Thursday, May 27, 2021

Cindes goes XC

Blogger is shitting on me and not letting me post photos but there is video farther down.

 In prep for next weekend's schooling horse trial, Trainer A took her students, her gelding, and Cinder XC schooling yesterday at the facility. I met up with them at Inavale and played groom and videographer. A split up her students into two groups, and rode her gelding in the first group and Cinder in the second. I hand walked Cinder out on the course during the first group so A) she could see everything, and B) she wouldn't be left alone at the trailers as the two kids in the second group were coming later. 

I grabbed a stud chain to walk Cinder out to the main XC field, just in case. A had gone out with Metro a little before the girls and I headed up so she could work through a few issues with him. When we met up with them A had the girls start warming up while she ponied Cinder through the water. Both A and I were sure if Cinder had any issues on the XC course, it would be at the water. Princess pony HATES getting wet, especially her hind legs. Metro is a saint for calmly standing around while Cinder pulled some very acrobatic moves about getting into the water, but eventually she did get in. A walked them back and forth a few times and stood in the middle of pond before finally handing Cin back to me.

While the girls jumped, I alternated between walking Cinder over a few small logs and letting her graze. She really wasn't concerned about the horses going away from her, or walking away from them. When the group moved to the smaller side field I walked her over the BN ditch and up and down some of the hills. 0 shits were given. 

We then headed back to the trailers to switch out groups. I tacked up Cin while A took care of Metro, and then we switched. A got on Cin and I hand walked Metro out to the field to play babysitter.  Cinder's pasture mate Polly was in the second group and the two have become a little buddy sour when one leaves the pasture so I was a little worried about how they'd be, but as soon as they realized they were working both were great. God bless mares that know when it's time to get down to business. 

The water demon reared it's ugly head (and Cinder did try rearing) when A tried to get Cin in the water under saddle. I provided a lead in and Cin went in. You could pretty much see her saying "F*ck you" to all of us, but she did it. 


A popped over a couple little logs before trying a hanging log and Cinder wasn't phased at all. She got a couple odd distances, but you could see her thinking about it and she's fix her mistake on the next try. She then got a break while the girls started schooling over fences and was perfect standing around and waiting. When A took her back out she happily left the group and acted like she'd done this a million times. A schooled her over some BN and N fences, and the only thing she had issues with was a BN table that she stopped at. A did get her over, and wasn't sure why she stopped. Two of the other horses in our group stopped at the same table, as well as another horse in a different group so A thinks the horses just have a hard time reading it, or are distracted by something in the distance.  

We then moved to the smaller field to practice the ditch and banks. I hand walked Metro over the BN ditch while A and the girls followed. Cinder was happy to pop back and forth over the ditch in both trot and canter, but when A aimed her at the N ditch next to it, she stopped out the first time. She did get over it, but gave it plenty of clearance. The banks were a complete non issue. Again, she popped up and down like she'd done it a million time, doing both the BN and N ones. 

We finished up back in the main field and Cinder was absolutely, not ever going into the water. I had to lead her in a few times before she finally decided to go in on her own. A just kept walking back and forth through the water before attempting to trot in. It was like a switch had been flipped and now Cinder totally A-OK with water. She trotted and cantered in and through the water like she hadn't just had a meltdown about it. It's completely her personality to have a tantrum, act like the world is ending, then do the thing and realize it wasn't that bad. Hopefully she remembers the water is her friend next week for the show! 

Both A and were really, really happy with how she did. A even asked if I ever wanted to be that owner who has a pro campaign the horse, and I honestly said if I ever win the lottery, or get a sugar daddy, she can take Cinder up the levels.  A was just so impressed with how Cinder handled everything and didn't feel at all mentally or physically fried. Cinder was out either being walked or ridden for almost 6 hours and A said she felt like she could keep going. A said it best, "Cinder's not a normal horse, but in the best way possible."

Monday, May 24, 2021

1.25 out of 2

 Technically I had a lesson and jumped both horses last week, just one lesson was abruptly cut short. Peebs has been s l o w l y transitioning onto his summer paddock with more grass, and has had a bit of the fresh grass crazies last week. So before my lesson on Wednesday I lunged. He had a couple good sized bucks to let loose, but looked fine otherwise. 

We warmed up on the flat, felt fine. Trotted two crossrails to warm up, felt fine. Landed after the third crossrail and came back to the trot for a few strides before walking. Trainer told me to pick up the trot again and let him go on loose rein. Not fine. It was slight, but Peebs had a head bob. Changed directions, and yep, lame. Not drastically, but lame. Trainer came over and pulled off his open front boot (but not his bell boot) and didn't feel or see anything on the leg. Picked up his foot, and nothing. So we ended the lesson and I went to cold hose and wrap my pony.

Our first jump together

Before cold hosing, I pulled Peebs' bell boots (he normally lives in them) and what do you know? On the inside of his right front pastern (the lame leg) he had a small, fresh scrape. My working theory is that somehow while jumping the third crossrail he whacked himself through the bell boot hard enough to cut himself. I did cold hose, wash the scrape and put ointment on it, plus gave him a gram of bute just in case. He got Thursday and Friday off, lunged sound on Saturday and felt fine for a light hack yesterday. Fingers crossed it doesn't rain like it's supposed to this afternoon and I can jump him and hopefully do more than three crossrails. 


I had my lesson on Cinder on Friday, and as I was walking to warm up Trainer A asked how I felt about jumping her that day. I told her I felt great about it, provided I didn't make her go lame a la Peebs. In our flat work A had me think about channeling my inner DQ and ride Cinder a little more "collected" for a few strides, before softening and letting her go more huntery. We also started doing some baby leg yields in the trot. I was able to get her more put together in the canter than I was last week. 


When we moved on to jumping, A told me to just trot around and pick up fences as I felt comfortable. Cinder jumps way rounder over crossrails than Peebs does, and it took a little bit to find my balance with her and not get left behind. But as much as she tends to jump up over the fences, she lands quietly and continues on like nothing happened. Totally not phased at all by the fences or me flopping around up on her. At one point after a few fences A asked if I wanted to canter something, and then laughed at the look of horror I gave her. But I pulled up my big girl breeches and cantered the outside line like she told me to do.

Cinder has a really nice natural rhythm that made finding the distance easy. Like I could sit up, keep my leg on and it was there. She's a bit like riding a drunken sailor down the line, but even knowing the second distance was going to be a little long, I just kept my leg on and trusted her.  She's so much fun, can't wait to jump her again!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Happy 4th Birthday Cinder

The sweat on her shoulder is from her fly sheet.

I kinda slacked a little on the birthday photos this year. But my mom came with me and brought Cinder a bag of carrots, a bag of apples, and a whole bag of cookies. So at least Cinder made out in the presents department! She's also getting bodywork today, but I don't think she considers that a present.

How she really feels about posing for pics


Trainer A sent me some videos of Cinder jumping this week. Cinder jumped her first gate, and the barn's watermelon jump, a bright green and pink poles with cut out watermelons under them. In true Cinder fashion, she didn't give a shit about anything. She has yet to really look or care about a jump. Hopefully that's a trait she'll keep forever!

Gates are NBD

In the video A lets Cinder make some mistakes, and she said you can really feel Cinder think about them. She got a couple long/awkward spots and after a few fliers, Cinder started adding in the extra step. And even with the iffy spots, Cinder never says no. 

When in doubt, leave it out

Full video below for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cinder Progress Report: Holy Cow

 I didn't blog about my past few lessons on Cinder, mainly because there wasn't much to tell. She was good, but it's still the baby basics. Walk, trot, canter, keep her balanced, half halt, more bend, don't let her get rushy....not exactly exciting stuff.  But this week's lesson, while still baby basics, was fantastic.


Both of my ponies got their teeth done last week by Trainer A's dentist, a friend of hers from college who flies out here twice a year to do horses. And I'm pretty sure she has magic hands because Cinder felt like a completely different horse after getting her teeth done. Peebs felt better as well, but not as dramatically different as Cinder. 

 I had gotten on a few minutes before my lesson and started our walk warm up while I waited for A. I immediately felt the difference. As soon as I closed my leg and picked up the contact, Cinder was right in my hand and with me. She still wants to giraffe around and gets distracted every 15 seconds, but comes back much easier and felt like an actual trained horse. She's obviously still a baby, but it's like we crossed the bridge from baby horse who I could get round for a step or two to trained horse who goes round for the majority of the ride. 


We did a little warm up trot and canter then went back to the trot and worked on a more hunter trot. Cinder wants to stretch down, and go in a more huntery way and for the first time I was really able to get her there, and keep it. I was also able to start floating the reins for a few strides and have her keep that frame. She still wants to pop out of it quickly, but I can feel that hack winning trot developing. 


We went back and did some more canter work, and while I can't quite get her as round and connected in the canter yet, we did manage a few strides each direction that felt great. I'm starting to figure out her tells, and when I need more leg vs more hand and when/how to half halt. 

At this point in the lesson one of A's junior riders was getting on for her lesson and Cinder was absolutely convinced she needed to go say hi, and kept trying to stare at them and break gait. I'm finally comfortable enough to pony kick her and tap her with the whip and know she's not going to bolt or freak out about it. And I consider that another big win. A did say that Cinder's one "bad habit" is getting very distracted about other horses in the ring with her. Last week she had a tantrum about not getting to say hi to another horse, but A said after a CTJ she was much better. When I bring her home I'm going to have to conscript friend A and my trainer to ride either Peebs or Scottie when I ride Cinder so we can keep working on this issue.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

GLEE Spring into Summer Show #2

 Peebs and I did our second show of the year last Sunday. It was the second show in the same series as the first one that we did. This time we did two equitation classes and two jumper rounds.

The show has a couple of $500 equitation challenge classes; a gymnastic class and a handy and dandy equitation class. Originally each class had a 2'6" and 3' section, but due to popular demand, they added a 2' section for this show. I didn't realize that till the morning of, and looked at the courses before deciding what to enter. The gymnastic class called for no stirrup work, and a trotting a fence without stirrups, so I decided to do the handy class instead. I have no shame pulling the weenie, flabby ammy card. 

There was a lot more space between 5 and 8 than 5 and the rail

Peebs was little more awake and distracted for the handy class than he normally is. Trainer and I talked about it, and decided to go for the inside turn from 1 to 2, as that turn also showed up in my jumper rounds and there wasn't a whole lot of space between the outside fence and the rail. I was to take fence 1 on a slight angle, as Trainer was afraid of me loosing the impulsion in squaring off the turn, and angling it would encourage Peebs to land on his left lead. I liked how I rode the turn, but I cut the turn to sharp to 2 and we ended up aimed at the inside standard. Peebs never felt like he locked onto the fence either, so I circled and re-approached. So much for winning a piece of the prize money. But the rest of the course rode well and I mainly wanted to use the class as a warm up for our medal round.

All I have are blurry screenshots, sorry

The medal round was at 2'3" and I don't think Peebs realized the fences had gone up a hole as he smacked the first fence pretty hard. It stayed in the cups, but since there were only 3 of us in the class and no one else hit poles, I knew we were going to be on the bottom. Peebs was more focused and with me for this round, but also strong and wanting to counter bend and motorcycle around the turns. He's earned himself some flat work boot camp, as well as halting straight after fences for a while. But overall I was happy with our two equitation rounds. None of the fences looked big or felt scary and I could see every distance and know when I needed to hold or move him up. 

We had about a two hour break before my jumper classes.  Peebs paced a bit at the trailer and tired himself out, which was a good thing. I tried to focus on bending and moving his shoulders around in our warm up, but the arena wasn't that big and trying to work around other people was tough. He was more rideable and I was ready for our 2'3" jumper rounds. 

I never really got Peebs in front of my leg for our first round, and we never fell into a rhythm. I know we pulled a rail, but can't remember at which fence. We placed third out of three again. My instructions for going into the second round were to gallop him across the arena to the first fence, then settle a bit on the approach and keep that pace the whole way around. Peebs was definitely tired by this point and I had to help him a bit more, but we found our distances and I was really, really happy with the round. 

Till the second to last fence. It was the turn from jump 1 to 2 in the eq class above, now fences 8 and 9. I had dropped to the trot for a simple change coming up to fence 8 and Peebs thought we were done. He kept trying to drop his head and stick his front leg out. I was pulling his head up and kicking but he was determined to scratch his head while trotting. I realized there was no way we were making it over fence 8 and stopped him, where he immediately started rubbing his head on his leg. I had forgotten my crop at home so I couldn't whack him, but I booted him forward and circled back to 8. I did nail the inside turn from 8 to 9 so at least I redeemed myself there. 

I was pretty pissed at the time, but now I can look back and laugh. The day as a whole went really well, with just a few bobbles that can be fixed. I felt comfortable with the height, felt like the courses were within our capabilities and dare I say it, maybe ready to move up? Just next time I'll remember my crop in case Peebs decides he needs to itch again.