Monday, March 31, 2008

Gotta Get Caught Up

Updates Galore...

Chewie - lunged Thursday, 2/27, threw right shoe again. Robin said she talked to Mike, and he's thinking pads for front feet, help keep da shoes on. I miss him, and the ease of riding him. It's getting to him, too, as he's getting more grumpy in the pasture... Hope to have him back after the show.

Romeo - Rode every day last week except for Thursday. Combination of crossrails high, and 21" vertical. Knocked down a few fences, and had a good handful of really pretty jumps. Wednesday he got four shoes, which is helping immensely. He's a little lazy to start, but actually gets a nice full light trot "tigger style" after some warmup. No lunging, and again, with some effort in legs, he'll give in to the bit, arching his neck all-pretty.

Lesson Sunday - Crossrails, 21" vertical, and two attemps at 2fts. One 2ft hit with back feet, one 2ft sailed over with "hang time". Awesome excellent feeling to be suspended in the air for just that second or so. Robin claims he cantered two solid strides in between fence 1 & 2 one time (I think fence 2 was the 21" vertical, don't remember). I didn't feel it, mostly because he had wiggled around in front of #1, and I was pretty determined to focus on the backside after #2. What happens in the middle, at least in my mind, is just the break in between fences.

Plans for this week include Lesson Tuesday, Chewie shoes Tuesday, leaving town Tuesday thru Thursday (Robin to feed & lunge Romeo Wednesday), Lesson Friday, Lesson Saturday, depart Saturday afternoon, Show Sunday.

Here goes nothing... I'm so busy riding I don't have time for much else. Managing to kill the fleas around the yard, fill in the little flower garden behind the house, mow grass. Spent time with my cowboy friends Sunday afternoon at the neighboring Rodeo arena - pushing cows & watching them rope & train young horses. Cowboys have a much different riding style than hunters & dressage. We pick at the horse until they get the right answer - cowboys offer up about 2 chances to get it right, then start spurring the horse off away from whatever they just did wrong. Poor ponies don't know they didn't get the right answer... My Romeo? He screws up, he knows exactly what he did wrong. If I give him perfect cuew, good leg, and strong focus past the fences, and he topples one, he gets a strong leg after. Next look at those fences, we don't even discuss it - I keep solid legs, and firm cues, thinking "You better get it this time, I can see the perfect jump video in my head."

Jumpin's fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The rest of that long weekend

Friday afternoon I caught Chewie, and off we went to the round pen. Side reins 5 & 6, walk, trot, canter. Rode for about 40 minutes, pleased with everything. He was calm, and I certainly realized all the Romeo riding is teaching me to be more direct in my requests. I don't have to push Chewie nearly as hard to comply with my requests, but I can't say "please" too gently. Up to two point, asked for canter, he transitioned, quickly sat, arms moving with. He wasn't too eager to stay in it, so we moved in & out of the canter a few times. I finally was the one asking for a down transition, and called that done. Realizing I had about 15 minuets left to make it a full hour's work, I hopped off, walked him down to the rails, and raised my stirrups. We walked a bit, then trotted to the poles. At that moment, I musta forgot what horse I was riding! I put quite a bit of leg on him, and he sailed over the little cross rail. He cantered away, I sat quietly & told him, "shhhh", and he trotted. I got a turned neck & eye, with these big eyes of, "Geezzz Mom! I don't understand why you wailed on me so hard! I know how to trot over poles, Momma!" I apologized to my big baby, and we trotted over them twice more, with much less aids.

Saturday I got a haircut that too much longer than I anticipated. Came home, realizing there wasn't much time for both horses. Lesson on Romeo...
Brief walk warmup followed by a little flat trot work. He was doing a bit of head-tossing, avoiding leg pressure. We jumped the low crossrails a few times, working on inside leg to outside rein for bending. Robin set up some "markers" in the yard for turning at the right place. We worked on using outside leg to keep him centered on the fences, as he kept trying to duck out of the work. Bored, Robin set up a second crossrail, about 9ft or so from the first. The heights were the same. Had quite a few leaps over those, and realized we'd been on a lesson for over an hour. Romeo traded riders, Robin took a few jumps with him, and I got to pick on her habits, some the same as mine - shopping-cart hands, chicken elbows, and undetermined focus before fence #2. They finally cleared the series & trotted away nicely.

Sunday I enjoyed Easter church services, lunch with some friends, and back to the horses. Romeo & I worked on the jump series, about 45 minutes of work. Had a brief discussion with my neighbors about hitting golf balls into my yard (a heck of a suprise as I began my ride and a golf ball comes flying into the jump line). Bored with low rails, I raised the second cross up to 16" in the middle, about 25" on the side. Romeo sailed over with no issues, even jumping the higher side of the fence a few times. I reinforced to myself that, if I look at the jump line, he knocks a rail down; if I look up & ahead, he sails over them clean.

Caught Chewie, gave him a good massaging, scrubbing, Cowboy Magic, bath. While drying, he started rear-hopping in the back yard, kicking out, fussing quite a bit. So I took him to the round pen, and let him free-lunge himself. He took off like a twit, carrying on galloping around. Took me about 20 minutes to calm him down, and to end the head-tossing, hopping nonsense. It's hard to tell if he got water in his ears, was upset about not being ridden, or just cranky. Anyways, when we left the round pen, he was dry, happy, and calm.

Monday Came home, arena work nearly done. Helped the guys finish up the fencing, paid the remainder, and sent them away. Caught Romeo, and worked on the jump series again. No issues, no problems. One time, I looked at the second fence right before he went over it, and obviously messed up his balance. He took the whole thing down, moving the rails about 5" from the standards. OOPS! After I set it back up, we aimed for it again, and I made it very clear with eyes & aids that he wasn't going to knock it down again. And he didn't, clearing the second fence with air to spare. Total work, again, about 45 minutes. We cooled off with some long & low trot, and a few leg yields.
Talked to Robin. We're going to try & coordinate schedules for as many session as possible between now & show April 6. She challenged me to set up the second fence as a vertical, lowest cup hole. I'm absolutely determined to raise the rail tonight to vertical, and accomplish at least 6 clean jump series. Might scare the living daylights out of me, and I might grab a wadda mane, but I had an instructor once tell me, "That's why God put manes on horses - so we can hold on." I'll need to focus on a tall two-point, letting Romeo lift his front end up as much as he needs without feeling like he has to gallop over.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Where did the Week Go?

Wednesday I tacked up Chewie for the first time in a while, walked out to the round pen, lunged no side reins, and rode, easy walk & trot. He was a dream. I was in my tall boots, and after the initial fear of sliding all over in my tack, we got in a rhythm. I had forgotten how nice it was to ride an easy-soft horse.

Had a friend come over & "babysit" so Romeo & I didn't kill each other over fences. Set up higher than normal cross rail, really thinking it wouldn't be a big deal. Boy was I wrong. He absolutely slammed on the brakes, and stopped, darting to the left of the fence. Many things were done wrong... I didn't look up ahead enough before the fence, I didn't push him forward, I wasn't looking forward. So, after it, he started jigging & refusing to pay attention to aids. Slammed on the brakes, climbed off, and walked over to tell Chewie "hi". Got back on Romeo, walk & trot around on the flat, then finally went over the lower rail, without issue . Accomplished about four hops over the rails, and called it a day.

Thursday I realized Romeo hadn't had any time off in quite a wihle. I felt bad, so I stayed away. Left him in the pasture, to be a horse, plain & simple.

Gathered Chewie & tack, and back to the round pen. Brief warm-up, in side reins, and he still looked phenominal. Impressively easy & strides gorgeous. Climbed on, and, again, had a fantastic ride. I really forget how easy he is to ride until a few schooling sessions with Romeo, then I realize how great I have it with my boy. Thought about cantering, then, realizing he hasn't been at work long, and probably wouldn't appreciate having the hair ridden off of him on the second session, I called it a day. Pivots on the fore & haunch were even incredible. Really Really sweet horse...

Friday So far, Romeo & I enjoyed a flat session in the round pen, focusing on stretching down & long, bending at the poll. Once he figured out the side reins, I took them off & jumped on. Then, once he figured out my aids, I quit him. Realizing he hadn't given me a full hour yet, I crawled back on in the front, and jumped the rails a few times. No hesitation; of course, I was pushing the living dalights outta him, and looking long out ahead, thinking in my mind, o O ( Don't you dare knock these rails over, because I'm not picking them back up. ) O o Good workout, about an hour's worth. Gave him a spray-bath with the "no scrub" shampoo. Happy enough with him, though the time with Chewie makes Romeo a bit more frustrating.

Still planning a ride with Chewie today. Yesterday, the round pen walls were anchored down more, planted about half of the back deck flower beds. The ranch services fellows called yesterday & again this morning. #1 I've not been forgotten, #2 They know the fence supplies are at the house, #3 They're planning to bring the tractors out & work tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Romeo Over a Real Jump

Chewie has one new shoe + Equilox. Back to work hopefully Wednesday on the lunge, Thursday thru Sunday under saddle. He looked pretty sad out in the pasture, and even tried to help Romeo a little, trotting & cantering down the straight fenceline, kicking up his hooves. I could almost hear Chewie, o O ( You can do it, old man... give it your best shot. Even if you knock it over, she'll try again. You can do it! ) O o

Robin caught Romeo while I finished getting changed, and groomed him up for me. Her & Mike believe he should have four shoes all-around for the preparation & show.

Long walk warm-up, with the wind whisling through the trees. We were thankfully protected from most of the gusts by the house, and trees around the area. When the gusts did blast into us, he wasn't phased, only side-passing a tad to get away from it. Worked on posting, sitting, two-point. Wore my new Ariat tall boots yesterday. My old pleather boots used to stick to the saddle, and I felt more secure. The leather Ariats? Yeah, they don't stick, they slide. After slipping all over the saddle, we finally got into a better rhythm. The posting trot was a tad harder to start, sitting much easier, and two-point was incredibly easier. Once I got past my irregular aids & chicken-wing arms, we got back to jumping.

Started with cross rails at the lowest height - about 13" in the middle. Romeo was Steady-Eddie, calmly trotting over with ease. I slid around the first few jumps, due to the new boots. Robin asked me after a few clean hops "You want me to put this up as a vertical?" I said, "Oh sure, why not.. it's almost windy enough to freak me out. Let's get it over with." [We measured it, and it was 21.5" from the ground to the top of the rail. Next hole in my standards will have us just over 2', exactly where I want to be comfortable before we show.]

Walked up to the jump, expecting him to at least sniff it & think about it. He didn't even look. And I froze. Had to actually jump off of him, and asked Robin to hop aboard & give him a look at it. I had lunged him over a fence last year, but never ridden him over a vertical. I had no idea what he would do.

Robin's first attempt, he knocked it over. Second, he cantered about a stride & a half away, and Third, clean, trot to & away. She jumped off, I hopped on, went back to flat work a while. We worked on a little inside leg to outside rein for easy turns & better bends. He wasn't incredibly cooperative, but some of that may have been his anticipation of the jump, my mind concentrating on the jump (rather than the ride at the moment).

Finally, Robin talked me into one hop over. I went opposite of the direction we'd been doing, afraid he'd tear into a canter & carry on down the road. We trotted up towards the barn, eyes up, up into two-point, squeeze, squeeze, pray, squeeze. I grabbed a wad of mane, gave him a loose rein, and stayed as upright as I could. Hop! Took him to trot after the jump, and trotted the corners afterwards. Gave the horse a big pat, and the rider.

For a cool down, we walked a bit on a loose rein, plenty of pats & scratches. Romeo enjoyed a little extra grain last night. His coat is shedding out nicely and just might be down to a thin pretty coat by the show. I can hope ...

Overall, a fantastic hour. I think Romeo's just right for learning to jump & fixing some confidence fear issues. He's very steady, not over-reactive, and calm, even when my heart is pounding out of my chest.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Romeo in A Lesson

Talked to Robin Saturday at her garage sale - We've made tentative plans to attend a show in April, near Houston, with Romeo, walk/trot adult beginner on the flat, and over fences 18"-2'. Decided that Sunday's lesson would prove if Romeo could handle it. Chewie's shoulder, combined with the lost shoe, and my irregular confidence, it's just a better idea to take Romeo & have a good show over fences than to be paranoid something's going to go wrong the whole time.
Sunday, the weather returned to it's normal springtime nasty self. Saturday's beautiful sunshine & gentle winds were quickly replaced by 20-30mph wind gusts, clouds, and generally overcast YUK.

Nevertheless, determined to have an over-fences lesson with Romeo, I caught him & got him groomed up. Did a little mane-trimming, a little ankle-hair trimming. Even snipped a little off the inside of his ears. I lunged him lightly, waiting on Robin to arrive. She came, we got my hunter saddle fit on him (no fancy-pads needed, which is NICE). Climbed on, no lunging warmup. Robin asked, "How are his brakes, anyways?" I gently said, under my breath, "whoa", and he stopped. Also demonstrated the air brakes, which aren't as perfect as Chewie's, but darn close. Worked on walk & trot on the flat, and it just seemed like Romeo wasn't 100%.

Robin asked, "Are you really planning on showing that horse in April?" I said, "Well, yeah, I think so." She responded, "Then how about riding the horse like you're going to a show?" I realized I wasn't "riding" Romeo - I was a passenger. I was riding Romeo like I always do, no posture, no core muscle movement, no actual effort, I was just perched up on his back, strolling around the hard. Elbows bent out like chickens, hands "pushing the shopping cart", I must have looked just horrid.

So I decided to "show up & ride for my lesson". Things immediately got better. Romeo quit throwing his head around, accepted the light bit contact, gave me a great posting trot, nice sitting trot, gentle transitions. We moved on to two-point, and then I started learning something...

I have to ride my two horses VERY differently. Chewie, with his big up & forward motion, I have to keep after him with leg pressure, but I also can expect him to really pick up each hoof & react to my requests for lightness. Romeo is flat. His trot is not going to be as big, and he's just going to get strung out if I ask for an uphill trot. He's covering plenty of ground, but he's still flat. Romeo is not going to have Chewie's trot... It gets worse. Romeo is NOT going to be able to carry himself if I lean over at two-point like I do on Chewie. Romeo needs me more upright from the waist up. I have to keep a leg on Romeo, like I do Chewie, but I can't lean over. My hands need to stay loose, and stay off contact over fences.

Ahh.. Romeo over fences. I pointed, I looked, he hit the pole, but didn't knock it over. Again, Robin reminded me, I have to tell Romeo with leg pressure, "yes, Sir, I want to go over that fence, so go over it, but don't stop right after it, either."

We jumped a bunch with the middle of the crossrail at 13", raised the ends, got the middle up to 15", and jumped some more. Romeo's last hop, he was aiming at the rail crooked, off the center. I tried to straighten him before the fence, but realized about two strides out, he wasn't going to "square up to the jump". I went up in two-point, gave him a little more rein, got up as tall as I could, and clucked to him. Rather than step over it, for the first time, I felt him lift both front feet, and jump deliberately over the fence. Robin cheered, and praised. She said I finally rode the horse rather than hesitated, and I let him jump-jump over a fence.

Total lesson.. around an hour, twenty.

We're planning to get back together tonight, Tues, and Wed, weather permitting, and do more work over crossrails and hopefully a 2' vertical. We're planning to add little baby-spurs to my aids, since I'm not coordinated enough to carry a crop. I believe Robin's plans include higher fences than 2', so by the time we get there, 2' isn't a scary effort. I was asked during a night when we're not going to work (probably part of Thursday day work) to lunge him over the flower box with and without flowers, plans to add that probably next weekend.

Chewie looked so lonesome in the pasture. He gets his shoe back today, and I hope to get at least a few days of lunging & rides on him as well. Weathermen call for rain tomorrow, so I'm hoping for light showers, or none at all.

Romeo Over Fences

Friday, Chewie's shoulder looked to be 90% back to normal. I decided to give him one more day's rest, and caught Romeo out of the pasture.

Set up ground poles, after a brief warmup, Romeo trotted over the poles. Since that didn't seem to be a problem, I set up a short cross-rail. Again, no problem. Worked on walk, trot, crossrails. He behaved, stayed calm, but seemed a little disconnected from me, mentally. Total work - 1 hour.

Saturday, I did more of the same. Set up the flower box, with flowers. Trotted in-hand, no problem. Tried under saddle, oops! Romeo slammed on the brakes right in front of the flowers. I took away the flowers, but he was still knocking over the poles. Assuming it was "cockpit error", I worked on flat work, for a nice working walk, and a flowing trot. Total work, over an hour.

Caught Chewie, and found a right shoe missing. Dangit! While I was working on some yard work, Romeo disappeared out of Chewie's line of sight in the pasture. Chewie was running, bucking, and whinnying up a fit. He had, in fact, worked himself up into a sweat, breathing hard. I caught him then, hosed him off, put the horses each back in their normal pasture (Romeo in the open pasture, with no trees or otherwise). Chewie calmed down about immediately, but unfortunately, in all the tizzied fit, lost his shoe. Let Mike the Farrier know, and he's supposed to be out today.

Next entry, Sunday's Lesson ...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ziggy Cartoon 03/14/08

The cartoonist who creates Ziggy must have been dancing around in my head yesterday when I put my profile on It was hard to put up my little profile without smirking, listing current employment & job title(s). Even more refreshing to see some of my past classmates' profiles, where the only thing they can list is "married", and so few list a career. The ones that did, well, were the ones in my head I always figured would "do good". Anyway, in my cheezie little profile, I wrote a comment there with a link to this blogspot, and closed it with "we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, already in progress."

I know Tom Wilson was watching... Now, somebody go tell him to get out of my head before he finds all the other secrets I've been hiding.

The Week - Chewie's Shoulder

Monday - Poured rain

Tuesday - Too wet to do anything but muck stalls

Wednesday - Tried lunging Chewie in the new arena-area. I was hoping to acclimate him to the surroundings, and get his mind thinking that part of the pasture now means "work". Caught, nylon halter, splint boots.

At walk, he was great. Nice big strides. At the trot, however, things were not good. Very lazy, very short strides, overall slow. Every so often, his head would bobble. It was almost like an irregular "off". Called Robin, she came to watch. Trotted him in-hand along the road, and she spotted some sore muscles. On this picture, it looks to be muscles 6 & 7. Massaged, rubbed in some liniment.

Repeat last night. Hope to have a healthy horse again soon...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Who ordered the weather?

Jumping Jehosophat, or any other exclamatory that "blows your dress up". It POURED on Thursday! Estimated 4.5+" of rain at the house. Water running over the road ways in three places between the road-fork & my house. Water running all over the pasture, puddles all the way back to the barn! Rain Rain Rain... bah humbug. Yes I could use some precip at the house, but not that much!!!

Friday, still too wet to even consider riding. I cleaned house, worked around outside a little, but mostly inside chores. Hot water heater is on the blink, I think an electrical problem. Anyways, after a look under the house, it doesn't appear to be in the unit, or the wiring to the breaker.

Saturday, lunged both horses. Chewie was a saint, Romeo a dork. I think Romeo was stirred up being lunged in the arena area - the footing was packed, but soft. I could see it "giving" under his hooves but not swallowing him. Neat completely. Around the house, I got some mowing done to chop down weeds, cut open two small flower beds & planted a philodendron and an orange bird of paradise. It's neat to even consider planting tropicals, growing up in the great North. The bed behind the house I thought would be shady turns out to be mostly sun. I'll do some exploring today and find out what I can plant there.

Sunday, Lesson. And here come the winds! Like the week before, there were plenty of bursts of sharp wind, but it didn't scare me like the previous week. I caught Chewie with plenty of time to groom & tack up. He was fussy about Romeo being out of sight, but overall, calm about the winds. Short lunge before Robin showed up.

Lesson focused on heels down, sit up tall, sitting trot & posting trot. Total work for horse & rider, hour & half.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Arena Progress

Initial work wasn't supposed to begin until Thursday, but when I arrived home Wednesday, there was a large piece of equipment in the pasture. I walked out to it, and saw that the ground had been scraped all over the back pasture area.

However, the equipment looked to be stuck in the pasture. I called the company, talked with the owner again, and he informed me it was stuck, and they were going to remove the equipment Thursday. I reminded him the weather is supposed to be stormy today (cold front buzzing in), and he said, "I'll make some phone calls, and let you know." Never heard back from him.

Arrived home after choir last night, the equipment is gone, replaced with two big ruts in the pasture. Will call today for clarification on the path forward.

I'm still going to have an arena... weather just might slow progress.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Building An Arena!

I contacted a Ranch Management Company Monday, and, after a walk through of the pasture, they've agreed to shred, disc, and grade a portion of the back right pasture for an arena.

Weather pending, I should have at least the back pasture disced by the weekend. Right now, they're predicting thunderstorms, but they may be scattered enough or light enough to not cancel plans.

I will take before shots tonight, and after shots once it's disced, and more for final shots when the fence is in.

A New Tuesday & A Calm Horse

Chewie kept trying to pick up his front left leg while I was putting the polos on, so I kept notice of his warm-up with good concentration, trying to find even the slightest hint of "owwie".

Side reins 5 & 6, walk, trot, deliberately asking for canter, and kept him at it until it seemed like he was focusing on his body more than "hurrying around the round pen." About 20 minutes free lunge & side reins lunge.

Climbed up, I worked on walk & trot. The sun vanished behind the trees, taking all the warm with it. I was cold, and tense, and didn't believe cantering with that much muscle tension was a good idea. He was still stiff, and seemed short-strided. I later figured out my saddle was a bit too far forward, sitting just on the back of his shoulder blades. Sorry, buddy.. I'll do better next time.

Half way through our under saddle ride, a neighbor's golden retriever galloped through the pasture. Chewie & I both saw it, but, rather than his normal "spook & run" reaction, when he started to get nervous about it, I sat down, exhaled sharply, and within a quarter circle, he was at a halt & relaxed. What a very very good boy! I almost stopped him right there, so satisfied that he might finally be calming down.

Total work, 55 minutes.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The weekend, oh the weekend

Friday night, tacked up Western, worked on Walk, Jog, Trot. Chewie didn't enjoy the western Tom Thumb bit, but it absolutely got his attention off of the happenings in the wind, and more on me. I kept getting little light-headed, dizzy spells, so put off canter for another day.

Total work (him lounging in side reins, me riding) = 65 minutes.

Saturday morning, Chewie & Romeo both got new feet. Good news for Romeo, and indifferent for Chewie.

Romeo's right hind split is improving! It's become a little hairline crack from the coronary down about 1". The split will never completely fade from an old injury, but at least it's not split 0.5" wide. He was trimmed significantly, and overall hoof condition looks great! My little man is progressing to a "real horse" with "real feet", and it's great!

Chewie's hooves, however.. darn boy. Everything had grown a ton! Mike cut a bunch of hoof off all the way around, all four feet. Unfortunately, his front right had grown soo soo much, we're back to widening the shoe on the outside of his hoof, adding Equilox all the way around the shoe. Mike said that, because of the Spring growing, and all of the work Chewie's been getting, the hoof growth was great, but just too much of it in one direction. I asked if there was anything that could be done to reduce the impact of him putting so much weight on that hoof when he's working, and Mike didn't think so. I wish there was a way to tell Chewie, "stop stomping, and move lightly, you'll feel better."

After some work-clothes shopping, MacKenzie & I went to PetSmart & volunteered for a few hours with the Calhoun County Humane Society (Kenzie's picture is at the top right of this page of their website). We walked doggies outside, loved on all the adoptable critters, and MacKenzie demonstrated how a plain normal basic dog can be adopted, trained in obedience, and turn into a fantastic house pet & family member.

Came home to an anxious horse. Tacked Chewie up hunter, and off we went the round pen. Side reins on 5&6, free lunge, side rein lunge, and off to work. Walked, trot, noticed he was pretty happy with his new feet. Heading left in the round pen, I centered myself in two-point, asked for canter, and off we went. First few strides in 2-point, next few sitting getting the rhythm, and then after I realized my arms were stiff as 2x4s, starting moving my arms with his face. We had about 5 great canter strides before I let out a good exhale to slow him down. It was fabulous! I didn't grab on for dear life, didn't deliberately lean forward, didnt' pull up on the saddle, just asked. I want to obviously get where I can ask sitting, but that will come in time.

More later on Sunday's intended-lesson-turned-nerves and saddle fit. Also, great news on upcoming arena construction!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday's Lesson Cancelled

With the wind whipping around, clouds looming overhead, rain in the forecast, I was absolutely determined to have a lesson. Went out to catch Chewie, he walked right up to me, head down, licking & chewing. I assumed he wouldn't be bothered by the wind, and the sharp bursts of 38mph gusts wouldn't bother either of us.

While tacking up, on the last polo (rear left), a burst of wind startled both of us. I dropped the wrap, went up to his head, grabbed the lead, and just started talking to him, "easy boy, not a big deal, just a wind burst, we're okay..." More licking & chewing. So I went back to tacking up & getting him ready.

Out to the round pen, and, with the exception of a few outbursts of chaos, he was great warming up. Side reins 5 & 6, quite a bit of good trot from him, with minor distractions from the wind. The bursts were causing some of the round pen side panels to flap, and each time they'd smack up against the pen fence, I'd get startled.

Robin showed up, and I finally admitted I was scared to death. There was a fear, hiding in my chest, that, no matter what I did, I couldn't shake it. There was absolutely no way I was calming down. Lesson cancelled, and Robin stayed around, as a friend, to keep an eye on us, and help talk me through at least a little ride.

I climbed on, stayed at a halt, progressed to walk, even did a little WP jog. But there was no shaking my fear every time the wind smacked those panels against the fence. (Going to need to fix the panels to the fence at the bottom of the panels... that's all there is to it.) Chewie was a saint, but no matter how calm he was, the wind overruled, and I couldn't get past my fear.

I have no explanation for the panic, other than I was worried he'd spook, I guess. Chewie stayed calm, and, as long as I rode deliberately with a plan in mind, he complied. He never took off, never got fast on me, never avoided a halt when I asked for one.

Checked saddle fit. Hunt saddle fits great. Good contact in the front, nice balance side to side and front to back. Dressage saddle doesn't fit so great. Near the top of each side, there's absolutely no contact, also lifting the back of the saddle & giving it more "wobble". Adding the half-pad makes it worse, with even more space up front on top. The solution? A new gullet. This will be the first time I'm glad I own the Wintec Pro Dresssage Saddle, with the interchangable gullet system. I have the smaller size gullet on order, and the dressage saddle will sit in the trailer until it arrives.

Total work for Chewie? 50 minutes.