Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday Funday

Last night became very unexpectedly pony-filled very quickly.  My friend N, who rode Mollie last week, keeps her horse at a barn I boarded Mollie at for over 8 years.  She texted me as I got out of work and asked if I wanted to come ride her old man, Tebo.  He's an awesome TB gelding in his 20s who is just super cool to ride and I haven't ridden him since before N even owned him, probably 14ish years ago.

When I got to the barn the BM asked if either of us wanted to school Katee, one of the schoolies.  So N tacked up Tebo, I tacked up Katee, the BM tacked up a client's horse, and one of her students tacked up Riley.  It was a pony party!!  Unfortunately, things didn't go super smoothly for everyone.

The lesson student just didn't click with Riley and was having a hard time figuring out his buttons.  In her defense he's a very nervous Arabian stallion (ok, cryptorchid technically) who hadn't been worked in a while.  He's not nervous in a spooky way, more of a you need to assure him he's just fine and not dying every single step of the way.  We did some rearranging, I hopped on Riley and fell in love with him all over again.  I rode Riley a little bit when I boarded at this barn and always loved him then, and if I could take in another horse today he would be my pick.  He is one of the softest, most willing to please horses I have ever ridden.

And he's super handsome.  That helps.

My other rides were fun as well but unfortunately no pictures of those ponies.  Katee was a typical lesson pony who just tossed her head and pretended she didn't know how to steer whenever I asked anything of her, but it was all good.  Then I floundered around on Tebo who is the absolute opposite of Molls.  I equate him to riding a dinosaur.  He was a total wise guy and just popped into a canter at every available moment.  He never once did anything naughty, just pushed my buttons and cracked me up the whole ride.  I didn't even care that I probably looked like an idiot, he was just plain fun.

It was really nice to ride with a group again, and to see some old faces.

Eli, my best-est friend's American Warmblood

Tigger, 100 year old Hackney pony and love of my life.

Monday, April 28, 2014

VCBH: Love is, What I've Got

"Let's take a moment to appreciate the Pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons. "

A little late for this blog hop but I really love this topic and just had some bloggy catching up to do before I got around to actually writing the post.  There are so many things that I love about my silly red mare and unfortunately I don't think I talk about them enough.
1. She's super brave.  Whether it's out on the trails, cross country course, or just trailering her off property, Molls is pretty brave and sensible in new situations.  She's definitely "on alert" at times but I credit that more to lead mare mentality than anything else.  She genuinely wants to protect the herd (me) at all times.

Molls says oceans are no big deal.

2. She very rarely refuses a fence of any kind.  If she does it's typically because I literally stopped riding and she said ummmm no.

3. She's really ridiculously good looking.

I mean, can anyone else rock a pink fly sheet like her?

4. She trailers like an absolute champion.  Loads herself, unloads quietly, will pony other horses on, and will hang out either on or tied to a trailer all day.

5. She's super smart.  For example, there was a time when Mollie had to wear a grazing muzzle when she went out on grass because she was straight up obese.  Mollie spent her mornings in a sand paddock without the muzzle on because all she had to eat was hay.  When the afternoon came along the muzzle was put on, and she was brought out to her field.  Well it didn't take long before Mollie started refusing to walk from her sand to her field.  She would just stand there, plant her feet, and no amount of coaxing or encouraging would get her to move.  The little punk realized that she'd rather eat unlimited amounts of hay than have to graze through a muzzle.

6. She tolerates almost everything.  Even a bunch of camp kids who begin labeling her body parts and then just start "tattoo-ing" her.

7. She makes me work.  This horse has never given anything to me easily, which makes success all the better.

Oh, did I mention she's adorable?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fuzzy Ears and Weather Denial

This is a Dandy.  A Dandy has ear hair.
Another jam packed pony weekend where I took very few pictures and am kicking myself for it now. Saturday I taught two lessons, and rode the energizer bunny, or Mollie afterwards.  She was all revved up from the second I got on, but was in that lovely mental state where her energy was easily channeled and I actually had the best ride on her that I've had in a while.

One of the women at the barn was watching my ride and kept complimenting me on how great Mollie looked.  I've been feeling kind of ho-hum about my riding lately so it was nice to hear.  She also insisted her muscling had changed since I moved her to this barn in October.  Again, I don't necessarily agree but since I stare at Mollie all the time and she does it, I want to believe her.

After I got off I realized the BO's new horse arrived.  He was imported from Germany, yes Germany, on Tuesday and is drop. dead. gorgeous.  There were tons of people around so I was trying not to fangirl and take photos of him, but I definitely will this upcoming week.  He's 17 hands, 4 years old, bay, and a total beefcake.  I'm so crazy excited to see what my talented BO does with him :)

First cookout of the season down by the water on Saturday night :)

Sunday I was super motivated, and went out to ride before I had lessons.  The barn was surprisingly busy for a Sunday morning and Mollie unfortunately just wasn't feeling it.  I also didn't have half an hour to BoT her before I rode, which makes me wonder if the hock boots are really making that much of a difference lately.  Either way, she got worked, wormed, and turned back outside.

Then off to lesson barn where I had two lessons, then schooled one of the lesson ponies (really wish I had some video of myself on the Unicorn horse going over cross rails), then taught one more lesson.  In between all of this one of the teens who leases a horse at the barn took a spill, and was really upset.  It's certainly not the first time she's fallen, and she's a great little rider, but her horse has been giving her an awful time the last few months and her confidence is absolutely shattered.  It brought back so many memories for me, and being terrified of a horse I loved so much, and my heart seriously broke for her.  I gave her an impromptu lesson and a hear-to-heart, and while I don't know if I helped I really hope I did.

Back to work tomorrow after a glorious 10 day vacation... I could cry.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Unplanned Unplug

I've totally slacked on posting the last week or so, and same goes for commenting on everyone else's blogs, but I think I've had a decent excuse.  Since last Friday I've been on April vacation (so much better as a teacher than it ever was as a student) and I've been so insanely busy that this week has been pretty "unplugged".  I'm the first to admit I'm mildly addicted to my phone and may or may not use lunch breaks to keep up with blogs, etc. but it's been really nice to spend the week with people, hanging out with friends, and not refreshing my Facebook page every free second.  Maybe it has something to do with the sun finally coming out and it almost feeling like spring around here?

Anyways, a quick Mollie update and photo dump because it's been too long for me to write coherent things like ride recaps, etc.

Molls doing what a Mollie does best

Because I've been on vacation I've been able to ride almost every day.  I'm thrilled about this, Mollie is not.  I've ridden in the indoor and outdoor, and since the weather has been nice going on a loop around the fields.  Molls is still kind of a weenie when out there by herself, but super brave with a friend.

Classic pommel shot.  All the things are grimy.
A friend of mine (N) who hasn't ridden Mollie since we were kids (probably a good 12 years ago) came to visit and hop on her.  I gave her a bit of a "dressage" lesson since she's ridden primarily H/J for the last 10 or so years and Mollie was a star lesson pony.  N is a very capable rider but wasn't sure how to arrange her body in my dressage saddle, or how to arrange Mollie's blocky QH body in comparison to her lanky TB.  Mollie was well behaved however and was going really cutely.  Unfortunately, no picture evidence.

Molls very interested in some geese.

The vet also came out for her second round of spring shots this week.  She complimented me on Mollie's weight and overall condition and I couldn't have been happier.  I asked her about having Mollie's teeth done again because lately she's been funky about me taking left rein contact.  I figure it could be teeth, TMJ, or bitchiness, but teeth would be the easiest to rule out.  Mollie usually gets done once a year, and was last done in September, but there's still a chance something could be funky in there.  My vet didn't have time to do them that day but basically thought that what I was thinking could be true.  Her immediate response was, "Well she's getting older, her teeth have been known to do funky things especially on the left side, and she does have a very narrow mouth so there's little room for anything to go wrong."

Once again, I'm super impressed by my vet.  She sees a bajillion horses yet somehow remembers all of those things about my horse's mouth, which she only sees once a year.

An unenthused Mollie selfie

Hopefully more posting will ensue this coming week now that I'll be back to the grind at work.  Only 39 days till summer vacation :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

VCBH: Immediate Inspiration

"Most of us take lessons, whether its a couple times a week or a couple times a month. Some of us have more then one instructor. Why do you train with your trainer? If okay or possible, share a picture of your trainer riding."

I never thought that I would be a "floater" when it came to having a trainer/taking lessons, but for the last few years that's exactly what I've been.  I've had a few trainers in my riding "career" but for the last few years all I've done was two-three lessons or clinics for the whole year.  A far cry from my weekly lesson days.  And while there are certainly times I wish I had someone I could go to anytime I needed, not having a designated trainer has definitely taught me to be a better rider. 

Over the course of all my lessons I've heard thousands of times to sit up.  Well when I'm riding by myself day in and day out I have to rely on myself to remember to sit up.  Turns out, I'm perfectly capable of making myself sit up, as long as I remain present and disciplined.  I love that about having to rely on myself to make things happen.  I like being able to assess what the problem is, decide how I need to fix it, and then applying the changes and seeing results.

Riding without a trainer has also taught me to really trust my gut.  Sometimes I'm not 100% clear on what a problem with Mollie (or any horse) may be, and I need to rely on what I know to figure things out.  I like that I hardly second guess myself when it comes to my horse.  Not to say I'm perfect or always make the right call, but I like being able to answer questions myself.  It really baffles me when people who have been riding for decades call their trainer over every single thing.  I like knowing that I know my horse better than anyone, and I have what it takes to make decisions about her health and training.

With all of that being said, there is absolute no way that I would be able to do all the abovementioned things without the trainers that have come into my life, and taught me so much.

The first "trainer" I had who really influenced me about all things dressage is Holly Mason.  You can read more about her here.  She is an absolutely wonderful instructor and I highly recommend riding with her if you ever have the chance.  She is based in New England but does clinics all over, and has presented several times at Equine Affair.

When I was riding with Holly this guy, Rinze, was her main mount.

The man that I ride with the most now ("most" being 2-3 times a year) is named Jean Luc Cornille.  You can learn more about him and his program here.  He is an amazing thinker and teacher and despite the lessons making my wallet cry, I really think they're worth every penny.  I come away learning so much from every single lesson.  He has incredible success working with horses with a myriad of medical issues from kissing spine, to navicular, to "mystery lameness".  I seriously recommend him to anyone who suspects their horse has pain related behaviors or issues.  His youtube channel can be found here.  Hopefully you can get past the heavy French accent ;)

Jean Luc at the World Eventing Championships in the 1970s

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday Summary

This weekend was absolutely nuts but I did get lots of horse time in, which is always nice.  It also helped that Rhode Island hit 70 degrees on Saturday and I was loving it.  Anytime I can teach lessons and work on my tan is a win :)

Also, I really liked my outfit that day.

I had lessons all day Saturday that went really well and even had time for a ride on the sassy mare of mine.  But first, lets talk about how happy my horse is that they're out on grass again... I forgot to snap a picture but Mollie has spent the last 6 days with her face planted on the ground inhaling half inch blades of grass as fast as she can.  Turns out Mollie grazes so hard, she has grass stains.  On her nose.  They won't come off.

I really wanted to get her in the outdoor for the first time all year so I tacked her up and hand walked her up there.  I hand walked her a lap around the ring where she spooked (trees are scary, and she's obviously never seen one before) but then seemed okay-ish.  I hopped on and it was apparent that we weren't going to have a productive ride.  She was super tense, her back was totally locked up, and I just really didn't feel like dealing with it that day.  I could probably write an entire post about how I used to be all "lets ride through everything!!" but lately I've realized that I'd rather just have a good ride.  So back down to the indoor we went.
I was really glad I decided to ride inside because our ride was better than I expected it to be.  She warmed up nicely in her best hunter pony pose and was really listening/being cooperative.  We did a little collected trot work but I didn't get too crazy because she's still not super fit (thank you polar vortex winter and sucky work for keeping me from riding more than twice a week all winter).  Got off, groomed, wished I had time for a bath, and put her away.

The cutest (yet most unimpressed) face

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blog Hop: Commercial Moment

From Viva Carlos: "What are you buying next? Not your "Wish I could" list but your actual practical pony shopping list. And if its a high ticket item you are saving for what is it and when do you expect to order/get it?"

Lame low-end things I need to buy:
- Fly Spray/Mask (because the second blankets come off flies come out)
- New bottle of sunscreen (because Mollie's nose burns)
- Cowboy Magic shampoo (because Mollie is a delicate flower... see above)

Higher ticket item:
- A brand-y new double bridle that actually fits.  The timeline for buying this is a joke because it will be a combination of A) when I have monies (never) and B) when I actually decide what I want to buy... weighing my options with going custom on this since I apparently have lots of stipulations.  But leather is expensive and I want it to look just right.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gold Star

So hopefully you all remember Montana, who I posted about just a week ago.  I didn't go much into his current training at the time, but that's ok because he proved every single thing we thought about him wrong this weekend.  But let me back up a little.

Montana's dad (D) does and has done lots and lots of ground work with Montana.  Ground work is great, and necessary, but inevitably D would like to ride Montana.  So that would require us to work on riding him.  Seeing as I definitely have more experience in the saddle than on the ground anyways, all of our lessons have involved me getting D up on the horse.  D has now come to expect this from me, however he's certainly hesitant, and for good reason.

Once on Montana you're never quite sure what you're going to get.  He is by no means a nasty horse and I don't think he intentionally wants to be bad.... I just consider him very confused, very large, and very strong.  And a little bit of a brat ;)  Mix all those things together and it can be a daunting combo.  Montana has very little knowledge in the way of steering, walking, trotting, or halting.  So we're basically at ground zero.  Just a few weeks ago, these pictures were taken of D during a lesson, and they're pretty accurate in representing Montana.

Montana is the best at Derp face.
This photo is by no means a representation of D's abilities.  He is a very capable rider doing his very best with his green bean.  This photo is very telling however.  Montana is quite tense, typically braced with his head uncomfortably close to your face, and overall is a confused boy.

Therefore, when I informed D that we were having our lesson outside on Saturday, he was hesitant.  Montana gives us a run for our money in the enclosed indoor, what on Earth would he do with all the distractions and freedom that come from the outdoor?  But alas, I am all about dealing with things head on and having high expectations.  After a brief pep talk that included things like, "We are expecting him to behave because he stares at the outdoor all day, therefore it is not scary." and "The ground is softer out there anyways." D agreed to go, and off we went.

Well let me just say it is a crying shame that there was no one standing around with a camera on Saturday.  I had D handwalk Montana a lap in each direction, mostly for D's peace of mind.  I was cautiously optimistic when I observed Montana walking around with a level headset, a quiet eye, and out of D's space.  D climbed aboard and Montana proceeded to walk around the ring, on the rail in both directions like he did it every. single. day.

We were both stunned.

He halted, changed direction, circled, and trotted laps around the arena without a single arguement.  He was the most willing little man I'd ever met, and I was so proud of him and happy for D that he had one of those rides where you can't help but grin afterwards.

It was a great confidence boost for D, and a reminder for me that sometimes we think we have all the right ideas when it comes to "fixing" a horse and at the end of the day it's usually something you've never considered that makes all the difference.  Like the fact that the horse really, really, enjoys being outside and downright hates the indoor.  D and I are both aware that just because we had one great lesson does not mean it will be sunshine and rainbows from here on out.  We're accepting of the fact that training horses is not linear and there will be good days with the bad.  It just feels pretty darn awesome to have a great day :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than riding my cow around bareback and bridle-less after a long night/day. Yes I have super kewl clip on reins. I also regret not taking pictures of my hairy ass after I was done riding bareback during shedding season.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Me no Comprende

Lets face it.  Horse people are crazy people.  We do lots of things that don't make sense to non-horse people but it's ok, because we understand each other.  But sometimes, there are things even horse people do that I can't quite get.

Lately, this issue has been crossing my mind a lot in response to certain horse "fads".  I've been around/riding horses for the better part of my life so I've seen quite a few trends come and go.  Some of them I happily take part in (all the blingy browbands!) but some I just don't understand.  Lately, what has really been getting to me comes from my much beloved dressage world.  And their double bridles.  More specifically, their double bridles with big fat nosebands.  And that fact that it does not seem that anyone makes a double bridle with a normal sized noseband anymore!

Today for example, I wake up to an email from Smartpak proclaiming a 40% off bridle sale.  Well doesn't that sound wonderful?  You see, I have a double bridle for Mollie (complete with fat ass noseband) but it's never really fit her no matter how I've tried to adjust it.  So I'm always casually looking for a replacement.  I went on the Smartpak website and there wasn't a double bridle to be found without the fat noseband.

Passier Libra

Antares Double

Schockemoehle Sports Brisbane
What is with this??  I'll spare you from looking at more thumbnails but essentially, everywhere I look, double bridles have hugely fat nosebands.  I suppose on gigantic warmbloods it isn't super offensive but I still find my eye being distracted by it.  And all that leather is too much for a little Mollie-Wogs face.

Our current double.  More bridle than face :(
Is there anyone out there who likes this look/has a reason as to why it's so "in"?  Any fads you don't quite get??

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sick Day

So I took a sick day today... And I was obviously really, really, sick.

So sick, I took Mollie for a walk around the property.  Because it was 60 degrees out.  Can I get an Amen?  

First we went up the driveway.

Then, we came back down.  The horses gawked from their sands.

Mollie spent some time staring at this rock.  I've owned this horse for 13 years and we've made so much progress in the brave department.  I'm happy to say she now spooks at almost nothing.  Except big rocks.  Never know when a mountain lion will be lurking behind one.

The fields are thisclose to being ready for turnout.  They probably would have been ready, but we had monsoon style rain this weekend and almost needed an ark.  Hopefully they'll dry up enough by the weekend!

Lastly we rode down the chute.  Mollie attempted to spook and scoot when we turned around at the end, but thankfully I've had Molls for 13 years and totally. knew. she'd. try.  Punk bitch.

I think I'm going to be sick a lot in the future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Kid on the Block: Montana

So a few posts ago I mentioned a fun new horse I've been working with at the lesson barn.  His name is Montana, and I'm slowly falling in love with this green goofball.

Doug Foscale Equine Photography

He is a rescue, and has been with his "Dad" for about a year... I think.  He's about 7 years old (maybe 8....) and in his short life has been very successful in doing whatever the hell he's pleased.  And he's really, really, good at getting his way.  So most of the things I've been working on with his dad, who we'll call "D", have been getting Montana to respect your space, your requests, and making it clear that you mean business.  D loves this horse and they have an awesome bond but he gives into Montana pretty easily, so we've been working on his confidence some too :)

I've really enjoyed working with him so far, so I'm sure you can expect some Montana updates in the future.  Also it helps that D takes awesome photos, so I'll be photo spamming you as well.  Because as you will learn, Montana takes awesome photos.

Doug Foscale Equine Photography