Saturday, July 9, 2016

I Did a Thing

Most people find it really hard to believe that my OG OTTB prefers a hackamore over anything else when it comes to jumping. Of course, only in stadium-boy needs a bit out on XC...but regardless, people used to be stunned we could skirt around jump classes and win them with a *gasp* hot OTTB and a hackamore.

Suck it, haters.

I discovered Yankee's preference for the hack by accident on day  while on a trail ride. There were logs on the path and I noticed that he jumped them so much better than usual, and was lighter and more responsive than with a bit.

Then I tested it over actual stadium fences and it was an earth shattering discovery. Now, I prefer he never be jumped over rails without it and I am lucky V trusts my judgement and uses my tack.

Double thumbs up for hackamores
I have been thinking about trying it with B for some time now since he seems like one of the horses that quite literally just hates bits. He is always fussing, licking, tossing and trying to spit it out. I've known a few horses like this, and while they can never be competed legally in dressage, they are lovely riding horses in a hackamore.

I was resisting for a few reasons...
1) I really didn't trust him while jumping yet to not bolt and then have no brakes. Sure, to some horses a hackamore is actually more leverage than a bit in their mouth but I wasn't willing to try just yet on my psychopants
2) I REALLY wanted to try and get him to accept the bit, especially because I was still eventing focused and you kind of need a bit to compete in dressage. Maybe one day they will allow bitless... I think I mildly succeeded too, but it is still obvious that he hates bits, period. Thankfully, I am no longer focused on eventing, so thats fine. 
3) they are ugly as sin. But then again so is my tack (to most), and I love it.

So for our first two rides back after his bout with lameness, I threw a hack on and we just......hacked around. He took to it like he had been ridden in one his whole life. Some beasts don't quite understand how to respond to the turning aids, or toss their head in halt, but he loved it and was consistent and relaxed the whole time.

Trying it out in the open for the first time.
I decided to try it for real over fences. Sucked it up and gave in to what I knew would probably work for my dragon.

I popped him over a few low fences and we learned how to half halt again. He REALLY didn't like it at first; I think the leverage action was too much when he was spazzing out upon landing. But I kept my hands soft and focused on slowing his gait with my seat and other aids and he caught on that I wasn't going to inflict pain on his mouth bars or any part of his face.

Casually stepping over 2'3

Maybe one day my position while jumping him won't suck

listening and listening CALM

It was so humid, that after 15 minutes we were both soaked, so I kept the session short and the fences super low. B improved with every round we negotiated. I could really feel him relaxing and not being so spazzy after each fence (where he tends to rush) and really sat back and slowed with the hackamore. 

Hind end power

Yesterday I kept the hack on and just flatted him outside and he was lovely. Through the contact, forward, springy and responsive....better than he ever has been with a bit. #Revolutionary

I kept the ride short again because we are heading to a jumper show (last minute planned) today for some schooling opportunities. The show only goes up to 2'6 so I figured this would be a fun way o test out my theory & its not that far away.

Both the boys will be going and I am really excited about it. I was sidelined for what seemed like forever and I am lucky he bounced back so quickly and with such fervor! I hope Yankee keeps his feet off the rails today (lazy over small fences) and that B continues to improve with his newfound favorite thing!

Friday, July 8, 2016


My favorite thing about this new job (minus, ya know, the money) is the fact that I don't have to work until 7 or 9 PM every damn day and I can actually plan to do pony things after work.

Granted, this only lasts until fall, and then the seasons betray me and the sun goes to sleep at 4:30, but whatever.

Regardless, I am rejoicing in it now, and on Tuesday we had the boys locked and loading and ready to go before 5PM

B also got almost right on the trailer too (a legit massive deal)...getting him OFF is the hard part. Poor guy hates backing out and I actually don't blame him, that step down has got to be terrifying when you can't see where your feet are behind you. Literally took him 10 minutes to come out on his own once we arrived at our destination. Then there's Yankee who self loads and comes out with just a tug of his tail. They are are adorable though.

Somehow Yanks always looks bigger than B, but I assure you, this is not the case
We are incredibly lucky to have a huge public equestrian park very close to our barn. I think the drive is less than 30 minutes and I used to go every week back when USEA shows were actually held there and the jumps were maintained better.

Now its sort of a last resort when we can't get down to KY, but the jumps are still fun and the fields still vast.

We made the trip because Yankee and V have an event in KY in (less) two weeks at BN and had yet to school XC. While the height is NOTHING to him (literally), he is rather....exuberant over fences on cross and I needed her to feel it and learn how to wrangle the energy.

GAH GAH GAH oh okay
The good news with Yanks is that he knows his job, knows what a half halt is and can jump out of a gallop flawlessly. The trick was getting V used to that energy and method. His XC game is like no other I've ever ridden.

At first they struggled a bit. I was not concerned. I knew she would adjust and that they would work it out, but the majority of the first half hour was Yanks running sideways and V not really sure what to do. It can be a bit different when you're used to a more relaxed horse, because Yankee acts like he's going to take off on you...but really won't. Its hard to describe. But choke holds on the bit only get him more riled up and when V realized it was ok to relax, Yanks did too and it was awesome.


B unfortunately didn't get the memo and was uncooperative in my plan to JUST HANG OUT and watch. He was lit. Like, absolutelyfuckingretarded. Could not and would not stand still. I also spent the majority of the first half hour wrestling his crazy ass and gave in. I really wanted to take it easy since he was off almost 5 weeks, but he was telling me no. He also was taking full advantage of the fact that I had no running martingale because I forgot to put reins stops on my reins...

B, you have to chill, its not hard
"NO. MUST RUN. RUN FAST. Yankee gets to run whynotme leggo! leggo!"
B stahp, stand sti--NO! Stand OH my god
This is insa--literally fuck you, plant your feet you asshole!
"no fuck you and your rules BYE"
*wrestles horse to a stop*
*horse backs up for 30 minutes*
"but mahhmm, jumps!run!stuff!things! LETS GO"

....and then I let him hop over a jump and he visibly relaxed and I was like alright then

I swear I tried to not jump back in to things (see what I did there), but B had other plans. I didn't overdo it by any means, but I did hop him over a few things to keep him from exploding into more madness.

Maybe one day he will pick his legs up
So, we meandered around the park, me lackadaisically instructing to "jump this" or "pop over that" while simultaneously attempting to keep baby horse entertained and quiet.

For the most part, V and Yanks were on point as a team. I intentionally let V take him over some bigger jumps just to get a feel of what he's like and prepare a little bit more for what next weekend might be like. I think his actual last USEA event was actually Champagne Run last year when B and I went down to visit him. So I know he will be a bit stronger than normal, even if just running BN.

Trek---not BN haha

Just as with stadium, Yanks was jumping better and better over the bigger stuff...but I also didn't want to push it. It was HOT and incredibly humid and they were doin some work. Its always hard to remember he had major surgery in Feb., since he bounced back so spectacularly. He was thoroughly enjoying himself though and once V got the hang of his unique style, she seemed to have a blast as well! it was hard to call keep it under check and eventually call it quits.

After jumping most of the novice fences 1-3 times I called it a day for Yankee and took B over a few more jumps and then let him run.

So much sass!

Finally picking those knees up a little!

I've never actually let him run full out, and still didn't because I was fearful of losing our precious shoe. Within 45 minutes of our excursion he had torn the bellboot off of the problem foot (why am I surprised) so I was extra nervous to actually run. That and also he is a freight train and is mildly terrifying to gallop.

After we sponged them off, B loaded up RIGHT AWAY and we headed home tired but happy.

This weekend we are hoping to head over to a jumper schooling show with both boys and putz around over some 2 foot courses. Then, a week of work and off to Champagne with Yankee!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Other Rides

So while B was "down for the count" I was so incredibly bored and envious of those riding. You truly do not know what ya got until its gone...even if what ya got is an unpredictable hot red mess.

At one point I jumped Yankee in the almost 5 weeks B was completely, 100% lame.

Throwback to my last XC on Yanks
It was like riding a brand new horse and I flopped all over the place like a giant sack of potatoes, ran him in to a few jumps and couldn't even turn him left... I quickly handed him to V to jump...HAHA whomp whomp. Was this my horse? Did I ever ride him? Who am I? Is this real life?

Guess thats the result when you've exclusively ridden a giant, green, massive strided red dragon for the better part of two years then hop on a small, tiny strided well-trained BAMF. You flop. Everywhere. Like you have no idea how to ride at all, which is insane because Yanks should be easier to ride with 11 years of ownership and training put in to him myself, but no.

Summer 2010
Then it got me thinking how many horses I have NOT ridden in my lifetime. When it boils down to it, its about 4. Sure, I owned a few QH here and there,  a project horse for 7 months, trained greenies for a semester in college and have ridden a few friends horses every now and then...but the majority has been Dolly, Spirit, Yankee and Bacardi.

Circa winter 2011
For 18 years, I've ridden four horses exclusively. Thats not that many and that does not lead to a wide range of riding skills or adjustability. Sure, I can stick a buck, get around  dressage test, hop on babies, jump a 2'6 course on anything and teach anyone how to ride my beasts...but ask me to do a training level test or jump a 3'3+ course on a horse that's not mine? Yeah, ok.

Winter 2013
Jackie, Yank's last leaser, is the catch-ride extraordinaire and I am truly envious of her ability to hop on literally everything and survive spectacularly.

One time, Amy asked me to take her horse to a USEA event having never ridden him and I almost said no due to the fact that I know this about myself and was legit afraid of her hating me forever when I couldn't steer him around XC to save my life.

Turns out, I did OK, but Steady is a machine and extra tolerant and we survived.

After a double clear XC
I like to consider myself a good rider; teachable, solid, and experienced. I feel like I ride my own horses well, and I am comfortable there. If I had the choice, I would ride more horses, but not many people want or need their ponies ridden, and lets be real...when would I have the time? A few of my barn friends ride each others horses all the time, but B is a different beast. Dragon in fact, and no one volunteers to ride that madness, ever.

Friends riding other friends horses
So I suppose you could call me a monogamous  equestrian.

This monogamy has led me to be an excellent rider on the horses I am used to...and a horrible one on those I am not. One would think those skills would transfer, but apparently they don't.

Spring 2014
This theory was solidified when I was given the chance to hop on a friends horse a few weeks ago. He's a beast and gorgeous and tolerant and lovely and an OTTB so of course I was like fuck yeah, gimme gimme gimme.

So I clambered up on him, adjusted my stirrups, got used to staring down another neck then promptly almost fell off over a 3ft oxer. Like, landed on his neck, grappled with his mane, lost my stirrups almost fell off.

So that didn't go well and I handed him back mortified and embarrassed that I couldn't ride the easiest horse to ride in our barn. Like what the fuck.

So, moral of the story is, I need to ride more horses and get used to horses that aren't mine. In some universe, in another plane, I know this is possible, so now I just need a time turner or a time-space continuum to achieve this new goal.

What I want to know is if my readers are monogamous or not. Do you get to ride a lot of horses? Do you want to? Why or why not? Tell me dear readers, WHAT DO? 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Clinic Dayz

This weekend was everything I had hoped it would be and more. For one, it is my favorite holiday and one of two holiday excuses to get day drunk and celebrate with frivolity. Two, the weather was perfection. Cool and overcast. Perfect. Three, 3 day weekend. Four, pony time. All of it.

V and Yankee had a jumping clinic with one of our local pros and I was able to watch day 2 of it unfold. I always enjoy watching clinics and lessons, even if I couldn't partake. One can always learn little tidbits here and there through watching other lessons and different levels of riders.

My favorite was watching my trainer ride with the clinician. She is a fantastic rider, obviously, but also our highest level competitor at the barn. She recently won her last Prelim and also snagged a fourth previously this year as well. She rarely scores outside top ten as far as I am aware, and of course she rides an OTTB too. I LOVE watching lessons with other OTTBs, because you can always learn so much. The trickiest question of the day was a bending S line and negotiating it properly looked tricky.

Supertrainer on her superhorse
After watching a few lessons, it was finally V and Yanks time. He was awake but looking kind of lazy. The day previously he was apparently incredibly lazy over grids as well, which is surprising. We still put his XC bit on though, since the lessons were outside in the field.

My pretty boy
Warm up was lackluster and he seemed rather meh. To be honest he looked bored. I can't blame him, we've forced him to jump crossrails for weeks now and the poor guy is probably bored stiff. Luckily, V has an awesome fitness regime set up, and his strength is coming back quickly. Along with conditioning days, flatwork and jump lessons, he gets strategic days off as well and its paying off. He looks and feels glorious.


model status

The beginnings of the lesson was a little sticky. Yanks was barely trying and kept flipping poles out of the cups and I could tell V was frustrated. I too was frustrated, because as an owner, I want Yanks to be everything V hopes for in a lease, and I want them to be successful. Watching him knock rail after rail pained my soul. Especially with Champagne Run coming up in the next few weeks.

V was riding quite well, and his rails honestly looked like him just being incredibly lazy. I remembered this from years ago when we started jumping him, and how he always did so much worse when the jumps were below 2'6.

They were negotiating the tricky S curve well, but still knocked a rail here and there. I couldn't really give much advice except advise to package him a bit more. She did, and he was still rapping poles.

So, I figured it was time to raise the jumps. He has recovered so well, and his strength was back, so for the last little bit of the lesson we had the clinician raise the jumps.



From that point forward he was ON. Didn't knock a single rail and lit up with joy. Their last two rounds were fantastic, I wish my internet was working well enough to upload the video. Truly lovely. My favorite was how wonderfully packaged she had him. He was collected, energized and perfectly on point.

Horse abz


When she expertly half halted down the hill to the VERY upright and lofty vertical (his usual worst fence), he sailed right over it! I hooted with joy I was so proud of them as a team.

Yankee is the hardest easiest horse to ride. He is incredibly well trained and knows his job, but he also requires a rider who keeps the package to the last second and is OK with the short spot. The short has always been his jam, and if you drop him too early, he lets you know. Always honest, he will jump it, but its usually ugly. Unless its a 5ft oxer...ask me how I know.

V has been getting used to this type of horse and has adjusted quickly. I admire that she was able to adjust her release to one of more contact over fences, as you can see in almost every pic. Love.

I spy a lofty vertical
They ended on a good note and had a lot to take away from the 2 day clinic. I'm terrible at summarizing things, but at least there are pretty pictures. This week we hope to get out on a XC course and continue with her programming for fitness and training.

Dream Team
ALSOOOOO, this happened....

He's sound. 4.5 weeks later. He has a shoe/half apoxied foot. We toodled. It was grand.