Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Somewhat Surprise!

About a week ago Hillary from EquestrianAtHart (check out her blog!) was selling a bunch of stuff and I definitely took advantage of the "slightly stained" $25 breeches. Main reason being is that, I have maybe 1... 2 pairs? And I really need to start wearing them when I ride because I'm down to one pair of good jeans (aka: jeans without "sexy cowgirl" holes). Anyway! I was "surprised" when I came home from work and found a BarkBox in my driveway. When I opened it and saw the breeches I squealed seeing how gorgeous they were. Then I read the note that was really sweet, and found a tub of Higher Standards leather cleaner. Double squeal! I've read so much about it and every has seemed so crazy about it, I'm definitely delighted to try it out. 

Hillary does some awesome give-a-ways and always has something great to say, if you don't read her blog now, you should. THANK YOU HILLARY! From me AND Mr. B. <3

In other news we got one more lesson in with E tonight and Auntie A came to watch. E also brought her new puppy that she adopted from KY. SOOOO CUTE!

We had some okay flatwork and okay jumping warm up, but we finally came together and pulled off a pretty awesome course. I just have to ride it, chin up, prideful, and confident. If I do that, he follows right along. I'm really excited for this weekend... I should probably start packing now.

Anyone have any tips for a first time all weekend horse show?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Informal Blog Hop: Transformations... And some other stuff...

"Don't worry Mom! They'll love me!"
So the show countdown is really getting short and I kind of want to vomit. Thanks for everyone who is supporting me and saying I'll be fine because without it... I probably wouldn't go. He was real spookish on our ride yesterday through the trails which was odd, but hey, they can't ALL be perfect right? Back to ring work today, maybe some in hand stuff as a cool down since I decided it'd be smart to sign up for Showmanship classes... Smart right? We shall see!

Father/Daughter Time 1988
So the 22nd was my Dad's birthday and I celebrated it by going on a trail ride with K who rode the Fat Halfie, and he celebrated it in NH with his girlfriend. I was totally okay with that seeing as he hasn't really gotten to do much traveling lately. He made me a delicious birthday cake before he left though! YUM! Maybe after the show we'll get more Father/Daughter Time before his work gets crazy again. I'm 26 but I'm such a Daddy's Girl. Not in a way where I say, "Daddy buy me this!" but more as a "I got to go to Walmart with my Dad today and we got lunch and YYAAAYYY!" Now shooting skeet is a thing. I'm okay with it.

Father/Daughter Time 2014
In other news, I got one more gift for my birthday. My brothers took me to Black Lotus Studios the other day to set up an appointment for Khail to get his 2nd tattoo. His first one he got about a month ago which was LUCKY in a Celtic font down his ribcage. It really meant a lot for him since LB was a huge part of his life like Brantley is to Mason. What they surprised me with at the tattoo place was that I was going to get one too. I got my first one when I was 19 and it took me 4 years and a giant pile of napkins and scrap pieces of paper to make it perfect. It's taken me just as long to think of my next one plus save up the money to get it. They knew how much I wanted it so...

LB's Tattoo Number
The trinity has always had a strong pull drawing me towards the symbol. I know it sounds weird but I just couldn't place it. After the years have gone by I've realized that for my brothers and I, no matter how bad things gets, or how far away we are, we'll always have that bond. Khail is leaving for college Sunday and I won't be here to say goodbye, so getting this was really important to me. For them to come together and do this for me? Holy crap! <3 I am so lucky.

INFORMAL BLOG HOP: Transformations

Now for my first attempt at the blog hop! Okay, so it's an informal blog hop run by Life of Riley. It's only been about two and a half years since I've had Brantley so this should be easy. I'm on a work computer so I can't get fancy. But here ya go!

Tried to keep it short but... There's so much more to it than this :)
I wish I could put MY transformation in pictures since I've had him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to Basics and Simple Changes

One thing I need to get over is that the gear doesn't make me a different or worse rider. It's all in my head. So I tacked up my horse today and we had a cruising lesson in my Bates, gloves, RS breeches, Middleburg tall boots, and SSG gloves.

Some people may wonder what a "cruising lesson" is and basically it involves you dropping your reins and just following the horse at whatever gait you put them at. Brantley gets bored easily at the walk (so do I) so after some small serpentines and bends to loosen him up we picked up a trot and I held onto my "oh shit" strap I bought for just this reason. Usually I hook my reins over my horn and rest my hand on that to just make sure I don't get grabby if he gets quick, but that's difficult riding hunt seat.

As soon as I bumped him up into a trot his head came straight up and he veered off the rail. He was looking for the support from my hands and the contact that he had been growing accustomed too. I didn't panic when I felt him scoot a little as I pushed him on and held the strap and reins together and waited for him to get steady and started posting. It was like magic, he realized what we were doing, dropped his head, relaxed, and moved out like the good little hunter/western pony he is. In a cruising lesson you basically hold on and let them go where ever they choose. Some horses will stay on the rail, some will decide to cut corners or change direction, your job is to just ride along at the same pace you asked them to go. I know I've discussed this before with Lucy and what it does but just for blogging sake it helps them not only stretch but become responsible for themselves and their feet.

Once you get comfortable at the trot and your horse is relaxed and following your pace, step it up to a lope (or canter). This sometimes is really scary for people to do because most horses decide to run out from underneath you with that freedom. That's where your one-rein stops come in handy. You slow them down, pick the lope up again. If your horse can't handle being free to lope around, bring it back down to the trot. This is B's FAVORITE thing to do and why I think he's so steady in his strides.

After a good warm up with the cruising lesson I decided to work on our fancy simple changes that we had become so good at over the winter. Man are we rusty. I think I need to keep a calendar of exercises I should do with him molded with the new stuff. That way he doesn't forget! Finally things got really smooth... To the point where he popped in a flying change and we went around the course that was still set up yesterday. I call that a win!

Moral of the post: You should tooootally try "cruising" on your pony. And then tell me how it went.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Training My Confidence

Every day is a new day, every ride is a new chance.
As we all know, I was originally trained as a balanced/hunter rider (I know that sounds like an oxymoron these days). The foundation that Kim built for me gave me the opportunity and the mindset that I can get on anything and make it work. It wasn't bravery, it was that every horse is different and with every ride you get a blank slate. It doesn't matter about yesterday, it's what happens today. Ride the horse you have to get the horse you want. That always stuck with me when I rode for other people and it really helped with starting B back. What I didn't ever learn, was how to show.

I know that sounds stupid but I only showed a handful of times at a local rated show with LB and it was all politics and favorites. No real training opportunities (that I realized until now). Just walk, trot, canter around the ring and maybe you'll place. I did some little fun gymkhanas as well but other than that? Not too much show experience... But I never stopped riding and working towards new things with LB and grabbing any horse I had the opportunity to ride. We started jumping a little over a cross-rail or two, but riding a course? No experience, until now.

The biggest thing with Brantley is that when I was doing all the ground work I made it a goal to be able to send him left and right, back and forward... After that, the next step was obviously up and over. I can send this horse through and over almost anything (still working on the self-loading) from a trot or a walk. He'll even jump over something from a stand still. So when it came to throwing my barrel saddle on and hitting the trails, jumping was a cinch (pun totally intended)! Fallen tree? Broken log? Small child (kidding)? Psh, we got this. So when Elana set up a couple ground poles and then a 2' jump... BOOM! Easy right? We got this.
What I felt like at my lesson...
How I feel on the trails...

Then today A set up a course... Not just ground poles. Like vertical jumps and a cross-rail or two... Then moved it up to that 2' foot we mastered.

Wait wait wait... Let's go back a step. Did I mention I was wearing breeches, tall boots, and gloves... Yes. I know. I feel like A has seen me naked. In my weakest state. Brave cowgirl was gone. All of a sudden I road my horse differently. I gripped my reins like I was going to die... I questioned B's approach and he refused... I asked him to canter and he threw his head up and refused to go forward (something he NEVER does). We were a MESS! MMEEESS!!! A didn't even know what was going on. I couldn't explain to her in words. All I knew was that it was me... AAALLLL me. I couldn't get comfortable and once I started riding around the course I wouldn't breathe.

Today... I felt like this.
I kept going back and thinking about how good/horrible the previous jump was instead of just leaving it and looking at the next one so my simple changes weren't bad, they were non-existent. It was like I never rode before, or at least felt like it. We were not communicating at all. This is me and B we're talking about too.

Next thing you know I'm yelling out my strides, "1! 2! 1! 2!" I started breathing... I started letting go through the jump and letting him take care of me. I focused on just riding and not getting in his way.


My confidence was shot. When I'm all in my hunter/jumper get-up I feel like an ass. Trying to jump my horse and focusing on doing things "right" way instead of what I know works for us... Dumb. I don't need to hold his hand. He's got all the confidence in the world, as long as I have it to. I have to remember the way I ride, remember what we've done and what he knows. It's what he appreciates that makes me a better trainer/rider. We're a team and whatever I give to him, he'll give back.

A was a HUGE help because she's seen what we've been through and knows what we can do together. I'm always okay with blaming myself when it's the right thing to do, and it's good to have a friend who will say, "You're right, fix it and just breathe".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Successful Birthday... Finally

The only picture from my birthday "celebration"
So I'm leaving my mid-20s... Excited? Absolutely. I know I really shouldn't be according to most people, but I am. I can't keep thinking, "God I'm so old and so behind in the horse world". I just have to get out there and celebrate what I've done and where I'm going.

As always, I was nervous for my birthday. There's a reason that most know and some understand, some think it's silly. I wanted to take the weekend off for a horse show that I decided to skip, but I needed to do something. It was the first birthday in 3 years that I haven't been admittedly on suicide watch, depressed as f*ck, or in the hospital. This year I told myself, girl, celebrate what you have and not what you've lost. Friday night was a movie, Saturday... 3 hour trail ride followed by a night I don't REALLY remember... And Sunday, time with friends. 

What will my real birthday bring? Who cares! Horse time and a bowl of Lucky Charms? 
That's all I need, along with the memories of the horse who gave it all for me.

Lucky was the love my life. The horse that got me through. The horse that kept me alive. He rescued me when I most needed him. The confidence. The love. The trust. The need to be excepted. Because of him I learned who I was and that I was worth something. I wasn't a shadow. I wasn't a backdrop. He got me through my first years of high school, and taught me to hold my head up high Junior Year and be myself no matter what people thought. He taught me that it wasn't what I wore, wasn't what I didn't have, and who I wasn't friends with. It was everything I already was, I just needed to believe it.

I try to remember him while I eat my *Lucky Charms* that Ms. Kate always leaves me (because she's an amazing friend), but this year I shared. 

He may not like peppermints but he looooves those marshmallows!

I decided this year to celebrate what Lucky brought me. 
A dog and a horse, two beings that got me through the darkness that had taken over.

Without that loss in my life, I wouldn't have realized how strong I really was and how much I could overcome. I wouldn't have met the people I have in my life and lived the experiences I've lived in this short amount of time. Without him... I wouldn't have had all of this.

And it's all because of him.

I miss you <3 Thank you for everything.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Horse Shows & Clinics

I really want to fill this year with horse shows and clinics now that B and I are back on track. I've put off buying a truck for a few reasons and that being one of them. After a little bickering with the OM ("Old Man" aka: Dad) about how it's time for him to let me grow up and get my own truck the I will pay and be responsible for, we came to an agreement where I would wait until the end of Fall to start really shopping and save up a good amount of $$ for a down payment. Plus... I may or may not have already applied for a loan and failed. Oh yay, ex-boyfriends and their credit killing. Game plan to pay off those credit card bills has finally become a HUGE priority... So what am I going to do? Attempt to show/learn now before I have the truck payment.

First up is this coming weekend. There's a show at Dapper Dan for RIHA. I haven't been to Dapper Dan since the Lucky days and I really told myself I'd never go back. But for this Woodstock Fair thing, I should probably get B into a smaller show ring for practice. I think this would be my last opportunity to get him into a situation like that before the 28th. But do I really want to spend that much money on a rated show that well... Doesn't really matter? Still trying to decide.

Finally got to have a lesson with my favorite trainer Elana. She's by trade an eventer and used to give me lessons on Lucky back in the day. It was so nice to find someone who worked with us well and didn't battle everything I said, she worked with it. Finally she rode him one day with his 2-sizes-too-big girth and bouncy trot. The moment she uttered the words, "I don't give you enough credit for riding this horse" I knew she was perfect for us. She's probably the closest thing to a traditional trainer other than Niall Quirk I'd be really comfortable working with, especially with Brantley. This was our second lesson with her in the last year and she just gets it.

I explained my goals of getting Brantley soft and accepting the contact. I switched him to a Happy Mouth D-Ring with the french link and he LOVES it. I find that he's less grabby with it and accepts the pressure which is awesome. He does really well with the regular Clinton Anderson snaffle I use, but I thought maybe if I go softer... He'll get softer. And BAM! I'm a genius hehehe. She completely understood where I was coming from and we worked on getting him to bend through his corners and circling... Getting rid of that egg-butt end is a definitely goal. I tend to give up through the circle. Bad Maddy... Then came the cross-rail... First trotting... Then cantering... Then the vertical. Knowing she was with me the whole time and believed that we could take the jump was the best feeling. Can't wait to have her come back for more!

Kate came to watch with little Hannah and took some awesome shots. Hannah was the best little baby!

I know we've got a lot of work to do and I need to get rid of the "I'm going to die face"... But I don't think we did too bad for the first time doing this in... Ever? I've jumped in the past but we're both definitely green. Just as long as I can keep my own style and stay off his face and out of his way, we'll learn together and he'll take care of me.

Oh... And Auntie Amanda came for a visit...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hunter Pony Project

The big show is coming up quick but I think we're ready. Stall and camping ground is paid for, trailer rides are set up. Plus I have a pretty cool group of people that I'm going with. I think I'll keep them all. My goal is to show up Thursday night, camp out, and do a couple showmanship classes Friday. If all goes well and he's seems like he can handle himself (which I'm sure he can), we'll ride Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Plus I hear there's a karaoke contest EVERY night... Well except Monday, that's the blueberry pie eating contest.

In other news I finally found the balls to contact his breeder. For once in my life I was hoping that I could just leave a message with my information or the phone wouldn't be connected. She picked up. I told her who I was and that I thought I had one of her 2006 colts. She asked me his name and the reaction I got when I said "Tear Drop" was exactly what I was hoping for. She repeated his full name and just started to tell me what a wonderful start he had and that she had wished she kept him for herself, then asked where I got him. I told her his previous owner's name who was the only other person that had had him. She had brought him and his brother to a sales barn and that woman purchased him there. When I told her I found him in Exeter she thought I said Texas. Then I said Rhode Island and she was amazed he made it out all the way there. I told her that I had been waiting to call her for the last... Almost 3 years but was scared to. Then our journey story began when she asked why. I told her everything we had gone through over the last few years and she was really taken aback. I told her how amazing it has been having him in my life and we found each other right when we both needed it. She had a lesson but wanted me to send her my information as well as pictures so I did and I'm just waiting to hear back. It was exactly what I needed.

Tear Drop Winken - Sale Photo from huntseathorses.com
People had asked why I didn't want to call and I just said I was lazy and it wasn't important. The truth was that I was scared to death that she was going to tell me some tragic story that would back up every piece of advice I got to sell him or worse, put him down. To hear how amazing he had been... Now I'm even more determined. And also not taking any of his crap. No more nice "sorry you were beaten" excuses.

Amanda has been helping me start Brantley back over fences being the amazing Hunter Princess that she is. She's really built a good bond with him and I'm so impressed with them as a team. She had a good first ride after a while the other day and has come back since and more good rides to follow! She came and gave me a mini-lesson on counting strides the other day which is good because when it comes to jumping... I can get over the jump and that's about it. It's only occasionally pretty like this:

Credit to Kate Taylor from Polar Square Designs
Other times it's like:
Also by Kate Taylor
I didn't realize how hard it would be for me to find that spot again I had when I was doing the whole hunter/jumper thing... I'll get it. I'm sure. But I can always watch A enjoy B just as much as I do!

Profile Picture Worthy... Just sayin'

http://www.controlhaltdelete.com/ Tear Drop Winken: August 2014

Tear Drop Winken