Friday, July 5, 2019

Smarkpaks

Besides my bulk bag of super cheap magnesium oxide (for getting a chill pony), I've been thinking about adding some supplements to his tiny handful of grain. I ended up going the smartpak route and getting smart dark & handsome for his orange summer coat and the smart tendon for the heat he's been carrying in it the last month or so. I just got all the stuff in the mail today and I'm super excited. And thanks to being a smart perks member I got him some neoprene-free Majyk boots (for protecting his legs without adding more heat when he gets stupid on outings) which were on clearance with an extra code to boot (pun intended) and free shipping because smart perks. So seriously the free shipping on anything is probably going to get me in trouble..... $80 boots for $35. Honestly who wouldn't?


Orange gelding
sporting mare-glare

Monday, July 1, 2019

Best ride to date!!!!

I went 1.5 hrs away Sunday with T who was riding her mare and our horse adventure partners in crime, SJ and D, for a lesson with Carrie who T and D rode with last week. As usual I was a bit worried to ride in a new place. I've been there and scoped it out and it's a quiet farm, gorgeous indoor arena and even if Carrie's husband is working with a horse, the arena is big enough for there to be 2 things going on at one time.


I was going to let T ride 1st but then decided it would be better to go first because Curtis might get pissy if I'm just getting on and Waverly leaves the arena. I got right on after a walk around in hand and T walked next to us but he was pretty relaxed. Looking at things but not being reactive.

So we started our lesson. Carrie has you ride a diamond, not a circle or rectangle. The biggest thing about riding the diamond is about controlling the shoulders and making sure they are even and under him and he is turning from the shoulder and is even in reins and a bridle. It is very hard to ride the diamond but it definitely made knowing what Curtis was doing wrong easier for me to feel and then correct.

the dreaded diamond

So we walked for a minute on the diamond and she asked me to trot and in 30 seconds had me stopped to discuss my loud hands. I had a good feeling this was going to happen. How many times have I said my hands are so LOUD and have been trying for a year to QUIET them???  So what Carrie did was put a dressage whip in my hands, holding it in 2 spots shoulder width apart with my reins. I feel like my reins were too short but I was told to shorten them more. What does the whip do? I can't cross over his neck. I can't seesaw. I can't annoy him. I have no choice but to ride with my seat. Keeping my reins level and steady. So now I'm riding the diamond with a whip under my thumbs. So now I can basically only steer with my seat. I was told to turn from the hips, like riding a bike. Silke said something similar when I was riding Twister. If he brought his head up to resist, I did nothing with my hands but rode him more forward with my legs. Kick kick. Wake him up and make him march.




You can kinda see how
I'm balancing the whip

We started at the walk and then eventually did the trot both ways. The longer we did it the more relaxed he became. BECAUSE I WASN'T FUCKING WITH HIS MOUTH. I was riding from my seat. He was licking and chewing and lifted his back and tracked over and became round JUST FROM MY SEAT. He was LISTENING to me. Actually paying attention with out the adhd moments. His ears kept flickering back and forth and our transitions were better. And I forgot to be anxious, nervous or afraid. Actually, I couldn't stop smiling. I kept saying "he feels amazing! he feels so floaty!" Curtis is a smooth horse and enjoyable to ride but this was above and beyond. I couldn't believe how awesome he felt.





And then Carrie asked if I did much cantering on him. I admitted I do at home and T's but hadn't anywhere else in a very long while because I'm so afraid of an explosion. She said to trust her. That she could see how relaxed and happy this horse is and that under her supervision we should canter even just a few strides so that I got the confidence for it. AND WE DID IT. A few strides to the right and a whole diamond...yes, cantering on the diamond with the damn whip still under my thumbs because she said I was absolutely not dropping it for this because it would make it so much better. And she was right. His left canter was the best canter I've ever ever had on him. What an absolute confidence booster. I don't think I've ever been that confident and relaxed on him anywhere but home.



Carrie is super positive. She doesn't yell or insult. If you make a mistake or the horse stops doing as asked she says "it's ok" and to just try again. She says he is more likely to blow up with he's ridden hollow and with me in his mouth all tense. I really needed a lesson like this. I wish I could afford the time and money to go back weekly. I will probably try to go monthly though. Next time I hope to go right before the show. Meanwhile, I am going to ride the diamond and practice with the dressage whip to teach my hands to be quiet. It's going to be even harder in my arena because it tilts but I am going to make the most of it!!! It can only get better!



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Confidence. My daily struggle.

I know we've all posted about this before at one time or another. The battle with confidence in the saddle is real and on going for many of us. I've always been a bit anxious in the saddle in certain circumstances but usually was able to compartmentalize it and do the thing. High school I was my bravest. College I started having some trouble qualms now and then but always womaned up and go through anything.

The older I got the less confidence I seemed to have but usually a good experience and I was fine (like jumping a new height at a show with Twister the first time. Knots in my gut turned into excitement with how easy we did it).


Since having  SJ, I have more anxiety when it comes to riding than ever before. I have this motherly instinct of self-preservation that takes over. Don't. Get. Hurt. I have a baby who needs me. It's really effected my riding and I know it's in part why Curtis can get so stupid.

Tuesday I went jumping at T's. The jumps were 18"-2' and yet, 5 weeks into weekly jumping days, I am still trotting them and holding him back. I know he would jump so much better if he cantered and if I got out of his mouth and started following his motion instead of grabbing mane and oh shit handle.


I don't NEED to jump so why am I? Because each time I get the tiniest bit braver. That as long as I'm still trying I'm at least not quitting. Because I don't want my daughter to ask why I won't jump. Because I'd have to tell her it's because I let my anxiety win.

It's not all teeth grinding, jaw clenching, knots in my gut bad. Usually after the 1st few I relax even if I don't relax enough to do a proper release or canter. And I do have fun. And Curtis needs to mix it up now and then. And T is a great cheer leader. She encourages me to step out if that comfort zone when I get stuck and exerts just enough peer pressure to keep me from sitting there going "nah I think I'll just jump xrails forever" (Curtis trots xrails not actually jumps so it doesn't even count lol)

We did our 1st baby oxer Tuesday and I rode in my cc saddle and rode like shit but Curtis was extremely forgiving. My person says if I can't trust Curtis I need to go back to riding Twister but the truth is at this point in my riding life I'd have a hard time in Twister too. I for sure did at both hunter paces last year until we were way into it and even then certain spots or jumps had me wishing I could just not.


My person I think tries to egg me on to get me to want to grow a set and do the things I'm struggling with. But I'd rather he just be positive about the little things we do great. He says if I've been riding horses more than half my life I should know how to deal with horses when they give me shit or shouldn't be afraid. But I spent so long riding school horses and never learned how to deal with super naughty shitheads. He has been riding since a kid and has nerves of steel and can ride any horse. Not everyone can ride like him and he doesn't get that. And my confidence has regressed with age. Maybe someday when SJ gets older I'll get it back. Who knows.

The way I see it is that as long as I'm doing the thing that sometimes scares me and give me anxiety I'm still braver than someone who quits. And when I get through it, it's the best feeling. Sometimes I wonder if I should give it all up. But then the weather sucks for a month and I can't ride and I miss it so bad, anxiety and all, that I know giving it up isn't an option.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Hope for us yet

Yesterday I went with the girls to Blackhorse Stables to a schooling show to try and have a non-explosive ride on Curtis in a show environment. I love Blackhorse. I did a CT there with Twister 4 years ago and it was probably my favorite show I took him to. Everyone is super friendly and helpful and it's a relatively quiet show.

Curtis spent the night at T's with Question so we had at least 2 of 3 in the same place and good thing too because the weather on the way to the show is terrible. Raining so hard we could hardly see.


It stopped raining by the time we got there and we had stalls so we could all just relax. After T's awesome rides on Question (his 1st show and getting 2 1sts) I started walking Curtis all over. No tack. Just let him see everything. We visited the dressage and the jumping warm-ups and he went in the indoor(he's never been in an indoor) and got a good look at the jumps in the stadium ring and checked out the food trucks. He was very relaxed the whole time. When D went to warm up for her test I tacked up Curtis and lead him back to the warm up.



Even tacked up he was still being really good but I was now so nervous I could puke. He was being good and I was under no pressure to ride him or be on time for a show. T had him on a lead when I got on and lead us around for a bit while we determined whether or not he was going to turn into an explosive animal.



I really didn't care that I looked like a leadliner. If they saw Curtis in May they'd all be thankful he was on a lead and not able to kill anyone. But he stayed mostly focused and after a few I went solo on him and started walk-trot transitions and a big circle around some xc jumps.



There were 5 or 6 other horses out there warming up but all the riders were very respectful of our space and it was a huge field so plenty if room for all of us. At one point a horse went into his canter somewhat near us and I could feel Curtis briefly tense under me as if he was going to buck or bolt after the horse and I sat deep (a finger hooked in my neckstrap so I didn't pull on his mouth) and gave him an "nuh uh!" And he instantly returned his focus to me.


I was all smiles. He was amazing. I was amazing and now I know we got this. It's going to take more time for him to fully learn shows don't = races and for me to get my full confidence back on him but we can do this.

He hates kissies but I wanted
to give him all the kissies
I don't know if it's the magnesium working or the sound reduction bonnet or the fact that I wasn't worried about being on time and riding a test or the glass of wine I had before I tacked up or the quieter venue or the weekly trips off the farm.....so many factors. But whatever it was something worked. And I am thrilled.

Back home with his buds

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fit horses get frisky

So Monday was jumpies day and when I warmed Curtis up he was giving me so gorgeous trot. His canter over there is not so great compared to home and also his transitions into it are terrible. I don't understand. It was a beautiful day and I think the cooler weather was getting to him because he kept spooking at things he's seen there 100x. Like the pigeons. They'd flap. He'd leap. Repeat 54x because you clearly have never seen them before. Or cows. Or other horses. All foreign. *insert giant brain viewing eyeroll here*


The sound reduction bonnet I bought didn't fit so I sent it back and ordered another which still isn't here but should have been by Monday.

He's also been on magnesium for over a week now. I was doing it to use as a calming supplement but he also ticks almost every box in the magnesium deficiency chart. It's a cheap thing to try too if you can find a store that sells it really cheap in bulk. I probably won't see a change for a few weeks though. It has to get into his system.



So anyways...I'm rambling. The best part of Monday's ride is when I went to canter him over a little verticle. He hit the ground throwing his head and trying to prop. It probably felt worse than it looked but at one moment I was hanging pretty far off the left side if him and thought I was going to hit the ground. BUT I STUCK IT. Of course I made him do the jump again and behave and I was just so thrilled I stuck the friskiness out because I am not a sticky rider. When we cooled our he went in the creek like a big boy, no hesitation.



Then Wednesday during our canter he had the wrong lead and when I put my leg on to ask him to switch he threw his legs over his head and tried to take off out of the arena. Fun stuff. Needless to say that yesterday when it was unseasonably cool and very windy I gave him the day off. Yes. I am a chicken shit. Personally I call it self preservation.



Sunday T, D and I are loading the ponies up and going to a show. They are riding tests and I am schooling without the pressure of riding a test or being on time for something. I probably need to drink a beer so I'm not the reason Curtis is tense.  😂  The plan is that Curtis will see his buddy Question acting calm and unworried and will copy his behavior so I can ride him a bit and go home feeling like maybe we can ride a test next month.

Not jumping in a dressage saddle
might help us a bit..

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Monday jumpies

Last Tues I rode at T's and Curtis was perfect. Even got him in the creek with T's help. Then he had 4 days off due to rain and Saturday he was full of it. Crow hopping and bucking. Good stuff. I stayed on we finished on a good note. And Sunday he was great again and yesterday we went to T's again.

Jan (top) vs June (bottom)

This kid is a pro over there now. It's his home away from home. We warmed up nicely and jumped our 1st full course even though I'm sure it looked terrible and it was a trot-canter mix. At least he was behaved.


And then I got to ride T's mare. That was a blast. I was leg-yielding without even meaning to because she is so sensative. I want to show her now 😂




And we got talking about Curtis and how he is really sensative and while he knows his job and works well he's a bit adhd. Which I just attributed to him being a tb. But I came home and did some research and I'm ruling out ulcers and believe he is probably magnesium deficient. He ticks many of the boxes for it and only 1 for ulcers. And I'm putting him on a magnesium supplement anyways so hopefully I see some results.

When mom is riding another horse
and you jelly

T, D and I are going to a show in 2 weeks. Them to actually show and me to school Curtis. I'm picking up my 50lb bag of magnesium tomorrow and am going to start loading him up.


Monday, May 27, 2019

Revised summer plans

Had to change my plans this summer with Curtis. I have a big bag of magnesium waiting dor me I need to go pick up and I might even ace the kid. But we will learn how to behaved at shows. Probably wouldn't hurt to sedate myself as well. We will go somewhere every week and learn how to behave in a warm up ring. I will school and school even if I never get on him at first.



I bought a soumd reduction bonnet but it's too big on him. It's Horze brand. Anyone know a better fitting brand? The ears were pretty much oversized and came off after a canter.



Last Monday we went to T's to ride. She and I both rode at the same time which gave Curtis something to think about. He did really well. One almost run out because mare friend was near the jump. He also got off the trailer and behaved beautifully to be tacked up where as 8 months ago he was a spaz. Improvement.


Afraid of his own reflection though...

I've also been weaning him from his pals because he ia buddy sour and dependent. He's gotten much more relaxed on his own, especially if he's been allowed some time in the barn, with or without the others.



I'm riding over there again tomorrow and I'm hoping next week we can plan a trip to Masterson to school. He needs to be out of his comfort zone more often and so do I.