Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Exciting Opportunities

I have been asked to be a regular contributor to HorseJunkiesUnited! Which is super cool, and I am very excited to be a part of such a great team of horse enthusiasts. You can read my contributions here.

Anyway; I just wanted to post my Annual Holiday wishes to you all. I wish you a magic season, happiness and health, and time with your loved ones. May the new year bring you lots of time in the saddle, and money to enjoy every equine activity you want.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pippi comes in from the field

Just a little video I took yesterday. Pippi was in the field behind the barn, but came when I called for her. That is Sadie, the Aussie, in the creek with her.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just cause you can't see it.......

does NOT mean it aint there!

Hey, its me, Pippi. I figure its about time you hear from me. You know, the horses perspective. But in reality I am just so ticked off about what happened when my human came out to the barn Monday night. I really had thought that we had come further in our quest for mutual understanding and respect. Guess I was wrong!

First off, there is a new mare in the barn.
That's her behind me, the Dumbass!!
A young, dumb, disrespectful little thing. I tell you what, she better not start any crap with me. I may look sweet, but I'm not putting up with any shenanigans. She already tried to kick out at the feed Human, and that is just plain stooopid. They took her in the arena after that, and although she looked fine when she came back, she sure was singing a different tune. I heard they tortured her with a shopping bag!!! Yikes! My four will be on the ground at all times. Plus, who kicks the one that feeds ya? Dumbass!!

So anyways, after they returned her my human came and let me out of my room. I was happy to see the bearer of snacks and treats, the Goddess of Yummies, but I also knew this meant I was to work. Plus that talking human that stands in the arena for some of our rides was there, and I know that means extra work for me. I don't dislike her, because she has helped it get easier to lug my Human about, but she sure makes me work hard. And my Human breathes so much harder with her there. Its annoying.
We were trotting around the arena when an enormous monster showed up in the corner behind the gates that are stacked there.
Is it still there?
It startled the heck out of me. I mean, I jumped, and froze, and then I just ducked sideways. Every creature for themselves. I am no hero folks! Since a Human can open all doors and manages to handle those big square travel monsters, I am thinking they can handle an arena monster right? WRONG!!
Who stays where there are monsters? Really!
Apparently they expect me not to startle at that sort of thing. Come again? Oh really, you leave me down here on the ground, climb safely up on me, and still expect me to stay and fight off monsters? Yeah, I don't think so! How about I climb on your back, and then you handle it, okay?

They acted like I was craycray! Like there was no monster at all! Like I was seeing things. Yeah, I did see things; a freakin' monster!! I really can not tell you how upsetting it was to be made to stand there, and then forced to walk close to the monster over and over again. I kept telling them it was there, staring right at it, but I guess I am crazy! I'm the crazy one?
Ever see those movies where the house says "Get out!" in a real menacing tone. I guess my human would be one of the ones to stay in a house like that, Not me, I am sooooo Gone!!

 Somehow we survived, no thanks to the Humans, and we lived to ride another day. Human came back last night and since there were no monsters in the arena, we had a decent ride. She was so happy that the monsters were gone that she treated me really well. I even got carrots. Makes me wonder if I should "see" monsters more often, and then not "see" them the next ride? Might be good plan.

I smelled carrots yesterday, so I looked for them everywhere.

Finally, I just asked:
Do you have any carrots for the Monster slayer?

Yeah, I see more monsters coming on.......

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Part Three - Enabling and its Pitfalls

You can read Part One and Part Two if you missed them by clicking on those links.

I think it is important to know your horses limitations and which battles to avoid with your horse. There are things that you may chose to avoid confronting with your horse, due to a variety of issues that may not come under the heading of enabling.
For example, Pippi can not be clipped. We tried for a year to desensitize her to clippers, and made some headway on her legs, but a bridle path or her face was out of the question. When she had some teeth work done, we decided to take advantage of her drugged state and try to clip her bridle path and muzzle. She walked two people out of her stall, and just about came unglued. It was at that point that I said "enough!" We can use scissors, and bikini shavers and I was no longer willing to fight this battle, potentially hurting her and us. (I could go into all the ways that we tried to work with her on this, suffice it so say we tried it all (daily) for over a year.)

What I mean when using the term "enabling," is when someone allows their horse to not handle routine things. Things that they should, and quite frankly has to in order to be a safe horse, handle, but their human shelter them from. Pippi not clipping does not affect anyone but her and I, and it puts no one in danger. (Clipping her does!)
When you take your horse to a show, or a clinic, trail ride, whatever, there are certain things that your horse should be able to handle. Routine things like another horse being lunged (with a lunge whip), trucks and trailers being moved around, horses coming out of those trailers, music, announcements, horses being worked in arenas or running in a field, people yelling and making noises, horses being hosed off, water buckets being filled and dumped, wheel barrows, etc etc. This is all routine horse show stuff. If you have a young horse, they will be nervous and perhaps a jumpy mess, but sheltering them does not help in the long run. Instead, it is important to stay calm, and let your horse get used to it.


If you go on a trail ride, your horse must cross water more than likely, so if you don't want to tackle that, don't go.

When it rains the arena will be sloppy, make your horse deal with it, or go home. Do not ask that the clinic/show/whatever be moved inside because your horse doesn't like to get dirty. (Pippi is a Princess, so this would be a battle for me)

They will announce you at a show, deal with it! Do not ask the show not to announce you and your horse because it bothers the horse, you are not the Queen of the Universe, and your horse will never get over it unless you deal. Stand close to speakers leading up to your ride, and your horse will get the drift. Or not, either way, you decided to go to a show and they announce stuff there.

Do not ask other riders to stop clipping their horse in their stall next to yours because your horse (Pippi) is afraid of the sound. Instead, ask that they stop for just a moment so that you can remove your horse. Go for a walk perhaps? It is your horse that has a problem, so your horse has to go, not theirs.

If your horse kicks out at other horses when they come close, put a BIG red ribbon on its tail. Sure, people should always keep their distance, but since your horse is the "aggressor", how about you give a reminder to the other riders? It doesn't mean that your horse is mean, it means you are a considerate and responsible equestrian. I am considering one even though Pippi has not kicked out (she pins her ears a bit), just because I think people ride too close and I would hate to get anyone hurt.

Do not expect horses stalled near you not to be fed whenever. Sure, your horse may have a conniption because their neighbor is eating. Throw yours some hay and teach your horse to deal.

Other people will lunge their horse with a whip, and they may even crack that whip. I don't mean, Indiana Jones style, whipping it around like a lunatic, or hurting their horse, but just your every day average lunge whip style. You know: Trot! 1-2-3 and Swoosh/crack whip, to get desired reaction from horse. Your horse is out in public, and should be able to handle seeing another horse being lunged with the accompanying whip. If it doesn't, you need to go home and desensitize this. Another option is to ask the other rider to stop "cracking their whip," which will at some point or another result in you pissing off a person who has shown admirable skill with a whip. I wouldn't advice it!

By not insisting that your horse deal with these type of things, you are enabling your horse to not learn and grow. Dealing with these issues is not just better for you, but it helps grow your horses self confidence. A horse needs to learn to do its job regardless of what average stuff is happening around them.
Pippi, for example, needs to stay on the bit even when a fly is buzzing around her face. She needs to learn to keep her attention on me, even when a trailer is being unloaded directly beside the arena (with great parking nearby I might add - aaargghhh). She needs to pick up her cues, even when a horse is running at a gallop on a lunge line in the next arena.

 And if I for some reason chose to enable my horse, like with the clipping, it is MY problem. You should NEVER EVER EVER ask another rider to help you enable your horse by asking them to cease doing their normal behavior. You are in fact not the Queen of the Universe, and the world does not revolve around you and your horse. If your horse can't play ball, or needs the rules changed to accommodate their issues, go home and start your own league. Or go home, work on your issues, and try again another day. "Bomb proof" horses became bomb proof not by running for shelter, or asking the bomber to stop, but by learning that the sound was not in fact an explosion.

Just sayin'......

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Part Two - Enabling and its Pitfalls!

It may be helpful to read Part One first, you can do that by clicking here.

I'd like to give an example of what I am talking about, by fessing up to my own mistake. When I first started working with Pippi by myself, she made me nervous on the lunge line. She would pull rather hard, and hop about, tossing her head, and coming closer to me. It made me nervous, and I felt as though she was being aggressive towards me. One day my Trainer happened to be in the barn as we were warming up on the lunge, and I asked her about this behavior. Trainer offered to lunge her, and gave me a "how to lunge" lesson. Pippi acted just the same with her initially, and I asked if it was aggressive behavior. Oh no, she said, Pippi is just full of herself and playing around a bit. "This is normal, does not bother me." She showed me to how to be more effective, and after that our lunge line warm ups were a breeze. Pippi still throws her head, hops a bit, and puts on her "I'm a Bad Ass" face when we first start, but now I know that it is just playful and it does not scare me. I even laugh and tease her about her "Bad Ass self."
Without that instruction two things could have happened; I could have lunged with no objective as I was scared to contain Pippi due to her perceived anger, or I could have become very heavy handed in trying to contain the anger. The anger that was not even present!

So that is one example of how we think we "read" our partners so well, but may in fact see it all wrong. Someone with a broader experience, and whose heart and soul is not tied into this horse, may just have the objective eye we need.

Next time I will give an example of how this may play out in a public setting, such as a horse show or clinic.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Part One of "Enabling and its pitfalls"

As a "professional show mom", new rider, I think it is invaluable to have Trainers and Clinicians that have a true understanding of the horse. One that tells you that your assessment of what happens with your horse may be faulty. Sometimes we get trapped in all the "knowing our horses" and the "partnership," that we read the signals way wrong.
You may know your horse, and think you know its motivations, but someone with broader experience of horses in general may be able to point out the flaws in your reasoning. Maybe your horse seems angry to you, but is in fact just showing off a bit. Or maybe you should be more stern, instead of backing off because you have read the signals wrong. Each horse is an individual, and yes, you know your horse better than anyone, but sometimes that relationship can become one of enabling. The horse is allowed to not be able to handle something, because that is just "how he is."
There is a difference between knowing ones limitations and quitting, and sometimes it takes a professional to point out the difference.

More thoughts on this to come......

Monday, September 9, 2013

Saddle shopping woes!

I am in need of a new saddle, as the old one is just too small and does not fit my long legs at all. It is fine for now, meaning I can ride in it, I just need to consider a new one for the future. Now that we are trying to make the canter look good, it is just becoming apparent that my saddle may be part of my issue with my legs.

And so I started to do some research, and holy smokes Batman, I am already dismayed and exhausted. The many brands are dizzying, and the cost is just gross. I am cheap, plus I have two kids in college; the day I spend thousands of dollars on a saddle is the day after I win the lottery.


Pippi is a wide QH body style horse. I am tall, 5'10" with a 33" inseam. Please give me advice, and let me know what you know as all I know is that I don't know anything.

Thanks guys.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Exercising my Option

According to the USDF rules, braiding your horse for shows is "optional." That means that you may do so, or you may not, it is up to you. A judge can not deduct points for an unbraided mane or tail. The unwritten rule, according to those "in the know", is that you should always braid your horse. A real DQ (Dressage Queen) braids!

I am not a real DQ apparently, as I have no plans on braiding Pippi for any show. She was blessed with the thickest, longest, shiniest most beautiful mane and tail, and I consider it sacrilege to cut, pull, or in any way constrict that gift.
Oh-we did, for years! When Pippi was Miranda's partner, her mane was kept short, and braided for shows, and I grumbled. The moment Pippi and I were sent lose together, she became a long haired Hippie and together we are rejecting conventional values and letting that hair flow.

Although I have all kinds of reasons for why this is a stand that I am choosing to take, it really comes down to what I like, what Pippi likes and what I think is a valuable use of our time. I have had a range of reactions, but most of them are "that's just how its done." "There is a standard that one must agree to, and braiding is part of the deal in showing your horse." Or something to that effect.
Or I hear that it shows the horses neck better when braided. Or that is shows respect for the judge. Most times I am met with incredulity, like "why even show your horse if you refuse to play by the rules?" (The rule is that it is "optional.")

Sure, I will admit it, I am very much the non-conformist when it comes to arbitrary societal pressure. When I think something is a waste of energy and time, I will not comply. I would much rather spend my time (of which we all have way too little) giving Pippi a massage, playing a game with her, and/or grazing around the showgrounds getting used to the sights and sounds of our new surroundings. I'd much rather that she and I get a bit more rest, and feel calm, happy and excited.

So many times I hear from fellow riders "Omg - I still have to braid! Eeek!" and watch them scurry off to tug, pull and tie away. Sure, many of them seem to like it, and most of horses just stand around munching hay and taking it all in stride. It's all part of the sacred showtime rituals they enjoy, and that gets them ready to tackle the day.
But for me, all that jazz just makes me feel constricted, and stressed. I don't like it. Maybe not braiding is a reminder for me to take it easy. This is for fun, not to be taken too seriously. It reminds me that Pippi and I are doing our own thing, and that this is for the two of us. We want to do our best, we ride and practice hard and often, but our best is only achieved through us being free flowing, and us.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have no barriers, no screen for the words that fall out of my mouth. I am rude, crude, but socially acceptable. Often I shock myself, but I am always Me; free flowing, off the charts, happy-go-lucky, get it done, no frills me!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dressage Debut for Team Pippi!

A few months ago, when Krystal first said she was going to have a Dressage show, I was thrilled. We don't have a local show, so without a truck getting to a show was going to be an ordeal. I was scheduled to go to a ODSs' (Ohio Dressage Society) show in August, but when a local show became a reality I decided to forgo the cost and trouble of a "big" show. It is after all our first outing, and why spend more when you can spend less? The local show was going to have a great and experienced judge, and isn't that really all that matters?

So we trained, and planned for our show debut.
On Thursday last week, Pippi was trailered to the show grounds, and after helping set up the dressage arena, we were the first ones to try it out. Pippi was a hot trotting speed demon, and I thought we would have the best time for Intro Test A and B ever. Too bad that is not done.

On Friday afternoon/evening we tried it again, and I felt we were doing great. Speed was right on, and Pippi worked through a lot of noises, new horses and excitement. Gone was the Spookin' fool.

Saturday dawned and I felt ready and calm. No nerves to speak of. That might have a lot to do with the type of week I had, holy smokes, but lets not rehash that and elevate my heart rate again.
I fed Pippi at seven a.m., and helped set up canopies and ready some things for the show. At 8:15 or so, I started to lunge Pippi. Only I didn't have Pippi, some other horse had taken residence in her body. NO energy at all. I swear she would have leaned against the wall if I let her. Ridiculous. I was chasing her around the arena, begging for a Canter, and using the whip like a mad woman. I checked her over, looking for pain, etc, nothing seemed amiss, just lazy horse. Although the tortoise wins the race, I needed my hare back and quick!!

We rode at 9:12, and I warmed up in the outdoor. There was a lot of commotion, but Pippi was unfazed. Wrong word, Pippi was comatose!
We finally entered the arena, and when the bell rang we entered the Dressage arena. My goal was to ride an accurate test. All I cared about was doing the test right, at my best of course, but accuracy was the main goal. Prove that we could do it. And we did, but S     L      O     W    L    Y   . OH SO VERY SLOWLY.
I was pumping my legs, squeezing her, holding, kicking, urging, and we still went slow. Pippi may have fallen asleep at one point. I think I heard snoring from the sidelines.
After salute, some beaming on my part, some brief suggestions from judge (schooling show; ride test, brief suggestions, ride again, and best score stands), and we did it again. Guess what judge said? "More energy!" Oh really? I hadn't noticed. She also said a bunch of nice things like: "lot of good going on here," "beautiful trot," and "already see some uphill movement and she is accepting contact very well."
Ride two was better, but still lethargic. But I was beaming, just thrilled!! I knew we had done our best, minus the energy issue, and I was just so happy.
 At 10:12 we rode Intro Test B.
Pippi had woken up, and we were finally moving with some semblance of speed. Test B flew by quite quickly. I was able to relax my legs, and concentrate more on circle sizes and bend, now that Pippi was more forward on her own. Thank goodness. We did that one twice as well. The judge gave us good tips, and made a comment about "when you move up the levels." I could have whooped with joy. Judge believed in us, and that was awesome!

After our tests I refused to check my scores, although they were available. I wanted to bask in the joy of being so very happy without knowing the particulars. Pippi and I had done it, and that was just so overwhelming I wanted to sit with that joy for a while.

Donna and I had decided that a score over 40 would make us happy, and a score over 45 would make us ecstatic. (we didn't know, as this was our first show) At noon they announced placings, and we were stunned to get a third place (out of four) for Test A, and a second place (out of five) for Test B. Woohoo!!
Still didn't know my score though.....

After lunch I took over scoring duties, and started to put all the scores on a master sheet. I flipped my first test over, and gasped. A 60.00! Flipped over second try; a 61.25!

Oh MY!! I then quickly looked at my other tests, where I received a 62.5 and a 64.375.

I handed them to Donna who was elated at the 60.00, and congratulated me enthusiastically. That's when I said "that's not the best one Donna." She flipped over to the next one, gasped, I shook my head, she flipped to the next one, bigger gasp, I shook my head again. At the last one she was just quiet for a moment. Her expression akin to that of a Lottery winner, and then she just quietly high fived me, and then laughed all the way from her toes. "And we thought 40 would be good!!"

Joy shared is doubled!

Pippi was sleeping when I went to hug her, and I let her sleep. I have never seen her sleep before, and it was so touching. She was tired. A new barn had worn her plum out, but she still gave me the ride of my life!

When she arrived "home" last night my Trainer had put a sign on her stall that read "Congratulations!" It was Good to be home!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

"That is my Favorite Horse!"

I didn't ride for very long yesterday, a storm was blowing in and it was unbearably hot/humid. My helmet made my head so heated I thought it was going to explode, so 20 minutes was enough.

Afterwards Pippi was cross tied in the wash bay as I untacked her. A lady and her grand-daughter stopped by looking for the BO. I said she might be in the house, as the only ones in the barn were Pippi and I. The lady turned to the girl who was around 12, and said "that's your favorite horse."
The girl stepped forward and said that Pippi was indeed her favorite horse. I immediately agreed of course, but stated that the BO's horses are pretty great too.

With the most sincere and earnest voice the girl said: "No, that is my Favorite Horse. Ever."

Pippi gets that reaction a lot from little girls. There is something about her look and sweetness that draws them in, and she knows exactly how to manipulate a person to get a treat. She is not too big, she is beautiful, has a long thick mane, and big warm eyes that look right at a person. I also think she is so still that people feel safe. When she gets a connection she starts the mind meld, and with a twitch or two of the muzzle the treats are handed over. Never fails.

Apparently this girl stops by when Pippi is in the field, and "even though I have never ever given her a treat she comes to me every time." So I guess this was more of a long range treat plan for Pippi, because all that sweetness paid off last night. And the girl was told that she can bring Pippi a carrot or an apple once in a while if she wants to. Pippi wins again!

Monday, July 8, 2013

How important is the Equestrian vs. The Horse?

I think this is a questions we all ponder at times, and it sure is something that comes up in discussions with non-riders. We just sit there, and the horse does all the work. Right?

Equestrians tend to bristle at that, rightfully so. We know how much work and dedication it takes to make it look like we "just sit there." Out goal is to make it look like we just "sit there," to make it look effortless. So we could chose to take that statement as a compliment I suppose.
But I think the real answer to how much "just sitting" we do, depends largely on the horse. Pippi is a ride every stride type of mount. If you want her to stay on the rail and go straight, you have to ride that or she will fall-in and stop in the middle of the arena. If you are unsure, she will take over and do what she wants to do. She is just waiting for an opportunity to do so. She is never robotic, NEVER, and demands that you stay focused as well. Super sensitive, but also demanding that you send clear messages and follow through. She is connected to her rider, and demands a connection back.
I know another horse that is totally different. This horse does its job. Regardless of what the riders does. She hears the loudspeaker announce "Trot, Trot your horses" and she picks up the trot. Forward she goes. She knows to trot for ground-poles, and cross-rails and she does. The riders, beginners and children, are safe and secure and have to do very little to get a great result, and they would have to do a lot to really screw it up. I have seen little girls with little to no skills look awesome on this horse, and beam with their blue ribbons.  She is a great horse to get a rider comfortable and gather self esteem, but not such a great horse to really learn on. She does it all automatically. No steering or anything really needed.

So how important is the rider vs. the horse? The answer is; It Depends! With some horses the rider is 90% of the ride, while with others the horse is. It depends on the training level of the horse mostly. Some horses like Pippi demands that you partner up, plus we are both learning new skills and so neither of us is automatic right now. Another horse may have a rider that is super green, but be so seasoned that the ribbons flow like water.
Sometimes it is hard, when you are working really hard, to know that you can't beat the team with the seasoned horse and the rider that is greener than you. But I do think you are allowed to take some extra pride in the fact that you are training your own horse, and so have more than just yourself to worry about. I do, and I will not be ashamed of that. I loved watching Pippi and Miranda because Miranda trained Pippi herself. My pride was doubled, and the joy was as well. When Pippi and I finally compete, hopefully in August, I will also be extra nervous. I don't have a push button horse, but I do have a real partner.

And by the way, here is pet-peeve of mine: if you are going to put on Facebook (or in a blog) that you placed in a class, please also say how many entries were in your class. The great thing about that kind of honesty is that when you place among few you look humble, and when you place in a big class you have earned the right to say so. Just my two cents.....

Friday, July 5, 2013

The more we know.... (not about horses)

I came across a picture of my first love a few weeks ago. Facebook sure brings the world to your front door huh?

I fell in love with this fella, lets call him "Surf," in the midst of the most dramatic period of my life. My mom had just suddenly passed away (within weeks), and I was alone in the world it seemed. Both my Brother and my absent parent had significant others, and I was all alone at the age of 18. I was, in hindsight, a sitting duck. Except I was not sitting, I was running after this fella like a little duckling.

He drove a cool car:
It was SOOO coool in 1989!

He did this for fun: 

He trained German Shepherds for the Royal Airforce, and wore a uniform a lot of the time. Come on, he was like THE COOLEST guy ever!!! He was good looking, liked to read books and poetry, and was the life of any gathering. 
He was also a few years older than me, and since I considered myself mature beyond my years, I felt that made sense. In reality I was mature in some ways, but had zero (zilch, nada, none) experience in many areas in terms of relationships and the inter-personal situations. At this point I knew that if you somehow was emotionally hurt by a person in a relationship, it was by accident and an oversight that could be explained and reasoned with. The other person didn't mean it because they loved you. How did I know he loved me? He said so!! DUH!! He told me about how he had never felt so connected with another person, not even his on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend. He said we were like a split soul, about how he could share all of himself with me, about how the hurts of his other relationship had damaged him, and that he was the luckiest guy in the world to have found me - the most loving understanding girl in the world. We would go for walks at the beach, sit and watch the waves, and eat ice cream. We had "our beach" where we would meet, and discuss he latest book he had given me, and talk for hours. Or I would hang out in his apartment while he played the guitar. But mostly we would meet at the beach. Okay - not just mostly.....we met at the beach, or he came to my house (I lived alone since Mom died). I was at his apartment perhaps twice. 
It was bliss!! He was so funny. He totally "got me" and all my messed up self (I saw myself that way). It was great to have someone to feel connected to. I had never been the kind of girl guys wanted. I was too tall, too skinny, too weird, too opinionated, too flat chested, and I had no idea how to play the flirty games other girls were so good at. I could only be described as "AWKWARD!!" Weird! Different! I know people say that, but I had not really had a boyfriend at all, and all my friends had all kinds of experience. I had even started lying to my friends, and pretend that I had done "stuff." So, that this super cool guy was interested was just awesome. I was head over heels. 

It continued for a few months. He came to my house one night, and broke it off, only to come back a few hours later ( I had cried for hours by then) to say that he just "couldn't stay away." It was complicated. I was so young, and he was so messed up, and with his military schedule he just didn't have time for me, and it was just not fair to me for him to be in a relationship with me. Wasn't he thoughtful? But he just couldn't follow through with staying away from his soul mate. He loved me so! Bliss!!

I decided to go visit my absent parent who lived in another country, and brought my best friend with me. I called his house from there after we arrived (no cell phones back then), and his ex-girlfriend answered....what? I asked for him, and she said he was in the shower. What? I swear my mind just shut off, but I asked who she was, and she answered "Soandso, his girlfriend" (all smiley voice on the phone) and explained that they had been moving her stuff in all day. Say....what now? I asked her to say that I had called and if he could please call me back, and she said "of yeah, you are "Ricks" sister right?" Yeah, I am ....(I had met him through my brother who was in the same battalion). I never heard from Surf again.....

I so wish I could say that I learned a valuable lesson that day. That I learned that people will work hard, make diligent plans, and lie right to your face, and feel no remorse what so ever.That they will keep it up for ever, for as long as it works and they get what they want/need. I wish I could say that I learned that people will use you in ways that gives them what they need at the time, that they will assume that you know "whats going on" and even if you don't just shrug their shoulders and take no blame. I wish I learned that you go from Victim to Volunteer without missing a beat, and that you may not know it and see the truth of it for years to come. But I didn't learn it right then. It was plain to see, but seeing it would have forced me to take a look at my own weaknesses and I was so fragile from my mothers death I didn't have the strength. Or the maturity and wisdom to stop and make sure I learned that lesson. Instead I trudged on, and made more mistakes in the same realm. 

I know it now. I should have understood this my whole life. My dad is a cheater, and the turmoil it caused our lives should have taught me this lesson about the lengths people go to. But although I saw my father lie, sneak around and cause devastation without guilt, I just didn't get it. Because it is not something that I would ever do, I just couldn't see that others would. The more we know......

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Instincts - I have 'em.....

In my last few posts I have stated that I wanted my old farrier to come out and take a look at Pippi. She tossed me off last week, after fighting me on her right lead, and for the last few weeks has been standing with her right hind under her body with her toe pointed out. Some of her attitude is undoubtedly from "summer time Pip," but some of it is her being uncomfortable. I saw a hitch in her right hind, the hock and stifle seemed stiff to me. No one else saw it. My Trainer really looked, and Miranda looked and she was certainly not off or lame. But.............. I saw something. She was just not the flowy Pippi that I am used to. And her mood was just in the toilet.

So today, my old farrier came out. She had grown out enough for him to have something to work with, and his busy schedule had some room. I was careful not to tell him what I saw, I just said I would like for him to take a look at her. ( I did say that she was acting stiff and sore). When he arrived he took a quick look, stated he liked the look of her fronts, and asked me to show him how she moved. In the indoor he had me trot up, and he immediately said her right hind was dragging and she seemed stiff on that side. YESSSSSS!!! He lifted her right hind and tucked it up tight, held it for a few minutes and asked me to trot off the moment he dropped it. Pippi had no negative reaction when he did, and she actually seemed smoother and softer. He stated that if she was in any major pain, that would have shown with that stretch. I have been doing that stretch and a forward stretch, and it had helped, but the hitch always returned.
He had assumed when I called that the new farrier had not trimmed her fronts to help her dropped shoulder. He thought that this might have hurt her whole carriage, but that was not the case. He was very happy with the trim on her fronts, and was pleased with the work. The right hind was too long in the toe, and too short on the inside, and too long on the outside. To be fair to the new farrier he thought it may have worn that way, he is a really nice guy, but I know it was like that right after her last trim. When he lifted it, and took a closer look there was also a small split in the hoof. Nothing major, and when re-aligned and balanced, it should not grow or become an issue. After he finished up, Pippi was a different horse. She stood square, and had both hinds side by side. I asked him to pick up her left hind, to see how she balanced herself. In the last few weeks she has not liked to stand on her right hind, and has cocked her hips funny when I did. She now stood totally balanced, and no longer sticks that foot under herself. And she was just chill. Looking at me with an expression of "aaahhhh, finally....."

So, I realized that I do have one good eye. I can tell when a horse is in pain and where the hitch is. And I will  trust my gut from now on. As far as the attitude, well let;s just see. One thing is for sure, Pippi has no other good excuses. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The ups and downs of riding ( I ate dirt!)

And by that I mean, Pippi went up and down, and then I really went down. No harm done, so no reason to worry. Here is what happened:

I arrived to ride last night after work, and Pippi seemed fine. The farrier that comes to where I board, does a decent job, but I was not happy with the way he trimmed her hind legs the last time. Pippi has been sticking her right hind under her body, and turning it out at the toe. The heel seems really low, to me. I noticed it before the clinic, and placed a call to my previous farrier who was out of town. I had wanted her looked at before the clinic, but as she was not lame, off, or seemingly in pain, we went on with the plan that he would come out when it was time for the next trim so he would actually have something to work with. So we moved on.....

Here is the deal, I am writing this with the benefit if hindsight, and so it all seems too obvious now, Pippi has been uncomfortable. In my defense, Pippi has a Mt.Everest high pain tolerance, which we know since her tendon injury where she never even favored the leg with a giant hole in the tendon. But there have been signs, that I overlooked. And I pride myself on always giving her the once over before I ride. I was stoopid!!

I longed her on the line first with the right lead. She was not wanting to move out, but it was hot, so I "encouraged" quite a bit. Her walk was fine, her trot was fine, but her canter was unenthusiastic to say the least. She would toss her head, and quit repeatedly. She finally gave me a full circle, and we switched directions. With the left lead, she was better at all three gaits. Cantered like a champ. So I mounted up.

The plan was to work on bend, transitions and circles. Started out on the left lead, and did awesome. Best 20m canter we have ever had. I then switched direction, and Pippi immediately fought me. Did not want to stay on the rail, tossing her head, and being obstinate. And that was just at the Trot!! I pushed her and she gave in, and when we had a great trot I asked for the canter. And that is when Pippi lost her mind. She hopped and popped across the arena, tossing me up on her neck. I was shocked, and just holding on. (The plans we have on how to handle this kind of thing totally out the window) I looked up while riding her neck and saw the wall coming at me, which, I must say, was rather sobering. At about a foot away Pippi also saw it and popped back, backing at 100mph and that is when I fell/dropped to the ground somewhere in the middle of the arena. I can't tell which as I sort of allowed myself to fall. Landed on my left hip, smart enough not to try to catch myself with my hands, and rolled sideways away from Pippi. She stood still, panting, near (over) me, as I got up quickly. I knew right away that I was not hurt, and reached for the reins. She never shied off, and looked rather sheepishly at me. Looked her over, and we walked around for a while until our hearts slowed and the panic subsided.
I then mounted her again. This time going left lead. Walk, trot and canter (must show horse we will work, plus remind myself that canter is not deadly) went perfect. Turned to right lead, and she was testy. So I hopped off, and we were done. When untacked I checked her all over (she never once seemed concerned with me), and cold hosed her tendon just in case. It did not seem swollen. Her right hind was now even more under her, and more turned outward at the toe.

The lesson here is. PAY ATTENTION!!!! Pippi was only fighting me in the right lead, so she was not being difficult, she was in pain. And when her subtle hints were ignored, she was pushed to the breaking point. And she broke. I am just a bit sore today, kind of like after a hard work out. I walked over 3 miles last night to work out the kinks, and I think it may have helped. I am waiting to hear from Farrier, and then we will see......

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

News Round Up!

So, after the successful stop at the Vets office on Friday, we loaded up a sleepy Pip and headed to a local facility for a weekend clinic.
The clinic was held by Amanda Wilson, a great Eventer, and I was to have a Dressage lesson with her on Saturday. Pippi was amazed to be back at this facility, I think, as we boarded there quite a while back. It is a beautiful place, with all the amenities, but our experience there was dreadful. They have changed management several times since, oh I know, turn over at a boarding facility? What? Drama? What?

I digress. After Pippi was able to relax for a few hours, four actually, I tacked her up and longed her in the indoor arena. No sign of her being wobbly after drugs, so I decided to ride her. First we took a walk around the arena to look for horse eating monsters, that as you know come in any color and size imaginable. We found one in the far corner. It was the tall , grey version, with three spindly long legs, that sometimes stands in the arenas spitting liquid and turning its tiny little head around and around. Oh man, we thought it had us, but I felt brave and approached slowly snorting and bobbing my head. Pippi could not believe how brave I was, and not being one to be shown up followed behind snorting and sneaking up with me. The monster was clearly dead, or asleep (or actually a water sprinkler) so we moved on after we both gave it a good ones over with our muzzles. (I have found that with Pippi it is much quicker for me to play scared horse and for us to investigate together, than to "encourage" her to go forth with a "its nothing, see?" approach/retreat plan. When we used to do that it could take a while, and Pippi would start fighting me and just get more upset. I would handle the object and she would get pissed off. Then it occurred to me that she does not have hands, and I swear it ticked her off that I would disregard her feelings. Now that I mirror them, we can get over it as a team.) Our ride was uneventful, although she was a bit "looky." I do have to mention that Donna was amazed when I cantered and stated "Look at you, I can't believe you are just Canter like that."

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, with a nice little breeze. I watched the only other Dressage clinic of the day, the others chose to jump, and felt better about how mine would go. Seems Pippi and I have some skills after all. I longed a VERY "looky" Pippi in the indoor, and decided to do the same outside. I walked up and down the arena (it was lunch time) so Pippi would be working, but had a chance to see her surroundings. She was definetly on alert, and when I mounted up she high trotted me across the arena. I pulled back, but having the simple snaffle she disregarded easily. So I yanked! She stopped, and I whispered to her that she needed to follow through on her end of the deal. (I take care of her and she takes care of me.) And she did. Our lessons started and she was AWESOME!!!
Lots of 20m circles, and W/T changes, working on bend and staying off the forehand. When she carried herself, I asked her to slow as a reward, when she leaned I sped up. After just a few circles I had longer and longer times with little/no weight in the reins. Yippee!! I was reminded to get the gait, and then in the next stride get the bend. Then we cantered and did the same thing. The hour flew by, and I loved every minute!! Figure 8's with 20m circles, and bend changes. Pippi had what Amanda Wilson called some "snarky" moments, but nothing to worry about. She just tends to take over when I falter. Somebody has to drive the train, and she thinks it might as well be her since I clearly quit.

Amanda asked if I had any questions about half way through, and I asked what I knew Donna was thinking "how long until you say Pippi is too small for me?" She said instead that my leg is a little too long for Pippi, but that Pippi was clearly the right horse for me. "She puts up with your new rider faults, and takes care of her rider. She is a been there/done that horse, who is very honest and a great teacher. Worth her weight in gold."

Miranda chuckled when Amanda said "takes care of her rider." And stated "she only takes care of Mom." And I have to agree. Pippi is not half as patient with Miranda as she is with me, and has not hesitated to show Miranda her displeasure at times. But to her credit, Pippi is following through on her end of the deal, with slight reminders, and I sure take care of her.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pippi - High as a Kite!!

Please to enjoy:

Pippi was given a sedative for the Ultrasound we had done last Friday. Her leg had to be clipped and she had to stand still so the Vet could get a good read. She was so confused.
The first thing she did after she received the shot, was take a step forward and put her face into the crook of my arm. She leaned more and more as the sedative took hold, and drooled into my hip. I could feel her teeth on my hip bone, slobber soaking my shirt. The video above is from right after the ultra sound was completed.

I had read countless articles, watched videos, checked out images and was well armed with information as to what a healed Tendon should look like in an ultra sound image. As I was watching the screen from behind and over, I did not have a clear view. When I first saw a giant round black spot, I panicked. Sheer sweat panic!. I was convinced that she was not healed at all, and that all our work had been too soon and way too much. Had to concentrate and not hyperventilate.

After the Vet was done, he showed me the images, and (cue the angel horns) all was well. I was able to see the fibers in the black hole, and saw that they were attached all around and evenly spaced. YIPPEEE!!

Pippi is doing great. She could still improve a bit more, but the Vet stated that she is at the end stage of healing. At the one year anniversary (Labor day) it will be as good as its gonna get. Doc did not give us any restrictions, but the chance for re-injury is greater with jumping. He recommended strongly that we limit our jumping, to cross rails and 18" fences, as the impact from that height is about the same as a canter. Anything higher would "torque" the tendon, and a cause injury. He did warn me that tendons are weaker after injury, and that with the size of her "hole"....... well, he was impressed with my slow and steady rehab. Seems lots of riders rush that, and the horse pays the price.

So, we are back baby!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kindness wins again.....

So, I am going to the clinic, and I am even stopping at the Vets office. Yep - that's right. Two different people, and old friend and a new friend, both offered to haul Pippi there. One insisted that we still stop at the vets appointment to get Pippi's leg Ultra sounded. She says she know how it feels to wonder if all is well, and wants me to have the peace of mind of knowing for sure.

Sometimes things work out after all...... Thanks to awesome people.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You are complete and perfect!

One of the mantras I repeat to myself is that I am enough. I have told my children, and will again, that they are complete and perfect just the way they are. This is not a cop out thing, it is not a reason to reject new ideas, or refuse to grow, it is just a reminder that there is nothing inherently wrong with us. We make mistakes, we learn from them and make new choices; that is enough. We give of ourselves, learn to set boundaries and lean on others, we are complete. We are perfect examples of the human species, show quality, every one of us. I am unique, just like everyone else.

And so is Pippi. She is totally perfect just the way she is. A horse. She knows how to take care of herself, and functions just fine without me asking her to do a thing. It is in the asking that I "force" her to adapt to rules not ingrained in her makeup. If horses were meant to carry humans, their backs would have been flat and much more suited to carry heavy loads. But we know that they can carry us, we know the bond and enjoyment it gives. We also know that a horse without those skills can not survive in the world. And so although she is perfect for what she is, a horse, I ask more of her. She now has to adhere to all my rules, and in exchange for this compliance I take care of her needs. But I must keep in mind, that she was enough before the training started, and that I have not altered her to be better. It was all there before we showed up. She was a complete diamond, Miranda just brought out the shine. A diamond is, after all, a diamond even before it sparkles in a ring.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pippi saves the Day

Miranda came with me to the barn last night. She has been really busy, and so she has not accompanied me for a while. She did come and watch one of my sessions at the clinic I attended, and she told me she was "proud of me." Which was my favorite compliment of course. Miranda is a great rider, and I get to say that because she is my daughter, and plus she is just great all the way around.

So off to the barn we went. It had been a really bad day for us, and so some Equine therapy was just what we needed. I rode first, and was able to keep Pippi cantering for more than a circle. I figured out that when I drop my eyes, Pippi slows to a trot, so that was a huge break through. She was throwing her head a bit, and I wondered if she was just energetic knowing Miranda was there. Miranda thought it was because I bounce my hands too much.
Then Miranda mounted up, and Pippi turned into Professional Show Horse. She was on the bit, nice and rounded through her back, and her trot was amazing. So steady and flowy it could bring a tear to your eye, which was probably just the dust from the arena, ahem. Pipi did not throw head, so I was wrong about that. Good to know. A great rider sure makes a huge difference. Pippi cantered smoothly, a bit too fast, but not the hand gallop that I tend to get. They rode for about half an hour, and I learned so much by just watching. Steady hands, soft yet insistent, eyes up, follow motion, and relax.

 After a horrible day Miranda smiled, and all was right with the world. Thank you Pippi............for ......everything...........

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Acting like a spoiled Brat.

Okay, someone is acting like a spoiled Brat again. This happens from time to time, and when it does nothing beats a good "talkin' to." So here it goes:

Oh, yeah, it is not Pippi acting up, it's ME!! I want stuff, and way deep in the far away recesses of my brain, that never really matured, I am screaming like a two year old who is tired and guzzled Mountain Dew. The voice is whiny and sulks and has an rotating refrain of "But I want it," and "why can't I have it?"
I bet most adults are smart enough not to share such churlish thoughts, but I am hoping that some of you carry a whiny kid inside as well, and will recognize yourselves. And if you don't, well Goody GumDrops, aren't you just so mature and well rounded? If I was there, you would see me making a face and sticking my tongue out at you, because that is how I roll. HAH! Put that in your mature pipe and smoke it! (see told you I was a brat)

I want a truck! With every ounce of my being, and I want to take Pippi on my own to a show, or a clinic, or any freakin' place. I am just sick and tired of not being able to decide these things. Just to make sure you understand, I am so very grateful for the kind (awesome) people who have lugged us around for years, but I just can not do it anymore. I want my own truck, and I will not take Pippi anywhere until I do. (You do know of course that this strong statement will be subject to change the moment the right opportunity to go to a show/clinic/anything arises, and that I will at that time act as though this blog post never happened, and that if you mention it I will totally act as though you made it up, and if pushed I will go back and delete this post just to prove how utterly full of crap you are. Clear enough?)

Again, I have been so fortunate with my awesome friends that have hauled us around. Kevin and Donna deserve my kidney should they need it, and Donny and Tracey are awesome for being so kind. But seriously, I need to be able to come and go at will. I want to load when I want, stop where I want, play the music I want, arrive when I want, leave when I want, and live out of my trailer. I want to hang my saddle on my saddle rack, my bridles on my hooks, and just have the freedom of being totally in charge of my own time.

Okay, trying to rein it in, getting a grip here. I feel better for just having whined, and I know that having a horse at all is such a luxury, and that showing that horse is just the cherry on top. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to go anywhere, and know that my time will come. I am an adult, I have obligations to my family and "needs" that far out rank the "wants." For now, I will just have to suck it up, and chill.

But.......I just want a truck!!!! (Wow, that didn't last long.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New helmet from Great Company.

I have been shopping for a new helmet since Equine Affaire Ohio in April 2012. Miranda found a new one there, but hers still made me look like a Mushroom head. I know some of that can not be helped, but I refused to feel silly. So Equine Affaire this year was the perfect opportunity to try on more helmets, and find a better fit. And try on helmets I did. A bunch of helmets, in every booth that sold them. Poor Donna and Miranda!
I finally found a helmet that I thought was okay. No size 7 available. The price was $179. I am thrifty, and love a good bargain, so I wrote down the name of the helmet, and started shopping online.

The helmet I wanted was the IRH ATH SSV helmet, in the Long Oval shape. (for my long oval head)

Yesterday it arrived. Feast your eyes:
So, after Google searching for quite a while, I found that Smartpak had my helmet for $229.95. I also found a company that I had never heard of, Adams Horse & Pet Supply, that had the helmet for 152.99. Quite a price difference, but I was leery of ordering from a new company, so I asked Smartpak if they would Price Match. THEY DON'T DO THAT!! Say what? Yeppers, they don't do that. Sorry, Smartpak, great company, love your supplements, but I will save the $76.96 and go with Adams.
Well, after I added the helmet to my cart, I googled for a promo code, found one and was rewarded with an additional 15% off. So after shipping I paid $137.69 for the helmet!!

I saved $41.31 by not buying it at Equine Affaire.
I saved $92.26 by not buying it from Smartpak.

And I received prompt service and a great product from Adams Horse & Pet Supply. So check them out the next time you shop online.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The "Ride with your mind" Clinic.

Sometimes when writing a public blog, you come to moments when you have to make some hard decisions about how much to share. Since it is public there is a responsibility of honesty, yet a concern that such honesty could potentially harm individuals. Since my annoyance seemed not to be shared throughout the clinic group, I will leave it at this: Although extremely knowledgeable about horse/rider biomechanics, this clinician was not my favorite clinician.
A shot of the pad I made for the clinic. 

Okay...... on to what we were told:

Lower body:
Riders should be in self carriage at all times. This means less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups. Thighs rotated inward towards the saddle, heels rotated out from the saddle, feet flat for Dressage, and toes either straight forward  or pointed towards the girth (pigeon toed)(without touching horse). The aid comes from your calf, not your heels. Basically the shape of your legs shall follow the form of the horse and saddle in a upside down "V" shape, with the lower legs clear of the barrel. You will carry your weight with your knees and thighs almost exclusively. Like I mentioned there should be less than 2lbs of pressure in the stirrups at any time. Sound hard? Yeah it is!!

Abdominals: Muscles in torso should be engaged and in a "bare down" mode. She had riders cough to feel what that feels like; place hand on upper abdominals, and middle of back, cough, feel that? That is engagement of the right muscles. Do not forget about the obliques. You should sit and hold those muscles in a way that makes you stable enough that someone would have a hard time pushing you in any direction.

Lower back: FLAT!!! No curve. Instead push your back towards your belt, without bowing backwards. make sure your seat bones stay pointing straight down. Sit on your hands to find seat bones, roll forward and back to see what straight down feels like.

Upper Back: Straight, with shoulder blades towards each other.

Chest: have your collarbones forward, without tipping forward and without sending your girls upwards. This is not a Wonderbra moment. Just open chest without heaving.

Shoulders and arms: Arms should be spaced the width of your hips with reins in a straight line from elbow to muzzle. Straight line not just in up and down, but from side to side.( Reins should not touch the neck of horse.) Close shoulders by closing the back of your armpit.

"Following" eyes:(does not apply to jumping courses) Instead of following the old mantra of looking ahead, the "Ride with your mind" Instructors wants their riders to use "following eyes." Do not look into a turn, meaning turning head and looking in the direction where you want to go, you will instead keep your gaze somewhat averted. Looking over your horses outside ear, and using your periferal vision to navigate the turn. The idea is that when you look ahead you turn a very heavy part of your body, your head, and your shoulders, and you then put extra weight on the inside of the turn, pushing your horse towards the outside. This causes dropped shoulders, and a falling out in the turn. (The reason why this does not apply to jumping courses is because the body is on a half seat. or a two-point position thereby having less strain on the horse.)

Those were the main lessons from a very informative clinic. I would recommend going to one, as it does make you really think about how you adversely affect your horse when in motion. I learned a lot, and Denise and I will now see which parts we intend to keep, and which parts are discarded. The clinician shortened stirrups without fail, saying that all Riders these days ride in too long of a leg. This seemed to apply especially to Dressage riders.

Video and Pics to come......

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

About being prepared by being nervous early

The clinic "Ride with your Mind" is this weekend. THIS WEEKEND!! So, since this is my first solo outing as the Equestrian, and not just as a Show mom, I am a bit nervous. You may recall that I did compete twice, but that was because we were already there, and so it was more of a lark. This time I am the only rider, and Pippi has been my project for the last six months. As a part time, here and there rider of the past little was expected, but now that I ride three times a week, and have my own Trainer just for me, well...... I feel a little pressure.

So I decided that I was going to deal with the nerves early. I would channel my nerves into preparing. Miranda normally prepared by cleaning, packing and organizing, but now it all falls on me. My friend trailers Pippi on Thursday, but my car is already packed. Throw in the saddle and I am ready to go.
And you know what, I am less nervous now. So being obsessive seems to have worked.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lie for me? Will ya?

Four months ago taking Pippi to a clinic seemed like a GREAT idea. Two months ago it seemed like a GOOD idea. Last week it seemed like it might be OKAY. This week it seems like the most addle brained idiotic asinine bunch of horse manure I have ever heard of.
Funny how it take on a new perspective as the event creeps ever closer. Really makes you wonder huh? Makes me wonder if Tequila and Valium is just frowned upon, or really a bad mix. Makes me ponder all kinds of things, like what types of excuses would sound plausible.

 Pippi is lame? It could happen. Happens all the time. Sometimes your horse just turns up lame, and all you can do is audit the clinic. Bummer!!

Pippi threw a shoe, and there is no farrier to fix it? I looked at her yesterday and there were no shoes. As a matter of fact I have not seen them since last fall, so that is a problem. (If I leave out that she is barefoot now, this could work). Except, knowing Kara, I would be offered Selena to ride within seconds of such news. Dang it!! Same thing if Pippi was lame, now that I think about it. Oh MAN!!!!

I can't find my saddle? Sounds good, but I bet those "friends" of mine would let me borrow anything that I was missing. With "friends" like that.......(you end up riding in a clinic!!)

The Truck broke down? Oooh-good one. Except it is not my truck, so I would have to get Tracy to lie, and she won't because she is in cahoots with all my other "friends." In times like these TRUST NO ONE!!

Fine, all I can think of is faking illness. What's going around? Clearly I need to call a friend with kids in Elementary school as any conversation with such a creature will lead to a chat about what is going around, with details about length and symptoms of said illness. Now we're talking!!

The only thing is..............what if not going leads to regret? I hate regret! Always reminds of those times when I was a kid and decided to stay home like a big girl when my parents went somewhere. The moment the car left the driveway I would be filled with such regret.

NO!!! I want to go after all. Come Back!!! 

Trying to send mental images to my mom; feel my pain, come back! MOM!!!! Mom???

This mental battle will rage for the next week for sure. Shall I go or shall I chicken out? Pippi will be moved to Kara's for the weekend on Thursday April 18th around 6pm. The clinic is Saturday and Sunday. So by moving early I will have time to acclimate Pippi to the arena and everything. Unless you, my true friends and supporters, can come up with legitimate lies that prevents me from going.  Well?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Oh HELL no!"

How is that for a mindset? "Oh HELL no!!" Might not be the best of language, but when you fill your mind with those words, things happen. Attitude changes and "look out" ensues. Let me explain:

Pippi is a Spookin'Fool horse, as in a direct descendent of the aptly named APHA Stallion "Spookin' Fool" and the daughter of "Spookin' Cody." Whoever named this line knew what they were about. Pippi can spook and fly sideways quicker than a hummingbird, and with as much quiet and grace. We can just be riding a long, and without so much as a snort, a stop, a shake or a blink, we are across the arena, with me cursing at the pain that still persists in my right elbow. Can't imagine why that is not healing faster. Ahem!!

So, Denise the Trainer has now witnessed such an event, and was surprised at the swift change in Pippi. "Wow, really don't see that coming do ya?" Nope, sure don't. Not at all, no sirrey Bob, absolutely not, negatory! It's like trot, trot, trot, HOLY MOTHER of ^$*^#$&*!!!  I think you get the picture.
What scares her? Strange sounds of things that she can not identify and/or can not see. That about covers it!

So, what is the plan? Ride calmly, as usual, but when she spooks (note, I did not say "if she spooks") I am to change my mindset from calm/supportive to "Oh HELL no!!" in the blink of an eye. Denise says I have to be louder, scarier and more obnoxious than the thing that spooked her to begin with. Sound easy? It's not because I am a slow little human, without the power and speed of a freaked mare. I have to force her entire attention back to me, whatever it takes.

"Break her neck if you have to!"
In case I actually believed that she meant that, Denise followed that up with:
"Well, you know...... you can't......... actually break her neck? I just want to do what it takes, okay?"

Okay!! This was told to me last Monday evening, and as luck ( ? ) would have it, I was able to practice this new mind set on Wednesday. I was riding along, trot trot trot, down the right side, when Pippi hopped sideways like a deranged equine Rockette. I stated "oh HELL no!!," fine - I yelled it!! Braced my legs, and pulled on the reins. And lo and behold we stopped about halfway across the arena. Stopped and stood.

What? No harm done, but I was in control again. Pippi was back to calm horse, and we continued as though  nothing had happened. Awesome!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No more "bit-guilt", "moments for Brilliance!," and more....

Monday night was hands down the best lesson, and the best ride Pippi and I have ever had. No fuss, no pulling, just forward and quick responses. When I tacked her up Pippi was fine with the bit. Never threw her head, never acted pissy, just ready to go.
We have had an issue with her walking the moment I mounted, and that is a BIG NO NO in my book. Horse stands still until rider says go. I want to get situated while at a stand still, not fumbling while horse walks willy-nilly. I found that tightening the girth even tighter fixed that. I bet the saddle shifted and annoyed her, and so she shifted to compensate and started walking. I also mount quicker; gather reins while on the ground, step up on mounting block, and mount right away. If I linger on the block, Pippi gets a bit restless, so this is my compromise.
After mounting fine, we walked a few circles and worked on our bends. Awesomeness!! Did you know that the riders upper body should not be straining at all? AT ALL!! Wowser! I flexed fingers, and Pippi responded by bending. To either side!! The improvement was so marked that I decided then and there, no more Bit Guilt! Quite frankly, my Trainer is right and since it doesn't bother Pippi why does it bother me?

We did our usual work, lots of bending, lots of direction changes and serpentines. And then it happened: Trainer said we "had moments of brilliance," and "it is better than I have ever seen you guys." Woo-freakin'-Hoo!!! Yep. Moments of brilliance. I'll take it. She also stated that i had been right, Pippi's trot can be just at beautiful as I had described it. Way to go Pipster!!

She then asked me to do some sitting trot................

Did I tell you just how marvelous we were? We were really doing great there, so I just don't know if it is strictly necessary to ruin this great post with a description of what came next. We had "moments of brilliance" okay? So, let's just end with that! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Milestone reached!

As some of you know, those that have been reading this blog for a while that is, I have cantered before.  I have cantered Pippi. Not a whole lot, but I have.

When I started lessons with Denise in early January, she banned me from cantering. I feel strongly, and by strongly I mean I insist, that students should adhere to the rules of their teachers. In my situation, that meant, NO cantering until Denise stated that I was ready. She was looking for balance, confidence and the ability to use independent aides before I was going to be allowed to canter. There was also the less definable "you have to be ready." I trust her. Denise is my Trainer, and her word is LAW! If you don't agree with the overall goals of your trainer, and you do not respect that person enough to follow the rules, get a new trainer. Do yourself and the Trainer a favor, and hit the road.

Both Pippi and I are learning, and growing, and we are thrilled. We both are happy to be where we are, and we have progressed to canter stage. I can now stand at the Trot without supporting with hands, and I can even use aides while standing. So Denise said that we were ready. I was so proud, and that is yet another reason to set goals and benchmarks like that. I can see progress in chunks this way, and know exactly what I am working towards. Not just the overall goal of being a better rider, but to get to canter (or whatever the next goal is).
So we tried to canter. I am not used to the longer stirrups at the canter (dressage saddle vs. Hunters previously), and kept losing them and thereby bouncing Pippi down to a Trot. She is quite sensitive to balance, and when I lose mine Pippi slows right away. Good girl! Right when things were starting to come together, Pippi flew across the arena like a devil was after her. Seems something outside was super scary. That "Spookin' Fool" bloodline, I tell ya! So since I had been riding for two hours at this point, my legs were shot, and now that she had yanked my elbow with the spook (tendon still an issue that I mostly ignore), we were done. So we calmed her down, did some more work with the turn on the forehand, and halts, but the canter trials were over for the day.
So tomorrow, I ride on my own, and now that the Canter is allowed, guess what I will be doing? I am so EXCITED!!  I would like to find someone to go with me for safety though.......any takers?

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Feline Entertainment

My Persian Cat, JingleBelle, and my exotic Shorthair, Stumpy playing early Sunday morning.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Snotty McSnottsnott

I have the mother of all colds. It just keeps coming back. I think I am over it, and then my sinuses fill, headache ensues, body aches follow and the drainage makes me super queasy. Sleep evades me, and I get a terrible case of the grumps.
Yesterday was a beautiful spring day, with temps in the 70's. I felt great, went for a walk with a friend, and did some minor things outside. Then in the afternoon, YUCK!!! All evening I felt horrible, and ended up laying in bed hoping I would not need a bucket. Today I am at work, hoping the same thing.....

On Saturday March 2nd a new horse moved into the stall next to Pippi. When I arrived on Monday, she was giving me the look. If you have a mare you know this look. The Satan has taken my sweet mare look. Ears look like horns, and nostrils flaring. I took one look at her, and said "so, it's a gelding huh?" Peeked next door, and yep, there he was, the creature that took Pippis' sanity and replaced it with a mare in heat. He was tied up in his stall, which told me that this fella was in need of some patience training. When I walked Pippi out, he let up quite a racket, kicking, pawing, and yelling loudly. I think it was something like "Don't take the girl!! I love her." This continued the entire time she was with me. Poor fella. Pippi took it all in stride and we had a decent ride.

On Wednesday I was sick and spent the day in bed, only to get THE Text message from Denise. Pippi was hurt, nothing serious, but I may want to bring some Bute. When she heard I had the flu, Denise banned me from coming out and assured me that Pippi was fine. She had had a moment of mare crazy out in the field, by herself mind you, on Tuesday, and they had noticed some swelling on her right hind fetlock. Nothing major, just seemed to favor it a bit, but was putting weight on it. Seems her sliding stops, and general shenanigans caused some discomfort. But what is a mare to do when her BadAss Boyfriend calls to her from inside. They would give her some Bute paste, and keep me informed. If I could have made it to my car without passing out, and had any chance on moving without throwing up I would have. (I tried, and made it to bathroom before considering just sleeping there. Even went as far as looking at the towels for warmth, before staggering back to bed, get it)
Son on Thursday I dragged my butt to work, and felt better. Stopped by barn on my way home with w new tube of Bute to replace Denise's and was able to check on Pip. She had some swelling, nothing too severe, and they had given her Bute that morning too as she was a little stocked up. We decided to keep that up for a few more days. I hand walked her, and she was fine. She allowed me to palpate the leg, and I even cleaned out the hoof. She had been out walking in the arena earlier that day, which seemed to reduce swelling. Not really lame, just swollen. I stopped by again Friday, and she was better. I put on some topical liniment, and she was less hesitant to let me handle it. Not lame at all that day either.
On Saturday, with the promise of getting some dinner, Hubby went with me for the first time to the new barn, and Pippi seemed even better. Still a bit swollen, and again I put liniment on. Hubby loved the new barn, really liked Claude, and felt that I "had finally found the right barn."
I was to have a lesson today, but i postponed it. Will be going out after work, but I doubt I will mount up. We have nothing my time, Pippi and I, and so we can wait until she is better.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Working on my Fitness....

First off, Mondays ride was not a fluke as Wednesday ride was just as fabulous. So happy!! Pippi is bending  great and moving off the leg better. I stood a half circle of the arena at the trot, so I am getting better. But most importantly I HAD FUN and so did Pip.

In the fall we audited a clinic with Daniel Stewart. It was a great clinic, and Miranda hopes to ride in it this fall when he returns.
One of the things that Daniel (we are not on a first name basis) stressed was rider fitness. According to him Equestrians place a lot of emphasis on equine fitness and health, but do not spend enough time and effort on their own. This leaves 50% of the partnership lagging behind. Bio mechanics are very important for riding, and our job is basically to stay out of the horses way. To do that we need to be in shape, and able to apply aids independently without losing overall balance. We need to be fit.

I am strong believer in this. If Riding is a sport, we must be athletes and athletes stay fit. I do agree with that...... I also think that chocolate and sweet tea is a balanced breakfast, and that the cheesy tots at BK are sinfully yummy and I like to read romance novels on my Kindle while eating popcorn. Working out is such a chore!!! There is no "work out high.," LIARS!!
According to Trainer I need stronger legs, and so I am working on that. Since I hurt (bowed elbow tendon) my arm in December, I have not been doing my Yoga, but I did again last night. Holy stiffness Batman! It did not make my arm worse, so I will continue with that. I also spent some time on the Dreadmill, got me nowhere reasonably fast. I also picked up one of those elastic band things at WalMart in the sale pile for $8. It attaches to a door, and you can use the bands for legs and arms. I attached mine to the front of the Dreadmill, and I am using it to strengthen legs, inner leg muscles in particular.
Soon I will be able to squeeze the manure right out of Pippi, and we can throw away the nut crackers for sure. My plan is to work out on the days I don't ride. So I plan to ride more.......Obviously.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Equine High 5!

Have you ever had a ride with your horse that was just awesome? Not necessarily perfect, but just awesome. I had one last night, and I feel so inspired and filled with joy that I am bubbling over. Poor co-workers will get an ear full whether they like or not.

When I first arrived at the barn after work, Pippi was eating, and so was not thrilled to see me. I let her finish her grain, and then we did some free lunging. She was definitely in a mood, so I figured that our ride would be less than fun. We are still working on bending, and Pippis' stiff side is getting better with lots of stretching and work. Even so I figured a little ground driving might be in order to reinforce the bends.
Pippi wanted none of that, and it took a while to get going. This proved to me that it was just going to be one of those days.......

I tacked her up, and mounted. Not sure what changed, but I mounted a different horse than the one I had just worked on the ground. She was forward, smooth and willing. Ears perked, body soft and she was very prompt. We warmed up at the walk, and I attempted standing in the stirrups to work on my balance. I rode for a circle and a half standing, before quitting and I was very happy with that.
We then worked on bend at the Trot, and she was soft and willing both directions. Lots of circles, and direction changes and then the dreaded stand at the Trot. I allowed myself to hold a little mane. Not for support as much as for a feeling of support. I was able to ride half the arena in both directions, and I was thrilled. Pippi kept her momentum as I stood and I was just thrilled.

I halted in middle of the arena and bent down hugging her neck, babbling about what a fantastic horse she is. Slowly her head turned around, and I got the muzzle to boot Equine High Five! I don't mind telling you, my eyes were misty and I just couldn't stop petting her.
After our ride was over, I hopped down and hugged her some more. We breathed together and just enjoyed a quiet moment. She bumped me softly, and licked my cheek. My head was filled with "thank you," and I felt her "your welcome" all the way to my soul.

The balance work had been very helpful, and I can just tell how much easier it is to lug me around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I am "The Horse Whisperer!"

Pippi is a very communicative horse, and normally I have no problem figuring out her mood, her wants and sometimes her aches and pains. I spend a lot of time with her, and I think we have built a bridge between our two species. I hear her!

But does she hear me? Well!!! According to BO/Trainer, I am the Horse whisperer! Cool right?

As I was riding in my lesson Monday night this is what I heard: "You are whispering to your horse, when you should be YELLING!!" OH! Not good. So I am the horse whisperer, but it's not a good thing? Man, that sucks!

Pippi is not responding to my leg as well as she should. My leg isn't strong enough. BO wants me to ask, kick and then use whip. In that order!! And so I did. Asked, Kicked and used whip. And BO said "was that a kick?" Apparently I went from a whisper, to a soft word. I need to yell, but I am barely speaking in normal tones.
I can yell, I mean I can curse and yell is at least two languages, but with my horse I am the whisperer. It is so hard to really kick her, I mean that is my Pip under me. You know, Pippi, my girl. And you want me to kick her, like really kick her? I tried, I swear I did, and Pippi did move better and quicker, but I highly doubt it was a yell. Maybe more like a clearing of my voice. Ahem!!
"your whispers are making me sleeeepy"
I think I am ready to yell now. Okay, maybe not yell, but certainly a clear "Excuse me".

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shall I Go and Shall I show now?

Remember that old song? Hah - now you have that stuck in your head all day!! :)

Tracy keeps trying, bless her soul, to talk me into showing at my first Dressage show in May. She emailed me the Intro tests, and I looked it over...........I can do all that. Okay - I can do it, but it may not look pretty.  I do not have high expectations our first go, my goal is to just go, so as long as I can do the test I feel okay. Sure it would be nice to score well, but entering would be a huge deal all itself.

So I place one leg over the fence, thinking............I can do this. I should do this. Why don't I just tell Tracy that we will go. We will buy the Sparkling Prosecco, the orange juice, and the bagels ( Thanks Amy!!) and drown our nerves in "orange juice". The entire weekend will be loads of fun, and I am getting excited.


It's in May!! MAY!!! Graduation month - busy busy busy month. NOOOOO!!!

Good thing I never jumped over the fence far enough to tell Tracy we were going, because I am now back to straddling the fence again. The show is the weekend before Graduation................

Shall I go and Shall I Show now?.......

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Of course I bend, Silly Human!

Finally got back in the saddle after a whole week yesterday. The weather has been terrible here, very cold, so although I was at the barn I opted to not ride last Friday. Didn't want Pippi sweaty and then cold. Monday I was tied up. And so a week passed.
I tacked up after some free lunging, and we were off. We walked down the first side of the arena, and I asked Pippi to bend to the right, which is her stiff side. She bent and kept walking like it was no big thing. Later on she continued straight forward after a change of rein, as though this is perfectly normal.

I had to laugh, so Pippi stopped walking. She slowly turned her head around, gave me a looong look and wrinkled her muzzle. And she was right, this was totally treat worthy. Seems that a week off was just the thing to put all the puzzle pieces together.

Later on I started the task of standing balanced in my irons, and I was able to for an entire circle of the arena at a walk. I then tried standing at the trot, and was able to for 5-6 strides. I sat the moment I felt unbalanced as I did not want to bounce on her back. I also worked on my sitting trot, and I think we are getting somewhere.

I love that mare.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A lesson to remember!

Since Pippi and I started lessons with BO, we have been working hard on the bend, and on getting Pippi to be more responsive to the aids. I have a lesson every two weeks, giving me plenty of time to work on our homework in between. It also give me plenty of time to become convinced that we are not getting anywhere.

This was the case when it was time for our lesson yesterday. I was convinced that BO was going to be disappointed in our progress, and that this would lead to our homework being more of the same. But lo and behold, BO was rather pleased with us, and when she started pointing out all the improvement she saw I was shocked. She is right, we are moving better, I am better at multi-tasking, Pippi is more responsive, carries herself better and she does bend a lot better. WE ROCK!

Now, why didn't I know that? Why did I assume the worst? Why was I beating us up? Do I do that a lot? Do I tend to underestimate mine and Pippis' abilities? Do I really need someone else to tell me I am doing great for me to see it?
And so a lesson was learned, beyond the great things BO taught us in terms of riding. I must keep an ear to my inner thoughts and pump myself up, and Pippi, rather than doubt our abilities. We do have a great work ethic, we try really hard, and by golly we are getting better.

Home work for next lesson in two weeks is to work on balance. I am to stand in my stirrups at a halt, then at a walk, and when I can do that around the arena, I am to work on standing at the TROT!!! No leaning on Pippi allowed, no hanging on the reins, just keep legs on Pippi and stand.
I tried that a bit yesterday and it was not as difficult as I would have thought. We walked about and I was even able to direct Pippi to stay on the wall from my standing position. We walked about half the arena, and I only sat down because BO asked me to halt.

My favorite part of the lesson was when BO told me how much she likes Pippi. She thinks she is a "really great horse," and that there is no reason why Pippi will not make a great Dressage horse. She even thinks that Pippi likes it, and pointed out to me while I was riding when Pippi was intently focused on me and when she was not. A few weeks ago Pippi was not at all focused on me, but now she is with me for the majority of the ride and she seems content. Having a Trainer that pays attention to that sort of thing is just fantastic!!