Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Shit Shit Shit

My job revolves around animal care, rodents in particular. Mainly mice, but some rats and the occasional hamster. I've also worked with llamas, alpacas, dogs, barn owls, chickens, pigs, quail, and ducks. But 95% of my job is mice. Cleaning cages, handling mice, treating mice, collecting tissue/fecal/blood samples, etc. So, obviously, I'm around mouse poop a lot and it doesn't bother me. Until yesterday.
Your basic lab mouse, a C57BL/6J

The barn Peebs is at has a mouse problem. I've seen them, they've chewed into my SmartPaks when people leave the drawer open, I've see there poop. But last night when I went to grab my gloves out of my helmet, which hangs on a hook on my saddle rack, I noticed mouse poop IN MY HELMET. Disgusting. I then had to take everything off my saddle rack and inspect it.

New BOT quarter sheet in action
My new BOT quarter sheet had some poop on it, but it brushed off easily enough. But the biggest issue, besides my helmet, was my Mattes half pad.  Not only did it have poop on it, there was evidence of chewing on the sheepskin. Can't say I blame the mice, it makes great nesting material. But my half pad! I'm also terrified my saddle's going to get chewed like Cob Jockey's old Wintec did. It's currently swaddled in covers and my helmet (minus the liner, that's in the wash) and half pad are in my tack trunk.

I'm going to have to have a talk with the BO about getting tougher on rodent control. I saw her saddle had some mouse poop on it, but she either hasn't seen it, or cares about it. At least I'm well versed in mouse psychology and know lot of tips and tricks to catching the little bastards.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Back to Basics

It feels like I've been spinning my wheels a bit this fall. Work has been crazy and won't even back out for another month, I was gone early in November and then again at Thanksgiving, and with the ponies at two different barns I feel guilty spending more time at one barn than the other. Granted Cinder is two, turned out 12hrs a day, and her only job right now is eating and pooping. Peebs, on the other hand, has been either super hot and spicy (for him) or super lazy and convinced he doesn't know concepts like bending or riding with contact.

We went to Utah to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary at Thanksgiving and I got to help feed ponies and Lucky the mule
I think part of Peebs' issue was moving barns.  He went from 24/7 turnout to maybe 4hrs of turnout a day, and now that its started raining, the pastures are closed and he's in 24/7. Also GS switched hay from the local grass they used to feed to Eastern Oregon orchard grass, which is a lot richer. I've always had him on plain grass, and he just felt like he was vibrating out of his skin on the orchard. Peebs had diarrhea almost constantly from the orchard so I went out and bought my own grass hay for him. Diarrhea stopped, and a much more saner Peebs is back.  He's also an air fern and got very rotund on the orchard.

Lucky and his pasture buddies live at the Disney barn. Many movies have been filmed on the property and Disney built this for one of theirs.
I finally had a lesson this weekend, after about a month.  I had asked for a flat lesson as Peebs and I had been having issues, see above. We did have a CTJ last week when I had to borrow a dressage whip, but Peebs did remember he knows how to get off my right leg and that he can go on the bit. Our lesson went a lot better than I was expecting; I was able to get Peebs to soften and listen to my aids quicker than I thought I could, and from there we worked on more refining the aids rather than big asks. My big take aways were watching his right shoulder tracking left, and to always feel like I'm pushing him out tracking right. And if I feel like I'm working too hard, grab the dressage whip or put on my spurs.  He knows what I'm asking for, I shouldn't have to nag him.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Two Years of Cinder

Happy gotcha day Cinder!! I can't believe two years ago I picked her up from her breeder. She'll get stuffed with cookies tonight to celebrate.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mid-fall Break

After the show at FHF, Peebs got a bit of a mid-fall break.  He had spent a couple of days at TCF before the show (since the weather was perfect and dry and they reopened the big pasture) and I decided to leave him there after the show. I had plans to be out of town for four days and felt better about leaving him at TCF where he could be out 24/7 vs at GS where he would be out only a handful of hours a day, if that. And after his colic episode, I trusted A to watch him better. The morning feeder at GS had noticed he was slightly off his feed the morning he colickd, but they didn't tell me till 3pm in the afternoon. Not cool.

Nap time
In the three days between the show and when I left for my trip, I got some nasty 36hr stomach bug and spent most of the time hurling my guts out and sleeping. Thankfully once it was over I felt perfectly fine and back to my normal self. So between everything, Peebs got 7 days off. He didn't seem to mind at all. When I got back he went for a lunge the first day and spent a good 20mins blowing off steam before settling down. He was his normal, lazy self for our rides after that.

So that's Peebs bridle, and I didn't have to adjust anything on it to fit her head. His girth also fits her.
Cinder on the other hand, has decided that fall is the perfect time to come into heat. She has one heat when we first moved to TCF early in the summer, but then I never noticed her showing signs till last week. She was way more flirty with the boys in the pasture, and peed every few minutes with them, but thankfully didn't do any of that when I had her out. She was more amped during our ground work in the arena and I ended up letting her loose to run off some energy.

Cinder's changing color
About a month ago I switched her grain in a continuing effort to find something she likes and can eat with her allergies. She's on Purina Wellsolve L/S and likes it. I've noticed since switching her to it that her coat is way shinier and she's developing Bend-Or spots. She's got a few on her right hip, and one on her left. I also noticed she's getting some dapples on her barrel but couldn't get a good pic of them. I guess the Wellsolve is agreeing with her!

Monday, October 28, 2019

FHF Fall Schooling Show: The Show that Wasn't

The morning of the day Peebs colicked I saw a FB even for a schooling show one of the H/J barns outside Portland was hosting. They had had one show this spring and were seeing if there was interest in having more.  For this show they had jumpers Saturday afternoon/evening, and hunter/eq all day Sunday.

They had 3 .70m classes, starting at 3pm. The entry fee were slightly higher than other shows around here, but they didn't charge a haul in fee and with a 3pm start time and our classes going first I wouldn't need a stall. So it worked out to being a fairly cheap showing opportunity for us. Once Peebs recovered from his colic episode I sent our entry in.

The facility was freaking gorgeous
A few days before the show I got an email from the show manager saying they were limited in parking, and that haul ins would have to park at the bottom of the hill, while the barn and show was at the top.  But they had some empty temp stalls, and I could use one to put Peebs in and unload my stuff and then go park. So I basically got a day stall without having to pay $65 for it. Score. And the night before the show she emailed everyone with current class counts and estimated start times for the later divisions. That's super rare for H/J shows and I thought it was super nice and helpful. A++ for show management.

Schooling the Halloween jump at A's earlier last week
This barn has a huge outdoor ring that was open for schooling, a small indoor that was being used for lunging/schooling if needed, and the big indoor which was the show ring. It was honestly one of the nicest barns I've been to in a long time and I was slightly taken aback by just how nice it was. The show ring was open for schooling prior to the start of the show so we had planned to school there before my classes. The course was set to .7-.75m when I went in and everything was built up, oxers, planks, boxes, skinnies, you name it, they had the fences decked out. They also had pumpkins at the base of all the fences painted with the fence numbers. Cue me starting to feel intimidated and like we don't belong.

I would happily take that outdoor arena home with me
They had doors on the long side of the arena, one that was being used as the in gate, and another that looked out to paddocks.  Peebs did one big spook when we walked past the paddocks the first time, then seemed to realize they were just horses and there was nothing to be scared of. Once I asked him to trot he settled more and was all business. There was a few other people schooling so my trainer lowered a skinny plank for us to warm up over. I'm not sure if Peebs didn't get his eye on it, or my slight unease trickled down to him, but he ran out the first time to it. We came back and got over it and on the third time I remembered (or my trainer yelling "other right" clued me in) that we were supposed to land and turn right in the course so we schooled that.

We then picked up a diagonal line that actually rode well, but I couldn't see the distance to the second fence for the life of me. I was starting to go fetal and lock my elbows so Peebs was shortening his stride and distance would be gone.  When I did actually sit up and let him go it was a perfect 5 strides. We tried another line and a single and I kept panicking about my distance and either pulling up or circling. It was like my brain switched off as soon as I started thinking about putting everything together.

Enjoy Peebs and Cinder sharing breakfast the morning of the show. Peebs spent a few days at A's last week
I was getting more and more worked up and finally asked my trainer if we could go take a break in the outdoor. Peebs was being a saint and didn't care about the fences, or me having a panic attack on his back, bless his heart. No one was in the outdoor so once I had walked and calmed down a bit my trainer set some tiny fences and had us work over those. She just wanted me to find a rhythm and let him go. It took a few tries, but I finally remembered how to ride and let Peebs do his job. Both Peebs and I were pretty tired and I asked my trainer if we could scratch. She agreed and said this was schooling and show, and we schooled. It doesn't matter if I didn't actually make it in the show ring, we had issues and schooled through them. Peebs probably could have gone in a done a round, but mentally I couldn't, so why push ourselves?

I walked Peebs out while my trainer went to scratch me and then we untacked and put Peebs away. Nicole stopped by as her barn is just down the street and some of her barn mates were showing. We chatted for bit before I loaded up and headed home. Did the day go as I had planned? Hell no. But my horse was a saint and took the best care of me, I didn't cry or fall off, and I was able to fix our issues in the schooling ring. I don't know what it is about jumperland that makes my brain shut off or intimidates me, but we're going to keep working at it. Show management said they're planning on 4 shows next year and we will definitely try to make it back for some of them. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bloghop: Playing Favorites

Thanks to Raincoast Rider for the hop!

1. Favorite Show Venue
That I've show at, probably the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego. I showed there as a kid, and my first ever jumper class was in the Del Mar Arena at night, under the lights. Walking down the ramp into the ring was amazing!

Del Mar Arena. They set up other rings behind it for shows and part of the track is blocked off for warm up areas

2. Favorite Discipline
Right now, for me, I'd say the hunters/eq. Peebs has such a natural hunter rhythm and he's so fun to ride in those classes.  If I'm spectating, I'd much rather watch the big jumpers.

3. Favorite Horse Color
I'm a big believer of a "a good horse can't be a bad color" and don't really have a preference. I will say I'm not a fan of blue eyes on horses.

4. Favorite Tack Store
In person, Mary's. I grew up shopping there and was totally spoiled as far as tack stores go.  Now I mainly shop online at RW or SmartPak but whenever I get the chance to browse Mary's in person I take it.

5.Favorite Breed
QH cross. I love their brain, and their willingness to do whatever despite my ammy moments.

Must love QH crosses!
6. Favorite Place to Ride
I love wandering the grass seed fields after they harvest in the summer. Just a nice meandering walk with my pony with no agenda or plan.

7. Favorite Piece of Riding Apparel
Probably my custom LM boots. It's hard to not like something custom made for me that I designed!

8. Favorite Horse Related Website
Probably all the horse blogs I follow

9. Favorite Piece of Tack
My saddle! It makes my butt happy.  I really, really hope it'll fit Cinder. But if I have to get her her own, oh darn!

10. Favorite Horse Book
I haven't read many horse books lately, but as a kid I loved the Thoroughbred series.

11. Favorite Horse Movie

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

So Close

Sunday I got to TCF right as A was getting ready to ride. I had vague plans about doing something with Cinder, so I decided we'd do some mounting block practice while A rode. A let me use her old saddle on Cinder since mine was at the other barn with Peebs.

so grown up looking
I also had to borrow an extra girth from A, and honestly the size 50 fit Cinder better than Peebs' 48. Cin still seems so narrow and unfilled out yet and seeing the 50 fit perfectly was a bit of a shock.  I haven't measure her in a while, but I'm estimating she's about 16.2hh right now. I hadn't pulled her sheet off in a couple of days and she had withers that weren't there earlier in the week. She's also in a horse sized bridle now, and I need to lower the nose band a hole from where I had it adjusted.  I know I've said it before, but I'm worried about just how big she's going to get!

We worked on standing still at the mounting block then I climbed up and started flapping and tugging on the stirrup leathers, and leaning all over her back.  Other than an ear cocked back at me, Cinder really didn't care.  I then started leaning more of my weight on her.  I was so, so tempted to just swing a leg over, and honestly, if I had had my helmet on I might have just done it. I'm thinking I might just sit on her once or twice this winter before sending her off to get started in the spring.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Heartsick to Actually Sick

When we left off Peebs had been slightly off his grain after moving barns. Otherwise he was his normal Peebers self. Last Wednesday I got a text around 3pm saying he hadn't eaten any of his breakfast, hay or grain, hadn't drunk anything, had one tiny pile of poop and no pee in his stall. Well shit.

I blasted out of work and made the 10 minute drive to the barn in 7 minutes.  When I got there Peebs was just hanging out in the corner, not looking sick at all, just a little depressed. I did call the vet and talked to him and he suggested a dose of banamine, hand walking/grazing, and seeing what he was like in an hour.  Thank god I had brought my bute and banamine with me from TCF to GS when I moved Peebs! I medicated him and off we went for a walk around the hay field.

Peebs did graze a bit, then pooped and peed. I let him dictate where we wandered and he went into one of the empty paddocks and drank a bunch from the trough. At the end of the hour he was not quite his normal self, but looked much better. He still had no interest in the grass hay in his stall, but GS also feeds orchard grass so I gave him a little of that. He ate that right up so I asked the BO to switch him to that. Peebs is the easiest of easy keepers so he doesn't need the orchard, but he needs to eat, so for now he can eat what he wants. I also tossed a bunch of salt on the hay to encourage him to drink.

Feeling much better

I checked on him before work on Thursday morning and he had a couple of cow patty poops in his stall. But I knew part of that was the abrupt switch from plain grass to the orchard. He was happily munching his new breakfast and while he hadn't had as much to drink as I would have liked, he did drink overnight.  I tossed more salt onto his hay and went to work.

I was supposed to haul out to TCF on Thursday afternoon for a lesson, but I cancelled it. I wanted to give Peebs a couple days to recover and not stress him out. I know horses don't think this way, but it seemed cruel to haul him over to his old home and then back to GS when he doesn't want to be there. Like, hey you're going back to the place you love, just kidding! Thankfully Peebs has seemed much more normal this weekend and we might try hauling out for lessons soon.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bye Bye Summer

Fall is here in the PNW. In the past couple of weeks the temps gone from 70s to 50s to back to 70s with lows in the 30s-40s. I had to break out sheets and even put Cinder in a medium weight for a few days. And worst of all, Peebs has moved back to his winter home at the other barn (GS).

She doesn't look too bad from this angle
Earlier this summer I had switched Cinder to a new grain, Triple Crown Naturals, because her old grain (made from a local feed mill) had some of her allergens in it. She ate the TC ok for a few weeks, then decided it was awful and went on a grain hunger strike. I tried adding alfalfa pellets to it and she still wouldn't eat it. She dropped a fair amount of weight and looked rough for a few weeks. I put her back on her old grain and added alfalfa hay as well.  She's eating again and started putting the weight back on but I've decided to blanket her a little heavier than I normally would so she doesn't waste any calories being cold. She's not showing any allergy symptoms while on her current grain, so I'm going to keep her on it while I do more research into what she can have.  And fingers crossed she'll eat whatever I put her on next!

She would like to eat my hair and glasses

I moved Peebs back to GS last Thursday and while he seemed to have settled in fine, he took a page from Cinder's playbook and went of his grain for a few days as well.  Peebs is a garbage disposal, so for him to not eat is a big sign.  He was eating his hay, grazing out in the field, had normal poop and pee, and his attitude was normal, so I didn't think he was colicking. I did give him a dose a banamine and he's gotten a few days worth of Ulcergard. I think he was just depressed/stressed.  He went from being out 24/7 to being out 4-8hrs a day. Normally he's not one to care much either way, but apparently this time he did. In the future if he has a dramatic shift in his turnout/living situation I'll be proactive with the Ulcergard. Sorry Peebers!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Asking For a Friend: Logo Design

Since I've been boarding at A's farm, TCF, this summer and A and I have shown together a few times now I've officially declared myself part of Team TCF. Even with Peebs moving out next week to go back to our old barn for the winter, I want to be repping TCF.  Only problem is that A doesn't have a logo, or barn colors. I want to fix that.

So dear readers, anyone do logo design or know who does? I'd prefer paying a blogger/horse person for it if I can.  Either leave a comment or hit me up at basneym at oregonstate . edu

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Transformation Tuesday: Mane Edition

Since Cinder's been living outside 24/7 this summer I've been slacking a bit on her grooming routine. Most days I just brought her in to eat her grain, spritzed on some fly spray, and checked her out for any new bites and scrapes. I did start getting her ready for the Young Horse Show but once that got cancelled I let her get feral looking again.

If this tail keeps going, she'll never need a fake one

Sunday was rainy and nasty and Cinder spent the day inside. Since I wasn't going to ride Peebs, I figured Cin was due for a beauty day. Or as much of one as I could give her since getting a bath in the rain, and with stitches, was out. She got a good currying which is her favorite, a brushing, and a spritz with Eqyss Avocado Conditioner. I also brushed out her tail with Carr & Day & Martin Canter Conditioner. I had banged her tail in prep for the YHS and once it was all brushed out her tail looked amazing.  She's going through a weedy, awkward phase (honestly she looks like a 16.1hand dachshund) and I'm pretty sure all the extra food I'm dumping into her is going into her tail.

That one super long section? The only part of her mane she protests about getting pulled

The big transformation was her mane. She's surprisingly good for having her mane pulled, only protesting at one section. Like her tail, Cin's mane is super thick and I'm going to need to stay on top of keeping it pulled. In my zeal about how good she was handling the pulling, I grabbed a too thick section and got the pulling comb stuck.  As I tried to get it out I somehow stabbed my finger with the comb.  That ever happen to anyone else, or am I just lucky?

So much better looking
I need to touch up a couple places by her poll, but Cin was reaching the end of her patience.  We did end the beauty day with a quick clip of her bridle path and under her jaw. Her stitches come out Friday and I'm hoping its warm enough this weekend to give her an end of summer bath.

Friday, September 20, 2019

A Tale of Two Lessons: Lesson the Second

Monday my trainer was supposed to come out and do one last ride on Scottie since A was coming home on Tuesday.  I had hacked Peebs before my trainer came out and had started grooming Scottie for her. She works a full time non-horsey job and had gotten stuck leaving the office so she was a little late getting out to the barn. She made a comment about me getting on Scottie since I was still wearing my boots and chaps and I joked that I would after she got him all tuned up. That lead to her saying I'm more than capable of tuning him up and that she'd give me a lesson on him.  So that's how my impromptu lesson on Scottie happened.

Scottie was bred to be a pleasure horse and did a few years on the open schooling show and breed show circuit before flunking out. He hates flat work and needs an incentive in order to motivate him.  He loves to jump and when A first got him, they'd use poles and even cross rails to get him going.  He's much better about flat work now, but since he was off for a few months earlier this summer he's been doing flat work for the past month. And that's apparently his limit.

loves the jumpies
Our trot work warm up wasn't bad, but he was definitely sucked back.  When I asked for the canter he started reverting back to his Naughty Scottie ways and my trainer told me to aim him at a cross rail. I asked her if she was trying to kill me because he hadn't jumped in three months and I didn't want to be the guinea pig taking him over his first one. Add in the fact that I've never jumped him before and I was pretty nervous trotting up to the cross rail. You can see below how exciting his first fence back was.

Yeah, I really shouldn't have been as worried as I was. We did that same cross rail a few times while Trainer broke down the grid and set up a diagonal fence and an outside line. We then went to the line and did a very wiggly seven strides. For as stiff and unbendable as he can be on the flat, Scottie felt like a limp noodle wiggling down the line. Peebs tends to over bend and drift, but Scottie felt all over the place.  It took me a few tries to figure out how to ride him straight and when I did we were able to leave a stride out and get 6.  During one attempt I really revved him up and we almost did a 5.

We did a small course of the outside line to a single diagonal to the outside cross rail a few times.  Scottie has flying changes but I wasn't able to get him to do any.  I think it's a combo of him needing more strength and me needing to ask harder. But I didn't worry about it too much since he's just coming back into work and just focused on trying to clean up the simple changes. I was surprised at how easy it was to see distances on him, once I got him going. He tends to have a slightly smaller stride but his pace and rhythm are pretty steady and consistent so once I figured out how to get him straight the distances were there.  I had a lot of fun jumping him and hopefully A will let me play with him again.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Tale of Two Lessons: Lesson the First

I had a lesson last Friday on Peebs and then an unexpected lesson on Monday on Scottie. I can't remember the last time I had lessons three days apart.  I wish I could do that all the time!


We've been doing lots of trot poles and canter poles with Peebs in the past few weeks.  I had the chiro out to check him two weeks ago and she recommended the trot poles to help strengthen his stifles and hind end.  All the pole work had me feeling like doing gymnastics so I asked my trainer if I could set one up for my lesson. We ended up doing a bounce to a one stride to a one stride and it was so fun!

My trainer had us start with the last one stride and built it back to front.  We nailed the one the first time out so she added the other one stride before it. Again we came in perfectly and the one to one was super easy. Trainer then put up the bounce and told me to do exactly the same thing and not to over think it. I just turned and started at her, asking her "Why would you tell me that?!?" Because of course I then had to over think it and screw up our pace coming in. Peebs earned his cookies because I found a half stride to the bounce and he had to do some fancy footwork to get us out of it. We did come back and fix it and my trainer raised the final vertical every other time we went through.

We ended up doing 2'9" the last time through and while it looked big, it didn't look scary big or like we couldn't get over it. We haven't jumped that big in a while and I was actually tempted to ask if it could go up to 3' but Peebs was getting tired and I didn't want to push it. I'm sure cantering down to a single at 2'9" might look bigger than the final fence in a grid, but I was proud of myself for not freaking out about the fences going up a few holes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

WW: Wound Wednesday

Cinder got her first set of stitches yesterday.  We're not exactly sure how it happened, but she got  a small cut on the inside of her right front, a scrape on her face, and a large gash on her left stifle. Based on part of the wire fence being down and cap off the top of a t-post, we're assuming she either got caught in the wire or she and Peebs had a altercation through the wire and Peebs nailed her. Peebs is fine.

I got the call from A's mom around 10 on Tuesday morning and immediately left work. My supervisor is a horse girl so all I said was "Cinder probably needs stitches" and she told me to go. It's super nice not having to explain horsey related things to my boss.

 My regular vet was out for a few days working on his new clinic (which will be like 2 minutes from the barn, yay!) so I had to call the vet school.  Thankfully they could make it out or else I would have had to haul Cinder in. Once they were out the doc agreed with me that the stifle wound needed stitches and they went to work.

He had two vet students with him and one seemed reluctant to actually touch Cin. She was much more comfortable holding the ipad and inputting all the info.  The other one jumped right in and started clipping and cleaning the wound. Cin was due for her fall vaccines in a few weeks so I had them do those while the sedation kicked in. Why just do a tetanus now and poke her again in a few weeks when I could do it all at once?

Drunk pony is a light weight
While the one student started suturing the Dr. asked the two what else they needed to consider. Both girls gave him a blank stare and he prodded them about aftercare. Still more blank staring. He mentioned a barn being full of dirt and poop and flies, horses being turned out in the elements.  Still nothing from the students.  I couldn't stand it and blurted out "Antibiotics". He said yes and that there was still other parts of aftercare to consider.  After more nothing from the students I said "pain management".  And then after the Dr. said he'd want Cinder on banamine, one of the girls kept trying to give me bute. I know they're still students, and just starting their clinical rotations, but it was killing me that these girls didn't have any answers.

Cinder ended up with 5 stitches. Thankfully it wasn't a deep laceration and there doesn't seem to be any joint involvement.  I will have to have my vet out in 2-3 weeks to remove the sutures. Cin's on twice daily banamine for three days, and twice daily liquid sulfa for five days. Both are syringed into her mouth and she is not a fan. Part of her banamine this morning ended up on me and the floor of her stall but she did take the sulfa fine. I kept her stalled yesterday since we had thunderstorms, and she's in today but if everything looks good when I go out tonight I'll probably turn her back out. Fingers crossed for a quick and easy recovery!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pony of a Different Color

The reason I moved the ponies to A's barn TCF this summer was to help her mom watch over the horses and help out with chores.  And to also ride A's horse Scottie. He's the type that doesn't do well with time off, but not in the normal sense. Scottie isn't one to get really hot, or excited, but he will throw on the breaks when asked to go back to work.  He believes that a couple days off in a row means he's retired forever.

Unfortunately Scottie was dealing with some soundness issues before and right after A left. He did get some time off before we finally decided to call the vet. Thankfully it seems to be something that can be managed with a shoeing change and joint injections. Scottie then got another few days off before finally going back to work.

Haven't seen the view between bay ears in a long time

I did the initial ride (and lunge, he might not normally be hot but I wasn't taking any chances!) and even knowing he gets surly after time off didn't prepare me.  Oh boy does that horse not want to go forward. The first few walk trot transitions are met with slamming on the breaks, trying to go sideways, pinned ears, humped back, and threats of rearing. Once he's trotting he's fine but good lord those transitions.  My trainer did the next few rides on him and I was able to watch and even got a mini lesson on him. She, of course, made it look easy.

Scottie is a very different ride from Peebs and it's been good for me to ride him. If I lean too far forward he slows down or stops, so he's keeping me honest about keeping my shoulders back. He requires a committed, definite ride and I have to 100% crisp and clear in my aids and what I'm asking of him. He's also super smooth and I've been getting in a lot of no stirrup work and sitting trot in on him. And once you figure him out and what it takes, he feels great and it's easy to keep him where you want him. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Now We're Getting Somewhere

In terms of riding, most of 2019 has felt like we aren't quite there.  I'm not sure how to explain it other than it felt like something in our training, or my riding, was missing. It's not like it's been a bad  year, or we've had major problems but I've felt like we were so close to really moving up a notch but just couldn't make it.

I had a lesson on Tuesday and while the biggest thing we jumped was a line of cross rails, it was an amazing lesson.  We focused mainly on the approaches and straightness and something finally clicked. It was like a light bulb went off and I found what we've been missing.

I bought the saddle pad a few weeks ago and then found a perfect matching bonnet at the show so I had to get it.
When my trainer asked what I wanted to work on, I told her that we've been having issues at one single diagonal fence and an outside line.  The diagonal was on a short approach off the right lead.  We had to canter down about three quarters of the long side before turning I just could not get a distance to it to save my life (or Peebs sanity. Thanks bud for putting up me!) So after warming up we moved to that.  It was a plank with pole on top but trainer broke it down and set the plank on the ground leaning on the standards.  It was maybe 1' tall. She said the height of the fence didn't matter but she wanted to make it as easy as possible. 

Blurry screen shot but pro tip: Don't let your horse counter bend down the long side
Our problem getting to the fence was that Peebs was bracing against me, or I was bracing against him, and he was counter bending and drifting to the inside.  That made staying out and waiting to turn hard, so we would turn early and screw up the line to the fence. Trainer put out placing poles to help guide us and make me see where I needed to turn.  But it wasn't until I really got him listening and bending to the right that I could actually make that happen. I needed to ride off the rail down the long side and make him hold the bend. It really helped to think about doing a baby leg yield to keep pushing him out into my left rein. We finally nailed the approach and the jump and it flowed so well. 

We then switched to the outside line that had also been giving me trouble. It was off the left lead and while not as challenging as the single diagonal, I just couldn't get a flow to it.  It also didn't help that it was a short 4 stride line and if I rode the first fence aggressively we ended up at 3.5 strides.  Trainer had me start circling Peebs, spiraling out at the canter again to get that same feeling of holding the inside bend, but for whatever reason Peebs took offense to this and got super hyped and scrambly. I think part of it he needs to see the chiropractor (happening tomorrow) and I need to work on our left lead canter a bit more. We ended up walking for a bit to calm Peebs down then just picked up a canter at the end of the opposite long side, cantered around the short side then went right to the line.

I had to hold Peebs more than I would have liked, considering we've also been working on me not holding onto his face for dear life, but as my trainer said, this was a deliberate holding that I was backing up with leg.  Letting him get long and strung out would make getting the four very hard and since Peebs was worked up he needed to be packaged more.  I could really feel a difference between this type of holding vs my nervous holding and I'm glad we were able to work on this during the lesson. Typically Peebs is much better once I let go and ride forward but occasionally he needs me to hold and package him. We never quite got a nice flow into the line, but sometimes that happens and  I'm learning to be ok with it.

Friday, August 30, 2019

AE Bloghop: 12 Tough Questions

I'm somewhat lacking for content right now, so how about these questions from Alberta Equest.

Q1: What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
Reading is my biggest hobby outside of riding.  I love a good romance or mystery, and the occasional fantasy or biography. I do tend to read mostly on my kindle or listen to audiobooks. I also love to travel and am a little bit of a foodie.

Can't get much more perfect than this

Q2: What is your boarding situation? Are you happy with it?
Currently boarding at my riding bestie's house (hereby known as TCF)  and I love it.  Unfortunately once the rain starts and horses come in off of the pasture she'll be short 1 stall. The current plan is me moving Peebs back to our old barn and leaving Cinder at TCF.  There's more turnout at TCF for growing baby horses, Cinder doesn't breakout into hives like she did at our old barn, it's cheaper than my old barn, and closer to home. This is going to sound super awful, but more than likely one of the older horses at TCF will not survive winter and when his stall opens up Peebs will move back. The only thing I would change about TCF is adding an indoor arena for winter.

Q3: What's on your horsey-related wish list?
New horse trailer.  My vet thinks Cinder might hit 17.1 hands and there's no way she's going to fit into my trailer. Even if she's not that tall, squeezing her and Peebs into my current one is going to be a tight fit.  So I'm looking for warmblood size straight load trailer.  I pretty much know exactly what I want, but pulling the trigger probably won't happen till the new year.

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?
The trailer. Both my current one and the one I'm looking to buy. Second would be my custom County saddle.

Q5: What is the hardest horsey-related decision you've had to make lately?
I haven't quite made up my mind yet, but I'm looking at trainers to start Cinder under saddle. The top contender is about 45mins away and has a great reputations for starting young horses.  SL's done a lot with FEH/YEH and puts a solid dressage foundation on her youngsters.  While I'm hoping Cinder will be a hunter, I think it would be good for her to get exposed to a bit of everything and having good dressage basics can't hurt!

Q6: What's something you feel you can't live without in your routine?
I am a creature of habit and LOVE my routine. Not so much doing things in certain order, but more doing things at a certain time. Like I'm off work at 3:30 and usually head straight to the barn. If I have to do something after work and get to the barn later it tends to really throw me off. I'm trying to be better about it, and learning to adjust my times but sometimes it can trigger my anxiety.

Q7: What's on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?
Not much. The Young Horse Show clinic I was taking Cin to got cancelled. I might take Peebs to a show at the beginning of October and might take Cin to an open show in the middle of October. The open show is being held at the facility that SL trains out of so I'm hoping to have a little meet and greet with her that weekend.

Q8: What's one thing you would willingly change about your horse?
Peebs: I think he's pretty perfect.  I would change his flying changes.  A past owner really screwed them up and when I first got him, asking for a flying change would send him into a panic.  He's gotten a lot better about them, but I don't think they'll ever be easy or drama free for him.
Cinder: Dear god stop growing! She's 16.1ish now and I'd be perfectly happy if she stopped growing taller. Also, all her allergies make finding things she can eat difficult. I'd get rid of those.

Q9: What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
Our consistency.  This year we've had a bunch of little things in the show ring that while not horribly bad, have been just enough to keep us out of the ribbons or from placing higher. I feel like we're almost there, but not quite.

Q10: What has been your [current] horses most severe injury?
*Frantically knocks wood* Peebs really hasn't had any injuries.  He's pulled shoes and been sore. He was NQR this winter but stifle injections helped and we'll continue those. Cinder's had typical baby horse scrapes and bite marks. Her biggest vet concern were her hives/allergies.

Q11: What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?
My mental game. I'm an over thinker and have a big case of imposter syndrome.

Q12: What feeds your motivation?
I want to prove I can do it, whatever it is. I've always felt like a bit of an outsider.  I'm a plus sized rider doing things on a budget.  I don't ride at a big barn. Sometimes at shows I don't have a trainer with me. I want to show that the H/J world isn't as elitist as it can seem and that people like me do belong.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Team NW Bedrock Show August 2019: Day Two

To be perfectly honest, I woke up on day two of the show and wasn't feeling it.  I was considering scratching and just packing up and heading home.  But I rallied and told myself to longe Peebs and see what horse I had.  If he was still amped up I'd scratch, but if he seemed like his normal chill self we'd show.

Peebs played and cantered for a good long while on the longe. He doesn't buck but dolphin leaps and strikes out with his front legs. I can usually tell when he's got his crazies out and Sunday was no exception.  He finished playing, let out a snort and was back to his usual Peebs.  So I called my trainer with an estimated time of go and decided to stick it out.

I'm a bad blogger and got zero media from the show so enjoy Cinder and Scottie sharing dinner

I was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually had an interesting eq course for us.  Usually this show does the single/outside line/diagonal/outside/diagonal hunter course for their eq classes but this time they had a short turn to a diagonal fence we hadn't jumped in the other course set almost on the center line bending to an outside fence.  Exciting stuff!

When I got on to warm up Peebs felt like his normal first day at the show self.  Awake and energetic, but not spooky and he was listening to me.  We did have some issues over bending right and drifting left when we schooled over the warm up fence but I'll take that over running through my hands.  My trainer told me to let him go and ride forward, but I was still hesitant from the day before.  Our first round started off behind the pace till the fourth fence when I got myself in gear, but overall it was a decent round.  We did add a stride in the lines even though trainer told me we could have easily made it without the add, if I had let him go.

Our second round was the one with the bending line and while Peebs was behind my leg to the first fence I sat up and pushed him forward to #2 which was the start of the bending line. The line rode really well and I proud of myself for making the decision to push him forward.  I need to stop thinking that because he's short that we have to always do the add and let him flow a bit more.  He's capable of making the strides. We did have rub at the first fence in the diagonal line but I think that was Peebs just being lazy. 

There were 14 in my classes (they combined the juniors and ammys, damn them!) so we didn't place in either class. But considering the day before I was super happy with our progress. We might show in early October, or this might have been our last show for the year, but either way I'm planning on working on letting him go and getting the strides so we can hopefully be more competitive. And if we do this same show next year, and it's the same weekend as the Art and Air Festival, we're hauling up on Friday to avoid the balloon invasion!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Team NW Bedrock Show August 2019: Full of Hot Air

Every year my town hosts a weekend Art and Air festival. They have hot air balloons that take off Friday and Saturday morning and night, as well as Sunday morning. There's also booths with local artists, food, and drink plus bands.  I've seen the hot air balloons flying many times, but for the first time this year some of them landed super close to us.  Like in the field next to my barn close. My BO said in the 10yrs they've been on that property the balloons have never landed there.

My friend took this from her house, but the multicolored balloon and the red/gray one were landing next to my barn
Saturday morning I was hauling Peebs up to a show.  I got to the barn just as the balloons were starting to deflate.  Peebs had a direct line of sight to the balloons from his paddock, and he thought the alien invasion was upon us.  The BO has just fed but for the first time in his life Peeb was too upset to eat. He was standing at the back corner of his paddock with a bite of hay hanging from his mouth staring at the alien invaders. He would sporadically run circles screaming warnings to the other horses who thankfully didn't seem as worried as he was.

I had loaded the trailer Friday night so all I had to do Saturday was hook up and load Peebs, but I decided to toss a longe line in the trailer.  Normally Peebs doesn't need to be longed at shows, but with as upset as he was about the balloons I figured it was a good idea to take the longe line just in case. When we got to the show Peebs happily tucked into his breakfast and I left him alone for while to chill.  The show ended up being huge so we had plenty of time before my classes.  I did decide to longe and as we were waiting for the tractor to finish dragging the longe area a horse also waiting got loose from his kid and took a tour of the jumper warm up arena before running back to us.  He aimed directly at Peebs and I and poor Peebs shot backwards and into the fence. Seriously, not Peebs' day.

When I got on to warm up for my hunter classes Peebs was still a tense, hot mess.  We spent a long time walking around the warm up ring before trotting.  He was looking at everything, trying to find alien invaders or loose horses.  I finally just picked up the canter, got in a half seat, and let him canter it out. It kinda worked.  He was still looky, but started paying attention to me. When he gets like this there is almost no working him down, I could have longed him again for an hour and it wouldn't have made a difference.  So I popped over a warm up jump once each way and called it good.

Peebs was still looky and distracted once we were in the ring but I tried to stay zen about it.  Coming around to the first diagonal line, we had to go past the in gate and Peebs broke to the trot.  I knew kicking him back into the cater would lead to a disorganized zoomy Peebers so I decided to just trot into the line. Peebs apparently thought the aliens were hiding behind the first fence in the line and  got super wiggly and stopped.  I took a deep breath, circled and made it over on the second try.  In our second round I did a better job of anticipating where Peebs was likely to break and kept my leg on.  But our last line was down the long side towards the in gate and Peebs really wanted to be done.  He took a flyer at the first fence, started to charge down the line, and I pulley rein stopped him. I had already written off this day and I figured it was better to school my horse than worry about proper ring etiquette. We once again circled and jumped the fence fine on the second attempt.  I did make Peebs do a big courtesy circle at the end and walk quietly out of the ring.  We did place fifth and fourth in our rounds, out of five.

Originally the plan for the show was to do the hunters on Saturday as I was showing by myself and then do the jumpers Sunday when my trainer was available to school me. I called her Saturday as I was driving to the hotel and explained the day and how I wanted to scratch our jumper classes and do the eq on Sunday instead. She agreed with my new plan and we also decided that Peebs could go for another longe Sunday morning. I had felt pretty upset after my rounds Saturday, but once I had eaten dinner and talked it over with trainer I felt a lot better.  It just wasn't our day but I was happy with how I handled it and we had a plan for  Sunday.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Baby's First Clinic

I'm getting ready to drop our entry in the mail for Cinder's first clinic.  There's a Young Horse Show Series show next month and the day before they're hosting a jump chute clinic.  I'd love to show Cin in the YHS, but they have to registered with a warmblood/sporthorse registry and she is not, yet. I have filled out the membership application and paid my fees for the American Warmblood Society and Sporthorse Registry.  Cinder should be able to be registered with them but the process will take longer than a month.  So no show for us this year, but we can still do the clinic.

It kills me how grown up she is now

Per YHS rules, horses two and over must be show in hand in a bridle.  I had Cinder's wolf teeth out and her first dental done last month so she's been starting to practice with a bit and bridle. Getting it on is still challenging, but she's fine once it's on.  Her head is in a very awkward stage; the length is very cob sized with the widths is horse. I have her in a cob with the throat latch and noseband on the last holes and might have to cobble a frankenbridle together for her soon. I do need to get clips or something for her bridle.  The YHS says to have reins that are easy to clip on and off.  Anyone have suggestions?

Practicing our whoa and stand skill
I was supposed to have a lesson with Peebs this week but he halfway pulled his right front shoe off. So I asked my trainer if we could a jump chute lesson with Cinder instead. I set the chute to what the YHS does and we started with a single crossrail and worked up to a row of three.  It  wasn't about the height, just getting Cin used to it.  Once she figured out she did really have to jump and go through the chute (and that I gave her cookies afterwards) she was great.  She willing went back and forth and one time even bounced the first one stride.