Thursday, April 18, 2024

Spring has Sprung

 We've been in that weather rollercoaster know as spring for the past few weeks now. A few warm and sunny days, followed by cooler and wet days, and I even had to wait for my car to deice yesterday morning. The trees, flowers, and bushes are all flowering and pretty, and thus the pollen count is sky high. So far I haven't seen many bugs out yet, but apparently they're here. 

The murder mares, Gin and Cin, as coined by my lesson mate on Saturday. 

I got a report that Cinder was bucking and running like a crazy horse in turnout last Wednesday, and was super worked up when bring brought in. When I was grooming her on Thursday before my lesson, she was Very Not Happy with me brushing her belly. I leaned down to take a look, and found edema just in front of her teats, weeping blood. I asked Assistant Trainer N to look at it, and she texted pics to the vet. 

I didn't get any pics before we put cream on it

Vet called almost immediately, and we made a game plan. We're assuming Cin got stung by something, probably more than once, as this seems more than just bug bites. Cin got put on bute and Zyrtec for a few days, as well as vetasan ointment. It took three of us to put the vetasan on the first day, me holding her shoving cookies into her mouth, Assistant Trainer M holding up a front leg, and Assistant Trainer N applying the ointment. She was better in the following days about having the ointment applied, and it only took one person thankfully. 

I didn't ride in the lesson, and Cin got Friday off as well. When I went out Saturday for my lesson, she had the slightly manic look in her eye that said she needed to do something, so we did the flat part of the lesson and then watched the others jump. She was actually better than I expected her to be, but Sunday the bute and Zyrtec fueled ADHD was in full effect. There was lots of cantering involved in that ride, but we were able to end on a good note. She's been of the meds since Monday, so hopefully she'll be less manic for my lesson today.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Assist Me

 Trainer M's program includes two assistant trainers, ML and N. ML usually teaches the beginners, while N usually plays more of a barn manager/show groom role and teaches when M is on vacation. Well, Trainer M has been on vacation for the last week and a half, so not only have we had our first lessons with both ML and N, but Cinder has been ridden by both of them as well. For those that are counting, N was person #4 to ride Cin, and ML was #5. 

sharing the last of the show pics

I was a touch skeptical going into my lessons with both AT ML and AT N, mainly because I haven't really seen them teach much. I have seen N ride, and she's a very soft, sympathetic rider so I figured she'd be ok with Cin. I got good reports back on Cin's pro-rides; she did try to pull some "who the hell are you" shit with N, but they worked through it. ML told me she's a sucker for a chestnut mare and prefers the hunters, so she loved Cinder. ML also took Cin out on her first trail ride around the property and said she was perfect. 

I've have enjoyed my lessons with both ML and N. The weather's been cold and rainy, so we've been focusing on pole and cavaletti work in the indoor. We struggled a bit in our lesson last Thursday doing a  quasi circle of death, it was cavaletti on the short side, to a cavaletti bounce, two strides to another bounce on the long side, ground pole on the short side, to another cavaletti bounce then a short five strides to a ground pole on the other long side. Cinder said no thanks, that's a lot of work, and kept trying to duck out to the left when we were tracking right. N mentioned that I was dropping my inside shoulder, which I've heard plenty of times before, but suggested I think about dropping my outside shoulder to square myself up and help hold a counter bend so Cin can't run out to the left, and I've never heard it phrased like that. It really helped. I have to remind myself that it's good to lesson with different people, even if it's just to hear something I've heard dozens of times said in a different way that makes more sense. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

MDTE Gallops Saddlery Preview: Sunday

 I decided to sleep in Sunday and not play jump crew and it was nice to have a somewhat leisurely morning. I got to the show around 9 and watched the jumpers go before getting Cin ready. We had the 2'-2'3" medal and the 2'3" division on Sunday. 

 I did wear my spurs, which made Cin a little pissy about having to go forward, but more in an annoyed don't tell me what to do way, rather than an I'm exhausted way. We did a quick warmup, jumping like three fences, and then went in first for the medal. I almost forgot the halt after fence four, but was really happy with the rest of the round. We ended up winning!

Trainer M came in to hand out ribbons and give congratulatory scratches 

The medal has no oxers, but the 2'3" division does, and I'm not going to lie, they looked big standing at the back gate. I realized I haven't jumped an oxer since before my riding break, and I let that get in my head a bit. In our first round I didn't really count our strides, just tried to ride forward and keep my leg on and told myself the oxers were nothing to worry about. It worked, and we won the first round. Cin was getting tired, and despite my nice first round, I psyched myself out in the second and got a bit discombobulated. I ended up having to circle coming into one of the outside lines, but was able to fix our falling in issue and keep going. We rightfully placed fifth out of five for that one. 

I swear it looked bigger

I was determined to not let Cinder break in the flat, and to have crisp transitions and we almost did it. She was really good tracking left, and for most of our time going right. She did decide to break in the canter going right, just as we passed the judge. I did call her a bitch under my breath, hoping the judge wouldn't hear. Either she didn't see the break, or everyone else was way worse, because we placed second. With that, we ended up reserve champion in the divison. 

Despite our little bobbles, I was really really happy with how the show went. I was nervous showing after not riding for months, and switching trainers, but Cinder has grown up so much that everything was old hat to her. We know what we need to work on going forward, and I can't wait for our next show later in April. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

MDTE Gallops Saddlery Preview Show: Friday and Saturday

 While Trainer M's barn runs this show series, our home barn isn't set up to host shows, so most of the shows are at the gorgeous Heirloom Equestrian Center about an hour away in Washington. In the past, Trainer A and I hauled in for the shows, but Trainer M had a lot more clients going, and asked her riders to help out at show, so we got stalls for the weekend. M also arranges pretty much everything, so literally all I had to do to get ready was clean my tack. M loaded and hauled my tack trunk, her groom and working student set up the stalls, packed hay and grain, and did all the feeding and cleaning all weekend. I did end up hauling Cinder and one of M's lesson horses, so that way M didn't have to make two trips with her trailer.  It was nice to not have to worry about logistics, other than hauling the two, who were both perfect passengers. 

All pics bought from Lark Photography

I got to the show a few hours after the others did, and took Cin for a quick walk before putting her in her stall. She normally gets a pro ride on Fridays, and Trainer M said she'd school her at the show and I could hop on after for a mini lesson if I wanted. Cinder has grown up so much, and has been to Heirloom enough that I figured she'd be fine and I didn't want to do too much with her, so I told M that I didn't need to get on. M rode Cin for probably 20 minutes, hopped over two jumps, and declared her perfect and that she agreed that Cin didn't need to do more. 

My sleeve and glove were so wet after this class

Saturday morning was jumpers, and I played jump crew to help work off some of my show bill. I figured if I was going to be there anyways to watch, might as well make some money. This year the show is offering fun classes (rose all day, ride a buck, toilet paper relay) between the jumpers and hunters on Saturdays and M told all of us that were doing them. This show had the rose all day for the 21 and over group, and a post and pop for those underage. We were given a cup of water (because the show manager "Didn't want to waste perfectly good wine.") and sent out for a judges command type class. I was nervous about how Cin would do riding one handed, in a slightly chaotic arena, and with me holding something out to the side of her, but she was surprisingly good. We survived the two point, sitting trot, posting trot, canter and both trotting and cantering a cross rail. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad M made us do it. 

We had a couple hours between the fun class and my 2' rounds, so Cinder got to go back to her stall and I contemplated running to the Gallops trailer to buy new gloves because mine were so wet. I slowly got ready for the 2' and before I knew it it was our time to warm up. Cinder was little confused about having to go again, and a little behind my leg, but warmed up well. In both of our over fences rounds we had a case of first fenceitis, where I didn't get her forward enough and found crappy distances. In hindsight I should have put my spurs on. Most of the issues we had were from lack of pace and impulsion. We placed third in both classes. We also suffered from a lack of impulsion in the under saddle. Towards the end, in our right lead canter, Cin broke and would not pick the canter back up, so I nailed her with my whip. I knew at this point we were placing at the bottom of the pack, so why not school. M agreed with me when I came out of the ring. 

Our last class of the day was the 2' derby and I was determined to have her in front of my leg. The course was pretty fun, a canter in trot out line, a halt, and a bending line. Cinder was a little confused as to why I was suddenly asking her to trot in the line so our trot fence was meh, but I liked our halt. And I legged the crap out of her after the halt to pick the canter back up since we were going right past the gate. I was not about to have her suck back or break on me. So of course when I was so focused on her going forward, I completely forgot where I was going, and did the bending line to the wrong jump. Whoops. And had I jumped the correct jump, I probably would have won the class. Besides that stupid mistake, I was otherwise really happy with our round and glad we were able to end the day on a more positive note. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

MDTE Gallops Saddlery Preview Show: The Preview

 We went to our first show of the season this past weekend, and while I not so patiently wait for the pro photos, I'll give you a spoiler alert. 

The Oregon Hunter Jumper Association had a raffle drawing on Saturday, and I won! I got a nice Kerrits duffle bag, an OHJA hat, an OHJA garment bag (which was awesome my old garment bag that I got for free from SmartPak died that morning) and a leather halter. 

Our rounds Saturday were kinda meh, but I learned my lesson (and wore my spurs) on Sunday and we had some of our best rounds to date and cleaned up, earning reserve champ in the 2'3" hunters and winning the 2'-2'3" foundation medal. Medal finals here we come!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Mini Barn Tour

 I don't have any media from our lessons, so I figured I'd take some pics of the barn and do a mini barn tour. 

From the far end of the outdoor. The barn on the left is the main barn, the one across from the other short end of the arena is the hay/storage barn. And there's five shedrow stalls in the little red barn next to the hay barn

The driveway does a loop around the hay barn and shedrow stalls, with trailer parking off to the right of this pic. 

The indoor looking towards the main part of the barn. It's an old dairy barn that's been converted. The arena sits lower than the barn, so there's a ramp from the back aisle way into the arena, and then a sitting area slightly above the area on the left side. The back aisle has 5-6 stalls with runs attached and the washrack. The front part of the barn has five stalls, three crossties, and the tack room. Cinder's stall is on the front side of the barn. 

The back aisle looking from the outdoor towards the indoor. The ceilings are a little low for barns on the west coast, but I know these types are more common back east. My one complaint is that the barn can feel a bit dark at times, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. 

Monday, March 11, 2024

New Rhythms

 Cinder seems to have settled in at MDT. The first few rides she felt wound up and a little manic under saddle for a bit, and then would settle. This weekend when I rode she didn't feel that way, even though we had a windstorm both days. 

We had our first group lesson last Thursday. It was just me and one other ammy, though there will usually be three of us. We started in the indoor arena working over some very narrow, about 3', trot poles. Depending on how we approached the poles, we were to turn on the rail and leg yield out to the them, or do them on the rail and then leg yield to the quarter line. Cinder was slightly confused at the tiny poles, but when we went to canter them she took full advantage and sidestepped them a few time. Definitely a test as to how accurate and straight your horse is. 

I watched a bit of the lesson before mine and Cinder was visible through the open window

We then moved outside and after a couple of laps to see everything, started jumping. Trainer M set one single fence that started as a cross rail, then a vertical, and then a bigger vertical. We did each height once each way. For Cin and I, it was mainly just for M to see where we were and how Cin goes. She was great, just hopped over the fence each time without any issue. The other horse in the lesson, a hotter OTTB jumper mare, had had some time off and was jumping for the first time in a few months and was very excited. They did a little more work than Cin and I did, and I'm 99% certain Cinder really liked that aspect of group lessons. Stand in the middle and chill while the other horse works? Sign her up. 

M rode her twice last week and noted a few things that I have also been wanting to work on. We spent a bit in my Saturday lesson talking about how Cin needs to have a bit more of a metronome quality to her canter, which is easier in the summer and in a bigger outdoor vs a smaller indoor, and how she can be a bit noodley to the fences.  In my lesson we worked on asking for more pace and impulsion in the canter, and then did some lead change work. We started by cantering a figure eight and asking for a simple change. Cin quickly figured out the game and would offer a flying, but would trail her hind end a stride or two. Trainer M then put out a cavaletti and had us ask over that which helped. Cinder was definitely getting tired, but held it together and  we were able to end on a good note. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

All Moved In

 Cinder moved to our new barn, MDT, on Thursday. And in true Murphy's Law, the weather has been absolutely horrible and all the pastures have been closed since, then so she's been stuck inside. We've had rain, wind, hail, snow, and little brief patches of sunshine that trick into thinking it's going to clear up only to dump rain on you five minutes later. But despite being in a new place, with new people, and being cooped up in a stall for days, Cinder's handled it remarkably well. 

All of our 2023 year end swag

 Trainer M rode her on Friday, and I got a good report. Cinder tried to pull the alpha mare/who the hell are you move on M, but gave it up rather quickly. M really likes her, and said Trainer A and I have done great job with her, which is always nice to hear. 

She only gets supervised open window time, since she will 100% chew that hose and drag it into her stall

I had my first lesson with M on Saturday. Cinder was quite manic in the crossties tacking up, moving around and almost constantly pawing. When I got on she felt like a ticking time bomb. Normally, I would have gotten off and either free lunged or put her on the line for a few minutes, but I decided to tough it out. Don't want to come across as too much of a weenie ammy for my first lesson. Trainer M and I talked for a bit about what we've been working on with Cin, and what I'd like to focus on going forward. During our talking, I felt Cin start to relax and that her brain was coming back into her head. 

The lesson mainly focused on my hands and position, and pushing Cinder out and into my hand. It was similar work to what Trainer A has been having me work on, just said differently and in more of a h/j way vs a dressage way. Cin did have a few spooks and dolphin leaped in our first couple of canter transitions, but I held it together and didn't let her antics bother me. We did end with some nice stretchy canter and trot work, which I was very happy about. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Back in the Groove

 It seems Cinder's excitement in our first ride back wasn't a one off; she was amped for most of last week. I had my first lesson back last Friday, and Trainer A told me that she had already ridden Cin earlier in the day since she had "that look" in her eye when being turned out. And she was still really up for my lesson. Not going to lie, I had some major nerves, and almost asked A to get back on her for my lesson, but managed to push through. 

Finally got our ribbons from USHJA Outreach 

Cinder had Saturday off, and then was hoof perfect for our ride on Sunday. I did free lunge first, but from the start her eye was softer and she wasn't as manic in crossties as she had been on Friday. I even worked up the courage to use the whole arena, and trotted and cantered the ground poles set out. 

I had another lesson on Monday, and again, Cin was perfect from the get go. All the jumps had been taken down to piles of poles, so we warmed up quickly on the flat and then started trotting and cantering the piles before A set them back to jumps. We mainly trotted everything, as they were little and Cinder couldn't be bothered to actually jump them, except for a crossrail with brown poles that was evidently very impressive and she overjumped every time. I did get left behind a couple of times, but once I figured out she didn't like that jump, I was better about anticipating and staying with her. We finished by cantering a few things, and thankfully my eye didn't disappear in the few months I didn't ride. We quit early since Cin was being so good, and then I had me pose for the pic above since the sunset was so pretty. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

Back in the Saddle

Last Wednesday was four weeks post surgery, and my last dose of blood thinners was last Thursday morning, so I was officially cleared to start exercise and riding again. My first ride back was on Friday. 

Best view

Even though Trainer A had worked her three times earlier in the week, Cinder was fresh on Friday. I got on, went to tighten my girth, and she did her patented move of humping her back, squealing, and paddling her front legs, which indicates she needs to buck. I immediately got off and grabbed a lunge line and let her play. I don't trust her "I need to buck" feeling when I'm 100%, let alone after 2.5 months out of the saddle. After broncing and kicking out on the line, I girded my loins and got back on. And she was great. I felt like a sack of potatoes; I could recognize what I needed to do in the saddle but couldn't make my body comply. I thought my issue would be my core, since I have three holes in my abdomen, but it was mostly my thighs that didn't want to react like normal and my timing of my aids was a little off. 

What better time than moving barns to clean out all your shit?

I wasn't nearly as sore on Saturday as I expected to be, which was nice. Cinder got some bodywork and I got back on on Sunday for a light, stretchy ride. I did free lunge her first just in case. The temperature had dropped, and it was very windy which lead to some nice groaning noises on one long side of arena. The jump shed which was attached to the indoor, collapsed during the ice storm, and the debris hasn't all been cleared away yet, so it was moving around with the wind. I felt more connected in my body, and was able to mostly time my aids correctly during our ride. I signed up for our regular Friday afternoon lesson for this week, so fingers crossed it goes well. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

Program Found

 There really isn't a lot of programs that meet my criteria of price, location, and that attend both schooling and rated shows (or even just schooling shows) that have good trainers in my area. After calling three different trainers, hearing back from two of them, having one flake out on me, and going on one barn tour, I've found a new home for Cinder and I. We'll be moving March 1st to make everything easy. Trainer A doesn't have a departure date, but it most likely will be after the 1st, and I am absolutely not leaving Cinder where she is unsupervised, so to keep my stress levels somewhat manageable, March 1st it is. The new program is also significantly cheaper, so my wallet will be very happy. 

Really happy with how she's looking weight wise, mid winter.

We'll be moving to Trainer M's barn, the barn I initially tried to move into almost two years ago before deciding to go back to Trainer A's program. I like Trainer M, I just liked A more. M is h/j trainer, with a good group of juniors and amateurs, goes to a mix of schooling and rated shows, and is the one that hosts the MDT show series we've shown a lot at. I know a lot of M's clients, and everyone there is excited for us to move in. I'm excited as well, but still grieving the loss of Trainer A. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

This is Fine, Everything's Fine

 Why does it seem like shit always hits the fan in January?

When we left off, I was waiting for my ovarian cyst surgery, which happened a little over two weeks ago. It went way better than I expected; I wasn't nearly as sore as I though I'd be, and other than a rash from the support girdle they gave me, I was pretty much fine after a day. I'm back at work, but I can't lift anything over 10lbs for another month, and can't ride for another week and a half. 

Two days after my surgery, we got hit with a pretty bad ice storm. I was staying at my parent's house to recover, and we lost power for a few hours the second night, and subsequently the water pipes froze and stayed frozen for four days. On the third day we were able to venture out and my mom and I hunkered down at a hotel for a night. Where we live we got mainly ice, but up where Cinder is they got snow, then ice and it was really, really bad for a few days. Trainer A lives on the property, up the hill from the barn and it's normally a five minute walk from her house to the barn, but one of the days it took her over an hour to walk/crawl/slide down to the barn. The horses ended up staying in with some limited arena turnout/lunging for over a week because things were so slick and slippery. 

Between the storm and some issues with the barn owners, Trainer A has decided to move to the East Coast. I knew that has been her long term plan, but now she's looking to move in 1-2 months, not 2-3 years. So I'm on the hunt for a new barn and trainer. Peebs' barn is full, so I can't move Cin home either. I did have a small panic attack the night after she told me, but I have talked to a few trainers and have some barn tours set up and hopefully can have things figured out soon.