I might be a trail horse…

Howdy “Neigh”bors,

Let me tell you a story about the other day… This was actually 9 days ago now. I am STILL traumatized.

Robert actually came out and rode me! Now, I know I am a horse and horses are made to be rode but, this princess horse has not been rode in a long time! I am Good Graces! Not some trail pony…

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. There I stood, eating from my wonderfully delicious round bale. Then I hear it, the sound of Amanda’s car. This usually has no impact on me at all but, today would be different. I saw from across the paddock a familiar face! Robert has come back to the barn! This means treats and some scratches! So, off I went to meet him at the gate. As I approached I noticed he had my halter in hand… This is strange. Maybe he just wants to brush me. I like being brushed. Oh! A trip to the tack up area! BRUSHING!!!!!   But wait, why is the trailer here? Hey! Why are we tying to the trailer? What? Where are we going?

I’m confused as he continues to brush and prep me for something he hasn’t done in several weeks. He is getting tack… He wants to RIDE me?!?!? Oh this is not good. Huh? The tack just went in the trailer. Why did he put it in there? OH CRAP!!!!! The last time he did this we had to go jump all that stuff at the scary place! I don’t want to do that much work! I guess I have no choice. At least my friends Knots, Pandora, and Bear are coming too. Maybe this won’t be awful. On to the trailer! Let’s find out where we’re going. It was a long ride to the jumping place.

Wait, we are here already? That was a short trailer ride. I smell LOTS of fresh grass. This is not the jumping place. As I back out of the trailer I see open fields, wooded areas, and a big lake! This place is pretty cool! Look at all the grass. OH! Ok, tied to the trailer rail… I want that grass. Maybe if I pound on the trailer he will untie me… Oh, HERE comes the tack. I guess we are going to do this ride thing after all.

Ok, Robert is on board. Now I can eat some grass… where did my buddies go? They trotted off without me! Better catch up. I neigh at Robert to say ‘hold on’ and I trot off to catch up. This is a nice place, so much grass and trees. It isn’t even very hot in the shade. Suddenly, everyone canters up the hill. Thankfully Robert is paying attention and we run off up the hill as well. This is fun. Running around no rails, no jumps. Just the chance to be a horse in the open.

I am getting a bit tired though. We have trotted for a long time. Can we have a break now? Whew… Wait! What?!? Cantering again??  I’m tired but, ok. No. I’m really done now. Let’s walk.

We walked through the woods and found a new trail. I was in the back and couldn’t see where we were headed, but Bear was out front and his rider is smart. The trail kept getting thinner and thinner… Soon, we were walking in ankle deep water. I don’t like water too much, but Bear was ok with it so I followed. A few minutes later, the humans started talking a lot and we stopped. Bear said we had to turn around and go back. The lake had covered the trail.

Bear said I had to man up and lead us back through the water to dry land. I am not a fan of swampy areas; I can’t see what is down there and I get nervous. Robert helped though; he kept pushing me forward and not letting me get scared. We made back to the dry trail and everything was ok after that.

On our way back to the trailer I reflected on my adventures. I conquered open fields, small streams, wooded trails, swampy bogs and, trotting hills. I had a blast.

Maybe I should work on convincing Robert I am not cut out for eventing. Maybe I am really a trail horse in an eventer’s body.

I hope you enjoyed my story. I like to tell you my perspective on what happens at the barn. Humans just don’t get it sometimes.

-Good Graces

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Recent Purchases – Hits and Misses

I read a few fashion blogs, and I was feeling inspired reading about the things that worked better and worse than the purchaser hoped. With the changing of my day job, I have been purchasing a lot of things to make it easier. I’ve really been looking for things to keep me cool in the +90 heat and +40% humidity.

Hits

Ariat Sunstopper Cooling Long Sleeve Shirt

I like this shirt because it keeps me cool, and the navy is a good color. I wouldn’t want this shirt in a different color, because its basically see through. I can see the white piping on my sports bra if I wear the wrong one. Even with the see through-ness, the shirt keeps me cool. And stops me from burning in the sun.

Kerrits IceFil Flex Long Sleeve

I stayed away from patterns for awhile, but honestly I don’t know why. They are fun while still looking professional. I have the Berry Horseshoe pattern, which you might have seen in one of my recent posts. This shirt is pretty long, which is somewhat annoying when tucked in. The arms are also fairly generous. There’s a lot of extra in the wrist.

Lettia CoolMax Ice Cooling All Purpose Saddle Pad

These saddle pads are pretty loud, but they do actually wick away the moisture. I don’t feel like the horses are as hot under the saddle when I use this pad. I also LOVE the girth keepers. So much better than the webbing.

Ovation DX Celebrity Slim Secret Full Seat Breeches

I generally refuse to buy anything with ‘slim secret’ in the title, but I wanted to try a pair of white full seats before I take the ponies to the show in July. And I like the contrasting full seats, either in grey or black. I was really surprised, these breeches looked great! Especially for white breeches. They are still a bit see through, but I think wearing white underwear and tucking in my shirt will fix all but the most basic panty lines, which unfortunately for the world I don’t care much about. We’ll see how they hold up to a day at the horse show and all the stains that come along with that.

Misses

Ariat Barnyard Side Zip Boots

I really wanted to love these. They aren’t the most…attractive boots, but I was hoping for serviceable during the long hot day. I also like waterproof, since I bought these before it stopped raining. They were working really well, until I spent an entire day in them. Now I have some bonus blisters that turned into callouses, where I don’t normally have problems. Thick socks, thin socks, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t help that these are a half size too big, I ruined it by wearing them to the barn instead of exchanging for the smaller size. I really want to love these, and I will probably give them a second chance after these wear out. They are serviceable for half days.

SSG Hybrid Riding Gloves

I was looking for some new gloves to ride in everyday. While these have great grip, there is a lot of turning my hands black, and they aren’t very cool. I think I’ll like them in the fall/winter, but they aren’t very timely now.

On a real schedule

So this wild thing has been happening as I have started working at TBS. I actually ride on a schedule, almost every day. Its crazy. In the last two weeks, I have ridden Vinny four times and Knots six times. Wild. I actually ride more than I have time to write about riding…

I’ve been having one jump school each week for each horse and then flatting the other rides. We have worked on courses the last two weeks, I have a hard time thinking during the courses. Practicing having my brain engaged through the entire process is key. Practicing over all the jumps in the courses is also great for focusing on my position. I still need to sink further in my heels over the jumps and relax a bit. I still look tense in the air.

Knots is sooooooo much more relaxed. While he has a lot of impulsion, he isn’t rushing to the base of the fences, he’s waiting for them to come to him. I can actually half-halt, and I’m just using the snaffle at home. He is much more confident over height, and as we keep working, he is starting to jump a bit rounder.

No pictures of flat work unfortunately. Its apparently too boring for people to watch or take pictures of :(.

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On the flat, Knots and I have moved back into side reins and we are trying to build up a bit of strength in the canter. Oh and keep trying not to be tense. And actually maintaining contact on the outside rein. I suppose the first point is what I want to be working on, but the second and third points are what I end up doing.

Vinny and I have been working on the right lead canter departs and building enough strength to hold the canter in the dressage arena. The Intro C test requires less than three quarters of a 20 m canter circle, but one has to actually pick up the canter and hold the correct lead. Preferably without pulling my arms out of the sockets.

The campers helped set up the dressage arena last week, so I’m hoping to move the flat rides into the arena and work on some of the test movements.

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As a bonus, last weekend we were able to do some conditioning out at Indian Spirit Springs. Knots and I trotted a lot, up and down some hills, and then we cantered up a couple of hills. His breathing was really good, and (as usual) he still has lots of energy up until the end. This makes me feel better about BN in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be terribly hot.

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After the show, I’m looking forward to fitting in rides on Gracie and Jellybean. #goals

And suddenly it’s summer

That’s kind of how Texas goes. Rain, rain, rain, then suddenly summer is here. This week has been the first week of riding camps and the first [full] week of Amanda bootcamp.

Amanda bootcamp is pretty straightforward, I’m just trying to get to a shape other than round for the July 3rd horse trial. I’ll be taking Vinny and Knots, and I would prefer to not die on course. I’m trying to ride at least a horse a weekday and I’m running a mile every day in June.

Friday we had a big day. We picked up a trial horse for a client that I’m really excited about. Before the trial, Maggie and the kids rode. And of course I did something stupid. Life lessons here: morbidly obese horses and bareback don’t really mix. It’s hard to hold on when you have short legs and are basically riding a table. I tried to lope the horse off, and I got right of center. Down I went. Solidly painful splat. Go team… This also meant I took a day off from running on Saturday, but Sunday I was just fine.

Monday was a little bit crazy, we decided to ride at 7am. This sounds easy, but when your alarm goes off at 6:10 its hard to run, eat, and make it to the barn to be getting on about 7. It didn’t help that the footing was also crappy. I ended up walking Knots around in the dressage saddle for awhile and accomplishing nothing.

Gracie had a stressful day on Monday. She was ridden by a new intern, which of course ruined her ‘stand all day and eat with friends’ plan. Then she was moved to the fat kids pasture, where the grain is less abundant. She paced the fence line when I left Monday, and she was still pacing this morning…

Then the chiropractor came on Monday afternoon. She did Gracie and Knots, and some of Maggie’s horses. I always like chatting with her and hearing all of her interesting stories. And the ponies like her ;). She’s coming back to adjust Knots one more time before the show. Gracie was a bit indifferent about the adjusting, but Knots was very relaxed and pleased to see the doctor. No side eye for the chiro.

Tuesday went much better than Monday.

I got up when my alarm went off the first time, then I went running. I had time to eat my breakfast, and I got to the barn closer to the right time. I rode Vinny on the flat where we continued working on not running from the leg. He still wants to run when I ask him to move over, which leads to me holding the reins and holding his head up. He was definitely better today than he was last week.

Maggie mentioned she was going to have a jump lesson with another student, which I jumped in on. We worked over a crossrail-oxer thing and then added canter poles. Knots had a mental breakthrough. Instead of running through the poles, he listened to my half-half and balanced through them and had a nice jump over the 2’6″ oxer at the end.

One of the canter poles turned into a cavaletti, and Knots gave me the same great attention as before. This exercise is great for him because it helps him really get to the base of the jump and roll back and round over the fence. We have a lot of trouble with this, Knots thinks fast is best. He gets nervous when we go too slow. Normally he blasts through this type of exercise. But not today!

We finished out with a big single oxer. The other student has been struggling with trusting her horse a little, and so Maggie pushed the jump up to show her that she can indeed do it. I got to jump it too, and have a couple of pictures.

You can see in the left picture, we got to the ideal take off spot, but Knots didn’t quite lift high enough. On the right, we jumped high enough, but a little early. We both need more practice at seeing the ideal take off spot. My leg isn’t terrible, but I need to imagine pushing my butt back and moving my hands down as we jump over more substantial fences. Maggie said this one was about 3’3′, which is pretty fun 🙂 Go Knots go!

 

Rain, rain, and some more rain

Writing this blog has given me an interesting perspective on the rain, especially as I can look back and see what we were doing this time last year. Which was watching it rain. Apparently this is the monsoon season here.

The barn hasn’t been hit terribly hard, or maybe we have finally reached the critical level of improvements. The new arena sand is keeping the big arena rideable. The ponies are spread out a bit more, so there is a bit less mud. We added more sand to some paddocks and moved horses out of others. The barn is sporadically flooding, which we still haven’t figured out, but most of the horses aren’t in hock-deep mud.

There has been some sporadic riding when it dries out for a few days. Knots has gotten the most attention, and Jellybean has been ridden a few times. Hopefully the weather will be clearing soon, because its summer camp time! Kids all day! I actually have a great time with summer camps, and with the completion of my two TAMU jobs, I’m hoping to have a bit more time to get ready for some horse shows.

It looks like Jellybean isn’t going to make it to Pony Club Camp this year, Ashlynn has the opportunity to take a more seasoned horse. Tank is a pro at pony club (year 3!!) and she will be able to take the lessons learned from Jellybean, ride Tank, and then start working with Jellybean more.

I’m trying to get ready to take two (!) horses to Pine Hill in July. Vinny is a big handsome percheron/arabian who is going green-as-grass and Knots and I are going to run beginner novice again. I’m working on some major conditioning for me, two horses in 90+ heat is going to be a challenge.

Anyways, long ramble. I’m hoping the weather relaxes and we can all actually ride.