Thursday, February 14, 2019

Winter Doldrums

It's been a relatively mild winter here in my part of the PNW.  The past couple of weeks have been colder, with some snow, but overall it's been warmer and dryer than normal. But I've hit that point of winter where I'm done with the cold, and the wet, and have lost my motivation.

Smiling through the cold when my parents were in town last weekend
Peebs doesn't seem to mind the little break he's getting.  I've been trying to ride 2-3 times a week, and usually lunge him once a week as well. He had a week off and when I got on him Monday I was prepared for the worst.  But he was foot perfect and a little lazy. I do need to get both our butts in gear since our first show of the season is in 6wks. I've told my trainer that I want to do every other week lessons, if not weekly lessons if our schedules can work, and to hold me to that.

Whose a good baby getting on the trailer?
Cinder has been getting a little more work lately.  She was naughty for her last farrier visit so we've done a little work on basic manners again. I did sign her up for a halter class at an open show next weekend, so we've been practicing our in-hand work as well. The plan is to take her down Friday night and let her spend the night there.  I figured it's a good experience for her and that way I don't have to get up ungodly early, try to load in the dark, and make it to the show 45mins away before our 9am class. We did a little clicker training and I've been using it for loading practice. She seems to get it, but she's so mouthy I've started giving her head scratches as a reward.  She loves a good curry and will maul you for head scratches.

Must put mouth on everything


Thursday, January 31, 2019

#BadBoyPeebers

Peebs' tag on IG is #goodboypeebers, because he's usually a good boy. But last night he got the #badboypeebers tag. We had a lesson that started out pretty well, if a bit energetic, but Peebs ended up losing his little mind.

I probably should have lunged before I got on, as Peebs had had Tuesday off.  He was forward and a little strong during our flat warm up but I was able to hold him together and figured I'd just ride it out. We started jumping by trotting two single cross rails on the diagonals, and he was great. We landed on the correct leads, cantered away nicely and had good downwards transitions. Trainer put the fences up to verticals and said to canter them. I was to do the same thing as when we were trotting, focusing on getting him straight and set up to land on the correct lead. Peebs though cantering the fences was awesome, and as my trainer put it, "his inner jumper pony came out".  But he was still listening to me and I wasn't getting unnerved by him being a strong little speed demon.

This was one of the milder moments
We took a walk break, then trainer said to do the left to right fence and around to the outside line. I trotted a circle then picked up the left lead to head to the diagonal.  As soon as I turned on the approach and opened my left rein Peebs flung his shoulder to right, and went sideways. I had a moment of thinking I was going to come off before I got him stopped and we tried again. Same thing.  As soon as I touched the left rein he turned into a drama queen and went out the right side. If I tried putting my right leg or rein on, he started hopping and tried to evade me more.  We went back to a trot and I asked trainer to drop the fence back to a cross rail. The first couple of times trotting it again he felt like a keg of dynamite but we made it without any hysterics.


Trainer said to pick up a canter and do a circle, or five, before the fence to fake him out and see if he chilled. The first circle was a little wonky and he tried to go sideways as we approached the jump (he was only protesting my left rein and bulging out on the approach, the rest of the circle was fine) but by the third circle he came back to me pretty well.  We then went to the fence and while I saw the incredibly long spot and tried to move up to it, Peebs made the right choice and chipped it. He kept his cool and so did I. We went back to try again, starting with a circle or two then going to the fence. As I went to turn past the fence Peebs realized we weren't jumping and had a major meltdown. He flung his shoulder to right, pulled my reins out of my hands, started crow hopping and ended up directly in front of the cross rail at a halt.  Then he jumped it. Thank god I had asked that it be put down.  I again thought I was about to eat dirt but somehow stayed on. I ended up jamming my right hand into his neck at some point and had a nice throbbing going on in my wrist and shoulder.

I really wish trainer had gotten it on video, as I'm sure it was hilarious to watch.  My trainer was laughing once I pulled Peebs up and she apologized saying it was one of the funniest things to see. She said you could see it on Peebs face once he realized we were circling and not jumping, and that he was determined to go to the fence. Once I had my breath back I was able to laugh about it, while calling him an asshole. We trotted a few circles before trying a canter circle again.  He was still pretty uppity but I was riding hard and determined to not let him have another fit. My shoulder was really starting to hurt so we ended with a couple nice canter circles and one final time trotting the fence.

Kinda looking like we have our shit together.

As we walked around cooling out Trainer complemented me on my composure. This lesson had the potential to turn into our awful lesson from a few weeks ago, where Peebs tried to same thing  but I got defensive and tried riding from the fetal position. Last night I was able to be much more zen and while I wanted to kill Peebs, I didn't take it out on him or shut down. Hopefully we can figure out his issue cantering fences to left and fix this problem.  He had his teeth done in November, he got adjusted by the chiro last week and he only does this on the approach to fences of the left lead. I see lot of left turns in our future.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Baby's First Saddle

While I don't plan on actually starting Cinder under saddle for over a year, I want to expose her to things and start laying the foundation. I was worried about putting my $$$ custom saddle on her for the first few times.  I had been talking with my trainer about it, and she offered me an old child size Wintec dressage saddle she had.  Someone had given it to her years ago and she has no use for it and isn't a fan of Wintecs. She gave it to me and said she doesn't care if Cinder destroys it.

Wanting to know where the treats went

Since the saddle weighs like 3 pounds (I'm not convinced there's an actual tree in it), I figured it wouldn't hurt to start putting it on Cinder a bit. I don't have a dressage girth, and don't really want to buy one just for saddling practice, so I used the girth off of my surcingle. Cinder couldn't have cared less about the saddle or girth and was more interested in seeing if she could eat the saddle than anything. She's super mouthy right now and wants to chew on everything.

Can I eat it?

I walked her around the arena for all of 5 minutes with it on and I was more worried than she was. We tried again a few days later and same thing; she didn't care about it at all.  For her third saddling, I wanted to introduce stirrups and let them flop around but was too lazy to pull them off my saddle and put them on the Wintec. So I put my saddle on her.

Saddle pad from my barn in high school, circa 2001

Peeb's 48" girth actually almost fit. She could probably wear a 44" or 46".  We started with the stirrups up and then I dropped them and bounced them against her.  Once again, she didn't care. I'm hoping to saddle her once a week or so, gradually increasing how much I do with her and how long she's wearing it for. And if anyone has a used 44" or 46" girth for sale, let me know!



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Tale of Two Days

Saturday I hauled out bright and early for a lesson over at A's. It was hovering right around freezing and I was cursing myself for saying yes to a 9am lesson. Peebs has been a little up lately, and spookier than he normally is. I figured I'd lunge him a little at A's if I needed to, but he'd been worked pretty hard all week so I though we'd be fine. We haven't jumped much in the past month, so my plan for the lesson was to get back into the groove and flow of jumping again.

Peebs was very up when I got on, not spooking and taking off, but stopping to stare at things in the distance or my trainer setting fences.  He also got mad when I asked him to trot away from A's horse Scottie, his BFF, which is not like him at all. I think I cantered two strides before I got off and put him on the lunge.  He did buck and leap and play and felt marginally better when I got back on.

"Me, be naughty? Never!"
Trainer started us off by trotting two single diagonal fences in a figure 8. One was a cross rail and the other a 18" vertical. He got a little fast to the vertical and tried to play and go sideways when I corrected, but we made it over. I started getting a little nervous and tense when he wanted to play but kept it together while we did those fences a few times. 

Then I was told to trot into the outside line, that was maybe 2ft. Cue massive panic attack. If he wanted to play to the single fence, how would we make it through a line?! I voiced some concern to trainer and she told me to stop him between the two fences if he felt bold. So that's what I did.  Only I used way more hand than I needed and Peebs got rightfully upset and popped up his front end with his head straight in the air. It honestly felt like he was going to go up with me, but I'm sure it looked much tamer. We tried the line again but same thing, only this time Peebs took more offense and flung his body sideways and backwards to show his displeasure at my heavy hands. Which only fed my panic and caused me to curl up the fetal position holding onto his face even more. Trainer talked me down, explained what was wrong, and what she wanted me to do instead.

We went back to one of the diagonal fences and my instruction was to pretend to be a beginner pony kid, hold my two point, and for the love of God, DO NOT TOUCH HIS FACE. "Commit to doing nothing" was what she kept saying. The first time trotting up to the 18" vertical felt awful, and landing and holding my two point while not doing anything honestly felt like I was going to die. Peebs landed and cantered away fine, a little fast and unbalanced in the corner, but in my panicked state I felt like we were going down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And then trainer made me do it again, then a third time. I hated every second of it. But it worked; Peebs was much softer and happier. When we went back for the fourth try and trainer said I could pick him up before the corner on the off side, I only had to use a tenth of hand I had used before. We quit with that since I still felt like puking and was mentally done.

Peebs loves all of Scottie
Trainer said I need to jump more.  Both for my confidence and keep Peebs from getting bored and wanting to play. She suggested I haul him back Sunday to ride with A again and A said they have an empty stall and I could leave Peebs overnight. After untacking I ran back to my barn, got Peeb's blankies and grain and then went back to A's to tuck him in.

What a difference a day makes
A and I agreed to ride Sunday afternoon together.  She ended up being a bit late which worked for me as I was able to do my warm up alone and focus on not being too handsy.  Peebs felt much better than Saturday; not as distracted or playful and more focused on his job. We trotted over the fences we had jumped the day before with no issue so I got brave and cantered them. Other than picking and not having as much pace as I should have, we were fine.  I wasn't panicked and using way too much hand and Peebs was his normal la-de-da self. I then got really brave and decided to try the single oxer, set on a long approach as a single on the outside. The first couple of times I was picking as we came to it, but on the third try I sat up and put my leg on and moved him up. All three times he didn't care what I was doing and landed in the same canter as he had before. It was a complete 180 from the day before.

I'm going to make an effort to jump more, for both Peebs' and my sanity. Even if they're just crossrails I need to get out and get the reps in.  As long as the weather's good I'm going to haul to A's at least once a month to jump, probably leaving Peebs there on a weekend so I can use her arena both days. And I'm going to be more diligent in setting lessons with my trainer. Hopefully we've had our very bad no good lesson for a while and we'll start getting back to bigger and better jumps!


Friday, January 11, 2019

They Grow Up So Fast

Since it's the new year, I've started calling Cinder a coming two year old. She's closer to two than one at this point, but it's still weird to think of her as a two year old. She still acts very babyish, has the attention span of a gnat, and is go go go all the time. It's exhausting.

Looks pretty grown up to me
She's taken a break from growing taller, but has grown longer and filled out a little. My farrier called her a wiener dog last time he was out.  She grew out of the 69" sheet I got for her in about 6 weeks, but thankfully the 70" blanket still fits pretty well. I figure she and Peebs can share his 75"-78" clothes next winter.


I had the two of them out together a few days ago. I haven't been putting them out together since they play pretty rough and last time Peebs got kicked hard and was off for a few days.  He probably deserved it.  This time he was really vocal to her and nuzzling her a lot.  I thought it was cute at first.  Till Cinder squatted and peed. My 20 month old filly is having her first heat, in January. There is something wrong with this. I'm not prepared for this. I don't think she was prepared for this. Do I need to have a birds and the bees conversation with her? There is a five month old colt on the property; I don't want Cin getting any ideas. I guess I'll add this to the list of things to talk to my vet about.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Blogger Secret Santa

Many thanks to Tracy for hosting the annual Blogger Secret Santa!!  My secret Santa this year was Amanda from Bel Joeor.  She nailed it with my gift!!


She made me a custom fleece saddle cover in my colors, with Peebs' show name on it.  I absolutely love it!!! The chances of it walking away in the tack room or at a show are minimal.  Amanda also included a bag of mints, that I fed before getting a picture and the ponies loved them.  Thank you again Amanda!

Monday, January 7, 2019

2018 Year End Awards

The Oregon Hunter Jumper Association Year End Banquet was this past weekend. this year Peebs and I pulled off a third (or as they called it, second reserve champion) in the long stirrup hunters, and a fifth in the long stirrup equitation. My trainer and I went up for the banquet and to get my ribbons.

The night before the banquet, at 9:30pm an email was sent out and a post put on Facebook saying that the 4th-6th place ribbons weren't going to be available at the banquet and would be mailed out at a later date. But only if you replied to the email saying you wanted your ribbon. After a few angry replies to the FB post, and I'm sure a few angry emails, they said that the vendor had an issue and it wasn't OHJA's fault. I was bummed to not be getting my 5th place ribbon that night, but quickly replied that yes, I want my ribbon.

OHJA took out a section of a local sporthorse magazine and published all the year end placings.  It was pretty cool to see my name in the magazine.
The banquet itself was pretty fun. They have a silent auction and a live auction during the event and I managed to get a division's worth of entry fees ($75) for a show for only $50. Both my trainer and I missed seeing the sheet for $150 towards chiropractic fees for my chiropractor till after the auction ended.  It went for $60 and I totally would have paid more for it.

Trainer and I


The 1st-3rd place ribbons were very well done, and very big! I know I'm short, but it's as long as my torso. Getting one big ass ribbon kinda makes up for having to wait for my other one.