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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Screeching Halt

 First and foremost, it's now officially fall in the PNW. We had been enjoying an unseasonably warm early-mid October, till about 10 days ago. It went from 90* to 55* in the space of a week and from sunny and warm to windy/rainy/stormy in a day. And thanks to shifting wind patterns, the two days preceding the storm were full of wildfire smoke and the horses got a couple days off/easy days. So naturally, the day we could ride again all the horses were LIT. 

Never mad to hand over the reins to Trainer A

And naturally, that was the day I had a lesson scheduled. The big h/j program (IL) usually has quiet days on Fridays, so A has taken that as one of her busy lesson days. But because of the smoke and IL gearing up for a month of shows, they were schooling horses that same day. The indoor was busy and as I walked Cinder in, her eyes got the size of saucers and she started to vibrate. There was no where I could lunge and because I don't have a death wish I called A who was up at the barn and asked if she could get on first. She agreed and spent the first five minutes trying to stay in the middle of the saddle as Cinder spooked and jigged around the arena. 

A just kept pushing Cinder forward, and started pointing her at fences to get her attention. Cinder did stop at the white vertical above (A got there on a shitty half stride and Cinder rightly said nope) and at the brick wall with no standards (first time jumping it and it caught her off guard) and at a short diagonal one stride that she was convinced was evil. She did get over everything on the second attempt, even though the one stride was a bit hairy. 

The blue vertical was one fence of the one stride. The second fence had it's top rail angled the other direction. Kinda like a Swedish oxer turned into a one stride.

I then got on and did some flat work before popping over some of the cavalettis set up. Because IL was still schooling horses, we couldn't change fence height (even though it was technically A's scheduled lesson time. I'm not bitter about that or anything, why do you ask?) but I still had a good lesson. 

This lesson was eight days before what was supposed to be our last show of the season. Cinder had been a little grouchy when I tacked her up, but felt fine to both A and I under saddle. She had the next day off, and when I came out on Sunday she was even grouchier when getting groomed. Normally she loves to be curried and groomed; but that day she absolutely didn't want me to touch her SI/hips. A rode her the next day and said Cinder nearly took her head off when putting her blanket back on, but again felt fine under saddle. 

Marinating in Peeb's SmartPak brand ceramic blanket

After talking it over with A, we decided to scratch the show. Something was obviously up, even if Cinder felt sound. A did some easy stretchy rides with her during the week and on Friday she saw our bodyworker, L. L said that Cin was sore in her withers and SI/hips, and kicked when L first worked on them. But she settled down and was good by the end of the session. L thought the SI issues could be ovary/heat cycle related as Cin was showing signs of being in heat. Normally you can't tell when Cinder is in heat. She might have one flaming heat/squirting/winking/hussy attitude day a year, but otherwise, nothing. Cinder has been much better to groom/blanket after L worked on her, thank goodness!

The lameness vet is coming tomorrow at will look at Cinder and she's married to a breeding vet so if we need to, Cinder can meet him and get her ovaries ultrasounded.

Thursday, October 20, 2022


 The theme of my last two lessons has been bouncy. Both in the sense of keeping Cinder more packaged and bouncy in her gaits, and in that we jumped our first actual bounces. 

The big h/j program at the barn uses their jumps in the arena, while most of A's are out in the XC field. So pretty much whatever the h/j trainer sets is what we jump inside. They get pissy if we move the jumps, or even change fence heights without resetting them sometimes. While I am allowed to jump outside of lessons, I usually don't because of this. If there's trot or canter poles set up I'll do those.

bounce bounce

Last week they had reset the course and had a line of five bounces set up on one long side. They also had three sets of raised trot poles, a couple cavalleti and a couple single fences set up. I told A the bounces looked like fun, but Cinder had never done a bounce before. She's done one and two strides, and bounce poles, but not bounce jumps. A started taking the bounces down while I warmed up on the flat, having me incorporate the trot poles. The poles were set slightly short, and the goal was to keep Cinder more packaged then normal to make the poles work. Tracking left was pretty easy, but I had a much harder time tracking right. It doesn't help that Cinder doesn't care about hitting the poles so pretty much every time through she ticked a rail. 

We started jumping by trotting the cavalleti, which were place on a short diagonal heading towards/away from the line of bounces on a bending line. We then picked up the line separately, which A had made just one bounce to start with. Cinder was pretty confused about what to do in the bounce and pretty much just trotted through it. The more times we went through the line, and I rode her a little more forward and confidently, she figured it out. A kept them small (see above) but added in the third cross rail. It was a fun lesson and I was glad I had the nerve to tackle the bounces. 

Went to a tack sale at a VERY FANCY BARN on Saturday and Ca-Pow was very friendly, even though he doesn't look like it this pic

The jumps hadn't moved by my Monday lesson, so we started again with the trot poles for our flat warm up and then A had me start figure eighting some of the single fences and cavalleti. Cinder looked hard at some ground rails before one of the fences and I accidentally caught her in the mouth, but god bless her she didn't care. I get worried that my mistakes are going to piss her off, or ruin her, but honestly this horse doesn't give a shit and doesn't know how to hold a grudge. I need to keep reminding myself of that. 

one of the stallions WT Leapfrog is so handsome

We then moved onto the line five bounces, which A had set tiny again. Coming in Cinder backed way off and seemed worried about all the poles. I didn't push her forward and we kinda stalled out over the third cross rail. A had me pull her out of the line and try again. This time I actually rode and kept my leg on, and while still a little nervous Cinder went through all five bounces. She then figured it out and the third time through was easy. We went through the line a couple time each way before calling it quits.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Friday Funny: Eventers vs Jumpers

 Most of the jumps set up in area at Cinder's barn are owned by IL, the big h/j program. Trainer A's jumps are mostly out in the XC field, some are used in the indoor. IL is fine with A using their jumps (mostly) just as long as she doesn't move them around. Basically whatever they set up is what is jumped that week. 

They had their liverpool out the past few weeks and when A jumped Cinder she decided to take her over it. Cinder has jumped it before, back in the spring, with no issue, but gave it a hard look and stopped at it this week. A got her over it on the second try and said it wasn't a naughty stop, Cin just had to really check it out. A went on to say that the liverpool was set a bit in front of the vertical, and it was a great practice for ditch and wall jumps on XC.

image from Dalman Jump Co

I said that sounded odd, most jumpers don't set the liverpool in front of the fence, they set it behind on the landing side to draw the horse's eye down and away. A and I stared at each other for a minute, then started laughing because she had been jumping the fence backwards. A said she was glad no one from IL was around when she was jumping horses that day because they would have thought she was more insane that they already do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Spooky Season

The temps are still warm during the day here in the PNW, but it's definitely spooky season. The mornings are crisp and foggy, and the ponies have been feeling good. In fact A messaged me last week asking if I had ridden Cinder Sunday and Monday like I normally do (I had lunged her Sunday and had a good ride Monday) because apparently Cinder thought she was a baby OTTB instead of a baby warmblood during her trainer ride on Tuesday and had been quite full of herself. They had to gallop a many laps of the arena before Cinder's brain started working correctly. 

I don't like the sun setting earlier and earlier

 Cinder was pretty well behaved in our lesson on Friday; I was the one having a case of the spooky scaries. We warmed up on the flat pretty well, and then started jumping a few single cross rails, looping around the arena and picking them up as we went along. A started lowering some of the other jumps, and inadvertently spooked another horse who was hacking in the ring with us. He apparently spooks frequently when poles hit the ground and A had taken the back rail of an oxer off. I was taking a walk break and the other horse was directly in front of us when he spooked, then slipped, then bucked and dumped his rider. He started trotting towards us and Cinder grew about three inches wider and taller and I flung myself off just in case she got any stupid ideas. Thankfully she didn't, and A was able to catch the gelding and his rider was ok minus some road rash on her arm. But I was rattled and it followed us the rest of the ride. 

No media from my lesson, but I rode Peebs for the first time in 3 months and he wasn't amused.

We rewarmed up over the cross rails before attempting an outside line. A said it was a short 6 or forward 5 and she didn't care what I did. I tried the short 6 at first, but ended up a 5.5 so I decided the forward 5 was a better choice. We did the five nicely going off the left, but going off the right I had a hard time finding it. Then Cinder spooked a little at one of the barn workers pushing a wheelbarrow and while it wasn't a big spook, I let it get to me. I couldn't push her forward enough down the line and kept finding either a horrible chip to the second fence, or would pull for the 6 and Cinder would break to the trot. Eventually I asked A if I could just trot everything to get my brain back. She was fine with that so I picked up the outside line and the single cross rails until I felt a bit more confident. We ended with trotting in and cantering out of the line in a 6.

She likes smushing her nose on the mirrors


I'm annoyed with myself for letting the spooks get to me, but we've been focusing on flat work and haven't jumped for a month and I know I'm always rusty with a long break. I am however really happy with Cinder. She packs me around while I'm having an anxiety attack over finding a distance to a 2' fence like she's a 20yr old school horse, not a green 5yr old. I'm going to try and fit in a second lesson per week for a while because we have our last show of the season at the end of the month, and then hopefully a really cool clinic in December.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Woodbrook Hunt Club Hunter Pace and Trials

 Trainer A rides with an event trainer (NM) who's based south of Seattle, about two hours north of our barn. NM is part of the Woodbrook Hunt Club, who hosts drag hunts on Joint Base Lewis McChord and hosts a yearly Hunter Pace and Trials. A has gone up on a couple of hunts, but hasn't done the pace till this year. She decided to go at the last minute, and I tagged along as her groom. Both her and I were a little sad we didn't bring Cinder as A could have totally shown her in it this year, but we're for sure planning on bringing her next year. 

Started the day off with saying hi to baby Odie

A had entered the hunter pace with two of NM's junior students who needed an adult chaperone. They were entered in the first flight division, and won. I didn't get to see any of it, but A said they hauled ass and had a blast, but next year she'll take me out in the hilltopper division and we can calmly walk/trot the whole thing. I told her I appreciated that, as I'd rather not die galloping across a military base. 

The hunter trial field was huge, this is just a section of it

For the hunter trials, they had a big (dead) grass field with mainly natural style jumps. There were a couple rustic wooden rail fences, but a lot brush, straw bales, and log piles. They also had a bank that was used in some classes. They had a couple 2'6-3' hunter derby classes, hunter hack classes, a family class, a pairs over fences class, and a memorial field hunter classic. We watched some of the derbies and the hunter hack and it looked so fun. 


The course map was a little confusing, and I totally will pay for a ticketed schooling round next year

A was entered in the memorial field hunter classic, course map above. Unfortunately she got a little screwed during her round, as a loose dog ran into the field and she turned left of a jump instead of right to avoid him and had to circle. I know the judge had to count the circle as a refusal, but it shouldn't have counted as she was trying to not run over a dog. She then got a little lost trying to find her way through the trees to move the branch (everyone else did a schooling round so they knew where it was). There were 8 in the class but they only placed to 7th and she ended up not ribboning.  

Everyone dressed up for the hunter trial classes, some in full hunting gear. It was such a fun atmosphere and we had a great day. Can't wait to go back next year. And who knows, maybe I'll let A talk me into joining a hunt one day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

This and That

Little bit of this and that from the last couple of weeks.

My last few lessons have been flat rides, mainly staying on a 20m circle. Cinder kinda lost the ability to canter nicely on the right lead for both A and I. She really wanted to go around with her head in the air and was convinced she couldn't canter on the bit. A has had me really focus on getting her deep and low in the trot, imagining I had draw reins on as my visual. Once Cin was steady in the deeper trot, then I was to ask for the canter knowing she'd come up a bit, but since she was almost too deep she'd come up to where we wanted her. I definitely struggled a bit, but at one point A told me to two point the canter and I lost it completely, but we've gotten some really nice canter work out of it. 


When I got to the barn for my lesson on Friday, A was tacking up Metro for a quick trail ride before my lesson. I mentioned a trail ride sounded nice and A told me to tack up early and we'd do a trail instead of an arena lesson. The BO had a mini excavator clearing out the stream and an old bridge at the bottom of the first part of the trail and Cinder was not too sure about it. We could hear it, but not really see it through the trees and I started to get nervous, so obviously Cinder got more nervous. And then Altivo, A's doberman, came running up behind us and spooked Cinder more. Cin is totally used to the dogs running around during trail rides, but she can be a little spooky if they come up fast behind her. She jumped forward into Metro, but being the saint that he is, he didn't care. Once we were in the woods I started to relax and so did Cin. We ended up having a great ride and I'm glad I kept going even when I was sure Cinder was going to loose her mind. 


After the trail ride, I watched A school a client horse, while the client was riding her other horse. A got off and had the owner get on so she could explain a few things and asked me to hold Brownie. He is the sweetest, cuddliest horse ever, so I spent a very fun 15 minutes getting loved on. The owner's other horse is a little bit of a local celebrity, and I've admired him for years, doing the junior jumpers before a certain former Olympic trainer in the area took over the ride and did the 1.50m on him. G, the owner, does the 1.10m with him now and I told her if she wasn't careful I'd steal both of her horses. I also really enjoyed being a bit of a barn rat, hanging out watching other lessons/rides and then shooting the shit with people in the tack room.

It was stupid hot for the end of summer over the weekend, hitting 91 on Sunday. I wasn't going to ride, just lunge, but when I pulled Cinder out of the pasture she resembled the Peanuts cartoon character Pig-Pen. The dust coming off of her was disgusting, so she got a fully soapy bath with a deep tail conditioning. She was not amused.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Bucket List: Spruce Meadows

 If you follow me on IG/FB you probably already saw, but a week and a half ago, my parents and I went to Calgary and Spruce Meadows. I've always wanted to go to Spruce, and my parents love to travel and thankfully indulge me when I want to combine travel with horse shows. We got tickets for Saturday and Sunday at the Masters, watching the BMO Nations Cups on Saturday and the $3,000,000 CN International Grand Prix on Sunday. 

Spruce Meadows flags were everywhere

We spent the first couple days in Calgary exploring, and heading up to Banff. Downtown Calgary is really nice and we found some great Vietnamese food, as well as an awesome steak house. Banff and Lake Louise are absolutely stunning and totally worth the day trip to go see. 

Lake Louise

From where we were staying in downtown, it was about a half hour drive to Spruce Meadows. We didn't want to bother with renting a car, driving, and parking, so we took the light rail from downtown to the end of the line, where there was a free shuttle but that took about 5 minutes to drive to SM. 10/10 would recommend; we beat the horrible traffic leaving as the bus got priority over cars, the light rail was clean, easy to use, and only took a half hour. The only problem was Sunday the last shuttle bus was at 5, but the GP didn't finish till 5. We ended up missing the final jump off to be able to make the shuttle. 

 Obviously we were only able to see the spectator parts of the grounds, not the stabling/warm up areas, but the grounds were lovely. Definitely the nicest venue I've ever been to. They had a bunch of food vendors, shopping, and a lot of clean bathrooms. We did a little shopping on Saturday; I ended up with a hoodie and stickers. When we got to our seats, I noticed there were a lot of people walking the Nations Cup course, and most of them looked like regular people not riders or trainers. After overhearing someone else, we realized they had the International Ring open for everyone to walk so my mom and I headed out to walk the course. I'm still in shock that anyone could step out into the International Ring and walk a Nations Cup course. I can't remember any of the major US Grand Prixs that I've been to where they allowed that. 

I was unfortunately ill-prepared and didn't know the course, so I kinda stumbled around trying to figure things out, and then we ran out of time. But it was awesome to see those big fences up close and to walk some of the lines. The open water looks huge standing next to it. I also failed at taking pics, mostly just being too in awe of being on the course. 

Hey look, the jump is a tall as I am

They didn't open the course up on Sunday, so no walking the GP course. But we were sitting close to the clocktower where riders enter/exit and a lot of riders/trainers/groms/owners were coming and going and I was able to hear a bit of what they were saying about the course. And watching some of the trainers and grooms while their riders were on course was almost better than watching the riders. There was a Belgium coach that almost fell over the railing while watching his rider. I was able to see Martin Fuchs, Jenn Gates, the Philippartes brothers, and Steve Guerdat up close. And those were just the riders I recognized. 

Captured the moment McLain had a rail on the double liverpools


It was an incredible experience and I'm so thanful for my parents for making it possible. I know I won't ever go to Spruce as a rider/owner, but hopefully I can make it back as a spectator again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Breathe like a Dressage Rider

 We had a bit of a breakthrough in our canter transitions in my lesson on Friday. While we've had slow by steady progress on them, the first one or two each ride are still a bit rough. And while Trainer A has managed to do walk-canters, I've had a lot of trouble managing them. 

Mya, the other chestnut mare, is a very, very expensive International Hunter Derby hopeful and I told Cinder to soak up all of her knowledge when they were in the cross ties together

It didn't help that on Friday Cinder was very not feeling it. It was hot and oddly humid, and there was no breeze moving the air around. When I went to get Cin she was in the middle of her afternoon nap and reluctantly got up when I opened her stall door. She was behind my leg the whole lesson, even when we started jumping. While maybe not the lesson I had been hoping for, I did learn a lot on how to ride "behind-the-leg-Cinder."

Will work for cookies

During our flat warm-up, I was struggling more than usual with the canter transitions when A stopped me and apologized. She asked if she had told me about the double breath inhale. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and she explained that since you can't use your voice in dressage, a lot of dressage riders use breath cues with their horses. A does a quick double breath inhale, like two quick sniffs, as she's asking for the upward canter transition. She then sent us back out on our circle to try it, and what do you know, it worked wonders. Our transitions were much more prompt, and we even managed a decent walk-canter. 

Very happy with how she's looking right now

 As I said above, the jump portion of the lesson was a bit of train wreck. I kept seeing the long spot,  while Cinder, who has finally learned to wait and add the stride, kept seeing the short one. We had a couple spectacular chips, before I got after her and made her take the long ones. We ended with an outside line that was a long 5 or short 6 and since the jumps were 2' and Cinder was not inclined to go forward, A told me to do the 6. I came in thinking wait for the six, but we ended up waiting for the 7. Oops. The next time through I let her flow more, and even then on stride 4 I realized it was going to be long and I was determined we would not chip, so I sat down, dug my heels in and clucked like hell. We got the six and then did the line one last time to smooth things out. I still had to leg her down the line, but not nearly as much as the time before and we quit with that.  

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Can You Not?

 Following the show, Cinder got a couple of easy days. A took her out on the trails Tuesday and did a stretchy arena ride on Thursday. Apparently Cinder had more energy than we thought she would. When A was turning her out Thursday night (she was on night turnout till this week) Cinder decided to choose violence. 


The horses are usually led double with a pasture mate and A was taking Cin's current BFF Violet out with her. Cinder objected, tried to kick Violet and almost got A who was in the middle. A let go of Cinder, who then proceeded to take a jaunt around the parking lot till she somehow got her lead rope caught in her hind shoe. She yanked the crap out of her head and destroyed the rope, but then stood quietly till A could come rescue her. 

Then Saturday when I went up to ride I found the above on Cinder's right shoulder. She had been inside for a couple of hours and it looked fresh, so who knows what she did in her stall. I washed it and since she didn't seem bothered by it, decided to ride. She was having a total baby brain day, spooking at the new quads parked at the end of the arena (fair enough), spooking at a gate jump that was on the ground next to a cross rail (not fair as she's jumped that gate multiple times), forgetting she knows how to pick up the right lead, and being super distracted by two other horses who joined us half way through our ride. It was one of those rides that I was just happy we managed to w/t/c each way without dying.

Finally, when I went up on Monday to ride I was greeted with this. Super swollen left eyelid and weepy eye. My first thought was that her allergies were acting up, as it's been super smoggy/hazy/dusty and we've had poor air quality alerts all week. I put a compress on her eye, which she loved, and smeared some ophthalmic ointment on it before shoving some banamine in her mouth. I also put her on Platinum's Skin and Allergy supplement, which I used last year for some hives. She also has two fly masks she'll wear 24/7 and we can rotate and wash them every couple of days. A has been putting the ointment on for me and said it's looking back to normal, which is great.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Bedrock Finale Show: August 2022

 Cinder and I went to our second show of the year last weekend. We joined up with Trainer M and her clients and had a great time. We didn't get the results I wanted, but we learned a lot, had fun, made friends, and have a better idea of what I need to do to set Cinder up for success.

The week leading up to the show didn't go to plan, as I was supposed to have a lesson on Monday, followed by A schooling her Tues/Thurs, then shipping over to the show Friday. A's dog was pregnant and decided to have her puppies a week early, so my lesson on Monday turned into me just flatting her and A had to cancel her training rides. I unfortunately had other commitments and wasn't able to swing going up and riding, so Cinder had Tues/Wed/Thurs off. I did free lunge her on Friday before heading to the show, and that was a very wise idea. 

Not thrilled about the small tent stalls

Cinder actually settled in pretty well at the show. We let the horses chill in their stalls for about an hour before M had me and the two other hunter riders tack up to school in the hunter ring. I was a little nervous, as this was the first time I would be doing all the riding at the show, and not having a pro school her first. And this was her first time at this showground. 

We started in the warm up arena flatting, before moving into the hunter ring to jump. I let M school the other two first, letting Cinder take a nice long walk around the ring before we jumped. The two juniors were doing the cross rails while I had signed up for the 2' so after a couple times over an x to start, M raised the fences and had us do a course. Cinder was a little looky but jumped everything and I was really happy with her. 

Early morning walkies

There were three different 2' divisions (open, short/long stirrup, and an eq division. I just entered the short/long stirrup as I don't want to kill my horse with that many rounds) going first thing Saturday morning and we were scheduled to go middle of the order. I took Cin out for a long hand walk and watched some of the earlier rounds go. When we finally got on, she felt a little more up than she had on Friday. The schooling ring was a bit chaotic but she settled and I felt ready going into our two rounds. Cinder decided the far end of the arena was pretty scary, and stopped at fence two. I don't think she was scared of the jump, just the extra poles and gates stacked along the rail outside of the ring, plus whatever was in the trees behind them. I let the stop get to me and didn't ride her forward enough on the second attempt and she stopped again. 

One of the two 2' fences we made it over

I was determined to come into our second round and ride better. The first fence felt great, and as we were cantering to fence two I thought we had it. But we had to go past the in gate, and Cinder decided we were done. She popped her outside shoulder and tried to spin left and exit the ring. I managed to stop her before leaving, circled, and she pulled the same move. I did manage to get her away from the gate but my nerves were shot. M had us jump a few fences in the warm up, then we discussed our game plan. The cross rail classes were going later that afternoon and we decided to enter those. The goal at this point was to get her in the ring and just go around. If she still pulled crap with me, M would get on her, but M felt like with I could handle her, especially with smaller fences that we were planning on trotting. 

Unfortunately the hunter ring was moving slower than molasses, and the jumper ring finished early, so the cross rails and trot pole classes were moved to the jumper ring. I was disappointed we didn't school in the jumper ring on Friday, and that we wouldn't be able to try again in the hunter ring, but getting Cin in the ring and going around was the goal. When we came out hours later for the cross rails, Cinder felt much more settled and tired and warmed up really well. She was still a little wary going into the jumper ring, but didn't spook. We jumped everything even though she tried to run out the gate after our last line in our first round, which was an outside line heading directly towards the in gate, while I tried to do a nice courtesy circle. She got spanked on the shoulder and my outside heel shoved into her ribs plus some growling, but she didn't pull that move for the rest of the weekend, so lesson learned. Our second round was very nice and I was happy with how we ended the day. We placed 4th in both cross rail rounds out of about a dozen. 

Realizing horse show life is hard


We decided to scratch the 2' on Sunday, and stick with the cross rails. The cross rails were first thing on Sunday morning, back in the hunter ring, and I wanted to get some good, solid rounds in and felt like I was more comfortable doing that with the cross rails. Cinder came out tired and quiet in warm up, but I didn't let that fool me. When we went in for our first round I took a nice long tour of the ring to let her see everything. She spooked a bit on the far side, like I expected her to, but we were able to get around both our courses. I was still trotting everything, because I didn't trust her to not stop or try to run out the gate. I thought our rounds were decent, but we didn't place in either of them. I was still happy that we ended on a good note and got around the spooky hunter ring. 

learning to hurry up and wait

I know if I had had a pro get on her and school her we probably could have gotten over the spookiness faster, but I want to show my horse so I have to learn how to ride her through it. This show had the biggest atmosphere of any show she's been to, and she's still a baby, so it makes sense she'd be a little wary. I'm still getting comfortable riding her through naughtiness and riding her away from home, so hopefully next year we'll come out better prepared and ready.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Cinder DGAF

 In continuing with our good lesson vibes, we had another great lesson last week. It's been my first jumping lesson since Cinder has been up at SF and much needed, since we're showing this weekend. I have jumped her a little on my own, and A has been jumping Cin once a week or so and has said she's been great. Cinder really doesn't care about what you put in front of her or what the distance is. She's gonna jump it, and continue on like nbd. 

sorry for repeating myself, but this horse is amazing

We did a quick warm-up on the flat before starting over some crossrails. A wanted me to figure 8 two single fences on the diagonals and gave me the option of the short approaches or the long approaches. In an uncharacteristic move, I chose the long approaches since those tend to be the hardest on course. And what do you know, they were the easiest. Cinder has a really nice natural rhythm, and has finally started to find a nice balance, so all I really had to do was keep her straight and find our line and the distances were there. I do need to work on holding her out a bit on the landing side corners, especially if she switched her lead over the fence, but I think part of that issue was me being so happy about the approach and distance I forgot to ride the landing a bit. 

We then picked up an outside line that was a three to a one. There were placing poles down for the horse in the lesson before me, and A decided to leave them to see what Cinder did with them. Not going to lie, I was quaking in my boots approaching the line. I did let Cin get a little behind my leg coming in and didn't really help her out in the line, so we messed up the three and the poles kinda caught Cinder off guard a bit. But she gamely kept going and tried to figure out where to put her feet. Never felt like she was going to stop, or run out, or do anything naughty. And after we made it out of the line, she kept going like it was nothing. We came back around to it, after A pulled the poles, and she went down the line like we hadn't just royally screwed it up. I know A has told me before that Cinder DGAF, but this was my first time really experiencing it. 

Went up to ride Sunday but didn't feel like doing a hard ride, so we took a half hour walk around the property

 A then put the fences up a bit and gave me a little course. I had a brief existential crisis about it, but once again, Cinder DGAF. The fences rode the same as they did when they were crossrails. I just need to get out of my head and ride the rhythm and keep my leg on. Cinder feels much more solid and easy than I ever expected and I'm still in awe of her. Fingers crossed we can keep this feeling at our show this weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2022

That Good Lesson Feeling

 I know I'm a little behind in posting, but there hasn't been much riding going on for the past couple of weeks. I had a lesson two weeks ago that was great, and one on Wednesday that was also great. During the time in between we had a heat wave and Trainer A rode Cin as by the time I would get to barn after work it would be 95-105. I don't ride in those conditions for my own health, and A was coming out early to beat the heat, so trainer rides it was. Also, for the first time in my life, I'm at a barn that puts up fans in each stall and multiple big fans in the aisles when it gets hot. It's really nice.

Neither lesson has been groundbreaking in terms of what we focused on; it's been the basics. In my lesson two weeks ago A had me ride in her knock off Equibands. She has used them on Cin a few times, but wanted me to feel what they were like. Part of how Cinder's lameness was diagnosed, was that she likes to push her haunches sideways instead of sitting on her hocks/stifles, so the vet recommended the bands to help keep her haunches straight. And if the hill work/band work made Cinder lamer we would know we needed to do more for her. But thankfully Cinder has been feeling really good. 

We also switched her bit to a Myler and despite her face in this pic, she goes really well in it

 For that first lesson, we focused on getting her in front of my leg, then me doing nothing. She's getting strong enough now to carry herself without my constant input; I just need to learn when to let go and when to help her out. We worked over raised trot poles and my instructions were to support with my leg and hand, but let her do the rest. The first couple times through she hit the poles and got a little quick, but by the third time she nailed it. 

I showed up one Sunday before she got turned out and she was upset I wanted to lunge her before playtime

My lesson this week was a continuation of the same theme. We started by working on a large circle in the middle of the ring spiraling in and out at the trot. We then moved on to the same thing at the canter and while we struggled a bit, I felt like I was actually riding and correcting her instead of being a passenger. I tend to forget about my left hand in the canter and it became very apparent in our right lead circles. But, when we fixed it and left the circle to go around the whole arena, we had a lovely canter. 

Obviously not Cinder, but look how adorable Trainer A's new foal is

I'm really happy with how Cinder's coming back into work and how she's feeling. If she feels like this after only a month back into work, I'm excited to see what the future is like!


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Real Trail Ride

 Last Wednesday A's vet was out to inject another horse and we had her take a look at Cinder. I had Cinder's hock and stifle x-rays sent over to her and told her that Cinder is out of shape, but has been feeling better since the round of Adequan. Dr. D did a quick physical before we popped Cin on the lounge line and then some flexions. Dr. D felt that currently the stifles were Cinder's biggest issue but over all she's looking good. Being out of shape is not helping things, so our current plan is to get her back in shape while focusing on strengthening the hind end and stifles. 

I'm slowly getting used to the fact that Cinder goes around with her ears forward most of the time and ears pricked is not an indication of an incoming spook

What's good for strengthening stifles and getting a horse back in shape? Hill work! No matter what you're doing at SF, you're going to be doing hill work. The property is on the side of a giant hill (it's not considered a mountain in the PNW if it doesn't have snow on it or if it's not a dormant volcano) with the only flat spots being the barn and arenas. The pastures are sloped, walking from the barn to the arenas or pastures involves hills, and all the trails and XC field are either going up or down. So Cinder will for sure be getting in lots of little hill work. But A wants to get her out for walking hill work 1-2x a week. 

Putting the forest in Sherwood Forest Equestrian Center

In my lesson on Friday, we went for a real trail ride. A has taken Cinder out all over the property, but I've only gone on the short trail we did back in February. This time we set out with A on Froggie and planned to do the whole property. Since I didn't know where we were going, A took the lead and Cinder happily followed. I did have to pull her up a few times, as she kept trying pass Froggie, who at 14.2  takes a much smaller step than 17hand Cin. 

We started in the outdoor and ended at the green pin

The whole loop took about 45minutes and we went up and down some pretty steep grades. Cinder was much better than I was expecting, only spooking a little at some squirrels in the bushes. There was a big tractor parked in the XC field as they were tilling the upper half that both Cin and Froggie were wary of, and Cinder wasn't fond of the cemetery at the top of the field but she didn't do anything naughty.  She did try to convince me she was scared of the bridge we had to cross in the woods, but I knew A had taken her over it before, so I kicked her forward and she went over it. 

Being back in work is exhausting

I was nervous at the start of the ride, but found myself relaxing about halfway in and ended up having a really good time. I'm glad I let A talk me into the trail ride and hopefully soon I'll be brave enough to take her out on my own.