Monday, February 27, 2017

Cheering at Fun Shows!

I've been working on a post for the last week about participation in equine organizations, but it's going to have to hang out in my drafts folder a little longer! Mostly because I have no motivation to write deep, thought-provoking posts. So you'll get brief recaps and photos instead. No complaints from the peanut gallery! I kid ;)
I've gotten some fun things in the mail lately though.....
Last week we enjoyed some beautiful weather, and I was able to squeeze in a few good sessions with Ruby! She is shedding like a fiend (although my guys at the house aren't really letting go of their coats yet). One night she let me work on sitting trot for a bit without fussing, and then gave me several nice walk-canter transitions. I did kick myself a little for not hitting the trails a little last week when it was so warm, since the temps dropped drastically over the weekend.
Saturday and Sunday I spent almost every waking moment either at a horse show, or prepping for horse shows, but didn't show myself! Saturday the local equestrian college was offering hunter/jumper classes, so I headed up to go watch Kaity and Leo and her barn rocking the ring! No spoilers, since I'm sure she'll post about it, but I will say that Leo has mad hops and is so cute to photograph. Kaity also gave me a really fun handmade gift that I can't wait to try out and photograph! Also, her barn had a little girl riding a mini in the 2' hunters, and the collective audience basically died from the adorable overload.
Selfie with Kaity and Leo!
The cutest pairs in the flat class! haha
I had to leave before Kaity showed her second horse, Gracie, because I had to get out to the barn to do chores and help everyone get prepped for Sunday's madness! ACS had six horse and rider combinations heading up to show, so lots of bathing and packing was going on! DH and I were driving the second trailer, so I also had to do some cleaning (my trucks look like I basically live in them, which is not conducive to driving other people around, haha).
I'm only a morning person at horse shows....
Sunday got off to a super early start, but we left the barn on time (early even!) and got to the showgrounds and settled in. We had several green horses and several new combinations, along with some experienced show veterans, showing in classes ranging from showmanship, western pleasure, english pleasure, saddleseat classes, and more! I think everyone had a great show, lots of ribbons and smiles were floating around! I photographed all day (I don't even want to think about going through all the photos I took this weekend yet haha), and we managed to get back to the barn, unloaded, and everyone back to their respective houses by no later than 6 pm -- it was a miracle!
Cici wanted to be a horse show dog, but it didn't happen this weekend.
Hopefully I will be able to get some fun new media with the Le Mieux set this week, and making a drone video of me riding Ruby (preferably in the field) is still on my wish list! We'll see how productive I manage to be!

Monday, February 20, 2017

State Holidays FTW

I love state holidays. I slept in until almost 7 a.m. today -- amazing! I really meant to write this post last night and schedule it for early this morning, but clearly that didn't happen. Oh well. I'll blame complete and utter exhaustion from spending the vast majority of Friday, Saturday and Sunday outside doing ALL THE THINGS! Friday after adulting for a little while (working on stupid taxes), I went outside and played with Cinna.
They were forced to play outside all weekend too, which was clearly exhausting.
I started by clipping her bridle path and cleaning up some of the goat whiskers under her chin. Considering how little work we've done on clipping, she was tolerable. Then we had another trailer loading session, which we quit early on because she followed me right on like a champ, no hesitation, about four times. Hopefully that translates over into the next time I actually need to take her somewhere... We also went for a hand walk out on the trail, detouring by the mailbox. She spooked at the mailbox, so she got to eat treats off it. We looped through the back part of the trail, and she dragged me over to one of the stumps that scared the crap out of her last time -- apparently she remembered my "eat cookies off it until it's not scary anymore" training method and thought she better check.
It was so freakishly warm this week she got a bath. IN FEBRUARY.
After I finished up with her, I headed out to hack Ruby on the trails. We had some company for part of the first loop, which was nice, but then we finished up alone. Lots of trotting in the hay field! I also took a shedding blade to Ruby and started pulling off some winter coat. Although with the weather we've been having, there's no doubt spring is coming!
Saturday I was productive around the farm in the morning, and then had an absolutely epic afternoon at the barn with Ruby! Ruby and her new trail BFF Molly did 3 separate loops out on the trails, leading out two of the newer boarders. I just wanted to soak up as much of the sunshine and beautiful weather as I possibly could, since there's no way it can last.
Sunday my initial plan was to trailer Cinna off-farm for her first big trail excursion, but that plan had a small hiccup -- I haven't received my updated Coggins from last week's vet visit. Typically I have them electronically the same week, so I need to call up there and see what's going on. Even though in more than 10 years of hauling my horses out to trail ride, I have never actually been stopped and asked for a copy of my Coggins by anyone, I figured better safe than sorry, so we stuck to the house. On the plus side, not having to spend two hours trailering out and back to a trail gave DH and me time to get some serious stuff knocked off our to-do list.
Like acid washing the trailer -- which has been on my to-do list for like, four years... haha.
We also managed to fit in a ride on our "trail", looping back and forth a few times totaling probably a mile and a half. Cinna was pretty "up" and jigging the first pass or two, but she did eventually settle down and flat walk. We even managed to pass quite a few scary stumps without needing Trigger to give us a lead, and she didn't react at all when a branch noisily whacked me in the face/helmet (my fault, wasn't paying enough attention).
We did plenty of stopping and standing, and she was a champ when I had to climb off and then remount after my FitBit fell off. She was less of a champ when we circled through the back pasture to finish off, threatening to bronc and just generally being a little obnoxious. So we did some figure eights at the trot around Trigger until the naughty fit passed. It was so warm that both horses were sweaty (Cinna from the extra trotting and Trigger because he's essentially a wooly mammoth right now), so they actually got hosed off. Outside. In February. What the eff Mother Nature? I don't mean to complain because I really have enjoyed all these random 70+ degree days, but I have the awful feeling it will be like 120 this summer to make up for it. Or we'll have a blizzard dump a foot of snow next week. Or something.

Of course, being horses, they immediately ran out and covered themselves in filth. But it's okay, they're calling for rain today so hopefully they get a good rinse off ;) Aside from enjoying my day off by sleeping in, I'm also prepping for tonight's GMO meeting -- my very first as president! I need to write up my agenda and make sure my gavel is in good working order... haha.
Over the weekend I also had a chance to pull some GoPro footage off my friend's camera that she always brings out when we trail ride -- enjoy this footage of me cantering Ruby through a field at Rudolf Bennitt last week, including some hands-free cantering. Love that horse <3
How about you? Is anyone else experiencing freakish good (or bad) weather?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Adulting is Dumb

Trying to get back to the daily grind after an epic equine weekend always feels a little rough. Tuesday was Valentine's Day, but I will still able to sneak in a quick ride on Ruby after work. She apparently had a bad case of the dumbs and forgot how to horse, and seemed to be completely and utterly baffled by the application of any and all aids. Like seat? What's that? Leg? No comprendo. Steering? Can't. I got a wee bit frustrated and after we'd both worked up a sweat, I finally just made her walk umpteen laps of the arena and we worked on stopping off my seat. About three laps in apparently her brain poofed back into her skull, and then she was fine.
No photos, so enjoy these dachshunds instead.
Wednesday I focused on Cinna -- if I'm going to show her next month she clearly needs wayyyyy more work, and I wanted to see if the teeth float changed some of her bit-gnawing tendencies. She was marginally more pleasant to bridle than she's been over the last few weeks, and then she worked really well. She came out wanting to run at mach 10, but took correction quite well and soon was peacefully W/T/C both directions. I tossed the Vienna reins on her, but left them loose. I did notice significantly less chewing on the bit, so yay, progress!
Recalcitrant mule... haha.
We also worked on trailer loading, since it was still hooked up and over by the barn. Cinna either loads like a champ, or throws a massive hissy fit. Since every other horse I have basically self-loads, this very much annoys me. I know it's a symptom of lack of practice, but I also frequently forget to practice, so Wednesday I decided to remedy that. I loaded my pockets up with cookies and went over and opened the doors.
I know some of her issues when she's being a pill about loading come from me and my expectations, so I have to learn to dial it down a notch and be more patient. Hopefully frequent practice when I'm not on a schedule will help make it less of an event for her. I climbed on the trailer and pulled out my phone, and it took less than 5 minutes before she got curious enough to join me. After three successful loadings/unloadings plus some time just tied in the trailer eating hay, I called it a day!
Thursday the weather was unseasonably beautiful again -- I feel like some of you might be getting an inaccurate idea about what our weather is usually like in February. Usually it's cold, snowy and miserable, not sunny and 60+ for weeks on end. I'm sure we'll pay for that weather somehow, but for now, I'm just going to enjoy it. I made it out to the barn in record time, and took Ruby out to hit the trails.
DH performed surgery on the zippers of these half-chaps, so I can probably make them work for a bit! Still need to have the zippers replaced eventually.
We had enough daylight to do both main loops of the trail (although just to be safe on timing, I did lots of trotting/cantering -- wheeeee!). We ended in the hayfield with some trot sets. She was pretty wired from the cantering earlier, but she did eventually settle in to power trot up and down the length of the field. I really wish someone was there with a camera -- towards the end she was giving me this insanely floaty trot and she felt so connected. The slightest adjustment of my body and I felt like I could move her anywhere I wanted. Maybe over the weekend I can convince DH to bring out the drone and give it a shot!
Today I took a vacation day from work to get started on our taxes (since I can't seem to find any time in the evenings to make a dent in them), and I'm hoping if I finish up early enough, lots more horse time!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Vet Visit

Because our show season typically starts in March, I usually schedule my horses' annual exams in February. There are two state holidays in February, which means it's not too hard to fit in a vet day without having to take time off from work.
Drunk pony.
The downside to this is that February in Missouri is always a crapshoot in terms of weather. A few years ago my visit had to be rescheduled due to an ice storm. The rescheduled date ended up being like the coldest day of the month. DH set up a propane heater to make it slightly less miserable, but brrrrr. Then another year we got 5 inches of snow.
Obnoxious barn cat scarf, check.
This year, thankfully, wasn't as bad. It was chilly, but working in the enclosed barn with heated water hopefully made for a reasonably pleasant visit for my vets. It also probably helped that I am down to 4 horses now! (Previous years have had as many as 8)
While I give my own vaccinations (a holdover from the 8-horse period), obviously I don't have the ability to test blood for a Coggins, and a licensed vet has to administer the rabies vaccine. It works out fine, since I need to have the vets out for dental exams and floats anyway! I also pay to have the vets clean my geldings' sheaths while they're drugged from having their teeth floated. While I'm capable of doing it myself, I just find it easier to add it to my already significant vet bill.
Another drunk pony.
This year, I scheduled trims for the boys about an hour before the vets showed up, and the timing worked out perfectly! They got right to work and started with Ruby. She was less cooperative than I would have liked during her float (even under extra sedation), but they were able to take care of her points and one hook that was rubbing on her cheek.
Cinna was a shit for her Coggins photos, but then a rockstar for everything else. My pocketbook got exceptionally lucky this year, as the boys' teeth were deemed acceptable to skip floats this year, since they're both primarily pasture ornaments. If I notice any changes in weight or issues eating, obviously I will revisit, but for now, they're fine. They did still have to get drugged for sheath cleaning, poor guys.

All in all, a very productive morning! Everyone got the rest of the day off to recover.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

All Horses, All Weekend

Even though last Friday was beautiful, losing most of it to my work day was tragic. However, Saturday promised to be even more beautiful -- and it did not disappoint! I had a full day planned so I rolled out of bed early to get chores done. A barn friend came over and took Trigger for a spin, while Cinna had her first experience with a western saddle. I wanted a relaxed "work session" of just walking, halting, and plenty of standing still hanging out.
Relaxation under saddle was something her dam struggled with, and I see the same tendencies with Cinna. They both want to please you so badly that they wind themselves up in knots. Because Tres was older when she was saddle trained, and then her riding was so sporadic, true relaxation isn't something I really ever achieved with her (although she is making leaps and bounds of progress with her new 'mom'!). I'm hoping to not make the same mistake the second time around, so "toodling" is going to be added to our work schedule as often as necessary. Even if that's all we do this year.
After a relaxed meander, barn friend and I headed out to a fun show -- several other people from our barn were competing, and we wanted to go and cheer them on! It was a productive start to the show season for ACS, and one girl brought home her first blue ribbon at her horse's first outing! Very exciting for her. And she was even sporting a matchy matchy outfit that made my heart very happy.... haha.
How friggin' adorable were they??
After the show, I headed out to the barn to do evening chores, and then hit the trails with Ruby! We rode until dark, and it was basically perfect. A few trail rides under my belt makes me feel like I can tolerate arena work again, and maybe get her prepped for some upcoming shows as well!

Sunday we got a lot of things done around the property in the morning, including cleaning the barn up (which it desperately needed). It wasn't quite as warm as Saturday, but we made plans to pick up a friend in the afternoon and all go trail riding at Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area, which was a new venue for me and DH. It was a little over an hour away, so about the same distance as Indian Camp Creek, just the opposite way.
The dogs also got in some snuggling time.

There were things I liked and disliked about both trails, if I were mentally comparing them. I think Rudolf Bennitt will look a lot better in the spring, when things green up, but Sunday it was dreary and brown. We flushed some wild turkeys, which the horses seemed fascinated by. There is a firing range, so the sound of gunfire was occasionally audible. My horses are fairly accustomed to gunfire (DH has a range out back), and the 3rd horse had never been exposed but didn't seem unduly concerned. We only explored like a quarter of the park, but had several creek crossings. Ruby is always a booger about new creek crossings (although once she's crossed them once, she's fine to go back over them), so I think RB will be great to help get her over that.
The trails were graveled, and most of them were wide enough to ride side by side, which was fun! There were some good hills (yay conditioning!), and we only saw one other group of riders (I'm sure when the weather is consistently nicer, that will change! I think RB would be a good introduction to off-farm trails for Cinna, and I'm hoping to get her out there on our next state holiday (I find trails are usually quieter on week days, haha). All in all, it was another fun excursion and I always love adding new places to go to my rolodex.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kicking Off a Horse-filled Weekend

This weekend was just what the doctor ordered after my kind of meh week. Friday the weather was insanely beautiful. Like 68 degrees and sunny in February in Missouri beautiful. I impatiently waited to get off work and then flew home. I managed to change and tack Cinna in record time. I opted to get on without lunging (I was afraid of how quickly I was losing the light), and that was a poor life decision... haha. Cinna was ready to go, go, GO. I thought I might let her canter a few laps and expend a little energy. She pulled a page out of her momma's playbook and decided to crowhop her way around the arena.
I'm relieved to know that I haven't lost my ability to stick those kind of shenanigans. Jack was a damn fiend, and in college I had a velcro ass. Then I quit riding. And gained 30 lbs. And basically lost all my confidence after several years of not riding. Climbing back in the saddle was terrifying, but Topaz gave me my confidence back. Then promptly rocked it when she launched me at a clinic while dealing with ulcers. Ruby has been my rock for the last few years -- she's never ever offered to be naughty. The closest she's ever come was a crowhop when she got bitten by the world's biggest horsefly, so I'll give her a pass on that. Or the occasional spook, which is mostly just a drop and freeze. I'll take that any day over bucking, thank you very much!
So sass.
Much anger.
Cinna had an explosion last fall, so I know she's capable of acrobatics, and Friday they were in full swing. Happy to announce that I just laughed at her and rode through it all. She did eventually canter nicely both directions, but she felt like a powder keg basically the entire ride... haha. Bit of a confidence booster for me though! And I think it was good for her brain to work through the idea that being naughty wouldn't actually get her out of working -- and easier for me that she's not really coordinated enough to do more than hop. Tragically, DH didn't capture many of them, because he was alternating between taking photos and talking on the phone. He's been appropriately chastised, so hopefully if there's a next time, he'll be ready.
Anyway, aside from the naughtiness, which I think was just a combination of feeling great and the 30 degree temp increase in 24 hours, she was actually pretty good! We practiced some test elements, because I'm tentatively hoping to do some showing with her next month. We'll see how that goes.
I swear to God, I do work to the left too, I just like most of the pictures to the right better. Guess I should work on that.... lol.
Much happy. So grin <3
Picture overload, I know. #sorrynotsorry. Believe it or not, there were a ton more I DIDN'T post. You're welcome ;) At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening in the sun and spending time with my favorite set of grey ears.
See look. We trot to the left too ;)