Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spring Cleaning *UPDATE*

Ha! "Spring cleaning". I really meant "Spring Injuries"

I've been working my little butt off to build up a savings for pony adventures and it's been paying off for sure. But unfortunately in return, scratched cornea and another super fun back injury. Because you know, I have to keep life interesting outside of work. That was only in the last 4 days. But I looked super sexy in my cataract sunglasses, that's for sure.

I also finally had that experience we all dream about a few weeks ago... You know... That decision you make when you're alone in the woods and a dog decides to run across a pond onto the ice and falls through? Yeah... That happened. On a negative degree wind chill day. Luckily my mom lives 5 minutes from the park so after a quick swim and a 15-20 minute walk back to my car, all was okay.

Of course it wasn't this guy... It was a client's dog.

This month has left me a bit empty but knowing that the insanity of pet-sitting life has finally slowed down, I can focus on Brantley again and our goals. Although my back is still a bit f'd up, I couldn't miss the chance to ride with Niall, so with a ton of ibuprofen and a IcyHot Lidocaine patch on board, we had a super awesome ride and will have another on Friday.

I hadn't ridden in 4-5 days so he was a bit fresh but we got focused on the long line and had no problem at the block. He did have a couple spook-scoots but after a quick zoom around the arena he quieted down and was ready to work for sure. We worked on keeping him up straight around the corner and down the rail. Something oddly enough we have a hard time with. If we're not on the trail, he tends to wander... like a drunk. I'm so used to pointing his nose to the inside and asking him to move off my leg so today was definitely a lesson for both of us.

Instead of asking for a tip his nose and bend in his neck first, I used the outside rein to stop movement of his outside shoulder and then move off my leg. Simple concept... Difficult when you've been doing something completely different since the beginning. But he got it. We both did. And he felt great. Even gave me a nice working jog, yielding around the corners, and keeping himself straight down the rail. Straightness? Softness? I'll take it!

We also got to flash our new bonnet today from F.U.N Bonnets (For 'Ur Nag) who did an absolutely beautiful job. It fits perfect!

We also made forever needed purchase of a browband for our western bridle from Highland Browbands. Someone has a giant forehead. 

Work hard, play hard, and buy pretty things for your pony.

Here's a video:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dressaging It

It's been an interesting week full of emotions and I'm not really sure where my brain is right now, but I can't wait to get back in the saddle tomorrow that's for sure. I just spent the last 24 hours without a cell phone and back when I had a "normal" job it would have been fine... But being self-employed and it being the busiest dog-walking day of the week plus a meet and greet I didn't make because of it? Not having it really really sucked. Luckily, I was able to get in repaired for some spare change in the amount of $250... Kill me. It's fixed though, that's what matters.

The BO and I have been having a blast. I think she really enjoys having a galloping buddy, especially when I can get some shots of her jumping some natural jumps on the new trail I found this past fall. It's really good to get out with a horse that can really keep up head to head with Brantley and help him learn to be a better follower versus having the need to be in the lead.

We were discussing the eventing goals we have this year and I mentioned I was the most nervous about stadium jumping... And then this happened.

I knocked the 2'6 vertical so I had the BO drop it down to 2' since this was like our 4th or 5th time going through. Brantley was absolutely super. After I watched the video I said, "Wow, this wasn't that bad." And she laughed and said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but that was the your worst trip." I had technically given B the idea that we were done because I didn't think to have her video anything until she offered so we were a bit sloppy but I'll take it!

... So we're pretty confident galloping alone in the woods over jumps... and apparently over stadium jumps... Guess that leaves dressage right? Right.

How I picture me "Dressaging-it" - for realz

Dressage has always been an interest of mine. I think mainly because of my first introduction to musical freestyle. I remember screaming at a video, "THIS IS A THING?! I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE!" But I never really had the opportunity to take lessons or really dabble in it. Until now.

A couple years ago I made a super awesome friend who I've become really close to and dressage is her thing. She had to take some time off due to being a super awesome baby momma, but recently started riding again with a trainer out near here. I don't even think she waited until her second lesson to text me and say something along the lines of, "OMFG YOU NEED TO RIDE WITH THIS WOMAN!" and went on and on about how wonderful she was. Of course it just wasn't the right time and I wasn't ready but I kept it in the back of my mind.

After keeping up with my friend's lessons and listening to her go on and on about her... I finally said, I need this. So, this past Tuesday, I had my first dressage lesson. I was worried that I wasn't going to prepared for anything she'd ask me to do. We were still learning to relax at the poll and onto the bit with contact and the last few flat lessons I've had, their ways of getting Brantley to relax just made him more chompy and tense. Plus with my current anxiety levels... But S talked me through it and said that it was going to be amazing. I tried to take her word for it.

The face you make when you know you're sexy AF - "Hey ladies. Check me out."
We tested out our dressage riding skills the night before and damn did my boy look sexy. I borrowed the BO's super comfy, blocked AF, custom saddle which was nerve-wracking anyway. Try new things on my horse? Um... no? I just wanted to trot around for shits 'n giggles but I definitely wanted to stick with what we new for our lesson.

Noon came and I was all tacked and ready to go. I thought about getting in a 10 minute ride before she got there but S recommended not to and to show her what we go through. As soon as she walked in she picked up on B's stranger danger. He was curious about her but she pointed out everywhere he was tense. Most people just look at his calm puppy dog face and call it a day. I gave her a little history and we were ready to head out. Of course I was so afraid I'd get stuck on the block, but I didn't and B was okay. We had a nice walk around the arena and we talked about what I've been doing with him and how we're both a little mentally f'd up but we make it work.

She wanted to see how we normally went around and asked me what exercises I do with him. I told her about his tendency to get burnt out and how we do a lot of direction changes or sometimes I let him just cruise around until he gets settled which she liked. We started trotting around a long rein and he felt super. I kept waiting for her to ask me to shorten my reins or ask him to lower his poll when he got above the bit but she didn't. She talked about focusing on moving him forward and not worrying about him getting high above the bit just yet which I really appreciated. I told her about how most horses I've worked with, I try to start them long and low and then collect them up but B always starts out high. She was okay with that.

I went around both ways a few times and he really started to lower his head and she'd have me ask for a slight change by lengthening him. Every time I'd ask he has that "ok" attitude and I'd feel him come up underneath me. We had a nice canter in both directions asking for the same slight changes in his gait while letting him stay long and low. He really appreciated that for sure. She had me do a small circle and spiral out in both directions on one end of the arena and let me call it quits and trot out on the long side. No drilling or asking for more than what Brantley could give and she trusted that I knew my horse.

Then she got to see some of his attitude when she asked us to do some trot/canter transitions in the middle of the arena on a big "circle". Brantley wanted nothing to do with it but I got him going and once I got a good forward trot, I'd cue the canter, then bring him down to the trot after a few nice strides keeping the same speed in both gaits. It was definitely hard for him but instead of focusing on where his face was, I was able to just focus on his body and what I was asking.

I think the best part was when she asked if we could walk out on a loose rein, "on the buckle almost" and I was like, "Oh hell yeah we can." ^.^

It was a nice easy lesson and I felt like a million dollars after. I'm really hoping to be consistent with her. I really enjoyed her and Brantley did too. There was even a point where she came right up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. I was ready for him to shy away like he always does and he didn't even quiver. She stood right beside both of us with one hand up by my back almost and the other on his rein... Nothing. He did absolutely nothing!

Of course, I haven't been able to ride since between getting sick and then the phone thing plus work... But maybe next week if I can scrounge up a little more spare change! Tear Drop Winken: March 2017

Tear Drop Winken