Monday, April 30, 2012


Tomorrow is shot day for the Tiki-muffin.  I hate doing them; I'm paranoid about the head shaking connection, and I don't like how he's always sore and lethargic for a day or so after.  I'm not sure how much of a fan I am of 6 month vaccinations ... but until I own my own barn there's no sense in obsessing about it!

Thursday I "made" myself ride so I could help combat any soreness in Tiki from his lesson Wed.  I know I was sore!  Rode in the halter out in his pasture for about half an hour and he felt pretty good to me!

Today I put on the dressage tack!  I haven't ridden in the dressage tack since my Gigi lesson last month.  He felt ... GREAT!  The ring was rock hard, so I planned to only ride 20 mins or so.  I can NOT feel any lameness in his hind end.  Since we were at home, there was no tail swishiness or swapping behind.  I did about a dozen halts, and he was starting to feel pretty darn good.  He felt forward and strong in a good way at the trot, and I did lots of 20m circles all over the ring.  Cantered a TINY amount on the 20m circle on both leads, halted a few more times, then ran through Novice test B.  Yes, I've decided to suck it up, pay the $85 USEA membership, and go Novice.  The test felt pretty good; our canter transitions were MUCH better before putting the test together ... figures.  I sure HOPE I can improve on a 54.something score.  I'm shooting for a score in the 30's.  Don't think I'll run through it again; I will just work on pieces of it so he can't anticipate and jump the gun.

Plan to ride on Thursday and Friday; giving him tomorrow and Wed off due to his shots.  Hope one of those days I can jump a little bit.  Thinking I need to set some actual 2' bounces and maybe a line of some sort.  Guess we'll see what the rest of the week brings!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


All snazzed up; trimmed his whiskers, bridlepath, tail, and mane!  And look ... hoof oil!
Looking snazzy today in our OTTB designs pad and our fancy HS bit:)

Today was SO much fun!  It was the first time I've lessoned with Janet as a group lesson.  I decided to use the HS D-ring on his xc bridle; I've never tied his mouth shut using it before.  The only bummer of the day is Janet says he's pretty off behind.  She says I need to do his hocks again, and maybe even the SI.  She seems to think if I do both he will be a super happy camper.  Sigh.  PLEASE God, just let me win the Powerball tonight ... but I digress.

Gigi had me trotting SO forward ... I've been working on being that forward at home; starting out quick, but finally settling in to a more reasonable pace.  Janet didn't like so much forwardness; she had me slow down to the point that I felt like I was crawling.  I kept on the leg and asked him to reach forward, and I guess it was sufficient because Janet didn't have to harp on it too much.  The awesome thing about group work is we sort of warmed ourselves up ... I decided to show off our lateral work, FINALLY:)  Janet was happy with it, yay!  She did warn against losing too much forwardness, but she liked my shoulder-ins enough to have me demonstrate them, woo hoo!  It felt good to finally show off our strengths a little bit:)  My upward canter transitions were GREAT, I was super happy with that.  I was bummed the little booger was kind of fresh today.  I could NOT get him to keep his lead behind; every time we settled into a nice canter he would swap behind, even throwing in some full unauthorized lead changes:(  Pretty typical when there's more than just ... well, us, in the ring.  In retrospect, I should have shoved ear plugs in, then slapped on the ear net.  That's helped a ton in the IEA shows.  Overall, very happy with the flat work; Janet didn't have to say ANYTHING about the neck set, woo hoo!  THAT was a huge accomplishment in itself.  I also didn't throw him away or get too busy with my hands; the theme of the lesson today was to work as hard as possible to get him to SIT DOWN.  Which he never really did.

Our warm up was a left hand trot to a crossrail, LONG left lead approach to a purple box at the top of the ring on the diagonal, then a tight right hand turn back to a LONG right lead approach back to the crossrail, but trot it again.  That went GREAT!  I felt really together trotting the xr, he stayed nice and even to the box, then a perfect trot back to the xr.  He felt nice.  Did it twice more, and Janet actually said she really liked our pace and rhythm, woo hoo!!!!!  Do y'all KNOW how hard I've worked for that compliment??  Added on; did the xr bending line to a 'big' natural box on a diagonal at the bottom of the ring, continued left lead to the purple box, tight right turn back around to a 2 stride vertical to swedish oxer that was right next to the xr.  From there, continuing to the first jump in the outside line off the right lead, right rollback to an oxer, then left lead back through the 2 stride the opposite way.  It was super fun:)  We managed to make it through like a pair of hunters:)  Janet admonished me to sit UP, and he was doing his lack of 'sitting down' and getting a little strong and on his forehand.  She noticed he was just getting very heavy and flat and I need to do a better job of keeping him up and light.  I just need to RIDE in between the jumps ... and invest in injections, chiro, and a custom saddle.  No biggie, I'll just write a check for all that.

Love my muffin; he really tried his heart out, and when Janet jacked the jumps up a few holes to around 2'9, he still felt great.  I made a decision to EVERY jump (only had 2 distance bad enough to mention) I felt I had a good release at every jump, and I didn't snap up on top of the jump once.  I was super, super, super happy and proud of both of us.  Next time I'll remember to stuff those ears!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

IEA Nationals

The National Finals for my middle school eq team was this past weekend in Syracuse, NY.  It was such a great weekend:)  The Coliseum at the New York state fair was the venue and it was just so special.  My sweet girls had a BLAST.  On Saturday the o/f classes went.  One of my kids got a 5th!  Out of 19!  It was GREAT!

Spirits were high going into Sunday, but unfortunately small mistakes kept us out of the flat callbacks.  We were done by noon.  Good for me because I had NO trouble making my 6:30 flight!  Sad for the girls, but NO disappointments anywhere.  My MS team is a BRAND new team, never done IEA before, and to have actually made it to Nationals is a feat my farm team STILL hasn't managed to do in 4 years of existence.  So, congrats to my girls!  Glad we had safe flights, and glad we're done for a few months.  Now, it's time to focus and concentrate on MAYDAZE!  Janet lesson tomorrow:D

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just a little jump school

Well, I got my wish and it rained the night before last ... sadly, it was still raining yesterday morning so I couldn't ride.  Muffin has been in more than he's been out the last few days, but I decided to do my jump school today anyway because the ring was actually soft enough.  Dragged the jumps out of the center of the ring to some semblance of a course; a 3 cav bounce on one long side, 2 3' verticals set 3 strides apart on the other long side, the coop on one diagonal and a 2'9 vertical on the other diagonal.

The plan had been to do a light warm up then get to jumping.  That plan went to he!! in a handbasket.  He was SO fresh I could barely get him to focus and settle down to warm up.  He was jiggy, he was swishy, and he was tense and tight.  I tried to just stay out of his way and let him play and warm up, and finally he seemed to settle in and relax a little bit.  Marked through the Novice test B, which is our MayDaze dressage test.  He just KNOWS when we're running through a test ( even though it's literally been over a year since we've ridden one), and he jumped around like an idiot some.  Kept swapping his leads behind.  ARGH!  I HATE it when he does that.  I did some growling at him and he did hear me.

Trotted into the coop and he jumped it perfect.  Halted after and he yanked me down.  Grrr ... Came again and he was still good, still halted badly.  Sigh ... cantered a pole on the ground a few times and he was pretty soft.  Still halted badly.  Frustrated.  I was very frustrated with him today.  He just was wearing a stinky attitude:(

Came through the bounces and it felt horrible like it always does.  I HATE bounces.  I don't think he likes them any more than I do, and he just never feels soft and rhythmic.  He always feels so jerky and heavy through them.  Maybe if I jacked them up and set some actual verticals as bounces he'd get a little lighter with his body.    Cantered through the line about 15 times.  He felt like he was jumping 4' in the air.  The jumps looked big to me as I set them because it's been about a month since we jumped over 2'.  Luckily, from his back they looked just fine so as I cantered in I didn't hold my breath or worry.  I waited patiently and he jumped in a little deep and cantered out in a 4 the first 5 times or so.  I WANTED that.  When I decided to do the step, he tried to kill me.  I let him get away from me a little bit, so he stood off too far from the first jump, pulled the rail, took 3 HUGE strides, ate the distance to the 2nd jump, and bucked his little a$$ sky high afterwards.  Thank goodness I have this bad habit of not landing in my 2-point on the back side of the jump, so I sat up tall on landing and yanked him up so fast he only had time to throw his hind legs up twice.  Sigh.

Went back to the pole and trotted over it a few times.  He was in such a snit that he crow hopped over the pole, so I patiently and without patting him came to the walk, then picked up a slow sitting trot over it.  He trotted over very politely, so THEN I patted him.  FINALLY, I felt him give up some of his 'tude.  Trotted the coop again and he finally halted a little better.  Put together the usual; outside bounces, inside coop, outside 3, inside vertical.  He did it well; I half halted and kept him up in front of me and focused on the slow rhythm.  The 3 this time was much more manageable; he landed with a full head of steam, but no bucky bucky.  Finshed up by doing the line twice more with the 4; first time it was a little too deep, 2nd time was much better so we quit there.

Hotel is booked for MayDaze.  Still haven't done my entry yet.  I'm a little bit conflicted; I'm on a budget as usual, and even though I'll be saving money on entries, I'll be blowing it on gas to KY.  Plus, if I showed Chatt Hills, I'd just come home instead of staying in a hotel.  I'd say this horse trial will cost about the same if I HAD done Chatt Hills, so not too terribly horrible at the end of the day.  My issue is in order to show USEA recognized N, I HAVE to be a member.  To join the USEA, it's $85.  If I just do BN, I have to pay a $25 non member fee.  I seriously doubt I will do another horse trial this year.  MAYBE.  So is it worth it to pay $85 for one show?  What would YOU do?  I also wonder if maybe I'm just wimping out and getting nervous ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Working hard today:)

Love, love, love my boy.  He LOVES that HS bit.  I rode him today in it with the regular cavesson and he jumped down on the bit faster than you can say "contact"!  Friday I rode for a nice solid half hour in his pasture with the halter.  He was well behaved and happy to be outside:)  

Today I walked him on a loose rein several laps, then cantered in 2-point each way.  After he felt a little looser,  I settled in to the trot work.  I shook it up, circled, came down the quarter line, and reveled in how effortless it was to keep him happily on contact.  I then yanked the stirrup leathers off my saddle.  I took advantage and did lots of lateral work.  Shoulder-in, haunches-in at the walk and trot, shallow serpentine down the long side, leg yield off and back to the rail, TONS of sitting trot.  I of course worked the posting trot sans stirrups, but not TOO much because I could slowly feel them going numb:)  Practiced the canter transition from the trot on the quarter line straightaway, alternating between correct lead and counter lead.  During the 4th upward transition, he got a little fresh and tried to jump around a bit.  To combat that, I finished up on the 20m circle both ways and ended with a neat, clean halt.  He felt fantastic and amazing today:)  

I would LOVE to jump tomorrow, but I'm not sure the ring's soft enough.  It is SUPPOSED to rain tonight, so I will pray for rain.  If it doesn't rain, I may just school around 2'6 and under, but if it DOES rain, I will raise them all up to 3'.  Just have to remember the jumping bridle!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Like coming home ...

It felt WONDERFUL to hop on Muffin Monday.  It was just the icing on the cake of coming home from our fabulous vacation.  For not having been ridden in 2 1/2 weeks, he was fantastic!  I rode him in the ring in the regular cavesson bridle and snatched borrowed a bit from honorary little sis Nicole.  It's one I used WAY back when on Tiki back when he wasn't quite a "real" horse yet.  I wasn't crazy about it then, but it was a loose ring, AND it had rubber bit guards on it.  When I took the bridle off, he had raw spots where the guards rubbed him:(  THIS bit is the same HS mouthpiece, but in a D-ring.

I really did like it.  He felt a little strong, but then he ALWAYS feels strong in a regular cavesson.  Tying his mouth shut really does make a difference.  He felt VERY soft and flexed beautifully at the poll in it.  I was in the cc saddle, and cantered him a few times around both ways before I put him to work at the trot.  I worked on the things Gigi had us focusing on; I went almost overboard with the trot.  I put tons of leg on, posted fairly high, and really pushed him forward.  I practiced going from the slow trot to the forward one, and worked many, many transitions.  The canter was extremely forward and strong, so I put him on a 20 m circle both ways to keep him firmly in check.  After halting a few times, then half-halting strongly (remembering to let go) he finally became much more uphill and light.  I couldn't help myself, and cantered over the coop a few times on the circle.  Jumped it about 4 times tracking left, and he landed the left lead EVERY time.  The 5th time I jumped it on the angle and reversed, then jumped it 3 or 4 times tracking right on the circle.  Again, he landed his right lead every time:)  GOOD MUFFIN!

Yesterday he got a pedicure, and rode today in the front pasture with Star.  Used Nicole's HS bit again and the cc saddle, and he was super!  He really wanted to be distracted and go visit with his mare, but she cooperated and minded her own business so Muffin could concentrate and get his mind on HIS business.  I did TONS of transitions, and tried to trot big and forward uphill, but remain stable and consistent downhill.  Did several halts on the downhill side and worked on keeping him light in my hands.  Finished up with doing about 10 diagonal figure 8's with changes through the walk.  He is never as steady in the contact when riding in the pasture, and I don't blame him.  The ground isn't exactly soft, it's pretty uneven, and there's a LOT to look at.  The canter was HUGE; I couldn't really sit it!  Did a good half hour ride, and I was TIRED at the end, lol.  Love my pony!  Not sure yet what we'll do tomorrow ... I will ride him, though!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Safely home back on the East Coast

I'm convinced I want to move to the West Coast.  Not necessarily to California, but to either Utah or Arizona. I like Utah, my husband likes Arizona.  They're both BEAUTIFUL, but I do like grass when thinking about horsekeeping.  We flew into Phoenix and stayed in a lovely Doubletree hotel.  From there on to Costa Mesa, CA for Disneyland.  We stayed in THAT hotel (the Hansford) for 2 days.  After an incredible visit to Yosemite National Forest, we moved on from there to San Francisco and the Westin on the 35th floor in DOWNTOWN.  The cable cars are SO cool!  After a trip to Alcatraz, it was a very long drive up Hwy 1 to the Redwood Forest in Trinidad.  We had a cabin there, it was FANTASTIC!  We awoke to rain, which I guess is normal up in that part of the world.  We then drove on to Reno, NV and stayed in the Peppermill Casino.  That was a super nice place!  Our room had a GIANT tub with jets in it.  Reno is very similar to Vegas, just a lot smaller.  Moving on to Utah, we drove through the Salt Flats, around the Great Salt Lake, and up to Park City.  People were showing up to ski, lol!  The runs were more than half melted, so I have no idea what they were skiing.  There we stayed in an awesome ski lodge.  Upon waking, we moved on the Page, Arizona where Glen Canyon lies.  We didn't get to explore there as much as I'd wanted to because I didn't realize that much of that Canyon is on Reservation land and inaccessible without a "guide".  You can see a ton of it via Lake Powell, but we weren't exactly prepared to rent a boat this trip:)  We then headed on to the Grand Canyon where it was near impossible to really absorb the grandeur that was that place.  It literally took your breath away.  I'd been told that Bryce Canyon was "much better" than the Grand Canyon, but I disagree. They're both beautiful and amazing, but the Grand Canyon is awe inspiring.

All in all, the trip was almost impossible to fully absorb.  We drove an average of 6 hours or so a day, and covered 3200 miles total (just driving).  The point was to eliminate certain areas we weren't very interested in, but what actually happened was we LOVED each and every place we visited and want to go back to each one and spend more time.  It was positively depressing to come home to GA.  Not sure what our future holds, but don't be surprised if there's a major move some time in the future:)
Just a random waterfall driving down the Utah interstate!

Can't wait to see the Tiki man tomorrow!  I've missed his adorable red butt:)  I will leave y'all with a hand full of pics from the million we took, and only from the last 3 days:)
Kody enjoyed his bath in the giant spa-tub!
Salt Flats

a horse farm in Utah!

Utah is GORGEOUS.  LOOK at this!

Next to the Glen Canyon Dam

Horseshoe bend.  NO guardrails!!

Grand Canyon

This horse would make an AWESOME tattoo;)

Grand Canyon one more time