A Horse is a Horse

A Horse is a Horse

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Um... this is winter?

Saturday morning chill quickly gave way to 50-60F (70F by afternoon) weather during our lesson. Near cloudless skies, slight chill to the wind that inevitably kicks up as we make our way down to the outdoor, but otherwise a glorious January day. Remind me how much we enjoyed this when its stanky hot and we have a severe water shortage this summer ;)

Anyways, as usual I was running late to lesson, but everyone seemed to be kinda mellow, so I didn't end up too far behind the group (BTW, I am 99.9% always early to work, I do know how to be on time when I'm paid lol). Tacked up Holly and took her down to the big roundpen. She went nuts, having had a whole day off, she bucked and bolted and hot lapped herself around for quite some time. Its why I love how huge the lower round pen is, it could nearly pass for an arena, so they can really stretch out a bit. 

Dragged a now tired looking pony up to the arena and hopped on. She wasn't fazed by the tractor finishing dragging the (hard hard) arena, (yay!) and we quickly got to work.

We did lots of sitting and posting trot while our trainer and a couple of the barn girls up from college set up and rearranged our mix of hunter and eventer jumps we now have spread across the whole arena. 

Worked on that thing called frame, and keeping her up into the bridle. Cantering I had to work on not letting her fall into the corners, tried to circle at random times to keep her paying attention. I don't know if I'll ever be able to sit her canter, it simply rocks me up and out of the saddle, even when I try to relax (and think things like be a sack of grain through my lower body), but its at least getting more balanced. 

Jumping! I didn't do anything big, apparently it was make Kat suck it up and work on lead changes day. We went back and forth over two different verticals (just L and I were jumping). They were at slightly funny angles in the arena which made me think a bit about where to turn in to get the right line. I finally felt comfortable on her again, even trying lead changes (ok I was still tense, but it was less tense lol).

If you want to see some cool jumping then hop on over to L's blog (I'm thinking her jumping video will be up Monday, Ramone got to do some fun stuff like bending lines). I'm excited to try stuff like that with Holly, and I'm even more excited that I'm excited to try jumping new stuff. :)

General consensus of the railbirds was I needed to just let go of her head and let her go forward more. Very hard for me to do apparently. Of course by the point we went into figure 8's for lead changes, there were a ton of other people in the arena, several just chilling on the ground (?!) and several others riding, making me a little paranoid about taking out other trainer's students.

I have been thinking a lot about how I feel about Holly lately. Two nights ago I looked at everyone's $100k posts, and thought, gee, I'd prob buy another horse. Then I read about other people losing their beloved horses and realized I really have been keeping a huge wall up between my mare and myself. I went to lesson yesterday morning with an intent to bond with my mare. And we rode better. Most of my problems are in my head (I know that much) and when I view her as my horse, who is trying her best for me, and that I am her rider, who needs to try my best to help her learn, I think it helped. I gave her more loving then usual after our ride, and realized I need to spend more time with her, more ground work and more relaxed, non-lesson time. 

Not sure that all makes sense outside of my head, but hey, even though I sucked at lead changes, and my back is killing me now, I still walked away feeling like I had a good ride, which is huge for me, I found the positives and moved on.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Question... and some rambling :)

Question: Ok, so since everyone has seemed to be trying new, often yummy smelling horse and tack products, what's everyones 2014 favorite leather/ tack care product? Just curious what everyone on the blogosphere is using now.

Tuesday night lesson. Holly was a nutball in the roundpen. She bucked and ran and bucked. Glad to see all this work is getting her more fit (insert eye roll). Finally she didn't look like a wild pony so we got to work. Thanks goodness there wasn't anything interesting going on outside, so there wasn't a lot of spooking. I seriously question if I'd even try to ride her on a crazy stormy night, she's so spooky.

Did lots of sitting trot, working on forward not upward motion. Realized I'm still really weak in a two-point, although having a standing martingale on now,  I can cheat and grab it (extra nice when she scoots with my backside out of the saddle). Did some decent shoulder in. She's really starting to get the idea and doesn't feel so discombobulated. I need to work at keeping my eyes up, not watching her feet.

We cantered, lengthening down the long side, and shortening on the short sides. Holly really likes the speeding up part, and if I really sit back and keep my hands up she collects up decently too.

We warmed up over a little X, including special-ed cones set out for moi to remember to come off the jump straight. Then L and I did a slightly bigger vertical, I'm still really bad at telling how big jumps are from horseback. It was enough to get miss Holly to at least respect it . It went pretty well, even when another trainer's beginner moseyed nearly in front of me as I came off a jump, Holly just drifted a bit so we didn't collide. I did wuss out of lead changes, slowing to a trot if she was off her lead until I got yelled at. The last few jumps I really tried to apply outside leg over the jump and keep her set up to land on the right lead. Lucky for me it worked and no crazy lead changes were needed.

Cooled her out for a billion years because she's fuzzy and gave her sloppy grain.

Wednesday- Flat lesson. Holly wasn't as 'up' in the roundpen but since it was windy, we did lots of halting/ backing/ halting at the open end of the arena until she didn't care about whatever horse-eating monster was out there. There was another trainer working her horse and two beginners lessoning with my trainer. Lots getting tailgated and cut off, but hey, that's good for her highness to deal with.

Canter work actually felt really good at times, Felt her use her hind end and round her back, even staying in frame a bit. Ok, mostly heavy and fighting frame, but there was some good stuff there. Then we did lots of up/down transitions while maintaining frame. Something I am totally bad at because it takes lots of leg and arm, and paying attention. Too many hamsters running around in my head, lol. Got a rather irritated but proper frame out of my mare through a couple transitions and through turns and finally let her have her head and cooled her out.

Lesson in the am :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Thursday- Had an afternoon lesson, with another gal. Luckily the jumps stayed low to accommodate both of us. Actually I'm not so scared of height now (within reason lol) but what goes on afterwards.

3 months in- need to get better shot
Holly had been a beast for the trainer ride the day before so she got a change up to a twisted wire full cheek. Holy brakes Batman. She learned real quick to be light and responsive, but still would frame up into the bit. I learned to keep my hands light and ask gently for transitions, which is good for me, I needed to work on my side of contact as well.

Canter work was decent, again hurrah to having a response to half-halting, I worked on trying to sit back more into her big, rocking canter stride and keep her off her forehand. If you can keep her head up and weight on her hind-end, its pretty nice. I am also enjoying my Fleeceworks half pad immensely.

Moved onto jumping. I'll totally admit I wasn't super excited given how our last jumping felt. I put the big girl panties on and got to it, It was just trot poles followed by an x. We worked on straightness, not our strong suit, but not bad. Since I had brakes, we mostly stopped and trotted after the jump, although coming off to the left ,she generally is already on that lead, so if she was on it, I cantered her around the turn a bit. Yes I was too chicken to work on changes. Baby steps, baby steps.

Shaggy beast took forever to cool out, got her mushy grain slop that she hoovers down like its a pie-eating contest she's determined to win, and put her away. I really need to get down to the barn on a warm afternoon and scrub all her nastiness away.

Saturday- Running late as usual, I don't know why I think I can get off work, drive home, change, eat, and make it out to the barn in the time I have. I was hoping to ride Magic since it was cold, but clear which meant outside jumping. (Ok, I feel bad saying cold, but 40's feels cold when you don't really have 'winter' riding gear). Arrived to find Magic already tacked by another occasional gal and went to drag my mare up. Space is at a premium on Saturdays, so at least when you're late, spots open up as people go run they crazies out of their ponies.

We ended up 'warming up' in the indoor arena, we had to take turns cantering, Holly was a little rushed at the posting trot but settled with some halt/ backing. I tried to work on really sitting back and getting her off the forehand, with some really nice moments. Then she gets a little heavy and I lean forward, and we both forget where we need to be. Luckily I have a trainer more than happy to remind me.

Where am I going?
After cantering inside, those of us jumping went down to the outdoor. It was colder and rather dreary, but at least it was dry since initially they had forecast rain. We did more cantering, until Holly and I were both panting, having to cut across the arena and ride straight toward our trainer, then circle which  ever way she told us. It took me like 3 runs to even know what we were doing, but it was good once I figured it out.

Then we did little baby jumps, which Holly was pretty sure were still trot poles, making me have to use more leg then usual. I need to get more assertive, even when I'm super tired. Ah so many things to work on. Other then not understanding the first exercise of coming off the jump straight for a ways, then trotting and turning tight towards the rail, it was ok.

Lesson tonight, she is much more 'up' at night so this shall be interesting. Then lesson in the am, since my work week starts Wednesday night.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Believe I Can Fly

Sometimes riding in a big group is fun. Sometimes it's pretty damn embarrassing, but we'll get to that...

I have no media of my own, so I have utilized Tumblr to assist my rambling storytelling.

Lesson last night was pretty packed. We were in a holding pattern to run crazy ponies around the round pen, and not wanting to crowd Karley meant I got bumped for someone who needed to spend the next hour + desensitizing his horse in the dark (and desensitizing all of our horses as well). I ended up lunging a wild pony in the "scary" end of the arena, which really is kinda nice since she doesn't spook as much afterwards.

Got on and joined the...1,2,3...no 6 or 7 (I think?) horses we had circling the indoor. Holly was pretty fresh and forward, but at least in the slow-twist I have some stopping power without completely offending princess, so we did lots of halting and backing, while trying not to cause a pile-up of ponies.

Moved on to jumping. There were 3 little jumps set up in the middle-ish of the arena, all we had to do was go over the center jump and turn left or right after, then back around again. Since Princess Holly has been a brat about lead changes, and I'm a weenie, my trainer wanted me to just slow to a trot before turning.

What did Princess Holly want to do?


It's like she was determined to show me what she learned, even as I was trying to stop her she decided she needed to pick our direction the harder way and swap leads. Going towards the open end wasn't terrible, we actually had an incredibly balanced, soft lead change she snuck in before slowing... and OK, a big part of the problem could be my nasty habit of standing a bit and leaning forward when I'm nervous and trying to stop/slow a horse. 

ok, maybe not this bad, 
but it feels that way when you're on 

Yep, it got worse going towards the closed end to the right. We were just a smidge closer to that side, making the turn feel really really tight on a green horse determined to swap leads. 

She started jumping like a tea pot, head down, pulling me forward, and then bouncing my unsteady self around as she tried out her new FLYING lead changes. 

Look what I can do mommy!

I know one of the times I got really out of balance and in an effort not to sound like a sailor I made some sort of aah noise. Yes very proud of myself. 

Then of course we had to go again now that I was completely unsettled as was she (Reactive+ Reactive= Hot mess) I panicked mid-bouncy turn to the right, yanked her left and pretty much ended up running her into the corner of the arena and her BFF horse Blue who was sitting politely in the corner watching. 

After sheepishly apologizing to E and Blue, I of course, went one more time, this time my trainer was nice enough to let me go left, and since we didn't royally F anything up, we were done. Then I got to watch L and Karley do some really fun looking courses with the three jumps, making me feel even more lame, that I was panicking over the one. The another trainer sweetly came over and told me Holly reminded me of one of her reactive mares, and that like her and her horse I will learn not to react, it just takes time. 

How I feel we are right now

Soo... After some cool down time, of feeling like a failure and wanting to sell my problems away, I feel a little more grounded. I wanted green, I got green. I have to remember Holly and I are similar, we are both reactive, so if I like her calm, and it calms me, then the same runs true for her. I have to be the calm, steady one. 

How I want us to be :)

Bright side, I've been SHOPPING! Pics to come :)

Hopefully trainer ride today and Friday, lessons Thurs and Sat. 

I need to write out some goals for my princess and I. 

Thanks to those who made it through one long, slightly whiny post :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blown Away- 1st Ride of the New Year

Saturday lesson didn't feel like it was going to be that bad. I was still tired from a stupid busy work week and a little hung over because my alcohol tolerance is pretty pathetic these days.

Got to the barn and it was prob almost 50F out, but quickly the wind kicked up, making our lesson a little more challenging. I was kinda dragging butt and since I was riding the incredibly fuzzy Magic, I was last on.

As we got started I could feel Magic had decided he had exerted enough bucking like an idiot in the round pen, and was going to be a slug the rest of the lesson. We managed to do all the WTC stuff, lots of working on frame and forward, neither of which Magic was keen on when facing 30 mph wind. Finally got to jumping. I had been kinda looking forward to it, until it got windy enough to take out a few jumps, and I saw the big barrel sitting in the middle of a cross rail. We warmed up . over what I can finally agree is a tiny x. Its funny she lowered the one jump I had jumped higher last week and felt perfectly comfortable at the higher height.

Its not big, not sure why I was so scared of it
Did the baby x to a vertical. No biggie, just couldn't keep the hairy beast moving at a decent pace. Watching the video I see just how slow we were. Then we did the barrel jump, nothing new to him, but I kinda sucked back and he ducked out. Then I remembered frustrating my trainer is scarier then the jump, and pushed him over it. It became a vertical to the barrel jump.

Soooo sloooow... but hey we did it. Then did it back around to the first line. It wasn't pretty, but I remembered to breathe most of the time, and didn't die, so I'm happy.

My mare on the other hand, was being beastly, luckily the WS was on her, not me ;) Decided to include some of her naughtiness in the video clip. She really was just freaking over the barrel down the line from the vertical, but still, sassy pants needs to learn to suck it up just like her momma does.

We both had Sun off, trainer ride today, lesson Tues and Thurs, trainer ride (hopefully) Wed and Fri. Maybe ride Sat, depends on how bad work kicks my butt the night before.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Holiday Blur...

Ok so I'm so far behind, I really don't even remember where I left off, and what's been done since. Lots of rescheduling do to the holidays, so lessons have been kinda scattered. Before Christmas I had a few meh lessons on Holly. Not much media coverage since it was freezing and didn't want to drag the boys out with me just for photos/ video... ok I wanted to, but have some restraint...

Holly has been getting schooled more by the WS since she is on school break, so she's been having to work on her lead changes heavy and has no breaks) and a slow twist full cheek, which she was very nice in but its technically another horses's bit, so if trainer likes her in it enough I may go buy one (SHOPPING!). 
and getting some bigger, more complicated jump schooling, which I happily leave to my trainer and the WS. We have been playing around with her bits, instead of staying in the snaffle with the gag, we have ventured into a big rubber snaffle (which I hate her in with a passion because she gets

I have to work on straightness, me, her, down the line, in a turn, after a jump... I even asked to jump during a lesson last week. Yes, little timid me wanted to jump. Of course I then got told to get my shizzle together and not screw up what the WS was fixing..ugh...

This week I also rode Magic, man he feels small and easy now. Funny how your perception changes as you grow as a rider. Did some little courses in the outdoor since the weathers been really nice for December/ January. I have to work at not staying leaning forward in a line, I'm pretty sure I hold my breath the whole time too.

Lesson on Sat, then hopefully back to a more regular routine.

So really I will leave you with random media excerpts of my holidays.

My boys :)

Friend's pony Checkers- want!

                                        (Me on Magic- sorry cell video- camera died)

                                          (WS on Holly, who was being a brat)