Thursday, August 24, 2017

Return to Riding

Well Peebs' summer break is over and it's back to work.  The chiro came out and said his hips were good, but his neck and poll were out again.  Pretty sure his neck will always be wonky; its where he likes to hold tension and his under neck muscles are super developed.  She did complement me on how much his top line has grown but it will always be a battle to keep his neck from being upside down.

Like this, his go to spook is to stick his head straight up in the air.  Here he was freaking out over the misters that were put up in the barn aisle.  It got up to 108 and even then he still hated getting wet.
I also got his hind shoes put on, but I'm thinking that probably wasn't necessary. I haven't noticed a difference in the week or so that he's had them. But we've mostly been doing flat work so we'll see once we start jumping a bit more. If I still don't notice anything we'll pull them.

Our first few rides back were rough.  I wasn't trusting him to not be crazy after almost a month off so I was holding his face too much and was too handsy.  I finally set out a bunch of ground poles one day and just trotted and cantered them while repeating to myself "Don't touch his mouth!!" And what do you know, he was pretty good.  I had set some of the trot poles a bit short and he completely biffed it the first time and even though I wanted to do some major half halting coming in the second time I didn't and let him figure it out.  Which he did fine on his own. He's got a good eye and is smart so I need to trust him to figure out the distance a bit more. Its hard because McKenna just wanted to run and jump ALL THE THINGS while Buddy didn't give a crap about ground poles and would fall all over them.

Wouldn't you want to hold that face?  It's the cutest face ever!!!

The day after our pole extravaganza I added three trot poles before a pile of poles that became a cross rail, then a vertical, then a bigger vertical. I wanted to set a gymnastic but was too lazy. Again, I had set the trot poles short, actually too short, but Peebs made it work. I just focused on getting him in straight (didn't always happen) and my body over the fence. He was great so we quite after a few goes. I'm going to try and set up a gymnastic today or tomorrow to play with.  And hopefully next week we can get back into regular lessons.  I haven't had one since the show 6 weeks ago!


Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Break

The plan for after the show at the beginning of July was to let Peebs have an easy couple of weeks.  The week right after I lunged him once, and then used him for pony rides for my cousin's kids who were visiting from NorCal.  Peebs was pretty sure his days as a pony ride horse are over and would only walk as long as I was walking with him. He was very happy, however, that the kids stuffed his face before and after the ride with sour gummy worms and cookies.  Like mother, like son; we both have a weakness for sour gummies!

When you drive past a bar with your name on it.... We didn't actually go in because it looked sketchy af

I then went on vacation to New Mexico for five days, so Peebs got even more of a break. On our second day in Santa Fe I saw a local events magazine with a pony on the cover so of course I had to grab one.  We were there for the first of three weeks of Hipico Santa Fe, a h/j and dressage show. We managed to stop by late one of the days, but there was only one dressage ring going and it was 96* so we didn't stay. 

My superpower is fining ponies wherever I go
When I got back home, I started by lunging Peebs for a couple of days before getting on.  He was pretty up on the line but part of that was the stallion was getting lunged as well and they were showing off for each other.  Boys.  Our first ride back was pretty good, I didn't ask for much just let him stretch his legs a bit.  But our second and third ride were pretty crappy.  He's not lame just NQR and spooky.  I lunged him again to see if I can see anything, and his hind end was funky. He fell off the lead cantering both ways and did this weird stabby thing with both hinds.  So I've got a call into the chiro for another adjustment. I also think it's time to put hind shoes on him to give him a little more support.  I've never had hinds on him so I'm curious to see how he is with them. If that and the adjustment don't do anything, our regular vet is coming at the end of the month for teeth and fall shots so I'll sign Peebs up for an exam. Fingers crossed between the shoes and adjustment he can come back from his summer break!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cutting My Losses

We all know horses are a money pit.  Unless you're wheeling and dealing at the upper levels, its hard to actually make money on horses or even break even. I'm obviously not at the upper levels and am probably spending way more money on my ponies than is wise. Which makes knowing when to cut your losses hard. 

At the end of June I took Tia in to see where she was in her cycle in hopes of breeding her again.  We still were waiting for the biopsy results, but the vet wasn't super worried about it.  When they scanned her, they found a decent sized cyst that hadn't been seen before.  Either it grew fast, or was never found in her earlier scans.  The vet and I discussed options, and decided to wait till after the Fourth to short cycle her and rebreed. I then got the biopsy results the next day and that brought everything to a screeching halt.  The vet originally didn't think she was as bad as she it, and seemed a bit shocked and apologetic when telling me.

Tia has a lot of scar tissue and some signs of long term, low grade inflammation. Even with a clean uterine culture, she probably has, and has had, a low grade infection.  The infection we can treat. The scar tissue we can't.  The vet gave her a 10-50% chance of the embryo being able to implant after fertilization. If we can clear up the infection, and treat her all winter, the higher the chances.  But then we're waiting another year, and she'll be even older which lowers our chances. But even so, we're looking at a less than 50% chance of implantation. 

Basically he told me, if it was his mare, he'd cut his losses. We could throw a ton of money at her, and still end up with nothing. I'm already about $2,000 into this, which isn't all that bad considering the price of going out and buying a foal at the level I'd hope this one would be. But do I want to double that and get nothing? Embryo transfer is an option, but it's not a magic bullet.  I'd be looking at around $5k with no guarantee. Not to mention the emotional cost.  I'm proud that I haven't cried in front of the vets, but there's been plenty of tears in the truck, at the barn, and at home.  The owners of the barn next to mine just had a mare foal and they were complaining that they wanted a bay tobiano colt and got a liver chestnut filly.  I wanted to punch them and scream that I just want a Tia baby.  I don't care gender or color. I understand a better now how women with fertility issues feel.

So for now, we're done.  I technically still have a breeding to Yorke but I don't have a mare. For a few days I was tempted to contact McKenna's new owner (who doesn't appear to be doing a whole lot with her from what I see) and ask for her back.  But the baby wouldn't be what I want, and Yorke wouldn't be as good of a cross with McKenna as he would be with Tia. And I don't ever want to breed just for the sake of breeding.  I'd like to think that someday I'll find another mare like Tia and be able to breed her.

Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Q2 Goals Review and Q3 Goals

Better late than never, right?  For the most part we knocked some of these goals out of the park.  There are a few still left to work on.

Peebs:

  • Right lead canter.  It'd be nice to not go running up the long side counter bent with his head in the air. Done!!  I've learned that whenever we start having issues with his right canter, he's out and needs to see the chiro.
  • If above goes well, start cantering fences to the right. DONE! Not only did we canter fences to the right, we cantered entire courses, at shows and won!
  • Keep working on counter canter.  Be able to pick up the right lead tracking left. We've worked on counter canter, but haven't been able to pick up the right lead going left.
  • More lateral work  Done, but we can always do more!
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound We had a couple weeks of crazy Peebers, but I'm learning that him being spooky is a sign he's out and needs the chiro. Other than that, he's great!
Me:
  • Awareness of my outside rein...don't forget about it! I can actually carry contact in both reins, at the same time.  I'm sure this will always be something I need to remember tho.
  • More ground pole work so I can work on my eye and seeing a distance. We've done at least once a week ground pole days and it's really helped.
  • More no stirrup work  Big  fat fail

For Q3

Peebs:
  • Keep working on counter canter and picking up the right lead tracking left.
  • Start working on flying changes
  • Now that the fields have been harvested, field rides once a week!
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound!
Me:
  • No stirrup work
  • Get comfortable with bigger fences and oxers
  •  Work on my fitness and stamina so I'm not exhausted after shows

Friday, July 14, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Day Two

After the success on Saturday, I was pretty pumped for Sunday.  Wile I was tired and sore, I couldn't wait to get back out in the show ring.  All my nerves from the day before were gone and for the first time in a long while I felt completely confident walking into the ring.

Before warming up I talked to Trainer about how on Saturday the lines rode in a 6.5 and I pushed him forward for the six.  I said I probably screwed up my math but once we looked at the Sunday's courses she said they should have been 7s.  As we were warming up she commented that Peebs' stride was much more open than at home, but he didn't look fast or quick.  Who knew he could have an effortless 13' stride?! We did plan to do the 7s, which were easier to get since he was a bit tired.

A non-horsey friend came to watch and brought her dog Jack.  Jack was pretty sure Peebs was his new best friend
We had two Outreach hunter over fences, two eq over fences, and an eq flat on Sunday.  The Outreach classes had three or four while there were 9 in the whole eq division.  My first round went pretty well; we were a little short in one of the outside lines but not horribly so.  The second round was going well until the approach for the last line.  There were a couple people sitting in the grass in the shade at the far end of the arena and they stood up right as we were coming around the turn.  Peebs spooked sideways and I ended up having to circle. We broke to the trot to pass them as Peebs was convinced they had appeared out of nowhere and were going to eat him. The people stayed down in the corner of the ring, randomly walking back and forth then sitting down and getting up again.  They spooked a few other horses and one poor kid came out in tears after her pony refused to go past them.

Going into our eq rounds both Peebs and I were pretty tired.  My goal at that point was to not let him break to the trot, which we did in the last round. Cantering past the in gate was just too much and Peebs was sure he was done. I cursed myself again for signing up for the flat, and basically tried not to fall off.  We earned an 8th for it and I hopped off to wait for the over fences placings. 


We managed a first and second for the Outreach classes, and a first and fourth for the eq.  It was my first ever win in an eq class.  Because the Outreach division didn't fill (had to have 3 in the first class and there were only two of us) they didn't award champion or reserve, but we would have been champion. I was slightly pissed I didn't get a champion ribbon, but I couldn't be happier with how we did.  I in no way expected to end the weekend with a champion, especially after the disaster that was the show last month. Peebs far exceeded my expectations and I had so much fun.  I bought Peebs thinking we'd plunk around the hunters for a bit till I got my nerve back to go into the jumper ring but after having a blast in the hunters this weekend, I think we'll be staying in hunterland for a while. I can't wait to get back into the show ring!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Day One

Saturday morning came way to early.  I stuffed my feet into my paddock boot and ran out to the show to feed Peebs. He seemed totally chill and clean (I don't trust him to keep himself clean but it was too hot to put even a sheet on him overnight). My original plan was to lunge him, but since he was a complete 180* attitude wise from the last show I didn't.  I headed back to the hotel to pick up my parents, change, and get breakfast.


We got back to the show around 8 and wandered to the ring to try and guess when I'd go. My parents parked themselves by the ring while I went back to get ready.  I was doing two divisions on Saturday; an 18" USHJA Outreach Hunter and an 18" Green Rider Hunter.  The Outreach division had classes on Sunday as well, and I was also in the Green Rider Eq on Sunday.  The GR Hunter division had 9 in it, while the Outreach had 1-3 per class.  I was the only one doing the whole division. I had four over fences rounds and they had all four cards open before two under saddles.

Warm up went well, but I was still at bit nervous at how Peebs would be once we were actually in the ring.  I decided that we'd trot the first round then try cantering.  My goal for our round was to ride forward, not let my nerves get to me, and not pick at him.  The first trot round went fine, but I forgot to count in the lines.  I thought they should have been 7s on the outside, and 8 across the diagonal.  When we went back in to canter, the outsides rode in a 6.5 and the diagonal was 7. I pushed him forward for the 6 and it actually felt pretty good.  He was flowing really well, and the 6 and 7 came easy. I was kinda shocked at how easy and good everything felt. I figured I must have screwed up my math.  It was some of the easiest hunter rounds I've ever had, on any horse.  We did have to do simple changes since Peebs doesn't have flying ones yet, but other than that we cruised right along.
 
In which I'm cursing former me for signing up for the flat classes
We had a bit of break until the flats so I hopped off and downed a bottle of water. When I went back in for the Outreach u/s I was the only one.  Luckily the judge took pity on me and I trotted and cantered maybe a 1/3 of the arena each way. They also didn't make me line up. It was my first under saddle win!  I just stayed in for the GR flat which all 9 of us were in.  My left calf started cramping pretty badly about halfway through and I thought I was going to die. For this hack the judge had us do over a lap of trot and canter each way and I was in agony. Once we lined up I dropped my stirrups and tried to stretch my leg as much as I could.


We ended up placing in all of our classes with the first for our solo under saddle, a first and second in the Outreach over fences, and a fourth and a sixth over fences in the Green Rider and a sixth for the GR under saddle. I was super happy with how we did, especially compared to the show a month ago. Peebs was like a total been-there-done-that show pony and I could focus on what I needed to work on and not worry about what he'd do. I was kicking myself for every being worried about cantering him around at a show.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Team NW Outreach Show Warm Up Day

I had a half day at work on Friday so after loading the trailer and Peebs, we hauled out around 1 to the show.  Even though he seemed back to his normal lazy, non-spooky self, I wanted plenty of time before showing on Saturday to let him get his crazies out. Once we got to the show and got his stall set up and dropped the trailer I took him out for a lunge.

Ready to go!

They were working the lunge area and jumper warm up (they're next to each other) so once I saw that Peebs no longer cared about the water truck or tractor we went and watched the National Hunter Derby till they were done with the rings. Jumperland is at the opposite side of the show grounds from Hunterland and Peebs hadn't been over there before.  He looked around a bit, whinnied once when he realized he was alone (the rated show was very small and the jumper ring had finished for the day), then lunged fine.  I probably didn't need to lunge him but figured why not.

I took him back to his stall and tacked up to go for a hack.  The hunter warm up ring was full of International Derby horses and I felt out of place in my schooling breeches and t-shirt in the sea of shadbellies. They were working the arena I was going to be showing in and they said they'd open it for schooling so I only did a little in the warm up before waiting to school in the ring. Peebs was foot perfect in the show ring; we trotted and cantered a couple laps each way before popping over a fence.  My nerves were getting to me, the jumps were set 2'3"-2'6"ish and looked huge. I picked the smallest of them to jump and did it once at the trot and once at the canter.  Peebs, of course, didn't care.

To finish the day he got a bath, wrapped, and a big pile of hay.  My parents were flying in for the week, so I ran off to check into the hotel and then pick them up from the airport. On my way I got a text from my trainer that her daughter had gotten hurt and she wouldn't be able to make it Saturday but would be there Sunday.  That didn't help the nerves at all, but at that point I was too tired and hungry to really care. I figured if worse came to worse, we'd trot everything.