Turf Wars

I’m feeling a little irritable this morning because some jackhole in a red mustang very nearly T-boned me in a roundabout on my way into work this morning and then had the audacity to honk at ME… What is WRONG with people?!?! PSA If you see this:

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Guess who gets to stop and wait if I am already in the middle of the roundabout…unsure?! out of guesses?! I’ll give you a hint. it’s YOU, red mustang, it’s you. So get your head out of your ass, wake the f*ck up, and try not to kill us all, ok? kthanksbai.

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This lovely start to my morning threw me back to last Wednesday’s lesson. I had almost forgotten and had fully let it go until this morning’s events revved up my brain in a negative way. Last Wednesday’s lesson was not a great one, and there were many factors that contributed. I hadn’t had a lesson in over a month and I was already going into it feeling super rusty. I had ridden a few times the weekend before outside of lessons; I had a super sad, pathetic ride on Ralph (completely my fault) and then I had a really fun ride on Cruiser that ended with some delightful bareback cantering.

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It’s that time of year, and the saddle I normal ride in for my lessons was coated in whitish green mold/mildew so I had the pleasure of cleaning it before my ride which made me a little late to my lesson. I struggled through the warm-up but was having some success unlocking our normal routine of heavy in the left rein and zero contact in the right. Then I had to share the arena…now, I sorta know the rules but I admittedly get confused in the moment especially when I am trying to concentrate on something. I was trying so hard to listen and follow what my instructor was asking me to do but at the same time avoid the various jumps and two other horses in the smallish arena.

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A rider I had never met before brought this horse in and after a short warm up just started cantering this gelding around in circles and then started randomly blowing around the three jumps that were set up in the arena. It was fast and tense and a little out of control. Meanwhile, I’m just going slowly around the outside of the arena like “wtf am I supposed to do?!?” My instructor is asking me to use the arena and keep changing directions and mixing things up so Lou doesn’t have a chance to lean heavy on the left rein and so I don’t lose my contact in the right and I’m thinking “are you nuts?! I’m going to get run the hell over.” To top it all off, the barn owner’s daughter was there taking her engagement photos- posing sweetly on the arena fence as I’m trying desperately not to photobomb. We end the lesson and I’m feeling pretty lousy. My trainer comes over and apologizes saying that the girl isn’t one of her riders. It’s a rather small barn and we mostly all know each other so everybody seems to try and make sure they don’t disrupt lessons too much. Needless to say, I was caught off guard and felt bad and pissed off at the same time. My trainer made a good point- she said the warm up arena at shows can be like this- she said people just lose their damn minds and you have to assert yourself to some degree or you won’t get your own warm-up in. I gave up all of the arena to this rider who took full advantage and did not give a flying f*ck that I was taking a lesson and clearly riding at a much lower level than she was. Again…what is WRONG with people?!

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Later, I realize that the rider was basically just trying to tire the gelding out so he’d behave for engagement photos. YOU COULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT SOMEWHERE ELSE!?!?!?!??!

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TGIF, rant over.

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swl

WAAAAAHMBULANCE

To summarize my ride on Sunny over the weekend I have prepared a series of GIFs for your enjoyment. Can someone please tell me what it is that I am doing so wrong?! No, never mind, it’s not even worth it. I should just probably stop riding in general for the benefit of equines everywhere.

Here, we are “warming up trotting” after lunging and a walking warm-up:

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When told to continue trotting after that mini-tantrum, I finally got more effort…just not in the way I wanted:

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After being circled for bucking:

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He also doesn’t like cantering:

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Here is the rarely caught on camera “Sunny stomp” his patented evasion move is to go super behind the bit and stomp/hyperextend with his right front while trotting. It is a little hard to see but it feels really weird:

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Is he sore? Broken? An asshole? Totally normal so stop being a baby about it? I don’t really know.

You more advanced riders deal with this stuff like it’s no big deal. How do you fix this behavior? I have just been riding it out and hoping that I am not hurting him or causing any irreparable damage. I come from exclusively riding school masters and well-mannered, good-natured, forgiving horses who rarely to NEVER pull this shit, so it really makes me feel like I shouldn’t be doing this.

I guess I should be pleased that I actually did get more than a few non-fussy walk-trot transitions in a row (an issue Sunny and I have discussed on more than one occasion). But in general, he was braced, hollow, draggy, uncomfortable, and obstinate for the majority of the ride.

At this point, about the only thing that makes me happy about this whole situation is that I’m not paying anything to ride him and it is going to be over soon.

Awww yeah!!!! cue the world’s smallest violin,

playing the world’s saddest song just for me! 

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I apologize.

Thanks for listening.

ugh….just go cuddle all those truly good ponies out there and give yourself a nice little pat on the back for not ending up this pathetic.

swl

Muddy Monday

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I spent about an hour transferring dirt from Sunny to myself and then he was a total lunatic for my ride. He threw a fit about trotting, he did his stomping thing he does when he doesn’t agree, he kicked out, he yanked at the reins, refused to back up, and was all together a snorty, stompy toddler. Yay Mondays…

Turning Over a New Leaf

I am officially back in the saddle after quite a lengthy hiatus since moving from the “almost-canada” to the “quasi-south”!

I have picked up lessons at two very different barns with two very different instructors which I am hoping will help me shake off the rust and get some different perspectives on how I can improve. (I can only cross my fingers that these unique perspectives won’t be too contradictory) The curious thing about both of these places is that they are Hunter Jumper/Eventing flavored… I am in unfamiliar territory here as my previous lesson experiences have not included being airborne. Thankfully I’m sure both will start me on the flat and we can slowly visit the subject at a later date if I’m feeling comfortable. I have very real concerns that with my knee in the condition it is that I’ll never have the balance required for jumping. Sometimes I already feel like I am pushing the envelope on riding dressage (like how I always lose my right stirrup and how my leg goes dead near the end of a lesson) but hopefully it will just take some time to build the necessary strength and endurance.

My first lesson at the big barn is on Wednesday of this week. I have already had two lessons now at the little barn to varying degrees of success. First lesson at the little barn was kind of a sh*t show. There were a number of things that went a little crazy (horses flipping in cross ties, barn sourness, packed arena etc.) but I am a patient person and thought it only fair to give another chance. My second lesson there was extremely successful so I am hopeful that we can move quickly past those first lesson hiccups.

I’ll let you know how Wednesday goes!

-swl

Heat

Not only was it hot out yesterday but the big mare must have been IN heat as well. She was an absolute monster when I went out to get her. I have never seen her like that. She was waiting at the gate and nickered to me but it was about the time that the normal grooms would have taken her inside for some hay so I figured she was just excited. She was fine when I came in the gate and snapped my lead rope to her halter and then I opened the door and she swung her bum around like normal as I slowly shut the gate. Then all hell broke loose. She started dancing on the lead rope backing up, spooking, and running around me as I stood calmly asking her to whoa and stand. She dodged left and then right and I ran out of lead rope. I remembered sometimes it is just safer to let go… at the exact moment the rope grazed my palm leaving a small burn. I saw a huge flying insect- looked like a large bee near her rump and I thought that might have been the cause for all the chaos but as soon as I let go of the rope she stood still in the corner. I collected the rope and she started to dance around again. I felt unprepared for what seemed to be an escalating issue so I brought her around and opened the gate to her pasture, let her back in and unclipped. She kinda just stood there and about that time one of the other ladies at the barn came down asking if I needed a chain for her, probably because of all the commotion. I told her I’d never used one before and hadn’t seen her like this. I hungout for a second because Kate was being quiet and then decided to try again and so I clipped back on and led her through the gate, she didn’t spook anymore but she definitely wasn’t listening to me and was trying to bully her way up to the barn. I stopped her a few times and gave her a yank on the line every time she got fast but all in all she practically carried me back to the barn hanging on the lead rope. Completely unacceptable. Sigh… this is another one of those moments where no one really lets you know the appropriate way to discourage bad behaviour. In the moment it isnt really intuitive and even though I think I did a few very smart things in the thick of it,  including staying calm as a 1600lb helicopter was dancing around me on a 4ft long string, I still wonder what I should have done.

I know that, like with children, you are supposed to be swift and calm with your corrections and then let it go. But my heart was pounding, my hand hurt, and I was already exhausted. Shame on me I suppose- I ought to have worked her hard and not let her touch her hay until I was done but I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I made her stand in cross-ties and groomed her slowly and thoroughly and then I just left her in her stall and didn’t ride. Oh well, I admit my horse ownership abilities are a work in progress. I guess I’ll never really know what made the Belgian go batsh*t crazy today but I might have to have the grooms teach me how to use that chain just for future reference.

Just tryin’ to stay cool in the heat.

swl