Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4.23 Preparing

I have the plan in my mind
Walk , Trot , Canter.. all on longeline-. If he checks OK there
Ride the same, as loose rein , then contact
I have checked H over every day. No heat, no swelling, Nothing gets a reaction.
Here's hoping he is ok...






Monday, April 21, 2014

4-20 What I Saw , And What I Heard

I had to know, Was he really lame? Was he hurt? Was it a bad day? I put H out on the longe line , and stared. Short but even trot, Dare I ask for canter? I did, and he gave it. Left, and right. Dang.

Turn on forehand. Nothing. Clean. Turn on haunches. Clean. I stood a while and watched him.  He was licking and chewing. Hmm...

 Sent him back out on the circle.  Still sound. Wtf .  He was dead lame Saturday.  I checked his feet. Clean and when I pushed with the hoof pick, no reaction.   I stretched his front legs and he enjoyed it. I stretched back legs forward and back, more yawning and licking. Hmm...

 Had I been more brave, I would have sat on him to feel. No saddle, suspect lameness, and I knew better.  I quit him before anything else happened, not real sure wnat was going on.

Then, later in the day, I find out BO hasn't ridden above Training in YEARS. More, she hasn't been competing in a very long time. What did I do?   I had her ride him?! I've lost it. Totally.   I let peer pressure talk me into not only letting her ride, but I almost let her tell me *I* can't ride well enough to own Harley.  What the heck was I thinking ...

I've nearly relaxed about it today,  but I'm still ticked at myself. I didn't listen to my gut and stop when he was off.  I didn't give him a scratch show, and find someone I trusted to check him out.  I didn't consult anyone that has seen me ride consistently.  I'm almost over feeling like I let him down.
 Almost...
























Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Show - A Sh!t Ride

An utter disaster.  Well, mostly.  I stayed on, Harley didn't try to dump me.  His "try" is just freaking amazing.  That's about where the good ends. 

Arrived at the show plenty early.  He loaded and unloaded great, happy.  Warmed him up on the longeline, in side reins.  Walk, trot, canter, left, All good.  *nice*  Walk, trot, can---can---... c'mon Harley, canter right.  Just wasn't happening.  I didn't have my longe whip with me, so I figured he was being lazy.  I would get a few strides, and then he'd quit.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I thought he was distracted by the big long trailers off in the field.  I thought maybe a fish jumped in one of the ponds.  I even saw water rippling.  Yeah, that's it. A fish. 

I took all the longe gear off, and quietly got on.  Walk, bend, exaggerated bend, all good.  Even got what felt like a slight shoulder-fore down the long sides, on both directions.  Asked him to trot.  Ouch.  He was super uneven in the back end.  I couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong, but it was very uneven.   So I figured he had a rock up in his hooves.  The show scribe ran for her hoof pick.  I checked - clean.  No reaction to anything.  I poked and pushed on his heels, nothing.  No pull, no reaction.  I checked for heat in the hooves - nothing.  In fact, they were all cold to touch. 

By now, the judge had come back from her lunch break.  She asked me to ride again for her to see.  Walk, was okay.  "Short and lazy, but even."  Then the trot.  Oops. Yeah, she sees it too.  Then, the owner of the barn showed up.  "Well, let me move him on the ground a little."  She found it at the walk.  She asked to ride him a little, and I told her, "If he dumps you, it's all on you.  But go ahead."  Someone commented to me, "Of course it's safe to let her ride, she has been as high as grand prix."  I thought to myself, "Yeah, so what.  She's not competing now, and isn't riding other than some basic client repairs, so... hmm.. I haven't heard her reputation like I have other instructors or trainers... anyways.."  I watched her ride him a bit at trot, to see what was up.  Short on the right hind at trot.  She said something about, "Harley was telling her I ride crooked, and I don't sit evenly in the saddle, oh, and I don't use even rein pressure, and ..."  Something.. right about at, "I ride crooked, and I've made him hurt like this", I started fading paying attention. 

Ms N hasn't said I ride crooked.  The other friends I rode with a few weeks ago, didn't say squat about me riding crooked.  Jen has been around me for YEARS, and she hasn't said I ride crooked. 

Barn Owner hand-walked Harley a while, to "ground drive and chiro adjust him", saying he was out in his hips, topline, withers, and at the poll.  I watched from a distance - all I saw was a lot of inside rein contact (only), and pushing his hips over on corners, with a long of long & low free walk.  Not a forward free walk, but a very slow, relaxed, walk.  Hmm. I can do that.    So I walked over to her, and said (in an effort to be super polite), "What'cha doing, so I can do it when I get home this week?"  Her response was, "Well, it's really hard to explain, and I'll try to email it all to you, but now isn't a good time to show you.  Harley's in a very relaxed, super state of mind, and I don't want to disrupt him."  He sighed, and licked a little.  "See?  He's breathing quiet, licking & chewing.  All signs that he's relaxing and stretching out.  It's little adjustments, and I've already gotten his hip fixed, and his topline is improving."  She said he'd be good for a short ride in a little bit, and I could see if he was better. 

That time came.  I got on to ride, and at the walk, he was incredibly lazy.  The first thing the BO did was take the whip from me, saying, "You won't need that."  Then, over a few bits of walk, they shortened my right stirrup THREE HOLES.  "You ride so crooked, it's got to be the left stirrup too long from mounting from the ground all the time.  You need to work on riding without stirrups a while to find your balance."  What?!  WTF?  You really think I was going to ride PC2 crooked?!  It's not me, it's Harley!  The judge said to me, "Increase the energy in the walk."  Yeah, no freaking kidding.  I spent WEEKS trying to get a marching walk, and we lost it in 10 minutes.  I was kicking and squeezing, and I got a tiny bit more.  Then the judge said, "Try the trot."  BO and Judge both said, "Hey, look.  He's better.. He's not 100%, but he's better."  Try the canter.  No happening.  I got the same racing, speedy, strung out trot I had on the line.  I brought him back to walk, and said, "Not happening.  He's not giving that, so he must still be hurting."  Judge asked, "Well does he normally give the canter willingly?"  I said, "Yep, sure does."  (What I wanted to say was, "Nah.  I signed up for Prix Caprilli 2 just for the hell of it.  I wanted to see if I could kill myself or my horse today racing at a strung out gallop to a jump rail.")

After a little more trot in the other direction, judge, BO, scribe, and two other barn-folks said, "You should ride intro B.  It'd be good for him, and you could get comments on your geometry.  C'mon. Do it!  It'll be okay."  I said, "On one condition.  Give me back my stick.  I've spent weeks on squeeze, kick, smack, and without that stick in my hand, he knows I won't smack.  If I beat him, you can gladly take it from me, pull me off of him, and report me to any agency.  But I need that, otherwise, his walk and his trot will suck, and he'll get away with old habits."  BO reluctantly handed it back to me, saying, "You really should learn to ride without whip or spurs, but I'm not your regular instructor, so I will let you have it." 

So I did.  And I regret 98% of that test.  The ONLY thing he did well, and comfortable, was the medium walk and free walk.  His trot wasn't forward.  The bend wasn't there.  The circles were ovaly-squares.  His transitions were lazy and sloppy.  When we came down to the first medium walk, he let out a huge sigh.  When I let the reins slide out for free walk, another huge sigh.  And a HUGE free walk.  I scratched his withers with both hands, and muttered with closed lips. "mmhmm", in an upbeat tone of voice.  I wanted him to know he was doing good to tolerate all of it. 

After we finished the test, I walked forward, and saw Judge coming towards us.  "I know BO said she was unlocking his hips, and his topline & withers, and whatever, were out of alignment.  I didn't see anything like that.  I think he just had a rough trip up here, or a bad night, and he's sore on his right hind.  Bute him 1g twice a day for a few days, stay off of him tomorrow and Monday, then see how he rides on Tuesday.  You're a tough lady to stick it out and follow through, but I don't think he needs a chiropractor.  I just think it's in his right hind somewhere."  I agreed.  Were it his topline, or "my crooked riding", he would've dumped me instantly.  Harley doesn't tolerate pain that well, and if he were really that sore in the trot, it wouldn't have been irregularly occurring. 

Just to rub salt in the wound, we earned a 65.9%.  On freaking Intro B.  Humiliating.  Right now, I want to call out the BO by name, and the Judge, by name.  I really do.  I want to smear their names in the mud for telling me a sore-horse was fit for a show, just to give me a crap-score.  Common sense is getting the better of me, so I'll be the bigger person and not do it. 

1g bute last night.  1g bute this morning.  The plan is to repeat bute tonight, and tomorrow morning.  I'll give him a look over later, see if I can't see what's going on.  I just couldn't see a darned thing.  Tuesday, I'll wear the GoPro when I longe him out a little, and maybe it'll be more obvious when I watch it again later. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

4.18.14

Wednesday, I longed Harley in side reins.  Warmed up without them over the X, trot and canter.  Nice work, good efforts.  Added the side reins, and sent him out.  Lots of transitions, LOTS of push forward trot.  Pretty stuff.

Last night, he was a turd.  Flat out turd.  I checked him all over for any soreness, and saw nothing.  He didn't want to canter-left, but instead just rushed out in a stupid racing trot.  He spooked at the wind, a bird, and then a few deer.  NOT a good ride day.  I ended up hopping off and putting him on the longeline.  Then he cantered left without an issue.  Dork.


Now, on to the torture sessions exercise new hobby.  What the fuzzle was I thinking?!  I've started ru.. ru... okay, I can say it out loud, I really can.   Running.

*gulp*  Running.
I have loaded the couch to 5k app on my phone, I already had fancy schmancy earbuds.  I even picked up a pair of overpriced running shoes.  I run nearly every other day, but with the show tomorrow, I'm going to have two days off of running this weekend.  I think.

I'm on week 2.  The app starts out nice & slow, goes easy, doesn't push.  But seriously.. what am I thinking?!

Oh yeah, here's why.. http://www.taps.org/run/

My friend Jennifer lost her brother in an accident a few weeks ago.  I later learned he is an Army vet.  I then asked my Marine friend Ben, "What can I do or have done to honor her brother?"  He said, "Why not run for TAPS like I do?"  awwe, geez.  Okay,  shoot,  That's what I get for asking, right? 

This means, as I start picking out 5k events, I'll be fundraising for TAPS in honor of Alan Chastain.  I'll post up the links when this happens.  Their wish for each runner is $500 a race.  That's $10 from 50 people, followers and readers.  We can easily do this, right?  

Monday, April 14, 2014

4/14/14

What I have learned lately:

The "squeeze, kick, WHIP" lessons have made Harley just a bit antsy when I'm carrying the jump bat in the jump saddle.  Oops, I think.

It wasn't the act of "going over little things" that had Harley upset.  It wasn't the saddle fit, and it wasn't me.  I set up an X on the circle, fairly large, to see what it would take to get him jumping and not stepping over.  He hesitated.  He refused.  He went around it.  He tried *everything*.  When he did jump, it was gigantic.  Enormous, freaked out, he did it with the biggest look of fear on his face.  We repeated that for quite a while before the quiet jumping horse came back. 

I can actually "STICK IT" when he tears off like a loon.  Last week, R came over to stand watch while I rode H over some X's. We had been doing all our work on a circle (not far to go when I'm looking around the circle mid-air).  This was the first on a line in quite a while.  Harley planted, jumped, landed, THEN took off.  I sat there, briefly bewildered.  "What the heck, I'm going to fa... screw that,  I see a corner.  I'm heading there."  As Harley realized #1 I'm not going anywheres, and #2 the corner fence was still there, he quit being a fool.  I hopped off, measured the ground poles I had set out after the X, and realized they were pretty far apart. 

Since then, I haven't lowered or raised anything in the few jumps I have set out.  I have sent him down the line, around the circle.  I am lucky to get a real jump, and since I have had all of the other rides alone, it's hard to hop off to adjust things.  When I dismount, I lose a LOT of his energy, forward, and willingness/eagerness to jump. 

We are mailing out registration for another show.  Scheduled for this weekend.  I'm technically already in the line-up, but I just don't want to jinx anything, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

As if riding nearly every day, some days both horses in one day, wasn't enough .. I've picked up another athletic sport muscular punishment hobby.  More on that soon.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

4.1.14 No Foolin'

Harley - brief longe to "test the mood" -- quiet.  I sent him over pole, elevated, pole at the trot and canter.  Perfect-O.  Little blurbs of break to trot, but he fixed himself and got the strides figured out.

I rode a while.  Aimed to ride some trot leg yields like I did at Laura's barn on Saturday - I should know better ... never ask for a leg yield when there's a jump on the quarterline.  I didn't exactly stop looking where I wanted to go, but more let my mind scroll thru the cues to figure out why he wasn't yielding.  And there it was.  The X, less than 4 trot strides out.  well, gotta do it now. I haven't asked for canter from the saddle yet.. he's had a very short warm up.. oooh boy here goes nothing.

Step Step.  Stinker.  Didn't even try to jump it.  So I sent him to the other X, set slightly higher.. .Half a jump.  We rode both X's a while, both directions.  Then I had to decide.  Will I hop off and raise the X, or will I set up a second one in line, or ride the pole, elevated, pole, at the canter on the circle.

Circle it is.  Entirely too lazy to dismount, and not wanting to disrupt the mojo we had going, I sent him at canter, rode one circle without the poles, and then went for it.

Perfect.  Three times in a row perfect.  He added a short stride in before at least once, but he stayed in canter, rode them gorgeous.  Changed direction.  Broke to trot once, reached hard once, but still quiet.  The reach-hard trip over felt a little rushed afterwards, but he settled with a heavy sigh. 

So I started to think ...
The fitters had mentioned that, with his newfound muscles in the shoulder and his withers coming around, he might not need that front strap on the saddle to the girth anymore... They had suggested I experiment without it, and when I asked why, Louise said, "It'll smash the saddle down on his shoulders if he develops and you keep using it.  Very uncomfortable."

Maybe that's been it the whole time.  Perhaps Harley has grown the muscles required to hold the saddle down with the original girth straps 1 & 3, as opposed to the 1 & 4 we're using now (with the front strap I'm using attached to the front of the saddle tree instead of the middle like the normal ones are).  He has been known to "do what's asked but fight about it" when he's uncomfortable or in pain... Just like when his rear heels were soft & tender, and while he worked, he did it bucking & kicking up. 

Something to work on, and make a good effort at.  I've contacted the fitters in Scotland, and will adjust my ride plans accordingly based on their feedback.  Anybody else got some ideas?  I'm all ears.. well.. all girth straps, that is.

=)
And of course, based on that ranting post I put up a week or two ago, it's also likely I'm not as secure in the jump saddle, Harley feels that insecurity, and he's relaying that message back to me by overjumping , and running off to "get it over with".  Maybe he feels my lack of balance... Hmm.. Perhaps some shorter stirrup flat work or some stirrup-less 2 point is in order... Hmmm... Still taking suggestions on any of this, too.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ending March

Last Thursday, H and I had a good ride.  Jump saddle, all work on the flat, no poles or jumps, just getting some forward without
Friday, was more of the same.  Nothing amazing, nothing disastrous either.
Saturday, I hauled to Houston, and rode with my friends Laura & Traci for a while.  I rode Harley, she rode Harley, I got back on.  Rode baby cavaletti trot to and canter to.  Even canter to with a ground pole.  As we started the canter, things didn't feel perfect, and I turned him in some circles to get a nice steady feel canter before I even looked at the jump.  When he did approach it, it was amazing.  Totally quiet, just like a stride.  Laura called out, "Ride like it's not even there.  These are super short, so no reason to over-prepare.  Quit thinking so much and just ride it."  Laura has seen Harley compete before, over a year ago, though, and she was impressed with the improvements we've made.  Quite the compliment there... :) 

After the two less than stellar jump rides I'd had, I expected some of his little fit to arise with Laura. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Total angel. Granted, everything was short, and small, with no opportunity to go any higher (at least not with what was pulled out to use), but he didn't do a single silly thing. 
Take home thought? He was super quiet over the cavaletti - especially after a long dressage ride. :) 

Then yesterday, I was worrying about what I needed to do in the ride.  Which saddle?  Which bit?  Would I longe him first?  Side reins?  What about jumps from the line?  Which height? 

And I decided to take it completely opposite.  I saddled him up dressage, in the myler combo bit, put on my helmet, and hopped on.  We walked all over the pasture, then wandered down the road a teensy bit.  He was quiet, and while observant, he wasn't overly alert.  Back to the house, followed by a U turn, and back down that road again.  Total ride, 25 minutes. 

Tonight, we'll just see.