Adventures in clipping

Knots is a fat, fuzzy, pony-like creature this time of year. It is also 75 degrees this weekend. And we are schooling cross country tomorrow…

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So fluffy!

Clearly something had to happen. I’ve been debating about clipping since last year. I thought last year was going to be the year, but it turned out to be pretty cold and we didn’t have problems cooling out. And we didn’t ride super hard either. But I digress. I’ve been shopping for some heavy duty clippers for awhile. And lusting after some Lister shears or whatever they’re called. But I don’t quite want to spend 150+ (this is a conservative estimate) on a tool I’ll use a couple times a year, if I’m not busy. Even my eBay alerts haven’t been helpful. These things just cost.

I have a pair of clippers:

wahl show pro

But I was concerned about whether they’d make it through a job. Until this weekend. I just decided it was happening. I took the precaution of buying a new set of blades (20 bucks) and went to town. Knots didn’t care one bit.

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First major pass

I cleaned the blades every little bit and stopped to chat here and there. The clippers got warm, but barely. I oiled them a few times in between and brushed the hair out, and they kept on cutting. He wasn’t particularly clean either; I wasn’t about to bathe and wait for him to dry. As you might notice, it got dark on me.

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He took a potty break, but he was still looking for cookies. 

I finished up the rough draft this morning, and then tried to kill most of the clipper marks. I think he turned out ok. I finished up by riding him, so this last picture is after the ride. Thank goodness, because he’s pretty sweaty on where the long hair still lives.

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Give me moar cookies human!

We had a nice ride. We worked in the side reins. He was actually stretching down at the canter without running off. I thought that was kind of fun. We start weekly dressage lessons this week, stay tuned for a few more rides đŸ™‚

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Riding all the ponies

My abs hurt. I actually rode two horses Saturday. I can’t even remember the last time that actually happened.

Saturday morning I headed out to the barn to take of the horse’s blankets and enjoy the sunshine. I pulled Jellybean and Knots out, figuring if they were at least in the tack up area I couldn’t talk myself out of riding both of them.

In the meantime, I was also hatching a plan to get some kids together and jump the ponies a little bit before some of our younger kids go cross country schooling next weekend. While I didn’t plan this early enough to get all of them, I had a couple of stragglers and a bonus person.

After lunch, I finished tacking Jellybean up and went into the arena to work on the basics of moving off the leg. We are far beyond just circles where we practice gaits, and so I have been trying to get her to stop leaning. Work in progress. She hates the spur and pins her ears and swishes her tail, but sometimes she moves. We just have to keep building on those small moments.

She is much better to the left to the right, and I have to not get sucked in. She isn’t consistently relaxing on the bit, I think side reins are in the future so she can relax on the bit without worrying about balancing under me. I don’t think I’m really causing her a lot of trouble, but it might be an easy simplification.

As we were riding, the people I convinced to jump the ponies were getting done riding their first horse and collecting the ponies for the cross country field. I decided to take Jellybean out and try jumping over the roll top, so we took a break.

Little Cowboy and Ginger got the bonus rides, and we warmed up in the arena before heading out to the jump field. I also warmed Jellybean up over the practice jump. We even jumped the two foot jump!

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I was really pleased that she was jumping so well! She seemed eager too; she locked on and then I could feel her thinking about where to put her feet. After everyone else got warmed up, we headed out to the field with our handsome videographer (Rob is always such a sport).

Jellybean easily conquered the log a few times back and forth, and then we went for the rolltop. She cleared it like a champ! Unfortunately I didn’t make my intentions known early enough, and no video. I made a fuss over her and took a little break before deciding to try again. Here’s the lesson folks: sometimes you should be happy with what you get and leave it.

I came back around with a weak position and she stopped right in front of it. And again with a stronger position. We trotted over the log a couple more times. Then back to the rolltop with a very strong position. Nope. Over the log, again and done. Maggie and I decided that she might have scared herself over the rolltop, and maybe she’s being a little overfaced. Reasonable, since we have jumped two feet exactly zero times before this day, and the rolltop is solidly 2’3″. Oh well.

We hung out and enjoyed the other riders schooling Little Cowboy and Ginger. LC was really good all day; normally he gets a little bit fussy as he works harder, but between the good riding of his person and his training progression, he didn’t throw any fits. Ginger was being good, she was trying really hard to please. I’ll call it a win. Hopefully the horses will be feeling a little bit more confident next weekend. I want the little kids to have fun.

Capture

But that’s not all!

After Jellybean was done, I tacked up Knots and tried to do a dressage school in the new saddle. Not loving it. The stirrup leather comes out a hair too forward for my leg to be in the right place for flat work. Drawing board here we come. I should be able to save up for a saddle relatively quickly, there are some bonuses coming my way in the next little bit. Stay tuned.

Our dressage ride was typical for the “not-in-work” life. He was leaning hard, and tense. I just need to ride him a little more. And clip his poor hairy self. That’s on the agenda too. Because he has yak hair and a sweating problem. I guess blanketing is inescapable.

Finally, I did something crazy y’all. I scheduled a weekly dressage lesson. I don’t even know what has gotten into me. I’ll keep you posted about my pending insanity.

 

Just another day in the life

Today was an average Tuesday. I worked in lab this morning, went to my internship this afternoon, and then headed out to the barn. I taught two lessons, made it home for dinner, and then started plotting my next task.

During my lessons, I helped one rider conquer their fear of cantering out, taught one rider how to follow the horse over a jump, and helped another rider learn to use tact to express their concerns about another rider. I laughed with one student about their lazy pony and tried to help another rider wake up their brain after a long day at school. I talked about being friendly to new students and boarders with some of the old guard. I discussed a life lesson with a parent, while I talked about competition opportunities with other parents. I talked to a little girl about encouraging her little sister to ride how she wants, even if it isn’t barrels like grandma, and heard how a rider was doing after a fall the day before.

I stood in the arena for two and a half  hours, and I feel like I’m making a difference in these kids lives. Perseverance, respect, joy, kindness, confidence, all the important things kids need to learn, and I help. Sometimes I reflect on this and wonder how I could ever stop teaching riding lessons.

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Saturday Adventures

Saturday morning Maggie and I planned to ride in the morning. Robert decided to come along, and we left the house. Friday was beautiful. Texas weather was providing us with some lovely 60 degree sunshine, and it tricked me. Saturday it was a windy, cloudy 45 when we got to the barn. Whomp.

I was planning to ride Jellybean and jump a little. Maggie grabbed Bear and Robert grabbed Gracie. They appreciated the cookies I bought yesterday with the wormer. Jellybean was pretty chill, considering the less-than-ideal weather. We tacked up, ate some more cookies, and then went to the round pen.

I worked on getting her to pay attention. She wanted to canter around and call for her friends, but I kept changing her direction until she would walk, trot, and canter on command. Then we moved to the jump field and mounted. Jellybean didn’t quite want to pay attention, she wanted to trot off or stop or just generally not do what she was being asked. I was wearing spurs and she got really offended when I actually used them. In fact, we cantered a lap with ears pinned and bowed up like we were going to try something interesting.

She didn’t buck or anything. All hot air.

The exercise in the arena was pole, 9ft, pole, 9ft, 12in cross-rail. We just trotted through, even though it was set for canter poles. I should have had someone take a photo or a video, because Jellybean was very exuberant her first time through. She jumped the X like it was 3 feet tall. Baby horse life. We went through a few more times, and I reminded myself that she needed a lot more leg.

Lots more leg, and lots more practice over boring cross rails. Jellybean is going cross country schooling Jan 31st, weather pending. We’re going to have to work on forward in the meantime.

Anyways, after we finished up in the arena, Maggie asked if we wanted to walk down the road, so we did. At the end of the road, there is a huge field that we can go around. Its a great field, its just down the road about 1.5 miles. The traffic isn’t very comforting, since people are foolish.

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One of my favorite things about Jellybean is that she isn’t super attached to other horses. She choose to walk back this far from the group. She was looking at some of the strange things beside the road, but she wasn’t trying to run up to the group. She wasn’t very confident on this ride, but she was getting confidence from me instead of horses, including her bestie Gracie.

All in all, solid Saturday. Relaxing morning, even if we got rained on a little bit.

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Photo stolen shamefully from Maggie

Knots is chubby, I get to ride in the new saddle

I finally got a break from real life and got to spend a morning at the barn. I had a laundry list of things I needed to take care of (ride three horses, farrier, clean tack, fix tack room, groom horses, …), and I managed to knock a few out. First order of business was getting the ponies ready for the farrier.

Confession time. The end of the year got crazy. Knots got shoes before the October Pine Hill, and (shame on me) still had them on when the farrier was here.

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Notice [left] foot with shoe still attached compared to hoof freshly clipped, but not finished

First order of business then was fixing the ponies feet. I can’t believe Knots kept his shoes for so long. Its been crazy wet on the farm. Gracie did not choose to be so conservative. She lost her shoes practically right after she got them on. In any case, the ponies are back on track, and to quote the farrier, “it’s a new year.”

Trimming was pretty uneventful. No shoes for the horses, since they aren’t really doing anything and their feet are in decent condition, except thrush. Can’t kill thrush when you live in mud. We pour chemicals on the thrush when we pick feet, but its like trying to stop an avalanche with boulder.

The other task on trimming day is to worm the ponies. Its winter, so I try to do something with a tapeworm drug, so we did QuestPlus. The syringe was easier than I remember (or maybe Robert has been doing the dirty work for a few months). I put Gracie and Jellybean in the round pen so they would be easy to grab for the farrier and filled my pockets with treats. Then treat, wormer, more treats. Jellybean didn’t approve.

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Gracie fix it!

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This is sooooo awful!

While the ponies were getting trimmed, I actually got to ride in my new saddle. As I mentioned, saddle fit is starting to be a problem. I have lost wither clearance with the saddles (or I never had it as good as I thought). Generally I ride with half pads, but I decided its time to put on the big girl panties and fix the problems. Enter new eBay saddle.

The new saddle is between a medium and a medium wide. It is a tad wide for Knots and Gracie (so far) with their total lack of muscle, but I think its going to fit well as they get back in shape.

Without the half pad and after riding, there is about 1.5 fingers between the wither and back, so I’m very optimistic. I also really like the saddle. I can’t decide if its an all purpose or a close contact. If you have an opinion please let me know. As far as riding, it has a pretty deep seat and is very comfortable. Although, there is a trail ride planned for MLK day that may challenge the comfort. The saddle is Excelle, which was made by Miller NYC. Its in good used condition. There is a little bit of almost cracking in some places, but it is very serviceable and a huge step up from my older close contact saddle.

During the ride I worked on getting Knots to not run forward from my spur and relaxing. Basically every ride after a long break. At this point I can’t say that I am getting back on a regular schedule, but it was still a good ride. We did a little bit of jumping, Knots was rushing badly but he was clean. Again, same old same old. It was still an enjoyable ride, and he relaxed quicker than I was expecting at the walk. Small building blocks.

All in all, the morning turned out productive. Didn’t start on some of the more mundane tasks, but I did get the horse’s feet in order, worm all the ponies, ride Knots, and get to ride in my new saddle. I’ll call it a win.

 

Cold nights at the barn

One of the best ways to enjoy the cold at the barn is…. bareback!

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Rob and Gracie were hanging out this evening while I was teaching lessons. While it isn’t really cold, it is cold by Texas standards. It was about 48 when this photo was taken.

Gracie and Rob look majestic, although Gracie mostly looks kind of fat. She has a solid layer going into winter đŸ˜‰