Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hanging On

Since running is my only way to an endorphin high right now, I'm picking up the mileage and really starting to enjoy it. It's not that I'm going all that far--I'm just going farther than I was before. In fact, I'm probably still on track to run a 10k this fall. Go me!

I've considered trying to run Izzy alongside me, but since our endurance dreams are probably still a ways off, I haven't tried it yet. Besides, I know two little dogs who would be so very jealous.

And yes, they got even muddier after this shot was taken. Someone thought it was a good idea to take a massive flying leap into the middle of the mud puddle.

He was wrong.

Izzy continues to be fat and happy. I've never seen her this, er, substantial before.

Despite all that, she's still looking pretty good. All gleam and gloss and virtually no hard work. She's living the American Horse Dream.

Here's a video from today.
Honestly, I see progress even from the video I posted yesterday, so that's good news.

9 days to riding time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Izzy on Video

You can call this a slow news day. I wormed Izzy this morning. She hates being forced to eat stuff, so she kept shaking her head to keep me from getting it in her mouth. It wasn't good training, because she was so ridiculous that I just kept laughing. We finally did get it done and she did swallow the whole thing. Go mare!

To add some visual interest, here's Izzy's last dressage ride. I think it was Saturday... We have some riveting trot serpentines going on.

And some trot canter transitions. She looks good. Wish I was riding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trail Walking

That is our big exciting activity for now. I lead, Izzy follows, we explore.

Here we are leaving the barn, headed to the road.

We go down the road... at low traffic times, because the speed limit is like 50, most cars go a lot faster than that, and there is almost no shoulder to get off on. Whee!

Then we turn off the main road onto the trail to the ditchbank.

Here we are! The canal is huge and fast and you could drown in it easily, so I try to stay on the side of the road that is away from it.

Then, part of the canal branches off. OMG! Water on both sides! This is always very exciting.

A back view of Izzy's lovely home. That pasture? All hers.

The wondermare herself.

Look! Ducks! Who knows what kinds of crazy things they will do?

We go down the little embankment and then continue around the hay field.

Down the weedy trail and through the gate...

Then we pass the pond. There's always lots of birds, sometimes even herons. Izzy is very suspicious of the lot of them.

All that's left to do is troop through the hayfield to go home.

It may not be the most exciting thing ever, but it sure breaks of the monotony of not doing anything else. You know. ;-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Western Pony Meets Western Trainer

I'm casually hunting for the perfect western saddle for us. By casually, I mean I don't really have the money for it right now, but I'm exploring options and price ranges and trying to learn a little about brands and types and models. You know. The usual obsessiveness.

Last winter when we were playing western pony, I noticed that Izzy was very flat at the canter. I wasn't sure if it meant that her saddle was wrong or her balance was off, but it was probably also related to her teeth being all wonky. Anyways, I wanted to see her canter in that saddle today to see if correct teeth had changed anything. I finally finagled Terri, the western trainer, into riding her for a few minutes to see how things went.
Western pony! Izzy ambled around, lazy as could be.
Trotting! Despite how good they look in this picture, Izzy had a head flipping cow. I did not expect that, especially since Terri wasn't picking up much contact or really even asking her to do anything. I've seen Izzy do that under various circumstances, but my perspective was always from the saddle, so I could feel how to address the issue. I'm not familiar with this whole watching thing.

She was cranky, unfocused, and unwilling to be forward at that point, and neither Terri nor I wanted anyone to get hurt. Instead of trying to push her through it and see if she would make good on her threats, we came up with a new plan of attack.
Round pen! Ms. Mare didn't know what hit her. She got all gussied up and had to lunge like a western pony and pay attention. When she finally got the hang of that, the next stage began.
OMG long lining!! Yeah... basically, Terri wanted Izzy to work through her issues on the ground. Izzy was actually a really good girl for the most part. She learned not to ignore Terri and run through her aids and only had one mini meltdown. It was good to watch. Although Terri's style is a bit different than mine, she's very clear with pressure and release, so Izzy figured it out quickly.

All in all, it went well. I think it was good for Izzy and I was glad Terri was willing to work with her.

That said... I think part of the problem is that for 2.5 years, I was pretty much the only one who ever did anything with Izzy. Thus, she learned everything my way. There's nothing wrong with that, but everyone does things differently. Having so many different people work with her is probably good for her in the long run, but it also frustrates her. There isn't a lot of day to day consistency because it's always something new. She's doing well with S now that they're getting used to each other, but even that took time.

Poor mare. 13 more days til I can ride.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Plan of Attack

Look at the pretty pictures.

What do they have in common?

I have no leg. Yes, I'm a long-torso-ed person with short legs and that is a disadvantage, HOWEVER, William Fox Pitt has short legs for his height, too. That's not exactly holding him back.

If you examine my upper body position, it's not -that- bad. In fact, in mos pictures from this series, I look ok from the waist up. It's just that my legs are loose, pivoting, swinging, useless. I have strong legs (thank you running), but they aren't helping me ride.

Since I have nothing better to do, I'm plotting my return to riding. I'm still running just as much as I can, but I recognize that when I get back in the saddle, that won't be enough. Changes need to be made.

I'm starting to do pilates at home, which bumps my core strength workout frequency up. AND...

We're going to do no stirrup work. Hours and hours and hours of it. I haven't done it on Izzy at all. At first it was because she was too green and I didn't want to confuse her. She doesn't have that excuse now. Then it was because I was too nervous, too worried. I knew that my balance wasn't what it used to be and I was afraid I would fall off.

Funny thing. I fell off because I didn't practice. My legs weren't good and now I can't ride at all. That's over. In two weeks, I'm mounting up. There won't be stirrups on the saddle.* You're welcome, George Morris. More importantly, I need this. Izzy needs this. For us to gain confidence together now, I need to ride better. I need to be better. I'm going to step it up.

Next time a jumping photo series is taken of Izzy and I, I want to be proud of my position. I want to be riding well. More importantly, I want my ability to ride well to give confidence to both myself and my horse. Getting a saddle that fit us was step #1. #2 is learning to use the crap out of the saddle, and that's where we're headed.

*Ok, there might be stirrups the first day, since I'm thinking I'll take a western day to get my bearings, but then the drills begin.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Other Options

Despite my last post, Izzy is not just a treat-sucking western pony, much to her dismay.

She's doing dressage about two days a week, and in general, doing pretty well.

You see? Fat girl looks good. Also all English-y, for those of you who were afraid the dark side had overtaken me.

She and S have come to an accord, which makes for much smoother riding.

I don't really have a whole lot to say, other than it's killing me to keep watching. I WANT TO RIDE!!!

2 weeks, 3 days til I can try again.

Here's a video of their latest ride. It's just a short with mostly canter work, but Izzy is so nice and smoother. :-) Good mare.

I'm happy to say that the weather is just about perfect here--clear skies, high 80s, light breezes.

I take it back. It is perfect here. So glad I'm not stuck in the nasty heat wave the rest of you are having.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Pony, A Tack Whore, The Internet

I didn't go out to the barn yesterday, which was a bad idea. I spent all day moping around and watching tv and wishing I could ride. Instead of talking about that, I bring you Izzy eating a treat:

Really people--it's that good.

The other exciting thing is that the being of our western blinginess has arrived. In typical western redneck (not that I'm bitter) fashion, the previous owner did not take care of it, but 8 thick coats of oil later (not exaggerating), it feels great.
Mmhmm. One ear headstall with silver crystal-encrusted conchos. Some of the crystals are missing, so I'll probably swap them out for new ones and I might replace the chinstrap. The saddle hunt is still on. Sadly, the craigslist beauty sold, but I'm still considering our options and hunting around.

Maybe we'll be in a parade!! I mean, this is Idaho. I can't imagine you have to do anything very impressive to get in to one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back in Work II

Me, not Izzy.

I'm still banned from riding and eating for another few weeks, but I'm finally able to start exercising again. Yay for an outlet for nervous energy!!

Since I'm regaining use of my left arm slowly, I'm finally able to walk my dogs by myself. That's a huge help, because my little buggers get batty -very- quickly if they don't get lots of regular strenuous exercise. I tried running them a couple weeks ago, and it didn't work. Too much pain.

Not so the past few days. My jaw has healed enough that it doesn't feel like it's going to fall off until I start breathing hard, so I can run about a quarter to a half of a mile, then walk, then repeat.
Because certain someones have a lot of energy to burn off.

I'm trying to look at this whole thing as an exciting new route to fitness--three weeks of eating right and weight loss, now three weeks to continue eating right while beginning to reincorporate exercise to build lean muscle. Then I can start riding (hopefully) and further the process. Hopefully, I'll look better in breeches, too.

It feels SO GOOD to move again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Maybe the Liquid Diet is REALLY Working

I went garage sale-ing with friends yesterday. It was tons of fun, but one thing really stuck with me--a saddle.

Yeah. Very pretty western show type saddle, great condition, would fit Izzy well, great price... and a 15" seat. Remember, western saddles are measured differently than english saddles. The saddle we've been borrowing is a 16" seat and it works well for us.

I also found the lovely saddle posted on craigslist, and I really, really want it. It's just that I don't want to have a saddle that looks like a glorified butt ornament, if you know what I mean. Any western people opinions out there? Just how much different would it be?
For comparison, a shot of the borrow saddle, also offered for sale. Hm...

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Shopping

I sort of ran yesterday, then watched S ride Izzy again. It was lovely and their best ride ever, but I haven't got the pictures downloaded yet.

Let's just be honest: killing time is not my specialty. My specialty is getting crap done. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of the whole healing process, there is precious little I'm allowed to get done.

I can, however, internet all I want.

Nothing worse for a tack whore than pure, unadulterated internetting time. Izzy is getting a new western headstall and I'm picking out special upgraded crystal studded conchos for it.

You won't even recognize us.

In related news, I would kill for a ride right now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Holding Pattern

Two week exam on my arm yesterday. It's healing well, which means I am now splint and sling free, but I am still experiencing quite a lot of pain and will continue to for 2-3 months, according to the doctor. Wheee. That said, I can now use it "as my pain allows, within reason".

So I promptly drove out to the barn, got Izzy out, and tried to lunge her in a surcingle and side reins.

Not the best idea ever. I did ok going to the left because my gimp arm just had to hold the line. Going right was bad news. Apparently, a newly-healing elbow is not ok supporting the weight and complexity of a lunge whip. Oh, and that's the side Izzy leans in on, so it requires a lot more motion.

Ugh. Apparently, "take it easy--still no heavy lifting, but do some light fingering" did not mean "you are free to return to normal activity".

Oh well. In other news, Izzy got a big ol' shoulder rub from her fly sheet. No idea how it happened overnight, since I'd been religiously checking for the slightest sign of it, but whatever. She's now sheet-free. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Invasion of the Space Horse!!!

Izzy sports her fancy new fly sheet. When I first put it on Friday night, there was mass panic among the pasture horses. Why? Some ethereal apparition was floating along the road to Izzy's pasture. Was it Izzy's ghost? Was it an alien? WAS IT GOING TO EAT THEM???? They galloped and pranced and spooked.

Izzy was just as shocked as they were. I mean, she was walking along the same lane where they said the apparition was. Uh oh! Was it coming for her? What were they all looking at?

Quite the adventure. I like the sheet. No more huge welts on her back from nasty horsefly bites. Izzy seems fine with it, and the other horses have reluctantly accepted her as a fellow equine.

Also, Izzy got her second ride with our lovely backup rider, S.
They started out with some ground work to help Izzy learn to balance and stretch on her own. Ms. Mare was pretty lazy, but did ok. A few more sessions of this and hopefully she'll really start to understand the exercise. Basically, the point is to overbend the horse whenever she loses her balance. Then, when she comes back, she can find her own balance and work through her back better. It's a cool idea and I'm glad S is willing to work with her on it.
Off they go. It was a much better ride than last time, but they still had their troubles. Izzy has a pretty solid training/first level foundation, so S is asking her for some second level type collection--to really reach under with her hind legs, go forward, and carry herself in a shorter, higher frame. Izzy is ready for it and looks GREAT when she does it, but she's still not completely convinced that it's a good idea. I mean, that's way hard compared to giving pony rides to newbies.
Love the flippy tail. Here is one of their better moments. Izzy started well, then had a pretty fancy meltdown in which she pretty much bounced up and down like a pogo stick saying "no i won't go forward eff you you meanie mean meanie bad dressage lady i WON'T GO FORWARD".

Silly mare. She got herself sternly reprimanded for that, which seemed to clear her head, and then they were back to working well together.
They even got some decent canter out of it. Izzy didn't fuss about her sticky-ish right lead and in the end, she'd worked up a nice sweat. Of course, most of the sweat was from her evading and having a meltdown, but still. Some is better than none.

A video from Sunday. Not too exciting, but some nice work. Yay Izzy actually moving around!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What I'm Doing


It blows.

Ok, well, I can't ride or run until August 6th. I can free lunge Izzy in the indoor now, which is better than noithing, but not uber exciting. I can't clean tack effectively or do many useful things.

So instead, I'm putting all my nervous energy to work by obsessing about pony things. Here's an example:

"OMG IZZY HAS BUG BITES!!!" I bought expensive fly spray, put her fly mask on her, and spent hours hunting down a horsewares fly sheet with a neck cover that I got for only $55. She's never worn a flysheet before in her entire life, but dammit, she will now.

That got me thinking about winter blankets. I want a lightweight Rambo Wug. Cheap. Mmm... Good thing I have all this stored energy and ABSOLUTELY NO ABILITY TO UTILIZE IT!!!!

Bwahaha!! My bank account is suffering, but it's helping me stave off depression and isolation. That's good, right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back In Work

Not me--Izzy.
A fellow boarder agreed to ride her for me as her work schedule permits. She's a nice 2nd (ish) level rider who's seen me ride Izzy a lot, so she knows Ms Mare isn't a crazy bronco.

Izzy seemed kind of surprised to get tacked up. I mean, she hasn't worn a saddle in 10 days and probably hasn't done dressage in two weeks. Shocking, really.

It wasn't exactly love at first ride. Izzy tried everything she could think of to convince her new rider that she really shouldn't have to work, but she didn't get away with much. The boarder seemed to have a good time, and I'm looking forward to next time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Change of Pace

As most of you are aware, I have two of the world's cutest dogs. They don't feature here often, since this is mostly a pony blog, but heck, I can't ride anyways.
Lewis, the world's most opinionated corgi.

Chaucer the Beagle. Lives to run and hunt and fetch.

Fortunately for these little bundles of cuteness (and toughness and courage), I have a dog blogger friend and she had a contest. Most shockingly of all, I won the contest and got this:
Kong bone!!

Thanks to Ellie over at Cedes of Change, Chaucer and Lewis can now do this:
Ellie's great (I know her IRL, even) and the things she can do with her awesome troop of border collies is impressive. Check her blog out--you may even win something.

I mean, I did, and I'm not one of the luckier people you know.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Goals!

To distract myself from the double fracture in my jaw (not even kidding), I'm going to do a goals wrap-up.

June goals:
1) GET OUT. Leave the arena. 1-2 times a week, I need to ride outside. Izzy isn't bothered by trail rides--I am. For now, I'm going to count riding on the track. I'm also going to ride into the hayfield at least once a week. I may be doing it in western tack, but we are for sure doing it.
Assessment: Success!!!!! We ended up riding outside the arena around 3x a week. It was a growing experience for both of us, and we made a ton of progress, culminating in a fab xc performance. <--Not sarcastic. It really was great right until I came crashing off.

2) Jump!! We are doing well with single verticals and cross rails. Height isn't really an issue--Izzy is super athletic. Instead, actually set some related distances.
Assessment: Success!! Every time I set a jump, I tried to think about how it would further Izzy's and my education. We worked through her/my rushing issue and were doing great.

3) Conditioning--this means going FORWARD in our dressage and galloping on the track and working longer. Izzy is out on rich grass in need of some strenuous work and it will be good for both of us.
Assessment: Win!! We did really, really well. I was incredibly proud of the progress she was making.
All in all, June was a stunning success.

July goals are more complicated. I have no idea what to write.

Here's what our month looks like:
Me: No solid food, plenty of fun doctor appointments, limited to no use of left arm. No riding, no running.
Izzy: 7 days a week of 12 hour turnout in a lush pasture. Occasional grooming, occasional lunging. My fellow boarder the dressage rider has graciously agreed to ride Izzy about once a week, on her days off. At least Ms. Mare will be getting a periodic butt kicking.

Sooo... goals.
1) Get a bottle of fly spray and teach Izzy to stand while I apply it.
2) Recruit friends and use round pen as needed to lunge Izzy four times a week. Work on going forward, transitions, and transitions within gaits.
3) Stay in motion. I can't ride or run, but I can do some pilates stuff, walk, and..l. I don't know. Something. Try not to become a fat blob during this setback.
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