Friday, March 27, 2020

Essentially the Same for Now

I work with animals at an university so I'm considered an essential employee. Which means I have to go to work. So basically, not much has changed for me during these odd times. Other than the university shutting down and campus being a ghost town. But I still get up at 6am and am at work at 7 and do a full 8hrs.

As far as the ponies go, I'm still going to the barn. I'm so thankful that TCF is such a small place and that the two other boarders (who both have retired geldings) rarely come out. It's just A and her parents on the property and they're all staying home, other than runs to the grocery store. I've told them that I understand if they don't want me coming out, but for now they're fine with me being there.

Cinder has other opinions on me being there, especially when it ends in bath time
I've been riding, but have lunged Peebs a few times before our rides just to be on the safe side. It's not that he's been bad, and in normal circumstances I would ride through it. But these aren't normal circumstances and there's no harm in letting him blow off some steam without me on his back.  It's supposed to rain for the next week, and I think I'll let him have the time off. A and I have a plan to free jump the ponies tomorrow, but otherwise Peebs can have a break. I'll re-asses later if I want to continue riding or just let him have all the time off until things are more stable. Also, another reason I'm so happy to be at TCF is that here the ponies are out 12+ hours a day vs my last two barns where they would have been inside.

Instead of going to our first show of the season, I rode bareback and drank a beer. Still a win in my book
I've also decided to postpone sending Cinder to training. There's a lot of reasons why. I don't want to send her to someplace new then not be able to see her for weeks/months. I don't want anyone getting hurt starting a baby horse under saddle at the best of times, but right now no one needs to be taking any necessary risks. It's not going to hurt Cinder to hang out in the pasture for a few months longer. Also, the trainer I want to send her to moved barns and the new barn's board is $200/month more. So saving money now to spend it later just sounds like a good idea.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Funny Fail Friday: Naughty Scottie Edition

A and I had lessons on Wednesday this week.  During A's ride, she was working on getting Scottie more forward and he was starting to offer flying changes. He knows them, but he's super lazy and the changes aren't automatic. His "offering" them is to get hoppy in the corner and occasionally he'll swap behind. A was having a hard time timing the ask, and was a little hesitant in her asking, and I made a comment to trainer about how I wanted to hop on a give him a solid smack with the crop. She told me to go get my helmet, and that's how I ended up schooling Scottie's lead changes.

Buck #2

I did a little walk/trot/canter with him, establishing that yes, I do want you to go forward and I'm not afraid to bridge my reins and smack you when the situation calls for it. Scottie can be a bit of a bully and tries to get out of work, but if you're fair and no-nonsense, he gives in and fun to ride. You just have to work through the bullshit.

Victory head shake

I picked up the canter and sent him across the diagonal, right to left, which is apparently his harder direction.   Right as I was starting to ask for the change, and bridging my reins to go to my crop, he let out a huge buck. Definitely the biggest buck I've ridden in years; really sad I didn't get it on video. He landed crow hopping and I tried to sit up and and drive him forward. He did change his lead and I kept him cantering on for a few strides until he calmed down then walked. Trainer and A were laughing and telling me that both hind legs were up so high they couldn't see my head. I said I was done and A could get back on. Trainer told me that I needed to school the left to right and then I could be done.

I walked for a minute till my heart rate was normal then tried the left to right. A's famous last words were that this way was easier and that it should be a lot smoother. I was holding more with my hands, which Scottie did not appreciate (he's a less is more type of horse in terms of contact) and our first attempt was met with another, smaller, buck and no change. Second attempt trainer told me to let go of his face and gallop him up to it. He swapped behind a stride or two before the front, but it was smooth without too much fanfare, until trainer and A started cheering at the end. That was met with some lovely head shaking and neck flailing.

While not the ride I was expecting, it was funny looking back at it. I'm glad I was able to ride him through it and not let my nerves get to me after the first buck. And I'm happy that I could school him so that he's easier for A and she feels more comfortable asking for the changes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Self Destruct Mode Activated

Cinder has been on a self destructive streak lately. First she got a minor eye infection. It wasn't too bad, and she let me rinse it out, but I did end up calling my vet for some ophthalmic ointment. He did stain her eye and didn't see anything and agreed with me that it wasn't that a big deal. A few days of ointment and it cleared up fine.

Then she ate one of the new fake flowers I got as jump fill. I had turned her out in the arena before doing some ground work and she walked right up to the jump and shoved her face in the flowers. She came up with a mouth full of yellow flowers and fake grass and then proceeded to canter around the ring with them hanging out of her mouth. I went after her yelling at her to drop it, but that command works better on my parents dog than Cinder. She did eventually drop the fake grass, but there's a yellow flower that was missing from it and I'm 99% certain she had swallowed it. It was a Sunday, of course, and I called my vet because I was sure she was going to colic. He laughed at me and said to just watch her and since it's been two weeks now, I'm sure she's fine.

Zero shits given

Thursday she apparently felt it was time to scare me again and got a couple nice scrapes above the same eye she had the infection in. I think they're from teeth, and knowing how much of a pest Cinder can be sometimes, she probably deserved it. I called my vet yet again and texted him a pic asking if it needed stitches. I was going back and forth on it needing them, but thankfully he thought it should be fine without them. I washed it out, treated with antibiotic ointment, and put her in a fly mask. There was also some swelling so she got a little banamine. She was more upset about the banamine than anything else and has been good for her daily cleaning and treatment.

I swear she's close to getting bubble wrapped  24/7.  No more tying to kill and/or maim yourself mare!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Now We're Getting Somewhere

Thanks to daylight savings and my trainer leaving her real job earlier, my lesson on Monday was held during daylight hours and Peebs didn't think it was dinner time yet. Which means we had a normal Peebers and a great lesson.

I had had a not so great ride the day before, then realized I hadn't eaten all day and was middle of a sugar crash and ended the ride prematurely. I had been holding and holding on Peebs while we were trying to jump and just couldn't keep him going (holding onto the reins for deal life will do that) and I told my trainer at the start of the lesson about it and how I was trying to not let one bad ride get in my head. A and I had also reset the course and I was nervous about how I set the outside five stride line and how it really rattled me the day before. Trainer helpfully lowered the second fence in the line so it didn't look as big or intimidating.

We warmed up of a couple of single crossrails, then was told to trot the two stride. I clarified and asked if she wanted me to get three since we were trotting in and was told no, trot in and trot out of the two. We got it done, but it wasn't pretty.  I half halted so hard over the first fence poor Peebs literally paused mid jump and landed in a very inelegant heap but gamely trotted the second fence. The second time around Peebs knew what was coming and decided to just trot over the first fence and not even attempt to actually jump it.

We then moved onto the five stride and started by trotting in. It was an easy six and I realized I had been making way harder in my head than it actually was. Peebs did want to drift out on our approach, but otherwise it was rode really well. The second time through we cantered in and again, it was an easy five. Trainer then put up the second fence and told me nothing changes. And I was actually able to do nothing and let the five come. I then got really bold and asked if she could make it an oxer and she agreed as long as I didn't change anything again. Peebs was starting to get tired by this point and I needed to add a little leg coming into the line, but I was proud of myself for not adding too much and trying to gun it to the oxer. We quit with that one.

 It was so nice to finally have a lesson were it feels like we're making progress instead of just spinning our wheels.  We have another lesson next week, then if it doesn't get cancelled, our first show of the season next Sunday. It's at a new to us venue that is a dressage barn/show facility but is starting to venture in to h/j shows. The plan is to do some 2'-2'3" classes and a 2' derby and then hopefully we'll be ready for the 2'6" in April.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Hypes and Gripes: Winter Boots

I'm not one to do product reviews, but there's been a few things I've loved and hated this winter and I'm lacking for content, so here you go.

Gripe: Dublin River Wide Calf Boot

I got these over a year ago, I think from RW, and initially I really liked them. But after a few wearings, things started to go south.  They are pull on boots, but have no boot pull loops to aid in pulling them on. And, somehow, I still have a pair of boot pulls in my trailer that I could use.  I usually wear a 9.5 but these only come in full sizes so I sized up to the 10 and it was very hard to fit my high arched feet into the boots. Once they broke in that became easier, but then the heel in the left boot started collapsing and pulling them on, especially over jeans, became damn near impossible. They also came up mid calf which I thought was fairly short, especially since I'm only 5'3".

Hype: Ariat Coniston Pro Boot

So I went looking for an easier winter boot to get on and off, and something that came up higher on my leg. I really liked the look of the Ariat Coniston, and with a zipper up the back and laces up the front, I hoped it would fit my wide calf even though it only came in one calf size. I didn't like the $399 price tag, but found a nearly new pair on ebay in my size for half off. I LOVE these boots.  The leather is nicer than the normal Ariat tall boot leather (at least the leather on my old Ariat tall boots from 10yrs ago) and they felt broken in immediately (which to be fair they had been worn less than 10 times before I got the, but still). I've been able to fit them over thin breeches, thick breeches, and jeans easily. They also come up as high as normal tall boots which I really like. They're insulated, but even on warm days I find myself using these over my paddock boots and half chaps.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Not the Lesson I was Looking For

I know bad rides and bad lessons are part of riding, but our last few lessons have been not the lessons I've wanted. Both have been at night, and while Peebs wasn't fired up like our last lesson, he was just not with it and not making things easy.

No media from the lesson so enjoy these unrelated pics from the past few weeks

Peebs was distracted and very much wanted to go back to the barn for friends and dinner. We had a couple very egg shaped circles when he tried to throw his shoulder in the direction of the gate and pretty much tuned me out.

We warmed up over a couple singles before schooling the outside line. I had told my trainer that when I has schooled it a few days earlier we kept getting 4.5 strides. It's set as a short five, but Peebs had been usually forward and I had to hold him back hard to get the five. We started going towards the gate in my lesson and the first time through Peebs zig zagged his way down. He first darted left, then right, and the five became a little long. My trainer put out a guide pole and told me to ignore his antics and ride him straight down the line. The second time was much better and an easy five so we then tried to the other direction.

Cinder showing off
The wheels really fell off the bus because this way because we had to canter past the gate and go away from home. There was much shoulder throwing and slowing down and general naughtiness from Peebs before we decided to just trot into the line. He still wanted to be crooked, but we did actually jump the first fence and continue down the line when we trotted in. We did it a few time to make sure it wasn't good luck before taking a walk break.

Please stop growing taller mare
I was pretty frustrated at the point, because we could barley get around a cross rail line and I had been jumping him higher earlier in the week. I know the witching hour and darkness probably played a part, but Peebs is normally so easy going about things it throws me when he has issues. I am glad we had the meltdown with my trainer present, because I probably would have gotten off way sooner and not pushed things without her there.

I found part of Cinder's baby tooth while I was cleaning her stall
To end the lesson my trainer wanted me to try a single fence on the diagonal that I had had trouble with schooling on my own. I hadn't been able to find a distance to it to save my life, as it was on a short approach off the turn going past the in gate. I was slightly worried that with his tantrum about going past the gate we would have more issues with it, but surprisingly we nailed on the first try. It was a little long, but I kept him straight and rode forward to the fence and saw it was going to be long instead of chucking the reins at Peebs and letting him find the distance. My trainer let me quit with that and I was happier that we at least managed to do something right.

We have another lesson on Monday, and thanks to my trainer being available earlier in the day and Daylight Savings, we won't be riding in the dark. It will still be close to dinner time, but I'm curious to see if the daylight will make a difference in Peebs.