USDF Awards

I just learned that I can use my old tests (pre-stupid young adult phase) toward USDF medals. Woo hoo!

I was starting to believe I’d be 80 before I’d have enough tests under my belt again to qualify.

Although, I get the feeling scores are generally higher now then they were when I was a kid. We used to celebrate big with a high 60 score. Now that seems common place. I even screwed up the test, my horse was braced and flinging her head, off balance in parts, and I still got a 62%. In my younger days, that might have been a high 50’s, but definitely not a 60+. Then again… It was a schooling show.

I was trying to find information on score averages over the years, but I didn’t find anything. I wonder how I could prove/disprove my hypothesis? Hmmm….

Back to work. Ugh!

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Time & Horses

It’s been a long week, and I’ve barely ridden at all. Monday the higher up’s decided they had super important stuff i had to do 5 minutes before the end of my day. I had to rush to get it done so I could meet the dentist at the barn that evening.

Side note: He said her back teeth were pretty sharp, but overall her teeth looked good. That was a relief.

Then Tuesday after work we took our yellow lab to the vet for his final check up after his ACL surgery. All healed up and looking good!

Wednesday my work had an after work farewell get-together. The evening was beautiful and all day I had dreamed about riding… But in order to get along with coworkers I went to the party (I would’ve preferred to go riding).

Thursday was the first day I’ve had time to ride since Sunday. How the heck am I going to be a super star if I only ride twice a week? I’m not!

And the ride was not very productive. Ava doesn’t do well when she’s given several days off in a row. Plus, just when I had FINALLY gotten her to relax and stretch into the bit, out from nowhere comes this little bitty dog that was yipping it’s fool head off. Which of course seriously distracted Ava. All idea of relaxation went out the window. It was not a good session. 😦

Tonight, hopefully the rain will hold off for me. It’s supposed to thunderstorm off and on all weekend. I cannot wait until we move to the new barn with their big indoor arena. I miss being able to ride no matter what the weather is doing outside.

The Trailer Problem, Again

After our astounding success with Ava loading in the trailer like a pro one time, and backing out of it with no issues, Ava utterly REFUSED to step foot in it again. She would however, jauntily walk into J’s trailer (with center divider up and front doors shut, without a second thought. In fact she WANTED in J’s trailer. The ignominy of it!!

J’s husband offered to sell us his wife’s trailer (‘though I don’t think she knew about it) for pennies on the dollar. I don’t think he enjoys his wife’s passion. 😉

My fantastic hubby, brilliant man, built a ramp out of aluminum and matting that fits on the end of our trailer. So last night we pop it on the trailer and ask Ava to load up. She balked at first when the ramp made noises, and after several minutes of giving it the hair eye-ball she walked on in. I was ecstatic!! I was also convinced it was a one time deal. Heck, she’d already gone in once without it and then balked. Why not this time too? Anyway, I backed her out and asked her to load up again. And my God, she did!! Tried it again… Even easier!! Yay!

Finally, we are free! No longer bound to one place! I’m so happy.

I’m a little disturbed that she won’t just step into the trailer without a ramp, but she has to move in less than 2 weeks, so I’ll have to work on that problem a little later.

So, Yay!! 🙂

My First Horse

My first horse was a half Arab named Fellah. I remember when we went to look at him the first time. The owner, a huge man with an enormous belly, let out an ear piercing whistle. I heard the sound of hooves thundering across the earth, and suddenly I saw a gorgeous grey Arabian crest the hill, his mane flowing and his tail streaming behind him like a flag. He galloped toward me with graceful, long strides that flowed like water. Stopping mere inches in front of me as he looked at me through dark, soft eyes. Haha. What did you expect an eleven year old, horse crazy kid, to see when looking at the first horse that was to be her very own!!

The reality was… At 16 years old, Fellah already had a pronounced sway back, he was rather plain looking, and he was eerily intelligent. No latches, snaps, or hooks could keep him contained. Our first year with him was spent chasing him for miles and miles and miles. And he had some nasty tricks up his sleeve when he didn’t agree with us. He never bit, reared, or bucked… But boy did he know some tricks!

The first few years with Fellah were tough. I had had riding lessons before getting him, but I was still very much a noob. One day I went for a ride and all I remember is waking up in the house with my mom holding me and not remembering anything at all. At all…Like that I had a brother, a dad, etc. I guess it was a pretty nasty fall.

After that, I was terrified of the horse. I hated him, and refused to ride. My parents hired my cousin to come give me lessons on Fellah at the house. I resented my cousin for agreeing, I resented being forced to ride the horse that hurt me. But over time, and with Lisa slapping me upside the head numerous times, I learned how to control Fellah and started feeling happy about horses again.

Fast forward a few years….

We were inseparable! As a trail horse he was unflappable. He never balked, shied, or bolted at anything. And he was FAST! By this time, he was nearing 20 and had the energy of a 4 year old.

I had stopped using a saddle with him a few years after we got him. Partly because no saddle ever fit his sway, but mostly because he was so comfortable without one that it was just easier to ride without it. I remember the field behind Gibsons house, with the path through the middle the boys used to ride their 3 wheelers on. That was “our path”. As soon as we entered, I’d shorten up the reins and lean forward and Fellah would take off like a shot. He ran so fast that the wind stung my eyes. His mane lashing my face and hands. And we’d streak across that long field like a blur, just the two of us.

God I miss that horse.

Last Show of the Season

October 1st is the final show of the season for our local dressage association. Since I have only shown once this year, I am sorely tempted to enter this one last show before a long winter. However, I’m also moving Ava to a new barn the beginning of October and I’m worried about stressing her with too many things at once.

My main concern’s are ulcers and colic. I don’t want to push her too hard and end up with a big issue (that I can’t afford).

On the flip side, Ava has been fantastic lately. Her transition from trot to canter are much smoother and 80% of the time don’t involve the flinging head or jumping around problems we were having. She’s steadier with contact, more responsive to the aids, and she’s better at staying focused on what we’re doing. I feel like we could really kick butt!

The downsides are that I haven’t had a lesson in 2.5 months. What if I go to the show and they laugh me out of the arena. What if I’m doing it all wrong!?!? I’d be horrified! I would embarrass myself and my trainer. What if Ava cant take the stress of a show and a move? What if… What if…

What do you think? Should I enter the show?

Trailer Update

I’ve been feeding Ava a bit of grain in the trailer at night to get her comfy with the trailer. Sunday she wouldn’t put both feet in for more than 2 seconds. Monday morning I f’ed her breakfast in the trailer and she put both front feet in and stood there the entire time. Tuesday she tried a back foot but couldn’t quite get it in. Wednesday she waltzed right in like it was old hat! Back feet included. Then she stood in the trailer til I asked her to back out.

Now I have to buy a green bucket. She follows that bucket wherever I put it. Haha. She’s such a chow hound!

It’s raining today, so I think I’ll skip the lesson tonight and pick up again tomorrow night. It’s one of those cold rains. Yuck!

Trail Riding

A few weeks ago I took Ava out for a trail ride with 3 other people. I felt pretty darn cool when my horse (the fluffy dressage princess) behaved better than all of the seasoned trail veterans. We bent around obstacles, leg yielded past downed trees, half-halted down hills to regain balance. All while the other horses were scrapping their owners up against trees, jumping around, jerking their riders, and overall just being butts.

It was just cool to be able to place Ava’s body where it needed to be to avoid anything dangerous. Move the haunches, move the shoulders, move the whole body sideways, etc. We could’ve slinked through the tightest trail without a problem. 🙂

I wish more people could have that feeling. I watch them fighting with their horse, and getting frustrated, when it should be a relaxing and fun time for both horse and rider. And it could be, if they just wanted to learn. But they can’t. They fill their heads with “I can’t”, or some how convince themselves that they shouldn’t need help and therefore it’s some kind of failure if they ask for help. I know two women who refuse to get outside help for issues that are causing them to not want to ride anymore. Why, when it comes to something that can kill you, would you not be willing to accept assistance, but something mundane like learning Spanish is a no brainer for getting outside help with? How many great riders learned in a vacuum? Yet so many riders appear to believe that any outside influence is a glaring sign of failure.

If you read this blog and ride horses, then accept any form of learning you can find. It’s a sign of intelligence. 🙂

Trailer Loading

Ava and I are moving to a new barn October 1st. We had only planned on staying at this barn for 3 months anyway. Boy has the time flown!

My husband and I don’t have much money, but my wonderful husband is very handy. He bought a 2 horse bumper pull trailer (no ramp) and fixed it up for us. Where I live a rusted out, nasty, tiny horse trailer normally goes for $1,500. We got ours significantly cheaper than that (if that tells you the shape it was in).

Our maiden voyage with the newly fixed up trailer was to the barn to test whether Ava approved of our efforts. An hour and a half later, Ava’s verdict was a definite No. We slunk home in a disappointed fog of defeat.

This morning I got up blurry eye’d and fed Ava her breakfast in the trailer. Mmmm… Yummy! She put both front feet in and even attempted a back foot, but wasn’t quite comfortable enough to set it in the trailer yet. All in all, a very good session. I’ll keep feeding her in it, progressively moving her food forward until she’s standing entirely in the trailer. Then I’ll work on closing doors around her while she eats and getting her comfortable with being locked in while eating.

Friday’s Ride

The flies were terrible. Ava was very unhappy with them and I don’t blame her. They were drawing blood! Considering the flies, she did pretty good overall.

The trot was a bit under-powered for her, but I’m still learning to sit the trot so I slowed it down. And she wasn’t as over her back as I would have like, but it felt like more swing than I saw when I looked a the video.

The first canter depart was like usual. She falls on the forehand and launches herself in the canter from the inside front foot (bad). The second canter depart was utterly atrocious (wrong lead, on forehand). But the third one…. Much improved! I was so geeked about it! And the fourth canter depart (left lead) was better too.

I think she’s starting to get it! Well, that and she’s getting much stronger and more balanced everyday.