Monday, February 6, 2023

Bye bye Money

 After the show, Cinder had a pretty easy week. She had Monday off, a light lunge in the Equibands on Tuesday, and for my lesson on Wednesday we went on a trail ride. I did opt for a free lunge before our trail ride, as she humped her back, squealed, and trotted off as soon as I got on. I do appreciate the fact that Cin let's us know pretty quick when she's feeling fresh. 

They've been working on the electrical at the barn and the hot wire wasn't hot for a few days. A certain chestnut mare figured it out, and proceeded to let her and her pasture buddies into the drainage ditch to get the good grass. She got to wear a grazing muzzle for a week till the fence was hot again.

After running around like a lunatic, and falling down once, Cinder was perfect for our trail ride. She was content to walk on a loose rein and only had one mini meltdown on having to walk through some deeper mud. 

 Friday of that week, the vet was out and we opted to inject Cinder. She had said to the animal communicator that her hocks were sore, but x-rays showed that the stifles were worse and probably causing compensation in the hocks. I decided to do both hocks and stifles at once, and hopefully knock everything out of the way in one go. Per my vet's recommendation, we injected with RenoVo, a biologic. Trainer A has seen great results with it in her horse, and I liked the fact that it's not a steroid. 

post injection hand grazing and lesson watching

Cinder then got three days off with turnout, and three days of light riding. Trainer A rode her last Tuesday and then on Wednesday we had the saddle fitter out. Thankfully my saddle still fits and we decided to add a breastplate to help the slipping issue. Part of the slipping issue is just Cinder's build, and the new sheepskin girth I got doesn't help. Adding a breastplate fixed our issue, and I'd much rather pay for that than repaneling my saddle, or having to get a new one. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Jump 4 Joy Schooling Show 2023

 The first show of the season is in the books! There's a local pony club fundraiser jumper show held every year in early January with easy courses and a low key vibe. Trainer A was showing another client horse so I asked her if she wanted to take Cinder, just to get Cin out and about. We ended up entering Cin in the 2'3" timed first round, a 2'3"-2'6" gambler's choice, and a 2'6" timed first round class. 

Deciding standing at the trailer isn't bad when you have an all you can eat buffet

We hauled the girls up midmorning, hand walked around the grounds a little upon arrival, then tied them to the trailer to stuff their faces while we waited for their classes. Jazzy, the other mare showing, was doing the 18" and 2' classes, so she went first. Once she left the trailer, Cinder had a bit of a meltdown. She called a few times, wouldn't eat, and would only stand still as long as I was next to her. She and Jazzy are turnout buddies, and I was slightly worried one or both would have meltdown leaving the other. Thankfully, but the time I started tacking Cinder up, she mostly calmed down. 

"Whhheeeee, jumpies!"-Cinder, most definitely 

A finished her rounds on Jazzy, we switched her saddle onto Cinder, and we thought we had a little bit of break before A needed to get on Cin. We had been told there would be a drag before the 2'3" classes, but that got canceled and A got on about 6 rounds before Cinder would go. Their warm up was a bit abbreviated and Cinder was feeling a spicy. Their first round was a little rough; Cinder spooked hard at the first fence, lost some steering on the turns, and just generally green. But they kept all the jumps up, and ended up winning the class. 

A then proceeded to canter laps around the warmup to let Cin burn off some energy and put her brain cells back together. Cin calmed way down and they were able to watch a few rounds of the gambler's choice go before they went in. They had a rail down early in the round, just got to the fence a little too deep. As they were cantering around after the jump, an overeager pony club kid working as jump crew ran out to reset the fence, running directly in front of Cinder. I'm not sure what she was thinking, as she saw Cinder cantering towards her. Cinder would have no problems running someone over, and A said afterwards she didn't want to rip Cinder's mouth off to try and stop her because it mostly likely wouldn't have worked. Thankfully the kid jumped backwards out of the way, but I thought for sure we'd get kicked out of the show for running over a kid. 

All I got on video was the kid running and looking at Cinder about two strides away from her 

By her 2'6" round Cinder was much more rideable and relaxed. It was their best round; Cinder was turning better, their pace was much more consistent, and overall just more polished. The class was pretty big and the pony club kids were riding balls to the wall, so Cin didn't place. But both A and I were really happy with the round and that's what matters.  It was good first outing and a great show to knock the rust off. 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Talk to Me

 We had an unusual clinic at the barn a couple weeks ago, an animal communicator. We used Portland local, Joanna at The Wild Thread. A few people in the barn had used her before and Trainer A did a telephone session with her in December and raved about it. We were able to get a group of 6 together and Joanna came out to the barn for in person sessions. 

I had signed up for the Equestrian Growth Session, which was 30 minutes communicating with Cinder, and 30 minutes focused on my growth, what's blocking or holding me back, and what to do about it. Trainer A asked if she could sit in on my session with me, and I happily agreed. I figured she has insight into Cinder that I don't have, and I would want her there when we talked about my issues and what Joanna recommended for them.

Miracle bit

Joanna's first comment about Cinder was that she had a big voice and was easy to talk to. And that Cinder said she was my baby. The session officially started with a quick body scan of Cinder and Joanna said that her mouth was sore. A and I said at the same time that we have the dentist booked in February, and laughed. Cinder also said that her bit was ok, but she'd like a straight bar bit, something without joints in it. Not the bit A or I would have expected, but we said we could do that. 

Switching the bit was like riding a whole new horse. Cinder was soft and stretchy and A said she thought it would take a year in the old bit to get Cinder to where she was 30 minutes into the ride with the Mullen mouth. We'd been struggling a little with the Myler, but not to the point where we thought it was the bit, more of a "Cinder is five and its winter and we're asking for more and it's a struggle" thing. Riding her in the Mullen mouth is fun and easy and I feel like we can actually work on things rather than struggle to get a basic connection. I never would have tried this bit without Joanna.

Unicorn stuffy for my unicorn

Cinder also said she wants toys to play with, but soft toys. She's a pretty busy horse and has destructive tendencies, so I've been hesitant to buy her soft toys. She's had jolly balls but doesn't play with them. I figured why not, and got a few stuffies and so far they've lasted and she's playing with them without ripping them apart.  

Finishing off the body scan, Cinder said that her hocks were sore as well. I asked about ulcers and Cinder came back with an emphatic "I do not have ulcers." She did say she liked the new girth I had just bought (and used like 3 times on her), saying she could breathe better in it. I had been reading about different shaped girths and what shape works with what body type and ordered a Mattes athletico girth during Hufglocken's Christmas sale. I'm glad she liked it because it was total impulse/what the hell am I doing purchase. 

Girth and mullen mouth in action. Next order of business, get my saddle fit checked

We then moved onto training issues. Cinder said she's still not 100% certain when to leave the ground when jumping, and likes to hear when she's done a good job. I told her I'm not 100% certain when to leave the ground either, but I'll always tell her when she's good or saves my butt. She also likes showing off her fancy feet, which we took to mean strutting around on the flat, so I told I'll enter more flat classes at shows. A asked about why Cin can be hesitant at water and Cinder said she doesn't like not being able to see bottom of puddles or stepping in the mud. We told that we would never put her in an unsafe water obstacle and that she can trust us when we ask her to go into the water. 

For the rider growth part of the session, I told Joanna that I have a fair amount of anxiety, especially about seeing distances to jumps, and that's what I want to focus on overcoming in my riding. She scanned me and said I was sitting in a room cluttered with ribbons, old memories, and expectations. My perfectionist tendencies want to get everything squared away, but there was too much for that to happen. I need to let things go (not the first time I've been told this) and embrace doing things wrong. Find the wrong distance, the wrong number of strides, jump on the wrong lead. Joanna also suggested A put me on the lunge line and have me ride around with my eyes closed or with no stirrups, to get a better feel for things and to be ok giving up control. It honestly sounds slightly terrifying, but in a good way. We haven't been able to implement the lunge line into lessons yet, but I'm hoping we do soon. 

I was very, very impressed with  Joanna and the session. Both A and I came away with great insight into Cinder.  I highly recommend her and I will most definitely be doing future sessions with her. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

End of 2022 Season, Start of 2023 Season

 We only made it to two OHJA shows last year, once in the 2' and once where we attempted the 2' and dropped down to the cross rails. So imagine my surprise when I got a text from Trainer M (the one I sometimes show with) that she picked up my year end ribbon for me from the banquet. I was totally not expecting anything, but we apparently earned a Certificate of Merit award, which is is for the walk-trot through 18" divisions.  

love me a big ass ribbon

I'm fully aware that this is basically a participation award, but since I love ribbons, and especially big fancy ribbons, I'll happily accept it. 

As far as our 2023 show season, we'll hopefully kick it off next weekend. There's a local jumper show that's a pony club fundraiser and I asked Trainer A if she wanted to take Cinder. Cin hasn't been out since our last show in August, so I figured this would be a great knock the rust off outing for her. A is still figuring out what height she wants to do with Cin. 


Cin's biggest fence to date. Wish I could have gotten media of it.

A hasn't been jumping Cinder that high, and we were actually talking a couple of weeks ago about how high Cin has gone. We figured she's done mainly 2'6", with a few 2'9" fences. I was supposed to go up yesterday to watch A jump her, but we forgot the IL lesson schedule had changed and A had to ride before I could get up there. A popped her over what was set up for the lesson, including this solid 2'9" oxer, which both A and I are pretty sure is the heftiest thing Cinder's jumped. 

Odie is A's second homebred, and she's hoping to keep him for herself

A said Cinder was perfect and ready for next weekend. I doubt we'll do a 2'9" round, but there is a 2'6"-2'9" gambler's choice class so maybe. Here's hoping for a fun and successful start to the 2023 show season!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

December Photo Dump

 Since I’m behind in blogging, I figured I’ll just speak through photos instead of trying to get everything down. And hopefully the formatting works; I’m stuck in an airport typing this on my tablet. 

While we had some good rides at the beginning of the month, the cold weather plus a full and busy barn (IL had been at shows for 7wks and everyone is finally home again so the barn is BUSY), Cinder got a little amped and we’ve had some tense rides. A is also pushing us in the flat work and man is real dressage work hard. 

Cinder was a very good girl for A and went in the water jump with zero hesitation after not seeing it for months. She also isn’t phased by the vineyard getting installed on the big hill.

I audited an Anne Kursinski clinic and it was awesome. She’s a very old school type clinician and I was glad I wasn’t riding in it. I did get a few great takeaways (count out loud to your jump from farther away than you think and proper flat work is key). 

Cinder had a gas colic and while she seemed to come out of it well, I wanted to hang around the barn till we had poop. Trainer A offered me the ride on Sal while I was waiting. He’s a 21yr old, ex-1.45m jumper who was a stud till he was 19. He’s been teaching beginners how to jump for the past few years. He is so much fun! It felt weird riding a horse that isn’t mine, but he’s so well schooled it was great to just focus on myself for once. His owner has offered A a breeding to him so we’ll have a Sal baby to play with next year!

Two days after her colic, the temps dropped into the single digits and Cin’s barn saw snow and ice. Horses stayed in for three days, getting some arena turnout time. By Christmas (the fourth day) it was almost 60 and the ponies were psycho. I lunged Cin on Christmas and rode the next day where she proceeded to spook at the tree that’s been in the viewing room for weeks. We did lots of circles and transitions but she was still convinced the grinch was out to get her. 

We started 2023 by having a fantastic ride where she was soft, listening, and just over all really fun. We had the barn to ourselves and I think the quiet atmosphere really helped. We had a lesson the next day and while the barn was relatively quiet, both of us were more tense. It didn’t help that A really asked a lot of us in the lesson and I let my frustration at not being able to get what she wanted show. I know progress isn’t linear and that Cin is only 5 and has had an easy few weeks, but sometimes when you’re in the middle of that slough it’s hard to remember. Here’s hoping for more consistent good rides as we head into Cinder’s six year old year!

Monday, December 5, 2022

Back and Better than Before

 Since my last post was almost a month ago, whoops, Cinder has come back, and better than ever. Her grooming aversion is gone, she hasn't tried to kill anyone while getting blanketed/unblanketed, she's put some weight back on, and her flat work is improving by leaps and bounds. She's still grouchy when getting girthed up, but it's getting better and for only being three weeks into her ulcer treatment, I'm not too concerned that it hasn't gone away yet. I did buy a Mattes sheepskin girth from Hufglocken during Black Friday that's supposed to be better contoured for her body shape, so maybe that will help. 

every ride lately has been lovely, but I have no media of said rides

We've really been focusing on moving different parts of her body around, and asking her to take the connection and self carriage to the next level. As Trainer A said in one of my recent lessons, "The buttons are installed, now we're finessing and refining the buttons." In our trot work we go back and forth between shoulder in and haunches in, both down the long sides and on circles, and we've started shortening and lengthening her stride. I'm to focus on shortening her stride with my body, not my hands. The first time we worked on this I was nearly dead by the end of the lesson, but it's gotten easier for both of us and it seems like every ride I have to do less and less to get her to do more. 

she whacked the bottom of her fetlock and it was just swollen enough for me to put wraps on overnight. she was not amused

The biggest improvement has been in the right lead canter. That's always been our trouble direction, and it still is, but we've gotten moments where everything comes together and it's absolutely lovely. A has had me think shoulder fore in the canter, and to be really on Cin about giving to the bit. There were a couple rides where we had some pretty ugly canter before she gave in, but once she does I can soften and just half halt every second or third stride to keep her there. And again, each ride it's getting easier and easier to get her there and she's capable of keeping that canter for longer and longer. I told A in my last lesson that the canter is getting so much fun to ride, even the bad moments because I know we can get this dream canter out of it. I'm pretty sure I look ridiculous riding around with the world's biggest grin of my face. 

Plotting chaos

In the past couple of months, Cinder's turnout group had been frequently rotated, and her stall neighbor had been on stall rest for kicking himself in the leg. He had been getting very bored, and very angry, and kicking the walls a lot which I think caused Cin a lot of stress. But he's back on turnout, and can start under saddle work next week, and Cin's turnout group has stabilized. I think this, in combo with the ulcer meds has really helped. She's out with two other mares, and the three of them have become a giant chaos unit. The three of them are frequently huddled together, and two weeks ago Cinder and Jazzy were in flaming heat and taunting the boys across the fence. There's been two ripped blankets, three pulled bell boots, and one lost shoe in the month they've been out together. But the girls are devoted to each other and I'm happy that Cinder has her BFFs. 

Friday, November 11, 2022


 So Cinder had her vet exam last week, and while she's still NQR, she's also NQW aka not quite wrong. She was feeling a lot better after her bodywork and let the vet palpate her back pretty hard without trying to kill her, so yay! We did do a quick lameness exam and she was 0.5 lame on her left hind, high up. Flexing both the hock and stifle didn't really show much, so since the ultrasound was set up for another horse the vet popped it on her stifle for a quick view. 

Shes standing slightly downhill, but I'm happy with her body condition right now

Stifle looked great so vet thinks her reluctance to get groomed could be a couple things. She either did something in the pasture or got cast in her stall and tweaked her back and it's just slow to resolve, it's her ovaries, or possibly hind gut ulcers. When the vet was palpating her, she hit an ulcer point and Cinder reacted hard, but the point can also indicate front leg lameness and Cinder had conveniently pulled a front shoe the day before. 

We got a lot of yawing during the session

We're going to do a round of treatment for the ulcers, and also did an electro-acupunture session that day. This was Cin's second time getting acupuncture, but her first electro session. She was pretty skeptical at first, but settled into and kept yawing and yawing. She almost fell asleep in the crossties, which is unheard of for her, especially as the barn was pretty busy. The vet did say Cin's left side wasn't pulsing quite as rhythmically as the right, indicating something was going on there and made her lean more towards the "did something in the pasture" hypothesis. I'm going to try and schedule more acupuncture sessions whenever the vet's out again as Cinder seemed to really like it.

The weather has been super shitty this past week, either pouring down rain and windy, or freezing cold (and we even got snow at my house) so Cinder has gotten some light rides. She was still pretty pissy about her SI being touched on Monday, but it was 38* and I had a lesson right before dinner time. I had put her in my BOT quarter sheet for the first time but she was highly offended by it so we pulled it off and A wore it during the lesson. We just did w/t in my lesson but Cinder was really good.