Thursday, December 20, 2018

So many blog failures - An update on us

My big comeback into blogging obviously didn't happen. I have been hella busy with life, the day job, the side job, and the two hobbies that everything has become hyperfocused and blogging just...isn't along that line. So, a quick recap?

Doing really good. We have been lucky in getting one lesson a month from M, who is now coming to do monthly clinics at our barn. Having this has skyrocketed our progress, faster than I ever thought possible. This happened despite often being away for 1-2 weeks at a time due to life/hobby stuffs. Mia has now developed a counter canter in both directions, can do a shoulder in in the canter both directions, some lateral work in the canter and we are now playing with medium trot and canter/walk transitions (walk/canter is already done).  Also, after 5 years of ownership, Mia's crack on her right front due to her clubby foot has actually GROWN OUT!  I am switched to a barefoot trimmer last July-ish and she has done amazing things with my horses feet, including making Mia's club tendency foot grow out to be normal which has let the crack grow out. Mia doesn't have a crack in her hooves anymore!!

Also doing good. The barn has been letting him free range (at 25.5 years of age, he is FINALLY reliable enough to do this) during the day to keep his motion up.  It is still a struggle to keep weight on him, but I think that is also due to some of the inconsistent husbandry (or lack thereof) I face for them, but overall he is doing well. Over the summer he had a very large grape sized lump in his armpit.  The vet looked at it and said it was likely a sarcoid, but she didn't want to biopsy it bc of the location. It wasn't really attached to anything, it didn't seem to bother App, so it was wait and see. Imagine my surprise when it completely went away, completely. It was the size of a VERY LARGE GRAPE and it shrunk to nothing.  *shrug* who knows? 

I have continued issues with the barn. With inconsistent care, issues with one of the barn owners, issues with the lack of hay given by the weekend worker, and other stuff, I was putting up with it because I know how difficult finding good barns can be and I was told this is the best barn in the area. The issue is that it is a 32 mile, one way drive for me. A good 45 min drive, one way, to see the horses. When the barn owner (that I have issues with) told me they were increasing board $50 a horse, that was the last straw. I started looking and have found another barn that is only 7 miles from my house. It is a very large barn that is now very small, it used to be a large show barn but they have cut way back due to time restraints. They now only have apx 9 boarders and 14-ish horses out of a 40 horse capacity barn.  They currently use the "old" barn where the indoor arena is and the "new" barn is used for other things. Apparently they have very few openings, the one boarder has been there for 14 years, and I have heard from 2 other barns I had called about that this is a fabulous barn.  Fingers crossed we will be moving in February, we have to wait for someone to move their 3 horses to NC before they will have room for us. It feels like it will work out, I am really hoping it works out. I can't justify driving 32 miles AND a $100 board increase. I pay WAY too much money for the kind of care I am currently getting at my current barn.

I am leaving for a vacation to California this weekend, I am going to stuff myself full of some sun, some sand and some more sun. I don't care it will only be in the 60's, it won't be the 20's like it is here. I have already scheduled out 7 of the 12 months next year to go somewhere and do things. 2019 is going to involve a LOT of traveling!  I am hopeful I will continue blogging, as it is nice being able to remember what happened in a "diary", it is just difficult to find the time with my day job and side job. 

How is everyone else doing, did you miss me?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Let's get back on track

I blog for myself. I don't have a huge following, I don't try to attract followers and I don't comment much on other blogs to get followers. And that is okay. The fact that I have a handful of people who follow my adventure tickles me, which is why I am currently disappointed in myself that I haven't blogged at all over the past month. Though again, to my defense, I didn't do much horse wise. But that isn't a good excuse.  So, what's been going on?

I had an amazing lesson on Aug 17 after my show.  It started with Mia being stiff and sore because she was covered in rain rot, but she worked out of it, tried really hard and we got some amazing work done.  We found she will disregard my aids and come off of a straight line in a canter transition, so I need to really focus on keeping her straight and forcing her to stay accountable. Just like in our canter/trot transition, I cannot let her relax, I have to force her to stay accountable. I also have come a long way in my arms, even if I hate how they look.  #NeverHappy No more hunter looking arms for me! I signed up for another lesson for Sep 22, even though I will have had 3 weeks of no riding due to crazy life described below.  But hey, it is a goal to aim for, so a goal was set.

That following week I went back to Michigan for our (car) race. A short 13 hour, one way drive. The ride out went well enough. The race went very well, earning 13th of 52 cars after the 15 hour race.  Our best placing yet!  I was also the fastest driver again, so I was happy to regain that spot.  The drive home SUCKED though.  We weren't even an hour out and a trailer tire blew.  We always carry 2 spare trailer tires and a trailer aid, so in 15 mins we were back on the road with one spare left. Thankfully the trailer tires held up for the rest of the trip so that was a relief. The same cannot be said for the truck tires as in the middle of western NY, the passenger front truck tire got a puncture.  Thankfully we were able to pull off onto an exit and got it changed in about 30 minutes with minimal problems.  The tires were going to be replaced after we got back to PA anyway, so at least it wasn't a brand new tire like we almost had.  Plus hubby fell ill after we left MI with a fever, was coughing and was full of mucus.  Our 13 hour trip took just shy of 16 hours to get home.  Boo!

The next weekend was a trip BACK to Michigan to see the wedding of K, the woman who bought TWH.  She was riding him in the wedding and I was the hauler and handler of him. I loved seeing him again, though he didn't even seem to remember me.  He was super cuddly with K though.  *wahhh!*  That's okay dude, I still love you even though you have moved on.  He was absolutely perfect for the entire event.  From pictures, to ceremony and just hanging around, he didn't put even one hoof wrong.  No spooks, no impatient moments, no pushy times, he was just amazing. I am so glad he has such a great home and someone who absolutely adores him, he is such a good, good horse. 

Last weekend I had to go to Kansas City for a business trip with some friends. It was super busy, super tiring, and super long, but it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing it again in February.  I loved the people I was with and I still got to do some fun things.  I got to see the comedienne Jeanne Robertson both at her show AND at breakfast as we were at the same hotel. I got to visit a t-rex at the museum of science, I got to ride the electric trolley, visit the WWI memorial and museum, eat at multiple BBQ places and make a lot of contacts with networking.  Thanks to the tropical storm Gordon, my flight back was in all disarray and I didn't get home until midnight.  And then it rained for 2 straight days, but at least I was home?

This week I have ridden bareback once and Mia was very good.  I wanted to spot check my balance and strength and they were both up to par. This weekend I will actually have a full ride, we need to focus on fitness for both of us if we want to be at all useful in our lesson in a week.  Mia's rainrot is thankfully gone thanks to some MTG plus.  It smells SO much better than MTG!  It still smells, just not nearly as bad.  I am very happy that she cleared up so easily, considering I couldn't be out there every day for almost 3 weeks.

So that gets you up to date and to today.  The next post will be a picture dump, and hopefully words will be flowing more freely for more frequent blog posts.  I am feeling more energized than I have been lately, so I hope I can keep it up.  What do you do to reset yourself if/when you are in a blogging slump?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Prix Caprilli debut......coming very late. But there is video!

Mia went first in the class and really kinda rocked it.  In watching the video, I really don't know WTH was going on with my hands.  Like, am I a 4-H kid who hasn't been riding most of their life?  UGH.  I know, we are our own worse critics but still.

My reins are still miles too long, especially in the canter, but it looks good.  It would have been better if I hadn't gone off course *eyeroll*.  I blanked and started to go across the diagonal in the canter when I should have been going down the long side.  The hazards of riding multiple test without a reader I guess!
So. Many. 8's.

The other two rides were decent, but I thought Mia was much more relaxed and certainly was more unphased by the jumps in the arena.  Haha, practice practice practice! How do you make your horse take a 2' fence like it is a canter stride? Do it about 30 times a day for a week.  HA!

Even with me being a bit of a mess though, the horse is judged and not the rider so we ended up with 6 as our lowest score with lots of 6.5's, 7's and 8's!!  Apparently the DO mark you down when you land on the wrong lead over a fence. *sigh*  That's okay, now I know for next time.

The first level test was the hard one though. I had worked hard to not need a reader and while I almost regretted the decision, I am glad I didn't have one. I have never in my life had a reader and I don't want to start now!  Mia wasn't as amused, having to do TWO dressage tests and was much more distracted this time. I still rode with reins way too long and but it went very well.  We even got a WOW comment on our 2nd leg yield, and ended with a 66%.  A fabulous effort that made me very happy.

So what now? I've been quiet for a while, I know. I've kind of lost my blogger voice I guess.  There isn't a lot going on in the horse world, I don't have a lot to goals to ride for and I'm in a blogging slump.  If you can't tell, this post was written in 2 parts and the 2nd part really lacks enthusiasm lol.  The horses are doing just fine, I just finished a 3 week whirlwind gone-every-weekend-no-time-to-ride adventure.  I am signed up for a lesson next Saturday, so I need to really get back to work if I want it to count for anything.  I had signed up for the re-scheduled Wofford clinic for Sept 24, but then it was cancelled again due to lack of entries.  Oh well.  Maybe next year, I wasn't in shape for it anyway.

Up next will be a recap of a lesson I full month ago.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Prix Caprilli tests and show prep

Thanks to *life*, I really only had a week or so to get ready for the show (erm...which was 2 weeks ago...).  We worked really hard on the tests though, on the Saturday before the show, the tests were really rough when we attempted them. Like, yikes.  On Sunday I wondered if I was crazy for thinking about doing this, others confirmed I was. On Monday, we finally had a small breakthrough and Mia stopped landing from the jump on the forehand. It's the small wins sometimes.  On Tuesday she decided it was probably okay to canter over the fence and stay balanced.  Big improvements were made and I thought it may not be an actual train wreck. On Wednesday though, Wednesday the puzzle pieces clicked and we had a really good ride.  Our only argument was her continued insistence on swapping leads over fences.
Not a bad test, right? Fairly simple, with a 2' fence.
I gave her Thursday off and rode again on Friday and I have to admit, I was pretty damn optimistic.  We still didn't know where exactly the jumps would be set up in the arena, or if the arena would be large or small, but I felt pretty confident in our, albeit short, preparation.  I mean, I literally gave myself a week and while the training level test wasn't that bad, the first level test is legit, omg, must be crazy hard.
A test that makes you wonder WTH you were on when you entered

I mean, seriously.  Leg yields to the jumps? 10m sitting trot? Extended canters? Oh my!  Our biggest issues with Test 2 were the right lead canter (where her haunches are always in), keeping the lead after going over a fence (grr), and that 10m circle.  All of the movements come so damn fast, you barely have time to collect and you really need to be on your A game. Surprisingly enough, the extended canters were actually really good and Mia does a great job of actually coming back after them.  Training win!! 

Also shows how the 2'6" jumps are placed in the arena
Never fear, Mia is a true rock star and was up to the challenge.  I had asked for the earliest ride time possible on Saturday as we had a concert that night at 8p, and the venue was 3 hours away.  Which only makes sense to put us at the literal last rides of the day at 245p and 258p.  Not. Helpful.  Thankfully the venue was literally 20 minutes from the barn so the plan was to go, show, drop horse at the barn, drive back to show and pick up tests and then go to the concert and miss all of the opening acts.  Such is life.  I didn't want to scratch since we had worked so hard in preparation for this!

Usually happy to see me, even if we are doing dressage
Saturday I went to the barn almost 2 hours early because I could lol.  Afternoon rides FTW.  Mia got an actual bath for the show AND we had time to free lunge because she just could not focus.  I was so happy I was able to give her an outlet for her energy instead of having to struggle with that energy at the show grounds.  With as much as she had been ridden, I didn't even consider being too energetic would have even been an issue, but Mia need to move and I actually had time to allow it!

Skeptical mare is skeptical
As we were getting ready to leave, one of the barn owners showed up and let me know she had decided to show in the Test 1 class too.  Great yet another rider to ride before me, pushing my ride back even further. Grr!  We got to the show ground and found our way around. The indoor being used for warmup (and there was NO WHERE else to warm up) was very hot, very humid and very stuffy.  There was no airflow whatsoever and it was so stagnant, it was really hard to do good work as I felt the energy being zapped.

Happy mare after a good ride, pieces are coming together
The show steward came down and said we could warm up over the fences in the show arena, which was cool but surprising.  The other riders for Test 1 took a lot more time to warm up, I simply put Mia over 2 of the 3 fences once and then stood outside of the arena while Mia semi napped. It was hot in the sunlight, but so much better than being in that indoor so we just stood in the sunshine and I tried to chat people up.  How did we do?  Find out in the next post! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Our lesson recap and a show to prep for! Bad picture heavy!

It really sucks about the clinic being canceled but the lesson went well.  I also have a new show to get ready for, I think I said I am really focusing on non-event stuff this year because it is just too hard to find time to drive 6+ hours to go to a show for 2 hours. 

Warm ups!
2 hours to/from the closest venue and 45 mins one way to the barn, it really is too much driving for me at this point since I have so little time on weekends.  Things are way too busy to lose an entire weekend to showing :(

Trit trots
But that's okay, I am finding a couple of options. We had the jumper show, which was cool and I would do another one.  Up next is a new Prix Caprilli test in a dressage show. 

Some contact
What?!  I have heard of this only from Andrea  so it is cool to hear someone doing around me. 

Left canter getting better
It is basically a dressage test with a couple of jumps thrown in the middle.  How cool is that!?  I contacted the show organizer and got a copy of the test, I think I will try the 2' and 2'6" class and see how it goes.  Can't hurt right?  Has anyone ever done this before?  I am kind of excited!

Coming nicely!
The lesson went really well and it did a good job of kicking my butt, but the pics are horrible. Like seriously bad.
I swear M said this looked good
The look bad, the lighting was bad, ugh hate. So much hate but this is a documentation forum so here are pics!  M said I have improved so much in my outside rein since last time, 80% better. 

The trot is really coming along this direction
We worked on really forcing myself to keep it while forcing Mia to STAY there, apparently, I am really really good at dropping the contact as a reward to Mia.  Erm, not supposed to do that. 

When we went from canter to trot, for example, she loved the canter and as soon as Mia trotted, I stopped keeping her collected and on her hocks, letting her fall on her forehand and stretch.  So....we did a lot of that.

Contact dropping, bad rider
My pinched nerve in my shoulder is still not 100%, maybe 90%?  95%?  On Friday though, my arm became useless after all of the outside rein work.  Note to self, shoulder is not ready for that much of a workout still! 
The lighting omg
Thankfully it bounced back on Saturday and is back to about 90% "good".  Stupid getting older, why won't my body just hurry up and fix itself?!

So pretty when she wants to be!
The other piece of information that we gleaned from the lesson was that the left rein cannot be straight when it is the outside rein.

Shoulder in
Mia is using my rein as a blocking tool and not really bending her body, forcing her haunches to come in which also forces her neck to bend. 
Less of this please, ugh!
I need to open my left outside rein more to my knee for a while to help counteract some of her bracing. 

A little more of this
Once we can fix that, and we can keep the spring in her haunches that she had on Friday, we should be looking really good for a dressage test.  Fingers crossed?

More this and we may be ready for our show!

Monday, July 9, 2018

So disappointed, the clinic was canceled.

So many feelings.  I was super excited about my clinic tomorrow with Jim Wofford.  It would be the first time I had ever ridden in a clinic with a BNT (Big Name Trainer), I had put down I was going Training level and I actually felt like we were fairly ready!  Then I woke up last Monday with a burning pain over my shoulder blade.  Then it progressed to down my arm and making my arm go numb sometimes.  And the pain was a good, solid 6 to 7, and I have a pretty high pain tolerance.  I was able to do a trail ride on Weds but wasn't able to really use my left arm at all.  Whomp whomp.
From 2014

All this time, I hadn't heard about my ride times so I shot an email off to the organizer Weds to follow up.  I got a response back with approximate times, but that they were still waiting for some promised entries and the ride times would be sent out shortly. I finally went to urgent care on Thursday and was diagnosed with a pinched nerve and given Gabapentin and steroids.  *sigh*  At least that brought my pain down to a solid 3-4.  It made me giggle bc Gabapentin is what I gave App!  It just didn't do as much for him as it seems to with me.

From 2018
Then Friday afternoon, at almost quitting time, I got the dreaded email that the clinic was canceled and it may reschedule in the fall if there is enough interest.  Which tells me there weren't enough entries.  Damn it!  I did respond back letting them know to keep me on the list to notify if they do reschedule it. I mean, I was seriously on the fence on if I could even go myself, but I wanted to be the one to cancel, not them cancel on me!  Fri night SO and I went grocery shopping and walked for about 2 hours through various stores, on the way home I realized my pain had dropped to a 2.  Apparently I needed to go for a long walk!!

The good news is my arm/shoulder has remained at a solid 2-3 in pain, sometimes even a 0 to 1.  Being at the desk working makes it worse, but that is my day job so....  I have a chiro appointment tonight to see if that helps any more.  I was able to ride yesterday and while not 100%, I was good enough I COULD have ridden in my clinic tomorrow.  I am seriously bummed about the loss of my clinic but I am looking forward to the dressage lesson on Friday.  There is a tentative show on July 28 and then again on Aug 11, so fingers crossed things go well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jumper debut and success

Overall I was really happy with our Jumper debut.  It is no surprise that an eventer would have no issues with going over jumps at speed, it should also be of no surprise that it is hard as hell to remember the ever changing courses.

I left the house at a respectable 545a and got to the show right at 745a for the 830a show.  They were letting people go in the ring and jump things (?!?) so we took the opportunity and did the same.  Mia couldn't have possibly cared about any of the tiny little jumps, 2'3" did not impress her at all.  The first class turned out to be a speed class, the fastest won.  I was so very grateful for friendly competitors helping this stupid eventer in the classes.  I read the rules but I still wasn't super clear and it was very helpful to have someone clarify! 

Mia did well in the first round, until *cough* someone forgot the course and cut a jump way to close and knocked the jump standard over with their freshly polished boot.  It was a jump that had to be jumped again so as we were going along, people were scurrying to put it back up. Which totally distracted the rider *cough cough* and I went off course.  Ha!  Go figure. 

The second round was weird in that you did the first 6 jumps as a H/J course and then you did the last 5 jumps as a speed round.  Got it!  Again Mia did very well, she was quite adjustable and listened spectacularly, but at fence 9 she didn't half halt, jumped flat and knocked the tiny 2' jump over with her hind fetlock.  Really mare?!  Really.  It was a big canter stride and you still knocked it down?

The last class was the only one I cared about, it was a stakes class with a payback.  For this class they raised the fences to 2'6" and it helped so much.  Mia FINALLY started actually jumping the fences and taking it seriously.  For this round we did our 11 fences, stopped until they blew a whistle and then jumped the same course through the first 8 fences.  Mia put the pedal to the metal and we were clear, resulting in a nice 2nd place finish.  I really would have liked to have seen the scores and timing, I have a hard time believing someone went faster than us but hey.  2nd place was great as I got more than half of my entry fees back AND got back to the barn by 1030 AND got home before noon.  Fabulous! 

They aren't having any more shows this year, at least so far, but it is a venue I would go to again. I am actually looking at other shows around that are closer even though they are not horse trials.  I am so burned out of driving 6+ hours just to go to a show, it may not be ideal but it should help scratch the itch and not take up all of my extremely rare free weekends. 

That said, I have some big stuff coming up.  On the 10th I have a clinic with Jim Wofford, on the 13th I have a dressage lesson with M that comes to the barn once in a while.  On the 28th I have a possible local show and then Aug 11 I have another show that is at my barn.  They aren't horse trials, and I am not schooling training level xc, but it does give me something to work towards. 

We are currently melting (for PA) in high 90 degree temps, I rode Mia last night and she was not amused.  My plan is to ride first thing tomorrow morning (since I am off for the 4th) and make sure my jumping position is on point for our clinic.  Does anyone else have a case of the showing blues like I do?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fitness and a show

The blog may be quiet, but life is not. I am at my free-time breaking point and am doing nothing but treading water right now.  What I need is a good 8 hours of free time to do a bunch of menial tasks to get caught up, does anyone have 8 hours to lend me?

Despite the lack of free time, Mia is still being ridden 4+ times a week.  She is really developing good muscle under that heavy layer of fat (thanks spring grass).  The pasture turnout was shaken up again as three horses left the barn (App's friend was put down, one sold, one moved) and Mia's super annoying pasture mate went to his new home.  A pretty 4 yr old palamino colt is really nice to look at, but he was super mouthy, super disrespectful of space, super destructive and wanted to play with everything all of the time. I lost Mia's halter for 4 days before we FINALLY found it buried in weeds in the pasture, pretty far away from the gate where it had hung on a hook.  I've lost all tail bags as he would grab her tail and yank and play with it, resulting in holes in every bag I have/had.  The bites, scratches, and scrapes should significantly decline now that he isn't around.  As a result of the shakeup, Mia is now out by herself (for now) in a pretty big, very grassy pasture. Which is great, it is just adding to her bulk lol.  I keep reminding myself she is quite slender in comparison to the other horses lol.
We may have legit chased down a hot air balloon as it landed at the local airport
We had a couple of good rides where we really focused on our outside rein.  When I can really focus on it, we seem to have some good moments.  Keeping the focus though, well we know how that goes.  This past week we have done fitness because the trails were finally cut, Mia required a few rides before she would w/t/c fairly politely.  She was pretty certain there was no way she should be just trotting up a hill when she could gallop! It took some pretty severe rein yanks at times to stop the antics, cantering sideways, small dolphin hops, yanking on reins, she was really having fun being able to go outside of an arena.  On Sunday I actually did a conditioning ride with someone else (gasp) and not only did they survive, they said they had fun! And they apologized for being afraid to ride with me, apparently they only saw the rare occasion I did gallop sets last year and thought that I know knew how to go fast.  I worked hard to not be offended, despite being the only person/horse in a training schedule of any sort and the only horse at the barn that competes. I mean seriously.  Grrr.

In other news, since Plantation was a lost cause and my backup show was moved to July, I was thinking of signing up for a HT in New Jersey but then a hunter jumper show popped up 25 mins from my barn.  Twenty five minutes?!  I've never been to a show in PA that was that close outside of the ONE time a show was at my own barn!  As a result, Mia is going to make her Jumper debut on Sunday.  Why not, right?  It is a max of 2'6", if she can't get around a 2'6" course without taking rails then we have bigger problems lol.  She has been jumping 3' to 3'6" without even trying.  

So many jumps
We actually did a legit jump school last night, with a grid and bounces.  There was a 5 stride on an angle, a 3' panel, a pair of 2'6" bounces, a line of 3 jumps with a 1 stride between them and a 4 stride.
Mia was really awesome.  There were a couple of times she was fast and required some correction, but for the most part she was amazing and handled everything like a seasoned pro.  I am going to jump again tonight, bigger, and then tomorrow is dressage.  We have a lesson scheduled again (!!!) for July 13 so I am hopeful we have real progress to show for it.  We also are signed up for a Wofford clinic, I am SUPER excited about that!  Lots of jump schooling in our future.

Monday, June 4, 2018

All the updates

How quickly time marches on.  You blink and your horse is 25.  You blink and it is already June.  It is absolutely crazy how fast the year is going.  So with lots to catch up on, here are the highlights.

I missed the first HT of the season thanks to having to go back to MI for a friend.  Had a great visit and really missed the friends I had developed while there.  It was odd to go and have so many people want to see me despite my having so very little time.  One person came at 8a and almost 50 miles to see me at the hotel, another had me come over at 930p just so I could say hi.  Awww!  I saw TWH and he is fat thanks to great grass, but is doing so very well and is spoiled beyond belief.  I wish I had a quarter of that network here in PA.  I keep saying one day.

We had our 1st of 2 car races of the year and did well.  It was a 14 hour endurance race split over 2 days and like endurance racing with horses, to finish is to win. The first day we placed 36 of 108 and the second day we were 16th of 89 when we had a mechanical failure and spent 20 mins fixing it. We dropped to 74th before climbing back up to 46th to finish the day.  Not bad at all for people that do this for fun.

Mia has had lots of trail riding and some fitness work, but not a lot of real work.  Dressage on Tuesday went pretty well though.  One of the barn owners (who is very rarely there at night) asked to hop on and liked her but said I should focus on relaxation first.  Okay, yeah, sure I get what you are saying, but that isn't the only road to get to the goal.  The trainer that comes (very rarely) agrees that teaching her how to do it should be first because relaxation can always be taught later. It totally depends on the horse and rider.  Oh well.

I DID actually have a lesson on Friday.  The first in 4 months?  5?  Despite being a little out of shape, we had a fabulous lesson.  The instructor, M, really nailed me on my outside hand(s).  She said I have a very following outside hand which is great for the H/J ring.  And is horrible for dressage so stop it now.  LOL.  With really working on having a very firm, solid outside rein, something happened that has never happened before.  Mia's right lead canter was BETTER than her left?!?!? How the hell does that even happen!?  It was really crazy, did you know if you seriously plant your outside rein, you can keep Mia straight in the canter?  And if you let the inside rein be long, it can cause the inside seat bone to move, the outside seat bone to not be planted and can cause crookedness?  *mind blown*

She did suggest cantering over small cavalleti or ground poles to help Mia get the "why" of dressage.  She agrees that Mia couldn't possibly care less about dressage and thinks that poles may help her "get it" and enjoy it a touch more.  Adding to things to try!

We were originally going to go to Plantation on Jun 10, however, apparently they close entries 3 weeks in advance so I missed it.  Then the HT on the 10th, which was my backup, moved to July due to ground issues.  At this rate I *may*  have a show in June??  I do, however, have stuff planned in July.  I am planning on going to the backup HT that is now July 8th.  I am also planning on going to a Wofford clinic(!!!) and have the entry in an envelope to go in the mail today.  Fingers crossed!

Lastly, I had the vet out on Saturday to look at App.  He has had a small hard spot by his elbow for years, he had it in MI for example.  I noticed it was significantly bigger a few weeks ago, it is now the size of a large grape and feels tumor-y.  The vet said she thinks it is a sarcoid and doesn't want to even biospy it due to its location. She thinks if we biospy it, it could very likely get very upset and angry.  Since it is 1. in the dark, moist location of his armpit 2. fly season 3. is attached by some tissue so it would likely require extensive invasion to remove, she doesn't want to risk it oozing, seeping, rupturing, or refusing to heal with the biopsy. We are going to watch it and if it gets bigger faster, we will address it then as we would have all of those side effects anyway.  She did say, however, that he looks fabulous. She said his muscle condition is great, his legs look amazing to the point you wouldn't know he had issues if you looked only at his lower legs, his weight is fabulous and he is walking much better than last year when we had talked about possibly putting him down bc he was so uncomfortable.  Overall, a very good visit indeed.

Here's to riding, doing REAL fitness work and maybe even some jumping this weekend.  Time to refocus on riding for a while.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The happiest of birthdays

Once upon a time, there was a long yearling brought home in a stock trailer in February 1995.  The mother had lied and said it was furniture, forcing a young 15 year old to stay up way past her self -imposed bedtime to see this furniture.  Even enlisting the brother to ensure she stayed up despite needing to be awake at 5a to catch the schoolbus.  Turns out, furniture was actually a 1.5yr old stud colt.  I always considered him my belated Valentines day present.  Would you like to take a photo journey?  Be warned, photos of photos coming so lots of quality has been lost to make this post.

Picture from the next afternoon, Feb 1995
A friend of a friend had ridden with me and a neighbor and knew of someone who was looking to rehome this yearling. He had been bought at the Sugarcreek stock sale as a weanling and they didn't have the money or resources to take care of him. He was really skinny, really wormy and didn't know how to drink out of a bucket. It took him the entire summer to drink from a bucket instead of searching out puddles.
In late 1995, my 110lb self started breaking this 2yr old stud colt. By myself. We did really well together except for his tendency to buck at the canter. One day he flipped himself over when he bucked and stepped on the reins, he never bucked again.
1995, recently gelded
Summer 1996
Sometime in late 1996, there was a big argument at the step-grandparents farm where we lived and I had to start boarding.  I rode him the 3 miles to the new barn where he stayed for about 7 months until I realized the old man was hitting horses with a 2x4 to make them stay back when he was feeding.  That was my first foray into working at a barn and there are a lot of not so great stories from there.
1996 or 1997
I borrowed a stock trailer and my mom and I trailered App over to a new place that I spent all of my high school and even some after-college time.  It had an indoor and the horses were well kept for a such low key place.

1997 or 1998
When I went away to college, I couldn't bear the thought of selling him like everyone told me I had to do.  The barn I boarded at ended up free leasing him until I graduated. I am forever grateful for them doing that for us. Apparently, he would be so ornery that they would tell him I was coming home for the weekend and he would suddenly behave. They said it happened enough times they said it couldn't possibly just be the coincidental timing of his behavior changes, he obviously missed me and simply understood when they told him I was coming and behaved. Ha!
Once graduated and I started moving, I had to find new barns and realized not all barns were good like the one I left. We had the one that didn't call the vet or even me when their horse attacked App and had a literal gouge running down his spine and a puncture in his knee. We had the one that encouraged smoking/drinking while in the barn and riding. And the old man would hit on me. We had the one who put ducks next to App and didn't care that he dropped a LOT of weight over the week bc App was so stressed over the ducks. They wouldn't move him or the ducks. We had the one who didn't care that App was standing in a literal puddle as his stall was partially flooded.  For over a week.
With age comes wisdom and I ended up finding some really good barns as well.  I ended up switching from western/trail/barrel racing to english because that is what my new friends did. I had outgrown my tiny 14 inch western saddle anyway and had been riding bareback for the past 1-2 years so it worked out.

App had his very first ever show and got 2nd place in dressage
We started playing with eventing and App loved jumping. We also started doing 90% dressage, 10% jumping however because App needed a lot more training. As did I. I started taking lessons in 2002 (yes, for the first time ever) and was told I was a very good, uneducated rider and it should be taken as a compliment. As we both received education, we both got better.

He then earned a 1st place at his 2nd ever show
From there, we jumped up to 3'6".  We went cross country.  We installed some badass dressage skills. The only times App did not place at a show was when we would do a HUS or English Pleasure class and they would canter.  Because, exciting times and all lol.  Any other time, App was always, always bringing home satin.

2005 ish
App was partial leased from approximately 2003 - 2008, at that point he required to be ridden 6 days a week in order to be productive and my time was getting less.  He loved it. He was ridden 6-7 days a week until he had his spiral fracture in his front leg at the age of 16. Thankfully, he was in such great shape that the vet said App had the bone growth of a 10 year old and App fully recovered with 6 months of stall rest.

Relaxing in MI 2013
From there we competed at BN and N only out of the abundance of concern and moved to MI where he eventually became a lesson horse and you have read our journey from there. 

Nom nom grass
After we moved to PA, my goals of bringing him back to show condition where smashed when we found that his intermittent lameness was significant bone remodeling of the shoulder joint and, at best, he would be pasture sound.
May, 2018
Last year was really hard because over the spring and summer, he was moving so badly and seemed to be so uncomfortable, I was seriously considering putting him down.  He was certainly not even pasture sound. I switched farriers and either the switch or simply time made a miraculous difference.  I think it is a combination of both. He went from so uncomfortable that he was laying down more than 50% of the time and standing under himself like a foundered horse, to his normal self again.  He even started trotting and cantering on his own again, which I hadn't seen since he left MI.

This 25 year old certainly doesn't look 25!
He is doing well now.  His hooves are balanced. I think his shoulder as fused or mostly fused. His weight is good, see above. His attitude is good, see below. He is only on Buteless Pellets, Equioxx, 20,000mg of MSM and bimonthly Pentosan.

Happy 25th birthday you goofball!
One of my favorite things is his color, he changes every single year.  He goes from really white to really red and stages in the middle. He also has stripes on his ribcage so he always looks ribby when it is literally his stripes. He has went from super dark red and black with a distinct blanket at his shoulders to a very roaned out color and most of his black is now grey.  His face went from super dark red with a star (see first pic) to almost completely white with a red streak on his nose. I think this year will be a really red year.

The bestest horse
Here's to many more years App, happy 25th birthday.  We have spent over 60% of my life together and I hope we make it many more years.  Happy Birthday!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Catching up part 1 - The saddle fitter

I am a horrible blogger, I know.  I have tons of media to show for K3DE but I just can't find time to make a post highlighting it.  My hope is I will have time this weekend, fingers crossed?

What's been going on these past 2 weeks?  Insanity lol.  Let's see, let's start with the week after KY.  I had a new saddle fitter out on the 3rd and OMG.  Mind blown.  Seriously.  He is in his 70's and was the saddle fitter for the US Olympic team in the 90's and the Canadian team in the 2000's.  He also does a lot of bodywork and he seriously impressed me.  First he put both saddles on Mia and showed me how they are rocking a bit, though just barely with the jumping saddle.  He felt Mia and said her left TMJ was really out and that he thinks 95% of my saddles fit can be fixed with adjusting the TMJ. Cue the skeptic in me, like seriously?

He washed his hands, grabbed Mia's lower jaw and wiggled and massaged it.  He kept doing it for well over 3 minutes.  He said she was giving lots of mini-releases but hadn't given the big one and he was about to give up and stop when she gave the release he was looking for.  She lowered her head down and yawned.  He was all "Good mare!" and she looked baffled.  She seriously had a look of complete confusion on her face and eyes and she turned her head to watch him as he went and washed his hands.  I don't know if I've ever seen that look in her eye before!  I've seen it in TWH when he had his teeth done, and I've seen it in App, but never Mia.

He said TMJ pain causes them to hold themselves differently, more stiffly, as it is like a low grade headache all of the time.  That he has taken horses that have been through 10+ medical therapy procedures and fixed them with basic bodywork.  It was sooo strange for this true skeptic to agree that there was actually something to what he did.  He then threw the saddles on and said "Look, no rocking.".  Because seriously....there was no rocking.  *slow blink* 

He then wanted to adjust my Wintec Isabell a little and put some flocking in the front.  I looked at him suspiciously, I have had two saddle fitters look at my Isabell and they both said they can't adjust it because it is a Wintec with the Cair panels.  They can't adjust air panels.  He said "Of course I can, they are made from the factory to be adjusted just like a normal saddle. A lot of fitters don't seem to realize that".  Uh, ok?  And yes, there is a slit under the flap, by the stirrup bar.  I've always seen it but didn't know what it was for.  Apparently, it is for saddle fitting adjustments. 

He put a handful of wool in both front panels to help bring the front up a little and adjusted the billet points, suddenly my girth is now about 4 inches too big.  I wrote a VERY small check and he said to call him out in about 6 months to make sure all was good.  Uh, YES I SURE WILL!  I hopped on Mia and it was weird.  She immediately took up my right rein like it was no big deal.  She never takes up my right rein like that!  The saddle certainly sits a little higher in the front and Mia seems to like it, what an absolutely fabulous, positive experience.  I will gladly pay this guy money to come out again and again.  Have you had an experience like this?  It made a believer out of this hard core skeptic.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

First Show Of The Season Recap

The first show is in the books.  While we didn't place well, I am super pleased with how things went.  There is always room for improvement *cough cough, shorter reins, more leg*, but from where we were 3 months ago, I am SO happy with how things went. 

On Saturday, Mia got the first bath of the season and got clipped up.  She was fabulous and had no issues with any of the shenanigans, though she was losing her patience by the end of her primping session. We also had the farrier that day so while I got to the barn at 930a and didn't leave until 430p, I still didn't get to ride.  I wasn't worried however, Mia had her argument with me that prior week and was riding fabulously on Weds and Friday so I let her have the day off.

She is ribby, but in good, though fuzzy, condition. Topline is coming back!
Sunday we loaded up and got to the show without any issues at all.  Warm up was a mess.  Because the ground was still so soft, they were asking everyone to ride only in the warmup ring so there were 15+ horses in the arena.  At least it was a larger ring, but half were warming up over jumps, few were watching where they were going and it totally reminded me of a Hunter warmup ring.  Not a lot of good work was done.  Mia wasn't really relaxed but she was giving nice transitions and not fighting with me so I took what I had.

In case anyone wants to be bored to tears, dressage!

The test went quite well, but certainly not our best. Mia wasn't relaxing into the bridle, my reins were STILL too long and she wasn't truly in front of my leg for most of the ride.  BUT for the first time EVER we did not get the "falling in" comment in the canter.  First. Time. Ever.  Win! You can tell in the video at the right lead canter section that her haunches are still a bit in as she finishes her circle, but so, so, so much better than in the past.
Ugh, ribby.  BUT this is an untouched photo.  So shiny!!
We even scored a personal best of 31.9!  Which is a fabulous score that I am proud of.  Unfortunately, 6 other people scored in the mid to low 20's, something Mia is not yet ready for. That was okay though, the improvement in dressage is what we were going for and we nailed it.

Last was jumping which, admittedly, went about as well as I expected.  The video stabilization in Youtube made both dressage and jumping seem a smidge faster than it actually was (in comparing the video on youtube vs computer), but the video stabilization was needed.... so FYI haha.  Mia has been jumping so well, however, we have only been jumping for the past month or so.  Maybe 6 times?  7 tops?  We aren't at the top of our game still and I knew that going in.  We met 90% of the distances and had one rail.  I honestly don't know what happened for that rail, she hit it with her hind fetlocks and we met the distance, I can only assume I sat on her too soon??  Not sure, there is no other picture or video of it to verify and I was baffled when it happened.

I am still super happy with the jumping round.  Mia was responsive, except for the last fence where she didn't slow down until the last 2 strides and chipped in a small stride, but she was such a good mare.  We ended 6th and I was happy.  Mia then got the next full week off as I headed to the Kentucky 3 Day Event AKA Not-Rolex.  Recap of that coming up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The continuation of Do This, with show prep and MEDIA

After apparently not posting my last post, here are the updates since then.  The video hubby shot made me go from a high of "We are doing awesome!" to a low of "How the hell do we suck so badly".  I doubled down and decided Mia is fit enough, I am fit enough, we are doing fricken serious dressage work even if it kills us.  *note, it did not kill us*

Ugh. Downhill much?!
I thought this felt good. Blah
Not bad, but not good
Last week I had MR (the lady who rides at night, who is the one who fell off) video our dressage.  I wanted to see if there was actual improvement.  Success!  I was left feeling not so much of a train wreck and hopeful of our upcoming show.  Hubby was traveling for work for a full week, Fri to Fri and our show was that upcoming Sunday.  The plan was serious boot camp and we would be 100% ready for the show.  And then the weather stepped in and was all "Oh, you silly people, no, no, no."  And then the show changed the date to be April 22nd instead.  Blah!  More time to prepare I guess?

This is better
Despite the weather being horrible (40's and rain ALL DAY), I almost wish the show had been last weekend because Mia was on FIRE.  Our dressage was so good, I can only hope it carries through to this weekend.

This is much better!
Hubby was gone all last week and I have been out to the barn almost every day since.  Focusing on SERIOUS dressage work.  And guys, I am actually optimistic of our chances at the show now.  Like, seriously optimistic!  Mia has stepped up to the plate and has agreed to the dressage work.  Our canter guys, the uphill is redeveloping and the haunches.  Man, those errant haunches.  They are staying out!!!!!!  Riding shoulder in all of the time is working and it makes me so damn excited of our possibilities.

Our rides lately have actually been rather short, closer to 30 mins, as Mia has been so good.  We still have our disagreements, like her insistence that my right leg doesn't have a say in the matter and what not, but it is coming together. 
This is 3'6", looking easy
We have also been jumping and Mia has been fabulous about it, I totally think we are ready for our show!  When I ride like an educated rider, we meet our distances and jump everything without her even trying hard.  Height does not phase her at all OMG.

Our show is on Sunday and our dressage isn't perfect, however I am pretty confident in our ability.  I am going to ride with a whip during the test, something I haven't done since I showed App, to help remind Mia to keep her haunches out in the canter but now I need to really, really, really focus and remember to change my whip hand.  Blah! 

That is a 5ft standard. That Mia's knee is ABOVE.
After our show, we have a short week as I am then packing up and headed to K3DE.  I am super excited to go even though everyone I was going with backed out.  Hubby and I are going to have a fabulous time and HOPEFULLY have great weather.  Is anyone else going to K3DE?  Want to meet up??