all the feels

Murray is quite an expressive creature, for which I am quite thankful.  Not only do his feelings provide near-endless entertainment for me and my friends, it’s always abundantly apparent to me if there is something really wrong.  Or slightly wrong.  Or a little bit off.  Or it’s a Tuesday.

I compiled some gifs of Murray’s recent (and a few not-so-recent) feelings so we could all enjoy them together.


I think I want to change leads but I can’t without some upper butt cheek help…


Now I want to change leads the other way and can’t do that either


We are at a show and I’m passing this one corner, therefore I must!


Changing leads like skippidy-do-dah, skippidy-day…


The old school favourite


Murray gets some revenge for me asking him to “dressage” at a rated show (actually not the first time he’s done that)

I wish there was more video of Murray getting down with his bad self.  Which is one of my goals for the new year: more incriminating evidence of Murray’s punkery!


$900 FB Pony Blog Hop: Show Essentials

A few weeks ago Amanda asked us what our top horse show essentials are, and I had quite the time thinking about it.  For one, I don’t show that much.  But also, lots of people had already mentioned the good ones!  Amanda talked about the wheely muck cart, which is seriously brilliant and you need it if you can’t fit a wheelbarrow, and Karen talked about booze.  But after much thought I came up with a few essentials that I don’t think have been covered elsewhere.


1. Spare halters and lead ropes

When you own a horse who breaks away from the trailer on the reg, you get used to making accommodations.  Whether it means never leaving your horse unattended at the trailer (sigh, there goes watching any other division ever), or fastidiously warning everyone around you to please, please not leap out of the tack room (or just tying your horse on the other side of the trailer), you figure it out.  The other thing you figure out is to carry spare everything.  I always carry at least one nylon (unbreakable biatch!) and a spare leather (for safe trailering home) halter with me, and I have one of those heavy-duty (butt ugly) nylon lead ropes also.  Interestingly, horses at shows seem to like getting free near me, and it seems more than coincidence the number of times my spare halters (always at the ready) have been used to wrangle the odd loose horse on the property — including one Rolex horse who decided to go for a jaunt one year.  That was especially fun.


(Also included in this list are my blocker and break-away tie rings for safety, and a stud chain.  While it’s not safe to tie your horse using the stud chain, it is mighty effective for teaching your horse a lesson when wielded at the end of your arm like a nunchuk carefully applied.)

2. Cold-brew coffee

I am a coffee-junkie, but I’m also cheap as hell.  Cold brew coffee takes almost no effort to make, keeps at room temperature, and I’m always perfectly happy to take it black.  Somehow, it isn’t quite as bitter as hot coffee.  This also means I have coffee available to me throughout the day, right at my stall, and if I happen to leave it overnight and forget about it?  Whelp, I can probably still drink it tomorrow too.  Obviously, this is in a mason jar because… I have a lot of those in my life.

IMG_20150327_073832Ellie and I enjoying some cold brew at camp

3. Baby wipes and home-made baby wipes

Baby wipes are infinitely useful.  You can wash your hands and/or face (no, I have never fallen off my horse twice at a show and needed to wash my face before the competitor’s dinner before), lean up minor stains, wipe down buckets or even tack in a pinch (it’s a PINCH okay, I’m talking mud on your boots), and all other manner of things.  I “make” baby wipes by pre-wetting clean wash cloths (ones that are a touch threadbare here work nicely as they don’t hold too much water) and putting them in a ziplock bag for the day.  They stay moist and don’t get gross unless it’s super hot.

4. Portable power!

My phone isn’t the spring chicken it once was, which means that when I’m bored and toodling around on the internet at a show for hours on end, poor old Nexus 5 doesn’t necessarily last the day.  No matter!  These days I carry a couple of spare chargers around and a phone cable and my phone never runs out of batteries.  This one (pictured below) gets me about 3 full charges, and this baby gets me up to 8.  Also, it is helpful when trainer is running out of batteries and all of your ride times are on her phone.

5. Besties

I couldn’t get through a full show without my friends — they are there for me when it goes poorly, and even better, they celebrate with me when it goes well.  Plus, without friends at the show, who would take pictures and video?!!  But really — I am not looking forward to the day I have to go to a show with just one other person (or, forbid it, alone) — they will tire of me rapidly and I can only imagine that one of us will hate the other by the end of the weekend.



As every year, there is much for me to be thankful for this year.


… the opportunity to learn about life and love from chimpanzees, especially Janie.


My two best munchkins …




… and their growing love!


wpid-wp-1447907687776.jpgVets who are somehow willing to put up with my shit …


… and barn moms who know exactly when and what they need to show up for.


Wonderful friends who are always willing to talk horses with me…


… who take photos of me being awesome …


… and less than awesome …


… and for trainers who know how to fix my problems!

plwg6 plwds



… and who love me even when I cry, which is a lot.




For new friends, who enable me by selling their gently-used tack so I can have the BRIDLE I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED ITS FROM MY DREAMS

… or who remind me what is really important…

image(arm hair and dirty skin is not what is really important)

New opportunities …


… and lots of cute ponies.


And of course, I am thankful that I have a wonderful teacher (creature?)….


… who keeps me accountable for all of my shit …


… and lets me win just enough that I feel like I’m doing something right.


sympathy for the devil

Murray’s face is much, much, much improved.  Thank you all for your sympathy, kind words, and healing thoughts.  Murray’s eye is so much improved that he looks normal and I love him again — no more FrankenFace!!


novjump3We are cleared for riding, just no turnout, so Monday night we had a thriller of a lesson.  It started out as perfection — Murray and I were both spot on and he was taking the long one or the deep one as I desired.  I was able to control the quality of our canter easily, and kept him at an uphill, bouncy, powerful pace.  Even the 1-1 combination worked out okay after we schooled it at a lower height, and though Murray had to save me a bit the first time we went through at 2’9″, I didn’t abandon him entirely.

It was one of those rides where my first priority (getting Murray over all the obstacles from a good spot and a quality canter without fighting) was right on, so I started to work out some of the little issues in my position.  Sometimes when I’m not thinking about it, I feel my heels come up over big fences.  I know this is because I grab with my knee and calf instead of sinking into my heels and grabbing with my ankles.


So I worked on that!  And I could feel my heels staying down over the fences.  And I put my stirrups up a bit and really focused on my equitation.  I didn’t think about following hands, because sometimes when I think too much about my hands they do weird things.  AND IT WAS WORKING.  We didn’t have any refusals, even to weird fences, or fences Murray would have been looky at a few weeks ago, and there wasn’t even any hesitation.  It was awesome.


Right up until it wasn’t.

After a few go-throughs of the 1-1 combo, we came into it and Murray did some weird shit with his body.  We were crooked coming in so I tried to push him straight and forward at the same time.  Murray pathetically deer-leaped the first fence and knocked it down, along with the standard, and seeing that we were completely discombobulated and had zero power, I pulled him out of the second fence, knowing that even if we crashed through that vertical, we’d definitely never make it over the oxer at the end.  Close review of the video reveals that Murray was pretty strongly thinking about refusing the fence, and just had too much momentum in the end to truly stop, so was forced over it some kinda way.

novjump6stop novjump6stop1
Murray: nope don wanna, oh fuck gotta go anyway, shit it’s all coming down

And that started a long string of Murray being like “nope, can’t do it, no confidence left” and Nicole being like “FUCK YOU THIS IS FUCKING BULLSHIT HORSE”

To say I lost my temper would be an understatement.

Assistant trainer put down the verticals into Xs and Murray went over the first one with a strong ride, backed the fuck off to the second one, and there was once again no way we’d make it over the oxer, and I pulled out when I felt the brakes slam on.  Assistant trainer put down the oxer to an X as well and I beat and screamed Murray through the combination, but it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fun, and I was so insanely let down by Murray going from absolute rock star to ???(*#@$??? (symbol of true unknowing, not a curse word — you know I don’t censor cursing in this blog) in the turn of one jump that he…. just decided he didn’t really want to jump?

After that second refusal I actually felt a huge adrenaline dump — my heart started racing, adn I was struggling to properly control my breathing a little bit.  I wasn’t rationally scared of the fences or the oxer or the combo, but something about that refusal really fucked me in the adrenals.  Probably that’s exactly what Murray feels when he suddenly is compelled to refuse a fence for no reason — “oh dear ponyChrist I’m so scared I can’t jump that fence holy shit my heart is racing and my body can’t do this and she wants me to jumpg ANOTHER JUMP WTF OMG”

So I feel a little sympathy for Murray and his random refusal to do things, occasionally.  I’m not happy about it, but I’m sympathetic.

Plus, because it’s Thanksgiving week, I get another lesson to try to really sort it out.  And we’re going to grid the shit out of our lives so we can get over this!


her horse hit his face on a fence and you WON’T believe what the vet did next

Actually, if you’ve ever met a veterinarian, you probably will believe it.

In more than two years of owning or care leasing Murray, I’ve never had a veterinary expense out of the routine of biannual vaccines and biennial-ish dentals.

wpid-wp-1447907682639.jpgWomp womp.

So when I found FrankenFace over here on Wednesday morning my first reaction was “SHIT” followed closely by “well, something was bound to happen sooner or later.”

I called the vet out, gave him some bute for the swelling, rode my other horse, and contemplated the fascinating psychology involved in the fact that I could literally barely look at Murray’s now ugly side.  Seriously, I said to one of my friends “it’s so hideous I don’t think I love him any more.”

The non-swollen side was great!  Normal, cute, adorable Murray!  Perky and eating and begging for his grain.  The swollen side was like looking at a hideous beast.  If horses looked like that normally, we would not fawn over them as we do.  For real.

It looked like a fairly superficial scrape with some serious swelling due to location and possibly a very firm bonk during the incident, but I waited upon the vet and didn’t do any bumpkin-folklore-medicine-ing of my own.  But the vet discovered something AMAZING!  #clickbaitygarbage

What appeared to be a deep abrasion was actually a pretty solid lawpid-wp-1447907687776.jpgceration.  A+ for effort, Mr. Sensitive, you really got us with this one!  My vet cleaned everything up, looked at Murray’s cornea for damage (a slight abrasion that should heal up no problem), poked around to make sure the hole didn’t go all the way through, and eventually settled on popping in six tiny stitches.  Murray got that big old cow-syringe full of antibiotics, and we got some topical treatment for his cornea and instructions to keep the kiddo under lock and key for 10 days until the stitches come out.  Oh, but Mr. Sensitive, that doesn’t preclude riding, so get ready to dressage your now-ugly little face off.

The whole thing was shockingly civilized and, if it took a little longer than I hoped, I was not tripping balls about it.  I do feel like having a tiny pity party for myself (duh, thus this post), but other than that, I am actually feeling pretty good.  This could have been way worse, it could have been way more expensive, and my horse could be in way worse shape.

wpid-wp-1447907691218.jpgUgh I think it’s possible he actually looks even more FrankenFace with the swelling gone down a little?

Anyway, so that’s the adventure that happened with my horse on Wednesday.  He gets another day off (haha sorry Peanut! your relaxing Thursday plans are now gone!) and we have scratched the show this weekend.  We will get to a dressage show someday.  This weekend is just not that day.


TRM Blog Hop: 25 Questions

I had a loooong day of school and dealing with taking my car to the shop for the fourth time in four weeks — all minor things that needed to be repaired and were covered under my warrantee, but still irritating to waste yet ANOTHER day on that.  So today, we blog hop!  A nice, fun, easy, getting-to-know-you blog hop by Cathryn at That Red Mare!

look a unicorn!

1. Mares or Geldings? Why?
I was totally a gelding person until very recently.  As in, the appearance of Peanut into my life recently.  Why?  I had never met a mare I really got along with.  Something about them was always a little assholic to me — it seemed like, at least a little bit, something about all the mare I interacted with was always saying “fuck you” just a little.  Maybe it was something about me!  Who knows.  But Peanut tries pretty hard, and doesn’t really say “fuck you” to me at all (at least not much), and really does try.  So there’s that.  Oh and she’s really cute.

wpid-wp-1441599751059.jpg IMG_20151108_120344~2
Not as cute as Murray, but acceptably cute

2. Green-broke or Fully Broke?
I have ridden a lot of green-broke horses and found them preferable to the “fully broke” lesson horses that I’ve ridden in my life.  That being said, I’ve never, ever had as much fun jumping as when I have jumped my RBF’s totally 100% broke Training level event horse.  I mean, maybe now that Murray is getting back to being kinda badass, but Derby is one cool mofo to ride.  And my mother-in-law’s dressage horses have been pretty incredible to ride too.  So… yeah… I like them both.  I would consider either green or totally broke for my next horse… just not broke broke.

3. Would you own a “hotter” breed (ie. Arabian, Trakhener, etc).
I love my thoroughbreds, but I’m not into the crazy hot ones.  I enjoy my some frolicking and skippidy-do-dah and all that, but don’t want to be fighting the flight instinct of a horse who really believes they are stronger than I am (and who doesn’t mind using their strength against me).


4. What was your dream horse growing up?
I have an extremely distinct memory from when I was about nine or ten or eleven years old, sitting in the junior library at my private all-girls school in Adelaide, planning and naming all of the horses that we would own when we moved into her family’s property in the nearby hills.  (Incidentally, we would have zip lines, called flying foxes in Australia, that connected our houses on different areas of the property for quick access to one another!)  I can’t remember my number one horse any more, but I know that there were a lot of thoroughbreds on that list.  But there were also dark dappled grays, and strawberry roans (what even is that, child-Nicole?), and black horses with big white socks…

5. What kind of bit(s) do you use and why?
I have started to amass my own bit arsenal.  Right now Murray goes in a suuupah cheap, thin-ish, small-ringed, loose-ring French link.  He likes it okay for dressage, and for jumping.  Previously I’ve had him in a single jointed loop gag, an eggbutt French link with a bead (not the flat link), and of course I’ve tried a standard single-jointed D.  Interesting, Mr. Sensitive likes a thinner, lighter bit than what is typically considered “soft and mild”, and the Peanut mare is getting used to the French link (she used to be super fussy in them).

6. HIMG_3333elmets or no helmets?
Every day I’m protecting this noggin.

7. Favorite horse color?
I’ve always loved blood bays.  But you can’t deny the handsomeness of a deep, dappled bay too.  Also, dark dappled gray would be fab if they would never turn white…

8. Least favorite horse color?
Dilutes and cremello-y things.  I just… ick.  Sorry, fans of those colours.

9. Dressage or Jumping?
I’m a big fat DQ deep inside.  But I looooooooove me some jumping.  I love putting them together, too.

10. How many years have you been riding?
This is a weird question.  I first sat on a horse around five or six or seven.  I went to horse camps when I was 11-13, for a week or two each Summer.  When I was 17 I took lessons at school for a quarter, that I traded for “work study” aka scrubbing water troughs.  And then before my first year of grad school I started riding for the first time consistently and seriously — weekly lessons.  That was in 2009, so I guess I was 20 (shortly to be 21), which means I’ve been riding for six solid years now.

11. Spurs/whip or no spurs/whip?
I almost always carry a whip when riding.  I have been holding them for so long I know how to keep the out of the way, and I don’t think it’s an excuse that your horse is scared of them.  You don’t get “un scared” by never being exposed to whips.  Anyway.  I ride with spurs about 50% of the time, partially because my leg is not quite secure enough and I don’t think it’s fair to goose Mr. Sensitive unnecessarily.

12. Your first fall?
I fell off a hot-adjacent chestnut mare named Lexi.  We were cantering and I was trying to turn right, but didn’t make a solid decision as to whether or not I would do it in front of or behind the mounting block.  She dived right, and I saw the ground on the left and thought “I’m going there.”  I went.  I’ve fallen a lot more since then!

camelotfallLet’s look at me falling off my horse two times in one day one more time!

13. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
I rode on Monday.  Murray and I practiced some dressage exercises along the skinny edge of the arena while my friend practiced her dressage tests inside the court, and came up with some awesome little exercises to do in the small space.  Murray threw a tantrum about halting — he didn’t wanna! — and I backed him and backed him and backed him and BOOM, forward, agreeable horse.  (Bitch please, don’t mess with me.)  Then I did my tests a few times and called it good.

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
By weight?  Definitely my new PS of Sweden bridle!  By pure numbers?  My dressage saddle barely edges out my jump saddle, but everything is under 1k.  Until we quit dumping saddles, and I start making some more money, we cannot own nice things.

15. How old were you when you started riwpid-wp-1447825079562.jpgding?
See above for the detailed story.

16. Leather or Nylon halters?
I have both.  Leather for every-day and trailering.  Nylon for punishment when Murray breaks some leather.

17. Leather or Synthetic saddles?
I only own leather, but I guess I would not be hypothetically opposed to synthetic if it fit really well.

18. What “grip” of reins do you like?
I need rubber reins.  I’m too much of a butter fingers as it is, I can’t afford to have ANYTHING slippery.  I have a pair of very grippy, soft, leather reins with stops for my dressage bridle and I like them quite a bit.

19. English or Western?
I can count the number of times I’ve ridden in a Western saddle on one hand.  I don’t dislike it.  But I also don’t find them super comfortable either.

20. How many horses do you currently own/lease?
One and a half.  Peanut is only half mine.  Murray is 100% my problem.

21. Do you board your horse? Self-care/full board? Home board?
I board my horse at a barn that offers full care and lessons.  I take care of someone else’s horses to pay for it! Ha!


22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?
No, and I am very lucky for that.  However, horses that I love have been put down and it is still heartbreaking.

23. How many saddlepads do you have?
Probably… four dressage pads (including my show pad), and six or seven jump pads (none of which is truly reserved for showing).

24. Slant-load trailer or straight haul?
As I own neither, I trailer in whatever my friends are willing to offer me.  Murray loads in a straight or slant, ramp or no ramp, and one time even happily got in a reverse slant and I wasn’t even the one who asked him to get in there!  I am so very proud that I trained him to do that.

IMG_374725. Why do you ride?
Because I love it.  I love the feeling of progress and cooperation and making something that’s more than what it seems.  Because it’s cool!

haiku clarifiction & three bridle family

I posted some haikus last week, and mentioned that I’d turn it into a little blog hop and have some prizes at the end.  Why prizes?  Because I felt like it.

So hwpid-wp-1447656738259.pngere’s the deal (and I’ve clarified in the original post also).  Write some haikus.  Write one.  Write many.  Write them good, bad, happy, or sad.  At the end of November (this month has thirty days, right?) I’ll make sure I’ve read everyone’s haikus, I will draw random entries for the winners.  Two things are up for grabs: a chevron-and-white quarter sheet (fit to your pony), and a reversible saddle cover.  Now, write away!






Oh hey look!  This was from back when I still had my good lead rope, and Murray wore a chain full time.

In more important news, the ineffable SprinklerBandit basically made all my dreams come true and allowed me to purchase my dream PS of Sweden bridle for a fraction of its MSRP.  In an interesting quirk of social media fate, I got a notification on my phone that one of my Facebook friends had posted in English Tack Trader.  I’m actually really sick of this particular feature, so was about to turn it off, when I decided to peruse what SB had posted.



I have lusted after this bridle for basically ever, but since I live on my grad student budget, I’m not about to be buying a $300 bridle from Europe.  BUT NOW I HAS IT AND IT IS MAGNIFICENT.  And it looks damn good on Murray to boot.

Now I need to buy another of these magical cheapo French link bits that Murray seems to like, because right now I only have the one and I’ve been swapping it back and forth between my dressage bridles.  And that annoys me.

So now I am a three bridle family!! I have my PS, a hacking/schooling/pony bridle (figure 8), and my dressage bridle, and my bridle family is complete!!

why I hate speed as an evasion

All horses have ways of evading work they aren’t feeling up to / aren’t comfortable with / don’t want to do / don’t think they can do.  Murray’s evasions can be pretty dramatic, but when he’s not being a dingbat he’s firmly in the camp of “I can’t do this, let me slow down, this is hard, can’t trot, no not possible, not forward, too hard, slower.”  And this type of evasion I know how to deal with.  The other really common evasion is SPEED.

how about no, Scott

I hate when horses use speed as an evasion.  It makes me absolutely crazy.  It fills me with irrational rage.  I’m sure there are other people who like it a lot less when horses use slow-ness as an evasion, but in my opinion speed as an evasion is way worse.

First of all, rushing means not using your body.  You can see this from and ground, and you can feel it in the saddle.  It’s like when you’re carrying a really heavy bucket or piece of furniture, and you know you’re struggling, so you shuffle your feet really fast and juuuuuuuuust make it to your destination in time.  But you’re not really working your muscles, you’re just relying on your joints and tendons, or something like that.  It’s the same when a horse just BULLS through on the lunge line or when you ask them to do a leg yield.  Oh, you want me to stretch down and trot? No, that’s impossible, I’m just going to trot really fast to convince you I shouldn’t have to do this.  Then you have to expend effort slowing your horse down before you can then teach them to do the thing you were trying to teach them in the first place.

zenn(Look at this unrelated gif of a cute gray horse being adorable.  You may have heard of him.  More on him later.)

Which brings me to my next point.  You don’t learn things better by doing them really fast.  You just don’t.  Let’s say you’re trying to teach your horse to stretch down.  Instead, Mr. Horse says “no thanks, I’d rather JUST RUN AROUND REALLY FAST”.  That’s great, except that the point of the exercise is to access your back and supple those muscles.  Slow repetition relaxes muscles.  Rushing and tension do not supple muscles.  In fact, rushing and tension are the opposite of the tenets of dressage so that is another reason rushing annoys me (but since horses can’t read, I give them a tiny pass on this one).

I’ve never heard a riding trainer suggest that I rush my horse through an exercise they aren’t getting it.  In fact, they usually say something along the lines of “why don’t you take it back to the walk, and then try it at the trot.” So when Mr. Speed Demon horse is like “no thanks, instead of trying to move my shoulders over a little and engaging my inside hind, I WILL INSTEAD RUN THROUGH AND DO A WEIRD UNBALANCED CIRCLE INSTEAD” it irritates me so much because they are so busy telling you what they can’t do that they aren’t listening to you trying to teach them an easier way.

Which is another point in and of itself — it’s a really loud way of not listening. When Murray isn’t listening or is convinced that he can’t do something, I can slow him down to an easier gait (hell, he’s usually slowed himself down already), show him he can do that thing, and then we can work on it at a more productive pace.  When my horse is loudly blasting through my aids and busily telling me that they can’t do any such thing, you have double the work on your hands to get them back to a) a productive gait and b) doing that thing.

Then the evasion builds on itself.  I don’t have to do this hard thing if I just bull through the aids?  Great, I’ll never have to do this hard thing ever again.  Obviously more talented riders can deal with this, but as we see rushing to fences, plowing through the hands, and general pushiness as one of the major problems in amateur horses, I think it’s safe to say that lots of horses use this tactic.  Oh, icorgiderpf I just rush through your half halts, I never have to half halt, great!  If I rush through the shoulder in, I never have to do a proper shoulder in!  If I rush through my entire dressage test, it gets over and done with sooner! (Okay, that is a human one.)

(This picture seems maybe appropriate here — if I rush all the XC fences, they can’t hurt me, right?)

From a totally rider-centric standpoint, I find speed as an evasion literally painful to deal with and manage.  I don’t know about you, but having my arms ripped off on the lunge line is somehow not my favourite way to lunge a horse.  Same when I’m riding — yeah, yeah, slow them with your seat and all that, but even that is challenging when you’re an adult ammy working a perpetual speed demon.

It feels like it’s aggressive.  This is totally anthropomorphic, but speed as an evasion feels wildly aggressive compared to slowing down or stopping as an evasion.  To me, horses that bully with speed always seem to be the one who are happy to throw their body into mine, invade personal space, yank my arms off, ignore polite requests… I realise it’s all (generally) coming from a place of confusion, and it’s not necessarily trying to be aggressive, but it feels aggressive.  And that makes me feel angry and aggressive.  Which is not such a great way to ride, in general.

All of this to say, I don’t really enjoy a horse who uses speed as an evasion.  And also, I really, really, really, like my horse, who is trained just right for me, and is totally attuned to me, and I know how to ride him*.


* Insofar as I actually know how to ride.



adding jumping skyllz

I was going to title this post “heavy duty booty jumping” because a band that I heard live once played a HYSTERICAL song about big butts including that line, but it turns out when you search heavy duty booty without safe search on you end up with … nothing I actually ever wanted to see.

Murray and I have recently unlocked a couple of new jumping achievements — namely, for real, serious, booty-workin’ jumping.  It all started in a jump lesson I was having with our assistant trainer a few weeks ago.

I have written before about my struggles with speed, power, stride length, and generally keeping my shit together with jumping.  There’s always something, right?  If I’m not letting Murray suck back before fences, I seem to be chasing him to them.  If I’ve managed to get enough power, I’ve not packaged it appropriately and Murray blasts all over the place.  Strides too long, strides too short, strides progressively getting shorter, strides changing shape every few… we have had all of these things.

badhandsmaintaining a consistent stride can be hard

AT tackled two of our big problems — jumping flat and sucking back before fences — one at a time.  (Often if I don’t PUSH Murray to a fence and jump it flat, I let him suck back, as sometimes that beans he’s balancing onto his haunches, but sometimes not.)  First, AT had me approach the fences with a really collected dressage canter.  I didn’t have to come at them fast, in fact she wanted me to approach them slower than I’m usually comfortable with.  Our first couple of approaches were less than ideal — Murray smashed into a 2’9″ oxer face first at one point because he was pooping.  But after AT lowered the fences so we wouldn’t have the height to worry about, Murray jumped like his ass was a ROCKET LAUNCHER.

I saw Murray’s knees come up in front of his face multiple times that lesson, and he pushed off so strongly from behind that I found myself laughing out loud.  It was outrageous how scope-ily and strongly Murray was jumping.  Alas, I didn’t get any media, but it’s okay, I’m sure it will happen again.  I hope it will happen again.

So, for more powerful jumping, just ask for a more powerful, sitting canter.  Easy, right?

Well, not all the time.  But hopefully we can get to a place where it’s easy.

novjump1actually kinda more powerful — but nice and even on those hind feet!

The second thing AT tackled was Murray’s inclination to suck back and shrink his strides as he approaches the fences.  That was an easier(ish) fix, though somewhat harder in execution.  I basically had to remind Murray that I was really serious that we were going to the fences, but not beat him (because that gives him the wiggins), just remind him that the bat is there and we are going to the fence.  That is especially hard for me because I don’t want to let go of the reins in the four strides leading up to a jump.

WHAT.  THAT IS HARD.  How am I supposed to let go of my reins? I’m not a teenager trick riding my pony around!  I’m an adult with a firm grasp upon them at all times lest I fall off and my horse run away and I never get him back again.

novjump2same fence just a little later — so proud of little nugget

So these are two things I fixed, and now there are more things to fix!  Like my equitation that kinda flies out the window when we jump bigger fences!  And my inability to follow the motion properly with my hands and body.
Oh equitation.
Why are you so goddamn hard?
(That’s what she said. Yep.)

equestrian haikus

The other day Aimee posted something in the comments that was almost a haiku, and it cracked me up.  And then I thought, holy shit equestrian haikus that is such a good idea.  Plus, I’m sick in bed and mostly consuming hot chocolate as sustenance, so why NOT write a bunch of haikus?

IMG_9297This mane smell so good
Chicken wingin’, leg swingin’
Make George Morris proud

What do you mean I
Need to sit tall to fences?
Oh I get it now.

Stretch tall but sit down,
Inside leg to outside rein
Maybe it will work

Neck braced, back so stiff,
I shall not relax, no way.
Dressage is torture

Gangsta leans are great
For ghost-riding or rappers.
Not so for riding.

New jumps, rustling leaves,
Flowers, cars, lawn chairs, shavings:
Shit my horse spooks at

16019201964_b78d562d0c_kWind in our hair
Flying over hill and dale
Oh what a feeling

Anyone else want to join in?  I figure we can make a whole thing of it… you know… one of those things.

blog hop

For fun, and since I always sew a bit more during the holidays, there will be some fun sewn prizes up for grabs as well.  Probably a saddle cover and a quarter sheet.  But I’m not quite sure yet.

Edit: Okay, so here’s the deal.  We are going to haiku until the end of November.  You have time because I am not one to rush poetry out of anyone.  At the end of November I will decide on two haikus for give-away.  At first inclination, I want to do this based on awesomeness, but I’ve already seen some really funny and hilarious haikus.  So I think it’s going to be random again.  There will be two items up for grabs.

quarter1. A quarter sheet made in teal/white chevrons.  Like below, but imagine it fits your horse better, because this was my first horsey sewing project and I got impatient with the measuring.

wpid-wp-1447656738259.png2. A custom reversible saddle cover.  You pick fabrics, give me approximate sizing, and I sew.  Boom.  Done.

Now, show me your haikus!