Friday, May 26, 2017

Just Dropping By

Well I thought the week would be a total loss in terms of riding and working horses, but I've been surprisingly productive! Monday I dragged my happy ass out of bed early and dashed over to the barn to ride Ruby. She seemed less than thrilled about being pulled in from night turnout and saddled at 6 am, but perked up when we hit the trail. We enjoyed a leisurely trail ride through a dewy, misty morning (although lest it sound too idyllic and lovely, I took approximately 2348245 spiderwebs to the face). We trotted and cantered in some of our favorite places, and Ruby felt great. She could have kept going for hours -- I on the other hand, had to get back and go to work.
"TF is this 6 am crap mom?"
Oh okay, totally worth it.


I was on a roll Monday, so after work I came home and lunged Cinna. DH was blading the driveway, and I'm super bad at photos/videos while lunging, so tragically no media. I worked her in the Lauffer reins and she was very good. She's getting so much more solid at maintaining a steady tempo. And her first upward transition when I asked her to trot, she went right from walking into the most beautiful lofty canter. Obviously that's not the gait I asked for, so we went back to the walk and tried again, but it's so exciting to see her start to figure out how to use all the pieces of her body, and start getting strong enough to do transitions like that on the lunge. She's a long way off from being able to manage them with a sack of potatoes (me) sitting on her, but it's a start!
The only media I took -- dirty ME boots.
Clean ME boots! (I'm so lazy, I literally just dunked them in a bucket of water, and they came out looking brand new again!)

Tuesday was rainy so I let myself be lazy (I try to pick at least one day of the week I can "sleep in" because it helps me keep rolling out of bed early the other 4 days). We did manage our light experiment that evening, but you've already seen that, so no need to recap it again, haha. Wednesday evening I ran out to the barn to free lunge Ruby. She was WILD. Like normally when I say Ruby was wild, I'm being kind of tongue-in-cheek, because her default mode is typically perfect. So normally "wild" for her is the occasional selective deafness when she doesn't want to stop cantering or something. Not so much Wednesday -- I really wish I could have video'd in the arena, but we were there at that awkward evening time where the light hits the arena just right so part of it is daylight bright and part is totally shadowed, and historically my phone can't even with that. But she was full on leaping through the air, kicking, flagging her tail, snorting (I seriously had to double check I hadn't grabbed the BO's half-Arab from turnout by mistake), doing sliding stops and rollbacks, and giving me tantalizing glimpses of the most insane floaty trot. She was a hot mess, and I basically spent the entire time giggling in the center of the arena as she cavorted around me. Whatever it was, she got it out of her system, and then meekly followed me around at the walk to cool out. She's such a goober -- I know my current schedule shortchanges her pretty badly because on the rare occasions I can make it to the barn, I'm always rushing, but even with my limited attention, she's still a rock star.
No Ruby media, enjoy a piranha weenie photo instead!
Thursday the weather was beautiful, so I left Cinna in after breakfast and turned the boys out. She's particularly herdbound, so this led to a lot of screaming back and forth while she tried to climb out of her stall. I ignored her, and got all my tack ready to work her. After she calmed down, I brought her out to work. I hope that doing this repeatedly over the summer will help resolve some of the herdbound issues, because she can't melt down every time I leave her in a stall alone in the barn. She's fine being left alone stalled at other places, but she needs to be fine when I do it at home too.
We mostly worked on walk-whoa, because the last few works she made it clear that she thought whoa was an optional request, and obviously it's not. Once we had a firmer grasp on that, I also worked on some trotting in hand while I run like a lunatic trying to keep up with her (like she will need for halter classes this summer, if I manage to get her out), and I also introduced the concept of changing directions on the line at my command. She seemed to pick it up pretty quickly, so we'll see if she retains it the next time I ask!
Queen of sideeye
Thursday was National Wine Day, and since the weather was still beautiful when I got home from work, I dragged DH away from his paper on art history and we threw bridles on the geldings for a quick bareback trail ride. He spent the first 10 minutes complaining about how hard it was to balance without a saddle (as he sat on the horse whose back is like a SOFA, while I tried not to have the shark fin withers of my geriatric TB break my pelvis). I think maybe now DH has a greater appreciation for me being able to canter Ruby bareback and bridleless, haha ;) We looped the trail twice, and then rode out in the back pasture to check the pond. The 10 questions post earlier this week and it's question about swimming made me wonder if Jack would still go in water, so I handed off my phone (just in case) and sent him down the to edge. While I wouldn't make him go all the way in (the bottom of that pond is like glue), Jack happily splashed into the shallows and immediately dropped his face to do his patented dolphin water snort where he blows water everywhere. Clearly I need to take him somewhere with better footing for actual swimming this summer, he misses it!
He is wearing khaki shorts, I promise. They just kind of blend.... lol.
I did end up wearing about 20% of this, because Jack is incapable of trail riding without some jigging, haha.

This morning I had more plans for more productive work with Cinna, but Mother Nature had other ideas -- the only hour of the day I have at home to work horses was also the hour with an 85% chance of storms, thunder and lightning -- the rest of the day should be gorgeous. Ugh. So I am sitting inside writing this instead (listening to the soothing sound of rain on the roof), so at least the morning wasn't a total loss? My aunt and uncle fly in today, so I'll spend the next 5 days with them -- however my aunt is a horse person so I know riding will be on the agenda at some point! Maybe we'll make a trip back out to Indian Camp Creek or Rudolf Bennit!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Winging it Wednesday!

I hadn't really planned to post much this week because I knew I wouldn't be riding much, but I'm excited about my new arena lights. After a lot of really useful input both in blog comments on my post last week, and then in Facebook comments when I shared the post on my personal page, I took the plunge! I started making bids on eBay and finally got what I wanted -- four 300w LED floodlamps. Shipping was reasonably prompt (although why FedEx thought it was necessary for the lights to sit in Lenexa for two days and get scanned five times is beyond me, but I digress) and they arrived yesterday.
Teeny hand for scale (no seriously, I have tiny hands)
Teeny dog, also for scale.

Box of 4 lights.
We wired one to an old extension cord for test purposes, to make sure it would be bright enough before we wire up all 4 lights.
Obviously the lights were bright, but I needed to test them outside! I impatiently waited for dark, and then we took one light outside to test it.
This is obviously taken with my cell phone, so not great quality, but it lit up most of the arena.
You can see the far arena fence -- it was *almost* bright enough to ride in with just 1 light. And I got 4!
Our tests were wildly successful, and I totally think the lights will be perfect for my purposes. It will definitely be bright enough with 4 for basic flatwork, and hopefully the LEDs will be both cheap to run, and long-lasting. The next hurdle will be to get some poles (the lights were a bit heavier than DH expected I think, haha) and wiring, and then get everything set up! I have some relatives flying in from out of town this weekend, so we probably won't get to the lights for a little bit, but we're definitely making progress. I can't wait to test them out for real later this summer! 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blog Hop: May 10 Questions

When I'm lacking blog content (due to an unholy union of weather and extreme exhaustion and laziness), blog hops are my favorite! Since everyone seems to be participating in the May 10 questions from The Horse is Not Black, I figured I'd gladly jump on the bandwagon!
Cruce displaying how stressful life is as one of my dogs.
1. What are your summer goals?
Right now, my summer goals are as simple as working my horses as frequently as I can while trying to find balance in my schedule. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time (or know me in real life), you know that I go through periods of focus followed by periods of aimlessness. Currently kind of in an aimless period, but I’m okay with that. I’m having fun with my horses right now (on the rare occasions I get to ride), and that’s the most important thing to me. And the rest of my life is reasonably balanced -- DH time/family time/work/sleep/etc -- now just need to reintegrate more riding.

2. Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control? 
I’m not sure they’re really tricks or tips, but we try to practice aggressive manure removal practices, and I sprinkle DE on the manure pile and in my stalls. We also have a timed mechanism that releases fly spray into the barn when the horses are inside, although I turn it off when they are out because otherwise I have to replace the batteries frequently. I currently use concentrate fly spray and mix up my own bottles – this is more of a holdover from when I had 8 horses at my house, but most commercial fly sprays are too $$$ for me to be able to justify buying at the rate I need to keep my crew comfortable. I also have fly masks and fly sheets for everybody to wear in turnout. Liz posted a really interesting fly spray recipe that I'm planning on trying out whenever I have a spare moment!
Fly masks for all! ;)
3. How often do you bathe your horse?
Full-on shampoo baths are rare (usually only before horse shows/events, or if a horse is REALLY dirty). But during the summer they get hosed almost every time I work them, because it’s the fastest way to cool them down and get the sweat off them.

4. Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?
Nothing concrete. I don’t have any clinics or shows on my immediate agenda (although I am pretty mercurial so that could change in an instant), and I don’t have any non-horse related travel plans set in stone either. There's a remote possibility that I will be flying out to Hawaii to help pack my grandma up and move her to the mainland this summer, but no absolutes.
If I do that, would be great to squeeze in another beach ride!
5. What is your favorite way to beat the heat?
Stay out of it? Haha. In all seriousness, my goal this summer is to do all my riding/working horses in the early morning, when it’s still relatively cool. I switch to night turnout this time of year so that my horses are inside in front of fans when it’s hot, and outside grazing at night. I was kind of lackadaisical about this for a long time until my geriatric OTTB stopped sweating last summer, and being able to control his environment got WAY more important.
6 am workouts FTW.
6. Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sunbleaching?
Nope. The fly sheets do offer some UV protection so that helps, but I’m using them to keep my horses more comfortable in fly season, not to preserve their coat color. Ruby doesn’t fade much, and Cinna and Trigger are light enough that it’s kind of a moot point. Jack gets insanely faded (almost to the point of looking buckskin some summers), but switching to night turnout and using a fly sheet actually did a lot to preserve his color last year.
UV protection fly sheets FTW.
7. How hot is too hot for you to ride?
Although there are some areas of the country that are blessed with minimal humidity, Missouri isn’t one of them. So for me, it’s less about the actual temperature, and more about the “feels like” temperature when you factor in the humidity. And particularly now, when I’m not aiming for any specific competitions or goals, I’m not going to push myself into riding when it’s miserable out. One rule of thumb is that if the horse is sweating just standing still, I’m probably not going to be riding… haha.

8. How important is sun protection for you riding, or just in general?
This is going to be so cliché but it’s definitely gotten more important as I’ve gotten older. I try to be very mindful of sunscreen if I’m going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, or during the peak hours. I also have picked up quite a few Kastel shirts and while I don’t seem to find them as “air-conditioned” as some people do, I do appreciate their sun protection qualities!
Trying out Kastel for the first time last summer.
9. Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?
Yes! Definitely one of my favorite memories with Jack, and wish I had a place I could do it now.
I don't have any pictures of me riding him in the water, but this is how I introduced it to him, and he LOVED it!
10. And because shopping is always on my mind, what’s on your summer wish list?
I know some of you only follow me for the shopping…. Haha. I have my eye on a Kastel sunshirt that almost exactly matches the peacock LeMieux set I bought earlier this year, so if anyone sees it on sale in a size medium, help a sister out. I am also eyeballing C4 belts and Ogilvy dressage pads, since those were some of the things I was hoping to find deals on at Rolex (but did not, darn). So if you have any you want to part with, hit me up!

Fun story -- when I initially drafted this post, I had an Ogilvy on the way to me (thanks Grain Before Groceries!), but still wanted a C4 belt. Annnnnd then C4 ran another BOGO sale. And we're not going to talk about the... life choices... that I made. But I'm sure there will be an upcoming post!
New Ogilvy! Love it!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Birthday Ride

In keeping with trying to adjust to my new summer schedule, Wednesday I got up bright and early so I could ride Cinna before work. DH and a coworker were smoking like 132982347 pounds of pork for a work function, so we even had an audience! I brought the horses in for breakfast, went back inside to change, and came back out to ride. 
Rockin' our new Ogilvy that Grain Before Groceries was kind enough to sell me!

Despite being the birthday girl, Cinna apparently woke up on the wrong side of her stall (I’m only kind of kidding, since she was turned out all night, but you get the metaphor). It started in the crossties, where she danced back and forth screaming for Jack, her BFF. After we got the screaming under control, I was trying to get her boots on when she came over basically on top of me, so what I was hoping would be a quick tack up turned into a manners lesson where I reminded her that she does in fact know how to stand quietly in the cross ties. Because baby horses, why not?
Very angry giraffe.

Soooooo mad about... things.
Our ride was… not great. She was super amped to start, and never really settled in and relaxed. I’ll be the first to admit, with only a few years of riding dressage, and extremely limited instruction, I’m obviously not the best or most educated rider. Without formal instruction, a lot of the reading I do about dressage doesn’t 100% make sense to me – and sometimes even when I’m having an issue, I can’t necessarily articulate what the issue IS. I read a lot of people post/write about their horses being “tight in the back”, but before Wednesday, I’m not sure I’d ever really experienced that in such an in-your-face way. The fun thing about training babies is you never stop learning – right?
Touching the reins. Not touching the reins. No difference. Angry giraffe.

So tight and short nose to tail.
It was literally like riding a 2x4. I don’t sit her trot right now anyway (because of how young/green she is), but if I had tried on Wednesday, it would have been like riding a jackhammer ripping up a highway. Despite using the bit she’s been most comfortable in in the past, she was angrily chomping for most of the ride. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference, she just didn’t come to play. We did manage to get through W/T/C both directions, although none of last week’s soft adjustable canter was anywhere to be found.
About as relaxed as she got the entire ride.
I was running out of time before I needed to get ready for work, so I did some work on walk-halt-walk for a while (since it’s definitely a weak point) until she calmed down a bit, which let me end on a good note. I’m not sure if she was uncomfortable because she was in heat (my mares aren’t *super* showy about that so I don’t always know? I also rode without a half pad, because I was using the simplest little Roma one imaginable, and I didn’t think it made a difference – maybe it did? Or maybe she just had an off day? Maybe she needs time to adjust to working early in the morning? God knows I do. DH commented halfway through my ride that I hadn't smiled once -- not sure if that was a byproduct of the time of day or the frustrating ride.

I guess the good thing about blogging is I can track rides like this and try to find patterns. It’s hard with her since she’s had such infrequent riding (and I’m also not great about documenting it). At any rate, every ride is a learning experience, even the not-so-great ones. And even the crappy photos tell me things. So I'll share them, even though we were certainly looking far from our best! Hopefully we’ll be able to put in some better work soon!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Birthday Photoshoot

Having been inspired by some of the completely epic and over-the-top birthday shoots I've seen for blogger horses in the past year, I decided to play dress-up with Cinna. So on my lunch break yesterday I ran to the dollar store to get some... errrrr.... supplies. The pickings were pretty slim, but I did find a birthday girl pin, a happy birthday banner, and some party hats. I did debate over spray-in hair color for a bit, but Cinna kind of has a thing about aerosol cans and I didn't really want to have to wash it out later (also, it didn't come in teal, so, not super enthused).
TF you doing lady??
Armed with my decorations, I went out and caught her after I got home from work. She'd already been ridden in the morning (I'll write about that tomorrow hopefully), so she was a little wary about what the crazy lady bearing the camera and the plastic bag wanted.
So ashamed....
She was totally fine for the banner strung around her neck, but we had a bit of a battle royale about the party hat. I eventually ripped out the elastic and replace it with baling twine, giving me a little more control over how tight it was on her face. That also meant I didn't have to wrestle it up over her nose like a narwhal, so it helped. Sorry Cinna, you're an ammy's horse, you gotta put up with weird shit.
Surely I get cookies for putting up with this, right?

We did also manage a few more pleasant shots, thankfully.

Happy 5th birthday Cinnamonster! Also, here's some sneak peeks from our ride!