I am such a massive chicken

The plan was to haul Joy to the neighbors house,  ride around,  and haul home.  

I hadn’t even gotten Joy to the trailer and I was a nervous wreck.  Rapid heart beat,  sweaty palms,  can’t catch my breath…

Joy walks right in the trailer,  but then won’t stay in the trailer.  I work with her for a while and finally she’s at least stopping instead of bolting out the back. 

Hubby walks by to ask what’s the hang up.  

I tell him maybe we should call it off.  Forget the whole thing…. 

He calls me a wuss and tells me to get the pony in there and go.  

I clip Joy in. 

No one dies. 

Pony is secured, and doors are shut. 

We headed off around the block and then to the neighbors house.  Joy was riding calmly in the trailer.  

We parked in the neighbors driveway while her horses screamed and ran around right next to the trailer.  Joy hollered back.  She seemed very tense. I was very tense. 

Actually, I was a nervous wreck.  

I unloaded Joy (she was very good).  

I tied her to the trailer (she was excellent). 

No problems tacking up.  No issues bridling her.  She was fantastic.  

I rode her out to the back field by herself. Did some trot work.  We even cantered a short bit.  

Joy was awesome! 

 Got back to the trailer and tied Joy up for a bit.  She stood calmly while we talked to the neighbor. 

And then we loaded Joy up again,  drove around the block,  and went home. 

Whew! 

That went so much better than i had hoped.  

So,  next goal..  local open show in two weeks.  We’ll take Joy and see how she handles that.  

Progress!  Woot! 

Owner needs to get a grip. 😂 😂 

Our First Haul

I have 2 versions of this story for you. 

My version: 

I was determined to get Joy in a moving trailer this weekend.  Here’s the post for our only other hauling experience together. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Joy. We’ve worked really hard to make Joy as comfortable and relaxed as possible in the trailer,  but…  I was nervous how she would react  

She loaded up easily,  as usual.   I clipped her in and closed the divider.  Normally I dont do this, but no problems. Joy stood patiently.  I shut the rear door,  which I’ve only done once before. Joy was a touch nervous,  but no major issues. A few half hearted, nervous,  paws and that was all. 

We jump in the truck and head out… 

The last haul with Joy,  the one where we brought her home and my only time hauling Joy… by the time we were half a mile down the road,  Joy was climbing the walls and attacking the window with her front feet.  

This haul,  I must’ve held my breath for at least 5 minutes just waiting for the explosion.  We drove…  Joy stood there curiously looking out the window.  We drove some more…  Joy looked almost comfortable.  Some shifting around and she was very alertly looking out the window, but absolutely no hysteonics.  All four feet on the ground.  No flinging herself against walls.  She rode almost like a seasoned veteran.  

Who’s horse is this?! 

I think I started breathing again at this point. 

We only went around the block with her.  A short ride.  Two large pick up trucks passed us,  and I could hear a bit of scramble behind but nothing major. 

When we pulled back into the yard,  Ava and Jessie were screaming their fool heads off and racing up and down the pasture.  I could hear Joy answering them,  but still no major freak outs.  Just yelling back to her friends.  

I opened the trailer up and unlatched Joy,  but asked her to stand in the trailer for a moment while I fed her carrots and made a fuss over her.  She complied.  Then I unloaded her,  which she did calmly,  and let her graze a moment. 

Then I asked her to load again..  I honestly didn’t expect she would,  but she hopped right back in.  

Woo Hoo!!! 

The pony trailers!!!!! 

We’re going for another haul tomorrow,  slightly longer,  to hopefully get another positive experience under her belt.  

Then i can start planning out where her first outing will be.  

I’m so relieved.  This went so much better than I feared it would go (I’m a worry-wort,  worst case scenario dreader.  She probably would’ve been fine long, long before this). 

*******

Grainy pic of our trailer cam. I circled Joy in red. Taking this picture broke the feed,  so we went sans video for half the trip. 


Hubby’s version:

Joy was so thankful to finally be leaving the evil “She Beast”,  Ava, that she didn’t care where she was going. Joy was just happy to be leaving. Joy knew anywhere the evil mare wasn’t at was a good place. 

When Joy realized that her trip had taken her right back to the pit of hell she thought she’d escaped,  she screamed “Nooooo!!”  over and over.  

Eventually her owner came and pulled her off the trailer.  Only to lead her back into the jaws of the evil black mare.  

The End

Intermittent Riding

Had a fun ride on Ava the other day. It’s always an eye opener to ride your own horse after riding someone else’s.  I think I become more aware of the things I’ve let slide,  the defects,  the little things I’d grown accustomed to that shouldn’t be there. 

I’ve been having issues convincing Ava to go forward in the tiny arena. She has plenty of forward if I take her to the field behind the house. However, I want to work on bending and suppling exercises and everything in the field is straight lines (path is straight). I can work bending and suppling in the arena, but she sucks back and becomes ornery in the arena. She only wants to offer the slowest of jog trots.

So I got after her right off the bat about forward, and after an initial “I don’t wanna”,  we finally got some forward! Yay!

Even had a few moments of decent engagement this ride.

Ava Canter LeftAva Canter RightAva Trot

Now if only the rain would stay away.  Seems like 6 out of the 7 days of every week have been rain.  We are water logged. 

Ironically,  I would rather ride in snow.  Ava HATES rain. Hates it!  If one drop touches her nose,  she pulls her chin to her chest and will refuse to budge. Doesn’t matter if in the field,  being ridden,  or being led.  She is not kidding around about her intense dislike of rain. 

Joy doesn’t care though.  Best pony ever. 

We were supposed to do our first test haul tonight (around the block) with Joy.  It’s postponed until the rain lets up.  The end of the drive is too soggy at the moment.  

However,  I’m feeling more optimistic about how it’ll go.  I can load Joy in the trailer and jump up and down to rock it,  and Joy doesn’t care.  I bang things,  no response.  Today there was a flappy tarp right behind the trailer (and behind Joy),  and after a 5 second “What the heck is that?!?”  scare,  Joy was fine with it.  Stood in the trailer eating hay while the tarp flapped right behind her. 

(not sure if the vid will work) 

So,  if the hauling goes well, then i want to test taking her somewhere and then getting her back in the trailer to go home again.   I think I’m going to ask my neighbor if I can do a trial run at her house. 

If all goes well,  lessons are in my immediate future! Yay!! 

New Experiences

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to ride a really nice Irish Sport Horse cross that a friend of mine owns.  He’s five years old, approximately 16.2-ish hands, and has that dumb-blood personality, but man can he move!  His canter is to die for. Most amazing canter I’ve ever ridden.denali

I “lucked” out on the ride because he dislodged his owner and she’s not quite healed up enough to get back to riding him again. He’s actually a sweetheart. His owner has done a fabulous job with him. She’s exposed him to just about everything a baby horse should be exposed to, and done it in a way that has created a confident and curious horse. His problem is he’s big and athletic, and normally nothing phases him… so a hard spook/bolt can catch the rider off guard and leave them with a loooong fall to the ground.

 

I was really impressed with the training he has on him. You know that feeling when you get on a new horse and the everything is just there.. the buttons, the aids, etc. That’s how he felt. I had an issue with figuring out how much contact he likes (very little).  And, once I convinced him that the short midget legs were really leg cues then everything went swimmingly.

He is so much fun to ride. And frankly, I was really impressed to feel how good the training was. It’s wonderful to see a young horse so well trained by an Adult Ammy. She’s done all the work herself, from the ground up. It was impressive. I wish they were all this nicely handled and trained by 5 years old.  I swear, if I had the money, I’d buy young horses and pay her to train them. She’s that good. And she totally doesn’t realize it.

When I went out to ride the 5 year old for the first time, the owner of the barn offered to let me ride another horse they have. The mare was described as a Dutch Warmblood with dressage training, but is too hot for the lesson kids. I was assured she was safe enough for the average rider (as I don’t wish to die quite yet).

I cannot pass up an opportunity to ride a sane horse, so I said yes.

That’s when they explained she hadn’t been ridden in quite a while.

AAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

And that she was very, very hot. Hot. Capital H type of Hot.

Aaaaahhhh!! Scary!

Did I mention I’m a chicken?

I let the owner lunge and then ride her first. I was nervous watching the owner ride her. You could tell the mare was almost charging through the contact.

My order of “Most scary horses to ride” goes Rearers, then bolters, and then those darn bronc buckers that leap all 4 feet up in the air with head between their knees.  My worst, and frankly only, serious injuries have been from bolters.  ** knock on wood **

So.. I was a tad nervous about riding the mare who appeared to be charging through a rather strong bit.

I got on after barn owner didn’t die. I was sweating bullets.

She’s a nice horse. Difficult ride. She really wants to lean on the bit and then rush through it. I felt like she could bolt off with you in a wide open setting.

A lot of half-halt/release. More of a soft “no, here” and then let her be while you controlled the rhythm with your posting. Then she was fine.

She has a hard time bending through her body. It was really easy for her to find ways to evade bending through her body. She had several tricks all planned out and ready in waiting. It was actually kind of fun to see if I had more tricks then she had evasions for.

And, nope. Not that day. I couldn’t get her to respond to the left leg correctly without a whip and I didn’t want to carry a whip unless I felt I had more brakes. Catch twenty two. Probably would’ve been fine, but new horse.. new rider. I’ll tackle it next time.

I was assured she becomes more level headed the more consistently she’s worked.  I bet she’s a blast in consistent work. She’s actually a really cute mover. I think she’s flat because she’s stiff. I bet that trot becomes quite stunning when she’s relaxed and supple (pictures don’t do it justices. moves better in person)

 

They had a slow twist snaffle on her. I’m always really nervous with stronger bits. I’m a decent rider, but I do have a tendency to snatch at the bit when I get scared. And since I get nervous on new horses, I really prefer the softer flat snaffles to limit the damage done if I get startled and snatch. I did snatch this mare once. She kicked a rock up into the metal gate  and it startled her. I snatched. She immediately came to a dead halt and did a little mini-rear to voice her displeasure. I felt bad.  Poor mare.

Anyway, I got done riding both horses and on the drive home I was thinking to myself “Why would anyone let me ride their horse? I suck!”

And then I get a text from my friend with the 5 year old asking me if I can ride her young gelding again and saying that the barn owner really liked how I handled her mare. It was so nice to hear!

 

The Loot

I snuck off to the local 4H tack sale Monday night to try to find shipping boots for a pony.

This specific annual tack sale is the mother of all tack sales. It’s 40,000 square feet of space that is utterly jam packed with horse related items being sold. There’s stuff piled on top of other stuff and every inch is filled.

When you first enter, it feels like Christmas just came. You want to dive in and never resurface. But… after walking around for a while it starts to feel a bit… overwhelming. Eventually your eyes can’t even focus anymore, and you randomly start bumping into people and merchandise. The throngs of people moving and milling about make it difficult to even walk down the aisles. It’s too hot and that winter sweater you’re wearing is making you sweat like a Michigander in a Florida summer. You see people you know, but all you can do is shout a hurried “hello” as the crowd pushes you down the aisle.

It’s crazy. Awesome, but crazy.

I had two items I really wanted. Shipping boots and a head guard for Joy. I want to pad her up for our first hauling journey this year. I walked the ENTIRE 40,000 sq feet before finding either of the items. Oodles and oodles of bridles, stirrups, saddles, halters, etc. There were cart harnesses, carts, itty-bitty saddles for little kids, clothes galore, jewelry, horse snacks, bits, spurs, more bits, and even girl scout cookies. I found one pair of shipping boots, and two choices in head guards. Slim pickings for the items I was there to purchase.

Shipping boots = $10.00
Head guard = $5.00

All of my shaving forks were missing tines, so I bought a new head.

Shavings fork head thingy = $8.00

I was winding my way back out of the throngs of people and tables when I stumbled on a polo wrap holder! I have wanted one of these for two years now. I thought it was display only at first. I was about to walk on when I realized someone was saying my name.

wp-image-1200980632jpg.jpg

I look up and there’s a friend behind the table. This was her polo wrap rack! She sold it to me for $10. I was joking about how the polo’s needed to go with the rack, so she sold me those too for $10.

Polo wrap rack = $10.00
Polo wraps = $10.00

Total cost for all my loot = $43.00 + $1.00 to enter the tack sale.

Not too shabby and it satisfied my tack shopping cravings (for a while at least).  I did succumb to the impulse purchase of the polo wrap holder, but I really  wanted one of these. Currently all my wraps are strewn across the floor of the tack room in haphazard piles. This’ll be nice to keep things more organized!

 

Now that I have shipping boots and a head guard for Joy, we can begin the hauling adventures!

I may just buy a roll of bubble wrap, wrap that sucker up into a giant ball and roll her on to the trailer for shipping. Hahaha

Snubbed

I went to two different clinics this weekend.  

The first clinic was a western dressage clinic. Quite interesting to hear about the differences in tack and attire.  There was a lecture by an r judge (I think little r). The fundamentals stressed were similar to regular dressage.  They had demo rides of the tests while the judge explained what they were looking for and what we were looking at.  There were some astonishingly great movers in that clinic. 

The whole atmosphere was laid back.  People laughed and clapped,  and there was an overall sense of comradery. I was almost a convert by the end.  If only I didn’t hate western saddles so much. 

It was very well run and I had a lot of fun,  even if I did freeze solid. 

Oh,  did you know bitless is allowed in western dressage?  Now my neighbor has no excuse not to try it.  Haha  

The second clinic I went to was a normal dressage clinic.  I had asked the owner a month ago if I could audit. She had sent me “all” the  info,  but neglected to mention that there was a cost to audit.  They approached me two rides in and said it was $20 for all day,  or $5 per ride.  I was already on the hook for $10 by then,  so i paid for the whole day.   I was a little taken aback by the situation. Nothing posted anywhere.  No one by the door. They acted like I snuck in and tried to “steal”  something from them. Why is it so difficult for people to post/share this information up front? 

The ladies sitting next to me were friendly.  The clinician was good.  I was freezing.  Several riders appeared to have never heard of the idea of moving away from leg pressure.  It was interesting to see how the clinician helped the rider and horse without the rider ever needing to actually move the horse off an inside leg aid.  Some really nice moving horses.  Appeared to be mainly students of the barn owner riding in the clinic. 

I got some great ideas for Joy’s training that I think will help her with her tension.  A lot of hot,  nervous horses in the clinic,  which is what I expect joy will be like when I take her somewhere.  So hopefully this gives me a few more tools to use. 

There was a heavy draft horse working toward flying changes,  and it was quite interesting to see how different the horse looked when truly energized and rider controlled the energy.  It went from plow horse to more of a second level looking horse in seconds.  Quite neat.  

During a break,  I walked up to the barn owner and clinician and asked if they were going to have any more clinics this year. The barn is near my house and I thought he’d be a great clinician to take Joy to.  But when I asked if they would be having another clinic this year all they did was shrug.  Literally shrugged. And then they ignored me.  So I walked away.

Screw it. I’ll find someone else to ride with. 

Maybe these clinics are only for her students.  Apparently the details are hush hush,  because no one except the Arab people sitting next to me would talk to me (they didn’t know either). 

I found it ironic the difference in atmosphere between the two clinics though.  I’m normally the first person trying to sell the “dressage people are friendly! ” speil,  but that second clinic sure didn’t feel like it to me.  I felt like an interloper who got caught stealing the tip jar or soemthing.  

The Ides of March

March always seems to bring false hopes and then crushes them! 

It’s spring.  It’s winter.  It’s spring.  It’s winter…  Ugh. 

It has been jumping 20 degree’s within 2 hours some days.  Then the winds came. Reports of 45 to 60 mph winds.  Tree’s are down all over.  Our power went out. Internet went out.

I got a bonus from work!!  Yay!  Money for hay,  and I promised the hubby he could spend a bit on himself this time.  He was happy! 

Then one of our barn kitties died.  My favorite one.  The snuggly one.  *sob*

Then Ava colicked.  You know how horses who are colicky will look at their flanks,  or kick at them.  Not Ava.  She curled her upper lip constantly.  When I put her grain in her bin,  she layed down.  Didn’t roll.  Never once looked at her sides.  She layed down and curled her lip up.  It was the weirdest thing. 

Lip curl

Of course we still had no power and it was 9:30 at night with 50mph winds.  Of course. 

I called the vet immediately.  Slight impaction.  Vet worked on her for about 2 hours (mainly because Ava is not a good patient). 

And poof… there went the bonus money.

Hubby no longer so happy.

I had money.  Now I have no money. 

*sigh*

The icing…  The vet had left,  it’s nearly midnight,  and I’m sitting in the barn watching Ava and the other horses when I hear loud cracking noises and a solid thump.  The kind of thump that shakes the ground.  Everyone jumps.

Tree fell. No biggie.  But I check fence lines anyway,  and yup,  big tree right across the fence.  Grrr…

Had to lock everyone in for the night.  Which I guess was good.  It kept Ava company.  But I had to drag the hose out and fill water buckets in the middle of the night in freezing temps. 

3 hours sleep and hubby and I are back up and clearing fallen trees in the morning light. 

I’m sore. 

And I look like the walking dead. 

It’s only the 10th of March.  I shudder to see what the rest of March looks like. 

Stay safe everyone! 

Senior Mares

Jessie lost a tooth. At the age of 32(ish) she’s now experienced her first tooth loss.  Dentist said the rest look good,  nothing else loose,  and that it’s a top molar so less risk of impaction.

I was going to wait on the dentist until spring was here (snow blocks the path to the barn),  but Jessie seemed to be chewing oddly.  Mainly,  she seemed to be chewing on the right side of her mouth,  and for a few days she seemed less enthused about the hay than normal.  After that she seemed normal. I got chastised a bit by the dentist for not having him out immediately to pull the tooth,  but I’m not sure I could identify the issue again even now.

I never found the tooth.

After everyone had their teeth done,  Jessie wasn’t eating her hay.   She kept pushing it around,  taking a few pieces in her mouth and spitting them out.  We also had a 20 degree drop in temps between 12 pm and 2 pm,  so i was a bit worried.  I bundled her up,  watered her grain down to mush,  checked on her often,  and hoped for the best.

Next day she was eating hay with gusto.

Hopefully she doesn’t lose any more teeth for a good long while.  She’s kind of a picky eater.  I guess I better get serious about researching diet options for senior horses.

 

Who Rode My Pony?!

I swear someone snuck in and trained my pony while I was gone. I don’t know who, but when I find out….

5-53

I came home after a week away to a pony that canters.

AND I can steer at the canter.

AND she’s picking up the correct leads with correct bend both ways (most times)!

It was…. weird.

Happy! But, weird….

She cantered so well, that we actually tried our very first simple change of lead. It was awful, but we trotted when I asked, turned, and she tried really, really hard to offer up the new lead.

Overall, I was thrilled!

I had dreamed of this day! I thought it would never happen!

We have a CANTER!! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The rider relief is evident…. hahahaha

I think I may have even cried a bit…..

…………

Trot work was O.K. Not great. Not terrible. I need a bigger area to work on getting her connected.

We’re always turning. I tried pushing her forward, and she kept breaking to canter. I think I need a long, straight track to trot her on for awhile.

I love this pony’s walk. 🙂

Photo Bombed!!

I set up two ground poles to trot over. Joy apparently thought we were doing a different discipline instead.

She caught me off guard and I bumped her mouth. 😦

Our haunches-in is getting better!

And more jumping!

I just want to mention that we’ve been doing trot poles for over a year with no issues, but today… these were jumps! Haha

I’m really looking forward to starting lessons in another month or so.  I think the trainer can fix up my riding so Joy can do her job better.  And then, maybe, I can start thinking about entering a schooling show later this year (fingers crossed).

5 minute training video of ride:

VIP at a Grand Prix show

Visited my parents last week and my father surprised us with VIP tickets at the Fox Lea Farm “Under the Stars” $25,000 Grand Prix jumping show. Talk about fun!!

They let us walk the course (the jumps were huge). I’ve never been this close to jumps at this level. I can’t even imagine riding a horse over this. This jump is taller than both of my horses.

me

Our table was right of the middle in this covered area, and we had a great view of the entire course (picture taken from backside).

viptent

We got complimentary drinks and food for being VIP. Pictured below is just a very, very small sample of the goodies we were given. We also had fresh shrimp, a plethora of yummy appetizers to choose from, cookies and chocolate treats. You could also choose different types of beer or wine.

Needless to say, we were stuffed and drunk by the time the show ended.

loot

The riding was fantastic! I have nothing but blurry photos this time, but the horses were gorgeous and the riders were great.

jump

They gave us a score card so we could follow along with times and scoring.

We had dragged a couple of non-horsey friends with us and they had a blast too.

This was such an awesome experience. With five of us at the VIP table (which holds 6) the price was quite reasonable for what they gave us (free access to more food than you can possibly eat, more alcohol than you can drink, some of the best deserts I’ve had in a long time, and a great view of the action).

It was  a blast!!

This venue also hosts some high end dressage shows, but my visits never seem to coincide with those. Maybe next year I can get over to see the upper level dressage riders perform. 🙂