Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A little rest

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of events in my life. I only got to ride once last week. My horse was long-lined on Saturday while I was out of town and then I just tinkered around bareback (with my new Parelli pad) last night after a long flight home.

So when I got to the barn this morning for my jump lesson, I lunged Sam around the round pen for good measure. It was only for about 10 mins and he was mostly well-behaved. The best part was that I accidentally dropped the line while he was trotting and because I happened to bend over in the direction of his haunches, he stopped and faced me like he's been taught to do when I lean and look to his rear. :D  Good boy!

I tacked up and did some leg-yields at the walk. We moved up to trot 2 sets of ground poles, one with 4 and one with 3 spaced a little further apart. His trot was very bouncy but calm. After a few times through, he was being very thoughtful about his feet. So then we added a circle after the rails and a single small jump. Again, good boy. After we did that both directions, we added a jump at the end of the ground poles. Just past half way through, he noticed the jump and cleared it nicely with a controlled canter afterwards. :)

More of the same with a few more jumps and in the last round, he was even being a bit lazy over the original little jump, banging the pvc poles. Hmmm...summer-time Sam. :D

I worked on sinking deep in my heels and when he chipped one time, I just focused on sinking, sinking. My hands would touch his neck from time to time, but nothing that saved my skin thanks to my balanced upper body.

Sometimes a little time off makes the most progress.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project B, for bungee

The new trailer has double doors. The left door is a little tight and stays put. The right door just likes to hang, like in the photo below. There's no attachment system in place. And I'm too lazy to walk in the tack room, pull out some bungees then walk to each side of the trailer and attach them. Then I'd have to put them back after closing up the trailer. UGH.

So I made one.

Project B in use
Yes, that is a teeny, tiny, dog ball that I cut, wrapped around the end of the bungee and super glued shut.

Project B, not in use
I also closed the hanging hook end so it wouldn't fly off during travel. 
Why the ball? So I don't scratch up the trailer of course. It's also really handy grab spot when hooking onto the door. ;D 

I do plan to store them in the tack room when the trailer is parked for prolonged periods of time. I wouldn't want random dogs jumping up onto my trailer... or my border collie staring at it all day long when it's parked at my house.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy Trails!

I've had 2 other trailers before. One when I used to ride in early 2000 that was a 2H straight load with a manger. My 14'2hh Arab barely fit in it. I stuffed a tab bit taller leopard appy I purchased in it and while backing down the driveway she somehow got her leg stuck on top of the manager. Cut up her leg and my new cheap 2nd horse became pricey. She ended up being ok. When I got out of horses, I sold the trailer to a lady who had ponies.

Then, when I started riding again 2.5 years ago, I had nothing for the first year until lessons were no longer available at the barn. I had to haul out and the BO sold me an old 2H straight that had no manger/tack area, just a chest bar and no center divider or pole, just a single butt bar that attached in the center and a ramp. It was light and airy and my 16hh Appy mare had no problem hopping right on. Except the day I was gifting her back to an old owner. Then she decided to break the breakaway and turn herself around in it.

Truth told, I had a bit of trouble with this trailer. The coupler decided to hop off my tow ball while trailering it empty up a hill and it damaged my truck's bumper so I couldn't tow with it anymore but we added a pin in the sleeve so it couldn't do that anymore. And the day I dropped off my mare to her new home, on the way back to my barn, the ramp just dropped down while I was driving.

So when I got my current gelding and he so nicely hauled the 3 hours home in my friends roomy 3H Morganbuilt slant I was a little miffed he wouldn't load into my little, but airy trailer to get him from my house to the barn. It took a long time. And then he was hard to load when I went trail riding with a friend and even longer to bring him home again. He was never nervous or mad, just avoiding and running out as fast as he could.

He would load in my trainer's 2H slant for practice and my friends 3H slant for a show this summer. But he wouldn't load in the BO's really nice Sundowner 2H straight, and he still wouldn't get in mine. Apparently he has better self preservation then my mare or could tell my trailer has had some bad mojo. So I sold it to a friend who had been coveting its small size. That was last summer. I knew I probably wouldn't need a trailer of my own until show season this spring and I don't like to borrow stuff. So I had time to save and shop.

Let me just say there are not a lot of 2H slants out there, compared to 3H & 4H. But I finally found a near perfect match. The only difference is that I was looking for a single door and this one is double. But it's made by a reputable company and that means a lot to me. And the price was right, though I spent more then I originally intended, but you can't always control the market.

All that led me to my 3rd trailer new to me which I hope to have for a long time. That COWGIRL UP and paint stickers are not staying ;)

Yay! I have a new trailer and freedom!

My new trailer. Sam better like it!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Put your hands together for... jumping!

In my jump lesson this week, I worked on keeping my hands together and my heels down. I started with ground poles and worked my way up to the brown, log and baby brick jumps. I should go measure them, but they are all solid and probably around 18". It was also my first time jumping the log so there was a bit of mental anxiety I had to get over. I know my horse has longed over it with my trainer but it seemed scarier then the other solid jumps.

But Sam was moving nicely, no rushing on the smaller jumps so my confidence was increasing. I decided to just let him jump and I'll just be a passenger today. Ok, that's most of the time. We trot the brown, figure 8 back around to the baby brick, trot again and he chips and tags his back hooves on the top. His neck was immediately in my face, but low and behold, my HANDS were also in my face and pressed right off neck, sitting me immediately up. YAY! I circle around the log, and quickly regain composure as Sam was being good and quiet. Then we trot the log (scary!) and all is well there too. We canter down the long side of the arena and he is listening very well and easily comes back down to trot. More yay!
Jumped the green log jump, brown jump less green rail & baby red brick less red rail.
We do the same sequence in the opposite direction and over one of the jumps, I can't even remember which one now, my HANDS save me again! Again they appear at eye level and I pushed off Sam's neck. And because I was also thinking about my heels down OVER the jump, my legs were already in good position so my recovery was immediate. WOOT! I get kudos from my trainer. If I had ever questioned riding with my hands together (I didn't) then this day was a lesson learned.

Bonus that is was on and off drizzling on us. AND I rode in my regular hunter schooling bridle. No flash, no new bit. :D

For rain riding (living in the PNW), I picked up this saddle cover online and have been very pleased with it on both occasions I have used it. The seat has a good grip and doesn't seem to move around. There's velcro where the stirrups poke through so you can run them up and down and then velcro a smaller hole while riding. The only thing it doesn't cover is the front of the sweat flap/blocks as it likes to wrap only around the outer flap. That works fine as I can still adjust my girth from the saddle and at least most of saddle is protected.

Ride On Saddle Cover - For Riding in the Rain

Ride On Saddle Cover Ride on Saddle Cover Waterproof, grippy PVC material with elastizied edges fits neatly over the seat and flaps of most English saddles. Ride even in foul weather without having to worry about damage to your saddle.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Step in to the light

Sam had three days off after his chiro work and then it was lesson day.

I decided I didn't want to switch bits to the Pessoa my trainer recommend but stay with the Herm Sprenger.
Pessoa Magic Copper Moon Dee Bit
Herm Sprenger Dynamic RS Aurigan Eggbutt
I felt the behind the vertical and after jump speedups was new and I wanted to work through my issues (like not keeping my heels down over jumps) before I swapped other stuff.

I just wanted to check steps off a list before going there, just didn't feel like the right time. So I compromised and used a flash for a little extra leverage. Which means I had to ride in my dressage bridle with my flash noseband that I've never used. I have two nosebands for the same bridle but haven't needed the flash until now.

I had a great lesson. Sam was calm and thoughtful. He didn't speed up after the jumps and hardly dropped behind the vertical. My trainer asked if I drugged him, hehe. Maybe the change in feed and chiro work and the spot lesson with the pro rider all helped to mellow Sam out.

However, because I fell off, of course it was back to basics. I had to ride around with my thumbs/knuckles touching the whole time and the jumps were lowered to like 12" - I was at 24". Also worked on getting my leg around my skinny horse instead of gripping with my knees.
Sunny ride with Sam in dressage bridle with flash - you can see the heel up issue
It was a great day and the sun was actually shining and that makes everything better. Two days after, I flatted on my own and worked on riding with my hands together and of course wrapping my legs around Sam. I like having homework between lessons. If I don't have any, I can't seem to come up with useful things to work on and don't ride for any significant amount of time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And then there was 4.

I am thusly motivated. Not with blogging, but riding. I'm now back up to at least 4 days a week - just want to add in that 5th day again. But personal life has been keeping me busy and as long as I get in at least 3 days, I'm pretty satisfied.

Been having a few ups and downs with Sam lately. I went off again last week (4th time) and this time I'd say it was actually a little bit his fault. As opposed to the other 3 times, when it wasn't. After a jump he was feeling good and started humping around and because I was already tipped forward after the jump I just kept going down until my head was on the side of his neck.

My trainer yelled for me to sit up, but as I was leaned completely on my hands which were in my lap and past 90 degrees at the waist, I knew I didn't have the abs to fix it and I dropped my stirrups and superman'd off. I landed on my boobs and right thigh - nothing injured. Sam hippity hopped all the way down the arena until he found some hay in the corner. No remorse. It's not so naughty to crack his back and feel good (just being a horse) but it is to leave me in the dust and buckaroo his way to some food.
Sam & pro

So the following lesson was with a stronger bit and a pro rider and my trainer on the ground - and I got to watch. This way he couldn't dip his head down like he likes and the pro wouldn't let him get away with speeding up after the jumps. We also cut back his evening feed from 2 timothys to 1 timothy and 1 local.

Rider worked on stopping after the jumps and not letting his bulge out his left shoulder. And not letting him drop behind the vertical - a fun new habit that probably came from someone previously having his go around in draw reins. You could tell Sam was not happy about this lesson.

Afterwards though, he got the full spa treatment and had his first chiro appointment since I've owned him with a SUPER respected lady. The result was several places he was tight/bunched/out of alignment that she said was probably from before I got him last spring. So then he got three days off. Spoiled.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Motivation

Winter is wet and gray where I live. And it lasts more then a quarter of the year. This year I'm having a harder time getting motivated to get to the cold, damp barn. I don't know why. When I get there I'm just fine since I warm up quickly enough grooming my horse. I've been finding that getting in my hot tub for a good 10 mins warms me up pretty well. Then I get my riding clothes on and head right for the barn. Works to help wake me up from sleepy winter slumber too.

The other caveat is that I don't like being at the barn by myself. And even if there's someone there, if they aren't riding in the same area as me I tend to be a total slacker. I trot less, canter less, and generally get off my horse sooner. I definitely don't push myself for any extra effort.

I have arranged someone to ride with on Mondays and I take lessons 3 other days of the week, so it's not like I'm not getting to the barn at all. But in the summer, I was riding 6 days a week on average and it was WONDERFUL! Of course the weather was geared towards outside enjoyment. I do often wish my barn had a web-cam so I would know if someone else was there.

Keep focused on goals - like showing
I guess the key is to keep focused on my goals which is to show hunters and dressage this year. And since I'm pretty competitive, I'm going to want to show well. I'm not afraid to put in the hard work - especially as it doesn't quite feel like work to me. But I have to get myself moving to make any strides. This also applies to my #1 goal this year, fitness. As well as continuing this blog. I still need more sleep.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here a clip, there a clip...

Over the holiday I had three great rides in a row. Sam was awesome, I was well positioned and I had a decent amount of endurance. I felt so confident that I asked to move the jumps up on the third day.

This week was the first back to work after vacation. Vacation for me usually means staying up until 3am, sleeping in until 1pm. I'm a night owl by choice. So it was pretty hard to get back into the early morning groove. My weekday jump lesson (always Tuesdays) was at 1:30pm this week with another rider. I had about 5 hours sleep and was just dragging all morning. I felt more awake by lunchtime so scurried off to my lesson.

We ended up using the 'scary' end of the arena (which doesn't scare my horse) because it wasn't as soft as the regular end, though it was still soggy from all the rain the last few weeks. The tractor is in the shop, so the arena hadn't been dragged in about a week. We made do and worked on lead changes after jumps. I was sucking wind after each of the 2 series of jumps we were doing. 2 jumps! Three days prior, I was doing 8 in a row! So, I just worked with lots of breaks. Which worked out ok with another rider in the lesson. Note to self, GET SLEEP!!

I also noticed that Sam was breathing heavy after a few sets of jumps. It was pretty darn warm that day, in the 50s. I could have easily worn a t-shirt. So I went out to the barn the next day and re-clipped him, that is, after I fought with the new, only used once before, clippers. I won't go into details but let's just say I *almost* threw them down the aisle-way. Thanks to a trainer to helped me tame them.

Sam clipped early Dec. My first clip job.
I decided he probably needed more hair off then last time, especially since the weather has warmed up to normal temps. So, in the last 15 mins I had left, I starting from the back legs and clipped towards the front. Ended up clipping his whole belly, hehe. Sam has fur, thick wavy fur. Plus I blanket him, so I felt ok about the clip job. And it visually came out ok too, considering it was my first time with a full trace clip, second clip ever.

Sam clipped early Jan. My second clip job.
I can see where I would make improvements, and maybe I will touch up when I go to the barn tonight. But I didn't use any guides because I'm lazy like that. :D  However, my shoulders and lower back are sore from bending over yesterday. Maybe I should sit on a stool next time.

*Please note, the clip lines are straight, Sam's wavy hair spilling over the edges makes it look really messed up.

Monday, January 2, 2012


  1. Get fit & lose the excess weight, ASAP.
  2. Compete in at least two hunter/jumper shows.
  3. Ride often without stirrups. 
  4. Transition to bareback pad when goal #3 has progressed far enough for trot/canter work.
  5. Be schooling 2'6" by summer's end.
  6. Try out a XC course before summer's end.