Thursday, May 29, 2014

Creeping out from under the covers

Best decision I've made all week: refill brain medicine and take some before riding tonight.  The world is a MUCH better place when I don't have head zaps and don't feel like the world is ending.  Seriously, I wasn't sure after the last few flat rides whether I needed a pep talk or wanted to be left alone for the rest of my life; wasn't sure if I wanted to cry or go catatonic; etc.  Our resident European deserves a lot of credit for being patient with me and encouraging me - heh, welcome to what it's like to be my teacher, ORE!  Good moments separated by baffling incompetence. ;)

Anyway, all joking aside, I am mentally and physically ready to rock again.  Whew. I am still having to talk myself down from wanting to win, telling myself that all I care about is doing our best on that day, going forward and positive on course and staying smooth and obedient in dressage. If I don't get a ribbon, so be it - just do my best.  And keep up on the brain medicine and the sinus/breathing medicine!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

VCBH: Makin' babies

Viva Carlos, our excellent bloghopper, asks:  If you could/were inclined to breed your horse (assuming the horse were a mare AND no backyard breeding qualms existed), who would you breed to and WHY?

Ha.  This is an EASY one for me.  In this ideal world, my mare is a Knabstrupper mare from Cedar Creek Stables, probably Paula. I love the athleticism, the disposition, and the SPOTS!

The stallion?  Tzigane PB, of course.  We have a lot of Taz babies and grandbabies at our barn, and he stamps his foals with amazing athletic ability, willing and trainable dispositions, and a certain presence -- not to mention the adorable floppy Trakehner ears!

I know enough foals out of the Taz line that I would feel entirely confident breeding a nice mare to Taz.  There are also some Knabstrupper/Trakehner (Taz in particular) babies out there already, eventing and dressaging and jumping and succeeding.  I very nearly bought one sight unseen when I was looking for Apollo, but I'm mostly glad I didn't - the mare would have been too young and green for me, and Apollo is exactly what I need.

Now, granted, I didn't quite answer the question - I think the idea was "if your horse were a mare, who would you breed to and why?"   If Apollo were a mare, I wouldn't have bought him.  BUT.  If everything were the same, disposition and ability and all, I would absolutely breed her (Apollonia, natch!).  Temperament and ability that nice would definitely bear passing on, especially in a mare.  So I might breed to Taz, just because I love that line, but maybe another Thoroughbred - maybe A Fine Romance - or maybe Taz's son Semper Fi (Snapper), who we have on site and has thrown some VERY nice babies.

So ideally I would have a spotted Taz baby.   :)  One day.  I even have names picked out for the potential foal, although one of them is rather unpronounceable unless you know anything about a particular roleplaying game, so it'd probably be the other.  Which, being a Mesoamerican native word, isn't much better, but more than the other ... heh.  :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekend, with video!

A wonderful and horsey long weekend - just the way I like it. :)

Saturday's jump lesson was a lot of fun and very instructive ... At the same time, ME and P and I invented a new sport/artistic pursuit: Interpretive Showjumping. It's like interpretive dance, just with jumping. Kind of the same way that dressage is like ballet with a horse. 

Starring MT as the patient, long-suffering teacher; ME and Grayson as Hay Grower and Hay Eater; P and Quest as Pragmatic and Quixotic, and RR and Apollo as Baffled and Rather-Put-Upon. 

MT: "Okay, ladies. I want you to jump this little vertical three times, then on the third time, turn left to do the bending line, then come back around this way and jump this little line, then come back up the vertical and jump the other bending line. Got it?"

ALL, INCLUDING HORSES: "Yes, MT! We get it!  We will jump those jumps in that order!" 

MT: "Okay!  ME, you're first?"

ME: "Yes, I am!  I shall show you my anti-rain interpretation!  Watch how I leap and turn to hold off the rain!"  *does nothing like what MT described*

MT: ... um ... next rider?

RR: "I present to you the conundrum of sexism and pickles in the twenty-third century! Yoiks and away!"  *does nothing like what ME did OR what MT described*

MT: well ... okay; next rider?  *winces in anticipation*

P: "¡Viva la revolución!  ¡Gerónimo!  Ice cream!"  *does something completely different from either previous rider and from original instruction*

MT: *facepalm*


All very fun and rather Dada.

Sunday's lesson was precluded by the sudden and unpleasant intrusion of life. Ah well. I ended up cleaning a lot and mending Apollo's winter blanket, the nice one, that the rotten paint horse tore all the way through not two weeks after I got it. 

And then today was dressage with our resident European.  Poor Apollo - not only did he have to do the hard stuff with me, but he had to do it with ORE too!  And he makes Apollo work harder than I can. So when I got back on after ORE schooled him a bit, Apollo was very quick off my leg but also quite annoyed that we weren't done. Boyfriend kicked out at my leg, then threw a tiny, pissy little buck!  Gasp!  It wasn't enough to even interrupt the ride, but ORE and I were both surprised and amused by it. It was quite clear that Apollo was d.o.n.e., done, and thinking of his pasture!  We finished on a good trot-canter transition to the left, on the correct lead and everything, y'all, and then a nice down transition, and we called it good. Sheesh. Bucking. ;)

And now, the time on sprockets when we laugh at the author!

Well. Here is the video of us jumping 3'3. Wanna see me get popped out of the tack and not do it right?  Here you go:

I promise, when we did it again this weekend, it went WAY better. :) I actually kept my leg on and my seat down and didn't pop my poor horse in the mouth. No video, though.  You'll just have to believe me when I tell you we did well. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bit verdict

The decision is made: smaller dee, slightly thicker and more curved mouthpiece on the dressage bridle. Large dee, thinner and straighter mouthpiece on the jump bridle. 

And by thicker, I mean only a leetle bit. Noticeably more curved, though - it's actually more like the other is remarkably and unusually straight, I think. 

The decision was based on two things: first, the bridle size. The dressage bridle, a Five Star Waverly, is a full size, and the large dees were just a bit too large, making the bridle fit just that little bit poorly, just cockeyed enough to drive me bonkers, even if no one else would have noticed. The jump bridle, a Five Star Star bridle, is cob size and fits Apollo like a dream. (Someday when I have all the money, I will get a cob size black dressage bridle from Five Star!). Anyway, the cob size bridle has a lot more play in its sizing than the full, so the bigger dees won't be a problem on it. 

Second, the ride I got from Apollo this evening blew. me. away. He started stiff as usual, but then by the end I had light contact with him pushing from behind, stretching down and round, and generally being a joy to ride!  I told our resident European when he asked how the ride went, "if he can bust this same thing out when someone is watching, we are golden! ....or maybe if *I* can bust this same thing out, we'll be golden!"

So yes. Apollo chose, in the end. 

Tomorrow, a somewhat overdue vet visit!  Shots, only a month late, and a dental check, which I fully expect to result in floating, and evaluate to see if he needs hock injections sooner rather than later. Hey, I had a zero balance with the vet for three whole days!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

VCBH: Bit it up!

Says Viva Carlos, "For this week's blog hop, as I continue to struggle to find the right bitting situation for the Dinosaur Jr. I want to hear all about what bit you ride your current beastie in and why!"

Well!  I am SO glad you asked!  I just got one in the mail - the one I'd borrowed from Michele got to go back to her little guy, since she's cleared to start him back under saddle now. Since Apollo can hang on the bit, MT recommended I get a much narrower bit than the chunky lozenge/Dr. Bristol bits I'd been using (one each, dressage and jumping respectively), something that would be uncomfortable to hang on while not being too sharp. 

Thus entered the racing dee bits I have now!  The FLTS here didn't have the bit I wanted - all too thick and hang-on-able, so I had to order one from Amazon and one from Horze. The amazon bit has hurge dees on it, so I will probably swap that to his jumping bridle and use this new one from Horze on the dressage bridle, because it's much more conservative-looking.  The amazon bit is a little narrower, but ...ah, I dunno which would be more improved by not hanging, dressage or jumping. Decisions, decisions!  Any input, oh peanut gallery?

He does respect this bit more than the chunkier bits, I must admit. Not like he would a Waterford or a twisted wire, neither of which he needs, but he does pay more attention.

Without further ado, the bits!

The Horze bit:

And the amazon bit (and some earrings I bought with the same gift card) - you can see how hurge the dees are:

Monday, May 19, 2014

A quick note

We now know what it takes to get Apollo to bust out with the bascule: 3'3.

We have also figured out what it takes to make me go all weird in the saddle: 3'3. :) I am bound and determined to get it right here soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

VCBH: Why we continue to ride

Viva Carlos really does put out some great questions! This one in particular motivated me, since I get this question sometimes. Why DO I continue to ride?

Well, it's both incredibly complex and very simple.

Simply put: I love to ride. I love my horse; I love horses in general. I love the feeling of partnership and zen that we get when we work hard together and are both on the same page. I love the rhythm of it, I love being outside, and I love just the feeling of riding. I joke that I keep my sanity in my saddles, and if I stay away from them too long I start to slip further away from sanity. :)

I also just love that everything else slips away when I ride. Work, life stress, pain (mostly; I couldn't fight through broken bones or recently torn cartilage), worry, etc. It all just goes away and my attention is on my horse, my ride, my friends, etc.

There's also, like SMTT mentioned, the social aspect. I love the people I've met through horses. We all tend to have some things in common: willingness to work (I don't know many hugely high-priced riders who don't work for their rides), appreciation for these wonderful animals, and at least in the eventing community, a love of the outdoors and being a little scrappy. :) I love the supportiveness of the eventing community, too. Need a girth/whip/shirt? Just ask! Sticky places on course? Of course you'll tell someone else before they leave the start box. Et cetera.

I love the impetus to get out and exercise, too. To echo SMTT again, if I slack off, Apollo tells on me. :)

The complicated part comes from the fact that I've been hurt, moderately severely, more than once, and I have taken my own sweet time really learning how to ride effectively ... and yet I stick with it. Somehow, I haven't managed to give it up in 30 years ... I had a long break after college, but I rode every chance I got and still loved horses and riding. Honestly, I think that one is either a horse person or not, and you can't really get away from it if you're a horse person. We ride because, on some level, we must. I am pretty sure that if the zombie apocalypse came and horses weren't zombified, I would still manage to find a horse to ride. :) I might not be great, but I would find one.

I'd bet my readers are the same.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Show that didn't.

Well, I wish I had better news re: the little jumper show, but alas. ME and BE and LH and I decided, after we'd driven to the show grounds in increasingly heavy rain, that we didn't want to chance a confidence breaker.

Granted, we could have eventered up and jumped in the slop and the rain, but ... The rain had splats of ice in it, the warmup had moved to the indoor arena that had no jumps in it and would be seriously crowded, and the footing started sloppy and got progressively sloppier. I won't say that ME noped her way out of there, but I did. I knew I hadn't ridden enough that week to have it be a good idea for me to ride the show. The organizers insisted the weather would get better in half an hour, but again ...nope.

Nope nope nope nope nope ... nopetopus, nopeapotamus. :)

Kind of sad, because the jumps looked fun and I looked adorable in my casual show clothes, but there you have it.

In other news, I'm beginning to think that Apollo is going to need his hocks injected this year rather than next. He's been switching off behind in the canter lately, especially to the right and especially when jumping (you can see him do it in the video in the previous entry, for example), and that's just not like him. It could be rider related, as certainly my right side, SI joint and hip/knee joints, is pretty different from my left, but I think it's partly him too. He just seems a little odd on the inside right hind. Not off, just ...odd. I'll have one of the Mitts look when they get home.

If I need to get his hocks done, I want to either get them done NAO so he can have his five days off in time for is to ramp back up for the event derby on June 1 and the unrecognized horse trials on June 7-8. :D So looking forwRd to it - I hope my dressage is up to snuff! We'll be doing Intro and a jump round at BN in the derby and going full BN in the horse trials. Heee. :) exciting!

. Updates as events warrant ...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I should SO be in bed

Show tomorrow, and I'm about to go to bed, but ... Just to prove we've been doing things, here are videos! I have another to upload, one of us doing this whole thing really well, with impulsion, but here are some good ones! My Thanks to ME and BE for the video!! jumping through the little course and doing okay