Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Check it off

Knock on mother fucking wood, things are right on schedule for this weekend's show.

Bobby did try to pull a fast one on Monday when I walked in his stall and saw a fresh blood trail down his pastern. At that point he still had a couple scabs left over from the sarcoidosis along his coronet band that were taking their sweet time coming off (They are officially gone as of this morning, and aside from being a little hairless still in spots, he looks like a cancer free horse!) so spots of blood along his leg weren't completely uncommon first thing in the morning. This was a nice fresh unrelated wound however. It looked like he'd stepped on his ankle with his shoe and just popped the skin open.

If you're wondering how one steps on the front of their front ankle with a front shoe, you have clearly never met my elegant ballerina of a horse.

I wiped off the blood, spritzed some BlueKote on the spot, and haven't had to worry about it since. Nice try, sir.

my mom fosters for the siamese cat rescue and recently got three kittens in.
so much cuter than bobby!

Other than that, even the weather has deigned to cooperate with how I've laid things out.

On Monday we did a dressage school before he got his feet done and ran through Novice A for the first time in two years. I opened it up on my phone to make sure I was doing the transitions in the right spots and was like, whuuut is this LOLZ?! It's so short compared to a Second level test. Of course, that also means there are less movements to make up for mistakes. I'm sure I'll find a way to screw it up somewhere, but the ride through felt like a breeze. Let's be real. It's a twenty meter circle each way at trot and canter. I can't mess it up that badly.

Probs famous last words.

i want this one because look at her little white feeties!!!

Yesterday we did our last fitness work, hauling out to Mendon and making sure we could still canter up and down terrain without dying. Bobby blasted through their water crossing without a second thought (he is part moose though, so not surprising), popped over a couple "jumps" in our path, and navigated the hills on autopilot.

I was able to school a drop with him which was nice because we don't have a bank at the barn (yet). There's a little pavilion that sits on a hill that's banked up on two sides just like a real cross country bank. He wanted no part of stepping off it last week, so I hopped off and did some in-hand work this time. There's only enough room for one stride before you land in brambles which I assume was his reason for not wanting to go as he's never had an issue with drops in his life.

He launched off the first time ending up with a face full of brush--which he immediately set to eating--and then calmly stepped down the next two times. I got back on and he stepped off with zero hesitation or fan fare and we carried on. The drop at GVH is part of a double step, and Novice is basically angled off to the side which makes it one drop but way steeper. I was glad to get that out of the way.

Overall though, his breathing and recovery were great for the amount of work we did. A barn mom reported he was tired last night, but he was covered in shavings from a good sleep and back to his perky and obnoxious self this morning for his day off. Bless the Thoroughbred, yo.

herro little stripey space alien

Tomorrow we'll do a light dressage school to make sure all the buttons still work, and then Friday will be a super short jump school to make sure my head is in the game. I'm not in the least concerned about dressage or cross country, but ye olde stadium demons are already back in full force. He hasn't given me a bad jump in weeks, but that shit doesn't die easy. My only goal for that phase is to stay present. And not get eliminated. He can pull every rail for all I care, just puh-leaze let us finish!

We basically got the world's best ride times for both days. Fingers crossed Hubby can work the camera to an acceptable level and that I'll be back next week with some awesome media to share!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What's red on right, white on left...

...and insanity in the middle?

How about Bobby's return to eventing next weekend? Surprise!

Actually there's (subjectively) nothing insane about it. This fucking show has been in the works for a solid month now. That may not seem like a particularly long time in the grand scheme of things, but seeing as my horse was diagnosed with the world's most random cancer just under two months ago and has inherently shitty feet, that was plenty of time to work with.

Fungus/Cancer Leg appears to be doing well. On the outside it's healing up great. He's off all meds for it, and I've been applying our fave KrudZapper less and less. The hair on his knee is coming in heavily interspersed with grey, and the area around his pastern is being particularly stubborn about growing back, but seeing as how his whole leg was alternately covered in slimy pus or scalded to raw flesh for the better part of May, it looks positively lovely now.

We're still dealing with that leg stocking up overnight. It's not as bad as it has been in the past, but certainly a noticeable difference since we stopped the pentoxifylline. The fill goes away completely as soon as he gets out--whether in turnout or being ridden--so I'm not too concerned about it. I'm trying to budget in a set of Back on Track quick wraps for him to marinate in overnight, and Riding Bestie suggested a chemo cream that I'm waiting to hear back from the vet on.

Soundness-wise though, the leg hasn't given me any issues.

His feet have also been behaving themselves. I think Farrier and I have finally figured out a good plan for him through trial and error these past six-ish months. We know he gets sore if he gets long, and we know that he gets sore the day he gets done. A gram of Bute day-of fixes the latter problem, and sticking to a three to four week schedule (mostly three because ALL THE MONEY) keeps the former from cropping up.

We scheduled his latest shoeing as soon as I sent in my entry. He'd be at four weeks the weekend of the show so obviously that was a no go. I didn't want him to get done afterwards on the chance he'd be ouchy because he was too long, but I didn't want him done the day before because he needs the Bute and I don't show on drugs, so he'll be done on Monday.

It's been a case of detail oriented management to get and keep this horse feeling sound and comfortable. On paper we keep getting handed things that could very well put him into permanent retirement. This is a horse that wants to work though. He tells us when we're not getting it right, and rewards us by doing his job without complaint when we figure things out.

I think it's easy to be faced with a problem like navicular or, you know, cancer and call it quits. It's easy to get a diagnosis and not aim for anything beyond happy pasture pet. In a lot of cases, that's all the future holds. I don't want to quit though. I don't think Bobby is ready to quit. I think he's got a lot more to offer if we do right by him and give him the best care we can. He's not going to be a full time event horse, and he's going to need to be catered to with footing in any atmosphere, but right now he's firing on all cylinders. He feels like he's ready to do this.

I picked an event to go to instead of a big dressage show because it grates on me the way we left eventing. Two years ago we moved up here to WNY. We got one event in, entered a second which was rained out and cancelled after the dressage, and then Bobby hurt his DDFT. We rallied and finished the year with a jumper derby at Novice and Training, but that winter I got my brutal concussion and spent the entire year working my lady balls off to very slowly rebuild my confidence over stadium fences. Right when I hit my stride and was feeling good again, Bobby was diagnosed with navicular and I thought for sure that was the end of any real jumping.

I've been slowly testing the waters on what his feet can handle. We've been jumping in the front field with some regularity, had a couple jump lessons in the indoor, and have done our conditioning work over lots of terrain with spurts of road hacking thrown in. I pack his feet after a hard workout (much to Farrier's amusement--I'm definitely obsessed with hoof packing), but that's all the extra attention they get. So far he hasn't shown any sign of discomfort. The short shoeing cycle and his aluminum wedges are exactly what he needs right now.

Living up to this blog's name, it was a struggle to pay for this one show. I don't have a credit card, and while the vet is great about payments, I don't like owing people money in general. All of Bobby's extensive vet visits and medication came out of pocket and were paid upfront. Coupled with a brand new car payment, there was zero extra money left over for show fees. I paid for the hunter show (and two weeks of meds) with birthday money and that was that. Hauling horses to Syracuse put a big dent in the entry fee, but I still had to rejoin USEA and make sure I'd set aside enough for gas. I had to cancel lessons for this month, but it got done. While I won't be able to afford anything else in the foreseeable future, that's okay.

It's hard to feel like you're missing out on a show season when you're handed a diagnosis you're not sure your horse is going to live through. Every now and then I'll get a twinge like I'm missing out, but I've been busy enjoying my horse, getting my learn on, and filling in some gaps in our training. I'm learning not to look so far ahead and get so caught up in goals and grand visions.

There are plenty of things I still want to do. I want to officially move up to Training. I want to clean up my scores for a Bronze. I want to hunter pace until my legs fall off. I want to do all of those things with this horse, but they're no longer the priority. Right now being able to throw my horse on the trailer and take him for a three hour trail ride by ourselves without a care in the world feels like the biggest win of my life.

Now if only they would hand out satin for that...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stirrup length, the posting trot, and chair seat

Today let's talk ALL the things that drive me crazy on a daily dressage riding basis, things that confound me no matter how hard I try to get my head body parts around them. They all tie together in a neat little bundle of equitation catastrophe.

behold! the beauty of none of the body parts working in unison

My biggest problem--well, the biggest problem in in this specific subcategory of all my many problems--is with posting the trot in my dressage saddle. I work tirelessly to try to correct this enigma. I park Bobby in front of the mirror and try to manipulate my body into the position it needs to be in to post upwards and forwards with a long, straight leg and long, straight back. I'm not above grabbing mane or the front of my saddle, but the thing I fuck with the most is my stirrup length.

I don't keep my stirrups the same length for more than a few rides in a row. One day they'll be fine, and the next I'll get on and they feel like they're three holes off. Some days short feels too short, long feels too long, or the right will feel like it belongs to a different rider than the one on left. 

This applies to my jump saddle as well, so it might be something like leg/hip tension that's making me tighten my muscles and not stretch as well as the ride before. Also perhaps stirrup adjusting barn trolls that invade the tack room overnight? Let's not rule out all the possibilities. 

On the days where my stirrups feel too long, I feel like I don't have a solid base to post from. "Don't post from your stirrups!" is obviously a good answer to that, but it's more that I feel like I'm reaching just to make contact with my irons. When they're too short, I feel like I'm blasting ten feet out of the saddle. 

So the problem starts there. My leg is all hibbily bibbily having its own personal identity crisis, and the rest of my body is just like abort!!! My core collapses, my shoulders slouch, and I can barely get my ass out of the saddle without a great effort of throwing my fat roll forwards and following it in a vague interpretation of the fetal position. Enter the chair seat.

collapse all the things

My saddle has very tiny knee rolls which I generally prefer as I have obscenely long femurs and knee rolls tend to yank my leg around into not a comfortable position. But I have to wonder if having more help up there wouldn't force my leg to behave itself and stay in that ideal hip to heel alignment, and if in turn my stirrups wouldn't constantly feel like they weren't at the wrong length. 

Is any of this making sense? Honestly I'm not sure how much sense it makes to me either.

WHICH IS PROBABLY WHY I CAN'T POST CORRECTLY.

Actually, though, some days it's just fine and I have zero issues making my body behave itself.

WHICH JUST MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE.

i would settle for this as defualt

Does anyone else have this problem? Where your stirrup length never feels right? What is the right length? Any words of advice on how to keep my leg underneath me better in a dressage saddle? This isn't a jump saddle problem, by the way. It's exclusive to dressage.

WHICH PROBABLY MEANS I NEED A NEW SADDLE.

WHICH MEANS I QUIT RIDING.

possibly if i shove my ass forward ten feet it would help?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Five Thousand Miles

Close approximation to the number of miles I covered in the past three days. Combined with a heavy dose of benadryl to combat a sting on my knee that's so swollen I can't wear pants comfortably, I'm basically existing in a strange state between almost-awake and not awake even a little bit.

Fuck yeah, let's write a blog post!

My Friday started at 6 a.m. when doggies and I went to do barn chores for two hours. From there I dropped the doggos off at home while I took a ten second shower, went grocery shopping, came back home, grabbed my truck, and went back to the barn.

pretty much slayed all day. #firsttry

I hooked up my trailer, rescued my pony from his temporary turnout group where they were eating him since his bestie was showing, helped load five horses, and then drove the two hours to Syracuse. Once there I chucked the horse on my trailer into the hands of a teen, did the world's fastest trailer backing and parking maneuvers, and drove the two hours back home. Two minutes to change into nice clothes, then into the car to drive an hour and a half down to Hubby's little brother's graduation. Two hours later, back in the car to drive home again. On Sunday I added on another four hour round trip to grab ponies from Syracuse with my window off the track in the pouring rain and the feeling of a knife lodged under my kneecap.

nothing like a good lake storm when you're driving along the lake for ten million miles

But between that all I got two dressage rides in, and I forced Hubby to join me for one since he hasn't come to the barn in ages, so the weekend was basically a win.

all rides start with stretchies and me trying to figure out how to post

Saturday we were in the indoor for the entirety of the ride and Bobby was super. Really the only thing he did wrong was getting a little twisted in his neck in the left lead canter. But let's be real. Why would any horse be twisted in its neck? Maybe because its rider can't stop fidgeting with the mother fucking reins.

Sunday I started off in the outdoor purely to get better pictures. My camera does fine in the indoor, but outside is just so much better. Bobby felt alright at the walk and cruising around on a long rein at the trot.

my complete inability to post in a dressage saddle is its own separate post.
in summary though: NOPE.

Once I started trying to pick him up and put him together though, he felt awful. His stride felt short and tight, and there was no softness to be found anywhere. I tried to tough it out for awhile with the thinking that I can't just quit when I'm at a show and he's not feeling perfect right away. But all the tricks I threw at him did nothing to improve the situation.

giving up on getting anything at this point. mehhh, sad body, sad face, we suck.

I decided to go into the indoor to make use of the mirror. Maybe he wasn't actually looking as bad as he felt? Maybe I was doing something truly awful with my body to make him feel like shit?

The second we picked up the trot inside he felt a hundred percent better.

you see what i mean with the underneck coming out of his chest tho?! ughhhhhh.
work in progress in this lower frame. so boring. so tedious. making myself work at
it every day regardless. 

The outdoor is under full sun from the second daylight hits until it's completely dark out. The base isn't as deep as the indoor, and the footing tends to bake to cement pretty quickly. I think our problem was that it was too hard for Bobby to get comfortable on. No big deal, I'll just be more careful of that in the future. There are two big grass fields we can ride in that don't get hard so easily if we're really that sick of flatting in the indoor.

We did some really quick trot work (because I wasn't going to make Hubby sit through ten hours of trot as Bobby stretched down and then came back, stretched down, and up, and down, and up, and....yada yada until he actually unlocked his cramped withers and shoulders) before we moved on to some canter.

most days the right lead is worse. this weekend he felt like the left lead should
get a turn to suck a little bit. 

the right lead felt easy peasy though. 

We finished with gallivanting around the front field bareback right quick because I've got social media to run here, Hubby. Suck it up.

we had a lesson out here thursday where bm basically yelled at me the whole time
to not let bobby fall to the inside going left, bobby kept popping flying changes and
locking onto jumps while ignoring me, and i bemoaned how out of shape i am. all of
that is going on in this picture as well with bm in my head.

i am going to be so pissed if hubby can't figure out how to take focused jumping pictures.
it was the only reason i bought this fucking camera!!!!

Nothing but a lot of dressage is in our immediate future...provided I can suffer putting breeches on over my knee. I want to get this horse's neck looking like a sexy swan. That is my only goal for this summer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Y U No Crazy?

In this edition of Carly Is Out Of Shape, we meet our heroes in the front cross country field. It's just rained nearly two additional inches to the approximately five thousand we got over the weekend, but it's been so ungodly hot that the ground is the perfect mix of soft but solid. The allergen level in the air is certified toxic, but the humidity has blown out and it's only 70*. There's not going to be a better time to get some outside jumping in.

sometimes leaving the wash stall is more than
bobby can handle in his life, and he stands there
for ages until he works himself up to the effort.

After yesterday's marathon trot session in the indoor, I wanted to reward Bobby by letting him do something fun. Also yesterday I was lauding myself for sitting the trot for basically eternity without once feeling taxed by the effort. "I am so in shape!" I thought. And maybe I am....in sitting trot shape with a strong-ish core. You know what that doesn't translate to? Being in half seat with short, short stirrups because hot damn I am going to get my strength back so I'm not an embarrassment to myself even if it borders on sadism.

I was expecting Bobby to be lit when we started popping over the jumps out front, but we've fallen into the trap of too much dressage work. We ran into this problem a lot last year when we were jumping regularly. He warms up great in all three gaits, but once the jumps came up he isn't even remotely in the mindset that that's what we're doing and he keeps getting caught by surprise.


He was curling his head instead of looking up and out, and he was so goddamned slow.

I finally got him into the groove where he was like, "Oh, right. We're jumping. Where's the next one?" but he reverted back to old Bobby several times where he could have jumped out of an open stride but instead just had to squeeze that extra step in.


We moved from there to the indoor where I'd already set a few jumps up. I tried to chase him into a strong canter right off the bat, and it wasn't a bad canter, it just need more. After he refused to take the spot I goosed him to coming into the diagonal and instead added a completely unnecessary and absolutely awful step, I got off and grabbed a crop. Two spanks behind my leg and he suddenly came alive.


I don't know what the deal was. Was it just that we haven't jumped with purpose in so, so long that he wasn't in the mindset? Too much dressage? Is he so trained now that he he actually listens too well and doesn't think hauling ass to the jumps is the right answer? I mean, it's not, but usually he takes me to them a little stronger. Was he just not into it this morning? Is he as out of shape for the thing as I am? Do I suck that much as a rider? Is he about to die after all?

The mysteries of Bobby. Feet were packed, we'll see how he's feeling tomorrow.

Monday, June 19, 2017

This, That, and The Other Thing

I feel like I've done a lot with Bobby in the past week, but it's been so hot all the details have melted in my brain. So instead of a couple of bulk posts, I'm going to squish everything into one. I don't think I can force myself or others through multiple disjointed ramblings of lessons, trail walks, and vet visits blowing money at an exorbitant rate.

sometimes you just need a whole lotta pink
in your life. and a great big moose who falls for
the empty wrapper trick every time. 

Money, money, moneyyyy

The vet came out Thursday to do a recheck on Bobby's leg. I was able to split this call with two other people so it was actually almost reasonable which was good because if I had to pay $150+ for her to roll in the driveway and take vitals on my horse I might not have paid that bill. Ever.

Overall her impression was really favorable--unsurprisingly as his leg is looking fantastic right now. She made fun of my KrudZapper again because the name is so ridiculous, but then she also wrote it down in her notes to recommend to other people. Cancer "curing" miracle cream, lemme tell ya. She spent a long time listening to his breathing and doing a rebreathing test where a bag is held over the horse's nose, something that would probably be more effective on a horse that wasn't intent on getting to the bottom of the bag because he was positive there were treats in there somewhere.

Lungs sounded good though, and I assured her I was watching his breathing and recovery closely during every ride to make sure there were no problems. (The concern being that if the cancer leaves its cozy spot in his leg it's going to be to spread to his lungs and/or kidneys, and that's the end of that.) Since he's in such good shape otherwise--no temp, no weight loss, no problems with his breathing--we were able to skip the ultrasound this time around. He'll go on two more weeks of the meds for the vasculitis, and then we wait and see what the leg decides to do. If the scabbing and sores come back, we'll ultrasound then and probably have to move on to steroids. Since nobody knows anything about this cancer, it's all a super fun wait and see what the fuck it's going to do game. So fun!

so majestic while waiting for the vet

Stick with the program

At the end of our lesson last Thursday, Bobby struck off into the right lead canter and did his stabby "My heel hurts" step. He'd just gotten done three weeks ago, but the amount of foot he'd grown was insane. I texted Farrier and she was able to squeeze him on Saturday.

We were aiming for six weeks, but LOL no. Now we'll aim for four and fingers crossed he can wait that long. Farrier said that if we didn't know what the inside of his feet looked like she'd just pull his shoes altogether because they look fantastic right now. The trouble with the wedges are they want to crush the heel, but Farrier said so far so good on that front. If it looks like they're starting to go that way, we'll try a flat shoe for a couple cycles.

She also said that the RF has essentially stabilized. If you'll recall, because of how long that leg was swollen, it was putting so much pressure on the foot and stemming the circulation that Farrier was deeply concerned about either founder or losing the fucking foot. It took about a week for the meds to kick in, but once they did it curbed the massive fill his leg was getting every night. He's also on a supplement to increase circulation so hopefully between the two we're past all that. She said that the new hoof coming in is going to be an entirely different foot--the angle it's growing out at is different than where he was at before, so that might also be why he came up a little sore.

bobby says 8am is too early for pedicures

Wait, what

Speaking of my lesson, we're two for two (or infinity for infinity) on weeks where I had to stop and have BM break things down to toddler speak for me. At least there were no tears this time? She had me doing SI across the diagonal each way, and for some reason when I started I could not get my brain to coordinate my body. Like, what even fucking direction should my horse be pointed in? I DON'T KNOW I KNOW NOTHING.

Fortunately BM is good in her range of teaching. She starts by talking to me like I'm on her knowledge level, which in some things I can generally at least keep up with, but we usually devolve to Hooked on Phonics by the end.

Off we went to try again with BM telling me where to put every single inch of my body. If I exaggerated my seat aids a lot, it was easier for me to mentally ride and therefor easier for poor Bobby to figure out what the fuck I was asking him. As in, yes that's a fabulous trot half pass, but BM is yelling at us now. Dammit.

We got some good work in the left lead canter where BM banished us from using the rail ever again so I could tell right away when Bobby was getting even remotely crooked. That was a great exercise and one that worked really well for us this morning, too.

creepin.

Trust the training

I kind of had an existential horse crisis this morning during my ride. Bobby still has a slight dip in front of his withers from not carrying himself correctly all the way through. It's not as bad as it's been in the past, but it's still there. BM assured me that he's using his hind end great, he's always been good about engaging his abs, but he just wants to jam his shoulders and get stuck there. Fortunately he's really embracing the stretching game lately, but as soon as I pick up my reins and try to get him shorter he tenses up right at the base of his neck. Ain't nothing going to fill out if we keep playing that game, bro.

Towards the end of the ride I was getting him pretty through at the walk, but as soon as we moved to the trot he was like, ABORT BRACE YOURSELF FOR IMPACT TIGHTEN ALL THE THINGS.

I was so frustrated thinking this horse is never, ever going to have that long, beautiful uphill neck and front end, and he's just going to have this giant disgusting underneck muscle bulging out of his chest for all eternity. But I sat it out. We lapped the arena in trot with me occasionally making minor adjustments and trying to live by BM's mantra to just let him make the mistakes instead of jumping all over him.

He started to lose his shoulders coming into the corner so I put my outside leg on to push them back over while touching him with the spur on my inside leg to keep the bend and all the sudden it was like the heavens opened up. I felt him lighten way up so I softened my hands a little to give him somewhere to go and he shifted back and eased himself into an entirely different gear. A couple laps later and that long, beautiful neck was in full affect with a relaxed, happy horse moving out in a big easy trot.

The basics are the hardest, yo.

and here are puppies getting stinky in the erie canal because i'm out of horse pics.

Show me the money

I'm hauling a horse to and from Syracuse this weekend for a multi-day show the barn is attending. I'm hoping that will put just enough money in my pocket to pay for an entry fee for a show next month. It's a lot of money with no refund whatsoever for vet scratches, so it's going to be a bit of a gamble, but I think we're at a point now where we've got a good program in place for both Bobby's feet and leg. The hunter pace showed he can take a bit of abuse with the right management. I'm so broke from paying for all that management that even though I could do a couple small shows with this little bit of extra money, it would mean way more to be able to get to do this one big show.

Fingers crossed things continue on a good trajectory!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Genesee Valley Hunter Pace

I don't know if it's just me or what, but hunter paces are about the most boring thing to try to squeeze content out of. Unless you're a genie and have someone at every jump scattered across miles of territory (or you're Emma and you live for helmet cam screen caps, but it was too hot and I was too lazy to attach my helmet cam and deal with turning it on and off every time there was a jump), then there's not a whole lot to say.

My barn took six horses down to Avon for the pony club and/or hunt club's hunter pace. BM's trailer had to stop at a gas station so I continued on by myself with Bobby. I had a general idea where I was going. That particular area is like its own confined Area II where all the things eventing and hunting go on, so I knew if I got to the general area of where the horse trials are held, I'd be good to go.

snacking on roadside weeds instead of
grass while waiting for the rest of the barn

Once I was parked and had Bobby unloaded, I finally saw the other two trailers coming in from the complete opposite direction. Again, if you get to the general area, you will run into a horse event before too long. I got Bobby tacked up and headed way down the road to meet up with them.

trailers and horses everywhere!

Bobby can be a complete asshole, and sometimes I really want to brain him, but he's worth his weight in gold in situations like this. He stood quietly at the trailer by himself while I got us ready, waited at my step stool while I clambered on, and then strolled down the road on the buckle without a care in the world before hanging out in the middle of a group of horses in various stages of readiness before we all headed over to the start.

waiting patiently for bm to sign us up

It was a good half mile walk to get to the timer after we'd paid, and then another half mile before the road finally ended and we set off into the first field.

my team ended up being another dark bay ottb and a dark bay morgan. we were all
very matchy matchy. photo credit: curt grant

It was a hot 85* out, but the wind was blowing so it stayed manageable. We were also in the woods for most of it, following alongside the Genesee River which was really pretty. Bobby and Wym--the other OTTB--matched strides for awhile before bouncing back and forth in the lead. Bobby doesn't really care where he is as long as the horse in front of him is moving faster than he is. That worked out well for the first half of the ride where there wasn't a lot of jumping and when the track narrowed Bobby somehow always ended up in front anyway.

photo credit: curt grant

It became an issue when another group came running right up our asses just as we came to a dried creek crossing. The horses had to step down into the creek bed and then launch straight up a big bank that led steeply uphill. Bobby led and handled it fine, Wym followed without much hesitation, and then our baby horse bringing up the rear nearly got smashed into by this group.

Baby Horse had followed us bravely over everything else so far because he didn't want to get left behind, but faced with this tricky question and a new pack of friends behind him, he decided it would be okay to stay on his side of the creek. Fortunately one of the riders gave him a lead and he figured it out. We let the whole group pass since they were clearly going for a faster time than we were, and as they took off up the hill Wym lost his shit.

I forced Bobby to walk up the hill while using him as an e-brake for Wym who was smashed into Bobby's butt. We walked a couple big circles once we hit the open field to let the group get well out of sight. At this point Wym's rider declared he needed to be in front at all times. Okay, whatever.

The only problem was that Wym didn't actually want to lead, he just wanted to be going fast. So he'd be cantering towards a jump, chicken out, and slow way down to a trot or walk. Bobby was not okay with this. Bobby didn't have a problem with Wym being out front so long as Wym wasn't going slow.

so much open land down here

I managed to make do for awhile, occasionally just giving up on letting Wym "lead" and jumping without him. I'm not sure why his rider thought he had to be out front. He wasn't being bad or flailing around. He just wanted to go.

We had one moment where Wym slammed on the brakes to a halt because there was a barrel holding a gate open. I stopped Bobby, but Wym wouldn't go forward by himself so I took the lead and cantered towards the big coop jump. Bobby was sick of the stop and go nonsense by this point and snatched the bit to steeplechase the coop. He left out a stride until the last second where he was like, "Oh, shit. Bad idea" and put a leg down which was an even worse idea as Fungus Leg got smashed on the top of the jump and we nearly landed on our faces. He had a Come to Jesus about what "Whoa, mother fucker" means, and we carried on without incident from there--and without Wym leading us over any more jumps.

photo credit: curt grant

The jumps were legit hunt country jumps, as billed. Nothing was under Novice height, and while there wasn't a lot of them, what was there was a blast to gallop over. Bobby hasn't seen a real cross country jump in over a year, but he pulled me to every single one with ears pricked looking for the next one.

I wasn't worried about how Fungus Leg would hold up. He's grown a good amount of hair back on that leg and the skin looks great so I felt comfortable putting boots on him without worrying about rubbing him raw. Of course I hadn't anticipated him crashing into a solid jump, but he came away with nothing more than a couple of small scrapes on his knee.

fungus leg this morning, no worse for wear

I was worried about how his feet would feel afterwards. It was good footing--I wouldn't have ridden him if it had been too hard--but this was definitely the first big test for what his navicular can handle backed by his fancy shoes. I packed his feet when we were done, but he didn't get any bute. I wanted a clear read on if this type of thing made him sore or not.

The verdict? He galloped around his paddock like a looney Monday, and today he felt fantastic for our ride this morning. No footiness whatsoever.

looking much cuter in jump tack than dressage tack

I think as long as I'm picky about footing and we stick with the wedges, we should be free to trail ride to our heart's content this summer.