Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Show pics, thoughts and a super fun day

Bob in the 80cm, probably a little small
For the big guy.

Kim in the background on Kate 

I think he is such a cool looking horse. He's a such a big didonk. 

I think you can kind of see I'm struggling for air. Anyway, it's been an interesting few days. After two days of doing the bare minimum required and slowly dying, my immune system has rallied and I'm a lot better which is good because I'm an awful sick person. Very complainy.

Anyway, I was riding China yesterday and he was trucking along quite nicely and he had his neck nicely arched and he's such an impressive mover he felt pretty good but there were a few tiny things that started to make my head tick. Every so often he would throw the inside shoulder in, or lug on the bit before turning and get heavy. And then I kind of clicked and was like you clever little clogs. He's been faking me out.

 I did my favourite exercise of small circles in the corner, flexing around the inside leg with a very quick release of the inside rein when he softened. Then once they are lovely and buttery you go down the long side, little lengthen keeping the softness by using flexion and leg. Circle in the next corner until really soft again and the maintain the pace on the short side and circle in te next corner and so on ad nauseum but it just makes it a lot easier to get them really round. The release on the inside rein is key and pushing them into the outside rein with the inside leg and maintaining correct bend. And low and behold his whole back and jaw let go more, he was moving better and straighter in his body.

Bob is in a bit of a strength boot camp and I have noticed the same thing a in him. Rather than just throwing the shoulder, he also has a brace and run being quite reactive to the leg. And overbending. But doesn't lug on the turns. So I guess the epiphany is that it's time for both of them to have a bit more pressure on in their flatwork to make them work more correctly. It's easy when they are young and green to let things slide some but at some point they have to come to the party. It's so much easier to instill the work correctly at the start and not let the bad habits sneak in from the beginning. Shows will always make a horse revert to their old ways. For China that means blowing through the Aids, and for Bob falling in on the left rein and running. So that's ok we just work on this. Bob and I had a really productive ride tonight and I'm curious to see what that feels like next schooling session.

Te best part though! Trainer friend let me have a jump on her two good horses. One I ride quite a lot on the flat because he lets me work on myself and he has all the buttons so he's quite fun. The second I would be lucky to have ridden twice. The jumps were tiny like 60cm but they were still tricky enough to ride she makes them look so easy, but one is a bit chicken and the other is full of opinions and was most offended when I missed him. I thought he was going to bury me on the landing side! It was kinda cool to get my eye in a bit more and jump different horses and also to ride horses that are you know adjustable. My guys are getting there but they don't have the same level of collectibility. 

The hunger is coming back. The flutter in my stomach and that drive to jump. It's been gone a long time, but for the first time in a long time I'm excited spring is coming. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Feilding A and P Winter jumping day

Or alternative title- when the entire world conspires against you and maybe you should just give up. There is media coming, just waiting for the show album to be sent.

So Friday night a very grumpy version of my BF was finishing the floor of the float and I use the term finished loosely because there's still a part to be redone. So Friday I'm a bit drained and starting to feel ill. The forecast is for gale force winds and torrential rain. China doesn't get worked and I haven't even jumped him so I pull the pin on him and get Swap Kim into his entry on Kate. My trainer pulled out because she had plans and they changed the schedule making it not worth it, she would have had to miss classes to get back in time. So that left Kim and I with bob and Kate. I leave at 6.30am to go get Kim and the float ramp won't close. Much bashing with a hammer later (sorry neighbours) I got it closed. Get to Kim and Kate and struggle more with the door. Notice the air seems to be lacking oxygen because I'm feeling seriously weak. 

China man has of course escaped his paddock despite a brand new solar unit (he's one escape away from the banishment paddock at this point). Catch him and return him and catch Bob lead him down meanwhile Kim has put my stuff in the car but somehow we manage to forget a whip. I said to Kim while gasping for air that if we couldn't close the door straight away I was giving 

I add a sideways twist and it closes straight away. Ok. So we go! So begins
 an hour and 45 minute trip with a toilet break. And stopping for fuel. The conversation was excellent though. Horses boys politics state of the world racism sexism horses horses horses. 
We got there with plenty of time to spare and watched the class before ours because we were last to ride. Luckily the weather stayed amazing the whole day. Them about eight o'clock that night all hell broke lose and it got seriously windy!

The warm up was a little rushed but that suits me- no time to get nervous. And in we went. I knew he would struggle some because he's never been in an indoor before but he coped mostly really well. Obviously wobbled some especially in the combination but tried hard to be clean and had two green rails. One coming out of the double when he spooked at the judge and trotted and then at the last when the rail pickers walked out behind the fence. Kim had an awesome double clear for second place.

The next round was set quite big and I was a bit iffy about starting. I felt really weak, the was like half the normal
Amount of oxygen, he felt odd walking over, and he gets tired quite quickly and the footing had gotten really deep. Turns out he lost a shoe in the warm up as well. I shouldn't have started. I rode like a monkey. I made poor decisions, and even when I made the right choice the smoothness of excecution wasn't there. 

He did awkward helicopter jumps 
as well as taking rails, which is his go to when he's tired, he sort of forgets his back end and I didn't help by providing no sort of canter support. Sigh. I really wasn't well enough. Still first long trip, first indoor start and first proper outing so I'm still calling it a win. The owners were happy too so that's a bonus. I'm just a bit frustrated by the second round so he needs to get a lot stronger. Kim laid down another lovely clear for third and ended up winning the points prize! It was totally worth the effort to see Kim ride that well.

The drive home was long and when I got back I had to feed the trainers horses as well which took me a while by 
myself. I had to keep stopping to sit down and rest. Sunday I did my morning job from 6.15 to 9 and then went back to bed and watched movies and cried about how sore my head was and how weak I was. Good times! But progress of sorts. Another couple of rounds under our belt. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lesson recap


My little sister on Bob whom is looking so well and a lovely genuine horse. I'm surprised he hasn't been snapped up to be honest.

Bobs been back for a week after a three week holiday and has four jumping shows in the next five weeks which will be so good for him. The one this weekend coming is in an indoor though so hopefully he copes with that. It will be a good learning curve for him. He's very bold to fences and likes to do what he's told but can get a bit overwhelmed by the surroundings, like at the one arena where he doesn't cope with the white advertising board. 

He's a little bit reached the 
no everything stage where they don't listen so well but they all Go through it. It will pass. Anyway this doesn't recap the lesson at all so far. Basically he was a little strong but if I sat on him quietly and softened at the base he was jumping out of his skin and trying really hard which is great progress and for effectively 9 weeks work he's come such a long way.

He's the sort of horse that it's so easy to brace against though, he sets his head and neck and so it's easy to get hard against him and rely too much on te hand and forget the leg. I have to say I was really nervous as well because I hadn't jumped for three weeks, but my eye wasn't too bad. I did get told off because when he gets tired I let him run on and take the cheap distance. Go for the long one instead of keeping him compact, staying tall in my upper body and making him work and be more correct. Basically ride more correctly. Shorten my less and trust my own training. 

Mental side note to myself! Count you dork, it's so much easier when you count . Keeps me a little braver and more relaxed. China's entered for the show too but my float is still mostly sans a floor so maybe we won't be going anywhere .  Either way he's stuck at the turnout paddock. So I just rode him there. And he's such a dick. I know he's had three weeks off but my word he has so many opinions. On the plus side he feels good and only bucked a bit. He's also stacked on some condition which I'm rapt about.

He's just in this teenage rebellion stage where I go try and he goes make me and I'm hoping it will pass. Did I mention it's the first time I've shown out of the area in like two years 😳 keep breathing Becky 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Blog hop : F*%k Yea!

I'm going to try a blog hop because I was thinking about it today. And horse riding is so hard. Like you know those hard days where you're lying on the floor so depressed and haven't been able to pick up your left canter lead on any horse for days and for some reason your left hand won't stop clamping on the reins and refuses to soften and do what it's told and you feel like you'll never be good again. But you are good and there have definitely been times when you were like omg I am such a gangster at this. And I wanna see those pictures. The ones were you looked at them and went f%*k yea I am a bad ass horse rider. 

I don't care if it's the first time you trotted your horse, the first time you hit a jump well, your first ribbon, or the first time you rode without white knuckles. Tell me the story of why those pictures remind you that you are a hardcore boss riding gangster. Because it's important to remember that fact. 

Giant grid day on Kate, just rocking down to a big 1.25m oxer like it ain't no thing. Such a good scopey mare, makes it seem so easy.

Yea whatever, I can ride a legit racehorse and two year old tbs straight off the break. What a boss. Though track work is so hard and tiring. 

Yea I can totes jump clear rounds at four foot on my long awkward cooked horse and look like we are flying. I got this shit!! Only good picture of him over a jump ever.

We got this guys! We are horse riding bossanovas. So let's do a blog spot for the days when you go like this and feel like you'll never ride well again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ten Questions

Sorry this is so borrowed but on the back of the last post I don't have a lot to say. So L Williams is basically the reigning queen of blog hops, and used to do these monthly "10 Questions" posts, well, every month. But it's been a while. She recently busted out the topic again for July.

1. Do you actually always pick the horse's feet? Always? Really?

Honestly basically never, unless I'm
Treating thrush, tracking abscesses, competing or doing studs. Packed dirt is like a poor mans sole pad surely. 

2. What is the biggest obstacle/reason preventing you from becoming a professional or competing full time with ease? 
I have dabbled as a professional being a working student for while and still now I picked up the odd schooler or paid ride. I found it wore me out though and made me cynical. Doing what you love for work can make what you love just work, and I lost a lot of the passion for it. I also found it really high pressure riding horses for other people, and mostly they weren't great horses and I'm too old for that. So I'd say The biggest obstacle is that I just don't want to devote my whole life to horses.

3. Do you think it will ever not be about the money? 
Nope, no way, not even a little. You can buy your way to the top and even a pasture puff is hella expensive to take proper care of. 

4. Was there ever a horse that you loved and really wanted to have a connection with, but it just never panned out? Often often often. Particularly with horses you can tell would do better with a more one on one approach and not the team setting. I loved this mate I rode for a while but she took a long time to build up strength especially as I wouldn't just slap draw reins on her. A bit slow but hella scopey. 

Seriously those ears!! Also I wish I could have brought Butch as a seven yr old because it would have been epic. I'm pretty pragmatic about it. They aren't Pokemon you can't catch them all. 

5. What is one weakness in your riding that even your trainer doesn't pick up on, only you? 

Umm probably that jumping scares the shit out of me. Though I think she knows. I've created lots of coping mechanisms though. 

6. What is the biggest doubt/insecurity you ask or tell yourself in your head? 
That I'm simply not good enough not ever will be as a rider.

7. There is a barn fire. You are the first person to discover it and see that the roof is collapsing in slowly, and you can tell it's going to come down any time. Do you call people first or head straight in to save the horses. It would depend on the situation. I'm pretty good in a crisis. I have had this happen on
A calf shed and while my ex raced off to save the calves, I got the shed hose. He hit a steel fence and knocked himself over and I put the fire out. Panic doesn't help. And cell phones right.

8. What is one event in your riding career/horse/anything that you're still not over, even tho you might tell others you are? I'm not over Fred. That horse definitely took the best of me and made me really cowardly. The most ungenuine, unforgiving horse ever.

9. If you could tell off one person you just don't like, what would you say? 
Horses are not a commodity to be replaced once you have fried their brains. It's not normal to go through horses like old pants.

10. Have you ever seen questionable riding or training practices, but let it go/ignored it? How do you feel about it in hindsight? Endlessly. Mostly when people have lost their temper. I've done it myself and it's so shit. In hindsight I feel like I don't say anything because people will be like who is this no body. 

What about you?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Making the hard calls and living with it

 I've always been really lucky in many ways that the majority of my horses have been super sound and I haven't had to make tough decisions regarding there welfare. Just as I was starting to wonder what I was going to do in the long term with my first hack Bob, she keeled over of some sort of an aneurysm out hunting with my little sister at the age of twenty. Going out fast and clean and in her own way was very much the way of the Bob and I was glad I didn't have to watch her age and weaken. 

The thing is now there is so much intervention you can do to prolong life and maintain soundness it's become cloudier and cloudier where the lines are. It used to be clear cut if you went out and your horse had a broken leg, now the ability of surgeons has changed the life sentence that used to be. It's now for the owner to decide how much suffering the horse goes through, and whether it's worth it. 

I saw on the internet recently a horse had been 'saved' by a Brazillian surgeon after a tourniquet type injury by amputating from the fetlock down. I had a picture but honestly you guys don't need to be haunted by it like I am. The caption reads something like how it's not a death sentence and she gets to live now while the three legged horse is a rack of bones and covered in pressure sores. I don't think amputation is ever ok in large quadrupeds. Yes they can get around on three legs and a prosthetic but they can't tell you what their daily level of comfort is and horses are meant to run. Like really be able to run and play. 

If your horse sloughs it's whole foot capsule off, realistically is the pain of regrowing it for the next 9-12 months really worth it, or is this a selfish choice because you want your horse around. Obviously these are two extreme examples but because you can does that mean you should?

I have found myself recently making the tough call with my last two horses. Realistically I would love to have rehomed both of them as paddock mates, but two main reasons stopped me. They are both high maintanence horses- ie must be shod, hard fed, rugged. And once you move them out of your hands it's very hard to ensure they stay well looked after. They get passed on so easily, and as both were functionally unsound they could easily have fallen into the wrong hands. Tsar, in particular, being only ten and a beautiful type of horse who seems sound through the winter months on softer ground would be hard for someone to resist bringing him into work.   His stumbling was getting worse and the last time I rode him he felt like an old horse. Prior to that he had a big stumble and nearly went down and then jacked up and just buried me so obviously he was one uncomfortable hombre. This was after a joint injection that should have really helped. At the end of the day I had a choice to make and yea I feel bad about, of course I do. But he's safe. He had a dignified end in good health. He's never going to show up on my fb feed as a rescue case.

In all honesty it was harder with Butch, maybe because that was the first time I had to make such a call. I'm still haunted by it. I know in my heart I did the right thing by him but I still miss him in every corner of my dark little heart. I woke up thinking about him again and I think that's why I felt I had to write this. He was as sound as he had ever been when I put him down. Fatter than ever, mentally the most settled. But there was no foot for the next set of shoes and we needed to go to glue ons which are expensive as well as having a coffin joint issue and a messed up back. I can remember one day even though he was feeling good he came around te corner to the 2foot wall and jacked up and I thought he isn't that comfortable on his body anymore. He died loved, fat and mostly as sound as he could be. Far from the horse he had been as a seven yr old the first time I rode him, people had somewhat let him down and I wasn't going to let that happen to him again. 

It's people that are scared of death. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give an animal is a dignified end. It sucks and it's sad and it's so so so so hard. We are the keepers of these animals and they are so stoic and so strong and just so beautiful in every way it can be so hard to  let go of that. I'm sure some of you probably think I have been hard hearted, that I could have done more, that I so quickly moved onto other horses. Honestly I'm totally ok with that. I made a decision for both of them that ensures they can never suffer again and I can live with that. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

No horses, no drama

Roger has the key spot for sunbathing while I ride.

It's weird having both horses out at the same time, but luckily I can help my friend ride when I have spare time and frankly next week there isn't going to be a lot of that. And then the week after that we are back into it. China is still getting fed and with adlib pasture I'm hoping he'll come back in, in good flesh.

I'm lucky enough to be riding a big track horse, just on the flat and it's so good for my riding because I can really work on myself and my position because all the buttons are so installed. 

Meanwhile I have pulled the floor out of the float. One row of bolts was basically rusted through and all the frame work needed to be dressed and the painted with rust converter slash primer and now I need to put a layer of galv zinc on and the we'll put a new floor in. It's hardwood and has lasted thirty odd years without any maintanence and was only just starting break down at one end of the boards. 

Actually so glad we have done this now though, it definitely needed doing. Good job for tomorrow morning 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lessons in humility

There's a reason we pay money for other people to stand in the middle of the ring and yell at us, and mostly it's to see what we can't. It's weird to call her my trainer because she's more my best mate, but she's an absolute genius. 

China has been going so well. So loose in his back since his physio that his saddle pads needed adjustment because he got a rub under a panel and in the last week he filled out along his top line. Had a fantastic jump school on Tuesday were he was adorable. Quiet to the base, soft in the air and really rhythmical in his canter. He's pretty consistently jumping around the 90cm/3ft mark and starting to show more and more promise. 

Then on Saturday we were supposed to have another winter jumping day which was axed at the last minute so instead I had a lesson. And it was a hum dinger. I kind of had this idea it would go really well and I'd get a big pat on the back and be told how great I am basically, which honestly is a shit attitude to take into a lesson.

China turned up to play with a bad attitude. Running at the fences, failing to turn, super fussy in the bridle. We jumped the treble about seven times using placer rails and v rails to get him to start thinking and slow down and to be fair the last time through he was actually awesome. Really got up into the air. 

Went to the course work and for the first time in a super long time I actually had a bit of a mental break while jumping. I have been really confident and really good with focusing on the quality of my canter, and mentally counting my strides to keep the rhythm. When I get really obsessed about my take off points it all kind of goes to bits and I do really struggle with nerves. I've been good on China because he's so brave and normally very easy to see your strides on. On Saturday though he was falling out in his corners and fussing and I pulled up part way through the course and was like I can't do this. We discussed if the bit was too sharp and switched the thin loose ring sweet iron French link for the long cheek thicker French link and honestly he was way softer in it. 

I got him around the course ok  the second time. Mostly got him to the quieter distance and when he was soft at the base he really showed some promise and we jumping ok down the hard bending line. Hogs back oxer five strides to a giant cross to a stile all on a right hand bend. It's actually a four to a four but because he wanted to run we went wide on the curve to do the five, and then let him roll on to do four to the stile. I still felt slightly panicked the whole time we were jumping and like I was moving to much in the air and lacking balance. I wanted to do the last line again but this is why I pay my trainer money. She wouldn't let me. She was like he's done it really well and maybe if it went ok that would be fine, but it was a good note to end on and if it didn't go well then it would be opening a huge can of worms. 

And then she said he probably needs a break. And it was like oh yea he totally does. Did I mention he was bucking his canter transitions? Classic sour horse. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. He's only five, he's gone from being only able to canter wildly on a forty meter to balanced and round fifteen meter circles, lateral work, jumping courses, and hacking all about the place, in only five months. Of course he needs a break, of course he's mentally exhausted. The worst bit is I got on Bob and was like man this horse is tired and needs a break. Couldn't see it in my own horse. The next day I took him and an old broodmare to a block of land and just let him go to hang out on five acres for at least three weeks. I'll just feed him and being away from the yard means i won't be tempted to ride him.