My senior mare died

I recently lost my old mare, Jessie. She died unexpectedly last Sunday from what appears to be colic. She was 34 this year.

I had noticed that she stopped laying down to sleep this year. The last few months she’d really slowed down, had more trouble stepping over things, and a few occasions where she seemed unsteady walking.

And then one day, I found her down, sweating profusely and in distress. The vet came and palpated her. Checked gut and stomach and intestines. It was not a good outcome. So we euthanized her in the pasture, and buried her near Ava.

She was such a sweet mare. I really miss her.

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Show #2 Recap

The second show went well.

I won a lot of swag.

Two first places (Test 2 and 3), one second place (Test 1). We won High Point Grand Champion for First Level, and Reserve High Percentage Champion. There were 6 to 8 riders in each test.

My scores sucked. 63% was the highest score (Test 3). Ironically, the scores increased the more wore out Joy became. haha
No scores below 60 though (whew).

I was really tight that day. You ever just have one of those days where you can’t ride as well as you’d like? This show was my day.

You can watch First level Test 1 here (movement w/scores): https://youtu.be/xMYPnT8hjLE

Judge was an ‘S’ judge. The main issues she noted were bracing, short, tight neck, rushing, and balance issues. Pretty much the same as the first show.

However, our stretchy trot and lengthens improved greatly.

I decided after this show that I’m done showing for the year. I wanted to see if Joy could handle a dressage show, and if she was ready to compete at First Level. I think I achieved both of those. I’m not getting the scores I’d like because I have some holes in my training that need to be addressed first. Yet, she’s competent enough at this level to beat out 7 other riders and receive a 63% under an S judge. We have room to improve, but I’m feel like we’re on the right track.

I’m spending the remaining 4 to 5 months on monthly lessons and fixing the holes so we can move up next year. Along with the bracing/tightness, the canter needs a great deal of work. The jump from First to Second, in my experience, is pretty hard to make, and I want to make sure we can do it successfully. I think this pony has a lot of potential for collected work, and I’d love to see her excel at dressage. Maybe eventually go to someone with the money to show her at the upper levels? That would be so awesome.

So, that’s my plan for this summer. A lot of consistent (as consistent as I can make it) work for both Joy and I. I’ve been trying to stick to a running routine to increase my stamina. I’ve added a similar routine for Joy, but at the canter. Both of us are not in the physical shape needed to be true athletes, but we’ll get there.

Dressage Lesson!

I have a dressage lesson Saturday!

I’ve been really struggling to find a dressage instructor near me who has ridden at a level higher than me, can teach it effectively, and I can access them without requiring a four hour haul.

Oh, and that aren’t over $100 per 45 minute lesson.

I learned about this trainer after attending one of the GMO hosted clinics in my area. I’d never heard of her before, so I was really delighted with how effective she was as an instructor with some really run-of-the-mill type horses.

Then I had the opportunity to see her teach again at an eventing barn.

I’m extremely hopeful that she’ll be able to help Joy and I fill in the holes in our training.

So that’s my big news this week.

I already signed up for second lesson with her the beginning of July.

I’m a little nervous about it.  Every instructor is unique in how they approach things. Sometimes their approach conflicts with the ways I was taught previously.  This isn’t usually an issue if the instructor is knowledgeable enough to convey why the change is needed, or what it will improve, but I find I’m resistant to change if the “why” for why it should change isn’t clear.

I have a hard time blindly trusting people the way you need to trust your trainer.

But I’m hopeful about this trainer/instructor. She seems to know her stuff, she’s ridden through PSG, her scores match up with what she’s claimed, and it appears she’s taken horses from training level up through PSG.

So, I’m hopeful. And it feels really good to be “hopeful” again.

Count Down to Show

We successfully loaded and hauled Joy around the block this week. I was nervous. She hasn’t been in the trailer in two years. She did great.

I’m feeling a touch more confident about at least getting to the show Saturday.

I got my ride times.

First ride is 8:37 AM.

  • It’s a 45-ish minute drive.
  • It’s her first off-property event in two years.
  • It’s supposed to thunderstorm.

I should’ve gotten an overnight stall.

I thought the rides would be closer to noon for my level. Nope.. all the First Level rides are first thing in the morning. *sigh*

I have test 1 and 2 mostly committed to memory. The flow on the First level tests seems so odd to me.

Straight from strerchy trot to lengthen?

Why is free walk in test 1 so short?

Why are there random spots where you’re just tooling down the rail after they jammed in 7 movements in 12 meters earlier?

Do we trot at C or M?!?

Do we hit the rail at V or K?!?

Ack!!!

Over the deep edge

Day # 745 of artic winter.

We have taken to wrapping cats around us to stay warm. They are accepting of it for the most part, but resist when we stand up.

The air feels nearly warm at 19 degrees Fahrenheit. My fingers did not immediately freeze to the metal latches when I fed.

Only three instances of nearly falling on the ice today. My balance is improving.

Ponies have become feral. I found one eyeballing the cat as competition for food. There are no more pleasantries to be had with the she-devil, Joy. We vie for dominance over the only path through the snow. She-Devil wins more times than I care to admit.

~ winter crazy

The “For Sale” lesson horse

Several years ago, I tried to take a jumping lesson at a barn I had Ava at (right after she injured her stifle).

When I showed up to the lesson, the instructor immediately started with “I have this horse for sale, and I think you should buy him”. I tell her I can’t afford the horse, and definitely not while I still have Ava. I think that’s the end of the convo and that I’m just using him for a jump lesson.

She asks me if I have my saddle, and I explain to her I only have a dressage saddle.

…it’s a jumping lesson….

She tells me to go get it and put it on the horse. So, being the good little dooby that I am, I fetch it and put it on the horse. She jacks it up too far on his shoulders, and hands me a bridle to put on him. I re-adjust my saddle, bridle the horse, and take him to the arena.

I’m with a few other riders who are learning to jump also.

Instructor tells the group to go into two point (which at that time I really had no clue how to do), so I’m trying like mad to two-point in a dressage saddle with stirrups set at dressage length.

Eventually the instructor see’s me trying to two-point and basically says “WTF are you doing? Don’t lean forward”… as if I’m a shitty rider.

Whatever.. I sit back down. We’re walking… I’m confused as to what is going on…

They go around in two-point a couple laps and then we trot some. Lovely horse, but he has absolutely no idea what seat aids mean, nor outside rein, nor really anything but pull and kick.

We go over some ground polls and horse keeps cutting the corners. Instructor is yelling at me not to let him. Uhm, sure… with what?

Eventually has me canter him. I can’t even get him into a canter. I’m supposed to sit way to the outside and do something or other with his head and kick… but the whole concept of sitting to the outside to cue for canter is so foreign that I can’t do it. We eventually get into the canter, but because I keep sitting to the inside, he keeps swapping to the off lead. This, of course, is interpreted by the instructor as proof that I’m a shitty rider.

I eventually give up and basically just sit up there like a passenger and take the berating from the instructor over how shitty I ride.

Ride ends, I untack the horse, and instructor mentions that the horse is for sale (again), and how well suited we are for each other…

I basically paid to test ride a horse for sale, that they wanted to sell me…. I never took another lesson from her again.

————————————–

So last week I have a jumping lesson with the place I’ve been taking jumping lessons at for the past year. I really like this place. I’ve been happy with them.

I walked in and one of the barn owners suggested I buy one of their horses.

I took it for what I assumed it was meant as, an off hand remark, a “just throwing this out there in case you’re interested” comment.

I tell them I have no money. They suggest they’ll take a much lower offer for the horse.
I laugh and tell them even my best offer would be well below what they paid for the horse.

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End of story… I assume.

Then they point me to the horse I’m going to ride, and tell me this is the one for sale.

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Angry mare

I’m a little suspicious at this point…

I get her tacked up and out to the arena. She’s fidgety. Mount up, and she won’t stand still.

I was trying to control my breathing in order to fake calmness. Every other step the mare is popping me up from the tack with a half-canter step/head toss, and shying away from the far end of the arena because “scary”… I try to test out what she knows, but every light aid is met with an over-reaction.

And all the while, the instructor is telling me to shove my hands forward, don’t round your shoulders, push your hands forward, sit up, shove your hands forward….

I think the word used most was “handsy”, with the comment that I need to stay off her mouth.

I was debating throwing the reins completely away… but the mare was eyeballing the end of the arena as if a fire breathing dragon occasionally pops out from there…

“Stay off her mouth!!”

“Push your hands forward”

“Push her over with your leg”

And then the coup de gras, instructor tells me I need to develop an independent seat and stop using my hands for balance…

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Riding this mare felt like this…

Or this…

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When I’m used to this…

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And all I could think of when the lesson ended was “Thank GOD that’s over with!”

Moral of the story is… always be emphatic when saying no to a purchase offer from a lesson barn. Lead off with “HELL NO!!” and end with “I will kick you in the junk!!”

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The Petteasy Gloves

I don’t usually endorse products, but when I find something that I find useful and durable then I don’t mind sharing my experience with it.

My husband bought me a pair of Petteasy gloves a few weeks ago. I hate to admit that we’re normally suckered into those “As seen on tv” products, but we are, frequently… Ha! We’ve been suckered into just about every pet grooming glove available… and they’ve all sucked. In fact, the “True Touch Pet Shedding Glove” is currently being used by Polar as a chew toy (that’s how much it sucked).

However… I am so incredibly impressed with the petteasy grooming gloves. I love them. I would buy twenty pairs if I could. These are fantastic for grooming horses. The nubbins are just firm enough to get the hair and dirt out, yet not so firm that they don’t have some give to them. They’re durable. I’ve used them on all three horses for a couple of weeks now (used them hard too), and all the nubbins are there and only some very minor wear.

The best part is they fit well. Snug enough that they aren’t rolling around under your hand when you really press hard, and yet comfortable. The velcro enclosure is a great feature.

Straight out of the package they were a bit too stiff to really use your hand for hand things, but after the first use they softened up to a point where they were comfortable and usable.

My horses love these. Joy has kind of become a monster about getting ‘scratchies’ with these gloves. She leans into my hands and makes the craziest contortions trying to point me to the right spots to hit. They’re perfect for getting those itchy places on a horse (belly, chest, that spot where the neck meets the shoulder).  Even Jessie, the “I hate all things human” really enjoyed them. Which shocked me.

These don’t work so great on long haired pets. I tried them on my Great Pyrenees and the results were blah. It worked about as well as any rubber, small nubbin type, grooming tool would work on a long haired dog.

But, back to the horses.. I put these gloves on when tacking up. Since they fit like a good pair of gloves, then it allows me to hold a brush while wearing them. I alternate hands when using the rubber nubbins on the gloves and use the other hand to brush the dirt off. Works awesome. Gets the dirt, hair, and dead skin up. I can still hold a lead rope securely, work a brush with them on, and feed a treat. Slip the gloves off when I’m done grooming and off we go.

Really impressed with this product.

This and That

“If you build it, they will come”

I’m working on a website to list horse related events. I know.. there’s a million already. But mine will actually have good search functionality! ‘Cause it drives me nuts that I can’t friggin’ do a search for dressage clinics within 50 miles of my zip code, and then filter it by date.

Except, I’m trying to write it in Angular 6 and PHP, but my php is rusty, and my angular skillz are non-existent. Ha!

I’m struggling to learn the new language.

Which is kind of like learning dressage. New vocab, concepts are either new or applied in new ways, and simplistic definitions with immensely deep meanings.

Anyway……

I’ve (knock on wood) finally gotten both Ava and Joy back in work again. All kinds of mystery lamenesses (seriously, knock on some wood. This shit seems to crop up everytime I think I’m past it). Not sure what was going on with them, but they’re doing better now.

Joy saw a turkey and little turkey babies crossing the pasture today, and Joy thought she’d go say “Hi” and give them the neighborhood welcome. The turkey wasn’t having any of it. She booked it across the pasture with Joy trailing behind in this happy-go-lucky jog trot pursuit. It was quite comical.

Ava’s trying to kick down the stalls, constantly. We had to reinforce hers AGAIN. Gesh. You’d swear we were housing a tyranasaurous rex in there.

The big “Wow” for me was last week. I was on Ava, in the arena, and along the side of the arena in the woods, a giant tree fell. I thought for sure Ava would bolt when it started to fall. Heck, it scared me! But she held her ground. Stood like a live wire, tense and ready, but she stood. And afterward, she calmly walked around again. I was incredibly impressed with her. And thankful she didn’t take me for a hair raising ride away from the noise, since I wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to stay on.

Pics:

Pasture

Stall damage

Stall damage