Friday, April 26, 2013

I promise, I really do know how to bake!

So, I decided to try this recipe:

I didn't buck today treats

They are called “I Didn’t Buck Today Treats”.

I carefully gathered my ingredients, including the 1 cup of horse feed (I was out of alfalfa pellets) that isn’t normally a staple in my kitchen…

I mixed and scooped and baked until they looked done… They seemed to need extra time to finish baking…
horse treats?
As the second batched baked, I finished cleaning up.

That’s when I spied this:

I pick it up to throw it away (it just isn’t like me to leave the empty egg carton out), and discover this:

Guess what didn’t make it into my treats?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The most horrible approach ever!

We were jumping and focusing on a straight approach and maintaining a line to the jump. There were two skinny boxes (about 18”) and 2 verticals (about 2’9”). I had one funny approach at the first box (she jumped over thin air to the left of the box), but then she settled into hopping over whatever I pointed her at. There was no rushing toward the fences. There was no rushing off after landing… It all felt so consistent! Even the verticals were just smooth sailing! Then, we approached from the short side of the arena. As we turned off the rail, she fell down into a trot. I kicked her back up into the canter, maintaining our line… I thought, “She’ll get it together before we get to the jump.”

But she wasn’t even looking at the jump. She wasn’t even thinking about the jump. We still maintained our line… Then, we got to the jump (one of the 2’9” verticals), and suddenly, she saw it! Our conversation went as follows:

We’re not actually jumping that, are we?

Oh, yes. We are. Get over it.

Are you sure? I really wasn’t ready…

Well, that was your own fault for not paying attention. We’ve been on this line, so maintain it and get over that fence!

Oh. Well, OK. If you really insist…


It felt as if she sucked it in with everything she had, and she launched from what must have been a ridiculously short spot…

We hung in the air as time stopped.

I had time to think: “She jumped! Good girl! Oh, my leg should NOT be that close to my seat… I am way out of the tack! I’m not going to be on this horse when we get to the other side! I’m going to go over her ears when she lands! Well, nothing I can do about it now…”

Time resumed, and we landed on the other side. I was astounded to find myself still aboard my horse. Only later did I realize that she STILL CLEARED THE FENCE!

It is important for an eventing horse to be able to get out of a tight spot without blatant instruction from the rider. Not only did she make the attempt from a ridiculously unprepared position and state of mind, she cleared the fence and kept me in the tack while she did it! THIS is a horse that can make a reliable eventing partner! We are learning to trust each other… *sigh*

Monday, April 22, 2013

EVERYBODY knows...

Have you ever lost a horse? This is my first. I know that I am still healing. I expect it will take a while.

Suddenly, everyone knows of a horse that I might want!

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m willing to put a leg over anything. They also know that I LOVE to jump! So anything they run across that mentions “jumper” or “eventing prospect” gets sent my way. But, buying a new horse is a commitment. It’s like getting married!!

OK, my gelding outlasted 2 husbands… It’s even bigger than getting married!!

We’re talking about a meeting of minds that develops a trust that we can get each other out of tight spots… a knowledge of each other so thorough that our bodies are in sync before our minds can even comprehend the question… not to mention a horse crazy enough (and sane enough) to jump solid fences that don’t fall down!

For the first time ever, I’m not interested in horse shopping for myself. I am fortunate to have developed a working relationship with the Psycho mare before I lost the Old Man. It provided me with a connecting thread that gave me a reason to continue to frequent the barn and ride. It’s like continuing something I had already started, whereas working with a brand new horse would be like starting from scratch – starting with “the replacement.” The thought of buying a new horse (before the thought of expenses even becomes an issue) puts a lump in my stomach. It obviously isn’t the time, yet.

Monday, April 15, 2013


The goal was just to ride away from home. Bonus goal: stay in the arena during the tests (the steering has been known to randomly fail).

The wind was howling A L L D A Y! While I scribed, I watched horse after horse after horse spook at the flatbed trailer parked near the tree line, off to the side of the dressage arena.  One unfortunate soul bolted away from the trailer and took out "H" along the way! I was concerned that the Psycho Mare was going to need a good long warm-up to settle and relax just to make it into the ring… It turns out that once I got the flapping sheet off her, she didn’t even seem to think she had left the barn. She stood quietly and drank water. She didn’t even blink when another horse’s saddle pads went blowing across the parking area…

When I climbed in the saddle, she felt the same as ever. She was no more (or less) tense than usual. We headed over to the grassy field that serves as a warm-up ring… And she fussed exactly the same amount as she would have at home. We were able to use a slight incline to induce the push I wanted from behind. She felt great! Canter came easily, and she only missed her lead once! She wasn’t stretchy, but she was moving forward into my hands. This horse was between my legs!! She was working with me! Oh, what a grand feeling!

Finally, our turn arrived to ride our first test. I focused on riding her actively forward. She saw the flatbed, and jumped. I said, “Go on!” She took a tentative step, “Are you sure?”

“Yes, mare. You’ll be fine. Just go.”

“Well, if you say so…” Another tentative step. We made it by the trailer and she determined that maybe it would be OK after all. Then, she just ignored it! The whistle blew, and we headed for the in-gate. Entering at A, I suddenly found myself on quite a different horse!

All that forward activity I had? It disappeared. I had been concerned she might exit the arena, but this horse didn’t think she should get too close to that plastic chain! I pushed her forward… and got “not much.” At least I got something…

Ultimately, we claimed 1st and 2nd in Introductory B! All goals were met and surpassed. I now have an idea what sort of horse to expect away from home! She is developing quite a good work ethic and her bravery and confidence are developing together nicely. No surprises from the judge (except for an 8 on a trot circle! Wahoo!), so I already knew where our weaknesses are. Oh, man, am I looking forward to working this girl up the levels!!

Judges comments from Intro B:
“A well matched pair – work for a steadier elastic connection coming from energy in the hind quarters” 63.125%

“A steady test – needs a bit more active strides in trot and walk”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Little Things

I had a lovely lesson. We never made it beyond trot. I explained what I was struggling with: consistent connection, connection at the walk, transitions… and this feeling like the Psycho Mare breaks in half under my seat when we come down to the walk and her entire back end just gets left behind…

As a result, our focus was “outside rein connection.” She asks me, “It has been explained to you that the outside rein is where your connection is, right?” Well, not exactly. I’ve read it in a bunch of different places. I’ve never had anyone to actually explain to me and show me what is actually **feels** like. She replies, “That’s very sad. In that case, you are doing it remarkably well!” It turns out that I am very tuned in and can feel it when she does it right. I used to get some of the same feeling from the Old Man, so I must have been doing something right. We even got to a point where we changed directions without completely losing the connection!

It always feels like the plateaus go on forever then lots of areas will click into place all at once. The little mare got bigger right underneath me! I trusted her to listen to my leg. Heck, I trusted her at all! We tried to stretch her neck longer… CB told me to give her an inch of rein… She took a foot. We tried again. Give her an inch… She took 4 inches! CB asked me why I gave her so much... I tried to explain that I don’t actually know what 1 inch feels like in my rein and to top it all off, I was riding in new gloves. I think she decided to let it slide… No pun intended.

It turns out that I’ve developed this unconscious habit of crossing my rein in an attempt to keep the inside shoulder from dropping. I think it got worse after my injury as a way to compensate for my weak core and uncooperative leg. This undermines my attempt to acquire outside rein connection. I’m really looking forward to getting that habit straightened out!

The most exhilarating part of all is finding that glimmer of trust…

Monday, April 8, 2013


It seems like something has clicked with the Psycho Mare this week.
We trotted a very low fence a couple of times. Once she realized it was even there, she hopped over it just as willing as can be. She never even thought about getting wiggly…

So, we cantered a narrow box painted to look like a stone wall. She stayed right on the track where I pointed her!

She felt in control.
She felt responsive.
She felt straight!
We were having fun!

I was feeling so good about it, I wanted to point her at the other vertical (which was set about 6” higher). I figured that was a good indication that I needed to stop while I was ahead.

So, we rode a few more transitions and started walking out. I enjoy walking out and letting the horse decide where to go, sometimes. She walked a wide arc after the long side and, with no guidance from me, headed straight for the center of the low vertical. It was as if she were asking, “So, are we going over it again?”

It’s like she figured out that if she just accepts my guidance, we can go do some really fun stuff!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Au natural or pulled mane?

Psycho Mare and I will be showing together for the first time in about a week. Sometimes, it’s easy to get so caught up in the RIDING and forget about extras that go with SHOWING. She is currently sporting a Mohawk. It might have been a bridle path a few months ago…

She doesn’t have the luxurious thick mane that the Old Man had, but it isn’t short by any means. I wondered how a French braid would hold. So, I braided it!

looking a little more grown up...
Then I rode.  For a while…  I mean, I have to know how it will hold up at a show, right?  The results are mediocre…

hmmmm.... not so pretty anymore...
I’m on the fence. I have made a deal that, if I pull it, I will ride her until it grows back. If she’s to show at AHA shows in anything other than hunter or dressage, she needs her “natural mane and tail”…

Not to mention, plaiting is a big commitment compared to French braiding… and all the maintenance that goes with a pulled mane… And what color yard do you use on “roan”?

I took advantage of the lovely weather this week. It started out as a nice ride outside… My mare was so biddable and cooperative, I decided to cool out and call it good while I was a head! We did ride long enough to work up a sweat…

I hosed her off, but it was so nice out, I thought maybe she should have a mini bath!

Then, I discovered I didn’t have any more shampoo at the barn, so I figured a pseudo-bath would do!

But, once I sprayed off everything I could, I was bothered by the dirt all over her legs… So, I attacked them with the scrubber brush! Who needs soap when you have elbow grease?

By now, I’m thinking those white socks are so clean… Perhaps I should hang out until they are dry and clip them! This thing just kept escalating. I was out of control!

I’m still on the fence about a pulled mane… So, I combed Cowboy Magic through mane and tail… Hair by hair… Strand by strand… She has a lovely silver lock in the middle of her tail!
just imagine how it will look when that tail is CLEAN!

I then attacked the mare with my clippers!  She was great while I shaved her beard off…
She was phenomenal while I shaved her legs!  Even the back ones!!  Just look at those fabulously white socks!

She still has a bit of a Mohawk… Despite an attack of the scissors…

And I’m still on the fence… French Braid, or Plaits?


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