run for the hills! (weekend recap)

I had a lovely Saturday morning, updating my pony journal, planning our fitness program, and drinking pour-over coffee with my kitten.


He is getting quite large. It’s sad, but at least he’s still a snuggler.

Milo also loves to play with Bolt, my roomie’s dog. ¬†They’re freaking adorable together.

bolt and milo on Make A Gif

My drive to the barn was rudely interrupted when a black Ford Explorer made a super questionable left turn right in front of me and slowly pulled out at like 35 mph on a 55 mph road, requiring me to slow down and honk, which I did happily. ¬†Unfortunately the driver continued at her glacial pace until the next stop sign, where I was gladly rid of her. ¬†Fortunately, Queen’s “Somebody To Love” came up on the radio so I could blast it and shed my sadness.

That is definitely a potential show name.

Had an uneventful but good ride, with lunging beforehand, and Murray was very compliant. ¬†I took it easy so I could have a harder ride Sunday with hills. ¬†Unfortunately, Murray may be moving stalls soon because his neighbor has been chewing on his neck, rather close to his jugular. ¬†So once the days get longer and more horses switch over to night turnout, I’ll switch Murray to some (hopefully) slightly less playful/bitey neighhhhhbors.

IMG_20150124_130840Are you sensing a theme here?

Sunday morning the Tule fog was super strong, and visibility was only about 50 yards. ¬†As I blasted my way down to the barn a CHP officer coming the other direction flashed his lights at me, for which I say “thank you, kindly CHP officer for not giving me a ticket!” ¬†Speeding. ¬†The crime we all commit.


Anyway, got the highlighter pink pony out of his pasture (I will NEVER lose him, thanks to Schneiders!) and prepped him for HILLS. ¬†The fog had lifted somewhat when my friend and I pulled out, and it took us about 25 minutes to get to my trainer’s house. ¬†The property is beautiful — 12 acres of gentle hills, some pipe-paneled paddocks for the horses with nice shelters, and most importantly¬†no ground squirrel holes!!! ¬†Gallop sets, here we come. Murray grew to his full 16.1 hands upon seeing the earth-moving machinery at the back of the property (there’s a creek that runs through that needed to be fixed from a diversion, evidently).

IMG_20150125_104327The only time he looks big to me.

But he soon settled.

IMG_20150125_104111I’m just here for the food.

A pano of my trainer’s property, rudely interrupted by Murray pulling me away for more grass.

hills on Make A Gif

What you can’t really see is that there’s another gently sloping pasture behind the line of trees, and you have to walk down a steep-ish slope¬†and back up to cross the creekbed there. ¬†My friend and I walked Murray and Marco (her horse) around for about 20 minutes to start, though since Marco has a much bigger stride than Murray we got left behind and Murray insisted on trotting to catch up, and then spooking at Weird Ground.


On our way through the creek back to the front pasture, Murray decided walking downhill was too damn¬†hard for him and leapt up and bucked and bronced all the way down and back up the slope, spooking poor Marco and proving to me that we needed to work. ¬†The antics continued, but were relatively harmless — lots of jumping up and bucking at the prospect of a controlled pace down any kind of slope. ¬†I just kept my reins loose, looked the direction I wanted to go, and let Murray work¬†it out. ¬†I’m really proud of us for this (ok, mostly proud of myself!) because the¬†snorting and grunting and bucking and lack of steering¬†would, in the past, have completely panicked me. ¬†But since Alana taught me¬†how to deal with trixy ponies¬†(stay soft, don’t scream at him with my body, just stay on task, etc.) I find them funny rather than worrying. ¬†Murray eventually properly settled once we got into a pattern, and we got down to work.

We did 20-ish meter trot circles on a¬†steeper and gentler slope in both directions and then cantered the same area. ¬†I also let him gallop around a much bigger area and it was soooooooooo fun! ¬†I’m also really proud of Murray for getting his ish together, which he has also struggled with in the past. ¬†We are both going to have buns of steel if we keep this up, because I two-pointed basically the¬†entire time. I don’t know about you guys, but my leg is always wicked¬†solid when we’re out away from home, and my poor ankles were completely numb by the time we were done.

IMG_20150125_122711California Coastal Range in the background…

All in all, probably 30 minutes of work (trot and canter with long walk breaks) and 15 minutes of warm up and at least 15 minutes cool down. ¬†A great first step in our fitness program, and an excellent booty workout for the pone. ¬†We’re planning on doing it monthly, so with any luck Murray will be super¬†bootylicious come Summer!

batten down the hatches

There’s a super epic winter storm expected in Sacramento starting tomorrow — 5″ in 24 hours, which is hardly a lot of rain but in an area that gets like 30″ a year, that’s a lot of rain — so we’re going all out at the barn. We closed all the paddock doors (so our precious event horses are now stuck in their luscious 14’x14′ stalls), closed the barn doors, and blocked off some of the areas of the barn with sand bags to prevent flooding. ¬†California barns are built like California highschools — outside affairs meant for sunny weather — and so we are just…. taking this seriously. ¬†With gusts expected u to 60mph I won’t be riding tomorrow, but probably will suck it up and dressage a bit on Friday. ¬†I re-dug the drainage trenches in Murray’s paddock so it won’t be a big fat puddleswamp at the end of this downpour.

12-4I got all up in my own head today about riding in the 3′ jumper class at the first local schooling show of 2015 (Superbowl Sunday, without fail), and let Murray just lose all power to three jumps in tonight’s lesson. I also started our warm up with a bit of a fight (listen to my leg MEOW, not when you want to!), so M wasn’t exactly pleased with me. ¬†I shook it off and started singing the Jeopardy theme song to keep a rhythm and calm myself down. ¬†(If you have rhythm problems you should totally sing aloud! It’s a crazy magic trick, I swear.) ¬†We did a couple of bending lines — yellow to red and yellow to blue oxer — and the turns from the red to the left and right were pretty tight. So good work all around. ¬†The best line was the diagonal combo — a 3 to a 2 stride — which Murray absolutely attacked. After a lackluster lesson to that point, I was pretty pleased. ¬†Jumps were about 2’6″+ (our holes are drilled funny), so lots of room for confidence building and nothing scary.

We’ve been doing a little amateur whorlology at the barn,¬†inspired by Foxpoint Farms¬†and a blog post I read today and then promptly forgot — please link it to me if you know what one I’m talking about! ¬†Murray has a single medium whorl in the middle of his forehead, so… according to swirlology he should have a pretty steady single personality? Yeah, not so sure that’s true.


He’s also got a sweet triple-ish whorl on his chest. Starts in the middle then feathers out on both sides, but unevenly.


Murray’s new BFF Connor has two high, tight ones so clearly he’s destined for greatness. But you could basically tell that by just looking at him.

connor forehead

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? I don’t know. Maybe I should call out the horse communicator.

This weekend I’m doing Second Thanksgiving, which is not unlike Friendsgiving, but I basically control the menu. We’re doing “Turchetta,” stuffing waffles, ¬†and all kinds of extravagant foodstuffs. ¬†I currently have two 13 lb turkeys thawing in my bath tub. It’s a good life.

My roommate and I like to stack our cats for fun. ¬†Adopting a mini-me of my roommate’s cat was a good call.


That is all.

radio silence

This week has been an interesting one for the pony.

Saturday we had a seriously good dressage ride. M¬†was perfect, and I worked his butt off, and was really happy with it. Sunday was his day off, and we worked on some clicker exercises. ¬†I still need to teach M some of the foundations — ¬†head down, adults are talking, stand on this mat — but I did get him touching his target and backing up consistently, as well as almost-turn-on-the-forehand in both directions.

Monday I planned to have another serious dressage ride in prep for our lesson this week.¬†My trainer’s dressage trainer is coming and I have a lesson planned. ¬†The last time I rode with Tina, Murray really needed to work on carrying himself, lifting his back, pushing from the hind end, relaxation and suppleness, and¬†basically everything that dressage is founded upon. ¬†So I haven’t taken a lesson with her in about nine months, because I’ve been working on all that stuff.

I seriously have daydreams of Tina saying things like “Wow, Nicole, you’ve done such a lovely job with him!” and “He is really moving beautifully.” ¬†I’m just visualizing…. don’t make fun. ¬†But for real, Murray has changed a lot since our last lesson with Tina and I know there has been at least a little improvement!

But then I didn’t ride. ¬†Why not?



Tack Warehouse is working on trapping and neutering the feral cat colony that has grown out of control in a lot behind their store, and part of that involves trapping and rehoming the kittens that are amenable to the process. ¬†This little guy, as yet unnamed, was one of the first to be caught so now he’s MINE ALL MINE.

Yeah so then I rode today and came home and played with my kitten some more because he is awesome.

IMG_7266 IMG_7297