Friday, August 10, 2018

Monster Baby

I realized I haven't done a Cinder update for a while.  She continues to surprise me with how good she is about *most* things but her chestnut-mareitis has started to make itself known.

At least she's pretty to look at
Last time I measured, which was probably over a month ago, she was a little over 14.3 hands. For the most part, she's been growing pretty steadily, without any major fugly periods.  She'll have a day or two here and there where she looks butt high, or really ribby, but I'm amazed at how well she's built.  I'm hoping her ugly phase is going to happen during the winter when she's blanketed so no one has to see.

First time in the trailer by herself
Since I've been hauling Peebs out to lessons and to shows a lot this summer, I've been using having the trailer hooked up to get Cinder used to loading by herself, and with just me.  When I brought her home I had friends with me and the mini in the trailer as a buddy. When we moved barns Peebs was in the trailer first and my trainer helped load Cinder.  Both times she was really good about loading and unloading, but she needs to get used to going by herself and I need to be able to load her alone. And now that she knows how to tie, she can get used to being tied in the trailer.  The first time I loaded her solo it took maybe a minute for her to get in.  She was little worried when I tied her and shut the divider but a cookie made up for it.  I only left her in the trailer for a few minutes, and then tried to back her out.  That was really confusing and I had to practically shove her out but she did it.  I stuffed her with cookies, loaded her again and backed out again.  Second time she understood much better.  I think I've done loading practice maybe 3 or 4 times now and she's been really good every time.  She's actually better about backing out than her big brother.

Looking all grown up tied to the trailer.  A minute later she untied herself but didn't go anywhere.
Our biggest issue is spray bottles and the hose.  I'm not sure what happened, but Cinder is convinced those things will kill her.  We've had some epic meltdowns (and a couple broken crossties) trying to run away from them.  She's also not afraid to run me over during said meltdowns, so we've had to have some come-to-Jesus moments about that.  Rule #1: Never run over mom. I've started carrying a whip to nail her in those moments, but she's not really phased by it; more annoyed by it than anything.  There was one day I was leading her and Peebs in double from the pasture that she spooked and knocked me down.  I got up and whaled on her with the lead rope.  Peebs acted like I was going to kill him and you could tell he was so sorry for whatever he had done while Cinder really didn't care. Definitely one of those mare attitude vs gelding attitude moments.

So annoyed with me
Cinder had her first lesson a couple weeks ago with  my trainer.  We had had an epic fit about being hosed off and I called and asked if she'd help me with Cinder instead of my lesson with Peebs that week.  We started with a spray bottle of water in the arena but ended up putting her in her stall.  Trainer stood at the door spraying her while Cinder ran back and forth for a good half hour till she finally gave in and stood. A lot of her issue is that sound the spray bottle and hose makes, not necessarily the water.  I can sponge her off and she's fine, but the sound really sets her off.  So everyday I stand in the doorway of her stall and use the spray bottle on her.  She's better about it, but will still spin circles and run backwards if I try to spray her off while tied or on the lead rope. My trainer's been on vacation but once she's back we're going to have another lesson with the hose. I'm seriously contemplating ear plugs or drugs for Cinder for that one. And alcohol for myself.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Peebs Goes to Summer Camp!

More accurately, Peebs was summer camp.

Pony rides!!

My friend A, who used to lease Phoenix way back in the day, has a very cute little 4 stall barn with a couple pastures and an arena at her house.  She has one horse, and boards three older, retired horses.  She also takes lessons with my trainer. If she had had stalls available when I was moving, I would have gone there.
Showing off his dance moves

My trainer has talked about having me haul Peebs over there for lessons, or even just to jump on my own as A leaves a full course up most of the time and we don't at my barn. So before our last show I finally got everything arranged with A and trainer and took Peebs over for a lesson. Other than almost dying when Peebs thought about stopping at fence (see above and below) the lesson was a lot of fun and I made plans to go back the following week for another lesson. I'd forgotten how much I love A and her mom.

A's mom called me while I was at the show asking me if I knew of a horse that could give pony rides.  They had some family coming in from out of town with a few kids that wanted to ride.  A's horse can be a stubborn asshole and isn't exactly the pony ride type. I told her Peebs was available. He's been a lesson horse and I put my cousin's kids on him last summer for pony rides.  The plan was he'd stay at their place after my lesson for a few days while the family was in town then I'd take him back home. They have all the horses turned out 24/7 during the summer so they had empty stalls, and  a small dry lot paddock available for Peebs.

Our second lesson went really well again and afterwards I gave three of the kids pony rides while A had her lesson. Peebs was a little miffed about having to go twice, but was great for them. He settled into his stall there perfectly fine and I left after threatening to kill him if he hurt one of the kids. A took him out the next day for almost two hours of pony rides (just walking) since more family had come into town. She said he was good, if a little annoyed, but the kids fed him treats and watermelon, and spent a long time currying his itchy spots to make up for it. The last day the family was in town was one of the hottest days of the year and the relatives had to leave about midday.  So the kids and A got up at 5:30am to ride before it got hot and they had to leave. She let one of the kids ride on his own, aka she didn't lead him around, and once again Peebs was perfect.

It was way too hot to haul him home that afternoon or the next day after I got off work.  I'm not putting a horse in a trailer in 95*+ unless I absolutely have to. A and her mom were fine with Peebs staying an extra few days.  I took him home on a Saturday morning but not before getting one last ride and jump school in.  We mostly just futzed around over the crossrails set up but it was so nice to jump without having to set everything up then take it down again after riding. I'm hoping I can get over there more this summer, either for lessons or just hacking!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Team NW Bedrock Outreach Show July 2018

Two weeks ago I took Peebs up to the second in a series of 3 USHJA Outreach shows held by one of the local show management companies.  Originally I wasn't planning on doing the July show, just the June and August ones.  But since we did so well at the June one, and they're doing series champion and reserve awards, I decided to go.  We just went up for the hunters on Saturday, instead of doing the whole weekend. 

Peebs hauled up like a champ and settled into his stall perfectly.  I was by myself again and it's so nice to have a horse I don't have to worry about. I gave him hay and water and he was happy as can be. I spent the morning watching some of the trot-a-course and 18" classes go before slowly getting Peebs ready. We had two over fences and an under saddle. They were running an open 2' division, the short stirrup, and the long stirrup all together for a total of like 35+ rounds.  I was scheduled somewhere in the middle of the group. 

This is what happens when your horse is behind your leg and you pull.  Julie Ward Photography, used with permission

I did a little warm up w/t/c and when there was a lull in the warm up arena popped over a couple fences.  Peebs felt a little sticky; not sore or off, but stiff and behind my leg. I figured I would check where in the order my ring was, then do some easy walk trot work to try and loosen him up. But when I got up to check the ring, the woman working the back gate (not our usual woman who I love, but someone new and obviously it was her first time) was panicking because she didn't have anyone ready and there was going to be an open gate.  She asked if I was ready, almost begging me, and I panicked and said yes.
When you've already been waiting for an hour and you're bored

So needless to say, our first round wasn't great.  Peebs was still behind my leg, and I kept seeing the short spots and pulling for them.  What I should have done was galloped him forward but hindsight is 20/20. It wasn't an awful round, but definitely not what we're capable of. I came out knowing what went wrong, so when we went back for our second round I immediately asked for a more forward canter.  And I was really happy with the round.  We nailed all the distances, did one very nice simple change but otherwise got our leads over the fences, and it felt pretty darn good.  Except for the last fence. I had to move him up just a bit to the first fence in the last line, which was an easy 7 strides, and didn't realize till about stride 5 that I had too much horse for the 7, but not enough for the 6.  I did sit up and shorten him, but that 7th stride was basically a chip. Oops, sorry Peebers.

At least we're consistent?

After our over fences rounds we had an almost two hours till the flat. I pulled his tack and let Peebs have a break while I chatted with people and watched more rounds go. Our flat was nothing special, but he didn't break or canter when we should have been trotting.  We got a 5th out of 6 for it, which I was fine with.  He's not a hack winner. Continuing with the theme, we got got 5ths in both over fences classes. I thought the second round would have been placed higher, but oh well.  I knew what mistakes I made, and what to do next time to fix them. Can't wait till the end of August when we'll be there again!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Rest of the Story

I have so much catching up to do, but this post has been in the back of my mind for a while now so you get it first.

At the show in June I was stabled across the aisle from Trainer BM.  Peebs' breeder rides with BM, but wasn't at the show. She had mentioned to me once that BM had had Peebs for a little bit, back when he was 5 or 6.  So during a break from showing, I walked over and introduced myself to BM and his client GK. We ended up chatting for a while and both BM and GK were super friendly.  And at the show last weekend (post is coming) I was stabled on the same aisle again and we hung out and talked more.
He's the best

BM gave me lots of info on Peebs' life from age (approximately) 5 to 7.  Peebs' breeder sold him at 4 and I know the barn I bought him from got him at 7.  But I didn't know much about those in between years.  I know someone beat him and made him terrified of crops and lead changes.  I know his teeth never got done.

BM had a junior client who was leasing Peebs and both client and BM loved him.  BM said he had started lead changes with Peebs, and that he remembered you had to shove him over to get the left to right.  Which is his hard direction. Peebs was put up for sale and BM tried to get his client to buy him, but they didn't have the money. He got sold to trainer JR (oddly enough JR was Tia's breeder and she and I have talked at shows about Tia. #itsasmallworldafterall) and her teenage daughter BR took him on as a "project".  BM flat told me that BR was the one who ruined him with lead changes.  Said she would go right to the whip and spur and smack, smack, smack him for it. BM was riding some for them and they asked him to get on Peebs and he said he almost didn't recognize him. He had gone from a nice quiet hunter to going around completely inverted and panicky. He's such a chill horse about 99% of things under saddle except lead changes, that I can't imagine what she must have done to wig him out.  After having him for over 2yrs we're just now able to start schooling them without him freaking out. And it took me almost a year for him to be ok with a tap from my crop.

Peebs was sold by JR to the barn I bought him from, and they had him for about two years.  JR messaged me last week asking me about Peebs and Tia.  She said they had loved him, and was glad he had a "soft landing".   I'm glad I got the rest of his story and was able to fill in the gaps.  I know I shouldn't be mad that she let her daughter screw him up and then pass him off, but I am. I'm eternally grateful that I got him, and he's going to stay with me forever but I can't help but feel angry at them.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Hard Work Pays Off

Things, for the most part, have been going really, really well.  If you follow me on IG or FB you've seen our last show results, but if not: Peebs is a boss.  We went and did a two day USHJA Outreach show and came home with champion in our hunter division, reserve champion in our equitation division, and I won the USHJA Outreach Bronze medal, my first medal class win. I just got a ribbon for the win, not an actual medal which I'm slightly pissed about.  My inner 12yr old wants that medal!

We did win a saddle pad for being champion

After our last show in April, Peebs and I had a little down time that involved me going to see my parents, and him getting his teeth done.  When we went back to work we focused mainly on flat work; really getting him in front of my leg and unlocking his neck. He tends to hold tension in his neck, and won't bend.  To really get him loose and bendy, I have to think about flexing his neck and making it soft. I also focused on not holding on for dear life with my inside hand.  We did some small cross rails and ground poles, not really putting anything together but only picking up jumps/poles when he felt connected and forward.  It was very clear when he wasn't, as I couldn't see a distance or what I did see was crappy. When he was on my aids everything just flowed so well.

Our first real jumping lesson back from the April show was awesome.  We did a little course and I was actually able to work on things like holding him out in the bending line, and waiting with impulsion to a short distance.  It was like a switch had been flipped and all of a sudden we could go do the thing. Even when I saw a bad spot, or didn't see anything, I could sit up and add leg and not worry that he'd stop or we'd crash. For me, that's huge.  It's been a very long time since I've felt like that. I even asked my trainer to put the jumps up!

The show photographer didn't get any pics of me, so no riding media from the show
The show last weekend was a culmination of everything we've been working on.  I had a plan for our warm-up, the jumps looked tiny (they were 2' which I know is tiny but I guess I underestimated how high we've been schooling lately) and, most importantly, I felt confident and relaxed.  Which I wasn't expecting, as I was by myself.  My trainer was out of town so I was flying solo at the show.  So to come home with a champion, a reserve, and a medal win was way beyond my expectations.  My only real expectation was to have nice, flowing rounds and to try and remember what we've been working on at home.  That's not to say we were completely flawless.  I still saw a couple super long distances that Peeb's rightly decided not to take. I cut a corner in our first eq round and Peebs decided he was really tired in our second eq round and trotted coming out of the turn to the diagonal line. We also cantered when we were supposed to be trotting in the under saddle. But I consider these to fairly minor issues, and nothing that we can't work on. 

My original show plan for the year was to skip this show series July show and do their August one, but the horse show bug bit me hard and I decided to do one of the days in July.  They're doing series champion awards this year, and while I don't normally consider myself a point chaser, I'm currently the leader for our hunter division and I want those points! I've never been a contender for a champ or reserve year end award and I really, really want to go for it. I can financially swing it, my confidence in my horse and my riding is at an all time high, and my horse is awesome. Why not go for it?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Happy First Birthday Cinder

Cinder turns one today!!  I can't believe my baby's growing up.  I of course had to do a birthday photo shoot for her. 

The cashier at Party City congratulated me and I had to explain it was for a horse

She didn't care at all about wearing the sash, or the crown.

Or the banner.  *good lord is she awkward right now*

 I also managed to find some baby pics of her.  I can't believe how much she's grown.  She was so tiny!

Few hours old

Day three vs day 362

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Quiet Rein Outreach Show Day 2

Both Peebs and I were pretty tired and sore for day two of the show.  I had gone out early in the morning to feed him, but when I went back to the show around 9 to start getting him ready, he let out a huge sigh and glared at me. I took him out for a hand walk and graze session for a while, hoping to loosen him up and make him happy.

Non-huntery hunter courses.  Round 1 on the right and round 2 on the left
The show was a lot smaller on Sunday; they were just running the outdoor ring with hunter classes and the two derby classes at the end of the day.  I was able to watch a quite a few rounds to see how the courses were riding.  The courses for hunter day were much more equitation like, with a lot of singles and some long bending lines.  The only actual line on course was a diagonal line set in four, but about half the riders were getting it in five.  My trainer wasn't able to come on Sunday, so my plan was to see how Peebs warmed up and, thinking he was tired, aim to do the five.

I got on a little early for our warm up and spent a lot of time walking him around.  We did a short trot set and he felt stiff in his body, not wanting to bend and soften.  So we went back to the walk and worked on bending and trying to get him to relax.   A little more trot and canter and we popped over the warm up fences.  I couldn't find a distance to save my life and decided I just wanted to make it over all the fences and wasn't expecting any greatness.

Absolutely in love with this shot from the show photographer. Bought in in digital and print
They ran our flat class first, after another division's flat class.  They had us preload while they pinned the other class so we got a good long walk around the arena before we were being judged. We hadn't ridden in the outdoor before, but I figured Peebs wouldn't care.  He did stare at the judges booth at the far end of the arena, and at a woman flapping a trash bag right next to it (seriously?!?) but didn't spook. The flat went about as expected, #notahackwinner. He was still resisting bending his neck, but his stride opened up and felt smoother than our warm up.  We pinned fifth out of seven or eight.

Had to buy this adorable one too
Before going in for the flat I had told the back gate ladies I was warmed up and ready and could go in whenever they wanted me to.  They had me down for going last in the rotation, but since almost everyone else wasn't ready I got bumped up. They also thanked me profusely for introducing myself and being ready. Our first round went a lot better than I was expecting.  He did try to slow down going past the gate to fence one, but didn't break.  Two to three was a long bending line that rode well, and we managed to get the lead.  He was rolling right along and didn't feel as tired as I expected so I changed my mind and went for the four in the diagonal line. It was a little long, but felt good.  We did have to do a simple change after the line, and never quite got the same rolling stride again.  I saw the short spot to six and that followed us to a chip at 7. But overall I was happy with the round and we nabbed third for our efforts.

Peebs was definitely more tired for the second round and we didn't flow as well. We chipped in to the diagonal line from two to three, and I should have sat up and added for the five strides.  But I tried to gun him for the four.  He did it, but it was very long and we landed in a heap. We took a couple of strides to recover and fix our lead but I kept seeing the short distances.  He was starting to ignore my hand and lean on me so between fences four and five I sat up and checked him hard. Wasn't the prettiest thing ever, but it worked.  We finished the round strung out and tired, but at least he was listening. We got a fourth.

Our last class was supposed to be the derby, but we would have had an hour or so wait and both of us were exhausted. So I scratched. While I was sad to miss the derby, I so happy with how Peebs had been all weekend that I wasn't too upset.  There will be other derbies. There's no point in doing a class when both of us were exhausted. Peebs is such a trooper for putting up my ammy moments and I felt like I needed to give him a break. I definetly don't want him to ever get sour; his attitude is one of my favorite things about him.