Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Last weekend brought an interesting discovery.  I still need to prove it again, but my courage is weakened.

Friday, I got Harley out, saddled up dressage.  Warmed up longeline, added some side reins for a touch, then hopped on.  Walk was stiff and dragging.  I quickly sent him out at trot, because I saw he didn't have any trouble moving out on the line.  He trotted decent.  I sent him out canter early on, hoping that would be the final 'loosen up' he needed.  He went out at canter quick, and I blamed it on my tense hesitation.  We both relaxed, he broke gait, so I quickly asked for more canter.  I got enough to be satisfied, so I asked for a trot.  Without warning, he bolted forward, and I had a split second to decide, "I'm not falling off, so unless you throw me off, we're going to slow down together."  I held on with my right hand under the gullet, and my left hand slowly slurking down the inside rein to turn him towards the back of the arena.  "A good corner back there to stop him if he does keep on running."  I was able to turn him yet some more, and we nearly ran into a jump standard.  "Really Harley?!  You've been fine this whole time!"  Rode him out walk, and trot, and when he relaxed and stayed forward, I quit.

Saturday, I saddled him in the western/endurance tack.  Absolutely zero problems.  Warm up longe, hopped on to ride.  Not an ounce of sass.  Walk, trot, canter, all in the same speedyness as the previous day.  Not one ounce of pissy.  Interesting.

Sunday, I saddled him dressage again, and sent him out on the line. After a while, it looked like the saddle slid up over his shoulders.  I straightened it out, tightened up the girth, and sent him out again.  More forward-slippage. 

Not willing to take any sass, I changed saddles.  Again, no problems.  Walk, trot, canter, nada.  Not one bit of bolt/fuss.  A little nervousness at the gusty winds, and the "boogers" he thought were in the trees, but nothing unmanageable.

I'm at a loss, again.  Is it the saddle?  Is it him being a jerk?  Heck, I don't know. 

Back to the western tack that I can hang on in, and he doesn't seem to fuss about until I get more answers.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What is Different, and why I've stopped blogging

Harley went off to a friend's in Louisiana for a month.  It was refreshing.  She was delighted with how he moved, found him lazy behind, suggested he needed work on strengthening his stifles.  When I returned back to pick him up, I found him sensitive, reacting well to my leg and seat, and I cantered him lightly with confidence.

He hasn't bucked.
He hasn't thrown a fit.
He was dragging his left rear toe a bit, but seems to have quit after a nice hoof trim (that was beyond overdue for reasons I don't even understand).

Mo, has been Mo.  After checking my copy of his papers, I realized the sweet old man is 19.  Not 17.  19 freaking years old.  I see no need to force him into anything, so we end up walking around a lot, and trotting a bit, to keep his mind on something.  One afternoon, the neighbor's cows were walking across their pasture.  Mo perked up.  I walked him to their fenceline, when a very large bull approached the herd.  I was focused on a grey calf.  Mo?  He and that bull were having themselves a stare-down.  The bull didn't budge, and Mo would step forward every minute or two, just a step. Finally the bull sighed, took a step back, and wandered off.  The entire herd followed him, and he made certain that not one cow or calf were left behind. 

Harley doesn't spook now when the cows wander down the fenceline.  In fact, he glances at them, and goes back to work.  I've been in the endurance saddle, and the 3ring combo myler bit. 

And when I'm ready to get back in the dressage saddle, I will.  Until then, we're good like we are.

I've burned out on lessons.  And shows.  That one damn show where the barn owner felt it necessary to say "I don't ride well.  My hips aren't centered, and I've messed up my horse in such a way that only "she" can fix him" really pisses me off.  I'd boarded Harley at her place while I traveled for work.  I'd scheduled my life for shows that were at that barn.  Just to have one day he backs off the trailer lame, and then be attacked for "not knowing how to ride".

So if staying at home, in the arena I'm comfortable in, suits us, then great.  Until I feel like going back there, and flipping her the bird in a blue ribbon with pride, screw it.  :) 

Harley seems to like cows anyways.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Longed in side reins
25 minutes

walk trot canter

Mostly good.  One huge hissy fit - he stumbled/tripped/forgot to pick his feet up... something, in canter-left (shortly after the transition).
Landed from the stumble, went bonkers for a few strides running crazily and kicking up, then settled.

Rest of the work was good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Help me Help TAPS

Hi Everybody!

I haven't been riding much, sadly.  It's been ridiculous hot at my place - no roof, and with a work start time of 630am, there's no way to sneak in a ride before work days.  Also, I've been run training. 
I normally do not ask for stuff like this .. But, August 30, Sept 6, and Sept 13, I’m running 5ks  with the entry fees to support different charities in TX (Victoria Food Bank, Travis Manion 9/11 fund, and Cattan Recovery Outreach).  I’m also fundraising for TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors .  TAPS provides direct support to families who have been impacted by a death in the military regardless of geography or circumstance.  I will be running in memory of my friend’s brother, Alan Dean, who was killed in a truck accident earlier this year. 

Here’s the link if you’re able to donate and help me help TAPS.  Thanks for taking a look at the link.  Share with anyone and everyone, please!




Monday, June 2, 2014

Harley Update

Harley was working back up to full work. 

Then, it began raining.  I'm not fortunate enough to have an all-weather arena, so when it rains hard, and puddles, we are without a safe place to ride/work.  The rain came in heavy storms as well - In about 24 hours, we got nearly 8" of rain on the property.  This delayed any hope of riding.

With rain, and standing water, even with my best efforts, came the mosquitoes.  Yesterday morning, both horses were coated in the little blood-suckers.  I hosed the sweat/mud/dirt off of both of them, and then followed up with strong bug spray.

Unfortunately, again, as if I'm not meant to ride hard this year, Harley apparently was so upset by the mosquitoes, that he cut open the side of his lip/cheek area scratching.

I hosed that off as well, applied some salve, and I'll keep an eye on it for a few days.  This means that when the bugs subside, he will only be working in a halter until the cut heals up.

I'm really starting to think the goals and plans I had for the year will be less than I hoped.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


After the wild bucking fit, I gave Harley another two days off.  Tried another ride - - he twisted about a bit in the longe warmup, then quieted to his normal self.  Hmm. The ride was fantastic.  Stiff, didn't want to bend, but at least he'd move out.  A few bits of short canter, and lots of good trot work.  About 40 minutes.   I stuffed another ride or two in there, longing him over some trot poles, again, good results.  Some lazy "don't wanna pick up the feet" moments, but he didn't flip out when he stepped on and tripped over the poles. 

I reported the update to the vet on 5/9 when I took Romeo in for his annual shots/coggins.  Vet said, "Good.  How much bute is he on?"  Well, 1g twice a day, since you didn't really give us a plan forward.  Decision was made to get him down to 1g "for a few days", then try him some more. 

On 1g of bute, he got one ride.  Things went surprisingly well, again.    Then, some beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, wonderful rain came.  This week has been pleasantly soggy.  We needed the grass watering.

He's off the bute now, and I will get some rides in this weekend. 

Romeo continues to be quiet, most of the time.  He longes like a 2 yo that hasn't had a ride, um, ever.  Bucking wild crazy goofy fits that disappear as soon as I hop on to ride.  Nice, peaceful quiet rides.  Some in the arena, some out in the pasture.  He's due a ride down the road, which I hope to get to soon as well.

The running remains.  I'm still sticking with it, considering a formal name change to Forest Gump. Tomorrow night's plan calls for 2.25 miles straight jogging, no walk breaks.  Whee.  Should be interesting.

Friday, May 2, 2014


Harley, longeline, saddled - HUGE bucks heading right as soon as he went into canter.  Humpity hump hump.  A few times, he kicked out behind, up & out.  He stayed in canter without a lot of motivation on my part, and eventually settled down.  When he stretched his neck long & low, I asked for a trot, which looked even.  Down to walk, changed direction.  One or two times in left-canter, he kicked up & out, but no huge bucking fits. 

Added side reins - he tried to twist his face to the outside heading to the left, but gave walk, trot, canter, both ways, willingly.  No fuss, no bucking, no kicking.

So I got on and rode a little.  Walk both ways good.  Trot both ways, good.  Stiff in bending, but that's normal.  I rode between rising trot and sitting, and noticed early in the ride, it felt like he was "butt-high", but later not as much.  He gave to the contact, bend improved throughout the ride.  One of the direction changes after some sitting trot, I saw what looked like "drag lines", suggesting he was not picking his back feet up all the way.  Not sure if that's a sign of soreness, or laziness.  *sigh* 

I glanced at my watch.  30 minutes.  Do I canter, or not ... I chickened.  Chose to end it there, with some transitions from a connected walk to a long & free walk.  When I did dismount, I noticed a LOT of slobber, licking, and chewing. 

Maybe the bute is helping.
Maybe he self-adjusted something that was out in his back, bucking up a fit.
Maybe he's hiding the pain, and I need to ask for that canter to be sure.

I will call the vet this morning, with the updates, and see what the plan is from here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

4/29/14 A lot of Nothing

First check, was hooves.  Tight squeezes on all four.  Clean! (*and I smiled big at that*)
Lifted each leg, and manipulated every joint, all four legs.  Nothing.

The vet checked Harley walk and trot on a line (in the gravel).
Then trotting a circle, each way.
Flexion rear legs - left showed nothing.  Right "showed a slightly shorter stride". 
X-rays of Hock and Stifle on Right.  4 views, each joint. 
Nada.  Nothing.   Clean.

The plan ahead was 1g bute twice a day.  "Try to ride him after a few days."   Tonight, I'll start out light, add side reins, see what he shows me.

Then, I'm not real sure what we'll do.  The vet was going to show the x-rays to a colleague, and "let me know".  I'm not expecting them to see anything.  On the upside, it means Harley's joints are clean.  If that's the "tough sore side", then the other three oughta look amazing. 

In other news, my 5k went well 4-27-14.  37:12 . Not too shabby, and a good start time to work on.  My joints are holding up well.  Knees were fairly sore the day after the run.  I took two days off, then ran again last night.  A little sore this morning as well.  Expected though.  I'm up to #C25k on week 4 day 2 (yesterday), and I've added to the run by another 9 minutes above what the app calls for.  It seems hard to "rest-back", after the efforts I put in last week to be ready for 4-27. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Waiting on Tuesday

When we finally will get to see the vet.  I tried to ride Wednesday, and nothing went well there.  Harley was okay at walk, okay at trot, then canter-right, he was having no part of that.  It was super disappointing.  I decided to stop rather than push him and risk getting hurt (him worse, or me at all).

So now after searching for a vet, and finding no one reliable enough to get us in this week (a horrible experience even trying to schedule something), I'm waiting for our Tuesday afternoon appointment.

In the meanwhile, I've had a couple good rides on Mo, along with a few hard runs.  Wednesday also brought a funeral for a friend, which was incredibly difficult.  Between the troubles with Harley, and the funeral, I needed a release.

So I ran.  Hard.

I'm entered in a 5k this coming Sunday evening, knowing I will be walking and jogging.  But today, I put in 2.9miles.  That's pretty darn close to far enough.  Of that, I'm pretty proud.  I've got my clothes washed & line drying, running shoes cleaned, playlist set. 

Now it's just the R-u-n.  *gulp*

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4.23 Preparing

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

4-20 What I Saw , And What I Heard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Show - A Sh!t Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 18, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah, here's why..

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

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

Monday, April 14, 2014


What I have learned lately:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

4.1.14 No Foolin'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ending March

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

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

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

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

Tonight, we'll just see. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3/22/14 Lesson and Homework

Got Harley up and moving with the shorter reins, and had some decent work.  Must continue the emphasis on bend, and forward.  I gave him a healthy smack with the whip only one time, with a nice shot forward, and after, he wasn't as heavy to move out. 

Jump work was rough.  Really Really rough.  He overjumped a little X first, and I managed to get his attention back.  Second trip, he overjumped yet again, and burst out in a gallop I wasn't prepared to stay with.  After a short discussion, I hopped back on, and we backed clear up to trot poles.  Things were okay.  Ended each line of trot poles with a sharp halt. 

The X was set back up, smaller, then eventually raised back to where it was originally.  At best, we had one trip of a true jump.  The rest were trot-over steps, or a half-effort jump.  The complete opposite of what he originally offered.  I approached the line, saw a small X, followed by a stride and a vertical, and paniced.  I didn't see that happening pleasant, and didn't need any more bruises, so we called it a day.


Continue the bend exaggeration in the warmups.  Ask for forward, nicely once, then with the whip.  Insist on forward. Canter early in the warmup, which improves the contact, the bend, and the quality of trot.

Start with trot poles.  Gradually increase the height of the X until a true jump effort is reached.  Lots of energy heading in the trot to the line.  If he starts to get that "rush away" attitude, halt gently after the jump as soon as reasonable.  Repeat a few times. 

One day a week of longeline work on side reins. 

Find a safe place, and introduce him to the gallop with a rider.  We've not yet done this, at all, since I started riding him.  I've got a few ideas on where this might happen, but I'm not certain when.

The weather has been rainy since.  This is a good thing.  We need the rain, and it's nice to see a green pasture starting in the back yard. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Quick Update

I owe more, but..
 Rode Mo a time or three, Still fun. Still reliable. Just out of shape. Longed him up & over the box. Trot JUMP trot. I often wonder, maybe Romeo is a jumper after all. I probably didn't start him correctly, but I bet it could be fixed.

 Harley got his jump saddle adjusted.  A bit of stuffing was all we needed.  Also had a neat dressage lesson with Ms. A. one of the fitters. Take home? Squeeze him forward, then kick, then SMACK with the whip. whip. Shorter reins, and insist on forward. 

 We had a few rides before and after the fitting. Trott and over an X. A bit of canter over ground poles (5 a few times, 3 others ) , and a few pole, X, pole. All canter on the circle.
  After the fit lesson, Harley and I had some good dressage moments. He still fights in the warm up, but things are improving.

Ready for our lesson on Saturday. Anxious to get back in the swing, and get back on the gymnastics. We are ready to let Ms. N. set the pace, and get our confidence back.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

No, Tell me What you Really Think...

I follow and read a LOT of blogs.  More than I've linked.  Here's what I've come to learn:

Some people blog as a "Here's what I do, what I think is the best way to do things, and you should learn from me".   Others blog as a, "Here's how it went for this ride, what I did well, what I was terrible at, and what I'll do differently."

Then, there's a mix of the two.  Usually someone who touts themselves as an "expert" in whatever field they ride in.  They're either pleasure princesses, dressage divas, reining-roping-racing runners, trail or endurance trotting, something.  These folks will blog about their adventures, or the lack thereof, and then delve into all the details so the 'rest of us underlings' might learn something from them.

My favorite has to be the blame-blogs.  You know .. "I had ___ happen in my ride/play session/groundwork stick training, and it's all ___ fault."  There's no possible way they could admit they can't ride, can't read a horse's mind, the horse is too much for them, or my favorite, *gasp* they need riding lessons from one consistent ride until your damn legs fall off and come back in two weeks for another round instructor. 

Here's my two cents, because those 28 few of you that follow me here, read what I post, sometimes comment, sometimes send me messages through email or facebook, or in person.  Feel free to share this post, comment here, email me, facebook message me, toilet paper the old oak tree in my front yard (if you can find it)..

If you have a terrible day riding, it's your own dang fault.  Fix it at home before you go anywhere and search for blame somewhere else.  (For the record, I had to censor that first sentence... that's how aggrevated I am.)  Quit looking for some karma-riding batshitcrazygoofball to blame your bad day on.  The horse knows what you want, 98% of the time.  They either choose not to listen because your cues suck, or you're distracted.  If you can't ride it out in your back yard, there's not much a chance the show ring, or competition field, or the trainer barn can repair it.  30, 60, 90 days with a professional will only fine tune the horse's skills, and if you can't handle the ride now, your horse will definitely over-react when the cues are less sensitive. 

Each of our disciplines have the good, the bad, the ugly, and the "holysh!t I can't believe they haven't banned that person for life".  Quit pretending you have the perfect sport and only *that other riding event over there* has the crappy trainers.  Quit stereotyping breeds of horses, or styles of riders.  Not all dressage riders practice rollkur, not all event cross-country horses are goofy and injured, not all barrel racers spur their horses bloody, and not all trail riding is benign.  That being said, not all western pleasure horses are forced to go slow, some horses LOVE to jump (pulling their riders to a jump if the rider isn't paying attention), some barrel horses live to run, and some trail riding is outright dangerous. 

If you're a quiet reader that isn't a follower, doesn't comment, and thinks I'm evil for picking on your or your best friend, that's your problem.  I've been blogging for quite a while, I comment here & there , and I'm reading enough every single day to see the trends.  I should say here, "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings or offended you", but I can't muster it today.  Maybe a few months from now, but not today. 

Here at work, we have a phrase with one of our instruments (a gas chromatograph), to "check the nut behind the septum".  It means, "Check the user before you blame the instrument."  So, I say here, "check the nut".

When I fall, I blame me.  I gave Harley more of a jump challenge than I could sit.  I hadn't sensitized him to gunfire.  I'm not as secure in my seat as I wish I was.  I tried riding him or Mo bareback and mentally wasn't in the game for it.  Other events lead up to my accidents, but it's not the events fault.  It's mine for not having enough years in the tack to stick it.  I'm getting there.  Thank you for reading while I win ribbons, tolerating the days I ramble on more than I post details, and for not asking too many "training technique" questions.  I'm no trainer, just a student that keeps on learning, and doesn't intend to stop.

I'm riding this evening... who's with me?

A Couple of Good Rides

Last Friday & Saturday, Harley and I had some good times.  I got lots of really pretty bending work from him, which kind of shocked me.

Then, we had some nice canter over three consecutive ground poles on the circle Saturday.  It was amazing how smooth he did it.  Over the pole, X, pole, again, step overs.  One decently nice jump.

Not this coming weekend, but next, I think it's time for another lesson to see what's ahead for us.  I need to figure out how to get over this "barely stepping up over" lazyness without pushing him so hard that he panics again.

Which leads me to the next entry posting ... Well, sort of.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Well that settles that.

On the way home from work last night, I was eager to ride.  I was going to hop on Harley dressage, and we were going to get. to. work.  It was going to be amazing. And then, half way home, my belly/gut/nether regions I'm hating right now, said, "Uhm.. No.  You're not riding." 

With that, I parked it on the couch, cancelled my plans, and scratched the show.  I'm deflated today.  I had already backed off the test plans, but cancelling?  Bah Humbug.

I'll get some good riding in this weekend, but competing just isn't in the cards for us tomorrow.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Weather and Mud

Monday - cold, and raining.
Tuesday - coldER and raining HardER
Wednesday - MUD

Today?  I hope to actually ride.  Nothing says "bring on the rain" at my house like a paid show registration.  As a result, prix caprilli 2 was changed to 1, and I'm going to hope for the best.  With trot-to jumps (of tiny size), I can nearly count on comments like, "Horse needs to jump". 

Ah well.  We can set our sights on future lessons to work on things in a more orderly fashion, and perhaps prevent a train wreck.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Things are looking up. 

Harley, dressage saddle.  Longed him warmup, and included over-three ground poles at canter distance.  Lazy.  Just lazy.  It wasn't until I popped the whip with force and growled at him that he finally even tried to canter over them. 

Under saddle - rode the three ground poles at canter.   Then three poles on the straight away (trot then canter).   Things were good.  A bit lazy, and sometimes rather than reach hard, he'd break to trot.  I did feel a few "little canter strides" before the poles, which seemed like a good thing. 

Trotted over two different X's,  one a bit shorter than the other.  Barely stepping over them.  And I mean barely.  It was near painful to feel like I was winding him up for a ... step ... boo hiss.

Sent him to it at canter right-lead.  The more difficult to jump from, at least over the ground poles it's more difficult.  He broke once, then cantered the ground pole, X, pole.  Another break in gait, and another pretty canter.  The last one, in fact, was gorgeous - he set his strides up perfectly for it, and while I felt like I was leaning too far forward, I had a handful of mane over the line, and things went well.  He cantered a stride or two away from it, then settled to trot.

Went back to it from the left.  Trotted over once, he knocked one of the X rails over.  Pathetic.  I hopped off and set it back up.  I stood there a minute.  I "played the good canter over in my head", and decided no matter what we got, trot or otherwise, if he at least tried, he'd get praise. Courage is being scared, but saddling up and doing it anyways, I remembered.  Let's get this party started. 

First canter depart, he broke to trot as soon as I turned him down the line to see the jump.  I turned him away on a circle.  Next time, he had a huge trip a ways in front of the jump.  Back on the circle again.  Finally, I was determined.  A tap of the whip and a harsh growl, "Come ON already!", and Harley was ready for action.

He cantered right up to the ground pole, stepped over the jump, the following pole, then went back to canter, licking & chewing.  I took that as an "I'm sorry, let me try again."  So right back to it we went.

Cantered over it most beautifully.  After the pole, Jump, pole, a stride or two, then back to trot.  I gave him a good verbal praise and a huge pat... Asked him on the short side corner before the line to canter again, and sent him to it again.  More of the same.  A really nice canter over the X. 

It was the bigger of the two X's I had set up, so I didn't even bother with the smaller one.  It's time to pick that bigger X back up to where it used to be - fourth hole up on the standard.  Send him to it at the trot, then again at the canter. 

I think we're slowly working past it.  I'm probably mentally hesitating in front of the jump, my little subconscious sees the huge over-jump he had.  Harley feels it, and probably sees the same fear again, then breaks gait.  It's okay  -  baby steps.  I'm getting a little more courageous, and so is he.


Hunter saddle, Harley warmed up nice on the flat.  The wind was howling (20mph with 35+gusts), so it was nice to have him paying attention.

Trotted to the pole, X, pole.  He was barely moving.  Crawling.  One time, he had a beautiful canter over the pole, jumped, pole, and quietly went back to trot.  Lots of verbal praise from me, Jen, and a good hearty pat.  Next time?  Back to that lazy trot.  Both directions, just stepping over.

Cantered over ground poles a while, and he started to find his stride. 

Today?  I'm going back to the dressage saddle, and we're going to at a minimum canter over three poles in a row, on the circle, and on the straight. 

I'm entirely 100% not sure if Harley's hesitant, nervous, or just being flat-out lazy over the X at trot.  He isn't really jumping, and that's NOT the horse I had before.  Though, I do remember once we did canter the little X, he started only stepping over the X at trot.  Hmmm..

Things to ponder while I plan for the sunrise.  Weather's supposed to turn yuck late tonight, and be yuck the next three days.  Cooler tomorrow, slight chance of rain.  Then more cold and rain Tuesday.  Certainly not the best timing, given the show Saturday.  At least for the dry days, I need to "suck it up and ride".

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2/27 & 28

Getting back in the tack after the soreness eased up a bit, and the rains came & went...

Thursday, I longed Harley out a little, and found him quiet and confident.  Nice.  Saddled up dressage, I quickly remembered the one drill from the lesson ---

Trot a small circle, then quickly depart into canter.  Amazing.  Got some nice transitions out of that little exercise.  Something to remember for warmup at the show, for sure.  Also need to remember to exaggerate the bend in the warmup, and not worry about it being "pretty". 

To reinforce the "stop when I exhale", we did some serious transitions - and I mean serious.  Walk/halt, trot/halt, canter/halt.  Only one of them was seriously ugly, and after one ugly canter/halt, he was paying attention, and realized that exhale/shh means slow down, and "whoa", means right this minute, or as soon as possible.  No dilly-dally around, and I even intentionally had crappy balance and posture for a few of those.  While I know darn well I need to work on staying relaxed, and asking for a quiet transition when he freaks out, he also needs to hold up his end of the partnership, and that's actually slowing down when he's told to.

He behaved so amazingly well in the flat work, I saw the X set up on the long side, and thought, "that'd make a nice reward for all the job well done here."  I pointed him to it at trot.

Stopped. Flat dead stopped.  I knew it wasn't high, so I made him step over it anyways.  It took three more trips before he stepped over it semi-confident.  :(  Dang.  We changed direction and things were better - still hesitant to start, then he got better.  By the ride's end, I had all trot-over steps over the X.  Once or twice, he actually jumped and landed in a canter over the ground pole following.  I could feel the hesitation, and I felt pretty bad for him.

Yesterday, jump saddle.  He was lazy to start, as usual.  Flat work was alright - I didn't push for lots of bend in the start, but rode some cute trot serpentines, and while it wasn't pretty, he was bending in the turns, and paying attention.

Sent him at trot to the X, no refusal, no hesitation.  Both directions.   Not so much "jumping", which is disappointing, but I didn't have my whip in-hand, so he probably needed more trot energy going in to get a good jump.  I stayed happy with the trot-overs. 

Pointed him at the 19" vertical from trot - stop.  s.t.o.p.  I gave him a good pat, and sent him away at a trot again.  Lots more trot energy going in (thanks to tapping him with the reins a bit), and I purposely squeezed in front of it, staring at the tree tops outside the arena.  Boing!  A nice step-over.  He didn't exactly jump it beautiful, but he went over.  Landed in canter, over the ground pole away, and settled to trot with an exhale.  EXACTLY what I worked on Thursday.  Terrific. 

We repeated the vertical from trot both directions a few times, and realizing he was paying attention, and quiet, I quit.  Shorter ride Friday than Thursday by only a few minutes, but it was nice.  I didn't want to add a second jump after the X, and I sure didn't want to worry about canter ground poles or otherwise.  He was quiet, and seemed to be gaining some confidence, so I left it right there.

Today, we've got help.  The plan is to ride the X, add another X after it, then a small vertical after it.  After that, it's canter a ground pole, then a slightly elevated ground pole, to an X, to a vertical.  All trot first, then canter next.  It's going to be a long ride, and I expect he'll probably have a few "enter canter, then break to trot" right in front of a jump or three.  It's okay.  Baby steps. 

I've come to realize the show will be serious practice rather than "competition" this time around.  We won't score high, the judge will probably say "no jump", or score us low for breaking gait in front of something.  But that's alright.  Last Saturday's accident had a bigger impact on Harley than I thought it would.  No reason to rush, we're not trying to compete the "big leagues", and I don't have any membership fees banking on year-end awards.  His trot-to things is going very well, and since I know he can do it at trot, there's no reason that can't continue.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

2.22.14 Lesson

Warmed up w.t.c, and a little dressage forward thinking.  Harley felt a little lazy under me, but obedient.  His transitions were a bit better than they've been, and other than not very well bent, we're doing well. need to keep working on exaggerating the bend in the warm up until he relaxes, ask and release, ask and release.    Canter down the long side was improved as well.  A little bit of "easing off the line", but not as much desire to break gait, either. 

Switched up the saddle, and rode ground poles through PC2.   All to get the pattern in my mind.  Then Ms N raised up both sides of the poles to about 18" high (I think).  Again, gosh, Harley was outstanding.  He rode everything like it was no big deal.  Super happy with that.  I was a little anxious/nervous/tense about the "circle at E to the jump at canter", because while the test says "large circle", and someone else may think that's a go-ahead to make it an oval, I rode a smaller circle (which is the only way to GET to the jump), and he took it perfectly.  Again, totally proud.

Right before the last jump, Ms N raised one side to 2'.  Harley acted like it was there, finally, with a good confident jump.  So she raised all of them to 2'.  Rather than ride the whole pattern of PC2, we only worked on the jumps. 

If I remember right, we trotted to one or two, without incident.    Then we cantered around to them, again, no incident.  He was waiting until the last second to jump, as evidenced by how it felt (canter, canter, canter, pause, push, jump), but he was over them all clean.  Not always pretty, but clean.

Ms N put a rail at the ground of one jump, and we hoped it would make him think a little ahead, and know when/where to plant his feet rather than right at the rail.  Epic Fail.  First try, he refused hard.  Ms N said that was because he was coming to it at the wrong stride, and not being sure if he should stick another stride in there, or reach hard, he stopped.  Easy enough.

I sent him to it again at canter.  Not pushing, I didn't tap him with the whip.   I just eased a little leg pressure on.  And jump he did.  Harley jumped it alright, plus another 2-2'6".  That makes for a 4'+ jump effort on his part, which launched me out of my saddle. 

We both landed with a thud, 3'+ away from it, and he took off at a hard gallop.  I tried to gain my balance, I tried to get sitting up tall again, then I saw the tree.  I was just starting to think "we need to turn, head out in to that grassy field over there, and he'll come back to me soon enough."  Instead, Harley turned sharp to the left, and I came off.

Not sure how I fell, but I can tell you where I landed.  Somewhere around the tree, near the pasture fence, and a combination of helmet, and shoulder.  The skidmark and bruise on my left upper arm says I either slid off the saddle, or hit the tree, and the pain in my face and right shoulder point to impact. 

I was checked on, Harley was caught, we both relaxed, and finished up the lesson at the walk. 

Take Home Homework:
Get a stirrup leather out , and get it around Harley's neck on jump day.  Positioned appropriately, that'll be my grab for those nervous moments, so I won't smack him in the face, or be pulled as far forward as I've started leaning.
Canter - to only small fences - little things if they're out by themselves.   On those canter-to's, start to count the stride before out loud "one, jump", then "two, one, jump", followed by obviously "three, two, one, jump".  Among other things, that will force me to breathe, and begin to count strides and see distances before a jump.
Trot - to all kinds of things.  Gymnastics with an X in front and another vertical or two - all good things.   Setting up the higher jumps inside a gymnastic line will "set the stride", getting Harley's rhythm all set, rather than him and me having to guess if we need more or less stride before. 
Work on the 18" verticals at trot and canter before the 3-8-14 PC test at the show.  {I've checked with the show team, and they say "no higher than 18".}

On the way home, R and I debated if I needed a dr check or not.  Not entirely sure if I crashed into the tree, or the fence, I recognized I needed a tetanus booster shot.  So off we went once back at home.  Xrays show slight separation between my right collar bone and shoulder.  But no broken bones, just a lot of banged-up bruising.  Today, I sport a small mark on my nose (helmet slid forward on impact, and whacked me pretty good), a HUGE bruise on my left arm, and a sore right shoulder. 

Time to replace the helmet, and back up some.  My courage outweighed my common sense Saturday.  Things were going so well, I really thought we could do it.  Harley over-reacted, and I wasn't ready to stick it.  I've got miles to go on improving my "legs fwd heels down" defensive position in the jump saddle.  MILES to go. 

Sure am blessed that I'm not more seriously hurt, and anxious to get back in the tack.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2/20/14 Starting Somewhere

Warmed Harley up on the side reins.  Since he'd been a butthead at the start of the ride earlier in the week, I figured a good workout would be best.  He was behaved.  He argued a little, but at least he didn't drop his head and invert his face. 

I hopped on.  I worked a bit on bend at the trot, and a little of canter.  He was better than I expected, so I pointed towards the one little X I had set up.  At the trot, he barely stepped over it.  *giggle*  That's what I expected.  He knocked it down once, so after I set it back up, I raised it up another hole.  Still little-bittie, approx. 12" in the middle. 

So I set him up on the circle at canter, and pointed him towards the X.  He didn't even really hesitate. He didn't over-jump it, but just kind of cantered over it. 

We repeated that about a half dozen times each direction.  One of his trips over it, he bumped the X with one of his back feet, and attempted to throw a little fit over it.  I was able to get him down to a trot fairly easily, but I had to fight to get his mind back on me and on the bend.  A while at the long trot on serpentines, and he was calmed again.  The first few trips each direction were a little different each trip.  There were a few that were short strides and a few that were big wide strides and reaches. 

Probably the more interesting was getting him to land on the correct lead for the turn after the jump, and keeping him in the canter down the next long side.  I also did some canter on the circle, then down a long side.  I've noticed his overall fitness is increasing, and he definitely can canter a bit longer, and can hold it together longer.

Things won't be terrific for the show coming in Training 2.  He'll keep the canter, I am expecting the correct leads, and staying in the leads, but there's still work to do keeping the bend.  Some days this is amazing, others it just isn't.  So the real plan will be to ride what I have that day, and warm him up on a LOT of bend.

Anxious for my ride again today to repeat all of the above.  My first action will be to raise that X up to something a little more realistic.  I used to need to ride light day before a lesson, to "keep gas in the tank".  Now, after the last few times I've taken a day or two off, the first ride back he's quite energetic.  Means we can ride hard today, and still have lots of horse-gas for tomorrow.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2/18/14 ride and plans

2/18 Rode Harley jump saddle.  He was a wound up kid on the longeline, and when I hopped on to ride, he still felt a bit jitter.  I won't say bad, or naughty, but "up", and distracted. 

I took him to the first two jumps too early in the ride.  Obvious by his very enthusiastic run over and through them, followed by a little bit of a tear-gallop off from them.  He bucked a bit, and I managed to get him back under control.  But he was a dork.  I then went back to flat work a while, followed by a little more jumping, but when he started to jet before the first X, I gave him a nice half-halt, and he eased back.  The ride started horrid, but ended well. 

Going to try and stuff a dressage ride in tonight - but it's currently raining outside.  I'm hoping it quits soon, and creates a nice ride evening for us .

Scheduled a lesson for Saturday mid-day.  I'm about due one anyways, and while this is a little ahead of the normal schedule ... I've got the papers filled out to register for a schooling show March 8.

Training 2
Prix Caprilli 2.

PC2 looks to be a blast.  Lots of jumps , 2' max, lots of them down the diagonals, one on a circle from canter, another down diagonal from canter, and lots of trot jumps.  5 total attemps.  Should be interesting.  The lesson is to do a little prepare work for that test, and brush up on our dressage-skillz before we compete.

I won't have much progress to show, as the weather hasn't been too cooperative, but we've done a little jumping and a decent bit of dressage work. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Now Where Were we?

OH right.  That's where I left off.  The dogs all had a virus, it was wet and cold outside... Yeah.. That's it.

So since then:

I've found the "legs in front" position - it took two painful rides to stuff myself into that spot, but I found it.  Now, it seems incredibly secure, and makes a lot more sense to me.  I confirmed it in the dressage and jump saddles both.

Harley's had a couple of really good jump days.  Nothing spectacular, two X's, strides apart.  I had things measured out wrong, but he took through it like a champ.   All clean, good kid.  Tonight, I'm going to try again... Maybe pop that second up to a tiny vertical if things go my way.

Harley also has had some outstanding dressage days.  He isn't as fussy in either direction, and it seems that, if I prepare quietly, he transitions quietly.  If I sneak up on him in a gait change, his tail swishes angrily, and he launches into the changes. Some very nice leg yields at trot to the rail, and shoulder-ins down the long side. 

We've also explored riding outside the arena some more.  He got a good work Saturday, all at the walk, mostly all outside the arena through the trees.  I also got some sidepass over a pole for the first time, and it was pretty smooth.

Romeo had a few rides over the weekend.  Friday he longed out like a happy school kid, bucking and kicking.  I got his attention under saddle again with lots of bending wiggly lines at trot.  Sunday, I got brave.  I figure if Harley can jump, Mo can learn.  I pointed him at the big X, and as he stepped over it all but three times, I laughed.  I need to make it bigger, I suppose.  Force him to jump.  Stinker has learned how to step over only, and just won't put out the effort. 

The dogs are all feeling better.  Mostly.  Things there have calmed down, and I had a "bad weather foster" who's now a member of the family.  Fail!  He's a cute kid, and I'll introduce him soon enough.

Happy Riding everyone!  I am taking advantage of the warmer weather here in consideration of those of you freezing and buried in snow.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2.7.2014 update

I had some really nice rides last weekend on Harley.  I think I've found those "forward legs, heels down", and figured it out in both saddles.  My legs aren't really in front of me, but they feel it.  Things that will improve with time, I'm sure.

Then, life happened.  Holy crap did it ever (pun intended, you'll see why).

Charlie got a stomach bug - pooped a liquid river inside and outside of his crate.
A week or so later, Ivan, a dog I'm fostering, had the same problems - he made a mess of his freshly groomed self, his crate, the blankets in it, and the carpet.
This week, MacKenzie caught the germ.  Hers came complete with vomit.  Knowing she's already sensitive to life, I took her to the vet.  Medicine for her, and preventative on stock for Allie when her time comes.  Rotovirus, the vet says.  "Everybody in the house is going to get it."

And I forgot to mention, the cats have shared it as well.  For a day or two a piece, I've cleaned obnoxious mess from the litter boxes. 

As if sick dogs and cats weren't enough to add excitement to daily life.. Work happened.

Monday we prepared for an audit.  And I agreed to set up an extra instrument for production folks.
Tuesday, AND Wednesday, we were audited.  Dug into with a fine toothed comb, examined from bottom to top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned.
Thursday, as I recovered and reported out from the audit, I had two more meetings, and a sales rep visit.
And today, I take vacation.  I have some work to do from the house - computer things and some planning to do.  But at least it's 7:45am, and I'm in my pj's as opposed to dressed and sitting at my office desk.  I slept in, and I hope to for the next two more days. 

I hope to ride.  I'm not too determined, however.  It's cold out.  you bet yup I'm a wimp  It's cold.  There's frozen drizzle/sleet/ice/snow in the general area, and while I doubt it'll get to my house, it's close enough. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Perspective 2012 / 2014

Flashing back to a day in 2012 I felt brave (or was it stupid, who knows)...

Or maybe *this one* will tickle your fancy.  Dear heavens ..

Wrong saddle
NO 2point (eegads, not even close)
While I wasn't hanging on his face for dear life, I wasn't providing a lot of guidance either, now was I?
I'm glad we're getting better, for sure
That's all I have to say about that!
see, even I can admit I have crappy rides.. and I'm not ashamed of them, either.  What I am, is super darn happy Harley tolerates my crazy skillz.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1/25/2014 On film

EDIT - I thought the video clip was working, and now I see that while it says it's linked from youtube to the blog, it sure doesn't play. 

Here's the link ..
Or, click here. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

1/25/14 Lesson

Highlights.. before I forget anything else. 

*We do have video.  R came along and captured most of the ride on the camera.  I had my GoPro, but I accidentally hit the power button instead of the "record" button.  Shucks.  But I have some clipping/editing/boring stuff removing work to do on it, and I'll probably merge some clips together for learning and educating.

*To make the trot to canter transition pretty, ask for a good bend first.  If he is awkward in the bend, and the trot is bad, or he lurches into the canter, immediately back to trot.  If the bend is nice, the canter transition will be nice.

*Harley cantered three poles on the circle, then the middle one was elevated.  Ask for a solid, steady, good canter coming into the poles, but don't force perfection just yet.  Middle elevated to about 9" tall - this we can sort of repeat at home using the rail razors.  *easier to ride him through the canter poles/cavaletti than to ask him on the line.  It sounded like BS until we did it, then repeated it at home Sunday.  Well danged if she wasn't totally right...*

*Rode the gymnastic again.  One cross rail, then a vertical added (about 18" tall), then eventually another one added two strides out from that.  Came at it from both directions - the ones with the vertical first were fairly ugly, but they got much better.

*Peaked the ride with crossrail, four strides of nothing (no x's, no ground poles, nothing), and a vertical at the end.  VERY awesome to jump the first X, then count to myself "1, 2, 3, 4",  and just KNOW that he was going to jump it.  From where I was, I could "feel" in the jump work when he was probably going to "go big", and I was doing better about letting him do just that.  I never once felt the "oh sh!t he's going to canter away bigger than I'm ready for", but instead, I almost thought he could've given me a bit more.  His strides felt teensy tiny, short, and squished.  :-)  It was cute.  Compact little powerhouse engine in his hiney.

*Upper body and hands were better - a good amount of "give".  Feel free to let the reins slip from my hands when it feels like I've been "left behind", so I don't smack Harley in the mouth on the landings.  Still work on getting those feet "out in front", toes up, and be in a safer more defensive body position.  I think I need to spend some time in 2-point where the camera sits stationary, watching the different positions, both the one I have, and where I need to be (or what I think is "correct"), then watch it afterwards to see the differences.

*Next lesson we plan on riding some of the jumps in the field, so we won't have the "prep ground pole", or the rhythm of repetitive jumps. Should be super fun.

*Wisdom "nugget" of the lesson. Every ride you are either training your horse, or un-training your horse. -- As I read other blogs that say "we've just been trail riding at the walk. I don't know why my "broke" horse isn't going "broke" anymore, but spooks a lot and does ___ or ___, and keeps doing ."

Back home on Sunday, I repeated the canter poles, on the ground (too lazy to hop off and elevate them), and he only had one ugly "blunder through", where he fell apart to trot in the middle.  Otherwise, he cantered them nicely both directions.  Quick learner.

I rode an X, what I thought was three strides, to another X.  It felt short.  Okay, it was worse than short.  It felt like two good solid strides, then an itty bitty one, then another jump that was awkward.  So I measured it out on foot after the ride.  OOps.  Lots of spreading / adjusting to do.

Each lesson gives us a bunch of different exercises to work on at home, and it's always more than I remember to repeat.  I am hoping I wrote them all out here, and maybe just maybe I can have enough of my ducks in a row this time to have more progress to show next time.   *Another wisdom nugget I remembered less than two minutes from writing this out ... The more different kinds of jumps and situations I expose Harley to while he's still young, the better.  Like humans, he's going to have more bravery the younger he is, and as he ages the less courageous he'll be to brand new things.  More explains all the variety in each lesson - we only ride a pattern 2-3 times and then it changes.  The jumps change, the sizes change, the direction changes, it's nothing for too awfully long.  This is slightly different than what I thought, but given his eagerness to 'get down the jump line', I can willingly go along with him.  Harley does like variety, that's for sure.*

Cold for the area tonight again, freezy stuff tomorrow likely.  We had frozen stuff (ICE!) last Friday, and I sure was glad I didn't have to go anywhere.  Ice on everything, even on Harley's blanket tail flap.  Brrr...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Harley - the Highlights

Since the last post.. Here's what I think are the highlights and things worth sharing from our rides.

*Improved trot quality - the jump work has definitely picked up his trot energy.  I don't feel like I'm always pushing, but I can ask once, and he'll pick up the pace.

*Riding "outside the lines" - I spent two days last week with brief spurts of 'arena work', followed by deliberately riding outside the arena "space".  In the open pasture, walk, and trot, asking for a general direction, but letting him pick his space for feet to land.  Things here went a LOT better than I expected. We also rode into the shadowy places in the pasture a bit, up against the brush line a little, and up and down the small inclines near the pond. 

*Cantering down the diagonals.  To get out of the habit of riding canter straight lines on only one side of the arena (my jumps cluttering the other side), I rode canter around the short side, then straight down the diagonal.  Towards the end of the diagonal, Harley had a little "hesitation" - we did some simple changes way back last year or so, and I could feel him wondering what was different, why I didn't ask for them.

*The funniest moment had to be trot on the circle, head down the diagonal, ask for more trot.  He picked up a canter on the lead from the circle.  I eased him down, but immediately requested that big trot again.  So he picked up canter again, on the other lead we'd be going into.  I laughed hard, eased him back to a trot, and couldn't do more than finish out that diagonal, then let him walk with a good pat.  I realize it wasn't what I asked for, and in his confusion he started guessing, but the different leads sure cracked me up.  He shook his head hard after the second canter I denied him, and I felt his tail swish hard.  *giggle*

*Riding the walk in warm-up, stretching my legs "dog & frog" on his back footfalls, and not the front.  I watched our shadow a little, and started to feel when the back legs move relative to the front legs.  Neat!

*Feeling for the collection, rather than looking for it, paying close attention to my seat and the little "rise" one side or the other. 

We're scheduled to lesson again this coming Saturday.  I'm anxious and ready to get at it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1/4 & 5 / 2014

1/4, Saturday, in the afternoon, R came out to the arena to help with another short jump day for Harley.  I warmed him up pretty quickly, because I could feel his energy fading.  Knowing there wouldn't be much "horse go" left for a real ride, after the brief warm-up, I sent him down the line, pole, x, pole.  No problem. 

A few of those, then we turned it into pole, x, x.  Again, no problem.  A few more of those, and one more ground pole added at the end.  Harley was performing outstanding.  He was breathing hard, however, and so was I.  The weather had turned unseasonably warm, and filled with stuffy air.  I was having some trouble catching my breath.  So the total work was about 40 minutes, and while we didn't get as much done as I hoped, we got all good work accomplished.

1/5, Sunday, early morning, soon after the southern humid air was replaced with a nice chilly windy cool front, I took Harley to the arena for a dressage day.  I found his trot to be MUCH nicer than ever before.  I guess the jump work days, insisting on that big trot heading to the line, has increased his energy and upped my expectations on what I want from his trot.  The canter was just amazing.  He felt like a compact spring, short strides, and while it felt slow, it was "put together".  Just outstanding.  

He was stiff on bending, however, and it took quite a while to get the left-bend I'm aiming for.  Heading right, he was bent nicely, but started to lack energy, and needed some motivation.  I tapped him with the whip a few times, and he snapped back into shape. 

We concluded the work with some leg yields, and some shoulder-fore down the long sides.  One brief spook at the arena "fence tape" (of all stupid things) as it flapped in the wind, but otherwise he seemed focused on the job.  Anytime I got a step or two of shoulder-fore, I'd back off completely and send him straight a while.  There were some nice moments, and some terribly yucky ones, too. 

Monday (1/6) brought us a high temperature of 36, and a stiff wind.  I opted out of the rides yesterday (gee, I wonder why).   Today started out brisk and chilly, but the forecast says it'll be in the high 40s, low 50s by evening.  Maybe back in the tack tonight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

1.3.2014 Video

Things go so much better when the distances between jumps is set up correctly.  Harley and I had a great ride, here's just a few snapshots of the adventure.

Special thanks to Jennifer for helping out - otherwise, I'd be hopping off and on a LOT to set things up for us.  She added every rail, and as you see at the end, set back up what Harley knocked off. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

1.3.2014 How to Make it More Fun

MoJo has been on vacation, obviously.  I'm going to try and be more regular about his adventures this year.  I've got plenty of ideas, it's just making the time to take the pictures and post them with the stories. 

Here's just one of my awesome Christmas gifts - GoPro Hero 3+.  I'm ready for my jump ride today! I'm looking forward to sharing lots of videos with you this year - clips of me and Romeo, riding around the neighborhood.  I will do my best NOT to capture CRNG in his speedos, but I can't promise you anything.  I should be able to get Mo to the local park and ride him around there, video camera on.  I hope to capture a jump lesson at MsN's house.  Plenty more, including schooling and actual event show day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 - THE goal

Happy 2014 to all!!  Let's get this party started!

Since I started riding with N, Harley has progressed from trotting poles and trotting to ONE crossrail, all the way to jumping gymnastics.. I can't wait to get some video at a lesson so everybody can see how much progress we've made.  It's always amazing to me how fluid he is at his lessons.  When I get lots of energy heading to the jump line, he seems to be eager to get into it.  It makes me laugh when I see his ears prick up at them, "Really Mom?  Let's go!!"  Then the lightness in his canter heading away, both ears usually on me, "waiting for that praise" that he knows is coming, even in the quiet, "Good boy" verbal praise. 

So!  I have ONE big goal for 2014.  Sure, I'd like better dressage scores at Training Level.  Yeah, I think we'll graduate ourselves up to Prix Caprilli 2 at the schooling shows.  Those are little things. 

My big goal for 2014 is to compete Harley in a Green As Grass eventing competition.  I know, I know, peanuts..  little stuff for some of the others in blogger-land.  But I'm a rookie, Harley's quite green still, so there it is.

There's lots to learn, it seems.  I think I have the location picked out, but I don't know which date I'll choose.  I've already watched the video of the course a few times, and looked at all the cross country jump pictures a dozen times online.  No enthusiasm at all, can you tell??  I've shared my goal with MsN, who says entirely do-able goal.  How exciting is that?! 

I'll update those goals along the right side of the blog in the next few days, but I just couldn't wait to share with all the readers.  Do you have any experience with eventing?  Please share!  I'm excited, anxious, a bit nervous, but ready to get into the new year of training!