Monday, December 31, 2018

Bringing in the New Year - Goals for 2019

2018 was a pretty good year, all things considering. I barely got any riding in on Twister from January-March. Then we moved to the new farm at the end of March and it was a few weeks before I took my first ride here. I haven't focused much on Twister this year at all aside from hacking around and fitness for the hunterpaces. He's a bit peeved about it too. He likes having a job, though SJ has been on him quite a bit this year.

Christmas pony pics
In April we got the no-go for Curtis to go back to racing and I spent 2 months on ground work before getting on him at the end of June. This kid loves to have a job and he's so smooth.

He has a great head on him and handled just about everything I've thrown at him like a well-adjusted adult boy. Except for that show. Which ended pretty well even though it was an overall hotmess. But I'm actually sitting on a super athletic, leggy kid with fancy potential and I can't wait to see where we go next summer!

our best photo of 2018
I've also been able to keep him barefoot. He hasn't had shoes on since August or September and has been totally sound. *KNOCKS ON WOOD LOUDLY AND REPETITIVELY* This fall and winter has been so miserably fucking wet and I'm battling thrush. No surprise. Twister has the worst of it, of course. Rascal is about to blow an abscess I think. Curtis has some thrush but not as bad as the other 2. I'm hoping to keep him barefoot and sound through the year and show season.

6 weeks off pretty much. still looking pretty good

Which leads me to my 2019 goals.

1. Get more time off the farm from now until April or May. Lessons down the road. A ride in the indoor the other way down the road. Schooling trips to Masterson for experience. The biggest thing we need to do is get miles in new places.

2. Pick shows. I'd like to do 2 or 3 dressage shows and at least 1 combined test or mini trial. Probably 1 hunter pace in the fall as well. I don't want to get too ambitious. Horsey activities are hard to manage when your hubby works weekends and you horse show with the person you'd be inclined to leave the toddler with. Though maybe if we go in a big enough group, the toddler can come too. And sometimes I get lucky and her brothers are free to hang out with her.

3. Commit to taking monthly confo pics. That way I can really see Curtis change. I think I only took like 4 all year this past year....

4. Take SJ to her first leadline!!!! Her and Rascal are READY! And she's been asking several times a week since I came home from the dressage show in November if she can ride in a horse show.

Her and Rascal got a bridle and breastcollar for Christmas

and I bedazzed her helmet. 

Not very fancy goals, but it's what we need, overall.

Happy New, all!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Curtis' 1st Jumpies

For starters, let me say what a level-headed, easy-going donkey Curtis is. I've been on him a total of 3 4 times since the show. All several days apart. And he is always great. He never *knocks on wood* acts up or pulls shit. He almost always  remembers all the things. Though today he forgot what a left leg aid was and had to be heel-jabbed several times before he stopped hanging off my leg.

We've doing quick bareback rides over a blanket or without. I've hopped on after 10 days off and asked him to do fancy horse things and he's complied. I know I said I wouldn't get on him until after new years, but I changed my mind and decided I didn't want him to lose all his condition and muscles I worked so hard for this summer.

hankering for 80* weather so we can go SWIMMING

Mom is visiting today so I had someone to take media and call 911 just in case. And I trotted Curtis over his first cross rail. What a perfect little star he was. He is going to make SJ an excellent walk-trot horse in 3-4 years. He never refused once. Trotted nice and evenly over. The ground is really hard or I would have cantered over to see if I couldn't get an actual jump.

Several years ago I tried to retrain a 4 year old ottb who couldn't be bothered to do anything without a red-headed fit. Ok so he was a red head. But I half expected Curtis to be the same way. And he's not. Not at all. He's graceful and so willing to do anything I ask and he actually enjoys it.

to my right the men were hammering, sawing and banging around
in the garage and I walked him to the barn no hands <3

Now if only it would warm up so we could do fun things and ride more often.

And would you look at my Black Friday saddle pad? I can't believe I forked out money for a Le Mueix (sp?) but I did and it's so pretty😍 It's our combined birthday/christmas present and reward for surviving our first show lol

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Curtis' First Show

I guess you can say he's officially a dressage horse. Even though when I entered the warm up ring and all through our 1st test (Intro A) he acted like I'd gone down the road to Keeneland, pulled a racehorse out of the stall and said "hey let's go ride dressage". Needless to say it was a hot mess. And the relaxed fancy horse I had at home and even at T's house was not the same horse I had at the show. Partly because he's barely been ridden all week thanks to the weather. And partly because there was a lot going on and he got tense.

so tense. I don't even know what I was doing...

But we made it through 2 tests. Stayed in the ring, didn't die or kill anyone, stayed on and stayed on course. We finished dead last in both classes but I was thrilled. I think the first show is the hardest because you don't know how the horse will act. And as bad as it was, it was still better than Twister's 1st test where I had to whip him past the judges booth because he was acting like a giant took even though he's been out and seen things. Curtis only spooked at a giant pile of blowing, rustling leaves, making terrifying horse-eating noises and was super looky at a guy on a bike also making horse-eating noises.

So we got there and the idiot flew backwards off the trailer like a dummy. But he got in his stall and settled right in. Also he and T's mare are now in love. *insert brain-viewing eyeroll here* That must just be a gelding thing. To fall in love with all the maremares. Once we got there I had about an hour until my test. I tacked up and went to the warm up ring, lunge line in hand. I found an empty ring to lunge him in, only after getting on and him nearly deciding to buck me off after 4 seconds and me dismounting and ripping a button of my coat.

I lunged the pants off him and took him back into the warm up with the other horses where we continued to be tense. I tried so hard to quiet my hands and to breathe. He was a total giraffe and when my number was called I thought "what the fuck, let's wing it". At least I remembered the test. There was a lot of weaving. A lot of unintentional should-ins instead of straightness on the rail because people were going to eat him. And trees. And the pavilion. And the man under the tree who was clearly horse-eating Frankenstein *more eye rolls* He was a mess. D3 (there are 3 Ds. Little, Big D and D3, so you can keep track) said our first test scared her and it looked like he was a racehorse in training, not a dressage horse. I can't say she was wrong.

warm up before 2nd test

After the test I walked and trotted him around a bit trying to let him look at things and keep him calm. Then because I still had an hour until our other test, I brought him back to the barn and let him chill out. When I brought him back to the warm up ring an hour later, he was a different horse. He was a bit more stretchy and more relaxed. He wasn't trying to bolt or buck and I thought maybe this test could go better.

walk was full of impulsion but not straight at all

It did. Much better.. But it was still bad. I didn't really care. I was thrilled with how we did and that even though Intro B was really bad, it was far better than Intro A and we'd survived our first show. I honestly think part of it was that he liked having the ears on, which we only used the 2nd time around after I was desperate to get him to chill a bit more.

Da Money Man 11.17.18
Intro B

You'll notice my hands are LOUD. And in previous posts I've mentioned that the more I do with my hands the more pissed he gets. And I was legit trying to hard to be quiet with my hands but I have no idea what happened. It's ugly. But I will practice quiet hands all winter until I KNOW the difference between when I think I'm not moving them and I am actually super loud and when I'm actually being quiet.

And now the weather is going to suck for months and I have no decent footing and I'll have to back way off. Just when it's getting good and I think I should ride all winter and have a show ready horse in April. Blehhh. I want a damn indoor.

if nothing else, he looked gorgeous braided and dressed up
in white

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Waiting for Ride TImes

I'm getting the pre-show jitters. Like I wish it would just hurry up and get here. Hoping ride times will be posted tonight or early tomorrow morning.

coolers double as 1/4 sheets (or maybe it's time to invest
in a 1/4sheet....)

The weather here has been total shit. Rains every 2 days. I haven't ridden on even ground in over 2 weeks. Every other ride I spend half the ride reminding Curtis to be an adulting, future dressage horse when what he really wants is to do his racetrack prance and toss his head and gallop.

fat and healthy and his feet look fantastic!!!!
He's spent every other day (or two) off and a lot of time in the barn due to cold rain. But today after a day off and long night up in the barn, he went right to work. Very workity. He warmed up, then gave me that fancy trot and did several excellent transitions and halts. His free walk today was big. I may not get to ride him again until the warm up ring in the show though. Because it's going to fucking sleet and snow tonight. I wanted fall. I wanted sweater weather and ride without fucking melting weather. But now I want it to be daylight until 10pm and 80* because winter sucks.

happy, fancy horse spit

My show box will have a lunge line and whip and a tube of Quietex. I'm also hoping the judge will allow fly bonnets. Because it was super windy today and he was happier when I put the ears on him. My past experience says sometimes judges don't care and sometimes they really do. I've schooled both ways but still........

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Let's Talk NSN

No stirrup November. I've always been big on it. When I was in high school we did bareback lessons and no stirrup lessons and we all wanted to die (even though many of us did several minutes or more of no stirrup work on a regular basis). But then December we goofed off and played games and went on trail rides.

The last few years (except for when I was pregnant and the November after having SJ) I would take the irons off and I would work my ass off. In the summer I ride multiple horses and do hay and take walks and whatever. But I always used NSN to get me back into workout mode. After November I'd start working out in the evenings every other day or so until spring time. I can't not ride and not workout all winter because I like junk food too much.

This year I'm doing an alternative NSN. While Twister is used to someone sitting a trot and ridden bareback often, Curtis is not ready for me to be all over his back for more than a minute or two. I haven't even done sitting trot on him apart from those 2-3 strides when asking him to canter. I don't want to make him sore and I'm not fit enough to not fall off....

Yesterday I rode him bareback at the walk only. I tried to trot but he has a big trot and I knew I was only going to piss him off so we just walked. Then last night I did my work out. I have 2 YouTube videos I like that are about 5 minutes each. But seriously, if you're not in shape and barely riding (thank you, fucking never-ending rain) it hurts. This morning trying to go down and let the horses out hurt. I'm like a wobbly baby calf. Today I'll work on my core, rotating core day and leg day.

This is the first year I've been riding a horse that wasn't NSN ready. Even our big tub of lard appy who is hardly ridden could handle it. Because he is a coffee table and is barely aware of your existence. But I guess the point of this post is not to forego NSN if your horse can't handle it hard core. Let NSN push you to do leg day and strengthen your core on the ground so that you can get attempt some no stirrup work on your horse later. Build up to it. It's the first year I've ever had to do an alternative and honestly, if it wasn't NSN I would still be sitting on the couch with Netflix and my kid's Halloween candy every night saying "I'll work out tomorrow. I'll stop with all the junk tomorrow. I'm just too tired from momming today. Tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow". After the show I will probably start doing some bareback and no stirrup rides on Twister as Curtis will be getting a much needed break.

Even though it wasn't much of a ride yesterday, I was all smiles after. We walked around, on the buckle for the most part, he was relaxed and biggest thing: he went RIGHT in the pond. No hesitation. All the way up to his belly. I've been riding him just over 4 months and we are becoming a pretty great team. I feel very comfortable and relaxed on him at home and just hope and pray I can keep that feeling away from home.

 And now, thanks to MORE rain, the pond is half the way up to the gate. We need to move. I can't live here forever. Apparently we live on top of underground springs.....which we didn't know until this past month. So. Much. Water. πŸ˜’


Monday, November 5, 2018

November Goals

Goals for November are simple.
-mail in entry
-get through first show
-possibly start over permitting.....
-give a bunch of time off because it's hard to fit riding in this time of year with weather and holidays

Curtis has earned a few weeks off after how how hard we've been working this summer and fall. As for the show, I just want us to both have good experiences. I don't really care what the score is, I just want us to do our best and not be a nervous wreck, hot mess. I'm optimistic about his behavior. While we haven't been off farm again, the days of constant pouring rain and not even enough dry days to dry anything out has left us with very little work time. But he's been great. I can get on after 4-5 days off and lots of stall him and he's great. Goes right to work and feels great. I just hope I don't have to have days off right before the show. The extended forecast is showing sleet and snow the couple days before the show. I'm freaking out. I need an indoor....

Monday, October 29, 2018

Much Needed Lesson

I'm not sure where I left off with the Show Prep of Curtis the Future Dressage Horse. Our canter has been a total hot mess and between it raining and having my "arena" tore up, we haven't worked on it much. I rode him the other day and he was so freaking fancy. I could feel the lift and stretch in his stride. He's getting those high knees which I attribute to his days as a turf horse. πŸ‡

Today T came to the farm to give us a lesson.VERY much needed. My person still doesn't get it, he rolled his eyes and left for work. But whatevs. I needed those eyes on the ground.

Because apparently I have very loud hands. I'm literally not aware that I am even using them until T told me over and over "Quiet your hands! Do less with your hands! STOP MOVING YOUR HANDS" By the end I was in a habit of just barely wiggling my fingers and quietly applying leg to achieve way more than my loud hands ever did. Basically I was just pissing poor Curtis off. The less I did the better he got, becoming softer and more accepting. And I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to reach for hands that were all up in my grill.

I was also told I let him get bored. I need to constantly change direction. Figure 8s etc, lots of transitions. Keep his mind active. She says though he has a body of an adult horse, she can see his brain working like a 2 year old. If I keep circling the same way for 3 or 4 turns he gets bored and loses focus.

We worked on the canter. He picks it right up on both leads now but it's a hot unbalanced mess. Due to the footing we didn't work on it very much but now I have some tips for when I can work on it. Mostly just make sure his trot is balanced first and then hold the outside rein and teeny tiny finger wiggle half halts with the inside hand. Even bring it up just a bit. Keep my leg on when he wants to die out. Going left I thought we were going to lose it but I managed to keep him going and it felt really good. I just wish my footing wasn't so mushy right now. T said that whether or not I have time to work on it, we should stick to our Intro A and B tests for the show because it's his first show and we will both be less stressed out about them. So I'm sticking with that plan.

Then we worked on downward transitions and the halt. Give and take with my hands. Tighten my butt (yes this is what she said) and slow my body but keep my leg on to try and keep him on the aids. By the end he was halting square and being so much softer going down into a walk and also into the halt.

T said that when you look at Curtis he just looks eh. He's a big brown, typical TB. But when I get him moving under me and he starts reaching and lifting he is a beautiful mover and fancy and she can see lots of potential. It makes me so happy to hear. And honestly, I CAN feel it. He's becoming such a nice horse and I'm glad I've really taken it slow and made sure we don't develop bad habits and sloppiness. I tried for 5 years to get Twister to do what has taken me 4 months with Curtis.

My media takers were distracted by my tiny human (who got to show off on Rascal after I was done, impressing them all with how well she does on a lunge line) so there aren't any pics of today. I'm kinda bummed about that. My trailer is supposed to be fixed soon and unless it gets fixed it doesn't look like the weather is going to allow me to have another lesson here before the show on the 17th. 

from last week (video still)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Facacta or Nah?

So it looks like our first show is going to end up being Nov 17th. A MSEDA sanctioned snowbird show. We'll probably do Intro A and B. And I'll have to wear a coat instead of schooling attire.

So here's my question...... I have a hunt coat I cannot sell to save my life even though I'm asking a fraction of what it cost new and it's NWT.

I've looked at the event dressage coats online and the lengths are the same. So what if my mom and I jazzed my hunt coat up a bit for the dressage ring? Then if I keep this up I'll have one for sanctioned shows?

I'd need to add 1 button and maybe even get silver buttons instead of the navy buttons. Would it be too stupid?? Then I'd just need a show shirt and gloves. (I bought Ariat field boots on clearance 2 weeks ago. They are amazing!!! My Tuff Rider's have giant holes in them after 5 years of abuse)

I wasn't planning on a proper show our first time out but this way I'd trailer with friends and have a group of people to be at the show with. Probably better than being there alone hoping my horse doesn't get loose or drop me......

Thursday, October 11, 2018

More farm projects/Photo dump update

The bulldozer man finally came to start working on the pond and middle paddock  rain lake/not draining problem. When he first started moving dirt I was having a damn heart attack because it was such a mess and I was sure I lost my "arena" all together. Turns out I have a bit MORE room to ride and I should have at least a round pen sized area that should stay semi dry even when the rest is wet. And it's finally autumn in Kentucky! So I'm sure it won't be long until I find out how well it all works and drains.

needs to be seeded after they're done driving on it

The pond is getting cleaned out too which has created a big stinky mess and left me only the front paddock for turn out and grazing. But the plan is that we'll be able to swim in it and let the horses use that for water year round and ride in it. Right now it's so sludgey they panic and try to bolt out.

disgusting black sludge

all empty!

Gravel will also get put down this week so we can get the trailer in and out no matter the weather. And before my show in ONE MONTH we need to get the damn trailer fixed. Like seriously. and seal the tires. I tried to take a lesson Monday but the compressor broke so I couldn't even fill the tires up. So then T. said she'd come here to give me the lesson and then bulldozer man showed up and tore up my flat grass area. So maybe next week? :(

And last week Phoenix Riding Equine Photography (if you're in KY look her up because she's awesome) came and did a forced family shot with SJ, my person and the kids, pics of SJ and Rascal and then took some actual media of Curtis and I. She's only posted sneak peek pictures to hold me over until she gets back from vacation but I'm thrilled with them. I can't wait to see our BBG and the rest of my riding pics and the family shot.

she loves her crappy appy so much!

Seeing how great Curtis looks makes me so happy. I've been riding him for about 3 months but he has come along and we're actually doing the thing now. I get on and he knows his job and I'm able to ask for more or teach new things because I spend no time now with the "ok, now stretch down please, stride out a bit, use your butt you lazy shit, get off my fucking leg" part. Ok I spend some time to the left on the getting off my leg part. But a fraction of what I used to. And my position has improved so much in just the last month even. Not saying we don't have a LONG way to go, especially me and my body. But I'm thrilled with where we are now.


now if only I can do this EVERY time!

And while he is picking up his leads so much better now, his upward transitions take too long and his canter is an unbalaced hurtle. I've tried to get the lead then go up hill so he learns to use his ass cantering. And that's all well and good but bring it back to the flat and ask him to slowly come into a 20m circle and he's a hot mess. THAT is why I need a lesson. I need someone to sit there and yell at me what to do until I can get a decent canter. So I'm not sure we'll do training level 1 unless we have some super advances in the next 4 weeks. Which ya never know. One day I was ready to fall off from trying to make him move around my left leg and stop leaning on it and the next day he was like "oh yea I got this" and looked and felt wonderful.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October Goals

Twister has officially taken a back seat to Curtis as November gets closer and closer. SJ mostly rides him now and I know he's a bit pissed he's not tearing around the field with me....

Curtis and I have to pick a show. That's goal #1. There is one Nov 4th and one Nov 18th.  The first is a MT and dressage show. It's a very nice venue and maybe I could even do some riding around and schooling after. But I feel like it might be more of a zoo than the KDA schooling show on the 18th. Either way I'd ride 2 tests. The thing I'm most worried about is the further into November I get, the more likely the chance for shitty weather.

I want to get Curtis off the farm one more time before November. Possibly go ride at Masterson. I really need another lesson but my trailer is stuck atm. Maybe in a week? Or maybe she will want to give me a lesson in my field? Or do dressage trainers only give lessons in proper arenas??

Canter work. Weather and ground quality permitting, I need to be working on that canter in case I decide I'm brave enough for Training Level 1.

why is the walk SO HARD?!

Top line. More stretching and hill work and trot poles. I'm not sure how, but his shot from this week looks terrible compared to last month's. He's going to be wormed this week too, so maybe that will help. He just looks more hollow and dinosaur-like even with all the hill work and stretching he's done.

October 1st

Sept 1st-ish

His feet however, are fantastic. I've been keeping up with them on my own and he's been a peach about it. He's not a fan of rocks but we can wtc in the paddocks with no problem. I've hardly even painted him. He and Twister are both on Tough as Nails by Tribute now and I think that's helping.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hill Work

It's still too mushy to ride next to the barn which has left me  with the hill above it. It means Curtis has had to use his booty. It's also got him stretching more as he reaches up the hill. He's also learning to balance when we go down the hill.

I've had to work about 5x as hard going to the left. I've thought about wearing a small plastic spur on just my left leg because he gets so stuck over there. By the end of every ride, today's ride especially, he was finally bending better to the left and stretching out as much left as he was right.

I've been spending a lot of time working on my position and using my body to regulate the speed and quality of the trot and have really pushed him in the walk. He is a fat lazy pony some times and I'm worried I'm making him immune to my leg aids by constantly using them. He really doesn't like crops and I don't want to rely on spurs. I try to give him a quick 1-2-3 kicks when he gets pokey instead of asking with every post. He's a lot like Twister where he does his best work with most impulsion after a warm up and canter but right now we can't canter.

I've tried to introduce the free walk as well this weekend. I'm not sure what tests I'll sign up for (omg show in 5 weeks!!!) But I think maybe I should not do Training Level 1 because I'm not sure I'll have the time to work on our canter. He is halfway balanced to the right but to the left he is strung out and rushes and then there's the fact that we only get the left lead 2 out of 3 times and that's with daily cantering which we haven't done in 2 weeks. And so far are only picking it up those 2 times after a leg yield and some counter bending....... But the free walk will be in any test. So far it's just eh. But we've only done it a few days. I ask after he is on the aids and following my hands some. Then I transition to a walk and then push him into a free walk.

Curtis is very willing to learn. But we could really use another lesson but my trailer is kind of bogged in right now..... and my air compressor won't work. So even if I could get the trailer out, I wouldn't be able to even get it up the driveway.

dying for decent media. a whole summer of crappy screenshots

In other riding new, SJ was ponied on Rascal this weekend for the first time. She's already a better rider than me.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Family that Rides Together

....stays together fights all the time. Because the other one can never do anything right and has no idea how to ride.

Went out early before the rain this afternoon to ride some ponies. SJ and Twister poked around. They look like an outrider team. She's fearless and he's such a good babysitter.

Curtis was great. Only dry enough at the top of the hill to walk-trot and barely even that. Then my person comes out and is trying to instruct me to ride in a chair seat and we started fighting. I'm like, I brought you out here to watch SJ ride. He's basically never allowed to tell me how to ride. He has no idea about dressage. My position must not be that terribly incorrect because when Curtis spooked at the dog (only thing he's scared of is wild dingos in the grass he can't see) I stayed on and got him moving out nicely again in like 5 seconds.

And he wouldn't take pics of vids because he said if I didn't ride like he wanted he wouldn't. GRRRR. If you take media for me, I can be the judge of how terribly I look or not. I'm supper bummed about the lack of media, too, because I could feel Curtis was starting to lift and stretch toward the end of the ride.

I get into such a chair seat 80% of the time that I find it very difficult to believe my leg was TOO FAR back as he claimed. But..... no freaking media. I wonder if I can get SJ to take a video for me.... she's not allowed screen time so she really had no idea how to use a phone lol so maybe not.....

My camera is getting fixed so I'll be able to record media from any fence post very soon.

I did get to work Curtis and make him focus while his best buddy was off without him doing his own thing. So that was a good experience for us. He was concerned but easy enough to make focus.