Wednesday, July 6, 2016

All the Recaps

Ahem, now that I've hooked you with a cute kitten who is not only showing you all of his toes, but is also winking at you...

Once again, things are happening and I'm not writing. I have some kind of block- I'm running so short on time that writing just isn't on the to do list. Here's a basic review of this post so you can skip around as desired (there's a bunch of pictures too):

  1. Lesson 6/30 - the details are getting hazy because I messed up and didn't write the review soon enough, and I've had some meh rides.
  2. Desensitizing
  3. Riding Recaps
  4. Spending All the Money I Don't Have
  5. Felix
  6. Lesson 7/5 - this ended up REALLY good!

1. Lesson 6/30
I love Trainer. I sent her a message last Monday that I was having a problem that I was totally not comfortable fixing on my own, She came out for an ad-hoc lesson (and a couple other people jumped on the schedule, which makes it a ton easier to have her out!).

She had me get on and walk around and tell her what was going on, then go to trot. Penn was not doing his bouncing on and off the contact, except he did jump into canter a couple times for no apparent reason (I asked if I did something, she said not that she could tell). She had me canter and he was generally good. She liked how he was much more uphill than before, so the collection work is working. She asked to sit on him at that point to get a feel for exactly what buttons are no good. I've got no problem with that- he gets a professional school and I get to watch him go.

Before she even got on, she readjusted my saddle: she set it a tiny bit further back, and loosened the girth one hole. I'm all kinds of messed up on girth holes- this saddle is the same as my old one, except the billets seem shorter, yet not, and I'm still settling into what holes the girth goes on.

She said he was very jumpy off the leg. Basically, I over-sensitized him to it. She put her leg on and he went, "OK I'M GOING RIGHT! OK I'M GOING LEFT!" She said he's living in halfway land with his connection- he's almost there, but when she half halts and connects him, he connects for a second and then ducks behind the contact and essentially whines about it (the hopping). When he gets hopping, she uses hard outside leg to send him in and basically does turn on the fore type movement until he's decided to stop hopping and ready to be a gentleman again. At that point, half halt and carry on like nothing happened. She said he's resisting meeting the outside rein (his favorite trick). She said she could tell that I was getting overly handsy with him too. :-( Sorry Penn.

She had me get back on after she worked him to the left a bit. She had me abandon the better bend idea, he's not going to bend properly if he's not meeting the bridle. I dealt with a couple tantrums, shut them down, then carried on like nothing happened. It was great! The lack of bend (or even looking to the inside) irked me, but again, not the point. First we had to fix what I broke, then we can start putting the wheels back on the bus.

Things to do:

  • Keep the lines of communication working in my fingers- my hands tend to lock up and go stale and become a brick wall. I need to keep flexing my fingers as we go.
  • I also need to half halt approximately every step.
  • Open my inside rein when asking for canter.
  • Canter on a circle, spiral in, then spiral out in this pattern: two steps out, one step back in, two steps out, one step back in

Basically, I got overzealous in working him and blew his brain, but he kept trying until he just couldn't. He also wasn't helping in that he was having tantrums when I was quiet again. We each had some fault, but it's of course mine because he wouldn't be having tantrums if I wasn't going crazy on him!

2. Desensitizing
This was probably the highlight of my weekend. I had a great time. Some of the ladies at the barn do obstacle trail, and they were out and about practicing on Saturday. They have: a bridge, tarp, hula hoop, snow sled drag, rope gate, and they had zig zag back up poles out. I don't know if they had anything else, I didn't get that far. I was more interested in the tarp and the bridge.

Penn is looking cute. At least he didn't look ridiculous in this picture.

When I have Penn out and about, he doesn't deal well with footing changes (ie puddles, soft ground, water crossing). Working with the tarp and bridge really appealed to me because those are footing changes. (by the way, I didn't ride him over anything, we did in hand work)

I anticipated a fight, so I had the chain on his lead rope, ready to go, gloves, and a dressage whip. I started by reaffirming Penn's forward motion. I stop, he stops. I walk on, he walks on. He was a half beat late to coming with me, so I tapped him with the whip. Stop, walk. He started promptly moving off with me, so off we went to the bridge.

He sniffed it, touched it, then willingly stepped on it. Like a freaking dunce. So maybe we need to work on terrain changes, because he kept stabbing his toes into this poor plywood bridge. I was certain he was going to put a foot though it. He wasn't taking light steps either. He was like "BOOM BOOM BOOM" as he walked across it. He never said no to it, but he did go around a couple times. As soon as I got him straight, he went across, NBD. BTW we were walking across the length of it, not the short side like the above picture suggests. When we walked across the short side, he just stepped over the whole damn thing.

We moved on to the tarp, which he sniffed, pawed, and walked across, before trotting off of it. I brought him back around until he would walk off of it.

No reaction to the tarp.

We repeated both the bridge and tarp, then went off to have a  meh ride... One of the ladies was interested in seeing if her mare would walk over the bridge later in the day, so we ended up pulling all the stuff back out and a bunch of us had a grand old time playing with our horses and scary things.

Penn has zero excuses to be spooky. Zero.

  • He walked across the tarp and bridge with zero concern.
  • He let me: drag the tarp across the ground in front of him, roll/bunch it up and feed it over his back, take a bunch of pics of him standing by himself, and snap and wave the tarp in front of him.
  • He also walked and trotted while wearing the tarp like a blanket, then didn't panic when he stepped on a low hanging part and it dragged off his rump.
  • He let me put the tarp on his head and over his eyes.
  • He let me take a hula hoop (that when shaken makes rattle noises), shake it next to him on both sides, over his back, over his head, and put it around his neck (that was a little concerning for him because he couldn't figure out how to get away from it once he started walking).
  • He "dragged" the sled (I held it's rope by his face and walked him).

His ears stayed just like that as I dragged the tarp around and pushed it over him. Not even a flick.

I was so proud of him. He was either looking out the arena doors or standing there with his ears pointed to the side, head down (that was while I was waving and flapping the tarp in front of his face). He then proceeded to be looky in the wash stall. Sigh. I'm still proud of him

3. Ride Recaps (one trail, two arena)
Friday night, I got to trail ride with Hawk and a couple of the trail riding ladies at the barn. We did a short ride to the hay fields and back due to an impending thunderstorm that ended up missing us, but we still got sprinkled on. At least it didn't downpour on us! Penn was a gem and led the whole way on a long rein. I'm so glad we got to do something fun with everyone! Penn and I both needed to get out of the ring.

"Look! Hell isn't raining down over there."

I tried to replicate my lesson in my rides on Saturday and Monday, and Saturday was OK- I was able to ride without Penn having any tantrums. He met the bridle well, but wasn't connected enough in the canter- he was in almost-there-land. He was still looking to the outside too much.

Monday was bleh. No tantrums, so that's good, but now he's starting to giraffe and stare again. Like, really badly. Like, how on earth did I manage to qualify for championships bad. I actually pulled him up on Monday and growled at him because I was so frustrated. I didn't want to pressure him into anything, I didn't want to get handsy on him, but I didn't want to be a wall either. I eventually settled for a semi wall while tracking to the right- I opened my inside rein to make him look to the right, I pushed him to the outside rein, and gave him the mother of all half halts- varying from inside leg to outside rein and outside leg to outside rein. I kept each set of fingers working. I made him trot and canter like that. He finally connected and got some pushing power from behind. Definitely too low in the poll and too deep, but he was just so locked in the jaw and unfocused before that point. I was not a happy camper.

4. Spending All the Money I Don't Have
For some reason, I'm losing all control on my horse spending habits. I was so good for so long. Things just need to be purchased!

  • Penn needed a good snaffle bridle. I didn't have a noseband that he could wear, so FFE bridle. I don't regret it. I love that bridle!
  • Penn has suddenly started marking up his legs again- badly. He's missing dime sized clumps of hair from 3 out of 4 legs (in the exact same spot- right on the fetlock joint), and one of them was oozing nicely the other day. I'm back on the hunt for turnout boots. This time around, I'm not going to cheap route. I'm going the route I originally wanted to take- buy expensive XC boots. Except, I opted to buy the DSB version instead because it was slightly cheaper and I don't need the strike plate on the back of the tendon, I need it over the splint. I ordered the Majyk Equipe Infinity Series Sport/Dressage Boot from Riding Warehouse- they should be here Thursday. I found excellent reviews where you can actually see daylight through the pin holes in the inner foam. I'm really hoping Penn doesn't have a reaction to the hypoallergenic foam, and that the breath ability is just as described!
  • I bought truck tires. $771. At least I'll get 3% back from my CC company. This had to happen before we drive the 8+ hours to championships. My truck's tires are not in shape for a trip like that. I figured I'd jump on it now because my trailer needs to be inspected, and the guy who does that is super reasonable in pricing when it comes to tire swapping/balancing/disposal. I may as well have both done at the same time!
  • I really want the Fly Turtle for Penn. He is shredding his Mio Flysheet- there are so many holes in it. I'll certainly try to mend them, but I'm curious if Blanket-Monster-Penn will rip this one. It has a year guarantee... while that's only a year, it's a lot more time than the Mio flysheet lasted. The Mio lasted one night before it had holes.
  • I want this Horze saddle pad, in Navy. I have it in silver- I got it when I ordered my new saddle. Unfortunately, my tack shop doesn't have it (where I could get a steep discount on it), and I'm not ready to shell out $47 plus shipping. I really like it- I love the square corner, the stitching, it fits under my saddle, and the grippy bits under the saddle. I'd like to put the navy one in the saddle pad rotation that seems to only be the black Dover dressage pad, very rarely my navy BOT pad (I haven't used that one in a month or more- I should sell it), and the silver version that I usually use for lessons only. It makes me want the white version for shows too. #allthecolors #exceptpink
  • Oh yea, Penn's insurance is due in August. But first I need to figure out a new value for him, because it's not his purchase price anymore.
Want, want, want. There are very few needs in that list (bridle to ride horse in, boots to prevent horse from laming himself, truck tires to make sure I don't kill horse and myself while hauling, insurance on said horse because he's young and getting fancy and I couldn't even hope to replace him).

Kitty snuggles.
5. Felix
Felix continues to be cute AF. He prances like a cartoon pony. He carries toys around in his mouth, while prancing. He particularly likes toys with tails- he holds it by the tail and jiggles the rest of the toy in front of him as he fancy prances. He is a cuddly love bug and Sophie has finally allowed him to snuggle with her. Penny doesn't hiss at him any more, and she's even gotten in on the run and chase games he and Sophie play. She even tolerated him sitting next to her.

Tolerance at it's best.
"Do you see what I have to put up with?"
Penny was also miffed because Sophie was in the top  shelf of the cat tree, which is Penny's, and was disinclined to move.
Sophie and Felix are going to be snuggle buddies for a long time.

I was going to put last night's lesson on here, except it was fabulous and needs its own post!


  1. I am on the buy all things train *face palm*
    I think I've traded stress eating for stress shopping. :)

    I hate it when I break my pony and then have to figure out how to fix him. It sounds like you guys are back on the right track.

    1. I'm not sure which is worse- stress eating or stress shopping. I'm trying not to do either! We're def back on the right track. I was due for some suckyness, that's for sure. He's been so good for so long! It's "training" pains, that's for sure!

  2. After I got my promotion, I started down a 'treat yo self' train that ran me about $100 before I reined it in ><;; Now I just have to put out the cash for Fiction's boots. I also will potentially need new trailer tires coming up this fall, so who knows where I will get that cash from!

    I have to keep reminding myself to house my wants until Christmas. It's not too far away now!

    1. I'm spending without the promotion! Check out tire rack for your trailer tires- that's where I got mine. They were less than $100 a tire. I can also hook you up with my trailer guy- he's Trainer's mechanic and has done really good work for us for a reasonable price (tires, inspection, fixing the truck's ABS sensor). Whatever you do, buy actual trailer tires not light truck tires. People do that to save money/let them drive faster, but those tires blow out because they're not strong enough to support the weight of the trailer.

      I'd hold off for the holidays except they're not making that saddle pad anymore it seems and Penn doesn't need a fly sheet in winter! Also, it'll be pretty to take with us to shows!

  3. 1. i want to steal all of your cats. like. might be actually plotting said theft.
    2. i just bought truck tires too... sad bc money, but happy bc it feels good to have the truck fully up to snuff
    3. Penn is too stinkin cute with that tarp on!
    and, finally, 4. that trainer ride sounds super productive and like it gave you a lot of good insights for moving forward. ever onward, right?

    1. 1. No stealing my kitties!! You can come visit them (and Penn) though :)
      2. Absolutely, truck tires are so important. I don't use the truck all the time anyway, so they should last much longer than my car tires would. Which I also have to buy new snow tires for.
      3. Penn is freaking adorable and he will be wearing the tarp a lot.
      4. Trainer is excellent at advising from the ground (one of the newer boarders remarked at how well she can help from the ground without ever needing to sit on the horse. I guess the woman's usual trainer sits on her horse a lot), but I also enjoy her getting on when we're having tough times because she gets an exact feel for what's happening and makes the first dent in fixing it. She totally understood my fear of him rearing and the sources of the fear. Definitely forward and onward!