Thursday, July 29, 2010


I'm pretty sure that any of you who have spent time at horse events has witnessed this phenomenon: a woman (isn't it always a woman?) has purchased a beautiful, amazing horse because she can afford it but it's so far beyond her ability to ride the animal that she's either constantly watching her trainer ride (which is wise) or attempting to ride herself and gets seriously injured in the process. The mismatch is so patently obvious that bystanders can't even really admire the horse because of their very real fear for the safety and well-being of the rider.

I've seen this over and over, and it intrigues me. Why do people overmount themselves? I'm not talking about buying a green horse and working on him with your trainer or more-experienced friend. I mean the people who buy horses with international potential to poke around and do intro A and B at a dressage show. The problem with their purchase is that the horse has zero interest in a low-impact career and the ride immediately becomes dangerous.

It seems to me to almost always be late-middle aged women buying fancy warmbloods, but I prowl around the dressage and eventing worlds, but I'm sure it occurs in other disciplines.

There's a new horse at the barn. I think he's a grade appy gelding. He's older, unremarkable, and rather poorly put together. His straight shoulder contributes to his jackhammer trot and his weak hind end is something that no amount of conditioning can overcome. BUT. Someone put time into this horse. He's a lower-level dressage horse and he knows his job. He also knows exactly how to get out of his job, but he's never naughty about it. He is the perfect mount for his owner, a late-middle-aged re-rider trying to get back into the swing of things. He's not fancy, but he's safe and so much fun for her.

I really respect that woman for picking a horse that's suited to her instead of buying the fanciest green thing she can afford.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where the Rematch is Postponed

We were out of GastroShield this morning (apparently the shipping was slow), so I decided that I wouldn't even try to ride Izzy. It's not fair to either of us to fight over a physical issue. Instead, I turned her and Cassie out in the arena to play while I cleaned stalls. They trotted around and nibbled on weeds for about 45 minutes.

Right about then, I noticed the big, black cloud rolling in. Oh, and lightening striking the ground. Plenty of thunder, too. Hm.

I caught the girls. Izzy was pretty wound up but walked nicely home to breakfast. Cassie is pretty steady for a hot horse. She was just as quiet as could be. Hopefully, the gastroshield comes in today and I'll get a ride in... Friday... I can't ride Thursdays right now.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back to Basics

I hauled out my lovely dressage saddle today and put Izzy to work. I mostly did this because I know that if I'd ridden dressage in my jump saddle, our session would have ended with jumping, which wasn't the point of today. I'm only disciplined to a certain point. ;-)

The ride was frustrating. Izzy wasn't "bad", but she wouldn't give me an inch. I'm sure you've all had those days--you ask for something and the horse just doesn't do it. She doesn't do something naughty; she just ignores you. Grr. I was fairly pleased with how I handled it. Specifically, we were working on stretching down into the contact. Izzy isn't a big fan of contact. I'd ask her to stretch down and she just wouldn't. I'd take her back to walk and ask, and then she would, eventually. Basically, what I was doing wasn't working, so I was able to incorporate what I learned in the last clinic and change the way I was asking.

See, when I write it down, it sounds like a good day. It was just really frustrating in the moment because she was making me work pretty hard.


Then I turned her loose in the round pen to roll. She did that quite merrily, then trotted around ignoring me. I was a bit aggravated, so I picked up a lunge whip and off she went. She galloped around the round pen for probably 15 minutes. Clearly, we did not do enough dressage.

When I finally recaptured her, she was soaked in sweat, but pretty quiet. I tied her up and hosed her off several times. Usually she fusses, but I think that today, she admitted defeat.

Izzy 1, Aimee 1

Check back tomorrow for the rematch.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jumping day!

Irie's mom and I set an actual course of jumps today. Yay! Before, we'd just set three different jumps side-by-side, which was ok for doing them individually, but wasn't conducive to much else. I'll have to take pictures, since some of the jumps are pretty fun. We have a sort-of skinny, lattice standards, a plank jump, a double rail, and of course the barrels. We even set a small combination. It's not super hard, but it demands just a little more than what we did before.

And then I got Izzy out. She decided to have a nutty day, so we did about 10 minutes of walking and bending to get her relaxed and focused. She trotted ok and we worked on bending, shortening, lengthening, and transitions with some leg yields thrown in for good measure. So far, so good. She seemed to be settling. Then we cantered. Izzy just galloped down the long side, then would shorten up for the turn. Going right, it took about 5 laps around the arena to get her to be reasonable about her speed and paying attention. It only took about two the other way. ;-) Smart girl.

We warmed up over the little skinny crossrail. Izzy was more interested in the fact that the new configuration of the jumps meant she had to use different parts of the arena than she was in the jump itself. This is why I like to jump with a friend; not only can they give feedback, but the person not jumping can set jumps. When she could stay straight to the cross rail, jump it, then stay steady afterwards, we moved on to the next challenge: a plank jump set as a vertical.


I didn't know what to expect with that. Izzy had plank phobia earlier this spring, but we worked through it, and then she hadn't seen a plank until today. Apparently, she also wasn't all that excited about it. I kept her straight, put leg on, and put myself just a hair behind the motion in case she decided to stop or leap or whatever. She jumped it like she'd done it a thousand times. Yay pony mare!

Next, we set out sights on the combination. It's set as a two stride for a moving horse jumping 2'6" or better jumps, which makes it a comfortable three stride for someone trotting in over 2' verticals. The approach was a tough short, which meant I had to be extra careful about keeping Izzy straight and prepared. We trotted in, hopped over the first one, then she canter nicely out over the second. YAY PONY MARE! We did it once more to correct the minor issue of her not picking her front toes up over the second jump and she was as good as gold.

Instead of pushing for more, I hopped off and let her be done. She was really cute. I turned her loose in the arena to roll and she kept coming up to Irie's mom (who rode Cassie) and I, trying to get treats.

To finish off the day, I loaded her in the trailer (attached to a truck) several times. We just got on, stood there, turned around, stopped, and got off about three times. Wednesday we're going to try to load her with another horse on the trailer.

It's encouraging to see some progress with her. I've been mulling over the idea of selling her and buying a Halfie because Irie's mom has so much fun with him (as did I, when I rode him). Basically, Izzy and I have had a tempestuous relationship this year and sometimes I'm tired of it and just want something less talented but easier to deal with. After talking it over with Irie's mom, I've decided to stick it out a while longer. She is making progress. I've stayer with her through the worst of it. Realistically, the horse I want is Izzy in a year or two, which I'll never, ever be able to afford. I need to hang in there and things will get better.

I do need a bit of feedback, though. When I do dressage with Izzy, she's loving and steady and whatnot. When we're jumping, she's forever pushing her head up in upward transitions. Should I just keep doing more dressage to work on it, not worry about it, or (gasp! a gadget!!) use a running martingale? Any thoughts?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

Today we were scheduled to be picked up by Irie and his mom and go on a nice, long trail ride in the nearby foothills. It was supposed to be fabulous.

As you may have figured out by now, it also didn't happen.

I had the morning chores done on time. The trailer pulled in on time. I loaded my tack into the tack room, then went and got my pony. I didn't anticipate trouble, since she's been great lately and she's always been fine in the trailer. I led her up to it, and she flat-out refused to go in.

Huh. Unusual.

Fortunately, all it takes to get her in is Irie's mom waving a lead rope at her from about 15 feet away. Ok. We're in. Izzy's supposed to be in the middle stall, as usual, because she's the biggest. I started to tie her to the thingy and all of a sudden, she just has a cow. She's pawing and throwing herself around and pinning her ears and I know she's going to go right over the top of me, so I turn her around and she takes a flying leap out of the trailer.

Time to reconsider.

I turned Izzy out in the arena to run around and get anything out that she needed out. She did run for a while, so maybe that was a problem. While she ran, I took the time to gather myself so I wasn't angry with her or anticipating failure or misbehavior.

Ok... take two.

We unloaded Irie to minimize the distractions for my stupid cow pony. I walked Izzy in. She was ok. I turned her around to face out and halted her. She was impatient, but we made it out without jumping. I walked her in again. She was fine. I tied her up. She was fine. I closed the divider. Still fine. I got off the trailer thinking, "Ok, we'll just let her stand for a minute and then load up Irie and go."

Ha. In my dreams.

As soon as I stepped off the trailer, she pretty much exploded. She started pawing, kicking, and throwing herself around and generally acting crazy.

Irie's mom and I stop to evaluate. First off, I can not unload her now. With the fir that she's throwing, especially in an enclosed area, that would be just plain dangerous. Second off, this is a horse who has trailered plenty of times before in that exact same stall in the exact same trailer. Nothing is different. Thirdly, it's a steel trailer with triple wall construction and Irie's mom is all about letting horses just work things out on their own.

Thank god for her. I think she would have been totally justified in just letting my unload my psycho mare and going trail riding with someone calmer. That wouldn't have helped Izzy, but Izzy isn't really her problem.

Instead of taking the easy way out, we decided just to let Izzy cope. We closed the trailer door so if she went down, she couldn't roll out and hurt herself, and then we waited. We stood by the trailer and caught up on things we had wanted to talk about. We commented on Izzy's recent psychosis. We put on a good show of ignoring her. Every once in a while she would stand quietly, and then I'd go feed her some weeds or something.

She seemed ok with the trailer, but every time Irie looked at her, she started going nuts again. Weird.

Finally, she quieted down for about 5 minutes. I walked to the back of the trailer to unload her. When I opened the door and looked at her, the whole fit started again. She wanted out, now, and she didn't want to wait. I thought, "No way am I getting near Ms. Psycho." I left the door open and walked back to Irie's mom. Finally, we decided to give up on the trail ride. I closed the trailer door, leaving Izzy inside, and tacked up Cassie instead.

We had a fun time riding around the arena and jumping little jumps. Izzy finally settled down, more or less. By the time we were down, she was pretty quiet. I put Cassie away and opened the trailer door before Irie came back. Izzy nickered at me. She was finally standing quietly. I got her out of the trailer and took her to the round pen.

I was thinking about a section out of a Mark Rashid book about horses dealing with trauma of any sort. Sometimes, they just need to run. If that's what Izzy needed after being in the trailer, that was fine with me. She rolled in the deep sand, then spent a while running and trotting around. I left her alone to work it out.

After about 15 minutes, she seemed to settle down. I walked towards her. She nickered at me. She was as quiet and sweet as could be on the way back to her pen.

Time expended: 2.5 hours. Injuries received: 0. Pony brains reclaimed: 1.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Can Haz Ponee

Izzy got the day off due to going two days in a row at the clinic. I think she was a little grumpy about the lack of attention until I turned her loose in the arena to play. That combined with cookies, always makes her one happy pony. Even though I didn't ride her, I am just enjoying (a ridiculous amount) the feeling of having a happy, sound(ish), sane horse who is beautiful and amazing. She's so quiet and sweet and soft and silky... ah.

We're planning a trail ride in the foothills on Friday morning and a horse show at the end of August. I'm looking forward to it.

Since Izzy had the day off, I took the opportunity to ride Cassie, Izzy's mother and my old show mare. It's the first time I've been able to get on her in quite while, since she's been off due to a crappy trim job and exacerbated by her incessant weaving since she hates not getting out to work. Silly mare.

Riding Cassie is like coming home to me. I spent so many years on her that the way she fits under me just feels right. I know her reactions and actions before she does them, and she knows I know. She's athletic, hard-working, and smart as a whip. We just bounced around and did some dressage since she's still a touch off in her right front. It was a blast. I hope to be able to get her out more often, especially since I noticed that after riding around for a while, she wasn't weaving anymore. :-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Moving On

We had a ride in a dressage clinic this morning. It was vastly better than last time we tried to do that, which was complete with rearing, bucking, leaping, and spinning. No, today was much quieter and more relaxed. I guess I was just hoping that we'd be farther along. I need to remind myself that Izzy pretty much had the month off while we figured out the ulcer problems and the shoeing problems and then the confidence problems....

Really though. It was somewhat disappointing. It did get better as we went along, but where we ended is sort of where I thought we'd be starting. Oh, and the clinician thinks that Izzy is still a little off. I don't feel it or see it and she did work out of it, so I don't know what to make of that.

Off to work on actively stretching down in my head...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ask Me How My Lesson Was


Yeah, that good. At one point, Cathy asked us to canter and Izzy and I rolled into a forward, fun, balanced canter that probably looked a lot more like a hand gallop than anything. When Cathy mentioned concepts like "half halt" and "bring her back", I said, "But we're both feeling good!", though I did follow her directions. (I mean, that's the point of lessons, right? Getting an outside perspective and allowing them to direct your training.)

It felt so good. The whole thing. I've ridden Izzy the past three days, but I hadn't really asked her to do anything. I was just getting reacquainted with my sound, sane horse. Now I was asking her to step underneath herself, balance, turn, go straight, all those fun things. We even finished the lesson jumping. Izzy leaped over a crossrail. Ever since her feet have felt better, she's been trying to pull me toward the jumps again and my oh my does she feel better.

When we were finally working harmoniously, we headed to about a 2' vertical. Cathy had me really focus on waiting for the jumping while keeping Izzy steady underneath me. Basically, I need to sit still and do nothing. It's hard. When we landed, I would then leg yield Izzy off my left leg, since she likes to kind of dive that way. One time I did take advantage of her dive to see how fast of a jumper turn we could do. Answer: pretty fast. :-D

Then we headed for the previously-scary barrel jump. I put my leg on, sat a bit behind the motion, and just let Izzy go to it. Cathy has coached me on just sitting there and saying with my posture "You can go. You can not go. You just have to make a nice approach." It's a low stress way to approach the jump and it works well for most horses. Well... Miss Izzy is no longer worried by the barrels. She leaped over it every time I pointed her at it. (Cathy told me we were clearing it with about a foot to spare.) I have a sneaking suspicion that her earlier objections to the barrel jump were because her tummy hurt and her feet were sore and so jumping wasn't super fun. Now that we've resolved that, she's amazing.

Some pictures:
Izzy's fancy new wraps. Still loving them.
Izzy's babysitting face. Cathy was riding a fancy young horse who was having a cow about some other horse leaving. Hence, we came in to look after him.
Izzy looking sound, balanced, and happy.
Cathy riding the fancy young horse. That's his walk. For serious. He's amazing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun Times Are Here Again

Here's to two days and two good rides. We haven't done anything harder than caner over a ground pole (focusing on straightness, relaxation, and of course, not stepping on the pole), but it's been amazing. I have my horse back. She's quiet, forward, silly, and fun. I'm finally enjoying riding again.

Maybe I'll even take pictures to share. ;-)

I'm really enjoying the Exkadron Climatex bandages I picked up. I like putting something on Izzy's legs, especially with her new shoes on because she's not always the most graceful thing and I want some protection. However, we do live in a hot climate and I don't want to overheat her legs and cause tissue damage. I do try to take precautions; I ride early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cooler, I don't ride for too long, and I always hose Izzy off when we're done (and then scrape her off, etc).

So. Climatex. As I mentioned, I got a pair on a really good sale. I tried them on Izzy last night for the first time. It took me a couple tries to get the hang of wrapping them and making them look even, since I'm kind of a nut about that. I rode somewhat lightly, got off, and her legs were dry. Not damp. Dry. I used them again this morning. We rode quite a bit harder, since it was cooler. This time, her legs were slightly damp, but still nothing compared to conventional polos and boots. I'm hooked. I bought a second pair to play with. My next experiment will be to use one conventional polo and one climatex to compare results. It will be funny looking, though. My conventional polos are royal blue and white. My new ones are black. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sigh of Relief

Izzy got her new shoes on yesterday. I would have taken a picture for you all, but it was about 100f and I was really hot and sunburned. Still, all went well. I was really pleased with the farrier. He was intelligent, experienced, gentle, and really inexpensive. I mean, he didn't have to trim or anything, but he just charged me $25 to put from shoes on. And he used nice shoes.

Color me impressed.

I trotted Izzy (loose) around the round pen after she got her shoes on and she was totally sound. It was beautiful to see.

This morning, my legs were way too sunburned to ride comfortably (or at all), so I turned Izzy loose in the arena. It was so fun to watch her. She started out trotting tentatively, then she started to canter a little, then she seemed to realize that it wasn't going to hurt, and she rocketed down the arena fence. It felt so good to see her really push forward and run isntead of holding herself back to spare her ouchie feet.

Here's hoping for a ride tomorrow. :-)

Here's a picture of Izzy modeling her new Eskadron duds.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Where I've Been

None of the people in those pictures are me. Just so we're clear. I spent the weekend at an event derby in Bellvue Idaho, which was so very fun. I was the groom for the halfie pictured and let me just say, he is one fun little horse. (If you want to see more, check out my facebook album here.)

It was a fabulous way to spend the fourth of July, especially since it lacked the sappy horribleness of most celebrations and there were no fireworks.

TODAY is what I want to talk about. I didn't get to have a lesson because my now-medicated pony is lame in both front feet. It's actually good news, because I was thinking coffin bone fracture when I thought she was just lame in one. Don't ask why I immediately jump to a worst case scenario. I have no idea. I also have no idea why I can assume a run-of-the-mill lameness is a fracture, but I am incapable of believing that there are two fractures. ;-)

Oh well. At least the craziness stops somewhere, right?

Since I didn't get to ride today, I went to the tack store for several very specific items: vet wrap, a helmet, bell boots. I even knew brands and sizes (tipperary large, black vetwrap, XL pro choice no turns). Guess what I came home with? Yeah, none of those items.

Instead, I meandered back to the consignment department and found a water proof saddle cover for $15. I knew they cost about $30 in the dover catalog, which I read religiously, so I snatched it up. I'm planning on banging Izzy's tail and putting it up, so I grabbed some Eqyss detangler to do the job. I've used it before and loved it. Then I found myself in the helmet department. I tried on the Tipperary that I thought I Wanted and HATED how it fit. Weird. I've had a Tipperary for a really long time (like way longer than sane people keep helmets) and I love it.

I went and found a sales person who helped me fit helmets. She commented that the Tipperaries don't fit her head at all, especially the newer models and recommended an Ovation helmet, which I had passed on mentally because I just assumed they were the cheapie crap Dover brand. Wow. I tried it on and it fit like the Tipperary I already have. Score!! It also has an adjustable dial at the back which is unobtrusive but excellent for if my head swells when Izzy wins a class or (more likely) someone wants to come ride with me.

Also in the consignment section, I found a tempting pair of Veredus Event-tec front boots for $50. Yeah. 50. I was tempted, but I really really don't need more boots for Izzy (especially not after another amazing deal I scored last weekend). I did call Irie's mom, who needs eventing boots, and she was thrilled to have me pick them up for her. Such nice boots. I'm a tiny bit jealous, but I love my Nunn Finers.

Then I moseyed down the english stuff aisle, oogled some nice brushes, and started looking for bell boots. I found an XXXL model of the pro choice boots, but that's too big, even for Izzy. That's when it caught my eye. Eskadron Climatex Bandages. I've oogled them before, but at $70 a pair, it's a lot for me to stomach. However, the local store had them on special and I got a black pair for $32.

Uh huh.

It was such a good deal that I totally forgot the vet wrap and had to stop somewhere else on the way home to pick it up.

Speaking of good deals, at a used tack sale at the derby last weekend, I got a set of baby blue Eskadron jumping boots (open fronts and hinds) for $10. And a matching Eskadron pad, also $10.

It is the week for deal shopping, I tell you. Anyone else scoring out there?

PS Izzy is going to get her first ever set of shoes soon. Very exciting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Follow Up

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'll look in to them as soon as I get a chance. I did get out yesterday and turned Izzy out to play in the arena, which she enjoyed. I couldn't turn her out today because someone was riding, but I did lunge her, and she was so quiet that I hopped on bareback. I didn't have my whip, so she was super lazy, but it was nice just to kind of hang out with her and walk around.

Can I just re-emphasize how nice it is to have my amazing, sane, and beautiful horse back? I missed her.

PS Am I crazy for looking at hunter bridles for my prospective EVENT horse? I don't know what it is about the hunters that keeps calling my name. I blame Marissa and Tucker just a little bit.
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