Thursday, December 26, 2019

Year End Review

Well the year is basically over. In some ways I feel like I’ve gotten really far with Curtis. And in other ways I feel like we’ve hardly moved on from where we were a year ago. I try really hard not to compare my process to those of other horse and rider teams. But it’s hard. It’s not like I’ve only had Curtis a year. I’ve know him since he was a baby and handled him all through his racing career and injury recovery.

Our biggest problem is tenseness. On both our parts. I’ve been trying to build my confidence all year. And during the last 6 months especially I’ve been trying to work on teaching  him to relax and that when you relax we all have more fun. 

Our 2019 show career was not very successful. I might have had to have a glass of wine to get through my tests without freaking out. We have a plan for next year which is quite a bit like this past year’s only now I have a routine to relax him (hopefully) before getting on to show. And now I know how effective extra magnesium and tubes of SmartCalm are so will be taking advantage of that. 

We went to USDF nationals at the horse park in November and all the horses in warm up had their shit together. No one was rank. And I thought as much as there is going on here, Curtis would probably hold his shit together here with other horses who aren’t acting like nut jobs. Only I don’t want to go to recognized shows until I know we can get through a test successfully and have our routine down and there is minimal tenseness and blowing up. But horses at schooling shows can be wild 😬

Honestly I am giving it another year. If we get to October or November next year and I’m still dealing with the same issues I’ll just ride him at home, trail ride and maybe I’ll keep taking lessons and train him through the levels but not show him. I understand giving him a grace period and is needing time to figure out shit out. But I don’t want to be still super nervous on a horse who is still blowing up at shows and unable to make it through an Intro test without a tanty. I’m all for moving up slowly but there comes a time when you have to decide if you’re the right team for shows. I am going to keep giving it my all to work through our many issues. But not forever. Curtis is a lifer though. Even if I don’t show him, he will always be in our family. And I do love the little shit to pieces. I really do. 

Sneaking a kiss to the horse who hates kisses 😘

On a happier note, all this lunging Carrie has us doing has Curtis getting hunky. And I can see the quality of his gaits improving as well. Due to my lack of freaking footing as usual I can’t always ride after I lunge him but when I do I can feel his trot getting bigger and floatier. He’s lighter too. He was never a really heavy horse but he is carrying himself better. 

I absolutely refuse to let him get scrawny again. The grain change alone has done so much for his body condition and the lunging has done more. 

My goal for 2020 is very simple: teach us BOTH to relax!!! No tension!!! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Lunging until I'm dizzy

Between lunging SJ and Rascal and working with the yearling (he still needs a JC name!) and working with Curtis, all I've done is lunge lately. The baby is a smarty pants and if it wasnt for my person's sliced fingers we would be riding him already .

As for Curtis, lunging him like Carrie said to do is hunking him up. I took him to T's to lunge and ride on a flat surface and we discovered he gets his leads better on a bigger circle. Which means I need to buy a longer lunge line. I dont know if my arena at home is even 20m wide.

When I got on to ride he was forward and relaxed and felt great. I haven't been riding much because by the time I lunge him and the baby I've spent 2 hours in the barn and my tiny human is done.

I don't even know what I'm doing half the time but he looks great and is filling out nicely. Where was this horse all summer? I switched his grain in late August and it has made all the difference. He's on a 1/3 scoop tribute seniority and 1/3 scoop of oats. And that am all change put some weight on him and is helping him bulk up. I wish I'd switched him sooner. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Back to basics and wardrobe change.... Sorting out Curtis

Went for a lesson Sunday and after telling Carrie how our shows have gone since we saw her last (2 months ago! 😬) and her seeing how tense we both were as his girlfriend left him in the arena all alone, Carrie asked if I lunge him. Yep and he's pretty respectful on the lunge. Do we at shows? No! I was told that would make him hotter. She said to get off and let's see how he goes and show me how to lunge him to eliviate tension on the ground.

She had me use sliding side reins which I need to buy asap. And push him out on the lunge. He was tense. You could see it and he'd come above the bridle but instead of lunging forward like he does with me at shows he'd hit himself and fly backwards, punishing himself.

As he worked, he relaxed and you could see him move through his back more. He endes up working down to being a more relaxed horse in all 3 gates to the left and we started over to the right. When we got right and started all over. Any time Waverly screamed I was ready to chase him forward before he threw a tanty.  and he would not canter right. He was very stiff and kept hitting himself.

Carrie said she does this with horses she starts  to make sure they have a solid foundation and doesn't get on them until she can see from the ground a horse that looks like a nice boring but enjoyable ride. She said to build a routine at home I can take to a show. Lunge with the aliding side reins until he's relaxed and moving free then ride. She said for a while I'll be lunging longer than I ride. And once we take it to shows (schooling first for a few shows) we'll spend more time getting a rideable horse than I'll spend riding or in the ring. D told me later Carrie said I was very brave to ride Curtis the way he's been the last year. I don't feel brave. I need calming tubes of stuff for him and liquid courage for me to get me through shows.

I also asked her to give me an honest opinion on my set up. She said she's not a fan of micklems and she rides with a clinician who hates them. She said he's incredibly sensitive and the micklem is restrictive and I should try a basic bridle. Which I haven't used on him since he was a tiny baby. I borrowed one from T and he looks very handsome in it. We rode in it today and it's different but so far not better or worse. Carrie also said to try an eggbutt. She says they are a bit better for horses that are sensitive and avoid contact vs the loose ring which she says is better for horses that pull. So a new bit will be ordered with the side reins.

Of course a bridle won't magically change anything but a setup he's not 100% in won't help. And hopefully a winter of back to basics with a tack change will help me get a horse I'm not afraid will kill me.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

We bought a yearling!

We brought the trailer which was the first mistake as we really were planning to wait until Sunday when they practically give them away. But seriously though, how gorgeous is this kid??

Damsah 2018 by Mshawish (em-shah-wish). If you go by the book he's bred to run long on the grass.

He walked right on the trailer like a big horse too. Has a good head on him.

He's going to need a kickass name. SJ is calling him "Sprinklehead" but I can't imagine that being called as he runs down the stretch 😂

Twister is a babysitter again and I can't say he's thrilled. But he's the only one I trust not to beat the crap out of little Sparklehead. He's going about putting little shits in their place without going overboard.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Canter all day

Ok well trying to get more canter work in anyways.  Now that I'm done showing, the 3 days or so I ride a week I'm focusing on getting leads and an even, consistent canter. Someday we'll be able to show without dying being a possibility and when that day comes I want to be ready to ride a training level test immediately.

Curtis loves to canter and his canter is smooth and generally up hill. It's those pesky leads. We still have some trouble with the left lead. And he picks up the right every time but then gets stiff when asked to bend that way. So we're working on it.

I introduced simple changes which get better the more we do them during a single ride. And Monday with T's help to call out "wrong lead! Correct lead!" I was able to do a shit ton of transitions. And yes....and still cannot always tell if he's on the wrong lead. We've also done come hill work because we're both sick of the arena. He loves a good gallop, thoroughbred that he is.

Also we just got blacktop laid down so now I'll have a place to ride no matter how wet it gets this winter.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Burnt out

I'm not really sure how I can be burnt out when I only ride 1 horse a day and only 4ish times a week. In general though, horses and family combined, I've been on the freaking go for months. And I'm losing steam. We didn't go to Carrie's on Sunday due to multiple truck issues and as much as I needed the lesson I'm not really bummed out. We'll go back in a couple weeks.

And Curtis who was a beast right after I got home from NY seems a bit too chill lately and I think he is just sick of arena work. We have been galloping in the field to mix it up a bit and I didn't take him to T's on Monday. We were going to take a family trail ride yesterday but I talked my person out of it and glad I did because it was 95* and the horse flies were nasty. We went to lunch and the mall instead. A.c. everywhere while Curtis stood in front of his fan all day.

I know the good weather is very limited this time of year and I should be super gung ho to ride until the 6 months of monsoon season starts but I just took 3 days off because eh. After his awesome mini show ride a test thing I should be all gung ho but unless Carrie has a schooling show at her place this fall (probably wont happen until spring) I won't be showing again. The next schooling show is in Nov and Curtis would probably have to live at T's for a week to do that because of the crap weather we seem to get every fall.


And if I'm 100% honest I'd say maybe I'm a little burnt out because I've been working every day with this horse...and myself...and all we've managed to successfully do is not explode during a not real show at the end of the summer. I know every horse is different and my confidence isn't helping us along but I'm so worried I'll be starting from square 1 come spring 😑

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Shenanigans free "show"

So this week has not gone to plan. It rained like crazy Monday and Tuesday so in preparation for going to the ride a test I had to ride Curtis at T's and leave him there over night. Then I bring him home for 1 night and my daughter's nasty shitty appy beat him up. Luckily pretty superficial but Rascal is no long allowed in the same paddock at Curtis.

Fucking rascal
Curtis has handled the complete lack of routine well. Trailered well to Lexington. Stood well at the trailer like a big boy. Then I gave him a syringe of Syncalm, which btw works amazing without have a dead head horse. I'm going to buy a shit ton more for trail rides and someday hunter paces and actual real shows.

So I got right on warmed up for 5 seconds then asked to go in because I didnt want the other 2 horses warming up to go and leave and him lose his shit. He was a little looky and my hands where nervous and all over and definatelh pissed him off. The judge (a grand prix rider named Judy) said at the end it was good buy she'd like to see more energy and QUIET hands. My hands. The bane of my dressage existence. But Curtis did so well compared to past being judged experiences that I decided to ride a 2nd test.

I kind of forgot intro a. I went over it super quick right before I went in and almosy did a free walk where I was supposed to change rein. But quickly remembered and picked that trot back up. Our 2nd time around was fantastic. For us. I'm basing my adjectives against our first outing in May. We have a LONG way to go but the judge said she can see that Curtis has a lot more potential that he showed last night. And no lunging and jumping through the test which is a total 1st.

Sorry it's sideways...

I am really super thrilled. Maybe it was the fact that there were only 2 other horses there and it was super quiet compared to a normal show or maybe it was the calming stuff he got 30 minutes before we rode or maybe he's just growing up? I don't care. It's taking us forever but we are at least getting somewhere.

We are supposed to go to Carrie's Sunday and I'm kind of getting burnt out and after this week I'm not sure I have the energy. We'll see though.