Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ASSFS Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location

A blog hop from Sarah is keeping the content rolling! I also love seeing all the different demographics of where people keep their horses, and how they vary so much from place to place.

Bobby lives one town east of Rochester, close enough that you can see hints of the glorious Rochester skyline (that being one building that I'm pretty sure is an apartment complex) as I drive out there from home. It's very much a suburban area, and while there are close to a dozen horse farms and a scattering of hay fields within a five mile radius of where I board, they're all smack dab in the middle of neighborhoods with nice houses and manicured lawns. It's by far the strangest set up of barn life I've ever been at. In fact, I think the land that the barn sits on is zoned for housing and not for ponies.

Average costs:

  • Trim $35
  • Front shoes $80-90 (although LOLZ not anywhere close to what I pay for Bobby's sneakers)
  • Monthly stall board $425-$550
    • I don't know anyone that really does pasture board around here. It gets so fucking cold, windy, and snowy that I don't think it's a popular thing. 
    • When I was searching for barns, I noticed almost all of them had surcharges for all the add-on services: blanket changes, booting, holding for vet and farrier, etc. One even charged you extra for turnout. 
  • Hay (square bales) $5.75
    • The majority of the hay around here goes to the track so it's all premium quality, hence the premium price. 
Weather? Anyone that's ever lived in WNY can go ahead and laugh at this one. The weather here changes by the hour--and I mean it can be 50* and sunny one hour and 30* and snowing its ass off the next. Because the barn sits so close to Lake Ontario, it gets a lot of wind. They do, however, usually end up with a lot less snow than we do at my house which sits a little further south. Last year's winter was very mild, and this one has been so far, too. I've lived in NY before though. It can get down to negative double digits with 4'+ of snow for weeks on end. Conversely, 90* in the summer isn't at all uncommon. NY sucks.

Riding demographic? Mostly hunter barns. Really basically all hunter barns. You have to head south to Geneseo to run into eventers and the driving people. There are a couple dressage trainers around that I would never use, and one or two big western guys, but hunter land rules in my area.

Frustrating things?
  • The vet. The main vet is a large practice with several doctors. While they're easy to make appointments with because they have so many vets on staff, they're expensive as shit, and from what I've heard there isn't a single one that people actually prefer. Bleh. I'm going to have to bring someone new in for spring shots to see if I trust them enough to ultrasound Bobby and give me a clear reading on his legs. I'd like to feel confident knowing I can go back to eventing without blowing any important soft tissue structures to smithereens. 
  • Lack of trails. Because it's a suburban area, unless you want to go wandering down busy paved roads, there's not really anywhere to go for more than a half an hour meandering walk around hay fields close by. I can trailer out to Mendon which is only half an hour away, but having to trailer out for trail rides is kind of a bummer to me. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Officially official

Bobby is now back in full, unlimited work. We've returned to all Second level work, and we're on week two of jumping 2'6" without holding back to only three or four efforts. On Wednesday, he'll have hit eight weeks of being in his wide-web, aluminium, rocker toe, wedge shoes (without ever pulling them while gallivanting around in his field which he does on the daily--so yay, being barefoot did help his feet get healthy in that regard, but also yay having a farrier that doesn't fuck your horse's feet up!) and will be transitioned to something with less bells and whistles. Farrier's goal is to get him down to a plain old flat aluminium shoe the cycle after this.

As I started putting pieces of real work back into his schedule and he never took an off step, there didn't seem to be a point to throwing the brakes on everything. Had he ever come up sore or swollen anywhere, I would have backed down. 

But he didn't. He's sound, his legs are cold and tight, and his feet haven't been even remotely ouchy. He's sticky to the right which is his tell that he needs to see his chiro, who should be out some time next week. 

going to be bummed if i have to buy even more
bell boots in a new size to accommodate no more high heels

I was bugging Farrier last week about him (again), and she just shook her head and still couldn't give me any possible diagnosis that would explain why he went so instantly sound the day he got shoes on. As we take away the degree of the wedge, we'll see if it effects him at all. The x-rays showed that the angle of his coffin bone was wonky as shit, so maybe the lift in his shoes relieved pressure inside his foot. If he goes lame, we'll go back to fancy shoes, no big deal.

In the meantime though, let's move on to fun things!

I dragged Hubby out Saturday evening to get some jump school video because no one in their right mind could want more than two weekends in a row of flat school footage (lol jk, I could, but do it for the blog, right?).

rivaling emma for screen caps of questionable quality

Perhaps even more surprising than having Bobby plopped back into jump land is having me plopped back into jumping land. Like, you guys, remember that time I was fucking terrified as fuck to jump fences...for like eight months? And wasn't that like...three months ago?!

Yeah, over it. 

I mean, I feel completely fucking silly for ever being afraid to jump. What even was my deal? Just add leg and if you need to half halt, your horse is beautifully trained so do it. He won't stop, he won't bolt, he'll just go over the jump.

Of course, that's easy to say now after those eight months of BM boot camp where she basically retrained my horse over fences and gave me multiple therapy sessions every single week. Hard work pays off, both mentally and physically, and I feel super focused and able to think over jumps now. Bring on next year!

I didn't set up a full course or anything when we got there Saturday because I didn't want to torture Hubby any more than I already was. I straightened out the few jumps that were already mostly set up: a 2'9" vertical on the diagonal (see second video), a 2'6" oxer on the quarter line, a 2'3" two stride on the other diagonal, and a 2' vertical off of a circle (see first video).  

It took some engine revving to get Bobby cooking because I'd snagged him in the parking lot as he was being brought in for dinner so he wasn't exactly pleased to be hanging out with me. The green jump was off a sharp turn off the wall which is the exact opposite of what we worked on for so long--hunter courses with their full long side arena approaches (which I'm crediting to fixing my brain the most). This was a big issue with the burgundy line. The turn into the line taking the gate first was super sharp and tricky, and Bobby was having a hard time getting it into his head that he would turn and BAM there was the fence nowgojumpgo. 

We'd either jump in awkwardly, or twice he puttered to a stop in front of it like, "Whaaa-? Where did this come from?" I finally grabbed a whip, trotted up to it, and gave him one spank behind the leg as he started dying out. That got his attention and we were good to go from there. Well, once I dropped the whip again.  

It was obvious where our weak spots are right now. I started off being really lazy with my position. I was consciously aware of my heel creeping up over the first few fences, and I was like, "That's stupid. If you know you're doing, you can damn well stop doing it." So I did. My leg is solid as shit over fences. Laziness is the only reason it should ever be swinging. 

Mostly though, it was apparent how little course work we've done all year. Bobby would jump one jump and then think he was done and needed snacks and petties before he could move on. Yeah, no. I really had to ride him hard on landing from one jump to the next in the first half, but once we started stringing things together with frequency, he caught on. And then he got snacks and petties.

When I first got on, I did think the vertical and the oxer looked a little daunting, but once we started jumping, they didn't faze me in the slightest. I would have had no qualms about raising them, but this was only our second weekend where we did more than one or two jumps one or two times apiece, and I didn't want to push too fast. We have all winter to be stuck in the indoor practicing over bigger jumps.

Sarah didn't get Pongo video, but Hubby did on Sunday so stay tuned for that story!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas comes to visit

Riding Bestie Sarah was up from PA first thing Friday morning with a plan of attack. We'd decided beforehand that we needed to do a good costume for Bobby because it had been too long (I mean, one week is too long, so the months since it had been last was obviously pure torture).

For our Christmas pictures this year, I'd originally thought about doing a Mr and Mrs Claus theme. I was going to get a beard and appropriate Claus outfits and everything, but then I couldn't find anything affordable practically free that I liked, so I switched that to doing Santa and an elf. There was an elf costume I was eyeing up, but I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to make it fit a horse.

Then Sarah stepped in.

great minds 

Forget Santa. Turning Bobby into a bona fide Christmas tree complete with a tree attached to him was a way better idea!

I dug through my tubs of left over Christmas shit, and then we hit up the dollar store on the way out to the barn to get even more shit. Sarah hacked and jumped Bobby while I beat Shooter (who was being such a lazy pig) before we tossed Shooter back outside and took Bobby to the back of the barn. There are a few stalls back there that are for the smaller horses/ponies that don't have sky lights over them like the other stalls do so they're darker--as in, they make lights show up better. We commandeered a stall from K who was in the process of mucking out and set up shop.

We started with the basics: two types of garland, ribbon, and a banner that was supposed to read "ho, ho, ho" but somehow only ended up with one "ho". Not sure how that happened... Sarah secured the red tree as a horn while I started wrapping lights. T was like, "I can't believe he's just standing there!" And I was all, "He thinks he's tied. Only he's just plugged in." #bobbyproblems

the tree was a little precarious

We stuck a few bows and ornaments on him and strung up the battery powered Happy Holidays light strand. The giant gold bow got plopped on, and then we were left facing how and where we were going to put the Christmas tree. K helpfully chimed in (we had quite an audience at this point), "Just put it between his ears!"

Well, duh!

kind of bummed the fake snow on his legs didn't come out clearly

We popped the cheapie side panels out, tied it down with some red ribbon, topped it with a Santa hat, and were good to go.

one lit up ho

I guess I've always taken my horses for granted because I've gotten so many comments of, "I can't believe he lets you do that!" I just...wouldn't ever expect him to not do it. But really that goes for all the horses I've owned. Maybe I just pick a good brain above everything else (god knows soundness isn't one of my strong suits). He's not Saint Bobby. He's a horse with rock solid ground manners and a foundation of trust in his owner. Don't under-sell your horse, people. Try it yourself before you assume your own horse can't or won't put up with such shenanigans.

maybe you don't feed enough cookies for your pone to tolerate this.
trainer's tip: feed cookies constantly.
Merry Christmas from Bobby!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Little things

For lack of having enough motivation content to write a full post on anything, I'll just put all the things together into one post!

Black Friday Shopping

My mom sent me my Christmas present money early so that I could spend half of it buying a matchy matchy custom coat to fit in with the barn fam before the embroidery deadline passed (and to also have a nice winter barn coat for once). The other half was set aside for Black Friday shopping. I didn't get anything exciting, but I did get two big items that I actually needed and didn't want to pay full price for.

The first was a full set of SMBs. Both the vet and BM recommended this style of boot for Bobby. They're fucking expensive though, so I was super happy to find these from Tough-1 on State Line. Comparing them to BM's Professional Choice boots, they're just as nice.

The second thing was a new pair of Noble Outfitters MUDS boots. I got my first pair of these almost three years ago after winning a giveaway from Dover. I did a review of them back then, and I'm so happy with how well they've held up and how much I like them that I replaced them with the exact same thing. I'd recommend these to anyone. My last pair is still going strong in the right boot, but the left boot finally sprung a leak on the side of the foot area. With winter here (aka lots and lots of snow, then rain, and then melting snow....aka so much mud), it was pretty imperative to have dry boots when you work off most of your board doing barn chores! As a bonus, they also came with a free pair of purple socks. Win-win!

i love them so much i'm having a hard time throwing them away. 


Speaking of barn chores, I was pulling the sheet off of the first horse I turn out this morning when he tried to kill me. I was reaching around to his front from his shoulder to unbuckle his chest straps when out of nowhere he spooked violently, swinging his head up and bashing me full on in the face and then leaping sideways into me and slamming me so hard into the stall wall that he knocked the wind out of me. I managed to stumble out and slide his door shut before doubling over and dropping to the ground to try to catch my breath and clear my vision.

I was so angry. I wasn't angry at the horse. He's a sweetheart, and he's just a dumb animal that probably took offense to a dust particle or something. I was angry that my fucking brain is still such a mess after nearly eleven months of getting hurt that literally anything rattles it to the point where I can't fucking see. Come on, brain. Just be healed already! Vision is kind of essential to my daily life.

After getting an appropriate amount of snuggles from barn cat Arthur who came running in from outside where he was stalking things and having to giggle at the Halfie pony who was eyeing me with great concern from the stall next to the big dummy, I got up, took a handful of Tylenol, and got back to work without further incident. Arthur followed me to and from every single paddock like he was making sure I didn't get into any more trouble, and I rewarded him by pretending to be very impressed with his collection of mice heads he's hoarding. (Ugh, barn cats.) My head feels fine now, but I've got a massive bruise on my upper arm from being crushed against the wall.

arthur says he's always available for snuggle assistance.

Tres Amigos

I'm on three-a-days at the moment. First up to bat is Shooter.

one day i'll get better pictures of him

Mr Fatty Fats is actually doing really well these past few rides! He's starting to relax, and with the relaxation everything else is coming on so much easier. Instead of curling, his go-to is stretching down and out. He's using his back better, and he's starting to keep track of his wayward hind end as we work on shoulder-in and leg yield. He hasn't even spooked a single time all week. (Yet.)

Second in line is old Bobby Magee. I keep meaning to dig out his hackamore because he likes it and I like to play with it during the winter, but I don't remember until I'm already on him. I brought both my bridles home to clean tonight so when I inevitably forget them here tomorrow, it will be the perfect time to force myself to switch over. Other than that he's not really doing anything too exciting. W/T/C, a little lateral work, maybe pop over a couple jumps.

And finally:


Oh, you want more?

Even he knows he's drop dead gorgeous:

he's obsessed with himself.

BM and I went to Finger Lakes a week and a half ago. She was looking for something sporty but sane that could eventually be transitioned to another advanced lesson horse. I'd sent her this dude's listing (among many others because OTTB shopping is my fave thing ever), and it was pure coincidence fate that his trainer called her right as we were checking in at the gate so we swung in to see him first. He was my favorite by far before we even saw anything in person, and once his trainer led him out and told us all about him, I was like, "Sold!" Only obviously I wasn't the one with the cash, so we did force ourselves to look at quite a few others--aided by trainers literally dragging horses in front of us trying to get rid of them--but it wasn't hard to get BM on my side and convince her he was the one.

Now called Pongo, this dude oozes class and came from very, very nice connections who took excellent care of him. They've even already come to visit him armed with handfuls of Gastro Guard to ease his way.

We started with BM him on, ponying him off of Bobby. BM got on him solo for the first time over the weekend, and for now I've taken over the ride. I don't do a lot of things well, but riding fresh off the track Thoroughbreds just so happens to be my specialty. He's a dream to ride--sharp off the leg, but equally sharp off the seat. He puts himself on the bit nicely, and doesn't pull on you at all once he gets moving. He does the typical squirrelly OTTB stuff--gets tense, sometimes jigs sideways at the walk after cantering, isn't too sure about ground poles without someone leading him, and he nearly face planted attempting our first right lead canter today, but he's got a great brain. For being two weeks out from his last race, he follows you around like a puppy and would basically do anything for a peppermint.

I'll try to get video Friday if Riding Bestie Sarah is able to make it up!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Balance, you bitch

First and foremost, make sure you check out Equinpilot's giveaway for Riding Warehouse gift cards! I know blog land is a RW-obsessed place, so who wouldn't want to win?

using old pictures since the outdoor is now underwater. yay, winter!

I've been struggling to come up with coherent ride reviews lately--which is probably why it's been a good three weeks since I actually did one. To be honest, I think I'm incapable of writing long, detailed dressage recaps about what my body is doing to influence my horse, and how his inside leg is doing this and making his back do that while his eyebrow (Do horses technically have eyebrows? I don't even know that.) is pointed towards the holy grail of Dressage Jesus because I feel like a fraud and, quite frankly, like a fucking idiot.


I'm able to nod and follow along when I read other dressage lesson/clinic/rides by people far more knowledgeable and introspective than myself--people that are vastly superior to me in their ability to convey what the fuck they're doing to their horse at any given time. It's not that I'm necessarily clueless in how to train my horse (I mean, it's kind of like we move in a hardening molasses sort of way, know, it gets done eventually.), I'm just completely unable to put all of it into words that make any sense.

I'm also spiraling back down into "I will never be good enough, I suck at this so much, why can't I do anything right, why is this so hard, I'm working my balls of and things are still suckingggggggg" mode. WHICH IS GREAT.


But in the interest of sharing all aspects of the journey as I've tried to do on this blog from day one, I'm going to attempt to consolidate all the angst learning I've been at lately. And I have some video again, so for the sake of posterity, I'm going to put that up here, too.

warm up trot

I have loads more positional things I'm more than happy to drone on and on about for myself, but first let's dive into Bobby Land.

Despite outwards appearances of still being a large tank that may or may not be pregnant with a litter of puppies, I can tell that his time off from being unsound did actually do a number on his fitness. He's always let me know when he's hit the wall on collected work, and we get there pretty quickly. That's perfectly fine, and we go right into a nice stretchy walk or trot break which always needs more work itself.

Since coming back from his lameness stint (I can't even bring myself to call it an injury anymore because no one knows why he went lame. u r so awesome, Bobby.) I hadn't touched on any lengthening or medium gaits while still testing out the waters on the soft tissue possibility. As I keep upping the work and he continues to be stone cold sober sound, we've all but tossed that out the window along with literally everything else.

We did his first medium this past Wednesday. It was surprisingly super light and easy. He just oozed into it after getting flustered with asking for collection and I let him open up his stride to defuse the situation. We revisited it again a couple days later and it wasn't quite that easy.

I've got him starting it on a large circle so that he can't just start running off his feet and lose his balance. It's hard to build up momentum in our ring when you take away the runway of the long side.

He's only getting it for a few strides at the moment because, again, he needs to rebuild that strength, but I'm happy with the quality of it when it's there. Mostly I need to police myself to make it easier for him. Being a bit flabby myself, I tend to balance myself by leaning back and accidentally driving/chasing him with my seat which just runs him off his feet. I started talking out loud to myself yesterday, reminding myself to sit up and not back, don't drive, close the legs, keep the rhythm, and just let the stride open on its own without ever getting faster.

At the canter, hes getting much lighter and the left. He's telling me loud and clear he's ready for some body work to the right, so that will be on the docket shortly.

I'm still not getting a great stretch at the walk for a real free walk until we're finishing off our ride, but I need to play around with pushing my hands forward more and not just letting my reins out. The stretchy trot is something he's really learning to get behind though!

Overall I'm happy with how he's doing. Me, on the other hand? I kind of feel like I've regressed in all areas. My hands are bouncing, my legs are bouncing, I still want to slouch and when I'm not slouching I'm leaning too far back, my reins never seem to be at the right length, and my hands still like to revert to sky high levels.

You know, the little things.

Monday, November 21, 2016

TRM Blog Hop: Before and After

Yay, pictures over writing! This blog hop from Cathryn is to show "before and after of their training progress, personality changes, or even of them growing up!" 

I know I've done variations of this post before, but I liked Cathryn's take on solid just before and just after--none of this "but look at the journeyyyy" bullshit. Fuck the journey. LOOK AT THE RESULTS. 

I was able to steal a few of the before pictures from Sarah, and if you're sort of new to the blog and don't know who Sarah is, let's do the briefest of recaps of The Story of Bobby.

Bobby was bred, born, raised, trained, and retired at Cobleskill where both Sarah and I went to college--only Sarah is just a wee baby so while I got foal, weanling, yearling, and two year old Bobby wherein I broke him for the track and sent him off to be a racehorse, Sarah was there when he came back and got stuck with OTTB Bobby before I bought him out of the program. 

Let's begin the journey there!

Before, 2010:

fresh off the track. he's never been this dark and shiny in the summer since this picture.
bobby is a pig and he loves his turnout which makes for a dirty, sun-bleached pone.

this angle is obviously not the best, but that pencil neck has plagued me for years

After, 2011:
february, two months after i bought him

This was right when I first started blogging, and I think there were maybe five of you that were reading back then, so what happened next was the boarding barn where I had both Bobby and Red was a literal disaster and were feeding my horses' grain (lots and lots of it that I was buying myself) to other horses in the barn. I couldn't afford to board two horses anywhere else, so Bobby went to go live with a COTHer so I could get them out of there.

Before, June 2011:
it was a fucking saga. let's not revisit it in depth.

After, December 2011:

then red had to be put down,
and the COTHer gave bobby back to me as one chunky monkey

Other milestones include....

First trail ride:
january 2011

august 2016

First jump:

january 2011

may 2015

First dressage rides:
january 2011

july 2011
(actually from our second ever show,
but i assure you the dressage test itself looked just as awesome as this)

may 2016
(pc: megan stapley, used with purchase)

First cross country jump:
july 2011

june 2015

First hunter show:
april 2011

I can't believe I don't have the pictures from Bobby's first hunter show--and first show period--anymore!! The above will have to do because his first show was with the small child riding him who I leased him out to. They did showmanship and several w/t classes and got ribbons in pretty much everything.

may 2015
now we do flat classes like this and just steal hunter princesses champion ribbons


Look again:
february 2011

And now:

obviously a summer picture because he looks like a rabid yeti at the moment

It's sometimes hard for me to notice big changes when look at full body shots of Bobby because he still has the same, dopey baby head even at eleven years old. But the change in his body is so apparent to me in person--he's a big horse, and it's less in being leggy and more in being a massively built tank with a lot of presence once you're up close to him.

In conclusion? Don't fret, owners of young, awkward, probably a little ugly at times (a daily battle in Bobby Land), slightly crazy, and definitely bumbling baby horses! Beast mode transformation takes a long time to fully come about. Maybe one day you'll own your very own versatile Bobby Magee!*

*aim higher

Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Questions for November

From L, who manages to produce not only content for her own blog, but for everyone else's as well!

1. How old is the youngest/greenest horse you've ridden? We started babies at around 18 months for the track.

baby bobby ready for work

2. How old is the oldest horse you've ridden? Hmm. That's tough. Probably only through late teens that I can think of.

3. Were you scared of horses when you first started riding? No. I first started riding at a very podunk farm in South Carolina when I was five, and I remember trying to climb onto the backs of horses in their paddocks.

4. Would you say you're a more nervous rider or a confident rider? It depends on how quickly I can get into my head and trick myself into thinking that I'm super confident and nothing will phase me. But if I let doubt starting creeping in, forget it.

5. Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses? How they don't seem to understand that I have to take care of my horse. I don't just arrive and it's tacked and ready to go, and I can't just get off after riding and walk away without doing anything to it. So sorry to waste your time, but fuck off.

6. A time you've been scared for your life? (horse related) I very briefly owned this OTQH who flipped over with me once. That was the end of that relationship.

7. Have you ever fallen off at a show? What happened? We were coming to the second-to-last jump on cross country (sitting in first place I might add), and Bobby misread the produce stand at Bucks and tried to climb it instead of jump it. He rethought that mid-scramble and threw on the brakes, sending me over his head onto my head for my first concussion.


8. What's a breed of horse you've never ridden but would like to ride? I've never ridden a gaited horse but would really like to!

9. Describe the worst behaved horse you've ridden? Back in the good old days of Bobby running backwards at a high rate of speed being his answer to everything was not awesome. Like the time he ran backwards off a fucking cliff while I was on him (emergency dismount ftw), or the many, many times he ran backwards and sat down on top of fences.

10. The most frustrating ride you've ever had? Too many on Bobby to even count.