Well, um Hi 2021. Did you learn some tricks from 2020?? Definitely should have lunged 2021 longer. There’s a horse loose in the hospital, and now it’s smashing everything it can reach on its way out. (If you get this reference, I love you.)
While the first week of the year was rough nationally and on the political stage, it was a little less rough in my little corner of the world, so let’s get into it. Also, this is probs the most I’ve written for an RD in a while? So apologies, it’s long, and the title really doesn’t tie into the whole thing, but hey, I can’t think of anything better for the week other then this.
Monday and Tuesday I spent working with L on just getting him to move out and stretch.
I had JM watch us Monday after Sunday’s disaster of a ride, and her opinion was he was just bound up and stuck in typical draft horse fashion, and needed to really get him moving out and forward. Again, factor in busy Sunday, we were both tight and sore, and it was a day after a day off? The perfect recipe for a bad ride and nothing we could have done would have fixed it.
So I threw everything about collection, bending, and lateral out the window, and focused on straight lines and lots of forward. L felt a lot better after two rounds of trotting like that, and then I threw in a very light set of cantering, and other than the occasional help so he wouldn’t fall on his face, I left him alone and let him move out. Our transitions into canter were not our prettiest, and there was a lot more running into it than I would have liked, but I was not going to get picky.
We rinsed and repeated on Tuesday to be sure we were all good. The super nice thing was I was able to WT in the scary corners without much anxiety doing this. I just focused on forward and moving out and not thinking about the monsters ready to jump out. Sure we could have cantered on the corners, but I cut both short sides while cantering just because I was working on cantering without helping, and turning early helped him not fall on his face in the downhill areas.
L also made an unscheduled visit to the little barn; he was curious and I indulged. I don’t think he’s ever been in the little barn. Ballerina Shoes clomped his way in at 6pm with his draft feet and studs, and woke everyone up. Lush was not happy with his intrusion, and Dede thought he was hot stuff. He did meet Cruz, the blind pony, which was adorable.
Wednesday was a bit of a mix. I warmed up with a lot looser of a connection, and wasn’t as fussy with getting him low and deep. Once I’d done that, I went back to the deeper rounder horse. L very much liked our relaxed, no real collection work, and was a bit reluctant to go into it. I quickly discovered I needed more leg by complete accident. L spooked at, get this, a horse pooping.
Yep you read that right.
We were tracking left past the temp stall in the indoor, and the mare who occupies this stall, also his turnout girlfriend, made a very ploppy pile as we passed her and the scary door. L decided it would be better to spook left to save both our asses from the monster, and I turned it into a nice 20-meter canter circle while crying laughing at him. Only L.
The rest of the ride was so much better, which told me I needed more impulsion and drive, and L helped provide that. We cantered both directions, and I was really happy with him cantering right as I asked him to pick it up on the rail and canter the whole ring while a horse lunged, something I don’t often do. He was a perfect gentleman, so I called it early.
Thursday I didn’t go to the barn, I had an appointment in the early afternoon, and I needed my car inspected, so that took up my afternoon. L needed the day off too so it worked out well.
Friday was fun. I was actually very proud of myself for my ride on Friday. Sure the quality was not where I really wanted it to be, but I was able to salvage a stressful moment into a nice one. L was a bit on edge for the first half of our ride, and I could feel him really trying to find some excuse to spook. There was some work being done outside on a run-in shed, and he kept trying to do something with the banging. I was able to focus him back in and made it work until someone dropped something large and metal on the concrete, and L had an externally assisted canter depart left. I made it into a very nice canter circle and worked through it. After, we of course had lovely impulsion, and I was happy to get a few nice canter transitions out of it. And then I swapped directions and he had a mini tension meltdown and started ignoring my half halts. It got worse when a buddy left the ring, and he was panicking and “OMG the monster will get him too!!”
Normally, I’d start panicking, and just drop everything and be done to avoid a fallout or over drilling. I hadn’t cantered to the right yet and I was determined to get it. So it was a handful of trot-walk-trots or trot-halt-trots, and leg yield to the scary distracting doors. Once I felt like he’d relaxed a bit, I asked for the canter and got a very sassy depart, but it was good quality so I left it as is, trotted, and called it quits.
Ironically, we usually have our GJM lessons on Friday, but do to some scheduling, we bumped it to Saturday. Of course, the barn was a literal ghost town from 12-3:30. I joked to JM while we rode that we’d have a full house during our lessons on Saturday now, and if we’d had our lessons like normal, it would be crazy.
Saturday was a whirlwind. JM and I packed up at 7am to go pick up a small load of hay for holdover while waiting for the load that supplier would be bringing the next day. Dearest reader, it was the weirdest adventure of our lives.
It was an old dairy farm, but the owners had since stopped producing dairy cows and switched to beef, and the barn at the front of the property was literally half-collapsed. Of course, it was a rural New England farm, with old stone walls, and happened to be quite a dreary overcast morning, so it really felt like we’d stepped into a horror film just waiting to start. JM said it was like we wandered into Wrong Turn, and were about to start a B-rated horror film. We both joked later we were waiting for the chained dog with the spiked collar to show up. No such thing did happen, though there was a turkey and I remained in the truck while a turkey roamed free. I do not like turkeys or geese, especially when they are free to roam and make bird decisions. We did end up waiting a bit, but it ended well and we left with a truckload of hay.
After unloading the hay, doing chores, and having lunch, it was finally lesson time. Guys, I was so pumped for my lesson for the first time in a few weeks, and I was crossing my fingers it would be a shenanigans free lesson. Even JM was crossing her fingers for me, and we narrowly avoided some craziness. One of the boarders brought her mounted archery set, and while I’ve been dying to try it, she was doing it out in the outdoor and a few stray arrows hit the barn during JM’s lesson, and I was glad I asked her to go first.
Other than the usual, L had a few, FU moments but they were minor compared to the shenanigans of last week.
We worked on L’s focus, and when he would get distracted. GJM said to me, “He gets nervous, and what you need to do is grab his anxiety by its balls and deal with it, because when you tip toe around it, he starts to think his anxiety is something real to worry about.” Her solution to his distractions and the powder keg days was to give him something harder to work about instead of the possibly spooky thing. JM and GJM always have described lateral work as L’s Calculus, so we gave him so calculus to think about first. And holy hell it worked like a charm. Any time he looked or felt distracted, it was turn and leg yield. Once we had that down, GJM had us leg yield off the rail, and then back onto it. As GJM said to JM when she came back to watch, “Lets make his brain explode.” And oh my gosh did his head explode. At one point I was aksing with my leg as far back as possible to show him, yes move to the inside when I ask, no I’m not insane. We got one angsty half piaffe the first few times, but he was listening nad after a few tries, we got it down. Sure they weren’t great, but he was moving to the inside.
Then we swapped to a little bit of shoulder ins, which GJM said, “I’d tell you to do more but these look amazing so lets go on to something else.” We went and played with extensions, which I’m still getting used to, but L loves them. I really need to add those back into my rides every now and then. Finally we ended on haunches in, which were a lot harder. We haven’t done them in months, and it really makes my brain hurt to do them. Not only is it half halt, and shift your weight to the inside leg, but its also remembering to ask with my outside leg and yikes its a lot. I felt like I was barely doing it right and we only got to B/E before we’d loose it, but GJM said it looked good.
We didn’t do as much canter work as I thought we would, but it was a very good lesson.
Sunday I popped over late morning, and pulled L out. He was impatient, so I was a bit apprehensive, but on we got. I worked on the same, lets give L calculus if he gets distracted, but otherwise straight. Well, it was a busy morning so there was lots of leg yielding, but it was good leg yielding. He felt good, and at one point I was just asking for a small leg yield before asking for a trot extension, and he gave me a canter transition. So we leg yielded in the canter. And then I brought him back, and we got a perfect to me extension, and that was it. I didn’t want to push, and I knew I’d pressed a few irritated buttons with a lot of leg yielding, so we called it and went for a leisurely stroll up the driveway. L was happy to stroll, and visited with some of his friends before wandering back to the barn.
I also made more molasses treats this week, which was a weird flop and success? The video I was going off of on Youtube suddenly disappeared, so I had to find another video, which had totally different ratios and created a less dough-ey dough. Think creamed butter consistency, not dough. So I had to chuck in flour until it thickened to a dough consistency, and in doing that, I think I basically tripled the original recipe without realizing it.
It’s just flour, molasses and a very small dash of cinnamon, which I wonder if anyone else has issues or concerns with this recipe, aside from cinnamon testing. I only see similar recipes on youtube, and all other similar style ones online have other items added and come with a shelf life? So if there is something wrong with any of those three ingredients someone let me know. Regardless, it made 70 little silver dollar sized circles, and a large handful of poptarts, I forgot to count. The icing went better a lot this time, however they did not look this pretty by the time they hit the barn.
L and H both devoured their two large poptarts, regardless of pretty decorating, so it’s safe to say they love them. I made a care package of the extras for a boarder who’s horse was obsessed with them when I made them for Christmas. I might as well start a side baking business of horse cookies just for those three horses. Now to find a good sugar free recipe.
We’ve also been riding with a towel under our saddle again. In our last GJM lesson, she noticed my leg was farther forward then normal, something I’d weirdly noticed the night before but thought maybe I was just insane. She had me get off, and we realized L’s saddle was dropping just the smallest amount in back, nothing huge but just enough to throw my equitation and seat off. So towel went on, and instantly my eq was back.
I noticed over the weekend and the last few rides, my foot winging has been less at the walk. I look down and my toe is in line with my knee, which is huge to me. It could just be the perfect mix, but I am really crossing my fingers if I use dressage boots with the saddle like that, my foot winging will completely go away.
JM contacted the fitter this past Monday to make an appointment. Turns out he’d mentioned the saddle might need to be rechecked in 6 months, and we’re just on the 6 month mark since the last time it was redone in July. The fitter is coming Tuesday, which I cannot wait for, so hopefully that will be a correct fix.
I also have to share my text exchanges with JM because they are becoming increasingly hilarious. Most nights she heads home before I get off L, and wants an update when I get off, mostly because I ride alone. These are some of my favorites I’ve sent this week.
I am still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my tall boots. The company, HorseLoverz, did say it was at least 4 business days from the order date to ship, and the estimated arrival window is Jan 8th-14th. I’m not close to my “where are my boots???” email, but it has officially been a week since I ordered them and there has been no movement, and if there was, they have yet to update me.
Fun item of the week, I found this sweater (on TikTok of all places), which is literally my whole self. I’ve sent it now to my mother and sister and said “I need it ASAP and hey, my birthday is coming up too”. This one is out of stock, but there are some cute ones on Etsy as well.