Sunday, November 17, 2013

Get 'r Done

So well... We jumped today. No big deal right?




And that is how I feel. I can't even tell you. No... I did not cry, which is a thing I do when B and I do something. But I just couldn't stop smiling.

We had an awesome ride outside with A, K, and P. Lucy was a doll! Merlot was perfect as always. And Brantley, first time in a while we rode outside, awesome! We had a great, long, low trot. Worked on getting him collected a little bit (by the way, loving my SmartPak Rockin' SP reins), then picked up a canter. Perfect? Yes, perfect! Kept him collected and moving forward. A hopped on Lucy and I sat and talked with P to show her all of Brantley's new things that he does like letting me touch his butt and jumping down and up the side of the ring. We popped over the single log jump in the XC course at the walk and I jokingly walked over to one of the harder jumps. I've sent B over every jump (except the coupe) from the ground and he'd jump it at a stand still if I asked. As I said, we joked about going over it and well, like everything else I do with B... I usually do it.

Took a couple of tries because I kept telling him "go go go, NO!" just by my body posture. The girls kept telling me "look up!" "just jump it" and I told myself it but I was scared. I don't think I've ever jumped that high or at least in the past 8 years... And when I did it was on a dead broke lesson horse. Here's my 7 year old QH, only been under saddle how long? Just learning to go straight?

He took such good care of me. I was scared out of my mind when he first went over it. The look on my face? Heart was going to come out of my mouth. It was pounding so hard I swear you could see my pulse from the ground.

He looks so calm and cool like, "I got this." Me? Not so much. I think it was more of an excited "OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING!" Panic. We went over a second time and K missed it on camera but there was a squeal that escaped from my mouth. Sad that K and P missed it, they asked me to do it again. Still as nervous as before but this time I asked him to pick up a bit of a quiet jog going over it.
This is what we got!

Cloud 9? Fuck yes! Excuse my language but like seriously? I just took a jump, a big jump, on a horse I've never jumped. We've done ground poles, some things out on the trail, the side of the ring, maybe a trot over a little cross-rail... But this, this was huge... He does make it look tiny though.

So yeah, we jumped, I'm a happy camper. Schooling show beginning of December... 
Eventing in the Spring. We got this.

I finally gave myself a break this past week. I really needed it especially because the hostility wasn't really going away. A few friends from work told me I needed to go out, so of course we ended up at my favorite karaoke place. Obviously I've been there before, hence I'm behind the bar with my favorite bartender in the back. We had a blast, sung some songs, danced the night away.

The whole night plus the ride I had with N and K really helped put things in perspective and made me feel a lot better about the issues I had over the weekend. We grow up and grow out of friends, I understand that. It's funny how the people who have known you for a less amount of time know you better as a person or at least the person you have become and want to be. I'm finally in a place in my life that I don't need people to tell me what to do or what I should be doing. I need those people in my life to just live it with me day by day and support me when needed and tell me to get over it when I need to let it go. I don't think I've ever had this much fun and still get all my work done.

I don't think any of my friends will every know how much I really appreciate them. <3

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What I Get for NOT Riding, A NEW FRIEND!

New favorite picture. Taken by Kate from Polar Square Designs!  Check her out for all your Christmas needs.
One week down, one week to go. I love the horses I'm taking care of. When you get a chance check out SANTANA Rescue Center's website. Awesome stories about awesome horses. I've been taking care of them for the past week, now on to week #2! Yes it's time consuming but I love it and still have time to feed the horses at Melody!

I worked on Saturday and Sunday we had a new arrival!

Natalie is a first time horse owner who after a fall out from a lease found "Comicbook", a 13-year-old OTTB. As us OTTB lovers say, it only takes one ride. She went to try another horse and half way through the ride made the decision. Comic had to be hers! It's only been a couple days and you can see a bond building between the two.

Melody is a new place for both of them and we are so happy and thankful to have them!

Especially Lucy

Comic expressing his manliness.
Brantley looking not so amused.
Aw, looooove <3 Natalie & Comic

That afternoon I jumped on B for the first time in at least 4 days... What I got was a very forward pony who couldn't get Lucy out of his cross-hairs. Lucy was looking more fantastic with A as she has in a long time (Check out Amanda's Blog - I think she's finally getting back into work mode and liking it! After Lu and A seemed to be done with their workout I asked B to pick up a canter and his response was, "F*** YOU!" It was first time he "bucked" out of the I-Don't-Wanna category, less of the over-excited/freak-out type. He wanted to be with Lucy. We took up a few strides at the lope after bending him to into the fence and getting him to disengage his hind end plus give it up at the poll. We ended on a good note, but he was still dubbed the "Problem Child" of the night.

The last couple of days since the weekend and coming back from the Equine Affaire have been pretty rough. I've been very hostile due to some family issues (Thanksgiving is coming) as well as some friend stuff. Long story short, was supposed to meet a few people I grew up with, couldn't because I was tired and woke up late, then basically got told off that I was non-reliable and a bad friend. Ouch... I've been the same since I started into horses. My response consisted of, "I'm sorry you feel that way. It's not going to change." Especially when I've been the way I am with my priorities since before I can remember. Well, it's been hitting me pretty hard plus some other things (because it's never just one thing) and sleeping is not an option I guess. My brain just doesn't want to shut off and forget about it and unfortunately I've dragged it into work the last two days.

Last night after walking Dustin around, I pulled out B and his hind legs looked a bit swollen so I did some ground work with him. He was just a little stocked up but my brain was not in "work your pony" mode. Thought I'd skip any source of frustration and it worked out. I pulled the stirrups off E's saddle and strapped his quarter sheet on. THERE WAS NO PROBLEM! YAY!

Today they let me go early from work so I went to feed the Santana ponies and then headed to the barn. Breathing exercises! Grabbed my helmet and met K and N who were riding in the indoor. It was great to see N riding Comic for the first time since they moved in. K, happy to be on her pony, as always noticed right away I was a little... Odd. Not like I try to hide it from anyone. When you're pissed, you're pissed. I didn't feel like arguing with Dustin's saddle so I just jumped on him with his blanket and walked around the indoor while the girls rode... Filled them in on the situation and let's just say, I felt better and took my pony for a ride.

I tried to warm up longer because of the temperature drop... Plus I think that's why he may have been a little nasty the other night.

We finally picked up a trot, did some changes in direction, then I introduced my favorite exercise ever! (LB loved it too) Shorten on the short side, lengthen on the long side. He got the hang of it really well. After we did some halting off thigh pressure and my seat, then backing up. Lot's to work on in the backing department. I asked him to pick up a lope and he decided every few strides he wanted to speed up. Usually I would pull him back and tell him to go easy... Nah! Hands up, seat forward, YA MULE! YA! I think we didn't even pick up more than a handle gallop around the ring but he was great! Came right back down when I asked.

During our cool out I decided to work on some stuff I started a few weeks ago... Drop the reins, grab some mane, and lead him where you want him to go. I used my legs and seat to ask him to turn around and go in a certain direction then lead straight out of the turn. BEST HE'S EVER DONE!!! 

Couldn't be happier with how tonight ended. I love my new friends :)

P.S. Check out our friend Hillary's blog for a contest to win some AWESOME leather cleaner!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Equine Affaire 2013 - Day 2

So glad that I decided to go on Thursday and Friday instead of trying to fight the crowds on the weekends. Had a great day yesterday with Kate and got the things that I went to get... Today I went with Deb and Amy (girl who now rides Kid) and focused on the things that I wanted. Of course there was no way I could buy that saddle I saw, or design my own headstall and breastcollar set (I like the one I got for my birthday more anyway), but I did walk out with a couple pairs of $6 winter riding gloves, a free sample of Finish Line HA, a painting for a friend, and... Those SP split reins I've been eyeing for months.

Also a custom license plate.
Looks like the Rollie Pollie Arab for Sherry!
Wanted it... Didn't get it because of the Jeep's state...
I caught up with a couple of friends and got to watch some clinics. Stacy Westfall's was about the "Woah" and 3 different ways to ask. She focused on the reins, your legs, and then the "Woah". It was really interesting. Something I was questioning about her before was her constant leg movement when the horse is moving forward. Over the years I've learned the "bump" routine where you bump your legs until you have the desired gate and then you let them go. She has a constant leg movement going because as soon as she takes her legs off, the horse starts to think that she's going to cue for a woah and back up. I'll probably stick with what I've been doing because Brantley is not very sensitive to leg cues so I'd rather keep him light. She said it was good for horses who were a bit overreactive and who needs to get a bit desensitized to leg movement. There was more of an introduction to asking a horse to back with leg cues more than the woah but definitely have some stuff to try out with B.

Another clinic I got to watch was an introduction to Western/Cowboy Dressage. I forgot the clinician's name but it was very cool. He talked a lot about what Cowboy Dressage really is and the difference between that and regular dressage. He said the biggest difference was the gait. Cowboy Dressage is a walk, jog, lope while regular is walk, trot, canter. He had two riders who compete professionally in the discipline and they were amazing. One ended on a musical freestyle to the original "Wagon Wheel". I missed it because I was waiting for my stupid license plate (which I love) but I saw glimpses and heard the music. If you're looking for something a little more low-key than your typical dressage, this is growing more and more. I hope to get a little more schooled in that area sometime with B.

The group of us made it to the Coliseum in time to see the Versatility Horse & Rider Finals. I was stoked. This has been something I've been talking about for months. My goal for next year is to compete. The finals were hard... Really hard. I'm not looking to win, I'm looking to just walk in the ring and be able to say that we did it. I explained the last one so here's some tid-bits on the final course.

1. Mount your horse and canter over patterned poles.
2. Walk into an empty kiddy pool, pull a string and dump shipping peanuts on your head (like Flashdance)
3. Move the horse forward so only his front legs are outside the pool and turn on the haunches IN THE POOL!
4. Trot over and move a blanket across 2 jumps, then canter over the jumps... They weren't small.
5. Drag a line of buckets backwards through cones (somewhere in there you had to half pass at any gait).
6. Pick a blanket off a stuffed fox from the ground and walk through pool noodles and knocked over standards. Drop the blanket on a barrel and shoot a fake "pop" gun.
7. Do a pattern around barrels then take a tube from one and place it in the other stretching a line of clothes out over the barrels...
8. Trot into a pole pattern, halt, wait 3 seconds, then back through the pattern.
9. Dismount, run and grab a basket while crawling under chicken wire (horse must stand still away from you).
10. Lead your horse and yourself over a bridge (and balance beam for you)... Remount.
11. Pole bend while sticking flowers in buckets...
12. Pick up a ground pole leaning on a barrel... Go under it... Place it on the jump cup. Pick up a string tied to a pole, place that on the jump cup. Then trot through that.
13. Victory Lap! TIME!

... I feel like there's definitely things I'm missing like this pattern where they had to spin around these cones but you get the point. It was hard... My reply? We've got a lot of work to do.

Every rider and even horse looked like they were having fun. The biggest thing I saw where mistakes were made were while the rider was rushing. SURPRISE! This is when slow & steady wins the race comes in. If you take your time, you don't have to repeat the obstacle. I'm determined now... We'll do it.

I'm happy.

Oh! And I came home to this...

I love my Dad... Best Dad EVER!

Dad made me a grain bin... :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Equine Affaire 2013 - Day 1

Took off to the Equine Affaire early with K today (obviously stopped at Starbucks...)! I think I was... 15? Maybe 16, last time I went just for fun. I couldn't really shop or appreciate the things that I learned. All the other times that I've gone I've been working with the store and staying behind a counter. Finally, my turn to go EA crazy with some good friends!

Got there just in time to watch a couple of competitors in the versatility clinic. They had a specific amount of time to complete the course which was actually really difficult. Started with two jumps, then going threw a kiddie pool (I think there was water). When you walked through the kiddie pool you had to finagle a rope around the 4 posts surrounding it. Then lope around a set a barrels in both directions, pick up a spatula, side pass and back up to another barrel, flip a "pancake", side pass again and put the spatula back. Next step was dragging a stuffed calf backwards a few steps, then move poles on the ground attached by rope around a clock pattern. Trot poles were put down and you had to stop after the last, ground tie your horse, run over and throw a couple of hay bales on a tarp, then grab your horse and back him through some cones. There were a few parts where you had to pick up baskets and discard the contents neatly while on your horse as well as picking up a bucket and dumping it out in a muck bucket WHILE ON YOUR HORSE! I don't actually know if the 3 that we watched finished it but it was definitely worth watching... Especially because Brantley and I will be participating next year.

We didn't get to audit many clinics but we did attend a SmartPak "think tank" and as a reward, everyone took home a $50 gift card. Marched right down to SmartPak and purchased B's new embroidered cooler for $0.95. Damn that tax! They'll be sending it in the mail... There will be pictures.

I'm really excited about their new Rockin' SP line and Western Apparel. I was going to use it for a pair of split reins which are probably the most supple things I've ever touched... But priorities! B needed a cooler. Their Rockin' SP blankets are supposed to fit more to the stock of a Quarter Horse unlike their regular blanket line which I learned is more for your Warmblood/Thoroughbred type. B is in the middle where he's got the height and length of a TB but the shoulder and ass of a Quarter Horse. I can't wait for it to come in! He may be getting a new matching sheet.


I also picked up a pair of Professional Choice No-Turn Bell Boots which I am very excited about as well. K and I figured he'd be a large and I tried them on when we got back... PERFECT! Downside is yes I love my SMB Elite boots but I did fall in love with the new Pegasus Air Boots. More even distribution of pressure, more breathable, more support, same size for front and back, custom shape. They literally have pony size and horse size. One size fits all... Hard to believe but when we start really working off the property, it'll have to happen. Plus they come in his color as well as leopard print for anyone interested hahaha.
We got to watch the end of a Stacy Westfall clinic which was very interesting. Some things I was confused on but I'll chat about that if I see her tomorrow too. Interested in watching Julie Goodnight. Heading back up in the AM... But I really want to ride my pony!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Keep On Riding

Taking a break from the trails, back in the ring we went.

Night before last I rode with A and another girl who's helping walk Dustin out. It was already dark so it was a good excuse to ride in the indoor. Don't get me wrong, I love riding outside, but with Brantley... Lack of fencing around the ring outside? Doesn't work well for us. We warmed up, did some bending into the fence. Trotted out and loped around, even with the other two horses he was very well behaved. I had already mentioned trying to get A on him for a while just to try but she was working with Lucy so I offered the other girl to get on him. She's only allowed to walk on Dustin so I thought it'd be good for both of them.

He backed up and wouldn't let her get on from the ground until I walked over and held him for her. By the look in his eyes, he was totally f*cking with her... Totally. She walked him around then picked up a jog, really enjoyed not having to post. I told her to point where she wanted to go and he followed her hand just like we've been working on. He looked great and relaxed, not worried at all.

When she was done and A looked like she was set with Lucy, she got on. Once again, calm, relaxed, ready to do whatever A wanted. She trotted around for a bit, did a circle, and picked up a lope. Having someone else on him didn't phase him at all and what I really liked is that A didn't ride on the canter, she rode with it. I love having someone get on my horse and do exactly what I ask them to do and it's successful. It actually helps me get to know my horse better if I know what I think is working is actually working... If that makes any sense. Great ride? I think so.

Last night after walking around on Dustin I got on Brantley in the indoor again. I had some things I wanted to work on like getting him softer in my hand and his balance. He was very forward but not in a bad way, it actually helped me to get his hind end really working and start introducing contact. Cantering was a little different... Rush rush rush rush... Sooooooo I responded with fine, you want to go? Go! After about 5 times around and a couple simple changes later... He was done. So we did some trot transitions and I figured out some stuff to work on for today.

I rode early this AM before lessons started and B was like putty in my hands. He was forward enough where I had to actually work more of myself than usual, but not rushing with his head up and eyes wide. We did a lot of trotting and serpentines, then circles in the corners. I introduced an exercise I used to do with Lucky with a moving circle. You start a circle at one corner and continue doing circles down the long side of the arena. Each time you complete a circle, you move further down the rail then start a new circle so your horse gets straight for a few strides then back into a slight bend. We went down both the long sides in both directions and although he was a little tired, he never pulled his head or came to a stop until I asked. He cantered lightly and politely with a couple simple changes and even one unexpected flying change which I really need to work myself on.

We really need to get some pictures and videos up so I'm not just babbling on about my rides... Or do something interesting other than work... Tear Drop Winken: November 2013

Tear Drop Winken