Business as usual

Lots going on right now!

Ashlynn is leasing Jellybean and getting in lots of ride time. Before she went on vacation at least :p

Knots and Gracie have moved into the barn, since they both suffer from being easy keepers. This is actually somewhat counter-productive, since camp kids are constantly feeding them treats. Lets be real, I’m constantly feeding them treats. Sigh. They approve.

Knots didn’t work too hard after the show, but he did have a standout lesson in the last week where he actually lengthened his canter in a grid without rushing. Also, I uploaded the terrible video of my run out at Pine Hill. The ugly right?

Gracie has gotten some love from some of the barn kids. Including some jumping

We also took a lovely trail ride this weekend. Jellybean was the horse of choice for one of the instructors that doesn’t have her own horse. Jellybean just cantered along and did everything she was supposed to.

That’s not entirely true. She did spend half of the ride plotting to kick Vinny, and almost succeeded in breaking my knee cap. Luckily Vinny moved over quick enough, and I paid better attention.

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Horses are such fun ­čÖé

Just_a_boy_and_his_horse____

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The best I’ve seen from you guys

I’m sure it was said more eloquently. My brain mostly remembers emotions, less so the words. But that was the response to our dressage lesson this morning. With the monsooning, I haven’t really gotten to ride much lately, and I wasn’t really expecting Knots to be a rockstar.

Especially when I gave him some bonus breakfast (he doesn’t get grain because he is F-A-T) and he cantered off to the dressage field and ran away from me! He didn’t really want to get on the trailer either. Although, lets face it, his resistance was trying to walk over to the grass. He has always loaded right onto any trailer I pointed him towards.

We actually showed up on time, and managed to be on, in the arena, before Sarah walked out. That folks, is a miracle in itself.

The focus of today’s lesson was outside rein connection, for Knots and Bear. With Knots, it seems I’ve been softening too much when he actually takes a good contact. Practically dropping him in dramatic dressage terms. So today we worked first on square turns at the walk. Turning with the outside aids. Then we took that thought to the trot and kept trying to turn on the outside aids at every touch point of the 20m circle.

It was really interesting. And Knots was a little heavy in my hand. But that’s because right now he still needs my help to balance. The lightness will come as he gets stronger. Sarah was really pleased with our work. She did utter words to the effect of this is the best I’ve ever seen him, and we all reflected to where we were a year ago.

In other news, trailer situation pending, we’re going to Pine Hill July 4th weekend and running beginner novice. Maybe… just maybe, we might score less than a 48.

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Gracie’s exciting adventures

A week late, but better late than never, right?

Last week was an exciting week for Gracie. Her normal schedule consists of being ridden by a college student (Kayla) 1-3 times per week, and an occasional hack by Robert. Oh, and she’s SUPER fat. We’re currently contemplating moving her to another pasture so she can stop eating everyone else’s food.

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Monday she got to go to the dressage lesson. I don’t think Sarah has ever seen me ride Gracie (although lets be real, we still haven’t broken 30 rides ever…), and she hasn’t seen Gracie go (with Maggie piloting) since last year this time. So the potential for a big difference.

The dressage lesson was really thought-provoking. With Knots, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching him to move off my leg and trying to bend him around my inside leg. Gracie doesn’t have a problem running away from my leg, bending is impossible, but put a little leg on and SHOOOSH! Sideways.

One of the major benefits to the college student riding Gracie is the focus on slow, relaxed, and balanced flatwork. Gracie is a big mover, and she never really learned how to contain her majesty. She’s improved in HUGE ways with the riding Kayla’s done with her.

Back to the dressage lesson, we were able to improve on that work and start thinking about the next┬ásteps in her progress towards dressage pony (eventer, lets be real). Namely, holding herself up without freaking out. So, basically the same thing as slowing down, but on 20m figures and especially at the canter. All while accepting contact. Kayla is working with very light contact currently, but I was working with Gracie to accept a bit more. Especially because that’s how I can help her at the canter.

Our trot work wasn’t bad, I just needed to work on keeping the contact consistent (I see some loose side reins in our future.) She was having trouble falling in circle left and running out circle right. This is where the light bulb turned on with me a bit. Knots really requires a lot of inside aids to do anything. Gracie needs the outside aids to support her ridiculous, all-over-the-place movements. Quite different to think about in the moment.

We really worked in the canter to help her hold herself upright and without running either in or out of the circle, which, surprise, makes her feel more unbalanced and then makes her run, starting the loop of doom. This was especially challenging circle right, she had a lot of trouble holding the canter. I worked hard on keeping my outside aids consistent and allowing her to move out without falling on her forehand. Whew. This was a great core workout, and I have to get stronger as we keep examining this.

Dressage lesson was great, gave me lots to think about. And then I got to be at the barn when Kayla started over some jumps.

Kayla has been working on the flat for several months and getting Gracie to slow down and calm down. They have been working over poles, and keeping the same attitude: its not a big deal. Gracie still gets very excited about poles. (I swear we’ve been doing poles and crossrails the entire time we’ve owned her…) Either way, this was the first time Kayla was jumping Gracie, and the first time shes been jumped since Maggie rode her after she dumped Rob at the show last fall. Hopefully you followed that. Anyways. Video evidence of her going over jumps without freaking out too much:

 

Sorry for the sideways video, it was in the moment. Definitely some solid work here, she’s doing really well. Hopefully some more solid work with Gracie and Robert will have a bit more time and they can start plotting their next outing. There is potential in there, we just have to make the time to dig it out.

Cross country schooling with the kids

Weekend one of cross country schooling, check! This weekend we headed to the open schooling at High Point Farm in Plantersville. They have a variety of friendly, introductory cross country jumps in a large field on a windy hill. This was the first outing with some of the kids, so we made sure to start them off right.

We made it about 20 minutes down the road and had a tire die. Ok, we brought the floor jack and we had a spare. A nice guy who saw the trailer roll up let us borrow some kind of tire iron, because of course it was the one thing we were missing. Wham bam. When I was digging around in the trailer I realized I left my helmet at home. Whomp. A really great parent ran back and grabbed it for me. Our barn family really is the bomb.

As soon as we arrived at the facility, we got stuck in the mud. I always forget how poorly the facility’s parking drains. It doesn’t help when you have seven horses in the trailer. Just sink in the bog. Luckily, while we were getting warmed up, the dads came to the rescue and got us on good ground.

All good life lessons for the kids. How to overcome haha. Anyways, we got warmed up and Knots and I went over the warm up oxer. I was getting a little bit left behind, so I tried to fix my position. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that I should have taken my stirrups up a hole until I looked at the pictures. Oops.

We started over the starter jump. I jumped over the beginner novice/novice jump and then over the training/prelim starter jump! Weeee

Knots wasn’t really snapping up his knees like he often does. We were doing a good job of getting to the base of the jump. I was still a little shaky following along.

After the starter set we moved to the tires and jumped over those. Not too exciting, we have tires at home. He is so handsome with his clip.

Capture2

 

Next we jumped some barrels and played on the up and downs. I had a really good run through:

Things were going really well at this point, we jumped over the novice lattice thing, which gave us a little bit of trouble. I got left behind and landed hard, but we worked it out and had a nice jump.

We tend to jump pretty flat (right jump) but as we were getting a little deep Knots had to really round up (left jump). This was causing me a bit of trouble. About this point we realized we were running out of time, so we kicked it into high gear. I wanted to jump one of the novice combinations, the fake ditch and then four (?) strides to a bench. So off I went. I went off too quick for Robert to get a video, oops.

I jumped the baby ditch and got lined up for the bench and we got too deep. Knots rocked and jumped (a la pogo stick) and went over. Robert was watching and he said that Knots knocked me with the saddle in the air. Then we landed and as he cantered off he knocked me in the butt again. And down we went. I have a mental snapshot of being upside down looking at Knot’s hooves thinking, please don’t hit me as my head hit the ground and I rolled over my shoulder. Knots bucked up the hill until one brave mom stood in front of him and he was corralled. I hopped right up and went up the hill. My head was hurting, so I planned to be done for the day. I remounted and helped the kids get over the green box of death (which isn’t the ‘scariest’ GAG jump anymore).

I did a little bit more jumping when we got to the water, Knots and I jumped down in to the water a couple of times. Last time we were here, he wasn’t very into jumping into the water, but he didn’t care a lot this time. We finished up jumping the beginner novice/novice jump into stadium.

My head felt better, and I don’t think there are any concussion symptoms, so instead I just got to be a good example to the kids of what to do when you fall off. Another day in the life. We had a pit stop at sonic on the way home and finished out the day. Knots really enjoyed the trace clip, he was barely sweaty, except under the saddle (although, one of the dads pointed out he looked like a fat guy in a too-small sweater. oops). All in all a good day. We need some more work on going over higher jumps with appropriate stirrups. I need to keep pushing my butt back and bend a little bit more over the jumps. Thanks goodness for pictures. The new bit also made things more adjustable. You can really see it in the video, he was actually listening to the half half. I changed him from a regular snaffle to a slow twist full cheek. Now I just need to buy one instead of borrowing.

Dressage lesson this week and cross country schooling with Jellybean on Saturday, stay tuned!

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 ­čÖé

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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.