five stages of standing wraps

Murray has been on stall rest and in standing wraps for the last 10 days or so (per veterinarian request).  He doesn’t mind the stall rest so much, which is surprising.  Usually when he’s on stall rest he shits in his waterer or feed bucket in protest.  But he seems to have accepted his fate as a stall-only-pony for now, and his feeding stations remain un-defiled.

The standing wraps, however, have been a discussion.  Or… six.

Murray has never really loved standing wraps on his hind legs, and I get them on at shows by distracting him with a bucket and/or alfalfa.  I usually throw wraps on him as quickly as humanly possible when I’m wrapping to trailer, and then there’s the requisite “my legs are broken I can’t walk” period.  Every time.  One would think that with the frequency he gets stuff put on his hind feet, he’d remember that they exist all the time, not just when they are unencumbered by boots or polos.  But no.  (I think he has a proprioception problem. Honestly.)

When you discover you have to wrap your horse every day until the wound on his cannon is healed and proud-flesh free though?  Dissatisfaction will reign all around.

Start with denial.  You’ve been in this stage for six weeks already, wrapping the wound as little as possible in general, why change now?  Oh yeah, because your vet told you to.  This stage lasts 45 seconds to half an hour after the vet leaves and you decide to do what you’re told by medical professionals.  Put your wraps on slowly and methodically because it’s important to get them even and wrinkle-free.

Then get angry.  Because your horse won’t stand still for standing wraps, you’re going to wrap him as fast as humanly possible.  Who cares if the wraps look  bad or are a little uneven.  They aren’t pressure bandages, they’re just there to keep his muscles from swelling out from under his skin for no good reason you stupid fucking wound on the front of a cannon caused by some goddamn scabs fucking fuck.  Slowly, your anger-wrapping gets quicker and tidier.

Bargain with your horse a little to make the wrapping experience more pleasant.  Hide carrots in his hay so he can forage for them while you wrap his legs.  Get really good at holding the lead rope in one hand or over your shoulder but just within reach while quickly wrapping with the other two.

When it seems like you’ve been wrapping for an eternity (it’s been four days, btw) you’ll start to get depressed.  The rapid healing and flattening that the wound was showing when you first started putting steroids on it has slowed, and it looks like this thing will never heal. Seriously, will it ever heal?!  You’re getting really good at standing wraps, but who needs to know how to wrap legs when your horse’s legs are probably all going to fall off and you’ll never be able to ride him on his little stumps of hocks anyway.

who needs hind canons anyway? not us!

Circle back to anger when Murray decides to run away from you mid-wrap one day.  Seriously, a third of the way into the wrap and he just runs away from you into his paddock.  He’s not panicked or afraid, or in any way concerned about the purple snake that’s trailing him from the stall.  He knows what he’s done, and he was willing to accept the consequences.  Tie him up and wrap him in the aisle from now on.

Victory comes when the Notorious OTTB stands tied in the aisle for you to do his standing wraps, both of them, without a walk break in the middle.  Ahhh victory, sweet victory.

Advertisements

hunt & seek

On Saturday night I walked Murray around bareback in his wraps to stretch him out from cross country, and liberally used some of my homemade liniment on both him and myself.  The upside is that Murray doesn’t seem to hate my homemade liniment.  The downside is that, while it feels nice, I don’t think it does shit.  I mean, it certainly hasn’t helped the healing of my knees.  The formula might need some tweaking.  We’ll work on it.

It’s been a while since I walked my horse around bareback in the dark, and Kate commented likewise.  It was fun.  Murray powerwalked when we had company, and meandered when we were alone.  That night I slept like the dead.

there’s so much good stadium media thanks to the Kathy(s)

My knee was almost pain-free on Sunday morning, but it was also very, very stiff.  I was hobbling around like a peg-legged pirate getting Murray ready.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this lately (it’s probably worth its own post) but Murray has made huge strides in tacking up lately.  At shows he’s been downright normal — it takes me five minutes to tack him up, and boy is that nice compared to 25 minutes.

Unfortunately for me, my knee was not holding up as well in the saddle as it had on Saturday.  Posting was a little painful (though the pain decreased as I rode), and I had a distinct feeling of unsteadiness in my two point.  Murray was a little sleepy feeling, but perked up when we started jumping.  I was back to riding like a juggalo, and leaned and kicked and crammed Murray to a couple of awful spots.  At one point I leaned and took my legs off to an oxer and Murray came to a gentle stop in front of the fence.  I turned to B and made excuses for myself, namely “my knee is really fucked right now.”

“This is when you have to really ride perfectly then,” she responded. “Dig deep. Don’t think about it.”

ugh I just ❤ him so much

I came back around to the oxer and pointedly did not get ahead and kept my leg on, and Murray was more than happy to comply.  I stopped warming up after that, hoping to save both Murray and myself for the actual stadium round, and did some meditative deep breathing to put the pain out of my mind.  I had walked the course the evening before, and given the state of my knee I wasn’t about to walk it again.  B walked it separately and we had a little pow-wow on the strategy for the fences.  I told her I was planning to try to square out my turn between 2 and 3 to avoid a weird curvy line, but she said it wouldn’t be too bad to bend as long as we didn’t drift.  She told me not to rush the turn to fence 5 and let myself take my time to get there, and to take the outside turn from 8 to 9, not the (tempting if I had been feeling better) inside turn.  Otherwise, it was a sweeping, fun course that felt a little oddly familiar.

It’s no secret that Murray and I have struggled a lot with stadium (also in general).  We have had bouts of mystery stops, major problems with distraction, spookiness, being afraid of standards, not even making it to stadium because we got eliminated… you name a stadium problem, and we’ve probably had it.  And I’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of time watching people cruise around stadium courses with horses that seem like they are going no matter what.  You know the horse — the rider can be flapping and flopping and not riding at all, and yet nothing short of an unseasonal hurricane would stop them from jumping the next fence.  I have longed for that horse.  While I’m flopping and flapping and kicking and pushing and kissing and coaxing, I have wondered many times why I do not have that horse.

uphill-fence-attacking-canter

On Sunday, I had that horse.

Murray was a little looky when we entered the stadium arena, and I struggled to get him into a canter to the first fence because he was staring at everything.  I gave him a little precautionary tap on the shoulder as we approached, and Murray was right there for the fence.  We had a big sweeping rollback to the oxer for two, and once again, Murray was on top of it.  The line to 3 could have been more square, but Murray locked onto the fence and took me there.  There was another big sweeping turn to 4AB, and not only did Murray see the fence and go there, but he took the long spot into the combination and made the two inside the combo.

Murray making the combo happen

The turn to five was good, but after fence five I couldn’t seem to get my body back under control.  I couldn’t get my right knee to bend so I could get my butt back down toward the saddle, so I was left awkwardly hanging on Murray’s mouth as we made the turn to six.  This directly caused Murray to take six down, since I was hovering over his withers, and he got deep deep deep to the fence.

murray: I can’t can’t jump good when you are crooked and perchy!

No matter, he recovered amazingly and powered up to seven in the five strides it measured.

murray: leave the fallen!

We had a very Murray approach to fence 8, the first one with strange/scary fill and the dreaded sharkstooth fence.  I managed to keep my body under control and my leg on, so even though we got deep we got over it, and left it up.

taking the deep one

The rollback to 8 yielded the fantastic jump near the top of this post (american flag fence), and then we gunned it home over the knights oxer.

 

Blurry stadium video below!  I need to clean my phone camera lens.

I’m not going to pretend that the ribbon doesn’t matter to me — I’m glad I got to take home some satin, because I’m a money-grubbing whore and #swag.  But the ribbon really was just icing.  For a move-up show that looked like it could go pretty spectacularly shittily on Friday evening, there wasn’t a single thing I would have changed about the weekend (er, except spraining my knee).

I have been working and waiting four years for this ride.  To feel like this is a partnership we are both committed to, where we can complement and improve one another.  To know that I’m not bullying and forcing my horse into something he actively dislikes and barely tolerates because it’s what I want to do.

I wasn’t all there this weekend, and Murray stepped in to make up the difference (again, actually).  And he did it at a new height, avoiding the problems we’ve had before.  I feel like we could do anything together if we just put our minds to it.

I don’t know where we are going from here.  But wherever it is, I know we can do it.

not throwing away my shot

I didn’t sleep at all on Friday night.  I mean, I probably napped and dozed a bit, but there was no true sleep to be had.  It was warm until the wee hours, and never really cooled down enough for me to need any blankets.  To add insult to injury, it turns out that you use/twist/stretch the ligaments in your knees a lot without realizing it.  A lot like every time you roll over or change positions, which it turns out you do a lot when sleeping on hard ground, you will be reminded of your injury with shooting pain up and down your leg.  So when braiding time — 5 am — rolled around I was already awake and peering out at the ponies.  Murray was snoozing quietly, so I took my time slowly getting out of my sleeping bag, putting on some clothing, and hobbling over to the bathrooms.  Murray and I braided in the slowly lightening pre-dawn, and while it wasn’t my best job, it held for our test.

I wasn’t going to let my knee prevent me from riding in the show.  Murray had been so phenomenally honest and fun after my tumble during schooling that I knew we could pull off a solid cross country run.  We just had to get there first.  I downed three ibuprofen while one of my friends went out to get me some more, and got on right on time at 7:35 for my 8:00 ride.  My knee did not feel great, but it wasn’t too bad, as long as I didn’t lean on the right stirrup too much or move too quickly.  This definitely changed how I approached the ride.  Based on how Murray felt a little behind my leg and small, but still relaxed and round, I wanted to push him forward for more ground cover.  But I knew that if pushing led to any kind of antics the likelihood that I would be able to stay on through them was small at best.  Also, squeezing with both of my calves hurt!!  So I kept it low key and just asked for little bits of increased ground cover and impulsion.

I developed a new warm up routine last week that I wanted to use at the show.  It focused on transitions on a circle, which have been problematic for Murray and I in the past: I always tend to just ask for a canter and pray that it goes well in the test, because the transitions are so explosive in the warm up.  This time, I wanted to really school the transitions and get Murray listening to my seat for the transitions to hopefully minimize tension and make the transitions more every-day feeling.

Murray was so quiet during the warmup that I was done early, and we walked over to the dressage court to see if I could head in a few minutes early (the one perk of being the first in your division).  Murray tensed up again when we went into the new arena, but I went back to our transitions on a circle, and he settled.  He still wasn’t as round as he had been in warmup, but it was still very good for us.

The test itself felt fantastic.  I haven’t been practicing my centerlines, and haven’t had a measured court to practice in for a little while, so my geometry was not what it could have been.  Like… my first circle was more like a 15 meter circle.  I realised that we were pretty far off the rail during the circle, but there wasn’t much I could do about it since we’d already started turning back toward the centerline.  I held my breath for the right canter transition, but it was beautiful.  I mean, there’s not really much more to say.  You can see for yourself.

Collectives:
Gaits – 6.5, some tension
Impulsion – 6
Submission – 6.5
Rider – 6.5
Overall – Need to develop rounder topline, some tension, try to place down trans between letters, work on throughness back to front

It was awesome.  It’s taken a while to get us to work together so well in public.  Feels pretty amazing.

After dressage I hung out and watched Olivia’s ride while luxuriating in my friend’s Back on Track quick wrap.  It felt niiiiice.  And even better, my knee felt way better after taking the BOT wrap off.  I didn’t walk my cross country course because, well, there was no way I was gimping around that thing on foot.  It was mostly on the same track as the BN course from June, and I read the course map, so I figured we’d be fine.

Fortunately for me, my knee felt pretty awesome by the time we got around to cross country time.  Almost normal again.  We jumped a few warmup fences, had a little gallop, but kept it pretty quiet.  I knew we’d be making a conservative cross country run, because all I wanted was to jump all the things and not fall off.

Murray was a total champion on cross country.  I just had to point him at a fence and his response was “that one? okay, let’s go.”  It’s a good thing he was feeling so honest, because at one point when we started going the wrong direction and had to make a sudden (albeit shallow) change of direction, my knee let me know with some stabbing pains that such maneuvers would not be repeatable.  Even better, we managed to ride pretty much according to plan!  I planned to circle Murray well in advance of the trakehner to avoid him galloping down to the fence and not seeing it in time.  If you recall from June, the approach to the trakehner is downhill, and Murray tends to turn into a little snowball running downhill, gathering momentum and ignoring everything in his path.  We circled well back, but Murray ate up the ground between the circle and the trak. I gave him just a whisper of added leg, and over we went.

We did have two stops, neither of which I gave a second thought to.  The first was at the first water entrance, which is a new pond on the back side of the course.  The water was dark, brown, and frothy at our entrance, and I do not blame Murray at all for not wanting to walk in there.  He wavered back and forth for a few minutes before leaping over the foam and running through.  The second was at the down bank, which Murray understandably suggested we just skip.  We came in just barely under optimum time for no time penalties.

We totally deserved the stops, but at the same time I feel like they don’t really count.  Maybe I’m having my cake and eating it too, but what horse doesn’t want to stop at a muddy water trap that looks like it might be harboring lepto, and a down bank that ended rather poorly very recently?  Maybe it doesn’t bother me because I know that those are two really easy to fix issues — we just need more practice.  No deep, underlying issues that will take months of backtracking to fix.  No evidence of serious training holes that I’ve neglected for years.  Just surface scratches that we can buff out with a little wax-on-wax-off.

It felt pretty freaking awesome to know that we conquered our first Novice course with so much more success than our move up to BN two years ago.


also, Kate let me school this little nugget on Friday so that was a huge plus

teamwork makes the dream work

Camelot’s August event was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.  I don’t quite have the energy for a full recap (I’m still catching up thanks to a sleepless Friday night and minor flesh wounds to both knees), but there are too many good pictures not to share some of them.  The short story is that we were successful.  But in reality, I’d categorize this as more of a wildly successful outing for us.

c/o Kate’s friend, Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Thanks to my own stupidity and inability to ride down banks, I tweaked both of my knees on Friday afternoon while schooling the utterly enormous and incredibly inappropriate for the level 3′-ish bank that was flagged for the Novice course.  I suck at banks and we haven’t practiced them in a year, so we worked our way up to the big one.  Murray was fine going down the littler ones, but could clearly sense my hesitation and lack of desire to go down the biggest bank, so he stopped a few times.  I finally approached it with some commitment, then promptly lost my left stirrup. Murray turned a hard right upon landing, and physics was not in my favor.  I kept going straight.  As I slid over the saddle my right foot must have become caught up somehow, because my knee twisted on the way over.  I initially landed on my left foot, but promptly fell to my knee.

I lay there in the dirt, both of my knees stinging, while Murray stood next to me and judged me for my silly actions.  Eventually I gathered up the gumption to stand (stung knees hurt, yo!), got back on, and we schooled the bank and a few other fences with great success.


I love the Camelot standards. Thanks Kathy!

The whole weekend was really an exercise in teamwork, though!  First, Kate kindly hauled Murray to the show as we were short one trailer spot from my barn.  To my great pleasure, Murray happily walked right into Kate’s trailer, and then unloaded quietly once at Camelot.  Kate even had a pin of just the right dimensions to fix our own trailer woes, when the 3-horse we were borrowing was short a pin to keep the back divider closed.  I mean, if that isn’t a beautiful coincidence, I just don’t know what is.


a couple of fences at Camelot have glow in the dark paint!

After spraining said knees, one friend loaned me her horse’s Back on Track wraps, another drove to get me ibuprofen at a nearby gas station, and everyone pitched in to help fetch, carry, and lift while I limped around the facility like a pirate.  The good news that is NSAIDs and BOT helped my knee to feel pretty much normal by cross country time.  I don’t really know how I feel about Back on Track gear… part of me thinks it’s juju voodoo horsey pseudoscience.  The other part of my knows that the BOT treated knee was way warmer than the untreated knee, and it felt WAY WAY BETTER after putting the wraps on.  So… we’ll need to play with evidence based medicine for that one.

Kate’s Kathy and Olivia’s husband kindly got pictures of me during my stadium ride, which were so appreciated when I realized after stadium that in the course of bumping my camera around on my hip I had deleted every single picture from the entire weekend.  I felt sick when I realized that I had done that through carelessness and bad habits (of not turning off my camera or protecting my images).

picture credit to David on this one!

There was even some pretty solid team work getting my outfit together.  I’ve been admiring the Winston coats for a while, but they are solidly outside of my budget in even an off-the-rack scenario.  A couple of months ago L alerted me to a tack sale for an Oregon tack store that was going out of business, and they had a Winston in just my size for an amount that I could, somewhat drunkenly (and only if I don’t look up the email to see what the actual price is) justify paying for.  I hemmed and hawed over it, and Peony told me to do it (and buy a Samshield alongside to boot, but they had none in my size).  And Megan concurred. So I bought it.  It didn’t quite have the shiny buttons I wanted, so I headed to Etsy and found the brushed stainless buttons I needed, easily replaced the old ones on the front of the coat and voila!

 I adore everything about the damn thing, and having a really, really well-fitting coat is just so nice for me.

It was such a wonderful weekend to spend with friends from all different avenues of my life.  I can’t wait to do it again — maybe in April, guys?!

lessons from children

This week has been a hectic one, for both pony and non-pony business.  I have to negotiate the process of getting a new passport (more complicated than it should be, but I’ll cover that when it’s all said and done) and we leave for Camelot on Friday, so there’s lots of packing and laundry and tack cleaning to be done.  And I’m moving at the end of the month.  And the WSS Horse Trials are on September 2nd. And I expanded one of my positions at work.

You know. Just a few things going on.

Anyway, my fearless leader had to travel for the first half of this week, leaving me without a trainer for a jump lesson pre-Camelot.  This isn’t a big deal, since our jump lesson last week was super fab, and we also get to school the XC course on Friday prior to showing.  But one of the young riders, and resident kid of our barn manager, set a new stadium course on Tuesday so I asked her to give me a little lesson before Camelot.  This kid, we’ll call her Pie, has been running prelim for the last year and riding naughty ponies as long as I’ve known her.  She also has plenty of experience riding Murray, though mostly early in his career. And she’s fifteen.

screengrabs courtesy of my teenage tutor

During warm up, Pie told me to slow my trot on approach to a crossrail.  I was like “um, do you even Murray, bro?” because a slow trot always leads us to disastrous warm up fences.  I much prefer to over-do it and kick him to them instead.  She insisted at the canter as well, and I didn’t comply and pushed Murray for a long spot instead, which resulted in a really ugly chip + me getting ahead.  So it was going so well so far.

I didn’t want to jump too much, so Pie built up the course in pieces.  We started with a short approach to a white gate, rollback to oxer, shallow bending line to vertical.  I kept my philosophy of squeezing Murray into the contact in my mind, and tried to remember my revelations from earlier in the week (post also coming later) about shaping Murray using both my inside and outside aids before a transition.  The transitions weren’t beautiful, and the canter still wasn’t in my hand, but stadium rounds start whether you’re ready or not, so I tackled the first fence.

Murray, shockingly, did not stop at the gate, which hasn’t been on a course in six months or more.  He did pull a little through the rollback, got a funny spot to the oxer, and somehow what should have been an easy seven turned into an ugly eight for us.  We tried again, and got the same funny spot to the oxer, then I pushed for six strides yet drifted even further out on the bending line for another ugly eight (or seven, I don’t even know).

Murray: oh Nicole, could you stop biffing the turn to this oxer please?

Pie lectured me about the bending line.  I needed to pick a track and ride for that track, instead of not picking a track and riding for nothing.  “And half halt,” she added.  Which, to her credit, she had been saying to me for the entire lesson already.  I just wasn’t really listening.

Half halting my horse is hard. Half halting while jumping results in slowing down and stopping.  Much safer to push.

Anyway, we finally committed to a good distance, then added in a triple bar (!!! for triple the fun) with five strides to another vertical.  I felt Murray hesitate ever so slightly as we first approached the triple bar, so I tapped him lightly on the shoulder (and immediately regretted it because I worried that he would use it as an excuse to lose forward momentum), and we went right over.  I did absolutely climb his neck at the vertical though, because we had too much speed coming in.  Pie told me to half halt, I did nothing, and so we got yet another atrocious spot.

In case you haven’t caught on (I hadn’t), that was the theme of this lesson: Pie told me to half halt, I didn’t (or maybe did, but only a little), chased my horse to the fences, and got shitty spots.  It was the. whole. lesson.

Murray, on the other hand, was a freaking star.  Long spot, short spot, Nicole climbing his neck, Nicole getting behind — he jumped it all.  He is clearly ready for this.  At one point we lost momentum after a sharp turn to the barrels, and when Murray had nearly ever excuse to stop over it, he went anyway.  He was jumping really well, and being so, so, so rideable.  He was a good boy.

I, on the other hand, was riding like a juggalo.

please, Nicole, please learn how to land from a fence

After a full course at Novice+ height (we measured later and Pie had set it kinda big, which is good because that’s how I like to prep for a show), we discussed my half halting problem.  I had realized throughout the lesson that my problem was that when I heard “half halt” I was hearing “slow down”, and the two aren’t really equivalent.  I also didn’t want to half halt because I have a tendency to be grabby with my hands, and that really does slow us down.  If I instead half halted with my leg on (you know, a real half halt), I could balance Murray’s energy instead of letting it get long and flat.

Pie also said that I needed to stop chasing my horse to fences, and trust more than he was going to do his job.  The phrases “you don’t need to gallop to every fence” and “this is not cross country” may have come up.

But, I whined, I’ve had to kick Murray to fences for so long that I don’t know how to do anything else.

Half halt, Pie told me.

I settled on one more course of a few fences to get the pace and balance right.  I picked up a canter and approached the first set of jumps — the ones that had given me so much trouble throughout the day.  “Is this the canter I want?”

Pie told me to half halt. (She does actually know how to give directions other than this one.)

Magically, we hit the gate perfectly.  Through the rollback, Pie told me to half halt again.  So I did.  I crossed the line we had (literally) drawn in the sand to mark where I should be able to tell how many strides it was to the oxer (yet another problem I was having), so I told Pie that it was three strides from there.  Which it was, perfectly.  I had to half halt again in the bending line to the vertical, but that also worked out perfectly.

The first three fences had gone so well that I decided to just finish out the course.  Coming down to the triple bar I heard Pie tell me to half halt again, so I did, and that one was a perfect spot also.  Every single fence came perfectly, except one that I couldn’t resist chasing Murray to the base of.

this is particularly impressive as it’s the out of a one-stride

So yeah.  I spent my morning getting schooled by a fifteen-year-old, which I am not used to.  I’m sure I would have struggled with the directive to half halt even if it came from B, though I probably would have just done it because it’s ingrained in me to do what I’m told by authority.

I learned a lot from this lesson.  Namely, my horse is being a fantastic boy right now, and I should trust him a little more.  I can’t chase him to the fences, because it messes up his ability to find an appropriate takeoff.  I seem to have no clue what an appropriate canter is for stadium, but I’m sure I’ll learn.  And for god’s sake I need to remember to half halt (when Pie tells me to).

Next step: fix those atrocious hands and awful landings!

pony jump big big

I wanted to take my first jump lesson since Murray’s hock injections easy(ish), but also prep for my Novice debut in ten days.  I told B that we should warm up, then start at Novice height and just build up to the course.  My goal for this was manifold.

  1. Avoid jumping every fence 3-6 times at varying heights
  2. Start out at the New Scary Height (2’11” in case you’re wondering)
  3. Ride “easy” lines to prevent stops before they could happen

Importantly, I wanted to focus on my position and see if I could find that magic “spot” again over fences, as well as keep riding correctly and insisting on correctness from Murray.  Pertinent to the second point, Alli said something to me that has totally revolutionized my rides this week: she realized that when she feels Dino get light in the bridle, she pulls to get the feel back, instead of kicking the pony up to it.  I realized that this is exactly what I do, especially when jumping: I feel Murray duck behind the bridle, and I take up more reins to get a feel of his mouth back, instead of pushing him forward to the contact and the fences.

Um. Duh.

we have walked over this tarp ditch every day for the last two weeks.
murray still stopped when we first cantered it today.
sigh

So for my last two rides I’ve been thinking about squeezing Murray forward into the bridle when I feel him duck behind it.  Not kicking or bullying, and definitely not pulling, but just squeeeezing him with my whole leg until I feel him come back into my hands.  It worked and got us a really fabulous trot toward the end of my (short) ride yesterday, and I thought “if I could trot like this up to a vertical, it would be pretty fucking awesome”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to achieve the beautiful trot up to our warmup fences, but I kept squeezing and pushing and Murray softened to the idea.  It’s not his favourite idea — being told what to do OR being told to move forward into contact — but it’s probably the least offensive way I’ve ever asked him for this, so  he was willing to accept a bit.

We started with a simple, long bending line of vertical to oxer.  When B was setting the oxer I remember thinking “gee that’s big! Murray doesn’t even barely have to put his nose down to touch it.”  That’s what you get when you don’t jump  height for a while.  I felt Murray hesitate as we approached the green oxer, that kind of shrinking-stride check in he sometimes does.  I knew it was an opportunity for him to sit down and stop if he chose, so I squeezed him into the bridle — not too aggressively — and he went right over.  I was very, very proud.

good pony

Next up, we built up the combination. The kids had put together a barrels-two strides-quarter round skinny-one stride-quarter round skinny combo across the long diagonal.  I didn’t want to fight with Murray about it, so B had me come in to the barrels like I was on a big circle and just turn left before we got to the skinny.  Murray actually locked on to the skinnies in the combination and I felt him pull me to the right.  But I was committed to going left, so I made the turn happen.  Our next go through he eagerly jumped through the whole combo, though we did jam three in the two stride.


we got the striding later though!

Our attempts at the barrel line were not without fuckups, however.  After one successful go through, I leaned as we approached the barrels in a backward attempt to push Murray toward the fence and encourage him to get the striding.  Murray was like “girl, you cannot lay on my neck like that” and stopped.  I, of course, lay all over his neck.  Like, straight lesson kid laying on the neck posture.  (I would have a picture, but google photos won’t give me the high resolution version of my video!!!!)

shenanigans

Next we came in to the oxer to liverpool.  Murray and I have walked over the liverpool every. single. day. and yet we still had trouble with it during the lesson.  The first time I was coming off of some shenanigans so Murray was flustered and disorganized and I tried to commit to the oxer anyway.  It was the wrong choice.  The next go through Murray went over the oxer and then spooked hard at the liverpool.  I was like “Nope! Nope! You have to do it, Murray!” and pointed him back at the liverpool.  After a moment’s thought he jumped over.  Subsequent attempts were slightly less awkward.

The last few fences on course included a series of rollbacks that were a little more challenging upon execution than I expected!  We overshot the turn both times we took it, but Murray was game to take the second fence at an angle, which made up for my poor navigation.

In our last course, Murray arrived at the big green oxer on a fantastic open stride and at just a hint of a long spot.  I squeezed him a few strides out as encouragement, and he launched himself over — I mean, really launched himself.  Sadly B was very far from the oxer at the time, but we FLEW!

The last course was really fantastic — we made all the strides, didn’t get any awkward spots because we had such a good quality canter, and Murray was on fire!  Seriously, I could not have asked for a better jump lesson before Camelot.  Murray is clearly feeling… something, since his hock injections.  (Though honestly, if shenanigans is what I’m going to get when my pony feels good, I’m willing to take it.)  None of the stops were unreasonable.  All basic rider error, things that I ought to know better than to do/try/flub.

Oh, AND I didn’t crumble because of the height!  Murray and I jump 2’11” not infrequently, but we usually work up to it.  We don’t usually just start at that height.  And I didn’t let it get to me in the first few fences, so after that it immediately felt fine.

it felt so, so, so cool to have Murray pulling to these skinnies in the combo!

We will probably jump once more before Camelot, to keep the confidence up.  But now, I really, really, really need to figure out how to ride Novice B dressage test.

hard walk week

Poor Murray has had a hell of a week.

First, I made him lose all of the skin on his cannons with my over-liberal application of Equiderma lotion.  Then I forced him to do so much walking it’s absurd.  Walking is the worst.

On Monday, when I went to wrap up Murray’s cruddy/scabby right hind, he said “no thank you”.  He kept picking the leg up and scampering away from me when I went to wrap it, so I asked my barn manager to give me a hand.  She has a special relationship with Murray — i.e. he behaves for her, because he knows he has to.  He wouldn’t even let her touch his leg, so she had a conversation with him, and then wrapped his leg while he was standing ground tied in the barn aisle.

https://giphy.com/embed/11BAxHG7paxJcI

via GIPHY

On Tuesday, I figured I’d skip the wrapping drama and twitch Murray before I attempted to clean out the goop on his leg.  I asked barn manager for help with a handy-twitch.  When barn manager went to put on the twitch, Murray said “no thank you”.  Then they had a discussion about accepting a twitch and not being a butt when someone touches your face.  She got him twitched, and I wrapped his leg in the parking lot (where he had ended  up over the course of the discussion).

On Wednesday, I wrapped his leg in his stall and it was relatively drama free. I think I had to use some stern words to remind him to keep his manners about him, but other than that, no big.

On Thursday, as I was booting up to ride (I’m riding in diagonal-opposite boots on the good legs right now), Murray LEAPT away from me and right into our barn manager.  And not just a little bit, he leapt into her and kept on going through her as if she didn’t even exist.  Then they had a discussion about respecting peoples’ space.

On Friday, Murray  let me do his girth up to the third hole on each side (one higher than usual), while he was tied, and he didn’t move a muscle, except to remind me to please put one more carrot in the machine.  [I was actually floored by this, and NOBODY who knows us was around to appreciate it. DEVASTATING. He got a huge pile of carrots as a reward though.]

He’s got the weekend off, and we’ll get back to torture next week!