Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

Baselines

Yesterday was gorgeous. The quintessential spring day -- sunny, 70, breezy... basically perfect! I didn't get a chance to saddle up until almost 6:45, and I wasn't in the mood to actually school. So I tossed a western saddle and hackamore on Ruby and decided to hack until we started to lose daylight.
She was about as enthusiastic about riding as I was haha.
One good thing about yesterday is that the Bluetooth speaker I ordered came on the mail! I had this same style speaker a few years ago and it's great for using around the barn/riding -- good sound and battery, rechargeable, and the clip means you can hang it from a d-ring. Another plus, they're inexpensive. My dogs chewed up the clip on my original, and then eventually DH dropped it enough that it stopped holding a charge. So I went to replace it, and imagine my excitement to find that it came in TEAL.
Yes please.
I clipped that to the saddle when I tacked up -- Ruby seemed less than appreciative of the Taylor Swift I had playing (shut up I know I'm the most basic of white girls) so I switched to my usual riding music (a Lindsey Stirling based instrumenal Pandora station). She was super chill and relaxed when we headed out to the field, which was an improvement. She got a little antsy once we were in the woods, and started to slip frequently in the mud when she'd try to jig. I finally picked a turning point and walked her back -- I'm still trying to make it fun for her to ride our trails, so picking a fight to make a point wasn't on my agenda.
We still had daylight so I kept her walking past the barn and we headed down the road. We walked to the nearest neighbors driveway, stopped and hung out in the road for a minute, then hacked back. I had set up a profile for Ruby in the Equilab app and tracked the ride, so I decided to finish up in the arena with some trot and canter, just to get a baseline set for her.
It did track elevation this time... But I can't find any explanation online for what this metric means? Hazards of a free app I guess 😂
Although I didn't start the ride with the best mindset (thanks broken car and impending $$ mechanic bill), a relaxing hack out with the best bay mare was the perfect way to put a smile back on my face!
Another thing that put a smile on my face was being included in a Horse Nation collage of matchy-matchy outfits with Cinna
What put a smile on your face this week? Tell me something good! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Playing With Tech

Although we're still drying out from the unexpected snowstorm Sunday, we did get the arena dragged Tuesday night, meaning it was perfect for me to ride last night.
Is it weird to drag the arena at 9:30 at night? Asking for a friend...
On my quest to alternate working the girls, that made last night Cinna's turn. It got off to a not-so-auspicious start right away, when I had to slog through ankle-deep mud to catch her. When I was trying to maneuver her through the barn door while leaving Jack outside, she pulled away and took off back to the far side of the turnout, soaking her lead rope in mud. I caught her again, got her through the barn, then swapped her mud-soaked lead rope for a clean one.
"Who, me? No, I'm an angel!"
I was attempting to fill a bucket of water to soak the filthy lead rope in, when she spooked at a feed bag and took off again. By this point I was mumbling choice words under my breath about auctions and dog food and glue. On the plus side, any lingering concerns I had about a possible lameness after the frog abscess (and then subsequent mud) were laid to rest as she merrily trotted and cantered all over the property, sound as a dollar. I finally corraled her in an empty turnout and caught her for the THIRD time, swapped out another now-filthy lead rope AGAIN, and debated the merits of just putting her back and going inside to collapse on the couch (for some reason this year DST is kicking my ass and I'm insanely exhausted). I was starting to get pretty frustrated, and she's not the kind of horse I can ride when I'm already annoyed.
The teeny dogs are exhausted too.
But I persevered, and after a quick refresher of lead rope manners (aka yanking it out of my hand to gallivant is NOT okay), Cinna and I headed over to the grooming area. Which was covered 2 inches deep with standing water. I sighed, envisioning another explosion about standing in the puddle, but she splashed right into it and stood without batting an eyelash. Win! We tacked up, and I decided to try her in Ruby's PS of Sweden knockoff and Verbindend. I had to put it all the way up on every hole, and it was still maybe a smidgen too big, but we made it work.
Cute, huh? :)
DH still wasn't home at this point, so I tossed her out on the lunge for a minute. I wish I were better at simultaneously videoing and lunging, because she was doing the most ridiculously cute little hunter canter, poking along with her neck stretched out. Not a single bolt, scoot, or hint of dramatics of any kind. Which made me highly suspicious, except she had done a lot of running away from me dragging a lead rope, so maybe she had just worn herself out.
Never too worn out to giraffe, apparently.
I wanted to use the ride to test out an app I downloaded called Equilab (or as I'm jokingly calling it, the poor man's Equisense). I turned it on, and started riding. Between the pre-ride gallivanting and the lunging, I figured I wouldn't ride very long.
Spoiler alert: I was right. I didn't ride long, haha. I also don't think it's canter tracking was terrible accurate.
I spent the first half of the ride working on centerline and halting. Sometimes Cinna halts very nicely. Sometimes she gets very angry about it and roots the reins out of my hands. Sometimes she flings her head straight up. The last two are more common and less fun. I concentrated really hard on setting her up for the halts and asking very quietly, and whaddya know -- when I was quiet and methodical about my request, she was quiet and methodical about her response. Funny how that works!
Hypothetically with more rides tracked, I'll be able to track trends!
We did do some trotting and a few circles of canter each way. She had trouble picking up the left lead the first time I asked, but was fine on subsequent transitions. I was ready to end on a good note, but on our last canter-trot transition, she spooked hard at DH, who chose that moment to step out from behind the tack shed into her line of sight. Pretty sure staying with her as she teleported across the arena undid all the good work my chiropractor did at my adjustment on Monday, but I'm gonna give myself a pat on the back for not eating sand. So of course I asked her to canter again, so we could redeem ourself with a nice transition to end on.
No idea why it didn't record any elevation, wonder if it will on future rides?
Since DH was standing there anyway, I cajoled him into accompanying us on a field walk, since the last one was so disastrous (leading to me having to dismount and handwalk her back). She was great on the way out, and much more manageable on the walk back. Having DH there as her security blanket made her much more brave. I think we'll try that a few more times before I attempt it alone again :)
Once she was cooled out, we walked back over to untack, while DH shoved her full of candy canes. Of course she promptly rolled in the mud as soon as she was turned back out, but with our current forecast, she's probably going to get a few days off due to rain anyway, so whatever.
Im not sure why it designated my arena as a paddock (maybe based on the fact that I chose medium footing?), or why it thinks my arena is a triangle..lol
I also finished up making notes in Equilab -- it has a neat feature at the end where you can rate yourself and the horse on a scale of one to five (in terms of mood), track what kind of ride it was (flatwork, dressage school, endurance ride, etc) and also make notes. I used the notes section to write about what tack I used, and anything else I thought was notable from the ride. I also added a profile for both Ruby and Cinna, so I can track their rides and see if it notices differences or trends. I just shoved the phone in my breeches pocket last night, but for future rides I plan to use my horse holster. I also want to download an interval training app (thanks Nicole for that really good post!) so I can get a better idea for
Equilab's accuracy in terms of time spent in each gait. Obviously with only one ride under my belt with it, I can't make any claims to accuracy or long-term usability, but for a free app, I have no complaints. Even if I just use it to make notes about how often I ride each horse, for how long, and use the notes section for reminders, it'll be useful. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Snow Fun

Sunday was DST, so I had intentionally blocked a pretty laid-back morning. We went out to do chores, and it was sleeting (which was forecasted). By the time we finished and went back to the house, it was snowing. Big flakes. HUGE flakes. I've literally never seen snowflakes so big in my entire life. I figured it was a freak thing that would be over soon. When it dropped 3 inches in a little over an hour, I got worried. Several hours (And 5+ inches of snow later), we had to cancel our plans to drive in and see my family 100 miles away. Which was disappointing, but there's always other weekends I suppose. In the meantime, DH and I each had fun in our own way. I might be biased, but I think mine was better ;)
 
Not even close to the end of the storm.
 
 
 
We did trot for like 30 feet. But it was really warm and the mud under the snow was a bit slick, so no canter. Boo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
So sad we missed Carly's side eye contest with this shot

 
 
 
 
 
Good job DH. The tires were totes what I wanted in focus. Hahaha.
 
 
I know I'm a broken record, but I love this horse. She's always so game for anything. I know Cinna will get like that at some point (although I don't ever think she'll be quite as trustworthy as Ruby, just because of their personalities), but in the meantime.... Ruby's always gonna be the one I subject to these shenanigans, and I trust her to bring me home safe every time, no matter what we're doing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Like a Lion

I actually managed to get more done than I thought I would this weekend, which was a nice surprise! Saturday morning the girls had a farrier appointment. The weather finally warmed back up a bit, and they were LIT when I turned them out (to burn off some energy before the appointment). That helped a little, but getting off the trailer and then walking up the driveway to the barn, Cinna was still a raging horse kite. As in, passaged up the entire driveway. Shitty passage, but there was definitely hang time, haha.
This dog is so damn goofy.
Ruby got trimmed first, and was perfect, as per usual. The farrier commented on her great feet, although with the weather we're having, she was a little thrushy behind. Cinna strutted out of the stall and basically cat-walked up the aisle to the cross-ties -- the farrier laughed and asked me if she always moved like that. I wasn't sure if he meant it in a good or a bad way, but apparently he was impressed. I showed him some photos of her under saddle and we chatted about her propensity to be a huge mover when she was relaxed, the problem was just finding that relaxation. She was a bit of a shit for the first hoof, but I kind of expected some theatrics, so the addition of a chain reminded her of her manners and she let him trim the others without a fuss. He did find a small abscess in one of her frogs -- he showed me a nice little gusher of pus. She never took a lame step, not even on the lengthy gravel driveway, so clearly it wasn't bothering her too much. I did opt out of riding her later, just in case, and I'll keep an eye on it (since we're continuing to have gross weather). Then she hung out in a stall like a grown up horse while I cleaned stalls and did some chores.
DH with his goats cracks me up.
We thought it was dried out. We were wrong. Oops. (its 4wd, we got it out, I just thought it was funny).
In the afternoon I had some time to ride Ruby. I put her back in the Verbindend (I've been riding in a different bridle with just a generic eggbutt snaffle on it), and she was great. Didn't have the propensity to get root-y that I was noticing before, and super willing to stretch without curling. I was worried the ride would get off to a bad start when I was in the process of swinging my leg over, and Cinna and Jack both exploded like a horse tornado only a few feet off the arena fence, but Ruby just gave them a dirty look and let me get settled. Good mare.
We had absolutely no issues with the elusive right lead Saturday, which was great. I think part of the problem previously is that I was overthinking it and overbending her -- I can't remember which blogger wrote about that, and how too much bend was actually preventing the horse from picking up the right lead, but it clicked something in my head. I certainly wouldn't say the problem is solved yet, and it might have just been a fluke, but I'll try it again next ride and see if it keeps working.
Sit up dammit. Ugh.
Wheeeeee!
The rest of the ride was uneventful in the best kind of way. I rode in my Schleese for the first time in a while, and I think I could have dropped the stirrups another hole. I'll just toss the rest of the photos up, I don't think I have anything else coherent to add about the ride. Just trucking along, putting in the miles and those wet saddle blankets. I haven't really had many under saddle photos of Ruby in the last year or so, but now that she's home, it's nice to be able to have some progress shots! (although DH is now grumpy about taking photos, so I might not have any for a while besides between the ears shots haha).
 
    
 

I make super faces when I ride. It's a gift.
 
I also frequently flop like a very large sack of potatoes and my saintly mare carries on anyway.
This was me laughing my ass off at my horse. Don't know why. Just go with it. 

Sunday, we had plans to visit my family a few hours away, so I had no plans to ride. But Mother Nature but a kibosh on that, in a major way. Come back tomorrow to see why ;)
So over me taking her photo.
Also, I've convinced one of my best friends to join the "dark side" and start blogging! If you want to take a peek and welcome her, check out Elucidations of an Equestrian Book Nerd!