Monday, April 30, 2012

Forward Motion

I spent so long riding horses that needed babysitters that I am now reveling in Cuna's awesome babysitting ability. I know that when I take him out, he will be quiet, happy, and confident pretty much regardless of where we go, who we're with, or what we're doing. He calms spooky horses, leads scared ones, and is a beacon of support for worried riders (his own or otherwise).

Have I mentioned how much I adore him? He is the best horse ever. 

Anyways. I decided to take full advantage of his extraordinary abilities and take one of our budding eventers out for a trot set yesterday. Cuna bravely led the way. It didn't matter at all that he is 19 and the horse out for it's first serious work was 8. 

We walked all the way to the bottom of the mountain, then turned to come up a different road. (Maybe some time I will take pictures for you... it's pretty cool.) Immediately, Cuna leaped into a canter and jumped a dry creek. The little mare behind us was a smidgen intimidated. 

I brought him back to a trot and did my best to keep him in it. The mare stayed with us pretty well. I had my hands full keeping Cuna at a reasonable pace. By "hands full", I mean I had a ton of weight as he used me for balance and plowed ahead. He's a smart horse though. He knows that we walk to the bottom, trot up, walk at the top, then gallop up the next hill. 

Since the horse with us seemed to be in reasonably good shape (and I wanted to show her rider a good time), we decided to go ahead with the gallop. Cuna speed-walked to the base of the next big hill, tossing his head and trotting any time I tried to half halt or pick up the reins. 

I made sure the other rider was ready at the base of the hill, then picked up my reins.

Old picture, same idea
Anyone who's ever galloped a thoroughbred knows what happened next. I took a steady contact with Cuna and we both balanced off it. I stayed in balance over his withers, feeling the rhythm of his stride flowing through my whole body. He flew up the hill like it was nothing. As we crested the ridge and took in the mountain range beyond it, I patted him and assured him he was still the best racehorse in the world. 

Waiting for the other horse to catch up, I just sat and enjoyed the awesome partnership Cuna and I are developing. He knows where the "finish line" is, so he's perfectly happy to watch the other horse come galloping up. As soon as the mare arrived, he started trucking down the mountain, back to the barn. 

He has a big, swinging walk that he uses when he's won the race. It's not just that he's going home. He just enjoys the race. 

Time for a bath. 
 Back at the barn, he was his cute, snuggly self. He mugged me for peppermints and let me hug him. He was polite and respectful while I untacked him and let me hose him off without a single objection.
Grazing after bath time
I know several of you are going through the same process I just did/am--realizing your current horse isn't right for you (and you for it) and having to move on. I've been there and it sucks and is hard, but let me tell you:

Have the right horse is worth it. Every single bit. 

I spent three years with Izzy and I love her. I went through hell with her, several times. I thought she's be with me forever, but she's very, very happy with her new person and I am completely smitten with Cuna--the awesome old guy has been there with me every step of the way. I am quite sure I couldn't have let Izzy go if he hadn't been there, staring at me every second and reminding me that I could be happy and this whole riding thing could be fun. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Clothed Horse

Between his babysitting jobs (frequent) and my dressing him up (as often as I can afford stuff I want him to need), poor Cuna has had it up to his eyeballs with doing stuff he doesn't like. Unfortunately, due to the rather large amounts of precipitation we've received in the past two days, trotting in the hills is out for a while. We can't jump because the arenas are currently serving as a duck pond.

In order to make things a little easier on him, I decided that we'd condense down today's torture and play dress up, do a photoshoot, and babysit all at the same time. 

Chocolate with cream. Opinions? 
 He was not amused.

He also thought that he didn't need a fly bonnet when it's windy and in the mid forties.

He's never been a fashionista, I guess. He doesn't understand that I really can't saddle shop until I have a budget and I definitely can't saddle pad shop until I have a saddle. I am relegated to buying him small, cheap items that do not impinge upon the "save up for a saddle" fund and trying out color schemes on him with said items in the mean time.

"Please take it off. The other guys might see me."
My current plan is to keep it classy with chocolate and cream. It's understated enough that we shouldn't look ridiculous and it's in keeping with my taste, which is for colors to blend together as harmoniously as possible.

It's my first foray into finding the right colors for Cuna and my little non-color-coordinated brain feels like exploding. I think I like it... hard to say.

 Part of me still wants navy blue with a tiny bit of white and just a sprinkling of crystals to catch the sun... Hm.

Resigned to his fate
Since the whole point of babysitting is to not rile up the sit-ee, we didn't work super hard today. Ok, I'm blaming the other horse and the truth is that I was cold and tired and hungry and didn't need much of an excuse.

We were in the indoor, which made Cuna ride a little different. I actually had to put some leg on to get him forward, but then he went right up into the contact and even demonstrated a little bending while we did trot figure eights.

Some people might say it's because we've been working hard and he's getting fitter, but I'm sure it's related to the bonnet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Someone Pissed Off the Rain Gods

In light of the fact that it was pouring rain like it never does here, I decided today was the day to take some cute close ups of Cuna. At least, as cute as you can get with crappy lighting, the world's cheapest smartphone, and myself involved. Here is our best attempt at a myspace picture. It is not easy with a touchscreen phone, let me tell you. :-p 

It was raining so hard that even with a completely waterproof coat with a hood, I didn't want to go out in it. Cuna was the perfect hangout buddy. He scavenged for hay in between a thorough grooming and all the picture taking. He made faces at a few of the horses in their stalls, but true to form, didn't do anything naughty. Also, he is the boss of most of them. 

Gotta love that classy halter. 

This was our view from the barn aisle. You can't really tell from here, but there was a shallow stream running down the middle of the road. I didn't want to get closer for a better picture because of all the water.

Plus, there was no hay by the door. Cuna was not interested.
I know he's worn the cooler before, but he got the teeniest bit wet in the aisle, so I put it on him for a few minutes to make sure all was well. As you can tell, he'd pretty well reached the end of his picture tolerance at this point.

The arenas are completely flooded. I was planning on trying another new saddle on him and just walking around to see how it felt, but when it's raining like that, there is no point. Tomorrow, I guess. I think it's supposed to be sunny again.

If not, we're gonna have to go gator hunting. It's like the everglades around here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Let the Tack 'ho Out?!

A little over a month ago, I ordered a fancy custom halter for Cuna. I have been driving my husband absolutely mad while waiting for it to come--every day I was looking for a package and then disappointed when it didn't come.

Ok, so I have the maturity of a two year old when I'm excited about something. It's part of my charm... right?
A right side veiw
Anyways. Yesterday, the halter finally came. I pranced in the front door holding it and almost squealed when I pulled it out of the package. Almost squealed. Not actually. 

I was super excited to bring it to the barn this morning and carved out a few minutes to put it on Cuna and admire him. It's just right for him--strong and solid and high quality and not showy or fancy.

To Cuna's disgust, I followed that up with a photoshoot and then dragged him all around the barn, showing everyone there how adorable he looked in the new halter.

It says "Hakuna Matata" on the plate
Poor guy. It's hard to be a saint all the time. I did try to make up for it by handgrazing him for a while instead of riding. He's also sporting a new lead rope that I bought a while ago, but refused to get out until today so that it could be "new" at the same time the halter is.

So. Pretty.

In other exciting news, Ellie who has dogs and takes pictures and is generally awesome is foraying back into the equine world. You can check out her adventures here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Not Exactly Prix St George

Posing for peppermints. It's the only way.
I took Cuna for a nice long trot in the hills yesterday morning. He was super by himself, but sort of thought he was a wild racehorse coming up the hills. Manageable, but he wanted me to know that he was capable of going way, way faster. Old man cracks me up. I did let him canter/gallop up the next hill, which was superb.

Interestingly, about half way up the first hill, Cuna just arched his neck and pranced right on up. If he was a normal, bendy horse, I would have said he connected through his topline, went onto the bit, and carried himself. Since this is Cuna, I just say pranced. It was a fun feeling while it lasted.

That brings us to today. I wanted to get him out and just do some nice, forward, long and low type work to make sure he was comfortable and not just standing around getting stiff. Of course, what I think of when I think "long and low" and what Cuna think of are not the same thing.

Shamelessly kypped off google - not me
I think of this: harmonious forward movement, very light contact on the reins as the horse balances over his haunches and takes the contact towards the ground through the rider's soft, following hand. The seat is light and relaxed and the whole picture is one of grace and comfort.

Do not ask me why I envisioned my ride going like this.

Anyways. I spent a good long time walking and trying to move Cuna off my legs. He was ok, but a little quick. In keeping with the general dressage-ish principles I know, I put my leg on and picked up a little contact before asking for a trot.

As per his normal, Cuna stuck his nose straight out in the air and trotted off.

Well, ok. I put a loop in the rein, thinking we would have this nice, powerful, forward stride.

Cuna fell on his forehand and got quicker and quicker, nose still out in the air.

This was obviously going nowhere productive. Also, the old guy clearly feels fine. I ditched the magical dressage picture in my head and focused on riding the horse under me. I noticed that he got quicker and fell towards the gate, the bulged out near the gate, then got behind my leg and slowed as we went away from it. Maybe we can't be magic, but we can have a consistent tempo. I used my posting to regulate his stride, and gave him a kick when he backed off.

Then I picked up a little more contact. We did figure eights in one end of the arena. The individual loops were small enough that I had to really concentrate to keep him straight down center line, then bend(ish) around the circles while staying off my inside leg and on that even tempo.

After a few loops, I noticed that Cuna was staying balanced and connected. Instead of sticking his nose out like a pony, he came on to the bit a little bit and pushed off his hind end. Yes, I had about 60 pounds in my hands, but that's par for the course with us.

It wasn't the magical dressage ride I wanted, but it was the best sustained dressage work I have ever seen out of him.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Picture!

Blog super reader, Ellie, took a screen capture of our rocking grid video. Look how awesome we are!! I know that sounds pretentious, but I actually have a jumping picture of myself that I approve of. This is a big deal. :-)

I mean, maybe it's just so blurry that the flaws are obscured, but pretty much it looks like I'm balanced over my feet with a vertical stirrup leather, flat back, nice bend in my elbows  and looking where I'm going. George Morris would point out that my raincoat is unattractive, but I would point out that it was sleeting. (Now it's 90f. Go figure.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Have a Cunning Plan

I haven't said anything about it, but you probably noticed the complete lack of goals set for this year. Not weekly, not monthly, not anything. That was because on Izzy I didn't feel confident enough to say I wanted to do anything. At all. Then the situation with Cuna was in flux and then I still didn't know where I was headed.

I am a ridiculously motivated and goal oriented people (and grumpy, pessimistic people make me crazy, but that's another topic for another day). Now that I feel like Cuna and I are really clicking and making some progress, I decided I finally felt emotionally ready to make a plan for this year.

Especially after watching this video:

Yep. This is the grid from the other night, culminating in the 2'9" oxer. Look how far we've come. I mean... yeah... We're happy and forward and jumping giant jumps in style. I'm no professional, but I like how quiet my leg is and how my upper body is still and balanced. Cuna mostly approves of my hands (haha, watch the head flips) and we are connecting well.

Which brings us to the title: I have made a plan for us for this year.

MAY 27 - We will do the event derby (and probably one day of the XC clinic) at the Mitteleider's at  Beginner Novice.

JULY 1 - We will do the event derby at Rafter K at (most likely) Beginner Novice.

AUGUST 4-5 - We will do the horse trials at the Mitteleider's, debuting at (omg!) Novice.

The way I see it, we are already comfortably schooling show jumping at BN height (2'7"). We can do all kinds of crazy crap that is way, way harder than anything we will see in the ring until a much higher level. Cuna is an XC master, so I don't see that presenting any particularly huge hurdles. We'll have one show to get our crap together, one show to get bored, and then we'll move up.

I am so excited.

PS For those of you who have other things to do than just root around my page all day, please note that there is a new tab: "Keeping Up with Cuna" that lists all of our videos. I thought it would be cool to have them together.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Because We're Awesome

Bear with me. This is going to be a somewhat scattered post, but there are tons of exciting things going on right now and I want to talk about all of them.

We jumped this
I know you saw out jumping awesomeness in the last post, but yesterday we had a grid night. I got to set the grid, which was fun, but then I rode, too.

It doesn't look that impressive from this angle, but it's a crossrail to 2' vertical bounce, then a one stride. We went through nicely with just a vertical on the end of the one stride, but then it got put up to a 2'9" square oxer. It wasn't quite as big as our mondo jump from the other day, but pretty intimidating for someone who's comfort zone has been crossrails up to this week.

I couldn't both stand in the picture for perspective and take it, so that's all you get.
It looks big to me, not gonna lie. That said, I didn't feel scared or maxed out. In fact, I saw the oxer go up, and I thought, "That looks fun. I want to try it."



Yes, I just said that. Me, the scared rider who is not even sure what I'm headed for.

Not only did I try it, Cuna was super, I was calm and it was FUN. We were right of center, but we were straight, so it's all good. In fact, as we came over the second fence in the bounce, I remember feeling just a hair ahead of Cuna. I pushed my hips back and kept my hands in his mane, and BOOM!! Oxer. Love it.

There is video, but y'all are going to have to wait for it. So sorry. It's not on my phone.


Izzy is out on trial with someone right now. She seems to be doing well and the lady brought her back for a lesson today. I only ever jumped Izzy 2'9" once and other than that stayed around 2'. Steph has jumped her around 3' a little, but not a ton.

Here's Izzy today in the lesson. Believe it or not, this was not the biggest jump. Steph cranked the back oxer up to 3'6" and pony mare FLEW over it. Like a boss. I am so proud of her. She is so pretty and talented and cool. I absolutely love watching her.


I have been feeling really bad for Cuna lately--I mean, he is 19 and I am working his tail end off. (Or on, technically, since he's building muscle like only a Thoroughbred can). I can't really afford to do his hock injections until Izzy sells and I'm done with the 'paying-for-two-horses' thing, so I pretended I could afford to have the chiropractor look at him today.

He watched Cuna walk, looked him over, fixed one tiny thing, and pronounced him in fine shape. And gave me a major discount. w00t

So yes. Many exciting things in my neck of the (mountains?) woods.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm trying to contain myself, but I think Cuna is pretty much the best horse ever. Scratch "pretty much". He is.

Why the sudden effusiveness? Well, we had a jump lesson yesterday. It started out really easy--I was trotting and cantering over crossrails with plenty of space in between to get comfortable and straight. I was like "yes, Operation Make This Fun is in full swing. I can do this."

Then Steph hopped off the horse she was riding and started putting fences up.

Ever the optimist, I'm like "Ok, just 2' verticals. Still no biggie. I'm on Cuna."

And then this:


(Shut up Monica. It's big to me.)

The first time around I let him get too long to the oxer, which meant would would get to the groundpole funny which meant the jump would be funny. I saw that about two strides out and went "Oh sh*t" and stuck my hands in his neck. He got us out of it, but Steph stopped to set things back up.

Basically, she said I need to ride like I mean it, even if I screwed him up. "If you quit right in front of the fence, the horse... well, Cuna won't, but most horses would stop or panic."

Dear Cuna,

I love you.

Many peppermints,

Anyways. We ended on the series in the video and I was really, really happy. I mean, that's the biggest thing I've jumped in probably years and I was/am fine. A little nervous looking at it, but I'm learned to just do my thing and trust Cuna and it works out.

So fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Day in the Life of Cuna

Cuna has a new turnout buddy--Irie the Haflinger pony, hereinafter called "pony". I turned them out together for the first time on Monday and it was absolutely hilarious to watch. For your viewing pleasure, I attach a video...
They went on like this until pony full on charged Cuna and was like "KNOCK IT OFF D***HEAD I DON'T WANT TO PLAY RACEHORSE ONE MORE F****** TIME!!!

Don't blame me. Ponies are profane creatures by nature.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

600 Posts and a Contest!

This is my 600th post on this blog. In honor of that acheivement and to kick off "Operation Make This Fun", I am having my first ever giveaway contest thingy.

First off: I am at a point where jumping is not terrifying but I generally jump in lessons doing crazy hard technical exercises. This is good in that I am learning and building confidence, but bad in that I still see jumping at all as majorly difficult. Operation Make This Fun is my effort to change that. Once or twice a week, I am setting nice, easy fences and trotting and cantering over them and enjoying myself. I am not overthinking it and I am not doing anything hard. First time was this morning--we actually had a blast, though admittedly over crossrails.

To commemorate this progress and the 600 posts (and 123 followers, yay thanks all of you!), I am giving away a hardcover copy of "Hunter Seat Equitation" by George Morris. It's in splendid condition and is worthy of display on any bookshelf and study by any horseperson. To enter, leave a comment with a synopsis of the most fun you've ever had on a horse with as much or little detail as you see fit.

Gateway to new adventures... 
The contest ends one week from today: April 17, 2012. I will select the best entry (or choose at random if everyone is fabulous beyond belief) and will contact you to send you the book. Please include your email address in your comment (unless we are already fb friends or something) so I can get a hold of you.

I'll start! The most fun I ever had on a horse was when I was in highschool, running BN on a horse who'd only ever seen an XC course once before and it had prompted a total meltdown. After the second fence, I realized I had no brakes and only minimal steering. After the third fence, I realized I better quit trying and just go with it. We jumped through the rest of the course with only one runout (that was totally my fault) and ended up 5th overall. I still have a huge ribbon from that event.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Cuna's Had Enough

Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited about today. One of Steph's clients had brought in a Jimmy Wofford XC saddle (BRAND FREAKING NEW) and was letting Cuna and I play with it. My limited research indicated that the balance should be perfect for me and it was designed to fit TBs with giant withers. Score!! 

I really did intend to take a picture of it on Cuna for your viewing pleasure, but alas.... it was a narrow tree, and Cuna is apparently a medium (except for the narrow stubben he's going in). It looked all kinds of bad on him and I could fit my whole hand under the saddle where it was bridging. Terrible. Even a stoic old guy like Cuna shouldn't have to deal with fit that bad. 

I was incredibly disappointed. I mean, I had figured that if we must do dressage, we might as well do it in a freaking sweet XC saddle. No such luck. I pulled the saddle off and moved on to making Cuna try on item #2 for the day: a fly bonnet.
Escaping Cuna!

Of course, poor Cuna is not into the whole "picture thing" anyways and spring grass was calling his name. Remember how I always take pictures of loose, tacked up horses and attach warnings to children about not ever doing that?

Um yeah. Don't.

Cuna trotted down the aisle and buried his nose in the sweet green grass, promptly pinning his reins down with his foot.

I walked soooo slooooowly up to him, talking quietly. He didn't even look up as I disentangled the reins, then sedately followed me back to the barn. I did remember to snag a decent-ish shot of the bonnet though. This is one I got for Izzy last summer. It's black, gold, and white and it looked perfect on her--flashy but subdued.

I'm not so sure about the whole "black on chestnut" thing. I was more a fan of "black on black". That said, I'm thinking Cuna needs a chocolate fly bonnet with cream trim and a matching pad. How classy would that be?

So classy.

Despite the sunny loveliness that is today, I had to skip riding and finish up chores so I could scoot off to my real job. You can bet I would have been late if the XC saddle had been anywhere close to working for us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wherein We Make Dressage Our B:tch

In light of the fact that Cuna and I are going to a schooling dressage thing this week, I thought we should maybe actually "do dressage" yesterday. Whatever that means on a non-dressage horse.

I guess I should clarify. I understand the principles of dressage and how they apply to everything done under saddle. I am absolutely a proponent of balance, rhythm, and harmony. I work towards those ends with Cuna as I can, BUT the simple fact is that Cuna is in no way conformationally (or mentally) disposed to be a "proper dressage horse". He's a jumper. He likes jumping. He's balanced in his own way.

It's just that after spending so much time on Izzy (who is a bomb diggity dressage horse) nothing I do on Cuna on the flat is all that interesting to either of us.

So anyways. We walked around and he threw a head-flipping fit about the bugs that were out since it was almost 80 degrees.

Hm. I kept the reins loose and just let him stretch long and low and more or less in balance and not rushy at the trot and canter for a few minutes. We walked down to the jump arena and popped over a good sized cross rail a few times. I didn't let myself worry or overthink it, and it was actually super fun.

Have I mentioned that I love this horse? He is wonderful.

PS We are so screwed at the dressage show. I'm hoping they give bonus points for "forward" cuz that's really all we have going for us.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Voice Inside My Head

After some pretty serious searching and re-evaluating of priorities on my part, I think I have finally found the right bridle for Cuna. 
You can call him "Mr. Edgewood"
It's refined enough to suit his face, but classy enough to indulge my taste. I'm oiling and scrubbing like a mad thing to get it to an appropriate level of dark and conditioned, but I like it so far. Rest assured, fellow tack snobs: I have also put keepers on that full cheek. This was just the 'trying things on' cellphone shoot. 
Best view ever
After getting things adjusted, we went out and trotted up a hill. Cuna isn't super fit yet, but he has that thoroughbred heart and lungs, and we chugged right up the hill. We even saw a SUPER SCARY hiker with his dog, and Cuna did nothing more than give them a hairy eyeball. 
So freaking cute
Old man resting this morning. He was chipper enough after a couple of peppermints. I took him out to the arena and saw jumps set up. 
Like this
I decided I couldn't make the poor guy do hill work two days in a row and I've done enough flatwork lately to choke a very large quadruped. I trotted around the arena a few times, deciding whether or not to jump. It went kind of like this:

Scary voice: "No one is here to tell you what to do. You're going to screw up and get hurt. Besides, there are only so many jumps in a horse. Don't waste Cuna's jumps doing something stupid."

Happy voice: "You like bounces. It looks kind of fun."

Scary voice: "There are so many poles. You will freak out and loose your marbles and mess him up. Besides, that second crossrail is probably almost 2' in the middle. Cuna isn't warmed up enough. You don't even own him yet and you're going to hurt him."

Happy voice: "Cuna can jump bounces with one leg tied behind his back. At this point in his career, it is practically impossible for you to screw him up." 

I tried to tune out both voices and trotted a pole on the ground a couple of times. 

Scary voice: "He hesitated and sucked behind your leg. You can't trust him. He's going to spook and something and dump you on your head."

Happy voice: "Well, next time keep your leg on."

I tried to drown out both voices, and took a tight trotting turn to the bounce. We puked over the first jump, landed way too close to it, and Cuna made a long, low jump over the second. I awkwardly bounced on his back and slipped the reins. He gave a mighty head fling and a little buck to put me in my place. 

Ok, more impulsion, try again. We definitely can't quit after a bad run through. The distance still didn't work. Hm. Canter in this time. We made a tight turn, then bounced right through with me staying off Cuna's back and out of his face. 

Happy voice: "I knew you could do it. That was pretty fun." 

The level of drama I can produce over two tiny jumps is ridiculous. It's a good thing Cuna completely ignores my crazy and just does his job. What a guy. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Seasons Change

Living the good life
I'm in this weird transitional period right now. Izzy is for sale and still with me, but I have Cuna, too. It's a unique experience in that I get to see exactly what I love about each of them. Cuna is so freaking adorable, but he's never going to be the conformational wonder that Izzy represents. The only "wonder" about Cuna's build, really, is how in the world it works for him. 

Who says he isn't photogenic?

And yet, every time I ride Cuna, I relax a little more. I didn't have any way to gauge just how uptight and uncomfortable I was before, because it had become my normal. I didn't realize how afraid I was because what I thought was a "usual" level of fear was so astronomically high that my actual "fear" point was just plain ridiculous. I'm not quite to the point of hopping on Cuna and wanting to go jump, but I'm getting there. I just have so far to go in relaxing with him and actually learning to trust him.

It's a big world out there

Trust is such a funny concept for me to process. I could always trust Izzy to be herself, but Cuna I can trust to take care of me. I never knew what that was like before. I started riding on an old schoolie who always took care of himself, rode one good mare before she passed away, and then a constant string of greenies. To be honest, I've never spent time on a "broke" horse before. I've always been training, teaching, moving things along.

Now I can finally relax. It's completely foreign to me, but I can trust Cuna and I know he trusts me. Even when he went completely batty on our adventurous trail ride the other day, I wasn't afraid.

He's certainly not what I would ever have picked out for myself (big red gelding, say what?) but I start and end each ride with a big, stupid grin on my face and I like it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Things I absolutely must take care of right now, listed numerically in order of importance with the estimated cost attached.

1) Get Izzy's papers tracked down (former owner/BO lost them). $200 to reissue

1) Get Cuna's hocks injected. ($350?)

1) Replace my paddock boots before they completely fall apart ($150)

1) Replace my muck boots before the sole completely wears through (?)

1) Find a saddle that actually fits Cuna and I (?)

1) Sell Izzy to an appropriate home (?)

1) Actually buy Cuna

Current budget to do all of those things: $0. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

I may have mentioned that we have very cool, very expensive dressage saddles here on trial. I rode in one on Cuna, but it was not super fun just because he so isn't a dressage horse. I've been itching to put the pretty one on Izzy lately, and I finally found a chance today.

As you can see, I threw Izzy on the lunge line after tacking up just to make sure everything would be fine. She was quiet and relaxed, so I hopped on. We started out doing walk serpentines and bending. (Aside: I forgot what riding a bendy horse was like!!)

Izzy was quite flexible but pretty much planted behind my leg. I chose the most obvious path of action and asked her to canter off. She took one canter stride, then threw in two big bucks. I shouted, pulled her head around, and stopped her.

And then I thought. I can count on one hand the number of times Izzy has bucked with me, and that includes today. I jumped off, pulled the saddle off, checked her back, and checked the fit. Everything was fine. However, I happened to be there and see the trial ride on Saturday. I know the lady riding her was terrified of her even though she was being super good. If I had to bet, I'd think Izzy was acting up because she thought she could get away with it...

I saddled up, got back on, and put the mare to work. Shoulder in down the short side, leg yield to quarter line, then back to the rail. Down center line, do a figure eight with correct bend. Counter bend. Spiral in. Balance. Spiral out. Halt. Trot. Haunches in. Leg yield. Izzy tried a couple of her more fun evasions--dropping behind my leg and threatening to spin. I growled at her and kicked her forward.

The biggest thing I noticed was that Izzy was -very- inconsistent in the contact, which is weird for her. Instead of getting to prance around like a DQ, which was my plan, I had to sit up and really ride the mare. I had to stay really still over her, keeping a soft but very steady contact and constantly ride her up to it. After an hour (of trotting! oh joy!), I finally felt like she gave to me a little bit--she was willing to trust the contact and released her body a bit. It still wasn't what I had in mind, but that's a lot of trotting for anyone, and I still had chores to do.

When I got off, I told Izzy I never wanted to ride her again. That isn't technically true. I do enjoy the challenge she presents and she does push me as a rider. She and I have this weird connection. Today, I felt not like a rider precariously balanced on top of an unpredictable beast, but like part of her. My shoulders were connected to her mouth, not my hands to the reins. She really wasn't naughty (other than the bucking), but I felt like even if she had been, I would have been fine.

Don't get me wrong--there are absolutely things I love about her. As long as she's with me, I feel caught between two worlds. She's gorgeous and talented and I want to be able to handle her. It's just that we aren't meant to be--as much as I love Izzy and dressage, I want to jump, and not for two seconds do I want to sit on her pointed at a fence.
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