Thursday, August 30, 2012

Learning Lessons

I had a jumping lesson yesterday. We only did tiny jumps, but it was very educational. First off: due to intense amounts of smoke and inhibited amounts of ambition, Cuna and I have not been working terribly hard. Every clear day, we did trot sets in the hills with the occasional 10-15 minutes of dressage thrown in. Not much jumping and very little riding without stirrups.

Sooo... we started by cantering through a line of poles 60' apart. I got four strides going, five strides easily, and I thought I was going to die of exhaustion before I got six. I was breathing like an obese asthmatic just trying to get a canter, never mind making the line. Steph's diagnosis: more work without stirrups to improve body control/half halts so I can bring Cuna back without going to my hands. Oh, and we did make the 6. Eventually.

Then jumps! There were three crossrails set 18' apart down the center of the arena.

Course #1 followed the red line: down over the three, then right rollback over the first jump in the line, then left roll to the last jump. Keep in mind: 18' between the fences means I had to ride -very- accurately to place Cuna at the center of the jump. It also increased the variability of the possible striding to the jump. Depending where we jumped it, we could make more or less room.

The first time was ok, not great. I had a steady rhythm coming in and a great balance through the triple (weight in heels ftw!), but I got rushed after the jump. I pulled Cuna around the first rollback and he dropped to trot. I didn't decide in time whether to trot or canter and the line was not great. We squeaked around the second rollback, but again, I didn't commit to any particular line and a wiggly-er horse wouldn't have jumped the last one for me. Dear Cuna: I <3 you.

After a chat with Steph and a chance to catch our (my) breath, we tried again. This time I broke it down into sections, as per Steph's instructions. I developed a good rhythm coming in. Then I stayed in balance through the triple. Then I rode a straight line to give myself space. Then the rollback. We stayed in canter (thank you, outside aids). I picked my line to the crossrail, counted from four strides out. Good. Then ride straight after the crossrails. Now right rollback.

Did I mention Steph had put the last crossrail up to a 2'6"ish square oxer? Not huge, but oxers are kind of still a mental block for me.

Anyways. We stayed in a balanced canter for the rollback. I committed to my line and counted the last four strides. Boom. Oxer. Thank you.

They weren't big jumps, but it was a technical exercise and I was actually quite pleased with how I rode. I meant to ask Steph to take video so I can check my progress, but I forgot. Oops. Maybe this weekend.

All's well that ends well.

Unless, of course, Cuna came out lame on both fronts today.

Like he did.


Good news: I have learned to take a digital pulse. It's way easier than it sounds.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


As you may have noticed, I have not been prompt with getting pictures of my sales list for y'all. My apologies.

Monday was my birthday and Cuna and I went on a super fun trot in the hills and explored new trails. He was not as enthused about the new trails as I was. I'd go to turn off the main loop and he'd be like, "That is not the way."

Me: "I know, but I want to go this way."

Him: "I really think we should stay on the right trail."

Me: "Cuna, you get bored doing the same thing all the time. Live a little."

Him: "Ok, but you must acknowledge that I said this is not the way."

Me: "Fine."

Despite his misgivings, we made it back just fine. Fancy that.

Anyways. That was my excuse for yesterday.

Since the farrier is scheduled to come out tomorrow, Cuna was right on time to do this:

Yep. Again. I mean, I don't mind so much since it is literally the day before he's due, but seriously horse.

I suspect it would be worth my while to move his farrier appointments a little closer together. He's been less careful with his feet and more prone to tripping all around the past week or so. Oh princess pony. Really?

He is now sporting the ever-stylish foot bandaid. The good news for both of us is that due to previous escapades of his, I have tons of experience at wrapping his hooves. No turnout or riding today and he'll get put back together tomorrow morning, hopefully just in time for our lesson.

Oh... and I will take pictures tonight, even if I have to do it in crappy artificial light.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sale List!!

Operation: get set for winter! Cuna needs a winter blanket and I need/want good muckboots. 

So, sorry to post twice in a day, but I'm going through my horse stuff and here's a list of things I'm taking to my local tack store on consignment in the next few days. If you're interested in any of it, contact me! I'm certainly happy to sell direct. ;-) The price listed with any item is what I'd like to get, but I'll certainly consider any reasonable offer. I have all the items at home and can take pictures if you're interested.

1) Edgewood bridle, plain raised cavesson, laced reins. Nice quality leather, but not wide or fancy stitched, so it looks best on a refined head. Horse size. One of the reins has been repaired, but is perfectly safe. $60

2) Black gel half pad. No brand name. $30

3) Still in bag--black with cream trim microsuede dressage pad. $30

4) Black coolmax dressage pad with quilted white swirl pattern. Like new, maybe used once. $25

5) Burgundy rope halter and lead rope. Lead rope tied on to halter by someone who knew how to do that sort of thing. $10

6) Set of 4 hunter green shipping boots. Not fancy or cool. $20

7) 48" leather girth with double elastic and fancy stitching, havana colored. Barely broken in, well taken care of. Smartpak brand. $60

8) German martingale, horse sized, havana leather. No brand name, doesn't have accompanying reins. $15

9) Pair of white rubber bell boots with velcro, size L. Some slight discoloration, vecro still good. $5

10) Black nylon leadrope with trendy leather thingy at the end. maybe 10'? $5

11) Blue cotton leadrope. $5

12) Happy mouth hackabit. Double jointed, includes curb strap. $45

13) Kerrits lightweight summer tights. Brown with black seams. Size XL. $20

14) Weatherbeeta nylon sheet. Navy with burgundy trim. Used once, size 78". Not a rain sheet--more for keeping horses clean at shows I think. $20

15) Saxon medium weight turnout 78" in hunter green. Buckle front, double surcingales, leg straps. In good condition. Still waterproof. Will be clean and re-waterproofed before shipping. $60

If I come up with more stuff, I'll put it on the list.


Smoke, Fire, Blah

After the beautiful clear skies of yesterday, I had big plans for today: long run with the dogs, lots of no stirrup work with Cuna, riding in the pelham with two reins, maybe some jumping.

And I woke up to choking smoke, thick as it's ever been. I hate you, range fires. Where did my sky go?

In an effort to keep from puking from smoke inhalation, Cuna and I took a long slow hack in the hills and explored new trails. I rode with both reins and it went ok. It would be nice if I had reins that were somewhat close to the same length, but this is as good as it gets right now. 

It was not as hard as I thought it would be, though admittedly, I mostly just walked and did a tiny bit of trot on gently turning lines.

And then I was off home. Through the smoke. This is actually from this morning; it's worse now. Ugh. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Engaging the Core

This is the best day ever.

Weather-wise. The rest is kind of sucking.

Anyways!! It was brisk and cool this morning and I even had to put a coat on. The sky was clear and blue, the sun was yellow (it's red when it's smokey) and there was no smoke to be seen. I headed to the arena for a dressage ride, but the BOs decided to water.

No worries. Cuna and I took a nice walk through the hills, looking at the bright blue sky, the golden flora, and listening to the birds sing, all while breathing freely.

When we came back to the arena, we had a mission: work like a proper dressage horse until my biceps can't take it any more.

We started with a cool exercise that a friend told me about. We used a large rectangle in the arena. We trotted the sides, then walked two steps in the corner, then right back to trot. The idea is to keep your hands steady and still and the horse relaxed, but just move them back and forth with your body.

Pelham not used today. Cute pic though.
It worked really, really well. We did it both ways, then mixed it up by doing 10m circles in all the corners and the walk steps on the long sides. Then we did trot/canter transitions on a big circle. I focus really hard on just keeping everything the same, especially my hands, then sitting a couple of strides without activating my seat and making him tense, then asked to canter. It's a work in progress, but it's definitely coming along.

I also noticed when I rode yesterday that my hands were much quieter without stirrups than with. My theory is that my core was more engaged and active, which quieted my upper body. At any rate, my hands were much more effective today and Cuna responded really well.

I rode until my right arm felt like collapsing. I'd really like for Cuna to be a bit lighter, but according to his old owner, this is basically how he goes, plus he's conditioned to be that way through racing, plus he simply isn't built to be light on the forehand. Yes, a sharper bit would probably give me some false lightness, but it's not that big of a deal. I'll get stronger. 

Tomorrow I'm hoping to start working on one of my goals for the fall: riding in the pelham with two reins. Omg! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


End of summer sales are the worst. I totally forget about them, and then BOOM!!!! There is cheap stuff every where and I want it all.

Of course, in order to preserve some semblance of honor for the wallet, I find solace in sharing with other tack whores the awesome things I stumble across.

Sometimes that backfires.

One of my favorite fellow 'hos, Me, mentioned that she had something to sell in case I knew of anyone looking. What was it? Oh, just the very breastcollar I've been drooling over for the past two years or so but never gotten around to justifying the cost of. (In case you were wondering, yes, I actually do exercise lots of restraint. You cannot imagine how well Cuna would be dressed if I didn't.)

In a few frenzied facebook messages, I agreed to buy it. When it FINALLY arrived yesterday (after a whole two days in transit), I pranced around the house modelling it because I thought it was so pretty.

Which brings us to the real test: can Cuna wear it? My taste is 180 degrees from what looks good on Cuna. I love big, thick nosebands, fancy padded monocrowns, super pretty detailing and lots of contrast stitching.

Cuna looks stupid in all of that. Give him a simple raised workmanlike bridle with no fluff and he looks like a million bucks.

Cuna is captivated by this problem
Which brings us to today. I brought the breastcollar out to see if it was just me indulging my fantasies about pretty things or if it would actually work for us.

The first fun thing was figuring out how in the world to put it on. I've always had a simple hunting breastcollar, and Steph is very particular about making sure everything is unsnapped before taking the girth off so that if something goes wrong, the breastcollar isn't holding a very expensive saddle on a loose, panicking horse.

So yeah. Um, without a wither strap, this makes tacking up straight amusing since there isn't a clip on the part that connects to the girth. I put the saddle on. I girthed up one side. I slid the breastcollar on the girth, then dropped the pretty elastic on the ground and quickly did up the other side, then put the breastcollar on. Stupid plan. Will try something else next time.

At any rate, I eventually got everything put together. The breastcollar passed test #1: glove holding. I always hang my helmet up near the cross ties with my gloves inside. After Cuna is tacked up, I put my gloves in the breastcollar while I put my hair up and helmet on.

Efficiency of use: check.

Sexy body shot

Next, I checked out how I thought it looked on Cuna. Remember, this breastcollar is pretty and this is the horse that really can't do pretty, especially near his face.

He's held his deep chestnut color really well this summer and the havana/blue doesn't look out of place on him.

So cute.

The details are subtle enough that I can appreciate them without totally drawing attention to themselves in motion.

The elastic straps are a hair on the short side, especially since they'll need to attach to the actual saddle dees instead of my dee savers. Otherwise, there is a chance they'll slide down and THAT my friends, would make me BATTY.

As if I'm not already.

That said, I'm a big fan of clip anyways, and I think the extra inch or two that the clips will add will give us plenty of length.

Next step: go hang out in front of the newly-painted barn and take pictures.

I put on his chocolate fly bonnet because I thought it would complement the rich brown in the breastcollar.


The cream doesn't match the blue and the scallops are just TOO MUCH when combined with the prettiness that is the breastcollar. Functional? Yes. Attractive? Not now.

Much better

So we try again. This time, no bonnet.

I like it much better. I am intentionally using my new bridle because it has nickel hardware. No brass with this beauty.

You might notice that Cuna is also in some of his new fluffy boots. For the first time in several weeks, he was actually sound in boots. Win!

He can totally do it

I only rode lightly today. It was smokey, plus the arena project is super dusty, plus I'd dropped my stirrups and my thighs were screaming at me. Besides, the breastcollar was super clean, despite being lightly used, and I didn't want to gunk it up if I didn't think Cuna could pull it off.

Conclusion: I think as long as it's the only "pretty" thing I put on him, we're good to go. It's just too much for him with the bonnet. That said, he looks smashing in my t-boots and they also have the accented elastic. He can do detail work, just not on his face.

I feel the need to add in some relevant details that will make this post work as a tack review, so here goes:

Basic info:
MSRP: Listed on the website for $200. Currently available through their sale page for around $130
What I paid: less than that

General description: elastic breastcollar suitable for jumping, dressage, hacking, or just general use. Quality leather on all points of attachment. The strap that goes between the legs is nicely padded. No grab strap on this model--I believe if you buy the non-sale version of this on the official website, it now comes standard with one.

Pros: Super pretty and distinctive looking. Good, strong elastic. I've always steered clear of elastic strap goods because I thought they would stretch too easily and make themselves useless. Not so with this piece. The stitching is well done, the details well thought out.

Cons: It seems like it would be hard to clean. I've never had elastic before, so this is a whole new world for me. The lack of a grab strap means I'm unlikely to take it XC. That said, I bet you money I can round one up on short order if I change my mind.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Today was supposed to be "light hack" day, particularly since the smoke is back with a vengeance. I told myself that Cuna and I would walk around the barn area and maybe wander up a trail.

So I hopped on, let him amble out to the arena, and noticed that the jumps from yesterday were still set up, but a notch or two higher now from the lesson after mine.

About the same time, some clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, starting to blow the smoke away.

And the jumps just looked so inviting.

And of course I need to practice my position in my new, shorter stirrups.

And it wasn't that smokey...

We picked up a canter. I decided to try and improve a few things from yesterday right off the bat. First off, FORWARD. I forget to insist on this, then Cuna worries and accelerates, and then it's chaos. Instead, I moved Cuna into a nice, forward canter, and sent him forward and back a few times to make sure we were where I wanted to be.

Then we did a couple of little patterns. I found some super awkward spots and did my best not to make them worse.

Walk and regroup. The jumps are ok, but I'm not flowing with the motion in between them. I need to find my lines earlier, send him to the jump, and be still.

We try again. Nice, forward canter. See a decent spot to the single vertical and wait for it to come to me. Look right in the air to let Cuna know where we're going and land on the correct lead. Immediately start looking for my line. See a close spot in to the two stride. Settle to that distance, keeping seat near the saddle and body quiet. Jump in, steady one, steady two, smooth jump out.


Nine fences, taller than yesterday, and I feel good about my ride.

Unrelated awesome picture
As we meandered off into the hills, I had some time to reflect. I can't yet say, "I'm going to get close to that jump" or "I want to stand off of that one a bit". I can't control what spot I'm going to get (unless it's a related distance of about 4 strides or less). I can, however, reliably see my stride about 3-5 strides out, depending on the fence. I don't try to change a whole lot yet, because obviously, that's way too late to make any adjustments.

I guess it really doesn't even change my ride yet--basically, I need him coming in on a rhythm and then we settle to the fence. Still, the fact that I can see anything means that my poor, panicked brain is finally starting to slow down and think even when confronted with bigger fences. Winning!

Oh, and how awesome is it that my kick-ass jumping horse then proceeds to hack out of the arena on the buckle through the hills?

Yeah, totally.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lesson!

For various reasons, Cuna and I haven't had a lesson since our last show. I was super excited for today, since we were on the schedule.

Then I showed up. The smoke is not so bad today (hooray!!), but the main arena is having it's footing redone this week (hooray!!) and that means super dusty air and constant heavy equipment noise.

I know, I know. First world problem. I will be oh-so-happy this winter when the main arena actually drains properly.

Anyways. Lesson. Here's the arena diagram for today. Red lines are jumps. Because of the equipment noise, Steph would give me a pattern, then just let me keep jumping it until I felt the need for feedback or I noticed her frantic gesturing in an attempt to get my attention.

Unfortunately for all involved, I just could not get my head in the game today. It did not matter how many times she told me a pattern: it just wouldn't stick in my tiny brain. Seriously. It was sad.

Anyways. My legs were waving in the wind, my torso was mirroring, I couldn't ride a straight line to save my life, and Cuna actually had one of the biggest spooks of his life because Steph moved a jump standard (goof head). He in fact relocated all four of his feet and moved his body like a projectile for a whole stride, so it's at least top 5.

So we stopped to regroup. Steph put my stirrups up two holes, and off I went.

This time was better--my body and leg felt rock solid. I kept making stupid decisions and forgetting the patterns. I mean, you wouldn't think two stride line, turn right to the vertical, turn left to the two stride in a repeating pattern would be difficult, but yeah...

Regroup. Again. This time we talked about making decisions sooner and being perpendicular to the face of the jumps.

At this point, a couple of people showed up that Steph needed to talk to. Cuna and I walked and caught our breath, then started up on our own. Two stride away from the barn. See a close distance. Stay soft with seat, but close to the saddle. Close the hand. Boom. Two easy strides. Jump. Around to the right. Look now!! There's the line. Solid with the outside led, aim for the middle. Boom. Turn left, outside aids. Flying change? Ok. A moving distance. Leg on, don't get ahead. Jump. One, two. Jump.

Steph is yelling something. Apparently I am turning the wrong way. Oops. We rode through the pattern one more time, this time making the correct turns. Cuna, Mr I-Don't-Do-Lead-Changes, nailed every change. I rode like I'd actually been on a horse before. We were rocking, albeit over tiny 2'6"ish verticals.

The takeaway:
1) I need to get my head on straight. I'm blaming smoke inhalation+construction chaos for today, but seriously. They weren't hard patterns and I could not keep them in my head.

2) With Izzy, I'd ride straight after a jump, then change the bend and get a lead change. Cuna HATES that ride because he hates losing his balance. Instead, when I focused on riding through the whole turn on a consistent bend without changing his lead, he gave me flying changes. Random, excellent.

3) We can so do this. I am signing us up for the jumper show next month and doing the 2'9" and 3'. I just got the go ahead from Steph, too, so I guess we're committed. Eek!

Novice, here we come!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


The governor has declared a state of disaster here because of the massive amount of wildfires all around us. Where I live isn't threatened at all, but we've become a smoke repository for the rest of the state as far as I can tall.

I went for a trail ride yesterday with a friend and we walked the whole time because the air was so smokey that none of us wanted to breathe hard.

That haze behind me? Smoke.

It's super dry right now. The fires aren't projected to be contained until October when the rain starts up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Boot Review Day!!

Since someone's princess horse can under no circumstances wear neoprene boots, I did whaat any responsible tack 'ho would: got him three different kinds of fluffy boots in designer colors. Let's talk about them today.

 Pair #1) Toklat Valena boots. I paid $15, a new pair is about $70 Fellow blogger Rinsie actually found these with me at our local tack store. Unlike the pretty Dover picture, they have black fleece. They are used, and it shows--stitching worn out and even replaced in some places. The exterior material is tough and flexible. The interior seems to be synthetic fleece. It's black, which I think is just tacky on a brown boot. That said, they cost $15.

 Pair #2) Euro Pro Heidi Galloping boots. These I found used online and got them here shipped for $30. A new pair runs around $75. They are in much better condition than pair #1. The fleece is thick and protective and the velcro is great. That said, the exterior color is... eh... pretty light. I knew the velcro would be light colored, but it's almost more caramel than havana, so I don't love them.

 Set #3) Dover Pro Sport Boots. Excellent fellow blogger Me was headed out tack shopping and let me virtually tag along. She picked up a full set of these at the Dover tent sale for $40, which is good Dover sale pricing. The exterior material is very stiff and vinyl-y feeling. It's a great color and the synthetic fleece on the inside provides a great contrast, but my feeling (and information) is that these simply won't hold up the way the others will.

All three of the different types are interesting. I'm the least impressed with the Toklat boots. Admittedly, they are in rough shape, but who makes brown boots with black fleece? Ick. There are pretty light weight, too. It seems like they're going to heat my horse's legs like all of these models are prone to without providing the extra protection from either a stiff exterior or super fluffy fleece.

From a technical standpoint, I really like the heidi boots best. The exterior is giving enough that I don't expect rubs from Mr Princess like I would with a hard shell boot, but it's strong enough to withstand some knocks. The wool backing is super thick and nice, and the velcro is great. I do not love their color, that is for sure.

Sexy body shot
For occasional use, I have to give it to the dover boots. Man, they look classy. They capture the exact look I wanted on Cuna. They may be the cheapest, but they are sexy. You know, new, straight out of the package. Talk to me again in the spring after a winter of use, and we'll see what I think. In the mean time, snag yourself a set of the Heidi boots.

Wearing a hat, man, I'm wearing a hat

Don't worry-I didn't have Me squander a whole trip to Dover just to get me a set of boots. She also snagged a fly bonnet for $8.99. It may not be Cuna's favorite color, but it does the job and looks alright on him.

Ok, it's better than purple anyways. ;-) He definitely appreciated the bug relief it provided.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fire, Fire Go Away

Due to the ridiculous amount of range fires coupled with the conformation (? topography?) of the area I live in, we are completely inundated with smoke right now. Seriously. It is disgusting--it's like living in a big city, only with lower crime rates.

Of course, the air quality pretty much puts the kibosh on outdoor activity for people who don't want to contract emphysema at age 23 (me). I mean, you *can* do stuff, it's just that you fill both your lungs and those of your horse with noxious gases and feel like puking in about 10 seconds.

Cuna, never one to waste an opportunity, has decided it is an excellent time to come up lame, and frankly, I agree with him. We finished our big show, have a few weeks to the next potential one, and really can't exercise right now anyways. I spend about an hour a day totally babying him, and he just eats it up. Goofus.

We did venture out today for the first time in a week doing more than walk/trot in the arena. The haze had cleared enough to make me feel comfortable with some activity.

Naturally, we hit the hills. Cuna always come out stiff through his back and topline after time off. Riding in the hills lets him work out the stiffness on terrain instead of me fighting with him constantly and everyone is happier.

He was mostly great. Every once in a while, he gave me a funny step, which made me feel like a horrible person for riding at all. Still. He was forward, strong, and even. I trotted him for half a mile or so on a loose rein and he was dead even. At this point, I may actually be projecting lameness onto a tiny trip that Mr Awkward Pants would have had anyways. I am that sort of person.

At the end, we came to our favorite galloping hill. I could see the wall of smoke in the valley rolling our way, but we still had a little time. I let Cuna choose his pace and he ROCKETED up the hill, just short of racehorse gallop.

It did make me feel better. He only goes like that when he feels good. <3 the sensitive old man horse.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Medicated Horse

Due to his super-sensitive skin and dramatic-princess personality, Cuna has been getting some super special treatment lately. First off, he has this weird funk going on with his hind canons. It's dry, hairless patches, basically. They never seem to get better or worse, but I would really like them to go away.

Kind of like this
When I took him in to the vet, they gave (sold) me a bottle of chlorahexadine shampoo to treat it with and not much explanation beyond "rinse well". I've been washing Cuna's hind legs with this every day or two for the past two weeks, and while his legs are super clean, nothing else seems to be changing.


I still have a good half bottle yet, but I'm going to take some pictures of where his legs are now and then a couple of progress shots. My impression is that this shampoo does jack for "random hind leg funk that isn't bothering the horse but is unsightly". At least it was relatively cheap. (I think. It hurt too much to keep looking at that bill to actually read the itemization).

However, if that was all that was going on, I clearly would be dealing with some much less complicated horse! Far be it from me to settle for some low maintenance creature that stays sound all it's life!!

Nope. Since moving into the main barn with it's nice, dry stalls and bed of shavings, Cuna has managed to develop hock sores. Yay! The BO (a long time vet tech) recommended Silvadene, but mentioned that you usually have to get that from a vet. Due to my recent vet bill, I am not in a hue hurry to call them again. Failing that, we went with Eqyss Microtek gel.

It's fairly pricey at around $25 a bottle, but it claims to do what I want, which is heal without burning, soothe the skin, and prevent infection. It also calls for 3x daily application. I can do two, so we'll see how it goes. 

One hock is closing up nicely, but the other is still pretty sensitive. 

However, since I'd already blown the money and have high hopes of not using the entire (good sized) bottle on itty bitty hock sores, I just sort of put it wherever I think Cuna needs soothing. 

Right now, I am putting it on his hind legs (once they are thoroughly rinsed), the rub spot on his shoulder from his flysheet, the healing-up scar on his face, the weird little spot on his back, and of course, on his uber sensitive front legs/tendons where his boot rubs are. It smells nice and doesn't tingle, so worst case scenario, Cuna continues smelling like a beauty parlor. 

We'll see how it goes.

PS I am selling some stuff to get Cuna more stuff. Buy stuff!!! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Playing with Toys

He is so excited that I went shopping!
 Due to Cuna's unfortunate ability to never again wear neoprene boots and my intense dislike of constantly washing and rerolling polo wraps, we needed to find a solution.

Of course, I already had something in mind. I'd been wanting fluffy brown boots for a while anyways, and now there was a medical excuse to get some!!

I knew there was no way my local tack store would ever stock something useful, so I sent out feelers throughout the internet in search of the best deals available.

Then I went to my local tack store's fall sale.

GUESS WHAT???? Some kind soul had dropped off a pair of front Valena Toklat boots in brown with black fleece. I hate the black fleece and the boots have definitely seen better days, but $15 later, I am not wrapping front polos for a w/t hack. Winning! 

 Cuna models the new toys.

I actually have another used pair of fleece boots headed my way, plus a whole set of new ones and I look forward to comparing all three brands and coming up with the definitive set of fleecy boots.

Notice anything else different?
The local tack store also had a three ring Dr Bristol happy mouth for 40% off. I didn't need on per se, but bits never go on sale. Of course I had to pick one up.

We cantered over three tiny jumps and he was super. Unfortunately, there are a ton of local-enough forest fires right now, and the air quality is so bad that I felt like puking after that teeny workout. Here's to rain or a windstorm or pretty much anything that would break the current weather cycle. It's nasty out there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gratuitous Friday Photo Spam

It is high time we review all the cutest pictures of Cuna taken since he came to me early this year. 

Day One

After some lesson badassery 

The day before we left for Thermal

At our first show together

Just hanging out

First photoshoot with Ellie

Playing the role I  really needed him to

Jumping giant jumps together

Being adorable

So photogenic

Snuggly cuteness

Having a gallop

XC instructions: Just hang on.

First canter in the water

Chilling with the vet

Being so cliche

Fancy showjumping horse

Learning to love the XC

Picture taking still isn't Cuna's favorite thing ever, but he's learned to put up with it. It's obvious just how much he has done for me--I came to him completely traumatized and riding poorly,and look where we are now.

I will say that he has just blossomed now that he has his own person. He was pretty stand-off-ish when we met, but now he nickers and snuggles and throws hissy fits and is just generally adorable and hilarious. He may be a total doofus most of the time, but so am I. <3 the old man horse.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gettin' Dangerous!!

It is my 666th post!! Omg. I was going to do something silly with it, but XC PICS ARE IN(!!!!!!!!!), so y'all get to see those instead.

Jump 1
The first (and last) jump on the course was this tiny little coop. When I walked the course, I thought, "Oh, a nice little inviting jump to start with." Then I realized the whole course was in kind. Hm... Well, now we know to push a little harder next time.

We came out of the start box, got our canter right away and popped over this like nothing. I always remind myself to ride the first fence so nothing untoward happens, but Cuna was totally nonplussed.

The second jump was the blue barrels. Cuna got a little crooked to them, but I insisted and he's way broke, so we hopped over and were off to the first gallop stretch. This was where we'd find out if I had anything close to enough brakes.

Answer: yes. We had this lovely little maintainable gait that let the spectators observe just how dashing Cuna looks in chocolate. He's rocking the black boots, but really folks. It can't go on.

The only bugaboo was that my course plan accounted for Cuna being super strong and me needing to swing wide and make a circle to get him back under control. He was super manageable, but I rode the wide line anyways. Because he is a MACHINE out there (and I was casual about giving direction), he just locked on to the novice jump we were cantering by. Ooops! I pulled him off it, and he gave a dramatic leap away as if to say, "Oh MY GAWD!!!! WHY did you almost let me JUMP that??"

Goofus. <3

Tidy. Cute. <3

He really didn't have to "come back" around the turn to fence three because he was already going so nicely. This is the jump that scared the crap out of me with Izzy and looked "rolex sized" when Cuna and I came and schooled here a month or so ago. Now? Yeah, not so much. Even with Cuna taking a tidy leap over the teeny fence, we were rather unimpressed.

Jump 4 was the drop, which is really not that interesting to look at. The important part is that I didn't want to rocket off the drop, so my course plan involved bringing him back to a trot so we could place nicely off the bank.

That was also on my last course plan and trot was never achieved.

Here you go. Photographic evidence that Cuna in fact can trot on an XC course.

Ears pricked! 

We had a swooping right hand turn after the drop to a ramp, one of the bigger jumps on the course. Let's be honest: it still didn't phase me and since it was after we'd already established a rhythm, I knew Cuna would take it in stride. This whole "trained horse" thing is amazing. Really. Y'all need to try it at least once.

Cuna skipped over it and we were on to the next field!

Cantering over it

Jump six was the most solid thing on the course, a log pile. I made sure to ride like an XC jockey--sit in the tack about 3 strides out, keep leg and hand steady, stay a little behind. You can see I kept my heals down and upper body open. Cuna jumped like it was nothing.

Already looking for 10

Jumps 7 and 8 were in the far field. One was a coopy/rampy thing that was probably max height (a whole 2'7") and the other in that range, but a log pile. They barely even felt like speed bumps. We jumped the big log pile back into the main field and headed for jump 10.

We actually shared fence 10 with the intro BN riders, so it was a pathetically tiny double log that I almost brought Cuna back to a trot for just to be sure he actually saw it. It was also the jump that Izzy and I wrecked over. I can say any issue I had with that jump is officially over. Total non-event.

Yep, non issue.
Fence 11 was actually the most challenging jump on the course. It was a long, steady downhill to a max height coop. There's nothing inherently difficult about jumping on a slight downhill, but I don't get to do it a lot. Thus, I knew the theory behind the ride, but have very little practice.

I half halted before the turn, kept my shoulders back, my feet a bit out in front, and my stirrup leather vertical. Cuna let me ride him positively to the base, and it was perfect.

It wasn't a difficult jump, but of the whole course, I am most happy with how I rode it. I made a plan, stuck to it, and things went great.

On to 12!! We now had to jump the blue barrels backwards. I wasn't concerned about the jump and my arms were actually still attached to my body (thank you giant bit), but my lungs felt like they were going to explode!! Yikes. Need to do some more conditioning on the human side. I sent Cuna to the jump and we cantered along and popped over. Seriously. It felt almost too casual.

Cuna: "Herp derp. Now what?"

The last fence was just the first teeny coop jumped backwards. On my coursewalk, I decided the only potential problem at this point would be taking it for granted and forgetting to ride. As such, as we cantered in, I kept a strong kept with my leg ON and let him know I wanted to go OVER THE TEENY JUMP in no uncertain terms. He may have thought I was a bit over the top about it, but he popped right over and we hand galloped across the finish line.

I was thrilled with Cuna, thrilled with how I rode, and not that excited about the course. I mean, it was a perfectly acceptable for that level of course on decent footing. The questions were fair and the judges quite good.

It's just... the Old Man Horse has brought me so far even just in the last month that I found the whole thing a little underwhelming. I would never have believed in February when I first started riding him that he could take me this far in this short of a time, but the truth is that I was/am itching to try out the novice jumps. They looked more fun, maybe just the right amount of challenge.

In the back of my head, I was hearing Stephanie talk to me this spring when she said, "You are capable of jumping a 3' course and you're afraid of crossrails." It was when we were discussing selling Ms Izzy, but it's stuck with me. I know I'm not the be all and end all of riders, but I think I'm finally ready to move up.

 So of course, I did the smartest thing possible. The following morning I texted Steph that I wanted to go faster and jump bigger jumps. We're now on the lesson schedule for tomorrow. Can't wait!!

All y'all are just jealous of my old guy

Aimee and Cuna, moving forward.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...