Friday, September 22, 2023


Summer is transitioning into fall here in the PNW and I couldn't be happier about it. Temps are cooling, rain is in the forecast, and Cinder is feeling good. Its so obvious that she's a cold weather girl, and not a fan of hot girl summer. 

After her couple easy weeks, Cinder came out ready to work. We had a few great flat lessons where we were able to put a bit more pressure on her, ask for more, and she stepped right up. We played around with transitions within the gaits, doing the numbers game where 5 is a normal working trot and then going up to an 8, and back down to a 4, then a 7, etc. Trainer A wanted me to focus on keeping her connected and round, and we got some really, really nice trot work. 

I helped A out with her filly at the KWPN keuring and that itty bitty forelock braid is the cutest thing I've ever seen 

The highlight was our canter work. I was able to keep that rounder frame going into the canter, and it felt magical. Going left is Cin's easier direction, and once I got her where I wanted in the connection, she was able to keep it with minimal input from me. It felt so nice. The right lead is a little harder, but it still felt so good. 


Unfortunately all that flat work didn't quite translate to our jumping. In our lesson last week Cinder was a bit distracted and I couldn't quite get her fully connected. We did a few singles off a long approach, and the easiest was the square oxer on the diagonal, go figure. I started overthinking the ride to the single on the outside, as well as the outside line on the other long side. I was micromanaging her too much, without having enough impulsion. Trainer A told me I was working too hard to make the distances happen, and that I needed to get a good rhythm with impulsion, and let the distances happen. That was light bulb moment and everything became much easier after that. 


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Summer Vacay

 Cinder got two easy weeks after Split Rock. The first week saw temps up to 108*, so even if she hadn't shown the week before, she would have gotten the time off anyways. At the end of that week the vet was out and Cinder got some acupuncture. She was tight in her back and slightly stocked up behind, probably due to the show and not moving around during the heat wave. She's a horse that when the temps are above 85 she's sure she can't possibly move, and the barn was only doing half day turnout so she was in under her fan more than normal. Vet recommended a few days of bute and easy work, so Trainer A took her on a couple trail rides and the legs bounced right back. The tightness in her back is also partly due to my saddle, but I have the fix for that on order and it should be here in the next few weeks.

Barn cat likes to judge you while you mix up supplement containers

Last week I was swamped with work and then my mom and I had a weekend away in Central Oregon. I didn't make it out to the barn for over a week and I felt like a bad pony mom. Cinder got some more trail ride and a stretchy flat ride while I was gone. She did manage to find trouble while I was away. The horse in the paddock next to her sat on the fence, and then freaked out when the hot tape wound around her hind legs. That set Cinder off, and she managed to scrape up one of her hind legs as well. It's all superficial, but she's one that swells easily, so when I came out for my lesson on Monday it was still pretty stocked up. She was 100% sound, so that's good. 

Now that the pasture is dead, Peebs is enjoying getting turned out on it for half a day, instead of being 24/7 in his dry lot. 

We decided to go on a trail ride for my lesson, as it was very humid (for Oregon. I know it's nothing compared to the east coast). The bugs were out in full force and Cinder was not happy about it. She kept having mini tantrums during the ride and would stop to try and get at the bugs on her. There's one section of the trail that Cin hates; you have to cross over a culvert with a little pond on one side, and a stream on the other. Jazzy, the mare Trainer A was riding, is usually pretty solid, but she spooked hard at that crossing so Cinder said no thank you. I dug my heels into and pushed her forward, and she ended up bolting across it and tried to run up the hill on the other side. A wanted me to stop her and come back down and let her stand for minute to see that the culver wasn't scary, but when I went to circle back, she reared twice. They were tiny rears, but as we were still going up hill I didn't trust her to keep her balance and gave up. A was fine with me giving up, and we'll revisit that crossing later. By the time we got back to the barn both Cinder and I were covered in sweat and so happy to be done. Hopefully my lesson on Friday isn't as exciting!

Friday, August 18, 2023

Split Rock Portland 2: Long Stirrup Hunter

 Originally we had hoped that Split Rock would have a 2'3" junior/amateur division for me to show in. We're ready to move up from the 2', but not quite ready to debut at the 2'6" (and we plan to do that at a schooling show, not a rated one), but they didn't, so we entered the short stirrup division. Management said they would split the division into short and long if entries warranted, and thankfully they did. My division was supposed to run Saturday and Sunday, in the afternoons.

Barn friends that keep you and your horse hydrated are the best

Saturday I had two over fences classes that were scheduled to go at 1:45, but ended up going closer to 2:30. I was way more nervous that I thought I would be, and combined with the temps at nearly 90*, I was a hot mess, in more ways than one. Thankfully Cinder acted like the seasoned pro she's turning into, and was foot perfect for me in the warm-up. 

Our first round started with a longish approach to a single diagonal, and I nailed it. It felt perfect and I was so happy that I kinda forgot to ride to the next line. We had to come around past the in gate, to an 8 stride outside line along the judge's booth. As soon as we turned down the long side, I heard A tell me to ride her forward, and I did put my leg on, but not enough. I saw the long spot to the first fence and froze, instead of moving her up. I did realize that that was going to make the 8 harder and I tried to push her forward, but we got to the out long as well. The rest of the course rode well, minus having to do a simple change. We placed third out of five. Our second round had a couple of bobbles. I did ride her forward for the 8 better, but added a stride in the diagonal line and had to do another simple change. We placed fourth in that round. 

Final ribbon count for the week

Both Cin and I were hot and sweaty when we were done, and I started having doubts about Sunday. The heat wave was going to get hotter, with Sunday's forecasted high at 100*. A and I discussed it as we waited around for ribbons, and we decided to scratch. Neither Cinder nor I handle the heat very well, and as much as I love ribbons, it wasn't going to be worth it. There's only so much mesh shirts and show coats can do, after all.  We had survived our first rated show, and done well, so why not quit while we were ahead. I am still slightly disappointed at having to miss Sunday, but I'm so, so proud of how good Cinder was all week and I know it was the right decision. There's always another horse show. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Split Rock Portland 2: Pro-Day 2

 Thursday was the second day of showing and Cinder had two over fences rounds to finish up her division. We once again went first thing in the morning for A's jumper rides, then ran back to the barn to grab Cinder for her divisions. Cinder had been very itchy Wednesday night, and since about half the horses in her division weren't braided, I had pulled her braids out. I really like the braided look, but it wasn't worth her being so itchy. 

Still cute sans braids

Cinder was pretty miffed about not being turned out, and was a bit of a brat to load. I had looped the lead rope around my hand, so of course she tried to run sideways instead of loading, and my thumb got a nice rope burn. Mr. Stud Chain them came out to play and Cinder loaded perfectly. 

At the show she was very well behaved, but very tired. She still tried her heart out, but she blew a lead change in both rounds. Flying changes are still relatively new for her, and I'm not surprised they were the first thing to go when she was tired. We're going to implement flying change boot camp this winter, because A wants to show her in the 3' next year but I've put my foot down and said she has to have a change for that division. Even with the missed changes, she placed 7th in her first round. Both A and I were very happy with her for still trying even when it was obvious she was exhausted. She got a very well deserved Friday off in the pasture before my division started on Saturday. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Split Rock Portland 2: Warm-Up and Pro Day 1

 Cinder made her rated show debut and I made my return to the rated ring after 14 years last week. We went to the second week of the Split Rock Jumping Tour's Portland stop. I went to spectate last year and loved the show grounds and the atmosphere so it was #1 on my list for Cin's rated show debut. 

Heading out to school on warm-up day

The show is about 15mins away from Cinder's barn, and since I'm on a bit of a budget and stalls were $$ for the week, and looked smaller than the 10x10 they were supposed to be, we decided to just haul in. We did take Cinder over on Tuesday for ticketed warm-ups and to check in. Due to the VS outbreak in California, all horses had to be inspected before unloading and it was easier to get that out of the way on Tuesday vs Wednesday when she would be showing. 

From where trailers parked to where the hunter rings were was quite the hike. Trainer A was riding, thankfully, because Cinder was a bit impressed with the atmosphere walking around the grounds. There's a pond on the property and when we walked by on Tuesday, dogs and kids were splashing around and causing a ruckus that Cinder did not like. She thankfully settled once we got to the rings, and schooled in both rings like a pro. She took a little peak at one of the logs from the derby, but jumped it on the second try without hesitation. 

We went back home and she got braided Tuesday night. She was very confused why someone was standing on the stool next to her for so long, but she was a good sport about it. I was a bit worried she'd rub her braids out overnight, as she can be an itchy girl, but there was only one that came a little loose that I had to tighten up. 

Cinder got to meet her older half sister Izzy, and made her look like a pony. Izzy definitely didn't get their mom's height gene

Trainer A had another horse she was showing in the jumpers first thing in the morning, so we ran over to the show without Cinder for that. Split Rock requires formal attire for all their jumper classes, so there were quite a few hunters being shown in white breeches all week. We had just enough time after the jumper classes to run back home, grab Cin, and head back over to the show. 

Cinder was showing with A in the USHJA 2'6" hunters, and it was a full division with 13 entries. They had two over fences and the under saddle on Tuesday. Cinder warmed up well and A was able to watch a couple of horses go before heading in for their first trip. Cinder spooked at the photographer, who was wearing a neon green shirt, coming around a corner, but otherwise we were really happy with the round. She made all the distances, got her leads, and minus the spook, was pretty consistent. She didn't place, but I figured that would happen. 

All pro photos bought from Winslow Photography

Their second round was also very lovely, and earned them a fifth. Cinder marched around the ring like she'd done it hundreds of times before, and didn't look as green as she is. I was so proud of her and A, who was also doing her first rated h/j show. 

There were some lovely movers in the flat, and I honestly expected Cinder to place middle of the pack. A rode her a touch conservatively, but Cinder was getting tired and A was trying to hold her together versus asking for brilliance. So I was shocked to hear their number called in second. I still don't believe that I own a horse that can take a good piece of the hack, but I guess I do. I guess all that dressage does pay off. 

Pro day two, and my time in show ring, to come later this week! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Fun Stuff

 Last Friday I was happy to see a few fences set up in ring for my lesson. My brain was still fried from our dressage heavy lessons and jumping felt so much easier. Our warm-up was pretty short and sweet, focusing on getting Cinder forward with minimal effort on my part. We did some shortening and lengthening of her stride to check adjustability before we started to jump. 

Cin's nickname in the barn is Hotdog, so when I saw the Mane Jane hotdog spur straps, I had to get them. Now I'm on the hunt for a hotdog charm to clip into her braids. 

We started over fences with a cross rail on a diagonal going back and forth, stopping on a straight line. We then moved on to two brush boxes that were set up on the center line with no standards. I was slightly worried because Cin can sometimes get wiggly to jumps without standards and has run out before, but she was totally fine with these. 

There were two outside verticals set and we did those in a big circle. A wanted me to make the circle big enough that it wasn't a jumper turn to them, but not so big that I was cantering in space forever. The first time through them Cin was a bit behind my leg and I had to move her up a bit to both. They weren't bad jumps, but not super great ones either. During our second pass I thought I had her in front of my leg, but when I went to steady to both fences she broke to the trot. But third time was the charm. We did a circle before starting and I made sure to rev her up a bit and both fences flowed really well. We quit on that good note. 

The barn hosted a Muddy Princess mud run over the weekend and they parked in Cin's pasture and she was concerned about it

For my lesson on Monday, A asked if I wanted to jump or flat. The same few fences were set up, along with a mini jump chute. To both of our surprise, I said flat. The jump configuration was a little boring and why waste time and effort on them again. In the trot work we did some small circles, focusing on bringing the outside shoulder around and getting Cinder to really sit on her butt. A said she wanted to play around with baby walk pirouettes, something Cin's never done. It took me a few tries to understand how much I had to whoa with my hand, but go with my leg. 

After a few attempts each way, as I was coming out of a pirouette, A told me to canter and both Cinder and I were like WTF? I asked and she kinda scrambled into it. Poor Cin felt overwhelmed but she stayed with me and kept trying. A would have us canter a few circles, back to the walk, walk pirouette a time or two, then back to canter out of the pirouette. Our attempts were very rough and much more huntery than real dressagey, but I was proud of both of us for toughing it out.  Cinder said it was very hard work and that she was very tired. I told A that it was really fun and that I like this type of dressage. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

My Brain's Broken

 Cinder got her shoe put back on last week and we jumped right back into the hard stuff. Trainer A has started focusing on the flying changes with Cin, and in both my lesson last Saturday and Monday we worked on them. And it broke my brain. 

Trainer A's Sea Lion filly was born a week and a half ago with mom giving absolutely no signs of foaling so everyone was super excited for SURPRISE BABY!! And don't worry, her legs have straightened out, she was like 12hrs old in this pic

To set up the flying changes, A has us schooling canter leg yields. The leg yields themselves aren't super great yet, and the spurs definitely help with them. Cinder is still in the " want to go forward fast" vs "go sideways" stage with asking for the leg yields and I tend to get a bit discombobulated trying to package her and keep her from squirting out in front of me. 

All ready figured out that she loves butt scratches

What really broke my brain was when A told me while tracking right to keep Cinder's haunches towards the right, but then push her over to the left. I legit couldn't figure out how to work my legs to make that happen. I had to stop and told A "I don't know how to do that." She walked me through what she wanted me to do, then as I picked the canter back up told me again where to place each of my legs, and how much pressure she wanted me to use. And what do you know, it worked really well. 

I'm not sure why this broke my brain so much but I think when I've done canter leg yields before they've been the kinda half assed h/j version while A is making me to the much more correct actual dressage version. Dressage is hard. 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Summer Break

 Cinder's had a little summer break the past two weeks. We've been riding and lessoning, but have dialed it back a notch or two. 

She melts

We've added spurs to the mix in the past few weeks as well. Cinder is much more of a push ride and I only have some much leg to push with. Especially when it's hot. Cin is a true PNW resident and believes that any temp over 80* is just offensively hot. I had one lesson two weeks ago where I nearly died trying to keep her going around a little course and asked A if I could have spurs. I've been using just tiny nubby spurs, but they've been a big help. Cin was a little offended the first time I used them, but the worst thing she did was toss her head. 

The barn has gotten a few new horses in this month, and they were all mares. When it was only 3 or 4 of them, the girls used to be turned out in the smaller group field, but now since there's 5 to 6 (one currently on stall rest for an injury) the mares got switched to the big group field and the three geldings are in the smaller field. There were a few days when the girls were playing favorites and trying to work out pecking order, but so far it seems that Cinder has come out on top. One of the other new girls (who just turned 3) can be pushy but she seems to like Cinder and defer to her. It helps that Cin is biggest one out there and that she's not possessive of any of the others. 

We've had a heat wave this week and since I had Tuesday off from work, we moved my regular Monday evening lesson to Tuesday morning. Why ride when it's going to be 90* after working all day when you could ride in the morning at a nice 70*? As I was driving up, A texted asking if I wanted to go on a trial ride for my lesson. She had some things she wanted to talk through with me, and everyone knows trail ride talk therapy is good for the soul. I said it sounded perfect, and it was. 

Cinder's downfall

We were out on the trial for about an hour, going up the steepest hills and looping around the far field to avoid the water truck watering the grapes. Cinder was in the Equibands and thought those combined with hill work was abuse. Then we tried going down one of the smaller side trials only to find it had been taken over by berries. Cinder was even more offended and at one point tried to jump out? jump ahead? jump in rage? but ended up doing a sort of bunny hop thing. She wants everyone to know she is a show hunter, not a field hunter. She did end up losing a hind shoe at some point during the ride, and I'm pretty sure it was here during her bonny hop thing. A and I went back to try and find the shoe, but it's long gone. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Summertime Silliness

 Last weekend Oregon got a much needed reprieve from summer. Friday was cooler, and storms started rolling in late Saturday, with some heavy thunderstorms (complete with water spouts over the ocean and in the Columbia and an EF0 tornado) on Sunday and Monday. Cinder and I had a nice ride on Friday, but on our walk around the property to cool out, she kept spooking at some plants. 

Dead plants must have ghosts coming from them

The plants were next to the shedrow stalls, which have been empty since the fall. I was slightly frustrated that Cin would spook at the plants that have been there for literal months, but then I realized that a new horse had moved into those stalls earlier that week and Cinder was probably not used to hearing horses in there anymore. My bad Cin. 

Cinder had Saturday off, and when I driving up to the barn on Sunday my gut was telling me not to ride. The temp had dropped like 25*, I got stuck in some pouring rain, and when I got to the barn no one else was there except the hay guy delivering hay. I tacked up anyway, but after three laps walking around the indoor with Cin spooking, snorting, and spinning at anything and everything I got off. It was obviously One of Those Days and I knew we wouldn't have a successful ride. I gave her a nice long free lunge, did a little ground work to make sure her brain was somewhat reinstalled, and called it quits. 

Monday was more of the same, weather wise, but I had a lesson and figured if Cinder was going to be silly stupid, at least we'd have help. Trainer A had me ride in the Dr. Bristol bit, and I don't know if it was the bit, the free lunge the day before, or some combination of the two, but Cinder was awesome. She felt much more settled and with me as soon as I got on. We had a flat lesson, staying on a 20m circle for the most part, working on learning how to ride her in this bit vs the mullen mouth. I can take more of a feel with the Dr. Bristol and push her forward from my leg more, especially in the canter. We're going to keep riding her in the Dr. B bit for now, but do some easy ride/trail rides in the mullen to switch it up now and then. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Mental Game

 After the show Cinder got a few days off, then a couple light rides by Trainer A. I had a lesson last Friday, and A wanted to pick up right where we left off at the show, and had us do a brief flat warm up, then got right to the jumping. I was 100% expecting a flat lesson after the show, so I wasn't mentally prepared to just jump right into the jumping and I let my anxiety get the better of me a bit. For the most part, my mental game lately with Cin has been great; I've been managing her spookiness and baby moments at home and at shows really well and I know I'm capable of riding her through just about anything and I know she's going to jump whatever we put in front of her. But last Friday I started doubting myself a bit. 

The show photographer hasn't posted anything or replied to the email I sent so all you get is blurry screen shots

Trainer A handled my mini meltdown really well, and had me do flat work and would occasionally call out for me to pick up a jump. Lots of transitions, figures, changes of directions. Basically she said she was treating me like a nervous horse and giving me a lot to do without time to anticipate anything. And it worked. We ended the lesson on a good note. 

Always pat your pony

I flatted her last Sunday and then asked A what we were doing for our Monday lesson. Usually our Monday lessons are flat, and we jump in our Friday lessons. A wants Cin to jump in the martingale, so I wanted to know A) so I could mentally prepare, and B) know what to tack her up in. A told me I could pick, and since she's gone at a horse trial this weekend and I don't have a lesson today, I said jump. I (always) need more help over fences, and I didn't want to go too long between jump lessons and let any insecurities build up. 

So tired

It was almost 90* during my lesson, and heat=a very behind my leg Cinder. We did a quick and dirty flat warm up while A finished the lesson before mine. Over fences we warmed up with a single on the center line before A had us move onto two single diagonal oxers. She had us do the long approach to both of them, working on getting our pace along the short side and maintaining it and not picking to fences. I kept seeing a slightly waiting distance to one of them, but I made it work and A said she was happy with it. The other one I was able to see farther out and could move Cin up to it. A had put the single on the center line up a hole and then had me take it from the opposite direction we had warmed up over. I kept not being able to see the distance and Cinder was fairly tired and we had a couple pretty awkward jumps. The first time Cin didn't realize it had gotten bigger and pretty much jumped into the top rail.  I finally started riding and packaged her a bit more to add a stride and it worked out much better. We quit with one nice one since both Cin and I were hot and tired. I was very happy that even though I couldn't see the distance to the center jump to save my life I trusted Cin to get us over till I could pull myself together enough to help her out. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

MDT Heirloom Show: June 2023 Day 2

 I spent Saturday night at A's house and we talked for a while about what the plan for Sunday was. I had three over fences classes; a 2' hunter round, a 2'3" medal, and a 2' derby. We both agreed a martingale was getting used, but we went back and forth about what bit. We finally decided on a copper twisted Dr. Bristol full cheek. It was the best hunter ring legal bit we had in the tack room. 

For full disclosure, Cinder did get a tube of perfect prep before we left the barn on Sunday. She also ran around like an idiot with her pasture buddies Sunday morning, so she obviously wasn't too tired. When we got to the show we walked her around a little, before tacking up and getting on. I wanted plenty of time to warm up and try the new bit before going in the ring. She felt much more settled than on Saturday, and warmed up well. 

They had us do a victory lap for the derby and the medal class. Both my and Cin's first two victory laps!

The plan for the first class, the 2' hunters, was to trot into everything. We wanted to reinforce that she needed to listen and slow it down. If she tried to take charge, I was to trot in the lines. If she was good, she could canter the lines. She ended up being very, very good, and we were able to canter all the lines. I could take a bit of a feel with the Dr. Bristol and then push her forward into my hand, instead of trying to manhandle her mouth with the mullen. We ended up winning the round out of 9. 

So proud!

For our medal class, they had the test built into the first round. We had a halt and a trot fence. We did have a small spook in the same corner as the day before, only this time the windows were closed and it was very windy and the shutters were rattling. We also hit a rail, but didn't pull it. We ended up 6th out 8. When they were putting ribbons on for the victory lap I asked they not put it on Cin's bridle as it was bigger ribbon and I didn't trust she'd be ok with it on her face for a whole lap around the ring.  

For the derby, I played the first round pretty conservatively, as Cinder was starting to get tired and I didn't trust the spooky corner. They had one outside line set with high options, and I had thought about taking them, but once on course I totally spaced it and took the low option. We had jumped the low side for the other two rounds and I went on autopilot. They were announcing scores, but due to the wind it was hard to hear the announcer so I wasn't sure what my first round score was. They did bring everyone back for the handy round in reverse order, and I went fifth, so I was in fourth place out of 8. 

Very happy to be back home with her dinner

I decided to go for it in the handy, because why not.  The first fence was the second in a diagonal line, with a rollback to the last fence in the outside line. Pretty much everyone else was going the long way, but there was an inside turn and I was pretty sure if I squeezed the shit out of Cin I could keep her going through it. It worked, and I was really happy with it. We then had a bending line, rollback to a single diagonal trot fence, to the first jump in the diagonal line and then halt. Cin fell apart a little after the trot fence so we trotted the last one, but otherwise I was really happy with the round. They called us into the ring to present awards, and I was shocked when we were called second. I was so proud of us and so happy to end the weekend on that great note. 

And to top it all off, I found out once we were back at the barn that we had managed to pull off the 2' division champion. I'm not sure how that's possible, but I'm not going to say no to another champion ribbon or the gift certificate to the tack store that comes with it!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

MDT Heirloom Show: June 2023 Day 1

 We actually made it to another show, without Cinder trying to destroy herself! We did another local/outreach show up at a gorgeous facility in Washington, about 45mins north of Cinder's barn. I had gotten a stall for the weekend, but we ended up just hauling Cinder back and forth both days as my classes were in the afternoon and Cinder very much appreciates getting turned out in the mornings. 

The show manager had sent out an estimated timeline Thursday for Saturday, and based off of that, we decided to haul up a little early and take advantage of the open schooling between the jumpers and hunters. For this show, the outdoor arena was being used for warm-up, and showing in the indoor, but they were opening up the indoor for schooling while resetting the course. Cin has never been to this facility before; A and I have and know it can be a lot for the horses to take in. 

We decided a little late that we wanted to put a ribbon in her tail, and there was a bucket of ribbons from TBird that IL was throwing away. We grabbed a red (1st place in Canada) and used that to make our ribbon. 

Cin hauled well and was good while we tacked up. A took her over to hand walk/do ground work in the indoor while I got my boots and helmet on, and then I went over and got on. The ring was a bit chaotic and Cin had nice hump in her back for the first few minutes walking around. But once I started to relax and put her to work, she calmed down. We only did walk/trot as both A and I felt it was a little too crazy to canter and this was just a "get to know the arena" pre-ride anyways. 

The one moment of cuteness

Cin then got untacked and got to hangout in the stall for about an hour while the cross rails division went. After getting re-tacked up, we warmed up outside and Cin felt pretty good. She was a bit strong, but not bad and I felt pretty good going into our only over fences round on Saturday. The course started with an outside line even though I've told the course designer, who is mostly a jumper, that hunters always start with a single fence. We cantered up to first fence with no issue, but Cinder landed and wanted to blow through my hand. I held her for the correct number of strides and continued on to the diagonal bending line. She landed off the third fence, gave me the middle hoof, and proceeded to morph into a giraffe/jumper hybrid. I got after her fairly hard because that is not acceptable hunter ring behavior. 

It was about here that I decided to ask A about putting a martingale on her, and possibly a different bit

I made the decision to trot into the next outside line to reinforce "you need to listen and slow it down". This outside line had potted bushes next to the standards that Cinder wasn't sure about and she drifted hard to the outside and ran out at the second fence. I brought her back around at the trot and we made it over. I decided to trot into the final diagonal line since at this point I knew we were out of the ribbons and we were just schooling. That line rode the best and I was a little mollified that we could recover. 

For our post round discussion, A and I agreed that we needed more bit than the loose ring mullen mouth for shows, and that trotting everything was the right call. We weren't sure if Cin got a little stage fright going into the ring alone, since she was chill in warm-up, or if she needs a longer warm-up, or if we should have done a cross rail round to get her in the ring first. Or some combination of the above. 

Not how the under saddle is supposed to end

I had been the first of 8 to go in the over fences, so we had a bit of wait for the under saddle. Cin was still a little tenser than I would have liked, but for the most part she flatted well. There was one moment going the first direction when someone got too close to us as we were coming down from the canter to walk and Cinder kinda slammed on the breaks and tossed her head, and I had to glare at the other women because hello, chestnut mare with a red ribbon in her tail. Stay far away. Going the second direction, as we were cantering around the corner next to the windows, Cinder caught a glimpse of the tractor driving down the road next to the arena and spooked hard. She spun in front of a jump and I started praying she wouldn't jump it. My right leg slid way back and my stirrup leather got caught behind my saddle flap and I knew if she jumped I'd fall off. She almost ran into the standard and I managed to cling to her neck and stay on. 

I was sure that was going to knock us way down the list. So imagine my surprise when we were called third out of eight. The announcer (who was sitting next to the judge) follows me on IG and after I posted the spook she messaged me and said that neither her nor the judge saw it. I told A as we walked out of the ring that we didn't deserve that ribbon, and she said I did for staying on. We untacked and started making a plan for Sunday on the drive home. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

More of the Same

 Not much exciting going on over in Cinder land. She's recovered from her fat/scraped leg and went back to work with no issues. I have decided that she's not getting advanced warning about future shows just incase she decides to injure herself right before them again. 

Trail walkies

She definitely did struggle with the heat wave we had, and will probably have again later this summer, so thanks to Trainer A and tube of dorm gel, she got her first body clip. She loved having her back clipped and was leaning into the clippers but was not pleased about her head and legs getting done. Which is what we expected, hence the dorm. I'm just thankful that her clipped coat color is pretty much the same as her normal coat color and she doesn't have that weird orangey tint that some chestnuts get when clipped. 

She absolutely does not like the sound of the water coming out of the culvert, so we spend time hanging out and grazing near it for exposure therapy

We've had some really good lessons lately, continuing to build on our lateral work and getting me more comfortable with a little more pace in the canter. My main mantra right now is "Shoulders in, haunches out." Trainer A did try to kill me in my jump lesson last week when she picked a pole up off the ground and spooked the shit out of Cinder. We were like halfway across the arena, but A was behind us. I didn't see what happened, just felt Cin tuck her butt, scoot forward, then start dolphin leaping. We recovered, cantered a circle, and were able to continue on to our next line, which earned me a "nice recovery". I'm getting more comfortable handling Cin's spooks and returning to work like no big deal, which has been really good for my confidence. 

I'm hoping we can continue this momentum going forward, as we've got some fun summer plans. I'm not spilling the beans, but Cinder is now registered with USEF and I've renewed my USEF registration for the first time since 2009. Please stop injuring yourself Cinder, we have places to go and things to do!

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Womp Womp

 Well, we didn't make it to the show this past weekend. Or at least Cinder didn't make it to the show, I went and helped out on Saturday. Which really wasn't the worst thing ever, considering it was 92 on Saturday and 95 on Sunday. 

When she cast herself a few months ago she ended up with that lovely split

Cinder got into something, or scraped the shit out of herself, and it blew up. She had scrapes, skin sloughing off, and swelling all down her left front. 

It kinda looked like when she had the reaction to the Voltaren back in February, and a couple nights before the leg blew up she was dewormed. I'm thinking she might have rubbed some of the dewormer on her leg, and had a reaction to it. Neither I nor Trainer A have heard of something like this happening, but both of us believe that if it could happen, it would happen to Cinder. The vet's coming out today for a few other horses and A's going to ask her about it. 

The good thing is that Cinder was sound on the leg, it just looked horrible. She got cold hosed, I scrubbed it with chlorohex, slathered it in the antibiotic and steroid cream the vet gave us, and wrapped her. I did make the mistake of giving her the molasses flavored bute in her grain instead of her preferred citrus flavor and she declined eating both dinner grain on Saturday and breakfast grain on Sunday. So Sunday morning when I went to check on her I had to remake her breakfast and hand feed her like the diva she is. 

Nope, not spoiled at all 

Trainer A said other than some scabbing, the leg looked normal yesterday and she's going to ride her today to see how she does. Today is Cinder's 6th birthday, so apparently she wanted her birthday weekend off, complete with spa treatments. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Foto Friday: Chugging Along

Not much exciting has happened since the eventing derby three weeks ago, we've just been chugging along working on the basics.  We are headed off to our second hunter show of the season this weekend and hoping to make our hunter derby debut.  And, I've renewed my USEF membership and upgraded my USHJA membership from an outreach membership to a full membership, and signed Cinder up for a lifetime registration, for the first time since 2009 in hopes of making our rated show debut in August. So I guess you could say things are getting serious. 

We did attempt a trail ride after the derby but Cinder decided to not cross the bride she's crossed many times before. After spending an hour trying to get her over it, she finally put one hoof on the bride and we called it a success. She got called many bad names on the walk of shame back to the barn.

I was going to do attempt a solo trail ride a couple of weeks ago, but on our way out the BOs started up the chainsaw to clear part of the trail, so we turned around. No need to tempt fate with a chainsaw.

I felt sad about not finding a tack shop while in Europe, so when SmartPak was having their sale Cinder ended up with the flower power fly sheet and fly mask. She has successfully removed the fly mask a couple of times in the pasture, so she's got a different one on but I still love this fly sheet. We had two nice days in the 70s when she wasn't wearing a fly sheet and she got a little sweet itchy on her belly, so she'll be living in a fly sheet till it's time to switch back to winter blankies.

I did hop on Peebs one evening. He hasn't been sat on since October, and it's almost two years since his first suspensory injury. He was 100% sure that since he's retired he doesn't have to put up with my bullshit, but was good boy and wandered around the arena for 10mins while I watched a thunderstorm roll in. He felt very wide, hollow backed, and very short compared to Cinder.  He's happy living his best feral horse life, living out in the pasture 24/7. He was also thoroughly offended about having to get a bath and wear a fly mask.