Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Baby Steps

Baby steps towards achieving BM's goal of me actively riding my horse over fences that is. A tall task, I know.

I debated giving Bobby today off. I don't like doing the same thing more than two days in a row, and trail riding is certainly out of the question as we'd go all Artax lost in the swamp if we wandered any further than just behind the pastures. I have a doctor's appointment today that I don't want to smell like horse shit for (Fingers crossed they figure out why my eyes still can't focus since my last concussion!), so it was either get there super early or just chuck him out in the pasture and get back to work tomorrow.

I ended up being roused super early by Hubby so Bobby missed his chance to be a lazy bum for a full twenty four hours instead of just twenty three.

I'd cleared the ring of jumps yesterday so we could do a test run through. BM dragged the ring after my ride and this morning there was only an outside five stride line and a single along the other long side set up. Perfect for me, I just wanted to give Bobby a break from drilling dressage.

sorry, no jumping media!

Our warm up was long and low and staying light which he was perfect for. He's always perfect for that in the dressage saddle too, it's just the hard stuff that comes after where he gives me the finger.

We started off circling over the first jump in the line that I'd left set low at 2'. To the left it was off a short approach so I went right to work making sure I had control of his haunches and was making a square turn so his butt wasn't fishtailing all over the place. I got that down right away, but then forgot that I also needed to keep both legs on to maintain the forward. SO MANY THINGS!!!

Once I forced myself to buckle down and really focus I was able to put the two together and get good jumps. Part of me wonders if I have such a hard time making these things that I technically know click in my head in a timely manner because I keep painfully jostling my brain, but the other part of me is like....well, you kind of have always sucked at jumping so there's that.

From the right I cut into the line and had a nice long approach to get my shit sorted out. That was easy peasy and I let Bobby have a quick break before moving on.

so glad the purple bonnet finally went on sale at the local tack store

I started with the line off the right. Jump in and immediately lift Bobby up with my seat and legs to make sure he didn't splat on landing. Nailed it and he cantered down the line not feeling like a runaway train burrowing into the ground. We came around to the 3' single and I whoa-ed too much and got him in too close which made him roll the rail out with a knee. Second time around, just as easily through the line and nailed the distance to the single.

Back to the left again to the line. He jumped in awesome, landed uphill and I felt like I could have added or subtracted as many strides as I wanted because of it. He handles like a fucking sports car when he's not dragging himself on his forehand. And, you know, is being a listening polite horse and not a raging asshole.

Easy over the single though I did come around the corner and realize I had to add a lot of leg because he wasn't paying attention and hadn't even picked up on the jump yet. But I was active and did it without hesitation which made the jump a breeze.

riding bestie's puppy came to visit on friday. the black bear loves her.

I get down on myself sometimes because we do a lot of small jumps in lessons, and I feel like I'm never going to get back to where we were. But we also do a lot of repetition in lessons and BM knows his feet aren't going to last forever. She's also drilling basics that I never learned or have never been very good into me, and those don't change no matter what the fence height is. When I'm on my own I can make the jumps as high as I want and use all the information she tries to hammer into my brain while only doing a couple jump efforts.

And there's no fear coming up to big fences. Just calculation and how to best ride my horse. BM earned an honorary therapy degree last year, for sure.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bad Horse

Ugh, Bobby, you're just bad!

one of us is pointed in the right direction

I guess I should have seen this coming. Bobby is a horrible monster during the winter, every single winter. But we did a lot of fucking around and not a whole lot of real work this winter because my motivation was down since I didn't know if I'd have a sound horse to compete this year, and a lot of days it was just too fucking cold to function seemingly more so this year than the years before. I had a relatively pleasant winter for once and now I'm paying for it in the spring.

I should be fair and say that while the tantrums are as violent and absurd as ever, he's actually coming back down to earth in a relatively short time frame for him. I don't feel like I've lost a whole ride fighting with him lately. Maybe five minutes max and I can start finessing some work out of him again, and we're able to end working normally.

lots of stretchy trot breaks to try to be nice. doesn't always work. 

Yesterday his problem was that he just wanted to canter. He also didn't want to steer and I was hit hard upside the head with how often my legs are off my horse when I steer. If I tried to get him to turn with just my legs, he blew through all my aids and then got pissed when I had to kick him over to avoid ramming into the wall. That obviously necessitated a fit, and while I got him working better, I still wasn't really putting my leg on like I needed to. That's going to be a constant work in progress. You have to respect my leg and not get rage bitch pissed when it's telling you to do things.

We also had a discussion about how you don't get to just canter whenever you feel like it. Oh, I picked up my reins from a free walk? BETTER CANTER. You want me to lengthen my stride? SOUNDS LIKE CANTER.

i've been working on letting him be way more forward at the canter which has resulted
in him really starting to lift up front. of course now i can barely ride it. 

It should come as no surprise that today's issue was that he didn't want to canter at all.

BOBBY. I HATE YOU.

yesterday's reaction when i wouldn't let him canter.
today's reaction when i did want him to canter. 

It's a humid sixty degrees here today so I opened the arena doors and started our ride off with a meander around the pond and some of the trails that weren't too underwater. He was happy to be out and seemed better for it when we got back to the ring. He warmed up at all three gaits well. We did all sorts of fun things at the canter--changes of direction through walk and trot and counter canter shallow and three loop serpentines. He got a little tense a couple times, but no dramatics and stayed focused.

I let him have a long walk break while I looked up 1-2 on my phone. I'm doing 1-2 and 2-2 at our first rated show Memorial Day weekend. I never bothered entering any First tests last year because I never planned on sticking with dressage. Now we're mostly stuck here so I have to swing back down and grab those scores towards my bronze.

lengthenings are good to go. far too close to face planting for anything else.

He seemed pretty...mild, I guess, when I picked my reins back up to run through the test. Lengthenings were good, leg yields were fine, walk was fine, picked the trot right up, and then lost. his. shit. when I cued for the canter. I eventually got him into it and headed onto a forward trajectory, but when I turned in for the 15m circle he went winging sideways and lost his shit again.

bye felecia 

Lots of kicking got him moving forward even if it was up and down like a rabid rocking horse forward, but then he slammed on the brakes and refused to move. Ughhhhhhhh, Bobby. I got him out of that eventually and finally wrangled him at a walk onto the 15m circle we were supposed to be cantering. I let him walk on that for several minutes until his brain slunk back into his ears, trotted it a few times, and then--tah dah! I asked for the canter and he did two circles just fine with zero drama and continued on through the rest of the test quite fancily and without any fuss whatsoever.

casual every day warm up trot now

I let him be done there, did another outside walkabout, and hosed him off. Farrier and I had been talking before I got on about how everyone thinks Bobby is so sweet and perfect, and then I got off and she was like, "Good ride? LOLZ. Bobby you're the worst."

Some days, bro. Some days the Amish are calling you (metaphorically of course).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Active Riding

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about this morning's lesson. Between the weather and being sick, it's been a good long time since our last one and I can't actually remember the last time we jumped anything.

Also my horse has fluctuated between being semi-manageable and something straight from the depths of hell these past few days so which Bobby was going to show up to play this time?

After Monday's less than stellar cooperative ride, on Tuesday I tried again. He was actually far better behaved to start. He wanted to try the bucky pumpy hoppy nonsense right off the bat at the canter, but I just kept kicking him and sat through it and he finally dropped his llama face and got to work. We even coasted through a canter half pass across the diagonal to a flying change with zero dramatics. He still does the canter half passes like we're swimming through cold molasses, but we eventually get to the other side. I mean, it's not like these tests are timed, right? So what if we need a full minute to make it from K to M?

I didn't want to burn him out with another dressage ride, but I also didn't want to jump him two days in a row--and it was fucking freezing yesterday--so I went with a longe for Wednesday. I bent down to pick up the whip and he went shooting off. Of course it was the one time I wasn't wearing gloves to longe so I was only able to yell at him while trying to send his rabid dolphin leaps into a circular motion before I finally got him wrangled down. He spent the rest of the longe snaking his head at me but at least remained on the ground.

"fuck you, i'm so sassy!"

So yeah. Maybe not the most confident feeling that I was going to get a well behaved horse today.

However, since he's Bobby and Bobby plays by his own mysterious Bobby rules, he was actually completely perfect...in his own Bobby way.

BM started us off with two poles down the long side five strides apart. She sent us off to the left first saying that we could get however many strides we wanted as long as I came in with a plan to get them. I couldn't waffle and just let Bobby splat in and then race out on his own terms. "You need to be an active rider and make decisions before it's too late." Okay, well, I think we all know that being an active rider is the complete polar opposite of who I am. Sit like a lump and space out? Right up my fucking alley. 

I was able to get some good work done on not having Bobby take a nose dive after the first pole/jump (As if he would just canter over them. Please.) and then barreling down the line on his forehand yanking the reins out of my hands. When he does that it makes him feel like he's going a thousand times faster than he is, and like he's going to land and do a somersault. I got him to lift his front end up and keep it up so he felt really light, and it made the five strides feel like we were just strolling down the line easy peasy.

the picture of lightness and adjustability, amirite?

Then we switched and went to the right. The first pole came off a shorter approach that direction and, as always, I completely botched it pretty much every single time. Bobby kept swinging his haunches out, losing balance, and swapping behind which didn't help matters. I was like, thankfully Massage Lady will be here next weekend because he clearly needs work. Meanwhile BM was like, "Stop riding like shit, control your horse's haunches, and you won't have that problem, you fucking jagaloon." (possibly not a direct quote)

After bungling through that direction enough times, BM mercifully let us move on. Back to the left, we had a pole 9' to a gate 18' to another pole. She rolled the poles in and out each time so I had to get him to compress or lengthen his stride accordingly. It went fairly well though I definitely felt like I was riding Bobby's coattails as he figured things out mostly by himself. To the right it wasn't quite as pretty, but uh...compressing your horse and making him use himself apparently makes him not fish tail all over and land on the correct lead with no crazies. Hmm.

must get kitty snuggles in

We finished with a standard hunter-ish course. It wasn't the smoothest, but I made decisions and acted on them with every single fence. There was no launching, no getting left behind, and we actually got out of the two stride in two strides without difficulty. BM gave me the option of doing it once more to clean it up, but my lungs were well and truly shot at that point so we quit there.

Overall not a bad lesson for a bad horse who hasn't jumped in ages.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Is this what it's like?

Is this how normal horses are? You give a super fit clipped horse nearly two weeks off in cold weather and they don't come out like a sleepy little puppy dog?

It's absolutely awful.

satan after a mid-ride longe intervention

On Friday I was finally feeling sort of human again. I could mostly speak without coughing, and while it still felt like I'd shredded every muscle fiber along my ribs (PSA: Never get bronchitis. According to the vet, women who get bronchitis in winter are almost guaranteed to break a rib. Did you know that? Doesn't that sound fucking horrible? Take your vitamins!), I'd finally found time to have BM check Bobby's new saddle for fit.

It sits a little low up front which I could already tell, but she said it was great in the shoulders so all I did was stuff my ancient foam Roma wither pad under it and off we went! We did a super low key w/t/c ride just so I could get a better feel for riding in it and to see how Bobby felt.

Yeah, Bobby felt like he was possessed by a malignant spirit.

summoning a demon while doing dressage? right up his alley. 

Bobby is not the type of horse that does well with time off. I wouldn't classify him as a hot horse--he doesn't try to run off with you or feel uncontrollably fresh. Instead he turns into a fucking terrorist. He gets mean. He walks from the paddock on his hind legs. He picks a fight with you about everything. He tries to bite you. It's like he gets so bored and he has all this (imaginary) 'roid rage built up that he channels into bad things.

He got the weekend off since he was vaccinated Friday afternoon and I was busy anyway, but I got on this morning in a wide open, jump-free arena excited to be able to do some real dressage work in a real dressage saddle on my real Second horse.

FALSE.

remember all those fancy horse ribbons we won last year?
(ribbon rack brought to you by tracy!)

He was actually pretty good to warm up w/t. I was lulled into a false sense of, "It's so nice to have a horse that can just come out and get back to work without missing a beat!"

And then we cantered. It started off fine. Left lead, not heavy, staying forward, not curling, all good news. And then he couldn't horse any longer. He started to get tense, like, "Oh, I forgot I'm Bobby. Quick, better have a tantrum for no apparent reason and then also get over it for no apparent reason. Rinse and repeat."

We made it through that, never really getting the quiet, drama free simple changes I was going for, but first ride back, we'll work on those later. Canter right.

No. No canter right. Violent bucking fit sounds like a much better option.

st patrick's day festivities.

At that point I got off and put him on the longe to canter right. Once he was done flailing, he picked it right up and went around without issue.

I got back on and did some work with the halt on the center line. Trot/halt/trot, trot/halt/rein back/trot, yada yada. He would be okay and then randomly decide he wasn't okay and try to instigate something. I finally just finished by beating him onto a circle at the walk and ending once he could remember he could bend again.

The saddle rides nice though! Throughout all his malarkey I felt like he was using himself freely--no get stuck from a too tight saddle here, express yo self, Bobby.

Only don't. Please. Just go back to being a nice horse, and stop trying to fucking bite me and sail away on the end of your lead rope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#eventingbingo


I find it a little spooky (or suspicious) that one of the eventing bingo cards I was assigned has one row that can accurately sum up all of Bobby's eventing career. We're going south from N here folks because #thetruthhurts.

I don't often find myself nervous about dressage. In fact #never because #dressagemoose #whatisthejudgelookingat #notthesamehorseimriding #clearly. I've been guilty of dialing it in plenty of times and losing scores that way, and sometimes Bobby loses his shit because #bobbyreasons, but if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know the real issues have always been with the jumping phases--mainly #stadium #fuckthatbitch

wow, does looking at old pictures make your current self feel like a #fatty

I feel a little guilty about claiming our first box because rarely are rails Bobby's fault. But from Bobby's point of view, every rail he knocks is a #cheaprail because his pilot #rideslikeshit.

"you are #useless, lady"

Flowing right along, the main reason we take rails is because I prefer to gallop around stadium at the #speedofaslug #sofastwow #waithaveyouevenmovedyet.

trying to asses if we're in some sort of jumping #timespacecontinuum 

Ironically, while jumping I also run into the problem of #nobrakes #whoadammit.

the day the #hackamore got banned from competition #isaidwhoayoufucker

But the main love of Bobby's life is #crosscountry and he'll put up with a whole plethora of rider errors to jump around clean.

"you're an #incompetentidiot but #okay"

Monday, March 13, 2017

Roxanne

I hope I can stop bitching now.

My saddle still hasn't sold (Oh my fuck, someone please buy it. Do you want a blogger discount? Done. Sold. It's yours.), but I was finally able to take the plunge and buy another dressage saddle.

pause for celebration

ignore wonkily placed saddle pad. i'm used to having
to pull his jump pads up to his ears.

It's not fancy, but it was under budget, a brand I'm familiar with, and was coming from right over the border in PA so it shipped up to me practically overnight. I'm all about instant gratification, what can I say?

It's a Stubben Roxanne which is far from their nicest anything saddle, but I'm hardly a leather snob and this is probably the nicest saddle I'l ever own. If it fits my horse, fits me, and isn't falling apart, I'm a-okay with life.

So. Does it fit?

"does this process involve cookies?"

Um. Well.

It wasn't a magical unicorn fit that--once settled onto my horse's sky high withers, massive shoulders, and relatively narrow back--shot glitter and fireworks down the barn aisle, but I didn't immediately take it off and chuck it in the manure pile either. I want to get BM's opinion on it since she's far more knowledgeable in that area than I am, but for now my impression is that it's something we can make work with some tweaking. I think it's a touch wide, but I'm hesitant to stick anything under it without BM's advice because Bobby's shoulders are enormous and I don't want to pinch him there.

In the meantime, I jumped on for all of two minutes to do a quick w/t and see how we both felt in it. Bobby hasn't been ridden since last Tuesday and is going on his third day with indoor turnout only, but he went right to work as always without any grumpiness or indication that he absolutely hated it. It fit me well in the seat, although my knee tips over the front just a touch. I have absurdly long upper legs so getting a dressage saddle to fit me is tough. It's one reason I went with the most minimal knee blocks I could find. I was worried something big and bulky would yank my leg back into some weird contortionist position or bang against my knee and annoy the shit out of me.

I'm currently dying of tuberculosis/pneumonia/black lung/the plague/a death cold of epic proportions so I had to stop the ride pretty much as soon as it started anyway. I also didn't want to irritate Bobby's RF's latest malady either:

pre-cleaning. there are three different gashes there.

Dudes, I left him at 9am in his stall happily munching away at his hay with nary a scratch in sight. I had to go home to sign for my saddle, but then I was back at 11:30. When I pulled him out of his stall, I saw that.

HOW DO YOU MAIM YOURSELF IN TWO HOURS STANDING IN YOUR STALL EATING FOOD?!

AND WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE THE SAME FUCKING LEG EVERY TIME?!

"but do i still get cookies?"

I scrubbed it clean with some borrowed betadine since mine froze again (which prompted me to finally move my first aid box into the heated tack room since I clearly need to access it on a full time basis), threw a wrap on it, and locked him back in his house. The vet's coming Friday for other leg things and vaccines so she can deal with it then if it decides to go rogue.

I have no idea how he did it. Unless he picked a brutal fight with his rubber feed tub, my best guess is that he just straight up stepped all over himself. I don't know. It's Bobby. Is there ever a clear reason? How did he injure his DDFT overnight? Why did he suddenly present as a severe navicular horse and then magically become fixed the second shoes were put on? #bobbyproblems

The massive snow storm starts tonight so depending on how easily I can breathe, he'll either get more indoor turnout tomorrow or a good frolic in some fresh, clean snow. Or I might just kill him at this point, I don't know.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Happy Birthday Bobby!

Old Bobby Magee is just one year away from being a teenager! How do they grow up so fast? And how, after twelve years of knowing this horse, am I still somehow stuck with him?

The mysteries of life: horse edition.

so boring on decorations this year, but i wanted a change from the same old pink
stuff i use every year.

i tried to get a better picture outside, but it was too windy

his main present was a pound of carrots. his fave.

listening to the indoor roof try to fly away

momo is pouting because i shooed him away. he was trying to stuff his head into the
hat. neither of them are renowned for their brains. 

#angryunicorn

so angry

"durhhh i hate this hat!"

"charging" momo who was incredibly unimpressed and just continued standing there

i'm not all mean. i only made him do a couple circles before pulling it off.

Besides carrots, his other present was getting out of yet another lesson. The barn lost power yesterday from the wind (We win--81mph at the airport.) and the arena roof stands a very good chance of not making it through the weekend if this wind doesn't calm the fuck down. Everyone was stuck inside waiting for fence to get fixed and power to come back on (most of the fencing is electric tape, but the post and board paddocks also suffered serious damage). We're doing short, supervised indoor turnout while keeping an eye on the roof, so hopefully things return to normal asap!