Friday, May 19, 2017

Busy Bee

Holy crap does time fly. As much as I want to say I've been partying I've instead been super busy. May leads itself to some major life changes. 

1) Decide to take summer classes to expedite my degree

2) Quit my office job of the last 3 ish years

3) Unexpectedly get offered a job working at Idaho Horse Rescue as a farm hand and take it

4) Have some alone time as Luke is spending 3 weeks in Canada for National Guard duty

5) Juggle house sitting, working, and taking care of my own farm. So many miles on my car. 

So those are the main bullet points of the last two weeks that Ive unwillingly abandoned my blog. But I'm learning to find time and use up ever part of my day. For example I am writing this in my car at the barn as I am an hour early to ride (work went quicker than planned). 

I'm not super stoked about summer classes. Im taking my second Business Statstic class here at the end of the month and it is 5 weeks of 5 days a week 9 am to 11:30 am. Far from the worst thing in the world but when coupled with working at the rescue when I get out of class, my unlimited riding time seems to be cut shorter than I wanted. 

I'll have some more detailed updates and thoughts coming soon! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Party Time!

Semester is over! 9 credits closer to getting my degree! Wohoo!

But I am trying to hustle and summer classes start at the end of the month. Oh well, time to cherish these few weeks of not being guilty that I didn't do my homework! I mean..uhh...SUMMER

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Danielle Thomason Clinic Day 1

So I was super nervous for my first clinic ever, but it was SO MUCH FUN! And I hurt so bad omg. Here is my short recap from Saturday.

I was scheduled to ride at 10, and because my shit was most definitely not together, I arrived at 8:45 to clean tack and make Evita super presentable. Right after her I was supposed to ride Riesling, but I retired him last week. I didn't want to be out clinic money so I instead decided to ride my mom's horse, Vermont. If you saw my clinic prep post you'll know how confident I felt about this. I was able to have my mom come around 9 am to get him ready so I could just do a quick swap after riding Evita. 

I got her looking nearly show ready and hopped on. Danielle vaguely saw me ride Riesling at the show in Jerome, ID two years ago. However, she is very familiar with Evita and I believe showed her and rode her prior to the last owner. She commented that she was disappointed how she lost so much muscling before we got her. Immediately she had me ask for a more forward march and more engagement in the walk while lowering her poll and lifting her shoulders. 

We moved on to trot work where Danielle had me really work hard on emphasizing E to lift her shoulders and belly and get her working over her back and through her hind end. 
We moved on to a little bit of lateral work, which E excels at. Danielle was aware of the last owner having issues with changes and knew that when I started cantering her when I first started leasing her she was very on the forehand and plowed into the ground. 

We worked on some exercises to get her to fill up my outside rein and have her body supple before asking for the canter. While I didn't feel as prepared for the transition as I do when I lesson with CJ, I followed her instructions to canter and it was surprisingly not the train wreck I expected with the not perfect transition. 

E gets super stiff in her body at the canter and doesn't push from behind. We worked on getting her to stay connected, have bend in her ribcage, and take a bigger stride. Interestingly, when I first started riding her she would nearly run away with me at the canter. The past few weeks however she has been prone to breaking. I was told this is because it is hard for her to use her body and carry herself. 
We ended the lesson when E wouldn't break and maintained bend and lightness in her mouth. It took a lot of work from me to keep her together and she was quite tired but still wanted to try really hard for me. We were both exhausted but felt pretty accomplished. I jumped off E and handed her to my trainer to hand walk her in the upper arena and immediately jumped on Vermont.

Mind you, this was Vermont's second ride this year. He is incredibly crooked and tense since his last ride was before I broke my foot last year. Luckily, Danielle also had him in her barn for two ish months when his old owners tried to sell him and before I scooped him up for the stellar deal. 

We agreed that he is extremely out of shape and is trying to hard because he has no confidence in himself. We only walked and trotted and focused on forward and straight. When he was straight and seeking the connection he got rewarded heavily. He seemed to remember what this whole riding thing was all about and started to settle down. For whatever reason (needs chiropractor tbh), when we go for a downward transition he throws his haunches to the left. 

We spent nearly the entire lesson working on transitions. When the trot was straight and forward we would slow it down until he started to throw his haunches left (almost to a walk). It was a slow and probably extremely boring lesson to watch but near the end we did almost get a straight transition. 
To break up the transitions, in the middle of the lesson we introduced some poles. There was just two widely set at an unrelated distance. The goal was to keep him engaged and happy and straight over the poles. He perked up a lot at the poles and nearly tried jumping them the first time through. Quickly we got forward, straight, connected, and a steady tempo. We rewarded him heavily. 

We moved back to transitions to end the lesson and he was starting to gain more confidence and remain straight. Compared to how stiff and tight he felt when I first got on, his back was swinging and he was happily relaxed at the end. I was super proud of him. 

CJ's property is situated in the foothills and there is a nice incline on the sides of the areans. Danielle wanted me to get both horses fitness up by walking the hill a few times a day. After my lesson on Vermont, Danielle had me take him up the hill. 

Remember, unconfident, underfit TB who can be silly? Yeah here he came to the party. Walking up was NBD but walking down the hill he couldn't go straight and wanted to side step because he is weak. This defeated the whole purpose so I pushed him to stay straight and he realized it was too hard and his brain started leaving. He was threatening to rear and just overall couldn't horse. Thank god CJ came to my rescue and ponied us up and back down the hill. I'll be leading him up and down the hill until he decides it is NBD then I'll try under saddle again. Don't want to die. 

By this point it had been nearly 3 hours since I first got on Evita. I was exhausted and tired. Luckily my mom was there and helped me liniment the horses and put them away. Holy crap had I just got my butt kicked, but honestly it was really fun and rewarding! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Clinic Prep

AKA, how not to prepare for your first clinic ever.

C'mon Vermont give me some of this! 

Step 1) Sign up horse that hasn't been ridden since last summer and had lameness issues.
Step 2) Ride him a few times and decide he is to be retired.
Pls canter like normal horse
Step 3) Beg to borrow another horse so you aren't out clinic money
Step 4) Acquire TB that was a brat to ride last year and hasn't been saddled since last fall.

What is this foreign language

Step 5) Accidentally perform the rain dance for Mother Nature securing the fact that you can't even ride the dumb horse before the clinic
Step 6) Attempt to calm yourself two days before the clinic by telling yourself he will surprise you and be a saint
Pls be good

Step 7) Pray to clinic gods that it will get rained out and you won't have to tempt fate on sassy TB

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Throwing in the Towel

I've spent the last two weeks trying to bring Riesling back into work. And while he stays sound on the lunge for a short period of time, after 15 minutes under saddle he goes lame. The damage has been done to his fetlock and as much as I want to fight to keep him sound and showing, it isn't fair to him. 

I've poured an enormous amount of money in him last year between injections, supplements, body work, x-rays, nerve blocking, new tack and the rest. He had all winter off. However he damaged his fetlock last spring, it's effects are here to stay. The silver lining is that he is pasture sound and will be able to live out his retirement happy and spoiled rotten in my backyard. 

I came to this decision yesterday and consoled myself between endless red wine and crying. I love this horse. I've had him for 8 years this year. I know I can hop on him and he will melt all my stress away. I know him so well. Despite his shark fin, I loved spending hours riding him bareback. 

Its not that I still can't hop on him in pasture and toodle around, but I'm going to miss the challenge of figuring this whole dressage thing out with him. I selfishly wanted one more year out of him, but after consulting with my team, I don't need to invest myself financially and emotionally into a horse that has done his job for me for the past 8 years. It is time to let him just be a horse.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

WTF Friday

What. Is. This. 

Where am I?

Thats Riesling down there. I feel like that scene in Wizard of Oz.."Ries...we aren't in Idaho anymore.."

EXCEPT WE ARE. I'm so so confused. WHAT IS LIFE. I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

March Lookback

You know..only halfway through April. Actually I've managed to misplace my planner and it is driving me nuts.

So here is what my march looked like. I rode 7 times and worked out 7 times. Not awful but not what I want. On my week look I like to write about how lessons went and how workouts went. But again...misplaced planner soo I will feverishly look at it and hopefully April's post will be more thorough.

Looking back at my yearly goals, I'm definitely making progress towards them. I haven't even ridden Ries since last year still but that situation just changed. More fun things on the horizon for April! Gotta keep hustling!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Which way is left?

I had a super intense lesson last night. I have this problem when I'm focusing so hard on riding I lose my sense of direction. I'm pretty sure my trainer wants to throw tomatoes at me when this happens, but I sometimes forget which way is which. 

"Ok now left bed. Left bend. LEFT. LEFT LEFT LEFT" And it is at this point that I realize that I'm clearly doing something wrong and I'm using my right leg and still trying to bend right more.Whoops. Here is my quick lesson recap;

We warmed up with a nice stretchy trot and CJ had to remind me to A) not let her fall in with her shoulder, B) I control the tempo, and C) Evita is not a canoe and I need to bend. 

I managed to get myself under control pretty well and she didn't have to spend a lot of time getting me to actually ride. From here we criss-crossed my stirrups over the pommel and began some real trot work. The past few lessons we have worked on serpentines to keep her body supple. The main issues we have are I brace too much with my leg and bounce at the sitting trot instead of absorbing the movement through my core and letting my legs relax. Also, around the turns we tend to get to canoe form again and Evita will dive in with her shoulders. I had to work on maintaining bend and wrapping her barrel around my inside leg and holding her shoulder up through the turn. We actually managed to perform this really well after a few tries! Occasionally I'd go across the diagonal and shoot for a medium trot. 

Up until this point Evita remained pretty soft on the bit. CJ reminded me that as soon as we loose bend and malleability in her body, she takes the bit and runs on the forehand with it. And then we steer into the fence to stop. And it isn't fun. 

We moved on to the most difficult canter work I've ever done. The canter work really stresses E out and when she is susceptible to becoming a freight train. We focused on walk canter transitions and spaghetti circles. I've done plenty of spaghetti circles at the walk but the canter was tricky. Basically the idea is just doing random changes of bend. However this was through a change of gait. We would canter on a left bend circle then transition back to a walk for a stride or two, change bend and immediate canter transition. I totally got reamed the first time because I didn't listen to CJ when she asked me to canter. Instead I didn't feel like I was ready so I waited a few strides. And what do you know, it completely fell apart. From then on I listened to her right away and every transition was on the aids and beautiful. 

We actually were able to do twenty meter circles and laps around the arena on a super soft and light rein. It felt amazing! I can't lie that Evita was extremely intimidating to want to move forward at first because I was worried about the freight train and my arms getting ripped out of my sockets. But yesterday's ride was super nice and confidence building. I love this mare! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Czoltar's Spa Day

I'm pretty sure he thought he was being harassed. Such is life for baby horses. Z has been nothing short of an ugly yak this spring and after I played with Riesling, I decided it was time to spruce him up. 

He is still learning the basics of everything but I decided he just has to be treated like he knows his job to some extent. He is still reluctant to be haltered but doesn't fight and attempts to run away. But he makes it about five steps before he turns his head to look at me and I pat my thigh and tell him to come and he happily obliges. This must just be his weird baby horse game. 

We have only worked on tying twice but experience is the name of the game. I looped the leadrope around the panel twice to provide enough "you are supposed to stay here"-ness but allows him to not break his neck or freak out if he spooked and tried to pull away. There was a few times he wanted to pull back and leave but he felt the pressure on his poll and was like "oh I have to stop going backwards" and then stood still as I brought him forward again with no issues.

I decided to slowly introduce everything to him because its been about a year since I last brushed him (and he was loose in his stall at the time). He was apprehensive at first but just stood there and accepted his fate after ten seconds. I also wanted to trim his dread locked mane and while he thought scissors were super scary at first he just kind of got over it. I even brushed his poor butchered mane and again, he was not a fan at first, but then I think he started to like this whole pampering thing. 
He's only had his feet picked up for practice and for the farrier and I decided today we would step up the game and I'd pick out all four feet. 3 feet he was super on but his right hind he was being an ass about. I had to encourage him that polite ponies are good ponies and after a few minutes he got with the program. 

I decided he had enough torture for the day so I put him away with lots of pats and good boys. Hopefully none of the other horses make fun of him for his atrocious hair cut. Sorry Z.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Treat 'yo self...Thursday?

I only waited like a month before sharing my finds from the consignment store in San Diego. I got the leather halter above for $30 and it had a brand new crown piece from Mary's Tack with a tag still attached! I ordered new plates from and everyone needs to use them. I was an idiot and didn't measure correctly so the tags I got were too small but I told them my dilemma and they sent me a larger set for free! Definitely using them in the future. 

This bonnet was $8 and obviously meant to be. I figured it can be Merlot's new hat. I dig it. 

I've been wanting DSB's for awhile now but haven't bit the bullet. I found this pair for only $22 and figured why not. SPEND ALL THE MONEY, HOARD ALL THE THINGS. 
Anyway, that was my recent treat yo self. I'm itching to shop again. 

Feat. giant wine bottle from Costco

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Meet Evita!

This is Viva Evita! She is one of my new partners in the dressage arena. Here is her story:

CJ (my trainer) was her original breeder 15 years ago. Her mom, Argentina, is happily retired at my house. She is registered RPSI but half Oldenburg and half Shire (Cowerslane Nomination). My friend/CJ's old student, J, rode her and later purchased her 7-8 years ago. She trained and showed her in dressage up to 3rd level last year. However, E was struggling with changes. J wanted to move up in her dressage career but didn't want to sell E because of the bond she had with her. 

Re-enter CJ into the scene. CJ bought her back to keep her in the family but allow J more capital to buy her next horse. CJ wanted something for me to learn on but she also is planning on breeding her. Win-win for everyone. 

I've officially leased her for a month now and have taken a hefty amount of lessons on her (basically I'm leasing/doing full training in one affordable bundle). My first ride I was extremely intimidated. I deeply admire J and her riding and felt that I wasn't a capable rider to ride this quality of horse. Luckily my trainer knows better and she has given me great confidence over the past month. 
We can reliably do a lot of fun movements but have yet to run through any tests. I guess that is next on the agenda! 

Obviously I still want to ride and show Riesling but we will see if he stays sound! Don't worry, he still gets most of the attention and is kingdom of the land at my house haha

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Idaho Horse Rescue

A few weeks ago my trainer was contacted in regards to a local horse rescue needing more volunteers and a trainer/farm manager. My trainer passed the info on to me and because I can't say no to help out horses, I found myself spending all last weekend over at the rescue. 

The owner had been rescuing horses for 27 years but always only had a handful at a time. He was just recently contacted to assist in rescuing 27 horses from a neglect situation. When he got the horses they all had a body condition score of 2. At this time they all look to be at a nearly healthy weight. 

But they all have some serious other issues. The undernourishment really messed with their coats and they all suffer from lice or sweet itch. The poor horses are also almost all slightly lame from a lack of farrier care (as is obvious in these pictures). 

The goal this weekend was to catch each horse and vaccinate and worm them. If they were friendly and compliant they were also to get their feet trimmed. The goal is to get everyone's feet normal asap but a lack of handlers certainly slows that down. I assure you the extreme cases are definitely taking priority, but only so many horses can get trimmed a day. 

These poor horses are definitely weary of people but truly so sweet and forgiving. It is so sad to see how people can be so cruel but also relief to know that there are people out there looking out for these horses. I totally wanted to take them all home and just spend my days hanging out in the pasture with them, indulging their desires for scratches and pets whenever they wanted. 

While I hope they all find loving homes as quickly as possible, I'll enjoy spending my extra free time hanging out and loving on them.