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Spicy McNugget

Ever wonder what an angry Appy looks like?

Hahahahahahhaah! Oh Eeyore. When will you learn that compliance equals an easier ride and more time for the fun stuff??

Last night was my second lesson and it did not disappoint! Knowing he had had a lot of time off due to the 7+” of rain we got from Friday through Monday, I hopped on for a stretching w/t/c ride on Tuesday. He was a bit up but it was warm and sunny and he quickly got settled.

It was 30 degrees colder with a brisk wind and the constant threat of rain when I pulled into ht barn. Trainer AB asked how he had been going for me at home, what I had worked on, and how he was being tonight. I filled her in on our rides of late as I mounted and warned her he was being a bit fresh.

Thankfully the clouds decided to pass us by and not unload during the lesson

And boy was he ever! She had me only walk around once before moving to the trot and then after watching us zoom around she laughed and said we might as well canter and try to wear him out. Eventually, after about 5-7 minutes of us cantering around with no end in sight, she asked how I was doing and commented that his canter looked really nice. I told her I was fine and that this was the benefit of an endurance background. I could quite literally do this all day long though I was started to huff and puff and sweat was pouring down my back. He is an exhausting ride when he is like this.

She did offer to hop on him and I was more than happy for the offer. She can work him through his first 10 minute temper tantrum and maybe gain some insight. She got on and off they went. Ho Boy was he unhappy about that idea!! She remained calm as always, didn’t cave in when he snatched the right rein and tried to take off to who knows where, and after about 10 minutes of really hard work, he gave up and settled. For a while. She did remark that he isn’t that committed and will only try it for a few strides before settling but then that only lasts a few strides before he tries his head flinging, chin curling nonsense some more.

She threw me back up on him and we hit the rail to attempt a nice trot to the right all the way around, then a canter before doing it to the left. He was much more settled than in the beginning, but he never settled into what I know he can do. By this point in the lesson he had decided that he could no longer hold his own head up at all and so I got to learn some pointers on that nonsense. Really, it is growing old.

But….he was being good so we tackled four trot poles set along the short side at the far end of the arena going both directions. She was proud of the work I had done at home with him as he stepped through them like a good boy without turning them into a bounce exercise. He was doing well enough, that we tackled the small cross rail.

The big take away here for me was that once I presented him to the fence I was to leave him alone. He was doing his whatever with his head going along the rail so I’d tell him to pick his own damn head up please and thank you and then he’d decide curling his chin to his chest must be the answer I was looking for so I’d tell him no you can’t do that either and then bam there was the fence. We made it over no issue because he is a beast of a jumper, but she told me that once I presented him I need to stop worrying about fixing his head flinging monkey ways and let him sort it out. That way if he is curling and fumbles it is on him and he can’t blame me for it.

So we did that a few times and eventually he decided that we were on to the fun stuff and he was going to be a good boy. Once we had that down, she added a second cross rail one stride out. I’ve never done that with the Orange Butthead before. Gem always hated gymnastics as she felt we changed the rules by adding a new element and would then get pissed off. I was curious how he would handle it.

He handled it just fine. In fact, he was more interested in this game we were playing now and settled his ass way down, no more head flinging, no more nonsense. He was game on, looking ahead, coming back to me on the back side, super awesome good boy. Trainer AB was really gushing about his jump style too. She LOVED him over fences, though joked that in the dressage court we will likely walk away with a record breaking 80 or some such penalty score..har har har Trainer AB.

The first time through I got left a little behind for the second fence, so we came again and she fixed my jump position to bring my leg under me more and it felt way, way more smooth. She again gushed about his lovely stride between fences and easy out jump and then I thought we were done for the night.

But nope…she wanted a jump off the left lead as we had done this one entirely off the right since it was off set so far left in the arena. There were two jumps set up just to the right of the above picture, both were more in the mud and both were verticals with a massive black drainage pipe over them. Uh….

She asked if I wanted to do it. I looked. The jump was big and it was scary looking with the pipe but I was actually feeling really good about things. Eeyore is a lot of things, and one of those is bold and brave to the jumps and has never once taken a peek at anything I have pointed him at. She was pretty convinced he wouldn’t care. And I was nearly convinced as well. I was just about to say “sure!” when this tall drink of water of a chestnut OTTB came into the arena for the next lesson.

I wasn’t the only one to notice her and Eeyore lost his ever loving mind. He became a heat seeking missile for this mare and completely shrugged me off. The bravery I had stored up was gone in a flash and so Trainer AB removed the pipe and left it as a plain vertical which he jumped fine though he bucked on the back side when I told him we would not be galloping straight for the mare. I came and did it again and he paid zero attention, clobbered the entire thing, and still tried to run over to the mare who, had she cared about him before, was probably thinking he was a goober now. Not the way to impress the ladies, Eeyore.

We eventually cleared it and called it a night. I asked her if she honestly thinks we can train the dumb out of him and she laughed and said yes, with time and consistency he should learn that being a dweeb will get him nowhere. Her end analysis, seeing him at his worst, is that he does it to get out of work, gets angry when it doesn’t work out, and then returns to normal. He should eventually figure the game out and she thinks with his movement that he should lay down some really lovely dressage tests, when he feels like it.

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One Year Later: Eeyore Addition

It’s no surprise that the horse I chose was not necessarily the horse I ended up with. Now I’m a skeptical person by nature, but I honestly do not think the seller lied about him more so than anyone trying to sell a horse hides some of the bad and plays up some of the good. Truth is, he changed life styles dramatically and it took him as long to adjust to this life and me as it did for me to adjust to him. Plus, his personality is a boundary pusher at heart and he will push the buttons necessary to see what he can get away with. It was a pretty big adjustment period to prove to him that I do mean business and there are some lines he can’t cross.

A photo from his sales ad.

A year, or well a month over at this point, later and I’m starting to see the horse I knew was in there when I trialed him. There is just something about this goofy orange beast that gives me the shivers when I think about where we could be in the future. How much he can teach me and all the adventures we can go on. True, all of it is just a feeling at the moment, but I never felt like this with any other horse and deep down I know he is worth the effort. He has come his own long way in the last year plus.

For starters, his ground manners have done a 180. I’m not sure if they weren’t really installed in the first place or if he was just used to being able to bully his way through life, but man did he drive us all crazy on the ground for a while. He was pushy, would bite, and my biggest pet peeve of all: he’d try to barge through the gate when bringing another horse in. I despise that unsafe behavior to my core.

Pawing in the cross ties last fall.

I’m happy to report that now he stands politely at the gate and lets the others come and go while standing patiently aside and moves out of the way with a single mare glare from me. Wyatt can now lead him safely as well and he hasn’t tried to bite me in months. His cross tie behavior has also improved. I can’t recall the last time he pawed, weaved or cribbed on the ties themselves and he has gotten used to the fact that grooming is a thing that will happen, so suck it up buttercup. He isn’t quite as easy on the ground as my Gemmie, but he is getting there and is now safe enough that I no longer am on high alert around him at all times.

Second, his tacking behavior has also improved. The first time I ever tried to bridle him he almost broke my nose flinging his head all over the place. Forget about doing it in the open. The one time I tried that by my trailer out xc schooling he left me. This was a pretty long process to fix. I started by always wrapping his lead rope around his neck so I could have some way to keep him still. Once he began to behave in the barn I switched to bridling him in the arena in the same manner. Wrap lead rope around neck, slip off halter, grab lead rope so he didn’t vacate the premises, bridle, remove lead rope. Eventually I became aware that I wasn’t having to touch the lead rope, so I stopped using it and now he is an actual real horse about it.

Handsome devil

The last major change is in regards to his overall attitude. He isn’t the perfect under saddle horse and isn’t easy. Trainer AB called him complicated on the flat when she rode him. But here is the biggest thing. Before, last summer and all fall/winter, he had zero interest in working with me. None. He’d try to get out of it by pulling every trick he knew and sometimes it did work. Riding him was a struggle not necessarily because he was that bad or I rode that poorly, but more so because he fought me every step of the way. If I asked to go right, he would try to go left. If I wanted to walk, he would trot. It was like banging my head against the wall over and over again. I’m not sure what made it change. Time is my best guess because we really haven’t been on that many fun adventures and only took a single lesson. But all of a sudden I find that I have a willing, if obstinate and a bit defiant, horse under me. He still tries his crap, but once I say “no buddy, we really are trotting now” he settles in and generally won’t try again. It is like he sat there in the pasture and decided “ok, maybe she isn’t so bad and I should let her in” and bam! just like that he is meeting me at the gate, shoving his head in the bridle, and getting to work. We will see how this holds up in the lesson this week if it happens. It has been raining non stop since Friday. Last I saw, before the storms rolled through yesterday, we had gotten 5″ of rain. I’m sure we had at least another 2″ yesterday and it is still raining right now. My arena is flooded and I am sure the lesson facility is under water as well, so unless they have the most amazing drainage ever, I’m not too hopeful it will happen. We will see though.

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Blog Hop: 25 Questions

Hopping on this bandwagon!!!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?

Tricky because my horses are at home, so the first thing I do when I get there is change out of work clothes and then bring all three in for dinner. If I’m riding that night, I leave the other two in their stalls and bring Eeyore out to the cross ties to groom and tack up. Then once the ride is over they all get put back outside for the night.

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?

Probably not a mini ever. I don’t see any point where we would need one, but other than that I am open to just about anything that fits me. I’d love to own a pair of Clydesdales one day and have a cart for them to pull. Dreams…

3. Describe your last ride?

I just posted about it, but in general it was fantastic. Eeyore got down to busy with minimal convincing, he tackled the ground pole exercise a week before he couldn’t figure out and everything was peaches and cream.

My favorite picture of him to date. Even if he was an asshat immediately after taking this

4. Have any irrational riding fears?

It is weird because most things that I am perfectly fine with out on trail with varied terrain and all sorts of uncontrollable factors simply terrify me in the arena. Like, why? There is a fence and even if the horse goes a bit too fast where are they even going to go?? Around the circle again? I think it is something about that big open space without trees and turns to stop them that freaks me out a bit. Or the fact that I am 100% responsible for everything in the arena whereas out on trail, the trail itself dictates a lot. I don’t know.

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?

I never really rode lesson horses. My riding education was on the back of my aunt’s TWH out on the trail. My favorite was a huge chestnut with a wide white blaze and two white socks. His name was Somorrow and he was amazing. He LOVED to explore the world and always wanted to see what was around the next bend or down a different trail. He never spooked a single time in all the thousands of miles, enjoyed a good swim in the river on a hot summer day and was the best companion I could have asked for.

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?

I think the better question here is if anyone would ever want to lease one of my horses…LOL! None are super polished or easy, so I don’t think they would be hot commodities to anyone but me. I thought about it for a while when Gem was in her endurance prime. Someone who had more time to campaign her could have won many races. She was a machine at her finest. But…eh…she never cared about her record and I am a control freak and would never forgive myself if I leased her out and she came back injured, so she stayed with me. Maybe one day if Eeyore is better trained and is ready to step down but not retire fully, I will lease him out. I don’t know.

A lizard came to visit us the other day. Anything that eats insects is welcome at the farm

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?

It all depends on the specific horse. Eeyore is more mareish than Gem ever was. He has a better mare glare and more personality. She was very work like and aloof.

8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?

Seven, but that is cheating a bit since they live outside and I bring them in for feed every day. When I boarded it was 3 times a week on average. I ride 2-3 days a week if I am lucky and the stars align. Having them at home is a life saver for me.

9. Favorite thing to do on an “easy day” with your pony?

Spa days are my favorite easy days. A full body scrub down, shampoo, conditioner and finish off with Asorbine Cool Down lineament rinse. Manes and tails included. If it is an easy riding day, some light w/t/c work to stretch the legs in the arena. Riding out in the field isn’t mentally easy on either of us just yet.

I have never seen a horse enjoy a roll as much as he does. He will even dig with his front hoof to bring up more dirt. Filthy pig of a horse

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?

A long back. It is just so unappealing to the eye and in my limited experience is a big weak spot. Give me a short backed horse any day even if it gives less real estate for a saddle.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?

Probably how easily I can talk myself out of doing just about anything. Does that jump that is only 2″ look a little scary? Brain says I’ll die? Then no way! I’m getting bolder and more willing to try things looking through my new orange ears, but it will take some time to become a braver rider.

12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?

No. I did enjoy 2pointober and saw an improvement in my position with that and have incorporated more two point into daily rides, so maybe I’ll brave no stirrups in the same manner at some point.

Love his playful smooshy face and donkey ears

13. What is your grooming routine?

Eeyore is sensitive and does not like the curry or a stiff brush, so currently am using a soft brush all over and then pick his feet out, apply whatever concoction they require at the moment, apply fly spray and then tack. His mane and tail are pretty pathetic, so I leave those alone. Someday I want to get a brush set that is above TSC quality and see if I can’t get a better grooming routine that he tolerates.

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?

Eat, sleep, play with Pete, sleep some more, eat some more. He is outside 24/7 in a large pasture with lots of room and natural shade. They move around a lot and utilize the entire thing nicely. He gets brought inside to eat morning and evening and is kicked right back out still chewing his last mouthful or else he will start to eat his wood door. Some days I ride after he eats dinner.

15. Favorite season for riding?

Fall has always been my favorite time to ride. It really is the perfect combination of weather, lack of bugs and daylight remaining to make it possible.

IT is very hard to get a good picture of anything but his very large nose

16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?

I’m going to cheat here and say a covered. Honestly down here a full indoor wouldn’t really be needed since most days are nice enough to ride outside. There are cold and rainy days though that a covered would be really nice. Plus the added benefit of shade. So..covered.

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?

Well, I have ridden both and I must say that in general (oh boy I can already hear people getting their panties in a twist up in here) western folks have a better relationship on the ground with the horse. It seems more horsemanship and daily care is provided with western versus the english disciplines where being more of a jockey with grooms and full time care is more tolerated.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?

CWD. I fell in love with it when I rode a potential horse in the get up. Too expensive for my blood though.

He is the perfect match for the carolina red clay soil.

19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?

Each horse has 1 medium weight. Gem actually also has a light weight and a fleece cooler but neither get used. I only blanket when it is below 40F with precipitation. Otherwise they have thick winter coats, plenty of forage and enough natural shelter to stay warm on their own.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?

Stud Muffins are the biggest hit. You apparently can’t beat molasses and oats. He likes carrots too, but has turned up his nose to some other stuff I have tried. Gem only likes carrots and will spit everything else out. Pete adores mints and will suck on a single hard mint for 10 minutes of bliss. Gemmie loves the inside of her right ear scratched. She makes the most adorable face while doing it and really leans into it. Don’t touch the left ear though. Pete’s favorite is in between his front legs right between the muscles. Eeyore loves a good butt massage. He blisses out to that pretty hard.

21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?

Hmmm….my biggest complaint at the moment is how dirty it is. The dirt floor is ok, but it is 3″ thick with loose dirt and needs scooped up and watered to take that down a hundred notches. The individual rooms (tack, feed, bathroom, etc..) have walls but no ceiling so all that dust from walking settles on to everything. It drives me crazy. Nothing stays clean for more than a day and I am very tired of cleaning my tack all the time only to see 1/4″ of dust a couple days later. The hubby is currently working on making me a new grooming cabinet in the wall by the cross ties but then his next project is building me ceilings.

Before he faded for the summer his coat was a gorgeous copper penny this spring.

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?

Gem and Pete are long and flowing. I prefer it when the horses live outside as it does provide extra protection from bugs and weather. Eeyore has a funky mohawk at the moment that I sorta love. It is partially spiky, partially floppy and all adorable.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?

Ugh I hate both. I don’t think I’ve ever really ridden a horse with a true buck or rear. Eeyore likes to threaten but his rear is coming up off his front feet all of 1″ and then he thinks he was a bad ass. I’d say neither.

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?

Who knows at this point? I’d like to never buy another horse who has crap feet because this road sucks to go down. A horse who truly bucks or rears would be a big no. I also passed on a good horse because he was psycho in the cross ties and I have a kiddo so they must always be safe on the ground no matter what.

25. Favorite facial marking?

A big bold white blaze especially if on a chestnut face. Swoon every time.

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Who Is This Horse?

Thank you everyone for the comments, suggestions and articles on my Gemmie post. The equine vet said to not worry too much and retest in 6 months as her numbers were barely elevated but that either more exercise or a grazing muzzle wouldn’t be a bad idea. So…coin toss which one comes first. Probably the dreaded muzzle to be honest. It’s easier even if I don’t like it.

Wednesday I’m usually working at the wound center trying to heal people’s massive foot wounds in spite of their best attempts to do the exact opposite of everything I say. It’s a mental battle that can be very exhausting. Yesterday though I took off for Wyatt’s kindergarten graduation and with a forecast that blissfully promised 5 days of straight up rain storms, I snuck a ride in on the Orange Butthead early on.

One happy kindergarten graduate

I set up the exact same ground pole exercise we did in the lesson: 4 trot poles exiting turning right, bend left to come back the opposite direction, exit turning left and then bed right to come through again.

Just in case you missed my horrible paint rendition the last time

During the lesson he was a bit unruly going through trying to make them into two jumps with a bounce between. Honestly, I think it was the fact that they went through a jump standard. A standard without an actual jump always blows his poor little mind. It is like he thinks “standards mean jump but there is nothing raised but standards mean jump and I GOOD BOY so I jump any way!

I didn’t add the standard cuz lazy and 1000% humidity, but I did set up the line of poles slightly off center line like she had them in the lesson.

Handsome boy

He warmed up really, really well. Only tried to pull some crap one time at the beginning and only broke to canter once for a few strides. The approach of ignoring it and letting him go as long as he remains in front of my leg is really working. He doesn’t see the point since I’m no longer fighting him and he returns to the work quickly and quietly. It is a huge change from pre lesson Eeyore.

He trotted nicely so I picked up the canter both directions this time. The canter is still a bit wild and unruly. It swings from underpowered to race horse mode with very little time spent in between but those moments in between are getting longer and better so progress is still being seen. The biggest win in the canter is that my brain is beginning to function and not just go blankly into survival mode.

I was really pleased with it so I gave him a stretchy walk break and tackled the ground poles. I really expected him to fumble through it or try to jump again but instead I got a horse who decided it was too hard to hold his head up and went through in his best attempt at being a western pleasure mount.

I adore his mane. A little floppy, a little spiky and a whole lot Eeyore.

He was easy to maneuver on the change of bends and we approached again with more forward and his head not dragging on the ground. He went over just fine yet again. I repeated in both directions one last time to confirm and then we quit.

It was a pleasant ride from start to finish which has not always been the case. I’m not sure who this new orange beast is but I do love working with him!

I’m on the books for a lesson every other Wednesday night at 8 pm at least through the summer which I think will be a nice balance between consistently getting instruction and giving me time to work on it. He may not agree, but I’ve gotten a sense from him lately that he does actually like the routine work even if he pretends he might die during it. I can handle head dropping, lagging behind Eeyore a lot better emotionally and mentally than I can head shaking, threatening to rear Eeyore. I don’t mind getting after him to move, but I get more than a little fetal when he gets a little crazy. I’m sure the 1000% humidity played a role, but in general he is becoming more and more malleable to the tasks I am asking and I am riding a whole lot better which helps too. Bring on the rain and then please stop for my lesson next week.

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Blood Work Results

Remember when the equine dentist came and was concerned about Gemmie having Cushings? In her opinion, any horse over the age of 20 needs to be proven to not have it especially one that is on pasture 24/7 and is erm…a little portly.

It took a while for the hubby to get in contact with the rep from the company offering free testing, but eventually it got done and the blood was drawn for that plus Coggins. Hubby went ahead and ran the test on Pete too because he is 30 and it was free. Pete’s came back 100% normal in all regards. That guy is a tank. Gem’s, well her’s came back a bit meh. I

Facebook reminded this morning that it was 2 years ago today that Gem and I did our first and only CT

Her Cushings values all were normal, so no Cushings though right now I’d have preferred that as a diagnosis. It is really easy to manage with Prascend and the hubby can order it through work. Life doesn’t always give you the answers you want though.

While those results were normal, her insulin was at 70, normal is 40, and her glucose was up as well though I do not know that value off the top of my head. Neither were impressively high, but they certainly weren’t normal either. These results point to EMS and the recommendation was to retest in 6 months. Dusty is reaching out to the equine dentist for her opinion on the results (she was a full care equine vet before reducing down to acupuncture/chiro and dental only). In the meantime, I started my own research and picking of the brain.

I can;t wait until Eeyore and I are ready to go out and show. I miss it.

EMS is Equine Metabolic Syndrome is basically Type 2 Diabetes in horses. Increased fat cells make the body resistant to insulin so the pancreas pumps more out to get a response and serum glucose levels remain elevated. The biggest risk is laminitis. Gem is over weight but she is more like a 7.5 or 8 on the BCS, not obese like most of the ponies and horses I saw online with the condition, but she is also pretty low on the test values. In general treatment is aimed at lifestyle changes much like it humans with early and mild Type 2 diabetes: eat less sugar and exercise more.

The recommendation is for grain to be under 10% NSC and I immediately checked her bag of feed when I got home yesterday. It is 12.8% but is a ration balancer and she gets maybe 1 pound total a day. Math makes my head hurt, but after doing some figuring she gets extremely little in her feed, so we are good there. I’ve not had her hay tested, but she also hasn’t had any hay since the grass started coming in several months ago, so that is an avenue I’ll explore come the end of summer/early fall. It should be ok from preliminary research as she gets a fescue/bermuda mix and that is pretty low in general.

She wasn’t too shabby at the dressage thing

Her biggest nemesis is the grass under her feet and the fact that she is retired. Right now the grass is basically yellow straw from the high heat, constant blazing sun and no rain in weeks. It is literally crunching under our feet. A grazing muzzle may be in her future but that is my last resort. I know plenty of people use them and that is fine. I personally hate them. I hate anything on a horse’s face in pasture with others, it is a safety risk, plus they screw up their teeth something fierce. It is better than laminitis though, so we will see if I have to go down that route. I’ll do it before I let her hooves go to crap, but I think tackling her exercise and weight is a better option.

The recommendation here is to exercise 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Get those extra…erm 100….pounds off and get the body responding to itself better. Except this is me we are talking about here and there is always an issue. Time. I barely get the time to ride Eeyore, my hopeful competition horse, ridden 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. There is no way I can sneak in 6 rides a week total. Won’t happen. Hard stop.

She looked so pretty all braided up and in white

This is where I wish I was in a boarding situation with a big barn rat population of kids dying to get on anything that can move. It would be easy to find enough butts to w/t/c her around or hack her out (her specialty) for 30 minutes or so a few times a week. Instead I may need to get creative on finding some warm butts to do it for me. I worry about the liability and will need to check with my insurance company to see if I need to add anything to the policy to cover myself in case someone comes to ride her and gets hurt. She is pretty safe, but she isn’t point and shoot simple and you just never know with horses. Having someone come out would also only work while we are also home. We do not own a boarding facility, this is our private home, and I would not be comfortable with them coming when I wasn’t around. It will be a bit tricky, but hopefully the right person or person’s come out of the wood work to ride a horse for free a few days a week.

I believe that if I can get her back to a shape other than round, that her blood work will return to the normal range without anything drastic happening. There are two medications that can be tried but the research all highly recommends lifestyle changes first. Metformin, a human diabetes medication, can reduce intestinal resorption of glucose therefore helping reduce intake though it seems to have little benefit overall. Levothyroxine, a medication for hypothyroidism, has shown some benefit in increasing metabolism and helping to shed the pounds. Its interesting, to a geek like me with medical stuff anyway, in that there are no reported cases in hyperthyroidism with use. I would rather not go down either of those paths at the moment.

So…first we will be retesting in 6 months to see where her values lie. In the meantime, the summer grass is poor quality, she already gets no grain and what she does get in a balancer is low NSC, they are not eating hay at the moment (it is always available in their stalls but they ignore it when the grass is in), and she will be pulled from retirement much to her chagrin so she can lose those pesky 100 lbs she has gained from living the life of luxury.

We didn’t make that bad of a team

If anyone has any suggestions as to finding a rider to come exercise her a few days a week , I am all ears. Not being a part of a barn family does hurt in a lot of ways sometimes.

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Putting it to the Test

Lessons can be great, but as the saying goes “the proof is in the gravy”, namely would what I learned in my lesson with AB translate home when riding alone?

Of course, as is the norm in my life, Eeyore sat for longer than I anticipated. Sunday morning I was finally able to tack up and see what I could do with what AB told me Wednesday night.

No relevant media. Instead you get pictures of our trip to the natural water slide in Brevard NC Sunday.

First off was installing forward thinking and moving from the start. No more checking the brakes with a 10 minute walk-halt-walk warm up. Get on and get moving! Eeyore was a bit up having just moved the horses out the far field for the month of June even though they were all in the barn for breakfast. I swear he is the epitome of book smart and street dumb.

It was good though. That is the attitude that makes me generally lock everything down to a crawl and that is exactly the opposite of what AB wants me to do. She wants me to feel more confident and comfortable with him in front of me and moving than rely on curling him into himself and creating a situation where he only has up to go to release his energy.

The water was a “refreshing” polar plunge. The sign said it averaged 55F but the park ranger said this time of year it is probably 45F. IT was shockingly cold.

Once I mounted, I got him moving into a marching walk. I didn’t ask for a halt one single time and instead set us up on the move. I only walked around the arena one time in each direction before getting into the trot as AB had instructed me to do.

My second big goal was to stick to the rail. I’ve always been told to use figures and changes in direction as a way to keep his focus and attention, but AB wants me to use the entire arena, staying on the rail, as a way to keep that forward momentum at all times. It also forces me to not cave in when he begins to bulge his shoulder or decides now would be a fantastic time to cut in. I haven’t been the best at sticking to my plan, so when he would do that in the past I would turn that into a circle, serpentine or change of direction and think I was doing something good. Instead I basically just taught him that he was in charge and could make the decisions.

Wyatt had the time of his life! From the first trip down his face split into a grin that never left.

By sticking to the rail, I was forcing myself to stick to my plan no matter what.

So off we went at a trot to the right along the rail. He did his patented grab the bit and duck in maneuver. I sat tall, shoulders back, knee bent and thought “nope, Trainer AB says to ignore him, keep a light but loose contact, and use my left rein to keep him out against the rail” He was none too happy with this and got a bit angry but you know what? Because I had a forward, in front of my leg horse, and because I refused to lock down and give him something to grab against, he continued moving where I wanted and it never escalated beyond some grumpy head shakes on his part.

Dusty despises cold water with every fiber of his 0% body fat being. Since I’m not as strong as he is, he got Wyatt duty to make sure the kiddo didn’t drown in the 8ft pool at the bottom.

In fact, it took only two long sides and two turns to get him relaxed and on board with the plan. Way sooner than ever before and we went on to change direction and have a lovely ride to the left. He got a nice stretchy walk break before I wanted to try the canter in the same manner.

Off to the right, I got him in front of my leg (what a concept!!) and then asked for the canter. He picked it up, but then also picked up the bit and tried to cut in to the right like a good western games horse. Except…I sat tall, kept light but loose contact, kept my knees bent under me, and used the left rein to keep him out along the rail. And you know what?? He complied rather quickly. He still loved to burst out of the turn like a race horse going down the long side, but that was manageable and only last a few circuits before he was relaxed and settled and gave me a lovely uphill, hind end powered and easy canter.

My mom came along with us too. The two of us made it down 4 times while Dusty and Wyatt went down 15!! The park rangers said most people go 2-3 times before being too cold to continue. I was proud of my boys.

I didn’t ride for very long. He was being such a good boy and I hit all my goals after about 30 ish minutes. The morning was nice and cool and he had barely broken a sweat but the ride was more for my benefit than his. I plan to lay out some ground poles again for my next ride and work through a similar exercise to what she had placed for us in the lesson with the change of bend as convincing him to nicely go where I want versus where he wants is our most difficult task on the flat at the moment. It was really nice to not only have homework to work on after the lesson, but to be able to apply it as well. I really think AB is going to be great for me.