Saturday, 30 November 2013

Get After 'im


These were the three key words of Friday night.

I arrived at the barn freezing to death with little motivation to ride but planning to at least lunge him.  I should not have worried so much about riding.  There was no time for that by the time I finished lunging him.

This might as well have been Walker last night
He was fresh as all get out.  I'm talking bucking, rearing, kicking out.  We lunged for an hour.

The first half hour was more of a survival thing.  There was another girl lunging and I started to worry that Walker might lose it, rip loose of me, and go flying over there.  I mainly walked and jogged him, in a tiny tight circle, with very little cantering.  I knew that I would need to canter him eventually though.

Luckily, S is an extremely good rider, and she told me that cantering Walker like a maniac in a giant circle on one end of the arena would not bother her while she rode her horse.  I think that she thought I was nervous to canter him, but I was really just nervous to be that rider.  You know the one.  The one who can't control her horse and causes another rider to go home in a full body cast.

Anyway, I started cantering him and pretty much did this for 20 minutes straight.  He was freaking out, and he was less than impressed.  By the end though, he started to settle down.  I was exhausted from having to chase a cantering/galloping horse around the arena with a lunge whip.

But Walker didn't sweat.  Because Walker just doesn't sweat in Winter.  I have resigned myself to this.  I don't know what he does, but he somehow manages to turn his sweat glands off around October.  Knock on wood.  Clipping looks messy.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


I had my first group jumping lesson last night. My trainer wanted to overlap my lesson with the lesson ahead of mine . I showed up early and they were running behind so I just jumped in.

Let me tell you that riding with other people is a lot less exhausting than taking the brunt of your trainer's exercises for a full hour alone!

Meanwhile, it was crazy windy. Like 100 km/hr winds. Some of the horses were freaking out because the wind was really giving the barn a good banging. My horse, Bentley, only spooked once but another girl did fall off.

I also did my first real course of like 8-10 jumps. A line to a line to a line, rollback, zigzag (or in more professional speak, I believe it's called a bending line).

There were mostly crossrails but I was one of two who got to have a couple two foot verticals. Don't get excited. I think this is because I had one of the two horses who could be trusted to jump the verticals in the middle of the monsoon without dumping their rider.

As usual, my takeaway is: better two point, better release. 

Bentley is also an extremely strong horse. The kind of strong that, once he gets cantering, you really need to work to slow down. I'm really not used to that with lazy bones. 

Bentley doesn't get worked much so he doesn't like to go round, bucks when you ask him to canter, gets strong at the canter and after jumps, and over jumps by a good foot or so.

I like him. He's got character.

Ps: I now understand why you all clip your horses in Winter. He was drenched. It took forever to dry him off!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Winter Walker

Damn you, L. Williams and your No Stirrup November.  My body feels like jello and it hurts to sit/walk/stand/move.  It's not even so much the muscles that hurt, but my hip/pelvis joints - whatever that means.  I now need to take a day off before my lesson on Wednesday so that I have some energy left in my system to actually learn something.

In other news, Walker is transforming quickly into his Winter form.  No, I don't just mean he's getting fuzzy.  He's getting frosty - like a cantankerous beast that packs a punch (as opposed to his summer form which is just a cantankerous beast who can't be bothered).

Tonight was one of those rides that my friend likes to call "Survival Rides".  You know the kind.

One Winter Walker + one stirrupless rider + another fresh horse in the arena = kappow

He was totally threatening to take off like a rocket ship, and I was mentally preparing for my best duck and roll.  All this no stirrup work has taught me that I do seem to have ok balance, but there's only so much a person can take before a pony finally dumps you.  At least it didn't come to that.  Tonight anyway.

Normally my response to his "overzealousness" would be to canter the bejesus out of him, but that's what the other rider was doing with her horse.  My muscles were also super fatigued so I just decided to force him to be a good pony and redirect some of that energy into actual work.

It worked for awhile, and then I thought, "Hey, I haven't fallen off and I'm still alive."  So I chalked that one up for a win and quit while I was ahead.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday Takeover

A post from Walker to the pony blogosphere:

The wretched human came to the barn today.

It is coldz and I do not like to work.  So while she adjusted my belt, I ate a piece of the mounting block.  Wretched human was not happy.  I have yet to figure out why.

After that, she got right down to business.  She was all, "Let us begin this glorious ride with a gentle jog."  And I was all, "I like to trotz.  But only when you don't want me to."

So I trotz.  Fast.  And I'm all, "You know what.  It is a wonderful crisp day."

And I felt so good and chipper that I just needed to express myself by leaping four feet in the air.  I felt like a gazelle.  I'm sure with my svelte body that I looked like one too.

By now, we're really cookin'.  But wretched human can sit all the trotz even though she took her feet holders away.  I decide this cannot deter my happiness.

Wretched human likes to rate our rides based on how many pylons I run over.  I assume that she likes it when I run over things so when I see a caveletti that someone left lying in our road, I decide that it will please her to run at it.

Now, where does she hide the treats?
I pick up the speed, and she was all "No!  You're not allowed to jump!"  And I was all "PSYCH, wretched human!"  And I just kicked it over instead.

Then she decided to canter, and because I was feeling fan-frickin-tastic, I even went on the bit for her.  But just for a few minutes.  It's important to keep the humans humble.

Once we were cantering all pretty and such on the bit, I waited for wretched human to get comfortable, then I threw my head around like a bronco.  I also threw my front end to one direction and my back end to another.  It is also important to teach them balance.

Boy, time really flies when you're having fun.  At the end of the ride, she practically slid off me and onto the ground.  I heard her everything crack.  But I suspect that she is cracked up anyway.

I mean, what exactly is the plan of the humanz?  They are all "Dance, pony, dance."  I ain't no ballerina, but if you continue to insist on feeding me the bestest food ever in exchange for knocking things over, I'm game.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A Week in the Life, Nov 17 - 23

Weekly Breakdown:

Sunday, Nov 17:

Arrive at barn in afternoon.
Lunge pony.
Pony goes wild.
Walk pony under saddle.
Put away.

Monday, Nov 18:

Work from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Miss out on barn.

Tuesday, Nov 19:

Go to barn after work.
Ride pony walk/jog/canter.
No stirrups.

Wednesday, Nov 20:

Lesson cancelled.
Decide to stay home to do a plethora of things (including, among other things, ensuring clean pants).

Thursday, Nov 21:

Dog agility day at the barn.
No ponies allowed.
Continue doing things that need to get done.

Friday, Nov 22:

Go to barn after work.
Lunge pony.

Saturday, Nov 23:

Begrudgingly agree to have a social life.
Miss out on barn because lessons in both arenas.

Week's Tally:

Barn: x3
Nanowrimo: +10,823 words

Friday, 22 November 2013

Not Feeling It

Lately, there has been some stuff going on - non-horse stuff - that has really been getting me down.  For the first time maybe ever, I simply don't feel like riding my horse.  Whereas there have been umpteen times where I was too lazy to ride my horse, now I just don't feel like it.  I don't feel like doing any of the things I enjoy, which is also why I'm so far behind on Nanowrimo.

As you may remember, I missed Wednesday because my lesson was cancelled, and the barn is closed to the equestrian set on Thursdays.  So with two nights off, tonight I forced myself to go to the barn.  

And it was hard.  And I'm not going to lie.  I felt like I was just learning to walk for the first time.  One step at a time.  

Put on breeches.  Put on boots.  Get in car.  Drive.  

Usually when I get to the barn, that handsome devil just makes me want to ride, and I'll admit, I felt a little guilty for going all the way out there and still just feeling like I'd rather not.  

But I did lunge him, and that's really what this post is about.  Not all the whiny stuff.  

I was actually pretty impressed with Walker tonight.  I put him on a nice long line and worked on speed control on the lunge.  As in, I got him to pull out all the stops that I know he's capable of - walk, jog, trot, lope, canter.  All by voice command.

I particularly focused on the difference between the jog and the trot, and by golly that fella is smart.  At one point, I actually got a lengthened/extended/whatever trot out of him.  Now, he's no Valegro, but that is the first time I have ever seen him do something like that - the kick that front leg high in the air kind of trot.  It only lasted for a moment since he didn't really have the strength to keep it up, but I was so happy to see it.

It was also a good lesson for me in lunging.  I practice what I like to call "the moving oval" since when I lunge, I don't stand still.  I usually walk in a circle, and since horses naturally drift in one direction, we will move across an entire arena.  So tonight I tried actually, you know, lunging in a stationary circle.  Frankly, the moving oval thing doesn't bother me, but hey, equestrianism is kinda about conformity at times, isn't it?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Taking the New Shoes for a Spin

On Tuesday, I rode Walker for the first time since he got his shoes put on, other than Sunday when I just walked him.  I pulled the stirrups for No Stirrup November and was pretty easy going about everything.

We mainly walked and jogged, but I did throw in a couple circles at the canter.  I also lunged him a little bit beforehand to make sure he was feeling up to the task.

Everything went well, except for a couple moments where he decided to throw a tantrum for no apparent reason other than he didn't feel like working.  Oh well.  We got through it.  I'm mostly impressed that I managed to fight back without stirrups!

All I know is that my everything is aching from the no stirrups, which is a good thing I guess, but my back is also killing me since it has been hurting for awhile now.  It's soon time to visit my massage therapist, I think.  Otherwise I'll never make it through No Stirrup November.

In other news, my lesson tonight got cancelled.  I was going to go out to the barn and ride anyway, but I'm approximately 8,000 words behind on Nanowrimo due to some unforeseen circumstances over the past few days.  It's probably best for Walker if I give him a couple off days in between rides for now anyway.

Soon we'll back at it for realz.  Soon.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Weatherbeeta Freestyle (for the win!)
Walker finally got his new shoes and new blanket. It's like he's all decked out to go to the prom.

No sooner had I posted my disappointment that the farrier didn't come than the farrier came. Apparently he was really sick for awhile which was why he was a week late.

For now, Walker and I are taking it easy while he gets used to his new high heels. I find that he is fairly awkward on solid ground, but out in the arena, he bounces along quite happily.

Friday I just lunged him, and today I lunged and rode. Well, I only walked under saddle because our session on the lunge line ended up being a gong show.

I lunged outside, and he decided that he was an Arabian, snorting with his neck and tail high up in the air. And then, just to show me whose boss, he would canter right out of the arena. Yes, folks, he was on a lunge line. I defy you to stop a thousand pound animal who is determined to get just one foot on the grass to spite you.

I loves it!
Needless to say, this resulted in a lot of me getting after him with the whip and a lot of him, insulted, cantering off hottily.

By the time we were done, his little legs were shaking so I pulled off the stirrups and just walked him around for a little while.  After that, he was quite behaved.

When my barn owner showed up a few minutes later, he watched us for awhile and then said, "He sure is quiet!"

Mmm hmmm. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013


I thought I would post a quick check-in to say:

1) The farrier still hasn't come.
2) This means Walker is still living it up riderless
3) I had to cancel my lesson this week due to unforeseen circumstances
4) So I have barely seen my horse let alone out my butt in a saddle

Here's hoping all this will change this weekend.

In more exciting news, Walker's winter blanket arrived. Keep your fingers crossed that it fits him and that he looks dashing in it.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Dance It Out

When I did my undergrad, I lived with my best and oldest friend.  She and I have been friends since we were five and can put up with a lot from each other.

Whenever either one of us would get stressed from all the work, we would go into the other's bedroom, turn on the following song, and without word or question, we would both hop on the bed and dance our little hearts out.  When the song ended, we would say nothing and simply return to our rooms.  Sometimes you simply need to dance it out.  

Even now that she lives on the other side of the country, every so often I will come home to the song played out in its entirety on my voicemail.

So here's to all my stressed peeps out there.  Dance it out, ladies!

You may also notice that there is a whole other verse added in.  Yeah, apparently that's the full version.  

Do I or Don't I

I'm still pretty down in the dumps over last Wednesday's lesson. To make matters worse, I expected the farrier to arrive by the end of the week and he never did.  So now I expect Walker to have another week off, which means he will have had a total of four weeks off in a row (if you don't count the two rides I got in one weekend in the middle).

To tell you the truth, I waffled tonight on whether or not I should ride him.  I almost gave in and hopped on, but then the arena had five people in it - one riding and four doing extensive groundwork.  I decided that a semi-lame pony and her idiot companion really didn't need to add to the chaos.

Sometimes it's so difficult to make that call - the "do I or don't I" of riding a lame horse.  Oh, it's an easy call to make when they're dead lame, but when they're just off - that's the hardest.

In fact, last night, two other horses were lame.  One rider rode anyway, and the other didn't.  The horse that got ridden was obviously much less lame than the other, and in fact, seemed to work himself out of it a bit once his rider hopped on.

Sometimes it's so hard to tell the difference between they're lame and they're stiff, or they're rideable and they're not.

That's the thing with Walker these days.  When you walk him down the hall, he looks fine.  Turn him, especially over his right front, and he'll hobble.  Jog him in a straight line in the arena or even large, he'll probably be fine.  He can deceive you.

And god bless them, they always just do what we want, don't they?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Nanowrimo and No Stirrup November

As if Two Pointober wasn't enough, I think I'm going to try L. Williams' No Stirrup November as well  - especially considering the slap in the face that was my last lesson.  However, I'm going to ride with stirrups for the first few days because I've been generally out of the saddle for a few weeks when you take into consideration the two weeks I was gone and the few weeks before that when Walker was on and off again lame.  And of course, I can't really start until Walker is feeling up to par.

So yeah, I'll be doing No Stirrup Half November.

In other news, I'm also doing Nanowrimo again this year.  I started doing it back in 2011 (and actually won that year), and I strongly encourage anyone who is remotely interested in writing to sign up.  It's not too late!  If you feel like you need some motivation, email me.  I'm annoying enough to make sure you succeed!  Be forewarned.

As for Walker, he wasn't looking too bad on Tuesday and Wednesday when I went out to check on him, but I have opted to give him the week off anyway.  I want to wait until the farrier comes, lest I make him more lame before he gets his new high heels put on.

Late to the Party - Sunshine Award

I was away during the whole Sunshine Award frenzy that made its way through blogger verse, but I'm finally getting around to participating.  Thanks to Hillary at Equestrian at Hart for nominating me, especially since I am rarely, if ever, a big ball of sunshine. :P

The sunshine award is for people who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere".  The nominee of this award must do the following, thank the person who nominated them, nominate 10 bloggers of their own, answer the 10 questions given to you, post them, and add the Sunshine Award Button to the blog.

1. Mares or Geldings?  Geldings all the way.  I used to think I'd want to have a mare someday, but the more dealings I have with them, the more I'm happy Walker is a man.
2. English or Western?  English.  Although Walker does Western better.  Maybe since I never got to do any English as a child, that has fueled my whole "go English or go home" mentality these days.  Poor Walker.  I'll probably let him become a Western pony again someday, and I think Western will always have a fond place in my heart - kind of like my safe zone.  
3. Do you prefer younger or older horses?  I don't really know how to answer this question.  
4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero?  No.  I would like to do that someday, but I fear I am not consistent or patient enough for this.  However, considering that we "train" our horses every time we ride, maybe I'm more patient than I think I am.
5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork?  I prefer riding 100%, but I admit that I really should do more groundwork.  My barn is super groundwork oriented, and groundwork is a big thing in the Western world.  You really see the benefit with the horses, and I think that if I ever trained a horse, I would force myself to focus on this aspect more.
6. Do you board your horse or keep him at home?  I board him but someday I hope that I will have a quiet little farm where he can have acres and acres to retire on.
7. Do you use all natural things or just commercial stuff (the products you use)?  I use whatever I can get my hands on.  And whatever I like.  
8. All tacked up or bareback?  Ummm, depends on my mood but usually tack.  I ride bareback when I'm too lazy to tack or cooling down.  I probably should do it more because it really shows me my weaknesses.
9. Equestrian role model?  Ian Millar.  Always my answer.
10. What's your one main goal while being in the horse world?   I don't know if I have a "main goal" other than to be the best horsewoman I can be.  I don't need to go to the Olympics, but I want to make sure that I have the abilities to do all that I desire, if that makes any sense.

Because, as I said, the Sunshine Award has already made the rounds through the blogosphere, I'm not going to throw out any nominations (and also since this is like two weeks later than everyone else).  I'll just say that if I follow your blog, you're probably already doling out plenty of sunshine. :)

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Train Wreck

Tonight I had my lesson, and it was one of the worst rides I think I've had in maybe a year and a half.  It was like an out of body experience, watching a train wreck happen over and over again.  I mean, this is no exaggeration.  If you had walked in on this lesson, you would have thought it was my first ride. Ever.  I have never felt so stupid in all my life.

I don't know if there's any point in even chronicling the things I did wrong, since it would probably be more efficient to simply list the things I did right.  I will do both.

Things I did right:
- cool down (you'd think that warm up would be a given, but nope - screwed that up too)
- the fighting part (I'm always good when motivated by a naughty pony)

Things I did wrong:
- warm up
- bracing my arms
- shoulders forward (the forever curse)
This face tried to cheer me up.
I just sat in his stall in a corner for awhile
and let the calm wash over me
- leaning forward
- my heels were up
- dropping my outside rein instead of simply pulling back (that's another curse I have from my Western days)
- two-point (everything about two-point, really - which is ironic, considering Two Pointober where I nearly killed myself to improve)
- walk/trot/canter (I deserve an award for screwing up EVERY GAIT)
- not looking where I was going
- not turning my body at all
- cantering large when the instructions were to canter a circle - like every time
- my diagonals
- ripping on the horse's mouth
- reins were too long, stirrups were too long
- horse was never on the bit for more than two seconds despite being perfectly capable of doing so
- etc
- etc
- etc

I mean, some of these things are constant problems I have, like my shoulders.  I doubt a day will ever come where I am not a hunchback.  It is ingrained in my very biology.  But diagonals?  I'm the freakin' queen of getting my diagonals.  And you know, walking.  Usually that's pretty cool too.

In all honesty, I'm super upset about it.  I don't know what the hell was wrong with me.  And to make matters worse, my instructor had a friend with her who was telling me all about the new horse she was training.  So her first impression of me was as a stupid lump of spaghetti slapping around on the back of this poor horse, who was a saint, all things considered.

And I didn't even get to do all the things that the other kids got to do in the lesson before me because, well, you don't let people canter without stirrups when they can barely walk WITH stirrups.

But now I have beer.  And beer is good.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

New Ideas

I just want to say a quick thank you to everyone in my last post who said that Walker seemed back to normal.

This week he was lame.  YOU ALL JINXED US!

Just kidding.  Well, not about the lame part.  He was lame on Saturday, but I rode him anyway.  It has come to the point that he is either stiff or lame so often that no one is able to tell the difference.  This sounds stupid but when I asked the barn manager (who obviously looks at bunches of ponies every day) if he was lame at all last week while I was away, she just said "he was stiff as normal".  Nope.  Pretty sure he was lame.  And you turned him out lame.  But it's really not your fault.  I rode him lame, after all.

Anyway, by the time Sunday rolled around he was extremely lame so I loved on him and put him away.  
Then the BM told me that the farrier came out last week, took one look at him, and said "I need to talk to her first."  Exactly the kind of vague message you want to get four days after the fact.  I managed to track down the farrier, who went to the Royal over the weekend, and he said that Walker still looks uncomfortable in his right front.  He wants to go ahead with the elevated pad that he suggested months ago which the vet disagreed with and I agreed with the vet.

Preparing for a bath.
That's why he's hiding his head in shame.
In truth, I had been starting to think the same thing myself.  I have owned him for a year and a half, and minus the odd ouchy, he has never been so lame so much.  These days he likes to dig his poor little toesies deep into the sand, which I imagine is his way of relieving some pressure from his low-ish heels.  I'm hoping that the new pads will help him find some comfort and stay sounder longer.  

Probably our last bath until Spring :(

I did give him a nice bath though.  Although we have a wash stall, I can't see me bath him too much during the Winter and risk turning him into a popsicle.  It will probably be his last bath in maybe six months, as scary as that sounds.

PS: Blogger is on crack today so I apologize for any wonky formatting.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Back Finally

I'm finally back from my two week useless course.  I was right to be bitter.  It was crazy, with all the assignments and the constant emails from my work.  Things always seem to fall apart when you're away.

I actually typed up this post last weekend when I was home and got a chance to ride the pony but completely forgot to, you know, hit "post".  I'm doing my best to catch up on everyone's blogs.  Don't be insulted if I don't comment!  It seems stupid to comment on something that was posted two weeks ago when the person has since posted two week's worth of other posts.

Anyway, last Saturday I rode in the ring with Walker and his archenemy, the little mare that beats him up in the field.

My new saddle cover :)
Man, does she hate him! She plastered her ears to her head whenever we were near her, and Walker was equally unimpressed. He would intentionally veer towards her to goad her on, and I was somewhat nervous she was going to haul off and lose it on her rider, who is already a little nervous with her.

After they left the arena, we actually got down and dirty into our ride. I got my 2 point time in for the week: 4 minutes 35 seconds (which was about 3 minutes and 35 seconds of me saying over and over again: "you must improve!")

Walker was in a bit of a mood which could have been from a number of things: his archenemy, not being worked this week, or his general unending desire to never work a day in his life. Who knows.

At one point he threw in a couple of the hops - the "I'm threatening to rear" hops but I correctly gauged his mood and pushed through it.

Other than that, nothing groundbreaking. Same lazy Walker. I'd say more steps backward than forward (both literally and figuratively), but I can't expect him to pick up where we left off after a week or two of being lame-ish.