Thursday, June 22, 2017

Here, There, and Everywhere

I feel like I've been saying this a lot lately, but the past week has been a crazy roller coaster. Between hauling horses, the show, crazy weather swings, and being shorthanded at work I feel like all I do is run around.

 Last Thursday I took Tia in for a uterine exam. The clinic was a little over an hour away, but they're one of the top repro vets in the state.  It had been raining off and on all week and cooler, in the 60s, but the day I was to haul her up called for 30-50mph winds.  Not exactly what I want to haul in.  Luckily the wind wasn't too bad, except for the last five miles home.  The exam itself went well; Tia was the picture of perfect uterine health. No cysts, no edema, no visible scaring. I did opt to do a uterine biopsy and culture just to be safe.  The culture came back negative but we won't get the biopsy report back for another week or so.  The vet recommended rebreeding her (hopefully next week!) and putting her on Regumate to make sure her hormone levers are sufficient to maintain the pregnancy.

Mare is not amused
Originally my show was supposed to be on Saturday, but because of the rain, they moved it to Sunday.  It was a USHJA Outreach show held during a rated show and show management was moving some of the rated classes around to save the footing. I was fine with the show being moved back a day, gave me extra time to prep and I spent most of Saturday getting everything cleaned and ready instead of rushing around Friday night.

Gelding is not amused

 But of course Sunday dawned sunny and hot. It was over 20* hotter on Sunday than it had been earlier in the week.  And of course my classes didn't go till early afternoon.  We got to the show around 8 and I was glad I had gotten a day stall.  We threw Peebs in and went and watched some of the junior/AO hunters and the jumper ring. We also grabbed lunch of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and the teen from our barn that I forced asked to be my groom/ground person found a $360 hunt coat marked down to $20 that fit her perfectly. She's mainly a western rider but is doing English pleasure and dressage in 4H and open shows so she needed a coat. I wish I could find deals like that!

Unfortunately Peebs was not in a horse show frame of mind.  He was super looky and spooky and tried to take off with me in the canter during our warm up.  We spent a lot of time walking around trying to get his head on.  I didn't even think to bring a lunge line, but he could have used a nice long lunge.  I will for sure be bringing one next time and doing an early morning lunge just to be on the safe side. I was debating trying to jump him in the warm up (would it wind him up more or calm him down?) when there was an open gate for our ring.  I said screw it, I'm hot and they're 18" jumps, and I think getting him in the ring and focusing on something will calm him down.  So we went in with no warm up jump.
Molly is not amused
We trotted into everything and cantered down the lines, and the first class was a shit storm. He was spooky, tried to run across the diagonal line, and wouldn't come back to the trot after our last line.  So I stopped him hard, made him wait, then walked out of the ring. I think that knocked some sense into him because our second round was much better.  Still jumper-in-the-hunter-ring like, but we actually got the correct number of strides, and decent transitions without having a battle over it. 

While waiting for our third trip and flat class they brought a water truck and tractor into the warm up.  Peebs lost his shit at the water truck and went flying backward and spun.  I hopped off to hold him and every time the truck came at us or close to us he'd try to vacate stage left. At one point he backed into a trainer who wasn't paying attention.  Luckily she was fine and I apologized profusely. I was really hot and done at that point so I scratched the rest of my classes and took him back to the stall.  I figured he was an ass in warm up and the first round but we redeemed ourselves in the second round and while I was pissed at him for being THAT horse at a show, I was never scared or felt like I was going to die.  I didn't get mad at him, tried to keep my hands down, and release in the half halts.  And the 18" fences looked tiny. Big wins for me! He was just not his normal unflappable Peebers self, but we survived and got better, at least until the water truck.

I wasn't expecting to place at all considering most everybody else in the class cantered the fences and we exuberantly trotted everything. But I checked the results online when I got home and we somehow managed a 2nd for our second round, out of 8.  I was shocked! Not shockingly we did place 8th out of 8 for the first round.

We're going back to the same show ground for a two day Outreach show in July and I will for sure be lunging him and avoiding water trucks!  Hopefully he won't be as much of a nutcase!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hands Breakthrough

Peebs and I had our last lesson and jump before our show on Saturday.  I wasn't in the best of moods going into my lesson.  Work drama, barn drama, and Tia have left me on a roller coaster of emotions.  And my lesson last week wasn't so great; damn you hands!  But this weeks lesson was actually really good and we fixed (most) of our problems from last week.



Last week we I had a meltdown trying to canter a single diagonal going right to left.  Peebs is worse going right, and historically has been strong and bargy going up the long side by the barn.  So of course, trainer sets the fence so we have to come up the long side by the barn. I wanted to pick and pull and get high with my hands, all things guaranteed to piss Peebs off. So he braced against me, got strong, and I got more handsy. We went back to trotting it and ended ok, but couldn't find a happy canter to it.


This week we started with that fence, first trotting and really focusing on finding my line.  I want to turn early so trainer stood where I was to turn.  It felt super late, but made the offside so much nicer. The first time cantering it I turned too early so our line was wonky, but I kept my hands down and didn't pick at him. Peebs was awesome and added to the fence and landed quietly.  The next time I turned when I was supposed to, and the fence was perfect. It was 1000% better than last week.


We then did an outside line.  We trotted in the first time in a short five then cantered in.  I saw the short distance coming in, and miracle of miracles, kept my hands down and waited for it. My go to bad habit when I see a bad distance is to pick my hands up, which raises his head, which makes the distance harder to see, which makes me get handsy.  Not a good cycle.  I had to hold for the four, but again, I managed to keep my hands down and Peebs happily loped down the line.  Trainer said I did exactly what I needed to, and that while the line wasn't perfect, I schooled it perfectly.  I rode the short, icky distance coming in and kept him packed for the short four while keeping his mouth happy. Peebs is more than willing to do the short stride, or add a stride, I just have to learn to ask for it with my hands down.  Once I raise my hands and his head comes up, its all over.


We finished by doing the little white fence above.  It wasn't as good as the other diagonal or the line.  I couldn't get Peebs off my right leg on our approach but, for the most part, was able to keep my hands down even with a bad approach. On the landing side we had a tight turn around an outside fence and Peebs kept landing on the wrong lead.  Between the tight turn and a lead change Peebs got worked up and we had to halt on a straight line a couple of times.  As you can see above, he didn't really like that.

Monday, June 12, 2017

To Good to be True

Tia went in for her 30 day check up on Friday afternoon, and they weren't able to find the embryo.  Sometime between day 16 and 31 she lost the pregnancy.  I had been thinking that everything had been too easy, going too well and I was right.  For an older mare, that has had reproductive issues in the past, I was shocked that she took on the first try and everything looked good at the first check.

I admit to crying the whole way home from the vet's. Which is about 5 minutes, but still. Once at the barn and after unloading Tia, I sat in the truck and cried some more while texting my mom and BO. The vet asked me if I wanted to try again, and I had said I didn't know.  My fear is that we'll rebreed her and it'll happen again. At that point I was too upset to even think about trying again. I don't recommend trying to back up and park your trailer while crying; I might have almost hit another trailer. Damn tears make it hard to see.

I spent most of Friday night/Saturday morning crying and trying to figure out what I want to do. I looked up repro specialists and after talking with my mom, BO, and another boarder I decided to take Tia into another vet about an hour away and get her opinion. If she thinks Tia could hold a pregnancy we'll try again.  If not, I  think we're going to try embryo transfer.  Our barn manager, LT, has offered her husband's trail mare up as a surrogate, pending vet approval.

 It's expensive, but as my mom put it, not that much more than going out and buying another horse.  And I don't want another horse, I want Tia's baby. I adore the mare and would love to have a piece of her for my own. If I could have bred Phoenix, Buddy, or Peebs I would have.  It's not about having a fancy, upper level horse for me.  It's about having a piece of a horse I love. I never plan to have human children; my horses are my kids and I didn't think I'd be so upset about losing Tia's foal. But it feels like I've lost part of my heart.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday Peebs!!

Happy 10th birthday Peebs!!! Can't wait to see what the next ten years of your life will be like!

Newborn Peebers known then as Little Scotch

Yearling Scotch


4 years old and showing off his classic high head at attention position

The day we met, such a sad Peebers, known then as Paddington

iPhone black backround pic of a much happier Peebers

Winning his first division champion

First year end award

Monday, June 5, 2017

Catching Up

I feel like the last month passed way too fast.  How are we already in June?!  Peebs moved into his summer paddock 24/7, which I love because I don't have to clean a stall every day, and he loves because there's grass! 

Don't bother me, I'm eating
As far as catching up on my riding, I feel like there isn't much to tell. For them most part Peebs has been good, if not lazy. I'm having problems seeing distances (like that's a new thing?), especially to diagonal fences. I know it's because I loose his shoulders in the turn, and we don't finish the turn. Hopefully I can get some help in my lesson tomorrow because my entry for our first USHJA Outreach show has been sent in. 


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Coming April 2018

If you've been following my blog for a few years, you (hopefully) remember how much I love my BO's mare Tia. She's the ultimate hunter, loves her job, does it well, isn't marish, doesn't give a crap about anything except having her mane pulled, and anyone can ride her.  She does have some arthritis issues with her front end, but I believe a lot of that was due to being over jumped/showed as a baby. My BO got her for $1, and it was hands down the best dollar ever spent.
Tia with a former leaser
We were told when we got her that she had been bred in the past, but had had an issue getting pregnant. I've said for years how much I'd love to breed her and get a baby, but was worried that it would have to be an embryo transfer and that's expensive. My BO has always told me that if I want to breed her I can. When Yorke moved into the barn last fall, I really, really, REALLY wanted to breed them.  He's more refined and lighter built than Tia, which is what she needs. Both have awesome temperaments and are easy to work with and be around. And how awesome would it be to have mom and dad in the barn?
When I used to jumper bigger fences
I kinda hemmed and hawed this winter/spring until one of the other boarders at the barn gave me a kick in the ass.  I talked to the vet, and basically she said to have Tia ultrasounded to see what was going on in there, and if I really want to breed her, this is the year to do it; she'll be too old next year.  So in early May right before I left for San Diego I dropped Tia off to be bred to Yorke.  She was bred on the 8th, and they said everything looked good and she had a nice big follicle. Yorke has very good semen and has never had to rebreed a mare, so that was a good plus.  I took her back yesterday for her pregnancy check and there was the little black dot on the screen!!  Tia's officially 17 days in foal to Yorke for an April 2018 baby!! 

She did have a bit more edema in her uterus than normal, so she goes back in for another ultrasound in two weeks, but they didn't seem too worried by it.  I have a list of dates for her pneumabort shots as well as updating her vaccinations and deworming. But hopefully, if all goes well, we'll have a baby around April 13th of next year!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Emotional Swings

The past month or so has been hard for me, mentally. Work has been super busy, I've been stressed about another horsey endeavor (more about that later), and the weather has gone between the 60s with thunderstorms to 85-90 and back. I felt like I couldn't get into a routine or ride consistently.  

Peebs and his new friend Trask
 We were supposed to go to a show last weekend, but didn't.  My trainer was originally going to go with me, but had to back out due to her real job. I tried to see if I could get someone else to go with me because I don't like going by myself.  I feel better knowing there's someone on the ground to help if something goes wrong.  So I set my sights on doing one of two shows in June, and of course, neither one works for my trainer. I pouted for a couple of days before coming out of it. And luckily  one of the teens in the barn has agreed to go with me as my groom so *fingers crossed* we'll be showing on the 17th. Still trying to figure out what classes; it'll either be the 18" or 2'.  And there's a show in July that works for both me and trainer so that's on the calendar too.

We really didn't jump for a couple of weeks and then last week jumped three days in a row. I didn't plan it that way, but when offered a last minute lesson, one doesn't say no.  I had jumped a little last Tuesday and Wednesday, just working on a few fences each day.  Tuesday we worked on a line and Wednesday we figure eighted two diagonal fences.  We're starting to put together canter courses but Peebs is pretty sure we should still be trotting every other fence. It takes a lot to keep him going and I wanted to stick with a few fences and establishing that yes, he has to keep cantering.  My plan worked, except that on Wednesday we had our first run out.  We were coming up to the fence when another boarder drove down the road and parked her car. Super scary because he's obviously never seen a car before. I think Peebs probably just caught it out of the corner of his eye, but he scooted to the left and went past the fence. It was very slow-mo and I was in no danger of coming off.  We walked past the offending car and circled back to the fence without any problems. Peebs did seem a bit sheepish.

But he's not ashamed of his awesome bee fly sheet!!
I was expecting Peebs to be super lazy in our lesson on Thursday, but he was actually great.  He was behind my leg, and I got reminded that my whip is functional and not just something for me to hold, but he wasn't nearly as tired as I was expecting. We started with cutting across the center of the ring to the second jump in an outside line then rolling back to a diagonal fence.  I had some trouble finind our distance to the first fence, but once I was able to control his outside shoulder and turn a little earlier it flowed really well.  We moved onto a bending line that was much easier than I expected.  The footing coming to the first fence was a bit deep and Peebs no likey deep footing.  He kept wanting to break to the trot and that's when my trainer had to remind me to get after him.  We cantered a few circles at that end of the ring to establish that yes, he has to canter through the deep stuff, and once we found a good track we continued to the line. We quit with that as both Peebs and I were getting tired.

I was super happy with how good Peebs was that it killed me little to not be showing.  But I've been telling myself that with a few extra weeks Peebs and I will that much better when we do make it into the show ring.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Horse Shows

I went to two different horse shows last weekend. Neither of which I competed in.  Saturday night was spent at the Del Mar National and Sunday was the Hipico Real del Mar show in Rosarito, Mexico.
Why yes, I did buy a limited edition Flexible sweatshirt

I was originally going to come down for the show in Mexico, which we were invited to in February.   But once I saw that the National was going to be the same weekend I knew I wanted to go to that as well.  Especially once they announced Flexible's retirement ceremony.  I absolutely love Flexi and Rich.  While it's sad that they don't ever compete in Oregon, I'm glad I was able to see them one last time.

So many tears
 I had texted early in the week with L to see if she was going to be at the Grand Prix and maybe meet up.  I was super busy Saturday before the GP and didn't follow up.  To my surprise, about half way through the GP I heard someone call her name and looked over and she was sitting in the same row as I was.  I texted her then and she kindly took me over during the break before the jump off to meet the other bloggers there. I got to meet Carey, Alex, Karen, and Susan.  We didn't have very long to chat and I wish we had had more time.  I also ran over at one point to see a big group from my old barn and talk to my old trainer for a bit. I had to leave right after it was over because we still had over an hour drive back to my parent's house and I had been up for close to 20hrs at that point. The GP course was super hard; I don't know if I've ever seen so many retire on course or be eliminated.

Seriously, best arena view ever
Sunday was wet and cold, not your typical SoCal/Northern Mexico May day. We got to Hipico Real del Mar as they were walking the .80m course and I really wanted to be out there jumping it. The rain started during the second rider's round and it was super nasty.  We didn't stay very long but from what we did see, the show looked a lot like a US show.  There were kids not knowing where they were going, trainers at the ringside looking frustrated, and parents in the stands trying to jump every jump with their kids. There was one dad who was talking during his daughter's round, counting down the strides and telling her to wait or kissing when appropriate. But it was all in Spanish. It was very cute. I'd say the biggest difference, besides the language, was that none of the girls had their hair up in their helmets.  Everyone just had a pony tail and one or two didn't eve have their hair tied back.  What would George Morris say?!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ride Like a Hunter

Last weekend when Peebs couldn't horse because reasons, I still wanted to ride so I commandeered Tia.  Her leasee had already ridden her that morning, but she rides her pretty lightly and I figured it wouldn't hurt to pull her out again.

We both enjoyed it

It was a bit painful when I first got on to feel how old and stiff Tia's gotten. Her trot used to be big and bouncy but now it starts out as more of a shuffle. She did warm up out of it and her canter still felt great as ever.  There's just something about being able to get up in two point and cantering around with a loop in your reins. It's so much fun to play with her; all I have to do to bring her back is close my fingers and sit up a bit. We ended up popping over a couple of cross rails and big mama still loves her job.   I contemplated doing the boxes or a vertical, but didn't want to push it. I'm sure she would have been super excited for "big" fences but I didn't want to make her sore or lame.



It got me thinking about how I ride her vs Peebs so differently.  I ride her like a hunter but I ride Peebs more in a dressagey frame.  Part of that is Peebs is still learning how to use his body correctly and Tia naturally goes like a hunter while he doesn't.  While I want to show Peebs in the jumpers I think I need to try to ride him more like a hunter and not focus on packaging him up as much when we're jumping.  I realized that I'm hyper focusing on getting him round and packaged instead letting him flow to the fences. Obviously getting him working in a frame is a good thing but I'm afraid of over doing it, more for me mentally then for him. Long term goal wise I want to a National Hunter Derby as well as some AA eq/hunter classes, and I kinda sorta have a plan in the works for that. I need to not forget how to ride a hunter now, so if/when I have my hunter pony I know how to ride it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Figuring it all Out

I don't even know where to begin.  The past few weeks have been super busy and stressful, and it feels like I have a lot to catch up the blog on but I can't think. 

Peebs got upgraded to a double stall

I think I've figured out a good work schedule for Peebs.  Ride 3-4 days a week, with 1-2 jump days and 1-2 flat/play days.  Doing two hard work days back to back tends to piss him off, and eventually we'll have to deal with that in prep for multi-day shows, but for now it's working.  We've trotted the barrel pattern when one of the teens set it up; we've hacked around bareback while the 4yr old baby stallion jumped (Peebs is a great babysitter and couch except when he thinks he needs to get as close to the stud as possible.  He loves him some Rogue!); we've gone for walks down the road.

We had a good lesson last week, managing to put together a whole course.  I need to work on not dropping my hands before the fence, and Peebs needs to get over having more a feel in his mouth. He wanted to have a fit over it, but I didn't let it bother me and we avoided a battle.  That's a big step for me, not getting sucked into an argument.
We also jumped an oxer and didn't die!

 Another big step was jumping the oxer above.  When I don't jump them for a while oxers become super scary. Setting it up in a one stride is fairly safe; all I have to do it get him to the first fence and hang on. Easier said then done of course.  The first time through after it went up to the oxer I let Peebs stall out coming in and he Supermaned through it.  As awful as it felt (and I'm sure it looked awful) I never once questioned that he was going to stop or we were going to die. I slipped my reins, sat up, and put on leg and trusted him enough to get us out of it. And he did. I don't think I'll ever take for granted having a horse I can do that on.  As much I love Phoenix and he was an awesome horse, I'm 99% certain he would have stopped in that scenario and more than likely I would have come off. Buddy would have gone for it, but it took me a long time to trust that he would. Peebs just has that special something that makes it easy for me to sit up and leg him on in bad spots and trust that he's going to get us out.

On a day he couldn't horse.  There were bugs, and new horses in the barn and spring cleaning. ADD pony to the max

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Keep Up the Good Work

It's been a long couple of weeks.  We had an inspection at work this week and it served as a prep for a major inspection that's coming in October.  Lots of long days with lots of emails, calls, and meetings.  I've been too tired or mentally exhausted to ride more than I'd like so I'm only riding maybe 3 days a weeks, as opposed to my usual 5.  But Peebs doesn't seem to mind, and it hasn't affected our work. After my "OMG we can canter right" moment a few weeks ago I've been able to repeat that nice feel almost every ride.

 I even got crazy brave one day last week and tried cantering a fence off the right.  It did not go well.  He got crooked, and fast, and high headed and I got scared/mad and pulled on him.  As I tried to go back and establish a nice canter again I realized I was the problem. Cantering up to that fence I took my leg off, locked my elbows, and perched on his back in the fetal positon instead of driving him forward from my inside leg, opening my outside rein and half halting every couple of stride, and sitting deep and holding him together....just like I do when we're just cantering around the ring. No wonder he gets freaked out cantering fences to the right; I tell him I'm freaked out then get mad at him for freaking out and then he freaks out more. Sorry Peebers!

The day after that realization I tried again.  I didn't warm up over any other fences, just went straight to it. I sat deep, focused on bending him right and keeping him together. The first time he got a little over bent and drifted past our turn but I'd much rather have that then the complete lack of turning right we had a month ago. The second time I picked him up with my outside rein more and it was a perfect three strides out of the turn.  He landed on the correct lead and canter quietly around the corner. I let him quit with that, after only 20 minutes and two jumps.

Good ponies get to go for walks down the road and maybe steal a bite of grass

We had a lesson on Monday and even attempted a line going right. Trainer had us trot in and trot out, focusing on keeping the right bend and having an active trot.  We did have to circle between the two fences, more to reestablish the bend.  He was more than willing to drop down to the trot after the first fence. Trainer said when turning to the first fence I need to aim for the inside standard and push him out to the middle of the jump and when I was able to coordinate myself and him it worked really well. We moved on to a little figure eight with two jumps on the diagonals, working on switching his bend before the fence so he'd land on the correct lead.  Not surprisingly it was much harder going left to right then right to left. To finish we did an eq style rollback that was surprisingly easy.  If I can get his bend correct, and get him in front of my leg, the distances are a piece of cake.  Now if only I can get that feeling every time we'll be golden!

Friday, March 31, 2017

It's a March Miracle

For the past month or so cantering on the right lead has been pretty damn awful.  Turning to go up the long side of the arena by the barn is especially bad.  I know part of the problem is I tense and anticipate, which causes Peebs to tense, but that's only a small part of it.  I knew getting his teeth done would help, and when the vet suggested I call the chiropractor I did.  TS came out last week and Peebs was a mess.  Dropped right in his poll (why it feels like he tilts his nose left), locked in the neck, and dropped right in the hip.  I once again felt like an awful pony mom.  From now on whenever we have major issues going right the chiro will be my first call.

I did an easy ride the day after the chiro appointment then was gone for the weekend. When I got back I was slammed with work and didn't get to ride till Wednesday.  We were stuck in the indoor since it was raining but Peebs felt pretty damn good.  So good that I had to drop my whip. I was trying to focus on what my trainer had said in our last lesson, getting up in front of my leg and lots of changes of bend and direction.


Yesterday I rode outside and OMG Peebs was amazing.  Absolutely the best canter right in a long time.  He was forward, but listening, didn't get counter bent or twisted, and didn't try to bolt up the long side.  I had on the teens video us, figuring it would jinx us, but nope, he was still great.  Our canter left felt great too; it was so soft and easy.  I can't wait to jump him today and see how he feels. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Peebs and His Kid

While Peebs is very much a momma's boy, he definitely has a second favorite person.  One of the boarders has an almost two year old son, R, who loves Peebs and much as Peebs loves him. 


Last summer when it all began
 R's family moved into the barn about a year and a half ago, but obviously he wasn't out around the horses for a while. Last summer when he started hanging out at the barn more Peebs seemed very interested in the mini human. Over time whenever R is out, Peebs seems to watch him and beg for kisses and hugs.


R loves to either kiss or hug Peebs' head, and Peebs is perfectly fine with it. One time when R was having a melt down Peebs kept trying to nuzzle him but R wasn't having it. Peebs turned to me as if he was upset he couldn't calm him down.

Kisses!!
R used to call every horse Bobby, after his mom's horse, but a couple months ago he started saying Peebs.  Now every horse is a Bobby or Peebs. They were watching a documentary about draft horses a few nights ago and R kept yelling out Peebs. I'm hoping that later this summer we can do some pony rides with the two of them, and maybe eventually some lead line classes! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 Q1 Goals Review and Q2 Goals

I think the goals I set for the first part of the year were good, but we didn't get everything.  Oh well, they'll stay on our goal list and hopefully I can figure out a plan of attack.

The Peebs:

  • Continue canter work, especially to the right  We do work on counter canter, maybe once a week or so.  Peebs hates it with a fiery passion
  • Flying changes  Didn't happen, except that one time he offered one in front on his own then freaked out about crossfiring and panicked.
  • More lateral work   Lots of leg yielding, SI, and started on HI
  • Figure out how to stop rushing the fence going right up the long side of the ring.  HAHAHA nope!
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound  Check!
Me:
  • More work cantering fences without feeling like I'm going to die  I give this one a 50%.  To the left I'm completely fine.  Somedays we can't even canter to the right without loosing it, let alone canter a fence to the right.
  • Work on relaxing my hands and elbows  Again, a 50%.  I need to be more aware of my outside rein, but I'd say I'm not locking my elbows as much.
  • More no stirrup work  I did some, but not enough that I consider the goal checked off
For Q2 here are our goals:

Peebs:
  • Right lead canter.  It'd be nice to not go running up the long side counter bent with his head in the air.
  • If above goes well, start cantering fences to the right.
  • Keep working on counter canter.  Be able to pick up the right lead tracking left.
  • More lateral work
  • Stay happy, healthy, sane, and sound
Me:
  • Awareness of my outside rein...don't forget about it!
  • More ground pole work so I can work on my eye and seeing a distance.
  • More no stirrup work

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Alternative Circle of Death

I had a lesson last week and all we did was trot poles.  And it kicked my ass.  But it was a really good lesson and gave me something to focus and work on.

I've been feeling a little lost lately.  Our right lead canter is shit, but I can't figure out how to fix it. Obviously Peeb's teeth played a part in that, and he's getting looked at by the chiropractor tonight, but there's more to it.  I'm not super imaginative when it comes to exercises or ways to work through a problem when riding on my own, especially if its been a while between lessons. If only I could have my trainer at the ring every time I ride....

We were riding in the indoor, since it was rainy and I wanted to focus on flat work. Trainer set up 3/4 of the circle of death with poles at noon, three, and nine. She had the two outside poles along the rail, but the noon pole was sitting about ten feet in from the rail. I was a bit concerned because our canter right is no where near ready to attempt even part of the circle of death.

Glory at my paint job! Obviously not the indoor, but what I set up outside on Sunday
She had a trot the outside pole, bending to the noon pole then turning towards the wall before looping back over it then bending to the other outside pole.  So if we were tracking right it would be right bend to the middle pole, left turn around it, then right turn to the outside pole.  The goal was to get Peebs and me bending and thinking quicker. He tends to want to dump on his inside shoulder instead of moving up and around it.  This way we switch the bend up, and with not a lot of space in the indoor, I had to plan and be ready with my half halts and leg in order to set him up.  I also got called out on not having enough feel on my outside rein, and being late switching to the new outside rein in the turns. Which obviously doesn't help Peebs at all.  By the end of the lesson we were going pretty well and he was much more supple and willing to move up and around my inside leg.  While we didn't canter at all, trainer said the work we did (and the work I should continue to do) will help with our right canter issue.  If I can be more consistent with my outside rein, and he's more willing to move up and around my inside leg, a lot of our problems might be solved.

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Sunday I set the full circle of death up outside to play with.  I did the exercise from our lesson to warm up, but since I had more room in the outdoor (or maybe because I didn't have a trainer telling what to do) it didn't work quite as well. We did a little canter each way, picking up a pole here and there, before another boarder talked me into doing the circle. Going left was fine but I only managed to put two poles together going right before Peebs lost his brain.  Its going from the six o'clock to the nine pole that he wants to brace against me and rush, but the rest of the time he's fine.  Obviously we still have more work to do.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Worst Pony Mom

Peebs got his teeth done last week, a little over a year since he last had them done.  I knew I probably should have had them done sooner since he's missing a tooth and hadn't been done for a couple of years before I got him.  But the vet was coming out to do the barns spring shots and a few other dentals so I waited.

Our barn started using a new vet last summer, and while we all love our old vet, there were some things that were slipping.  He's always been super busy, but lately its almost impossible to get an appointment with him.  My BO had a gelding she sold last year that had a heart murmur and he couldn't hear it. He's in his late 70s and, while I don't think he's planning on retiring anytime soon, our barn figured it was time to look for someone new.  Luckily, everyone loves new vet; she takes the time to talk about issues and will text and email!

Say "ahhhhh"
New vet said that Peebs was way over due, and by her calculations, probably had never been done before I had old vet do him last year.  And old vet did a crappy job.  Poor Peebs had some big hooks.  Big enough to cut his tongue and cheek. NV said that could explain some our issues turning right; his teeth were so sharp it would prevent him from lowering his head and turning it. I knew he was needed them done, but not this badly.  And to add insult to injury, NV ran Peebs through some basic range of motion exercises for his neck and she felt that his neck and poll were out.  She suggested I call the chiropractor out for him. 

I felt like the absolute worst pony mom ever. Once the sedation wore off I stuffed Peebs full of treats, which he can now eat without hurting himself.  He's going to be on a six month schedule for his teeth, and we already have the next appointment scheduled. Sorry Peebers!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Death Plague

I've been out sick the past week with the death plague.  I'm not one who usually gets super sick from a cold, but this one had me out for a solid week. 

Nurse Eddie reporting for duty
I dragged myself to work last Monday, took Tuesday off, did a half day on Wednesday and went in for a half hour on Thursday till my student worked heard me attempt to talk and ordered me home.  She said she'd come in and work for me on Friday and that I was to go home and go to sleep.  Which is what I did.  I didn't leave my house till Sunday.


I was even banned from the barn.  I'm on self care, so I'm supposed to clean my stall and feed Peebs dinner but my BO (who's like my second mom) told me not to worry and that she'd have a couple of the high school girls take care of Peebs for me.  They even held him for the farrier for me. I did make it out yesterday to clean my stall and play with Peebs. 



So of course today when I had to back to work, it started snowing.  Is winter over yet?!?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two Forward, One Back

I had a lesson last Friday where we were able to show off our new found skill of putting together canter fences to the left, as well as our glaring lack of that same ability to the right. Peebs warmed up well and we were able to do a few warm up fences before attempting a little course.

We started with the outside line to a single diagonal off the left.  The line rode perfect but turning to the diagonal was a bit hairy.  Peebs loves to over bend and drift way past our line in our left turns.  A couple circles with lot of outside aids, and thinking about having a touch of counter bend fixed 95% of our problem.  I just have to remember to do that every time and we'll be 100%! My trainer said that I'll know when I've forgotten because I won't be able to see a distance, but when I remember the distance is right there.  And she was right.
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We then tried to add a single diagonal off the right with a roll back to another single off the left on a short approach. This is where the wheels fell off.  While our cantering to the right in general has gotten a lot better, we still have a lot of problems cantering fences to the right. Peebs just couldn't that night, and every attempt to turn right led to a run out.  So we went back to the trot, which was no big deal. I tried to canter the pink plank, and it was ok the first few times, till Peebs got tired.  Then we went back to trotting that till he realized we were landing right and decided to have a mini bolt up the rail.  That freaked me out and we had a little walk break while I decided if I wanted to continue or not.  Trainer took the pole down so it was just the baby plank and we trotted it again and stopped him by turning his head into the side of the barn. It wasn't fun or pretty, but after a few times he got it and stopped before the barn.

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I was happy that I kept going and didn't let his bolt scare me off. I know the only way to get both of us over his issues going right is to just do it, but I'm half tempted to give my trainer the ride. Part of our issue is the both of us combined; me anticipating him being bad so I tense up, he's already tense then feels me get tense go he gets worse.....it's an awful cycle but I know we can break it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

USHJA Outreach

Here in Oregon the main local h/j organization is the Oregon Hunter Jumper association.  They have membership tiers for those showing at the local shows (me!), those doing a mix of rated and local, and those doing just rated shows. This year OHJA decided that all of the local schooling shows needed to be part of the USHJA Outreach program for points to count towards OHJA year end points.


I was slightly pissed at first.  Last year, only three of the schooling shows were outreach shows, and they were all at the same venue run by the same show management. But it looks like this year all but one or two local shows have decided to become outreach shows. And while you don't have to be an USHJA member to show in these shows (unless you're doing special classes like medals or derbies) you might as well, and that's a $35 membership fee. My OHJA fees are $30 (for the local membership), so that doubled my fees.  I do like that you don't have to pay the full membership fee since these aren't rated shows.

What I do like is that they have jumper classes starting at .70m/2'3" and a 2'6" derby with options to 2'9". I'm hopeful that some of our local shows will have the derby since all of the other derbies in Oregon are the National and International ones held at the rated shows. I'd love to show in a 2'6" derby!

USHJA used to do year end points by zone, but this year has decided to do bronze, silver, and gold certificate of merits.  Bronze is 30pts, silver 50, and gold 75. Bronze certificates are mailed out when you've reached 30pts, but silver and gold are given our at the zone year end awards.

I'm excited/nervous to see how this changes our little local circuit, but hopefully it's all for the best. Here's hoping we can at least make it to the bronze level this year!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Subtle Signs

One of Peebs' biggest issues is his right side.  He has always felt slightly dropped right.  He doesn't like bending right; putting his nose in the air and tilting his head to the left is his favorite thing ever, after food. Cantering to the right can be pretty awful at times.  Cantering jumps to right is something we've just started doing, and again, can be pretty damn awful. He loves to ignore my hand, counter bend, throw his haunches to the inside, and run full tilt at the jumps. 

So imagine my surprise when a couple weeks ago during our last jump school when another boarder commented that Peebs looked really straight going right. Say what?!  This was maybe the second or third time I've ridden with this other boarder, she's usually out at different times than me.  We had had some really awesome fences going left, so I decided to be brave and canter the single cross rail going right.  He wanted to be strong and run at it, but after other boarder commented on his straightness, I realized that he was in fact, straight.  He was still high headed and strong, but he wasn't twisted left or throwing his haunches around.  And he didn't switch leads over the fence like he usually does. Huh.


Earlier this week I was riding when a couple other boarders came out and we started talking.  As I was sitting on Peebs it felt like he calked a hind leg to rest, and I pushed him forward a step to square up.  But he still felt uneven. I asked the girls if he was standing square, and they said he was.  For the first time ever, his right side felt a touch higher than his left. When I rode last night I tried to pay attention to his evenness, and again, he felt even if not slightly higher on his right side. I guess all of my work focusing on his right side is staring to pay off. Now, if we can just canter on the bit and not run at the jumps, we'll be golden!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mas Caballos Mexicanos

I was down in Mexico last Sat-Tue for our yearly trip south with by BO and her husband. We sadly didn't eat nearly enough tacos, but we did get to see plenty of ponies. 

Pretty cute 3yr old Azteca
Sunday we went out to the wine valley about an hour from my parents place.  We had some very good wine (and a buzz at 11am) and food, then headed out to meet a dressage trainer my mom had met on Facebook.  M is the resident trainer/rider/manager at an Azteca breeding farm that's located on a winery/B&B.  She explained their program and a bit about their Aztecas which I guess are different than American Aztecas?  I didn't quite understand.  I blame the wine. They have a few studs that they breed to only select mares.  They show, both in Mexico and the US.  We asked about taking horses over the border and M said they ship through Nogales, AZ.  That's a 9hr drive from where we were, not factoring in hauling a trailer.  M said when they go to the US they stay at least a month to make it worth it.  They also have passports for all their poines so its easier to cross.

Lesson pony

Tuesday we went back to the jumper barn I visited in November.  This time we were able to get a tour from the owner (CP) and I really liked her.  She's from France, but lived in the US for 15yrs before moving to Mexico.  Her daughter (who I think I used to show against when we were kids) had a working student position at this barn before they took it over.  The daughter is now at WEF working with Chris Kappler. 

CP has tried very hard to bring the barn up to American standards.  They've redone a lot of the barn, and have plans for more.  It's common in Mexico to have full grooming, but CP has all of her lesson kids take care of their ponies when possible.  She also requires all vet care like vaccines and teeth be done on a schedule, which was not a thing before.

In talking with her, she said they ship through the Otay Mesa border crossing, just east of the main San Digeo/Tijuana crossing. They've had horses flown in from France to LAX, then come down that way.  That makes so much more sense to me then shipping to Arizona and back. She also gave us the rundown on what to do if we were to ship a horse down. I would have no problem using CP's knowledge or having her arrange shipping if I ever needed it.


The last thing we talked about is showing.  There's a circuit, of sorts, of a few different barns, or clubs as they're called down there. Each club has two shows a year, and one can be a classic that offers prize money.  CP said the shows have a much more party like atmosphere in Mexico than they do in the US and she invited us to come to one of their shows. I'm going to head back down in May to watch their show.  My BO and her husband are figuring out if they can come. So any bloggers, SoCal or otherwise, that want to go spectate at a Mexican jumper show in May, let me know! There are tons of rental houses in my parents community, it's totally safe, and there will be all the tacos you can eat! All you need is a passport.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Surprise

When I opened my mail last week I got a huge surprise...in a good way!  Mixed in with my W2 and a medical bill was a big padded envelope from an address I didn't recognize.  Turned out it was from the points chair of the Oregon Hunter Jumper Association.  The year end award ceremony was a couple weeks back, and considering I only showed twice last year and one show was in the crossrails and the other was a 18" beginning rider division, I didn't bother looking at points or going.  Apparently I should have because I won this:
For reference, I'm 5'3
Peebs and I qualified for the Certificate of Merit, a program for equitation in the walk-trot, trot-a-pole, crossrails, and 18" classes.  If you accumulate over 25 points you get the Certificate and the big ass ribbon. Apparently we did. I'm guessing the program is geared towards lesson kids on lesson ponies, but I'll never say no a ribbon as bigger than my torso!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sundance Goes for a Ride

Over the weekend I pulled Sundance, the former ranch/trail horse out for more desensitizing.  I haven't done too much with him lately, due to the cold weather and the barn being busier.  Saturday he got lunged then I used clippers on him for the first time.  He snorted a pulled back a bit, but was actually ok with them on his muzzle, as long as I was on his left side.  As soon as I switched to the off side, he'd pull back again.  We went pretty slow, and he got lots of cookie, and he let me clip his muzzle and part of the long hairs under his chin and head.
I hate you so much right now

Sunday was the big day.  My BO and I turned him out then rubbed him down all over with towels.  He wasn't so sure about them around his head, but put up with our shenanigans. We then tacked him up with BO's western saddle and a plain snaffle.  His owner TN has either ridden him in a hackamore or curb bit and said he can be fussy with his mouth. 


I guess he kinda liked it?
BO wanted to lunge him in the side reins (we're guessing his first time in them) so we put them on super loose.  He's way out of shape so she just did maybe 10 minutes of walk trot, switching directions a lot.  He's not really sure about lunging on a line, and changing directions was a hard concept to grasp. But he didn't protest about the side reins, and you could tell his issues were from not understanding what we were asking.  He really, really, really wants to please and be a good boy. It's obvious no one has taken time with him to let him understand and figure out he's not going to be hurt.


Once he seemed fine lunging, I hopped aboard for his first ride since July or August. There was no way I could get on him from the ground so BO held him while I used the mounting block.  He was a bit reactive to my seat and leg at first but settled in as we went along.  He goes really well off voice command, so all I had to do was cluck to get him to trot. Again, because he's so out of shape, I only did 10mins of walk with a few trot circles each direction.  I played around with trying to get him on the bit at the walk, and he actually started looking for the contact.  He got stuffed with cookies and was told he was the bestest pony.

OMG tiny human!

His torture wasn't over yet.  My BO's boss brought out his kids and grandkids for pony rides about an hour later.  Once the pony rides were over the kids went up and down the aisle petting the ponies. Poor Sundance had to suffer through having a two year old try and pet him.  He loves getting his head rubbed, but only if you move slow and by people he knows. The tiny human trying smack pet his nose was just too much.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Half and Half

We had our first lesson in a few weeks on Thursday.  While I say it was a good lesson, we definitely had some awful moments.  Peebs started out pretty quiet and relaxed, popping over a warm up cross rail like it was nothing.  We moved on to a couple of the lines set up, a short five on the outside and then a forward bending four strides.  It took me a couple tries to figure out how much to hold in the 5, and then what line to take for the four, but both were pretty much non-issues. It was more of fine tuning everything, which is a nice feeling to have instead of hoping and praying you'll make it down the line.

Single diagonal on a short approach going left to right - should have been our hardest fence but was the easiest

 We then did a rollback from a diagonal fence to an single on the outside.  It was a right turn, our hard way, and we had to canter up the outside to the single, something Peebs has historically wanted to run at.  He was surprisingly good; I was able to get the lead over the diagonal and while he was strong going up to the single he waited and listened to me.   After a little walk break trainer wanted me to combine the bending line with the rollback and this is where the wheels fell off. Peebs woke up and wanted to run and not turn in the bending line, way overbending his neck and throwing his shoulders to the right.  We also had some impressive head tossing involved. I made the decision to trot in and trot out of the line because no one wants to deal with a pony running sideways.  Trainer also put out two placing poles to help keep Peebs straight, which we might have jumped over a time or two when we did a drive by of the second fence.

Thank god for standing martingales!

Once we kinda sorta got the bending line refigured out, I added the rollback and Peebs once again decided that he couldn't horse.  Wouldn't give me the right lead over the diagonal, wanted to run at the second fence.  So again, he got brought back to the trot and we halted on a straight line after the second fence.  We ended the lesson on the pink fences above, which we had already jumped in our warm up.  He was ok about running after it, even though it was up the long side on the right lead. Our last time he offered a lead change but only got the front end, then scared himself when he was crossfiring.  But I was able to do a simple change and canter on quietly.

While the second half of the lesson was crappy, I was happy with how I handled it.  Even a month or so ago I would have frozen up and gotten scared with the head tossing and going sideways, or the running up the long side on the right.  I don't like when Peebs does those things, but I can handle them now.  We were able to work through them without getting into a fight, or me giving up, or trainer having to put the fences down to teeny tiny jumps or just poles. Yay for progress!