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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Guest Post!

I have had this blog for 3 years now, and y'all have had to deal with all my ramblings/rants/musings exclusively:)  Recently, I was contacted by a company called to work with them on posting a guest blog and doing a product review.  The guest post is going to be on a subject I am interested in learning more about, and I figured my fabulous readers would be interested as well ... long lining!  I have never long lined before, and I HAVE given it some thought on trying to "go it alone" like I do everything else, but as of yet I'm a bit intimidated to try it.  So, without further ado the guest blog post courtesy of Equestrian Clearance!

Long Lining
Long lining, or long reining, is commonly used in the early stages of training a horse. It offers more flexibility than lunging, as you have greater control and are not so limited in the movements you make.
As with lunging and other ground training methods, long lining enables you to teach your horse to respond correctly to your voice aids and body language. It also allows you to introduce new movements without the horse having to cope with the additional strain of carrying a rider.
Safety is important when long lining. Therefore it is essential for the handler to wear a riding hat, riding gloves and sturdy boots. Other ways to stay safe include always long reining in an enclosed area, seeking professional help and slowly introducing any new movements.
As always, practice makes perfect. When you are first starting to long line, it is of paramount importance that you have a helper, preferably experiencing in long reining, on hand and, if possible, a horse that is accustomed to long lining.
To start with, attach the ‘reins’ (usually lunge lines) on either side of the horse’s head. This can be done to the bit rings of a bridle or to a lunge cavesson. Then pass the reins through the stirrups (which will need to be tied down, to stop them flapping and potentially scaring the horse) if you’re using a saddle, or through the rings on a lunging roller. Introduce these reins slowly as it will take time for the horse to grow used to the feeling of having these reins on his side.
Your positioning is key; you need to stand approximately eight feet behind the horse, and slightly to one side. This puts you out of the reach of any danger from the horse’s rear hooves whilst being close enough to be in control of the horse.
Holding the reins can be tricky, and will require your best ‘multi-tasking’ skills! As with lunging, the lines need to be looped, and sit on the top of your hand. This prevents them from tightening around your hand and enables you to quickly and easily lengthen and shorten the reins.
With a gentle contact, hold the lines at an even length. Using your voice aids or gently tap the lines against the horse’s side ask him to move forwards, whilst reducing the rein contact to enable him to do so. Initially ask your helper to walk with the horse, at his head to guide him. Praise the horse as soon as he walks forward; this will teach him the correct response to these aids. It is best to do this along the side of an arena to start with, as this gives the horse a straight line to follow.
Once you are comfortable with this movement, you can move onto making changes in direction. To do this, as with riding you will need to use the rein in the direction in which you want to turn, whilst loosening the opposite rein to allow the horse to bend. You will also need to stand on the side of the horse in which direction you want to turn.
As well as being able to work your horse in a straight line, long reining can also be done on a circle, similar to lunging. When you are working in a circle, the outside rein will pass around your horse’s hindquarters, encouraging greater activity in this area. However, it can take time for the horse to become accustomed to this, and it is important to ensure that this line does not drop below hock level, as this can result in the horse becoming tangled in the line.
As you and your horse become more familiar with long reining, a whole world of new opportunities will open up to you! All the and horse equipment you need for long lining is available at great prices from

Stay tuned for a synopsis of my awesome lesson from yesterday!:)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nice and lovely ride today:)

Oh, the Muffin man was a rockstar today:)  Weather was JUST gorgeous, and I decided to ride in the dressage saddle because Susan MAY be borrowing it for a little bit while hers is in the "shop" for repairs.  He started out good; nice and free-feeling.  I opted to do my warm up on contact, so after walking both ways on a loose rein, picked up the contact at the walk.  Did a bunch of circles, and worked on maintaining the working walk.  After picking up the trot, I did the "thread the needle" exercise.  That consists of an 8m circle in the center of the short side, go straight along the long side, half turn in reverse, back to the 8m circle tracking the opposite direction, go straight along long side, half turn in reverse, etc. etc.  I just KEPT on going back and forth until Tiki softened up and maintained his steadiness at the trot.

I worked on an 8m circle to shoulder-in, and attempted a half pass.  I think I really butchered it, lol!  He was certainly willing, though:)  From that point on, I put him on a 20m circle and kept him there.  Dropped my stirrups and worked the transitions.  Worked HARD on maintaining the contact and keeping his neck nice and steady.  Kept both legs on evenly so his body stayed on "rails" in the circle.  Made sure the t/c transitions were perfect, then worked the w/c, and it was LOVELY.  Made sure to also work w/t so he didn't anticipate and get jiggy.  In the end, he was just super.  I felt great once we were done.

Hoping to get in a lesson this Wednesday from my wonderful boss.  I told her I want an equitation butt kicking, so as long as I can get hubby to relinquish the truck for a day I have something to look forward to!

Today's tip of the week is from ... ME:)  Y'all send me an e-mail at with YOUR tips/money saving tricks so that I don't reveal ALL my secrets:)  This one is a scratches remedy.  You know those nasty, hard scabs?  Slather them with cheap conditioner.  Leave on for about 15-20 minutes; you can even ride with it slathered on there.  Afterwards, pick off the scabs which are now super soft and come off easily.  Wash THOROUGHLY with anti-bacterial soap (I like the Eqyss MicroTek), then dry thoroughly.  Coat with medicated cream for scratches (dew poisioning), or with diaper rash cream.  The ugly, painful scabs should be gone within about a week.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Giving back:)

Not necessarily trying to play the "blame game" here, but I don't get the opportunity to do things that don't "benefit" me very often.  For those of you that read my blog post a few months ago about my Poplar Place volunteer disaster, 'nuff said.

So today, I got to jump judge at the AEC's!  I swear, time FLIES when you're sitting by your fence, clipboard in hand and listening intently to the radio chatter.  Not gonna lie, I was a little bit disappointed to be relegated to the "back 40" this year.  Last year I got the water complex one day and the bank the next day, so to be in the back field sitting next to a simple rolltop, no brush/flowers/nothing ... it was a little bit disappointing.  On the bright side, out of Advanced/Intermediate/Prelim riders, not ONE penalty.  The quality of horse flesh is AMAZING out there!  Stoked about schooling at Chatt Hills next week; wish I could compete, but I have bigger fish to fry right now:)  I'll be happy with whatever I can get!  Got to see Allison and Arthur, Allison and Burger, Buck and Reggie, Becky and her gorgeous Comet look-alike, Doug Payne and Running Order ... it was COOL!  Sat in a saddle that I fell in LOVE with, and brought home T-shirts, a visor, water bottle, umbrella, and a schooling voucher!  Maybe some day I can compete in the AEC's.  That Training course looked like the BOMB!

Yesterday, I had a fantastic ride.  I put Tiki in the Waterford for the first time in forever.  He felt good; it isn't the "magic" bit it used to be, but I guess that's just Tiki learning to go in different equipment.  Our flatwork felt really nice; forward and bouncy and steady.  Turn on the forehand was PERFECT, leg yield was fantastic, and shoulder-in rocked my world.  Had the one stride turned into 2 tall crossrails with a placing pole right in between the 2 jumps.  Also set up a cavaletti in front of a normal vertical, making a funky looking oxer.  He never  even turned a hair at it:)  Worked on the usual; pace, rhythm ... one thing I am very good at is my track.  It's nice to have ONE thing I know I'm going to do a good job at without trying to micro manage my entire ride.  Worked on my eye and tried to make good decisions regarding waiting and moving up.  Only screwed up one or two distances; everything else he took right out of stride.

Hoping to make it over the Training trakehner at Chatt Hills next week.  The new sunken road obstacle would be cool to try, too.  In the end, I will be happy with anything we jump well regardless of size.  Will report back Monday after our ride.  Y'all have a great weekend and ENJOY this fabulous, cool weather!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rain ... and tornados, oh my!

Goodness gracious, GA has not had rain in SO long, and now that we finally are getting it, getting tornados and bad weather too!  It's always eerie and a little bit scary when the weather sirens start going off.  Just got confirmation the barn I teach at is fine.  According to the weather map, a tornado passed by a little too close for comfort.  Glad I decided not to teach this afternoon!

Went out to clean stalls this morning, and picked Tiki's feet then applied some hoof dressing.  Going to try applying some hoof dressing 3 days a week and see if it helps his ultra dry-shoe losing- feet.  Didn't ride because the rain only paused for about 10 minutes, and last I checked, we don't have a covered ring:)  I'm SO excited!  For the FIRST time in 3 years, Tiki is wearing a size 1 shoe.  He started out in 00, moved to a permanent 0 in the front (sometimes a 00 in the back, depending on what's going on with the hind feet).  He's not surprisingly still a 0 behind, but he is in a 1 for the first time EVER up front.  

Will DEFINITELY  ride Wednesday, and will try to ride tomorrow depending on how soon the rain moves out.  Volunteering at the AEC's on Friday, woo hoo!  VERY excited about that:)  I'm sure the AEC's will be at the KHP before I'm able to actually compete in them, darn;)  Revising my plan a little bit ... will most likely try and hit a HT in Aiken next.  Haven't seen any 2012 schedules yet, but will try and aim for Feb/March.  Starting next month, my IEA shows will kick up with a vengence, which will net me some extra $$, but no time to show! I have time to show at the end of this month, just no $$ for the entry fees:(.  I wish horse trials were like hunter shows, where you just fax in your entries, then when you show up, you pay.  Much easier for people like me that tend to NEVER have any $$ when I need it.  But, it is what it is, and until I win the lottery, it will always be that way.

This week's Tip of the Week is brought to you by another reader, Holly!  Here is her tip:
My mom's Tennessee Walking Horse has a very thick, wavy, coarse tail. Although it's full and long (most of the time), he tends to swish it in a circular motion that creates the worst "rat's nest" in the center of it that is impossible to comb out. I have been known, in recent history, to cut out the entire center of his tail hair -- just below the bone -- and simply leave the outer wispies to swat flies with. Now that it's growing long and full again, I have been spraying it routinely with WD-40. Now don't panic......WD-40 is water-based silicone and scientific studies have even said that it is even safe to drink (not as a habit, but if you were dying of thirst). It has a horrible, scary odor, but it is actually not as industrial or toxic as it seems. So, it's perfectly safe to spray in a horse's tail hair. He doesn't chew his own tail, and none of my other horses chew his tail, so I go with that about once every 3-4 weeks and his "rat's nest" has stayed to a minimum. No cutting, no cursing, no combing, no brushing, etc. After I've slicked it up pretty good, his swishing and twirling of the tail sort of self-grooms and he's done great this summer. It sure beats the hackney pony bob he had last year!

Here is a link to Holly's blog:
Thank you SO much for contributing, I will certainly keep it in mind when I run out of Vetrolin Shine;)  If YOU have a tip/trick you would like me to publish, please let me know!  I am now out of reader tips, so will be back to my own brain next week unless YOU e-mail me at:

Thanks for reading, everyone!  Hope you had a great Labor Day, and I hope to report back later this week with a positive ride report:)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Little bit of a deviation ...

Seeing as how I haven't had the opportunity to ride since Wednesday a week ago, I'm going to deviate from my usual type of blog post and vent about something common I'm "seeing".  I put "seeing" in quotation marks because most of my "seeing" is via blogs and online forums.

I don't understand the obsession with eventers about ALWAYS trying to move up, move up, move up.  
"YAY!  We were able that time to jump our stadium course with only THREE split legged jumps, and only TWO refusals on cross country!  Time to move up to TRAINING!!"

What is up with that?  Why can we not be satisfied to remain at a level for a certain period of time without pressuring ourselves and our horses to move up?  Coming from Hunter Land, I have to say that once you make it to the A and AA rated shows, the numbers of horses and riders making BIG glaring mistakes at the modified Juniors and low A/O's is much lower than those at the schooling shows.  In the 3'3 world in Hunter Land, most of the horses clock around pretty nicely, swap their leads pretty consistently, and maintain a pretty decent rhythm throughout.  

I have recently read a few blogs and looked at some pics and videos of eventers ready to MOVE UP! to Training and even PRELIM on horses that do NOT have confirmed lead changes, no cadence to their canter, and a run on cross country where they made it to the end without falling off.  Seems to me that maybe you ought to spend a little more time at BN or N and get things SOLID.  

I can tell ya Tiki and I will NOT be moving up to N on the recognized level until we have confirmed lead changes, and I can jump around a 3' show jumping course clean and organized.  That's my background.  We will NOT move up until we can jump around the cross country course with tons of "go", and no stops.  That's why it makes me CRAZY when I watch a video of my round, and my leg swings, or Tiki stalls before he jumps, or we miss a lead.  I just feel like it's asking for a big problem if you move up to the next level before you're solid and safe at your CURRENT level.  I'm reading so many blogs of riders doing 2 shows at BN, one at N, and now they're READY to move on up to Training ... without a HINT of a lead change.  And with lots of hesitation during the stadium jumping round ... and putting 2 strides in the one.  Just seems a little unsafe, I dunno:)

I love eventing so much, if I NEVER move up to N, I will be ok.  BN is SO much fun, and different courses have different questions, not like a hunter show where your course will always be inside/outside/inside/outside.  I think our sport would improve DRAMATICALLY if the "little people" would just SLOW down.  Why all the time tables?  All the blogs I read are written by adults; it's not like a JR rider striving to make it at Pony Finals, or the Junior Hunter Finals, or the Maclay Medal Finals.  It looks like my September Poplar trial isn't going to happen.  That means my opportunity for a recognized trial in 2011 has pretty much gone out the window.  Oh well.  Try to live in the moment, and enjoy your horse for what he/she is.