Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 - A Year In Review

Wow what a year 2016 has been.  Not nearly as bad as it has been for others but I am sure glad to see it go.  Where did we go in 2016?

January:

I spent the whole damn month redoing our farm house which resulted in virtually no riding time.


February:

I posted my first/only before/after post of my remodel and got the farm listed for sale.  I rode during a showing to try to get in horse time and ended up with an offer within 48 hours of the farm being for sale.  Even though it was for sale for 6 months the year prior.  And I squeeze in a trip to see barns in PA before picking the one I am at now.

March:

March was a little sad as I did serious packing and downsizing.  The horses got all of their health stuff done for the season in prep for their move and we start to diagnose App being NQR and I practice solo trailer loading of both horses in prep for the Big Move.

April:

April was the Big Move.  The horses were moved with so little problems it was seamless and we found I could actually fit my entire barn in my 2 horse trailer.  Then made the final trip to PA.  I had my first rides in PA, though it took Mia a while for her brain to arrive from MI, and App is officially retired after an ultrasound and xray.

May:

I determine Mia doesn't like her HSS baucher bit, her HSS loose ring, her eggbutt french link, or, or, or and I went back to her copper eggbutt.  We had our first XC jump schooling in PA, our first lesson in PA AND our first show in PA.

June:

We had our second lesson in PA which didn't go nearly as well as the first lesson and talked about boarding vs at-home care.  And I still stand by it, I do not want to go back to at-home horses.  I loved the ability to have them "right there", but the amount of work far exceeded the joy and pleasure I got out of having them home.  Oh yeah, and I fell off again.

July:

Mia's dressage starts to spiral out of the circle of good and into the circle of "this needs fixed" and I start using a pelham.  I test out 4 saddles in the search to find a new jump saddle and have another XC schooling.  Mia gets sick and I get an awesome stall plate from Olivia.

August:

August wasn't great.  We lost a third of the month from Mia being sick, missed a show and Mia's dressage continued to go downhill when I didn't ride in the pelham.  We had our third lesson which went pretty good.

September:

Mia started going better in her copper eggbutt and I stop using the pelham.  We had our 2nd show which went really, really well despite not placing great.  We had a CWD saddle rep come out before buying a used County Innovation and finding it didn't fit well, but felt amazing.

October:

A total reflock was done on the new saddle and we go to our 3rd show in which Mia doesn't show up to play, resulting in our worst dressage score to date.  I get my saddle back and get my 2pointober time up to a new personal record of 7:09 and aim to go higher before the end of the month.


November:

I finish out October with another new personal high of 8:01 in two point!!!!!!  Then Mia gets sick again and we lose an entire month with her being NQR with fat legs, random fevers and lethargy.


December:

Mia has decided to show back up and play when we work on dressage, though I don't get too much riding in due to the cold and weather and finish out the year trying to fall off when I ride w/t bareback and declare a new thing, No Saddle January.

Here is to a better 2017 for me and for all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Just some updates, Saddleless January is going to be a thing

Things are par for the course.  Last week I only got to ride twice due to the in-laws being in town, woohoo?  Mia is actually being really good, not great but she isn't fit so I don't expect great.  I have been working on contact and basic fitness for both her and I and it is coming back, slowly.  On Friday the in-laws came out to the barn with SO and I and I did some fitness work.  8 minutes of two point from Twopointober?  Fat chance!  HAHA!!  It will come back, I hit 3 minutes and that was good enough for me.  Take aways?  Since, you know, I should be documenting my rides?  Mia needs to relax over her topline again and soften her poll.  She needs to keep some bend and contact in the outside rein without my forcing the issue at the start of each ride.  She needs to move bigger, not faster.

The good?  Mia is doing very well in steering with just my seatbones (When did that start happening?!).  Mia is staying adjustable in her trot and, when sufficiently warmed up, can go from a working trot to an extended trot to an almost western trot almost exclusively from seat and legs. Her canter is going wonderfully as long as I sit up and BACK.  She can't keep a nice, balanced canter for too long, just a circle or so, but that is so much better than the dumping on the forehand, going fast and ignoring my suggestions which is her go-to.  Her canter is by far her weakest gait so any improvement is appreciated.

Speaking of appreciated, the new farrier trimmed my appys on the 17th.  He wasn't able to do much since it had been only 5 weeks since their previous trim, but I had to do what I had to do to get on his schedule.  I felt so much better after his trim, I had zero desire to "fix" anything he did.  Maybe I finally found a good farrier here?!  He said that their heels were still way too high, something I had been trying and trying to get the previous farrier to fix.  Even with my "direction", old farrier wasn't taking them down enough.  New farrier said that by taking all of the toe and leaving the heel, the angles are wrong and pointed out bruises on Apps soles from just standing around.

When both horses walked off, they even sounded better as they walked down the aisleway.  It has transitioned into the arena as well, the first night I rode Mia, she felt WAY different.  The arena was half frozen so I couldn't fully evaluate her gait but the second time, wow.  She is really moving out and isn't nearly as stiff behind.  Even another boarder noticed a difference in her gait.  I am discouraged that we spent most of last year with poor hooves, but I suspected it was happening and couldn't do much to fix it as the old farrier does ALL of the horses at the barn.  It wasn't until the new boarder came with her own farrier that I felt "okay" using a different/her farrier.  And now I am being avoided by the old farrier.  Go figure, politics. My horses' well-being is more important than how the farrier views me, and the barn isn't upset because I am still using a farrier they approved to come into the barn.  Weird, yes, but such is boarding.  Apparently they allow only "approved" farriers.  I am just glad I found this second option.

On Christmas, I went to the barn and just did some w/t on Mia bareback with a halter.  She was a little more spirited than I would have preferred, so I didn't do any canter, but she behaved well enough.  I did notice I was not as secure in my seat as I should be, looks like more bareback riding is in my future again.  I used a saddle in most of No Stirrup November, apparently that wasn't good enough for my balance so Saddleless January is going to make an introduction.  Haha!  Monday I tried to go to the barn, I really did, but everything was covered in ice.  Living on a mountain does have some downsides, when going 10mph down the road is still too fast and people are sliding, perhaps one needs to stay home.  After going about a mile towards the barn, I turned around and went home.  Not worth a car wreck to just play with the horses.

Last night I went out and rode sans saddle and felt soooo much better and secure.  I can only guess the ride where I kept trying to fall off woke my brain up and now it "remembers" how to balance lol.  We did some w/t/c and I am very pleased with how it went.  We even got some laterals in, after we picked up Mr Spanky.  Funny how Mr Spanky never had to be used, just picking it up was enough to get Mia off of my leg.  Ha!  More bareback riding tonight, I figure at least 10 rides should be done before I deserve a saddle again.  That should show my no good, lazy body how to remember to balance properly.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Time to ride, just in time for bitter cold

Wow what a two week time span.  Last week I was traveling for work and had no time to ride.  Well, I did ride quickly on Saturday but it was just a be-bop kind of ride, hop on/off.  When I got back, I went out on Sunday I lunged her to get some willies out so I could ride on Monday.  On Monday I went to the barn to ride and got caught in a surprise (to me) snow storm.  I left the house at 530p and it was barely flurrying.  No worries I thought!  By the time I made it 20 minutes into my (normally 45 min) drive, it was snowing really hard and the roads started to get slippery.  By the time I made it 40 minutes into the drive, I was going 30mph or slower as the road was now slippery, but to the barn I persisted.  I made it to the barn in 50 minutes, which wasn't too bad.  Except things were really slippery by then.  I got App and gave him a brushing and his bi-monthly shot of Pentosan.  While walking him back out, I almost busted my ass. Yeah....  I grabbed Mia and brushed her down and figured I probably shouldn't stay and ride.  By this time there were inches of new snow on the ground, things were slippery and it was still snowing HARD.   So I put her out, almost fell down, again, and made my slow trek home.  My little car really wanted to go into the ditch at one point, and seriously thought about it a second time, but I was able to convince it to stay on the road and I made it home in a little over an hour. Snow tires for the win!  We ended up with just over 4 inches of snow in the 2.5 hours it took me to go to the barn and back.  So yeah, Mondays ride was a fail.

The cats were very concerned when I got home and I shared my story with them
Tuesday I lunged her again as I hadn't ridden still and I wanted to enjoy my ride and that meant ensuring I didn't end up with a rocket on a string.  I had Mia do fitness lunging, having her trot for 3 minutes, walk for 2, trot for 3 minutes, walk for 2, canter for 3 minutes, walk for 2, canter for 3 minutes, walk for 5.  That did amazing things for her mentally and she was much happier at the end of the session than she was when we started.  She isn't nearly as explosive as most horses, but she was just so much more relaxed and happy after lunging.  I really do think she enjoys a bit of work.

It does make for a pretty picture though
Last night I was finally able to ride and since I won't get to ride until this weekend thanks to the single digit highs we are having, I was taking advantage of it.  Mia started out totally unable to go into the outside rein.  As soon as I let go of the inside rein, she tilted her head to the outside and wanted me to pull and hold her.  Uh, no.  We walked for about 20 minutes doing laterals, turns, serpentines, corners and pirouettes until she finally was soft and in my outside rein.  In taking the time to do that, she even started responding to my seatbones again and would make nice changes of direction with simple pelvis tilts.  How cool, I didn't expect her to remember that until she was back in work.  Training for the win!  She surprises me at times with the buttons she decides to suddenly remember.

I decided to alternate between sitting and rising trot, to really encourage her to slow down and try to get her to use her hind end and I think it worked.  She didn't really push off of her hind end, and she isn't really strong enough to hold me in sitting trot for long periods, but she stayed light in her front, responsive to my seat and didn't fuss much with her head.  Everything I was hoping to accomplish.  For a horse that had virtually 2 weeks off?  That is great.  She even gave me some great canter transitions, no bolting, no leaping, no dumping onto the forehand.  Just some sit, pick it up, stay balanced and a decent down transition.

It is cold outside, snuggles required to make it better
It is very obvious that both of us are not currently fit, I need to start cardio stuff again because....sheesh, yeah, I just do.  Mia needs semi regular work to be strong enough to hold these better gaits and to stay off of her forehand.  Not sure how well we will accomplish it during the winter, but I am sure going to try.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Better, actually better this time!

Wow all, it has been busy.  Mia has had her on again/off again lameness/not quite lame/NQR for over a month now.  I mean, I really love that hasn't been super cold and I just get to brush my horses and not do actual riding.  (Sarcasm).  Imagine my surprise then when I went out the day before Thanksgiving and not only was Mia's legs not blown up but Mia didn't have a fever and Mia wasn't lethargic.  Score!  Thanksgiving miracle!

video
Random video because jump!

On Friday I finally hopped on (Yes, this past FRIDAY.  THAT is how long she has been NQR.  Did I mention I was off of work last week for vacation and got to actually ride zero times until Friday?) and Mia felt fantastic.  Really great in fact.  I had my kite on a string again, ha!  I tried to ride outside but the footing was very sloppy due to rain/melting and had puddles everywhere, I was concerned about her slipping with the antics she was pulling so we went inside.  The new footing is amazeballs and worked out wonderfully to let Mia just go.  She had SO much energy.  This time, however, I just asked her to be forward and let her go.  No galloping, as others were in with us, but no real work.  Just steam blowing and it worked well.  I let her trot trot trot her little heart out.  The last time, I let her go at her own pace.  This time, I monitored her pace but let her just go forward.

When I went out on Sunday, her legs were nice and tight, she wasn't lethargic and had no fever again. Finally.  Mia was much more manageable under saddle and while we didn't do any "real" work, I was able to get her to come onto the bit, stretch forward and down and do some lateral work in the trot. Like on Friday, she trotted a long time before settling down but then I actually had a horse that was willing to listen to my aids.  We even did some canter work and, despite some leaping, Mia did very well.  She alternated between having a semi-balanced canter and flat out running away, but it was better than on Friday so I took that as an accomplishment.

video
The start of lateral work

Monday we worked on some lateral work and overall she did well.  I wasn't riding with spurs so I ended up needing a whip to remind her to move off of my leg, but it went well.  I think the finished video shows decent improvement.  She is moving off of my leg with much more enthusiasm and isn't trying to be angled so much.

video
Finished lateral work

Last night I rode and didn't do too much but Mia decided she had enough, she did NOT have a desire to play anymore.  We started out well enough, some laterals at the walk and trot.  Some collected trot with a little power (which didn't really happen) to some stretchy trot to some canter departures.  It all was decent enough until we hit the right lead canter.  Her weakest link.  As much as we tried, she decided she just could not collect and carry herself or keep her head out of my face.  Since I let her stay on her forehand on Sunday, I must need to allow it now.  No.  We have danced this dance before...

We ended up doing walk/canter quarter circles until she decided she could canter without bolting and she could stop without diving onto her forehand.  I then used my clicking noises to reward her when she put her head down and at the 45 min mark of our ride, we were finally able to get a decent canter circle.  I finished with some trot circles and when she stopped pulling on me and going faster, I called it a night.  She sat under a cooler before getting treats and going outside.  She apparently forgot that it was easier to try versus fighting me.  I didn't want to work her that hard, as she isn't really fit, but she gave me no choice.  Alas.

This weekend will hopefully be an easier ride because I won't have time to ride for a week after that.   Next week I am out of town for work.  I rarely travel for work anymore so I can't be too upset, it is just not ideal timing with her being off.  At least it isn't during show season.  Let's see if she remembers to not fight so hard with her upcoming time off.  Ha!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Better but not really better

I was so happy when I revoked my membership to the Fat Leg Club last week. Woohoo!!  Just in time to ride in the BRAND NEW FOOTING the barn put in the indoor!  *Swoon*  I marched my happy ass out to the barn Thursday night and grabbed my mare all ready to throw down an awesome dressage ride.  The new footing was going to make her suddenly perform upper level movements and it would be amazing, I knew it.  As we walked into the barn, and thus the light because it is totally dark at 630p, I was crestfallen.  Mia's hind legs were fat again.  UGH!!!  Not super fat like they have been, but swollen none the less.  Sigh.

She wasn't lame so I tacked her up and we rode a quick walk/trot/canter (no stirrups!).  This showed she was okay enough, but NQR.  Maybe a little stiff, a little hesitant and certainly not the rocket ship I had the day prior.  Chalking it up to overdoing it the day prior, when she went craycray, I rode only about 20 minutes and hopped off.  Her legs weren't warm, her hooves are still kind of warm, but not really warm, and her legs were still semi-sensitive.  On the plus side, her scratches on her hind heels seemed about gone.

On Saturday the farrier was out and I let him go, I am going to try someone else.  He is a really nice guy, but I have to have him "fix" every single hoof.  He is better about not taking all toe and nothing else, but the hoof should be level, heels the same height and walls should be typically the same height.  Unless you are fixing something...and he is not.  I get that he hasn't been doing this long, and I thought I would be ok with "growing my own" farrier, but I might as well do this myself if I am telling him exactly how to trim every hoof, every single time.  So in about 4.5 weeks they will be done again by the new farrier, we will see how it goes.  I really like the feet of the other horse that he does, so I am very hopeful.

Monday night I went out to the barn and Mia's legs were nice and tight again, woo hoo!  I put more stuff on her scratches and felt around, the only real issue is that her hooves are still slightly warm.  Not abscess warm, and she is still sound, but just a little warmer than I would expect.  And then last night her legs were slightly swollen, again.  Not much, just some fill.  I talked with the vet and without a fever, being lame or showing any other symptoms, there isn't much else she recommends but time.  I may have her draw blood and see what it says, maybe Lyme or something?  I have no idea.
Bareback and in a halter for No Stirrup November/Broken Pony Month
So Mia is getting some non-training time until she is no longer NQR.  It's not like we have shows coming up and besides, I saw how quickly her training progressed when I actually had time to ride every week lol.  App is doing better on a full tablet of Equioxx and is doing great in the weight department.  I expect by the end of the month he will be where he needs to be, that makes me very happy.  It may have taken 3 years, but now I have a handle on how to fix his weight loss issues.  As soon as the days get shorter, start pumping him full of at least 2 weight gain products and put him on a round bale in the middle of a pasture.  Why?  Vets don't know.  But now I know how to fix it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fat Leg Club Membership revoked

There has been little going on in the horse world this past week, Mia's legs were nice and fat and slowly got better.  They are currently 90% back to normal and her fever didn't come back after the first day when the vet was out.  I gave her the entire week off last week, which meant it was closer to 2 weeks since I have ridden her, and did a bunch of housekeeping at the barn to take up my time.  Oh yes, and I also had to travel back to MI for a wedding which took up a good 4 days.

I now have 3 blankets for App and 1 for Mia at the barn, all in a cubby and neatly labeled.  The barn is more than willing to blanket App at their discretion, so App will likely be blanketed in some form until probably April.  My challenges with his weight are getting better, as I have stated before, he loses weight every year when he starts to grow his winter coat (Aug/Sept/Oct).  He lost close to 100 pounds this fall, despite being on Cool Calories and full pasture, so we threw him on a round bale, added a 2nd weight builder, upped his grain again and separated him from Mia at feeding time so she doesn't help herself.  It seems to have worked, he is not where I want him, weight wise, but he is pretty dang close.  You can now feel his ribs but they aren't obvious and he doesn't look thin anymore.  Win!  The horses were also moved to a dry lot to keep them out of mud and I think that has been helping as well.

I have had to increase App's Previcox to a full tablet, he had been on a half tablet since we got his official diagnosis.  I bumped it up to 3/4 of a tablet about a month ago and now he is on a full tablet starting this week.  Our vet says he should be on a full tab anyway, but the ortho vet who diagnosed him said to keep him on a 1/2 tab and increase as necessary.  Vets never really agree anyway but he is now on a full tab.  He is now also moved over to the new Equioxx, the FDA approved version of Previcox for horses.  Wooo.  Thankfully the cost is exactly the same and now apparently I have recourse against the manufacturer if there is an issue.  So there is that.

Last night I rode Mia for the first time in almost 2 weeks and had grand plans to stay nice and slow and low.  Some stretchy walk/trot, keep it about 20-30 minutes and call it a night.  The indoor was getting new footing while she was down and I was away, and it is ready today and not last night, so I had to ride outside.  Which wouldn't be so bad except the barn on the top of a fricken mountain and it gets really windy.  And it was 41 degrees.  And drizzly.  Ugh.  I brought 2 windbreakers and was thankful for both.  We started out with a walk and Mia had to look at all of the shadows from the outdoor arena lights and then didn't care.  She was, however, wired and ready to just go already.  Apparently having her in a smaller dry lot plus no riding for 2 weeks makes Mia almost unridable!  Good to know....  You can stop now.

I tried letting her just trot it out of her system but she just could not.  My only requests for the ride were to not cut corners, keep your head out of my face and to just trot.  She could not agree with those terms.  After breaking into a canter for a 2nd time, and giving a little buck/kick, she was thrown on a lunge line and I let her go until she wanted to stop.  And that took a little while.  After she had herself a little damp from sweat (despite cold/wind/mist) she finally settled down and could now go through trot poles without jumping all 3 at once.  Finally.  I hopped on and she was much more agreeable to my 3 requests so after 1.5 laps, I hopped off and called it a night.

Tonight we are going to try some actual work, apparently my plan of bringing her back slowly does not jive with her plan of needing more exercise.  Well, if nothing else I am glad to have my membership revoked to the Fat Leg Club, I did not enjoy its benefits.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Fat Leg Club

Things have been going along nicely for me.  This is the last weekend of the Month of Busy, the next month of weekends is pretty open and relaxing.  Last week was also the last of 2pointober and I have been SO good at doing this challenge regularly!  I have always done the challenge, but not publicly and not in a contest, so this is a first.  Before the challenge, my personal record for two point was 6:10.  Yeah, I know, big wannabe eventer fail, but it was my record.  Last month, however, I got my new (to me) saddle .  And two point is SO much easier to maintain in it.  Not that my Stubben makes two point hard, it is just easier in the County.  It is like the County whispers "Be here" and I just do.

So last weekend was running around getting the vehicles legal (stupid safety inspections, registrations and what not) and then clearing out the garage for what should be the final time.  The garage is now 95% organized and officially "moved in".  Woohoo!  The only things left are SO's side of the garage with his tools/fluids/etc for the racecar and car parts, not of my concern to organize.  On Sunday, I was getting ready to go to the barn to finish out my LAST two point time of the month when I got a text, Mia has a cough and her legs are stocked up.  Ugh, that sucks.

Big fat legs
I made it out to the barn and Mia was fairly lethargic and yes, she had fat legs.  Four fat legs to be exact.  I curried the legs and found no injuries or heat.  They weren't super sensitive but she would prefer I didn't brush them.  She had a high, but within normal temp of 100.2.  Well damn.  I free lunged her for about 5 minutes and thankfully she is sound, but the fill did not go away.  I wanted to wrap her but it was going to rain all night long and I didn't want her standing in wet wraps so I poulticed her and gave her the day off.

Fat leg fail
Yesterday the barn called and said she developed a temp of 101.4 and her legs were even bigger so I had the vet out.  The other gelding she goes out with is currently sick(er than Mia), he had a temp of 103 and is moving in almost a stringhalt-ing fashion with his left hind.  If he was sick and Mia now has a temp, I wasn't going to mess around.  The vet didn't find anything definitive.  She is suspecting anaplasma, a bacterial issue which causes lethargy and fill in legs.  She got a shot of oxytet and is now on doxy for 2 weeks and bute for a few days.  The vet did say her lungs and trachea sound good and the cough issue didn't present itself but the doxy should resolve anything there.  Fun times.

Last night Mia seemed back to normal, personality wise and the fever was gone, she was down to 99.4.  I curried her legs off and while they are still big and fat, they aren't AS big and fat.  Did I remember to take a pic when they were really big and fat?  No.

No lady like ankles here
So with Mia on rest, last night I bopped around on App with a halter and saddle pad.  He seemed pretty content and not as lame as normal so I let him trot since he wanted to.  Well, let's say my App was thrilled to FINALLY be allowed to go more than a walk.  I had visions of him breaking into a gallop as I am riding with just a halter, saddle pad and my phone in my hand before he settled down into a reasonable, if quite gimpy trot.  OMG horse, you are supposed to be broken and retired!  Ha!  I let him trot around for a few laps before asking him to walk.  I had him do a little lateral work, which he willing gave, and gave him a good grooming.  I may have 2 broken horses but they are both acting totally normal, if not bored.  I guess I will take that over lethargic, sad horses.  So the conclusion of the story is that I didn't best my new personal best of two point.  What did I close the 2pointober competition with?  


Yeah.  This is a new personal record :D

Thursday, October 20, 2016

2pointober, Saddles and Such

Mia really is doing a good job with being more mature, she really has grown up in the past 3 years but especially so in the past 8 months or so.  Last year she was just starting to decide to work with me instead of against me while jumping, now it is regular that she is with me.  This spring we were really fighting her in dressage, now she is pretty dang steady and I am hopping on with the expectation that we can get something done.  Progress indeed!
The shine is strong with this one
On Tuesday the saddle fitter came back out.  Technically the husband came out, they work as a husband/wife team.  They both were out to pick up the saddle and the husband brought it back, I have been talking almost exclusively with the wife.  Did I mention he was 20 minutes late, with no notice?

Fresh out of the car
I dunno.  I didn't love it.  I told him I didn't think it fit.  He said it did.  As we walked out to the arena, I asked him if he was sure he was happy with the saddle position and he said yes.  I asked him 3 times.  He said yes three times.  He watched us ride and jump and said it looked great.

Was disappointed, it doesn't look like it fits.  Still.
He said the saddle didn't rock and things looked good.  I told him it rode very well but it didn't fit.  You could see the wool "buttons"on the bottom of the left panel that extends down her shoulder, by the knee roll.  (Wow, descriptive huh.  I don't know the exact term, panel horn?  It is the squishy, wool part that is under the knee roll)  He went ahead and untacked and then said the saddle wasn't sitting far back enough, "See, it fits perfectly".  He then brought it out to his car and flattened the left panel a little bit to stop the rolling, causing me to see the "buttons".

After 2 rides, looks better IMO
Dude.  I asked you, repeatedly, before I started to make a scene.  Really?  My confidence in you just went to zero.  My understanding was he was to come out and make final tweaks to have it fit her perfectly.  I don't consider that a final tweak, that is "make this lady shut up" move.  I immediately hopped on the phone when he left and texted the wife and sent her pics.  She said to give it 3 rides and if I am sure it doesn't fit, she will come out.  As it is, she is going to come out in 3 weeks to look things over anyway.

Left shoulder, after 2 rides.  And a sweaty horse.
With that, I went ahead and rode in it really hard last night.  Tuesday night I just sort of putzed around and talked to the barn people (PEOPLE!!!) but since there was not a single person on Wednesday, I worked her.  Hard.  No better way to see if something fits than to look at sweat patterns!

Right shoulder, after 2 rides.  And a sweaty horse.
So we hopped around some jumps a few times before working on our 2pointober challenge.  I am out of town again this weekend so last night was THE NIGHT to get my time.  I started the clock and went around and around.  When I was finally tapping out, I looked at the clock.  3:40.

After 2 rides, seems to mold to her better
Are you joking?!?!  Not even 4 minutes?  There was NO way I was going to allow myself to post that kind of result.  Emma would, justifiably, laugh my ass off of the blog.  Geez.

Sweat pattern
After a bit of resting, I tried again.  Around and around we went, changing directions, starting at a trot but quickly picked up the canter as Mia wanted to go.  Okay Mia, we can go, but we will go for a while!

Sweat pattern
Finally when I was about to give out, Mia was definitely tired and my legs wanted to die, I pulled out my phone.  And blinked.  Again.  Really??  6:40.  Holy cow!  I didn't stop, I pushed her forward and kept pushing both of us until we hit the 7 minute mark.  And kept going.  I REALLY wanted to make the 7:15 mark but I crumbled at 7:09 (and technically 7:09:087, almost 7:10!!).  Holy cow, that is a record for me, I have never had two point for that long.  I am crediting my saddle for the improvement because it is really easy to hold position in it :-D

Sweat pattern
Mia got a long cool down, though it may have been because I was afraid I couldn't walk.  Legit concerns.  I finally realized I could, untacked and looked at sweat patterns.  Ithink they actually look good.  They are certainly even and the hair is not mussed.  The panel is super flexible around her shoulders and while they aren't perfect right now, I think the left will mold to her shape a little more, it already looks much better after the 2 rides than it did when it came back.  What do you think, does it look better?  I have 2.5 weeks until the fitter (the wife) comes back out for a recheck and need to ride in it as much as possible.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

2pointober update

Time is marching on, hard to believe we are almost halfway through the month.   Wow!  So this year, I have officially signed up for the 2pointober challenge.  Like I said before, I do it every year but don't usually make it public.  This year, I figured why not lol.  My baseline was 5:06 and I had to really push for that.  Like, really push lol.  Last week was super busy and since I didn't have a show to prep for, I didn't actually have time to ride much.  The one time I did two point, I ended up at less than 5 minutes.  Boo.  One shouldn't be going backward in progress.

Someone had set up a course outside this week and we can now use the outside arena lights so outside we went. I then found a nice gap in Mia's training, she rides great outside, she rides great under lights in the indoor, but she has obviously never ridden in an outside arena with lights.  It was so funny riding her because she would be working and then suddenly be distracted by shadows everywhere.  I didn't get after her, just constantly reminded her to pay attention and she did pretty well at the end.  That was Monday.  Thursday I rode outside again, obviously well after dark, and Mia was so much better and much less distracted.  She was actually really awesome!

Our focus was fitness and to really up my two point time.  Mia was still looky, but after 2 laps each direction she was able to stay focused for the most part.  Training win!  For all of her attitude and sass, she really is a level headed mare when she wants to be.  I warmed up with some 2 point before hopping over the fences at a trot.  Mia was super soft and responsive and was coming right back to me after the fence which was awesome.  We then did a 4 minute 2 point set in a canter and while I certainly was feeling it, I knew I had more in us.  We were, of course, riding alone because no one is out to ride with me at night so I was getting bored just going in circles.  After a decent rest period, I figured I was going to do my challenge and do it over fences to help pass the time.

We started out and Mia rode fantastically.  To the 3 stride bending line, it was like she was a little hunter horse (where did this horse come from?!?!?!) and while she is always rushing to the green panel jump, as long as I could get her to SIT BACK, she wouldn't even touch it.  We went over the 2'9" skinny and verticals, the last 2 times we went over the vertical it was literally like she had a big canter stride.  It didn't feel like a jump at all.  Man, she can go high if she wants and I haven't even pushed her.  EEK!

As I was reaching our breaking point, the wind blew one of the barrels that were under a jump away from said jump.  I moved her over and Mia hopped over the barrel like it was NBD and was something she did everyday.  Love!  I finished at 6:10 and I felt I could have possibly pushed for a few more if I absolutely had to.  Progression win, so much better than regression.

Over the weekend I went on a group trail ride and I had a fantastic time.  I wish I had people to ride with at nights, I get along so well with the ladies at the barn and it would be nice to have that during the week instead of a rare weekend.  I guess I will take what I can get.  Tomorrow the saddle fitter comes back out with my saddle, fingers crossed that it fits like they promise!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Good days and bad times

Last week was an interesting one for sure.  I kept my rides super short (20-30 mins) due to time constraints outside of my control but Mia really seemed to excel with them.  Her canter has become less compact and a little more fluid while still maintaining some frame and throughness.  No bolting, giraffing, kicking, leaping or pulling, just decently soft and forward.  Wow what a nice change!  She was a little inconsistent in the contact but her trot was awesome and things came together in prep for our show on Sunday.  I signed up for the show thinking it was a HT and apparently it is a CT.  The difference is a CT has only dressage and stadium, I wouldn't have signed up to drive 2 hours for a dressage and stadium round.  Grr, oh well.  Money already sent!

On Friday, I had the saddle fitter out.  She came recommended by 3 people at the barn and wouldn't you know, she came out before County ever even contacted me back.  Well, they still haven't if you want to keep track, I am writing that lady off.  Not that I am bitter or anything.  I know one rep isn't indicative of a saddle brand but what a frustrating experience.  Anyway, I digressed.  The saddle fitter looked at my Stubben and said "Well, I can't say it doesn't fit her!" so that was good.  She said she loves these old Stubbens, it was made before regulations changed in 2005 when they had to change how leather was processed.  She said my old Stubben will well outlast my new saddle simply because of how leather is treated now and it is in very good condition.  The only thing it needs is a total reflock, but at $350. that is not much more than I am going to ask for the saddle when I sell it so will just keep on with my pads for now.

She loved my County though, she said several times that the Whippy panels make such awesome saddles.  She said the flocking is really lumpy and uneven in the panels, plus the right panel was overstuffed, no wonder it didn't fit well.  She took my saddle to do a total reflock (trivia - with wool from a place I visited several times in MI)  and I should get it back in the next couple of weeks.  She said she was 100% confident it will fit wonderfully, so we will see.  Kinda excited about it!  I haven't seen another CWD or County come up that matched so it isn't like I am swimming in options with my specific requirements.
 
On Saturday I had another really nice, short ride on Mia.  Just some w/t/c and a quick run through of the test.  She was on point and the only "issue" we had is after the freewalk, she wants to trot before it is time.  Mareface is starting to anticipate!  I went to load up my trailer and found the first issue.  The barn had moved the trailers the previous weekend to a new parking spot, apparently, it was enough for my tack rack to be ripped off of the wall.  All of my stuff was on the floor of the trailer in a heaping mess.  Argh!  At least it happened now instead of on my way to the show if it was going to break?  My 20 minutes till leaving turned into an hour as I had to arrange that mess.  I took half of my stuff and put it in my car while re-arranging the other half.  As I was about to leave, I figured I would jack up the tongue so I didn't have to do it in the am.  And the handle just spun.  Argh!!

I took the top off of the jack and the gears turned, but the jack didn't move.  The scissor jack in the car didn't go high enough so I had to wait 45 mins for SO to come and help me fix it.  He brought a floor jack and we got the trailer jack off and apart.  The outer sleeve was no longer attached to the inner sleeve (that goes up and down), the inner sleeve was no longer on the screw to make it go up and down.  After some finagling, we were able to get it to go up and down, but the inner sleeve now falls out because it isn't attached.  Zip ties ended up holding it in place while we went to the show.  I finally made it home almost 3 hours after I intended to.  Fail.

The show was the next am and went okay enough.  Mia was Ms Dreamy McAwesomepants in warmup guys.  So soft, so forward, so bendy, I had a thought that maybe we would break our personal best of 32!!!  For the show ring though, we had to go on top of a hill which overlooked warmup and had a nice view of everything and the wheels fell off the bus.  Mia could not stop looking around or pay attention.  Gone was my soft mare, in its place was a mare who was stiff, inconsistent on the contact, not stretching forward or down and who refused to bend.  Apparently, I should have warmed up in the grass by the ring before going in?  *sigh*  Horses.

Jumping went better, she came back to me when I asked which is AWESOME.  My position was AWESOME even if I didn't get her to the right distance on about a third of the jumps.  And even with her being quite forward, she listened to what I had to say.  AWESOME.  We had no penalties and ended up 4th.  Going home, we have to take a very narrow, very winding road.  With a truck coming the opposite direction, I miscalculated and curbed my trailer tire.  Which resulted in a flat.  Of course it did, what a way to end a weekend.  On the plus side, I had it fixed within the time it took for SO to get a cup of coffee, about 5 minutes.  Love that trailer aid, a must have in a trailer.

Now it is a month of down time until the possibility of our next show.  Following the trend of the summer, every weekend is currently booked up until the 2nd weekend of November.  Time to get some saddle time in, work on two point for 2pointober and fix my dang trailer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Some quick updates

Random updates, not a very good flowy post, but then again I am not the world's best blogger.  So.... you should have expected something like this?  Sorry y'all.

After realizing my saddle doesn't fit, I started calling independent saddle fitters and I have someone that is highly recommended coming out on Friday.  Talk about fast, I STILL can't get County Saddlery to give me an appointment and I have been trying since August.  I sent this lady a ton of pictures and she says she is cautiously optimistic she can get it to work.  The right side panel is stuffed more than the left, and since Mia's right shoulder is overdeveloped, it makes the fit even worse.  She said both panels are overstuffed as well, so we will see.  She said that if we can't get it to fit, I have a really cool saddle and she has someone that may be interested in it already.  So...fingers crossed?

I did finally find a single black County Innovation saddle, within my budget, as a MW tree but it is a 17" and not a 17.5".  I have talked to 3 others that have County saddles and they have all said there is a big difference between a 17 and 17.5 and if I am a true 17.5, I won't like a 17.  Sigh.  I have kept my eyes open for a CWD but chocolate brown/black ones with a SE02 and 3C flap are just as difficult to find.  Not to mention the newer ones don't seem to have a "tree size" as it is all custom fit to your horse. So I couldn't even hope that it would fit, I would immediately need to have it re-paneled for an additional $600. So I don't know.  The independent saddle fitter hates foam saddles and said she was glad I didn't go that route.  She said riders LOVE the saddle but horses tend to hate them.  CWDs really are a love/hate saddle and I know some of you love them.  Not crossing them out if I go shopping again.

Over the weekend we raced our racecar, it went pretty well considering.  I, again, drove the fastest time of the day for our team.  Though my time was the 42nd fastest of the teams.  Not exactly podium material haha!  Tis why it is amature racing and not professional racing after all.  I did get my first wall hit out of the way though, so that was nice I guess.  I went into a turn too fast, lost control and once I hit the wet grass, just slid and slid and slid.  Luckily it was all cosmetic, no real big damage and no injury.  Of course, we also had a broken distributor cap, broken gas tank strap and an important bolt missing, it was one of the bolts that held the motor in place.  Opps!  Thankfully it is over now and I can focus on horse stuff again.

Yesterday as I was going downstairs, I finally fell down the stairs.  Interesting tidbit, I don't tend to fall down stairs.  Like, ever?  I can remember only 2 times I have ever fallen down stairs.  Falling UP stairs?  I do that ALL OF THE TIME.  Seriously, at least every other month I fall up the stairs.  I have always fallen up stairs.  Talented lass that I am.  Well, yesterday I finally fell down stairs.  8 of them.  I was simply walking down stairs and suddenly I was going down MUCH faster.  I honestly don't know how I fell, I don't remember it at all.  Per my bruises, I suspect my left foot slipped and I landed on my right elbow/rib/thigh.  I did immediately roll onto my belly, I guess I thought that way I had more control or would have less damage?  Well, as a result of my trip down the stairs, I have hurt my right shoulder.  Uncomfortable to do much with it so I am taking it easy, putting Sore No More Liniment on it, taking some drugs and hoping I am fine by Sunday.  Cause I have a show and need my dang shoulder!

Finally, I hopped on my mare and laid down my baseline for 2pointober.  Are you joining?  Emma and Megan are hosting it this year, with coolio prizes, and I figured I would lay my times out this year.  I have done 2pointober for the past 4 years but never joined in the contest.  I have zero expectation to win, this is more to hold myself accountable and I was able to squeak out a 5:06 as my baseline.  Barely.  I had to REALLY push to get over the 5 min mark.  UGH!  For a horse trial, I really need to be at least 6 minutes so I am not that far off base, but still.  It actually took me several minutes to recover after that.  HA!  I am HOPEFUL that with my newly adjusted saddle, two point will be easy to work on because that saddle is just so damn dreamy to ride in.  It really makes two point so easy to hold and maintain.

Mia was actually a little sore last night though, so after laying down my two point baseline and switching out to the dressage saddle, I didn't work her hard.  I had someone else look at her and they agreed she is a little sore, but we can't tell if it is from her back or foot sore.  I make sure her transitions were prompt and her canter wasn't like a giraffe and called it a night.  Going out again tonight, more liniment and maybe some bute to get her over the hump.  Gotta get ready for our show on Sunday!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Happy Gotcha Day!

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of Mia's time with me. Happy Gotcha Day!  She really has turned into a nice horse, not that I doubted that she would.  I mean, I literally picked her up out of a locked pasture with virtually no info.  And these were the sale ad pics.  Yeah....  
Who doesn't love a sale pic like this?
A nice blurry sale pic that would make anyone want this mare
When I insisted that they provide me with a conformational shot before I would agree to look at her, I got this.
Okay, not bad
I mean, yeah, she wasn't much to look at, but I thought she had potential.  Skinny necks can be muscled up. No hindquarters can be muscled up.  The crap feet can be fixed (I didn't take good pics of how bad they really were, you can see the right front in the above pic but it doesn't show the flatness of the rest of them).  Weight can be fixed.  And that TAIL can grow LOL.  She had a good base on her.

Seeing potential
Lunge test
 My only "test" was being ponied around her "pasture" and trying to lunge her.  And she didn't know how to lunge.  But she seemed very willing, very responsive and was calm.
First ride on Mia!
Even after the saddling incident.  The sellers were holding her by the fence while I started saddling her (with my saddle/pad and a old, unsafe girth they found) and she hit the electric fence.  She ripped out of the sellers hands and did a VERY impressive bronco impression for about 30 seconds.  At that point I decided I wanted a handler when I hopped on, especially because the sellers refused to get on her.  Safety first!

Very quiet for a horse who was a bucking lunatic about 5 minutes prior
Why yes, that is a cemetery in the background.  No foreshadowing at all.
The impressive part was that she let us catch her easily and then carried on like it was no big deal.  Now that is what I wanted in a horse!  And there was actually no need for the handler, she couldn't have cared about being ridden and was a very good girl.
Good pic showing the mess of a mane she had and how short her tail was.
She didn't know about anything but she caught my attention and I brought her home.  After running from the cops.  Twice.  True story.  It has been a long ride but so far it has been worth it. Happy Gotcha day Mia!

Go home?  I don't know about that.
The introduction was seamless
The old married couple ever since
Those who nap together, stay together

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

So I did a thing.... saddle!

I have been passively doing this saddle shopping thing for a few months now.  Because I am not anywhere close to a big stack store, it has proven a bit more difficult than I expected.  I contacted 5 saddle makers and only ONE was willing to come out.  The rest have said no or still haven't committed after over 30 days of back and forth.  Geez people, I have money I want to give you in exchange for that thing that you do for a living.  Why so difficult??
All together now.  Oooohhh....Ahhh.....
After CWD was out, I rode in the borrowed Innovation the next day.  With CWD fresh in my mind, I wanted to see if I loved the Innovation because it was such a shock from my Stubben or if it really was great.  Reading stories online, everyone seems to love the Innovation and is either a love/hate with CWD.  After riding in the Innovation again, I had to say, I really preferred the Innovation.

Looks like good balance front to back
At this point I had 4 different saddle resellers keeping an eye out on the 2 models I know I liked, a CWD SE02 with a 3C flap or a County Innovation.  The kicker is I want black or dark chocolate brown.  All of my tack is black, I don't want to have to spend another $500+ on replacing my bridles, girths and breastplates.

Very good spine clearance without gapping
I have auto-alerts set up on eBay, ETT, and 5 other FB groups to alert me if anything pops up.  For whatever reason, however, I just did a random search on some sites.  And I found it.  A 17.5 chocolate brown Innovation in a medium tree.  OMG.  The only concern I have is it has "whippy" panels, and I can't find anything out about these kind of panels on the Googles.  Just that it makes you closer to the horse.  Uh....
Why you no fit?!?!
I got the saddle last night and OMG the leather is so much more rich than anything I own.  *swoon*  THANKFULLY UPS decided to show up "early" and I was able to leave for the barn at my normal time of 530p instead of having to wait until when they normally show up, 630p-ish.  Woohoo!
After a thorough grooming (don't want to get the baby dirty), on the saddle plopped.  And I was crestfallen.  It isn't fitting :(  Obviously lopsided, gaping in the tree, Boo!  I started taking pictures to see how things looked and I noticed an....inconsistency.

Well this is a great reason why you no fit....
Apparently mareface is very asymmetrical right now.  Holy crap!  I broke out my trusty Mattes pad and put 3 shims on the left, then reduced it to 2, and now it sits much better.  I am still not 100% certain that this saddle isn't too narrow, I am by far no expert.  Does anyone have any thoughts or comments?  I have emailed the County rep, again, to try to get her out here but I have been emailing her since August 30th and have yet to get an appointment so I am not holding my breath.  And my success so far has been subpar in getting anyone out....

Looking better
I rode in the saddle and it rides like a dream.  It is SO comfortable and I feel so damn balanced <3!!  Mia jumped well in it, though was a little quick.  She was also quick the last time I rode though so I am not sure if it was the saddle or her being quirky.  The whole reason we started with the pelham is because she is being quirky.

Looking much better
The pisser of the whole ordeal is that I bought this saddle and THE DAY it arrives, I see a black Innovation come up for sale in a MW.  I have been searching since June/July!  On the plus side, it is a 17 inch and after riding last night, I don't think I would fit in a 17", but what a big middle finger.  Ha!

Tree vs right shoulder
I am going to ride in this a few more times before I make a decision on whether to keep it or not.  Because I am gone this weekend and have a show next weekend, I will be riding almost exclusively dressage so I won't even be using my nice new saddle very much before the show.  Ugh.  So...what do you think?  Does it fit?  Thoughts???

Tree vs left shoulder