Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Was Bad, But My Horse Was Good

I've been bad...I left my "bedrest" and went to the barn today...without crutches. Oh snap. But I wore my brace I swear! It was my birthday today, so I couldn't just stay inside and not see my boy. He, on the other hand was an angel. With the help of Brandon (since I cannot lift or carry anything) we set up a jump chute and free jumped him today.

He was havin some real fun today!

This is a video of Yank's jump 4ft 6, sorry its so shaky! I think it is 4ft6, but I stood next to it and I'm pretty sure it might be 5ft actually. We didnt measure but I am 5ft9 and it came up past my chest...

These next few pics are video stills, which is why they are so grainy, but you can still see how nicely he was jumping today!

If only he'd jump this well under saddle!

4ft 6...So proud, I wanted to push him more, but he hasn't jumped in a while and after a few runs he got a bit tired.

Next to the jump he jumped today! See, past my chest and I'm 5'9". I was on the phone, lol

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Almost Travesty

Yesterday, the day started off pretty exceptional. I slept in, then went to the barn to school yanks and he was angel. It was still really cold outside, so I didn't ride outside. In fact I didn't ride at all, just did a bit of groundwork and trick training to switch it up.

Yankee did very well in hand. I started with long lining, working on straightness and perfection of cues. I have trained him to 'walk on' with a tap to his rump on top, to 'trot on' the same way and to 'whoa' with little bumps on the reins. He is supposed to stand perfectly still until I say otherwise and he usually does. He is also ground tie trained, which you can see in the video. To come down from a gait I say "whoa____", like if he is trotting I say "whoa walk". To move up I say "Aaaaaand___". Within gaits I say "eeeeeasy" to slow and "____ON" to increase action. Consistency is key and Yanks has it down, since I use the same voice commands when lunging. Long lining yesterday I tried doing renver and traver using the whip as my leg and he sort of got it, but really all it was doing (esp to the left) was making his neck crooked, and we don't want that!

After long lining I did a little more piaffe training and he is really picking it up! Literally! I am using alternating cues for his back legs (tapping L, R, L ,R) and he is doing the front leg work himself. The video is pretty good, do not mind my hobo outfit and pink boots, teee hee! Yanks is REALLY starting to get the idea of what I mean when I say "easy", he sets back and the movement goes UP. After the movement I ask him to "trot ON" more to let him know there is a difference and I am positive he gets it. Don't you just love his ground tying skills too? :)

This is where the day gets sketch-ma-getch and almost tragic.

After his training shesh, I like to clicker train with trick work and yesterday I was working on his bow. He gets that he is supposed to stretch his front legs out, but he still isnt getting that to balance correctly, he needs to back his back legs up a bit too. To help with this, I ask him to almost set out like a standardbred and then bow. I ask him to bow with one leg set back, and I still have to command him to do so by touching it and holding it up a bit while he brings his head down and back and bows. We do this ALL the time and I didn't think twice about it today.

I had asked a few times for it and of course, he performed beautifully as always. I am trying to 'wean' him off me holding his leg so that eventually he can bring it back himself and so every time I ask I hold it less and less and he does it himself more and more.

The 4th time I asked it was all going swimmingly....and then right as he brought his head back and down I saw his front stabilizing leg buckle and I thought " Oh Shiiiit"....

Oh shit indeed.

When his leg buckled, his left shoulder bumped me and since I was half crouching (I had just set his kneeling leg), I toppled over and landed sprawled on my back and all I saw was his MASSIVE body falling....

I was terrified. I braced for the impact and saw Yankee scrambling above me and all I could think about was my impending death. All these thoughts raced through my head in about a split second, I was gonna get crushed and die, I was gonna be a veggie for the rest of my life, what will happen to yankee when I die, how did this happen, why am I so stupid to try to teach a horse to bow...bla bla bla.

Then, miraculously, his body was no longer falling, in fact it was rising away from me..."I'm saved! I'm Aliiiiive! How did this happ-OOOOWWWWW?!" What the-"

In his effort to not fall on me, Yankee ended up crunching down on my right ankle with his hind foot when he rebalanced himself. Thank sweet Jesus that he didn't fall on me and he doesn't have hind shoes right now, but oh crap now my ankle is broken...

Yankee was very worried about me and I could see in his eyes he was sorry, I told him what an amazing horsey he is for saving me like that. I KNOW he tried his best not to fall on me and in his effort, accidentally stepped on my ankle. I leaned on him for support while walking him back to the crossties and he stood perfectly still while I brushed him and put on his blanket (which is really hard to do on one foot) and led him back to his paddock and stall.

So there I was, thinking my ankle was broken and I was scared, hurting, sad and angry at myself since it was all my fault. I drove home with my left foot (cried the whole way), called off work for that day and waited for Brandon to get home to take me to the ER for x-rays.

3 hours and xrays and CT scans later I find out its not broken (YIPPEE) but just a bad sprain and deep bruising. I don't really understand how since it hurts like a mother trucker but the doc gave me percocet and ordered me to 5 days of inactivty, a brace and crutches. 5-6 weeks for 100% heal, but hey I am NOT complaining! I could have actually broken it, or worse, died!

I am very grateful that it is only a sprain since SOOO much could have been ruined (not being able to work to earm income, have a hard time getting to classes, no riding this season, etc etc) and I am VERY thankful for my wonderful horsey :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hobbies, Part I

This will be a new series thing I will do on days I don't get to ride, or think I won't be able to. It's 2 degrees today with some viscous wind and I have to feed today (starting around 2:30 I will do stalls, and feed about 3:15 so I can hopefully get to work at 4pm, then I work till 11:30pm) and work, so I really doubt I will be hopping on. Both of us don't usually enjoy rides when it is this cold.

So, let the hobbying begin!

I have always drawn, for as long as I could remember, but just recently started taking "real" art classes for my major in college. it has been useful, but sometimes I feel it throws me off my natural groove. Horses are my favorite subject, of course, but I love drawing any animal. People and still life's are my least favorite but I have to for class.
Most of my drawings are done freehand, not looking at models or pictures and my favorite medium is graphite and charcoal.

This is a freehand I did while chillen around the house last year sometime. Most of my horse drawings never even reach completion, but those that do, I put up on my FB page. This is one of my favorites! This one is by no means a project and it only took me about half an hour.

This was done a few years ago, shortly after I adopted Yankee. He was a racehorse, so I wanted to sketch one! This didnt take any time at all, maybe 15 min. Funny how the ones I sketch out turn out to be better than ones I really concentrate on!

This is a new technique I tried for intermediate drawing II. The project was a silent story, no words, just pictures. I fabricated a life story about a fictional horse named Fraenze Datcha en Azzura, a german grand prix showjumping horse. The story began at her birth, showed her story of succes's and failures, winning world champ and later her injury that was career ending and led to her broodmare status. I had to vary mediums, styles, viewpoints and sizing as well as colors. It ended up being 11 panels (boards) with 4 pictures per board. It took me about a week to do and I'd say 30 min per 22 hours total!!
This was one of my favorite pictures, this was pen and colored charcoal. I tried to make it very simplistic with a splash of color.

This is another part of Azzura's story, right after they gained professional, national status. Done in pen and colored charcoal.

This is a whole panel from Azzura's story, winning her first national show. I love the angles I chose for the jumping part! The hands and hooves were supposed to symbolize a partnership and those were done in all pen. the other two panels were pen and colored charcoal.

I don't just draw horses, here is one of the model drawings we did in class. Each pose was 30 min long, all charcoal, and I turned this is for a grade, got an A :)

The skeleton project...gah this was god awful. It's life sized, and in all charcoal. I had to draw this standing up and take precise measurements from the model and try to recreate it on paper. This was not a fun project at all but I am proud how it turned out. It took 10 hours total and was my midterm for intermediate drawing II. Got an A :)

This was my midterm for intermediate drawing I and is a drawing of a futuristic city. It is amassive drawing, I can't remember the measurements but extend your arm out and thats about how long it is, just about as tall too. the little ball things are "cars" and people travel by tubes. We had to vary viewpoint and technique and I got an A :)

I have hundreds of more pictures but I didn't want to bore ya'll! This is just a taste of what I do on my freetime and for class. Hope you enjoyed !

Monday, January 10, 2011

Catch 22?

As you can see this was Yankee today schooling a few steps of piaffe in passage movement. I know this is nothing special and it's not perfect but this video if for my records. Yankee gets a few steps in piaffe/passage. I am training him for piaffe but since he is moving forward its technically a passage even though the upward movement in the front is not spectacular by any means. I am mostly working on lowering his quarters, slowing the trot and lifting the back legs. I am hoping the rest will fall into place with practice.
After that I did a few min of long lining, which was fun :) Brandon even tried it too, but since he only has 3 fingers on one hand he was having a hard time holding the whip and reins and accidentally bumped Yankee numerous times on the bum with the whip and freaked him out. Ooops, won't be trying that again.

Today's ride was pretty dismal, and I'm attributing it to 2 days off, the bumping Brandon did and the 'blizzard of death' that descended upon us this afternoon. It dumped (so far) 6 inches in about 3 hours and Lord knows Missouri and it's drivers are not capable of handling such snow (supposed to keep snowing overnight). We had to deal with this...

....on the way to the barn. Along with other drivers it took about 45 min. to go 10 miles. In 10 minutes time I saw 5 groups of emergency vehicles going separate ways to help wrecked people. On one road alone I saw 5 vehicles run off into ditches and a bus, and this was when only 3 inches were on the ground. Stoopid.

Yankee was very uppity today and tense and some of it may relate to anxiety of drilling movements and the above reasons. I am trying to vary our rides but there is only so much I can do in winter. I can't jump alone (barn rule) and when its 2 degrees and windy, riding is unbearable, I don't care who y'ar. Tomorrow I will switch it up a bit if the wind dies down and go out for a hack in the snow, but if it's too cold I'll just give him another day off.

Today I warmed up with the piaffe school, unmounted, then did basic WTC circles and extensions in-gait, mounted. I wasn't planning on doing anything extensive and I just wanted to touch up our side passes and shoulder in's before working on our trot extension, but he was having none of that. I know some of it was my fault too, I was freezing and a little stressed from the hectic day and I know I was tense too but he was really throwing a fit. Soooo I reverted to just easy WTC circles and down the long sides but even that simple stuff he tensed at, was behind my leg, above the bit and lagging. It was SO frustrating. I resorted to trotting on loose rein in hopes to stretch his back and loosen. It worked, barely, but I did get some good trotting in after the stretch.

Mostly though today was a fail. I work tomorrow too, 8 hour shift so I dunno if I will even want to ride beforehand for fear of being tired before I even go in to sad of me to say that. Work and riding is SUCH a catch 22. I work so I can ride (pay board, equipment, shows, vetting, farrier...) but if I try to ride before/after work I am tired and either can't ride or work. Seems like its one or the other. My life seems like a huge catch 22. Everything that my life is I can relate to the catch 22, school, exercise, riding, art...etc etc.