September 7, 2022

WW: Fast Times in the North Pasture

Connor accidentally got turned out without his muzzle and chaos ensued until I could finally catch him 20 minutes later. Enjoy!
















My whole heart, even if he drives me fucking nuts sometimes

September 6, 2022

Kate's Gift

A couple of weeks ago, Kate came to visit. Kate and I have hung out many times at this point, but almost always in California and never at my barn.


We were supposed to go trail riding in the state park, but a slight lameness and a girth gall on my barnmate's horse nixed that plan. Instead, we spent the entire day at the barn. And as much as I wanted Kate to see our amazing trail riding here, I had no idea how much I needed what she ended up giving me until it happened.

She spent the morning doing groundwork, bodywork and just generally speaking horse with my boys in the indoor. I will never forget watching anxious little Connor's eye soften as she made him feel good and he got so completely comfortable with the way she invited him to participate and never forced him.


Disco's groundwork lesson was even more interesting. Most of it was on defining space around herself that he was not allowed to move into, but without even touching the horse in many cases. She also gave me her read on his personality, which is that he does have an angry streak in there, but it should be something I can work with (or avoid) and not against, and if we can help him learn to channel it positively, it will give him brilliance later on. 

He has truly internalized these lessons too - since she left he's a lot more respectful of human space in general and seems to have transferred her lesson to all of us.

 

But it was the under saddle work that meant most of all. She got on first, and I told her just to enjoy him, she didn't need to feel pressure to make him look good, but she ended up doing both. Standing there watching him go so well for her after being out of work all summer and hearing her infectious laughter as she discovered how enjoyable he is to ride felt so good. More than once she exclaimed, "He's just FUN! I love him!" and threw her arms around his neck.

 


My motivation to ride, at an all-time low this summer, got just high enough watching her enjoy herself that when she got off and gently coaxed me into the saddle, I could be persuaded. And I am so glad I did.

Disco as his lesson was ending: IDK what just happened but please god never let her come back 😂


She ended up giving me a bite-sized biomechanics lesson. It's not the first time she's given me a lesson, far from it, but it was the first time on my own horse. And quickly she zeroed in on something I will dive into in another post, but it got right to the core of something that causes most of my problems with this horse, that other trainers and coaches and physical therapists had triangulated around but never truly uncovered.

And in that moment, after seeing how much fun my horse was to ride and remembering in the biomechanics discovery why I love Dressage so much, I felt the spark come back. I wanted to ride again. 

Since then, I've pulled his mane for the first time since April, ridden three times, started doing Pilates again, cleaned all of my tack, and just generally felt motivated to do more than just keep my horses alive for the first time in months. And I'm going through a lot right now, and my heart and soul need to be in the saddle more than I can possibly say.

Me and Connor during my lesson with Kate

So Kate, thank you again and publicly for being the incredible horsewoman that you are and for coming to visit, and for giving me the gift of becoming myself in the saddle again 💓 It means absolutely everything.

August 15, 2022

Disco's Welsh Show Adventure

I keep wanting to title this post "Disco's First Show", but I remind myself that no, this is his second show!


This time he's a little bigger.

But stop growing though!

This is the same WPCSA North Central Regional that we went to last October, only moved to July, and at a different facility 2.5 hours north of me because the facility 30 minutes down the road from me was booked this year.

"Where am I?" - Disco

This, as you might imagine, threw a wrench into my "I can keep a one horse trailer even though I own two horses because the only place I'll ever show both of them is 30 minutes down the road" plan. I still really don't want to or need to own a two horse, and I certainly don't want to sell a trailer I love just to accommodate one Welsh show once a year. 

Because I didn't want to put anyone out on account of my choice to own a one horse trailer, I decided to make three round trips to bring them there and back. Yes, that is 15 hours of driving. In two days. I reached levels of exhaustion I didn't know were possible, but I got it done.

Me and Connor getting gas at 10:30pm on a Friday

I was worried about how Disco would haul and handle it all, since he hasn't left the property since I brought him home in November. None of my barnmates were available to help me load him, so I had a non-horsey gym friend come out. 

I needn't have worried - he thought about it for a second, but hopped right on. He seemed to have a good time too, I saw him flapping his lips out the window many times over the trip.


He arrived and settled straight into drinking and eating hay, which is one of the things I've always loved about Connor, so that made me happy. Of course, there were also baby shenanigans because oh my god entertaining a yearling colt in show stabling is horse ownership on hard mode, y'all.

He broke two bucket straps making water art on the wall over the 24 hours he was there. TBF drinking out of a bucket was new and exciting to him, since he'd only ever drank out of a decidedly (mercifully) less exciting Nelson auto-waterer or stock tank before that weekend.

He spent that whole first night across the aisle from Lisa's horses but separated from Connor, who I would bring up at 4am the next day. Got his socks washed, got his feet rasped (my farrier is hurt and we needed to clean them up) and was just generally a good boy, or as good as a yearling with a need for constant entertainment can be, anyway.

 That theme continued into the next day.

I didn't even bathe his body and hadn't groomed him in a month before this show, he's just that soft and shiny all the time.

He was the only entry in his C/D 2 and under colts class, which was fine with me. We were there to get points for Lisa and to practice the whole show experience. To my delight, but not my surprise, he trotted in hand like an absolute champ, staying next to me as I ran quite fast (and I ran cross-country, so that's saying something).

After that, we had a brief break before we had to go in for the Sec C/D Champion class (all genders). I did end up putting a chain on him for that class - he was being subtly rude and pushy in the flat leather show halter in a way I didn't appreciate. He was MAD about the chain, but only in a "I want to make my opinion known," way.

Reminder: I'm 5 feet tall, he's not THAT big!

The funniest moment of the show was sadly not captured on camera. During the Champions class, the two stallions were on the other side of the judge's tent from the rest of the horses, putting Disco and one of Lisa's other stallions, Castleberrys Red Dragon, next to each other. As soon as the judging was announced and Disco didn't win, he laid down and rolled right there in the arena, I'd have called it a protest if I was prone to anthropomorphizing. 

But even better, Dragon saw Disco rolling and started rolling too! Then Disco started to get up, but got halfway up into a sitting-like-a-dog position when he noticed Dragon rolling, and he sat there and watched him roll for a while. Everyone was laughing so hard! What a Welsh thing to do.

One of the other handlers asked if I was going to tame his mane onto one side. HAHAHAHA. I would if I could, but he literally has two manes worth of mane. That's never happening.

So, did he win big again? No. But I don't care. He was well-behaved for 5 hours of trailering, a hot night in show stabling, being around strange horses, and being amped up in the show ring. These are the kinds of experiences I want him to have right now, and he exceeded every expectation I had.


July 11, 2022

More Trail Riding

Yesterday we got enough of a break from the heat to take the ponies back to Brown County, and this time, the sun was shining.


This time, I also remembered my (much too large $15 Facebook find) bug quarter sheet, and $15 4th of July sale saddle bags purchased a couple weeks ago.

After riding in his custom fitted Dressage saddle for the last six months, it's wildly apparent that he's not 100% comfortable in the Western saddle, in his own obvious-to-no-one-but-me Connor way, so I'm trail riding in the Patrick, hence the need for English saddle bags. I don't ride enough to buy them when they're their usual $65, but at $15, YOLO.

It does fit so well

This time we did more of A trail, plus J trail, which are both labeled as easy trails, and they are, but the terrain on the part of A I'd never been on before was definitely more challenging than the part I usually ride. In a fun way.


We had several water crossings in the beginning, which were great for the 3 year old with us to figure out, and much of the first mile or two was on limestone, both in and out of the creek bed. It's hard to see, but that's not mud under us in this section, this is a rock ramp.

It was a little slick going up but nothing that caused our barefoot ponies any trouble. If we had been going down, I might have thought twice about it.

Setting out


We were out for about two hours this time, which was plenty. There was far less mud this time, but more hills, and our 3 year old in particular was getting pretty tired by the end of it. Connor, for his part, was still trying to trot and canter any chance he got, which I did let him do a little bit on the hills. I'd feel him asking to move, coil him up and then let him go. He had a blast.


In fact, I'm starting to think he's truly enjoying himself out there. When I put him on the trailer both times yesterday he didn't nervous poop or call, and he ALWAYS does both. I know I'm enjoying it. After several years of competing and learning and pushing myself and him, it's so nice to just meet my horse where he is and enjoy him.

Rode him through camp with no hands on the way back

July 4, 2022

Disco's First Braid

Lots of pictures in this post that may or may not display in RSS readers, heads up.

Last week Mary came out just to hang out, and we ended up going to the barn at sunset to pet pony noses.

Connor, as usual, wanted nothing to do with us just in case we were there to catch him. He's not hard to catch anymore, as long as you stick strictly to the routine.


Disco, though, was his usual people-loving self and didn't want to leave our sides, but was still respectful enough that I didn't even need to halter him. He's slowly outgrowing the "explore the world with your teeth" phase, which I am very grateful for.

Hanging out with him slowly turned into Mary giving him a running braid.


While I distracted him.


I didn't need to do much, he didn't move a muscle the entire time.


And then we set him free and he promptly wandered off...

To show uncle Connor his sweet new braids.


Gotta be honest, my second favorite part was seeing his neck without hair for the first time! There's a nice neck under all that hair!


But my favorite part was how good he was. Standing loose in the field for ten minutes while his mane got braided for the first time and still kept coming back for more people love as we walked away. He is just so cool.