Monday, April 16, 2018

Success and Cavaletti

Many many hours fighting with technology later, guess who finally successfully video'd a ride?! Friday was rainy and pretty gross by the time I got home from work, so I didn't worry about riding. I was mostly focused on decompressing from a fairly stressful week-- mission accomplished! Saturday dawned rainy and gross again, but thankfully the sun came out in the afternoon. After a visit to a friend to see some cute kittens and baby goats, I came home refreshed and ready to ride and play with the Pixio some more! (It didn't hurt that we also picked up some landscape timbers to use as cavaletti, yay!)
Cute lil bottle baby Boer
Kittens!
Yasssss poles. I need to paint them white so they're visually a little more different than the sand, whoops. Baby steps!
I set the poles, got Cinna all tacked up, set all the electronic bits and pieces out, and I was ready to go! I turned the camera on, but I was having some technical difficulties with the new SD card that arrived Saturday morning. I didn't want to mess with it again while I had Cinna tacked up, so I just switched the camera to record to internal memory, and resolved to deal with the SD card stuff later. Unfortunately the difficulties meant I didn't get any recording of our first two walks through the poles, so you don't get video of the excessive amounts of wiggling and tripping that went on, lol. But she's a smart cookie, and she figured things out quickly!
Abstract art ;) or, EquiLab tracking of our ride, haha.
I was pleasantly surprised that she didn't seem to notice (or care?) about the Pixio beacons and the camera in the corner. Considering how sensitive she can be to even the tiniest changes, I'm a little shocked she had no reaction, but no complaints! After reviewing the video, I think I'm going to have to switch the camera placement -- the setting sun interferes a bit with the visibility, so I need to move it to the other side of the arena. Which of course means that most of the background is going to be the barn and my muddy drylot, but whatevs I guess... haha. I typically ride in the evenings so that will probably continue to dictate where I put the camera. Although if I do summer hours, riding will happen more in the morning, so maybe I'll just have to move the camera around based on when I'm riding. Mostly I'm just talking this out on the blog, sorry you get to read my mental gymnastics.
I laughed because it's SO TRUE.
We worked on the buckle and with contact (I'm not gonna say on the bit, because she's not, not even a little bit). We actually did some trotting on the buckle, and it was nice to feel how she let me influence the tempo. We cantered both directions without any histrionics, although the damp sand making her work a little harder might have helped me out there ;) we walked and trotted the poles, and after some initial confusion and run outs, she tried very hard to be steady through them.
First attempt on camera. I decided to regroup at the end and start over, haha. 
Next attempt was much better!
At any rate, it was a good, productive ride. We're just plugging away at the basics, so I'm sure for anyone watching, it would be like watching paint dry. Pretty sure DH is less mad about the Pixio than he would normally be about a frivolous horse-related purchase because now it means I won't be obsessively annoying him to come watch me and take media. I'll still want photos periodically, but at least with HD video every ride, I'll have enough to obsess over. Going through video from even just a half-hour ride took ages!
Due to where I set the camera, apparently all the best moments above a walk are tracking right, haha. 

Neither of us are very fit (thanks shitty cold winter and then ridiculously wet spring), but we had a nice 30+ minute ride with some good moments.
I also have no idea what happened to the lighting in this one? Oh technology. I love to hate you. 
Sunday morning was devoted to further tinkering with technology. I needed to update the firmware on the Pixio, and then download some files to make my SD card compatible with the camera. I was able to test it set up in my living room (I put the tracker on a dachshund, lol) and I think I finally have everything functional the way I want it now! Little bit of a learning curve, but I think it's going to be worth it long term to be able to review my rides. Even just spending an hour or two going over Saturday's easy ride, I identified about 2349834571 things I'd like to work on. And despite Mother Nature spitting a little bit of snow on us yesterday, I feel pretty confident that spring is actually here, so hopefully more consistent work is in our future!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Voila! But also, Frustration

So yesterday unexpectedly reached 90+ degrees (yes, snow on Monday, 90 degrees on Thursday. Because THE MIDWEST). After work my farrier had an appointment to trim the geldings, and my mom came over for dinner. Between everything going on, I knew I wasn't going to pull it together enough to ride. Especially since I was still trying to figure out the Pixio -- I know in time using it will be super quick, but for right now, it's still a lot of trial and error. Also, Ruby still has some winter coat so asking her to work in 90-degree weather seemed kind of unnecessary, haha. I am not ready for it to be this hot yet! (I know, like a month ago I was bitching about the cold but like.... seriously. Are we just not doing spring this year?)
You know what that green light means? IT'S WORKING.
I finally got all the electronics set up and dialed in, followed Jen's handy instructions, and voila! We were recording! I tossed Ruby out in the arena loose and strapped the tracker to her halter. She wasn't super interested in running around (mostly she wanted to stand at the fence and squeal at Jack and Cinna), but I did get some footage. I'd love to SHARE that footage with you, but I can't get it off the flipping camera and it's making me crazy. I know part of the problem is I'm pressuring myself to figure all this stuff out with like NO time devoted to actually reading and following the instructions, which is kind of the opposite of my normal type A-ness. But I've been waiting so long to get it and I just want it to work RIGHT NOW. We're supposed to have shit weather all weekend, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to play with the software and the videos then. But in the meantime, I'm frustrated. I know it's not rational, but I am, and I'm just gonna throw it out there. Here I am, having the written equivalent of a temper tantrum.
In lieu of actual Pixio footage, here is my phone, recording the Pixio, recording Ruby.... haha. I wasn't sure if the glare would let you really see it tracking her, but I think you can get an idea?

I also understand this is like the most firsty of #firstworldproblems so I need to just chill the eff out. So. I'm going to try to enjoy my Friday, and I fully plan on cocooning myself away from the impending rainstorm this evening with a bottle of wine and my computer, and I'm gonna figure out the video thing if it kills me!
Enjoy yesterday's #TBT of Topaz sharing her feelings about supplements with me... lol.
Anyone else want to share their first world problem with me so I feel less like a spoiled, petulant child? ;) I promise I'll get my shit together, and eventually, I will definitely share some Pixio video!

*Last minute edit* okay so after I grumpily wrote this post, I tried ONE MORE TIME to transfer the videos, and it worked! But of course then I was out of time to DO anything with the videos haha. So. I'm less frustrated now, but you still don't get video 🤷

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Comedy of Errors

So. Yesterday did not go according to plan. #storyofmylife, am I right? But that's okay. It was still productive, and I still have something to write about, so I guess you win some, you lose some! In the category of winning some, yesterday a long-awaited package arrived.
Prepare yourself. GIFs are coming.
My very own Pixio. A good friend was selling hers and I couldn't resist the chance to snag it. I've been lusting over one forEVER. Especially after getting to mess with Jen's when I photographed her in the KPG clinic. So anyway, I digress. It arrived last night, and clearly the only thing I had planned for the evening was to set it up and ride with it!
This is where it spent most of the evening.
Which, spoiler alert, didn't happen. I did set it up, and I did ride, but no media. *sobbing* my friend shipped it all to me in a super cute backpack with everything carefully tucked into it's place. I promptly dragged everything out, and started trying to put it together..... yeah. I maybe should have printed out Pixio's handy little user manual and done some reading. That might have alleviated some of my problems. But I was WAY TOO EXCITED and just dove right in. After spending 30+ minutes trying to attach both the Pixio and the camera to the tripod, I finally gave up in defeat and texted my friend. Turns out I was trying to use a base that wasn't intended for the video camera, she had just thrown it in there as a freebie (which explained why I could not for the LOVE OF GOD get it to fit haha). Then I realized I didn't have the necessary micro sd card. All the memory cards for my camera were too big. Whoops? That meant another half an hour frantically googling and playing with settings until I figured out how to set it up to record to the internal memory. So finally I thought we were ready to roll, so I grabbed Cinna and tacked her up.
Isn't this backpack for real the cutest? All the chargers and everything are tucked into it, so all I have to do is pull out a plug and find an outlet, and everything can charge neatly!
My excitement was apparently a bit too palpable, and she fed off that and lost her marbles. When I was bridling her, she barged over me and took off, sans bridle. Thankfully, DH was in the arena and she made a beeline for him, so I was able to contain her. Then we spent 10 minutes trying to CATCH her, which she thought was the most fun game imaginable. I was.... less amused.
Whoa there wild steed. I'm not sure you can see it well in this photo, but I had put a bonnet on her -- it didn't budge an inch in the shenanigans. Props to ITBF!
Clearly things were off to a SUPER GREAT START. Arghhhhh. So we caught her, I finished tacking up, then I walked around the arena placing my beacons. No sweat, I got this. I pulled up Jen's handy "how to set up the Pixio" post, and worked my way down the checklist. It took me a minute to get the tripod and camera adjusted and zoomed in on the necessary beacon, but finally I got everything squared away. Cinna was already tacked and waiting, so I pressed the power button on the Pixio. *crickets* I pressed it again. Still nothing. The battery was dead. Ughhhhhhhhhhh. So I plugged it in, and went out to ride Cinna, so the evening wouldn't be a total waste.
Handy little tripod legs wrapping around the fence!
We ended up having a nice ride, once we both calmed down and took a few deep breaths. I didn't ride super long (mostly because I was hoping I could still play with the Pixio haha) but we had the nicest canter transition on her to date -- tracking right I just thought canter, and she did! We also worked on some circles and changes of direction where I just hooked my fingers through my grab strap and focused on my body, and let her do whatever she wanted (within reason) with her head and neck. I was a bit shocked at how well it went, especially since I left the arena gate open (DH had gone inside and I thought he was coming back, but he didn't). She never once made a dive out the open gate, and was very easy to direct with my body, even with my hands in a stationary position. Is she getting a little trained? Funny how that works ;)
Working nicely even with the gate open.
After I had her cooled out and untacked, DH was starving to death, so I had to take a break go to make dinner. I plotted the whole time about how I was going to make him come back outside with me after dinner, and I was going to toss him up on Trigger as a test dummy while I continued to play with the settings. We pulled the horses in for the night and I went to check the charge on the Pixio base -- and by then it was charged, but the tracker (for me to wear) was not. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I admitted defeat. Pixio video was just not meant to be last night. But I plugged every conceivable piece of equipment in to charge last night, so we should be good to go today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spring, is that you?

I'm afraid typing these words will jinx it and make it snow this weekend.... But it was in the 50s yesterday and the forecast today through the weekend is in the 70s. Spring? Are you here for real? Pull up a chair, stay a while!
The horses were super stoked about it as well apparently, judging from all of last night's shenanigans, haha. I didn't plan on riding after work, I just wanted to get some general barn stuff done. I've been working on purging my tack room of unnecessary stuff, so I photographed a bunch of it so I can list it locally. I still had some daylight, so I grabbed Ruby and started cleaning off some of her remaining winter coat and general nastiness that was built up.
Gross. 
Of course while I was doing this, Cinna decided to come over and make herself a pest.
She is turning into quite the ham, and it cracks me up (when it's not super annoying). Once I convinced her to go be annoying somewhere else, I was able to finish up with Ruby and head to the arena to let her stretch her legs a bit. She was pretty excited about that, as you can see.
Once I let her blow off some steam (and Jack and Cinna were participating on their side of the fence, haha), I decided to hand walk her through the woods. I'm still working on building her confidence on our trail (since for whatever reason she's great on trails everywhere else but a total spaz at home), so I figured a low key hand walk would be perfect.
What are those cows doing?
It was a nice way to spend the evening. She was super relaxed, and stopped several times to hang out and get scratches. I worked her multiple times over some small muddy patches -- last time we were out there she wanted to fling herself over them, and I haaaaaate that, so we practiced lots of stepping carefully in and out of any area I pointed her at.
Of course we had to stop for a snack on our way back to the barn, then I let her graze while I picked things up and tidied the tack shed. It was nice to spend time with Ruby not linked to any expectations or goals, just hanging out with my best bay girl and enjoying her company :) I have some exciting packages due to arrive this week and am hoping to have some fun stuff to share with you guys in the near future! In the meantime, I hope you're also experiencing some lovely spring weather!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tack Review: Horse Holster

I know normally I run tack review posts on Thursdays, but we're gonna mix it up a little this week! A few years ago, I ran across a Facebook page advertising a product called a Horse Holster. I was intrigued, because I try to make it a habit to carry my phone when I ride (because I frequently ride alone), but it can be tricky, especially when it's too warm to wear a jacket with pockets. I find most breeches pockets aren't really comfortably large enough for the smartphones of today (minus one pair of FITS summer tights I have with a huge thigh pocket). I checked out their site immediately, but found the initial selection of colors a little lackluster. I "liked" the page anyway, because I hoped eventually they'd expand the color options. And sure enough, a few weeks later I saw an ad for TEAL.
Fresh out of the packaging!
Obviously, I had to have one. This was shortly after I destroyed a phone on a trail ride -- it fell out of my jacket pocket and Ruby stepped on it.... ughhhhh. So I forwarded a link to my dad as a possible birthday idea, and he came through like a champ! I got it in May of 2016 and immediately put it to good use. Ever since then, I've used it on probably 90% of trail rides and probably upwards of 70% of my arena rides. It's especially key when I'm using my bluetooth speaker! Honestly any time I don't use it is almost always just because I forgot, not because I made a conscious decision to not use it. It stays put while I ride, and has never damaged my saddle in any way (the two most common questions people have for me haha).
Wearing it on a ride with Cinna this spring.
So what is a Horse Holster? From their website:
Big or small, it fits them all! Fits ANY & ALL phone/case combos, plus room for other items!
Special Features:
- Zipper pocket for keys, money, ID, etc.
- No slip strap included for extra support
Stock photo from their website -- when I got my first one, the no slip strap wasn't available yet, but I do have them on my spares.
2 Leg Sizes for Strap: *sizes vary per person *Leg strap is elastic and will gain 1" to 2" after being worn.- All leg straps are 2"W
- Thighs 16" to 24" (~pants size 0-8)
- Thighs 24" to 32" (~pants size 8+)
*Longer leg strap will still fit thighs as small as 22"
Material: Flexible, water resistant neoprene; leg strap includes elastic
And of course on Ruby.
I loved mine so much that when I saw they were having a sale on factory seconds last fall (with some zipper issues), I picked up 2 more (one black, one teal) for myself and DH. I don't really use the zippered pocket, although I can see where it would be helpful if you wanted to carry an ID or keys or something. The new ones have wider straps, bigger/stronger velcro, and the new "no slip strap". We haven't actually used them yet (mostly because we didn't do too much trail riding this winter, plus I didn't see the point in starting to use the new one when my old one still worked fine), but hopefully we will break them out on some adventures this summer!
My original (sorry, the flash didn't go off so it looks a little washed out). Also I had just washed off a dirt stain so any discoloration is from it being damp.
Original on the left, newer one on the right. You can see the wider strap, and the no slip strap at the top.
The original -- you can see a little pilling underneath the black velcro at the top. Still 100% functional! Also apparently I missed some stains on the strap? Haha.
Yeah the original on the left was still really wet for my impromptu photoshoot, haha. But a better comparison of the strap widths.

Original on left, new on right -- you can see the difference in the velcro sizes. Also the newer ones have way stronger velcro.
I was a dutiful wife and got DH's in black (since I figured he might object to teal). Also, I thought it might be useful to be able to tell them apart, haha.
Rocking it at the Haunted Hunter Pace last fall hopping over some logs.
Price: 4.5/5
As of writing this review, it looks like most color options are priced at $29.99. My first one was a gift, but I feel like they were a bit cheaper then. Maybe like $25 for the original style? If you sign up for their email list or follow their Facebook page, sometimes you can buy a factory second for much cheaper.
Quality/Durability: 5/5
My 2 y/o one still looks great -- there is some pilling on the underside where the inside sometimes misses the velcro, but it still looks perfect from the outside. It's machine washable, although I've only hand washed mine after some muddy trail rides.

Color Options: 5/5
Current options include black, blaze orange, blue, green, burgundy, navy, pink, purple, red, teal, and several patterned options!

Overall, if you like to have your phone on you while you ride, I highly recommend one of these!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Spring that Wasn't

Oh don't mind me. Just sitting here sulking about the weather again.
In my defense, even the normally good-natured DH is incredibly over the weather and is vociferously complaining and suggesting a relocation to warmer climes.
Basically
Luckily we do have some sunny 70-degree days in our forecast, and the extended outlook is showing temps closer to what you might actually expect in April (instead of this below freezing bullshit). So hopefully last night's snow really was Mother Nature's last hurrah -- although I'm pretty sure I said that literally this time last week.
Poor daffodils
In the meantime, I'm itching to get back into a semblance of normalcy, a regular routine, maybe some trail rides, lessons, and shows?
Plz to maybe horse show again?
At this point I would even settle for trail riding some summer-slick, shiny horses again!

Our GMO spring show is this weekend, but I don't feel like it's fair to enter either horse with the sporadic work schedule of the last 6 weeks, so we're regretfully sitting this one out. But hopefully we're on the downward side of this disgusting weather, and hopefully real, true actual spring, complete with warm days and sunshine, will grace us with her presence soon! :)

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Lull

Last night was randomly 70 and sunny when I got off work. I knew it was supposed to be nice (although not quite that nice!) so I had preemptively asked DH drag to the arena on Wednesday. Hard to believe that it's been like three weeks since my last ride with Cinna, the one where I first started playing with Equilab. Thanks weather, you suck.
Not this weather. I LIKE this weather. It's actually April weather.
But this forecast can fuck right off. STOP SNOWING, IT'S APRIL.
Obviously, I was stupid excited to climb in the saddle! Knowing Cinna's propensity for being, errrr, excitable when it's a super nice day and she's been off for a bit, I opted to toss her out on the lunge first. Definitely did not regret that decision, when on her first canter transition she squealed as loudly as she could and porpoised through the air. Yeah. Fun times. Tracking right, she absolutely COULD. NOT. TROT. MUST. CANTER. I finally got a few good circles out of her then called it quits -- I knew she wouldn't have much stamina (soooooo unfit), so I didn't want to waste her energy on the line, I just wanted to get out any squirreliness.
Cinna the squirrel.
Trying to lull me into a false sense of security by meandering on the line to start.

About the time I climbed on, DH got home, which was reassuring -- always nice to have my 911 dialer available should things go south ;) I'm very much a plan for the worst, hope for the best kind of person.... haha. I walked her for a while and caught up on work things with him, then put Cinna to work. She was very excited for every upward transition, but was easily checked with a half halt, or when I slowed my posting. The first canter transition was equally as exciting, as she vacillated between knowing she needed to canter nicely but also really, really wanting to buck with excitement. She settled for bunny hopping a few times while I giggled at her. As I rode by DH, he commented that she looked ready to be naughty -- and I replied that she was thinking about it, but that she knew better. She did settle into her effortless canter that is so pleasant to ride, and I just grinned from ear-to-ear.
She was so excited to be out and about riding that she totally forgot to play her "I'm terrified of new things" game -- in the photo above you can see the chicken coop that we repurposed for a shelter for the young goats for the few months they have to be separated from the adults. It's "new" since the last time I rode her, but she didn't even bat an eyelash. After about 20 minutes of light work, she was puffing and sweating, so we just hacked on loose rein around in circles. She was being so good I decided to attempt the back field. We walked out alone, and although she tensed up and wanted to stop, she let me push her on every time. I picked a stopping place, then turned around and walked back. She wanted very badly to jig, but I'd stop her and talk to her for a minute, then resume walking. We walked past the arena (spooking hard at the chickens, who were fighting again -- if you missed my IG video the other day, I'll include it below, lol). I made her walk all the way down the driveway, stop, and then we walked back to the arena. It was a short ride (only about half an hour), but I'm super happy that she was able to pick up where we left off, like always. Hopefully the weather starts remember that it's spring soon so we can start riding regularly!
So sweaty and itchy.
I laughed so hard at this representation of our arena ride (I zoomed in and cut off the hacking outside the arena).

Mostly, I was just excited to soak up the beautiful weather on my best grey girl! Although it's almost worse that the weather keeps teasing us with occasional nice days before plunging us back into cold, gloomy grossness. Ughhhhh. OK I'm going to end on a positive note, enjoy this silly video of my roosters fighting earlier this week (I broke it up, don't worry). And happy Friday!