Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Land of No Internet

Being in The Land of No Internet makes it very difficult to stay on top of the blog!

Essentially, here's what's going on:

1. I completed my PhD, so now y'all can call me Dr. Claw. FINALLY. It's been eight years in the making, but my dissertation was pronounced essentially flawless by my committee, who made no edits. This has never happened in any defense any of them has attended, so I'm thrilled. Now I just have to make any necessary copy edits and I can get on with my life!

I'll get you, Gadget!
2. Lex's attitude is improving, and I have spent almost all my money on Ulcergard. I feel like we've taken quite a step back in the training, but M's optimism is holding steady. She didn't buck at all today, and M didn't have to touch the lunge whip that she's been waving at her the last couple rides when Lex balks and bucks. M thinks she would have challenged me like this eventually, and the ulcer brought it out. Now that the ulcer is (theoretically) better, she's still all, "Awwww man, I don't wanna listen!" But I think things are going to be okay. M is leaving for two weeks so we're on our own for a bit. My plan is to bring the lunge line out every time so that if I'm riding alone on the property, I can jump off and lunge her if she turns into an asshole.

3. In light of the whole PhD completion thing, and Lex being a little bit of a bronc, my awesome mom gave me a graduation gift in the form of helping me buy a new saddle. I decided that if I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. I tried a bunch of saddles: an Antares that fit Lex like a glove but didn't fit me at all, a Devoucoux that fit me perfectly but rocked on Lex, etc. I learned that I need a 17.5"-18" with a very forward flap. Long story short, I ended up with a well-loved but in good shape 17.5" Antares with just about the most forward flap they make: 5AAA. It's full calfskin, which I'm having to figure out how to deal with but I know it's what people tend to prefer. It's helping me sit Lex's antics, and I feel like I will be able to handle the bigger jumps better. I love my Crosby, but I'm selling it. It's a good saddle and in good shape, but I think it's time to move on. So if you know anyone who might want the Crosby, let me know. Sniffles.

4. My nephew is the world's cutest human.

Here he is, riding a pony made from a pool noodle.

Lots of good stuff going on around here. Now I just need to find friends in this town who aren't horses.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Morningside CT Part 2

So I finally got some video online for those of you who are into that. I have dressage video and am happy to load it if there's interest, but it was Intro A and all you'll see is Lex looking unrideable for most of it and me trying to take deep breaths and get everything calmed down. There were some nice moments, but we had a terrible score and the judge hated us. Which, who cares, we're gonna be show jumpers.

We did two rounds at Morningside. You'll see that I was talking to her the whole time and that we walked a lot. Again, because this isn't our sport and no one was there, I did whatever my horse needed at the moment. We hadn't jumped all week and have never jumped a course, so I thought walk breaks would re-set her brain. I think that was correct.

And here's the second round. The first half of this round went well, I think. We pulled some rails, but at this phase, who cares. She'll learn.

I'm really proud of her. She also got her first ribbon (fourth--five started our division and one was eliminated). M is gonna put up some string so I can hang it in the barn over her stall. It'll be adorable.

I'll be out of town until Tuesday because I'm finally defending my damn dissertation and then you can all call me Dr. Jess. That'll be fun, but I doubt Lex is going to have newfound respect for me. We'll find out I guess!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

So Many Things! Plus the Morningside Combined Test

Hi everyone!

The radio silence around here isn't because nothing's been going on. Quite the contrary! Lots has been going on:

1. Rocket got roundpen training.
2. Rocket got ponying training.
3. Lex went XC schooling.
4. Lex had a SERIOUS meltdown. The day before a horse show.
5. Lex went to her first horse show and we lived!
6. Lex got an ulcer and is now on a paid vacation.
7. My darling baby nephew decided sitting on horses is fun.

All these things and more will be coming up here soon. The problem is, I don't have regular internet access at the moment. Bear with me while I get that figured out.

In the meantime, I'll give you some out-of-order updates and then the next chance I get, I will post video.

So little miss Lexi had a total meltdown last Friday. Bucking, spinning, rearing, you name it. If you've read this blog at all, you know she is my good little girl who sometimes has a tiny attitude but NEVER does anything like that. She just didn't want to go forward at all. I was like, "this is not my horse." M felt that perhaps she is just reacting to having more pressure put on her, and this is the horse who got on the paddock and gate list on the track. This was always in there.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we're off to a horse show. I wasn't feeling as super about it as I would ordinarily, because it was her first show and Friday's ride was a clusterfuck from hell. We hadn't even trotted more than two crossrails in a row, and we'd one two crossrails in a row exactly one time. We'd jumped 18" maybe four times (not four rides, four times). We'd never practiced the dressage test. I haven't been in a dressage ring since the '90s, and that is not an exaggeration. And now my precious bay mare is a dragon.

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS, right there.

Sooooo we get to the horse show, check things out, and I thank my lucky stars that the jumps are really far apart in the ring so I can bring her back to a walk between them if I need to. M told me not to pick any fights with her in the warmup (I never pick fights with her)--all long reins, kisses, happy times. That worked pretty well, we got one little buck and a whole lot of inverted trotting around. Next thing I knew, it was my turn in the ring for Intro A. We suffered through it, and the judge absolutely hated us, but I was actually pleased. She didn't spook at the judge's stand or the letters. She did the transitions when I asked for them. We actually had some decent trot work. I was pleased, and since I don't really care if she ends up being good at dressage, I was happy to move on to the jumping.

Because this was a schooling show, I was able to sign her up for a second jump round and I'm glad I did. She made a lot of baby mistakes (in the form of pulling rails) and asked me a lot of questions along the lines of, "Are you sure about that?" But she did her best and jumped around. We had a lot of walk transitions in there, and I'm totally cool with that. It was a schooling show, there was no one there, and I just wanted her to think that it's okay to come back to a walk after jumps. But she jumped 20 jumps in a row (we just stayed in for our second round) at her max height at a strange place and over weird jumps. I really couldn't have asked for better.

Now, of course, she's off her feed and a light bulb went on over our heads yesterday morning: the mare has an ulcer. That is why she's a dragon! So now she's on Ulcergard and ranitidine and probiotics and all that good stuff, with a paid vacation, and lots of kisses and carrots. I'm so relieved that a) her bad behavior is explained and b) that she did that well at a show even when she's not feeling well. Next time she acts like a huge bitch when I ride her, though, I'm going to assume it's a medical cause.

Okay, the next time I get online I will try to get video of the show for you, and I will also go back to recap the XC school and the other fun things we've been up to. Thanks for your patience!