Enjoying to the Max

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Tyco’s owner was busy working all weekend so she gave me the go ahead to ride all I wanted. It was a gorgeous weekend weather-wise so I took full advantage and spent many many hours at the barn. Nirvana.

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SFTS Blog Hop

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Tyco is a mud lover and comes in from the field coated head-to-toe but luckily he loves the attention and stands so patiently in cross-ties to be groomed. I get in the zone currying, brushing, and pulling white winter coat off in sheets. So there ya go, Jenn, I think that’s my happy place: de-shedding a horse. I really enjoy all barn chores, mostly because I don’t have to do them every single day so they haven’t lost their luster. But the whole wooly yeti to sleek adonis thing is gratifying for me.

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I took video of my ride on Saturday. I like how all of these video stills make me look like I am in the witness protection program.

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I rode with my iPod for the first time ever. I was listening to Asgeir during this whole ride and it was magical. I only used one earbud for safety, but listening to music relaxed me so much and I know it transferred to Tyco because he could not have cared less about the hoard of screeching children doing an easter egg hunt at the fire station next door. I rode for a little over an hour and did some trot sets to the music since I know how long the songs are. It was brilliant and I’m sad I waited so long to try this.

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Mutual concentration required to switch bend.

Mutual concentration required to switch bend.

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He was a little hitchy in the trot, but, with the owner’s blessing to continue light work, we still got a good workout in. I am working on me a lot more than I am working on him and he is so forgiving about it.

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double ear concentration required for attempting half pass

double ear concentration required for attempting half pass

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Sunday I spent another hour grooming. We had a really nice ride and I got a mini case of the yolos and took his saddle off and rode him bareback in the arena for a short time. He was interesting to ride bareback- not nearly as comfy as Sunny to sit on. It surprised me considering he looks like a walking Barcalounger. His withers are more pronounced than Sunny’s and I could feel his muscles moving more- of course that may just be because his muscles were actually moving more… I didn’t really trust Sir Bucksalot with much more than a walk whereas I even cantered a little on Tyco. He was a trooper, and I didn’t over-do it. Much fun! Easter treats all around!

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Nom!

                                                                              Nom!

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I spent around 3 hours grooming this horse this weekend and this is what he had to say about that:

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Little shit.

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swl

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Due Any Day Now!

After spending an hour scraping off a massive pile of hair, detangling dreadlocks, and washing and Keratexing muddy feet, I thought I would take a majestic photo of Tyco in the evening sunlight filtering in through the barn windows. Romantic, no? I thought so…until I saw the photos:

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I mean, not to be too hypocritical, but dude….when are you due?

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Tuesdays are busy at the barn so we went to ride in the outdoor arena. It was a little windy but a pleasant night so I figured we would be okay. The dressage trainer was in the outdoor too, schooling a young gelding who can get a little goofy in the outdoor so we figured we’d keep each other safe buddy system style. The young gelding was a champ, meanwhile the sassy old man I’m on decides he is athletic enough to spook and then buck after our first canter. Must be the hormones…

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The dressage trainer was surprised he had it in him, I was just happy I stayed aboard. He was super keyed up afterwards and never really regained his composure though we certainly did not end on that note. So there was my first rocky ride on the little gray nugget, conveniently right on the heels of our previous magical ride. What can ya do? Horses- they’re humbling. The dude just needs some consistent work and things will be right as rain.

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                              Muahahaha I iz secretly spicy! Now, moar studmuffins… I has a craving.

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Happy Lesson Day to me!! Happy rides to you too!

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swl

Dang, Little Gray Nugget is a Good Teacher

I finally met Tyco’s owner this weekend- by accident. A work trip took me out of town last week so I hadn’t ridden since last weekend. In our loose arrangement, weekends really aren’t mine to ride unless I ask or trade a day. I made plans with my barn buddy to ride with her Saturday afternoon. The nice thing is, my amazing friend has two horses and she is a wonderful sharer. So I had a plan B. I wrote to Tyco’s owner on Saturday morning asking if I could ride Tyco if he was sound. She never wrote back but considering I had a solid contingency plan, my friend and I packed up and headed to the barn together for a pony club sesh.

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Lo and behold! She exists! Tyco’s owner came down to the little barn to grab him and I introduced myself. She was a little surprised and I told her not to worry, that I wrote her this morning, but it was okay, I could ride my friend’s horse so she could ride Tyco. She insisted I ride him and said she just came to give them a little TLC and so she grabbed her mare, I grabbed Tyco, nodded to my friend that I’d meet her up at the arena, and off we went.

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She mumbled some stuff about her job and having to move them home and apologized again. I nodded and kept scraping mud off of Tyco. She insisted that if the lameness was from his old “injury” that he’s been vetted many times and I would not be hurting him by continuing to work him. She also told me about how much better he would be this summer when he gets shoes and his injections and is back in work. I nodded again, thinking “that will be so nice for you” ya know, like a good horseborrower does when she knows her arrangement has a rapidly approaching end date.

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So handsome. "unique coloring"...

                                                         So handsome. “unique coloring”…

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She free lunges the mare and talks deep to the trainer about life. The trainer sighs watching the talented mare prance around envisioning her trail horse future.

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I am excited and a little nervous when my friend and I enter the arena. I want the owner to watch Tyco go so she can confirm any lameness but this is the first time she’ll have seen me ride so of course it feels like a tryout. I shouldn’t have been worried. Tyco was not spooky, and only had the slightest hitch in his trot that disappeared as we went on. The owner was complimentary in that way that makes you feel like she is half ecstatic to know her horse is in good hands, and half self-shaming as bits of jealousy creep in. It’s the tone she uses. “He is so happy, you know.” “He likes you, I can tell, he doesn’t like everyone.” “I bet you never get nervous to canter…”

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Yes, you know the type. I have all the feels she has at the same time. I understand.

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I am being a good horseborrower, but the mood is slightly somber. The owner chats with my friend as I smoothly move Tyco through his paces. He truly is liking this work- I have been working so hard on biomechanics stuff and he really seems to be responding to it. We are finding our stride together and he is remembering all the cool stuff he knows and can teach me. I am working on my own biomechanics, simultaneously, which is helping just as much. It is a pace thing. The general pace of the ride. It is not so fast that we are just cruising around on autopilot, but not so slow that we aren’t being productive. It is just right. I am listening to him and he is offering me good energy. I notice when he bulldozes through, thinking the work will be easier if we just go faster. Sometimes I feel like this type of work is like yoga: you can convince yourself (or the horse) that since it is slow, it’s not hard work, and then all of sudden you are exhausted from having worked so hard! For a few moments he is so light and I can ask anything: walk to canter, halt to trot, canter to walk, with the tilt of my pelvis or the weighting of a seat bone. My gosh, is that not just the best feeling?!

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              cookie face

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It is good for morale to have rides like this. Helps confirm that I am on the right track in my own training and is also a perfect reminder that if I were to buy a horse, this is the level of pre-installed training that would be ideal for me in this moment. Tyco knows how to use his body correctly but you have to ask for it and maintain it. He will happily pop a hip or shoulder out unless you provide a supportive channel. But he is an extremely willing partner and not easily frustrated. We are a good match right now.

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My friend and I had such a great pony club saturday. Our ride was quiet and we were both in the zone for most of it and both horses were just so relaxed and happy!

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A good Caturday had by all! So much goat beard...

                                           A good Caturday had by all! So much goat beard…

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Dressage is no dirty word for this girl.

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swl

Put the Lime in the Coconut

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I pulled into the barn on Sunday morning to ride and was super pleased to see that I was the only one there. 30 seconds later, one of the dressage trainers pulls in and tells me she was going to ride Tyco’s “sister”. They are currently sharing a saddle and halter so I knew I’d be waiting a while. I told her that was fine since I was meeting a friend anyway and she wasn’t there yet.

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Trainer rode sister Lippizaner, and I set to the task of scraping a thick layer of hairy mud off of Tyco. I get about half-way into the mud transfer process and up rolls a loud diesel truck. Tyco, surprisingly, wasn’t worried about the truck so I just kept on grooming like I wasn’t worried about it. Seconds later these guys start throwing hay bales into the loft above us with one guy running the bales to stack them and the other dude throwing them from the truck. Tyco has only ever lived outside so loud thumps followed by running footsteps right above us was very quickly too much for him to handle.

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Is it too much to ask that the guys shout into the barn that they are going to be in the loft loading hay?!?!?! They could see me in there as they pulled up!! wtf?!?

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Tyco was okay with the noise as they loaded the other side of the loft but when they came right over top of us he lost it. Luckily, I could sense things were escalating and quietly hooked up a lead rope, unclipped him from the cross-ties, turned him towards the exit in a very narrow window of time before he scooted out of the barn aisle. I flew my 1200lb gray kite around the parking lot for a minute before he relaxed. Meanwhile hay dude was like “uh, sorry…” Yeah, me too, hay dude, me too.

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                                                                     Loud food is scary food.

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After all of that craziness, I had a very mediocre ride. Tyco was pretty good; a little spooky and he yanked the reins a couple of times, but eventually settled into some really nice, STRAIGHT, walk work. I focused on some biomechanics stuff and tried to insist on straightness. Tyco wanted to MOVE and blew through these requests in the beginning of the ride. He kept swinging his haunches in randomly and we definitely did some drunk weaving as I tried to toe the line between correcting the crookedness and OVERcorrecting.

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He really started responding the second half of the ride. He was very light but connected in my hands and he felt tall and straighter. I trotted a little and crap….he was off. I cantered a bit thinking he might just be stiff and that was only so-so. I did some more walk work and waited for the trainer to come in with her lesson student and I had her watch us trot for a second. She agreed he was off and thought it was the same right front that occasionally flairs up from an old farrier fail (I guess, I don’t know many details). I was disappointed because, as regular readers will know, I only get to ride this guy for another month at the most. He worked so well at the walk though- worked up a lovely light lipstick.

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Would it be terrible if I continued to ride him? Mostly at the walk- this super slow, biomechanics focused walk?

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I don’t want to be THAT rider who cruises around oblivious to the creature in pain beneath her, but for the kind of lameness that tends to reappear and isn’t really as a result of some obvious acute injury…where is the line? I’m seriously asking…please chime in.

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The trainer said that he sometimes works out of it but she is also trying to throw a bunch of alternatives at me: I could possibly ride sibling lippizaner in lessons; I could ride her chronically spooky, low-thyroid, ulcer-prone, stifle injury recovered schoolmaster (i’m sure you can picture my face at this suggestion….), but I am wondering if just seeing Tyco through this lameness with some light work and TLC might be better?

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What do you think?

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  • give me your name so I can turn you in to the SPCA
  • a little rest might help, a little walking won’t hurt, go with your gut and keep riding

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swl

Sunset Ride

Look away!!!! **warning** the following images may be quite graphic for those of you with…oh how did the 900 facebook pony put it? Issues. You know, those of you who always take especially great care to ensure your horse is extra tidy every single time you ride.

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As a horseborrower, I’ve had to let some of that go. Not that I can’t spend hours grooming sometimes or not that I don’t appreciate when the horse I am riding looks especially sleek, it’s just that I don’t ever get to make decisions about things like mane length, clipping, diet, living conditions etc. I also am really 50/50 about it- I love to brush a horse until he gleams but I also don’t mind so much letting a horse be a horse. I have never shown a horse so maybe that has a lot to do with it. I also got used to ugly duckling status- when you ride a Belgian draft horse at small private dressage horse breeding and training barn, you kinda just have to learn to own it!

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I am riding an overweight, yellow, gray horse with an unruly mane, and a coating of mud for “boots”. We had plans for the year, okay?! It wasn’t always going to be this rough.

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That said, I am sooooo proud of that yellow lump for totally KILLING IT our first time flying solo AND in the outdoor arena!! I have ridden Tyco only twice previously and both were lessons in the indoor. There were decent enough reasons, but he was rather spooky both times. Last night there were two other riders about to ride in the indoor when I finally had him at least cleanER than when I arrived. I knew that there was still some standing water preventing full use of the already small arena, so I opted to at least check out the outdoor footing.

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It was a little crunchy, but not bad so I decided we would take a spin. He was so good and only spooked once when the whole herd in the adjacent pasture (it shares a fence with this outdoor) decided to kick up their heels and go for a run after all coming over to inspect the action in the arena. But it wasn’t even a crazy spook- he just mini-bolted into a canter I didn’t ask for and tossed his head a couple times. Super tame. He came right back to me and did not lose his mind after that. Good boy!

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Here he is “sorta spooking”. Note: all the horizontal shadows are horses going bananas in the field.

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I forgive his prehistoric appearance because of this face ❤

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Happy Wednesday Lesson Day to me!! Did you get a good ride in today?

swl