Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Second Outing, Good Horse

This post is nearly a week overdue, and has been sitting in my drafts since the end of last week.  Anytime work would like to slow down would be great.

Anyways, after our frustrating first outing of the year, new BO and I decided to scale it back a notch, and just hit the trails out behind our barn in the hopes that both horses would keep their brains in their heads.  The short story is that it was a huge success.  If you feel like reading me blather on and look at pictures, keep reading.

I showed up to the barn, got the beast ready, as BO and another friend, R, tacked up.  I threw Mollie's ear bonnet on because the little gnats are out in force and princess does NOT like them.  And I do not like the subsequent head shaking.


There was some discussion as to what order we should ride out in.  BO's horse can be looky/spooky, R's horse has an iffy past on trails but has been good lately, and Molls is brave until she isn't.  She typically won't do anything naughty but will be marching along and SLAM on the brakes if something catches her attention, which can be an issue for the horses who then walk right into her bum since she lacks break lights.

It was decided we would attempt being first, and if Mollie was annoying we would just reorganize.  Luckily, Mollie perked her little ears as soon as we hit the trail, and she thought for one half second about hesitating but I closed my legs on her and that was the last time she thought about stopping the whole ride.

"on alert" ears

group selfie

At one point in the ride R started talking about a skinny trail that she and BO had ridden before, that was essentially a pole bending course.  BO said she just about peed her pants last time they rode it, so obviously R and I ganged up on her and decided we should do it again.  This required us to turn around so Molls was last, and I quickly apologized for making them walk so slowly on the way down.... I didn't realize how much longer their horses' strides were, but I should have!!  Both geldings have over a hand on Mollie and their legs are miles longer.

pole bending in the woods

We all made it through the skinny trail, although at one point I really thought BO and her horse would be stuck... he carries his head very high and had to be convinced to "duck" under a low branch.  Perks of riding a small fat horse :)

We made it back to the barn on a loose rein, and Molls got all the pats and kisses!

Apparently my helmet is dirty.

Monday, May 4, 2015

First Outing, Naughty Horse

Well that title just about sums it up.

This past weekend the new BO asked if I wanted to take Mollie to Goddard Park for the annual RISPCA ride.  I enthusiastically replied yes, because it is a ride I have gone to in the past but have missed the last few years due to not having anyone to go with, and subsequently a ride.  Mollie hasn't been on a formal trail ride in years, but I figured she would be fine as she genuinely loves being at Goddard.  And she was fine... for about 15 minutes.

Looking shiny, finally.

We set out in the woods and Mollie and new boyfriend Merlot were great.  They were taking turns leading and following, and while both were on "alert" they were exceptionally well behaved since this was the first outing for both of them all year.

Merlot is excited.  Mollie says why is he here?

About 15 minutes into our ride we run into a parade.  I shit you not.  Over 100 people in purple shirts, parading through the woods at us.  Mollie stopped and gawked, but truly wasn't nervous.  Poor Merlot on the other hand was visibly trembling and P said she could feel his heart pumping overtime between her legs.  We gave them a few minutes to look, and then asked that they proceed.  Ensue panic.  Merlot was terrified and his brain quickly disappeared (we're not sure where it went) and P was doing everything she could to keep his feet on the ground.  In an attempt to get him going forward I turned Mollie around, and headed back the way he came.  Merlot eventually caught on, and followed behind Mollie, although he was quite amped at that point.  We walked for a bit, then tried to turn around, as the parade had likely passed.  That's when Mollie took over as Captain Twit.

I made the fatal mistake of turning around, and Mollie knows that her one job on trails is to get back to the trailer.  Mollie likes having a job.  Mollie likes doing her job.  She was under no circumstances turning around, and was willing to back herself off a cliff (I honestly thought we'd slide right down the bank) if necessary.  I was downright pissed to say the least, as I knew she wasn't scared one single bit, just downright stubborn.  In an attempt to make this a somewhat successful outing we agreed to go back the way we came, but to complete that loop a second time to at least get our trips worth out of the experience.

Both horses made it back to the horsemen's area, got a little "I am the rider and you are the horse and you listen to ME" refresher in the arena, and then untacked while P and I stuffed our faces with lunch.  And then got beer.  Thank god for beer.

Here's to trying again one day this week, hopefully sans parade!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Silence, Upset, and a Move

Those of you that follow this blog (all four of you) may or may not have noticed I haven't blogged in a while.  At first it was because I was busy, but then I got so busy and had so much to write about it was like I didn't even know where to start.  Then things got real weird.

I had been noticing that Mollie had been dropping weight since coming to the new barn in November.  At first it wasn't a huge deal, because she could stand to lose a few pounds....

November 2014, looking porky.

But then my horse's weight loss continued, and she turned into a beaver.  I have owned this horse for fourteen years and have NEVER witnessed her chewing wood, yet she damn near chewed straight through her stall:

This eventually became a hole....

She eventually ripped the window sill right off.

Her weight loss was starting to concern me, and I knew her chewing was from not having enough hay to munch on.  Mollie has never needed much grain to maintain her portly figure so with such little grain and not enough hay, the weight loss got worse.

January 2015(ish)

The barn owner (who did not believe my horse was hungry or dropping any weight) and I eventually came to an agreement where I payed an additional $60 a month for extra hay at each feeding.  While I did notice a slight difference in her weight, it wasn't what I should have seen, especially since we were steadily upping her grain the whole time.  Once spring hit and everyone's blankets came off, it became apparent that what I thought was my horse's problem was a barn-wide problem.

I was incredibly upset that my easy keeper was losing weight and obviously unhappy, so began looking for other places to board which is unfortunately no easy task.  Our lists of wants and needs has become a little longer than it used to be as I have learned what I will and will not accept from a boarding facility.  

Last week things took a turn for the worse, and without going into all the awful details it became apparent that I should get my horse out now.  My search for a new barn heightened and out of no where something worked itself out over the course of 24 hours.  I guess if it's meant to be, it really is.  I went to visit a barn at 5pm on Saturday and Mollie arrived there by 1pm the next day.  She has settled in fabulously and is as quiet and happy as can be.

Dad was pumped to have hand grazing duty.

Ma.  Where are we going?

My poor "easy keeper".

Loving her half door.

I was reluctant to even post the photos of her in her current state online because I am so disgusted and unhappy about how she looks.  I have faith that she will put the weight back on in no time, I think she's been eating since her arrival!  The situation at the other barn definitely lessened my motivation to ride and blog, but the new place already has me far more inspired to be riding, taking pictures, and blogging... starting with a field trip this weekend :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Funday and Shameless Promoting

So much to blog about lately I almost don't know where to begin... so I'll leave you with a short post about today's frolicking and then beg for your likes on Facebook.

All the jumps were set pretty low in the indoor today and there wasn't anyone to share the ring with... so it seemed like the perfect day to throw Mollie's hunter tack on, and pop over a few fences.  They're all teeny tiny, and I haven't jumped her in a while, so I was just happy to cruise around without either of us dying or falling apart.

Secondly, I spent the better part of this morning setting up a Facebook page for my regular trainer, and the woman who has been riding Mollie a few times a week.  There isn't much on there yet, but she plans on posting about a topic (or giving me info to post for her, haha) once a week with visuals to go along with the snippets.  While she's mostly dressage based I really think her biomechanic way of thinking is applicable to anyone, riding any discipline.

So if you like reading and learning about anything like that, head on over to her page and like it!

I've actually made a couple purchases lately which means I have reviews to write up.  Just want to give the products a few uses before writing anything about them.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An Adult

So I'm a day late, but yesterday was this lady's 18th birthday yesterday making her an official adult, capable of buying cigarettes, lottery tickets, and porn.

I took her out for a birthday ride yesterday, complete with her annual birthday peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  She was pretty darn awesome and my sister even took some video, but I haven't uploaded it all yet.  For now here's a screen shot.

And for those wondering, yes, those are the Annie's Equestrian new Green Tea breeches, which came in the mail yesterday.  Full review coming soon, but I'm already a pretty big fan.

Crappy cell phone photo is crappy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lesson Recap 2/19/15

I honestly don't remember the last time I did a proper ride review.  There are several reasons but they mostly come down to I haven't been riding a ton, I don't have any footage, and when I do ride it's so cold that we just go as long as we can before calling uncle, and no one wants to hear (more) about that.

The chute to Mollie-Land

I have been taking lessons about once a month, and my trainer is riding Mollie 1-3 times a week, depending on weather.  The change in Mollie has been pretty amazing, and I can't wait to get someone out to get some pictures and videos soon.  H was able to take a couple snippets last week, but was busy getting after me to get my act together.

Anyways, lesson.  It actually wasn't too cold that day (21 degrees and no wind!) and I started the lesson with H hopping on Mollie for a little bit.  I'm overjoyed to watch her ride my horse, because while I was unsure if she'd really like her at first it's clear H truly enjoys riding Mollie, and Molls has never been so compliant and agreeable.  I really try to take note of H's positioning when riding, that way I can translate it to my own riding, but I feel like I do struggle because our proportions are drastically different.  H is roughly 8 inches taller than me, with much longer arms and legs.  Sometimes I'll see her hands in a certain place but I feel like I can't replicate it because we're shaped so differently.

Once I got on the ride was pretty good, and I feel like we're making steady progress.  One thing H is a stickler about is getting Mollie round and working before she even steps away from the mounting block.  I really think it sets the tone and after thinking about it, it really doesn't make sense to spend any time working ineffectively.  Because Mollie had already worked in hand, and with H, she was ready to go so we got to work pretty quickly with lots of trot work.

Look, we got a quarter sheet that fits!!

One of my favorite things about Mollie right now is that when I get her super soft and light in my hand, and working up in front of me, all it takes is me stretching up through my collarbones and she comes up into this swingy, bouncy little trot that is SO nice.  I swear, this is why dressage people love dressage, and if the dressage haters could feel this feeling they'd be converts real soon.  I was trying to be really attentive to my position, and keeping my "triangle" upright.  This is something H talks about a lot, and if you think of the points of a triangle being your shoulders and top of your head, and constantly think about keeping it open and not collapsing any side, it really helps me get Mollie all the way through, as opposed to almost there.

Tracking left lately is harder than right, which is definitely new.  Mollie gives in almost all the way in this direction, but is pretty good at getting me to think she's ok, and then a stride later the whole train comes off the tracks.  There were a couple times I really got after her, and we had a discussion about ACTUALLY doing what I asked, when I asked, but overall nothing awful.  I really need to remember to keep my upper body back and slightly to the right, putting the weight on her outside hind in this direction.  You'll see in the video that she looks ok, but not totally through, which is evident when she flattens out, I can't get her right back, and we come back to walk.  Work in progress, as always.

To the right things are just downright lovely.  And I love it.  It feels great to be able to just cruise around, and make minor corrections when Molls slips out of balance and have her right. there.  In both directions I really need to work to keep my left hip more active, and that was pretty much the theme of this lesson.  You'll see in the video that when she gets a little flat it's much easier to get her back together this way.

This week promises more single digit temps every night, and we're getting to the point in winter that I don't think it will ever end.  Yesterday was in the upper 30s though, so there's hope!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thoughts on Winter Rides

During yesterday's frigid ride, there were lots of thoughts running through my head that are pretty weather specific.  And since it's snowing AGAIN today, I figured I'd share them with you all.  You can either sympathize if you have them yourself, or get a little taste of winter weather if you're not experiencing it yourself.

My backyard currently.  That would be an ice rink, past the snow mounds.

Arrive at barn, realize there is a car stuck in the driveway.  Parallel park in the nearest snow bank, get all my shit out of the back, and think,

"I wonder if I should walk the rest of the way, or just shuffle so I don't fall on my ass."

Go to get Mollie out of her paddock and bring her in the barn.  Pull her blanket off and replace with tack and a cooler immediately.  Walk up to the indoor and think,

"Did I even pick her feet?  Screw it, she has snow pads on."

Warm up with several laps of walking and some lateral work.  Pick up a trot and notice your horse give the back door (that sounds like it might actually blow into the indoor at any moment) the hairy eyeball.  Literally say these words aloud:

"Oh for the love of god please don't spook.  I don't have it in me to deal with that today."

Horse doesn't spook.  Pat her for obliging your request.

Continue trotting for several minutes just to ensure blood is pumping through your and your horse's veins.  Finally come back to a walk and think,

"Are my thighs tingling because I worked out yesterday, or because I've developed frostbite?"

Walk a few more laps and dismount.  Cringe when your feet hit the ground and wonder,

"Did my feet just shatter because the bones are so brittle and cold?  Or are they just numb?"

Bring horse back to the barn, rip everything off of her, throw her blanket back on, stuff face with cookies, and put her back outside.  Think,

"Well that was the coldest forecasted day of the week.  Every day now should be better than this."

Actually check weather forecast to confirm thoughts.  See this and start dancing because it's going to BE IN THE THIRTIES THIS WEEK.  If it ever stops snowing of course.


Monday, February 16, 2015

F*ck this F*cking Sh!t

Sorry for the expletive title.

But seriously.

I'm sure you're all either
A) From the North and sick of hearing about snow because you're suffering too
B) From the South and sick of hearing Northerners complain about the snow.

But I'm about to do it too.

First, snow memes.

Rhode Island has gotten over 53 inches of snow so far this year, which is a lot of effing snow.  Fun fact, I'm a mere 59 inches tall, so we're getting close to snow being one Alicia deep.  Now I'm a winter person but dear god, where are we going to put the rest??

I went to ride my horse today and was greeted with a trek up the driveway by foot, because the BM's car was stuck in the driveway.  Awesome.  Upon approaching Mollie's paddock this was my view.  Note Mollie, in her purple blankie.

You can see her, right?

Then I laughed because I realized the snow in her paddock is now so high, she could easily climb out.

Despite the snow being piled high, it is packed down so hard she can still stand on top of it all.

Then once I walked her in we obviously had to stop for a snow snack.  There's none in her paddock, duh.

I tacked her up to ride but realized her reins were frozen the way that they were looped on top of her bridle.  So I did what anyone would do on a single digit day when their horse hasn't been ridden in god knows how long and snapped her clip on reins to her halter and away we went.

I had a decent ride, although short, and hopped off once I couldn't feel my thighs.

Mom.  Please.
The cuteness.

Fingers crossed for warmer weather, or at least maybe weather in the double digits!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Non-Horse-Related Post on Winter

I've officially entered my favorite phase of winter... hibernation.  While most people sit around and complain about the never ending snow and inability to leave their house, in a sick way I totally love it.  There's something about being forced to be inside that I really like at times.  The majority of the year I am in go mode, and am never home, because I have a zillion obligations that keep me running on all cylinders.  Hearing that I have to stay home and take it easy for a little while is music to my ears.

And well, also I'm a teacher, and snow days are infinitely better for us than they are for the students.

Alright, enough of that, horse content will resume again tomorrow :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Day

It finally freakin snowed!!!

Want to know what's fun?  Having to jump out of your back door (because it opens inside, not outside), to throw yourself through waist deep snow, to get to the front of the house, to dig a path to the front door, in order to exit your house.  Please note the entire story-height of snow on top of the roof.  Also, if you are wider than that path, you are not going to get inside.  Sorry.

As a native Rhode Island-er it's alarming that we haven't had a single snow day yet this year.  A couple of dustings but nothing actually winter worthy.  And while shoveling out the driveway is a total bey-otch, I'm totally ok with shoveling for a few hours and having the rest of the day to sit on my butt, catch up on the DVR, and write report cards.

When shoveling 24+ inches of snow, it's important
to dress like an eskimo.

There was a travel ban from 10pm Monday until 8pm last night, but midday today (Wednesday) I ventured out to the barn.  Luckily our BO lives within walking distance from the barn so the horses were all fed and watered as needed yesterday, and were actually able to go out today.

The barn is so pretty under all that white stuff :)

I took Molls out, removed the snowballs from her legs, and threw her tack on.  And I now present you with "how to ride your horse in a blizzard".

1. Put a wool cooler on your horse for the following reasons.
A) She will be cold
B) You probably haven't groomed her, and this will cover that up
C) It's fancy as fuck
D) It's really just a means of keeping your legs warm

Wonder why your reins are so wavy.  Realize they are frozen that way.

3. Decide that the jumps are totally do able, even though your horse has been inside for several days and you haven't jumped in over a month.  Horse will be perfect, because she just is.

Take a snap for your snap story to prove that you braved the blizzard to exercise your beast.  And also because she's cute.

Not pictured: Allowing your horse to walk to her paddock from the parking lot from herself, because there's literally nowhere for her to go except the plowed path to her gate with the snow up to her belly.

Stay warm friends!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

All About that Bass

Once upon a time I bought Mollie a quarter sheet.  I don't use it frequently, mostly whenever I'm digging in my trunk for something, come across it, and decide it's cold enough to warrant using it.  I believe the tag says it's cob sized which typically would be ok on a Mollie horse.  Buttttt, when her booty is involved, the fit really isn't what it should be.

Gurl sure can rock a mini skirt

Dat bum though

Ugh.  Mom.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Equine Winter Survival Tools

Living in New England your entire life prepares you for one thing, and one thing only... how to survive in every possible weather condition possible.  Being an equestrian puts an interesting twist on things because we have no choice but to be exposed to the elements... all of them.  Now that we're definitely in the throes of winter I figured I'd post about my winter barn essentials.

Lets start with our feet and work our way up.

Move over boot socks, you are absolutely useless to my toes below 30 degrees.  Despite my feet getting absolutely clammy and gross just thinking about these bad boys at any other time of the year, I live in them come winter.  Fuzzy socks are great.

Ok I know what you're thinking.  That's a picture of Uggs.  But bear with me for a second.  I got a pair of Uggs in high school, which is now like 8 years ago (WTF?!?!) and as a result they're pretty beat up.  This makes them the perfect barn footwear, because I don't feel badly about them looking any worse.  And here's a little secret equestrian boot manufacturers... sheepskin is 1,000 times warmer than anything you're lining my boots with.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but once my hands get cold I am absolutely MISERABLE.  It's almost impossible to do anything around the barn with numb fingers, and these gloves usually do the trick.  They are fleece, so not exactly waterproof, but I usually don't have an issue with them, and I just think fleece does a better job of keeping things warm.

Ok all you Southerners, go ahead and tune out because you will probably never have to touch these bad boys.  These are Schmidt coveralls or bibs, and are basically the knockoff Carhartt brand.  Because I am poor.  These puppies are responsible for making me look like I've gained 100 pounds, make me 1,000x less mobile, but are absolutely essential for keeping me from crying after an 8 hour barn day.  I usually wear a pair of breeches underneath, incase I need to strip down and get on a naughty school pony, but between the two layers I am warm all day.

As far as warmth goes, layering is your friend.  I typically begin with a plain, fitted long sleeve t-shirt.  I like it to be fitted because it keeps the heat in better, and if it's too loose it can ride up, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to access your first layer once all of these layers are on.  On top of that usually goes a thin, half zip fleece.  I have a couple different ones and really don't have a preference for any brand in particular.  They all do the job.  On top of everything goes my sherpa lined Schmidt jacket.  This is hands down the warmest jacket I own and don't know what I ever did without it.

To top everything off is a headband.  I actually just crocheted one myself, mainly because I hate feeling like my ears are going to freeze, crack, and fall off.

The best part about all of this, is that I literally wear every one of these things shown above at the same time every Saturday.  I look absolutely ridiculous, and I'm sure my lesson kids think I'm weird, but there's no way I could make it through the day without all of these things.  Now to prepare for the snow tomorrow!!