! I'm taking Bacardi as a non-compete, but with that we can school everywhere after its done and ride around in the warm-ups to get experience. School XC, go in the dressage rings, be around the warm-ups etc.  It will be good for him. I also can ride Yankee Sunday because he's done competing Saturday...literally cannot wait. Thats only 3 weeks away!



I'm sorry out life is not full of glamour and fun and winning ribbons like half of you showing fiends on blogger, but here we are.






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