Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Reveille must have thought she was in horse heaven this evening: her person arrived in the pasture, fed her carrots, scratched her in her itchiest places, and then ... left. Left. Without putting a halter on her, without making her run in circles, without any of that. Just gave her treats and then let her go on with being a horse.


:) It was 8 PM and I wanted to get the carrots delivered -- no time to ride, but I could at least take treats out and pet her.

And hallelujah! She gets her feet done tomorrow!! I couldn't wait any longer for the other farrier to get back; I really dislike not knowing if he's in town or out of town. So ... I called the other farrier MT recommends, and we'll go with him from here on. He's more expensive by $10, but -- he's not as expensive as the Really Expensive, Really Good Farrier. Who I quite like, but can't afford. I don't want to offend the farrier I'm switching from, but ... I really can't go 8 weeks between trims/shoeings. I'm much happier knowing that the new farrier doesn't have a second job that's as intensive as the other farrier's and that the new farrier sticks around town.

Sigh. Alas. I hate hate hate not giving my business to a friend whom I know needs the money, but ... seriously, even had I had time to ride, I probably wouldn't have, just because her feet are so long. I have to take care of what's best for my horse.

So yes. All the work I did bathing her last weekend is, of course, obliterated. She's muddy. *grin* That's okay. I can cope. She's a horse.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Good day!

Lesson again this morning, and then pony baffs with The Sprinkler Bandit and her lovely mare.

The lesson was very fun -- I was having a little more trouble with it this morning than I thought I had yesterday, but then MT pointed out that what we did today is much harder than what we did yesterday. Ah. Okay then! We worked specifically on showjumping techniques, rather than just jumping fences. We did a bunch of really tight turns that Rev really wouldn't have trouble with -- IF her rider were a little better at them. :) It's okay; that's why I take lessons! And I'll get a bunch of practice while everyone's off at Aspen this coming weekend. Especially because I need to shorten my stirrups a hole, and I'll need to get used to the shorter length.

We did, this weekend, jump our very first oxer! See?

This was actually Sunday, the second lesson that incorporated the oxer. I actually kind of like oxers, I think. They seem somehow easier to jump than straight verticals, but I couldn't say why.

I will apologize right now for my presence in the upcoming photos. I didn't realize exactly how unflattering that shirt is with those shorts, nor how unbelievably pale my legs are! Eek. Gym, STAT. Anyway, ignore lumpy human and ADORE THE BEAUTIFUL MARE!!

Rev got her bath today, hooray! She's so shiny and clean and soft! She hadn't completely dried in these photos, but she's still gorgeous. Even her face is clean. And TSB will pooh-pooh Rev's naturally wavy tail, but I think it's beautiful. :) She has a lot of tail, for sure.

I'll let TSB show off her own gorgeous animal, so here are the shots of MY gorgeous animal! I love her color and her expression and her mane and her tail and and and and!

Conformation shot, mostly. I like her proportions and how her topline's developing! Pretty leather halter, too. And funny nose. ;)

And even though I look enormous in this picture, I have to say I like it a lot of Rev. :)

Grass, yum.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yay for jumping!

Got to go back to jumping lessons this weekend -- hooray! I had a really good go, especially given that I haven't been in lessons for a while. We jumped everything no problem, including an oxer -- first oxer, even though it was small. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's lesson, too. I want to work on my position even more, my leg being on tight, and keep my attitude of "enh, it's a jump, we'll jump it" that I had today.

Also? PONY BATHS! Tomorrow! Hallelujah, because Rev is in desperate need of a bath. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh, and -- List.

Two new sets of side reins. One to replace the set I borrowed from a friend and that was terminally separated at some point, and one for my own. That's the primary need, the replacement set. I should make this list a link so I can add to it when I think of things.

  • Two sets of Nunn Finer side reins with elastic - one horse size to give to friend, one pony size for Rev

  • Saddle covers! I keep forgetting -- this is really important, and I should put it at the top of the list. Done.

  • Stirrup pads that wrap around

  • Half chaps

  • Hat deodorizer

  • Charcoal pouch for hat

  • The Right Bit (this may take some time and be multiple bits. I am thinking a boucher might be something to try for dressage? Or a mullen mouth? The twisted snaffle seems to work for jumping.)

  • Waverly bridle from Five Star Tack

  • Mountain Horse winter paddock boots, maybe even tall MH winter boots, for the inevitable muck

  • A light turnout blanket for fall and spring

  • More FITS breeches -- but maybe not until I get to a different, final size? Tan, white, and any other color. Tan and white for showing, whatever other non-white color for schooling.

  • A dressage coat

  • Crown Royal bag for my clippers. Anyone out there a Crown drinker?

  • New body protector -- a Rodney Powell.

  • Point Two or Hit-Air vest.

  • Wrap-around prescription sunglasses. Do they even make those?

  • Two horse, bumper pull, dressing room, slant-load, lightweight trailer.

That's about all for this iteration of the list. I'm sure I have updates, but I can't think of them at the moment. Heck, this is over $1000, maybe closer to $3000 worth of stuff, not counting the trailer. I think that's plenty for now!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Now wasn't that easy?

The topic of our ride tonight was -- as usual -- Contact With Bit. More to the point, Correct Contact. Rev can take contact just fine, but she prefers to do so with her nose way out in front of her, like a pony. This is something we're working on all the time.

We spent 30 minutes at the walk and trot with her basically saying "No! Don't wanna!" and me saying "Yes! Gonna! Oh wait, come back here!" until I steadied my outside hand enough, sat just right on my seatbones, and applied just enough leg. And then it was almost magic -- she rounded right down and walked out. Trotted out too. Sheesh. It's so easy when she stops arguing with me about it!! One of these days we won't have to have that argument every. damn. time. But until then, I guess I'll keep arguing. And practicing, so I don't have to hunt for the steady rein or the seatbones.

I probably need to make this the sole focus of my non-jumping rides for the next however long it takes, honestly. Until it becomes easy and second nature for both of us. Make it so that she stays in that good, round contact all the time, in transitions, at all three gaits, and in changes through gaits. Yep. That's what I need to do. Man, I don't want to have shoulder surgery now -- even though it's not til October, I don't want another break in training. I do kind of have to, though, because it could get much worse if I don't fix it. Alas.

Anyway, Rev was very forward today, with great energy. I was really pleased with her consistent answer to "more push behind." When we can consistently combine that push with the correct contact and roundness, that will be seriously, seriously impressive. I heart my little mare so much!

Looking forward to jumping this weekend! I'm going to be back in my usual lesson, with my lesson partner Linda. Another of our barn students will be in with us this weekend too -- heh, we're going to be playing with the big girls! I could opt for the less-big girls' lesson right after (what TD has named) the Ladies' Lesson, but nah. I want the challenge!

Rode in my Troxel this evening instead of my replacement Charles Owen. It's lighter, for sure, and more vented, but ... gah. It just feels so flimsy. Plus, the chinstrap has a really poorly placed pokey-bit that bugged me all the time I had the helmet on. I really just need to grab a can of hat spray and maybe one of those activated charcoal pouches and be done with it. Or maybe just wear the Troxel schooling and the CO for show? But my head isn't any less important while schooling than it is during a show, and I school way more often than show ... so might as well use the good stuff.

To add to my ever-present list of Things I Want To Upgrade, I think I want a set of half-chaps again. Or just a pair of Mountain Horse tall boots for winter. Or MH paddock boots and the half-chaps. The MH boots I have now are (hooray) starting to be kind of big through the lower calf and ankle. They slip! But they're still in super condition, so I am not going to replace them with another pair of tall boots. Half-chaps are another story.

So yeah. Add half-chaps to the list that already comprises a Five Star Tack Magnolia bridle, one set of black rubber reins, and one replacement set of brown rubber reins. And more FITS breeches. And I'm sure there are a bunch of other things. Oh, the hat spray, the charcoal pouch, and a Crown Royal bag for my clippers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Heck with it, let's ride.

Hooray! I decided to just say "the hell with the headache" and go play with Rev this afternoon. It was really, really dang hot, so we played pony beauty salon for an hour or so, grooming, tidying up her mane, fly spray, trimming the bridle path, et cetera. I'd just gotten to the point of washing her tail when the trailer arrived back home from the show in WA this weekend, which distracted her completely. So the original plan, longing her in side reins, was a GO!

I was surprised with how well she went, honestly. After a while of longing, I would have been entirely willing to get on and ride, she was that good. It could be that she's getting broke. ;) I wore shorts, though, to keep me from doing that very thing.

After the exercise, I got to put the new-to-me fly mask on her -- a nice Cashel with ear mesh and everything. I was absolutely shocked: she let me put it on without even a single complaint. I was expecting her to resist, so I started from the right side, which tends to work best for us. And on it went, no worries. Very cool. :) That makes me really happy -- I hate seeing flies on her eyes.

Also? I picked up a bottle of Pyranha fly spray when I was at the tack shop. I tried it out for the first time today, and I am a complete convert. It smells pleasant, like Murphy's oil soap, and most importantly, the flies left. Immediately. Ohhhh this makes me SO happy. I hope it keeps Rev happy too.

Tomorrow, damn the headache, full saddle ahead!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Loading Health ... please wait ... Loading ...

Oh hallelujah! After I went in for the CT scan, my doc called with great news -- all this head trouble is being caused by nothing more than an infection. WHEW. This means that I can just take antibiotics and wait, and this whole miserable thing will be over!! HOORAY!

Granted, it's not getting over with as fast as I'd hoped, so I haven't been out to see my horse in almost two weeks. I'm thinking I can get out there tomorrow, assuming the healing continues as it has been: I don't think I'm up to longing tonight, what with all the little teeny circles and the dizzy. But tomorrow is a whole 'nother prospect! I have plans to, at the very least, have Pony Bath Night with TSB, which will be awesome -- clean pony! :) I suspect that I'll need to run her around in circles before she's willing to stand around to be bathed, though, so I might go longe, then go help with the wondermare, then come back and we'll bathe Rev.

Hooray! I will be ready for lessons when MT and crew come back from Caber!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Plans in contact with reality ...

Like battle plans and the enemy, my plans for today didn't survive contact with reality.

Instead of getting up early to go watch lessons, I overslept.
Instead of stopping at PetSmart on the way home for dog food and cat litter, I was wiped out and didn't want to stop for anything but Powerade Zero.
Instead of also going to the store for people food on the way home, I was wiped out and didn't want to stop for anything but Powerade Zero.

The scribing went as planned, and the post-scribing crash when I got home went as planned, but that's about it.

Alas ... but the grocery store is open 24 hours. It'll still be there when I'm ready to go. And the dogs don't mind a dinner of cat food -- on the contrary, they would LOVE that. So I am just going to enjoy laying here in my jammies, in the nice cool house, with cold electrolytes (electrolytes that plants crave!), and happy corgis while I recover a little bit of wa.

And the show was a lot of fun. I always like getting to scribe! I feel like it's a privilege, not a chore -- I feel like I should thank the show organizers for the opportunity to sit with the judge, rather than be thanked for volunteering. I get great insight and vouchers for free lunch or for future show entries -- how does that not translate into sweet deal? :)

I had a wonderful experience with both judges, Dorie Vlatten Schmitz and Mary Grace Davidson -- especially Judge Davidson. She was a real class act, and she was a more old-school dressage sort, interested in correct riding and not DQ-ish at all.

She was also willing to talk to me during breaks about what she looks for and why, and how to achieve it. Accuracy and correct lines are one of the main things she looks for, not overshooting turns, keeping straightness and balance, and understanding the real goal of a movement within a test. I get the feeling that not too many people stop to think about those goals -- like in Training 3, you ride one loop along the long side. The goal is to achieve correct, smooth changes in bend on a shallow loop before you move to First level, when you're required to show correct changes in bend on two 10-meter circles. If you don't master it at T-3, 1-1 (or whenever that comes in) is going to throw you.

Everyone should volunteer doing something for their local show organization!! It's fun, and you get to see and learn a lot that you might not get to see or learn if you just ride and never help out. (The lunch is often pretty dang good, too. ;) )

Thanks to the Idaho Dressage and Eventing Association for another great show!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sigh. And HELMET.

I cannot tell you, my two dear readers, how tired I am of being injured, broken, or otherwise incapacitated, partially or completely.

This last week, it's been headaches. And by "headache" I mean lightheaded, dizzy, tinnitus, difficulty focusing, fatigue, needing frequent naps, losing my train of thought in the middle of a sentence, and nasty head pains. Last Saturday I actually almost fainted during our lesson -- I think I mentioned that. At any rate, that hasn't stopped. My head still hurts. My doc thinks it's something infectious, but ... she's slightly concerned. So she's treating it like something, well, treatable for now, and I have antibiotics. Riding is officially verboten for the weekend, and if I don't feel significantly better by Monday, she's sending me for a CAT scan.

I know that Dr. Internetz sends real doctors screaming ("Doc, I read about this horrible parasitic cancerous infection on the Internet, and I'm sure I have it! Give me the expensive name-brand drug I read about on the Internet -- it's the only thing that'll fix it! I know, because I read it ON THE INTERNET!"), but after talking to Sara and hearing what my doc was saying, this is a possibility. Especially given the fact that right after I broke my jaw, I had a couple of weeks where I was having a really, really hard time coping: had to go home from work a couple of times, couldn't focus when I WAS at work, slept a lot, and generally felt bad.

Let us pray fervently that it's not actually what's going on, because I do not want an actual head trauma. Seriously. This is the sort of thing that lasts some indeterminate amount of time, may or may not heal completely, and generally effs you up. Not a good thing for a rider!!

So. Pray for sinus infection.

Meanwhile, the Sprinkler Bandit (remind me to ask her about that moniker) talked/texted me into coming out to our local saddle shop's sale on Friday. I realized that if I'm still having head trouble, I probably need a new helmet. Whether I know I hit my head or not, clearly something happened, so better safe than sorry. And my favorite (and, in my opinion, the most effective mid-range) helmet, the Charles Owen Pro II skullcap, isn't cheap ... so yay for sales. I have a spare Troxel, actually, and I think I'm going to use it for schooling, maybe. I'm just not necessarily as confident in their protection as I am in the CO.

At any rate, let me here proclaim my undying love for and loyalty to helmets. ASTM/SEI approved helmets. Every time. If there were a gang sign for Riders4Helmets, I would throw it here. West Coast Helmets -- Represent!

Ahem. I did mention the head issues? I apologize -- posting while quite dizzy. :) Anyway.

I'm going to watch lessons tomorrow at the barn, and then I'm off to another local barn to scribe for a dressage show. I think I can make it through three and a half hours of scribing with my head the way it is -- I have promised my head that I will rest it afterward. Not exactly total rest, but ... close enough for government work?

I know. You're right. I should. Let's take this little talk as given, k?

Also? The ensmallening (as opposed to embiggening, of course) of me continues successfully. :D This makes me very, very happy. I'd prefer to be able to be hitting the gym, but ... right now I am just focusing on what I can do diet-wise. Yay for me. ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Also also wik:

Let's see if I have any pictures to post here ... oh look! I do! Matt took these at our lesson on 7/31/11.

Proof that we can jump!

The file name on this is "awkward.jpg," even though I pretty much like my position in it. Not so much Rev's feet, but still. I think after this jump was when I asked MT why she knocked it down and what I needed to do differently, and his answer was "I don't think that one was you."

Cantering off after a jump. I like this one.

Also wik:

Ah ha! Figured out why my profile wasn't showing correctly. All fixed. :) Now I can't stalk people anonymously any more.
I am so, so tired of various and sundry health issues, I tell you! This week's episode included near fainting off my poor mare on Saturday in our lesson. Luckily, my lesson mates suggested rather firmly that I get off before I fell off, and I took their advice. Several days later I still feel quite lightheaded and generally Bad; my doc says virus, maybe? And with several people at work ill, I suspect she might be right.

So -- that said -- horse news. The eldest daughter at the barn is in town at the moment, and she's absolutely a riot. It's always fun to hang out with ... er ... oh I can't come up with a clever acronym at the moment. Friday I went out to ride and discovered a party in full swing on the lawn. And by party in full swing, I mean the usual suspects (TW, TD, AM, MR), our working student (who was just watching, as she's just 15), a boarder/student (over 21, perpetrating the silliness), and said eldest daughter laughing up a storm and drinking fancy Bloody Marys.

'Cause that's how eventers roll. :)

I accepted a fancy Bloody Mary, sat down and laughed and joked, discovered I still don't like Bloody Marys, and generally enjoyed everyone's company for a while before I got up and went to bother my horse.

By the time I got on for what I intended to be a brief hack, the crowd had dispersed, leaving only TW and eldest daughter on the lawn. One lap around each direction at a walk, then start working a little, working on getting Rev to come into contact.

My brief hack turned into a short impromptu lesson! :D TW and eldest daughter were coaching from the lawn, helping me shorten my reins and steady my outside hand to get Rev bent to the inside and improve the rein contact. Note to self: keep horse moving forward; stay in charge. Letting her suck back and hollow out invites escalation.

I'm sort of waiting for my lightheadedness to go away before I go back out and practice what they were helping me learn, but I'm anxious to get there. I had to pass on my Sunday lesson because I still felt pretty rotten ... grr. Now I have to wait for Saturday before I can practice jumping again. I'm tempted to add "and it's my own damn fault!" here, but then again, it's not like I stood in line to obtain odd symptoms. ;) I'd prefer to feel perfectly normal, thankyouverymuch!

Anyway, that's the news. My friend the sprinkler bandit can now have an entry to read. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Always with the ketchup

I should probably say something about what's been going on lately, seeing as there's been some incidents.

Went to the Rafter K derby. Got into a bad situation in the clinic, bad that spiraled into worse and even worse, ended up breaking my face. No, really. I got a teeny hairline fracture in my jaw and a big honkin' sprain to go with it. MT was absolutely wonderful, and TW and TD when they got there -- MT did his best to work me through fear and stress before dressage the next morning, and he didn't yell at me for throwing in the towel before jumping at all. What's more, nobody yelled at me for scratching on the derby the next weekend, either. I tried, I really did -- I went out Friday night to school the fences with MT and my lesson partner and another friend, but I found myself unable to face down a single cross-rail.

That was really a shock, honestly. I wasn't expecting to be so upset, wasn't expecting to be so freakin' scared. And my poor little horse wasn't in her best frame of mind either. MT had schooled her over the xc questions at home that had been problems at Rafter K, but still. I was nervous, she was nervous, and life wasn't particularly good. Not to mention painful. Seriously, I did NOT expect a slightly-broken jaw to be as staggering as it has been. I was able to compartmentalize my collarbone pain, the shoulder pain (though that still causes problems ... but hell if I was going to keep up with the rest break), et cetera, but something about this really threw me for a loop.

So yeah. I think my lesson from that is that clinicing with other teachers is just a bad idea right now, for one, and for two, in retrospect, I need to learn to manage fear/worry/anxiety better. Keeping Reveille moving forward and not tensing up my hands, shoulders, and butt will be a much better solution to being nervous than my reaction at RK, which was to keep her slow.

However!! I've been back in lessons for a couple of weeks, and we're doing much, much better. I don't worry in our home arenas, and I think it'll be a good idea for me to just stay home for the rest of the year and work on our jumping. Work on my position, my fitness, my confidence -- work on Rev's experience, her confidence, and her ability. We're doing a lot, a LOT, of trot poles to jumps, building from cross rails to small verticals to less small verticals to a one-stride double, and eventually to a one-stride triple, quad, et cetera. And then lines. All very logical and designed to really work on rider position and education.

I might say this often enough, but I don't think so -- I can't even express how grateful I am for my teachers. And for my lesson group. We three are all adult women with some experience but not enough, and Rev and one of the other horses are about the same age, with their own sets of young-horse issues. The third horse is just a saint of a TB, but he has his own issues too. ;) And MT, TW, and TD are all amazing with all of us. Patient, willing to challenge us, and very well matched to our rather logical, analytical minds. :) And they can deal with the irrational fears all three of us seem to develop every now and then. Heh.

Overall? I couldn't be in a better situation. Even with a broken face. :)