Saturday, December 28, 2013

12.27.13 Lesson

I drove to the lesson in the rain.  Windshield-wiper "what am I doing" rain.  Radar was clear at the destination, so I kept driving.  In. The. Rain.  can you tell I love driving the trailer in the rain?  Yeah.. 

Arrived at N's, totally clear skies.  She was ready to go, and after dressing H, we were off to the arena.  Harley's mind was somewhere else for a while in the warm-up -  horses playing in distant pastures, Oreo the cow wandering around.  Dogs barking far off.  Anything but working.  Warm-up consistent nearly entirely of working on the bend.  Heading left, I need to exaggerate the left bend.  More inside rein, and inside calf pressure.   The left rein ends up floppy loose too often, and my hands are entirely too busy in the ride.  Wiggle Wiggle.  One way to quiet the hands is to shorten the reins.  Heading right, I need to work on the energy.  His bend is nice, quite nice in fact.  Since he's bending well, the energy falls apart pretty easily.

After the warm-up ride to work on loosening us both up and the instructions on bending and keeping his attention on me and not on the distractions, we headed to some ground poles.  Some stretched out far apart, some closer together with every other side propped up.  Walked over them, then trotted over them.  Other than some lazy feet not lifting over the elevated poles, he did very well.  No pause, and happily he rode them like he does at home.  We rode in and out of the dressage arena to get to the trot poles, which was neat.  Slight hills in and out of it, and definite changes in footing.  Harley didn't even hesitate.  Pretty cool, considering we don't have those things at home. 

Then it was down to business.  Trot poles set up on the gymnastic line... Hop Hop Hop Hop .. No problem, Harley says.  Last pole in the line elevated to a crossrail---low low.  After two trips, this was elevated to a good size X.  Hop.  No problem  - in fact, I was cantering away a good 4-5 strides without him slowing down.  Whee...

Somewhere around when the second X was added, Harley did exactly the same as at home - paused at the first X, jumped hard over it (floppy and loose), cantered a big stride, jumped hard over the second one, threw his head up in the air, and went off pretty fast on the landing.  I did the same as home -  I freaked.  I grabbed his face, I pulled back, I tried to slow him down with only my hands.  N explained "Let him do it the first time.  It's anxious "ooh it's new.  hurry up get in and out and get it over with.  Allow him the first time he does it - give him the benefit of the doubt.  He does it the second time?  Halt hard, as soon as possible.  But not over the jumps.  Keep the reins loose through the gymnastic, and as soon as his back feet land, halt firmly."

After this, I did a good job of setting my fingers on his mane, wrapping up a finger or two in it, and keeping the reins loose.  Somewhere around when the 3rd X was added, I fell forward over jump 2, but somehow in the two strides to the 3rd, I "got my ducks in a row", and was upright again over the 3rd.  Don't ask how.. I have no clue how I did it.

Positives in the lesson:
  • Hands are getting better at not whacking his face, and staying out of his way.
  • Upper body mostly stays where it's at.  I can add a neck strap if I want, but other than the one forward-position, I'm doing well naturally at staying over the motion without being behind or forward.
  • I make good progress at home -  -- Yeah, I hope so.  I try not to schedule the lesson until I have "new material to bring to the game". The compliments were nice & appreciated.  N notices I am improving, and that's awesome.  

  • Legs.  In.  Front.  I need to practice keeping my legs forward from where they naturally rest.  When I put them where they belong, they feel "in front of me", but this is apparently something I'll get used to.  When they were "good", they definitely felt way out in front.    It'll just take some practice and LOTS of repetition to get comfortable there.  N explained that "with my feet in line with my upper body, it's much harder to fall off, and if he does something silly, I'll be a lot more secure than if my legs are behind me where I've been keeping them."
  • Jump line distances -- Things at home have never felt like they do there.  At N's, he feels smooth, fluid, and calm.  Other than that one line that he rushed, he was steady, slow, quiet, and honestly a LOT easier to ride than he's been here.  I figured out why.
    • Ground pole, 7.5' to the first X; 14' to the next X; 23' to the final X.  I got out my tape measure and measured it off after the lesson to be sure.  That's about a 7' stride instead of the 9' I have set here at home.  That right there explains why it feels like he has to reach and probably why he's rushed it more at home.  My next trip to the arena I will be adjusting what's out there. 
  •  Bending Bending.  Do not accept the left "bend" I've been getting.  I got some circles with a nice left-bend, so I know what it's supposed to feel like. 
  • Endurance - I need a LOT more canter time away from the gymnastic.  I need to ride those jumps, be confident through and over, and continue the canter through the turn.  Keep Up The Energy. 

A fantastic hour & half lesson, like always.  As I remember more, I'll probably blog those details, but I can say that like always, every lesson is an amazing abundance of information.  I gain so much in every single ride up there.  :)

2014 has ONE goal and I can't wait to share it with everyone.  I told N yesterday, and she thinks it's totally achievable.  I can't wait!!

Late yesterday evening, with heat packs wrapped around my knees, I know I have some fitness to work on.  I sure am glad I'm on some medicine now, will share with my doctor that while I can ride more than previous, my knees still aren't what they used to be.  Maybe that's just age.  I know I still owe everyone in my readership an explanation on what's going on.  It's hard to explain, there's still some uncertainty from the doctor.  Regardless, the medication is working - I can walk on a regular day, I can bend and move around, and I'm nearly back to riding like I was.  I am not up to 2-a-day on weekends, but at least I can ride 1 up to 5 days a week.  Before the medicine, I had maybe 2 or 3 rides a week, and I was nearly crying a few hours after the ride.  

I still can't wait to share the 2014 goal! :)  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


yesterday's ride was 100% uneventful.  A little longe, where Harley let me know just how ticked off he is being in the paddock while the fence behind us is built.  I hopped on, and we walked.  I rode a little bit of trot, and a hint of canter, just to ensure he wouldn't think he was getting out of it all together.  There was a lot of tractor-noise behind the arena, and it kept both of us alert.  Simple, short, relaxing ride. 

Here's part of today's ride.
*fast forward to about a minute to see more than the trees - I had to start the video myself, and then walk over to Harley to hop on*

He was in rare form today. Moments before this video were a little yucky, as I had one extra ground pole on the second jump standards you see.  He was apparently startled by this change, and let me know about it.  I guess I'm just not sure how to add anything more than what we're doing here.  :( 

This video shows plenty to work on, but I'm happy to see I'm not slamming down on his fact that much, and he looks fairly content in the job.

The "whoa" conversation we have off-camera?  Something rustled in those trees you see.. most likely a bird.. there's also a large fence re-build finishing up behind that brush line, so we were both wondering if there was somebody over there. Turns out, it was either a bird or a squirrel.  I'm voting for secret ninja squirrels.  Because they eat horses.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Harley, more dressage.  I loaded up a play list for the audio lessons, and hopped aboard.  What I didn't realize at the time was I loaded the entire album, and not just the playlist.  The lessons began, and continued on, and after about the fourth subject change, I realized I played something incorrectly. 

An hour had passed.  Oops.  No wonder Harley was fighting me towards the end there. 

We worked on...
Basic bit connection - the part I got the most out of was reminders to bend at the elbows, and stay connected - no floppy reins
Head tilt to the outside - one of Harley's habits.  Fixed by bending in, bending out, asking for straight.  Seemed to work pretty good
Serpentines and bending at the trot - reminders to get off the circle and be somewhere else in the arena

He had one hard spook at the harsh wind, or the boogeyman, who knows what, at the canter, and tried to dump me.  Remembering I still don't have a fence around the property (thanks neighbor for taking your time there), I hung on, and actually remembered to grab the "ohsh!t handle" on my saddle.  Hung on, stuck with it, and sent him right back to work. 

Colder weather came in yesterday mid-day, and hopefully things will be calmer today.  I'm also hopeful the neighbor will tone it down today in his fence build, and I can get a jump-saddle 2-point day and squeeze a couple of X's in there as well.  Much to work on.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Back at it, 12.13.13

12.12, rode Mo walk and trot, in the arena and pasture, focusing on introducing him to the new fence being built around the pasture.  He handled all well, including the tractor weights banging the posts into the ground. 

12.13 was Harley's turn.  Champion.  He warmed up world-class, like he'd seen this before.  No goofy moments, no spooks, not even a lookie-loo moment.  Free longe, followed by side reins, and I hopped on.  Nice ride.  He started out feeling pretty stiff and unwilling to give (odd because he looked good on the side reins).  I focused on my arms and hands and found the problem - he was stiff because so was I.  I put a lot of attention into my elbows and shoulders, and he relaxed.  Delightful.  Rode a lot of transitions towards the end - included nearly all of them, even a walk/canter that was pretty nice. 

As a treat to myself, I downloaded a handful of audio ride tips/tricks from Jane Savoie.  I'm very curious what they'll be like while I'm riding.  I listened to bits of a few of them already, and found that they might be educational out of the saddle, and I'm not sure what they'll do while I'm riding.  They looked like exercises when I read the descriptions, but then in the actual listening, they sound a lot like "educational books on tape".  We'll see.  If nothing else, I can put one on in a playlist, and add a song here & there to boost the energy. 

Speaking of songs and energy, I've found myself listening to the radio, and when I hear an upbeat song, I keep tapping my feet, thinking "I wonder if that's Harley's tempo.  I wonder what his trot would be like.  Hmm, that's too fast, that's too slow."  Anybody else do that?

Next lesson (I think) is scheduled for next weekend.  I better squeeze a jump ride in this weekend, followed by a 2point marathon some night this coming week.

I'm four working days from 2 weeks of vacation.  Monday is a full day.  Tuesday thru Thursday are all short days - leaving 2-3 hours early each day, before vacation begins next Friday and runs through January 6.  I'm anxious for the ride time, and the outside time with the dogs, and generally just not getting up at 4 or 430am to be ready for work.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I rode a few more times than I posted.  Harley and I had some amazingly good dressage rides, and as the weather grew very cold for here, I was surprised to find him even more nimble than normal.  His stretches were great, his general work was willing and forward.  More, his jumps were steady, and consistent.  Enough so that I'm anxious to add an extra X to our line at home.

Then, like always, about 6 steps backwards. 

First, the neighbor I share a fence with is replacing that fence.  They started last Thursday, bulldozing the fence line.  This means I have to put one of the two horses in the pipe-fenced paddock.  I'd love to put them out together, but there's just not enough grass for that, and I don't have the ability to put a round bale of grass hay out for them.  This means Harley spent a few days locked up, and now Romeo is in "paddock jail". 

Then, the weather grew brutal.  Rainy, drizzly, windy, and highs in the low 40s.  Lows at and just below freezing.  Cold, and incredibly brutal for here. 

Finally, just because that all above wasn't quite enough, I caught a chest cold/head cold.  Current routine medication I'm on made this little cold even worse, and quite fast.  Last Friday, while the bulldozer was working away, I longed Harley to "get the jail boogers out", anticipating a show on Sunday.  He was amazingly quiet, only spooking once when the dozer sounded like gunfire as it crackled trees down.  Then, the sore throat turned into a cough, and with a big deep breath of cold wind, the cough hit me hard. 

I realized then I wasn't showing anywhere, let alone riding anywhere, for the next few days.  I scratched the show, unhappy about it. 

And that's where I've been since.  No rides, just watering, tossing hay and grain, and blankets on/off as the weather allows.  Incredibly sad not to be riding. 

Still, with zero fence rebuilt, and the "arena fence" still down, if there were to be a "bad moment" with Harley, I'd have nothing to contain him.  He'd be off like a flash, and I'd be chasing him over hundreds of acres of pasture next door.  I doubt the landowner would appreciate that. 

So we wait.  We work on patience, and we wait.  I've got a tentative lesson for next weekend, and I'm looking forward to it.  I'm nearly done with the antibiotics and can actually report today is the first day I feel an improvement.  'Bout time.  =)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Food Good. Jump Better.

The things a little energy can give us.

I've had some really REALLY nice rides on Harley in the cooler weather.  It's finally cooled here - blankets at night, sometimes all day.  A strong cold front blew in just before Thanksgiving, and made it downright yuck for about two days.  Cool, windy, and rainy.  When the arena dried for work, I was surprised to find Harley ready to go.  No wild goofball moments, no "spook at the trees or birds", but instead, more long&low stretch than I've had voluntarily in a LONG time.  He started the ride stretching down, which really shocked me.  I had some trot moments that were totally fantastic.

Yesterday, after snarfing down some amazing foods, I saddled him up huntseat and headed to the arena.  A little longe, quiet pony.  A bit of ride, quiet still.  He had his head up, and while I didn't force collected work, he was drooling on the bit, and bending nicely.  A little trot warm-up found him forward and alert.  Let's just do this.  R's in the house if I splat, I have my phone with me, here we go!

With a strong focus on forward trot heading to the ground pole, Xrail, ground pole, and a good tap of the new riding crop on his shoulder, Harley was almost in a canter heading towards the line.  Boing!  Straight up and over.   He landed in the correct lead of canter, ears up & alert, looking for the next activity.  We rode it three times straight, and each one felt a little better.  Short walk break, and right back to it.  I found myself able to focus on me, heels down, eyes up, look at the treetops over the jump instead of looking nowhere, hands entirely forward.  He'll canter a stride or three away from the jump, then settle back to trot on his own.  Not exactly what I'll need going into the future, but it's awesome not to need to hang on and worry about him going somewhere.  Important when there's not a solid fence around the arena.

Changed directions, and headed left over the line.  First time I've done that here, and important because, directly after the Xrail outside the arena, there's a huge clearing.  This clearing usually causes a startle in the last four horses I've ridden out there.  The north-west winds soar through that clearing - it goes for MILES with a huge hi-power electric line through it.  Harley bent an ear towards it, but was pretty focused on what was going on.  I made sure the trot was huge heading in, and he jumped very strong over the X.  I think he originally didn't see the ground pole after, and over reacted.  Still, I had my hands 3/4 the way up his neck, reins loose.  I had a hunch the first go-over left would be big, so I made sure NOT to get in his face.  The next few trips over got progressively better.

There was at least one jump that felt *perfect* to me.  I don't mean in the "geez, I think I got it right", I mean both of us got it good.  I felt very secure and balanced in front, over, and after, my reins were loose, heels were down, I felt like most of my weight was in my feet rather than centered in my bum, and Harley seemed to have a nice "pause/jump, land, canter". 

A totally terrific ride.  The bigger the trot going in, the better the jump.  I'm looking forward to the next time we do it, and talking myself into adding that extra X.   We're going to one more show this year, TL1, TL2, PC1.  I'm going to read over PC2 for entertainment's sake, and perhaps try it out here at home, just to see how he does.  MsN says that PC2 goes with TL, and I honestly haven't read it in a long time.

Y'all keep riding, or posting pictures of the snow. :)  I've got some medical updates, and I'll get that post up sooner or later.  Things are progressing, and not as quick as I'd like. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/17/13 Reinforcement

I drug myself back to Harley's pen after riding Mo around the neighborhood.  My legs said, "This isn't a good idea".  My brain said, "We have to.  Need to reinforce the lessons from yesterday, and keep those new two point muscles active instead of let them get lazy again."

So off we went to the arena, jump saddle.  After a brief warm-up, I got down to business.  And I do mean it.  I rode a BUNCH of two point trot.  I'd ride until my legs burned, then I'd ride it just another bit longer.  I rode it on the circles, I rode it down the long side.  I made myself do it. 

With no whip in my hands (didn't find it until hours after the ride today), and no spurs on, I had to do something to get his big trot and keep him moving while I wiggled around in two point.  I set one hand on both reins, still on his neck, and tapped him with the buckle end of the reins on the neck.  ZOOM.  I caught him once, just as he sprung forward.  Oh crap, that's what I don't want to do.  Next time, I reached forward with both hands, tapped him with the buckle, and he again bounced ahead.  Perfect.  Before too long, Harley realized that the only way to keep that from happening was to increase his go when I squeezed and clucked to him.  Exactly what I want. 

Then we did a little bit of canter in two point.  The results here were amazing.  I was cantering two point full circles, and even down the long side and into another circle.  Totally fabulous! Such an improvement over the lazy pony that would break to trot every time I'd lift out of the tack.  This was a nice surprise.

I did a little sitting trot, just until he settled in the contact when I changed from posting to sitting.  Then, it was onto posting trot a while, thinking heels down, elbows bending bending.  It's getting better.  I shortened up the reins only a little while, wanting to see how he'd manage if I was bending my elbows actively.  Things went well.. Much to work on here, but will be easier in the dressage saddle where I'm not so focused on my body position.

Back to a tad more two point at trot and canter, and I called it a day.  A very solid 35 minutes, where I admit I did more work than Harley.  He seemed pretty happy with himself, enjoying the nice weather and me not smacking him in the mouth like I did Saturday.

Progress.. Slow, but progress.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

11/16/13 Lesson

Or more appropriately, gotta have a bad day to keep me honest.

Harley warmed up pretty good.  Rode flat work a little while, realized my two point still needs a LOT of work.  Cantered over one ground pole, and then two, something he refused to do at home.  Funny to feel it there, two poles in a row - hop hop - all effortful & stuff.  Goofball flat refused to do that here a few months ago.

Then it was off to the gymnastics.  Epic Fail to start out.  I wasn't putting enough go in his trot heading to it, and it felt like he was overpowering the x.  Which caused me panic, and a nice standard dose of "Hang on for dear life" - complete with pulling back over the jump, and leaning on him in the landing.  Finally, I had to just reach up forward, grab some mane, cluck and kiss hard to him, and let him do the work.  Of course, he was amazing.  Ended the day with ground pole, crossrail, stride, crossrail, stride, crossrail.  Not a bad ending.  A really rough start, though.

That's one of the first times I've had to think about *not* pulling back over the jumps.  Dang it.. I so hoped I wouldn't start doing it to need to quit.  I'm focused for the next few weeks:

LOTS of two point.. LOTS.  A bunch at trot, and some at canter.  I'm going to build up the muscles needed to hold the two point for a little more every ride.

LOTS of forward trot.  I've gotten myself a riding crop with a leather flap on the end (Ms N -- found it at the local TSC - score!), and I'll start using it.  This means... ask for that trot, but then don't panic and grab rein when I get it.  When Harley gives me the big trot he needs to get over those x's, I need to loosen my upper body enough to let him see the big trot is good. 

LOTS of ground pole, x, ground pole, and leave the reins loose from up front, clear to a few strides away.  I MUST learn to not slow him down just after.  I need to feel that calm canter he gives away from the jumps. 

After thinking about it, the really only other memorable thing from the lesson - elbows.  "My body to my elbows are mine.  Elbows to my hands are an extension of the reins, and belong to Harley."  Focus on bending those elbows in the posting trot rather than going stiff & rigid.  When he twists out, or leans out on the circle, push him out with my legs and meet him where he put his face.  "Contact is not an option when I ride, and he must learn to accept it." 

LOTS to work on, and it's got to get better from here.  I realize it's minor... but I wish I'd done better.  Ah well, there's always the next time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11.10.13 AHHf Prix Caprilli 1

Marilyn Kulifay Judge

1.  A Enter at Walk
D Halt. Salute.
D-E Proceed to left in working trot rising
7.0  Fairly straight halt and to E

2.  C  Circle right 20m
6.0 Circle to be rounder

3.  After C Turn down quarter line, taking fence #1 from trot, returning to track
Before A Working trot

4.  Before E Develop medium walk
E Turn Right

5.  Before B Develop working trot
B Turn right
6.0  careful not to pull inside rein to turn

6. C Circle left 20m
6.0  Circle to be rounder

7.  After C Turn down aurterline, taking fence #2 from trot, returning to track
Before A Working trot

8.  Before B Develop medium walk
B Turn left
5.0  Develops walk twice

9.  Before E Develop working trot
 E Turn right

10.  MXK  Change rein in 2-point / balance position

11.  After A Turn down quarterline, taking fence #3
Before C Working trot
6.0  hit jump with hind

12.  E Turn left
X Turn left
G Halt. Salute

Gaits 7.0
Suppleness & Balance  7.0
Relaxation & Obedience 6.0
Rider  6.0

Attractive pair!  Make sure to release clearly over jumps so doesn't block hind leg.  Steady test.

11.10.13 AHHf Training #2

Marilyn Kulifay Judge

1 A Enter working trot.
X Halt salute
6.5 Slight drift to right, but fairly straight halt. careful not to pull inside rein

2 C Track right & B circle right 20m
6.5 circle to be rounder
3 KXM Change rein working trot
7.5 good use of corners

4 Between C & H Working canter left lead
6 obedient , but then twists head outside of arena slightly

5 E Circle left 20m
6.5 slight bracing in neck / body

6 Between E & K Working trot
6.5 needs a bit more prep

7 A Circle left 20m, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
6 shows stretch. ask for even more

8 Between A & F Medium walk
6 careful not to pull rein into medium

9 FXM Free walk
M-C Medium walk
6.5 ask for even more stretch down, shows overstride

10 C Working trot
6 prompt. horse playing with bit somewhat

11 E Circle right 20m
6.5 needs a bit more energy here

12 FXH Change rein working trot
5.5 loses trot stride and a half, corrected

13 Between C & M Working canter right lead

14 B Circle right 20m
6.5 needs a bit more energy

15 Between B & F Working trot
6 anticipating. almost early

16 A Down centerline. X halt salute
6 fairly straight, but then steps back and goes on 3 tracks

RIDER'S position 6.5
RIDER'S correct and effective use of aids 6.5

Lovely pair! Horse needs gentle elastic connecti - rider to use more inside leg.

11.10.13 AHHf Training #1

Marilyn Kulifay Judge
Score 64.2%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
7.5 Straight halt Slightly right of centerline

2 C Track left E Circle left 20m
7 Needs prep before C Shows energy

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB working canter
6.5 Obedient Needs a bit more prep and balance

4 B-E Half circle left 20m

5 Between E & K Working trot
6 Needs prep, a little fussy in bridle

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins A Working trot
5.5 minimal stretch. better last 1/4 of circle

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6 Needs more march

8 FXH Free walk H-C Medium walk
6.5 shows overstride, some stretch, ask for more

9 C Working trot
6.5 prompt. Needs better connection

10 B Circle right 20m
6.5 Needs a bit more energy here

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
6 needs forward thinking

12 E-B Half circle right 20m

13 Between B & F Working trot
6 needs prep and balance

14 A Down centerline X Halt, Salute
6.5 on centerline @ A, then drifts Right into fairly straight halt

GAITS : 6.5
RIDER's position & seat : 6.5
RIDER's use of aids : 6.5
Lovely pair! Stride to keep a light elastic consistent rein contact - sometimes connection comes and goes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

11.10.13 AHHf Prix Caprilli

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Prix Caprilli 1

11.10.13 AHHf Training #2

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Training 2 63.8%

11.10.13 Training #1

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Training 1 64.2%

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Intense Concentration

In the last few rides, I've been preparing for a show this coming Sunday.  Training 1, Training 2, Prix Caprilli 1.  I've gathered some new supplies for the show (true shipping boots, and a rolling saddle & supply rack), with a magnet sheet on the way soon.  I hope it arrives before Sunday, but I'll make it work without.

I've noticed that, at home, Harley is amazingly good.  He's soft, willing, forward, and seems to pay good attention to me.  At the shows, he always feels stiff and heavy.  Lazy, too laid back, and incredibly difficult to bend.  I rode some test parts earlier this week, and he did it again.  So I started to observe everything I could use. 

And within a few minutes, I found it.  When I start thinking, "this piece, then this piece, then next I'll do.. and next...", my upper body locks up.  Stiffens - tenses - I lose my soft hands and my cooperative elbows and nice way of following him.  Harley responds by, of course, tensing up. 

In the coming competition, I need to ride the horse, and his movement, and not the test parts.  I need to focus on how he's doing, and bury the test parts in the back of my mind.  I have practiced this a LOT this week since I figured it out.  I spent one entire ride thinking off to the side "next is a circle here", then in front thinking "this is a good time for a little inside leg to outside rein, support him, look with my whole upper body in the turn, ,GOT IT." 

It's a shift.  I realize I'm slowly growing into being calm enough in my position, and secure enough in my cues, that I can think about HOW I'm going to get there, and not just getting there.  Instead of putting all my mind into "outside leg back for the canter, eyes, give with my hands, squeeze", I can think "okay, here, we're going to transition to the canter, so ahead I need to prepare him for it, squeeze him up, look, leg yield and ask, but know where we're going after we do it."  It should make for a very interesting show.

My goal for Prix Caprilli is simple - jump the jumps.  Not trot-overs, but approach them with enough energy in the trot that he'll actually put the jumping effort into it.  Land in canter, bring him back to trot , as the test actually says, rather than just a lazy trot-over. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

11/4/2013 Monkey Mondays

MoJo went grape picking with MrsMom.  Here's how it went. 
 There's grapes in there? Really?

 oooooo THERE they are!!


Stop to smell the Confederate Rose

See? Purty

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Harley did all the work last night instead of me.  I saddled him, and put him out on the longeline with side reins for about a half hour.  A few minutes in, he realized the saddle pad felt a little funny on his back - itchie I bet from the hair I wasn't yet able to brush off of him.  He tried to throw a fit, and ran into the side reins.  That made an even bigger fit.  I retrieved the longe whip to motivate him, which led to the teensiest bucking fit - once or twice.  Totally calm, I just hung on, and sent him on forward until he got over it.

Finally, some nice work to the left  - steady trot and canter without a fuss.  Sent him right, where he was totally delightful.  Hmm... back to the left, thinking maybe there was a soreness or a painful spot.  Nope.  That time he was better heading left.  We stayed there a while, working on the trot to canter transitions, trying to keep him from tossing his head up and racing into the canter.  A few nice ones, and I let him walk. 

Towards the end, I unclipped the side reins to see what he'd do at walk heading left.  He gave a big long & low stretch, reaching out with his body on every stride.. terrific.   Clipped the side reins back on and turned him right.  A little more trot and canter, followed by a circle of walk on the reins... And a few more laps with them off - more stretchie stretchie. 

Things looked good by the end, but what a horrendous start.  Will try to get a quick ride in tonight, as we're scheduled for some serious rains in the next two days - need to get going before we're flooded out again.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Harley, dressage, rode the warm-up rather than longe him.  Lots of bending walk, circles and direction changes.  He settled in nicely.  A bit of trot and canter on light contact before I got down to business. 

It was a nice, focused ride.  I didn't let him day dream or stare off at the trees, but instead, kept my legs on and my hands connected, forcing him to pay attention.  A few spiral in/out at trot, and what felt like dozens of transitions.  I've noticed that, when I think about "where I'm going", and don't pay close attention to the quality of the ride, then his head comes up, back hollows, and his trot drags on.  

I didn't have my spurs.  I didn't have the whip.  I paid for this dearly.  The longer the ride, the lazier he got, ending up needing vocal cues for the gaits.  Ugh.  Lazy Pony.

As I untacked him, he was a sweatin' mess.  I looked to the sky, checked the forecast, gave him an iodine scrubby bath.. And body clipped him.  All but his head and legs remain.  I'll get that head done sometime this week, legs will stay furry.  He stood pretty well, and I've realized my clipper blades need some serious sharpening.  At the end, he got some heavy duty fly spray, and after a few hard shakes, he seemed to appreciate his new short coat.

Tonight, we'll try that dressage work again, and see if we can't get a bit longer ride in with less fuzz in the way.

10/28/13 Monkey Mondays

MoJo meets a fluffy friend!

Ehh.. what the ... who is THAT?!  What a hairy thing!

Mom?!  It's going to eat me?  Tell that thing I'm really not that yummy, please? 

Uh.. Oh ..

Tune in next week to see if MoJo made it, and wasn't an afternoon snack.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Harley, jump saddle.  A nice cool morning to work again in the newly flocked saddle.  Flat work was nice.  I'm definitely sitting better in it now.   Rode some trot circles without hanging on the reins - arms out like a plane, hands on my belly, back, helmet.  Whee!!!  I did it a little at the canter, but only with one hand at a time. 

Trotted over to the jump - ground pole, 9' to X, 9' to ground pole.  First over, he was pathetically lazy.  With each subsequent effort, he gained a bit of ambition.  At the fifth try, I told him, "Just keep it clean, and we're done for the day".  Boing!  He planted, jumped nicely, cantered over the second ground pole.  A perfect place to stop.  :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

10/19/13 Sienna TL#2

Pam Grace, Judge

1 A Enter working trot.
X Halt salute
7 Straight entry. Almost square

2 C Track right & B circle right 20m
7 would like to see rounder top line and more stretch into bridle

3 KXM Change rein working trot
6 head up, back hollow

4 Between C & H Working canter left lead
6 Obedient but back up , head hollow

5 E Circle left 20m

6 Between E & K Working trot

7 A Circle left 20m, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
6 hardly any stretch shown

8 Between A & F Medium walk
8 giving nicely thru topline

9 FXM Free walk
M-C Medium walk
7 good overstep ' fair stretch

10 C Working trot
6 Head up, back hollow

11 E Circle right 20m
7 some better here

12 FXH Change rein working trot

13 Between C & M Working canter right lead

14 B Circle right 20m
8 Better here

15 Between B & F Working trot

16 A Down centerline. X halt salute
6 backing out of halt not quite straight

RIDER'S position 7
RIDER'S correct and effective use of aids 6

Nice ride . Continue to encourage round supple topline

10/19/2013 Sienna .TL#l

Pam GraceJudge
Score 68.333%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
8 straight entry Square halt

2 C Track left E Circle left 20m
6 good energy from behind needs rounder topline

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB working canter
6 obedient transition, head a little high

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
8 much better thru here

5 Between E & K Working trot

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins A Working trot
7 Some good stretch, needs consistency

7 Between A & F Medium walk

8 FXH Free walk H-C Medium walk
8 good overstep & stretch

9 C Working trot

10 B Circle right 20m
7 starting to come thu better here

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
6 balanced. Head a little high

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
8 better thru here

13 Between B & F Working trot

14 A Down centerline X Halt, Salute
7 almost square

RIDER's position & seat : 7
RIDER's use of aids : 7
Nice Ride. Encourage a little rounder topline

10-21-13 Stirlingshire

Saddle fitters were in town yesterday - a quick drive to a barn near MsN's house.  Quick - relative for Texas.  Less than 2 hours, mostly highway, then quiet back roads.

Dressage saddle checked out a-o-k.  No work required.  Hunt saddle, being new, required some flocking in the front.  I took Harley out to test it post-stuff.

It was MUCH easier to sit upright in it, no leaning forward.  I wish I could've ridden a bit harder, but there were a few competing issues..
  • Horses galloping around in the pasture - "switching of the stalled/free horses" soon after I hopped on him.  Harley stopped, and shook, scared of all the chaos.  Also, two ponies lingered right outside the arena fence.  I don't mean a couple fences away, either.  Right outside the arena.  WTH?
  • Arena was on an angle along the short side.  The long sides were "flat", but short sides were uphill/downhill.  Harley, not used to such a slant, was definitely having to find some balance there. 
  • Footing left a bit to be desired.  As I walked into the arena, I saw slipped hoof prints.  Big'uns.  Hmm... I felt him slide a bit on those angles at the trot, so I rode the canter on the "uphill" end.  Didn't have much space to canter from that, as there was another saddle-tester hanging out on the long side. 
Satisfied the fit is good, and the longer I sat in it, the better it settled on him, we loaded up & headed for home.  After Saturday's road trip for the show, and Monday's trip for the fitting, I think he's owed a couple days off.  Then, it's back back to work! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monkey Mondays 10/21/2013

MoJo continues his photo album from Georgia.
 Here I am, supervising and assisting in Locust duty aboard this chair. 

 What on earth is he doing?!  That child!  Oh dear!
 Should he really be doing that, Mom?  I can barely stand to watch! 

That's it!  I'm holding this board down until they calm a bit. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

10/18/13 Getting Ready

I've got my ride times - 5ish and 6ish tonight. 

Trailer's nearly loaded, minus the pile on the dining room table. :-)
Truck gets a bath this morning.  Not until after I do, however.

Kids are ready to go, well, nearly.  Need to get a feed list ready for my wonderful kid sitters this evening.

Last night, Harley got a bath.  Even with some rain overnight, he's still clean - miracle!
I will give him a brief Vetrolin shower before load-up. 
He also got trimmed yesterday - hooves check cool this morning at breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, blackberry, mango, strawberry, banana, spinach, juice, protein powder smoothie in the cup for me.  I've been experimenting with different fruits, making breakfast fruit smoothies nearly every day for about two weeks.  Good results - decent energy in the mornings, I don't get hungry soon after eating, and they seem to be healthy.  It's all frozen fruit & fresh spinach, how bad can it be?

We're traveling again on Monday.  Special plans!  MoJo's cousin, Monkee, will be visiting from Scotland. :)  The saddle fitters are in Texas, and I'm anxious to see them again.  Much flocking and plenty of fellowship.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Dressage night for Harley.  Tremendous effort on his part.  I find that, when I'm only thinking about "ohmygoshwhatdoIdonext" in panic throughout the test pieces, he's very figety on the bit, wiggly, and completely does whatever's possible to avoid contact.  If I think about it slightly, and focus more on the quality of the ride, he's so much nicer.  So that's what we'll do on Saturday evening - focus on the quality, while still thinking about the pattern.

Rode TL2 completely backwards of how it should be, on purpose, near the start of the ride.  He was decent, and while some things were good, others were horrible.  Anxious to break canter being my least favorite moments.   With that complete, and a few parts of TL1, I figured we were both done with "patterns on repetition", and it was time to break things up.

Three-circle canters, and anytime he broke, he cantered longer.  He's dropping the gait almost unexpectedly lately, so I started paying attention to what was happening right before - a slight drop in head, and a tiny bit of hanging on the forehand, then PLUNK.  Canter over.  With this in my mind, I saved it for later in the ride.

A bit of shoulder-fore.  A little leg yielding at trot.  Very nice, and better than expected.

Back at that canter on a 20m circle - testing out if I really knew what the indicator was before he broke to trot, everytime he'd start to hang on my hands, I'd squeeze up tight with both legs.  BooM!  The solution!  Subtle things to pay attention to in the ride - thus more focus on the quality of the ride rather than the pattern. 

Some walk to sitting trot transitions, followed by some stretchy trot rising, back to sitting (loose contact), then drift down to walk.  Things here went fairly well.  A few bobbles if I moved from sitting to posting and back sitting, but he's becoming steadier here.

50minutes hard work left him huffing and puffing yet again.  Though slightly cooler out, he was sweating all over.   Cool hose over his neck and legs, and he settled out.  I'll make it a project next week to body clip him - the fuzzy yak he is just can't handle the temperatures.  At least not at this workload. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

10/16/13 A Pole Too Much

Well, Three poles too much, to be specific about it.  I warmed Harley up on the longe, quiet as always.  even in a cooler weather and a breeze.. amazing   I hopped on, and tried not to fall balanced carefully worked on two-point in walk and trot with my new shorter stirrups.  It's going to take some time.  felt like a jockey, I'm tellin' ya.

R came to watch help assist supervise dial 9-1-1 and cheer me on.  First, a walk over all the poles on the ground (9' apart, 5 total).  All quiet.  Then, a trot over.  I giggled when R said, "He started out lethargic, but by the end, he was prancing over them.  How fun."

With the first X set up.  (Reminder.. that's a ground pole, 9' to the X, 9' to another ground pole, then an X pulled down 9' away as ground poles, and one more ground pole 9')  I approached it at a nice trot.  Harley trotted over the first pole, jumped over the X, and cantered over the rest of them, rushed like.  It felt raced, hurried, and incredibly uncoordinated. 

This repeated every other time I went over it, except for one attempt that was a lazy trot through the whole mess of it.  I was worried the distances weren't right -- maybe I didn't pay attention in the lesson.  Was Harley just fresh in the cooler weather?  He usually isn't. 

I emailed MsN and asked.  Oops.. I over-did it.  Turns out, the last two poles (the first, the X makings, the second a pole alone) are too much at once.  "Set up the first ground pole, the X, and a second ground pole, all 9' apart."  A few more instructions about how to approach it, and how to plan for the away from the X.  All completely reasonable, and made logical sense. 

Sorry Harley.. I got a little ahead of us, son.  I'll make it up to you Friday perhaps.  Tonight, we need some dressage miles for the show on Saturday.  I will not ride the tests tonight, so we don't pick up habits.  I will, however, ride the pieces I'm the most concerned about. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Settin' 'er Up &

Watchin' it rain.  Sunday, I set up jumps.  I have the standards and poles to make..
ground pole
cross rail 8' away
ground pole 8' away
cross rail another 8'
ground pole another 8'

That's all the stuffs I have.  :)  I didn't get to set it up under delightful conditions.  Instead, I set it up under a 2" rainstorm downpour.  Yup, that's me.  Why wait to do it after it rains, when I can do it in the rain?! I mean, what's the sense in checking the radar?! 

Monday, with a little mud in the working circles, I dressed Harley up dressage (after I hosed the mud off), and we worked a bit of dressage things.  Our canter work was limited to the dry places, and I let him do the thinking through the little bit of mud.  A nice 30 minutes.  I had that "gut feeling" I needed to end there.. Good thing.  I spent another hour investigating and repairing grounded out hot  fence. 

Yesterday, I had plans to jump.  Harley's fuzzy winter coat, the lack of decent breeze, and the heat index wilted my plans.

Today, a cool(er) front pattern came in.  So tonight, we shall try.  I think. 

If I can talk R into standing there and making the X's into ground poles, and lifting one, let us work it a bit, then lift the other. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monkey Monday 10/14/2013

MoJo, sharing some pictures from his Georgia vacation.

 Overseeing MrsMom working in the garden.  

 Hiding in the bushes.  What's that I see out there?  

 It's the DAT!  

Chillin' in the sun, catching some rays.  

Next week, MoJo shows us what it's like to watch the Locusts play in the lake.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

10/12/13 He can Die, but he still has to Bend!

Arrived early at N's house, and it was POURING rain when I got there.  Oh dear.. will I even be able to ride in this mess?  I drove almost two hours, and it wasn't wet on the radar.  I glanced at the map... a storm had brewed from nowhere, and looked to be small.  Still, I saw a puddled arena, and I was worried... I unloaded Harley anyways, ready to go about the day.  At the least, he'd walk around some.

N rode him to start.  Things I remember from her observations: 
* Light in the mouth
* Bends good off a quiet body, and more importantly quiet hands
* One solid tap of the whip and the leg, and he quit star-gazing
* Quiet , obedient , steady in trot
* My canter cue is quite unique - but Harley will canter off the vocal cue - "Canter!"
* He settled nicely for a new rider. 

I was quite happy to see him behave.  Also, I was delighted to see the arena handling the water so well.  It wasn't slick, it wasn't sticky.  It was just wet.  How delightful!  We traded places, and I rode w.t.c. for a warmup as well.  In one of the trot circles, Harley reached forward, and started coughing a fit.  I said to him, "Oh dear, you're going to die!"  N replied, "Well, he can die, but he still has to bend", and with that, more inside leg to outside hand.  A nice bend, and some quiet canter. And we were off.

But off where? To the gymnastic jump line that formed before my very eyes.

It started as four trot poles.
Then a ground pole, and a small X.  Harley was lazy to hop, so it became a taller X.

Then, it was a ground pole, an X, and another ground pole.

Then, a ground pole, an X, a ground pole, and another X.
Then, a ground pole, an X, a ground pole, another X, an extra stride, and a ground pole.
Next, a ground pole, X, ground pole, X, stride, and an X.
Right there, Harley waited until ground pole #2 to see the final X.  He tripped over the second X, stumbled through the ground pole, and stride, just to topple the final X.  And I mean topple.  Knocked the whole darn thing down.  Scared himself, too.   Startled me a little, and I was about ready to give up.  A quick poke, and I was back to it, with a little quiet calm canter from H in the field.  That was neat - he had just made a big train wreck, and out in a field full of large fences, he just cantered about like nothing happened.  Okay, we CAN do this.  
Ground pole, X, ground pole, X, stride, X.

His rides through it ranged from a lazy trot, stepping up over, to nice big jumps, and a steady canter. Entered each time at trot, and the bigger I made the trot, the better the quality of the jumps. 

It was exhilarating.  Down-right FUN, and I expressed that a few times.  I didn't feel un-seated, and though a bit awkward a few times, I never got the "ohmygodI'mgonnadie" feeling in the approach to the line.  Harley never felt like he sucked back or hesitated, though a few of the trot-overs were very unmotivated.  No spurs, no whip, just me & my saddle.  Oh, and my 33mouth D-ring myler bit.  Yup, my dressage show bit, you've got that right.  No extra tack to "tone him down", or "ramp him up".  I was adding lots of cluck and some kiss to get him started at them, but once in it, I really only had two things on my mind..

Eyes UP
Heels DOWN
At every start, I heard "eyes, heels down, legs forward".  Turns out, all these dressage miles have settled my leg good for dressage, horrid for jumping.  Homework?  Shorten the stirrups even more (3 more holes drilled in my leathers), and ride a LOT of two-point in those holes.  Super short, IMO, but probably where they need to be.  When I had my legs "forward" (which really wasn't .. I could feel when they were behind me heading in, because those were the jumps that were terribly awkward), I felt a lot more secure. 

Our next lesson will be more of the same.  That's just some down-right good fun right there.  I'm finally getting closer to crossing jump shows off the "bucket list".  A totally delightful lesson.

And even better?  I was able to actually walk today, like a normal person.  Well, as normal as I can lately.  Still a lot of mixed messages from the doctors, which I will update once I know more.  Until then, you'll need to trust that some days are great, some days are terrible, and I'm working through finding that balance.

Monday, October 7, 2013

MoJo .. Where'd you Go??

My deepest apologites, Monkey Monday fans.. I'm behind.  Okay, I'm way behind.  I have pictures from his Georgia trip to share... I really do. 

Life has gotten in the way.  When I know more about what's really going on, which may be later today, I'll blog some details. 

I have been riding.  Harley is doing great.   Really great, in fact.

MoJo had a fun vacation. He will be back to Texas soon, and up to more antics and entertainment.

Charlie and the other little kids are doing great as well.  Charlie takes me on walks a few days a week, and gets a little better on the leash every trip. 

Bear with me while I get the rest of my world in order.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Monkey Monday 9.23.13

Wow Mum, the past couple days have been busy busy busy at The Asylum! I skipped the library trip yesterday, as I needed a NAP in order to recharge from helping Auntie Mrs Mum making homemade bread. You know she kneads that stuff by hand? And that it takes a LONG time to knead it? No wonder her hands are strong-- she does this a few tiems a week!

Anyways-- it was very cool out yesterday. In the 70's all day, so we worked outside in the memorial garden. It was awesome- the flowers are really pretty. Time to replace the petunias with something else though, as their time has passed.

Then I had to help her with the Great Knife Mystery. No real headway in solving the case but we DID discover that it isn't just the butter knives that have gone AWOL-- oh no, some of the sharp steak knives have as well. I tell you, it's a right fair puzzler it is. Got us all befuddled.

Today.. we cleaned house (lots of that goes on here... seems like a nonstop process.) And then we took the Locust Brothers to the lake. I was quite nervous-- all that gator talk had my wee little Monkee bits tucked up far far inside me. Luckily though, no gator sightings so we were happy.

Then it rained again. It seems to rain an awful lot here.

I still have yet to meet the horses- Auntie Mrs Mum says its too wet and yucky out for a little Monkee man like myself. Nice of her to keep me shiny clean!

Oh-- and the scariest part of the day--- I met a puppy. Oh my Heavens. That was a very energetic puppy. She wanted to cart me off to parts unknown and do who knows what to my tiny Monkee self!! Bloody frightening I tell you. I must confess though, after Auntie Mrs Mum put me up high on the table, that little pup sure was cute. From a distance. Not so much up close!

OK Mum, I'm fair knackered from today, so it's time for me to crash for a bit. I'm told that there is yet MORE adventure in store tomorrow, so a little Monkee man like myself had best get some shut eye!

Talk with you soon Mum,
Your Loving Monkee,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

9.22.13 Training #2

Leslie Cummings Judge

1 A Enter working trot.
X Halt salute
6.0  contact unsteady but straight entry

2 C Track right   B circle right 20m
6.5 turn w bend on every step of circle

3 KXM Change rein working trot
6.0 fusses thru turn

4 Between C & H Working canter left lead
7.0 prompt

5 E Circle left 20m
5.5 neck twists right ear high , braced

6 Between E&K Working trot
7 fairly smooth

7 A Circle left 20m, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
5.0 pulling and snatching

8 Between A & F Medium walk
7 nc (??)

9 FXM Free walk
M-C Medium walk
6.0 fussing to bit but clear difference in walks

10 C Working trot
6.0 needs more supple, stretch to bit

11 E Circle right 20m
6.0 push circle out to 20m
still arguing about bridle

12 FXH Change rein working trot
7.0 better contact here

13 Between C & M Working canter right lead
6.5 a bit haunches in

14 B Circle right 20m
6.5 Push out to 20m

15 Between B & F Working trot
6.5 plan for a lighter down transition

16 A Down centerline. X halt salute
7 slow to settle, but straight

RIDER'S position 6.5
RIDER'S correct and effective use of aids 6.5

Well matched team. The connection is the issue. Bit? Teeth? Hands?
Your correct geometry should help develop suppleness and power especially when you are able to communicate more harmoniously w the rein aids.

The Show 9.22.13

Wow! What a Day! Harley scored 60.8% in TL#l and 62.0% in TL#2.  I couldn't have hoped to much more . Very short warm up, and he wasn't as ready as I thought.  Still, he had more "go" than previous.Better bend ,and in some places, outright terrific.

Let's get on with some details...

Leslie Cummings Judge
Score 60.80%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
7.0 fairly straight

2 C Track left E Circle left 20m
6.0 good rhythm but needs steadier contact

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB working canter
5.5 neck pulled left, braced

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
5.5 neck twists w right ear high

5 Between E & K Working trot
7.0 obedient to trot

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins A Working trot
5.0 seems umwilling to stretch consistently

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6.0 add activity

8 FXH Free walk H-C Medium walk
5.5 some rooting into reins

9 C Working trot
6.0 head bobs

10 B Circle right 20m
6 fusses to bit but good geometry

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
5.5 prompt to canter and  better alignment here

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
5.5 broke

13 Between B & F Working trot
 6.0 prepare earlier

14 A Down centerline X Halt, Salute
7 almost straight

GAITS (freedom and regularity) 7.0
IMPULSION (desire to move forward, elasticity of the steps, suppleness of the back, engagement of the hindquarters) 6.0
SUBMISSION (attention and confidence, lightness and ease of movements, acceptance of the bridle, lightness of the forehand) 6.0
RIDER'S position and seat 7.0
RIDER'S correct and effective use of the aids 6.0
HARMONY between rider and horse 6.5

Very attractive duo. Good geometry and rhythm
Needs to develop more confident,  steady connection and elastic stretch into bit.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monkee Mondays 9/16/2013

Mum! Mum!
There's a MYSTERY afoot! A MYSTERY, I say!!
According to Auntie MM, there *used* to be plenty of butter knives in the drawer. Well, apparently up until recently, there were maybe 12 of them. Mum, you should have heard her three days back-- "Where are all the butter knives?" was the battle cry. She said, with more than a little bit of incredulity mind you, that there were only TWO left in the drawer. TWO butter knives I tell you!!
Now tonight, as she was doing dishes and cleaning her kitchen up, she discovered an awful truth---- there is only ONE butter knife remaining! ONE!
It's a mystery I tell you- the knives are disappearing. Shocking!

We're hot on the trail of the gremlins who've made off with her kitchen utensils. Rotten little buggers they are!
I'll keep you posted Mum, on what happens when we solve the Case Of The Missing Utensils!
Much Love from your Monkee,

Friday, September 13, 2013

9/13/13 Ain't always unlucky

Caught Harley early this am. Weather was fabulous. It's been really humid & warm lately, so anything like we had today was perfect, Low 70s. Yum !

Warmed him up in side reins, Only a few minutes, and it was clear he was ready to go.

( I owe a few back stories and Will set to them.--. Basically, full vet trip earlier this week. Big dental float, along with shots and Coggins. Thurs pm l rode light . Long enough to loosen his mind and back.)

Boy O Boy! Another reminder how happy his mouth is! Quiet and obedient! Very nice 40 min of full work. A few lazy moments to work out. Like making a trot to canter transition C-H. He is not keen on all the trot up to more work.

The bugs? perfect to fix Tomorrow in a lesson wl Mrs. N! Harley and I roll solo tomorrow. So for me, time for lights out !

Monday, September 9, 2013

9/9/2013 Monkey Mondays

Dear Mum-
Well goodness. I have found out why Auntie MM calls those boys "Locusts". I swear, if they've eaten once a day, they've eaten 18 times. I've yet to figure out where they are putting all that food. And it isn't even into the loo!

It's been quite an adventure thus far. I've met "Granny", who lives across the way, and had a lovely tour of the yard and both homes with the Locusts. Auntie MM has mentioned something about a lake, but I'm a bit worried about this thing they call a "gator" and what it might do to a tiny Monkee MoJo like myself. I've seen the flower garden too- it's lovely.

I've yet to meet the horses, but the dogs wasted no time in making introductions. Jo is indeed a chicken in a dog suit- anytime there is even a hint of thunder, she clings to Auntie MM tightly. And Murphy/ Merp/ Damn Dog is dangerous to a tiny Monkee like myself with that tail of hers! She sent me flying through the air one time wagging so hard! Lucky for me, Jo broke my fall with her cushiony side. She is a sweet old girl.

And there is this odd creature called a DAT. She is odd because... well.. she LOOKS like a cat. Just a regular, plain old cat. She meows, she purrs, and she does some other things- like when the youngest Locust calls her, she comes to him. And when he asks her, she pushes the fridge door closed! Have you ever heard of such a thing? A CAT of all things, coming when called and closing the ice chest? Auntie MM calls her DAT because she wags her tail and acts like a dog sometimes. If nothing else, she is quite entertaining.

I'm looking forward to meeting the horses. And to meeting Bitsy and Sissy at Granny's house too. Although I hear Sissy has sharp teeth- Auntie MM is going to have to protect me from her.

The Locusts are non-stop busy busy busy. For that matter, the past few days, Auntie MM and Uncle Lt Handful have been crazy busy too. In fact, there was ONE day this week that I was wishing they would pack me up and send me home. Please do not be upset over any additions to my vocabulary- blame it on a Really Bad Day at Auntie MM's. (By the way Mum, what does it mean when a woman grumbles and growls and steam comes out of her ears? And she mutters things under her breath that involve a lot of... well.. shall we say rather strong and un-ladylike language? And just how many orifices and sphincters are there in the human body? Is it more than in a Monkee?)

Most of the rash has resolved on my tushie and under my shirt from those sparkly bits you insisted on shoving all over me. Auntie MM has been very kind about treating my scrapes. And the youngest Locust even offered up some of his personal band aids! Such a generous little fellow. When he is not sassing his brother and making his mum batty that is.

OK Mum, I hope you are well out there. I'll update more tomorrow- today wore me out trying to keep up with Auntie MM mowing and laundering and cooking. It rained some this evening, so no lake trip yet. Which is good- I'm fair worried about that gator creature introducing himself!

Your Loving Monkee,

9-2-2013 & 9-7-2013

Sept 2, Harley and I rode dressage, sort of.  It started out as "work-work", but I just wasn't feeling it.  We enjoyed the rest of the 40 minute ride on a completely loose rein, trotting and cantering, taking advantage of the close short side of the arena being open.  We ended up loose rein cantering down the long side, right out of the 'arena' area.  Pretty darn fun.

This past Saturday, we worked darn hard.  I've registered for a show Sept 22, Training 1 & 2.  I read through Training 2, and it's a bit longer than 1.  So I rode LOTS of trot diagonals, and two sets of 3-circle canters each direction.  Harley did great.  Lots of zip in his giddy-up, and plenty of go.  He felt focused, attentive, and obedient.  :)  Not bad for a few days off, and new hooves.  A delightful ride.

Yesterday, 9-8, it rained.  Finally.  And lots of it.  Not the "little shower stuff", either.  I'd guesstimate 2-3" total so far.  I had puddles in the pasture, puddles in the arena.  The ground quickly gobbled it up, but the back porch was puddly again this morning, suggesting we'd gotten more overnight.  There's a forecast for it today, and tomorrow.  I'm super happy for it.  Much needed, grass-growing, hay-raising kind of rains.  :) 

Healthwise, I just sit and wait.  BP fluctuates between "wow, that's terrific" to "whoa, that's some weird stuff I've got going on right there".  My ability to get things done has improved dramatically.  I was able to vacuum the entire house without stop breaks over the weekend, a big improvement.  All the tests are done, so it's just waiting now until the 9-18 appointment.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Harley, dressage.  No warmup, just mounted up and off we went.  Lots of walk serpentines to get us started out right.

After a trot warmup, I rode TL#1.  It went well, all but the stretchies, both walk and trot.  He stayed in his canters, without any fuss.  The trot/halt/trot was even nice at X.  Better than I expected, and I attributed the bad stretches to not enough warm up on contact.  By not making him work hard before the stretches, he didn't appreciate the value of the stretches.

The ride was good.  He moved out well at the trot, and stayed with me for the canter work.  Well, most of it.  Towards the end, I rode three circle canters heading right first.  When I started in it, and realized I went right first, I had a feeling left would be bad.  And it was.  He broke gait in the same exact spot as the day before.  Only I couldn't let him keep getting away with it.  Even though I felt like poop, I kept going and sent him back to canter.  In the canter left quite a while, lines and circles, mostly so I could control the down transition.

45 minutes of hard riding.  We were both exhausted.  Cool hose for Harley, and a shower and snack for me.  I spent the rest of the entire day planted on the couch once outdoor chores were finished.  A totally lazy sacked-out remainder of the day.

Monkey Mondays 09/02/2013

Alternatively titled, "MoJo Monkee's Road Trip, Part One"
Dear Mum-
Imagine my surprise when you were dancing about the house talking about a road trip, just for ME. At first, it was quite exciting- I love road trips, and you always take me to such interesting destinations. (The adult beverage selections you introduce me to are some of my favorites by the way!)
However, when the giant box came out, with a travel kit and my passport.... Pardon my saying so Mum, but I do believe I had my doubts. Never before had you brought out a box, a passport and my travel kit for a mere road trip.
And road trip it was.
All the way to the east coast-- Savannah GA to be exact. At first, I was pretty cheesed, being stuffed in a blooming box, with confetti and what not. (Did you know that those sparkly little bits itch my monkee bits something fierce? Yeow!) By day three I was getting into relaxing a bit, wondering at my destination. And.. it got rather warm. A bit stuffy in there, don't you know.
My relief was huge. For a moment or three, I was worried I'd be going back overseas- but instead, I'm here in Georgia. The squeals from the boys, known for some reason as the Locust Brothers, were a bit deafening. But quite frankly they are charming young chaps who have been quite a bit of fun to pal around with.
Well, I'm a bit knackered from a busy few days. I'll write more next week for you, and include some pictures too. I'm ready to tuck in with the Locust Brothers for now, and dream some happy dreams.
Ta-ta for now!
Your loving Monkee,

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Harley, jump saddle.  Longed (minus side reins) for about 10 minutes.  Quiet, submissive warmup.  Hopped on (via mounting block, since any stretching on my chest seems to aggravate the whole chest/heart situation), and off we went.  Sticky.  Lazy.  Obstinate.  Grr!  Okay, so once he was finally walking, we were off.  Worked on some serpentines and circles at walk.  Up to trot, and more of the same.  He finally started to relax, and loosen up.  Whew.  Loosening his body and mind took another 10 minutes. 

Canter, didn't have a single small circle.  Started on a 20m circle at L/I, depending which side we were on, finish the circle towards A/C, head down long side, short side, next long side, then back to trot around the opposite A or C.  If circle started at L, half 20m circle to A, canter A/F/B/M, C/H/E/K, back to trot between A and L on the circle.  Easier to ride than explain.  Same in opposite.  He stayed IN canter, didn't try to break, didn't fuss.  Rode the lines better than the half circles.  Took a short walk break, 5 minutes, mostly stretching down walk.  A nice steady forward walk at that.

Down trot poles 3x each way.  One time through on one end of the poles, another on the middle, and finally the other end of the poles.  Changed it up depending which side we were coming from.  Didn't have any kind of pattern other than "go over, pick a spot on the poles, then find a treetop to stare at". 

Big long walk break.  By now, I'd been riding about 25 minutes.  I had planned a half hour/35 minutes total.  I figured, "oh, I'll skip the canter poles today.  I'll just ride a little bit more at canter, and we'll be done."  By now, my heart was working good & hard, but it felt good.  Up to canter, "oh heck with it.  I'm doing those @#% poles.  We can DO this."

Canter poles heading right twice, no break in gait.  He was fantastic!!  I was super glad I did it.  He didn't try to break gait, and with gentle smooches from me just before and over the poles, they were smooth sailing.  Walk break, next up left.

Left canter poles - first over, he stumbled in front (heavy on the forehand), but got himself back together just before to stay in canter over them.  Made the short side, heading down long side with intent on doing it again.  He broke.  Straight to trot.  I sat deep and asked again. .No Go.  NOTHING was getting Harley back into that canter without a fight. I asked him to walk to re-group.  So I thought. 

My heart was POUNDING.  I felt like my head could pop off at any moment.  Whew.. Lots of heavy breathing.. More than I realized I was doing.  Enough to make me quite nervous.  Harley knew better than me.  "I've had my fill for the day, haven't I Harley?"  He let out a huge sigh, dropped his head, and shook it just a bit.  "Okay.  We're done.  You know better than me when I've had enough."  We walked it out and went back to the house.

Today we'll dive back into dressage.  I'm planning on riding TL#1 again, and seeing where the bugs are.  Perhaps I'll ride like it's a show - lots of walk/trot serpentines and circles, make me a pony-noodle, ride the test and see where the bugs are.  I suspect things will go well today, and the only "bug" will be that stretchy trot circle.  Depends how good the warmup section of the ride goes.

I intend on a walk on Mo after that.  Heh.. We'll see.  Maybe Harley will let me know if I'm up for it or not.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Harley - dressage. Side rein warm up followed by a 30 minute ride. 

He started out stiff, as I expected, but submissive.  The trot work was nice - I should have done more serpentines and less circles, but I worked on circles to straight lines, back to circles.  Just a couple leg yields at trot, and they were decent. 

Knowing I didn't feel 100%, I chose *one* thing to work on.  Transitions.  Lots and LOTS of them.  Walk/halt/walk, walk/trot/walk, trot/canter/trot.  Walk/halt/walk took the most work, in both directions.  I'll be doing that again today.  Walk/trot/walk was really nice, for the most part.  Trot/canter/trot need work, and I already knew that, especially left side.  He throws his head up to the left, but stays pretty quiet to the right. 

Got through the whole ride in my cool vest without incident or troubles.  Quite tired by the time we were done, but I expected that.  What I didn't expect was after the ride in the rest of my day.

No matter what I did, I was easily winded, and tired.  Running the vacuum cleaner, short of breath.  Washing Charlie, short of breath.  Standing in the dog wash with the sun beating down on me, sweat pouring, heart pounding.  Showering and getting ready for a concert last night - heart pounding, short of breath.  Absolutely no good reason for it, other than tired.  Late night last night as well, but I'm going to give it my best effort this morning and schedule some rest this afternoon. 

Today, We'll try again.  I'm headed to change for the ride.  Harley, hunter.  Unless I can convince R to set the saddle up on Mo, he'll have to wait another day.  I just don't know how I'm going to get back into riding both - Mo's endurance saddle is SO heavy, and that act of tossing it up on his back gives me the chills.  That's the last thing my heart and chest need right now. 

C'mon Harley.. Let's ride, see how we can tackle some ground poles again.  :-)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tick Tick Ti--c-c-c-ck..... thumpthumpthumpthump

ReCap of the week, while not 100% horse-related, still relevant.

Monday - mild chest pain.  Rained hard at my house (yay!), so I figured it was weather-related. 

Tuesday - it happened again.  Only it hurt even more.  I ate lunch at work, then went to help a co-worker with a computer program question.  I leaned over, and briefly felt like somebody knocked the wind out of me.  Ouch.  Stood back up, and that got better.  It also started to feel like I had run a marathon.  Chest pain, tightness, midget sitting on my chest.  Heart pounding, like it would at the end of a hard canter-set. 

Went back to my desk and sat down to call the doctor.  Answering service, "No, they're at lunch honey.  Call back in a half hour."  Crap, I wonder if I have a half hour..  Went with a co-worker to the work medical dept. BP 158/88, pulse 98.  EKG at work (per nurse practitioner) "worse than it was last time".  Nurses at my plant panicked.  "Off to the ambulance she goes." Loaded up and hauled to the hospital ER.  (Fortunately, the same one that handled the kick initially.)

Spent about 7 hours in the ER.  Conclusion?  "It's not a heart attack.  Blood work is okay, EKGs are okay, aspirin, nitro, and toradol.  Go home, rest, see your doctor tomorrow." 

Wednesday - chillin' and relaxin', dr 2:00 pm.  BP 128/78, pulse 81.  He gave it a listen.  Yep, the tricuspid valve is still leaking, he can hear it.  Ordered and Echocardiogram, and a CT/contrast.  Cardio doc said, "All things considered, I'm in very good health.  Heart is strong, I'm in good shape.  Keep exercising, keep eating really well, and be very attentive.  There is very little chance this valve will kill me, but we need to determine what's next." 

Thursday - Went to work in the am, BP at work medical 120/80, pulse 69.  Echo - technician acted normal.  He told me he can still see the leak, it's still there, things don't look 100% normal, but he doesn't know how bad it is.  "Looks a lot like the last time, but I'm not the doc."  CT for next Tuesday. 

Friday, today.. I will ride.  In about a half an hour, I'm going out there.  It's humid, but in the 70s for temps (yeah, upper 70s. yuck).  I will wear my cool vest, I'll take the ice water jug out there, and Harley will longe in side reins before I hop on.  Dressage, and I'll take it easy.  Enough ride to work on one thing, but not multiples like we've been doing.  I haven't checked BP/pulse yet this morning, but I suspect it's like it's been.  "Normal" BP for me is 110/70, pulse 70 or lower. 

I haven't really changed my diet.  I'm still riding, though not as much due to the heat.  Work hasn't been anymore stressful than normal, and I might even be brave to say things have been less stressful lately.  Just as busy, but not as emotionally stressful. 

I was hoping to kick off our formal jump training very soon with Harley.  Now, it's a big "pause" until 9/18 and the doctor decides what to do.  There are a few treatment options, so we wait and see.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Harley dressage.  Started out in his show bit (we've been going in the Myler 04 combo, middle ring) on the side reins.  He settled into it nicely, so I crawled on top.

Nice ride.  He was sticky halt/walk/halt, not wanting to walk off.  A few moderate dressage whip taps, and he got the idea.  Things improved gradually from there.  Saturday, I found him very stiff on his circles, more left than right.  Sunday, things were better.  He had a better bend, and seemed more alert.

Rode through TL#1 to see how it'd go.  Both canters, both directions, 3/4 into the first circle, he broke to trot.  Easy enough back to canter, and he held it better on the long sides than he did in the circles.  Monster.  Later rode some more canter on circles, and he had his mind in the game.  He's not as "put together" as I'd like in the test - probably because I'm focusing so much on "what's next", rather than riding the movement in front of us.  Things to work on for sure.  His stretch trot and free walk were much improved over what they've been.

Long walk break, followed by a few brief trots asking for shoulder-in.  That's a long ways away, I fear.  He's barely getting it now, and it's usually with a LOT of protest in his face and neck.  Baby steps, Harley.. Baby steps