Thursday, June 30, 2011


I rode the Squeaky Muffin tonight! Woo Hoo! Now my lower back is paying for it, big time. Thank goodness I have an appointment with my most amazing chiropractor on Saturday. I made the time for my honorary little sis Nicole tonight. I've bailed on her 2 Sundays in a row, so I hung around until close to 8:00 tonight so we could ride together. I fully expected the muffin man to be fresh, and he was. I was figuring we'd ride in the ring, so when I tacked up, I put on the dressage saddle. As we were putting on our bridles, we decide to ride in the mare's pasture. Oh well, I went with it:)

The boy was dripping sweat this morning when I brought him in, so I had to hose him off before I fed him. After I put the hose away, I was doing something (can NOT remember what!), and he spooked and pulled back in the crossties. Tonight, as I led him into the crossties, he spooked AGAIN, and went yanking back yet again. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY HORSE?? WHY HAS HE BEEN PULLING BACK SO MUCH? THIS HAS NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM BEFORE. I would appreciate some feedback as to what could be causing him to sit back so much.

Anyway, I had clipped whiskers and bridle path the other day, and hit the mane today. It was a hot mess, let me tell ya! I'm keeping up with shaving the tail, as well. I've finally got it the shape I really like, so as the sides grow out, I just hit them with the clippers again. Pretty much every time I do whiskers/bridle path, I do the tail too.

So, back to the whole point of this post; the RIDE. We mounted once in the mare's front pasture, then walked up the hill and through the gate to the back one. He was FINE. We walked about half the perimeter while we figured out what we were going to do, then got to work. My plan was some semblance of field dressage. Shortened my reins, and he felt very stiff and tense. My horse does NOT like to be out of his usual routine (riding at 8:30 at night is most CERTAINLY not his usual routine), and he does NOT like riding with other horses. Especially when we pass head on. So Nicole did her thing, and I did mine, and 2 of the mares were turned out up there, but they eventually wandered away. Muffin was really craning his neck, trying to take it all in, semi-spooking just a tiny little bit. He shook his head every time he saw Sparky out of the corner of his eye. I just kept at it, and eventually achieved a LOVELY trot. For about 5 seconds. That lovely trot eventually deteriorated into a pretty dramatic bucking spree. My horse is not a bucker. He will throw a crow hop every now and then, but for the most part, all 4 legs stay on the ground. He really put that head down and got into it this time, so I yanked him up so hard he got a little light in the front end. Because of that, I smacked the top of his head as hard as I could. Made him walk on contact for a minute, then let him relax on a loose rein.

As I said, I expected resistance, stiffness, head shaking, staring, and even a little swishy swishy bucky bucky, but not a full on head down, stiff leg bronc. I let the both of us chill out for a second, then trotted some more. Had a decent trot going, and I rode pretty defensively. I didn't pick a fight, though! Cantered both leads, and got some tempi changes at one point, and on the left lead, he was SO lofty with the front end, it felt as though we were cantering over bounce poles. I finally quit on that semi-good note. As I said, my lower back will pay the price tomorrow, but it should be put back in place on Saturday.

Current plan; ride Tues-Sat of next week. Start with a light hack in the cc saddle and the 'jumping' bridle, then the dressage tack, then a ride in the 'jumping bridle' with a pretty serious pole course, then dressage tack, then something out in a field with the Waterford. I haven't used that bit in awhile, and want to start "tuning him back up" so we're ready to do our best in September. July 16 is the third show of that Mud Creek series I've been going to, so my goal is to get up at 4:30 so I can get to the barn by 5, then ride him before I feed. I have no camp next week, so not a big deal, but the following week leading up to the show, I do. It's only fair to my horse if I give him every opportunity to succeed, so if I'm not fit and he's not fit, we're not going to the show. It may "only" be a schooling show, but every time I'm out in public, I'm representing myself. All you have in this business is your reputation, and I don't want to hurt mine. Hope everyone has a happy 4th of July!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Minorly unintentional break

Whelp; no real surprise here. My buttocks has not been on my horse since I apparently walked the hills (and I don't really remember doing it, haha!) Thank goodness for blogs, right? I have a week of summer camp to get through next week, and then hopefully my son will be going to my in-law's the following week. Why is that a good thing? Well, I suffer from "mommy guilt", and am already dragging my 9 year old son to the barn for 3+ hours in the heat/humidity/dust/bees, then driving an hour to the "other barn" to teach for an hour +, then driving the hour back home. And next week will be even worse; get up at 5 am, go to dusty/hot/bee barn for 2 hours, drive hour to other barn, do camp for 5 hours, teach for an hour, drive an hour BACK to dusty/hot/bee barn for another hour+, then back home. His good humor starts to go away at that point, so my 4 legged love is getting a break right now. I have no plans to do more than maybe a light hack one evening with my bud Nicole, then a few light hacks the week my son goes to his grandparents, then 2 straight weeks of camp (the FINAL 2 weeks!), where the muffin will most likely not get much more than a hosing and a rinsing of apple cider vinegar. I'm figuring since standing in his stall causes him to be covered in sweat, so not working his tushy off in the 90+ degree weather doesn't bother him too much. Our HT is end of September, so I'm planning to ramp things up the last week in July, and stick with a 4-5 day a week riding plan with a bi-weekly lesson of some sort thrown in until we make our Poplar debut. After that, I will probably plan to try and do a schooling trial at Novice at Red Horse or Ashland stables before Christmas, and by that point, I will be doing my usual whining about how cold it is. Good thing I'm not trying to qualify for the Olympics, or something!;)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I've figured it out:)

After obsessively thinking about the weekend and watching not only my 3 videos, but also older videos, I've identified what I need to work on for next time.

1. My fitness. When it's 90 degrees by 8am, it's REALLY hard to get motivated to go exercise. I've struggled with my weight my entire life; I LOVE sweets (well, ANY carb, really). I just have to figure out how to make a lifestyle change that sticks forever.

2. Tiki needs to improve the quality of his canter. I realized that by NOT having my reins short enough, I can see the usual "bouncing" off contact I normally get in a show situation. I DO FEEL like I have a good contact, but after watching the videos a hundred times, I can see that I'm not following his mouth well enough, and the reins are not maintaining a nice, elastic contact between the jumps. I made absolutely NO effort to ask him to come down into the bridle because I was nervous, hot, and tired. I just wanted to hurry up and get it over with.

3. My leg felt weak. I need to ride with my stirrups tied the week before a show so I can get good muscle memory. Also need to embark on a "no stirrup month" again. I've only done that once in nearly 3 years. I really need to do that round abouts twice a year. I also need to be regularly stretching my achilles; it was weird to see me NOT really down in my heel. Upon further self examination, I feel this is probably because I've been making an effort to ride in the dressage saddle and not jump so much, and I'm trying to take Gigi's advice and not have my "knees up to my chin".

4. Finally, and this is related to my weak leg, I was popping up too early again. This has ALWAYS been my go to bad habit. Some people jump down the neck; I pop up. I compared my show from this last time:

to the one I did at Oxer Farm in December:

I picked the 2'6 course out so I could compare them at the same height. Overall, I feel my Oxer Farm course is smoother and more relaxed. My distances were there; I had one awkward jump at the first oxer and one flat out missed lead, but it was relaxed and I was happy with my body. At Mud Creek, he was more forward and his lead changes were better, but I almost wonder if I was subconsciously rushing him through it. I need to really think about my body and work on my auto release so I can stay down JUST long enough. I don't want to get into a habit of landing low on his neck, and then not be able to sit up on the xc course when I move up to Novice, and there's more (and bigger!) drop fences/water/ditches/etc. I need to get good at doing exactly what I NEED to do; no more, no less.

OK! Enough with the self flagellation, and onto this week! Well ... it's been hot, lol:) Haven't done much at all. Longed yesterday over a pole. He looked GREAT at the trot once the hard footing broke up a little bit. Really stretched long and low into the side reins, and maintained a pretty nice pace. At the canter both ways, he held it BEAUTIFULLY:) I did notice that even without a rider, he really wants to hold his head up and be hollow through his back, so I think I need a little hack session in the draw reins tomorrow to help him understand to keep his back UP and his neck ROUND at the canter. He's got it figured out at the trot, and once I help him figure it out at the canter, I think our jumping will improve 100%. Today, I walked the steep hill in his pasture in the dressage saddle and a halter. That's what I do when I have no time. Tomorrow my goal is cc saddle with the hunter bridle and the draw reins. We'll see if I actually do it!:) Later.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nope. Not a bad idea at all!

I learned some things today for sure.
1. I need to lose about 30 lbs.
2. My horse really can be quite the knee hanger
3. We finally are starting to get consistent lead changes
4. 2'9 now officially looks like 2'6
5. 3' is a little bit easier the 2nd time around
6. I'm riding with my reins way too long
7. I am seriously unhappy with my leg right now
8. Coming off a week of summer camp, vacation, and a cumulative total of 6 days worth of riding ... neither of us were at the peak of fitness
9. My horse needs more prep than a total of 6 days worth of riding; 4 of those days dressage, one doing trot sets, and one nice flat school in the cc saddle working over poles.
10. Showing with the 'pasture buddy' maybe isn't quite the BEST thing I've ever done

I really cannot complain. As listed above, maybe the muffin and I weren't at our best today. Ultimately, I decided to go because a friend offered to come with and split gas, AND the show is just so darn cheap and NOT far from Joyce's. It's funny because I actually felt BETTER today than I did at the last one, but our rounds definitely weren't as forward and energetic.

First and foremost, our warmup actually wasn't bad, which is a miracle considering when I pulled into the farm, he came off the trailer literally soaked and dripping sweat. I tied him to the trailer with his water and haynet like usual, and within the first 5 minutes had pulled back and broken his halter. Fortunately, it was nothing major, but it's definitely broken now. He was just acting like an anxious turd, and I think it had to do with his best pasture buddy, Guilder. Even after standing tied for about 45 minutes, he hadn't dried one little bit, so I just gave it up and took him over and hosed him down completely. So much for that meticulous bath yesterday, lol!

Right after his hosing, I had to go get dressed and tacked him up. He was kicking out his hind legs, dancing around, and generally fidgeting so much, I gave up on using polos on the back legs and went for our XC Woof boots (which I ONLY consented to use because I happened to be wearing the royal blue polo shirt today). Made it over to the ring just in the nick of time, and got to watch one person go before it was our turn.

2'6 was ... OK. He was jumping really hard at them; it felt a little sloppy, and he actually had the FIRST RAIL down:( That was the first rail he's had in a jumping course since our horse trial. It was a natural square oxer, and I don't think he just got his eye on it and realized it was an oxer. Out of 4, we finished 2nd:) One had a refusal and a rail, one had a refusal, and one jumped clear.

In the 2'9, it was just Kyle and I. I didn't expect to beat her because she's just a good rider, her horse loves to "run", and she jumps the BIG stuff. This course felt the best. The jumps rode like they were 2'6 ( which they weren't. Unlike many schooling shows, this one is set and measured for real:) We were clear, and did the jumpoff, and he was a good boy. 2nd to Kyle as expected.

The 3' was me alone again. He felt really tired. I felt really tired. I didn't help him at ALL, and he made no effort to bail me out. Stalled out to about 3 jumps, AND he pulled the SAME natural oxer rail (same course as the 2'6). To those jumps, I just saw NOTHING, and he basically puttered out then sprung off the ground.

I am dissatisfied with my leg position. I have never had a heel problem, and analyzing the pics from today show me my heel is NOT down and secure:( More 2'point, no stirrups, short stirrups, and stretching. So, once again, no jumpoff, but I did win, yay! Lucky belt is still helping me stay on my horsey;) I need to stay down longer; I'm popping up again and disrupting his bascule. I just need to s ... l ... o ... w down my body. Next time, I will do more productive work. I am embarking on a journey to change my eating habits; how can I expect pony to be fit and ready to work when I'm a tub of jelly? Doesn't work that way. I need to make some changes, and hopefully I can do it.

Still on track to do Poplar in September. That's my current goal. Will most assuredly do a few more small things before then; this time with better prep. Overall, the trips felt better than last time, but I think we actually weren't as good. Oh well, it was good education! Whatever helps me set up my training plan is a good thing. Tiki was good in the ring; tired, but good. It WAS somewhere around 95 degrees in the blazing sun today, so I'm sure that contributed to his sweating and both our tiredness. Homework ... that's what horse shows are for:)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good idea? Not so sure about that!

Haven't ridden in a week. This is coming off of riding for one week after a previous 2 week break. What will I be doing? Showing on Saturday:) Back to the same little farm from a few weeks ago; same 3 classes. Next show, I will let go of the 2'6, and start at 2'9. Hopefully, the pony will behave himself.:)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happier times:)

OK, enough with the sad stuff! Good things, good things:) It has been 95+ this week, but I have been a good horsey mommy and have ridden the boy this week. Tuesday, after my wonderful ride on Monday, I went for hills/hack in the boy's pasture. He was MUCH better this time:) Started on the right side, and walked up/down twice, trotted across the pasture, then went down/up the hill on the left side twice, then trotted back across the pasture and out. No bucky bucky, thank goodness!

Wednesday I took advantage of sleeping in:) Thursday, it was back in the dressage saddle, and once again he was a rock star. Wow. I love, love, love, love, love, etc. my boy! Our trot work was simply marvelous. It is such a strange feeling to have him so lovely and round. I LOVE it! The canter work was weirdly strong. Like, I had to literally HAUL back on the reins a few times to get him back to me. His stride was just open and HUGE. He wasn't fast, he was just strong and forward. I half halted super strongly, clamped my thighs on, and squeezed my stomach ... it finally worked and the canter became more manageable. Actually cantered a serpentine with simple lead changes, and it was very good. Our trot serpentine was the BEST it has ever been. No more disconnected hind end, yay!

The boy actually the worst case of rain rot on the front of his hind legs ever (spending a week with no grooming!). I scrubbed them really well with anti-bacterial soap, then treated with MTG. As of yesterday, they're clean as a whistle. Today, I didn't ride. Since he was standing in his stall and sweating up a storm, I pulled off his fly sheet, gave him a good bath, let him dry in front of the fan, then put him back in his stall. Had plans to ride tomorrow, but it looks like I will be shopping with a friend instead, so I may ride the muffin man on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm going to take a second and reflect on a couple of defining moments in my life. Both moments involve horses dying. The first, I saw a horse get it's rein hung on the stirrup iron, panic, fall down, hit her head, and bleed out on the washrack floor. The other more recent, the barn fire at Patchwork where I saw a horse engulfed in flames. Both instances have stayed with me. The fire at True Prospect where Boyd Martin lost 6 beautiful and talented horses is sickening and surreal. I can't imagine being Lillian, and being able to rescue a few horses, but NOT my own. I have actually cried real tears over and over; I can't help but read all the news articles and updates and blog posts, and each touching tribute causes me to well up again and again. I spent a few minutes in my boy's stall today, and was simply with him. I scratched his head, scratched his chest, and kissed his velvety nose. No matter what personal turmoil I feel right now, I can allow myself to be overwhelmed with gratitude as I touch my horse and know that tomorrow morning, I will put on the dressage saddle and canter him around the ring.

This link: has ways you can donate and help. I know I will. Go hug your pony.