Sunday, October 16, 2016

Horse themed decoration and clothing

Last week I went shopping like a real person, and not to a TSC or tack store!  I know right?   Obviously I spent my time looking at all the horse themed stuff for sale.


Unicorn lamp, picture came out blurry but you can see it in gleaming gold badassery



Every little girl (cough or adult) needs their own toy horse trail to transport their plastic steeds to shows.  This two horse straight load comes with a rear ramp and shipping boots.


Cute horse stall and accessories.



Everyone also needs a unicorn head to mount on the wall of their nursery.   I'm not sure about this one.  Awww adorable stuffed unicorn.  Ewwww, you killed and mounted a unicorn?  Pro hunting and fantasy themes for your baby.



 Finally, something naughty for the adult to slip under their show breeches.  Bonus points for figuring out what to do with the ears.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bell Boots

Today's subject is Bell Boots.

I believe in keeping a shod horse in bell boots at least for turnout, having lost a few shoes before and forked over the extra cash for an emergency farrier trip I would rather spend the money on boots than new shoes.

Stella ripped off her very first shoe less than a week after it got nailed on, and tore off a bell boot under saddle a week later so I think she needs them.  However, she has so far murdered 5 (FIVE!) pairs of bell boots and my pocket boot is feeling it.

The first pair I used on her were the flappy flappy petal kind.  They come in cool colors so you can coordinate, make a ton of cool noises so people can hear you coming, and you can replace the petals easily.


She tore so many petals off in the first couple weeks I gave up on them.

Next up were standard velcro boots.  I like these boots from Roma which cost about $8 from Riding Warehouse  the price is right for replacing them twice a month.  Eeeccckkkk.

What I don't like is how the velcro gets clogged down in mud and eventually stops sticking.  I'm trying to get better about taking them off on a regular basis and hosing them down to clean off the velcro.  However, all the pairs she has ruined have had the stitching torn out before the velcro wears out.  Would this happen with more expensive velcro boots?  I dunno.

I've considered trying the pull on kind, I think they'd last longer with the lack of velcro but I've heard nightmare stories about getting them on and off the horse.  Any thoughts on this?  Do they make more or less sturdy pull on boots that are easier to get on and off?  I see several different kinds of pull ons.

I'm also looking at these Professional's Choice ballistic overreach boots.  Still the problem with velcro but they look like they have a closer fit so she might not step on them as much.



Plus, cool colors!



Those have pretty much been the option for years until Thinline came out with their new Gatorbootz Bell Boots.  They are purported to have a latch that is easy to open by humans, eliminating the struggle with pull on boots, but never by horses, eliminating the velcro issue.  They are a bit pricy at $54.00 a pair but if you aren't replacing velcro boots twice a month the cost quickly adds up.


Has anyone tried the Gatorboots?  Since they don't turn up is the clasp easy enough for my farrier or barn manager to undo when needed?  Thoughts on bell boots in general?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Two Whips

A few days ago I took Stella for her second dressage lesson with J.  Apparently J thinks I'm a morning person as I had to be in the saddle by 9 am.  Thankfully I didn't get lost and we arrived in plenty of time to get warmed up and ready.

We began almost immediately by using two whips, one in each hand, held resting against the shoulders and straight up and down.  It was a really awkward thing and really hard for me to keep my hands still and input all the other things I needed to do but it was really helpful in controlling Stella's shoulders which was the theme for this month's lesson.

Stella has always been a very wiggly horse



 and I've worked hard to get her to be a straighter horse, but she's not straight enough and I'm missing that umph in my riding awareness that recognizes big straightness failures but not smaller failures that make the difference between a rideable horse and a dressage horse.

When she gets lazy and drops behind my leg she can use her neck and shoulders to squeak behind my contact and do whatever the heck she wants and I find myself getting into arguments there.  I generally solve this by FORWARD but sometimes I need to be able to keep her straight at slower speeds, and to learn how to correct her shoulder drift before it happens.  Right now it's like it sneaks up on me, especially when I'm jumping.  One second I feel comfortable with our general straightness, then BAM she looks like a protractor.


I held each whip against the shoulder, thinking about riding the shoulders and ignoring the neck and head, and tapping or whacking the shoulders with each whip if she popped the shoulder out or leaned.  This made Stella GRUMPY and I get plenty of mare faces, which probably meant I was doing something right!

We did most of our work at the trot which is an easier gait for me as she's %30 less wiggly and is much happier about going forward.  At home I've been working on sharper canter transitions and a better canter.  She's happy to canter when she's happy to canter, but she doesn't like to canter when she's grumpy, or when she thinks I'm going to take contact.  Hand gallop around the arena no problem.  Gallop on the trail no problem.  Canter on contact big problem.

In the lesson video we do quite a bit of cantering and it's not super pretty.  I've got my legs in her sides, I'm leaning forward, and I'm thinking about those DAMN whips!  This was about standing her up on her shoulders and going forward and not about the canter itself.  After this lesson I went home with a determination to sharpen her responsiveness to my canter aids.  Stella is not amused.

We also did some trot work that I was really happy with.  She looks like she's really coming together and there are bits and pieces that look fantastic!

J nailed us on our lazy walk, something I've been paying more attention to at home but have not yet solved.  Stella on the trail has a beautiful walk.  Tons of swing and overtrack.  It's her places to go things to explore walk.  No trails?  Death march to the slaughter house walk.  A clear indication that she's not motivated and needs me to set the standard for the walk (which I've always neglected in the past with all my horses until Annie, who ended up  having a lovely walk when I finally woke up).



I have again removed the video of J's voice.  It really helps explain what we are doing and why but I feel that the internet is a big place and I don't want someone to misinterpret instruction that I had no problem with.

So where does this leave us regards to the jumping?  Unsure.  I need to improve my skills as a rider and become more aware of the straightness of my horse and my horse needs to be more willing to be straight, more responsive and be a team player.  How much of this is due to my lack of skills and how much is her personality is a mystery.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The insurmountable wall


Sometimes I don't post about crappy things that happen because I've been told that nobody wants to listen to you talk about your bad day.  All people want to read are happy sunshiny butterfly days.  Which might be true, but either way if you don't like crappy posts feel free to not continue on.


.

.

.


Well, you did it.  Here's my crappy post.

A few weeks ago I went to my usual lesson.  I was on a post show (in which we jumped all the things!!!) and a post lesson (in which we jumped enormous things like bad asses!!!) high.  Now, jumping makes me nervous.  Or rather, the fear of failure in jumping makes me nervous.  But I still jump and take lessons as often as possible because when it goes right and I control my nerves I have fun and I love to fly.    I felt a little overfaced in the beginning of the lesson but mostly had faith that my instructor wasn't going to get me killed.  It's tough being me.   I really do find it a struggle to follow instructions that are perfectly logical from someone perfectly qualified that knows me, and well, curling up into a tiny little useless ball.

So, I wasn't really expecting what happened.

In short, we didn't jump the things.  Any of the things.  We stopped in front of the things, we stopped 20 feet away from the things.  When the things became speed bumps we stopped, when the things became poles on the ground we stopped.  At the end of the lesson we simply gave up because not a thing was to be jumped and I could hardly make my horse trot, let alone walk slowly over a pole on the ground.  

We talked about my role and how I have not really improved my riding.  We talked about how I am always mounted on green horses.  I cried.  A lot.

I spent several days (ok still thinking about it) thinking about what to do.  Honestly, I wanted to quit.  Quit jumping.  Sell my horse, pack it in.  I was quite frankly never going to be any better than I was that day and if I by some miracle was mounted on the far out of my price range packer I would promptly ruin it (having been told that very thing several years ago).

I struggled with how a few weeks ago I was making plans to move up a division in the late fall, then another division in the spring.  Goals were formed that I saw no reason could not be met.  We had gotten over our bump and we were on the downhill slide.

Then we couldn't get over the wall and I became the unteachable student on the unjumpable horse.


So, where do we go from here?

Am I unteachable and unimprovable?

Does my green horse not want to jump, or not want to jump with me?

Can I learn to ride a horse that might need a perfect ride over a 2 foot fence?

Did I just ruin a horse that had been improving over the year I've owned it?

How do you move on from a lesson so mentally devastating?