Thursday, September 30, 2021

Majestic Oaks Schooling

Yoshi and I went out schooling yesterday to prep for the show this weekend. This is going to be a word heavy post gushing about how awesome he is, just to prepare you in case you want to stop now ;) 

He started out coming off the trailer a bit silly, trying to spin around to look at the Harley motorcycle (why??) that was going across the cross country course before his feet had finished coming off the ramp. About a month ago we had a session of feet in/out 1 at a time with pausing for treats and praise in between because of his tendency to want to barrel backwards when he gets off. It is by far not the worst I've seen, but it may be time for another session because all I can imagine as he tries to dance on the ramp is him stepping off the side and cutting himself on the edge. 

True to course though, he then settled down beautifully. He just stared, high headed out to the cross country course for a while, watching and observing, before relaxing and starting to eat his hay again.

We started our school at the water. He balked for a second then went in and paused in the middle to sniff at the water. We hung out while JT finished up her previous lesson with two riders also on young horses. It was a lot of fun to watch them loop over some jumps. One of them was only on his 3rd or 4th jump school so was out to get some experience over solid obstacles to help him figure out how to put his front and back half together. I love that she can tell exactly what each horse will benefit from, and this young horse was certainly understanding his body better. 

We warmed up near the water after they finished. Most of the place is on a hill and this area was no exception, so it was great practice maintaining his balance on the slope and still asking for transitions regardless of whether we were headed up or down. We started with a few entry fences pointed in and out of the water and he did not hesitate at all about getting his feet wet a second time. He did try once as we headed back in the direction of the trailers between fences take the bit and grab and run. I bumped him off my hand hard with one rein and circled him for a second. He responded really well and didn't try that again the whole time we were out, even when I asked him for more forward while in two point between fences. It was almost like he just thought maybe that's what he was supposed to do and after I told him that was the wrong answer he went "well, okay then, I guess that's not what leg means anymore." He is SUCH a good boy. 

Then we moved on from the water up the hill to the ditch. We trotted it no problem and he stayed nice and soft as I stayed nice and soft with my hands. Then we added a BN house on a bit of a bending line from the ditch, it was painted white and blue stripes and apparently can be a little spooky, but he didn't think it was any big deal. Next we added a BN roll top after the ditch headed in the other direction. 

Our next mini course looped down hill to start over the first fence on course. They were already out decorating so it had some fun fall things on it, but Yoshi did not care at all. We hopped over the BN coop and then circled back around to the last jump on course, the BN bench. After that she had us take the entry rail - these jumps are notoriously spooky for some reason, each level has large bushes on either side that mark the different levels, but it is all rails with shrubs under them just higher at each part. It didn't seem like he was spooky to it, but we got a chip and a sticky feel over it. 

Red mare over BN part of that fence

I LOVE training with JT because even though we were quite far away I could hear in my head that I needed to gallop him forward, so I did that before sitting up and creating the bouncy canter we needed to take the BN... table? I'm not sure what you call this jump - here's the red mare doing it last December 

I love Yoshi, but my gosh do I miss her. They are SO different. She was 15.2h and just bouncy and light naturally with one heck of an amazing jump.

He jumped that REALLY well and we continued up the hill to jump the N coop, which he also jumped really well. Our next course started over the N coop then looped over a BN fence and came downhill to the BN trakehner. About 3 strides out from the trakehner I felt him hesitate a bit as he assessed the fence. I closed my leg and he stepped forward nicely to flow over it. The video is courtesy of JT driving the golf cart, coaching, AND videoing. She's amazing! 

We then did a course starting with the trakehner, to the BN #2 (I forget what it was) and then to the N #3 (also unsure what it was). The first time he rolled over his shoulder some and got a bit deep because I was tired and not getting him up and bouncy before the fences. I got myself together the second time and he jumped much better. We added the BN up bank to the end of it which we kind of stumbled up because I jumped ahead of him. She had us do that a couple more times until I got the bouncy trot in and he jumped up nicely. We then came down the BN bank and I made the mistake of saying how much I hate down banks. So JT made us circle over the N down bank twice then the T/P down bank. Yoshi is a PRO and actually does down banks really nicely with no large leap or drama, so they felt pretty smooth and good. 

Pretty proud of this picture 

The whole experience was AMAZING. I felt like I knew how to answer questions if he wasn't quite perfect to things. He was going along asking what was next, which jump, how fast, etc. And he felt confident and happy. The difference between this and February is absolutely amazing. He feels balanced and safe. He is an incredibly willing, kind, generous horse who just wants to know how to do his job and now that we've been able to teach him how to go in a much softer, safer way, he is just SO fun to ride. JT has made SUCH a HUGE difference in both of us, I am so, so glad that I contact her in June.

Other than riding Intro C (I HATE that test, please just let me ride either BN test... Intro C is not an easier test), I'm looking forward to this weekend!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Turnout Leg Wear - Reviews

Yoshi has SO MUCH leg wear. I had always been a minimalist when it came to boots. Zing and Leila both had only one set each that got used only for cross country. I have a set of standing wraps and those have occasionally been pulled out, but that was about it. Yoshi is now in possession (as much as a horse can possess...) of no less than... 3 sets of boots, one set of polos, one set of fly wraps, and one set of Sox for horses. 

The goal with Yoshi is to protect him from himself... he knocks himself with his shoes and after one of those knicks turned into cellulitis I started booting/wrapping every time I rode. Then he came in from turnout one day with 3 new scrapes on the inside of his right front, confirming what I was afraid of - he does this to himself in the pasture as well as under saddle. So now he never goes out naked. 

I have confirmed with my farrier and vet that his feet are balanced. My farrier felt like he could try a few things, but he said it would unbalance his feet. Given his soundness issues connected to his feet and the positive changes we've seen, I didn't want to do this. I'm trying to add in as much pole and cavaletti work as possible and am starting to work through a few exercises in the book 55 Corrective Exercises for Horses in hopes of teaching him where his feet are. But in the mean time, kiddo only goes out with protective gear on his front legs.

Majyk Equipe Fly Wraps: These did not stand up to him or general use nearly as well as the Shoo Fly wraps have. One perk was that they didn't rub him the way the Shoo Fly ones will if I keep them on him 24/7. But, he routinely and easily removed the front ones and they started to sag pretty badly within about 4-6 weeks of using them. I guess the softer material just doesn't stay up as well. I passed them on to a friend when we moved barns and she used them for another 2 months. By the time she bought a pair of Shoo Fly wraps they were about fetlock height and collecting all kinds of dirt and shavings in them daily. They also came apart at the top where he was pulling at them with his teeth (fair enough there, if they were otherwise perfect I wouldn't blame the wraps for that). Overall, I would not recommend these. 

Someone had helped me out and put the right front back on after he removed it which is why it is on inside out

Shoo Fly Wraps: These are very sturdy and I don't think he can remove them. Either he hasn't tried, relatively unlikely given what a busy body he is, or he can't. But either way, he always has both fronts on when he comes in. They do rub his fetlocks some, on the caudal aspect, if I leave them on 24/7. They don't do this on my friend's horse, so it may just be the fit on Yoshi and the fact that he has the osselet on the left front fetlock, making the wrap tighter around there. But I have to do one day off one day on or the rubs become a problem. Having used the older style of fly wraps (Kensington, etc etc) a lot, these are far superior, but they can't be a 24/7 thing for Yoshi. 

As far as leg protection, he hasn't come in with a scratch on his legs from knocking himself while wearing these. 

Sox for Horses: Yoshi has the Silver Whinnys. These were recommended by JT after his cellulitis episode in August. While they require more maintenance compared to the fly wrpas, they are probably the best at protecting his legs in turnout. They come in a set of 4 for $90. I got the "delicate/thin skin TBs" kind. They recommend changing every 24 hours if they're getting wet or 48 hours if they are dry. This time of year the grass is long and the morning dew pretty much soaks these daily. I have left them on for 48 hours when I can't get out to change them, and it's been fine. When I have come out around 11 or noon they've actually been dry already and his legs are dry underneath. That means in the span of 1-2 hours after the dew dries, they are able to dry. Even with consistent wear I haven't had any problems with rain rot on his legs. 

They do slip down on him. He comes in to eat every 12 hours and they'll usually be mid-cannon bone at that time. It's really easy to just pull them back up though. 

They are a bit of a challenge to get on/off even following their directions. You place a bag over the shoe to protect the sock from snagging on the nails and then pull the top up over the foot. To remove when wet, you bag the hoof then pull the top down off the foot, pulling the sock inside out. Ms. GY tried for me one time and bent two nails back pretty badly, so if I can't get out to change them for more than 48 hours, I leave him in the fly wraps and she takes those off while he's in the stall. It only takes me about 20 seconds per sock now to put them on/off, but he's also learned the system and will helpfully pull his foot to aid in getting them on/off. 

He has never come in with a scratch on his legs while wearing these. Even when they slip, they cover the areas he is most likely to hit - mid-cannon bone and down. They also do seem to help with healing up things on his legs, the 3 scrapes he gave himself on his right front healed up nicely while wearing these. 

I've only had these for a month, but so far they're holding up very well, even the soft version. I do wash them in a bag just to prevent snagging, but they recommend washing and drying like normal. While they're a bit more maintenance and work than the average horse owner likely wants/needs, they work great for my special child. They have the added perk of keeping flies off his legs. But if all you need is a fly wrap, the Shoo Fly wraps are much cheaper and easier to deal with. 

Noming on black jack on our walk a few days ago
 It's blooming ALL over the place right now and the horses love it!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Horse Trailer Camping

The schooling show at Rocking Horse was also my first time camping in my horse trailer. I bought the trailer in June of 2020. I actually bought it before we bought the truck to haul it with. I'd been scouring Facebook for two horse trailers. I hadn't done a lot of thinking on brand or bumper pull vs gooseneck. I wanted a straight load with a tack room and no mangers, but hadn't planned a lot beyond that. I had also driven to 1.5 hours for a really under priced slant load trailer only to find out it had sold that morning but the seller hadn't bothered to let me know. To be fair on that one, given how low the price was she probably had a million FB messages to sort through and just forgot that we actually had a time lined up. 

When I spotted the ad for the trailer we ended up buying, I wasted no time. It was a 2013 Merhow Equistar XL 2 horse gooseneck with tack room for a great price. The ad specified that the person was posting for a friend who didn't have Facebook and gave a cell number to call. As soon as was appropriate for a weekend morning, I called the number and left a voicemail. There were 10+ comments on the post asking questions, but when the seller called me back she said I was the first person who had called. Hooray for overcoming whatever that feeling is that says "write text on phone, calling people is awkward". My husband and I drove 30 minutes to her house to check it out. She'd only used the trailer 5-6 times to haul her horses and some furniture down from New England. It had some surface rust on the frame but was otherwise in pristine condition. She asked if I wanted to bring a check later that week, but I told her I'd bring cash the next day, scarred by my earlier experience. I arranged to have a friend with a truck come with and we picked the trailer up the next morning. It then sat for a month until we actually bought the truck to haul it and got the gooseneck hitch installed. 

I LOVE this trailer. It absolutely dwarfed Leila, she probably could have stuck her head straight up and never connected with the roof, but I'd much rather have extra space. Yoshi fits great in it and every horse I've tried to put on it, including a notoriously difficult loader at my old barn, has walked right on. When you open the escape doors it is so light and inviting they seem to not mind at all. 

I don't think I'll ever get tired of this view

One of the perks of the gooseneck was the ability to camp in it. It certainly was not a factor in buying it because I am spoiled and live within an hour of... 5+ venues that hold multiple schooling events throughout the year and don't need to camp much. I also have done a lot of tent camping and therefore have all the gear so I could easily pull that out for a show if need be. However, the POURING rain that turned into a most of the night drizzle/drip at Rocking Horse was MUCH nicer in the trailer than it would have been in the tent. It's all well and good staying dry from the top in a tent, but when sheets of water start running around on the ground... yeah, been there, done that, getting soaked from underneath when water works its way between the tent and footprint... no fun at all. 

Dry and cozy watching the rain come down

I opted not to bring cooking gear for this outing because my husband was not coming with me. I don't mind eating cold mac and cheese or sandwiches for lunch x 2 and dinner, but he starts to object to that around sandwich number 2. He also is more than willing to plan out the menu and pack the gear though. I packed the cooler with 3 frozen drinks - two water bottles and one gatorade. I added the mac and cheese I'd cooked, a bag of carrots, cold brew coffee in a jar, and a bag of chocolates and then filled the rest of the cooler with ice packs. For breakfast/snacks I got a box of granola bars. Once I arrived I moved most of the things from the truck into the horse compartment of the trailer. I try to keep the truck as clean as possible and after the recent battery experience, the less I go in/out of it and turn on the lights, the better in my mind. I set up my bed in the gooseneck with plenty of space on either side. I went for the middle-ish area. I cleaned off the hay from the fan from the horse compartment and moved that in to sit between the two windows over the gooseneck. 

The fan is one of my favorite parts of the whole set up - it is a Ryobi Air Cannon. All of my husband's tools are Ryobi, so we have at least 4 batteries. On the highest setting, one battery lasts 1.5-2 hours, which is about as long as my longest trips in the trailer are. I anchor the fan to the front snaps in the horse compartment with a cord, but I also put a short 4x4 on the base of it, and that makes it sturdy enough that I've never seen evidence of it moving around while driving. I used it on the lowest setting overnight, I was plenty cool and only had to replace the battery once in the middle of the night.

Luxury of being there without my husband was stacking both our sleeping pads to make the cushiest bed possible

I did forget camp chairs. And didn't pack enough socks. So this was my set up for drying my feet after bathing him - butt on step stool, back against trailer, feet on water container 

With the camping pads, I could still fully sit up in the gooseneck. I think a thin air mattress would be fine too, but we have an aerobed that someone gifted us, and that definitely would be too tall for going in there. I keep a floor mat just inside the door to the tack room because it is currently carpeted, and this trip I was obsessive with taking my boots off every time I stepped in so that I would eventually track less dirt/water up into my bed on the gooseneck. 

I actually slept really, really well there. It helped that I was pretty tired and the fan was good white noise, but it was also a nice comfy set up.  I kept our Friday gear (sweaty saddle pad, boots, and my disgustingly sweaty breeches) draped over the tail gate of the truck to keep from stinking up the tack room. If I were trying to do show and camp with two people, I might bring a folding saddle rack, or two if I could get my hands on them, to set up more tack in the horse compartment and minimize the horse gear in the tack room. There are only two saddle racks in the tack room, which is fine as a single person trailer, but does require a lot of stacking things when there are two people with two saddles. 

When I broke things down, everything going back to the house went back into the truck with sweaty things in the bed and non-sweaty camping gear in the cab. Everything going to the barn stayed in the trailer since the trailer lives out at the barn. This made arriving back home pretty easy - I saved unloading the tack room for the next day but took care of all of the sweaty, gross things that day. 

My essentials: 
- Fan 
- Floor mat for trailer 
- Head lamp and solar power lantern. Seriously, head lamps are the best thing ever. I keep one in my horse first aid kit for looking at eyes or other things. Plus you never know when you'll unexpectedly end up out later than you mean to. And if you like spiders, it's pretty amusing to find them in the grass at night from the reflection from their eyes. 
- Cooler containing cold brew coffee (I do this in a cheap way at home myself and make mason jars of it, so it was easy to toss one in)

If my husband joins me at any point we'll probably toss in the camp stove, stuff to make fresh coffee, and stuff to make a better dinner, but not bringing the stove and cooking kept things simple and meant I didn't have dishes to wash on top of cleaning up all the horse things. 

Hates when I leave home

Friday, September 24, 2021

You have 3 options

We had a super productive lesson with JT this week. We warmed up with the usual bend, counter-bend until he was nice and supple and lifting his shoulders. Apparently when I am following with my hands at the canter, my left hand moves "about half as much" as my right hand does. I also have a distinct urge to get stiff in my lower back. We did a little of the forward and UP exercise. A mini canter lengthening followed by bouncing the canter a little more compact and pushing the energy up. She never likes to describe it as shortening and always uses the words "bounce" and bring the energy "up".

We then moved on to warming up over a crossrail, like usual, back and forth until we were getting it right - soft and forward. Our first course involved the cross rail to a 4 stride line with the liver pool as the in and an oxer as the out then a right hand turn to a one stride then a 5 or 6 stride bending line to an oxer. Then a roll back to the right to a natural. I missed at the crossrail and then again at the in of the liverpool. I still managed to sit up and ride the 4 strides to the out and he jumped that well. This prompted her discussion of options: 
  1. Stretch up, close leg, basically do nothing other than support the spot you're going to get. As a reformed chase him down to the spot that isn't there, riding a horse who is very easy to chase flat and long, this is my preferred option these days. At least now that she has me riding with my eye on the jump, I know it is going to be awkward and it isn't surprising or unseating. In fact when we got an awkward distance to the crossrail he actually sat back and used himself REALLY well over the jump. 
  2. Bounce the canter stride shorter for the next 4 strides (the distance I told her I could see we were going to be off) to wait for the jump. She said this one is going to be our hardest option given that we don't so much have a collected canter right now. 
  3. Ask for just a bit more step so we spread the long spot out over the 4 canter strides before it. I only tried this out once because of my fear of pushing him flat and down into the jump. 
We isolated the right rollback section of the course for 4-5 runs through that. Creating the bouncy, energetic canter and then not killing it by pulling on the inside rein to turn was SO hard for me. I had to really sit up and turn with my whole body. The idea of keeping both hands together but on the proper sides of the neck really helped. The first time we got the turn right, I celebrated by chasing him to the long spot at the jump. So then we had to do it again without my celebratory shove him downhill into the fence. 

Overall a really challenging, but very productive lesson. I love looking back on our first few lessons, we have both come SO far. He felt VERY tuned in this lesson. The first time through the rollback turn, he was kinda wondering why I was pulling him around like that (me too bud, me too...), but as soon as he saw the fence he went "OH, we're going to jump that, got it!" He felt that way on the flat too, I picked up the reins from a walk break and got an instant "What are we doing, where are we going?" feeling from him. It's really cool.

We're signed up for Majestic Oaks at entry so we can hopefully come out of the start box GOING this time and so that JT can see us go. She said if that went well then we'd pick out a date for his BN debut. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

WW: Rocking Horse Pro Pics

These came out SO well. Turns out him jumping well makes for much more awesome pictures. Lots to work on with my position, but he's so freaking adorable! 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

September Rocking Horse Schooling Show

Yoshi and I did our first 3 phase today at Rocking Horse in Altoona! Rocking Horse is one of the few places that I went as a teenager in Pony Club that is still around, so it was extra nostalgic to come back here to compete. I had initially planned on just hauling in for the day until I checked out the schedule for the May schooling show and noticed that they ran the lower levels first. I confirmed with the organizer that they were doing this again and decided to get a stall rather than haul 1.5 hours before an 8-9 am start. It also gave us a chance to check out the grounds on Friday and get Yoshi acclimated a bit. We headed over on Friday and arrived around noon. The weather looked sketchy later, so we braved the heat for a 40 minute ride around. We mostly walked - out to the cross country course, around the outside of the dressage rings, up to the judges booths - but we did do a bit of bendy trot and canter. I bathed him right after and then got him all cozy in his stall with a fan hung and loads of alfalfa.

He LOVED his fan 

I left him under the fan and headed out to walk my courses. Stadium was pretty twisty turny, but wasn't too scary looking. Cross country looked nice and inviting. They did about half easy step over logs and half mini jumps: 

Nice and inviting first jump

Fence 2, hanging out with a training level fence

3 was another log, so here's 4, a cute little bench

5 - flags on a slight incline followed by a decently steep (for FL), but short, decline on the other side. This was the closest two "fences" were placed together, 5 was about 10 strides after 4. I thought it was a really nice way to start asking slightly related questions. 


7 was another log, so here's 8, pretty inviting ramp


AND 10! 

It POURED shortly after I got back from walking cross country. It didn't really stop raining until around 7 PM when it slowed to a drizzle. I took him out for a hand walk then. He did a bit of staring off into the distance looking regal but again was not impressed by much. Back at his stall, one of his neighbors a few stalls down was pretty amped up and spinning and screaming for a LONG time. Fortunately he really didn't seem to care too much. I picked out his stall, tossed him more hay, then shut out the lights in our barn aisle since everyone else had headed out for the evening. Eventually stressed neighbor did quiet down, which I was grateful for because I was sleeping about 20 yards from the barn. 

Today I woke up about 4, makes sense since I laid down at 8. I managed to fall back asleep until 6 when people started arriving and Yoshi's neighbor started calling again. At first I thought he hadn't laid down because he did not have a single shaving in his tail, but I spotted a manure stain on his coat as I walked him. I tacked up for dressage 20 minutes before our ride time and located our ring. The huge downpour the night before meant that there was a large puddle basically rail to rail at C in both rings. I was a bit concerned he might not want to get his feet wet, but I didn't need to worry. He warmed up well, we've certainly had more lift and more bend, but for a show environment and a relatively new way of going, I was happy. The test itself, BN A, was more of the same. Very workmanlike and obedient, but a lot of "tight over the back/topline" comments. The right lead canter depart was in the puddle as was the canter circle. The right lead is also our worse lead, so of course worrying about those two things meant I didn't ride it well. It was scored fairly generously though with a 6 for the depart and a 6.5 for the circle with the comment "loosing roundness". Generous because I didn't really think there was a roundness to loose at that point. Collective remarks basically summed up everything JT has been telling me "Lovely Energy! Keep working on the relaxation/suppleness over the back, which will help the connection and freedom of the gaits". He got a 6.5 on gaits and submission and 7 on rider and impulsion. Our final score was a 33.1, which was good enough to put us in first. I didn't know this until after stadium and cross country though. 

Terrible selfie, but it's the best I got after dressage. Blurrily showing off his Equiture browband. 

I let him cool out in front of his fan and get a drink. Once he dried a bit, I brushed the mud off his legs and tacked up for stadium. There was a trainer warming up 4 students in a group lesson style in the warm up ring so I only went in for about 5 minutes and hopped over the vertical then the oxer twice and headed over to the ring. They were taking people as we were ready, so I got to go straight in. Overall the course rode really well. He was jumping amazingly well, just like he did in my lesson on Wednesday, truly lifting up and making a nice shape over the jumps. I trotted him between 3 & 4 because he was getting kind of strung out. It was a good decision because 4 & 5 were a 5 stride line and it was a relatively short 5, so he would've definitely been tight to 5 or done a long sprawling 4 if we hadn't trotted in. He played a bit after 7, which he had done in the warm up too, but has never done at home. We turned the corner and headed down over 9 to finish the course... Then they rang the bell as I crossed through the finish markers. I was a bit confused till I slowed to a walk and tried to head out of the ring. The tent at the entry spooked him and he was balking a bit as the ring steward called out that I had missed 8 and was eliminated, but they would let me go cross country.

It was a weird set of emotions. On the one hand he was jumping so well and I was riding him well too. Which might have been part of what happened. When I was doing jumper shows last fall with the red mare, I was often just pointing and counting jumps. This time I was sitting up, riding, making a nice bouncy canter between fences or making the decision to trot. And in the actually riding the just turning and finding the next jump went a bit out the window. 

But on the other hand I felt pretty good about his dressage test and knew we probably had a chance at a ribbon if I didn't screw the jumping up. And then I screwed the jumping up. But at least it was a schooling show and the organizers/jump judge were nice enough to let us continue on to cross country. 

I brought him back to his stall, took his bridle off to let him drink, and switched out his boots. I added my vest and then hopped back on to head down to cross country. There was only one other person warming up when I got down there and they headed over to the start a few minutes after I got there. I hopped the entry warm up logs then hopped the BN coop and headed over to the start box. After joking with the timers about not being able to count to 9, but hopefully being able to count to 10, they counted us down and we headed out. We trotted the first log, and I let him roll forward in the canter after that. About ten strides out from #2 I sat down to gather him up and noted he felt a bit sticky. This didn't improve as we got closer, and I was internally cursing my lack of crop as he stuttered to a trot. Fortunately even when uncertain he is still a VERY GOOD horse, and he hopped over it from the trot. I legged him forward firmly after and he took #3, another log, from a nice forward canter. He stuck a bit to #4, but it was still improved from #2. We turned to the flagged slight uphill, and I got him into a trot before the downhill part. I definitely didn't sit back enough though, so it was a bit discombobulated. We picked up the canter again to take #6 fairly nicely. After the #7 log, we made a zig-zag turn through some trees to #8 and I spotted Ms. GY. She cheered for us, and we headed off to finish with #8-10. They all flowed REALLY well and he took off a bit after #10, pretty proud of himself and really getting the hang of this cross country thing! I was also pretty proud of him, it was SO COOL to feel his confidence grow through the course. 

The cross country course was amazingly well put together. It asked some interesting questions in a friendly way. I loved that it started out inviting (as opposed to an entry event I did last fall that started in a lane between two paddocks to a coop that was shared with BN... Before going on to many much more inviting logs...), but still had some interesting jumps worked in there and the last 3 jumps were all actual jumps vs. the telephone pole sized logs. I also loved the little terrain question at #5, it very much emphasized a weakness of mine that I didn't know existed until right then, but in a friendly you won't fall ass over tea kettle when you screw it up kinda way. I'm really glad we made it out to this event. They only hold two schooling shows a year now, and it was pretty special to come back here to compete Yoshi at his first event. 

Seems the theme of this month is him being perfect and me being... well... human. I really couldn't have asked for a better first 3 phase experience for the two of us though! Hopefully some pro pictures will turn out well because I'm definitely interested in buying a few to commemorate him being the best pony ever. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

WW: 3 month comparison pics


September 2021

June 2021

September 2021

June 2021

Biggest change obvi that I have accepted he's a mane on the left side of the neck kinda guy. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

AXM enter working trot

Side note: as someone who came from a straight dressage background to eventing dressage, the bendy center lines and lack of halt on entry on eventing tests are still strange to me.

Yoshi and I had our first trip down the center line Saturday morning! We are signed up for our first 3 phase schooling show at Rocking Horse on the 18th, which meant that I wanted to get him out to see the sights of a show arena before then. Given the way he feels about trash cans, I thought the judges booth or even letters might cause a bit of bulging and crookedness as he eyed them. Barnstaple was advertising a 40 minute fix-a-test the day before their schooling show on Sunday. I wasn't familiar with the judge, but figured either way it would give us a chance to spend a decent amount of time in the dressage arena in a new setting. We showed up for our 8 AM ride time and found another rider also warming up for her 8 AM ride time... hmmm... through some internet failure, in spite of processing my payment, my entry had not actually made it to the organizer. 

The other rider was on a baby TB who was having his first off property adventure since retiring. He was doing super! She was extremely nice and offered to share her clinic spot, but I was most excited about riding in a ring with a tent, which the organizer said we could still do. They were raising the tents as we rode in, which Yoshi found a bit shocking. He did his signature move of a few steps back then very slow, rideable turn/spin and a vague attempt to leave at a faster gait. I turned him back around and we watched them finish raising it. After processing for a bit, he accepted walking near it and then we worked in closer and closer circles around it till it was no big deal. Then the judge turned up so we moved to the smaller arena and investigated that tent and schooled in the arena. After a bit of a warm-up, I rode my test just to get the feel of the smaller arena. It definitely would've scored in the teens ;) 

Yoshi and I then moseyed back to the trailer to meet Ms. GY who had come along to walk her course for the event on Sunday. Barnstaple is holding their dressage and stadium on the fiber arenas at HITS. The arenas are in the center of an old track and most of the fence is still up from the track. I've watched more than one TB come a bit undone when doing hunter rounds in the middle of the track, but Yoshi really couldn't have cared less. He and the other TB were initially the only horses that we could see, but someone did start hand walking a horse part way through our ride. He wanted to stare off at them, but did focus again when I asked him to. So overall, a great low key exposure to the show arena. No show traffic like we'll have next weekend, but we definitely put one of the pieces in place. What a good pony.  

THIS is how he comes in with his face covered in spider webs every morning and evening

Other horses enjoying the shade... Yoshi enjoying the shade AND sticking his face in the woods

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Now go jump the jump ON PURPOSE

I fell off my saintly horse in my lesson yesterday. It feels a lot like the 20 on the cross country record that your horse didn't deserve. Yoshi did ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong. Funny enough, my injury from the day came when I was watching my friend's lesson after mine and sitting on a jump rail in the cups. The rail slipped from the cups, dumping me onto my rear on top of the corner of a 4x4 ground rail at a very unfortunate spot. Pictures are so not safe for work, but there is quite a large swelling and standing on my right foot is difficult. 

Back to coming off the horse... we're focused on our new found trotting while bending. We're counter-bending while circling right. Challenging for me because my shoulders and hips never turn right to begin with and then when I'm asked to counter bend, I basically ask the horse to turn left. I'm also staring at his head, because duh how else would you confirm if he's counter-bending. Then I happen to look up and find that we're about 5m away from a cross rail. At a really screwy angle and pointed at the right hand standard of said cross rail. In my head I thought "well, he'll figure it out." In Yoshi's head he thought "well, this is a weird angle to jump from, but I think that's what she wants." And the poor soul tried to jump the cross rail from a terrible angle by the standard. He tripped over it and knocked the standard and rails. I sumersaulted over his right shoulder and landed on my feet, holding the reins, already apologizing to my honest, trier of a horse. He looked a little disturbed by this amount of stupidity coming from his rider, but settled back down pretty easily. After profuse apologizing and pets along with a good bit of laughing at myself, we went back to work. 

When JT gave me a course she said "we're going to start over the crossrail ON PURPOSE." The rest of the lesson was actually fantastic. We did the one stride line of 4 jumps quite a few times with her making the 2nd through 4th cross rails bigger and bigger each time until they were set at the top of the standards. He was really rocking back, patting the ground, and JUMPING over each one. It felt SO COOL. 

Watching the yearling filly who got loose cavort around in the distance

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Barnstaple Schooling

Ms. GY and I went out for a fun cross country schooling on Friday. My main goal was more water exposure. He is so strange, he definitely doesn't mind water (went to the beach with his old owner... walks through puddles on a loose rein with no wiggling...), but water complexes make him really, really nervous. He'll stand close to the edge snorting and I can feel his heart racing. It's like he doesn't realize it's water until another horse goes into it first. Then he is super happy to follow them in and will splash and drink. He'll also trot and canter through with very little hesitation after the initial wetting of the feet. 

Well, we definitely accomplished that goal! He hesitated and it took a few times of stepping forward, pausing, snorting, trying to step sideways, repeat, but then he went into the water all on his own without a lead horse!!! 

He also did up and down banks with much more grace than when we schooled way back in February. Partly aided by his new ability to bend his body and lift his withers, partly aided by the fact that we could do one up bank and weren't obligated to then go up another. Gave him more time to process his feet and get all 4 of them in order. 

He continued on to do ditches really well too. I heard JT in my head - hands forward, loose rein, relaxed trot. He was surprised by it the first time and stopped but then walked over it. After that he was all business and did the larger ditches without a problem too. 

The jumps... were a mixed bag. He didn't stop or even think about stopping at anything. But he did flail/roll over his shoulder to about a quarter of them. Mostly if I rode him right he jumped properly. But if I slacked and just aimed? Yeah, not pretty. His willingness means that if I can just educate him that pointing at a jump not only means get to the other side it means lift your shoulders and knees up while you do it, hopefully that will be the new status quo.

As we let them cool off after hosing, we ended up chatting with a mom and daughter who were waiting for their horse to show up with their trainer. They were relatively new to horses and eventing in general. It was neat to answer questions about Yosh and our journey together. As I loaded him up I felt a little bit closer to him. It's something I don't think I've really talked about, but I have been fairly guarded about really loving this horse. I have been working with him with as much fairness and kindness as I have with any horse. However, the feeling is similar to the feeling I've had when it has been someone else's horse. Over the years I've had a few horses in and out of my life for a month or 6 months or sometimes even longer. But I've always known they were someone else's horse and ultimately how long I got to keep working with them, where they went, and what they did was someone else's decision. I've certainly been attached to some of these horses, but with a different feel than with Zing and Leila. 

Zinger was perfect and my best friend for 15 years. I loved that horse with every part of my being and he loved me too. I was his person, which he made clear pretty early on. He'd pick me out of a crowd of people walking and keep his eyes fixed on me. He'd make angry faces over the fence if I rode another horse. We knew each other inside and out. To this day I actually expect Yoshi to spook at the same things Zing would've - farm animals - and am surprised when he doesn't and instead spooks at other things. He is the standard to which every other horse is measured. 

I wasn't actually looking for a horse when I found Leila, I didn't think my heart was ready for that just a year after Zing died. But she was the sweetest, cuddliest horse I have ever met. She very easily wormed her way into my heart by being like a giant teddy bear. You could bring anyone around her and she would immediately engage with them, but in a way that didn't intimidate non-horse people. She made it so easy to adore her and love on her and spend hours just hanging out with her on the ground. Even before her accident it became clear she might not be able to do much beyond BN level, but she was SO honest and willing I figured I could always lease her out to teach kids at entry and BN. Then that all shattered in a fairly spectacular fashion. My heart broke for such a sweet, kind, trusting horse to have to go through what she did. I gave her the best gift I could when I helped her pass peacefully rather than living a life of pain and discomfort. She was never a horse that would have acted out in pain or said no when she was hurting.

Yosh? Well. Buying him followed closely on the footsteps of euthanizing Leila and then our relationship started out with 2.5 months of uncertainty about his soundness and future as a riding horse. I wasn't exactly diving in heart first to loving him as my forever riding partner. And honestly, it seems like he's been similarly guarded. Chatting with the teenager and her mom about him though after being out cantering around a cross country field though, I felt a new connection to him. I allowed myself to appreciate just how freaking COOL he is. He left his buddy from home just fine to go jump new jumps in a new setting. He jumped three different ditches without a lead and went into water on his own. He went up and down banks with barely more than a second hesitation the first time down. Everything I've asked of him, he's said "Well, yeah, I could try that." And who could ask for more than that? Riding soundness in horses is always a crapshoot, but I might as well live in the moment and appreciate what we have right now. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

August Wrap Up (and some bonus feets!)

So I don't get to end this monthly wrap-up with completely healthy and sound horse due to his week long cellulitis battle. BUT he did end the month completely healthy and sound. Which I am so, so grateful for. 

August he had:

  • 18 rides
    • 5 lessons with JT 
    • 2 training rides with JT alone, 4 of the 5 lessons in which she worked him for part of the lesson
    • A huge change in his way of going - the building blocks for bending through his body and neck and lifting his withers 
  • So much time away from home! 
    • 1 night at the hospital 
    • 5 days at JT's
  • A week of stall rest - he was the most excellent boy for that week. Brain cells all present even on day 7 in a stall. I did cheat a bit though...
  • We actually did work on desensitizing to the clippers this month! It is far from perfect, but there were improvements.
  • We did some ToH in hand too! 
  • More progress on his feet - x-rays showed a 0 degree palmar angle in his worse (right) foot and +3 in the left. His sole depth had improved A LOT too. Hooray for progress! 

Left Front: 

March 2021

Aug 2021

March 2021

August 2021

Right front: 
March 2021

Aug 2021

March 2021

Aug 2021

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Back over fences!

In my lesson with JT this week, Yoshi and I got to jump again! My ride at home Monday was much better than the one two days prior. Probably part that I gave him a break, and part a determination to hear JT in my head as I rode. I have a tendency to go "Oh, lovely, you bent a little bit" and soften and throw it all away. Right now to actually get him to RELEASE his neck and lift his wither, he needs to be a bit overbent. Not ridden that way for more than 1/4 circle or so, but giving enough to actually blow his nose and soften. On Saturday I wasn't getting him that far and never really got the softness that can follow that. Monday I actually kept asking gently until we got there and got a bit more loose through the neck when he was correctly bent after the overbend. 

As I got on to start my lesson, JT said "Unless you guys have seriously regressed, I think we should jump today." How's that for a threat to make me ride well! We actually got the best canter we have, our departs to the left were much improved. 

Jumping we kept it very tiny and with lots of related distances to make him sit back and think on his own. He felt mostly like jumping a different horse, less flailing and diving DOWN over jumps, more sitting up and back. She kept emphasizing push the hands/reins at the jump, and a few times it was just lovely as I was able to do that and he held himself up and then sat down to lift. 

He's also in a regular cavesson now. His micklem had rubbed him in a few spots, so I switched it out for a Bobby's Bridles dressage bridle that is decidedly the wrong size for him - the noseband and cheekpieces are on the highest holes. But he seemed much happier in his mouth with this on instead even with the same bit. I'm not committed enough to the regular cavesson to shop for something that is cob sized because this will work in the mean time, but that may be in his future. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

WW: Just add a plaid skirt

He didn't want me to share this picture, but.... 

At the recommendation of JT, these were the winners for protecting his legs while in turn out. We'll see how they stand up over time, but he is tolerating them much better than he did the Majyk Equipe fly boots. They were also very easy to put on.