Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Blue Steel

Last week, I saw a post on a facebook forum asking for horse models for a photographer to use as  practice and to add to their portfolio.  Heedless of the dangers of the internet, I immediately volunteered Gavin and myself.

Four days later - a very soft-spoken, sweet photographer arrived at my barn to take portrait, confirmation, and action shots.  I have yet to receive the portrait shots (she says they take a bit more editing), but I did receive some action shots and one confirmation shot and I'm in love!

Please ignore the shoulder-hunching, helmet-mullet sporting rider (will I ever learn?... probably not) and focus on my brilliant cobby.  Looking at these pictures, I'm just so proud to say he's my pony. :)














Friday, July 7, 2017

Warm Up Shit Show

Curious to see if anyone else feels like their warm up is a shit show? 
John Oliver anybody?

It's like... Gavin can be fast in the warm-up, but he isn't pushing forward.  And I don't know what the hell is going on with my body during the warm-up.  It's all over the place, but somehow still stiff as a board.  He looks like some sort of weird, top-heavy tinker toy, and I look like an old lady being jolted every which way.
Weird place for a puppy picture.  But damn my old dog is cute :)

I have tried many different warm-up techniques.

  1. The ole bumble around for 20 minutes
  2. The strict - you must be in front of my leg warm up
  3. Shoulder-in is a thing we should do a lot
  4. The one-hand on the reins, one-hand on the hip, I don't know what the fuck I'm doing technique
  5. Walk, trot, canter all on loose rein.  Pick up reins and still not know what the hell I'm doing.
The best warm-up I've found for Gavin and I is to be pretty upfront about what I'm looking for.  1) quick, accurate transitions (including stops, and back-up), 2) I'm in control of steering, 3) think about where my legs are and their stability, 4) think about my butt actually making full contact with the saddle in the posting trot (I have a tendency to post like a delicate flower). 

Horse and human bffs

All of this sounds so simple, but in reality, it looks like dog poo for the first 10 minutes.  Especially the trot, oh god help us at the trot.  But, It must be working out okay, because more often than not, it then melts into what I consider good work.  My body starts acting like a solid citizen and he starts actually being forward and dare I say?  Supple.  Okay, so the supple thing only seems to happen on full moons, but whatevs.

What is up with that?  Anyone else?


Maybe at some point I'll talk about the mobile Pony Palace :)
 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ignore the helmet mullet - show pics

I went to a Pinto Horse (open breed) show this last weekend.  My friend and I both thought it'd be fun and relaxed, and seeing as how the venue is about 10 minutes from our barn it was impossible to say no.  Before I go any further, please forgive my hair.  I don't know what the fuck I was thinking.  Honestly, I wasn't thinking.  Fuck it- I know it looks awful, and I regret it.  On to the recap!


Gavin was really awesome.  He listened (mostly), he did what I asked (mostly), and he kept the pony antics to a minimum.  I was beaming with pride riding around on him.
What a hunk, right?
First up - English Pleasure.  Now, I figured we'd biff this class.  Gavin IS a pleasure to ride and he rode well in the class, but a low headset is not his bag, baby.  Nor does he have a swinging stride.  We came in dead last.
Ponies UNITE!  My horsegirllove is in back on her grey, Sterling. She rocked every class!
Next up - English Show Hack.  If you're like me - you're thinking "wtf is this?".  Based on the YouTube videos I watched the night before the test - this was like rail dressage.  You show the horse in all three gaits at regular, collected, and extended.  The horses seemed to be a bit spicier than the English Pleasure mounts, with more knee action, and generally a higher headset.  I figured this was in the bag for us.  Well... I was wrong.  And to be totally honest, I don't know why.  We came in second to last.  Besides one naughty moment where he really considered chasing the horse in front of us and one serious look at a barrel on the outside of the arena, he was totally on his game.  His gaits were adjustable, he was most definitely forward, and transitions were good.

Canter
MOOORE CANTER

MOOOOOORE CANTER - what am I doing here?  Who knows.  Riding a beautiful ass gelding, and flinging my body all over the place - that's what!
Our last class of the day was in halter.  Idk why... for fun?  We had to walk and trot the horse and then set them up for the judge.  I had been told you aren't allowed to place your horse's legs, and there was no getting Gavin to stand square, so I just went with it.  He actually did pretty well in the class.  The two horses who placed ahead of Gav looked to be halter bred QHs.  Both handlers placed each leg, both horses had some MAJJOOOOR bling on their halters.  We did compete against a spicy lil mini stud.  He was adorable, but a total bastard.  Rearing, screaming, bolting.  It would've been a scene, except he was just sooo cute and little.

Giving his handler some shit

Gavin in halter


My main men (just missing the puggy boy!)

Me - happy as hell to be done with classes

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weight Reboot (for me, not the pony)


About 6 years ago I finally, actually, completely, and officially left a toxic relationship.  I left the relationship at my highest weight (about 155lbs).  I had been at the receiving end of several jabs about my weight, while simultaneously being forbidden to go to a gym and being nearly force-fed donuts.  It was a weird, sad, but totally delicious time in my life (thanks only to the donuts). 

When the relationship finally ended, I had all of this time to think.  And that's exactly what you don't want fresh out of a break-up, so I joined the local Golds Gym.  It really became like a home away from home for me, and some of the members and classes became like little cultish families.  Over the course of about a year I got as fit as I've ever been (still, not that fit by some standards, but pretty damn fit).  It was at this point in my life when I met my future husband, Shawn.  A fit fanatic, who also used to have some extra poundage.

Probably my fittest.. thanks T25 and Shaun T!  Halloween - I was Ygritte... kinda... ok, I was slutty Ygritte

Shawn and I have now lived together for a little over 4 years.  Slowly, as I grew my life with Shawn, and developed friendships in the Denver area, my time for working out diminished.  I really quit prioritizing it after we got married (god, what a cliché!).  I've been trying to get back into, because now I've reached an unhappily familiar weight (147).  I feel embarrassed when I look at pictures of myself.  I feel touchy about the subject with my loved ones (my tiny, tiny, tiny mother and my still active husband).  I literally have to hoist my pants up sometimes.  Its like I need suspenders.  My love handles are bigger than my butt. 

Migraine girl - to the rescue couch
Anyways - this post isn't about body shaming myself into oblivion.  This post is an excited post.  About a week and half ago I just randomly started eating better because I was annoyed with myself for letting it get this far.  Once I started, I really didn't want to stop!  I did some research into how to ease back in to working out (I have chronic migraines - basically everything triggers them including... you guessed it!  High intensity exercise!  This rules out stuff like P90X, Crossfit *tried*, kickboxing *tried*).  I found an easy to follow 7 week 5k training plan that I'm following (4x a week), I walk my portly, middle-aged pug 5x a week, and I ride Gavin about 4x a week.  Throw in a couple of days of weight training and voila - you've got a decent workout regime. 

I'm trying to be totally honest about the journey - so I had Shawn take a couple of pictures of me.  This is me at 147lbs, 5'4 (dammit - why can't I be 5'10 and have more room for donuts?!?!).  Anyways - I'm excited to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it happen.


I guess I'd like to lose 17 lbs (130 lbs), but for my body type that's pretty difficult to get to.  I'll be happy to just fit into my clothes better.

Anyone have any suggestions or weight loss stories they'd like to share?






Monday, May 29, 2017

The Day My Horse Scalped Himself

Unrelated photo of earlier this week - he turned eleven!!
Today was the day.  Today was the day that my friend and I were going to trailer our horses without the assistance of someone more confident about hauling a trailer. 

We hitched up the truck and trailer in excellent time, loaded up the tack, grabbed the ponies, who easily loaded in to the trailer with no fuss.  We trailered to a VERY close public arena (2 miles?) with a known turnaround (no reversing for me!).  The boys backed out of the trailer with no issue, and walked around the new area with not a single spook or snort.

It was an excellent first outing.  It started raining, so our time was cut a little bit short, but we did what we had come to do, namely: hook up the trailer, load the ponies, trailer them somewhere, have a positive experience, and then get home safe and sound.
Photo from a drive into the plains this weekend.  Really serene.

When we arrived home, we got to the business of unloading them.  My friend's horse, Sterling, comes out first (he was a hesitant traveler when she first got him).  He came out, no issues. 

Annnnnd that's where sailing the calm trailering seas ended.  Gavin decided that he was most definitely coming out RIGHT THIS FUCKING INSTANT.  Somehow (how, I don't know), he got his big fat pony butt under the butt bar (in this trailer it's a padded butt chain, so there was enough slack for this to happen).  He went into reverse at full speed and got stuck at the withers (I didn't see this part as I was still trying to get him back into the trailer (I was standing at the escape door, my friend was to his side).  At this point Gavin made the decision to crouch (WTF HORSE?!?!) and wormed the rest of his body out.  He wasn't scared - nothing scary had happened.  Sterling was still right there.  He was just impatient.  As soon as he was out of the trailer, he just stood there like "Okay... so let's go back to our stalls now".  He may not have been freaked out, but I was freaked out, especially when I realized he had managed to rip out a good 2x2 inch section of fur along his spine (about 2 or 3 inches back from his withers).  Yes... my horse scalped himself.  Or gave himself some weird version of a horse Brazilian.  Dude is hairless in that one section.  Sexy Gavin.... :-/
Did I do that?!?! *Gavin's best Urkel impression*

Well... hairless or not, we couldn't just go back to his stall.  Sterling was put up and Gavin was reloaded.  The butt bar was hooked back up (with the plan that if he tried the same maneuver he'd have the flag of death waving at him from behind (courtesy of my brave friend), and me asking him to give to pressure from the halter.  He never tried it though.  He just stood there, calm as could be.  We took the butt bar down and then asked him to politely back out, which he did.  We did it one more time, and again, no issue.

We did a very long walk around the indoor after the trailering and I doctored up his bald spot (which didn't seem to be causing him any pain).

I would very much like to NOT repeat this little episode and so I'm going to be working a lot with him on trailer etiquette and cues on backing up.  I think in this case, food is my friend, as is three helpers (one to hold Gavin's ride-or-die gelding bro, Sterling, one to dissuade the backing up with aforementioned flag, and one at his head).

Anyone else have any scary trailering stories they'd like to tell?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Emergency Landing

I'm not sure if it's luck, if it's what horses I'm willing to ride, or if it was my early life dressage queen lifestyle, but I can count on one hand how many times I've fallen off in my 25 year journey of horseback riding.  It's not something I'm proud of, but at this point, I do find it a bit odd.  I've always been amazed by the stories people tell of falling and falling and falling, and never getting nervous, never getting seriously hurt, never giving up.

DreamBoat McCobFace
Here are my falls, listed in chronological order:

1st fall - I was 14.  Fell off a rank lesson horse who at the canter zigged and I zagged.  Rolled off.  I was totally A-Okay.  My mom's nerves were a little less A-Okay.  ;)

2nd fall - I was 19.  My sweet, but green TB, Clifford, bucked me right over his head.  I landed on my ass still holding the reins, which promptly snapped.

3rd fall - I was 19.  Clifford, you glorious asshole you.  He bolted and bucked as I was mounting.  I had no chance.  I was coming off.  After this, I spent a solid 3 months totally cowed by him.

4th fall - I was about 27.  Gavin bucked me off from a literal standstill.  One minute we were at ease, the next minute he was broncing and I was being ejected into gravel.  My hands and my pride hurt, but I was okay.

5th fall - was TODAY.  And it huuuuuurt.  We were jumping two crossrails in a little pattern and decided to start coming in at an angle to one of them that was riding easy.  The first time I went over it, Gavin jumped big (his tendency when he's unsure of a jump).  I decided I'd bring him around and ride it again, you know, just to show him no big deal.  Went into it, and I could feel when he was going to take off.  Well, he didn't take off, he added in this weird little half step before he launched, but I had already launched about 3 seconds earlier.  There was no hope.  I jumped Gavin, while he was jumping the jump.  I landed hard on my side and cracked the side of my (helmeted) head on the ground.  I just lay there groaning, feeling sorry for myself.  My friend came over (an old pro at falling off and immediately jumping up and getting back to business).  She made sure nothing was broken and then patiently waited as I got up at the pace of an elderly turtle.  I wasn't scared or mad.  Gavin hadn't been naughty.  I just read the jump wrong.
Lady?.... You alright?

I got back on and we jumped it once from the trot and once from the canter.  Both times he launched over it.  I'm pretty sure he thought some evil, invisible force pulled his rider off.  Ahahaha.  That's right, an invisible force did pull me off - it's called momentum.  My friend raised the crossrails up to small verticals and jumped them every which way, and I decided I needed to jump them straight-on (no more of this angle shit).  He was a good boy.  No hesitation, no trying to duck out.  I'm really happy with how the ride went and how it ended.  I'm just not happy that my entire right side hurts, and for some weird reason my neck hurts, like... my windpipe hurts.  I went home and had the most uneasy nap ever.

I can't say that I'm happy that I fell, but I think it was probably long overdue.  I also think there is something empowering about falling off and saying "yeh, that fucking hurt, but I'm gonna get back on and do the damn thing".  That last part might be the concussion talking.  ;)

           

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eff my life - outside rein? Feedback please!

So this weekend I audited a Bernie Traurig clinic.  I listened, I learned, I froze my ass off.

Arena envy is a real thing

What did I learn:
- Use the softest bit in the world and only work up from that if you need to (DUH!  Who doesn't know this?  I saw him swap out countless harsh bits for less severe ones.)
- If a horse can warm up long and low, awesome.  If not - don't stress out about it.  Just let him loosen up without forcing a frame.  (This was a good thing to hear as that's what I've been doing with Gav.)
- Fancy horses don't necessarily equal clinic favorites.  It was allll about the rider.  His favorite pair was a 13 year old girl riding what had to be a welsh pony.
- Know your strides (I would be chopped liver in these clinics)
- Inside leg to outside rein is (and I quote) a VIRUS infecting the thought process of all riders.

Wait... what?  Let's expand on this last point.  Basically he said that the inside-leg-to-outside-rein mantra was created by George Morris to keep riders from overbending their horses.  The problem with it, is that people have oversimplified and bastardized it.  People are now riding too much with only one leg and one rein.  Ridiculous (says Bernie)!  We have two hands and two legs and we should use everything we have for effective riding.  He said that to push a horse out on a circle, you should shift both your inside and outside rein further to the outside (basically, inside rein against the neck, and outside rein out away from the horse's neck).  Think of the motion of the horse like a river.  The river flows between your two hands and two legs.  If you move both hands to the outside you are displacing the motion and moving their shoulders out (shoulders move out, body will follow) and with the inside rein against the neck you will create slight bend to the inside (bend through the neck, not necessarily through the body - body bending requires human leg action). 

Okay.  So I get all of that.  And I decided to try it on Gav.  It went really well, and seemed to get rid of some of our shoulder bulging, corner cutting issues.

So umm... here's where it gets embarrassing and sorta feeds into Viva Carlos' blog hop about being young, stupid, and believing anything.  I think I've had outside rein wrong my whole riding career.  I've always assumed that when a trainer says outside rein, what they mean is exert backwards pressure on the outside rein (aka - pull back slightly on the outside rein).  I don't know where I got that - I've just always thought it and this action has NEVER been corrected by a trainer.  Now I'm wondering if what outside rein has always meant was outside rein to the OUTSIDE (outward motion NOT backwards motion).  Anyone?  Anyone?.... Bueller?...

Please tell me someone has some thoughts on this!  I'm fascinated!  I feel like I'm having an AHA moment mixed with a Wow-I'm-Stupid moment!

My new favorite thing is Gavin's new SmartPak halter/Graycodesigns lead rope combo