Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Spend 14 Hours at the Barn

So I accidentally spent 14 hours at the barn on Saturday. Oops. I got out early in the morning to ride before the western dressage clinic and had a great ride on Peebs. We continued our work on softness and bending and I threw in a few trot fences at the end, to see how he'd be. We haven't jumped in a while, and usually he gets pretty amped the first time back, but he barley even batted an eye. We ended with a stroll in the field to cool down.

I ended up watching most of the clinic, and snagged a sandwich during the lunch break. Then a couple other boarders and I started moving hay. We had over a ton of last year's shitty, straw like hay that another boarder had bought then left when she moved away. No one really wanted to feed it, but we have new hay coming in this week and had to clear it out fast. So we loaded it up on the flatbed and drove it out to dump in the fields. 

The horses out in the pasture were very happy with the giant moving hay cart and started walking alongside the truck. Then this happened: 
Stop and give us all your foodz
One of the girls had to jump off the truck and heard them away. After we chucked everything out in the pasture we had to rake up loose hay and rearrange pallets and tarps. We finished by cleaning some piles of random shit that's been left by people and picked apples for the ponies. 

The other boarders left at this point and my BO offered me a beer and we sat on the back patio and ordered pizza. Her husband then pulled us into the office where he was trying to set up a projector and sound system to play movies on the wall. It was not going well and I took the opportunity to escape for a bit to make a beer run. When I got back the pizza was there, the movie was playing but we had no sound. Much swearing and punching of buttons later everything worked and we watched The Big Short. When it was over it was 10pm and I wanted to curl up on the couch in the office and go to sleep. But I dragged by butt home and slept like the dead. It was a great day. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Going Back to Cali

I made a quick trip down to San Diego last weekend and was able to meet the wonderful L from Viva Carlos. She emailed me after I posted that I was going down and luckily we were able to coordinate schedules.  We talked ponies, her move, and the SD horse scene.
We did stop to in to watch the county show going on at Showpark, just not the same day as L

I grew up in a suburb of SD and while I haven't lived there for 12 years I do keep in contact with my former trainer and barn friends from down there. I gave her the names of a couple people to watch out for, as well as a bit of the run down on the local county circuit. Which is probably more competitive and with just as nice of horses as the rated circuit as up here in Oregon. I usually go down to SD couple times a year so hopefully we can meet up again!!

We also hit up the Cat Cafe in SD. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

TBT: Baby Peebs

When I bought Peebs, I didn't get much of in the way of his history.  I was told he was a QH cross, probably an appendix.  He was 9, and the barn I bought him from had had him for two years.  Pedigree and papers don't matter too much to me; I'm not going to show on a breed circuit and he's a gelding so no babies for him.  USEF/USHJA don't require breed papers, and since he's never been registered with them I could register him under his new show name and not worry about any past records.  

His momma, Mystic, while pregnant
The saddle rep (sidenote: saddle shipped from England today, should be here soon!!!!) I'm using had told me that one of her students used to ride at the barn that had Peebs and next time the rep comes down she wanted to come along to see him.  I said of course, hoping I could get some more background info from her.  Apparently she knows Peebs' breeder, and now the breeder rides with the saddle rep.  The breeder, HP, found me on Facebook and sent me a bunch of pics as well all Peebs' info.
Cute from the start

Peebs is a QH cross, but not an appendix.  He's 3/4 QH and 1/4 Morgan, which explains his movement and front end conformation. He's a grandson of Scotch Bar Time, one of the leading AQHA sires.  Two other horses in the barn are his grandchildren as well, so Peebs has cousins in the barn! His birthday is June 7th.  He was three weeks late being born, and HP's dad ended up pulling him out.  Only one front leg came out so the dad pushed him back in, turned him, then pulled both front legs out.  They said he just slid out super fast after that, so fast that he left his fourth sock behind! A couple days after birth he got sick and ended up spending a week in the hospital. He's always had some GI/diarrhea issues, which makes me feel better about the discharge issue I've had with him.


They called him Little Scotch, or just Scotch.  HP says she likes the name Peebs better than PB or Paddy, which is what the barn before called him. She sold him as a five year old when she joined the Army, and was supposed to be contacted if/when he was ever sold.  He bounced around a little and she lost track of him.  I assured her that I'm not planning on getting rid of him anytime soon, if ever, and that I'd keep her updated on him.  Hopefully we can meet up at a show this fall since she lives less than two hours away and has gotten back into showing with her new horse.
Yearling Peebers after he was gelded.  Apparently he had a fun habit of rearing and trying to stomp on people.

4yr old Peebs

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Trainer Ride #1

Peebs had his first trainer ride Monday. I had told trainer that my biggest issue lately is his canter; it feels unbalanced and scrambly, not something I want to ride going up to a fence. She said he doesn't look that bad from the ground, and I think she was somewhat humoring me when she got on.

The first thing she said when she got on was to exclaim on how heavy he is in your hands. She really tried to push him forward in both the walk and trot, doing lots of changes of direction and circles. She said we need to work on getting him to carry himself more and become more flexible. 
Peebs expressing his opinions
Peebs was pretty sure he was being tortured and was quite expressive his his head. He's not a fan of lots of inside leg and someone having a strong feel of his mouth, which at the moment is what he needs. At the canter trainer really discovered just how big a hole Perbs has in his training. He absolutely doesn't want to be straight and alternates between going fast when leg is added and falling apart when you half halt. It's a delicate balance, and trainer was surprised at how hard he is to manage.  She told me I do a very good job of making him look better than he is and that she doesn't blame me for not wanting to canter fences on him.  She doesn't either! From my perspective on the ground, he doesn't look at as bad as she feels, so I understand what she was saying. 
I don't wanna be a good pony
Luckily, trainer doesn't think it will take much to get Peebs back in shape.  Just consistent riding, lots of transitions and changes of bend, and lots of walk breaks so he can process and relax.  He's a horse that needs a few minutes of walk on a loose rein to think about and calm down after something hard.  The more you push him, the tenser he becomes and right now we need a soft, relaxed Peebers. Once he softens, he can go on a super soft rein with just a few half halts and it feels amazing. It's just getting there that's the problem.

I did get on for ten minutes or so at the end, to feel the difference in him.  We did some trot-canter-trot work, focusing on having a soft feel in my hands (but to be prepared to hold and pick him up as needed) and getting him up and around my inside leg.  It was miles better than he normally is.  For now trainer wants to do trot-canter transitions with him since he tends to stay softer than walk-canters. We're supposed to do another trainer ride tomorrow, but its forcasted to be 100 so we'll see.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hot Hot Hot

Both the temperature and the Peebs have been hot lately.  It's been at or above 90 for almost a week now, and is expected to get to 105 this weekend.  Luckily I'll be in San Diego where its supposed to be cooler (seriously, WTF Oregon?!?).  Because of the heat, the plan was not to do a whole lot with Peebs.  But apparently the pony had other plans. 

Peebs no like draw reins.  Peebs no like having to use body correctly.
 He's been super wound up and somewhat explosive in the canter.  I rode with draw reins and the snaffle on Friday.  He was actually very good, if pissed.  We had probably some of our best canter work (minus one little buck) and I think all of our rides since then have been payback.  Saturday I was planning on jumping but he didn't want to settle and the couple fences we trotted were a battle.  He kept wanting to canter and was throwing his haunches way to the right.  Once we got a semi-decent trot fence I quit.
Sunday I was going on a field ride with my BO and a couple other boarders. I lunged Peebs before we left, but I think I could have lunged him twice as long as I did.  He was bucking and playing, completely full of energy.  He kept it together for most of the ride.  There was one moment where he saw something he didn't like and started going sideways.  Once we got a couple horses between him and the imaginary monster he was fine.  But it felt like if I put any leg on or asked anything of him he'd loose his mind.  Once we got back to the barn I did a little trot and canter to see if I could put his brain back.  That was a big fat NOPE.  He got more and more wound up before launching a big buck and going sideways.  I sat it but then got off and turned him out in the indoor.  He did run and play a bit more.

He got Monday off, and yesterday he wasn't too bad.  Still wants to get high in our canter work, but we stayed on a circle and my mantra was to sit down and keep my inside leg on to keep him straight. A big part of our problem right now is he wants to get crooked and weak, then scrambles and gets worried and I want to ride in a half seat with no leg.  I need to support him more, and he needs to get over my leg being on all the time. He hasn't yet figured out the difference between "go forward leg" and "hold yourself up leg", at least at the canter. Hopefully next week we can start getting some trainer rides for him and more lessons for me!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

TBT: Mighty Mouse

I was talking about a horse I leased in high school a couple weeks back to some fellow boarders and then spent the rest of the night missing my Mighty Mouse. So I thought I'd do a little tbt and talk about him here. 

Mighty was an teenaged appendix gelding my trainer had bought slightly out of pity a few years before I leased him. He had definitely been abused, and the people who had were not nice to him. He was very defensive, but jumped whatever was in front of him and would pack anyone around over fences. My trainer saw something in him, and couldn't leave him where he was even though he wasn't  fit to be a lesson horse. When she first brought him home he would jig in the cross ties, tried to bite and kick during grooming, spooked at anything and everything during flat work (he was one of those that teleports ten feet sideways in .002sec), was super lazy, and generally a class A pain in the ass. A few of us questioned our trainer's sanity. 
Showing off his chompers

Soon after she got him, Mighty has some major neurological problems. The EPM test was inconclusive, but that's what he was treated for. He was out of the lesson string for over a year; my trainer and the assistant trainer did a lot of lunging in a Pessoa rig, trail rides, and flat work to bring him back. He did come back, with much better ground manners and more strength and fitness. He was still prone to biting (he has super thin TB skin and coat and grooming hurt) and spooking (he got bored and liked to dump people). 

I had been leasing another horse but stopped when he had a splint. My trainer was using Mighty for the more advanced lesson kids, so I got stuck with him a lot. I hated him. He was lazy, had a super pogo stick trot combined with massive TB withers, he spooked, and didn't do flying changes. But over time, and without me knowing or realizing, I figured him out and he started trusting me. He stopped trying to bite me, he didn't spook, I figured out how to get him round, forward, and connected so I could sit his trot and start attempting flying changes.

The mightiest mouse there ever was
My trainer had made the decision to sell Mighty. He wasn't happy or good at being a lesson pony. She loved him, but couldn't justify keeping him if not in the program. She had a trainer and kid scheduled to come look at him when she came down with bronchitis. She asked me to ride him, since I had been riding him the most and knew how to show him off. I did and while the other trainer loved him, the kid couldn't get him to trot, even when I gave her my spurs and whip. The other trainer and I talked while watching the kid and she asked me if I was selling him because I was going to college. I said no, that I was still in high school and that he wasn't mine. She looked at me and said "You need to buy him, he's already your horse." I looked at my trainer and she had a very thoughtful expression on her face. Two days later she asked me if I wanted to lease him, and I said yes. 

We went to a show maybe two weeks after that and it was a complete disaster. He wouldn't load, wouldn't go in the box stall at the show, wouldn't go in the ring. We had to back into the ring (of course show management changed rings on us after we schooled) with my trainer smacking him on the chest with my crop. When we finished our first round she wouldn't let me out of the ring and made stay in for my second trip. I don't remember if we placed at all, and I think we did the 2'3" and 2'6". But it didn't deter me at all. We spent the summer working on loading him and he eventually got comfortable at the show grounds. 
I showed him in our local circuit's year end show in the 2'3" green rider division. There were 45 in our class and a lot of them were fancy imported things or adorably perfect ponies. But my 17yr old $2500 appendix QH with no changes managed to pull off a 8th over fences and a 10th on the flat (which they did split into 3 groups). Looking back I'm 1000% certain this is where my love of QHs started.  

Still one of my favorite ribbons. I showed him with a Mighty Mouse cartoon pin instead of a regular stock tie pin.
That show is also when I did my first jumper class. They had open schooling rounds and because it was such a big show we ended going about 7pm. It was in October so it was dark, and there weren't lights in the warm up. I remember my trainer telling me to jump the oxer and it was so dark I couldn't tell we jumped it backwards till she told me. Oops. The arena we showed in is a huge, covered arena with stands and lights (they now hold World Cup qualifiers in it) and it was intimidating AF going down to the in gate. But Mighty, the horse known for spooking at cars and birds, didn't care at all. That's when I knew I could trust him with anything and first felt that special bond with a heart horse. 

We eventually made our way to the 3' children's hunters, even though both of us had never jumped that high and he was really starting to show his age. The very first time we jumped 3' at home, I pulled the rookie move of running at it and not supporting him and for the first time since my trainer had bought him he stopped. Rightfully so. I somehow managed to land on my feet between the two rails of the oxer. And a week after that I pulled the same move but landed in a heap on the other side. But we pulled it together and managed a 2nd in our first children's class. 
Old man Mighty Mouse
Mighty still had problems with lead changes so 90% of the time I'd counter canter fences. We got damn good at counter cantering jumps. So much so that in our first children's class I counter cantered from one to two, going past the in gate, and my barn friends couldn't tell. They didn't believe me when I walked out of the ring saying that was the only mistake in the class. My trainer had to assure them that, yes it was counter canter, and yes they needed to be able to do it that smoothly too. I still don't know if the judge couldn't tell it was the wrong lead or if we were just that good but out of about 15 horses we were second. That is still probably the best round I've ever had at a show. 

I leased Mighty till I left for college and he was then leased for a bit by another kid in the barn. When showing with her got to be too much for him, my trainer kept him as a flat lesson pony. His year with me completely changed his personality and he was a model lesson horse. He stayed at my former barn till he died, around age 23. RIP Mighty Mouse 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Peebs

Between being NQR and me on vacation, the Peebs got an almost three week vacation.  I don't think he minded tho.  We had the chiro out last week and he was very out and dropped on his right side.  Our homework is lots of neck stretches, both on the ground and under saddle, as well as counter canter.  The Peebs is not thrilled.
He did make a new friend
We had our first lesson, and first jump school, since our show last month.  I had absolutely zero expectations and was prepared for a wild pony.  Peebs did jump a bit enthusiastically into our warm up line, but after a pulley rein stop he settled down and was great.

This is what we do while waiting for the chiro
We worked on keeping our right bend coming into the line.  He really loves to counter bend going right and I have to be diligent about holding the right bend all the way to the base of the jump. I tend to let go a stride or two out and he'll flip his bend and float his haunches right. Our drifting haunches is going to be our biggest issue. Going left, he'll do the same, especially if I get nervous and hold his mouth too much.  We trotted the skinny barrel below, a fence I have hated for years and as soon as I got nervous and picked at him, his haunches swung right.  Phoenix stopped at the barrel years ago and I fell off, hitting the visor of my helmet on it and the whole front of my helmet cracked.  I was fine, physically, but have had a hang up about it since. Also, that was the last time I wore a Troxel.
The Peebs don't care

At least his haunches-going-right-when-I-get-nervous-and-pick thing is a good way for me to remember to let go and relax.  We'll just see how much I actually can relax!  Trainer and I also discussed having her do some rides on him, to help reinforce the straightness and bend issues we've been having.  I know I can fix it myself, but mentally it'd help me to see her on him and it never hurts to put a pro on your pony now and then.  Hopefully we'll manage to sneak in a lesson/ride in the few days between her vacation and my next one.