summer… plans?

I have lived my entire life on an academic schedule, so the beginning of Summer — not always June, since the first half of my life was spent in a Southern Hemisphere school — has always meant a break from the normal routine for me.  This plan typically starts with the firm assertion that I will have no plans, and will do whatever I want, and that what I want includes


ellie’s summer list: wallow, wallow, chase squirrels, wallow

  • sleep for 12 hours per day
  • ride my pony
  • ride all the ponies!
  • craftsy things
  • road trip
  • read all the books!
  • play with my friends
  • go swimming
  • read by the pool
  • read in the pool
  • lay in the sun
  • go to the beach
  • swim with my pony
  • garden
  • go berry picking
  • go to friends weddings (San Diego!!!)
  • visit the East Coast
  • develop an app to make me independently wealthy

Image result for duck rolling on money

Unshockingly, I do about four of the things on the list (and somehow, sleep 12 hours per day is rarely one of them) and then September arrives and it’s back to the grind.

And really, there isn’t much no-plans-Summer to go around, especially if I stick to the current plan of heading to Camelot for an August 19-20 debut at Novice.  That’s basically eight weeks out.  Eight weeks!!  Lucky for Nicole and Murray, there’s not terribly much to prep for Novice.  We already know how to:

  • walk, trot, and canter in a variety of straight line and circle patterns — more or less obediently
  • course 2’11” stadium
  • jump all of the Novice elements on the Camelot XC course

So in terms of technicality, we will be fine.  There are quite a few things I would like to finesse in my riding this Summer though.  You know, less drunk-monkey-ing, more active riding.  Improving myself so that Murray and I can tackle some more big horsey learning goals.

murray: canter down centerline? got it

Sitting trot – This stupid skill has been on my goal list for literal years. Time to make it happen.

Turn my toes in – My toes point out.  And I use the back of my leg instead of the inside of my leg.  These are not, I have heard, the things I am supposed to do.

Following hands – I’m still wavering back and forth between my hands too high and grabby, and loose, floppy reins.

Strengthen my two-point – the position I think is an appropriately forward two-point is not appropriately forward. I need to lower my seat to the saddle and close my hip angle a little more, which should help with the above.

All of these will only get better with deliberate practice (have I talked about deliberate practice before? I’m kinda obsessed with the concept).  I have some plans.  For example, I plan to increase the number of sitting trot circles I do by one each week.  I did two (one each direction) on Tuesday this week, and if I can squeeze in two more before the end of the week that will be good.  Turning my toes in will require constant, conscious adjustment.  As will following hands.  And the crowning jewel of all of it is that I need to keep Murray put together all at the same time.  That is the real challenge.

what, what, what is your left hand doing?!

But I have fun plans too!  For example, swim with my pony!  I think Murray will love swimming.  He will also love the beach.  He may love it so much that I never see him again… will have to be careful with that one.  Go off property more!  I hope to have/plan for lots of XC schooling on my horizon (see goals 3 and 4), and lots more truck and trailer driving practice.

So, you know.  A nice, relaxed summer “plan”.  Any exciting summer plans for you?  Anything I should add to my list — riding my horse backward on the beach, maybe?

Image result for riding a horse backward on the beach

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post-nasal drip

Do all the things collided head-first with disease caught from babies this week and so all my well-laid plans have been put to the wayside as I lay in bed watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (you should watch, no really, it’s GREAT) and The Crown.

It’s okay. I still got a few things done.

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I clipped Murray again. It went… poorly to start with, but got better.  It turns out that he has crazy super thick winter hair and if I choose to clip this late in the season again I will straight up need a pair of those mega industrial clippers because my little Andis could hardly get through his butt hair.  I also left tracks everywhere because homeboy is still learning how to stand still.  They’ll grow out… right?

Or I could just never clip after the solstice again. That’s not a bad plan.

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I learned that Murray will tie with the halter around his neck while I clip his face.  At first he was confused and concerned, then he was annoyed.  The whole thing amused me greatly.  Also homeboy had little scabs all over his face which ALSO made clipping really hard because I kept catching them.  Sorry, Murray.

I made a big deal about putting his blanket on and taking it off while he was tied because he was giving me the stink eye and running away when I lifted it up near him.  I’m sure it didn’t help that on Monday he somehow wiggled out of it (without breaking any straps?!) and (probably) terrified himself in the process.

Murray got some turnout and did his best to drain the arena by drinking the puddle down.  Because dirty arena water is the best water.

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That’s been our week. Hopefully this weekend I am well enough to ride, or at least lunge.  I leave you with a super accurate depiction of my horse when he hears his neighbor’s grain bucket being filled.

creep

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.

 

late season replacements

I found out two nights ago that there is a local schooling show about 15 minutes away from us on Sunday.  Our assistant trainer casually dropped it to me in conversation along the lines of “so if you wanted to go, of course I’d bring you!” and I was like.

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Um duh.

After our last rated event I was looking at the end of the year a bit forlornly.  I didn’t have any money left for me to head to events, rated or otherwise, and all the dressage schooling shows for the end of the year were cancelled.  Even beyond goal smashing, I had hoped to get a little more show miles for Mr. Horse so he could stop losing his cool every time we go to a show.  There is only space in this relationship for ONE PERSON to lose their cool, Murray.

Fortunately, Murray has proven to me that he is completely prepared for this weekend’s show by spooking wholly and heartily at every single Hallowe’en themed item our assistant trainer has put in the arena.

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Yep. This bodes well.

But show miles are show miles, and even if all we do is go in there and smash down every fence, I will be happy (happy-adjacent, anyway).  Getting Murray more experience in the show ring and learning how to ride the Murray that shows up in the stadium arena is important.  Often stadium-Murray is a different horse from home-jump-lesson-Murray, and he requires a different ride.  So understanding that ride is probably going to be important for future shows.  More arrows in the quiver and what not.

There’s also a late season dressage schooling show that I just found out about in the third week of November.  And that is something to get excited about.  Dressage ride after dressage ride after dressage ride?  MURRAY’S FAVOURITE THING.

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I’m not kidding anyone here — the only tests we are qualified to run are training level tests.  But it will be awesome to get in there and run Training 1-3 and see how we do.  Definitely didn’t download those tests in January and close to memorize them.  Definitely not.  Do we have every single movement?  Nope.  Can we do almost all of them?  Yep.  Also, goal relativity: it’s just about being relaxed and obedient in the ring, not about winning ribbons or big achievements.

So this is pretty exciting.

In other exciting news, last week we taught the Peanut mare to jump!  It was shockingly easy.  I walked her up to lots of jumps and she was like “whatever”, and then over single poles and piles of poles with absolutely no event.  The next day we trotted over some small Xs, and then cantered, and Peanut was like “oh this! this is great!”

Bravest lil Peanut!!

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Mare don’t care

She’s a pretty professional, classy lady. Once again, it is super awesome to work with a horse that is so reasonable and learns so well.  She is pretty much the exact opposite ride to Murray, though!  Peanut is so gung-ho to get to all the fences that I need to rate her striding so she doesn’t accidentally just smash through them without thinking.  Murray is more “please Murray, let’s just goooooooooooo to this fence, great jobs!”  Very interesting.

Peanut loves to jump!! Second jump session for this brave little #ottb

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I joke that I’m going to keep Peanut and sell Murray instead, in a Houdini-like switcheroo.  At least, I think I’m joking.