Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blog Hop 25 Questions

“They” always say there’s nothing better, with a stronger work ethic, than a mare. I don’t know who “they” is but, they be crazy…just like mares. Ironically, I’ve owned more than 4 mares in my lifetime and my first horse was a mare. A chesnut, Arabian mare. All three on the certified crazy list. Come to think of it I have owned 4 chesnut mares in my lifetime and can attest to the fact I will never do it again.  EH. VERR. They’re too moody, cunning, crafty , smart and pissy. I’ll take my big dumb geldings anyday.

In order TL to BR, Dolly, Dutchess, Cowgirl and Zephyr
Green broke or fully broke?
What is fully broke? Just kidding. But seriously, in the last 14 years or so I have ridden nothing but OTTBs primarily and they are as green broke as they come, right off the track.  I prefer greenbroke, truthfully, as I like to add my own buttons just so NO ONE ELSE CAN RIDE THEM. No, but really I like to start from scratch, that way I know every single thing about their training. Yankee is no longer green, but he sure is  fun to ride and I made him that way!

Would you own a hotter breed?
Obviously. I think I’ve covered them all with Arabs, Anglo-Arabs and OTTBs. Would not do Arabs again though, FTR

What was your dream horse growing up?
Honestly, Iidnt have much time to spend dreaming about horses. I asked for lessons and my parents obliged 9their mistake) and soon after bought me my insane chesnut mare. I loved her fiercely though and when I outgrew found my other dreamhorse, a grey Anglo-Arab. Then I outgrew him and got a Thoroughbred. My horses were my dreamhorses.

What kind of bits do you use and why?
For Bacardi at this time we use a Stubben French link with oval mouthpiece for flatwork. For jumping we currently play around with a Stubben Golden Wings gag. Previously I used the Gina Miles Waterford double ring bit but it seemed a little much for his baby brain to handle- we might go back later once he gets a taste of XC though.

Gina Miles
Winged gag

He seems to like the looser feel of the french link. I think we still need to play around with bits, since we havent found something that makes the princess happy, but for now, I think this is our aresenal. I realize that barely answers the question.

Yankee goes happily in a French link for dressage, Waterford snaffle for XC and hackamore for stadium. He needs just a wee reminder on XC with half halts sometimes, but for stadium he really goes best in a hack. Yanks NEEDS the contact for stadium, but in a bit he tosses his head too much. Hackamore has really been wonderful for him.

Yankee in his hack

Helmets or no helmets?
This is a personal choice and I CANNOT STAND people who get preachy about it. That being said I do believe children should always wear one, as they have no free choice and I personally will not ride without one every again. I know too many people who have suffered extreme injury while riding. SPeaking of, I just bought a new helmet today!

Favorite horse color?
I adore greys. In every shade. I think dappled greys are stunning but their color fades to white as they age which isn’t as pretty. Therefore, my favorite shade of grey would be fleabitten. Spirit had millions of fleabites and was unique in that way. I might be little biased since he was the greatest pony to ever live, but his spots never faded and he always was dapper AF. I am weak for a flaxen mane and tail though (see; Bacardi, see; Dolly, see; Dutchess, see; Zephyr). You would think with as many chesnuts I've owned (SEVEN total), chesnut woudl be my fav, but it isnt. 

Least favorite horse color?
Sorry to those who own them, but roans. They always look dirty to me. And horses with blue eyes freak me out.

Dressage or Jumping?
As an eventer you would think my automatic answer would be jumping. However, jumping  is hard. Jumping is scary, sometimes. Dressage is neither of those things. But I’m also not the biggest fan of dressage because we suck at it currently. I am growing to like the successes in dressage and having all the little things click, but I could not imagine being a lifer DQ. Can I pick galloping?

How many years have you been riding?
18 solid

Spurs/whip or no?
I have literally never ridden B with either & don’t think he could handle it if I tried. He is hyper aware of lunge whips and I barely need to even touch one before he freaks out about it. Yankee requires a whip in all phases, just in case and occasionally I will wear spurs to remind him to pay attention.

Your first fall?
I don’t remember my actual first fall, but I do recall falling off Dolly almost daily. The two most memorable were when she bucked so hard I went flying, did a flip in the air without meaning to,a nd landed square on my feet. The other with her had to be when I fell off being a complete idiot (galloping with no tack at all) and shattered my elbow. Hello current shoulder issues. One time with Spirit AND Dolly, one separate occasions, they fell and I went with them, and got trapped under their bodies. Terrifying. With Yankee, the first and only time I fell off him was at a show on XC. Embarrassing. I have yet to part ways with Bacardi which is utterly remarkable.

When was the last time you rode?
Sadly, two weeks ago, completely bareback and in a sling. Dumb dumb dumb. But I lived, save for sore ladybits. First time ever riding the B bareback too. Smart.

Most expensive piece of tack you own?
If someone has a bridle more expensive than a saddle I wouldn’t believe them. Saddles generally are the most pricey. That being said, mine would be my County Dressage saddle. At  $600 that tells you how much I don’t spend on tack. My second most expensive minus my other saddlse (Berney Bros and Crosby) would be my dressage bridle and I don’t even know what brand it is. It was my Sweet 16 gift from my mother and its imported from GER. I wanna guess it was around $300. If you do the math, that means its 9 years old.

How old when you started riding?
I was 7

Circa 2000, on Dolly, the Arabian chesnut mare.
Not my first time riding, but my first time on my very own horse

Leather or Nylon?
I am a leather whore. Nylon is so icky and I find anything but regular leather really tacky. That being said, and rather hypocritically, I have Dover nylon web/leather halter mixes in dark Navy. They look OK and have lasted for years as my “around the barn/turnout” halters. I think I got them as gifts. For shows I have all leather.

Leather or synthetic?
Leatherleatherleather. I had a Wintec jump and Wintec Isabella and they just looked so…tacky. I much prefer the feel, look and fit of leather in general., for myself. No judgement on others.

English or Western?
I’ve done it all. Literally. I have even barrel raced Yankee, which was super fun. As a child I actually started as a hunter and went all the way to B level shows and even showed a yearling in a Congress halter class. Looking back I have NO CLUE what the appeal held for me except ribbons. We won often and I like ribbons. As a satin whore, eventing disappoints.

I heart ribbons. Especially big ones. & when they come with saddle pads.

How many horses do you currently own/lease?
Two currently, but I only ride the Red One

Do you board your horse?  Self-care? Full board? Half board?  Home board?
I currently board Bacardi and Yankee is boarded in KS. I recently made that change (for the newer readers) and used to have them on my own property. Before that, while I was in college, I did self care. It’s a toss up on which I prefer. While I love overseeing the complete care of my animals, it’s a PITA to find hay, bedding and get grain on a regular basis. Finding hay was the bane of my existence. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Even while self care, I loved the facilities but driving to and from the barn twice a day was almost as expensive as full care. And chores, while relaxing, took up so much of my day! I am really enjoying sitting back and getting all the legwork done for me.

Mmm YAS boarding
Have you ever put down horse you loved?
Thankfully no. Spirit died 4 years ago (wow) from complications from colic, but I no longer owned him. Still heartbreaking. Dolly is still alive and kicking at 35 years old too, crazy!

Looking every bit her age though, and this was a few years ago!

How many saddle pads do you have?
23. I counted. I have a problem.

Slant-load trailer or straight-load?
Honestly, straight load. I’ve never been a fan of slant. Maybe because I get horribly car sick and I feel like the ponies might too, I don’t know. I just don’t like them. I hear straight is better on their joints and respiratory systems anyways. But I adore my trailer.

Why do you ride?
This is a loaded question and has changed several times over my life. Right now, because I can. And its part of me. Riding is life.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Guest Blogger Jackie

**For the extent of this lease, Miss BFF Extraordinaire will be making guest appearances on the blog. Apologies in advance if there's formatting issues (always formatting issues). Since I am not riding Mr Pants, or around him much, sometimes stories are best told by the one involved the most! I'm sure if I told the story it would go something like "Jackie rode the Yankee and they were amazing here are some pictures" and that would be it. Without further ado, Jackie's post about the clinic she participated in with Yanks:

Jackie on Isis in 2014, the mare she used to own

Jackie on Yanks, circa 2012

JACKIE: Before I delve into the juiciness that is this blog post, I want to put out there how much I truly appreciate Monica for trusting me with the most majestic and talented horse that there ever was. For those of you who haven’t met Yankee, you may not understand how truly remarkable he is, I know ‘pictures speak a thousand words’ but Yankee’s true remark-ability is discovered when you are around him. Yankee is by far the most amazing horse I have ever had the privilege to ride, and I’ve ridden A LOT of horses.

Yankee 2012

Besides Yankee being truly remarkable, I am so happy to be helping my best friend. Monica is my person, she's always there for me and she is always the first person to notice when I'm the slightest bit off. I'm thankful everyday that I have such an amazing main bitch & I hope that by me having Yankee, my main can rest a little easier knowing that Yankee is in good hands. I would give up food for that horse (and that will be happening soon)
Circa 2013
ANYWAY, into the blog, as some of you may know I went to a clinic last weekend with the Crankster and needless to say I was a little anxious. I had only ridden about 15 times since I got him back and we had only jumped twice. I work full time, part time AND I’m getting my masters, so finding time to work a horse back into shape has been a bit tricky. The good thing is, riding Yankee is like riding a bike to me, you just don’t forget. He had some small quirks from his previous lease (everyone has a different riding style) but he responded to me again just like years ago.

On Saturday we were heading to dressage day, we had quite some time since our ride wasn’t until 4:40. Yankee is an old pro at trailering and heading to new places, my friend picked us up at 1, drove us to her barn and loaded her little mare, putting us at the clinic location at 3. The clinician, Moray Nicholson, was teaching a dressage lesson before ours so we stopped in to see what he was having the rider do. She was a hunter rider with a super green horse, so they weren’t doing much besides just trying to make her horse actually work and use it’s body. I ramble, sorry.

Once we tacked up and were on, I was kind of concerned, spoiler alert, I had no reason to be. When we first started working Yankee was trying to chase the mare we came with, he just wanted to be around her, so we focused on circles as far away from her as possible until he relaxed. Moray just had us ‘warm up like normal’ and Yankee started working like a dream. After our warm up, Moray pulled us into the middle (my friend Bridget rode with us) and talked to us about our horses. Bridget has a green baby and he said they needed to work on relaxation and flexing and bending. Yankee on the other hand, words directly from Moray’s mouth, whoever had him for the last year let him get away with working half assed and I’m not sure why, so let’s find out.

 He started us working on a square, focusing on making Yankee bend in each corner and wrap around the leg, Moray wanted me to ‘stop helping him so much’. Moray said that Yankee is walking a turn and he should be able to hold himself through that since I am not inhibiting him with my riding. After walking our square we started trotting it, then throwing in circles in the corners, then finally a square with four 10 meters circles in each corner. Tracking left, Yankee and I were nailing it, when we changed direction, Yankee was much more tense. Moray watched for a few minutes without speaking and finally said that all of Yankee’s issues currently are from the last year and have NOTHING to do with my riding, I am doing everything right. He told me that it is important sometimes to let horses make their own mistakes and to stop trying to make Yankee perfect. He told me that it is necessary for horses to be able to hold themselves (Duh) and they cannot rely on their riders all the time. He said the fact that over the last year, someone held him and didn’t let him learn to hold himself, translates directly into his XC issues, he doesn’t trust himself. We worked a bit in the canter but he said we were lovely and balanced and our canter didn’t need any work. He said without a doubt that Yankee could go prelim, and even maybe higher as long as I keep him supplemented and in good work.

 Needless to say, I was incredibly happy that someone of Moray’s capacity had positive things to say about Yankee and I. We untacked, cooled off, watched another lesson and took the horses to the barn for the night.

The next morning was jumping day, and our lesson was at 8:20am. We got there around 720 and tacked up early to warm up before Moray got out, to optimize our jumping time. We were the only jump group to jump outside in the big arena with some awesome questions. Moray again, asked us to warm up normally and then had us pop over a small vertical. Of course Yankee was perfect, when Moray had us jump an oxer, I got the guilty talk. Moray told me that I DO TOO MUCH (really, I know that, just in every aspect of my life) and I need to do less. He said my position in between fences and approaching is absolutely perfect, he said Yankee and I are balanced and lovely approaching and I move too much over the fences. Yankee is not the most talented jumper in the world, he is amazing, do not get me wrong. But Yankee has a tendency to be lazy with his front end, and when a rider moves too much, he lacks the ability to truly control his own shoulder. We worked on me doing less and staying stationary to the fences.

**Monica interjection--don't they look amazing?!?
Yankee’s jumping was night and day after that. We were nailing every distance and Yankee didn’t look at anything. Moray was slowly stringing courses together, adding one jump at a time, and he said Yankee and I were obviously ‘fierce jumper competitors’ and he even said that ‘we work together’. Moray said a bit about how some riders might not like jumping a horse like Yankee, which surprised me because I love him. He said Yankee utilizes momentum to clear the large fences (not that he can’t do it without it, it is Yankee’s preference) and that his pace can be inconsistent due to that. He strives on collection and impulsion between the fences and surging and flying after them and not everyone enjoys that kind of ride. He said I ride Yankee perfectly and when I keep my body back and stay with him, we are textbook perfect.

We strung together a trot fence, to a small vertical, long approach to a skinny brick wall, sharp left turn to a skinny, sharp left turn again to an oxer on an angle and we nailed every distance and had no issues. Moray said Yankee and I have a trusting relationship that not many pairs have. When I cannot see a distance, he said I sit quietly and lower my hands and Yankee takes us. He said when Yankee questions a jump or is unsure of a distance he brings his head down and collects more, telling me he needs me. He said it looked instinctual that I would simply add leg, raise his head and pick a spot for him.

I know this all sounded braggy, but this is what Moray said. Yankee is the shit, and relies on his rider as much as the rider relies on their horse. I’m looking forward to seeing where we go in the future, with positive encouragements from Moray I have no doubt Yankee can excel at Training and potentially even do some Prelim events.

We have a winter Combined Test series coming up in January and hopefully we will do three of the CT’s at training level to build some confidence. I can’t want to show everyone just how amazing my main betch’s horse is, if that isn’t already blatantly obvious. Until next time bloggers.