Sunday, August 13, 2017

End of July Analysis; August Goals


Thank you all for sending your condolences.... it means a lot to me. I'm still a little bit in shock over it to be honest with you. Just doesn't seem to be real yet. And it's awfully lonely without him banging on my gate every night. Obviously I haven't been around for my goals until now, already in the middle of the month. 


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O-Ren July:

1) Continue being a good momma horse!
Success! Not hard to do though... she is a wonderful mother.

2) Get back to work.... start riding again! And driving again? Depending on the tiny brat child and how unhelpful she is... I don't need the kid climbing into my carriage. 
I actually stalled out on this one because taking O away from Dylan and Cregga was causing some major drama. Not from her, and not really even from her child, but from Dylan. The stress of her being on the other side of the fence - where he could see her - was causing him such enormous distress that he would go off his feed and get diarrhea after every ride. Normally I tend to lean towards "suck it up and you'll get over it," but with a hyperemotional horse like Dylan who does not need to be giving himself ulcers or hurting himself while running like an idiot in the pasture, I decided it's just better to not work her for now.
So we will have to see what happens over the winter. In theory I would love to get her back between the shafts and show her some in the spring, then breed her like before and pull her from the show string mid-year just like last time. It worked out great. It will depend on Dylan's show schedule though! He's still the biggest priority at the moment.



Cregga June:

1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!
Success! It's mostly just a continuing process.

2) Finalize registration papers - if the stuff ever gets here...
Success! She has been microchipped and her DNA hair samples have been sent off. Now, we just wait....

3) Learn a bit more about walking/trotting in hand and standing still, like she would need to do for a show
Success! I was starting to do this with the idea that I might take her to Nationals. More thought put into this has made me decide not to pursue it this year. She'll be 8 months old at the time of Nationals, and god knows 8 month old babies can be REALLY ugly. It's also a time when their immune systems are still super vulnerable. It's probably just not worth the risk. She does trot in hand now though!



Dylan June:

1) Regular lessons and clinics! Both dressage and WE!
Success! I lessoned/cliniced with Tiago and Louisa in July, and just did another one with Tarrin on Friday, which I will be writing about.

2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis as usual
Success! The pirouettes to the left are really coming on nicely. The better I sit, the better it goes. To the right, not so great but they're coming. The tempis are actually coming along a lot better than before, since I put him back in the double. The double seems to give me a level of finesse that I struggled with in the snaffle - where I can really get him straight and accurate at the same time. In the snaffle, it's sometimes one or the other and he can be strong and bargey when he thinks he knows what's coming. We are - *gulp* - going to attempt 4-1 at the end of the month and see how much of a disaster it is. In 4-1, there are no pirouettes and three flying changes of lead in a row that aren't technically tempis even though they unofficially are.

3) Compete in the Haras summer show... as a prep for the actual Haras Cup!!
Well that was a bust... but only because the show got cancelled! Ohhhh well! The next Haras B-rated show is the same weekend as the Pete Ramey clinic which I will be attending.

4) Ride in a clinic with Tiago Ernesto!
Success! I wrote up about it here. 



Frank June:

1) Pony some babies - maybe! Trails if it's not too hot!
We did hit the trails! I will be writing out our last trail adventure together. I'm heartbroken that there will be no more of them. He was so, so good on our final one and it's so weird to think there will be no more.



Pangea/Pax/Uma June:

1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 
Success! Babies are all doing well, aside from Uma getting injured on the 4th of July. Crap, another thing to write about....


Zu June:

1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
I've been debating about this one, because I WANT to do it but I don't fully trust the two of them together in the trailer. They're both very aggressively male sometimes, even though Zoodle is gelded, and I can see a fight breaking out if they get a little too close. It's hard to trailer anywhere in company when you have a stallion. Not sure what to do about it either except for take Zoodle separately.

2) Lunging with harness
Success! And we did a little bit of long lining too!

3) Wearing bridle
Success! I have a full bridle I need to put on him now too, since the baby bridle is just a strap of leather with a bit attached. He flipped his tongue over the bit when we were long lining - tongues really seem to be a problem with these mules, I've had trouble with both him and Sriracha doing that and never once have I ever had a problem with a horse baby doing it - but raising the bit way too high helped stop it. Still, it's not ideal. 


Sriracha June:

1) Lunging - walk and trot
2) Wearing bridle
3) Wearing harness
I fully admit I did absolutely nothing with Sriracha this past month. She got her halter off in the beginning of the month and that little creep has not let me catch her since. What I need to do is put some panels into the pasture and run her into them, then get her catch halter back on, then start over. She's so great once she's caught, but my god you can NOT catch her if she doesn't want to be caught. Little stinker... she definitely has lived up to her name! She'll be an awesome driving mule but man she is not all that fond of humans. Not like Uma and Zoodle, anyway. 



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O-Ren August:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!

Cregga August:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!


Dylan August:
1) Regular lessons and clinics! Both dressage and WE!
2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis as usual
3) Compete in the HDS Laborious Day I and II shows at the end of the month 
4) Get two more All Breed Awards scores for Third Level... and *gulp* try 4-1 for the first time!


Pangea/Pax/Uma August:
1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 
2) Uma: Start to do a bit more learning about lunging!


Zu July:
1) More long lining! If I have help! 
2) Lunging with harness
3) Wearing bridle - full bridle with noseband


Sriracha July:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
2) Wearing bridle
3) Wearing harness
4) All of course contingent on catching her feral little ass again!



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I have a plan for the rest of show season. At the end of August is the HDS Laborious Day shows I and II, which gives me two chances to get more scores at 3rd level for All Breed Awards. I'm also going to *gulp* attempt 4-1 at each. We're ready for it but not for 4-1 or 4-3 yet. The pirouettes are coming along fine but I can't always reliable count in the tempis. That's the last thing that really needs some hard work.

The reason why I wanted to get out and try 4-1 is because there is a lingering question of IALHA Nationals. I've been griping about it for awhile now - they used to have a super saver fee for the little guys, where you paid a flat fee and then got to show in as many classes as you wanted. That made Nationals affordable. Now they did away with the super saver, and it's just per class. It's VERY expensive - you're over the super saver money limit in just four classes. People could show in a dozen or more classes before.
So, I wasn't going to go. IALHA awards don't mean a ton to me as the organization is really separate from my real interests. They also did away with working equitation at Nationals this year, which made a lot of people really upset. They had their reasons but I didn't think they were great ones.

What's interesting about Nationals is that they're held in Katy, and they start one day after Regionals and SW Championships are held, which are also in Katy and which I am definitely attending. They're held at the same facility. Literally I would already be there. I am definitely going to Regionals/SW Champs, which are all held together in one show. Most likely, I will just show in the Regionals class and the SW Champs class, so that I can go easy and just focus on those and not have to worry about other classes. Do we stand a chance of winning anything? Absolutely not but we might place! A top 10 finish and a score I feel good about would be great for me.

So I had an idea. The dressage classes for Nationals are held on the opening day of the show, Tuesday the 10th. Regionals ends the 8th. I had a hairbrained idea. I'm already qualified for Nationals at 3rd level, which is easy to do - you just need a 58% for a test at your level. So, technically, if I manage a 58% or better at 4th at the Laborious Day show, I could show both 3rd and 4th at Nationals on that same Tuesday to make it worth my while. On my day in between, I could take Dylan to the famous Galveston beaches and go for an amazing ocean ride.

Sounds like a super amazing fun times vacation to me.

It will depend, of course, on how well the Laborious Day shows go.

And of course, the biggest thing to me is Haras Cup, at the end of October. THAT is my biggest goal of the year.



So. One show at the end of this month, nothing in September, Regionals/SW Champs and Nationals and Haras Cup in October, then two small WE shows in November, then we get MARRIED, then one final WE show in December, then he goes on rest through Christmas! Man this year is crazy. But it's worth it, every second of it.



Pax and Frank


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Goodbye Frank



Of all the posts I expected to be starting today, this was not one of them. I was going to write about August Goals. I was going to write about my lesson with Tarrin. And I was going to write about my first off-property trail ride with Frank, and how much fun it was, and how much I was looking forward to hitting All The Trails with him this fall.



But I'm writing about none of those things, because Frank is dead. 

There is no way to be less blunt about it. He's dead and I'm still reeling a little bit. I did not expect this. I could not have guessed this would happen. I never would have  thought he would be the next to go. Sure, he was an old man, but he was the healthiest of the oldies. I thought we might lose Pmare this year due to how poor she's handling the heat. But I thought Frank would live forever.



It started yesterday morning. The night before, Frank had eaten his mush, was snacking on hay at night check, and had his usual cookie instead of a carrot, because he was deathly afraid of carrots for reasons only known to himself. In the mornings, he always got another bowl of mush, so he was usually waiting at the gate for me. Yesterday morning, he was not. 

I called to him. I could see where he was, on the far side of the pasture on top of the hill, standing with a leg cocked. It looked like he was still asleep. I was up early because I had a lesson with Tarrin that I was locally trailering out for, so after waiting for a few minutes, I went up to see what he was doing. He wasn't doing anything really, just standing with a leg resting. He looked at me like nothing was wrong. "Well, okay then," I told him, and tossed out their morning flakes of alfalfa. Once in awhile he was a little slow to come down the hill, so at the time it wasn't altogether alarming. I headed out to my lesson, figuring he wasn't acting outright abnormal, and I was only going to be gone for a short while anyway. 

I had a great lesson with Tarrin, which I'll write about later. But when I came back, to my surprise Frank was still on the hill, only he had moved into the shady bushes and was hiding. Now I was more concerned. Definitely not normal for him to be hiding. 

Hiding


I put on his halter and walked him down the hill, and gave him a heavy dose of Banamine. He still wasn't acting colicky, just... wasn't really himself. No classic signs of colic, no pawing, no kicking, no rolling. Just not eating. I put him in the small pen to monitor him and see if he was pooping. 

One thing about mules and donkeys though is that they are incredibly stoic. They do NOT want you to know they are sick. By the time they start to show any signs of anything being wrong, they are usually already in dire straits. So I was concerned, even without the theatrics normally involved in a colic. 

He laid down to rest in the grass for a bit, and I got a very sweet picture of him with all his very concerned nursemaids hanging around on the other side of the fence. Dylan has always been surprisingly fond of him, though I'm not sure why. He doesn't really talk to any of the mules like he does the horses, so perhaps they smell strange to him. 





I monitored him for a few hours, waiting for something to change to tell me one way or another where we were headed. Nothing. No signs of anything. He just stood there in the corner with a foot cocked, while we waited to see if there was poop (there was none). His vitals, however, started to make a downturn in the afternoon. His heart rate went up to 56, his resp went up to 36. Both of those are pretty high for a very slow moving old mule. He had almost no gut sounds. I had a terrible feeling that this wasn't going to end well but up until that point was not sure what to do. That changed in one moment when he suddenly dropped his head, and reflux and green sludge poured out of his nose. Any horse would have been on the ground thrashing well before that point, but not Frank. I pulled out my phone, called the vet, hooked up the trailer, and off we went.


At the vet, he had a bit of his old mule stubbornness when he refused to walk into the barn, then refused to walk into the stocks, then tried to actively coon jump out of the stocks. I have no doubt he would have made it if we hadn't blocked him. We drugged him, then drugged him again when he refused to get sleepy. Even then, the barn hand had to actively hang onto him while twitching him - he thrashed and put up a big fight about a nasogastric tube. He was NOT having it. 

The vet pulled a ton of sludge out of his stomach. It was all just chewed up and eaten food that had nowhere to go, so it just sat there for a long time. She also got quite a lot of reflux out. She did a rectal, and found nothing to note. Everything she could reach - and he had a giant cavernous body, so it wasn't too far in - felt soft and normal. So whatever it was, it was further up. Impaction, torsion, lipoma - who knows. We'll never know. And it doesn't really matter now anyway, and didn't matter much then, because a nearly 30 year old mule isn't a surgical candidate anyway. The vet tubed him and made sure he was good and loaded with meds, then we walked him out to try and wake him up a little. The fluid he had been tubed with poured out his nose every time he stopped moving, and the vet said his esophageal sphincter was loose, most likely from the drugs. She handed me a couple of syringes, one with Banamine and one with Dorm. The plan was to take him home and see if anything worked itself out, but neither of us were too optimistic. My last words to her were, "well, I'll probably see you later." 


Not quite two hours later, Frank had blown through his drugs and meds completely and was uncomfortable again. I called the on-call vet, since it was now after hours, and put her on standby. We agreed to give him the syringes as the sort of "last ditch," but I told her she would likely be hearing from me again shortly. I gave the Dorm IM in the hopes that it would last him a little longer, and the Banamine was of course IV - but it took me ages to find a vein. His blood pressure by that point was so poor that I had to stick him 5 or 6 times to even find the vein at all. I even gave him a little knot, which I've never done before. I've given a million IV shots before no problem. His skin was sweaty and warm on his body, but when I felt his ears, they were icy cold. He started refluxing out his nose again. I knew then that he was going to die. 

The Banamine took immediate effect, and got him to stand still right away. I had that little window of time to prepare myself for what was coming, although it was little comfort to me. I've never been quite able to tell which is better - to plan for a euthanasia and then have some days to prepare yourself and wait, or to not know it's coming and be blindsided by it? I had to deal with both in that moment. I knew he was going to die, but I was being forced into a choice right then. There was clearly only one choice to make. There was no picking a date for the next week like the last 3 I've euthanized have been. It was now, and that was that. 


The drugs didn't last long. He gave a few lurches around the pen, and I frantically called the vet, frightened that he might die of his own volition before she could get there. True to Frank form, he righted himself, parked his butt in a corner, and stabilized, reflux pouring out his nose. It was dark by that time, and the vet pulled him and strapped on her headlamp. She examined him briefly - he still had no gut sounds, his heart rate was still at about 58, and his gums, which had been slightly pale but still pinkish up until this point, were starting to take on that faint blue tinge. He was teetering on the edge of shocky. This vet, who is a fresh youngster new to the practice, was one I hadn't worked with before, and she told me that if I wanted she could tube him again and we could see about doing a few more things to help him, although you could tell what she was really thinking. My usual vets know how I feel about that, and I told her that no, to me it was very clearly time. 


As I led him up to the spot where we were going to euthanize, his stomach gave a loud popping growl, and he stopped dead. I'm quite sure it had ruptured in that moment. It made it all the more clear that it was time, right then. 



There was a smile to be had in his last moments though. The vet heavily sedated him, but instead of getting really sleepy, he just put his head down and started eating grass. I'm sure the pressure was off his stomach, and he felt just gorked out enough with the drugs to think he was hungry. He refused to get sleepier than that, and just kept eating. It made me feel a little better to think that after all that, at the very end, he was able to eat a few mouthfuls green grass and enjoy it. 

His blood pressure was so low that the vet also had a hard time finding the vein, and it took him a minute for the euth drugs to circulate, but once they did he sank very peacefully. Just like when Gogo died, when I went to pet him for the last time, he had a strong reflex the moment I touched him. Gogo only reflexed that one time and that was it, but Frank reflexed several. Even in death, that old bastard was fighting. 






Frank truly has left a Frank-sized hole in my heart. I am truly, truly heartbroken to lose him. I don't even know what else to say right now. It was so sudden. He was very old, but other than his teeth he was in wonderful health. It certainly could have been the teeth that ultimately took him down, but we will never know. They took him up today to bury him alongside Gogo and Darby. 


I feel terrible. Just terrible.


I'll miss you so much, my floppy eared friend.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lesson 7/25



July is steaming on and nearly over, and as usual, I have no time to write about anything. Bah! So many things have happened and I can't keep up with any of them. I'll just have to do my best, because as usual, I WANT to keep everything fully updated, but I just... don't... have.... time. Any time. My problem is that I get super behind on everything, start to write, realize how much I have to get down, and get discouraged and stop. That doesn't do anyone any good. I don't know what to do really. Maybe in August I should try to just write a blurb every single day even if it's nothing much? I'm not sure how to do this. Suggestions? I feel like I need to retrain myself to write again. I'm decidedly out of the habit.

I'll do my best though. Mostly, I want to make sure I get my lessons jotted down before I lose them in my mind. They're important, and I want to make sure they're down on paper before I forget them.


Also it's super hot


Tuesday was my latest lesson with Louisa, and as usual it was challenging and informative. I put Dylan back in the double recently, as I felt I was having some trouble in the canter with my changes. He is so powerful and anticipates his changes, so sometimes my halt halts take an exhausting amount of strength to get through. In the double, he is light and the aids can be crystal clear. As I learn more about riding in the double, I can become a lot more isolating in all four of my reins. 

We mostly did canterwork this lesson, which I needed. K and I recently realized that I just need one more score for All Breed Awards - which I stupidly did not sign up for yet - and that in order to not incur any more penalty money than I'm already going to have to pay, I need to get an August show in to try and secure my final Third level score. I mentioned this to Louisa and also that I might like to try 4-1 for the first time at the same show, just to see how it goes. It might be a terrible disaster but it might go ok. 4-1 has a line of three changes in a row, which are not technically tempis even though they kind of are. One on the quarterline, one on the centerline, one on the quarterline - with the same amount of strides between them if you can but not the end of life if you can't. It has no canter pirouettes, just a very collected canter on a 20m circle from quarterline to quarterline. Everything else is virtually the same at 3-3, just with a greater degree of everything required.

Louisa mentioned something to me that really stuck partway through the lesson. She told me "you have a horse that could knock everyone's socks off, so sit up there like a badass and own it." She's right... Dylan is an amazing horse. And pretending like I'm a badass even though I'm really not helps me to sit up there boldly and ride boldly. She explained to me that there are three phases of learning to ride. The first is learning to move with the horse - everyone starts out floppy and bouncing against the motion of the horse. The second is being able to ride without interfering with the horse - being able to go with the motion. The third is actively influencing the motion of the horse to improve it. I'm somewhere floating between these two states. Many years of riding green or sensitive horses has given me a really good ability to be sort of soft and supple, but it's very hard for me to be strong and hard while also staying soft and supple. When we were doing work with the changes, after several of them Dylan broke to the trot because I had dropped him right after the change. Louisa described it like being the mask on a sailing vessel. She said it's almost frustrating to him to feel like his mast - meaning me - is sort of swaying around up there, when what he really needs to be sharp and brilliant is for me to be strong and still. That made so much sense to me, as I know how much the balance of a sailing vessel is altered by something being top heavy or off kilter up high. Once I had these ideas in my head, everything got an awful lot better. I was able to really support him strongly and straight through every corner, and able to straighten him and execute clean and quiet changes. When he's not straight, or I'm not straight, the changes are garbage. He doesn't give any of them away freely - everything has to be perfect. When everything is not perfect, he crossfires at worst, and bounces really hard through them at best. When everything is perfect, you almost can't feel the changes. Louisa set out a cone, and made me work in counter canter through the short sides and then come across the diagonal and perform a change right at the cone. She also had me counter canter down the long side in shoulder fore (which meant to the rail), then straighten and perform the change. It's hard to get my head around the positioning sometimes, but once I get it - I get it, and it's great. 

By the end of the lesson we were both really tired, and the quality of the work goes rapidly downhill when he's tired. He wants so badly to do his work, so when he's worn out he starts to speed up and rush through everything since he can't quite hold himself in that amount of collection anymore. It was hot and humid out, and the humidity in particular seems to really affect him, so instead of pushing any more we decided to do some walk work to round out the lesson. Louisa handed me the Equicube again, which is exhausting but super effective for me. It really forces me to engage my abs and in particular the group of muscles below my shoulderblades. Louisa wants my lower back to stay as supple as it is, but I need my shoulders to be much stronger and straighter without being tense. The cube helps me because it's super clear immediately if I'm holding the cube with my core, or holding it with my arms. She even stuck a whip behind my elbows at some point, which also made a big difference for me. It's sorting out these small things that will help make big changes in Dylan - and old habits are HARD to break!




Also, not related, having a shiny white horse is so amazingly pretty...





But actually that's almost never the daily reality. Usually he looks like this:


Zorse?

Filth. He does have a collar on in this picture, he's not loose in my yard! I got him a broodmare collar to give him a break from the halter... we will see if we can catch him again....




Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tiago Ernesto Clinic 7/8-7/9



Last weekend I headed back down to the Navasota/Brenham area to ride in an invitation-only clinic with Tiago Ernesto, the head trainer at Haras Dos Cavaleiros. If you're at all involved with Iberian horses or working equitation, you know Haras. The clinc itself was at Watts Way Arena, the last place I showed Dylan. The owners of Watts Way have fast become my friends and I was excited to have a chance to ride with someone as talented as Tiago. 

In July in Texas, it's HOT. This year has been especially weird because while temperatures have been slightly lower than usual - staying in the mid to upper 90s - the humidity has been outrageously high. I don't mind it being hot, but the humidity kills me. Remember this because it will come into play later.


Several of the people that were supposed to come to the clinic couldn't, as the original date has been scheduled for June and then later changed. (I originally couldn't go, but when they changed the dates I jumped on it!) There was also a lady who was supposed to bring a couple horses but then had the fuel pump in her truck go out, so all in all there were only about 5 or 6 riders a day. I was slated to ride late afternoon on Saturday, and then morning on Sunday, so that I could trailer in on Sat and then right back out again on Sunday without getting home to late. It's about a 4 hour trailer ride for me one way, if there is no traffic. 


It's hot. Yes that's sweat and dirt on Dylan's back!


I headed out by about 8:30am, only to run into I-35 being shut down not too far into my journey. Some other small bobbles and I arrived at about 1pm or so, with plenty of time to deposit Dylan in his stall, eat some pizza, and have a peach daiquiri. It was unbearably hot and humid in the arena - even though it's covered and the swamp coolers were running full steam, there was no wind at all that day, and therefore no breeze to stir the stifling hot air. The evening before, I had gotten a little heatsick while trying to clean out my trailer tackroom, and while I sat there in the arena sweating and watching the other riders, I started to feel like I was wilting. I drank and drank and drank all the water and Gatorade that I could force myself to down, knowing that my 4pm ride time was coming up. My friend J helped me tack up Dylan, and feeling like I had done all I could do to hydrate myself, I climbed on for my lesson.


What surprised me about Tiago is that he's a young guy. He can't be older than I am, if he's even that old at all. But he's an incredible rider and trainer. He watched Dylan and I warm up, whereupon I just trotted around posting for a bit and doing some stretchy canter to limber him up. For all that I'm excited that I can post again, I still don't seem to be able to do it all that well, and when Tiago came in the ring he told me right away that he thought I had an easier time in the canter than trot. He's not wrong, but I told him it's completely different when I sit versus when I trot, and I showed him that. He had that look on his face of "ah, yes, she's not lying." I told him one of the main problem I have is with changes - either they're fantastic or they're terrible, and there's not a lot of play inbetween. On the short diagonal, Dylan was starting to get flat and rushy into his changes, and I was too hot and tired to be able to keep that under control. So, we played with surprise changes in places he didn't expect them - down the quarterline, in the corners, random places around the arena, which really did help him. When he knows they're coming, he can get quite forward, and it's hard enough to keep him under control when I'm feeling great much less when I'm not.

We also played a bit with passage/piaffe, and whether Dylan knows how to do it. K said he has a bit of both started, and I've certainly sat on him when he was offering piaffe not on purpose, but this was the first time anyone has taken a stick and asked him from the ground to give it a try since I've had him. I'm not sure what Tiago was asking or how, but Dylan was not sure about it and didn't get a step of real piaffe. He did, however, offer something akin to passage and we went with that. I would trot along on the circle, then ask him to come up a bit more in front and almost feel like I'm sucking his back up higher through my thighs. It's a little bit hard to describe, but it came. As I understand it, having almost no experience whatever with it, every horse and rider has an individual way of doing piaffe or passage - installed a little differently, ridden a little differently. All lower level horses might be able to canter from the same cue, but not all upper level horses will learn passage from the same cue. Or something like that. Maybe? I don't know enough about it yet to say, but I hope to learn.

We also worked on bending him at the canter on a 20m circle - bending him to the left, bending him to the right, with no change of lead and no falling in or out. THAT was my undoing. I was already exhausted by this point but determined to carry on, and I don't really remember too much beyond this point because my head got all kinds of fuzzy. I just remember  when we finished, we had some good work, but Dylan was clear about the fact that he was stick-a-fork-in-it-done. He kept breaking to trot over and over, like he just couldn't hold it, and I probably looked like I was going to die myself. We both went to cool out, and both of us were panting exhausted. Dylan looked just as hot and miserable as I was - I stripped him of his tack straight away, and went right to the wash stall to start strip cooling him. Poor guy.... he skidded around in the wash stall three times like he was skating on ice, partly because the washstall was slippery and partly because I think he was just that tired. I felt like I was fully cooked to death, and I hosed myself off too. 


Back at the guest house, after thoroughly cooling Dylan down (although to be honest I don't remember much of what was going on, I think J moved my tack for me but I'm not sure), I flopped down onto the bed in the AC and closed my eyes for a few minutes. I slugged down as much Gatorade and water as I could handle, and eventually the room stopped spinning. A cool shower and some Ibuprofin (and more water) later, and I was feeling a bit more like myself. I checked on Dylan again, and he too was cool and eating and drinking. I felt good enough by that time to go out to Brenham with J and Tiago for some dinner and some ice cream. When we got back to the guest house, the other ladies staying there were all piling into their souped up ATV to go for a drunken midnight offroad adventure, which I of course decided to come along on. We were speeding through the night watching an approaching thunderstorm light the sky up with lightning, and I thought to myself, "I'm going to remember this night."


And apparently everyone in Brenham was also there that night


The next day I woke up fairly early, feeling much more like myself and glad to be riding early. My ride time was scheduled for 10am, which is much more reasonable. It seemed to be less humid too, which also helped. I asked J if we could set up some single slalom and double barrels in the ring, since I've had some trouble with both, and she agreed. Our warmup was a bit quieter than the day before, and Tiago again put us to work with some lead change work and some trot work, alternative between a fairly slow collected trot and some bouncier passage-ier trot.

I think instructors sometimes don't know what to do with us, because I generally come into a lesson going, "I'm having trouble with this thing." The instructor says okay, go do that thing and show me. So we go and do the thing, and it always goes fine, so the instructor then goes, "well... okay, but it's fine?" They also always tell me to go do a thing, and I go and do it, and it goes fine. Not to say that I'm any kind of great rider, but Dylan is a great horse who just does whatever you tell him to do. If I sit up and ride him well, it goes fine. If I ride like a sack of potatoes, it goes poorly of course, but if I can manage not to be too much of a weeble it's fine. Louisa always talks about how it's cool to teach us because she can tell us anything and we can just go out and do it for the most part, but that makes it hard for a new person to come in and teach. There just sort of aren't big huge problems. Or well, my big huge problems are hard to replicate because they usually only show up in competition. Tiago sent me off to work on the single slalom, only not the entire thing. We worked on doing the first pole, and then the last pole. And then adding in a pole, or just doing a single pole. He had me think about just pushing the horse over and changing leads versus doing big loops between the poles, as there isn't really enough room. He told me he thinks the single slalom is the toughest thing to do, and I agreed with him. But what he stressed to me made so much sense, and I just hadn't thought of it that way before - maybe you have to do it a certain way in competition, but in training there are no rules. If you want to do just one with a change, or two with a change, or a couple with changes here and there, you can! You don't have to do it one single way when you're training. You can do whatever you need to do in order to train the horse to change quietly and cleanly where he needs to. We applied the same thing to the double barrels - we made the circles as big as I needed to make them, and put the changes in where I needed to put them in to make them clean. Then we made the circles smaller, and the changes were still clean - so that fixed the issue and there wasn't anything to work on. He felt very strong to me and I didn't feel like I had good control and lightness with my canterwork, but Tiago said it looked just fine, so at least there was that. He's been a little strong in the canterwork in the snaffle, so I may put him back in the double on and off to help regain a little more lightness.


I also put J on him after our lesson was over - she trotted and cantered around on him and had a blast! He was a good boy for her, and she was all smiles. I sat on one of her Nokota horses the day before too, but just walked him, as he was just as sweaty and hot as Dylan was.

Yes, she wasn't minding her melon, but I was so that's what matters. 




It was a fun weekend, but slightly expensive. Worth it to get some good ideas through about training certain difficult obstacles. Changes are hard with Dylan as you need to sit perfectly in order to get them cleanly, and I only sit perfectly about 10% of the time. It's hard!

The heat was the biggest bummer of the weekend. I actually was so heatsick on Friday night that I locked my keys in my truck for the first time in my entire life, and didn't realize it until morning when I couldn't find them. I had to pay some guy a hundred smacks to come out on a Sunday morning and break into my truck for me. That sucked.

Dylan laughing at me





We were supposed to be at Haras this weekend for their Summer Festival show, which is a B-rated WE show. It was going to be really really hot, but J was going to be there, and she encouraged me to come. Unfortunately, due to the heat, the show was cancelled at the last minute. It was a real bummer, but I guess it's not too bad of a thing. It's SO hot, and it's only going to get hotter as we get into the thick of summer.




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

End of June Analysis; July Goals; Midway Year Goals



Like most people I know - probably everybody - I can't believe half a year has flown by already. It seems like it's going extra fast this year, and I've been going nonstop crazy busy for the entirety of it! I've had so little time to blog all year and lately I've really been missing it. Which is a good thing, really.... when you miss something you make an effort to come back to it. 

This year for the first time I'm also going to check in with my yearly goals, and see where we are on the checklist. Some of these goals will be altered, some added, some deleted, and some of them are of course already completed! So far the year has been really successful, albeit entirely too busy. 

One more thing I'd like to do this next month - interact more with other bloggers. I read a lot of blogs, and do a lot of "oh damn I meant to catch up on this person's stuff", but I rarely comment. I'd like to make that effort, because as a whole bloggers have always been a really supportive, really fun and really interesting group of people. It's good to stay in better touch with the community. Admittedly I'm terrible in real life about keeping up with people I know too, so maybe it's just a general problem that I have. I'm stupidly busy and it leaves me little time for socializing. 





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O-Ren June:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!
Success! She is a great momma horse. The best one I've had.

2) Try and successfully get bred, finally... we are almost out of time for this year. 
Well, we weren't successful here. I should have cultured her at the start of breeding season and for some reason I didn't, probably because of how easy it was to get her to catch last year with no culture needed. As a result, she had a minor uterine infection that needed to be cleared up. She's been back to the vet twice for treatments now, and should be in the clear - but now it's too late to breed. Texas is too hot and it's too hard on both neonates and broodies to have them late in the year. If they're not on the ground by early May, it's just too late in my opinion, unless you have a barn with stalls and a million fans (I do not). But, we'll put her back to work this year, toodle around and maybe do some shows, and then breed again in the spring. With a culture ahead of time, of course.



Cregga June:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!
Success! She's a great little babe. Kind of obnoxious with her mouth and not very fond of water, but she stands reasonably well for trimming, grooming, and flyspray. She also has had her mane clipped and did great, leads super well, and has been trailered several times now with mom to the vet. She still is weird about loading with the ramp - she always creeps to the side and jumps onto the trailer instead of walking up the ramp, I have no idea why though as she is happy to walk off the ramp! - but she gets on and rides well.

2) Send in registration papers
Success! She was also microchipped this month by the vet (which she was a pill about, but only for the tiny little needle with the local block). She no longer fits into the foal stocks at the vet (!!), so now she gets to go in the adult stocks. But anyway, the papers have been sent in and the microchip papers have been sent back - now we are just waiting for DNA paperwork to get here so we can pluck a few hairs. I also have to send some pictures of her to them, and maybe harass them some more about the DNA stuff which isn't here yet.



Dylan June:
1) More lessons! Both dressage and WE!
Success! The weather has been ridiculously uncooperative this month, with rain literally every weekend (in June... in Texas... wtf), but I was able to get in two lessons with Louisa and one with Tarrin. I'd like to take a lesson every other week with Louisa, and always am happy to get in with Tarrin ANY time she comes up this way, so this was a great month for me.

2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis - working towards 4th level!
We're getting there! Quarter pirouettes are no problem but I'm still learning about how to perfect the halves. 4-1 does not have any pirouettes in it, so if I don't get there quite yet that's not a big deal. 4-2 has quarter pirouettes, and 4-3 has half ones - it's actually a really cool progression in the tests. I'm confident in doing 5's, and sometimes I can bang out a couple 4's, but I'm really not solid in these yet because I get scrambled in my counting. Dylan also tends to get to the third change and wants to get fast and flat - not sure if this is him or me. I'm pretty confident I could go out and do 4-1 right now and not make a total embarrassment of myself. K reminded me a few days ago that he isn't nominated for All Breed Awards but he SHOULD be, and all I need is one more score at 3-3 to get nominated. The cut off date is Aug 1, but if you pay a late fee you can submit scores through the end of Aug (and Sept, but for even more $$). So, probably what I will do is do another dressage show at the end of Aug and do 3-3 and try 4-1!

3) Compete in the Decatur WE show!
Well we would have, and we were ready to go - but it was cancelled due to weather! Oh well. It was rescheduled for November so we'll just go then!



Pangea/Frank June:
1) Pony some babies - maybe! 
Frank ponied Pax once this month - and it went great. If the weather stays nice he'll keep dragging babies! Not P though... she's looking pretty rough this summer. We'll see what happens with her.

2) Frank especially - head out for more trails! If it's not too hot!
It's too hot! 



Pax/Uma June:
1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 
Success! But that's a pretty easy goal to meet!



Zu June:
1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
He hasn't been yet, but only because I pulled the divider out of my trailer due to having to take O and Cregga back and forth to the vet so many times. Dylan has been riding in the trailer without the divider and does fine, but I can't really take anyone with him until I put it back in. I'll make Future Hubs help me with that since it's a heavy and super annoying task.

2) Lunging with harness
Success! Mostly he's been going with a surcingle, but it's fine, because he lunges fine with either.

3) Wearing bridle
Success! Everybody likes that little thin mullen mouth I have. He still needs to wear it more until he's *really* used to it but he's doing super well.

4) Start back with long lining, small amounts, if lunging is going well
Haven't done this yet but honestly I think I need a handler to help me really connect the dots in his head, and unless I can talk Future Hubs into it, it may not happen just yet. 



Sriracha June:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
Success! And we did a bit of free jumping with her and Zoodle too, sort of.

2) Wearing bridle
Success! She too likes the little mullen mouth more than anything else.

3) Wearing harness
She's been wearing a surcingle but not a harness - because my mini harness is a moldy old partly broken piece of crap. 



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O-Ren July:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!
2) Get back to work.... start riding again! And driving again? Depending on the tiny brat child and how unhelpful she is... I don't need the kid climbing into my carriage. 


Cregga July:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!
2) Finalize registration papers - if the stuff ever gets here...
3) Learn a bit more about walking/trotting in hand and standing still, like she would need to do for a show


Dylan July:
1) Regular lessons and clinics! Both dressage and WE!
2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis as usual
3) Compete in the Haras summer show... as a prep for the actual Haras Cup!! 
4) Ride in a clinic with Tiago Ernesto!


Frank July:
1) Pony some babies - maybe! Trails if it's not too hot!


Pangea/Pax/Uma July:
1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 


Zu July:
1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
2) Lunging with harness
3) Wearing bridle


Sriracha July:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
2) Wearing bridle
3) Wearing harness



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~ 2017 Goals! Midway Year Review ~

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Dylan 2017 Goals:

1) Compete 3rd/4th level on Dylan (USDF)
- So far - have competed at 3rd and have qualified for SW Championships and Regionals as well as secured Bronze scores at 3rd!

2) Compete at Intermediate level in Working Equitation
- Intermediate B to be more precise - and have been very successful so far!

3) Compete at the Haras Cup
- This is in October and we're planning to be there!

4) MAYBE - IALHA Nationals
- Probably not, since Regional are literally wrapping up the day before Nationals starts... but I MAY take Cregga to Nationals instead!

5) MAYBE - Andalusian World Cup
- This one is going to be a definite no. With a brand new truck to pay for as well as alllll this other stuff going on.... too far and too expensive. Maybe next year! Or maybe in the future with Cregga.



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Compete 3rd/4th level (USDF)
2) Compete at Intermediate B level in Working Equitation
3) Compete at the Haras Cup
4) Attend Southwest Dressage Championships, and Region 9 Regionals
5) Compete in and complete 4 of the 5 Heart of Texas WE Series Shows


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O-Ren 2017 Goals:

1) Have a happy, healthy, bouncing baby!
- A huge success! What a nice baby too.

2) Consider whether or not we are breeding her back for a second time
- Well, we tried but did not succeed.... but we will plan on breeding her back next year.



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Have a happy, healthy, bouncing baby!
2) Put her back to work! Under saddle and in harness
3) Maybe show in a Games Day show? Or play around with some WE?


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Pax 2017 Goals:
1) Continue baby school - wearing a bridle, being ponied on the trails, etc.
- Pax is doing great, right where I want her to be for her age. She is ponying better than she ever has, which means come winter she'll be more than ready to go off property for ponies. She wears a bridle and has worn a saddle too.

2) Show in the FEH at Meadowcreek (and maybe some other small in-hand shows for fun?)
- Success! She also showed in the Texas Rose FEH and was 2nd (out of two... but whatever.) She was dead last at Meadowcreek but I knew she would be... she's not exactly Rolex quality. What was more important was getting her off property by herself and having to do something. It did really make a difference for her!

3) Keep growing up and being a horse! 
- Success! And she'll keep on doing just that until next year.



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Continue baby school - wearing a bridle, being ponied on the trails, etc.
2) Show in the FEH at Meadowcreek (and maybe some other small in-hand shows for fun?)
3) Keep growing up and being a horse! 

Pax has met all of her yearly goals!


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P 2017 Goals:

1) Go on some trail rides! 
- She's been on two and that's the end of that. She's sort of dwindling towards the afterlife at the moment so I don't expect I'll be back on her ever again, save for maybe one more ride before she leaves the planet, whenever that is. She's not doing so great as we come to the midway point of the year... so we'll just see.

2) Continue being the resident baby-dragger
- Frank is the resident baby-dragger now!



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Hang in there until she's not ready to hang in there any more.


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Lendri 2017 Goals:

1) Continue trying to make her a driving moole!
- Even though I hitched Lendri a few times, I had that bad gut feeling that it was not a good idea and that I shouldn't do it any more. So... I stopped. And in March Lendri went to a client's house to keep her foundered horse company! It was a great thing - she and the horse love each other, and the people love her, and I get to see her every 3 weeks and keep an eye on her. It couldn't have been a better arrangement. They renamed her Clementina and they're in love with her.



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Zoodle 2017 Goals:

1) Continue to solidify lunging
- Goal in progress. He continues to get better and better at this!

2) Teach long lining and long line all over the place!
- Haven't done this yet... but I need to!

3) Take him off property for lots of exposure and despooking!
- Still haven't done this yet... but again, I need to!

4) Later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects
- Need to get goals 2-3 better accomplished first!



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Continue to solidify lunging
2) Teach long lining and long line all over the place!
3) Take him off property for lots of exposure and despooking!
4) Later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects


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Sriracha 2017 Goals:

1) Continue regular handling as usual
- Success - but she always needs more. The more time I put into her the better she is.

2) Continue learning to lunge
- Success! And she is still learning!

3) Teach to long line
- Not yet.., and I think she will be a little while before she ever does. Lunging to her sometimes still means "running away from the person in the middle, in a circle."

4) Maybe later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects
- We will see how far we get with this one! She's a tough little booger and she lives up to her name for sure!



REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Continue regular handling as usual
2) Continue learning to lunge
3) Teach to long line
4) Maybe later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects


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Uma 2017 Goals:
1) Continue growing up and being a moole!
- Uma is Pax's age so she has a lot of growing up left to do before we decide if she's big enough to drive or not!

2) Continue regular handling - and later in the year, start introducing simple concepts of lunging and wearing harness
- Haven't done this yet but I think she will handle it pretty well! She does wear boots and that's just fine.


REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Continue growing up and being a moole!
2) Continue regular handling - and later in the year, start introducing simple concepts of lunging and wearing harness


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Big Frank 2017 Goals:

1) Go on some trail rides!
- Haven't trailered him anywhere but he's been ridden all over the neighborhood and is great! He doesn't love being ridden alone but he's happy to go with a baby in tow.

2) Teach him to pony? 
- Now he ponies like a champ! He's great at it because he's so big he can just plod along and drag them as he needs to.


REVISED MIDYEAR GOALS:
1) Go on some off property trail rides! With babies in tow!


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What I wrote in January at the end of the post:

"I think it's going to be a good one. My biggest focus this year is going to of course be Dylan, but I also want to prep and show Pax in the FEH (and maybe some schooling shows in hand?), and I want to make sure Zoodle gets the exposure he needs. I have a lot of hopes for show season, we're getting married this year (finally after being engaged for like four years), I hope to buy a new truck this year, and of course O's foal is coming. There are other things too which are just as exciting but less relevant to the blog. I'm not quite sure which direction our country is heading in at the moment, but I fully intend on making the best of it either way."


This has largely held up to all be true. Dylan has been and continues to be my main focus - the mules have gotten less work than I expected because I've been too busy focusing on Dylan, but that's all right. Pax has competed in two FEH classes and not killed anybody. Zoodle should be starting to travel off property within short order. The wedding planning is well underway but of course not anywhere near done!! I did buy a new truck and I love it, although the truck payment sucks and it did take a big dent out of my show fund. O's foal is of course here and every bit at awesome as I had hoped.




So far, a pretty successful and awesome year, I'd say. Here's to the next 6 months! This is when it's going to get REEEEEALLY crazy!




Saturday, July 1, 2017

Riding Riding Riding



It seems so weird and exciting to say this, but I've been riding a LOT lately, and not just on Dylan. I have been riding him of course, obviously, but I also have been riding Frank,and the other day I had a wild hair and decided to saddle up O herself and see what happened. Yes, O!


Dylan is a good boy


I've been feeling really physically good lately, like my leg is mostly functional and mostly pain free. I know this sounds completely stupid, but I've been able to post lately... post! Posting is a big deal. I haven't been able to post at all in maybe 3 YEARS because it would leave me completely crippled. When you can post, you can deal with greener horses. I could get around it before with Dylan because I could warmup in walk and canter, and then move to sit the trot, but it's only because he's advanced enough for that. (Now that I can post though, our warmups are so much better because I can really get him stretching and loose.) But I've been sort of thinking about O and wanting to get her back into a bit of work without the risk of having a baby jumping into a carriage with us - and maybe wanting to try some WE with her too. I've thought about it in the past and she might not handle it well, but Intro level is pretty simple walk and trot stuff. Maybe we could give it a try!

O has not been ridden in nearly 3 years though, save for one or two hacks here and there. She was actively driving up until June last year, but hasn't been in work at all since then. Dylan and Cregga FREAKED when I pulled her out, and she did wiggle and scream for them some, but she also ate from her haybag and stood to be groomed and tacked. I picked the trusty ol' bloo bit for her, took her back out to the field, and hopped on. 

And she was perfect. I feel like my defensive habit of getting stuck in chair seat with my lower leg pushed forward has been steadily evaporating, and she was happy to let me put my leg on her. She's so NARROW compared to Dylan... like riding a wobbly broomstick versus a thick sturdy sequoia. Riding him has made me so very aware of every little movement. 

I think it's time to put her back to work. 



Cregga not happy that mom was out and about... here she is about to run into the water trough

Y U TAKE AWAY MAM



I've also been back on Frank after a hiatus off of him. I hadn't ridden him all last month just because I've been too busy, and it's been raining constantly. I hopped on him the other day and took Pax for a drag around - the first time I had done something with her since her last show in April.



GOOGLE EYES


Despite what that last picture suggest, she was amazing. She was still very jiggy and hot and spooky the last time I took her out, but her two in hand shows really seem to have made an impression on her. She was completely cool and calm. And since she felt so collected and Frank felt so good, I think it's entirely possible that when the weather cooperates they'll be more than ready to go on off property trails together. 



And last but certainly not least, Dylan has been going great under saddle. Here's a clip from our latest lesson with Louisa - the exercise we were doing was renvers to a 10m circle to shoulder in down the long side, then medium across the diagonal, to really activate the hind end. As you can see it pretty clearly worked!







When he's not in lessons, he goes for hacks...

That mane.... :/


And rides at WD of course.

Tiiiiiired


He's going great. I'm feeling better and better, and starting to ride less like a weeble and more like a proper person again. It takes so much time and effort, but I am getting there. I am getting there!



Since I decided I should give WE a try with O, I decided I should also break Dylan to drive. What do you think?




Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lessons Reports, and Weather



I had two lessons this week or so - one with Louisa, one with Tarrin. I was also supposed to have a lesson two weekends ago with Tarrin but it got rained out, much to everyone's surprise. Rain in June? In Texas? What is happening? 


Both of these instructors are complementary to each other in that they both have similar things to say about the horse, and the same ideas about how to get there, but with different (but complementary) ways of executing things. Louisa uses a lot of visual imagery, which is a learning style I process very well. Tarrin is excellent at pinpointing an issue and prompt to get you right to fixing it. Both of them are focused on me as a rider, because both know how much changing something in my body alters this horse. All of his issues are not really *his* issues, they are *my* issues. And when they fix me, it fixes him, automatically. This is why he is so completely priceless - he doesn't tolerate fools, and he doesn't give you any freebies whatever, but he's also completely safe. He makes you work for it, and makes you be correct, but the second you get it, he gives all of it to you.  


Dylan is shocked that old man Gringo (who wanders loose on the property) would come and steal *his* cookies right out of the tack room

In the lesson with Louisa, I started out with a really, really, really relaxed stretchy warmup. Up until a few months ago I was not able to post at all due to the pain in my leg, but during and after the last show at Tyler, I started giving it a try. Much to my delight I've been getting better and better at it, and with less and less pain. It sounds so stupid to be struggling with something so simple - I'm showing 3rd level and I can't freaking post? - but it truly was causing me pain beyond what I can even describe. Now though, with all my physical therapy, I'm posting mostly pain free and can now utilize that whenever I need to. 

Where I've been using it is in my warmups. I've been making so much more use of stretchy work at the walk and trot instead of doing warmups at the walk and canter (because that's just how you have to do it when you can't post). As a result, I'm able to unlock his back that much faster, and relax him that much more. He really does like to stretch, but he's just as quick to get short and tense at the base of his withers, much like every other Spanish horse on planet Earth. But when I start my warmups with a long, loose, stretchy walk and trot, it loosens all of that up and it warms my muscles up too, so that I can find where I need to be better and faster.

I put him back in the snaffle for our lesson and have kept him back in the snaffle. The pelham is getting shelved for the time being, because Dylan is just *better* with it. As always, the more I just pretend like I don't have reins, the better he goes. When I get to micromanaging his face, everything goes down the toilet. We warmed up at the walk and posting trot, just doing some simple bending and stretching. Then we got to more of the meat - cantering squares with quarter pirouettes in each corner. It's exactly the same thing - just forget about your reins beyond simple positioning, and move him with your body. In pirouettes especially, which I am just learning about, my first instinct is to tilt which makes me lose my inside seatbone. The second that lifts off the saddle, he's quick to spin through his pirouettes almost like he wants to be a reiner, and he'll swap out behind. But if I really sit down and think about things in slow motion, he is a thousand times better. I just have to think my way through them. 

There wasn't too much else that we were deeply focused on, aside from a few flying changes. He was a little slow to switch from right to left, but we edged around that by cantering down the long side in a bit of shoulder fore to the rail, and then executing the change on the far side of the ring. He's been so good with his changes that I honestly think he was more tired than he wanted to admit after doing the quarter pirouettes (or, maybe I was). When we got back home, Dylan also had a chiropractic appointment that showed he was much looser in his withers but had both hips out - so that also probably wasn't helping much!
Even though it wasn't too complicated of a lesson, the work was just so quality. It felt so good. It felt SO good. All of that stretching in the beginning meant all of the execution of things was just so fluid and so connected and just so good. If I can get that kind of connection everywhere.... that will be magical indeed.







Yesterday I rode with Tarrin again in preparation for the scheduled show today (stay tuned for an update on that at the end of the post). There are rules in the Confederation for WE that state that private instruction from a judge ahead of a show is not legal, but a clinic held by that judge right before a show is, which I think is really great. We rode at 8am, which I was very thankful for given the fact that it's about 113 degrees outside right now with high levels of humidity. Tarrin asked me first thing what I was wanting to work on, and I talked to her more about the last show and what I think went wrong. She pointed out his one major flaw - he likes to lose his haunches out towards the right. He does this in both directions and it's something I don't always really realize is happening until it's too late. To combat this, she parked herself in the middle of the dressage course and held one end of the garrocha pole, while I held the other. I had to go around her in walk, trot, and canter while holding the pole in one hand in both directions. I was not supposed to move her, or move my hand - the pole was supposed to stay perfectly balanced in the same spot between us. Talk about HARD - it completely relies on use of your body while trying to keep the horse on a perfect 10m circle, including through transitions.

Dylan's first inclination in that exercise is to drift his haunches toward the right. And as usual, this is mostly something I allow him to do without realizing it - I'm stronger in one direction than the other, so if I am not definitive enough with my outside leg and seatbone, I lose the haunches. It's not something you would even really see if you were watching us go, because it's very minor - but this exercise highlighted it. And it's not something that makes too much of a difference when we're doing simple things, but it gets amplified during changes or pirouettes. By the end of the exercise, I was so much more aware of the problem than I had been before. And it makes total sense.


From there, Tarrin had me ride my entire dressage test one handed. Now remember, I have almost no experience with real one handed riding, much less one handed dressage. Dylan does not neck rein. Or well, he sort of does like the rest of my horses do when we toodle on a long rein on the trails - they just sort of pick it up but it's certainly not like actual western horse neck reining. I wasn't really sure how it would go.

To my surprise, it went much better than I expected. What a surprise... when you ride with your body the horse goes well, who knew right!? He had no problem whatever with walk half passes and walk pirouettes - they were just as good as with two hands, which surprised me. The trot work wasn't stellar, more like not-quite jogging, but he leg yielded well and was responsive. I had some trouble with my reins getting too long, and had to adjust them a few times. Tarrin said short reins are my friend - that way I am never tempted to pull back, only to lift upward slightly if I need it, and make small adjustments left or right. The canter work started out a little funky, as I was struggling to figure out how best to keep him straight, but once I got a little more organized the canter instantly got better. If I just stay out of his way with my reins, he's got it, but the second I get a little too one sided or a bit heavy in the contact, he's all kinds of crooked. I have a tendency to be a little heavier on my left rein when I ride one handed, and Dylan made that perfectly clear when I came in for my first flying change from left to right... and he kept counter cantering on the left. He was just doing exactly what I asked even though I did not mean to ask for it. We tried again, I got organized and sat in balance, and he had a perfect change. Our next two changes were also perfect and not only were clean, but were straight and with the same good cadence coming out of them as going into them.


I actually really enjoyed riding one handed. I felt like it forced me to be better because I didn't have a choice, I didn't have the crutch of reins. Not only that, but the horse became perfectly soft and round in front as soon as I had full control of his body.

I am an awfully long way from going Advanced even though it's just the next level up, but I'm starting to feel like... maybe I could do it. (Although, if you look at the dressage test and imagine riding that with one hand... might be awhile before we ever get there.)




It was a good lesson and it wasn't actually too heavy on the workload, which was good because at 8am it was already a billion degrees. We got our coursemaps for the show, looked them over, and then headed back home to finish prepping for today.


And then today actually happened.....

What the hell!?


I was awakened at about 1am by a house shaking roar of thunder. Not surprisingly, after wave after wave of deluge, the show was cancelled this morning and rescheduled to November. So that's the second time in a month that Tarrin drove up here to Decatur and then got rained out. Damnit all!


Out of two planned clinics and a show this month, I only got to ride in the one clinic. Boooo. Next month I also have a clinic (with Tiago) and a B-Rated show at Haras. Both of those places have indoors so they shouldn't be cancelled unless there is something dire happening! I need to go back over my show schedule beyond that and confirm what I really want to be shooting for in the fall too.