Friday, May 13, 2016

Operation Tail Revamp

Since Supertrainer just finished with B and his show training and Yankee is still "broken" (8 more days!!) I have yet to step in the irons which makes for boring blogposts. However, things have happened.

Many things.

Most notably and very exciting for a tail whore like myself, I took Amanda's tail dye tutorial and worked on revamping Yankee's very sad tail. If you know me at all, you know I am obsessed with tails...especially my own horsebeast tails. Bacardi's is gorgeous, but nothing has come close to Yankee's luscious locks when it comes to my string of horses. His tail has always been THE tail and I treat it like its made of glass. I legit SOBBED when we had to cut off part of his tailbone in 2014 and part of his tail hair went with it. I died inside a little. I love it, cherish it and care for it like it were worth a million bucks. Unfortunately due to boarding circumstances in MO, his tail got quite bleached and it made me so sad inside. I also think a lot of the hairs got pulled out due to living outside constantly which also made me more sad. Precious, precious tail hairs.

Therefore, "Operation Tail Revamp" began with me making trip to CVS to buy human hair dye. yup.


Seriously, I can't look at it. It makes me ill. ORANGE. It was fucking Orange. His tail has never been ORANGE, OMG.

First step was to slather his surrounding bum hairs with the conditioner that came in the package to attempt to keep his butt from getting black dye on it. For those dying to know, I chose "soft black". I chose Garnier, because I have used that in the past with my hair and its just the brand I know. I'm sure there are better brands for dying horse tails, but thats what I chose. I hear ethnic hair dye works well, but I didn't know where to even begin with that.

Why did not one tell me my floor mats were disgusting before I took this pic
Next, I gloved up and mixed the solution and started applying it from the top down. Made sense to me. Luckily it was a cold day, so no flies...but if you do this in summer I recommend slathering horse with fly spray.

I am a messy SOB so I took extra care to not get dye on my clothes, body or the rest of his body. Shocker- I managed to get a huge streak down his butt in the red so he has a lovely black skid mark on his ass. Go me.

Then, I braided it up, with gloves on still, doubled under and stuffed in a plastic bag then vet wrapped the top for security. Then we waited.

Amanda warned against plastic bags  in your horses' tail if they are spooky, but Yanks could give a shit about nothing so I just assumed it would be fine and he was. Literally fell asleep. 

Do you guys love my old shitty barn?
I sat on the floor (safety first) and watched Yankee doze while I played on insta because addicted, and after 30 min, took his tail down and rinsed it. Per Amanda instructions I did NOT shampoo, just rinsed thoroughly and then when it dried Cowboy Magicked the whole tail. 

BAM! Gorgeous tail.

SWOON. Thats better. & I swept up the mats a bit.
Seriously, this is an amazing "trick" and I don't give a shit if anyone screams cruelty, his tail is the again and it makes me happy as a pig in mud. JUST LOOK AT IT.

I choose not to "event" the tail at the top by pulling the hairs to give the tailbone a sleek look. I personally can't stand it and it reminds me of rat tails. But thats just me and my horses. For some it looks really nice, just too fake IMO. I do bang the ends though.

So that was that. Thanks Amanda for your wealth of knowledge and things. 

Also, Yankee moved to The Palace (EME) a week early because Braggles left for his new job.I wasn't mad about it, because I literally loathe cleaning stalls and it freed up so much time for me this week.

Mostly though, I was so so sososososososooooo happy to have my boys together at the same barn again. Yankee settled right in at EME and I think he will do great there! His lease already started even though he can't be ridden until May 20th and jumped until June 15th, but all is well and good in my little corned of the world.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Pro Rides

I'm Looping together the Penny Oaks (PO) wrap up within a Wednesday because a) I don't have media b) I am generally curious on opinions. So cough them up!

Penny Oaks almost didn't happen, so I was incredibly grateful I wouldn't  be eating my entry fee (which as most of us know, is NOT cheap for eventing). PO cancelled the XC  phase about 3 days out from the start, due to torrential rains, and a lot of my barn thought of saying screw it and not going..

But they went and my lil nugget went right along with. I was a little upset I missed a lot of firsts. Braided for the first time, first USEA show, first dressage test, etc.

I am a little miffed no one took pics of him looking spiffy, because apparently he really did look great. I got a few FB messages from friends telling me how wonderful he looked and how good he was!

I forgave EME though, because essentially, PO organizers condensed Dressage and Stadium and ribbons into one day, with minimal planning and it was hectic as all fuck. Also Supertainer had 8 riders and 3 horses she was riding herself. Keep that tidbit in mind.

3 weeks leading up to the show Supertrainer was riding B everyday and she schooled him XC twice, which ended up not being needed, but I was happy it was done regardless (GREAT rides) She said those weeks his flatwork was really lovely and she actually adored riding him! Made me happy to hear that from my trainer. *heart sings* He was a little trickier over fences and continued with his trend of refusing everything the first time. ARGH!

Leading in to the show, out goals were 1) stay in arena 2) all four feet on the ground 3) don't get E from refusals.

A tall order for my unpredictable nugget.

From what I heard from Supertrainer, B was incredible in warm-up. Super calm, forward and easy. Then they stepped in the arena. Cue tense and not listening.

However, I got a very grainy, far away video of his test and it was...not bad.

There were two pretty ugly moments, one where he apparently tried to leave the arena and another where he picked up the wrong lead and refused to be brought back to a trot to correct.

 BUT. There were some lovely moments. I thought his first canter departure was wonderful and unexpectedly calm. Calm....I like calm. There was no free walk to be had, mostly wandering eyes, but he didn't jig. Win. NO galloping. No rearing. WIN. And he stayed in the arena. GOOOAL.

Here's a link to the video I DO have.

He earned a respectable 44, which put him in 11th out of 16. NOT too shabby big man!

Supertrainer later admitted to me she had an error in the test (I've watched it 4 times, I didn't see one) and he should have gotten a 42.

So I was MORE than happy with that. Its not great, but REALLy great for B. Overall I was floored with how well he did first time out ever. He mostly kept his wits and there was only half a mini-tantrum. Supertrainer said because of his inattentive brain, she kept his trot VERY in check which I think was a brilliant move. Asking for more would have been asking for disaster.

On to stadium, Supertrainer said he was literally perfect. We were so worried about him refusing that she rode with such concentration and determination on course, that she missed a fence completely and was eliminated on technicality... WHOMP whomp . HAHA I died. I was like, welp...whatever dude, he went clean. Good on him!

So apparently the fences were not simple and were pretty scary and he took them like a champ. Rocked the 2 stride "combo" so much that she forgot where she was!

I could only laugh. Like, whatever! I probably would have ridden so much worse and forgotten my course, so I didn't care. We came and we conquered my goals for the weekend. 1) stay in a arena 2) all four feet on the ground 3) don't get eliminated from refusals

Also, it was a good experience for him! Perhaps we will continue eventing, perhaps not. Either way I was so proud of him and SO thankful for my trainer for piloting him...even with errors :P

So thats my question. When you pay someone to ride or compete your horse, what is YOUR expectation from them?

I can tell you mine is all about the horse and NOT the ribbon. I could care less about that, I just want a great experience for the horse with a tactful and quiet rider.

ST also took the time to get to know him over 3 weeks and did some great work with him for me when I couldn't. To me, thats worth my money a million times over. Didn't win dressage? Who cares. Went off course in stadium? Whatever, we are all human. Its all good in my book. Even if it had been higher stakes, I still would have been happy given the situation. I got what I expected, which was a calm first outing.

So dear readers, what do? When you're someone to ride, especially if that someone is a pro, do you expect them to be perfect or do you give them some leeway?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekend Wrap-Up; Tough Mudder

So while I have the end result of the weekend at Penny Oaks, I have zero media and I am hoping I can get some before I make a post. Until then, I am updating ya'll on the Tough Mudder this weekend; it actually does relate to riding a little bit.

So if you don't know what one is, or haven't done one before, I will say it is definitely as they advertise. Not for the faint of heart or those who don't like getting dirty. I signed up with 11 other people from my Crossfit box, most exponentially more fit than myself and I was incredibly nervous. I also made the mistake of looking up the obstacles beforehand, which only increased my anxiety about it all.

Part of my incredible Crossfit family (including my parents and Bangor- who also CF)
I knew there would be heights to concur, mud to slog through, tight spaces to navigate, walls to climb and miles to well as the electroshock therapy at the end. All to earn to the coveted orange headband and to say you did it.

It all sounds a little insane and cult-like, but so is Crossfit and I enjoy that. Completing a Tough Mudder is on my bucket list, but I honestly dd not believe I actually could with zero training. We had to sign up for the one in May instead of July, since some of our crew is deploying (military) which meant if I wanted to train by running it would have to be outside in the wintertime.

Moral of the story; I didn't train at all and in hindsight it was OK, but beforehand I was FREAKING out that I would actually keel over and die from rhabdo.

To describe the experience is impossible. You just have to do it. I can say that it felt incredibly surreal, like I wasn't actually doing any of it. Mostly because it was so fucking crazy I couldn't believe I was doing it. 

From start to finish, it was an incredible time. The organization was incredibly accommodating for hosting such a large number of competitors with bag drops, tape, war paint, changing rooms, hoses afterwards, beer afterwards (free), water before and after as well as snacks and energy drinks every mile or two along the race (also free) and photogs!

They got us amped with the most American warm-up ever and a loud group national anthem. I was pumped and energized and ready to go. Once we were off, we came a to a tunnel in the first 400m of the race and chanted USA all the way through it...hardcore.

Then we ran. A lot. I was dying, but then settle din a bit. having a team next to you and everyone else around motives tired legs to keep going and I just kept saying 9 more miles, 9 more miles. We came to a massive hill and climbed it in the mud and then the real fun began. First few obstacles were easy and spread very far apart. It was so much running. So. much. running. My team kept creeping away from the 3 "anchors", myself, my dad and my friend K. We eventually caught up at the first massive and daunting obstacle. 

We had to climb 15 feet up then launch ourselves onto a slingshot and try and ring the bell and drop 15 feet into water. It was terrifying and I almost didn't do it. 

I sat at the top with hundreds of eyes watching me and stuttered to jump.

But I did it. I never thought I could or would. 

Hitting the ice cold water at the bottom of my jump made me feel ALIVE and I was so proud of myself for overcoming one of my fears.

We trucked on through mud and barbed wire, rope climbs and more walls. 

Bangor and myself before the race
A lot of it was pretty standard stuff. Slog through mud here, swim through here, jump over walls here, run some more. 

The next big challenge was a team log carry- up and over walls and hills. That was truly fun to do as a team and test the teamwork!

I ran every mile up until mile 6 then tapped out. I seriously knew if I tried to push myself farther I would actually collapse. I took walk breaks on the uphill and ran when I could elsewhere. At this point, there were a fuckload of rocks in my shoes too and we taped them on, so I couldn't exactly take them off easily. 

It was getting slightly miserable.

Next was the Arctic Enema. The water in the challenges before had been cold, but nothing like this. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I truly had zero clue just how cold water could feel. 

Thats my teammate chad and then my head to the far left , HAH
We had to slide into it and OH MY GOD it startled me awake. Luckily too, because by mile 8 I was dragging. 

It was the coldest I've ever felt in my life and it made me thankful I've never fallen in a lake in winter time. We had to climb a wall in the challenge and I almost didn't make it my hands were so numb. 

One year, a man died in there because he had a heart attack...kind of crazy.

Moving on from that, the course got much more hilly. It also started to rain and my shoes were full of rocks. If we hadn't been at mile 9, I don't know if I could have forced myself on, but I did.

It was here that I wasn't really sure what was keeping going. to say I was exhausted is an understatement and I was absolutely in agony from the knees down. Every step killed and I felt it in my soul. But I had to finish! I was so close!

I skipped Mt Everest & and the monkey bars over ice, because of my shoulder, which made me sad to not have "fully done" the whole course.

Mt Everest was more daunting in person
All that was left was the "Muddy Mile" "Cage Crawl", "Pyramid Scheme" and "Electrotherapy".

Cage Crawl
The Muddy Mile was challenging simply because the mud was sticky and the challenge was taxing. We got through it as a team though, as with everything else. Cage Crawl was my second favorite  and led up to Pyramid , which was the hardest by far to complete. It involved stacking humans end on end then pulling the chain up to the top. Its hard to describe, and took ages to get everyone through.

Muddy Mile

Then, our last obstacle. Electrotherapy. I was limping by this time and was ready to be done. I had been shocked by horse fences before and really thought nothing of this obstacle. Simple, walk through, be done. Then, I watched my first teammates go through and I heard the loudest pops I've ever heard in my life. So many swear words.

The rest of us were like, WTF why, and then I was like fuck it, threw my arms up and charged through.

Kind of like this (not me)
I was immediately thrown on my ass by the power of a shock across the neck and literally cried out as I shredded my pants and flailed in the electricity to get up out of the mud. Each volt I felt in my teeth and I kind of blacked out a bit. The end seemed so far away and now that I knew how powerful the shocks were, I was unwilling to move. I think I got zapped about 8 more times on the way out and Bangor escaped with not one shock. How, I will never know, but that was truly the worst thing I've ever felt in my life and I won't do that again, ever. You couldn't pay me, seriously. Luckily, Legionarie's (those who do more than one) never have to do it again and go around that obstacle. WHEW.

We weren't as muddy as we actually got in-between some of the obstacles because Pyramid involved a lot of water, but it was still a great pic. We truly earned those headbands. 

They kind of reminded me of horse show ribbons. Cheap and simple, but they mean so much!

Along that crazy 10 mile ride, I learned a lot about myself and that I can do more than I initially thought I could with this body. NO joke, the mudder is mentally more challenging than anything. When things are really shitty, like rocks in your shoes, you can't just complain and it go away- you keep going. When the mud is pulling you down and you want to stop, you keep going. When the water is so cold you feel dragged down, you keep going. When your legs are so tired they're numb, you keep going.

There are so many times in life when I feel all of that- dragged down, pulled down, exhausted, worn out, annoyed, at you keep going! This weekend I learned I CAN keeping despite not wanting to. I know was crazy, and I paid to suffer, but it was worth it to me to finish something I truly had no belief that I could..

We did it!!!

We finished sub 4 hours which was the goal and I just couldn't believe we did it all. I recommend this type of thing if you're an adventure seeker or an extremist but it is definetly not for the faint of heart! I also recommend training a little bit at least beforehand. I am dead today and I'm pretty sure my legs might fall off my body.