September 17, 2021

Foal Friday: Disco's Fan Club

Disco has a fan club.

They're neighbors that live near the farm and take walks down the fence row. I don't know how many times he's done it, but I get the impression this wasn't his first time propositioning these strangers for scratches, lol. Cobs are so predictably people-oriented and I'm here for it.

The bravest of all the babies this year, that's for sure

He's really starting to look like a horse now. Final color is still debatable, but he'll definitely be some shade of dark chestnut, and is that a flaxen tail I see peeking out from behind him in that last picture?! Flaxen manes can take a year or two to come in, but the tail often goes sooner.

His two-year-old full sister, not that it means much in terms of color. Flaxen inheritance is such a crapshoot, and he could definitely still end up with a same-color mane and tail.

We're maybe 6-8 weeks from him coming home already, I can hardly believe it! I'm a little apprehensive about bringing a baby pony home to a co-op, but mostly excited. His "be a good boy" halter arrived this week:

My color options were navy or lime green so...

I'm a leather halter person all day long, but I was definitely not shelling out an extra $65 for the leather version of this when he'll only fit in it for a year or two if I'm lucky. I've never used one of these hybrid halters before, but I know a lot of people who swear by them, and in the interest of keeping the peace at the co-op (with people that really didn't sign up to handle baby horses!), this felt like a good move.

Time to start making a plan for all the baby skills he needs to learn!

September 15, 2021

Connor Plays at Equine-Assisted Therapy

A couple weeks ago, a friend from the gym brought his two little boys out to meet Connor, ages I think around 3 and 4. Part of the reason they wanted to come out is that the older boy is fairly non-verbal autistic, and they knew kids like that sometimes benefit from being around horses. At the very least, it'd be a good experience for two city kids to visit the farm!

So many fun things to see on the farm, such as Rum laying in this pile of "cow hay" waiting for our hay guy

T, the autistic kid, screamed as soon as he saw Connor and wouldn't go near him. He actually ran away when his mom sat him down the first time, and I didn't think for a second he'd get on him after that reaction! But first we put his dad on Connor (Western saddle totally paying off here, lol), then we put his little brother on with dad, and then mom got on and we all decided to at least give it a shot with T.


Random pics, since I'm not sharing pics of other peoples' kids for this. Our city's architecture biennial just opened, and this installation with outdoor movie viewing stations is one of my favorites.

To everyone's utter surprise, not only did T stop crying the second he got in the saddle, he went into almost a trance-like state for the entire ride. It was the most focused I saw him the entire afternoon. He even took some basic instructions, like petting Connor's mane and saying something that sounded like "whoa" as I tried to teach him some mastery of the big animal he was on. You hear about how good horse therapy is for special needs kids, but seeing it in action on my own horse was very cool, and his parents were so amazed and grateful.

I'm intentionally not posting many pictures from that day because you know, not my kids, but I think this photo of T from right before they left says it all:

This horse has a heart of gold <3

September 14, 2021

Crooked Pelvis, Part Who Knows At This Point

It's been a couple of weeks since I had a lesson, first because Pivo didn't play ball, and then because GP trainer had to cancel due to being at a show. I really don't mind this though, because between a break from lessons and show season "ending", it's given me a chance to take a step back and focus on my own biomechanics.

And I've come to a couple of interesting realizations, the biggest of which being that my pelvis is STILL crooked in the way my PT friend helped me discover last summer.

I'm just on the buckle here, having just got on, but in this moment I'm intentionally thinking "fall off the right side of the horse", and in reviewing the footage I discovered I was actually centered...oh

At Waterloo, in the warmup, I discovered if I put the right side of my body forward, he suddenly raised his back and went really well, but I don't think it was really my right side at all. I think when I did that, it made me focus on my torso to the point that my hips leveled off, and THAT'S what he responded well to. I mean:

I still feel like I'm falling off to the right here, lol, I cannot even tell you how crooked this feels to me!

You might be asking why my GP trainer hasn't caught this, but I think it's a very difficult thing to see because this is not a "the way I'm sitting in the saddle thing", it's a true asymmetry that impacts every aspect of my life (sitting, standing, CrossFit, Pilates, everything), and my torso compensates for it. I can have a lot of weight in the left seatbone, the right one floating in space above the center of the saddle and the bulk of my torso over my right/floating hip, which places my center of gravity, well, relatively centered, even if it feels awful to the horse.

Not going for a tiny pirouette here

As I explore this, I've completely taken out all of the Second Level movements and any expectation of collection temporarily, and have stuck to big figures and long leg yields in basically a First Level frame, and Connor has responded so well. To feel him lift his back and reach for the bit without seemingly any effort on my part is so cool.

I'm also working hard on transforming my contact after GP trainer pointed something out to me in Chicago, but that's a post for another day.

The hard part about this is that he REALLY wants to tip me into my old position. Stride by stride, I have to constantly fight it. There's this specific movement he does from the left hind to the right shoulder that gets me every time, and that's the kind of thing that I have to be policing for myself. It's also the kind of thing that's hard to actively pay attention to when I'm learning movements and other things I've never done before in lessons, which is why it's so great to have a brief break from lessons like this every so often.

It may seem like a step back to just be working on First Level stuff right now, but it's all the more important to fix stuff like this now, because I doubt I can do good flying changes with one hip stuck up into the air all the time!

September 13, 2021

Fairfax + Dark Jewel Designs Custom Browband

Several months into owning a Fairfax bridle, I still love it, aside from the fact that I'm STILL waiting on the right size noseband to come in. Stupid supply chain. 

My only annoyance with it is that because the browband actually screws into the bridle in order to be as horse-comfort-friendly as possible, you can only use Fairfax browbands with it.

And even in normal times, when they aren't having massive supply chain issues, their selection is rather limited, especially on color. Lots of blues, whites and reds, but definitely no purple, like the Schockemohle I loved and sadly sold when I got the Fairfax.

Miss you

I've never done the custom browband rodeo before, but I know a lot of friends who have, and everyone I talked to liked Dark Jewel Designs, so I reached out to her on Instagram to see if she would be willing to do an experiment with me. She was, so I mailed her the spare plain Fairfax browband that came with the bridle.

In the end, she decided she couldn't make interchangeable strands work on it (because it's curved, as all Fairfax browbands are), but she could rip out the center and insert whatever I wanted into it permanently, so that's exactly what we did.

Fairfax's beaded browbands are over $100, but this plain one is only $30, so I told Amelia to go nuts and don't worry if it got damaged in the course of experimenting.

We spent a lot of time going back and forth on the design, and she was great to work with. She looked at my inspiration photo and a photo of my show outfit, and mocked up some options that ranged from "exactly the same as the Schockemohle" to "in the same color family" to "wildly different". 

She also asked if I wanted a different pattern, like a gradient, which I declined because of Connor's asymmetric blaze! That would just be asking judges to check out his often-crooked head.

In the end, I decided on an alternating pattern of three different shades of purple, rather than the white stones the Schockemohle had, and I absolutely love it:

Honestly, I didn't expect to say this, but I like it better than the Schockemohle. Without the white stones it seems smoother visually, and these catch the sunlight and sparkle in a way the Schockemohle stones didn't.

Even just sitting in our dimly lit tackroom, when you open the door it's like there's a disco ball hanging from my bridle rack, and I am here for that, lol.

I'd be more annoyed that ordering a new browband is now like a four step process for me going forward, but 1. I love the Fairfax, 2. I'm not really a dedicated outfit person and 3. I'm lazy. I tend to find what I like and stick with that for the long haul, and as much as I'm in love with this purple one, I don't think it's ever coming off my bridle!

Purple is really his color

Thanks for all the hard work, Amelia!

September 10, 2021

September Skies

As much as I hate fall, (not because of anything fall does, but because of what it represents - winter coming), I can't deny that September skies in the Midwest are stunning. The trees are still green, the blue is so deep, and what better place to photograph it than the barn?

No filter on any of these, besides the usual overly aggressive Samsung post-processing, sigh.