Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fat Pony, Struggles of having an EASY Keeper

The struggle is real!

I ride 5 to 6 days a week. And when Twister gets ridden, it's almost never a walk in the park. But seriously my horse is HUGE! He's more fit than he was before but he has a belly like a freaking rhino. I'm going to have to start putting him up at night and only give him a few hrs of turn out a day.

no photo does it justice

Not just because he's a monster, but because the sweet grass (grass that usually isn't still so sweet in almost freaking July but is because it rains so much!) is making his feet soft and sore and I'm worried he's going to get cresty and try and founder on  me. He's never foundered before, but I'm not going to sit around and wait and see if it happens.

Or maybe I should buy a grazing muzzle. I wonder how long it'd take him to lose it? Gah. I have never owned a hard keeper. Even my TB's are easy keepers, even the ones in training. So I don't know what that even feels like to be stuffing as much forage down a horse's gullet as possible. All I know is you can gallop for an hour a day every day and still have a fat pony.

Battle of the Bulge
When you look at him from the flat side he doesn't look too bad. But coming in at the shoulder angle you can see he's a bit of a beefcake. Normally I wouldn't care too much. I've seen fatter horses event higher levels that I'm training for. But those hooves are my pride and joy! Must protect the hooves at all costs!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mixed Signals

I'm not sure what's going on with Twister and I. Either I'm giving him really mixed signals or whatever is out of whack in his hind end needs to be chiropracted asap.

random one of my old man, because he doesn't know he's old!
We did 2 days in a row of dressage schooling. Friday was very abrupt. I was like "oh I'm going to tack up and ride before it storms" HAHAHAHA. I did tack up and get out there and start riding. I could hear the thunder getting closer but I wanted to work Twister a bit first. I could cool out in the barn after! I look around and Roader was MIA. That should have been my first clue. He never leaves me if I'm riding. Then I hear the thunder directly over us and I pretty much cantered into the barn. No sooner did I untack and get Twister in his stall than hurricane-force winds hit us with driving rain. I seriously thought a tornado had touched down. The back barn door that takes 3 people to open and close blew into the barn. I thought some of the other doors were going to come right off the barn. And I picked up my fresh home from the vet puppy and carried his nearly 80 lb bulk into the cat/tack room, Roader close behind (he'd been hiding somewhere....) and shut them in while I went to see where the tornado was. Well there wasn't one. It was just blowing like there WAS one. When I saw it was mostly safe I picked up the puppy again and ran him into the house and shut the boys up in the house while I checked the horses who didn't seem to mind the Day After Tomorrow weather we were having..........

ominous sky.....

hiding out from the storm!

what a mess....... and my jumps were blown all over/broken
and i had half a tree in my driveway

But anyways! Saturday I had a migraine from the time I woke up. But it was cool and there was almost no humidity so not to ride would have been a sin. So I slapped on the dressage tack again. Here is where all the signals gets mixed.

I started out by asking Twister to move forward off my leg on a loose rein. I wanted him to stretch and warm up. As he warmed up I started to ask him to be on the aids and stop hollowing out. If I push him to stay forward he tries to break into a canter. When I half-halt because he's trying to jump into the canter, he wants to stop. When I ask for a walk and squeeze to push him into a nice, swinging walk he starts to jig like a big horse in the paddock at Churchill. If I half-halt and ask him to WALK he wants to die out. I can't get anything consistent to save my life.

free walk?
He really made me work for it Saturday. And I finally got just a little bit of quality work out of him. Actually, our canter was my favorite part of the whole 45 minute ride. We are ALMOST to where we can stay inside a 20 meter circle.

I <3 canters that aren't me being dragged on the forehand!

I don't feel like I'm doing anything different than I have been all along. But maybe I am? Or maybe we are just having a few bad days because Twister thinks every day is Do Whateverthehell Twister Feels Like Day. Or maybe his hind end (probably that right hip) needs to be adjusted. Or maybe I just suck and really need another lesson? Twister has been a bit of an asshat, but I hate to blame him first. I've been trying to end every lesson with a hack down the road. But maybe he just needs a nice long trail ride or a couple of lunging days.

rippling butt muscles during a nice moment of lifted, round trot

Sunday, I let Twister jump. Sort of his consolation prize for all the dressage work. I used the hackamore. Sometimes I like to give his mouth a break by getting out of it. What I don't like is how he puts his whole freaking face into the bridle and powers on like a charging buffalo.

guy on a buffalooOOOOOoooo

Other than that though, he was pretty good. I had to get after him to pick his damn head up and lift to the jump instead of hurtle in on his forehead which leads to an awkward jump. And I figured out that I can use my tripod (that I totally forgot I had) to get even better videos in which to take sills from! Wooo!

duh. i could have been doing this for a year a now. 

after i got after him to not come in with his head below his withers....

2ft seems so tiny and boring now!

he still isn't a fan of any blue barrel jump.....
He still comes into the barrel jump a bit less than smooth. I'm going to lunge him to is a bunch then when M comes back (this week!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAH I've missed my "little sister" she abandoned me for a whole month!!!!) I'll have her put the barrel under everything and just work on all the jumps having the barrel under it until he is smooth to it every time. He never did this until I fell off. Now he's all awkward anywhere the barrel is. Kid! I'm not coming off over that barrel!

Friday, June 26, 2015

2 In a Row

Um so was I right about the 2nd day back being better?? Yup. After a week of not much jumping, he needs 2 days in a row to get his crap together.

And you know that moment when you're cantering to a jump and a drop of sweat falls off your brow and into your eyes and it stings and you ride to the jump with only one eye open?

my very tolerant doggie

 I wanted to warm up with a nice forward trot but my legs were falling off keeping him moving. I had my stirrups really short so he was basically just blowing me off. I ended up dropping them one hole, giving him a good jab with my heels and a smack on the shoulder and said "move your ass!" It got better after that, and as usual he'll go in the big field and gallop all the livelongday.

ummm yes! finally the trot I needed!

 He's still stiff to the right. I spend extra time there. He really needs to see the chiropractor but he'll have to wait a couple weeks until Ranger's surgery is all paid for. Obviously, looking at this photo, you can see he works out of it.

I worked on one jump at a time. First being the blue barrel. I made it a x-rail/roll-top type jump and the first 2 times over he did the hesitant looking and leaping thing. By the 3rd time over he was cantering strong to it and no longer looking at it.

 Then I worked on a small corner/oxer whatever you want to call it. I want Twister to jump everything and anything, poles going every which way and for him to not look ever. He was actually really good for this one. A little lazy the first time but leg leg leg and the next time was so much better.

Then we worked on the block jump. I only asked him to do this one twice. He was starting to get really tired and it was really hot and humid out. I'd ride when it cools off but he needs to learn how to perform when it's hot because shows aren't always cool weather. The first time over he chipped but the pole stayed up. Which is great because I hate getting off to put jumps back up! The 2nd time he launched a bit but cleaned it with room to spare. 

ugliness on my part. stupid leg. and where's my crest release?
Last but not least we went in the back and galloped over my xc jump. I had planned to add a few poles to it and build it up, but my person took the truck to work. So it'll have to wait. I've been really trying to practice my crest release and balance. It would help a bit if I could keep my leg under me. I need to do something about that saddle to start. 

Fence post footage.

I brought a very sweaty pony back to the barn.

bath please?

the only thing he really wants


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Draggin' Ass

After 2 days off and a dressage day before that which was preceded by another easy day, I should have not expected such amazingness out of Twister as I did. He was good, don't get me wrong. But after that many easy days, he probably needed a day of little jumps to get his stride back before I'm like "hey jump all the thingz!"

tried to set them up so we could weave back and forth
and keep turning and coming back around to another jump
at every which angle

He was good though. Wanted to gallop foreverrrrrrr but then was lazy and on the forehand over the jumps. And my right calf kept charlie-horsing which didn't help. I need to start stretching. I had a couple of close calls, but stayed on. And my confidence is no worse for the wear. I will jump again tomorrow.... vested.... but we shall jump. He's always better the 2nd day after a week of doing jackshit. Me too, come to think of it. I've gotten 3 nights in a row of crappy sleep and I am beat! We both need to get our wind back.

oh crap strap just for you, Fraidy Cat Eventing.

I used an oh shit handle/grab strap/whateverthehellitis today. I warmed up galloping on both leads in the big field. He really could go all day. I kept pulling him back to a trot and he'd break back into a gallop. Then we galloped over my xc jump in the back field and it is going to take some getting used to using the strap, but I think in the long run, it's going to be the best option for me as I work on balance. Pretty sure he likes my improved crest releases.

The blue barrel still gets to him, no matter where it is. Tomorrow I'm going to try just riding really aggressive to it and have it as part of a x-rail set up or a small vertical. Maybe use it as a roll-top. Or I need to add a ground pole in front of it. The jump block jump set up as I had it was a new one for him too. He jumped it wayyyy off center the first time (what's on video) but jumped it he did. The 2nd time was better. Of course my camera went and died though! 

crappy stills collage

My person was home but too busy weed-eating to take pics and then when he stopped he decided to ride Rascal, who had just as many easy days as Twister and needs them even less. He actually tried once and that's when the camera died. Like right before the blue barrel. I almost came off there too. Never get the good stuff!

and my camera bit the dust. but not literally. you drop
her, you die!
It's nice spending horse time with my person again though. I miss the old days when we used to break a zillion babies and were riding all day together. But only because I like doing horsey stuff together. Not because breaking a bunch of track rats was good times.

mmmm sexyyyyy :P

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'd Rather Be Riding

Okay so today is my first day back in the office really since Friday morning. I've been working visiting businesses and farms and yesterday Porkchop raced up in Indiana (total play hooky day) but I don't want to be here. I'm having a hard time concentrating. This morning was nice and cool, low humidity for once and I want to be RIDING! I could have trailered to Spring Run and schooled xc or finally had my dressage lesson. But Noooooo because I have to adult (can we all commiserate here for a moment?) and make the money to be able to continue to show and to pay for Ranger's surgery and all my many student loans and my tack hoarding problem. Yadda yadda yadda. If you've ever adulted while owning horses, you know the song of my people.

my person <3 and porkchop.... who ran dead last...

I didn't ride Monday, I had a migraine and so much to do to get ready for racing. And I didn't even get home until 9 last night and by the time the kids were fed and stalls cleaned. Pah! I needdddd to ride today. A nice hard gallop I think followed by some jumping. And Twister and Rascal need their hooves checked. I'm hoping I can put off doing them until this weekend, although today is Day 10.........

random Indiana countryside photo

Anyways. Point is, I only want to be an insurance agent when it's cold out. When it's nasty and wet and freezing I have no problems what so ever sitting in an office or driving all over town. I guess I should have been a teacher? :P

Whine fest over.

PS. Ranger had FHO surgery #2 yesterday and came through great. He has arthritis in his elbows but it should clear up a good bit once his hips are done recovering. I can pick him up Friday! Now if only my neighbor would mow his hay field so we can get to the pond when staples come out!
I miss my hurtling puppy! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Need a New Helmet!

Okay, well I really really really could use one. Mine is fine for a 45 minutes schooling session. But for long rides or keeping it on all day at a show, it's not so okay. It eventually puts a lot of pressure on my forehead and temples and I get migraines. And I'm prone to migraines anyways. So this is not helping.

Currently I am riding in the Ovation Z8 Carbon Fiber. I think it's too oval for my head. There is some gaping at the sides.

can you see the gap???

So I went to the tack store today, the tack sore 45 minutes from me and the only one that sells show helmets that aren't huge clunky Troxel schoolers......... I was headed that direction anyways so I stopped in. And I tried everything that wasn't a CO. I hate COs. Sorry CO fans but I do. Not enough ventilation, make you look egg-headed and I haven't found one to properly fit.

I LOVE the Defender from OneK. But I couldn't find a size to fit me unless I leave my hair all the way down, and even then the medium is too tight and the large too big.

I REALLY thought I'd walk out of the store with a Tipperary T2 or T4. That was my plan when headed there anyways..... But I couldn't fine one of those to fit properly either. I was super bummed. The T2 is on clearance there. $119.99! And all the air vents! Wahhhhhhhhh!

The leathery IRH fit, with my hair down. But not up. No way no how. And this one was about $100 bucks out of my budget.

I even tried ponytailing and tossing the tail under the helmet instead of my typical twist of hair on the top of my head. Better but not great.

The S/M Ovation like mine, too small, even with my hair down. I have the M/L.

I don't want to spend much more than $200 on a helmet. I don't show often enough and I need a helmet I can do it all in. Nothing too terribly fancy. And I guess I'm going to need to make a trip to Dover in Cinnci or wait until Rolex next year in order to try on more brands and more shapes and sizes. My person wants to go try on new helmets to. He needs a skull cap for the track and his current one doesn't fit him perfect either. Well enough but he's not totally happy, just like me. And I refuse to have a huge blulky helmet. I hate that crap. When I was in high school I used the Ageis helmet to school, trail ride. But I remember it being super bulky.


old ass photo. my first love, stewart.

I'd like to try on some GPA (even though the cheapest is out of my price range) and some of the Troxel show helmets don't look too bad. The Intrepid and the Liberty look hopeful. Personally, I like an adjustable dial. That way in the winter I can wear my hair down. At shows and in summer I can wear it up under my helmet. That's how my Ovation is but it doesn't freaking fit properly and hurts after an hour squeezing my forehead.



Any suggestions????????? Is there some obscure brand somewhere I don't know about??? Help my noggin, blogger friends!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

To Move Up or Not to Move Up

That is the big question.

After the show last weekend I think the jumping and xc of BN is something we can handle. Would we finish in the ribbons? Probably not. But at this point I just want to finish a BN. Twister is getting fitter and our jumping is awesome lately. And my confidence is at an all time high. But dressage is what I'm worried about. Can we canter while staying in side the ring? Can we stop counter cantering? (our new thing..... please keep reading). Can we halt square and transition down without falling apart? Probably not. Which is why I'm thinking I'll probably be sticking to Start Division in July.

and we can't look like this at a show WHY????

Friday I did a little walk-trot. We spiraled and stretched and were on the aids and he was very enjoyable to ride. We finished up with a gallop. Today same thing except we worked WTC. Walk-trot was fine. Even our downward transitions weren't terrible. But cantering, we would start out on the correct lead and as I squeezed him forward he'd switch his leads. and counter canter. A mostly round counter canter. But a counter canter all the same. And this the horse that won't do flying changes......................... I left those parts out of  my Youtube video.

Maybe I'm using too much spur? It was definately a canter that could have stayed in a 20 meter circle. And I didn't even realize he'd switched leads. Buttface. He didn't do it every time. But still! The canter I got that you'll see in the video was really nice. Hence all the "good boys" I wanted to know he was being great without letting him fall apart.

He's also stiff to the right. I need to have the chiro out but there is puppy problems. And I have to make sure that baby Ranger is taken care of first.... his right hip (unoperated one) is giving out and needs to get done ASAP. But his right elbow has also become very dysplastic and sore and swollen. He is going to the vet tomorrow for x-rays and maybe, finally, surgery on that right hip.

Well I guess I answered my own question. I'm only planning one HT this year and I guess I'll stay at starter level. Also, that means M and I would be able to school and show in the same division against each other making me being able to school her a lot easier.

I get a little frustrated. Once it fall hits, I ride less and less and as we roll back into April or so I feel like it takes me forever. Like I take 1 step forward and 2 back almost. Though maybe it's more 2 forward and 1 back. Making progress slow. I'm not in any huge rush to move up the levels but it's hard to challenge yourself when you stay in the same place for so long....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Balance.... because I'm lacking in that dept

The past 2 days I've worked Twister pretty hard. Wednesday my person and I galloped the boys in the rain. I made Twister work. He has to be a little more fit than I think, despite the fat, because after a really hard gallop both directions he caught his breath a lot faster than I thought he would.

Note to self: buy a digital watch so I can monitor how long it takes his beats and breath per minute to go down...... and so I can monitor how long I'm actually working him.

Normally when I gallop I do it like I'm riding track horses. I cross the reins and loop one finger on one hand through the wither strap and balance with my knuckles on the shoulders or withers. But you can't do that and still jump! So in each direction I put my outside arm behind my back like a soldier at ease so that I couldn't brace because you can't when you only have one arm and that needs to be used for steering. I had to use my legs and sore to keep my in my half-seat. I made sure my legs weren't bouncing all over and that I was centered over my saddle. My stirrups were down one hole from where they normally are for jumping which helped.

Today it was about to storm big time. Winds were picking up. So Twister and I had a quick and hard ride. Luckily it's summer so it doesn't take as long to warm up and stretch out.....


We trotted out at a fast stretchy, bounce trot 1 1/2 rounds each way and then galloped 1 1/2 rounds each lead. Then we went into the "arena" and practiced our lead changes. My goal is to get us down to only 1 or 2 trot strides before we do a successful change. If you watched our video from Sunday, we canter around on the wrong lead quite a bit. I need to work on that. My person can get him to do flying changes. But my person is also a much better and more skilled rider than I am.

We also cantered over a couple jumps, especially the 2" block oxer made with my jump blocks. He was super! I hold on way too much over jumps, perhaps you noticed that too. But I'm trying to do less of that, which is another reason for the balance exercises. Next time we jump (when it freaking dried out) I want to canter over some jumps with my arm behind my back. I can't hold on for dear life all the time. And the better he jumps, the less I should have to!

see the hand running up to grab mane/do a release and one on the wither
strap holding on????????

Finally Rascal's Hooves!

Well, I'm going to talk about both kids' feet.

On Monday, the natural trimmer that gave me advice on Twister and called out his white line disease to look at Rascal and Twister's feet and tell me if I was finally on the right track with Twister. I AM! He says they look tons better and the white line, while I'm still battling it, is almost gone in any of the hooves that had it.

fronts. sorry for the quality of the pics. and the dirty toes
he makes a nasty mess of his stall

Rascal's feet were kinda ugly, but mostly because they needed to be trimmed so badly. And sadly I didn't get any before photos. But I have afters! I had O trim both boys while he was there because as Carly so eloquently put it, when you trim feet you "sweat like a dirty whore." And if I could get out of it, JUST ONCE, I was going for it. 10 days from now I'll have to do both their feet again anyways. The only way I can keep Twister's feet from splitting apart is to keep them religiously touched up and frequently apply hoof goo.

O does a really nice job and I wish I'd used him for Twister's feet when the shoes first came off. But I don't think I knew he even existed.

Twister's Toes

And him and his girlfriend got the FitKit out and fit Twister for Gloves. Yes! My horse FINALLY has the natural shape to wear Gloves! I would have never guessed it myself!!!!!


Okay, but back to Rascal. He was a lot better about getting all 4 trimmed that I thought he'd be. I touched up his fronts a couple weeks ago and holy batman it was a fight. It took me like 30 minutes to do his fronts when it only takes me like 20-30 minutes to do all 4 of Twister's. He would not stand still. Kept yanking his leg back off the stand and kept trying to pull me under him in the process. I was pissed off to say the least. He stood still Monday with only a chain over his nose (when I did it I ended up having to lip chain him) but maybe he just needed someone to hold him and didn't like me having the end of the shank in my pocket. Who knows. Babies.... *eye roll*

nice shape!

He has hard little feet that a couple weeks ago were pretty brittle but since the shoes came off are shaping up nicely. I think he'll be one of those gallop across rocks kinda horses. I wish Twister could have his feet. Twister's feet are still sore on rocks and most gravel. Makes me sad.

again very sorry for dirty feet. he's a piggy
Yesterday my person and I went to ride the boys and we ended up galloping both of them in the rain. It was so much fun. Rascal never takes a bad step. He has pretty tough little feet! I wish I had pics of us galloping around in the rain but well.... it was raining.... so phone and camera stayed in the barn.