Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I will not be spending Christmas on my computer, so I will go ahead and wish everyone a Merry Christmas today!  I was unsuccessful in riding my boy this week, but I DID get him up to the ring and attempt to make him run around.  That counts as something ... right??

My AMAZING barn owner surprised me with yet another amazing Christmas gift.  My first year there, it was front and hind Equifit T-boots.  Last year, it was my gorgeous leather halter with the chrome hardware.  This year, it was Adequan.  Yes, the Muffin will be started on Adequan in January.  I was a wee bit confused when I peeked in my gift bag and saw mounds of syringes and a pack of needles ... and then I saw the tiny little 5mL bottles.  Joyce is just amazing, and I am SO lucky to work for such an amazing person; she and her hubby are 2 of the most generous, and kind people I've ever met.  So this year, I will skip the hock injections and load him up for the month of January, then dose him monthly; I will then compare results at the end of the year and determine which regimen did him the most amount of good.  Of couse, that means I need to RIDE him:)

My also amazing honorary little sis Nicole is SO good at finding me horse stuff even I had NO idea I really wanted.  She knows me very well, and is a MASTER at finding stuff online.  I LOVE halters with silver toned hardware, and one of my favorite brands of halter is the Weaver Elite nylon halters.  Problem is, the Elites have a somewhat funky sort of pastel color palette suitable for 12 year olds, but not sure I am in love with many of the available colors.  I love my chestnut in good 'ol royal blue.  It's my favorite color on him, and it's the official barn color (royal, black, and silver) of my imaginary barn.  Well, little sis found what I thought didn't exist ... a Weaver Elite halter with the brushed silver hardware in royal blue!
She got me a matching lead rope too, of course!  Muffin got to go out yesterday afternoon in the muddy pasture, and had to get in some good 'ol Thoroughbred racing around his pasture.  He came tearing around a corner and I mentally began counting down time before wipeout.  Sure enough, his left hind came out from under him, he went down on his hindquarters, and slid a good distance.  It was both horrifying and hilarious, and when he got up, bucked, farted, and took off up the hill looking sound as a dollar, I allowed myself a good laugh.  Of course, he can't escape unscathed ...
(war wound)
I put in some good 'ol elbow grease time and cleaned up his filthy self.  The weather has been SO mild, so he hasn't worn a sheet all week.  He's for sure engaged in some rolling in the mud this week, enjoying his nakedness.  I groomed him, clipped his muzzle and bridlepath, and took him up to the ring for some running around.  Well, he was much more interested in eating, but I DID get a few little trots and canters out of him.

Look at the chunky monkey.  I'm relieved to see his topline is still intact; must get him back in some good dressage work SOON!!!  Anyway, hope everyone in blogger land has a WONDERFUL holiday!  Go hug your ponies, eat WAY too much, and enjoy a few days off work:)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Of Christmas and NO time!

Rode my boy about 3 months ago with just halter and a non tied lead rope ... BAREBACK!

Now that it has been determined the Muffin is sound, I have had NO time to ride him!  Agh!  I will have time tomorrow and Friday, the question is "Will the weather cooperate?"  I will be prepared with longe line and surcingle tomorrow, weather permitting.  I forcibly made him sound when I went to Tractor Supply and spent about $30 on abscess supplies;)

Seriously, I have NO idea if it really was an abscess.  2 days, that's how long he was off.  I almost think he stepped on a rock running around like an idiot in the pasture, and all the soaking and wrapping made the sole of his foot feel much better.  After buying the supplies, I noticed he walked out of his stall looking pretty sound, so I ran him up to the ring with the longe line, and he looked slow and tight as per usual, but sound and even in all 4 legs.  I am so ready to not be running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Oh well, it never hurt a horse to give him a little time off!  Saving his legs and all that.

In other news, I will do a product review!  The awesome website had a pair of boots very similar to the Dublin River boots.  I've never thought much about them, but upon walking my first xc course EVER (at 7:00 in the morning, of course!), I realized exactly WHY the Dublins and Dubarrys are popular ... wet grass!  Sad thing for me is ... my calf is 16" on one leg, and a 16.5" on the other.  Yup, too fat for any of the Dublins or Dubarrys.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I realized these feature a 17" calf in the size 8.  Hmmm.  I wear a 7 1/2, so I'm SURE an 8 would work!

They only took about a week and a half to arrive from the UK, securely packaged up.  I opened the box and was VERY pleasantly surprised by the excellent quality.  They were gorgeous.  I held my breath as I slipped my leg inside; I have tried on half chaps that were *supposed* to measure a certain size, but all I know is they were TOO small.  Woo Hoo!!!  They went on PERFECTLY.  Downside is they're a little too tall, and the foot is WAY too big, but I'm so delighted they fit my calf, I've been wearing the heck out of them.  Right away, I wore them out to dinner and got no less than 7 people complimenting my footwear choice, and where could they get them?  Lol.  It's fun telling non horse people how to buy horse boots.

I have been wearing them to teach, not trashing them by mucking stalls in them.  Even though they are not *quite* as cushy as they appear in the pic, they're strangely comfortable.  I did ride in them one time; the big foot made it sort of tough, but the calf was super comfy and the stirrup leather didn't pinch or anything.  They've broken in nicely, and I've even worn them over jeans AND long underwear.  I think the extra elastic gullet adds versatility to the fit.  I've had them now for about 2 months, and they're holding up very well.  I think the nu buck leather looks a little rough when well worn, but that's purely cosmetic.  I need to find a product to clean them up some; they have dried mud and arena footing on them, but they're fairly warm and only rubbed a blister when I wore short socks with them.  When I wear long socks (and the thicker the better), the more comfortable they are.

Bottom line, I would absolutely recommend these boots to ANYONE with a slightly larger calf.  They're good looking, they wear well, they're comfortable, and they're functional.  Get them from  HERE

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Of abscesses and best laid plans.

So, it's common knowledge that I haven't planned anything with Muffin lately outside of IEA shows.  I FINALLY planned a Gigi Nutter clinic, despite the fact that I haven't ridden or schooled him very much lately.  But I was prepared to do my best and learn something.

Sunday he was at the Chateau Elan show where he was ridden in 2 whole classes; one 2' class and one flat class.  He then proceeded to sit all week due to rain (and laziness).  Yesterday, I decided that I'd better make sure all is well in the world, and went out to the pasture (GRRRRR) to get him.  Lo and behold, he was trotting across the way and there was a definite head bob.  Sh!+.  I told myself that maybe it was my imagination, and proceeded to groom him thoroughly, pick his feet, run my hands all over his body looking for ANY abnormalities, then put on the surcingle.  I went ahead and did my "cheap Pessoa rig" by tying a standing wrap to the rings on the surcingle just above the hocks, and led him up to the ring.  I could see he was off at the WALK:(  Trotted him both ways to confirm, but he was definitely head bobbing lame.  Seems to be right front.

Soaked, wrapped, and repeated today.  Will re-evaluate tomorrow.  Obviously no Gigi clinic today.  Merry Christmas to me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Watching others ride your horse

It's interesting watching someone else ride my horse.  For the second Saturday in a row, I took Tiki to Patchwork to use in a few lessons.  My motivation this time around was to get him quiet before shipping him to the site of our Sunday IEA show, Chateau Elan.  Once again, he had not been ridden all week.  Rain has played a big part in him and I not sharing each other's company ... not to mention the fact that my barn owner had been turning him out during the day.  I had thought it was just to compensate for him being in for a few nights because of the rain, but apparently she was planning to switch him over to day turnout.  Um, NO.  I like him on year round night turn out because I ride him early in the day, and when he's out at night, he's out for 16 hours as opposed to standing in a stall for 16 hours.  So, just another excuse in the land of excuses for why I've been lazy and not ridden my horse.

He was so adorable when the first kid rode him.  That trot was short and choppy and looked like a race horse jig, but his head and neck is so much more stable and secure than it used to be.  He jumped well; didn't get too fast or strong.  I was happy with how the rides went.  On Sunday morning, I packed his ears with ear plugs and held it in place with the bonnet.  For the first time, I used his stadium set up with the wonder bit and the figure 8 for an IEA show.  I was genuinely worried he would get pissed and jiggy during a flat class if a kid hung in his face with that setup, but we would have to see.

He warmed up REALLY well.  He need some serious tuning up, though ... the canter transitions sucked.  The original course had an end jump, halt, then counter canter the corner to the last jump.  Lol.  Only in the hosting coach's dreams!  The steward changed the course to end jump/halt/trot final jump.  I have to brag though; Tiki and I successfully did end jump/halt/counter canter twice:)  What I hated about Sunday is (for the second time in 4 years) the fact that my horse was used in one middle school 2' o/f class, and one high school flat class.  4 times as an alternate; 2 of those were crossrail classes.  I let them know the crossrails were off limits, and grumbling bad naturedly, warmed him up for his 2'6 alternate position.

His o/f kid loved him.  His flat kid probably not so much since I noticed him counter cantering to the right.  Ooops.  Like I said, he felt like he needs a pretty serious tune up ... guess I'd better get on that before Tuesday coming up!  Clinic with Gigi Nutter; SUPER excited!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cleaning like crazy!

I hate it when company comes over.  That means a deep clean on the hacienda. I am more of a "surface" cleaner, not so much a CLEANER.  I guess if friends came over more often, my house would be cleaner and it wouldn't need to be DEEP cleaned so much!:)

IEA show Sunday.  Warm up starts at 6:30, so shipping over on Saturday afternoon.  It's at Chateau Elan, which used to be a big show venue for local and "A" rated GHJA shows.  As of late, it's been allowed to go a bit downhill which is sad, but it's still a nice place to show.  I'm going all out: ear plugs, ear net, and his stadium bridle complete with wonder bit and figure 8.  We'll see how he does!

Got a PLAN, woo hoo!  Dressage clinic with Gigi Nutter on the 13th.  Super excited!  Guess I'd better clean the dust off the 'ol dressage saddle and practice some, huh???

Haven't ridden because the Son has been throw up sick which means he's been at home:(  And now I have to get ready for the weekend and for "company" to come over tomorrow, so pony has been braving the rain and the cold in his stall for the most part.  At least he's been dry!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lazy days ...

Today was a good day:)  Tiki man hung out all week long since it was Thanksgiving week and I've been going nuts making all kinds of preparations.  This morning, my alarm went off at 6 am, so I went ahead and hooked up the trailer and took the muffin man to Patchwork.  He is a hairy beast, let me tell ya!!  Can't WAIT to clip him!  After Christmas, after Christmas...

He was weirdly in his stall when I got there.  I guess Joyce was worried about rain or something.  I didn't mind; made it easy to throw him on the trailer!  I've recently been trailering him naked-legged.  I always go back and forth as to whether I want to wrap or not wrap.  What do YOU do?  Do you wrap?  Why?  If you use standing wraps, do you do all 4 legs?  Do you use bell boots?

Began the morning with a trail ride.  He hadn't done the full trail at PW in about a year, and it was on the buckle the entire time.  I took 2 other kidlets, and I enjoyed riding my boy.  We had one sticky minute going down a steep wash out area to a creek crossing, but I convinced him it was ok to go first.

After the successful trail ride, I taught 2 of my IEA team kids on him.  He was very good; I have NO complaints.  The girls rode him very well, and I enjoyed watching him.  Took him back home, hosed off his nasty self and sponged him with some apple cider vinegar.

Not sure what the week holds.  I will for sure ride him before our IEA show on Sunday; probably in the dressage saddle.  Haven't done that in awhile.  I'll be glad when I get some more FREE TIME!:)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Riding my horse = pure joy

(Squeaky at his second IEA show)
Since arriving home from Vegas, I had not sat on my boy at all.  We flew in Saturday morning, and then I had exactly ONE WEEK to get our show organized.  If you've never put on a horseshow before, it's stressful.  Very, very stressful.  ESPECIALLY an IEA show because you have to have enough horses to cover all the rides.  I had every intention of hopping on the Muffin before Saturday, but I just did NOT have the time to do so:(

Saturday morning dawned chilly and gray.  Tiki and Star loaded right up on the trailer no prob, and thankfully the new transmission shifted smooth as a baby's butt.  The truck was supposed to have been finished the Monday we got home ... David and I picked it up on FRIDAY.  Talk about cutting it close:)

To further complicate matters, David and I picked this particular weekend to buy a new car ... at a dealership an hour and a half away.  My car was falling apart; it was a 2007 Pontiac G6, and I was about to have to pour some serious money into it.  Sunroof, rear end alignment, wheel bearings, rotors, breaks, air bags, stabilitrak system ... seems like EVERYTHING went wrong right after our 100K extended warranty ran out:(  Unfortunately, we arrived at the dealership Friday night around 7:30, and by the time we tried to put a deal together the banks were closed.  We had to go BACK down there on Saturday to close the deal.  The best part of this whole situation is now the truck is mine.  David will be driving the car now so when I need the truck I have it!  Yay for me:)

When I settled into the saddle on Saturday, it felt like heaven.  He was super for not having been ridden in 2 weeks.  The biggest thing I noticed is he was extremely heavy in my hands.  He wanted to bear down and pull pretty hard.  I worked him for about 45 mins because 2' horses warmed up first., so I had plenty of time.  He felt GREAT over the course.  I was happy with how the warm up ended up.  Once the competition started, his kids won a few blue ribbons!  I was pleased that the judge liked him.  Because he's jumpery and not huntery, sometimes the kids don't get high ribbons on him.  Like I moaned about in my last post, if these kids would just relax and FEEL what's going on underneath them, they would do much better.

Sunday he felt TIRED.  I warmed up for only about 20 mins, and actually had to close my leg at the jumps.  It went ok.  He seemed a little bit irritable.  Typical sensitive chestnut.  Also, during the warm up, the put his tongue over the bit for the first time ever.  Strange.  I may have to start using the figure 8 for IEA shows again.

Thinking I may take him to Patchwork on Saturday to give one or 2 lessons on, and then I will trail ride him so long as the weather is good.  I'm thinking I will not be doing much with him until after Christmas.  Don't know about the horse trial; just depends on how the money flows.  As per usual, I just have more "real life" things to worry about right now.  Tiki's done a LOT this year, and hasn't had a real break, so it won't hurt him to get some down time for the next month.  Hoping to find time to trace clip him soon; he's a hairy beast!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Viva Las Vegas!

 (doesn't even LOOK at this any more!)
(Whoopsie.  First fall!)

Well, just got home!  The left coast is quite an amazing beast.  I've never been further west than Alabama in recent memory.  I spent a week in Colorado with my good friend in Middle School, but that was a L O N G time ago, and the most I remember is the amazing Rocky mountains.  I've been dying to go back and take the hubby with me, and they did NOT disappoint:)

It has been an eventful 2 weeks.  My team's IEA show is coming up this Sunday, and so far not one single entry.  Nice.  Literally the day before our trip, the transmission in the truck went out.  Are you KIDDING me???  Hubby and I can NOT live on one car; we each drive an hour to work one way in opposite directions; one car is NOT an option.  Not to mention the fact we'd just spent $1100 on plane tickets to Las Vegas.  Who has $2K to spend on a transmission?  Uh, NOT me!:(  The only reason we made the LV trip is because my sister decided she needed a Marilyn Monroe themed wedding, and where else to find THAT but Las Vegas?

So, we limped the truck to the Mechanic's and headed out to the left coast to try and drink, gamble, forget about the truck for a few days.  Lol seriously, I spent $2 on slots, and didn't drink a single drop of alcohol.  My self restraint amazed even ME!:)  So, no big gamble means no big pay out, but oh well.  Our day trip to Bryce Canyon in Utah was worth the trip, absolutely!  What a gorgeous, amazing, breathtaking place.  Snow on the ground, mountains AND grass, and pure, breathtaking beauty.  On the drive back to Vegas, we hit a deer.  SERIOUSLY???  It tore UP the rental car.  Like, ripped the sheet metal off the quarter panel, broke the headlight assembly, busted the coolant holder ... it was undrivable.  3 hours later, our car rental company had arranged for a replacement vehicle, and we were able to then drive the 3 1/2 hours back to Vegas for the Big Day.

Won't be riding the red headed monster at least for tomorrow and Tuesday because we still have no truck.  The mechanic seems to be MIA, so not sure how hubby is going to work tomorrow, but it will probably involve me having to do some driving:(  When it rains it pours, right?  Not thinking a whole bunch about the pony right now.  I have a LOT on my mind with the truck and the show and the holidays coming up.  Dressage lessons just aren't that important when you have to figure out how to come off $2K for a new transmission and still make your mortgage payment and your vehicle payments.  Oh!  And buy groceries, pay your electric bill ... you get the pic.  Things will get better, they always do, but until then it's just stressful.  I will report back when I get in some riding time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Feels like forever ...

Since I've posted anything!  Mon-Wed, I get home around 8:30, and I have just been TIRED.  I fall asleep very quickly on the couch, much to the poor hubby's dismay. Got some non-horsey stuff coming up in the next few weeks.  Tuesday we leave for Las Vegas, NV for the FIRST time ever!  My 23 year old sister (who does live here in GA) is getting married there, so me, Hubs, and Son are flying out Tuesday night at 8:00.  We arrive home on Saturday.  I then have a week to be home, and it's time to prepare for the IEA show that MY team has to put on.  So far, it's been a nightmare and I will be SO glad when it's over.

The week of Thanksgiving, we are getting out of town for the first time in our lives and spending a long weekend in Jekyll Island.  We spent a little time there in Feb when I went to Ocala to get my trailer, and decided a little mini vacation would be super fun, so there ya have it!  We'll be gone from Wednesday through Sunday, can't wait.

Red headed pony has been a good boy.   Nicole moaned over his inability to potty under saddle in her final "pony swap" ride:  Bad pony go potty!  I will do a separate post on my final Sparky ride; I hopped on today bareback and in a halter, and it was a fabulous ride.  He is like sitting on a PILLOW!

I was sort of "Meh" about the show this weekend.  He warmed up fantastic, it was a beautiful day, and the flat classes went much better.  Ear plugs are a good thing with him, for sure.  His first jumping kid let him get a little quick, and it was just down hill from there:(  I SWEAR, my horse is NOT hard to ride!  These kids just don't have a clue how to sit softly and use their aids effectively, which is sad because 2'6 riders are supposed to be capable of jumping around 3'3+ on their usual mounts at home.  If these kids are jumping that high regularly, I am SCARED:(  Oh well, my goal is to make sure my horse has a sense of humor.  It's certainly developing, each and every IEA show!

Rode today and had a blast.  The first of the week he was just hanging out; Sunday was a big day for him.  He is such an amazing horse; I am SO proud of how far we've come!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I have 'that' horse ...

the one with the NECK!  Woo Hoo:)  3 years of hard work has finally paid off.  The ear plugs worked GREAT, and he was much improved this weekend.  Jumping was again most excellent, and he was much quieter during the flat classes.  MVP for sure.

Yesterday off, and today I decided to put him in the dressage saddle and work in the mare's back 15.  Last time I did that I was riding with Nicole and Sparky and he was a horrible turd brain.  Today, we worked back and forth along the fence line and did a w/t/c, shoulder-in, and some leg yields.  He was GOOD.  Very, very good.  I was super proud.  He was steady and well behaved and I was happy with him.

As I walked out the gate, I realized that Tiki is now "that" horse with a gorgeous neck.  It has a topline, it has an arch, and it made me happy:)

Today's Tip of the Week; brought to you by Me
When putting hay in a hay net, first put it in a 5 gallon bucket, like one of the Home Depot paint buckets.  Place net over the bucket, dump hay in, easy as pie!  If YOU have a tip or trick, please e-mail me at

Hope everyone has a great week!  Hope to get in some nice rides this week; got a good start so far:)

Couldn't resist.  This pic I took today and it cracked me up!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Great Pony Swap parts 2 and 3 ...

Training bank

N train

Real live drop
brand new firewood stack


The other new jump

So, I've had almost a week to process our awesome outing from last Saturday.  Gave Muffin Mon off, and Tues went by with me needing to do some work at the house, so he got then off as well.  Little sis rode him on Wednesday:  Nicole's blog

I hopped on yesterday to walk hills (which it's been awhile since we did that).  Today I had an obligation at my church, so no ride today.  I plan to actually head over tomorrow and do a nice little hack before the IEA show on Sunday.  Going to try little sis' bit which is a full cheek snaffle with a copper ball pacifier.The bit in question  She thought she liked it.  I think I liked it too, but didn't get above a walk:)

Another lightbulb moment was had:  Going downhill (especially the steep one), he tends to flip his head and pull the reins through my fingers ... EXACTLY like he does when we halt.  Since hills are supposed to be low stress, I usually let him do it (bad me).  Yesterday, when he tried to pull the reins through, I 'floated' my hands, squeezed my ring finger, and he flexed perfectly at the poll and didn't pull.  YAY!

Project pony swap days 2 and 3 are not too exciting.  Day 2 began with a bit of a 'come to Jesus' meeting about mounting.  I spent probably 10 minutes of my ride working on getting on.  I witnessed a girl getting bucked off when mounting (suffered a broken hand), so to me it's a safety thing that a horse should stand STILL when you get on.  The ride consisted of using his xc setup; a loose ring Duo bit with a figure 8 noseband.  Sparky in general doesn't need the figure 8, but the duo isn't QUITE enough 'whoa' on the xc course, so by increasing the pressure on the nose and around the bit was perfect for him.

I just worked on straight with him.  He is little (14.2 3/4), but wants to fall in hard core.  I worked on keeping that inside shoulder in, so did lots of circles, and shoulder in.  He was better in the duo vs. the above mentioned bit Tiki is borrowing.  In the steel pacifier, he just got too behind it.  The duo allows him to stretch into it, and in fact, he even was more willing to get above it, which is preferable to getting behind it.   I thought he worked VERY well.  Yesterday, he was PISSY.  I was quite honestly shocked.  Sparky is so easy going and happy.  However ... he DID just get a full body clip ... AND it was about 45 degrees ... when it had been 78 the day before ... AND the wind was whipping like crazy.  Poor boy.  He did NOT have any interest in working for me, but we pushed through.  During the cold months, Nicole doesn't get to ride him outside quite as often because she comes to the barn after work when it's dark, so I thought riding him in his pasture would be good for him.  Walked hills like I did with Tiki.

He was just pissed.  He could see out of the corner of his eye his buddies, and he kept trying to pop his right shoulder and drag me to his friends.  NOT happening.  When I put my leg on and took contact, he got behind the bit.  Got him in front of my leg, and he tried to get "hoppy".  He strained SO hard against my leg and hand, I had to circle right repeatedly to keep from 'arm wrestling' him.  I felt like he was inches away from bucking my butt off, so I kept my heels down, and my sweet talking voice going.  Each time we made it to the top of the hill, I patted him and told him what a good boy he was.  Even the downhill he tried to drag me to his buddies, and he kept snorting and borderline spooking.  I just stayed patient, kept my leg on, and worked to keep him focused.  By the 6th time up the hill, he was *almost* relaxed; he definitely wasn't fighting me any more, yay.  Interesting ride, for sure.

IEA show on Sunday, going to use ear plugs and longe him first.  Hope it all goes well!  I will be back on Monday with a new tip of the week:)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Calimar video

Jen and Tiki XC schooling

I think I'm riding so much better than I did at the Mud Creek show.  Also, I'm riding much better than I did a little over a year ago, schooling at Chatt Hills.  You can see the difference in both me and my horse:)  Nice fall, huh?  Lol.

Finally ... XC time!

 (almost ready!)
 (the Novice cabin)
(the beginner novice cabin I was so scared of last year)

The best part of our weekend?  I FINALLY got some video from Calimar, woo hoo!  Gotten some great pics, but not any video, so super excited about that.  I had some major nerves going on.  It worked out that I jetted up to Calimar after lessons on Saturday in my car, and Joyce hauled up Tiki, Sparky, and Guilder.  We had our own little Spotted Valley Stables crew along with one additional person:)  I made it there about 1:45.  Our session was at 3, so I got to watch for a bit.  My nerves went nuts when a particular horse had HUGE issues over the big ditch.  He did great over the little one, but was having NONE of the big ditch.  Poor rider had to get off and try to longe him over it for their entire 2 hour session.  He never did get it:(

Horses arrived right at 2:15, and I unloaded mine relieved to find him relatively sweat free, but alas COVERED in dirt!  Agh!  Figures.  And of course my brush box was at home in my trailer.  Oh well.  Used a borrowed hard brush to knock off as much dirt as possible, inspected his cut (which was much less warm than before), and determined he was good to go.  Y'all have to understand; my horse swells up and has heat in a FLY bite.  He is the epitome of "sensitive chestnut".  I have learned what *is* serious, and what *looks* serious.  I had purposely left my paddock boots/half chaps at home so I wouldn't be tempted to wear them.  Tall boots for clinic lessons!  One thing I DID do differently ... I slathered "Saddle Tite" all over the inside of my boots and on the flap of my saddle.  My boss gave me some for Christmas last year, and I have yet to use it.  I figured xc schooling for the first time since ... May? was the perfect time to use it!

Flat in the stadium ring felt great.  Mary Bess had us do a little w/t/c on our own.  Nothing hard.  Last time, we also practiced going from canter to gallop to canter, working on having a "bouncy" canter, but nothing like that this time.  Cantered into a crossrail, and I think it took Tiki by surprise.  I had been taking him over poles, and he was great over those, so I think the jump was like "HUH?"  We looked like a fool over it, oh well.  MB has us go again, and he jumped it fine.  She was being super picky about my position, (yay!), and had me go one more time.  Our "real" warm up was vertical (from the crossrail), sweeping right turn to a red/white oxer, sweeping right turn to barrels lying down.  He jumped everything great, and MB admonished me to make sure I got him straight.  I had felt straight, so I was a little puzzled by her comment, but I filed it away.

Our warm up was the same as last year; lincoln logs out of the arena, straight ahead to a hanging log, straight ahead to 'funky' log.  He jumped the logs perfect, the hanging log a little wonky, and the 'funky' log perfect.  MB wanted me to SLOW DOWN (gee, I've never heard THAT one before!) and keep my leg on slowly, then ride him down to the base.  I tend either to have NO leg, or  I tend to chase him.  Worked on sitting back, sitting lightly, and keeping leg on to the base.  Moved on to the ditches, joy.  Little one was the best he's ever done.  Back and forth over that, then back and forth over big one.  Wow, he was PERFECT!  I chanted to myself, "Sit up, eyes up, DON'T LOOK AT THE DITCH, and cluck ... stick at the ready".  All that feedback worked because he hopped over easy as you please:)  Strung together big ditch, new log pile.  Then turn around, log pile, big ditch, hanging log 2 stride combo.  I was a little unsure as to ride it in a 2 or a 3.  Kyle did it in 3, and Guilder is much bigger than Tiki.  We USUALLY get 3, but the last time I did it, he surprised me by almost doing a 2.  Decided to ride it as it was meant to be ridden.  Ditch was perfect, and I rode the log pile great.  He'd never seen it before, and I sat back, locked in my leg, and rode right to the base.  Turned it around, and he was a little off in the distance to it, but it was still fine, to the ditch a little awkwardly but clear, then I galloped over the 2.  Again, MB admonished me to get straight and slow down, and I realized by straight, I was slightly angling the jumps.  I've gotten so used to jumping our jumps at home on an angle, I wasn't squaring up his shoulders to the jump, and it's really important to help your horse read a ditch correctly by bringing them in square.  One more time, and I nailed it ... and went slow, and he STILL got the 2, good Muffin:)

Next was tiny bank up, tiny bank down, hanging log, big bank up, train, stop.  Train, big bank down, new log cradle jump, left turn to corner.  Yup, the corner!  Then up and around to an actual log drop off the tiny bank.  I was nervous, but I swallowed it and went on.  Tiny banks were perfect.  Hanging log right out of stride.  Big bank easy as pie, train he never looked at.  Train again and he was excellent, big bank down (easiest it's ever been), log cradle (was a little nervous) he was slow off the ground, but no hesitation, to the corner.  A stop at the corner, but it was a question he'd never been asked.  He willingly touched his nose to it, and then I came again.  He made it over this time well; still slow off ground, but honest this time.  Up and around to log drop, and I'd swear I was jumping off the end of the universe!  She had me do train, big bank down, log cradle, corner one more time, and they ALL felt amazing.  I felt like I was really riding well, thank goodness.  The big bank and the corner are Training questions.  Don't know about the new jumps; either BN or N I'm sure.

Finally to the water.  He trotted in with no hesitation whatsoever.  Our task was little bank in, little bank out, canter in ramp, then out over a vertical.  Left turn to a triple log coop, to the BN cabin next to the water wheel, left turn to the N cabin, then right hand turn to the big Training level drop into the water.  Banks were good, coop perfect, BN cabin not a look or stutter, novice cabin rode GREAT.  Then at the T drop into the water he dumped me.  Yup.  3 years and I've never actually fallen off my horse at ALL, so this was the first time.  I was expecting a stop, I was NOT expecting a stop and his head to completely disappear.  Almost landed on my feet, so no biggie.  Got back on, then went to medium bank in.  He was NOT going.  Got his feet wet again, and good.  Medium bank again and I had to "beat" him in with my stick and my leg.  Once he got in, took him down the medium bank about 5 times, then tried the big one again.  Again, he was stopping and shutting down.  I was exhausted.  I had no leg left.  Purposely had left off my spurs, and I was wishing I had them.  Did medium bank in again, then turn to big one, and another stop.  MB gave me one more try, then she was going to get on.  Hit him again behind my leg, turned, and in he went!  Woo Hoo!  We were done.  Truth be told, I was a little scared of a HUGE leap into the water, so I'm not sure I was 100% on asking him to go in.  98% for sure, but I was a little scared.  I am SO proud of him!

Well, anyone that has gotten to the end of this novel deserves a medal.  I had a GREAT time.  I feel like I rode really well, my horse has grown up SO much, and we accomplished more than I had hoped.  I feel very prepared for my planned BN event in Aiken in Feb.  Going to shoot for Full Gallop, I think.  So long as Squeaky and I make it around xc clear, it will be our last BN outing.  I feel like most of what we worked on yesterday was N/T, and that makes me really happy.  MB had lots of good things to say, and I think I followed directions well and did a good job.  I will post video on a separate blog.  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the upcoming week!

Continuing the update ...

As I sit here with the live footage from the USEF Medal finals minimized, I am reflecting on the journey I've had in horses so far in my life.  These kids spend THOUSANDS of dollars for this one chance to make it to this class, only to be eliminated at the first fence (2nd to last kid), or fall off (last kid).  In a way, I'm glad my entire junior life wasn't about horse-showing.  It's hard.  Just like making it big in the music industry (like a friend of ours is trying to do), "fame" is hard to come by.  I'm grateful for the experiences I've had.  I've shown in probably 15 horse shows TOTAL in my life, and I appreciate every one of them.  ANYWAY!

This week it rained a good bit.  Tiki had Monday and Tuesday off after his long Sunday working at the IEA show.  Nicole rode him on Wednesday, and he was a good boy.
Honorary Little Sis' recap of her ride

Thursday, I had a LESSON!  Woo Hoo!  It's been a fairly long time since I've had a dressage lesson from Susan, and it was about time!  I did NOT have high hopes.  For one, his last flat rides were less than stellar.  For another, he'd just had his fall shot booster the day before, and thirdly he had just had his feet done about 2 hours prior.  Walking around to warm up, he felt tight.  Susan noticed, and set up a slightly raised grid to get his hind end to unlock.  We trotted through it a few times, and it was hard to get him to be straight and NOT kick the poles.  He did pretty well with it, and by then he was looking a LITTLE better.  Trotted on a pretty small circle working on our transitions, and that was REALLY good.  By that time, he was starting to feel much looser and more willing to step underneath himself.  Susan was very complimentary of the homework we'd been doing, and was quite happy with his consistency through the bridle, yay!

We FINALLY got some quality instruction for our lateral work.  I have been dying to really work on that, but we've just never been truly ready for it.  I've been doing my shoulder in left perfectly, but the right one needed a little more work.  The leg yields, I tend to overbend.  We worked on straightening his body through those, and did an exercise where we leg yielded/straightened/leg yielded, back to the rail.  He was moving off my leg beautifully:)  Worked on collected canter, and by this point, my leg was just dying, ugh! I'd left my spurs at home (not on purpose), and started out with a dressage whip, but I tend to toss it down because I feel it just makes both of us stiff.  Her words, "pretend you're cantering around a tea cup!".  I got some LOVELY, balanced canter ... "one step just like the last!".

My hip flexors were numb at this point, but I was game to work on some haunches in.  He was pretty dead at this point as well, so the haunches in were pretty good because he was very non reactive off my leg by then.  We got several good steps, but it was FAR from perfect.  The best part of the lesson is the "light bulb moment" I got.  If you have followed this blog for a little bit, you'll know I've struggled with my downward transitions; keeping Tiki from hollowing out during them.  I stiffen my arms and brace against him too much, but when I use primarily seat, he pulls down hard on my hands and the transition is NOT good.  I know to "carry my hands".  I holler it at my students all the time.  I try to carry my hands.  But when Susan said to "float my hands" during the downward transitions, I did, and he kept his contact BEAUTIFULLY!  He didn't try to yank me down, he didn't show any attitude, he was LOVELY.  Love some lightbulbs:)

Friday, I'd planned to do some light "long and low", because I was SORE, and I figured Tiki could use a nice, stretchy ride before our xc lesson on Saturday.  Good thing I'd planned that because his left hind was swollen with a large scrape looking thing.  It was hot, nasty looking, and tight with fluid.  I trotted him out and he was sound, so I tacked him up in the cc saddle, the dressage bridle with no noseband, and no boots. He worked well; just lots of stretchy trot, some nice canter work, and that was it.  The leg looked slightly less puffy, but it was definitely still hot, so after untacking, I cold hosed for 12 minutes.  Gave him a full bath and tossed him in his stall.  Could not WAIT for Saturday!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lots to catch up on!

(one year ago, before our first only recognized horse trial!)

Wow.  I'm sitting here fairly exhausted from an AWESOME ride at Calimar today:)  Last blog update was from Friday a week ago when I rode honorary little sis' boy, Sparky.  I promised a Tiki update as well, and I'll be darned if I haven't already forgotten what I did!  I want to say that I put on the cc saddle and the bridle I'll be using for IEA shows, and did a nice flat hack; I'm thinking I actually put on the dressage saddle, though.  Sad.  That's why I have this blog, so I don't FORGET what I do!

I could not POSSIBLY forget about the show on Sunday, though.  What I DO remember about Friday is that he was really, really good.  He was lazy as heck, but a few well timed squeeze of the spurs, and he was feeling better.  Saturday, Tiki went outside during the day and stayed in that night because it was literally 4:15 am when we (Nicole and I) arrived on Sunday morning.  The show was 2 hours away, so we loaded up Squeaky and Star Mare and made the uneventful trip north to Dahlonega, GA.  He unloaded with a light sheen of sweat, and stood with his usual tail swishiness while I tacked him up.  His IEA bit is his dressage bit (a jointed Myler D ring with no hooks) and the hunter bridle.  No martingale or anything, because he REALLY doesn't need one, but I do use his fleecy boots in front and polos behind.

Mounted and walked him around outside the ring for about 10 minutes.  I was hoping he would really relax in and settle down, but he didn't.  He was fine outside, but the SECOND we stepped in the (DEEP) ring, he became jiggy, swishy, and head shakey.  Ugh.  It's been since February since he's been ridden with OTHER horses working around him, and he just hates it.  That's why eventing suits us; it's a solitary sport.  That's why my dressage tests have thus far been barely mediocre; group warm up.  I TRIED to get him to bend, asking for some shoulder-in.  I lost the hind end pretty hard core.  Asked him to move off my leg and his head shot straight up and he spurted into a fast, choppy trot.  Sigh.  The other horses had already jumped around by the time I cantered, so I took him around.  He was very pissy and got heavy on me.  I REALLY wished I'd had the wonder bit in, but I do not want kids to have those kind of brakes to hit him with if they get left behind.  Plus, as pissy as he was, he would only get behind the bit anyway, so I made the most of what we had.  The jumps themselves were no problem, but the line that was supposedly a 5, I nearly caused him to flip in.  I'm trying to get him to consistently "make the step", so I jumped in and used my leg.  He was about 3/4 of a stride too far away, but he jumped anyway, and hung a leg pretty badly.  Added and did 6, and it was perfect.

I buried him to the oxer once, but other than that mistake, he jumped around nicely.  He had three flat classes and 2 jumping; one of the jumping he was pulled from because he is weight restricted, and an over the weight rider had drawn him by accident.  So, one o/f, 3 flat.  Well, his first rider BOOTED him in the very beginning, and he damn near bucked her off.  It was ugly.  In all 3 classes, he was cross cantering, flipping that head around, and actually picked all 4 feet of the ground and bucked a few times.  He was JUST not happy:(  To top things off, as we held him outside the ring, he was incessantly kicking that right hind ... over, and over, and over, etc.  I had no less than 3 people suggest I may want to remove his polo wraps.  I just smiled and said thanks, that's not it, but great suggestion.  FRESH pony.

Finally, the flat torture was over, and he went in for his one jumping class; GREAT.  He was SO much happier to be in the ring ALONE; it's like he was breathing a huge sigh of relief.  His kid got a ribbon, and all was well:)  Both of my teams (my 'other' highschool team, and a new middle school team) won Reserve Champion, yay!  I will try ear plugs at the next show next Sunday, and may even spin him on the longe line for a few minutes before I get on to warm up.  Hopefully it was just "haven't been anywhere in months and I'm fresh" syndrome, because when he's bad I take it personally.

Friday, October 7, 2011

And ... the lightbulbs keep coming ...

I have become a wimp in my old age.  15 years ago, I literally wrote down the name of every single horse I sat on.  It was a mission of mine to sit on as MANY as possible.  Up until 3 years ago, I still had this mentality a little bit.  I used to go over to a barn that re trained ottb's, and got to ride pretty much whenever I wanted.  Weirdly enough, these horses were much more difficult than Tiki, but flatting I felt pretty good, so I was fine on them.

Once Tiki turned into a 'real' horse, and we started jumping 'real' jumps, I lost the desire to ride other horses.  ANY other horses.  It is so much pressure to get in the necessary rides on my ONE horse that there's definitely not enough time in the day to ride multiple horses.  Ok, maybe that's a little bit of an excuse.  Ever since I warmed up one of our lesson horses for IEA Regionals 2 years ago, and he literally stopped and jumped every single jump from a standstill to the point that I ended up behind the saddle, voluntarily dismounted while moving, and passed him off to a better rider, I've been a little gun shy about performing in public on unfamiliar horses.

When honorary little sis Nicole suggested Project Pony Swap for the month of October (once a week, not every ride!), I thought, "Why not?"  Today was swap day one.  The victim willing participant:  Sparky, aka Napolean Dynamite.  Sparky is a mostly Morgan gelding that stands 14.2 1/2 on a tall day, and is the epitome of "Barbie" pony!  He also has a ... um, "Wheee" streak?  In the words of Greg Best (yes, THE Greg Best):  "Yes, you're right!  He IS an asshole!"  Let's just say that I took my phone with me up to the ring today;)

I opted to ride in cc saddle even though I was SORELY tempted to ride in the dressage saddle due to the GORGEOUS browband on his bridle.  Like little sis, I just could NOT bring myself to mix the black, obviously dressage bridle with the brown cc saddle, so I ended up using his "bad pony" bit.  For Sparky, "bad pony" is a full cheek snaffle with a double jointed center that attaches to a tiny round copper ball.  I knew he'd spent a little time in a stall lately, so I just wanted to make sure that I had recourse should I need it.  Headed up to the ring, raised my stirrups NINE holes, then hopped on.  Believe it or not, they were just a hole short, so lowered them to 8 holes up from little sis' length, and took off on a marching walk.

Sparky leans to the inside like he's an 18 hand warmblood.  Looks to the outside, leans and pops on that inside shoulder, and makes you work to get him in front of your leg.  THE most challenging type of horse for me and my short legs to ride.  Spent some quality time at the walk circling, spiraling, and performing shoulder-ins.  At the trot, he promptly arched that Barbie pony neck of his and dropped behind the bit.  I worked to get him up on the contact, and rode him with my LEGS.  He is exactly the type of horse I like to overuse my hands on, and cross my inside rein to attempt to get that inside shoulder STRAIGHT, so I tried hard to keep about 5" between my hands, right on the right, left on the left.  Gigi's advice thundered in my brain.  "FLEXION ON THE INSIDE REIN!  GET HIM DOWN INTO THE OUTSIDE REIN!"  So, I flexed him with the inside, used leg, and squeezed my outside rein, and he settled into a lovely contact with a nice, straight free flowing trot.  Thinking of his notorious "duck and run" move that he randomly does at random jumps, I set out 2 jumps as poles on the ground between 2 standards.  I have no plans to actually jump him, but working over poles and cavalettis are fair game.  Trotted over the poles at random intervals, and he did those better than my horse typically does.

The canter transition was VERY "runny".  In other words, not clean.  It FELT good once I got it.  Again, I concentrated on not crossing my inside rein, and kept him on the contact and not behind the contact.  Did my favorite exercise from when I was riding Mick (see MUCH earlier blog posts!), which is a 10m circle, reverse across a diagonal.  Rinse and repeat a million times.  I finally cantered him to a pole, and by GEORGE I think I've diagnosed WHY Sparky does the duck and spin at the last minute.  Even though he LOOKS like he's cantering in on the bit, I could feel him suck behind the bit, thus avoiding ALL correct contact.  Of COURSE that opens him up to being allowed to go wherever he wants, and since we all now know he can be an asshole ...

Just my theory!  The point of the swap is to improve us as riders, and hopefully fill in some gaps and help improve each other's horses as well.  I ended up having a great time, but I'm SURE I will have some super sore legs tomorrow.  Lessons tomorrow, first IEA show of the season Sunday, dressage lesson Thursday and XC lesson on Saturday.  TOTALLY looking forward to this week, woo hoo!

I did ride my pony today, but it's bed time, so I will update that tomorrow:)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Maybe getting back into the swing of things?

(the boy at an IEA show 2 years ago with a 'Varsity Open' rider)

Maybe there's the possibility that I'm FINALLY able to do a few things before year's end?  God willing?  I went with Susan (dressage trainer I lesson from every few months) to watch her ride in a Gigi Nutter clinic (BN dressage trainer based here in GA).  I ALWAYS learn something when I watch; Gigi has this amazing eye, and  a sixth sense that I imagine all the BNT's have when it comes to getting through to a particular type of rider.  I FINALLY got to really watch LOTS of lateral work.  Basic lateral work, which is what I need work on.  

I learned that a half pass is a shoulder-in.  And a haunches-in.  At the same time.  

I learned a pirouette is a half pass on a circle.

I love that dressage REALLY is just a progressive exercise.  That's why I've had trouble trying a half pass; my horse doesn't have a very good haunches-in.  My canter cue is too similar to the cue to a h-i (identical, in fact), so I need to change my canter cue.  Homework!  And I didn't even have to spend MONEY!  Not even for GAS!  This is what I love about my sport:)

I will work on a few things and take a lesson from Susan next Thursday.  It's been awhile, and I feel it's time for a good booty kicking.  Speaking of booty kicking, the Saturday following next Thursday I will be hauling out to Calimar for a xc lesson from Mary Bess Sigman!  Yay!  Now, I love dressage as much as the next person, but I'm not NEARLY as excited about my dressage lesson as I am for my xc lesson.  It's been over a year; I last rode with Mary Bess last September ... that's the ONLY time I've ever had any type of xc instruction, so I hope I've come a long way and made some good progress.

Speaking of progress, here is the link to honorary little sis' blog about her ride on the Tiki Muffin:

Let's see, what's happened?  Monday he had off since little sis rode him Sunday.  What did I do Tuesday?  Oh!  Right, nothing because I went to Gigi.  Duh.  Yesterday I did trot sets.  I haven't done them in a fairly long time, so I patted myself on the back.  Dude ... my back was KILLING me.  Thank goodness the pony decided not to trip and fall on his face (literally) this time.  He was a teeny bit rotten, but not bad at all, yay!  Slow and tiny strided at first, I popped him with my crop once or twice, and he got better.  I let him stride out into a full on gallop; not a xc gallop, but a GALLOP.  He actually swapped out his lead so he could "kick it in" to gear.  Fun, fun, yay for nice flat pastures with good footing:)

Tomorrow I'm riding Sparky in my own Project Pony Swap, and will throw Tiki man into the dressage tack one more time for a good schooling before the IEA show this Sunday.   Looking forward to seeing my red head cart around some kidlets, and excited about warming him up:)

Monday, October 3, 2011


Soo, it makes me feel AMAZING when my horse goes well for someone else.  Even though I'd hoped for the fairy tale version of horse ownership where he came galloping to me in the pasture to lay his head on my shoulder and nicker softly in my ear, that's just not who we are.  I LIKE to share.  It is more of a measure of my success as a rider and trainer when my horse goes equally, or BETTER for someone else than for me.  I have been stingy about his re-training because I wanted to test my abilities and see how I could do with him on my OWN, but now that we've reached the land of lead changes, 3'3 being no big deal, and trucking around the 2'6 at IEA shows, I'm good with sharing:)

On Friday, I didn't plan to ride my boy because the new addition to the family had a vet appt to check everything out, and formally get adopted (if you're going "Huh?" click on the tab at the top of the blog called "10 random facts"), so that meant my cleaning schedule was messed up.  However, I got a phone call late Thursday night letting me know one of my kidlets had a HORRIBLE lesson at the barn for her school's equestrian team, and could I PLEASE restore her confidence on Friday????  Well, I don't teach on Fridays, but I told them if they were willing to come to me, I'd give said kidlet a lesson on Tiki.  They did, and I did.

He was a ROCK STAR.  Plain and simple.  She is a pretty beginner rider, 8th grade.  TALL and skinny, you know the typical Hunter/Jumper type;)  Just learning how to competently negotiate crossrails, and learn how to pilot around an inside/outside type course.  For safety's sake, I put him in the wonder bit (aka, BRAKES), but knowing how quiet he always is at home, did NOT worry.  He was GREAT for her!  Dead quiet, took nice big slow trot steps, never missed a lead, stayed slow and quiet at the canter.  Backed up when I had her try a totf because she used too much hand, but that was not a disobedience, just a "what?"  She did her first leg yield, and I was just bursting with pride.  Trotted a crossrail about 4 times, then jumped it at a canter one time off each lead, and he couldn't have been better.  Friday was more a measure of our success than any of the shows we've done lately, and I am just happy as can be!

Honorary little sis Nicole rode him yesterday, and she promises a full blog report, so when that happens I will link up.  Gave him today off since I put in 24 bags of bedding, but will ride tomorrow.  Full report then.  Thinking I will do trot sets in the pasture because it's been over a month since I've done them, bad girl!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Actually proud of myself

And the Muffin, of course!  ALMOST called it and didn't ride.  Joyce has been extremely busy this week, which has meant lots of extra work for me!  I did an hour's worth of work before I even touched the first stall, so by the time I was done cleaning, I was done.  But, I pushed through, tacked him up, and took him up to the rock hard ring.  I dragged out 2 jumps from the enormous pile in the center of the ring, and put them at '6' and '12', perpendicular to the short side.  Basically, I had half of the "circle of death".
I eyed the jump cups closest to the rail, and guesstimated them at 3'3.  After placing a pole on them and realizing it came up OVER my hip bones, I thought maybe 3'6, but thought, "Nah, 3'3".  Pulled out the measuring stick, and sure enough!  I set the other jump at 2', and debated dropping the big one down to 2'9.  Then to 3'.  Then I gave myself a mental butt kicking and said if I'm really contemplating a BN trial in February, it will be the final one barring any problems.  Which means that my NEXT outing will be a N.  And if I'm showing at 2'11, I need to be comfortable schooling 3'+, emphasis on the +.  So I walked away and mounted.

After another good loose rein walk warm up, picked up the trot.  He is tough flatting at home in the wonder bit because he is SO quiet, and the wonder bit has a lot of "whoa".  I worked my butt off keeping him going forward, and spent about 15 minutes switching between big trot, toth, shoulder-in at the walk, and leg yielding across the entire ring at the walk; that was cool!  I didn't drill his contact today since I had already done that yesterday; instead, I waited until I felt satisfied he was working hard, then cantered up to the 2' jump off the right lead.  He twisted in the air, knocked the pole, and tried to go left on landing, but I stayed back, stayed committed, and kept him on a circle to the right.  To begin, I was working only over the 2' jump on a 20m circle.  Did it again, and nailed it.  Right lead probably 4 times, then reversed to the left where it felt even better!  I drifted a little bit so I could nail the distance, and then without thinking about it too hard, headed up to the "big one".  I sat UP, I maintained a rhythm, and I closed my LEG!  Yay, me!  Did it about 3 more times tracking left, then reversed to the right.  Right lead is MY weaker side because HE is a little bit weaker when it comes to jumping.  I've always been most comfortable tracking left even though our flatwork to the right is better because my right leg is stronger.

ANYWAY, didn't quite "see" the distances as well as I could have, and only had one "tragic" one, but STILL the boy jumped out of his skin to keep the jump up.  He felt amazing.  Despite the fact that he almost knocked the 2' jump down the first time, he felt amazing every time over 3'3.  I did put both jumps together both directions twice each, and I was pleased with how it went.  I was proud of myself for not wimping out and making it easier on myself.  I didn't use guide poles, I didn't use a neck strap, I didn't tie my stirrups to the girth, and I didn't lower the jump.  I'm trying to train my eye to see the jumps as "No Big Deal", and to view height as being inconsequential.  

It's been a slow process, but I'm getting there.  Even though I haven't had the $$ to do anything eventing related this year at ALL, I've kept up with keeping Tiki fit, strong, and well schooled, and I'm always working hard on making myself a better rider.  Hoping to introduce chiropractic care into the budget before the end of the year, and now working towards a HT in Aiken in February.  Until then, I have warming him up for his first IEA show of the new season next Sunday, and a lesson with Susan some time this month:)  It's all good!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dressaging it ...

Had a really good ride today in the dressage tack.  Walked for about 7 minutes or so on a loose rein; did 20m circles both directions and focused on making sure his neck was bent correctly.  Picked up the contact, then trotted nice and forward right on the rail both directions.  Worked on FORWARD.  He actually felt GREAT:)  Shoulder in both ways, figure 8 at trot many, many times until he was absolutely steady in the contact and didn't get hollow once.  Lots of transitions, focusing on maintaining steady contact.  One beautiful, clean change from right to left, one awful, discombobulated half change from left to right.  Left the changes alone.  I just have this ... need/desire to get an "on command" lead change.  Maybe some professional help will help with that, I don't know.  Obviously, I suck at my timing, so I'm no good at changes.   Oh well, will stick to the things I AM good at.  

Planning to ride tomorrow instead of Friday; want to jump something, so I guess I will!  Not sure yet what I will set up, but hopefully it will be fun:)  Perfect Image Farm is my someday privately owned farm where I will do my eventing thing, and may or may not teach other people anything; depends on how rich I am;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another week has flown by ...

Really can't believe another week has gone by.  It was a week ago that I last sat on my boy, and today he couldn't have been any better.  I took it easy because I woke up feeling a tiny bit on the puny side, so I hopped on in the cc saddle, no half chaps, no boots, and no bridle:)  

We just hacked around the boy's back pasture.  I didn't really put him on a hill track, we just went up hills, down hills, through the wooded areas, around the trees, and over ditches made more recently deep by all the rain we've had.  The aforementioned rain would be the reason I rode Tiki on Monday, but not the rest of the week.  There was a little bit of head shaking going on, but I watched carefully and even though I COATED him in fly spray, there were still flies landing on his neck and biting his delicate little red skin.  He was a good boy; I was proud.

Today's tip of the week is brought to you by me ... because I had to use it today!  As I was grooming the muffin man, I noticed those pesky little yellow flecks ... BOT eggs:(  The easiest way to get those goobers off is to take a cheap disposable razor, and scrape them right off.  Cheap, quick, and effective!  If YOU have a tip or money saving trick, , just shoot me an e0mail at  I look forward to hearing from y'all!!  Until later on, have a great week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tip of the week!

Sitting here watching "The Singoff".  I think this show is head over heels better than American Idol.  The sounds these singers make with their voices are just amazing!

Anyway, worked in the dressage saddle today on what we worked on Wednesday; forward, forward, forward!  Did a w/t/w/h transition sequence about 10 times, until his head did NOT move.  His halt leaves a LOT to be desired.  It doesn't matter what bit I'm using, whether I'm bareback or using either of  the saddles, or riding in a halter.  He hollows his back and raises his head up, bracing on my hands.  So today I worked and worked and worked until it got much better.  Did a lot on the 20m circle, did some extensions across the diagonal, and did my counter canter/flying change through a figure 8 exercise.  The change was LOVELY, so I only did it one direction and let him quit.  Nice ride today, I was very pleased.

Tip of the Week!!!
Today's tip of the week is brought to you by honorary little sis, Nicole.  If y'all haven't checked out her blog, head on over.  She is FUNNY, and has a GREAT style.  Here's her tip:

Chestnuts kind of gross me out, as does picking them off.  Slather them with Vaseline (and leave it on), 
and they'll kind of come off on their own, with minimal picking by the grossed-out.  Repeat as necessary.
Now get over there and read!  You'll laugh out loud, promise:)

Thanks for reading:)  Will post another later in the week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feeling just a touch envious of the children.  As this GORGEOUS Fall weather kicks in, they're all out there showing and getting out and about.  I'm riding at home.  I DO remember to be grateful, though.  My horse COULD be lame.  Or dead.  So I really can't complain THAT much.  Anyone care to remind me of blog entries from 3 years ago when I brought Tiki home?  

Paraphrasing here:  "It's not even like I have boots that fit me, and I would hate to subject innocent bystanders to me in breeches.  This horse is just for fun, I do NOT like to compete".

Well, that was BEFORE I had a horse worthy of competing!;)  AND before I discovered the world of eventing.  But whatever, it will happen when it happens, and in the mean time I will be content to take the Muffin to IEA shows and warm him up personally, which is practically as good as actually competing, right??

Wednesday I conned asked my boss nicely to give me a lesson.  Cleaned stalls, groomed my boy, loaded him up easy as pie, and headed out to Patchwork for a "butt kicking eq lesson".  Unloaded a sweaty boy (of course!), and hosed him off a little bit before tacking him up.  Thank goodness for arriving an hour before scheduled lesson!  Dressed the pony, dressed myself, and headed into the ring.  It was getting WARM at this point.  Put him in the waterford for the lesson; no martingale or anything fancy.  Walked on a loose rein, and then Janet came out.  Put him right to work.  Picked up contact at the walk before moving up to the trot.  His neck was nice and round, but Janet wanted him "softer and deeper".  So, I would ask with that outside rein to come down and flex.

MORE trot, MORE leg, MORE trot.  I kicked until I felt like we were trucking around at Mach 10, and finally the boss was happy:)  She was patting herself on the back for taking a "chintzy" and not so great mover and turning him into one that's not half bad!  I give her ALL the credit:)  It was rather exhausting, but hopefully I got some muscle memory so that when I ride on Monday, I can recreate the feeling.  The theme of the day was to increase his range of motion, which unlocks his back and makes him softer and more relaxed.  I guess I just need to make sure I keep him forward and in front of my leg at all times, but not fall back into that habit of chasing him.  It's certainly a fine line, but one I can walk ride.  

Worked on getting the canter bigger in the front end, and covering more ground while staying slow.  Good with that.  Worked on the clean transitions; those have been cleaner at home, but we got a few good ones.  Perfect turn on the forehand; improved on the turn on the haunches.  He wasn't a goober about leads at all; good there.  Jumping wise, Janet put a few of them up around the 3' mark.  Our jumping was the best it had ever been in a lesson.  Did a good jumper course and I dropped him at the deep spots a few times.  Did some nice "jump and spin" turns; just need to keep my body back a little more effectively through those.  Other than that though, we were in general much improved.  I was very happy and pleased.  

Tiki had about a 2 hour break, and then he had to fill in for one of my lessons.  He wasn't too bad, but he was a little quick ... and chintzy.  Oh well.  I know my horse like the back of my hand; it will take time for the kids to get him going as well as I do.  I just chalk it up to more experience.

Friday I longed him in the pasture in his halter just to stretch him out and check his comfort level.  Wed was more work than he'd done in quite a while.  All looked 100%, so I was happy.  Monday will probably involve the dressage saddle.  Joyce drug the ring, so all the jumps are piled in the center right now.  If I want to jump, I will have to take the time to set something up.