Monday, January 30, 2023

Talk to Me

 We had an unusual clinic at the barn a couple weeks ago, an animal communicator. We used Portland local, Joanna at The Wild Thread. A few people in the barn had used her before and Trainer A did a telephone session with her in December and raved about it. We were able to get a group of 6 together and Joanna came out to the barn for in person sessions. 

I had signed up for the Equestrian Growth Session, which was 30 minutes communicating with Cinder, and 30 minutes focused on my growth, what's blocking or holding me back, and what to do about it. Trainer A asked if she could sit in on my session with me, and I happily agreed. I figured she has insight into Cinder that I don't have, and I would want her there when we talked about my issues and what Joanna recommended for them.

Miracle bit

Joanna's first comment about Cinder was that she had a big voice and was easy to talk to. And that Cinder said she was my baby. The session officially started with a quick body scan of Cinder and Joanna said that her mouth was sore. A and I said at the same time that we have the dentist booked in February, and laughed. Cinder also said that her bit was ok, but she'd like a straight bar bit, something without joints in it. Not the bit A or I would have expected, but we said we could do that. 

Switching the bit was like riding a whole new horse. Cinder was soft and stretchy and A said she thought it would take a year in the old bit to get Cinder to where she was 30 minutes into the ride with the Mullen mouth. We'd been struggling a little with the Myler, but not to the point where we thought it was the bit, more of a "Cinder is five and its winter and we're asking for more and it's a struggle" thing. Riding her in the Mullen mouth is fun and easy and I feel like we can actually work on things rather than struggle to get a basic connection. I never would have tried this bit without Joanna.

Unicorn stuffy for my unicorn

Cinder also said she wants toys to play with, but soft toys. She's a pretty busy horse and has destructive tendencies, so I've been hesitant to buy her soft toys. She's had jolly balls but doesn't play with them. I figured why not, and got a few stuffies and so far they've lasted and she's playing with them without ripping them apart.  

Finishing off the body scan, Cinder said that her hocks were sore as well. I asked about ulcers and Cinder came back with an emphatic "I do not have ulcers." She did say she liked the new girth I had just bought (and used like 3 times on her), saying she could breathe better in it. I had been reading about different shaped girths and what shape works with what body type and ordered a Mattes athletico girth during Hufglocken's Christmas sale. I'm glad she liked it because it was total impulse/what the hell am I doing purchase. 

Girth and mullen mouth in action. Next order of business, get my saddle fit checked

We then moved onto training issues. Cinder said she's still not 100% certain when to leave the ground when jumping, and likes to hear when she's done a good job. I told her I'm not 100% certain when to leave the ground either, but I'll always tell her when she's good or saves my butt. She also likes showing off her fancy feet, which we took to mean strutting around on the flat, so I told I'll enter more flat classes at shows. A asked about why Cin can be hesitant at water and Cinder said she doesn't like not being able to see bottom of puddles or stepping in the mud. We told that we would never put her in an unsafe water obstacle and that she can trust us when we ask her to go into the water. 

For the rider growth part of the session, I told Joanna that I have a fair amount of anxiety, especially about seeing distances to jumps, and that's what I want to focus on overcoming in my riding. She scanned me and said I was sitting in a room cluttered with ribbons, old memories, and expectations. My perfectionist tendencies want to get everything squared away, but there was too much for that to happen. I need to let things go (not the first time I've been told this) and embrace doing things wrong. Find the wrong distance, the wrong number of strides, jump on the wrong lead. Joanna also suggested A put me on the lunge line and have me ride around with my eyes closed or with no stirrups, to get a better feel for things and to be ok giving up control. It honestly sounds slightly terrifying, but in a good way. We haven't been able to implement the lunge line into lessons yet, but I'm hoping we do soon. 

I was very, very impressed with  Joanna and the session. Both A and I came away with great insight into Cinder.  I highly recommend her and I will most definitely be doing future sessions with her. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

End of 2022 Season, Start of 2023 Season

 We only made it to two OHJA shows last year, once in the 2' and once where we attempted the 2' and dropped down to the cross rails. So imagine my surprise when I got a text from Trainer M (the one I sometimes show with) that she picked up my year end ribbon for me from the banquet. I was totally not expecting anything, but we apparently earned a Certificate of Merit award, which is is for the walk-trot through 18" divisions.  

love me a big ass ribbon

I'm fully aware that this is basically a participation award, but since I love ribbons, and especially big fancy ribbons, I'll happily accept it. 

As far as our 2023 show season, we'll hopefully kick it off next weekend. There's a local jumper show that's a pony club fundraiser and I asked Trainer A if she wanted to take Cinder. Cin hasn't been out since our last show in August, so I figured this would be a great knock the rust off outing for her. A is still figuring out what height she wants to do with Cin. 


Cin's biggest fence to date. Wish I could have gotten media of it.

A hasn't been jumping Cinder that high, and we were actually talking a couple of weeks ago about how high Cin has gone. We figured she's done mainly 2'6", with a few 2'9" fences. I was supposed to go up yesterday to watch A jump her, but we forgot the IL lesson schedule had changed and A had to ride before I could get up there. A popped her over what was set up for the lesson, including this solid 2'9" oxer, which both A and I are pretty sure is the heftiest thing Cinder's jumped. 

Odie is A's second homebred, and she's hoping to keep him for herself

A said Cinder was perfect and ready for next weekend. I doubt we'll do a 2'9" round, but there is a 2'6"-2'9" gambler's choice class so maybe. Here's hoping for a fun and successful start to the 2023 show season!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

December Photo Dump

 Since I’m behind in blogging, I figured I’ll just speak through photos instead of trying to get everything down. And hopefully the formatting works; I’m stuck in an airport typing this on my tablet. 

While we had some good rides at the beginning of the month, the cold weather plus a full and busy barn (IL had been at shows for 7wks and everyone is finally home again so the barn is BUSY), Cinder got a little amped and we’ve had some tense rides. A is also pushing us in the flat work and man is real dressage work hard. 

Cinder was a very good girl for A and went in the water jump with zero hesitation after not seeing it for months. She also isn’t phased by the vineyard getting installed on the big hill.

I audited an Anne Kursinski clinic and it was awesome. She’s a very old school type clinician and I was glad I wasn’t riding in it. I did get a few great takeaways (count out loud to your jump from farther away than you think and proper flat work is key). 

Cinder had a gas colic and while she seemed to come out of it well, I wanted to hang around the barn till we had poop. Trainer A offered me the ride on Sal while I was waiting. He’s a 21yr old, ex-1.45m jumper who was a stud till he was 19. He’s been teaching beginners how to jump for the past few years. He is so much fun! It felt weird riding a horse that isn’t mine, but he’s so well schooled it was great to just focus on myself for once. His owner has offered A a breeding to him so we’ll have a Sal baby to play with next year!

Two days after her colic, the temps dropped into the single digits and Cin’s barn saw snow and ice. Horses stayed in for three days, getting some arena turnout time. By Christmas (the fourth day) it was almost 60 and the ponies were psycho. I lunged Cin on Christmas and rode the next day where she proceeded to spook at the tree that’s been in the viewing room for weeks. We did lots of circles and transitions but she was still convinced the grinch was out to get her. 

We started 2023 by having a fantastic ride where she was soft, listening, and just over all really fun. We had the barn to ourselves and I think the quiet atmosphere really helped. We had a lesson the next day and while the barn was relatively quiet, both of us were more tense. It didn’t help that A really asked a lot of us in the lesson and I let my frustration at not being able to get what she wanted show. I know progress isn’t linear and that Cin is only 5 and has had an easy few weeks, but sometimes when you’re in the middle of that slough it’s hard to remember. Here’s hoping for more consistent good rides as we head into Cinder’s six year old year!