Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boots! (my other love)

As most anybody who spends a significant amount of time around horses (be it mucking out a stall, or actually riding) can appreciate.. it's hard to top a great pair of boots.

And as anyone who spends almost  as much time lurking around sample sales and flipping through fashion mags (I know, I know... it's a ridiculous, overpriced, totally wonderful, (and not that all unlike horses) industry, but I LOVE IT).... It's hard to top a great pair of boots...

Put those two together and BLAM-O. From October to March, it's tough to find me in anything but an appropriately heeled piece of footwear.  (Unlike Miss P, I do not thrive barefoot)

To reference one of my favorite Friends quotes:
"These are my new I-don't-need-a-job, I-don't-need-a-man, I've-got-great-boots, boots!"
In honor of my (barely controlled) love of boots, I present this - a parade of my current footwear d'jour:

The new boots:  Konigs.  I have no idea what model they are, but they are shockingly tall, and still abusing my feet.  I have a blister on my left heel that more closely resembles a lunar crater than anything else I can think of... and yet I still love them.  They look great on, provide nice support, and I'm fairly certain they'd survive a nuclear blast.  Plus they were an absolute steal at $150.

When you live in Seattle, you end up acquiring a veritable collection of rain boots.  These cute little Pucci Galoshes are my current fav.  Plus they match nearly everything Pia wears...

For stomping around the barn, and my neighborhood, I am absolutely obsessed with the Ariat Plymouth boots.  They are comfy enough to be in all day, whether I'm scampering around the barn, or walking all over Seattle, and cute enough for me to feel polished, while not so cute that I feel guilty wearing them in a stall, or getting them all covered in horsey dust.

These little guys get shed before my feet hit the ground at the barn.  Suede boots = no go for horses, but they are low heeled, and nice enough for dinner out without being so obnoxious that I don't wear them to work on a regular basis (as indicated by the tragically corporate carpet).  Thank you Theory for continuing my addiction to your not-that-affordable clothing line.

Finally, from Modern Vintage - a heeled boot that I love so much I have actually gone back and purchased them in multiple colors.  They are NOT barn appropriate, but as most of my wardrobe can attest, simply "not being barn appropriate" rarely keeps it out of the barn.  I've replaced the heels on my brown version of these guys multiple times, as stabbing around a sand ring in stilettos and "watching" someone else ride really eats up a covered heel... oops.  Oh well.  not a habit that's likely to change anytime soon. :)

And that, my friends, rounds out my Top 5 Boots for the '09-'10 season.

If I were to do an extensive catalog of my shoe closet I can guarantee that a) your respect for me would go down, b) you'd get horrifically bored, and c) I would have to admit that I have some seriously damaged old favorites stashed away that I'm too sentimental to part with, even though I have literally worn them into the ground, past the point of even my very polite, very indulgent shoe-man's repair skills. 

I love boots.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good Mare!!!!!

Yesterday was possibly, dare I say it, the best ride I've had on Pia. Ever.


 Pia, thoroughly impressed with herself during our ride.  Ham-face.

After Tuesday, and Tuesday v2.0... I was thinking about how I could possibly try to skip the drama and get straight to our pretty, pretty trot work that I've been growing so fond of.  I'd love to say that I had a grand plan for obtaining it, but in reality I was so tired and burned out from work yesterday (I've been preparing a legal appeal all week) that I could barely figure out which way to turn on the highway in order to get to the barn.

I decided that I just wasn't mentally capable of putting up a fight.  I didn't have it in me to be pissy, or make sure that the mare knew who was boss.  I just couldn't muster it.  It's not to say that I was sad, or mopey, I was just flat out braindead.  I can only imagine what activity would (or wouldn't) have shown up if a doctor were in a room somewhere monitoring me..  Though I imagine their comments would have been something along the lines of "Hmmm, intriguing.  Her motor skills appear to be in tact, yet we see know signs of normal brainwave activity.  In fact, her readings correspond with that of a deep coma.  Nurse... check the monitor..."

Yeah, comatose.  Or living dead if we want to be seasonally appropriate.... ANYWAY.

So I tacked the mare up quickly and simply decided that we would have a calm ride.  I just decided it.  Not sure what that means really, but I was very committed to calm.  P seemed to oblige and wasn't too uppity as we walked to the ring and I just got on. 

Now, the girl is cold backed, and I lunge her about 80% of the time before I ride, so I let her have a nice long amble around the ring for about 15 minutes before even asking for the trot.  Good news? she was calm, willing to be on the buckle, and also willing to work in the walk without any ridiculous jigging.  I took these both as good signs.

She was sticky as we moved up into the trot for the first time (typical) and she pulled all of her usual antics: Cow kicking, biting her own chest (I still don't quite understand that one) and hunching her back away from my leg.  But she finally un-stuck and trotted on.  After about a minute of asking (nicely) for her to move forward, she just unlocked.  She lifted her back, softened her poll and just floated around the ring. 

Goooood Mare!

I zig zagged and swirled around.  P was a bit sticky about staying between my aids, but it didn't take long for her to accept them and willingly travel straight on the circle... no open side shenanigans, no fussy mouth.  Just nice, easy, calm trot work. 

I was so excited, I kept looking around, hoping that someone would roll down the driveway to witness this miracle, but no one did.  So I just got to cherish the moment alone with Miss Pia.  Which was ok too.

All told, we probably ended up working for 45 minutes with some decent walk brakes thrown in.  Pia barely broke a sweat, where she's usually drenched by the 20 minute mark.  I think it was a combo of it being a less strenuous workout along with the fact that she wasn't all fussy and tense the whole time. 

We even got a few outstanding leg yields in.  I didn't want to push the lateral work, instead I was focused on reinforcing the forward, calm, accpting work we had, but she was great.  Since she's so darn smart, I had to make the mare work straight down the quarter and centerline about 10 times before she stopped anticipating the leg yield..

But when I did ask? She moved graciously away from my leg, staying very balanced (for a wobbler) and mostly forward while she did it. She got lots of praise and pats for that one... What a star.

Lots of increase/decrease again, and I focused on really maintaining our balance instead of focusing on getting a "response" from her at my ask.  She really took to that well and I think we had some awesome "pushed" into medium as a result.

This mare continues to astound me.  In August, we had to practically beat her up in order to get her to play nice, and any attempts at babying her resulted in her taking control and acting like a loon.  Now, she seems resistance to the firm hand, and seemed to love the quiet, gentle ask.

Man, this lady keeps me on my toes.  Makes me glad I don't date women, as I can only imagine how this manifests itself in the human variety....I mean, wow. 

Considering the fact that I almost bailed on the barn in favor of my couch and some ramen, I am so, so, so glad I chose to go left instead of right on the freeway.  A nice, calm, easy ride was just what I needed. 

Today, we're trying a lesson, though I gave the BO download on our successes yesterday, so I'm hoping we can work the same sort of routine in today.. Let's hope it still works!

Happy Friday All!

PS- look, slobber! Not exciting for most people, but foamy white soft slobber??? Yessssss she's accepting the bit! Vetwrap, ghetto bit WIN!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

$15k could get you....

A mountain of vet bills

A decent horse

A decent horse AND a mountain of vet bills


1/10th of 1/2 of an AWESOME PAIR. 


One's mind could run wild.... It says you get endless "visiting privileges."  Something tells me you wouldn't be getting 10% of the riding privs....

Tuesday v2.0

Right, right. Yesterday was "wednesday" by tradtitional accounts... but by horsey accounts, it felt a lot like tuesday.

I rode the beast on my own, and we entered the ring just as everyone else was leaving it.. We had a decent lunge session - aside from the fact that when I snapped up some extra lunge line, I also snapped up a crap-ton (official unit of measure) of arena sand into my eyeball. 

On one hand, it was an educational opportunity for my semi insulated, non-street fighting self... as I had never truely understood the value and effectiveness of throwing/kicking/shoving dirt/sand in an assailant's face.  So... from a self-defense/tough girl perspective, I was grateful.  From a holy-crap-there's-8lbs-of-sand-in-my-eyeball perspective, it sucked.

Fortunately for me, Pia decided that my cries of terror and blind scrambling in a circle must have sounded somewhat similar to my coos of "eeeeea-sssyyyyy.  aaaaand whoaaaaaa."  Because she politely stopped and waited for my shrieks of "my eye, by EYYYYYYYYEEEEE" to die down.

Anywhoo. After that I hopped on and we literally had a repeat of "tuesday."  Snotty, switching up her tricks.  Refusing to go forward, refusing to stop. Cranky lateral work, blowing through hand/leg/seat/(lady's choice) but always fixing what I corrected and finding a new "loophole" to shoot through.

Then, after about 40 minutes of work, Ta-Da!!! Perfection! Light, forward, swinging perfection.  We got 10 minutes of lovely, easy trot work and called it a day.

I'll admit that this pattern is confusing me, but I'll take it.  Especially since we seemed to get to the nice trot work with slightly fewer theatrics today than yesterday, though maybe that's just my recency bias...

In other news, I think I'm still digging sand out of my eye... ew.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I tried really, really hard to think of a title for this post that would accurately summerize my ride last night.  But I couldn't. 

"Relative Successes?" maybe.  but it wasn't really a "success" per se.
"Stormy Nights?"  Maybe.  but it wasn't that stormy out, and the ride wasn't awful.
"Lesson recap?" yeah, I guess. I mean... I had a lesson.

Basically, I decided that "Tuesday" was about as specifically accurate as I was going to get. 

So ta-da.

The day and ride were just sort of "blah."  Typically cloudy, spitting rain, Seattle day.  The barn was empty, and P was mostly subdued.  I threw her in the ring to let her bounce around if she wanted to...

She didn't.

So I pulled her back in to groom.  Lazy, kinda chilly, groom.  Not so bad, but not so thrilling either.

The Boy's mom showed up to watch us go.  She's super, super nice and had her fair share of lessons back in the day, so she's always a welcome visitor at the barn...  She pumped P full of carrots (and me full of brownies) before we even got going (uh oh) so both of us were jostling around on treat filled tummies.

P lunged nicely (super calm) and even started great (relaxed walk, WHAT??).  She was stinky/sticky about moving into the trot, but then fairly well behaved once we were there.  Serpentines, loops, circles, the usual.  We really focuses on F O R W A R D.  The theme of the day was that when I asked for push, she had to push and that we wouldn't be picky about what gait.  Lengthend trot? sure! Pop into the canter? fine....  Just as long as she wasn't sucking back, we accepted what she gave us. 

This made for a trickier warm up than we intended, as I wouldn't usually make her do canter leg yields, or counter canter loops.. but she did.  and miraculously, she wasn't that cranky about them.  All in all, I was pretty pleased with her early work.  She accepted my leg, chewed on her vetwrap bit, and had some nice moments of impulsion. 

After our first break, we went to pick on her counter canter again in order to deliberately focus on it.  I haven't revisited this exercise in a couple weeks.. so I wasn't too sure how it was going to go, but I didn't need to worry since we never even got there....

Before I could even ask P to support herself on the off lead, she started some tantrums and was blowing through my outside leg on the open side of the circle (again).  At the trot I can kick her back into line, but in the canter, my increased outside leg was met by a squeal, kick and crow hop. 

Bad mare.

SOOOOOOO we abandoned the exercise, got her moving and made her listen to my outside (in this case, left leg).  Canter leg yields, tight circles, and changing the bend.  The theory was if she's going to object to a supportive outside leg, she not only has to tolerate increased leg pressure, but she has to work harder than what I was initially asking for. 

This sparked a series of arguments, and began the downward spiral of dumpster diving with her face (solution, GALLOP), busting through my leg (solution, lateral work NOW) and stinkiness about moving forward (solution, halt/trot transitions, and LENGTHENINGS).

This worked pretty well, and the rest of the lesson was a fast pace reaction to whatever she threw at us.  Lots of variety, adjustments and deviations from a planned exercise. 

Example:  She blows through my leg... So I push her into a leg yield right away.  She dumpster dives to avoid holding herself up... I throw my hands at her and push her forward.... she ignores my half halts to come back, we do halt/trot transitions... then circle.. she blows through my leg... etc etc.

I worked hard.  The mare worked harder, and at the end, we had 5 minutes of uninterrupted gorgeous working trot. 
Let me repeat that:

We had 5 minutes of uninterrupted gorgeous working trot 
 (If I could make this font blink, I would...)

I even got to sit really deeply on her and do some baby lengthenings and collections with just my seat.  She was soft and forward and giving and super responsive.  I messed up and asked for too much on the first one and we lost our pretty, perfect balance.  So I took it down a notch since we were going on an hour of some serious work.  Quit while you're ahead, right??
Decent day.  Not bad, a little frustrating at times, but we had some nice little moments together.  All in all? a Tuesday... 
PS- I toyed around with one of those online publishing companies and had the first six months of the blog printed up.  Sounds weird I know, but it came out beautifully.  It's fun to have on hand for the non horsey people in my life... I'm going to try to remember to do 6 month installments.. but we'll see.  The company is called blurb, and I'd highly recommend them. 
 Cute book!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunrise Ride

Most people who actually make a living in the horse world manage to rouse themselves at ungodly hours all the time, but for little 'ol 9 to 5 me, riding before work (or sunrise) is some weird conglomeration of a super fun treat, and tragically early wake up call.

It's been so damn long since I've been to a show, (let alone a show that wasn't a weird IHSA raffle) that every early morning ride sorta reminds me of that pre-show energy buzz.  So, you can imagine that I was significantly bouncier when my alarm went off in the darkeness for me to go riding instead of yet another failed early morning gym attempt. 

(note: I am the QUEEEEEEEN of setting my alarm to "go to the gym" which usually results in an internal dialogue about how if I'm working out for my health and not some vanity inspired goal, which of course would never be the case because I am a strong confident woman who accepts myself... then I should consider the importance of quality, deep sleep and weigh the benefits of staying in bed versus sweating in a gross crowded room with people who undoubtedly sneeze into their hand then rub germs all over everything I will be forced to touch.  THEREFORE, sleeping in is the "healthier" option.. reset alarm clock now...)

This internal debate was not only irrelevant to the wake up call for the barn, it was also unecessary, as I was up, into breeches and out the door before my first snooze alarm would have usually needled me for a second time....

Apparently though, my eagerness to work and enjoy the dark morning hours was not shared by Miss Pia.  Her blinking, sleepy expression at the sight of my face and freshly flipped on lights was not what I would consider "loving" or even "pleased."  The mare was horrified that the lights were on, horrified that I was there and even more horrified that I was dragging her from her still warm bed of shavings... There was a flash of empathy for my poor mother who dealt quite charmingly with my own teenage antics before I flipped into "efficient tack up" mode and got to work double brushing and fluffing a, still mostly sleeping, Pia.

Uhhhh mom? The lights iz off and everyone else iz still sleeping....

Our ride was pretty good.  Mostly we timed it perfectly to start in the dark and finish with the sun  up, which made me feel uber productive regardless of what we did or didn't accomplish.  Fortunately though, we made some nice progress.  Our only battle was over Pia's insistence that (from the right) the mounting block was definitely a horse killing predator waiting to pounce.  P was positive of this in spite of the fact that a) she stood next to it just fine when I got on, and b) it was still a normal mounting block when we were going to the left....


I guess we also had a few conversations about blowing through my left leg

Every few rides P will make the decision (usually about 2/3 of the way through our work) that circles are unacceptable and she would rather skitter sideways on the open side of whatever circle we are on.  It's very frustrating, although at least it keeps her toes on the ground, so it feels like a manageable objection.

I did monkey with the mare a bit yesterday - since she really avoids contact with the bit (as demonstrated by our outstandingly poor stretchy trot.. (I stretch contact down... she holds her frame and loops the rein...)  the BO and I have been talking about playing with some new bits.  Maybe something that's softer on her mouth/heavier?  She's got a pretty chunky copper double jointed loose ring now... which (in my mind) is sweet, big, heavy... all in all, pretty nice.  But P has her own standards, so who knows.  Regardless, I'm thinking about trying a rubber mouth bit, which of course not a single soul in the barn owns... So in my own makeshift way, we decided to fake it with some vet wrap (my 2x4 and duct tape construction dad would be so proud).

Aside from immediately foaming up, Pia didn't seem to show much interest or concern over her backyard bit, and to my pleasure, it didn't seem to dampen her brakes at all (which was a valid concern should she flip into marewolf mode).  All in all, I would say that we had a few more moments of P really reaching for contact, and I even had some lovely moments where I felt increased contact that weren't immediately followed by a deep dumpster dive with her face.  (yay). 

It does look sorta weird(/ghetto).. but I'm gonna give it a few more rides and experiment with adding more vet wrap/removing some to play with thickness before I make any final decisions.  If she shows any consistency with this little guy, I think I'll start hunting for some slightly more durable options...


Monday, October 25, 2010

Glimmer Glimmer!

Saturday, the mare and I had a decent lesson, even though there were hints of dragon-monster-marewolf happenings.  Thankfully, we worked passed it and in the end got some decently balanced transitions out of the deal.  Nothing tragic, nothing brilliant. 

Sunday I decided the mare would get a day off but I'd still go play with her.  I'll never forget years ago when a barnmate was horrified to be almost an hour late for her lesson after chasing her mare wildly all over a (not that large) paddock attempting to catch her.  In her fury she was spitting vinegar, but for the most part just kept saying "I don't know whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy she won't come to me at the gate..." 

Uhhhhh, really?

I mean, what happens every time you show up at the barn and snag her from her grass? She gets poked and prodded and forced over jumps, then horrifyingly hosed down with cold water. 

Gee, I think I'd run away too.  From the mare's perspective, you don't throw her hay, you don't toss her grain, you don't pat her on the nose before the lights go out... You just force her from her paddock (and her friends), make her work, then go away again....

When I had my horses at home, it was easier to maintain some of the "carrot lady" status to balance out the "mean crop lady" when we worked for 40 minutes a day. Now that someone else gets to be the bearer of breakfast (...and lunch... and dinner), I have been trying to remind myself to carve out happy horse days where P doesn't have to pin her ears when I go into the tack room...

Sunday was that day.  I was lucky enough to sleep in and laze most of the day away on the couch watching football with the boy, so it seemed only fitting that Miss P got a similar day of love and relaxation.

When I got to the barn I tossed her out in the ring just to let her kicks out and let her stretch her legs without any prodding from me.  But then I noticed how fantastically GORGEOUS her coat is looking and I just had to capture some images of it.

I think this mare is looking pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.  Her weight is looking great, her muscle is developing nicely and her coat is iridescent and glowing (I hadn't even brushed her off yet in the video...)

Happy Mare:
(please ignore clucking and obnoxious noise.. youtube's audio swap appears to not be working..)

Since she stopped so nicely at the end I pulled a still frame as a makeshift Fall Conformation Shot.  Her neck is a bit compressed, but it's better than anything else I have right now, so I'll take it!

Pia has a nice coat to begin with, but I think she is benefiting from her rice bran, massive amounts of vitamin e, and the barn's grain of choice - Envision. She couldn't get more omega oils or coat enhancers unless I decide to start airbrushing her..

Friday, October 22, 2010

(relative) Angel! (on video no less..)

It's all ups and downs, isn't it?

Well, aside from our serious marewolf moment on Monday, Miss Pia has been a (relative) angel.  Our lesson Tuesday was (comparatively) great and my hacks with her Wednesday and Thursday were each productive and rewarding.

Wednesday the barn was bustling and the sun was shining.  I tried to turn P out to the grass for a few minutes, but she was too busy being a nitwit, so I put her halter on and hand grazed for a bit before we got to work.  She was still displaying her nice attitude from Tuesday, which made me optimistic about our ride.  By the time we got to the ring, the only other horse working was just walking out, so we had the place to ourselves.  I geared her up for a quick lunge and got to work.

P started nice and loose.  Relaxed, opened her stride and really showed some nice stretches...  Until a mare out on the grass flipped her lid.  This particular mare is a screamer.  She is outright the noisiest horse I have ever met, and apparently when she's convinced that she's alone and everyone else is eating dinner, she flips the eff out.

Of course that was all it took to rocket P into marewolf mode and she instantly stiffened, reared, bucked, kicked and proceeded to ignore me. Usually her antics don't offend me on a personal level, but at that point I was SO PISSED that she had started nicely and now was on an escalating path toward doom.


Screamer Mare finally got taken inside, but P's PTSD remained fully intact.  We spent another 20 minutes on the lunge with me literally biting my tongue and trying to muster any bit of patience I could imagine...

Once I legged up it was a different story.  P finally calmed down and my visions of a long lazy hack seemed obtainable once again.  We walked for about 15 minutes before picking up the trot which was easy and fairly relaxed by Miss Pia's standards.  I worked our canter transitions early, then went right back to focusing on our long & low trot, which was ridiculously successful.  I actually got the mare working ON THE BUCKLE with her nose in front of the vertical.  Can you imagine!? I certainly couldn't...

Another mare joined us, and P didn't even bat an eye.  Calm, stretchy, focused.  I was thrilled.  Our lateral work was easy and forward, but I didn't push for anything too hard, just some easy leg yields, and a few good shoulder in's off the rail...

I finished with another 10 min on the buckle and called it a day.  I really couldn't have been more proud of her, or surprised to see a big foamy mouth when I popped off.  (P foams nicely on the lunge, but rarely under saddle... I think she usually stays so tense it's not an option..)

Thursday I canceled my lesson since I was stuck east of the mountains in a meeting for longer than I anticipated, but I still got to the barn to ride on my own.  I really didn't know what to expect from the mare, since she had such a great hack on Wednesday, but Thursday would be her fourth day working hard in a row which typically has been about her mental limit.

We had the place to ourselves, so I (gasp) remembered to grab my video camera and was excited to possibly capture some of Wednesday's magic on the camera.  I'm not sure if she was just fatigued from the week, or if she knew I was filming, but there was no sign of the super-stretchy-relaxed-mare I had on wednesday.  She wasn't bad, or even naughty, but she was much, much tighter than she's been recently.  We ended up working for over an hour (lots of long walk breaks to help combat our bad habit of getting grumpy when returning to work), but even at the end of our session she was still tight and choppy.

Our lateral work was sticky, her suppleness was minimal and our lengthenings were non existent, but still Pia tried, and she seemed to be giving me most of her attention.

I worked our "stretchy" trot - though she barely even stretched down, did lots of figure eights at the trot and canter, some leg yields, lots of halt transitions and lots of increase/decrease in an attempt to ask her to loosen up.

I got a little frustrated with our ride, but given Monday's theatrics, I still felt like we ended the week in a much better place than we started it.  Here are a few highlights from last night.  My apologies for the crapy video, apparently my camera had a hard time picking up the light and focusing waaaaaay down at one end of the arena.  I think I'll have to play with camera placement for future recordings...

First up? a snippet of our warmup.  I forgot what's included, but you can see us trotting around :)

Next up? Canter figure eights.  The cadence of our canter leaves something to be desired, but try to remember that two months ago we couldn't pick up the canter without some form of a bucking fit.  Just getting this many transitions is a big win for us. :) ps - note the crappy hand grab at the end... P was turning into a freight train, but dear lord, let GOOOOOO. oh, and add more leg (mental smack).

All in all? a great week.  P has earned a Friday night off for her good behavior.  She's been spending her nights outside again, which I think is helping her mental space.  Even if it's not, I just like knowing that she gets to stand and listen to the night without the click of the automatic bug sprays or automatic waterers going off every few minutes.  Not that I don't ADORE those features, but sometimes I think she likes to be a real horse. :)

This weekend we get one lesson and one hack, and MAYBE if she's good we'll ride off property.  The trees are all such pretty colors right now, a short hack down the road would be just gorgeous.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rebound Ride (the adventures of Marewolf)

Honestly, if Pia was my romantic life partner, I'm fairly certain that I would have numerous friends lining up to tell me that I was trapped in an abusive relationship...

It seems that every time I'm at my wits end and feel emotionally battered by the mare, she turns it around and reminds me that I could never, ever love another.  (clever witch).

Yesterday's ride was ying to Monday's yang.  It was the high to the frustrating low, the calm to the storm.

To sum up - she was a gem.  A sparkly, sparkly diamond of a gem, and a sweet, sweet mare.

I spent a good portion of my day at work yesterday researching hormone treatment options (more on that in a future post), but I was reading every experience/thought/critique/accolade I could find on everything from regumate to the "marble" to depo, to crazy hippy herbal mixes. :) 

Out of sheer frustration I did order a new supplement to try.  More to feel like I was making progress somehow, than because I think a new supplement will magically solve our issue, but still...  It was therapeutic. 

By the time I made it to the barn after work I was feeling more confident about my theory that Miss Pia is having raging hormone cycles that turn her into the horsey equivalent of a warewolf  (I'm calling it a marewolf).  The pieces just seem to fit.  I even printed out a blank calendar and filled in the days that were heinous rides (starting back with our July saddle fitting).  It's not a perfect 21 day cycle, but it sure as heck seems to follow a hazy pattern...

What isn't clear from my highly scientific calendar plotting is how long the marewolf phase lasts every cycle.  Sometimes we have two bad rides, sometimes it's 5... so that remains to be determined. Regardless, since Pia was marewolf on Saturday for the BO, had Sunday off and was MAJOR marewolf on Monday, I was mentally prepared for continued nastiness when I got to the barn. 

What I found was this:
Wait a minute, wait a minute.... I remember this.  I already saw this movie.  This is a sleeping dragon.  Somewhere a small voice in my head shouted "let it lie! let it lie!!!!".  But obviously I ignored it.  I did laugh, and mentally started preparing the post where I got pitched around like a sack of flour for the second time in a row after rousing the beast from her slumber..

But, I was excited to ride and test the marewolf, so rouse her I did, and we tacked up uneventfully.

Still a few squeals, still some ears pinned, but she was much more agreeable than Monday.  I figured that even with her gallop-gallop-gallop session, lunging was a good idea to see if she was tight anywhere or hurting, oh and also to test the level of wikedness.

I sent her out at the trot, and she moved out nicely.  Calm, no head waggling, no bouncing, just a trot.  Stiff? sure, but at least calm and forward.  We did lots of transitions, lots of halts, lots of canter, and the miracle?? Not a single kick or buck.

Not one.  I got one head waggle when I asked her to move out at the canter, but that's ok.  Otherwise, she was foot perfect and steady and even.  No marewolf in sight!

I legged up and we walked off without issue. No sticky, stopping mare, no pinned ears.  We even walked the ring on the buckle (!??!?) in both directions.  Our trot was tight and stiff, but pleasant.

Mostly I was shocked.  By no means was she a total angel, but she was sensitive, responsive and accepting my leg (for the most part).  We did our usual warmup, squiggles, loops, serpentines... a few leg yields, and some canter work.  Big bonus surprise? no kicks or bucks in our canter departs!!! I did ask very softly for them, and was a little bit chicken about really keeping my leg on, but I'll take it!  After our canter work we tried a new exercise.. which I loved, and really seemed to soften her up.

Up centerline, leg yield out to quarterline, reverse bend for shoulder in, reverse bend and continue leg yield to rail.

The first two runs were sticky and a little ugly, but Pia honestly tried.  That was a lot to ask of her, and in all fairness she tried mightly to guess what direction and where her various legs were supposed to be going.. We got a few great rounds in on either side.  Played with some shoulder-in/haunches-in off the rail, then had a big walk break. 

She was such a star we finished the ride with some stretchy-trot practice on a circle and had a mild breakthrough.  Pia is exceptionally reluctant to push her nose out when I ask her to stretch, instead she typically just drops her neck and "stretches" without really poking her nose out.  Obviously this isn't ideal, but I finally got a few good steps with her nose in front of the vertical (yay!).  I think the key here is that I don't just put her on a circle and keep working the stretch, but instead ride the movement like a test and to multiple "one circle" rides of letting her down and picking her up. 

Like everything, sustained requests seem to frustrate her, where as multiple transitions seem to allow her to push herself and understand the question better.

By the time I hopped off to cool her out, I was practically beaming.  Honestly, I'm just so happy to catch a glimpse of the loving, determined, intelligent mare that I enjoy so much.  I always "know" she's in there, but sometimes after several marewolf days in a row I get discouraged.  I really do appreciate the days when your rides surprise you and you feel that connection start to spark. 

Also, I love the days when Pia is well behved enough that I get to spend some of my focus on me and my riding.  Lord knows I need it, and ultimately it will benefit her in the end...

Today I'm riding on my own, but I'm going to try and set up my video camera to catch a glimpse of where we are at...  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Devil Mare

I thought I owned a gorgeous Hungarian Warmblood.

I thought I had a nice young dressage prospect.

I'm pretty sure I remember signing a check for one 16.2 hand, bay mare. 

Apparently, I was wrong, and what I got, was in fact a Devil Horse.
Yup.  A scaley, snarling, devilish beast.  Not that I wouldn't want one of those too, just that it wasn't my intention to make it my "first" horse.  Kinda like how you buy basic black boots and basic brown boots before you justify the purple suede hooker heels, or start filling in with metallic python flats.  There's an order of acquisition which I have clearly ignored...

So, yesterday I wandered out to the barn at my usual time, boppin along to crappy top 40 in my car, pleasantly surprised that traffic was non-existent.  I chatted with the barn ladies about the horsey shopping trip... chatted about clothes... chatted about the weather... just boppin along nice and easy.

Then I got her.  The beast, the dragon, the she devil.  And all the sunshiney sweetness of the day was gone.

We tacked up in the old wash rack stall which means the mare has bars in front of her face, which she took advantage of to sharpen her fangs on while we groomed.  It became very clear that I was allowed to brush the middle of her neck, and her hip, but under no circumstances was I allowed to polish her head, chest, girth, butt or legs.  Much stamping and ear pinning ensued...

By some miracle I got the dragon harnessed and booted (something told me that we'd need our "extra" protective boots) and headed for the ring.  She started out like a normal horse, fairly calm on the lunge, a little tense, but forward and not overly kicky-kicky.  We even had some decent canter transitions, so just as I thought "oh goody, no big bucks... time to get on!" She unleashed.  Vertical bounces, sits, head waggles, the works...  So I immediately dismissed any notion of her being "calm" and worked for another 10 minutes on the ground with lots of transitions and trying to keep her as focused as possible.

I was feeling ok about everything, but right when I got on, everyone else left the ring to go walk on the road... which, as we all remember by this point is Pia's favorite freakout excuse ever.  My attempt to keep her distracted worked okay, I just "scribbled" all over the ring.  loops, turns, figure-eights... anything to keep her from laser beam locking on the departing horses and bolt/bucking to go join them.

She snorted like a dragon and picked a bit of a fight with me, but we were mostly ok.

The small victory was that Pia stayed forward and never felt "stuc."  The total defeat was that she refused to relax and even after 15 minutes I didn't feel the hump in her back give way.. This was about the point in our lesson when I lose track of exact ordering... I know that we did some leg yield --> circle exercises, and I know that we did some medium work.  But then at some point pia FREAKED.  Not her normal "I'm-gonna-kick-out-at-your-leg" objections, and not her "oh-you-want-to-canter" bucks, instead it was more like "I AM A DEVIL DEVIL HORSE AND YOU WILL NOT BE TOLERATED"  She bucked, and twisted, she shied, she spun, she went bonkers.  the good news? I stayed on.  Though, after a particularly violent twisting buck (and a very angry scream from me), I found a lull in the action and popped off to lace her across the butt once.  Of course, as soon as I popped off, she knew what was happening and tore away from my hand. 

devil mare.

But, fine.  You want to gallop around?  You'll gallop around.  You'll gallop until you're so tired you want to stop, then you'll gallop some more. And then you'll gallop some more.  Then you'll change direction and gallop again.  Until you hate me chasing you and are begging for me to stop.

Which she did.

So I picked up my sweaty, panting DEVIL HORSE and walked her nicely back to the mounting block.  I got on, expecting an attitude adjustment, and barely saw a difference.  Sure, she was tired for a few minutes, but as soon as she caught her breath we were right back to where we started.  Bitchy, pinned ears, kicking at my legs and all in all unpleasant.  We worked our halt transitions (which weren't awful) and played with some turns on the forehand (which leave something to be desired) before finishing off with some trot work.  The trot work was still wretched, but at that point it had been well over an hour, with lunging antics AND a gallop frenzy included, so I didn't want to push our luck on her legs...

All in all, it was a really disappointing ride.  BO started asking at what point would I want another horse.. and I stood by my theory that it would take a lot more crap than this to get me there.

I'm really hoping this is a hormone thing.  I won't give in even if it isn't, but man oh man.. yesterday was hard. I'm starting my research on mare control.  Mare Magic hasn't prevented her cycles from being stormy.. so I might have to step it up a notch on that front.

Fingers crossed that today she's more equine than devil spawn...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Worlds Away...

I think I'm back in the real world now, but I'm not certain.  

Yes, I actually worked... No, I didn't golf (though there was some late night driving action with some glow in the dark balls on the 15th hole..)  Yes, I sat under the misters by the pool and ate more avocados and tomatoes than I could handle.... and No, I didn't ever want to leave...

I haven't gotten a full report from the BO as to how Miss Mare was this weekend yet.  I ended up not riding Thursday, as P looked really stiff and a little stabby with her left hind.  She started to warm up out of it on the lunge, which made me think that she maybe tweaked something during her rodeo display on Wednesday.. But who knows.  Then the mare stopped, peed and squealed. 

Then it all started making sense.  Girthier than usual, extra grumpy in the cross ties, tight muscles..  Uh yeah.  I think she's in season. 

We just didn't feel like picking a fight.  So I let me mare trot it out for a few more minutes, then gave her a nice long rub down and put her away.  She got worked Saturday I think, but should have had yesterday off while the BO and most of our boarders had a fun field trip down to Portland for a horsey shopping adventure... (I'm crossing my fingers that a 2 year old (or two..) makes its way to the barn..)

In other news, I've been organizing all my Pia files and coming up with an expense book to better track horse spending and keep medical history all in one spot.  It feels productive since getting a good budget is part of my October goals, but laying all my vet bills out from the last 8 months is a little depressing.... tear.

Hopefully the mare is done with her squealing and peeing everywhere, as a week of uneventful rides sounds absolutely lovely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sleeping Dragons

What is it they say about sleeping dragons? Oh right... let them lie.  Or at the very least, don't shove and pull on them until you FINALLY convince them to stand the heck up.
Pia says - You're early, it's still nap time, not running-bucking time. go away

This is what I showed up tot he barn to.  Actually I guess she was flat out on her side.  I got one cute nicker before she laid back down like "yes, yes, I see you.  Is that all?"  Every other horse I've had is fairly responsive when I bug them while they are resting.  Usually I flip into 12 year old girl mode and cuddle on the ground with them for a few minutes before I disturb them (there's something just so darn cute about big hunky horses snoozing in a ball). 

Any other day I would have let the mare laze for a few extra minutes while I collected my tackand said hi to the other horses.  
Yesterday however, I was on the clock.  BO graciously agreed to bump my lesson up to 4pm, which meant I ditched work early (yesssss), and had exactly two hours to tack up, ride, cool out, untack, clean and get my butt back in the car so that I would make it before curtain time to the theater...

I clucked.  Mare did nothing.

I kissed.  Mare did nothing.

I walked in the stall and started shoving her neck.  Mare pinned her ears.  
Then did nothing.

Finally I put her halter on and gave her a tug.  Mare did nothing.

Finally I shoved her neck AND tugged on her lead.  And the Mare, queen of naptime, finally roused herself to her feet.

Pia, nose down, firmly ignoring my pleas to wake the !@#$ up

In my head I thought that maybe this was a sign of calmness, and that we would have an easy peasy ride sans sedatives.  

Oh how wrong I was.  It just took me a while to realize it..

P was a gem in the crossties, aside from being a bit girthier than normal.  She was even super calm walking to the ring, and mostly a gem on the lunge.  The litmus test of the all-telling canter transition was good.  I got two head waggles, but otherwise she was pretty steady, relaxed as we trotted more and didn't pull any shenanigans with our canterwork (all good signs).

Of course, just as I went to get on, our other fellow Wobbler in the barn was getting walked by his owner and going for a little adventure down the road.  If you recall from previous posts, this is exactly the sort of not-actually-interesting-thing that set Pia off into dragon mode during our hand walks.  (Rad).

Pia immediately turned into a snorting-farting-giraffe-dragon-monster as Mr. Wobbler friend meandered down the driveway.  We had a few kicks, but mostly I indulged her terror and let her stand still until her buddy was out of sight, and apparently immediately out of mind.

Then we got to work.  This was our first zero-ace ride in a while, so I was expecting a lot more tension (which there was), but I was also eager for the increase in energy (which there also was).  it took about 10 minutes of shallow loops and serpentines to regulate the trot and really get her to round her back.  The good news was that she barely picked her usual fight of refusing to go forward.  The bad news was the obscene amount of tension in her neck.

We kept the warm-up brief, then popped back into our leg yields, then eventually into our leg yields-shoulder in-canter excercise.  

Annnnnnd that was that.  Cute napping horse totally gone, crazy dragon beast totally present.

I'd like to take a moment and pat myself on the back for some seriously quality bronc riding.  I'd also like to pat myself on my back for the continued use of a running martingale which I am fairly certain has now saved my life/dignity multiple times.  

P was a terror.  Any significant leg aid for the transition was met with some buck/levade/bounce moves, though I sat hard, kicked her forward and had serious conversations regarding her inappropriate reactions.  Essentially, when she freaks out about a leg aide, I've started tattooing her with whatever spur she objects to and yelling like an idiot (in my low "man" voice).  It seems to work.  

However, she's also a clever girl, so she's started to cue her canter departs off of my outside rein (for shoulder in) and, if I offer a voice command, off of that.  It's "ok" for now, but I really don't love the fact that I'm lessening my leg even if she is listening to my seat and my hand nicely.

We worked through each explosion well.  She's much better about her left lead, than her right and the absence of any ace in her system resulted in a lighter, more balanced gait when we did get it.  The main drawback was the distraction/tension created everytime the mare went vertical.  My challenge seems to be getting the squishy, soft contact back after I address her buck/levade/bounce moves.

Aside from the obscene aerials (again), the ride was nice.  At no point did I feel like she was going to unseat me (continued pat on back) and we actually got some really nice transitions (eventually) along with some lovely leg yields and a decent attempt at stretchy-trot as a cool down.

We've got one more lesson today before I take off on a "business trip" to Palm Springs (I assure you that my tan/golf time will greatly exceed my "work time"). So I'm crossing my fingers that we get a good solid ride in today, hopefully with a little less dragon action than yesterday.

All things considered, for our first being day drug free and coming off a day of rest, I feel ok about yesterday's ride.  Next time however, I might just heed the advice and let sleeping dragons lie....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Breaking In"

I understand that in theory new boots require "breaking in." 

However, I would make the strong argument that it is in fact my legs that are accomodating the boots, not the other way around.

While I appreciate that the fine German craftsmanship that Konig ensures with every pair of torture devices, I feel as though my legs are being battle hardened and reshaped to accommodate the "extremely stiff" construction that is determined to retrain my ankle/heel position.

In conclusion, I have the oddest assortment of blisters and bruises from attempting to cajole the boots into my traditional way of riding. 

Today I give up, they win, I bow down and vow never again to turn my tow out or jam my heel down like I might have to bound over an oxer at any moment. 

Konig = King.  I get it, I get it.....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Editor's Correction & Lesson Recap

Correction:  In my last blog post I accused Pia of being a heinous crazy mare-face even WITH 1/2 cc of ace pumping through her veins.  The BO reminded me yesterday that we were so optimistic Saturday that we did not ace the crazy beast which is why we had crazy lunge/ride/free lunge antics.

Moving on...

Yesterday I hit the barn for what was an epically gorgeous fall day.  Sunny, warm-ish, clear... just really lovely.  The barn is buzzing again as everyone has returned from WEG, and the ponies are all growing their furry coats (well... everyone but Pia).

I tacked up, shot the mare with a negligible amount of ace and took her to the ring.  We lunged for a total of 2 minutes (just long enough to get to our "test" of canter transitions) and hopped on.  She was defintely more looky than she has been, spooked twice at the riding lawn mower(/monster) and was a little huffy at the mirrors, but I gladly took the extra energy and forward motion as a good sign.  P was quick to move up into the trot and our warm up work was lovely.  Much, much softer and rounder than any of our previous 'rehab' rides.  We worked some serpentines and shallow loops before getting back to an exercise that we started on Sunday:

Up quarter line --> leg yeild to rail --> shoulder in a few strides ---> canter depart.

The "ping pong" action of bumping P off my legs for the leg yield then shoulder in really balances her nicely for her canter transitions and we got some awesomely smooth departs under our belt.

When this mare wants to, she can really sit back, lift her shoulder and strike off in the canter.  It feels AMAZING.  Our right lead was a bit less balanced than our left, which is normal for us...  Some of it is P's own stiffness, some of it is my inability to sit evenly to the right (oops..), and of course some of it has to be connected to the weird wear pattern on P's right hind hoof... but who knows.

After a nice walk break we did some centerline work in the mirror (elbows in) and finished with trot/halt/trot transitions.  Although they weren't absolutely smashing, I was impressed with the fact that P was very responsive and came back exactly when I wanted, she also got a lot better about squaring up instead of rocketing backwards when I asked for it :), and last but not least, she started off forward AT THE TROT.

For a mare who hates, hates, hates resuming work after her walk break, our initial upward transitions are always sticky and drawn out... Which makes some successful halt-trot transitions very encouraging.

Aside from the pain of breaking in these darn Konigs... We had a dreamy ride.

Today the mare gets the day off while I get to go play grown up at a big launch party, but tomorrow it's back to work.

While I was cooling the mare out the BO and I dared to discuss show plans for the coming spring and summer... Training to start out, but possibly popping her up to first pretty quickly since she does seem to focus and behave better when more is asked of her.. I totally agree with that theory and really can't wait to see what sort of horse she is off-site...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend Update...

Friday, I continued with my snuffles out to the barn.. my initial plan was to swing by work, hammer out some reports, go plop on my couch with some meds and a nap before scooting out to the barn (tea in hand) to watch BO ride Miss Pia.  Unfortunately I got sidelined by a bizarre employee issue that ended in larceny, confessions, and all sorts of odd things.  The best laid plans... right?

Anyway, when I actually escaped the claws of work I scampered out to the barn, and we decided since P was calm and careful on her leg Thursday, that we'd drop the ace to 1/2 a cc and see what happened.  She was still pretty quiet.  She stayed calm, though she did pick her "sticky-no-go" fight again.. but we pushed through and got another good 30 minutes in.

Saturday, I still felt like crap, so BO got one more ride, this time with 1/4 cc... P seemed nice and calm in the cross ties, and since she'd had a couple days of work, we skipped any lunging and the BO just popped on, or at least, she popped on for a moment.

After about 10 feet of walking, Pia stopped and refused to go forward.  Some serious kicks and one lace from the whip elicited a HUGE standing buck, at which point, the BO dismounted (voluntarily) and stuck the brat on the lunge.

(This is when all plans for "light trot work" and "building canter work next week" went out the window)

Pia UNLOADED. she was bucking, kicking, rearing, freaking, galloping, etc all on about a 10 meter circle.  The mare refused to stay on the ground or on a big circle, which made for me cringing in the corner.  But you know what? oh well.

At this point I'm thinking that
a) her tendon didn't have a lesion, so we probably aren't doing any damage.
b) this is going to have to come out sooner or later, so let's get it out
c) BO is doing a good job of having conversations about Pia's, ummm.... "displays"
d) I'm too hopped up on cold meds to have any thoughtful input.

So, the mare ran, she ran, and ran, and ran.  Eventually she calmed down enough to get some good obedient lunge work in, which is about when we pulled the lunge and attempted to get on again.  Same crap, Pia was hunching and totally ignoring BO's leg.  I shouted (well... I sort of cough/shouted) that the next time she ignored her leg, she should feel free to get off and SPANK her.  BO asked if I was willing to sacrifice another set of reins if she broke free... and I said yes.  It seems like a modest sacrifice for the conversation at hand.

So, at the next objection, she popped off and laced her across her butt once - which was all it took for P to shoot in the air, come down and stand stock still until asked to move.  BO got back on, and voila! Magic well-behaved horsey.

(this is where I would like to say that usually I consider myself a pretty soft rider, but this mare, just needs a spanking every once in a while... Afterward she's all sugar and honey, but man o man... it's hard to justify at the time..)

Anyway, after about 15 minutes of good work (45 min total) we called it quits and decided to bubble wrap her and let her blow out any remaining energy in the ring on her own.  I cooled her out, curried her all clean, booted her up and crossed my fingers.  She still had PLENTY of gas left in the tank when I turned her loose, but no big aerial moves (thank god).  Pia ran for another 20 minutes, then walked herself cool (thank YOU extra great free lunging manners). 

I was having a bit of a mental battle the whole time - weighing the benefit of controlled movement/exercise against her mental sanity and odds of doing something REALLY dumb if she didn't get to run herself dead..

Ultimately, she ran herself dead, got hosed off, wrapped up and put inside for the night.  I kissed her on her nose and asked EXTRA nice that she pretty please not have done something stupid...


Sunday I finally felt better so I decided to ride.  I unwrapped Pia's legs to find them all cool and tight (yesss) and tacked the girl up.  We still juiced a smidge (just under a 1/4cc) before heading out, but I  lunged her just to test the waters.  We trotted nciely for a few minutes before the real test - a canter transition..

She popped into her canter nice and smoothly, no tantrums, no kicking, so I brought her back to a walk and hopped on.  Oh, and I was wearing BO's barely-used-Konigs.. Holy CRAP those felt way different than my lovely, soft as a glove, field boots.. WOW. I felt like I had wooden boxes around my legs.  The feel on her sides is TOTALLY different and it took a while for me to get a sense of when my spur was on, but ultimately the stovepipes made it significantly easier to keep my heel not so far down and my toes a little more in...

I'll get a dressage legat eventually.. but it is not coming naturally to this girl..

P was "ok."  she was more forward than the previous rides but still annoying.  We got some nice increase/decrease work in, which always helps her move out, and some good transitions.  We did some baby leg yields, shoulder fore, and finally a touch of canter which was uneventful, but really difficult to keep her balanced in.  We were giving her the benefit of the doubt because of the ace, but the mare was reeeaaaallly getting heavy in the bridle, which isn't like her at all.

Today I'm back out for another lesson, tomorrow she gets the day off, Wednesday lesson, Thursday lesson then I'm gone again Friday for the weekend...  Something always comes up when we get a rhythm going again...

I left her unwrapped last night to see if any swelling comes back.. cross your fingers we're in the clear!
Look at our pretty new pad!?  We've already gotten several compliments.  I love it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The week that didn't exist, and other small distractions

I have no idea how it's Friday already.  I feel like I barely got back and already it's time for the weekend.  Usually I would never complain about this.. but I feel like I lost the week with Pia and my mental head space is all sorts of screwed up.

Tuesday was P's last ultrasound (thank god.. the poor mare's skin is all sorts of wacked out from that gel..), and final handwalk.  We had a lovely trip around the property to watch the leaves change and dragon snort at some small children..

P was remarkably well behaved until we went inside the ring and she was a monster.  Impressive aires above ground, bucking, snorting kicking.  BAD MARE.  Be nice to your tendons, k thx. 

Wednesday, I returned the machine, and was informed that the reason my vet won't call me back about our continued work schedule is because he went to WEG and is ignoring all non-emergencies.  great, k thx.

P's legs have been staying cool, and tight so I decided to attempt some quiet trot work on the lunge.  Not possible.  As soon as I snapped side reins on (in an attempt to keep the mare reeled in) she was all sorts of hot and bothered.  She even repeated her July/August "I can't possibly" have a saddle on my back routine and bucked wildly and uncomfortably.  Not wanting to fight her about it(/beat her into remembering how to behave), I pulled tack and decided we would jog in hand. 

Please remember, I hate jogging.  Hate. Jogging.  It's literally one of my least favorite activities out there.  BUT, Pia is exceptionally well behaved in hand, and I wanted to get a bit of trotting under our belt one way or another.  So... we jogged.  We jogged for 20 minutes (which might be some sort of personal record).  We jogged fast, we jogged slow, we took a few walk breaks, but mostly we jogged. 

I was slightly relieved to see that the mare was huffing almost as badly as I was, but mostly I was bummed about how much fitness we've (both) lost over the last 3 weeks.

Since her leg stayed nice and tight and lovely, yesterday my plan was to ace her a bit and put the girl back under saddle for more trotting.  Well, I of course, woke up with a cold (a nasty, mean feverish cold), so I delegated the ride to the BO, and I watched wistfully from the corner wrapped around my cup of tea..

P was mostly behaved.  1cc seemed to take the edge off just perfectly.  She was still "acting up" on the lunge but it was a hop into the canter instead of a full on acrobatic display...  After about 10 min of trotting, BO got on, and P was right back to where she was 8 weeks ago (tear).  Cranky, refusing to move forward and jigging when you asked her to slow down.

We finally got about 20 good minutes of trotting out of her (lots of increase/decrease and transitions) before calling it.  I think I'm learning that this mare just has to be worked all the time.  She is not a good patient, and not good at starting back up again.  She is good at working when she's being worked... but she's too brainy and fidgety to sit and do nothing.

Our current plan is to work her at the walk/trot through the weekend and then building canter up next week.  Also, she's on full turnout (including nighttime) for a few days so that her brain can expand past her stall a bit. 

OH, and other fun news?? BO has a pair of barely used Konigs in mostly my size that she'd part with for $150! They are almost tall enough to be perfect, almost skinny enough and almost perfect in the foot.  I'm always between sizes, so a little big in the foot + fluffy socks takes care of that, the height is great now, but I anticipate that they'll drop a bit more, and the calf is fine for now, though I could have it tightened up a bit if I felt like I needed to.  They are total stovepipes, which I've never really ridden in, but maybe it will help solve my "eventer heel" that is constantly jammed down with my toe pointed out...

I'm gonna ride in them this weekend (hopefully), and if they work, then YAY.  An affordable solution to my boot issue!

Anyway aside from that, this girl is (still) wrapped around her tea, chomping on cough drops, and attempting to stay upright..

Happy Weekends all!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

September Wrap-Up and October Goals?

Wow, OK - so while nearly everyone horsey I know was at WEG, I was at the barn handwalk-walk-walking the beast.  Oh, and then I went to Kansas (and I mean deeeeeeep, rural Kansas) to visit an old friend.

 Kansas is f-l-a-t.  Holy Smokes.  Pia would be a regular lightning rod out here...

I had never actually been to Kansas before, so this was a big 'ol check off the US map for me, plus an excellent time to see one of the girls who knows me best in this world... 

Upsides? lots of cowboys, fun dancing and super darling houses.  Downsides? Tiny town, remote location and not a single establishment "downtown" offered a salad (or other unfried veggie) on their menu. 

Woof.  Needless to say I got home late last night and devoured some spinach. 

In terms of the Beast-Mare, The BO was in charge of the last of the ultraounds, and handwalks over the weekend and I'm out there today to double check the mare.  I'm waiting for the formal go-ahead from our vet, but in theory we should be back to W-T-C under saddle this week! (yahoo!)

But, before we go there, let's revisit our September goals and see where we got...
  1. Clean, smooth, regular transitions for WTC.  Something tells me that if I tried today, we'd have some extra "enthusiasm" thrown in, but in all honesty, we had some lovely rides early in the month.  I'm not quite checking this off yet, since I still mentally cringe a bit when asking for her right lead canter....
  2. My Equitation.  Success?  I think... At the very least I don't look horrific when I go by the mirrors.  Even though we were reduced to handwalking, I made myself walk with my elbows in (lol) just to keep the muscle memory there.
  3. Ride Without Lunging.  SUCCESS!!!! We had several rides without lunging, though I'm guessing that as we return to undersaddle work, the lunge line will be a staple again for a few weeks...
  4. Continue with Body Work.  Success! P got a spa treatment on Saturday while I was in Kansas.  Rumor has it she was much more relaxed, in better overall alignment, and holding some of hr previous adjustments.  I'm hoping that her stiffness will continue to improve as we continue to work..
  5. Walk Off Property.  Success! We've had several walks down the road during our "rehab" time these past two weeks.  Nothing under saddle yet, and no trailering off property, but at least we successfully walked away from the barn and saw scary new trees and things!
All in all, I am feeling good about our September.  Considering that Pia has been resting her left front since the 16th.. We really only had two weeks under saddle, and I'm confident that we'll pick back up where we left off.

So... On to October Goals:

  1. Clean, smooth, regular transitions for WTC.  This is staying on the list.  Until I feel like 98% percent of our basic transitions are relaxed and calm, it will continue to be a priority.  An actual month of full work would go a long way toward accomplishing this..
  2. Ride Bareback. This seems like a silly goal, but after my initial experiment with it, I want to make sure we do it, and do it often enough that it's one more relaxed nice way for the mare and I to interact without stressing out.
  3. Continue with Body Work. Not much of a goal, but still a priority for the next month.  P seems to appreciate it, and last time it really helped unlock some of the "stuck" bits left over from her anesthesia and layup time.
  4. Trailer Off Property.  As I type this, I realize this might be an unrealistic goal for the month since I'd like to do it on a weekend, and I've already booked every weekend aside from one lonely Sunday (waaah).  Regardless, I really want to ride someplace else before the year closes.  I mean, I adore our indoor ring and it's gorgeous, but so are the trails....
  5. Pencil Out a Horsey Budget for 2011.  I made a "budget" right when I got P, but that was out the window after our first major weekend stay at the vet clinic...  Oh, then I moved to a pricey barn, oh and then I bought a saddle... It's been 6 months, it's time to slow the roll on buying fun things and come up with a plan that works and is sustainable..  Stair stepping down from a full training schedule might be part of that.. 
I feel a little conservative only having one actual training goal on the list this month, but I guess that's ok.  We aren't in any rush, and quite honestly, if we can get past some basic transitions, I think it will be easier to pick other, specific training issues and set a realistic time line for them.   Right now I'm just excited to escape from work and get out to the barn to see Miss Mareface.   It's been a whole five days!
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