Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 wrap-up, and looking forward to 2014!

Well. It would seem that I'm on a biweekly post schedule around here! :) At least you know what to expect, right? I actually have a lot of plans for posts to put in the hopper for when I'm busy, but ... um, I'm busy? Heh. Anyway. On with the obligatory 2013 wrap-up and the catch-up on what I've been up to.

The catch-up is quick and easy: I've been sick and doing Christmas. :) The usual winter ick has gotten me, though it's not as dire as it has been in past years. This year it's just bronchitis and the accompanying asthma-worsening. So I've been staying inside this last week and a half, out of the cold and dry air. I'm enjoying the break and the Leverage marathon, but ... I miss my pony.

Especially because it's been so dark -- I don't think it's very safe to go out into a pasture in the dark and try to catch my horse among a bunch of other horses. Not that he's hard to catch, nor that he or the other horses are ill-tempered; quite the opposite! But horses run around and play, and they get surprised by things in the night, and the ground is frozen and rutted, and overall, just a lot of things that can go wrong when wandering in a pasture in the pitch black.

I know, I know: lots of people go catch their horses in the dark. However, lots of people also ride without helmets ... I just don't think it's safe for me. And my livelihood doesn't depend on riding, so even though I'd rather ride, if it's dark by the time I could get to the barn, I don't.

ANYway: between the dark and the sick, I haven't seen Apollo since Christmas Eve. Blah. But I'll go see him tomorrow!! I am feeling enough better that I can wander on out and at least longe him. The last time I rode, he was feeling his Thoroughbred breeding ... heh. He doesn't always remember that he was a racehorse, but this winter, now that he's sound, he sure does. Fun to ride!!

So. 2013 in review.

Honestly, it was a tough year for the barn in general. Colic, lameness, abscesses, more lameness, and then an abscess, and some lameness. Ugh! A friend lost her beautiful mare just after Christmas, as well, so tough year.

Apollo and I had some great success this year: we went to a couple of jumper shows and conquered the 2'6 block I'd had for so long, won the crossrails division in our first derby, went to a recognized event with our resident European in the irons and performed beautifully, and jumped 3' for the first time.

We had some trials, too: the abscess ordeal and the colic, as well as realizing what shape Apollo's feet are in (TB shape, ugh). And of course, my general tendency toward sickness. But that's a constant -- that's not going to change without some serious intervention that I'm not sure I can afford, time-wise or money-wise. But we'll see.

I also had some job upheaval this year, ranging from me getting what I thought was my dream project to discovering that the dream project was a pile of steaming dog crap, from my company completely falling in the cash flow department to me losing all my benefits, from me getting a second part time job to me flipping the table in frustration and quitting my original job that had gone part time ... and so on. Right now, I'm going to be going full-time with my current part-time job in January, so I'm utterly thrilled and unspeakably relieved to be going back to a steady paycheck that will pay the bills and provide benefits. Big plus: I really don't mind the work. It's exactly the sort of thing I like, something I can just come to work, do for 8 hours, and then leave at the office when I go home.

So I am really looking forward to 2014. Here's hoping that it brings soundness and health to all our equine partners and health and joy to all of us humans!

I'm planning on hitting my own first recognized event this summer. The amount of money I have available will determine which event I pick -- if I have the money, I would really prefer to go to Twin Rivers or Galway, but that's an expensive trip. If I don't have the money for Twin, I might go back to Caber, or maybe to Aspen. I would definitely like to go to Golden Spike for sure, too -- that usually falls on an Aspen weekend, so I would have to buck up and go without the team. That is probably doable, though. I think. We'll see. :) I know at least a couple of people generally go, people I would trust to give me at least good advice, if not coaching, so I can make it work.

Other than that, I definitely plan to start the year with the May derby at home and compete at BN, depending on how the cross-country schooling goes. I'm willing to start at Intro to BN, if I need to, but really. I can totally do BN.

I'll also do the unrecognized event at home, too, if we can get that sorted out. Lesson from last year: Enter early. As many little jumper shows as I can get to will be on the list, too.

And just all through the year, ride as much as I can and play with my wonderful pony. :) I do love that beast, so very very much.

I'm planning on doing my town's Biggest Loser competition with a friend, so a bit more health and fitness is on the docket, too. :)

So yeah. Wishing you all a happy, healthy, sound 2014!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dream Wishlist

So I have seen a few people post this kind of entry lately: 5 things on my horsey wishlist for Santa. Right now, money is so scarce for me as to be on the Endangered Species list, so this is the stuff I'm dreaming about. I'm saving as much as I can, but that's just dribs and drabs here and there, nothing big, so these dreams probably won't come true for a while.
HOWEVER! We can all dream, eh?

1. County Conquest saddle. 18" or 18.5", medium tree, with a fitting from a County fitter included. Brown, with -- because this IS a dream -- short, forward flaps. I like my Collegiate saddle, but it doesn't fit Apollo well, and I don't love it. County FTW!

2. Two County Logic girths.
One for my jump saddle, one for my dressage saddle. I think the size for the jump girth would be 48" - 50", and the dressage would be 22" - 24". Would have to measure.
And thinking of dressage saddles ...

3. County Perfection dressage saddle.
18" or 18.5", medium tree, with a fitting from a County fitter included. Black, with short flaps -- again, this IS a dream. :)

4. FITS breeches. Moar FITS! :) Another tan pair, a white pair, and then any color from there. Just enough to cover a three-day event, since I have one tan pair already, and a few more pairs to ride in every day.

5. A nice pair of tall boots. It doesn't even have to be custom boots. Just something that looks nice, fits my calf, and isn't so tall that I can't bend my knees. These three things are difficult to find in one pair of boots, so much so that this becomes a dream.

So that's my main horsey wishlist. I think I'll probably pick up a set of black SoftGrip reins after Christmas, because I'm tired of the ThinLine reins freezing in my dang hands, and I did manage to score a ThinLine pad for a song at the FLTS. :) Super kind of them to let me know one had come in on consignment -- and I happened to have just the price of the pad in consignment money of my own, so I was able to get it for not much at all. Yay -- Merry Christmas to me!

But for the rest of it ... Santa? I've been very good this year, and more to the point, so has Apollo. He's been better than me, honestly. He deserves at least a jump saddle that fits him and makes his back happy -- he's the best guy ever, and he deserves everything in the world.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blogging from the barn!

So I have a rule: I only ride in double digit temperatures.

I also have an observation: the weather app on my iPad is a lying liar!  The weather app said it was 12 degrees; barely in my double digit range. So I came out with the idea of longing and feeding Apollo.

Yeah, no. It's 7 here now. Definitely too cold.

So I am waiting in the warm tack room for Apollo's beet pulp to soak, and I'll not even bring him in - just feed him in the pen, pick his feet while he eats, and boogie on out of here.

In comparison to L. Williams' barn outfit for yesterday, I am wearing: expedition weight thermal bottoms and top, heavy sweat pants, smart wool heavy socks, Bogs, a fleece top, my heavy Carhartt jacket, a balaclava, and an earflap wool/fleece hat.  SEVEN degrees.

Even Hazel the sometimes evil barn cat says it's too cold for evil or for slashing, and she's in my lap, purring, as I type. Photo to come soon.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

18 degrees is way too cold to ride but ...

So this happened tonight:

I have no idea why my phone turns the indoor green, but there you have it. My favorite photo of the year!  I am thinking easy rides for this weekend and next week, then I hope to rejoin the jumping lesson next Sunday. Yay!!!

Apollo is, predictably, pretty stiff and rather up after, what, four? five? weeks of not being ridden. He starts out a bit off, but by the time I finish longing him he's moving soundly, especially to the right. Oddly enough, he's a bit off-er to the left to begin. He was entirely uninterested in taking contact on the right, so ...we have lots of ground to make up. Still, riding again!!  Hooray!

Also, I picked up a bottle of Equiderma lotion for his scratches. On first look I suspect that this will do what all that silver sulfadiazene didn't and actually clear it up. Initial signs are encouraging. I hope in a few weeks I can come here and give a screaming, enthusiastic OMG YOU GOTTA TRY THIS endorsement. :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Catching up, part two: The Ordeal

Apparently, Apollo might have a Thing about winter -- we spent much of last fall and winter rehabbing the gash on his leg, and this fall and winter, it's an abscess and a case of Thoroughbred feet.

About four weeks or so ago, Apollo was a little off. I noticed when I pulled him out of the pasture, and when I brought him in and tossed him on the longe line, it was clear: pony was lame on his right front. Well, dang. We figured "abscess" and the plan was to do the Epsom salt soaking, then give him time off to blow the abscess out himself or just resolve whatever was going on. That was a Tuesday, and the farrier was scheduled to come out on Friday. A fresh shoeing didn't reveal anything or resolve anything, alas.

It's the hottest fall equine fashion!

It is very hard to be Apollo some days.

And Apollo didn't blow an abscess, either. He just got lamer and lamer and sadder and sadder, until TW texted to say he was quite a bit worse than the day before and that it was time for the vet to see him. A thousand blessings on my vet -- he was able to get out there the next day to dig out the abscess. Which it did indeed end up being -- I had been a little concerned that it would be something much scarier than an abscess, honestly, even though all signs pointed that way. The unknown is scary, yo.

It ended up being a rather nasty one, too. The vet had to dig more than he expected, and the abscess ran farther under the sole than he expected. He also discovered quite a bit of bruising in Apollo's white line - enough to call it chronic. Poor pony! So we got on with more Epsom-salt-soaking, and I put him in a borrowed EasyBoot Trail boot to protect the foot. After a week or so, the vet and farrier happened to be out at the same time and cleared him to have a shoe put back on and to get turned back out. Yay, thought I! That was easier than I expected, thought I!

Silly, silly me. ;) He packed enough mud in his softened-from-soaking, already-thin-soled foot to lame himself up again out in the field. So back into the stall he went, shoe pulled, and I went with the full Epsom salt paste, diaper, duct tape, Easyboot treatment, as well as liberal applications of Durasole daily. I also had the vet take some radiographs of Apollo's feet to make sure we're shoeing correctly and getting the angles as best as we can.

And that's where we are today. He's still in the stall as of right now, but when I walked him out barefoot today, he was much sounder than he was last time we checked. TW thinks we could probably get a shoe back on him and see how he does with turnout now -- something I'm sure Apollo is enthusiastic about too. The trick now is to keep him from doing this again by toughening up his soles, helping him grow better quality hoof, helping him grow better quality hoof faster, and making sure his shoeing is supporting those goals.

So he's getting a big scoop of NuHoof Maximizer (a biotin/methionine/zinc/copper/other mineral hoof support supplement) and two packets of Knox gelatin in his bucket daily, and I'm doing my very best to make sure he gets that bucket every day. I missed a day this last week; shame on me ... I had to get work done, though, for two evenings. :/ Anyway, so we're working on his hooves from the inside with that.

From the outside, until he gets the shoe back on I'll continue the abscess bandaging/packing, and I'm putting the Durasole on daily. He'll keep getting the Durasole on indefinitely, too, or sole paint I will get from the equine hospital. And our blessed farrier will keep shoeing him with an eye to the angles, especially now that we have rads of Apollo's bones. (which, incidentally, I need to get copies of; must email vet.)

Catching up, part three: Colic scare

In addition to the Abscess Ordeal, we had our first colic episode. Thank heaven it was mild, because it was scary enough as it was.

I'd taken him into the indoor arena to walk him around, get his feet moving and give his brain something to work on, because he's going rather stir-crazy in his stall. Poor kiddo. So we did circles, serpentines, spirals in and out, follow-me, et cetera. Not much more than 10-15 minutes. He seemed a little more interested in nosing at the sand than usual, pawed a bit, but I wasn't terrifically concerned; maybe he was a little more sluggish than I expected, but I figured he was just having a case of the blahs.

But when I brought him back to the crossties, it was clear that we had A Problem. He was sweating hard, through his winter coat, and getting sweatier -- like we'd run cross-country kind of sweaty. He was kicking at his belly and pawing some. Just altogether exhibiting all the signs of Distress. :/ I checked his gums, and they refilled okay, but not quite how I'd expect Then Apollo started breathing hard and fast, again like we'd run cross-country: his nostrils were wide and pink, and I counted 60 breaths before I stopped counting to send a text to TW for advice/help and ask if I should go ahead and give Banamine or wait.

TW advised putting him in a stall and letting him do his thing, walking away and just listening to see what he got up to. He lay down, flopped over flat out, then got back up again, pawing ... He had also not eaten much of his hay at all. Odd, for him: he loves food, like most horses. At that point TW and MT both came out to help. MT pulled out some Banamine and a stethoscope, did a skin tent test and checked his gums, pressed on his back and haunches area, et cetera. Apollo was a bit dehydrated, heart rate high, respiration high, and continued to paw and be uncomfortable.

20-30 minutes later, things started to look better: Apollo was more comfortable, if still unhappy, and his vitals had gotten almost back to normal. Whew. TW and MT felt like it was clear for them to go back in the house, and TW said that she'd check on him in a couple of hours, see how he was. If he was back to uncomfortable and actively unwell, we'd haul him out to the vet hospital for treatment. I hung around for a bit longer, then decided that standing around fretting wasn't going to help anyone, and besides ... it's been damn cold here. So I went home and put my phone on the charger and put the charger right next to my hand.

TW texted me an hour and a half later that Apollo was up and snuffling around for stray bits of hay we might have left when we pulled the uneaten food out of his stall. HALLELUJAH!!

I had prepared myself for colic surgery and the subsequent rehab, honestly. I was ready and willing to go there. The vet hospital might have shot me on sight for owing them some money, but I'd have died with a note in my hand saying SAVE MY HORSE. ;) Plus, that's why I pay for horse insurance: things like that. And the Abscess Ordeal. I heart insurance.

So that was mild, thank heaven. I managed to keep my cool, thank heaven. And now we know what colic looks like on Apollo. I was pretty worried there for a while, though. Even though I had plans A through D ready to go based on circumstances -- having plans and safeguards in place makes me a MUCH saner girl -- I was worried. I wasn't freaked out like I was when he got the gash on his leg, but I was worried. I've seen horses come through colic surgery, so it wasn't an unknown quantity, which also helps me stay calm. And of course I've seen the worst-case scenario of colic surgery, too, so no mystery there. BUT THAT WASN'T GOING TO HAPPEN TO US.

Truly -- if I were the sort, I'd say that I wasn't horribly concerned because I know God has a plan for us. I'm not that overt sort, though. I still felt at the time, and still feel, that that was not the end of the road for me and Apollo. We have much more riding and love and partnership ahead of us. It's a pit-of-the-stomach sort of feeling, and I'd swear to it. Not sure why, but there you have it. Faith. :)

I had TED clip him, too, last week, because he WILL be ridable and need it this winter. :) And he now has a cutie mark! He's no longer a blank flank!
Get it?

Catching up: Part one!

So. I'm waiting on some work to get spit out by the computer, so I might as well update this terribly dusty blog. :)

A lot of the last time-period-since-I-last-wrote has been spent nursing either myself or Apollo. I got sick for a week or so, and I managed to miss the last chance at cross-country schooling for this year. Bleh. But I'd have been a mess for it if I'd gone, so better to stay home. There will be more time.

But the week after that lesson I missed, I caught a great showjumping-on-grass lesson! Apollo was a very, very good boy, as usual. After our first time around a few fences, MT pointed out some changes I needed to make with my leg (like, yknow, USE it, and use it all the way through a jump, not just at the beginning), and we proceeded to have a wonderful lesson! We jumped some rather large fences, for us, up to 2'11-3' or so! Yay us. :) Seriously, I'm super proud of Apollo and of myself. We've both come a very long way in the year and change that I've had him.

After that, I had to put my head down and focus on work for a week or so, and after THAT, this year's Ordeal began ...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lesson in photos

I have chosen the winner for the Caption This! contest, but I'm working on getting the LOLphotos just right, so you'll have to wait just a little bit longer to find out who wins.  :)

Meanwhile, I wanted to make a quick post before putting my nose back to the grindstone of work.  My favorite photographer was out at the barn for our last jumping lesson (9/1), and I thought I'd post the pictures from it and a little bit of commentary.   Just as a sort of record of where we've been and how far we've come.

Warming up -- I like this photo because we're both paying attention to what we're doing.  I also don't look huge in this one, and my toes are forward, heels down.  I would prefer to see myself less collapsed, straighter through my right hip and left shoulder.

Also warming up.  I like this one for many of the same reasons I like the previous one.  I'd prefer to see my shoulders back a bit more.  I also realize, looking through these photos, that I look really relaxed on horseback.

Said photographer likes this one because of the sense of movement Apollo and I both have here.  I don't like the size of my butt or the chicken elbows, but I will bow to the photographer's more experienced eye.

Nice -- I like that I'm not hauling on Apollo's face here, though I'd like to see my leg a bit farther forward, my butt back a bit, and my toes not pointed out so much.  Lovely picture of Apollo though.

I think I lost my balance at some point here -- looks like I either got forward and cued Apollo to leave long, or he left long and I tried to catch up.  This is illustration of my need to sit and wait, shoulders up, until he's pushed off with his hind feet.

If we could both look like this up to the base of jumps and then I could keep my leg in this position over the jump and beyond, we'd be *golden*.   I love this shot for how relaxed we both are.  This is my favorite of them all, even though it's not actively jumping.

Photographer loves this for all of Apollo's muscles -- he does look pretty awesome here, doesn't he?  :)  I'd like to see my left leg back, toe in more, but I do like that I'm sitting up and using my body.

Mmmph.  I don't like this one as much -- I feel like I should be much softer with my hands here, on this first stride after landing.  At least my leg is in the right place.

Another nice one -- at least my position is consistent between the jumps.  I actually think THIS is the one I like best of us not jumping.

Again with the getting too far forward.  Need leg forward, butt back.  However, Apollo looks like a star here!

Okay, now I'm being soft enough with my reins, and my body's in the right place.  I can tell that the jump before this one went well by my balance and my hands.

"Come on!  Faster!  Let's go!"

This looks like it's going well, actually,  Balanced, soft hands, etc.  I think it was the jump before this one that MT and I had this exchange over:  "Okay.  Pet your horse!"  "*petpet* Good boy!  Was it that bad?"   "Well, he did save your butt."  "Oh dear.  Can I come again?"

Monday, September 9, 2013

Confidence builder - check!

We went to the same show this weekend that TSB and Redheadlins posted about earlier -- yes, the same show that had 30 pre-entries and another 40 day-of entries!  Yeek!    I'll tl;dr you now: we had a great time, walked away with a ribbon, and both partners' confidence is built up!  No pictures, unfortunately, so you'll have to use your imagination and extrapolate from TSB and Rhl's pictures.  :)

(And before I get on with it, go enter my Caption This! contest!  :) )

ME and I were two of the pre-entries, and after some confusion about when, exactly, our classes would run (one site had a class list showing the 2'3 and up classes in the afternoon, one site had them in the morning), we managed to get up at a positively unholy hour, load up, and get to the show site around 7:30.

We decided to go have a look at the course, since the barn owner had just finished dragging the arena and the horses were content on the trailer.  So our footprints were the first in that lovely jump arena!  We didn't have a course map yet, but the fences were numbered ... and as we wandered around, looking at all the turns, the piles of fences seemingly right on top of one another, or at least clustered tightly together, and the bending lines, we started to wonder if the numbers had been set up randomly or what?

Nope, nope, it was set up correctly.  All those crazy turns?  Yup, that was the course.  Hm.  Okay.  Well, now that we knew what the course WAS, we walked it with actual intent, looking at lines and turns and how to get straight to a fence without crashing immediately into the fence behind it.  :)   We decided that the best thing to do would be to take wide turns and careful lines and damn the time limit -- our goal was to have good rides and positive experiences.

I was SO unspeakably pleased with Apollo!!   He backed off the trailer, looked for his hay net, and just settled right in.  Not a flick of an ear, not a giraffe moment.   I'd intended to longe him, but when he walked over to the round pen area, which was right by the open warmup arena, he was so relaxed that I decided to just abandon the longing and hop right on.  He again didn't flick an ear, didn't get squirrelly about mounting, nothing.  Just ... yup, it's a horse show, here's a warmup arena, what's goin' on with you this morning, mom?   I was surprised and delighted, to say the very least.  I think our resident European's ride on him at Caber did a LOT for his confidence, and I'm super grateful, again.

The open warmup time was in the actual competition arena, with the fences set lowish, and you could pay $5 to warm up over the competition fences.  Well, I had $5, so in we went!  I ended up jumping the whole course, individually and as a whole, a couple of times.   I was concerned about one of the fences, a coopish/wallish type thing with wishing well standards, but as it turned out I didn't need to be concerned at all.  I set up my deep turn and straight line, sat up, put my leg on, and Apollo just sailed over it, no questions asked.  Gah.  Love that horse!

So I had entered the 2'3 and 2'6 Optimum Time classes, figuring that it would be less pressure for me than the jumpoff classes at the same height.  I started to chicken out when I checked in, saying "oh, I'll just do both 2'3 classes and skip the 2'6 ..."   But when I saw the fences set at 2'3, I realized I was being ridiculous.  2'3 is tiny, and 2'6 isn't much bigger.  So I went back to my original plan, and I'm so glad I did!

The 2'3 class went really well.  Apollo's only squiggly moments came in the upper corner of the arena approaching fence 1 and the start line -- there was an umbrella set up, a bunch of random extra standards, and -- the SCARIEST of all -- a mounting block. 0.o  I lost my balance and my left stirrup when he leaned hard away from the scary corner, but I managed to recover both before crossing the start line.   I was prepared to quit looking for the stirrup, though, if I didn't have it four strides out from the first fence, and just jump 1 with one stirrup.  I realize now that's kind of a cool attitude -- I wasn't too concerned with it, yay me.  I lost my position and my focus after fence 2, when you had to make a sharp left rollback, and I almost forgot to make the turn!  Whoops.  :)   But the rest of the course went beautifully, and I felt like I rode really well.  Especially to the coopy-thing -- I sat up, put leg on, and Apollo responded with a will!  :D

As usual, my bete noire is not going fast enough, so I ended up with a sixth place ribbon for that class.  I was pleased to just get a ribbon!  :)   Turns out the optimum time was kind of ambitious for that course for that level of show -- it was 59 seconds or so, and I came in at 71.  Nobody made the time, I think, or if they did, it was one of the rounds that scared the bejesus out of me to watch.   There's a difference between being fast and clean and technically good and being fast and not knocking down any poles, yknow?    Maybe it's my latent Hunter Princess I keep trying to squish, but some of those rounds ... I didn't want to see scary riding rewarded.   Ah well.  Maybe I'll enter some hunter rounds next year just for fun.  :)   ANYway ... yeah.

I was so pleased with our mostly-smooth round; Apollo didn't touch a single rail, didn't blink at any of the jumps or decorations, et cetera.  We weren't fast enough, but that's okay.

The 2'6 round was less smooth on my part -- I felt like my position wasn't as consistent as in the 2'3 round, and there were times when I jumped ahead and felt it.  Well, education, I suppose -- I'm getting better at identifying at least when I do it and then not doing it at the next fence, if not yet keeping myself from doing it at all.   I need to get my lead changes, even simple changes, more quickly and in better balance, and the flying changes will come with time.  I don't feel the need to press for them yet.   Apollo, though, was an absolute STAR, even when I wasn't riding well.  He didn't touch a thing.  He was responsive and generous, and there was never a question in his mind about whether he'd jump or not.

We didn't place in the 2'6 class, purely because of time issues -- if I'd ridden better, we probably would have placed, but hey: education.  :)    The hugest win for me was the fact that the 2'6 fences were no big deal.  I don't know what my mental block is about that, but it was there -- and I just kind of wandered past the block.  Even later, as I watched the 2'9 class a bit, I realized that I totally could have jumped that too, that MT has us jumping about that high and a bit higher pretty regularly.  That's a big deal, to walk away from a show feeling like I could have done another level.

And thank heaven for MT, TW, TD, and everyone at the barn ... ME and I felt like we had good lines, good rhythm, and fair-to-middlin' position, and we didn't scare anyone with our rides.  Heh.  ;)   I feel incredibly blessed not only to have a horse like Apollo, who's my partner, friend, and teacher, but to have an instructor like MT who teaches us carefully and well.  The hurry-scurry exercise we'd been doing over the last weekend was a huge help, as was all the work on bending lines that he has us do.  I will never even mentally groan about a bending line or angled fence exercise again!  All that tough work stood us in good stead this weekend, and I'm grateful.

So yes.  Love that horse, had a great time, feeling pretty good about myself.  :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Apollo

Handsome fellow!

Happy one-year anniversary, Apollo!  I think the actual anniversary of the best decision I've made in a very long time is sometime between a week ago and today, during the time I had him on trial: I realized that I absolutely loved this horse and had every intention of buying him and never sending him back to his seller.  :)

This horse is helping me learn to be a much better rider, a braver rider, and in general a happier person.  He loves being taken care of, is happy to be a partner and a part of a team, and does his job even when I make it hard for him.  He's generous and kind, and I'm unspeakably grateful to him for everything he gives me.  I hope I give enough back to him.

We've come a long way over this year, too.   We've gone from this:

First canter - both a bit tense

to this:

Hurry-scurry exercise from Sunday's lesson;
both much more relaxed

And from this:

First walk

More of the hurry-scurry exercise.
My position's looking better.

 To this:
When I first got him

A few weeks ago - still a wild animal, obv.  ;)

Here's to many more years together, best little bay Thoroughbred ever!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Well, I don't have anywhere near 100 followers (maybe if I updated more often ... ), but I have JUST THE CONTEST!    It's also sort of a preview of an upcoming post, in a way.   :)


Comment with your best caption for these two pictures, taken Sunday at the barn.   You can caption them as a series, like a joke setup and a punchline; you can caption them separately; you can caption just one or the other; whatever seems funniest to you.   I'll pick my favorite, then I'll post the winner here in proper LOLhorse format.   And you'll get a small, fun prize!  No idea what yet, but it'll be small, and it'll be fun.  :)   You have until next Tuesday, 9/10 -- tell your friends, too!

Without further ado, caption these priceless photos:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quick Caber wrap-up before bed.

It's late, so ... here are the highlights:

* Apollo finished with one rail and no time in SJ, for a total score of 37.8 and a fourth place.  Hooray!  Go Apollo!

* The other horses, except for the stallion, had some difficulties: total green-bean moments for one, another uncharacteristically lost his ever-loving mind in SJ, a third decided coffins just weren't his thing, et cetera.

* This ended up being a lesson in Grit It Out for me, honestly.  All kinds of stuff, from the stomach flu that dropped half of us over the weekend and horses that decided not to come out to play, happened, and everyone just dug in and did what they needed to do.  Everyone supported each other, and everyone got on and rode at their prescribed times.  Eventers are SO EFFING COOL, y'all.  I was deeply impressed by the attitude everyone showed, and it made me think about my own riding and attitude.

* Next time, I will:

       o   Have studs and stud holes for Apollo's shoes
       o   Not forget my saddle (I don't know why I didn't think I'd need it; I was planning on riding on Sunday all along)
       o   Bring more food to share for dinners. Maybe tamales, a la my best friend's camping tradition, or marinated steak to grill or something.  Chorizo went over well, too.
       o   Not use Expedia for hotel
       o   Probably stay on site, especially if I can arrange a new tent
       o   Braid Apollo myself, just for fun
       o   Actually be entered to ride!   :D

I didn't get any pictures of SJ, but here are a few more of XC, taken by a friend with Sunsprite Sporthorses:

Cantering along between fences 3 and 4.  Apollo is requiring some riding here ...

Love this horse, love this photo! Good ride, Attila!
Note to self: get blue and white XC boots of some sort.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Caber Farm, dressage and XC

Way too tired for words, so I'll keep it short:  Attila rode like a boss today on both the horses.  Apollo put in a lovely test, with some tension issues, and is sitting in third on a 33.8.  Go Attila and Apollo!

XC was not an easy ride for Attila or an easy go for Apollo; Apollo found several parts of it quite spooky.  He managed to cope, though, mainly through Attila's excellent riding.   They came through double clear and are still sitting on a 33.8 going into stadium on Sunday.

Here, have pictures!  Lots of pictures!
The Shot!  I got it!

Lovely canter, neck a bit short

More canter work, looking better (if blurrier)

Motion!  I think this is the best of the canter shots I got

Entering at A riding Sunsprite Tatiana

Fancy mare, no?

Blurry and so fancy!

Fancy in the canter, too

The only shot I got of Apollo and Attila jumping XC, and it's awkward.  Figures!  :)

Motoring away from fence 2 ... the last time on course it was relatively easy and straightforward.  :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hi from Caber Farm Horse Trials!

We got in yesterday evening, and everybody settled in beautifully -- horses and humans alike.  Apollo (once he got ON the trailer, the stinker) traveled like a champ.   Camp is comfy.  AR and I are at a hotel off site, which turned out to be a huge blessing for a variety of reasons (as well as a pain for other reasons, but those are resolved and happy now).   Our resident European rode Apollo a couple of times yesterday, and Apollo was going SO well, so strongly, and moving big!  Good boy!  So pleased with him.

Here, have some pictures!  I don't have time for too many words -- dressage starts at early o'clock tomorrow, and then XC in the afternoon for the Beginner Novice crowd. Busy day!!

Barley the vicious pibble. She'll lick you to bits.

Corgi mob!  Sorcha, Annie, Sparky, and Sam
Camp: Resident European, TD, and TW
Handsome Apollo; neck a bit curled and up, but nice

So nice!

I love this shot -- look at that canter!  That tail!

Camp: MT and AR

Beer beer beer tiddly beer beer beer tiddly beer

O I die!  I wish I'd gotten this shot a fraction of a second later, but still. Love this horse.

Another a fraction of a second off, but still okay


Sunday, August 11, 2013


I am so pleased with Apollo that I can hardly find words.  :)

(SprinklerBandit came out to cheer and TAKE PICTURES!  Everyone cheer for TSB!)

During the warmup day at the show, he was rather up and looky.  When I longed him, he threw a couple of bucks, ran around, and was generally what I'd expect from a horse at a show.  We had some initial agita over the fact that even though the warmup was supposed to be set up at 9 AM, when we got there around 10:15 there were no jumps in sight.  Not even in a clump in the middle of the arena.  But we were nice to the organizers, and ME's husband offered to help set up the jumps if they would just get them to the arena, and things got rolling.   (I mention this because there were a couple of people, at least one of them a trainer, who ended up screaming and yelling at the poor organizer rather than being reasonable and offering to help make things better instead of actively making things more difficult.)   And of course, when MT arrived to warm us up, the organizer exclaimed, "Oh no, MT is here! We have to get these jumps set up!"   Hehehehe.

Trotting along in warmup (on show day, actually); me asking him to flex right a bit

Anyway, after warming up and working both Apollo and me through nerves and focus issues, we walked into the jump arena, and suddenly Apollo knew his job.   :D   He looked around and basically said "Oh.  Right.  I know how to do this.  We're good."   He warmed up like a pro -- it was really just me that needed work.   My mission for the entire show was leg on, shoulders back, look for your next fence, let him go on, and don't jump ahead.

By the end of the warmup, I felt pretty confident about the next day.

Next day, I got to see just how awesome Apollo is: he unloaded calmly, looked around, and when we walked up to the warmup area ... he was just about all business.  A little bit of looking at the new sights, but once I put him on the longe line, he was the same horse I ride at home.  Completely the same.  Maybe a bit tense, but I know that if I'd been working on getting him into a dressage frame, he'd have done it.  Total professional.

Just jumping a little warmup X
Jumped a few warmup fences, generally got myself in order, and it was off to the arena!

I have to say here that I am SO glad I'm an eventer.  We have time and order of go, and if you're not ready at your time without a major reason, well ... the show goes on.  There's no downtime, no stretches of 20 - 45 minutes with perfectly good jumps/weather/footing and no one in the arena jumping the jumps.  (Unless someone got hurt or there's a hold on course for some reason.)   At this show, there were several stretches of time when there was ... nothing ... going on in the arena.  I was there, prepared, warmed up, and ready to go, and ... nothing.  In the middle of my 2' class, they actually broke in the middle of my class to have the Walk-Trot class go!  0.o   Say what?!    Anyway, when they were going to do their break, I basically had to assert myself and say HEY!  I WANT MY ROUND!  Very strange.

The course - the second element of 4 wasn't up for my classes.
Numbers in parentheses are jumpoff course.
Not quite to scale, but you can get the idea.

I'd been worried about forgetting my course and the jumpoff course in the days before the show. I actually used Suzanne's technique of identifying storytelling to help myself get over it -- the story is that OMG I will forget my course and look ridiculous and be disqualified!  The truth is that nothing like that had happened yet, that even if I did forget the course it's not like no one has ever done it before, and if I wanted a second go-round, I could buy in again. It worked -- I didn't forget either the main course or the jumpoff!   Of course, the order was the same in both of my classes, so that helped.  ;)

The 2' class went quite well!  I am sure the judge heard me muttering to myself "leg on, shoulders back" at every fence.  :)  I felt like I achieved my goal at almost all the fences, only getting ahead once or twice, and only losing my leg once.  In the warmup MT had told me that if I have a rail with Apollo, it's because I've leaned forward.  I took that as kind of a diagnostic tool: if I hear him knock the fence, I got ahead, and don't do the next fence that way.  I got ahead, he klonked (but did not drop) a rail, I didn't do the next fence that way!

Leetle tiny fence; looking for next leetle fence

Anyway, we had a good round, and we came up with a lovely third place ribbon.  :D  Seeing as my whole goal was to ride well, rather than get a ribbon, the scrap of satin was a bonus.

I felt like the 2'3 class went much better for me than the 2' class did.  I felt like I rode better, chose better lines, and generally had a smoother, more rhythmic go.  I'm running out of words, so here, see it in pictures:

Fence 1 - Apollo looking good and me looking for fence 2

Fence 7 - I lost my leg a bit because my heels weren't down enough,
but Apollo's looking good in this one. You can tell we came with
enough pace to this fence.

I like this one of me.  A bit forward but not so much as
to interfere, and my leg is tight if not quite forward enough.
This might be a jumpoff shot, judging from my turned head.

What a very, very good boy he is!  The judge agreed;
she said "yes, he IS a good boy!" as we went by.
Love this horse!

Of course, when I went to go ride today, just to hack around and tell Apollo how great he is, he'd lost a shoe.   Alas.  :)   We'll get it put back on tomorrow and get back on track.