Saturday, January 9, 2016

Custom Courses and Tailors

Another small update before the Jumper show tomorrow and then temps PLUMMET to almost subzero, so I'm thinking day off until Thursday. Gives him time off to recover from traveling and shoe, and allows me to get some HW done, yay.

Schooling yesterday over courses was a little disconnected and I never quit could put my finger on it. He's been a little squirrely lately, but this was different in a strange way. Unlike previous months, he really seemed into the jumping part of it, he was just...distracted. Riding at night is always weird for him and he finds shadow monsters in every corner.

I felt like I was dealing with a severely ADHD child and directing him was challenging. I figured it was my riding, as most mistakes are, but it was still a frustrating ride.

He was jumping everything nicely the first few times I popped him over to warm up. I was happy that most people take Friday nights to go out and end their barn time early and I had the arena to myself! Took the liberty to rearrange the jumps a bit. I had set up a course with many options for rollbacks or bending lines.

I know y'all love the janky-ass depiction of my courses. You're welcome. The vertical on the lower right hand side was a skinny by the way, same as the one in-between the over and vertical. It was a curious setup and left a lot of room for options. I kept most of them between 2'6 and 3ft since we are competing in the 2'6 divisions tomorrow.

We went through several courses a few times and he was just looking everywhere &bnot paying attention at all. It was like we were up on a jump and he was like "AH SHIT I jump this NOW, or NOT, or do I, WHAT DO I DO". The arena was a bit crowded and he seemed confused on which jump we were going for next, which I think was the biggest issue; I wasn't being clear enough with my riding.

He was relatively lovely, listening in the turns, rocking back after each jump and jumping each fence well. However, randomly, he would just refuse something. No rhyme or reason as to occurrences or specific fence, he would just be like "Nah bruh" at the last second.


After a few run through's, I was getting pissed, since this is our biggest issue and would really like it to stop happening. I generally try to train him the way I want to ride him forever, and this is with light aids and a light touch. Apparently this wasn't aggressive enough for him. No only that, I was concentrating on packaging him a little too much before each fence, I believe.

For one round I rode SUPER aggressively. Like sitting back 3 strides out, legs on, really FORWARD ride into my hands and he sailed over everything effortlessly and without a pause.

OK then. Heard that.

Makes sense a bit, since this is how Yankee liked to be ridden at first. He was never a "cruiser" until recently. Annoying, since hand holding over an entire course is a pain, but while he's young and still figuring it out I can do it and don't mind. I want him to learn that its his job to lock on to the fence I point him towards and take the initiative to gets over with minimal interface from me (yes, I know jumping requires two bodies- but it should not require aggressive hand holding through the entire course forever).

With this style of riding, we completed two more rounds without mishap and he was loving it. Soaring over the jumps and landing with gusto. He was still coming back to me and taking the rollbacks with lovely balance, but seemed to like the extra support and confidence I was giving him.

I am going to try and ride my best like that tomorrow, but I still have this "weird fear" of falling off while jumping. Its only happened twice in my entire life over fences, but its not something I like to experience and his wishy washy refusals eeeek me out. The funny thing is, my riding seems to directly correlate to his performance and lack of refusals. Funny how that works.

Also, as a quick sidetone, I got his new Stubben I bought him in December back from the leather tailor finally and it is perfect!! Those gentleman at my shop do a seamless job and are so friendly and accommodating. They finished 4 days quicker than expected and quoted me too high, so that was a nice surprise when I went to pick it up that I didn't owe anything on top of my deposit.

Hello, its me.
Ooooo, sexy bridle. I really love this thing. Well worth the $135 I've put into it. The leather is supple and soft, I adore the mono crown, the buckles are gorgeous and it fits him perfectly now, especially behind his ears. YAY ETT!

Now I just have to get some bridle tags for all of his shit. I've been perusing Easy, but what I want to know from you all, is who do you get your tags from and why?

He's to riding well tomorrow, staying warm and maybe bringing home some satin!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sassy Pants

Quick little update here about Mr. Bacardi and the pants he's been wearing lately.

If the headliner isn't a hint, he's been a sassy lil bitch the last few days.

Not "Bacardi bad" sassy, just sassy in general.

We spent the beginning of the week working on flatwork and some very rudimentary skills like halting. LOTS of halting. Far too often do I forget to school walking and halting. It was FRIGID so I kept it easy on the lungs and joints, but still wanted to do some work.

Wednesday and Thursday was gridwork exercises. I couldn't change what was set up because of lessons, so my only option was gridwork. Not my first option, since B has struggles with grids for a while.

Wednesday I was  incredibly sore from Crossfit and rode like shit. Like actually barely rode well at all. My upper body and abs were trashed and you kind of need those parts to be mobile when jumping. It was my first week back to the gym after my shoulder injury and superflu, and even though I cut the volume in half & sandbagged the workout, I still trashed my lats and pecs, ugh.

Wednesday he was a sassy lil shit and took advantage of the fact that my half halts were weak and almost nonexistent and decided to run through every fence. Literally. He knocked them all down gleefully. I was frustrated, he was having fun, and there was no good schooling happening. I cut the ride short and ended with a few good transitions.

Thursday I felt better, but so did B. He was RARING to go and literally ignored every single aid of mine to pleaseslowdown so I switched him back to his waterford. I generally dislike using tools to help me, but he was just laying on my hands, exploding here and there with joy.

It was almost funny, but I was still like "OK B, we have a Jumper Show Sunday and this will not work, oh no no no, this will not do".

There were two grids alongside each long end with a 5 stride to a vertical. Away from the stalls he was OK. Just OK. Like, kind of listening to my seat and half halts and rocking back through the bounces and not rocketing through the 5 stride and making it a 3. TOWARDS that stalls though...disaster. He was just too exuberant. Which to be honest, made me happy, because 7 months ago he seemed to really be terrified of fences and poles. But really, blowing through grids does nothing good for anyone.

Because I don't have paint on my Mac, BOO
At first I tried just staying out of his way and just staying centered and letting himself carry himself and figure it all out on his own. He's a wittle bebe and sometimes they just need to not be fiddled with. So I would work on getting a lovely lofty canter at a 20m circle and then point him towards the grid and just hang on and hope he doesn't fuck it up.

1 stride away from the grid his ears perked and he CHARGED.

*Crash *clip *clip *crash, land, WHEEE IM A HORSE!!

OK, so that was a bad idea. Upon landing he bucked with joy and I was mildly unseated and we proceeded to careen around a lap until I was situated. That was a fail.

The positive note to take away from our flailing was that he was actually listening to my seat  (if I wasn't precariously tossed on his neck) AFTER the jumps and BEFORE and was going round in this glorious, lofty canter. I was overjoyed that his canter has made such improvements in the last few months.

Previously, we could jump once fence, then we would need a lap or two to re-group.

Now if only he would do these grids with a sense of self preservation and not dive forward and try to kill us.

Knowing he was new to this, I thought then that maybe he needed a little bit of help.

Going forward, I politely would ask him 2 strides out to PLEASE BALANCE back with a push from my seat and a strong half halt.

He did not appreciate that one bit. Again, crash, crash, topple, boom went the poles.

I asked again, PLEASE Bacardi be sensible and lets not run through this and die.


Ok so half halts still not working great.

I was at a loss at what to do from here since I didn't want to confuse his little self by asking for a halt after the grid before the 5 stride.

Eventually, I ended up doing more flatwork than jumping and worked on an extremely collected canter after a relaxed trot transition then I would ride him VERY into my hand before the grid and sit back a little bit while giving him support in my rein instead of just letting him figure it out alone.

Think, using one's seat to push the horse as far into the hand as possible and try and keep it there.

It was exhausting and he let it be known that he did NOT appreciate me asking him to be civil,  and showed it with some serious tail flippage...

but eventually half obliged and once we went through each grid once without knocking one fence down, I called it a day.

He was still raring to go, but our cooldown I kept simple and relaxed.

Today I am hoping I can move the fences around to more of a course, since he seems to be better over singe fences. Grids just get him excited and flat, the exact opposite of what is intended. There are no lessons after 7PM, so I have a good 2 hours before my Friday plans to get a course set and practice some height and coursework before Sunday's show.

With Yankee it was so easy...he rarely rushed through grids and was worse over single fences. Funny how different all the OTTBs can be!

Lawd, the struggles of training a baby over fences!

What are you favorite grid exercises?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Full Metal

**This post contains photos of non-helmeted riders, please for the love of god keep comments about helmets to yourselves. We are all adults here, hopefully.

Normally, most of us try to keep our personal lives separate from the blogging/horse world, but I personally believe they are one in the same. I know for myself at least, most of my decisions revolve around my horse and his welfare and our plans etc. I also have a S/O who is wonderfully involved in my life and curious about my horse endeavors. Numerous times he has come out to the barn on his own free will to photograph or video our rides, he's been to our first show and he always asks how my rides went or how Bacardi & Yankee are doing. Its incredibly refreshing and adorable and to know he will always be there willingly to support me.

While I find it sweet & adorable and fondly refer to him as The Boy, I think he wants to be depicted as a super strong, manly man. While this is incredibly accurate, I will always think of him as The Boy on this blog, but since he requested a name change I will gladly honor that request since he has spent many hours at the barn with me willingly.

Quick backstory on my S/O; all through high school AND college he triple lettered in Football, Wrestling and Track and made the All-American team in 2014 for College Wrestling. He also is an avid and competitive crossfitter and shares my passion for the sport.

yeah Crossfit
He is way better than me actually, and successfully competes all over OH & KY. In addition, he is one of the strongest people I have the pleasure of knowing in real life and recently PR'd his deadlift at 625 lbs at a Powerlifting meet in which he destroyed competition and won easily.

Newspaper clipping from his win
Why is this important and relevant to riding you say?

Well. He has entertained the thought of riding a few times with me and proved to be a natural (of course) at it, in which I was blown away and pleased since I selfishly could then drag him along on rides and horse things without feeling horribly guilty.

Riding sweet LillyBelle
In Septemeber he told me that he has been entertaining the thought for a long time about becoming a knight.

Yes, a knight. Who jousts. Its a real actual thing.

At first I wasn't sure what to think because even though I had seen it at Renaissance festivals, I thought it was just randoms dads who got bored and decided to showcase a dead sport.

Nope, its a thing.

There are World Championships and everything, and we happen to live 30 minutes from the man who IS the reigning Jousting World Champ and was the host for the show on TV, Full Metal Jousting.

Shane Adams
We actually got to meet with Shane in September at the Renaissance festival and he asked S/O if he was serious about it and detailed how the training program started. While talking with him I learned that jousters learn how to ride Dressage first (yes, DRESSAGE) and then learn jousting, then learn how to ride with the armor. I was sold. Hell yeah Dressage! Apparently Shane has competed up to PSG and also used to be a hunter jumper, which is insane because he is a large human being.

I of course was giddy, knowing that my S/O might possibly learn Dressage if he wanted to go forward with Jousting training. Its hella expensive and requires a lot of time, obviously. This is where Shane looked at me and said "I need you to teach him how to ride. teach him Dressage" and then we discussed my past and Eventing and Dressage and it was intriguing.

There were two options, S/O work his ass off for 10 hours a day in exchange to learn the basics of riding from Shane on lesson at a time....or bribe me to teach him how to do more than putz around on a QH on the trail.

Um, obviously he chose me.

I was SO excited to get the chance to teach someone so important to me the basics of Dressage and how to gallop a horse etc.

The main issue was finding a horse for him. He's twice my size and in no way is Bacardi ready for beginners to be on his back, let alone someone his size. Sadly, perfect Miss Lilly sold and no longer is an option. Luckily, I have a few friends in the area and one of them just purchased a half-Belgian for her equally as green and large bodied S/O. She also is more than willing to let us use him for lessons! #winning

His name is Chewbacca and he's the cutest half-Belgian I've ever seen.

Literally perfect for the job and at only 5, he is stunningly chill regardless of what you do. We discovered that he is actually extremely lazy and the safest horse for teaching newbies.

Our first real lesson into the emersion of Dressage was this weekend and I wanted to focus on learning the dressage seat and feeling the gaits and recognizing when to correct.

I will never be a real instructor since I have a difficult time breaking down the art of riding into understandable and smaller parts. I really want to nit-pick every little thing, like seat, hands, hips, knees, shoulders etc and I know thats completely overwhelming for a new rider.

I figured that hardest part for him will be opening his hips and not sitting in chair seat and its imperative for dressage (and jousting) to have a deep seat and long lines. We really focused on just feeling the walk, each footfall and how the hips move through the gait and relaxing those hips open and rounding around the horse instead of what most green riders do...chair seat, tip forward and flail.

S/O was a great study and after learning how to get a lazy butt horse to move, really settled into a longer frame and worked on stretching through his heels and keeping his body aligned.

Its a bit harder in a western saddle, but for now I want him in that to have that horn for balance and security. In time I know his hips will open up and getting that leg long will be easier.

I also briefly covered the function of posting vs sitting trot and how to do each. Then we dabbled in a little bit of trot (think one lap) work to begin to feel the movement. He did great but as all new riders, had some difficulty, thus the short spurts. I wanted him to focus on correctly riding instead of just flailing about until he got it. So the second his leg came up and he felt unbalanced we asked Chewy to walk.

It was a great lesson, and I hope I'm teaching the correct way. I really want him to be successful in this endeavor and I am so grateful to be a part of something so cool!

Bangor: Destroyer of Worlds and his trusty steed Chewy

Do any of you have S/O's or Hubbies that ride too or are at least interested in your horsey world? I hope so :D

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Fix It

Its been quite some time since I last posted a “What Do”; all my previous posts are up ^ there in the tabs section linked up!

One of my favorite things about blogging would be the community and I always love getting sound advice and picking everyone’s brains when it comes to horsey problems. Everyone always has so much experience and things I’ve never heard or thought of and I must know it all.

This week, because winter, I have a wintery question. I actually have several, but I will only ask two and save the third for next week!

I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, but Bacardi has a special talent for destroying blankets. Actually anything in general. I don’t just mean tearing them, like shredding, destroying, snapping past any repair. Last winter he killed 2 heavyweights and 4 stable blankets. Absoulutely SHREDDED. I alsost wasn’t mad, more thoroughly impressed. In his defense, the stable blankets were well past their time and I had only kept them because I can’t really afford to have a whole team of Amigo’s. To dream a dream.

I replaced one of them with a BRAND NEW Weatherbeeta, which he promptly snapped the front buckels on. Awesome B. I also had found a lovely lightly used Lightweight Amigo on Ebay that he shredded within a few weeks and I still haven’t sewn it back up. He also tore off the stomach circingles on another heavyweight and also snapped the front closures on his medium weight.

Therefore, I have a troop of jerry-rigged blankets with tears up and down the sides and ONE good blanket left (it is currently on him, pray for its safety).

So far, my improvised buckles have worked but I know its dangerous and wont hold much longer.

I literally cannot afford to replace 2-4 blankets so before you even give me the line “If you buy from Smartpak it has a warrenty”

I FREAKING KNOW. Wouldn’t it be nice to have about a grand to buy brand new coats for my Prince.

Alas, I do not and have been scavenging ETT and Ebay but either not finding one for my budget or finding ones in my budget that have the snaps he can break.

Also sidenote sidenote, I know most of you are dolls and adults, but lets please leave the “don’t clip your horse” lectures off of here as well. And yes, his blankets are the correct size for him, I’ve measured.

I’ve decided that I would really like to replace all of his eventually with Amigo or Rambo’s since the front and belly closures on those he hasn’t been able to completely destroy, only tear the material (COOL).

So. He tears them, but that’s my question.

Have any of you ever sewn blankets yourself to repair? If so, what thread do you use? I know you can’t use normal person thread. Where do you get it?

I know we have blanket repairmen in town, but last time I checked it was $50/blanket and up depending on repairs and I have 4 murdered. That’s a brand new blanket. Three of them need new buckles and my Amigo needs to be sewn up.

I can sew. I cannot replace buckles. Eventually I will replace everything with Amigo’s most likely, but first I need to find the elusive Money Tree.

My second part here kind of goes along with my dear horse and his ability to destroy all things (blankets, his own body, things near him, etc).

At our barn, there are two ways to communicate to staff what you want. Things like, “Please leave my crazy beast in, I have a lesson/farrier is coming” or “please only feed in corner bucket hanging on the wall, Smartpaks and grain are expensive and he WILL flip the tub on the ground” or “please change blanket Sunday, its going to be much warmer” etc.

One is to write it on the white board and hope they see it. Two is to text the BO on her personal phone and hope she gets it to them in time. Neither work well because the workers don’t always see the notes and the BO is always giving lessons-not her fault by any means. Love Supertrainer.

So I have TRIED to keep one of those tiny whiteboards on his door. I’ve put it on the actual front of the door. Should’ve known he would tear it off. OK, move to the side of the stall. It somehow also fell off the wall. I’m thinking B did it SOMEHOW  (freak neck) or his neightbor did OR the stickies didn’t work very well.

I’m thinking of finding something at Walmart and finding a way to get a rope on it/through it/attached to it and CLIP the rope to a ring. Super well thought out obviously.

So, second part question here is, how do you boarders get instructions to your staff? Do you have a stall board? Whats it made out of? How do you hang it? Please tell me.

So, dear readers, feed me your secrets. I need to know.