Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Light Week

Soooo we had kind of a disasterious clinic (I promise more on that later) so I decided this week would be lots of gournd work and bonding. The day after the clinic I got out the yoga ball and we played soccer. He is super cute. I kick the ball then he bucks and farts like he's scared. Then I yell "Get it!" and I run at it. He loves to beat me there so he runs and leaps his way over there. He is very proud because he always beats me and pounces the ball with his nose in triumph. First creature to the ball of course gets a treat. I never win. 

The next day we just had grooming and pretifying. Trainer friend came after that out to ride him and he threw a royal bitch fit. Tried to roll with her saddle on, running off at the mounting block and a few other dramatic moves (more on that too later).

The next day was more fun time with momma. We haven't been for a walk in a long time so we took a stroll on a crisp sunny day. There is a dirt road loop that's about four miles total. My goal is to condition in the saddle on the loop once he gets a bit braver. So far I have only done about 3/4 of a mile out because this out of shape fatty wilts on the uphill walk back. Why is the way home always up hill?

We made it a mile and a half up the road and almost to a nieghbor who has offered trail access to us. He was a bit snorty but handled trucks zooming by and even one of those little tiny cars with a loud muffler. Then came the motorcycle. I already know motorcycles aren't his cup of tea but figured I could at least hold on to him while he pranced. Despite the fact that we weren't in a blind spot ont he raod, the light was great, and he had a 1/4 of a mile to spot us the ass hat continued to go well above the speed limit. Dickie tried to keep his shit together but asshat gunned it right next to us and the logical response was to jump in the road and "peace out bitches" flagging his tail like an arab. I took off after him, not before letting motorhead know my feeling on speeding, and huffed my fat out of shape self up the hill (his response "I didn't see you"). When we left for our walk I was freezing so I was layered in breeches, jeans, long sleeve shirt, t shirt, fuzzy vest, sheerling lined hoody, thick fleece socks, bogs (rated to -40F), and about 40 extra lbs of adipose tissue.  I seriously thought I was going to DIE running after Dickie. I called him, begged him, then said "Go back home Ill meet you there" Once he got to the top of the hill he miraculously waited for me. I am shocked he didn't go home because we were almost in sight of the barn. I waved jackwad midlife crisis man by once I got ahold of my wild steed. Luckily Dickie was much less concerned when he wasn't gunning the bike. He also seemed pleased to establish he could run faster than the bike should the need arise. 

I have to say that I was so sore the next day after our little jaunt. So sore that I decided I better work out and made myself even more sore today. I need to get in better shape or I have no business being on a horse. Unfourtunately for my waistline I opted for pizza and a homework marathon on the couch today. 

These three photos are taken in his "paddock". I checked the fenceline and I am always surprised by how big it is. It probably two acres. I'm also surprised by how much exploring he does and pathways he's created. 

I took this one on the way back from our walk. It was shortly before the motorcycle induced race home. 

On the way out I was flagged down by a high school student w a fancy camera. Her mom was driving her around the countryside taking "movement" photos. We obliged by running up and down the road for her when our attempts at standing still failed. It was great to see a teenager outside and with a camera that used real film. She didn't get copies but sent me this picture of a picture. I think she did a fine job with the barn in the background. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Product review: super comfort pads

I have always had problems with foot numbness on long trail rides or during extended two point rides. Another blogger suggested the reflex wide track stirrups so i purchased a pair last year. I quite liked them and used them on several horses. 

Enter broken toe. When Dickie stepped on my foot he only broke the tip of a toe but I had pain all the way into the ball of my foot. I've noticed if I step wrong in thin soles shoes like paddock boots it feels like I'm stepping on a sharp rock only the rock is in my foot. This isn't too much of a problem because I'm a big nerd and wear danskos everywhere due to figure skating induced damage. I have dankso sandles and Mary Janes and many colors of the standard clog. Those things are so thick I could (and have) stepped on nails without noticing. I even have some nerdy thick cork foot bed flip flops for hot days. Nerd alert. 

My biggest problem has come up when riding. When posting or in two point I will randomly hit the wrong spot. It feels like I'm being shocked by a hot wire but in my foot. Sometimes I flinch without even thinking about it. Poor Dickie is doomed w a terrible driver on board. I've been reading up on what my stirrups options might be. I don't want anything bendy because my hips need stability so I was eyeballing super comfort pads in my internet searches. 

I was delighted to see that Frankie had super comfort pads on his saddle. I got on and didn't give it another thought. That was a miracle. It has been since pre foot smash that I have ridden without giving my foot a thought. They felt incredibly stable on my foot. And I rode in a forward seat or two point the whole ride. I went straight from Frankie to Dickie and had forgotten about my foot until we picked up a trot then the electric shot came right back. I ordered a pair of new pads without a second thought when I got home. 

I still think the reflex wide track stirrups are a great option for bad knees, ankles, and foot numbness. I would still be using them were it not for my new trick foot. At least it's on the opposite side if my hip so there's some balance. Even if you have feet of steal and can afford some comfort pads for jumping or cross country do it! They are as sturdy as my metal projump pads but nice and soft. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

F%#£ you knee rolls

And I meant it!

We've already established that I abhor the new trend if giant knee/thigh block on dressage saddles these days. The saddle I found is great on my hip and has small knee rolls by today's standards. The rolls are also much softer than most so they don't get in my way terribly. But they do get in my way. My hip issues also vary from day to do so I change my stirrup lengths a lot. I ride in a much shorter stirrup than the average dressage rider. I might have stubby little legs but it's all in my thigh bone. All of this contributes to my hate for knee rolls. I've been riding in the saddle for a few weeks now and keep thinking it would be perfect without those blasted rolls. I considered taking it to my saddle fitter but when I was examining it today I decided to see what would happen if I cut just one string that attached the blocks. That was pretty easy so I kept going. The leather on the front of the block was actually folded into the front welt. Hmmmm. Where is my Leatherman.... I might have a few scratches on it from over zealous pocket knifeing but it's covered by the top flap and will buff away with a little saddle soap. 

I rode in the saddle sans knee blocks and it was amazing. I have a terrible habit of turning my toes out and riding with too much outer calf. Knee block annihilation made it easier to work on that problem. Woohoo! I'm going to ask her if it's possible to put on Velcro material that allows for movable thigh blocks. For now I am thrilled with the results. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cuteness Alert

I love this face so much. He always look so freaking excited. He bops his head and reaches his neck out into the aisle. His eyes practically pop out of his pin head he gets so excited to DO SOMETHING.

My friend came out to play with Dickster. She is Bre's main rider now and spoils her rotten. She hasn't ridden english much and has no professional training. She looks dang good on a pony. 

Proof I actually ride him myself. Sadly my phone was dead and her camera is on the fritz. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jump Saddle to be Shipped Soon :)

I lost the bid on another ainsley Chester and as annoyed as I was (I don't like losing anything) this one is much nicer. I was willing to bid on the one with a tear because it had been on ebay for over a months with no bid at $250 bucks. This one isn't much more and is in really good condition. It's still cheap enough that I can get money out of it (if not more). I would be hard pressed to even get a synthetic jump saddle at this price. I'll be antsy until it arrives and I can see if it fits. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sad State of Affair: Im Sore After a Simple Lesson

I am taking today off ponies before the term started. I know Ill never get to ride if I start off the term behind. As I rolled my lazy butt out of bed today I realized I am sore. WHATTTT!!!! We hardly did anything. And Frankie the horse was a saint and freely gave me everything I asked for.
So sad.

Here is just how simple our ride was: We had two poles on the ground. Just flat on the ground, nothing raised. One on a quarter line one on a 20 meter circle. We started out just walking and she zeroed in on my funky hip right away. I hadn't told her exactly how it held me riding back and she figured it out. If I am standing normal that right hip lines up several inches behind the left. We walked for quite awhile just working on getting my right hip to swing forward w the left hind. Then we did some trot walk trot walk transitions keeping that pesky hip straight and keeping his hind under him. Then we trotted a row of four trot poles just keeping smack in the center with even tempo (pony club 101 stuff) with a few downward transition then right back up to trot. Canter was last. Canter up over the pole on a circle then trot after two strides then walk after two strides, canter again two strides before pole. Then canter over the pole on the long side with some simple trot and walk transitions around the arena. Leg yield in on circle at trot then out then canter...All of that is super basic. Nothing fancy pants. How can I be so sore!!!!! Such a sad sack of a rider.

Ok back to homework, or maybe back to wasting precious homework time catching up on your blogs.

Frankie the saint horse who packed my lazy jello muscle self around. 

Lesson Win

I started taking lessons last summer with my old trainer and it was amazing. It felt great to have some direction and be on broke horse. I generally am not someone who likes to have weekly lessons. Being on your own really helps develop independent thinking as a rider. I've seen people who get so wrapped up in their weekly lesson that they never improve. They can't think on their own or think outside the box. I never wanted that for myself. I love the puzzle of riding and the satisfaction of solving it on my own. 

However, there is such a thing as being too alone. Even the best rider (which I am certainly not) goes to clinics or works with other people on the ground. Toiling away alone is a great way to pick up all kinds of nasty habits. It's also a great way to get stuck in a rut and set in your crotchety ways. Plus it's just plain lonely. 

It was a relief to hand over the drivers seat to my old trainer last summer. It was ideal because she knows my foundation and we didn't need to establish what I do and don't know. We just jumped right in. Sadly they are low on lesson horses so the lippizan mare is getting used for all the beginner lessons. The Arab in rode is now being leased. The other horses are older or ponies. Nothing for advanced riders to be had. I had just enough lessons for me to realize how badly I need them. 

I was nervous to start up lessons w Dickie's event rider. I've some bad expiriences w trainers. I didn't want to find out I don't like lessons w her and have it be awkward. I love what's she's doing with Dickie and she's unbelievably patient with me. She's always willing to let me bounce ideas off her and is a walking enclypedia of saddle brands, bits, anything horse. It would suck to ruin that relationship. 

I've spent enough time with her now to know if it didn't work out she doesn't take things personally so I went ahead and scheduled a lesson on her big bay OTTB. I've started a love affair with him during my many visits to raid her tack room. She evented him to prelim (maybe even higher) but he couldn't make time due to roaring. He's cute and she said he is a patient teacher. I told her I want to work towards jumping but I have little confidence and even less fitness. We are starting by just simple poles on the ground working on my strength and timing. It ended up being so much fun. She was kind and very encouraging. She seemed to get that it's hard to be a decent rider then feel like your starting from scratch again. She zeroed in on all the bad habits but helped me fix them in a positive way. I so appreciate that she treated me like a someone coming to the table with a strong knowledge base. Most of all she was positive. I can handle a hardass clinician but I need a softer touch from my every day instructor. I left feeling like a used my brain and body. And I felt good about myself. 

I think we have a winner! She is five mins away from Dickie so it's super easy to lesson then work him. I'm over there enough stealing tack or picking her brain I might as well ride. And did I mention how awesome Frankie is? His trot is fanfuckingtastic. As soon as we started trotting I needed to take a time out to tell about how amazing he is. It's huge and springy but he puts his feet down so soft. He's a Cadillac.  His canter is ginormous but crazy smooth. He makes a great teacher because he responds the second you use your body correctly. He's not crazy tall (16.3) but has dinner plate feet and is built like a moose. I don't know how a horse that big can move so daintily. I'll be taking semi regular lessons finances and school permitting. I can't wait until I'm strong enough to jump that fancy moorse! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Saddles Revisted- update

I am super happy with my new dressage saddle. It fits him well with room to grow. It even fits my big butt and wonky hips. So why do I need a second saddle? My eventual goal is to do some low level eventing on Dickie. While he won't be jumping anything more than logs or cross rails for a long time I still plan on being outside conditioning him. I have always preferred a jumping saddle trail riding outside. I like to shorten my stirrups and get up into two point for a ride. It is so much easier to get up into two point when doing trot sets or galloping outside. And two point is a fantastic workout. Plus, when I am having a bad hip flare up I can pretty much always handle a jump saddle. Dressage position not so much. I can't justify spending the same amount on a jump saddle as I did on my dressage (nor do I have the funds at this time). If next year rolls around and it seems like Dickie and I both might like to pursue eventing my plan is to look for a Black Country Quantum or Ricochet. 

For now my must haves are as follows:

1) A roomy medium tree: He needs a saddle that isn't tooooo wide but gives him a little room to grow. He also has TB withers so there has to be good clearance. 

2)  Padded knee rolls, and a small thigh block: I used to jump in an old school saddle without any knee padding. Then I had a hunt seat saddle with small thigh blocks and soft knee rolls. I did just find in my older saddle but I loved jump saddle #2. The soft leather is stickier and my leg feels more solid over uneven terrain. It is also just more comfortable on my lazy old joints.  

3) Very forward flap: I like the forward flap so I can put my legs where ever I need them. If you are booking along down hill a bit of a chair seat goes with the territory. I don't have amazon legs but it always seems my knees get in front of flaps.

4) A little more saddle to my saddle:  My last saddle was a simple hunt seat saddle. It had padded flaps with super thin blocks but nothing locked me into place. The twist was very narrow but that seat was fairly flat. It took my awhile to get strong enough to be stable in the saddle but I LOVED it to pieces. I actually purchased the same model two different times.  I have to admit though that I am in a different place now. I am not in great shape and have more injuries that I did back when Bre was three. This time around I want something more cross countryish. I will take a little help from my saddle. Ok, maybe a lot of help.

I have been doing a ton of reading online about saddles that might work for us. One that seemed to gret great reviews from eventers is the Ainsley Chester. Mutlple people describe it to meet all of my conditions. I have been keeping and eye out for Berney Brothers, Courbette Visions, or Ainsleys. I love english made saddles and they seem to like Dickie's back so the BB and Ainsleys were at the top of my list. I have been emailing a few people when one popped up on ebay. It has a tear in the seat (still functional though) so the price is very low. I don't care about cosmetics though because it isn't my forever saddle. Plus, if for some reason it ended up being the best saddle ever my saddle fitter can repair the seat. I bid on the saddle and I hope I get it!! I think I will, it has been up for sale three times and hasn't sold yet. We shall see if it fits. It is such a steal that even if it just fit Bre I will keep it. 

The saddle I sold to pay for Dickie's board when I first got him. Bre and galloped miles and miles in this thing. 

The saddle I bid on. You can't really tell that it has a forward flap because it's tipping forward. Hope it fits horse and rider. For the price though I can't really lose. 
*** some asshat outbid me!!!! Does anyone else take it personally when someone sneaks in and steals your item at the last second? Jokes on that sucka because the price went higher and I found a different one in mint condition for about the some. Haha

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I found this article online about the common issue young horse owners face. "My horse just won't go forward" 

Initially this was a big problem for the Dickster and I. I am positive I worked harder than he did in in those first rides. These days I close my leg on him and he gets a move on. Sometimes he pauses for a few seconds to get his legs in order but he quickly puts it into four wheel drive. Once we make our upward transition he doesn't exactly move like there's a fire behind us. On the bright side when he's balanced and I close both legs he does push forward with purpose. I have been getting feedback from BO that he needs to be more forward. When I first moved to the barn I agree he needed to move along little doggie. These days I feel like he's giving me what I need. 

I've mostly worked with young horses who react to a little crop by taking off at light speed. Baby horse gets unbalanced reaction is to go faster. Baby horse isn't confident, faster.  Baby horse has no idea what the eff you are talking about, faster. I am great at the speedy young and old. I can get even the craziest pony soft and relaxed. 

This baby horse is an entirely different sort of nut to crack. Runaway spaz train isn't on his list of tricks. Smack him with a crop and he slows down and throws in a donkey kick. If he doesn't know what you are asking he wants a chance to slow down and assess the situation. If he's unbalanced he slows down to get his butt under him and organize. 

I have to admit I've never been one for a "lazy" horse. And my view of lazy is a bit broad. It includes pretty much anything that doesn't pull my arms out of the socket at the chance to gallop. Dickie is teaching me that degree of laziness doesn't necessarily correlate with speediness. He's always willing to get to work. Even though he might not give it his biggest trot I can feel he's using himself. Dickie didn't like to be on the forehand or feel unbalanced. In fact he hates it. When his behind shoots up after a growth spurt he will have temper tantrums on the lunge. Before I was riding him I learned just to give him time off the lunge until he leveled out. He is athletic and relatively bold but he likes to travel uphill. If he can't do it right, he damned well ain't going to do it. He also has a very strong sense if fairness. If he feels unfairly reprimanded he will slow down and swish his tail or add in a kick. 

I could get all a twitter and assume he's lazy and unwilling. Instead I prefer to look at his strengths. Long term, riding a horse who like to travel uphill and is naturally motivated to be balanced is a good thing. It might take a little work on my end to help him feel confident about where that big body is going but he didn't need kicking to keep him moving. Sometimes it takes more work to get that "forward" horse to get the heck off the forehand and use that big butt. Forward doesn't equal speed. You can be lapping everyone but not have enough umph to get over a fence because your speed rocket won't sit down and launch.

He's not some lazy horse who can't wait to get back to his stall. Dickie wants to do it. He wants too be forward, he wants to move laterally, he wants to bend, he wants to sit on his hind. He likes doing the right thing. He's just telling me he'd rather be smart about it than answer every question with more gas. If his baby brain is fried or his baby muscle are taxed his reaction isn't to respond with spazocity. He wants me to help him out and show him that I appreciate his effort. 

I do appreciate the effort my boy. I think you are going to be a superstar. And well meaning bystanders can't know what I feel when I get on your big goofy back. I love you boy. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Training update

I have been at the new barn since August and it has made a world of difference. The arena is quiet. We usually ride alone but occasionally other horses are there so I've been able to see how he handles distractions. When I first arrived I had been on him a handful of times but hadn't been able to teach him much. Between the chaos of lessons and a jump packed arena it was impossible to have any semblance of consistency. I spent the first few weeks back at the basics of lunging and ground work. Then there was boot camp with the assistance if a local young horse rider.

It's been about four months and I'm so happy with where is he. We aren't cantering much but his strength is improving by the week. He will leg yield at the walk and can do a few lateral steps at the trot. He understands turning and stopping from seat alone. He tires out quickly but he can hold a nice frame at the trot and walk. 

We started some work in the outdoor and even hit the roads. Sadly it's been really foggy so the roads haven't been an option as much as Id like. Trot work on nice long straight lines are what he really needs right now. 

It's crazy to look back over the last year. Last January I was hoping to get on him soon. Now I can get on my baby horse and go for a ride like it's no big deal. I'm so proud of my sweet boy. I have big plans for us but for right now I'm cherishing where we are at. Starting a baby myself had been a long time dream and it looks like I accomplished it. Good job Dickie thanks for being in my life. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Non Pony Goals

I tend to stay away from my non horse life on this blog. I don't want to accidentally share something too personal about a love one. And who really cares about anything non horse related?!?!!?

My upcoming goals will affect the free time I have for riding now and the funds I will have for riding in the semi-distant future. I started this blog in 2012 as I was graduating from nursing school and starting work on an abdominal transplant/urology untit. Nursing is a second career for me. I started working in mental health as a requriemtn for a class in my early 20s never intending to make it a career. Community mental health quuckly became a passion and I remained in the field for over 11 years. I went back to school for a second degree in nursing with the intensions of becoming in psychiatric nurse  practitioner. I recieved an associates degree in nursing in summer of 2012 and plan to work for a few years solidifying my general medical knoweldge. Before I can apply to grad school I need to finish up the online RN-BS program. I start up last spring right when I was adjusting to the swap from nights to days. It was a hot mess. I made it through the term, barely. I dropped from full time to part time for summer term but suffered from a relapse of anxiety and depression. One of my medications changed generic brands and put me in a tail spin. Luckily I found a new doctor who figured out what was going on. It took me fall term to get back to normal but I am gearing up to start classes again. I am not looking forward to the tedious online forums and papers but I am so ready to get it over with!! 

I am hoping that school doesn't cut into my riding time but I tend to be better about time management when I am busy. Lately I have been napping, watching old episode of Lost Girl, eating crappy food, and being a general lazy mo fo on my days off. My grand plan is to leave the house before ten every morning and hang out at the coffee shop on the way to the stable for a few hours then go for a ride. At the end of the summer I will have another degree to hand on the wall and a raise to go with it. Then on to the dreaded GRE. It has been too many years since I took it last and I am not looking forward to it. The nursing boards were way worse though so I suppose I will live. 

Bring in on 2014 I have big plans for you!!!

The Book Of Face

For those of you who I follow regularly (you should know who you are) I am on facebook. I tend to post pony updates there when I am too lazy to get around to blogging. If you aren't interested PM me. I won't be friending anyone who I haven't exchanged comments with. Be forwarded I am very liberal and a democrat ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mud Mud Mud

I live in the lovely Pacific Northwest. It was a bit drier this fall but the rains still hit and all those brightly colored turnout blankets are the same shade of brown. Dickie was not pleased that I decided his legs needed a serious scrubbing with tea tree shampoo. He looked like a tortured puppy dog. He will splash through cold mud puddles but warm water on his legs is completely offensive. 

I'm ready for the mud to go away. By the time I change out of my muck boots and get him demuddified I could have been halfway through a ride! Luckily the days are getting longer and spring will come back, it always does. Today it was even sunny on our ride outside. Stay dry everyone!