Friday, July 25, 2014

Things that terrify horses


This pile of bricks that I stacked up on the arena ledge because I didn't want to carry them back to their home.  None of the horses would go outside until Annie (who didn't even look at them when I rode her the night before) walked right past them and outside.  I didn't think they'd be so terrifying.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Horse packed weekends

Saturday I did some of this.

Trail ride at Brown County with my friend Lynne.  Lynne's definition of a trail ride is better described as "endurance conditioning" so we did 5 miles at mostly a trot.  Phew..  The weather was perfect for it and the trails were great.  I'm riding my loaner horse Raimie who is a trail horse extraordinaire.  Lynne is in the lead with her trail bells.  She rides with bells because she solo rides often and the bells warn bicyclers, hunters, and bears of her approaching.  Smart idea.

Saturday evening I watched this guy here


Leslie Law, ride three separate horses at Come Again Farms event camp.  He rode two totally different OTTBs explaining how is training plan was both similar and different to suit the needs of each horses.  Then he rode an older finished horse and explained what he was looking for in an older horse, where they should be in their training, and where they needed to go.

Sunday I did more of this


Here are Annie and Max at Southwestway park.  Our idea to head out early to avoid most of the people failed in a miserable way when we pulled in to a softball tournament with HUNDREDS of people.  Luckily we were able to park at the trail head and avoided the crowds.  After Annie's usual bravery shot came into effect she bravely lead the trail.  That is after we convinced Max that the screaming at the softball game wasn't going to eat him alive.  Annie was an excellent trail horse and alerted us to dangerous squirrels on the trails and a suspicious looking dead tree.

Next weekend I'll be doing some of this

No, not a horse trial (don't tell Annie!), a straight dressage show!  I decided that what Annie needed was more miles in a dressage ring.  I'm hoping that after three tests she'll relax and give me what she gives me at home.  A relaxed and willing partner who isn't more interested in leaving the test as quickly as possible.  There is a small chance after the third time she's tacked up in a dressage saddle that I'll be launched directly from X into the judge's lap.  We will have to see.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Anatomical Bridles

A long long time ago the basic bridle was designed and it has stayed exactly the same all these years.  99% of the bridles on the market come in a cookie cutter mold similar to this bridle below.  With the exception of some noseband variations (drop, figure 8, flash) and ear variations in the western world all bridles are instantly recognizable as a bridle.  Represented here we have the harwich padded dressage bridle by Smartpak.




Recently the Micklem bridle came on the market with an innovative design.  It's designed to conform to the horse's skull and prevent uncomfortable pressure points.


I was first introduced to the funny looking bridle in this book but the bridle didn't really reach popularity until recently.  It seems to be most popular with eventers where the style of your bridle isn't as important as the function of your bridle.  Very informative book by the way.  


Other companies have started to follow in Micklem's footsteps with their own versions of anatomical bridles, I found their unusual but well made bridles while stalking The $900 FB pony blog.    Perfect Sit of Sweden has several different bridles available with anatomical points designed with the horse's comfort in mind.  


What do you think?  Are these bridles just clever marketing straying from a timeless design to tug your heartstrings and empty your pocketbook?  Or are they really better for your equine partner?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Leg Up recap

Annie warmed up really well at Leg Up last weekend, giving me high hopes for NOT being dead last after dressage.  My coach helped me ride her forward into the contact and control the direction of my travel by looking up at where I wanted to go and not down at where I was going (interesting concept huh?).





However once she tritty trotted into the dressage ring my hopes were dashed.  I don't know if it was the noise (thanks barrel racers) coming from the arena over the hill, the fact that she was alone when usually she was in the next ring over, or just bad behavior but it was a pretty miserable test.  I had to go to my whip to keep her moving in the free walk.  I was disappointed, the inconsistency is frustrating.  So good in the warm up then SQUAT in the dressage ring.

She was mostly an old pro show jumping, plopping around the stadium course like she'd done it a thousand times (except for an arabian moment when faced with the very scary pile of jumps outside the arena!).  It felt, dare I say, easy!  We've also struggled with her being spooky jumping in new places so this was welcome.  She doesn't want to stop at the fences, and since we're jumping it's less frustrating that her head is straight up in the air, but it's nice that she's feeling more confident in new places.

Cross country I was motivated to "be an eventer"  I wanted to channel my inner brave person and actually gallop her around.  My entire goal for this show was to make the time, something I've never actually done before.  Cross country was a blast, and a challenge.  Annie isn't as bold in places she's not familiar with, and she'd rather have two on the floor in a scary place so she's harder to keep cantering.  I lost a stirrup once during a major spook at the canter sideways, and we did a canter half pass our entire way between fences three and four because there were bears in the tree line.  But we cantered through the scary horse eating paths, and through the busy and looky water complex, and right smack down to the edge of the not as scary water, then some sort of giant leap SPLAT! right into the water.  We trotted through the gravel path that she got stuck on last year, and unfortunately had a stop at the straw bale jump.  Annie questioned its safety and I didn't give her confidence with my leg, damn it.


Then we galloped all the way home.

I even wore a watch, and wrote my minute markers down on my arm, and I even LOOKED at my watch!  to find out I was mostly on time jumping over fence 4 (the two minute marker).  I was thrilled to find out that I was TWO SECONDS UNDER time!  Woot!

In the end our stop moved us from 11th place up to 7th place which happens to be my favorite color, purple!  So not too shabby.

Next up, Annie goes to a dressage show!



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

HHP XC schooling day!

One of the huge bonuses of an instructor I love is that she is so skilled that while coaching me around an XC course on Sunday she was also able to snap pictures so I can capture all those great moments.  When a last minute clinician cancelled IEA opened up the park to schooling the weekend before Leg Up to recoup some of their lost funds.  It was an excellent and well attended day and after a very very nice friend took me I had a great time.

Annie cantering through the water.  She started out cantering through in the other direction because we had the momentum of a jump just before the water to encourage her, cantering into it cold took some encouraging (and actual use of my legs).

She also managed to capture a good "OMG I'm going to die!" moments.  I've never had a problem with down banks based on my few experiences with them but last year while schooling this very same down bank on this very same Annie I got yanked ahead when she launched then promptly bucked the hell off.

So this looked very large and very scary.  And produced this face, oh so nicely captured by my instructor.  Sigh.


Yes, you may laugh.

Finally it ended up being not so terrible, here she is not launching off of it, and here I am giving her plenty of rein to not restrict her head and not be yanked onto her neck.


October HT wrap up

My BIG MOVE UP at the October show was a big fat fail.  This is me, dismounting off of Stella in the middle of a massive XC melt down...