Tuesday, January 31, 2012

P2 - The Rides (and video)

I know, I know... Total teaser post. But I ran out of time at work (umm.... to blog?) and I wanted to at least throw up a small update.

For Christmas I got The Boy a really nice camera.  It's small, but it's powerful and neither of us have figured out exactly how to use it.  Hence, we figured that bringing it down to Prairie would be a great "test" to get used to filming video AND taking good pics.

As you can imagine, I was rather excited to have the fancy-new-camera trained on the new mare, but not even 15 minutes into our journey down to see her I asked "hey, can I take a look at the camera.. what bag is it in?"


Silence.  Bad "oops-I-forgot-to-pack-that" silence.  Darn it.  So we were relegated to iphone photos and video, which leaves a lot to be desired, but fortunately there aren't a lot of FABULOUS details to be capturing so I guess it turned out for the best.

Also, The Boy forgot to pack his toothbrush, which I figure was punishment enough for failing on the photo front.

Back to the Rides:

Friday we got there a bit later than anticipated, so J had the mare all tacked up and ready to go when we walked in the door.  I gave the mare a pat, she gave me a quizzical "who are you" look but then willingly followed me off to the ring.

We started by just walking the ring a few times, I didn't exactly give her a full loose rein (remembering he series of mini-freakouts from before).  J immediately started coaching me on Prairie's desire to get fixated on things outside the ring and turn into a total drama llama (a la Mr. Tucker).  J called that move Prairie's "Loch Ness Monster" (revealing the pet name "nessie"... sigh).

Not rocket science, but when llama-ing, or ness-ing or whatever we want to call it, Miss Mare needs to be put to work.

Bent, moved, shifted, halted, kicked, something.

When that happens, it's like her simple dinosaur/llama/loch ness brain forgets what she's worried about and comes back to you pretty quickly.

good. to. know.

In fact, it seems that the busier you keep her, the more comfortable and confident she is.  This is not a radical discovery, but it does mean that some of my Pia-defenses don't serve me well with Prairie... which took me a bit to reprogram.

Once we got that sorted out, it was really only me who was causing problems.  J's Kieffer that I was riding in put me a bit in the back seat, but that was definitely not the biggest issue for the ride.  I mentioned my claw of a left hand (still sore, btw), and my tight back.  Not surprisingly whenever I loosened my back and loosened my hands, the mare didn't bolt or take advantage of me.. she just stayed where she was and softened as if to sigh and tell me "thank you for not clamping down on me".  Got it... something to work on.

The hard thing was that in order to keep this big tall drink of water balanced, I have to constantly ask her to be doing something.  Therefore we worked lots of transitions, changes of direction, leg yields and leg yields on the rail/circle.  Just to keep Prairie moving her body and shifting around. That seems to be the best way to keep her under herself and listening.  Too much of the "same" without asking for something new got us into trouble.  The long, low, plowing kind of trouble.

Here's the first short video... We're warming up with a leg yield down the rail.  I'm stiff and not helping her out, but I really do have to give Prairie credit for still stepping under herself and staying really light to my aids (no spurs, no whip!).  You also see one of her "distracted" moments, where she wants to freeze and llama up...

She's a ditz.  But she's cute!

Okay, second video - trot work.  Figure-eights.  Lots of figure-eights...  This is where I felt like a moron.  The video doesn't even begin to show how all over the place I was feeling.  I was having a hard time getting her into my outside rein (left claw to blame me thinks) and every time I changed the bend I felt like I was losing her hind end.  My ultimate solution was to just minimize her gaits and energy until I felt like I was stable.. which is not exactly a long term solution.  We had some okay moments.  And when she was in my outside rein, and relaxing her back - it. was. awesome.  It's just that we weren't accomplishing that task for a majority of the ride.

There were more leg yields at the trot, some brief canter circles and more transitions, but The Boy got cold and retreated to the truck (I can't blame him, it was chilly). 

Saturday, our ride was more of the same, except with 4 other riders in the ring.  I felt like I was on a runaway train and honestly, was fairly certain we were going to hit someone.  Prairie is never "running away" with you, but when she's not confined in your aids... she' sorta hard to maneuver.

Regardless, I came away from the weekend impressed with the mare, happy for her patience, and really, really frustrated with my body.  She's so big it exaggerates my timing issues and total lack of inner thigh strength... thigh master anyone?

Sidenote - the navy plaid looks awesome on her.  Feeling very good about the matching sheet purchase.  Pretty lady.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The weekend down south with the new mare (P2) was fantastic.  Or at least it was mostly fantastic.

The Boy was fantastic.
The mare was fantastic
Our dinner out was fantastic.
Even the road-trip candy we indulged in was... fantastic.

Not so fantastic?  My ability to ride.  Both lessons left a LOT to be desired in terms of my muscle tone, timing and general ability to be more effective than a loose sack of potatoes on Prairie's back.

I'll go into further details later, but suffice it to say that my "claw" of a left hand is back (Why I think that grabbing, pulling and clenching my left rein is ever a solution, let alone a universal one is beyond me).  Also, I still can't quite walk normally due to my death grip half halts that were an attempt to stifle any actual movement on the mare's part.

But, other than that - Fantastic!

She really is a super sweet mare.  A super simple, super sweet, super fricking huge mare.  But that we already knew.

note: I'm 5'11".  mare is BIG
Total lover-doll. 

More on my totally embarrassing lessons to come! I even have crappy video (The Boy forgot his fancy new camera... so iphone will have to suffice) assuming I can get the courage to publicly display the dismal, dismal state of my skilz.

So things still to come:
  1. More details on the terrible-horrible-riding
  2. News on the Trailer front (we went shooopppppinnnnng)
  3. A random rant.  I ran into my old BO and felt very blown off.  I'm trying to determine why this is irritating me so much.  But it is.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blanket Buys

By nature our construction-ish business slows waaaaaaay down in the winter, which leaves me with far too much time to shop for myself, my house and... naturally.... the horses.

Big Black Mare got an initial Pessoa medium turnout to keep her toasty, so I was giddy to see a markdown on the coordinating turnout sheet.  Since our weather tends to be more mild than not, and I'm a total sucker for things that match - I immediately justified the purchase and am thrilled that her blanket rack will be so matchy-matchy. 

Prairie is currently rocking the Navy Plaid, which I think will look decent on her.  I've never had a black horse, and while my normal fashion sense things that blue & black tends to look like an 1980's bachelor pad... I don't want her to have P's purple, and the other blanket options weren't well suited to dark horses (no Olive Green thank you very much..).
Pessoa's Navy Plaid... oddly difficult to find a picture of
The mare also got a new set of pillow wraps and standing bandages, because her legs are freakishly long and nothing I have was tall enough for her hinds.

Also, because I apparently cannot keep my visa in my wallet, I got BBM a copy of P's fleece blanky that doubles as her trailer sheet and sometimes a cooler.  The thought of them matching in their cute plaid is adorable.
 Of course The Boy had to (unhelpfully) point out that the mares are hundreds of miles apart and once again mentioned that even if they were  in the same place, we still don't have a trailer to haul them both in at the same time while they wear their little matching sheets.

Party Pooper.

Happy Weekends!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Uneventful Update (and a new blog)

So I canceled my trip to see P yesterday (wah, waaaaah) due to ice and a few other inconvenient factors.  I'd be totally inconsolable if it weren't for the promise of an upcoming horsey filled weekend.

I'm proud to say that I successfully convinced conned The Boy into making an overnight trip to go see Prairie (YAY) in order to get a few lessons in and try to come up with a Short Term Plan (STP) for her.  Realistically all that means is that I need to start seriously thinking about whether or not we're ready to head down to CA for a few shows in March or if I just want to save my dollars and bring her closer to home.  (of course "saving" is a relative term since her training and board right now are as cheap as can be).

Nevertheless, the prospect of riding the new mare again and staying in a mediocre hotel (with cable!) sounds tantalizing.  So I'll take it.  I'm crossing my fingers for some greasy pub food as well, but I don't want to be too greedy.

Also, Sunday, I have tickets to go see Cavalia.  I saw the show once about five years ago when it rolled through town the first time and I loved it.  It's like Cirque du Soliel but with horses! lots and lots of horses... what's not to love about that!?

Months ago when I bought the tickets for this weekend, I was thrilled to make The Boy join me, but after two days of watching me ride, errr... taking nonstop pictures, video and providing snacks... I figure he deserves a pardon, so I'm taking a horsey friend with me instead.  Probably for the best. :)

Also, in an attempt to not adulterate this blog with too much non-horsey crap, I've finally decided to start a separate blog for the rest of my life.  Mostly focusing on my attempts to be a functional housewife, which means it'll be full of my frustrations about cooking and cleaning as well as my not so eloquent ramblings about travels, shopping (ugh) and whatever else fills my day (with the possible exception of work, because let's face it - work is relatively boring).

So, if you feel so inclined, take a peek at Shamelessly Suburban.  I'll likely keep the wedding recaps confined to that space (otherwise P (and P?) will beat me), but I'll be sure to let everyone here know when I have more pics!

Wonderful.  So, to recap:

1) New blog = better outlet for my domestic frustrations


= Weekend Fantastico

Monday, January 23, 2012

Non-Horsey Post - Wedding Pics!

I don't really have my pictures yet.. but my photographers Joe + Jill did an absolutely spectacular job of capturing the day.  They sent me a few sneak peeks of some photos, but the whole batch should be ready in a few weeks!

In the meantime.. if you click the link, there's a quick post they did with a few of the initial shots.  I have to give them credit for making us all look spectacular!!

P is still a little sore about not being a flower girl, but I'm sure she'll get over it (going to see her on Wednesday!).  Prairie doesn't know a party even happened, but that's part of her charm.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seattle Snowpocolypse!!!

The years I spent on the East Coast have made me somewhat cynical to Seattle's totally panicked response to even the threat of snow, but the perpetual kid in me totally leaps at the flimsiest excuse to have a snow day (or three).

It appears that P shares my sentiment and has been thoroughly enjoying the unusually frosty weather out at Summer Forever Camp..

My vet was kind enough to send the following short video of her frolicking with her new BF (really P... a Paint gelding who's shorter than you???? come on..) and included the note that she has come into a "very polite heat."

I've never known that mare to be polite about anything, let alone coming into heat - but I guess we all get a bit jollier with an unexpected snow day.

Even cooler?? Here's the entire herd galloping around in the snow... This makes me want to move to colorado, live in the mountains and have a herd of awesome mustangs...

I also apologize for my total blog absence... between the wedding and the snow the last two weeks have absolutely evaporated into a champagne induced,  dance fueled dream.  I'll be sure to pass along some pics as they come for those who want a non-horsey-bridal fix.

much love!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 In Rewind (oops I forgot to post this)

2011 was quite the ride (literally).  P and I struggled a bit more than I would have liked, but we also saw some wonderful changes and put ourselves on a good path.  Here's a quick recap of what exactly we managed to do:

January 2011
We got off to quite the start when P finally threw me into the wall as a rather loud protest to trot work.
P, wondering what the hell I'm doing on the ground in a lump
so the mare got thrown on Regumate.
My back kept me out of commission for a while, but Super-Mom came up and saved the day (again) proving that P was capable of not being a total mare-wolf
worked well for Supermom..
We continued on, P got shoes put back on, I got an air vest (thanks Dad!) and we played in the snow.  I got in a fight with the BO, and we took P for a field trip to go ride at SuperMom's
Total field trip success.
We got back to work (in our air vest) on the buckle.  P was a lover, tried hard and we moved forward.  P was my valentine.
The Barn had some fun tack room upgrades (love) and added slow feeders (also love)
P started some body work, which seemed to help her attitude under saddle and we played in the snow (again).
P tried to eat her farrier, caused a general ruckus at the barn, and was a gem under saddle
We stayed on the buckle and focused on forward.  sometimes we got it.
We prepared to come off the Regumate high and see how P was.  She was.. the same.  Still sticky, still unhappy undersaddle and still... totally sound.
The barn had a baby, a CCI**** eventer moved in and P started throwing shoes.
In an attempt to find out what was making P unhappy, we had a full physical... and she passed with flying colors.  Yay for a healthy horse, boooo for a continuing mystery.

We got a second opinion and found our new vet.  It rained. it rained some more.  We decided to move P to Summer Camp.  It rained some more.  I bought boots for a horse I wasn't riding. It rained.  P and I hand walked, grazed and worked on Targeting.
 (it rained some more).  P looked like a tank
we dropped her off and I said goodbye
P adjusted to life at Camp and started her work of playing with others
after not even a month, the bodywork and hoofcare was showing itself in massive muscle changes on P
we have withers!
P doesn't understand why she's so dirty, but she's did great.
P worked on being in the herd and on her ground work.  Even The Boy had his turn:

P learned how to be a trail horse and was ponied allllll over the place.  I got to ride Wendy :)
eventually she started getting ridden on the trails.  (big P!)

Dad flew me to see P (cute as ever) and we went for a trail ride.
P is doing great on trails, and getting more forward but still hates saddles
P gets lots and lots (and lots) of bodywork.

P gets good at her join up work, and I don't need a halter!
we go for lots of trail rides, I make a tack section in my garage and... MOUNTAIN TRAIL ADVENTURE
P gets ridden in a field, walked across bridges, and investigated ditches

Oh yeah, and I RODE MY HORSE AGAIN.  Out in a big field, yahoo!
we had a really. good. outing.

and the boy had fun too...


Life got in the way and I hardly saw my horse (sad).  But I did see her and P started working more under saddle with harder questions. Creeks, patience, beaches.. all very exciting.
Also, we got a cat and I found old pictures of my first pony.

I start seriously horse hunting, the dog is diagnosed with Wobblers and I RIDE P ON THE BEACH
P even goes for a night ride on the beach (without me) and starts to spend some of the nights with the herd.  She looks like a yak, but her feet are fantastic (and 2 sizes larger than 6 months ago) and she is adorable.

Oh yeah, and we added Prairie to the mix.  (just barely squeaked that one into 2011)
Whew.  I feel great about what's teed up for 2012.  Hopefully its more riding with both the mares.  Onward we go.
Happy New Year

Prairie Girl

I'm feeling a little behind the eight ball right now, but wanted to get a quick update on the Prairie-dog up before the wedding takes OVER my life.

The Boy and I had a fabulous New Year's with friends east of the mountains which included a lot of beer (and champagne) some bull riding and a fabulous Cowboy Bar for some dancing to ring in the New Year.  On our way home we stopped to see the new mare and squeeze in a quick ride.

The barn was "closed" for the holiday, so it was little difficult picking my way around a facility that I wasn't familiar with (light switches anyone??) but we found all the important bits and pieces and eventually got our act together.

Prairie was a cutie.  She's a doll on the ground, super sweet and soft.  Her two vices are licking (weird) and threatening to paw.  I hate pawing.  It irritates me.  Of course, I disappeared into the tack room for a few minutes and upon returning The Boy was like "Look! I taught her to paw for treats!"

grrrrrrrrr.  Apparently they will both be needing some training.

As for the ride... it was good! (eventually).  The mare was inside and not knowing when she was last ridden I opted for a quick lunge to check the energy level.  WHOOOOOO boy am I glad I did.  She was on fire.  Fun to see her really move though (the lady has some serious push). 
Eventually I got on, and walked around the ring, but after a few larger spooks (there was a gray horse rearing in his paddock that cause his head to keep appearing over the arena wall like a jack in a box).  I got off, lunged a bit more and then hopped back on.  We finally got some good work in, but it was brief as we needed to hit the road in order to catch the season premier of The Bachelor (usually I don't care, but an old pony club friend is a favorite to win!).

I was excited for good pics, because The Boy brought his new camera (a Christmas gift for the Africa trip), but clearly we both need to learn how to use it, as something was definitely NOT RIGHT with the settings and the pics were almost all blurry.  (wah).

Getting ready after a serious hunt for tack
super kissable schnoz
yeah... we're gonna lunge
still smiling
Note: mare makes 38" inseam look normal
mostly a success
annnd we're pooped.
Nine days to the wedding! had a great day with P yesterday, just not sure I'll get it up here anytime soon..
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