Happiness is owning a chestnut mare.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"I got this Mom"

Today I had another lesson on my Tots and she was still pretty good. By pretty good I mean she is definitely in heat and therefore annoyingly searching for anyone, or anything who wants to be her boyfriend. She also gets supersensitive, so her already thin TB mare skin becomes an even bigger nightmare.

So my lesson went well today (I can't believe the amount of positive things I have to say about our days together-it is simply amazing.) I also had a personal accomplishment. My instructor set up a jump to a pole...now I know I never explained in detail my concussion, but my concussion happened when I attempted to do a jump to a pole. We went over the jump (which she popped because it was her first vertical), then she looked and went "oh shit a pole!" and bounced sideways to avoid it, and I continued on the straight path and landed on the opposite side of the pole. Therefore some anxiety about doing it was reasonable.

So the first time wasn't pretty, but we did it! The funny (well, I guess not funny...) part is that she already is trying to tell me "I got this mom" whenever we start jumping. This works fine for the lines, because she just does them. She has the stride. When we start doing real courses at real horse shows I will never have to worry about getting down the lines, thats for sure.

The problem is, no Taters, you haven't "got this." You really don't know what you are doing yet. For example, landing off of a line of jumps, you don't get to decide what we do, I tell you what to do. If I want to stop on a straight line, you don't brace against me then continue to do whatever the hell you want. haha. oh the joys. We did have some great moments though I think. It is hard only getting to jump once a week...preferably I would be taking her over 5-10 small crossrails 2-3 times a week. I am not the type to start hiking up fences just to see how high she can go until she knows how to make it around a course of crossrails. She is super athletic though. I definitely have my next 3' horse on my hands, if not A/O horse (if I can ever bring myself to stop teaching riding).

I also believe that her intelligence and heart will allow me to have her teach my kids how to ride (when and if I do have kids) one day. Because when she really does know her job, it will be awesome when she says "I got this kid" and takes my kids around a course like a pro.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Riding Inside

Today Taters and I rode inside for the first time. I feel like a broken record...BUT SHE WAS AMAZING!!!! I am so happy with my mare. I have been riding a solid 45 minutes a day because it is so enjoyable. Before I would push myself to make it to half an hour, try to work on things, get nothing accomplished, get frustrated and stare at the clock. Today it was more of a "OMG I have been riding almost an hour and have been here for almost 8 hours... I need to go home." haha.

But we were just having too much fun! I went a little bit longer, but I could tell she was starting to get fatigued. Not front and back tired, but side to side tired. She was just done bending and contorting her body into shapes that she isn't 100% used to yet. As soon as she starting feeling like she wasn't into it anymore we walked, walked a nice bend in each direction, then I let her have free rein. I don't want to push her to the point where she starts to resent lateral movement. She really has been picking up on it and I am so proud of her, so I don't want her to start bracing again due to fatigue.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Light as a feather, stiff as a board :/

Taters is the apple of my eye. I have owned quite a few horses, all of them I liked, but this horse is special. I know I say it all the time, but it really is true. There is something about her...she tries hard and wants to be good. I think she likes to learn and I think she feels good about my chosen career path for her. She is just so smart and lovable. Ok, I am starting to sound like one of those moms that I can't stand. haha.

Anyway, Taters has come so far this summer already. Every time we canter she is lighter and lighter. She is doing tons of circles/spirals and trying to learn what it means to bend. She has been doing some very successful leg yielding at the walk and some semi-successful leg yielding at the trot which I am very happy about. She is definitely figuring out that leg can mean more than just GO!

I am feeling more confident too for whatever reason. I took a dressage lesson on Tuesday and it was fantastic. I was yelled at a lot cause I suck, but I think by the end I had accomplished a lot. Our cantering sucked, but I know it was because in lessons I feel rushed to canter, but on my own I am relaxed and go at my own pace so it is easier.

It may not have looked like I was working really hard, but I was. This past spring I took things super slow and just kind of did whatever and wasn't particularly motivated. Now I am at the barn 6 days a week and I am totally motivated to get things done. I am trying to take two lessons a week because we are not allowed to jump on our own. I would really like to get to jump twice a week so that it becomes like second nature to her.

She loves being ridden 5-6 days a week, like most TBs do. She loves having a job to figure out. I love that I have time to ride her and motivation to get the job accomplished. I just hope that I am still feeling the same way when it is 20 degrees, I am working 730-4 and there is a blizzard outside :/

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazing Day

Ok, so last week I was pretty busy. My bosses were out of town, and the other instructor was out of town, so I spend the entire week running camp AND teaching all the lessons. This resulted in 12 hour days all week.

Fortunately I have an amazing friend who was willing to ride Taters all week. It was fabulous because she was riding while I was teaching lessons, so I got to see every ride! It was very difficult to concentrate on the lessons that I was teaching, but it was so awesome to see someone else riding my horse and doing an amazing job!

She did a lot of cantering, which is good because for whatever reason cantering is not a strong point for me. I am not a huge fan of going super fast (but I own an OTTB...yeah, I know). Anyway, she jumped her a few times, and cantered her around a lot and it was great. It was great because seeing her doing it and not dying totally gave me the confidence to believe that I can do it too.

So I was FINALLY able to ride my horse again on Sunday and I took a lesson with my friend. My friend Bri is a quality instructor who is very knowledgable, and I do not get nervous when I ride with her. Things went wonderfully! She fit me in early in the day so no one was there yet, then half way through people started showing up, but they were people who I knew would not judge me and are big Taters supporters. It kept me relaxed and focused and we got some great stuff accomplished!

We jumped with no refusals. I KNEW the reason why I had been getting refusals my first few jumps for my last lesson was nerves. I felt so confident going up to the jumps when it was just me and Bri (and some of my other non-judgemental friends). We did great and we jumped a line STRAIGHT with perfect striding. My horse is so amazing.

I have a dressage lesson tomorrow, hopefully I can stay calm. The dressage trainer is very good and knows her stuff, and the lesson is mid afternoon when everyone is there. So considering my nerves, and the fact that the horses don't get turned out on Mondays, it is a recipe for a horrible lesson, but I am going to try and stay calm and think about how expensive the lesson is and how I need to make the most out of it! haha.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 5

Today was day 5 at Skib. I rode Tots on Wednesday and she was phenominal. Lots of horses in the ring, she was totally calm, but always trying to get a glimpse of what is going on EVERYWHERE around her. She cantered alright, but definitely went FLYING up the long side (Skib's ring is much bigger than our ring at home) we did a lot of circles and she did a lot of fighting me, but it was ok because thats just where we are right now.

Yesterday I had my first lesson with my trainer. I was very nervous. I love my trainer, I have ridden with her for 7 years and I have worked for her for 3 years, but for whatever stupid reason in my head I am totally intimidated. I think it is because I have so much respect for her. I was so scared that she wasn't going to like Taters, or realize how much I suck now that I haven't taken lessons with any sort of regularity for 2 years (not that I didn't suck when I was taking lessons regularly). So anyway needless to say Taters and I both sucked, because I was having tons of anxiety about sucking. Riding is all about what is going on up in your head and my head was MESSED UP.

Any who, I don't think she disliked her, but I do think she was thrown off by how bad I was. I didn't even release over some of the crossrails. Like, seriously WTF is wrong with me? Obviously I am not an idiot. Obviously I know what I should be doing. Taters and I are already jumping 6' in the olympics in my dreams, so I can totally envision how jumping her is supposed to work- I just couldn't make the mind-body connection. Needless to say my trainer seemed less than impressed and not at all enthused about how the summer was going to go.

Then, of course, I get on my Tots today and what happens? She is perfect. She was great, she was bending, she was listening, she was my Tots that I love more than anything. Until I noticed my trainer pull up in her golf cart...then I got all nervous again and couldn't even steer and almost rammed into a fence. Yes, that really happened. I seriously don't know what my problem is, but I need to figure it out because it is going to be a long summer of sucky riding if I am going to freak out every time someone watches me. I need to learn how to relax and just RIDE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Taters' Vacation Home

Ok, Ok, I haven't updated in forever. There are many reasons for this. Mainly because I am a teacher and the end of the school year was CRAZY! Then it was the first week of summer and I was driving up and down the west coast (of NY haha) daily and have been BUSY!!!

Also, I fell off Taters pretty bad at the end of May and could not ride for a little bit, then her LH was swollen again, then school ended....so she hasn't been asked to do very much lately.

Which is all about to change BECAUSEEEEEEE.....

Taters is in her vacation home! Now, most people live in Buffalo and have a vacation home in Chautauqua. Taters and I live in Chautauqua, so we have a vacation home in Buffalo. Specifically, Taters' vacation home is in Orchard Park at Skibbereen Farm.

Now, most of you would say, "Kim, what the hell? Since when does Taters need a vacation home...you have only been riding her a few days a week and you are barely even cantering and jumping. The last thing your horse needs is a vaycay!"

Well most of you, the location is not the only thing that is the opposite of normal.

Taters vacation = BOOT CAMP!!!!!!!!

Skib is my "home farm." Before I moved to Chautauqua I worked and rode there for quite a few years. I am one of those people who has ridden EVERYWHERE and worked almost everywhere. As soon as I came to Skib I knew it was "my barn."

Anyway, here I am my 4th year doing their summer camp program with Taters by my side. This barn has it all: tons of great boarders, a fairly large lesson program, summer camp kids running around and about 35 horses.

Taters year round home consists of a quiet boarder barn of 8 (and 2 miniature donkeys that confuse her).

VERY DIFFERENT! haha. Anyway, Taters has not decided how she feels about this yet. She went from virtually no stimulation and riding by ourselves most of the time to complete overload. She doesn't know what to look at first!

Today was her first full day and she got turned out with Grace and Hailey. She started trotting around with her tail up in the air like I have never seen before! I thought she transformed into an arab! Hailey and Grace were looking at her like she was an idiot and just kept eating. Stoney in the pasture next to her had a different idea though. The two of them must have had racetrack flashbacks because suddenly they were racing each other up and down the fence so they came in.

After about half an hour she went back out again, trotted back and forth a few times, then settled down and ate some grass until the boys started running a few hours later. The bugs are so bad right now, so I can only assume that is why the boys started running.

So then when I finished camp I gave Taters a full tour of the farm. We walked around the indoor (she was just as confused about the ponies as she is about the donkeys...She acts like she has never seen a pony before!), then we walked around the outdoor. The sprinkler was on and she could not have cared less! The good thing about Taters is that when she is surrounded by other horses doing their job, she follows suit and does her job. The downfall is that when other horses find something to spook at, you better believe she is freaking out too.

She stood in the middle of the ring with me for awhile as a few other horses worked around her. She was a bit impatient (she wanted to see more, she is very curious about things), but overall good.  We walked over some colorful poles and hung out by some jump standards for a bit. Assuming that she reacts the same way during her outdoor walk tomorrow I will definitely at the very least w/t her around the ring.

This was long because it was 2 months overdue! I promise there won't be that much time between posts again! (I say that like anyone actually reads this thing! HA!)