Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reminiscing

Bacardi's second gotcha day is fast approaching (along with Yankee's "back to riding day-- FRIDAY) and it has me pondering during the slow moments in life. Driving to work. Sitting at work. Driving home from work. Laying in bed at 3AM. Running because you signed up for another tough mudder.

First time ever riding him
First off, I can't believe its already been two years. To years wit dis wild child dragon beast, and I will admit it has been challenging. I don't know how many of you have been around since I first got him, but he was troublesome from the start, refusing to load on the trailer home.

"is that a....trailer??"
He then proceeded to kick my trailer door in and panic the entire 3 hour drive home and then wouldn't unload when we actually got home.  WHOMP WHOMP. Then, I couldn't catch him for a week so he looked feral to boot.

Wouldn't come in so he got to eat out of a bucket in the field.
Don't even get me started on how hard it was to get him to gain weight. Truly a disaster. I dumped more money in this horse than I have into my own damn self for medical expenses.

One week after owning him he nailed a kick to my leg so bad I was sidelined for months from any kind of physical activity at all. Awesome right?

Top 3 months into ownership, bottom 8 months.
Then, he was horrific to ride. If you remember the days when you thought he might actually kill me, then you've heard the stories. At the time, I never saw it as scary, only frustrating as all hell. Now I'm like, WOW. Woowwwwwwwww. I literally could have been killed so many times.


Like literally every time I rode him, he was a terrible asshole. Riding in the winter was out of the question. I don't think I was truly happy with him  under saddle until after I moved him to EME which was only Sept of last year.

Right before he reared and bolted. 
Awkward jumping is awkward.
Then in the spring we travelled around a bit. He refused a lot of jumps, threw a lot of tantrums and essentially was an absolute nightmare still 95% of the time. He reared, bolted, bucked, kicked. Refused to load, stand, come when called, be pleasant at all or show any kind of affection. He spooked constantly and I'm confident he thought everything was going to kill him. One time, I thought it would be a good idea to bring him to an event as a NC and he showed me how wrong I was on that one.

See; fire breathing dragon and me dying trying to keep him from bolting
Strangely enough, I still loved and believed in him I defended him against the haters and kept working with him. I intentionally was so slow with all his training, intent on keeping it positive and reoccurring. Hey, it works with Yankee right? He's a fucking saint and also used to be a demon.

I finally had him loading on the trailer when he flipped out (literally) and whacked his face open to the bone. Cue 3 steps back in trailer training. So we did approximately nothing all summer until I moved him to EME in Sept.

The change was slow but sure.

Personally, I think the arena helped him immensely. He has this brain that is never shut down and constantly spinning in overdrive. The walls of the arena seem to channel that energy and he was slowly making improvements.

There were still tantrums, violent ones, but they were less frequent. He was learning that jumps weren't evil (usually) and seemed to learn to love it.


One of my all time fav pics
I was even starting to love riding him! I also was no longer worried i might actually die riding in an open field and even braved it a few times over the winter!


We even went to a show! IN THE WINTER. And it was fun as shit. And we got satin. 

"IS that a ...trailer??"


We worked sporadically over the winter, because of my work schedule and his ability to ...*ahem* lose focus and his shit on the reg when the mercury drops below 30*...but it was sold work. Foundational work. Little by little.
Sometimes I was incredibly discouraged. Like, wow my horse is backing up the entire length of the arena losing his shit for the millionth time this week, cool. Or goddammit B you've jumped this crossrail 76006454 times, why are you now putting the nope brakes on this one time? 

But I kept at it, because I knew he was special.

Sometimes I didn't want to. Sometimes I really hated him. Like why wasn't he JUST EASIER to deal with. Why. LIKE WHY. Even Yankee on his worst 4 year old day was not half as bad as B on a good 5 year old day. Or 6. Or 7. 

I firmly blieve in the saying that the most talented are the most difficult to work with and it won' be easy.

Yesterday though, I had such an incredible ride on him. It started off pretty shitty and I kinda slumped over thinking GOD DAMMIT WHY, again. Why is jumping so hard for him some days? But then I worked on something else and he gave me 110%.

I was asking for counter bend on a 10 m circle at the walk and he flexed like BAM and it was magical.

I know you're saying "wow, monica, counter bend how amazing *rolls eyes*"...but you don't get it.  A year ago, if I put my leg on him, he would bolt. Yes, bolt. Wildly. And rear. Fly backwards. All at once. Its possible. Now he accepts the contact, swings his ribcage over and steps under himself. Its incredible.

Then, I got a wild hair in me and practiced some canter drill work. I would asked for the canter from a walk, 20m circle then head down centerline. Really focusing on staying straight. Then, we would come to a halt through the walk. Back 6 steps and canter off on the other lead.

B executed it flawlessly. I am serious, it was amazing. I almost fell off the first time he backed neatly 6 steps, waited calmly, then canter off still on the contact and rocked forward into a perfect halt to canter transition.



Then did it 8 more times. Then jumped the problem fence with no issues. I hopped off, hugged him and cried. He just looked at me like, "wut, I waz good, cookiez now plz".

Total transformation. Every ride these last couple of months actually have been so incredibly different forma year ago, I could cry.

Sometimes I still question purchasing him, but more and more often, I feel no regret whatsoever. He comes to you in the field now, loads on trailers, no longer tries to kill vets, clips (this is a big one), trail rides, snuggles and is all around awesome. 

Training my dragon is going well.

What Do Wednesday: Admiring From Afar

I was struggling to stick with my Wednesday topic today and thought about just posting about my ride last night, but I'll save that for another day! This week's topic was inspired by none other than Sprinklerbandit, while in conversation with her regarding several horsey things. I love horse friends.

My question this week isn't exactly a "what do" but more of an opinion question. And no its not about the out of control debates I am seeing everywhere regarding eventing. Staying FAR away from that for now....

Considering I have been slowly turning away from eventing over the last several years, focusing more on regular show jumping and flat work that goes alone with that, I have been paying more and more attention to the UL Show Jumping world. COTH does an excellent job covering all sports, usually and I like to stalk that frequently. Along with that and social media, I have developed a few favorites. There are of course the classics like Beezie that I have loved forever, but theres also the up and coming outliers and famous people that many "other equestrians" (aka, us poor folks) take for granted simply because they're rich.

Don't get me wrong, any UL anything requires money and financial support, and quite a few people buy their way in with fancy horses and trainers. No one can dispute that fact. However, there is one "fancy rich person" I can actually respect and totally adore. You might know her from Big Bang Theory. Its Kaley Cuoco!

Hi I love you. & your dashing beast.
I can respect her hustle because she seems like a great horseman and her jump position is solid. Seems petty, maybe, but I have a hard time taking celebs seriously when they can barely give a release over a fence or keep their heels down. Thats just me though. I'm not perfect by ANY means, but I also don't buy 6 figure horses and win with them either.

I digress.

Kaley is a class act, in my opinion. My lil brain almost exploded when I found out that she rode horses and then was ACTUALLY good at it. I love her on BBT and it was so perfect that she was an equestrian as well. She adores her horses (follow her instagram!) and regularly rides, takes lessons and shows. I read an interview with her and she mentioned that after BBT is finished, she wants to go full time with GPSJ and competing. She recently bought a few horses as well and they are to.die.for.



Personally, I think its very cool thats someone with as much money as her is so humble about having a string of GP jumping horses on her team. Some of us could only dream of that type of lifestyle (*raises hand*), but I enjoy following someone positive that is in the limelight.

Speaking of, it is insanely funny to read tabloids about Kaley and her equestrian endeavors. And except from a Tabloid Mag, "Not only did she ride in circles on Thor, but 24-year-old Cuoco also fitted in some tricks, jumping the horse over barriers". I am dead. HAHAHA. That is great.


Kaley, I love you. Please keep being awesome and doin' the damn thang! I'll read all the tabloids about you, I don't even care.
My question is a fun one. Is there a celebrity that you follow and adore who also rides? If not, who's your favorite pro rider? I am interested to see everyone's opinion on this one!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekend Pony Time

First off, if you're alive, you probably have read a little about the recent events at Jersey Fresh this weekend. I'm just going to leave this article here and say no more.

My weekend was productive, despite no super exciting things like shows, it was still a good pony weekend. 

By the way, changing jobs gave me a whole new definition of "weekend", which is now Fri-Sun. SCORE for more pony time! 

I have been lunging the boys all week, I've been getting their things organized (which I oddly love to do), and it's all been going well with the exception that B has been struggling with his right lead a few times here and there. Which isn't completely odd, but not being able to keep it for more than two laps raises concerns. More on that later. 

Yankee is doing incredibly well and he is finally able to be ridden Friday, which I'm eagerly awaiting. Like you can't tell, because this is text, but I'm like screaming internally with the thought of sitting on Best Pony for the first time in two years (!!!).

Hi, I'm perfect give me cookies

I hopped on B for the first time in a month on Thursday and he indeed felt so incredibly stiff to the right at the canter it was concerning. Thinking he tweaked something in the field, I let it be for the day and reevaluated Saturday on the flat. 

In which he still felt crooked as a question mark and unable to pick up his right lead without several tries. Interesting. 

No lame steps, no head tossing, just incredibly one sided and really riding the struggle bus on right leads. 

I really can't pinpoint a problem area, but since he was showing no signs of concern from himself (as in not flailing or resisting) I kept working on fundamentals and riding at the trot and kept it to that. 

He's been brilliant by the way. Literally like a whole new horse mentally. Not sure if pro rides everyday for 3 weeks kicked his ass or he's just maturing/over winter spunks, but I'm not complaining. It's amazing to have a horse who shows up to work and I'm no longer concerned about dying when I get on his back. 

Sunday despite his weird right canteriness I opted to jump him over some low fences just to "re acclimate" myself back into jumping. I was surprisingly not sore from the previous two days of riding, which was nice. 

He was glorious. Still having weird issues with the right lead but didn't feel funky and was actively present in our session. Among, not distracted/nervous and really locking in to fences and going for it. 

Super exciting stuff guys, my horse is behaving and acting normal. 

Here;s another one of my beasts being normal, and cute.
I did contact my equine massage lady and ask her to come it and evaluate him to try and find where the issue with the leads. I'm praying it's not a chiro issue because I can't exactly swing $200 at the moment. I'm also hoping he just works out of it...

I signed up for a "jumper show" this weekend right here in town with Amy and EME, which should be fun. I plan on keeping it low key and not pushing him. Mainly I just want to work on show experiences and not refusing fences and keep the height for later. Especially if he's ever so slightly acting strange with the leads. Still super jazzed about it though, gotta love community, low cost shows for fun!
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