Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taking Time for Andrea and Gogo

Last November, one of my good blogger friends was near the end with her mare. Andrea of Eventing A Gogo stepped up and raised money and support for Brooke and Denali. I remember staring at the "donate" button and thinking, "Christmas is coming and I'm barely employed. What can I possibly give?"

At the same time, I knew I had to do something. If it was my horse that was on the brink, every little bit would mean something to me, and I wanted Brooke to know that whatever happened, there was a whole community of horse people to love and support her.

None of us thought even for a moment that Andrea herself would be in the same position in just a few months. Gogo's injury, carefully rehabbed for two years by the most meticulous and caring owner imaginable, continues to get worse. Andrea wants the best for her and won't condemn her to a life of pain, regardless of how much she just wants to hang on to her beloved mare.

My thoughts and prayers are with them, which is why I'm working with Brooke, Monica, and Stacey to set up something for Andrea. If you can, give a little to Gogo and Andrea. The paypal address is . We're working on plans for what specifically to do for them, and we welcome your input.

Gogo and Andrea in happier times.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Exciting Idea

Izzy and I had a fabulous(!!!) jump ride this morning, but that's not actually what I'm here to talk about. Instead, we're talking barns and trainers.

Specifically, my eventing trainer who I LOVE, is actually spending the winter in my town, instead of her home base which is two hours away or her usual winter in sunny AZ. I am beyond excited about this and was hoping to get in on some lessons and make serious progress with Izzy.

Then I found out that she's actually going to base her operations out of a barn on the opposite side of the valley from me, which is fine if we're just finagling a trailer ride once or twice a month. However...

I saw this as a golden opportunity. Her working students are back in school and most of her clientele have actual jobs. That means... hm... she might need help around the barn, which would be a fabulous learning opportunity for the quasi-employed me. I emailed about it (since I deal better with text rejection instead of verbal), and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! I get to be her stall cleaner! Ok, officially, she said she would have room for someone with my talents, I believe.

Problem: Izzy is on the opposite side of the valley.

Sooo. Either I move her to the trainer's base barn for 6 months, which is about $100/month more or I leave her there and do with her what I can.

Pros to moving:
Trainer on site
Lessons on site
Conditioning on site
Learning oodles

Cons to moving:
We LOOOVE our current barn

Obviously, this is all still up in the air. If I'm going to be at trainer's barn 1x a week, there is zero reason to move Izzy and pay extra. If I'm going to be there 5x a week, it would be stupid not to move her for the time being. Those details will have to be worked out...

Big decisions. It's insane to leave a barn we're completely happy at, but it's also insane to pass up a chance like this. Wish us luck (and money!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Time Off

Due to Izzy working harder than she had in probably 9 weeks at our jumping lesson, I gave her Saturday and Sunday off.

It was too nice of weather to not do any pony stuff, though, so I went and watched Nanakorobi Yaoki's lesson.

Yeah, for having a cheapie camera, I'd say I take pretty nice pictures.

Also... I may be about 8 inches taller than her, but look how long her leg is relative to mine. Sad when the universe is this unfair.


Anyways, post lesson, we did pony baths. We got the mares show clean, if not quite George Morris clean. No worries--both of us are way too fat and poor to ride with GM ever anyways.

Shiny clean bay mare.

Then it was poor Ms. Izzy's turn. She hates water and baths of all varieties, so she was a little more challenging to deal with. Fortunately for her, it was roughly 1,000,000,000 degrees f outside, so the cold water didn't feel -that- bad.

Look how shiny!! She's still my fatty mare, but we're working on it.

Speaking of--Saturday was my birthday and Izzy had the day off. Instead of riding, I went for a six mile run with the fuzzies. Yes. Six. That means I actually can run my goal distance for this year, which is 10k. Now I just want to do it faster and more often.

We're so cute...

Poor mare has no idea that Jimmy's Wofford's gymnastics book is on it's way in the mail. Soon I will jump her legs off again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jumping Lesson, Take 2

Izzy and I had a jumping lesson this morning. I didn't mention it before because I didn't even know I was riding until 9pm last night.

It. Was. Awesome.

Unfortunately, no pictures were taken. It's surprisingly hard to round up a trailer ride for a horse at 11am on Friday with zero notice, not to mention find a photographer. Here's the best I can do:
Yes, a paint drawing of the arena. Be impressed.

The three straight lines represent the three little crossrails in the arena. The section marked 'water' was were apparently the irrigation got a little too enthusiastic and left us with a full scale water hazard. In retrospect, I shouldn't have made it the same color as the jumps. Oh well.

I had Stephanie ride Izzy to start out. I wanted to see a couple things. 1) Izzy being forward and happy and having a good experience. 2) Izzy's repsonse to Stephanie. I wasn't too concerned about this, but Izzy doesn't always respond well to different people, so I wanted to make sure her system would work for Ms. Mare. 3) Heck, I love seeing people ride my horse.

As predicted, Steph hopped on and rode Izzy around like she'd been doing it all her life. She'd canter by with one hand on the reins, explaining what she was doing and why and how it worked. Izzy looked better than I have probably ever seen her. Forward, bold, happy, confident. She even went in and out of the water a few times. Izzy always slowed to a walk, but trooped right through. Stephanie actually applauded that - she liked that Izzy was willing but concerned about the footing. "I don't like horses that don't think," she said.

Then it was my turn. We talked about position. She liked my shorter stirrups and had me stand straight up in them both to find my balance and to redistribute my weight into my feet. As she pointed out, "if 60% of your weight is in your feet, gravity dictates you cannot fall off unless your horse does a cartwheel."


She had me ride Izzy on a loose rein and very forward. She wanted her out in front of my leg (deeerrr...) but pointed out that on a nice moving horse like Izzy, you might as well show it off. Plus, "a horse can't buck you off at a full speed gallop. They can buck you off standing still, but not while they're moving."

Also true.

We started jumping the center jump. It was a teeny little crossrail. She pointed out, "If you approach the jump and are thinking about the jump, you need to circle. What you should be thinking about is what you're going to do after the jump-the turn, the transition." After she watched me anticipate the jump a little with my upper body, she added, "focus on what the horse's hind legs will be doing after the jump." It seemed like an odd idea, but it worked really well. When I rode in to the jump and focused on our turn and Izzy's engaged hind legs after the jump... magically, it was perfect. It made me sit up just a hair and everything went better.

Using that information, we then did a little course of the three jumps. It started out a little rough.

Stephanie stopped me. "The pace is your responsibility," she told me, "the jumps are hers. You have to ask your self two question: 1) Can I go faster? 2) Can I stop?" Her point was, coming in to the first jump, it was all I could do to keep Izzy in canter, so no, I couldn't go faster, and that was why the jump sucked.

We tried again. I got Izzy into a nice, forward canter...

And it was perfect. She even gave me a flying change after fence #2. We jumped through it once more, and called it a day.

My major take aways from this lesson were:
1) Weight in my feet. 60%. Re adjust as necessary, but it needs to become natural.

2) Until you have forward, you have nothing. GO FORWARD. I need to get a bit out of my comfort zone here, but Izzy looks fabulous when I do.

3) Focus on the hind legs after the jump.

Summarizing like that, it's all so basic sounding. Sometimes you just have to keep learning it, I guess.

Funny thing: we were talking about nerves, and I mentioned that I actually feel more calm and relaxed now than I did before my accident. "Sometimes you just need a break," Stephanie said.

"I had three."

She laughed. "I was thinking something more like a camping trip."

PS Many, many, many thanks to our awesome and gracious western trainer who trailered us out to a lesson on ridiculously short notice, sat through the whole thing, and talked it over on the way home. She is great.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thoughts on Leg Protection

Izzy has approved this message.

Since my review of the Eskadron Climatex Wraps, we've had a little discussion about the appropriate use of leg protection and it's application. I figured that I might as well discuss my theory and practice on that topic instead of summarize another stirrupless dressage ride (although I did have my best sitting trot ever!!).

I see leg protection as specific to an individual horse. In my case, I'm dealing with a mature-bodied diva mare who really doesn't interfere much under normal circumstances. Since she is a horse, normal circumstances involve standing in the pasture, moving around the pasture, and eating a lot of the pasture.

Thus, when I ride her and she is standing around, eating, and moving in a generally straight direction, I see precious little need to boot or wrap.

However, not all of our rides are trail rides.

I believe in leg protection for rides on which I'm asking her to do something new or difficult that would increase her chance of injuring herself. In addition, I always weigh the risk of leg protection gear vs the risk of bare legs.

For example, Izzy is pretty new to the whole trail thing, which would qualify us for leg protection EXCEPT that I think the risk of heat buildup and sand/weeds accumulating under the boots and rubbing her is greater than the risk of the occasional misplaced hoof.

When we had our absolutely fabulous dressage ride on Saturday, I had her wrapped all around. I knew that we were going to be going at a much faster clip than usual, and with the addition of lateral movements, I wanted that extra bit of protection.

I always boot for jumping. I use open fronts so that she can feel the rail if she knocks if, but if anything else knocks her, she should have protection. When doing grid work or cross country, I will boot all around. If we're just jumping single fences, I see front boots as plenty.

All that is held in the balance with the current weather. I live in Idaho, and it is warm in the summer time. Heat build up is a major risk for soft tissue injuries, so I always weigh the risk of that versus the risk of the activity we are doing. Generally, I'm more worried about heat than an occasional knock. Then there's winter. We get that here, albeit a lot less than most of you. That means that I switch almost entirely from wraps to boots, because my fingers are too cold to wrap properly, and an improper wrap is definitely worse than no wrap at all.

In case you're looking for product recommendations, here are mine:
Eskadron Climatex, obviously. Best hot weather polos on the market.
Classic Equine 3DX Bell Boots. The high neck gives gives extra protection and they are sized for actual horses, so they fit Izzy.
Roma Open Front Boots. They're cheap, they look good, they fit Izzy. I actually had Eskadrons here and sold them because I just didn't care for them.
Tack of the Day dressage boots. Don't have a link because they're only periodically available, but they cost $20, look like the more expensive models, hold up well, and are easy to clean.

PSA: If you do not know how to wrap, just don't do it. Boots are easier and safer.

So... thoughts? Agree? Disagree?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tired Me, Perfect Pony

I have not been sleeping much lately (yay!) (no!), so when I went to ride this morning, I was barely functional. Fortunately, I'd already planned out what to do, so I just had to follow my internal directions and go from there.

It's a little easier than it sounds.

I decided to have another jump day and set an exercise for Izzy that would help balance and relax her coming in to the jump, but still moderate her launch/gallop away from it.

As you see, three trot poles to a 2' mini oxer with a placing pole on the far side.

I settled for a quick warmup in two point. The less I rode, the less likely I was to do something completely stupid, right?

I also modified our equipment. Last time, I had her in the figure eight bridle with her most favorite big, thick bit and a running martingale.

This time I switched to a thinner bit (still loose-ring, double jointed) and dispensed with the martingale. I used our plain cavesson bridle because it didn't have a bit on it, so it was the simplest. I felt like Izzy was getting heavy in my hands and leaning into the martingale last time we jumped, so I wanted to change things up. The thinner bit should encourage her to take a little less contact.

Plus, since this is the first gymnastic-style exercise we've done in months, I put her usual open fronts and bells on, but added wraps in the back. Generally, it's the rider's fault if the horse's hind legs hit a fence, and I didn't want to 'punish' her if that happened.

Look how shiny she is. :-)

After our warmup, I pointed at the jump and trotted in. Izzy took me forward to it, but seemed a little surprised by the question and drifted left before and after the fence. I petted her, and we came around again. This time, Ms. Mare leaped into the canter right before the trot poles and proved that yes, you can canter trot poles without touching a single one of them and still jump well.

Hm. Again.

She trotted in, nice, light, forward, jumped, and cantered away in a nice balance.

I halted, told her what a wonderful girl she was, and jumped off. Total ride time was less than 10 minutes, but she did exactly what I wanted her too.

Admit it. You're jealous of my incredibly awesome and talented Pony Mare. I mean, I would be if I were you. She's that good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Officially, Izzy and I are not jumping until September, because pretty obviously, I have SERIOUS position/leg issues to deal with.

Unofficially, Izzy is bored out of her mind doing dressage right now and I need time in (out of?) the jump saddle to solidify my lower leg. Soooo...

Yesterday, I set a trot pole and a cavaletti. The cavaletti was only like 12" tall, so I figured we'd be fine. She usually jumps it on her first go, then just lazily trots over it after that.


Not this fearless, brave pony mare. SHE WILL JUMP, thank you very much.

She looks lazy in this picture, but don't let her fool you. The dragon is resting...

We had a grueling warmup, in which all she had to do was stay forward while my bum never touched the saddle. Ok, so maybe not at all grueling for her, but I wanted to die. I figured we would finish up with the set obstacles. We went back and forth over the trot pole, with me practicing keeping her straight, keeping my position, and moving in rhythm with her.

Then we turned for the teensy tiny little 1' cavaletti. We were trotting in, until about three strides out when she just charged at it and took a MASSIVE FLYING LEAP!!! WHEEEEE! JUMP!!

I brought her to a calm, collected halt, then trotted off again.

She remained enthusiastic. I settled for keeping a balanced canter to the itty bitty rail that was BARELY off of the ground, and then halting sometime after it. Apparently, she was getting a wee tich bored of the whole dressage pony thing.

Could a dressage pony rock this halter? Get real.

Today, we were back to stirrupless dressage again. My legs are getting to be downright amazing, y'all. Also they hurt a lot. Anywho. My plan is to continue riding stirrup free to help develop a nice, long leg and a better seat. However, since I can't ride her as forward as I would like without stirrups, periodically I will put them on and see how much can stick when we add in forward.

Yes, I realize that the best of both worlds would simply be to ride that forward without stirrups. If I was amazing at riding the sitting trot, I would consider it. I am not, and as such, I only ask for as much trot as I can sit without functioning as a jackhammer on her back.

What makes everything better for Izzy is that the apple tree has started producing. The BO raked up the fallen apples and leaves them in a cart on the way back to her field.

Pony pitstop.

Lastly, here's a shot of Izzy munching a few extra apples in her grain bucket.

Maybe she looks just a wee tiny bit less fat than before?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Product Review: Eskadron Climatex Wraps

Today I'm reviewing the Eskadron Climatex Training Bandages. They're available at multiple retailers online, but here's a link to one of my favorites: smartpak. They run about $70 new for a pair, which means that if you buy them at smartpak, you just have to spend $5 more, and then they ship free. Winning!

Even more winning, I picked up mine at a sale, so I paid $35/pair. That's good, because $140 for 4 polo wraps is roughly 10x what I believe in paying for polo wraps.

Down to the nitty gritty. Here's the official company image to advertise the wraps. I initially saw them in an issue of Practical Horseman, then looked them up because I thought they looked sharp.

They purport to be moisture- and heat-wicking, which makes them ideal wraps for me in the summer time, where even in the am temps are in the 80s and 90s F. I usually have to dispense with boots and wraps completely in the summer time because I think the risk of injury from heat build up is greater than the risk of injury from the occasional interference.

I'll admit, even with the expensive wraps, I was leery. I mean, hello, there are three yards of fabric wrapped around my horse's legs. Isn't that going to make them hot?

Here's Izzy after our ride Saturday, which was a pretty intense dressage work out in 90 degree weather*. Note the area under the saddle is completely drenched with sweat.

Her legs were dry.

For serious. I should have taken a picture.

Ok, so we've established that in my tiny experiment, the wraps worked as advertised. What about their construction?

Well, they're your standard 9' polo length. The first 4.5' is the climatex lining. It feels kind of like a dish towel, but it's a series of tiny compartments that seem to allow airflow between them. This is also the section that provides the padding, which is about the same as standard polos.

The second section is just your standard elastic bandage/wrap. You do have to wrap it more tightly then a normal polo or it will slip down and hang around your horse's ankles, making you look like a dingus in a dressage clinic. (Ask me how I know. Or don't.) The elastic serves to keep the padding in place, plus it's a pretty color.

I have heard that these wraps do not wash terribly well, especially after the first few times. I haven't tested that yet because 1) I only put them on my meticulously clean horse and 2) They dry really fast, so you if you dry them, brush off the dirt, and re roll them, you should be mostly set.

So there you go. I love them, but if I were to get another set, I think I'd go the Centaur Climate Control Wrap route. They look essentially the same and are a fraction of the price, even with the fabulous deal I got.

*I should qualify: it's hot here, but it's a dry heat. I can't begin to comprehend what humidity of a serious nature would do to my results.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Ask me how my ride was this morning.


I put the stirrups back on my dressage saddle so we could work on going forward while staying laterally supple. I know it's partly because I'm riding better (longer leg, better posture, clearer aids) from all our no stirrup work, but Izzy was just ON today. I had to keep my core engaged or should would have just blasted out from under me. Walk--soft, forward, flexible. Trot-balanced, supple, engaged. Canter-forward, free, cadenced. There was no bracing, no head flipping, no running on the forehand.

I like to think that part of it was how she was dressed.

She's sporting a brand new pink halter, fancy black rope, and we're back in the Eskadron climatex wraps, which I will have to write a review for.

I'm not sure what changed (other than me), but I like it.

After our wonderful ride, I fed her cookies. I mean, who can resist that face? Then I pulled her mane. It was overdue in June, but I wanted a lot to hang on to for XC, which was a good idea, but didn't help much. Then I couldn't pull it, then I didn't see the point since we weren't going anywhere.

However... the new nylon halter and the mane pull are building up to something. There may or my not be a pony picture extravaganza tomorrow.

PS Izzy was in fact SO GOOD that three ladies at the barn actually stopped me to tell me how brilliant she/we looked. I'm so proud.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Kind of Pain

I spent yesterday afternoon looking at pictures of Izzy and I this summer, and I all I could think was, "We look good. I want to jump again."

Besides, one of my goals this month is to spend time in two point, so I broke out the jump tack this morning. Needless to say, Izzy looked fab. Surprisingly, her girth still fit. It's a 48", which is fine when she's in shape, but as you can see, well...

We have tummy. Plenty of it.

Anyways. We went w/t/c, focusing on staying forward and happy on a loose rein. Oh, and on my screaming legs.


So when I hold two point for a while, everything in my lower legs starts hurting and stretching. My right ankle feels like it might just give up. Is this normal? Any thoughts, you people who do this a lot?

Good news was, my butt felt right at home in the saddle. I was worried I'd feel cramped and off balance, but I never did.

Izzy's cute face.

We didn't actually jump at all, but we did work on me holding my position through a series of trot poles, which she seemed to like. Poor thing was probably getting bored of dressage and western.

I probably can't even explain in words how much I love my horse. I spent most all of my childhood wanting a horse of any kind, and when I finally got one, she's just the sweetest, smartest, kindest horse I could imagine. It's an incredible feeling, to rely on each other and know that no one is going to take her away. :-) I know this isn't new information for probably any of you, but every once in a while it just hits me how happy I am with my girl.

Best pony ever.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back at It

Uh huh. Dressage saddle, stirrups removed.

Oh, and I did pilates this morning. Every muscle in my body will probably have a say in my activities tomorrow, if you know what I mean.

We had a good ride overall--I worked a lot on changing bend and lateral-ish motions. We'd go down centerline, leg yield left, straighten, leg yield right, then turn left, shoulder in left, should in right for a counter bend around the corner.

The idea was to keep Izzy active and engaged while forward and soft in the bridle. It mostly worked.
Izzy wasn't terribly enthused.

Overall, I was pleased with how we did. I'm starting to be able to sit a slightly bigger trot, and I'm definitely reaching my leg down longer than before. I can now post three whole circuits of the arena, too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trail Walk from the Driver's Seat

It's hot and I'm tired, so Izzy and I just slopped around western-style today. And I say slopped, not because that's what all western riders do, but because that is specifically what we were doing. I tried doing some arena work and realized I just didn't want to today.

So instead, we headed down the road. As we walked up the little hill on the pavement, a truck blasted past us at about 50 miles an hour. I tried to stay calm and Izzy didn't even blink. Yes! As we continued walking, one of her ex boyfriends started galloping the length of the pasture right next to us, running through the irrigation. She looked at him, but didn't really react. Another win!

She was pretty unsure about this whole thing. She's been out there before, but there was always either another horse for her to follow or me leading her, so she was never the one with the nose sticking the furthest out.

We rode past the herd that lives next to her, but she was starting to lose steam. She didn't want to leave her friends. Then we came to the spot where the canal branches off and you have water on BOTH SIDES. Omg. She was already behind my leg, and this was the last straw. She started backing and trying to spin around to head for home. Not too enthusiastically, but enough that I didn't feel like dealing with it. I dismounted, lead her back and forth and back and forth over the scary spot until it wasn't scary, then remounted and continued a ways.

Then I halted, turned her around, and rode her all the way home.

Not bad for our first-ever solo ride on the ditchbank.

Annnnd... I didn't bring a camera. Sorry folks. I'll try to get back to posting pictures soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Needing One of Those Lessons

After watching a plethora of lower level tests on Saturday, I went home and crashed. As I lay on the couch, consuming water by the gallon and eating a lot of food, while watching a movie, I thought, "Izzy and I could totally do that stuff."

So I got up, went to the barn, and we did. I kept my reins short, sat up, and RODE. She was phenomenal. I was really, really tired though, so I didn't ride for long.

Sunday I was a total mess by the time I got home. (I know, Stacey, I know. I didn't drink enough water and I should have eaten SOMETHING on my 8 hour shift. I set myself up.)

On my ride on Monday morning, Izzy didn't feel quit as brilliant. Part of it was me--apparently, it takes a day or so to recover from two straight days of abusing your body--but part of it was her. It's not her fault, really. It's just that she picked up some habits from having people other than myself riding her that I find absolutely irritating. I don't know that they're any worse than when I let her get away with (slopping around, not forward enough), but they're not what I like.

So we'd be cantering along in the arena and she'd bring her head up and just brace against me. Huh? No! Instead of fighting her with the reins, I'd just use my body to bring her into a tight circle and let it's curve force her to unlock. Or we'd do a downward transition and she'd just hit my hands like a ton of bricks and run downhill. Uh... halt. Back. NOW.

I'm not feeling quite as brilliant as I was on Saturday night, but it's probably more realistic. Soon I will try to schedule our lessons (eeek! so exciting!) so we can get some professional feedback.

PS Despite my last post, have no worries that Izzy and I ever gave up on dressage. We do it a lot and faithfully at home. It's just that I've never seen the point in taking her back to a dressage show. Until now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dressage Show

I have taken Izzy to one informal unrecognized dressage show ever. It was a very bad experience, to say the least. It wasn't really the organizer's fault--Ms. Mare had a meltdown of ulceric proportions and I got kicked and, well, the judge hated me.

Anyways. As such, I just quit bugging around with it. We did dressage at home and didn't even sign up for it at combined tests. I mean, all shows need volunteers, so I'd just do that for dressage and ride in the jumping. I didn't bother attending/volunteering at the big dressage shows. I don't really have a good reason for that. I guess I just didn't care.

Early last week though, I got a call from a friend who needed a groom at the recognized show. I told her I'd love to, and that was that. It was so fun (and pure chaos). Basically, my old trainer and I had three horses between us. She was riding all of them, which meant I was brushing, cleaning, braiding, boot wiping, water bottle carrying, and test reading. Plus cold hosing, untacking, bucket filling and tack cleaning.

I forgot how much I love that stuff.
There are only a few pictures, since I was mostly running around like a crazy but calm and collected person, but here is one of the horses in my charge. He's a goofy 5 year old oldenburg gelding. This was his first recognized show (I think) and it was his first canter show. He'd only done an intro class at one prior show.

What a pretty boy.

And a shot of him in the show ring. He was in the top three in all four of his classes. He's really quite a solid citizen--he'd spook at the judges' booth as he walked in, then not even blink at it again after that.

Also, he's bloody huge. (like 16.2 at least). I know this picture doesn't make him look ginormous, but that's because Cathy's 6' tall and has incredibly long legs.

And here's Cathy on Sasha, her 2nd/3rd/other hard things horse. They had a good weekend and got qualifying scores for regionals. Yay!

I had an absolute blast and even got complimented on my excellence as a groom by a race horse trainer, which was kind of fun. Cathy almost didn't know what to do with herself. As soon as she got off a horse, I ran off with it and had it untacked, fed, watered, stalled, and rinsed before she even made it back to the barn. Winning!

Of course, the fun part about grooming for a pro is that when I'd got pick up her scores, every test had a pretty ribbon attached. I think she won like 60% of her classes, which was way fun for me. She's one of those 'it's not about the ribbons' people, but I'm one of those 'OMFG I GOT A RIBBON' people, so I guess we balance each other out.

Total score for the weekend: $30 grooming fee from friend who owned the not-pictured horse, two free dressage lessons from Cathy, one pair of free breeches. What's not to love?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Trail Ride!

I'm just in a western mood lately. What can I say? Izzy got her first pair of front shoes in a year yesterday, so she's finally sound. I liked having her barefoot, but if you combine pasture irrigation with rocky gravel roads and a drama queen princess pony, you do not have a happy sound horse. Such is life.

Anyways. We had a nice little arena ride this morning. Since we're back to playing western pleasure pony, we worked on trotting forward and stretching down on the longsides of the arena, then coming back to a nice little collected jog for a 20 meter circle in the corners. When she did one long side staying completely soft and came back without me even touching the reins, I decided it was time to go ride outside the arena.

Off we went. We walked around the indoor arena, across the road, and then made a few laps around the track. When I felt settled, we marched out into the hay field. I'd say our trail walks definitely paid off--Izzy was as relaxed as I've ever seen her out in the open. She did really well right up until we had to cross from the hayfield through a shallow ditch and up a steep bank. Problem? Mud. Apparently it was irrigated recently and she was apprehensive about the footing. I felt like if I pushed it, she would have gone, but I wasn't comfortable enough with the depth of the mud to ask for it.

Plus she was wearing bellboots and there was cheat at the top of the bank.

We did a small circle. I asked her to go one step closer to the bank than she did before, then I asked her to halt. She was nervous, but obedient. I petted her and we followed our tracks home.

Brave western trail pony.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Long Term Goals

Izzy's having another day off, so I have some time to reflect.

While conversing with fellow eventing blogger Nanakorobi Yaoki the other day, she spelled out for me in one sentence what her equine competition goals were: training 3 day. I was impressed. Not just because of the goal, which is admirable, but because of her focus. She knew where she was going and her training is to that end.

I have long term goals. Really, I do. It's just that they aren't that clear and concise. Here is my current list of long term goals:

1) Ride 4th level dressage (probably schooling at home)

2) Earn USDF Bronze Medal (obv, at recognized show)

3) Complete endurance ride--probably 30 mile range. Don't need to be competitive, do want to finish.

While talking with yet another friend (Ellie from Cedes of Change), I realized how odd it was that despite my usual claim to be an eventer, I had no eventing goals. Not even any jumping goals. It's not because I'm scared--prior to my accident, I was actually feeling really confident jumping in the arena. I can sit here and visual approaching the jump I came off after on XC and not feel the tiniest nerve.

Huh. I guess this calls for revising my goals. I'm adding:

4) Be competitive at the local level in 3' jumper classes.

These are all long term goals. The dressage is maybe a decade out, since I can't have concentrated lessons. The jumping we're actually closest to. As for the endurance goal, well, I'll have to ask Dom how long that would take.

Can't you just see her as a brave endurance horse?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Setback

Pony Mare got her hooves trimmed yesterday. She's looking pretty darn good, but I didn't think to take pictures.

Only problem is that her pasture was just irrigated, so her hooves are super soft and now she's super sore. Since she tends towards the dramatic anyways, there was no way riding was going to happen, soft sand or not.

Instead she got a thorough grooming and my riding muscles got the day off.

In the mean time, check out my awesome new header. Thanks to blog reader Megan for making it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back in the Saddle!!! (!! x infinity)


It hurts a lot. Yikes.
Here's a picture of Izzy and I on our first ride together in six whole weeks. We're basically just chilling out at this point, but you see what I mean.

My butt. In the saddle.

Well, ok, thankfully, her head is covering my butt, but I'm riding again regardless.

I rode for an hour Friday night. Izzy felt mostly really good. Some things were better than when I left off--her walk has improved and she was easy to put together at the trot and canter.

That said, I think S is a much more handsey rider than I am or something, because when I'd ask for a downward transition, she'd hit the bit like a TON of bricks. Interesting... Also, the funky head flip she picked up with S never appeared, and she only offered to jig once. Hm... I think I just tend to be looser and more relaxed, which means I get less performance out of her, but I also get a lot less resistance.

This is what I was confronted with when I showed up for my first ride. Yep. Ms. Mare rolled in the mud, probably in my honor. Nothing like a good hard curry for arm therapy, right?

Fortunately, I got her cleaned up and we actually had a decent ride. The pictures (and video!) are courtesy of fellow blogger Nana Korobi Yaoki.

Yes folks, there is actually another person from Idaho who blogs. And events. And now, takes pictures and videos of me. Yay blogger friends!!! This is kind of a big deal, since most the rest of you actually have other bloggers in your area. Idaho? Yeah, not so much.


Here's a video of our first ride together:

Not our best ever, but not our worst.

I know what you're all thinking: what about her goals? The 50-70% of the month ridden without stirrups?

Yes my friends. After this ride, I took the stirrups off the saddle. They aren't going back on until September 1st. My thighs are killing my, but my sitting trot is already improving. Also, I posted two laps around the large arena today. Did you know that can cause your calf to cramp?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting Excited

It’s Friday, Friday
Going riding on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the riding, riding
Friday, Friday
Going riding on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the riding

Sorry, I know it's an annoying song but OMG RIDING ON FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It depends on the doctor clearing me to go, which I really hope doesn't depend on him both taking and reading a CT scan, because we all know that can't be done on the same day. I'm feeling really good--I even ate tacos with my grandpa yesterday!! Tacos are huge for me, ok? It's a big step up from smoothies and pasta.

So cross your fingers for me, unless you're an Izzy sympathizer. She probably wants to stay semi retired indefinitely.

Here's the wondermare cantering and trotting around yesterday. Someday soon, there might even be a video of me riding her. Fancy that!

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Goals!!

Goal evaluation for July:

1) Get a bottle of fly spray and teach Izzy to stand while I apply it.
Success!! Copious amounts of cookies convinced Izzy that fly spray is a fine institution.

2) Recruit friends and use round pen as needed to lunge Izzy four times a week. Work on going forward, transitions, and transitions within gaits.
Success!! Ms. Mare has been working, albeit not very hard.

3) Stay in motion. I can't ride or run, but I can do some pilates stuff, walk, and..l. I don't know. Something. Try not to become a fat blob during this setback.
Success!! I think I actually shrunk my massive herculean calves just a teeny tiny bit and I am actually slightly more fit than before.

Despite all that wonderful success, our goals for the month were pretty darn low. I mean, we achieved everything, but... you know... it didn't take much. August goals are tricky, because in theory, I actually get to start riding in 5 WHOLE DAYS!!!!

However. That is dependent on me doing nothing stupid for five days and the doctor signing off on it. (For those of you who don't believe in following doctor's orders: it's not my favorite thing, either, but he threatened me with surgery and anesthesia and wires and mouth-tied-shut and MONTHS of not riding. Then my husband got on board, so in order to preserve their support, I have to follow the rules.)

I'm going to set goals assuming that I can begin riding on August 6th, and if anything changes, I guess I'll have to revise later.

August Goals:
1) Continue lunging/ground driving Izzy to confirm her ground manners, as per current work.

2) Begin riding. 50-70% of undersaddle time done without stirrups. Use full seat breeches and dressage saddle.

3) Stirrups on jump saddle and lots of two point in all three gaits. Might trot over poles, but no jumping until September.

I'd like to keep getting out of the arena, but #1 priority is going to be not reinjuring anything for the time being. We'll see how it goes.
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