Some delayed news of progress

Confession time: I have been a complete slacker. The weather has been perfect, and I have been spending all my spare time with the barn family and riding as many ponies as I can get my butt onto. And so I present to you a long overdue update on all the fun things we have done in the last couple of weeks.

Knots and I have been spending some extra time together in a couple of jumping lessons around Memorial Day weekend. Thursday we went to Leaning Oaks Farm and had a jumping lesson with Amanda Merritt. It was pretty fun. She started with a two jumps, one stride apart. She started with trot poles to an X and then moved it to a crossrail, one stride, 2’6″ oxer. Clearly I have been putting on my big girl pants. After we jumped that without completely awful form, we worked on a course of about 6 jumps set to 2-2’3″ (I think). Then we schooled in the water, walking/trotting through and then jumping up and down a very small bank/log.

That was our warm up, and then on Monday we went down to Pine Hill and schooled out there with Amanda. Knots and I definitely brought our big girl pants, because we jumped everything with minimal fuss. We jumped lots of logs and then up and down a small bank and then a 2′ bank/drop. We also jumped a BN trakehner and a couple of lines. We cantered through the water and jumped some brush boxes. Definitely a confidence booster. Knots is really trying to be point and shoot, he just needs me to help him keep pace and not fall off haha. No pictures because my lovely assistant was working.

Gracie and I had a schooling ride over the weekend through a surprise bout of allergies. We went out to the jump field and worked over some fences. She was fairly squirrly with me, which I haven’t seen her do with Robert. I have a lot of ideas about why this may be, including poor hand placement and a shorter leg. Either way, we managed to figure it out. I have a couple of stills and a video of our last jump.

This was a great jump, I stole the still from the video posted below.

She looks awesome here, jumping over an 18″ X…. Clearly I got left far behind.

And last but not least, Jellybean!

I have slowly been coming to the realization that Jellybean is no longer not broke. She is officially green broke. I have still been taking it very slow with her, and its definitely time to see how well she can hold herself together. So I rode her in the cutting pen without assistance. She was not very good, she didn’t want to move off my leg and I ended up in a kick war. I knew this was not a sustainable plan, so I found a stopping point and tried again the next day. I rode with a dressage whip this time, and had much better success! She was actually paying attention and giving me reasonable transitions. She still didn’t want to go in certain parts of the cutting pen, and she spooked at the leaves rustling, then she spooked when she stepped funny. Either way, we walked and trotted. Then I decided to push it and she how she would canter. Boom. Quiet and uneventful.

The next day I took her into the large arena and hopped right on. She was a little excitable and wanted to trot off and around. She made that decision, so I kept her trotting until she was very tired of trotting and then I started my little walk/trot/canter practice. I haven’t been working her hard, just until she does what I ask. And that hasn’t taken very long yet.

A couple days later I rode her in the large arena again, and this time she was even more responsive. She is starting to want to turn and go where I ask, and I am not having to nag her to move off my leg. She knows how to back up, and she is starting to learn how to stop better. All in all, exciting things happening everywhere! I linked the video of her w/t/c both directions from Sunday.

Basically, everything is going extremely well on the pony front. We are planning to go to an event on July 6th and then looking at some dates in the fall. Looks like we have awesomeness going on all fronts!


An Update from the barn… Jellybean style!

Hey guys!
So, it has been a while since I wrote an entry for y’all.  Just to let you know that Amanda and Robert have not drove me to complete insanity yet, I have decided to give you an update from my equine perspective!  #spoiledponywithablog

So…  last time I gave you a recap there was this new girl that they brought to live with Oberon and me.  Not only did she get my stall when she moved in but she also got all the attention. 😦  Don’t my people know that I am their princess horse and need ALL of the attention????   #mareenvy  Anyways,  Good Graces (a.k.a Gracie)  finally decided that she wanted to be part of our little herd.  We got turned out every morning together in the pasture and the three of us could run around and eat and do all the horse stuff together!  Then I overheard the people talking about how one of us would have to find a new home because they couldn’t afford all three of us.   I was nervous!   It had been a while since Amanda had climbed up on my back and made me do all of that silly walking and trotting stuff.  Was I going to a new home?   certainly not! right?   Maybe it was going to be Gracie that left; she did have a nasty cut on her foot…  maybe the people would send her away.  Then Oberon and I could go back to it just being us.

Things got real scary when Robert took Gracie and Oberon out and made them all pretty.  He brushed them and picked hooves.  He even brushed and pulled manes and tails!   Then he took soooo many pictures…  I figured it out!  I am a smart horse.  Those were rehoming pictures!  I didn’t get any taken so I figure I was safe from rehoming.  I was very worried about who was going to leave.  I like Oberon a lot but he is just a gelding… and boys aren’t much fun.  Gracie was kind of growing on me and she likes to chase things in the pasture like I do.

One saturday morning Amanda and Robert showed up very early and got Oberon out…  they got him ready and tacked up and then a stranger showed up.  That’s when I knew Oberon was going to be finding a new home.   It turned out that the stranger wasn’t quite ready for a horse like Oberon so he got to stay another week with us!

Then the day came when another person came to look at Oberon.  Gracie and I stayed in the barn and watched through the fencing as Oberon ran around and showed off his stuff.   Apparently these people liked him a lot!   They took him over to their trailer to take him home.  Oberon wasn’t ready to go yet.

While the people thought that Oberon was ready we horses had another thought in mind.  They didn’t even let us say goodbye!  So Oberon refused to get on the trailer until they had walked him back over to the barn so Gracie and I could see him one more time.  Then he hopped on the trailer and went to his new home!   I hope he is happy there!

Since Oberon left I got to move back into my old stall!!!!   Woo!   All of my buckets and water trough were there AND my Jolly Ball….  I know it is a toy.. But its MINE!!!   Gracie moved into Oberon’s stall and now we can stand and have mare talk all day!!!   I like my new bestie.  #maresrule

It’s getting hot again and Amanda and Robert are out here more and more.  Amanda is riding me again and making me CANTER!!!  It is so hard to balance when she is up there.  Its like having a sack of potatoes on my back.  I am determined to learn though.  She loves me so much and I want to be the best horse for her!

Gracis says Robert is dumb and weighs a lot!   hehehe…  She says he pulls on her mouth and has no idea how to use his legs to talk to her.  I keep telling her to give him time.  Oberon said the same thing but that he got better.   Gracie is also learning to canter with Robert on board.  She doesn’t like it because she has balance issues too.

Hopefully all four of us in our herd can get stronger and more balanced this summer.   I want to go to a fancy horse show and jump with Amanda so she can let everyone see how good I am.  #HighExpectations

SO that is what happened this spring.  I hope you enjoyed the recap.
If you want the inside scoop you can always follow me and Gracie on twitter!



A day in the life

Most people that know me in real life have seen how dedicated to teaching and learning I am. Most people I know have seen me relaxed and attentive, but just as many people have seen me flustered and exhausted. I try to apologize, but its often not enough to apologize for a shortened interaction with someone you see only weekly. With that in mind, I was inspired to write out a short description of my “normal” day, just so my poor friends who are mistreated can have a better understanding of why I am usually exhausted. Another post could certainly detail why I put myself through the insanity…

6:00am- Start trying to wake up, morning routine: shower, breakfast, dog, etc
7:30am- Off to barn: morning feeding and turnout, sometimes chat with owner about plans (long and short term)
8:00-10:00am- Arrive at work and have first cup of coffee. Plan out experiments for the day. Get rolling.
12:00pm- Lunch time in the breakroom or off campus
1:00pm- Afternoon experiments, etc
4:00-7:00pm- Depending on the day, leave work
Next: Pick up Byron and head to the barn. Grab a snack.
6:00-8:00pm- Teach a riding lesson, or ride my own horse, depending on the day.
8:15pm- Feed the horses
8:30-9:30pm- Leave the barn after recapping evening
Next: Find some supper and relax on the couch
10:00-11:00pm- Go to bed

Whew. Its tiring just writing that. As you can imagine, it gets busier with classes and other work things that eat experiment time. I am always brainstorming better ways to manage my time (and maximize riding my own horses). And lucking summer has hit, and I can only be at the barn after 5-6, since its much to hot to be outside before then. How do you manage your busy schedule? What keeps your sanity intact?
Jellybean in her temporary stall

Jellybean is Awesome! (to the tune of the lego song)

The stars aligned again for another training ride with Jellybean! Sunday afternoon Robert helped me get Jellybean ready in her boots and saddle, so we could ride in the round pen in the new sand. Jellybean was impatient to do something, as normal, and we walked over to the round pend in good time. I lunged Jellybean around just to get her to pay attention, I wanted snappy transitions and a willing attitude, since it has been a long time since we worked in the round pen. While watching her go, I noticed she was pulling herself along by her front legs at the canter. This doesn’t seem too troublesome yet, but its always good to see how the horses go at liberty.

Jellybean did well, and then I mounted. One of these days I will not suck at mounting from the ground, but until then, Robert holds the other stirrup and helps me mount. Jellybean stands still, except for the shuffling to balance our combined mass. I walked her off to the outside of the pen and she was fairly responsive to my legs. I walked and did a couple of turns, then I asked her to trot. We didn’t do many turns at the trot, but we worked on moving off when I asked. Robert served as backup for when she started to get tired. We even moved into the canter for a lap around the pen. She had a very smooth canter, and Robert said she was having trouble pulling herself along, so she started using her hindquarter. This speaks to the development of her back half that will begin soon. After the cantering, we worked on stopping and backing. She remembered the cues, but wanted to throw her head up in the air. She did give me several steps back, and I decided to ask her for a more complicated maneuver.

I put my leg on her and asked her to roll back and do a turn on the haunches. Basically I asked her to stop, then back up, then turn and trot off. She learned the basic concept, but has a lot more work to do before I consider it even worth showing people 😉

Our last part of the day was a little bit rushed since I had a lesson waiting on me to finish, but I walked Jellybean out of the round pen and then took a turn around the jump field in both directions. She did awesome!! I have been pretty hesitant about riding her outside of our [small] comfort zone, but it looks like we can start moving past that really soon! Just a few more confidence building rides in the arena. I also still need to work on her understanding of moving forward when I ask. I’m all ears for suggestions, I’m kind of hoping she will just get it at some point.

Anyways, more fun things to come. I am going to start going to the barn before work, and provided I can get someone out there with me, I want to start riding Jellybean and Knots in the morning!

Oh hey! You found some water 🙂

Thanks for sharing!

Oh! I guess your don’t want to share…

A recap of the recent show

On May 3rd, Knots and I entered a real live dressage schooling show. We decided to do the Intro C and Beginner Novice A patterns. I scheduled some transit with Jeannette and a couple of warm ups with my awesome dressage instructor, Sarah Denham of Denali Sport Horses. We even got the opportunity to go out Friday afternoon and practice our tests in the arena. The footing was a little bit deep, but it was a nice sand/recycled rubber mixture. Knots and I warmed up and he reminded me that he doesn’t currently like to bend to the right. In fact, when I ask him to move off my right leg he tries to canter off. #winning. He also didn’t want to pick up his left lead, which is equally strange. Maybe I am pushing his musculature development, and he is being extra lazy with the other people that ride him. Maybe I am having to correct and then teach each time I ride him. Or maybe he’s just having a funk. Either way.

On show morning, Jeannette and I loaded up the trailer with the assistance of our groom for the show. One of the show team girls wanted to come along, so we told her she could help out. We got to the show obscenely early, and wandered about for a bit, then watched a few tests, socialized, and finally started trying to warm up. Jeannette went first with Intro B, then Intro C. Then I started warming up and trying to get Knots focused. We decided our strategy would be to work him right up until we went into the arena without a break. So Sarah put us through our paces, then told us to trot around until the test before us was done. We went in to do Intro C and it went meh.

We started out mostly ok, but he was still overreacting to the right leg and I couldn’t correct him fast enough. Then we got to the canter circle and I couldn’t get him to pick up the lead. We definitely got some 3s for that movement and those transitions. So that test was kind of meh, but we carried on, and managed to get 3rd/3. There wasn’t enough time to get off between Intro C and BN A, so we stood around in the shade waiting. Then it was time to re-warm up. I thought Knots was settling during the Intro C test, but Sarah disagreed and said he looked tense the entire time, just starting to settle at the end. So I picked up my dressage whip as insurance on my leg and continued through the warm up. He was still fighting me for the lead, but we continued on.

The BN A test wasn’t spectacular either, but I managed to tune up my reflexes and react quicker to his cantering off. This led to us have a more rhythmic test, but I really dropped the ball on the geometry. Despite getting the tricky lead, we did not have a proper 20m circle. Even though I was less than pleased with the geometry, we did barely scrape into 1st place in this test, and so ended the day on a good note  🙂 Don’t let this photo fool you, Jeannette escaped with three ribbons of her own, she got 2nd place in every class she entered!

Jellybean and Gracie

     Continuing the updates, Jellybean and Gracie were moved back into their permanent homes. Gracie has the big stall on the end, and Jellybean has the stall next to it that she was previously housed in. We never actually moved her nameplate, so it was still waiting for her when she moved back in. Unfortunately, Gracie left the place in a mess, so yesterday the boys cleaned out the stall for me. I made a deal with the young cowboys, if they kept my stalls clean I would teach them how to jump and they could compete against the girls (all same age group) at the end of the month event. So yesterday I showed up to fresh stalls with clean shavings. Initially, they told me they would keep my stalls clean, and I challenged them to look as good as Jeannette’s, but they claimed they could do better. The challenge has not yet been decided, but I think Jeannette is coming out on top currently.

This cool kid 🙂

     Gracie and Jellybean have been getting out everyday, as Robert and I have made the commitment to turning them out every morning in an effort to deal with the stalls. In the evenings we have been trying to work with the ponies to limited success, but as the summer carries on I see more riding in our future. Robert has been working with Gracie to get her to trot out and go where he tells her. She is definitely green, but it should improve drastically with some time. She also has been working at the canter, she tries to jump up and be very very collected, which she doesn’t have the strength to hold. So Robert has been working her on the line in her canter to push her along.

     Jellybean was ridden the other day in the cutting pen, and she did well. I want to stop thinking of her as not broke, and start trying to show her new things and build her confidence. Last ride we worked on walking and trotting and turning at the trot. She did spook at something [stupid], and trotted off bucking a few steps, but she didn’t have her heart in the bucking and we continued on. I rode her for an hour, hour and a half, and walked her around a lot. I also taught her how to back up. She didn’t like it at first, but once she realized what I wanted, she was backing up to five steps at a time. She was not especially resistant, but she didn’t tuck her head very nicely. Future things 😉

     Last but not least, we got sand in the round pen, and Jellybean got to play around before it was spread out:

Semester is OVERRR

     Finally. What a long drawn out semester. Hopefully my last with actual classes that I am taking. Either way, I can give you a couple of updates about what we have been doing! We managed to sell Oberon, Jellybean learned how to back up, Gracie got a new saddle, and I went to a dressage show and won a class!

     First up is Oberon! We listed him a couple of weeks ago and put up a video and some pictures. He went to his new home in the DFW area. His sale was interesting, because he definitely showed his slight gimpiness in the sale video. We did get some awesome pictures of him! We had a lady interested in him who came to see him the first weekend, but he wasn’t what she was shopping for. Apparently she was looking for a beginner lesson horse, for which he was clearly not advertised. His new owner called me up in the middle of my busy finals week and started moving mountains to come down and get him. She was most concerned with picking him up and purchasing him, and less interested in seeing if he would work for her. This is the interesting part. She didn’t even ride him before she bought him, and she didn’t ask me to ride him. She didn’t even know if the video was current before she drove down to pick him up. This is completely different to me. I can barely imagine buying a horse without riding it, much less sight unseen. Either way, she seems completely in love with him, and plans to call him Obe, since she also agrees that Yoohoo is a stupid name. On that same vein, I was talking to a girl at the farm that leases a horse, and she was telling me she used to work at Foxcroft back in the day. She didn’t specifically remember him, but she was sad to know the farm was not what it used to be, and that horses were slipping through the cracks. She drove up when the new owner’s friend was trying to load Oberon.

     It was quite an ordeal. Initially Oberon walked right up and they squeezed him into a slant. He was very squished, so they decided they would reconfigure the trailer. They never tied him up. And so when they opened the slant again, he backed off the trailer very quickly (basically ran backwards), almost running over the friend of the new owner. Oops. Since he had no lead rope attached, I had to catch him, as the owners friend bemoaned the hazards next to where they parked the trailer. And so the saga started… the friend decided to go all horse whisperer on him, and tried out the patience game. You know, the one where you sit on the back of the trailer with the food bucket and try to overcome their fear of the trailer. That can be a powerful technique, but Oberon wasn’t scared of the trailer. He was a little bit worried, but as we have discussed multiple times, he just needed a firm, confident hand to reassure him.

     But this wasn’t my party, so I just stood around, wondering when I could leave to study for my final. She tried walking him around the trailer, and then straight up. He threw his head up and locked his knees. She didn’t want any help, so we all just watched. Then she said she was going to the trailer to get some motivation, which to me meant cookies or a stud chain. She came back with a rope halter. Blah blah blah, and eventually she realized her way wasn’t working after about 45 minutes. So she said she wanted to move the trailer. We walked down to the barn and Robert had Oberon, so when they got the trailer set, Robert walked him up with some encouragement from me behind. He walked up and then backed off again, dragging Robert (a reasonably impressive feat) a couple more times. Then boom. He walked on and I closed the door and then we tied him. Robert snuck out the back door and everything was fine. Then the friend started wondering about tying him with the rope halter. Le sigh.

     Oberon drove off to his new fancy life, where he was going to get four shoes and a visit from the chiropractor that afternoon before going into his stall with the auto-fly sprayer. I think he’ll enjoy the life of luxury after slumming it at the self care facility 😉

To be continued…