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How Did This Happen?

I'm owned by two horses. Romeo is a 17 year old AQHA gelding, who will be putting his trail buddy / babysitter status to good use. Harley is a 7 year old AQHA gelding out of Skys Blue Boy, and this year, we're going to try all KINDS of new things.

Updated: 2018-03-08T08:44:44.764-06:00




Last weekend brought an interesting discovery.  I still need to prove it again, but my courage is weakened.

Friday, I got Harley out, saddled up dressage.  Warmed up longeline, added some side reins for a touch, then hopped on.  Walk was stiff and dragging.  I quickly sent him out at trot, because I saw he didn't have any trouble moving out on the line.  He trotted decent.  I sent him out canter early on, hoping that would be the final 'loosen up' he needed.  He went out at canter quick, and I blamed it on my tense hesitation.  We both relaxed, he broke gait, so I quickly asked for more canter.  I got enough to be satisfied, so I asked for a trot.  Without warning, he bolted forward, and I had a split second to decide, "I'm not falling off, so unless you throw me off, we're going to slow down together."  I held on with my right hand under the gullet, and my left hand slowly slurking down the inside rein to turn him towards the back of the arena.  "A good corner back there to stop him if he does keep on running."  I was able to turn him yet some more, and we nearly ran into a jump standard.  "Really Harley?!  You've been fine this whole time!"  Rode him out walk, and trot, and when he relaxed and stayed forward, I quit.

Saturday, I saddled him in the western/endurance tack.  Absolutely zero problems.  Warm up longe, hopped on to ride.  Not an ounce of sass.  Walk, trot, canter, all in the same speedyness as the previous day.  Not one ounce of pissy.  Interesting.

Sunday, I saddled him dressage again, and sent him out on the line. After a while, it looked like the saddle slid up over his shoulders.  I straightened it out, tightened up the girth, and sent him out again.  More forward-slippage. 

Not willing to take any sass, I changed saddles.  Again, no problems.  Walk, trot, canter, nada.  Not one bit of bolt/fuss.  A little nervousness at the gusty winds, and the "boogers" he thought were in the trees, but nothing unmanageable.

I'm at a loss, again.  Is it the saddle?  Is it him being a jerk?  Heck, I don't know. 

Back to the western tack that I can hang on in, and he doesn't seem to fuss about until I get more answers.

What is Different, and why I've stopped blogging


Harley went off to a friend's in Louisiana for a month.  It was refreshing.  She was delighted with how he moved, found him lazy behind, suggested he needed work on strengthening his stifles.  When I returned back to pick him up, I found him sensitive, reacting well to my leg and seat, and I cantered him lightly with confidence.

He hasn't bucked.
He hasn't thrown a fit.
He was dragging his left rear toe a bit, but seems to have quit after a nice hoof trim (that was beyond overdue for reasons I don't even understand).

Mo, has been Mo.  After checking my copy of his papers, I realized the sweet old man is 19.  Not 17.  19 freaking years old.  I see no need to force him into anything, so we end up walking around a lot, and trotting a bit, to keep his mind on something.  One afternoon, the neighbor's cows were walking across their pasture.  Mo perked up.  I walked him to their fenceline, when a very large bull approached the herd.  I was focused on a grey calf.  Mo?  He and that bull were having themselves a stare-down.  The bull didn't budge, and Mo would step forward every minute or two, just a step. Finally the bull sighed, took a step back, and wandered off.  The entire herd followed him, and he made certain that not one cow or calf were left behind. 

Harley doesn't spook now when the cows wander down the fenceline.  In fact, he glances at them, and goes back to work.  I've been in the endurance saddle, and the 3ring combo myler bit. 

And when I'm ready to get back in the dressage saddle, I will.  Until then, we're good like we are.

I've burned out on lessons.  And shows.  That one damn show where the barn owner felt it necessary to say "I don't ride well.  My hips aren't centered, and I've messed up my horse in such a way that only "she" can fix him" really pisses me off.  I'd boarded Harley at her place while I traveled for work.  I'd scheduled my life for shows that were at that barn.  Just to have one day he backs off the trailer lame, and then be attacked for "not knowing how to ride".

So if staying at home, in the arena I'm comfortable in, suits us, then great.  Until I feel like going back there, and flipping her the bird in a blue ribbon with pride, screw it.  :) 

Harley seems to like cows anyways.



Longed in side reins
25 minutes

walk trot canter

Mostly good.  One huge hissy fit - he stumbled/tripped/forgot to pick his feet up... something, in canter-left (shortly after the transition).
Landed from the stumble, went bonkers for a few strides running crazily and kicking up, then settled.

Rest of the work was good.

Help me Help TAPS


Hi Everybody!

I haven't been riding much, sadly.  It's been ridiculous hot at my place - no roof, and with a work start time of 630am, there's no way to sneak in a ride before work days.  Also, I've been run training. 
I normally do not ask for stuff like this .. But, August 30, Sept 6, and Sept 13, I’m running 5ks  with the entry fees to support different charities in TX (Victoria Food Bank, Travis Manion 9/11 fund, and Cattan Recovery Outreach).  I’m also fundraising for TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors .  TAPS provides direct support to families who have been impacted by a death in the military regardless of geography or circumstance.  I will be running in memory of my friend’s brother, Alan Dean, who was killed in a truck accident earlier this year. 

Here’s the link if you’re able to donate and help me help TAPS.  Thanks for taking a look at the link.  Share with anyone and everyone, please!




Harley Update


Harley was working back up to full work. 

Then, it began raining.  I'm not fortunate enough to have an all-weather arena, so when it rains hard, and puddles, we are without a safe place to ride/work.  The rain came in heavy storms as well - In about 24 hours, we got nearly 8" of rain on the property.  This delayed any hope of riding.

With rain, and standing water, even with my best efforts, came the mosquitoes.  Yesterday morning, both horses were coated in the little blood-suckers.  I hosed the sweat/mud/dirt off of both of them, and then followed up with strong bug spray.

Unfortunately, again, as if I'm not meant to ride hard this year, Harley apparently was so upset by the mosquitoes, that he cut open the side of his lip/cheek area scratching.

I hosed that off as well, applied some salve, and I'll keep an eye on it for a few days.  This means that when the bugs subside, he will only be working in a halter until the cut heals up.

I'm really starting to think the goals and plans I had for the year will be less than I hoped.



After the wild bucking fit, I gave Harley another two days off.  Tried another ride - - he twisted about a bit in the longe warmup, then quieted to his normal self.  Hmm. The ride was fantastic.  Stiff, didn't want to bend, but at least he'd move out.  A few bits of short canter, and lots of good trot work.  About 40 minutes.   I stuffed another ride or two in there, longing him over some trot poles, again, good results.  Some lazy "don't wanna pick up the feet" moments, but he didn't flip out when he stepped on and tripped over the poles. 

I reported the update to the vet on 5/9 when I took Romeo in for his annual shots/coggins.  Vet said, "Good.  How much bute is he on?"  Well, 1g twice a day, since you didn't really give us a plan forward.  Decision was made to get him down to 1g "for a few days", then try him some more. 

On 1g of bute, he got one ride.  Things went surprisingly well, again.    Then, some beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, wonderful rain came.  This week has been pleasantly soggy.  We needed the grass watering.

He's off the bute now, and I will get some rides in this weekend. 

Romeo continues to be quiet, most of the time.  He longes like a 2 yo that hasn't had a ride, um, ever.  Bucking wild crazy goofy fits that disappear as soon as I hop on to ride.  Nice, peaceful quiet rides.  Some in the arena, some out in the pasture.  He's due a ride down the road, which I hope to get to soon as well.

The running remains.  I'm still sticking with it, considering a formal name change to Forest Gump. Tomorrow night's plan calls for 2.25 miles straight jogging, no walk breaks.  Whee.  Should be interesting.



Harley, longeline, saddled - HUGE bucks heading right as soon as he went into canter.  Humpity hump hump.  A few times, he kicked out behind, up & out.  He stayed in canter without a lot of motivation on my part, and eventually settled down.  When he stretched his neck long & low, I asked for a trot, which looked even.  Down to walk, changed direction.  One or two times in left-canter, he kicked up & out, but no huge bucking fits. 

Added side reins - he tried to twist his face to the outside heading to the left, but gave walk, trot, canter, both ways, willingly.  No fuss, no bucking, no kicking.

So I got on and rode a little.  Walk both ways good.  Trot both ways, good.  Stiff in bending, but that's normal.  I rode between rising trot and sitting, and noticed early in the ride, it felt like he was "butt-high", but later not as much.  He gave to the contact, bend improved throughout the ride.  One of the direction changes after some sitting trot, I saw what looked like "drag lines", suggesting he was not picking his back feet up all the way.  Not sure if that's a sign of soreness, or laziness.  *sigh* 

I glanced at my watch.  30 minutes.  Do I canter, or not ... I chickened.  Chose to end it there, with some transitions from a connected walk to a long & free walk.  When I did dismount, I noticed a LOT of slobber, licking, and chewing. 

Maybe the bute is helping.
Maybe he self-adjusted something that was out in his back, bucking up a fit.
Maybe he's hiding the pain, and I need to ask for that canter to be sure.

I will call the vet this morning, with the updates, and see what the plan is from here.

4/29/14 A lot of Nothing


First check, was hooves.  Tight squeezes on all four.  Clean! (*and I smiled big at that*)
Lifted each leg, and manipulated every joint, all four legs.  Nothing.

The vet checked Harley walk and trot on a line (in the gravel).
Then trotting a circle, each way.
Flexion rear legs - left showed nothing.  Right "showed a slightly shorter stride". 
X-rays of Hock and Stifle on Right.  4 views, each joint. 
Nada.  Nothing.   Clean.

The plan ahead was 1g bute twice a day.  "Try to ride him after a few days."   Tonight, I'll start out light, add side reins, see what he shows me.

Then, I'm not real sure what we'll do.  The vet was going to show the x-rays to a colleague, and "let me know".  I'm not expecting them to see anything.  On the upside, it means Harley's joints are clean.  If that's the "tough sore side", then the other three oughta look amazing. 

In other news, my 5k went well 4-27-14.  37:12 . Not too shabby, and a good start time to work on.  My joints are holding up well.  Knees were fairly sore the day after the run.  I took two days off, then ran again last night.  A little sore this morning as well.  Expected though.  I'm up to #C25k on week 4 day 2 (yesterday), and I've added to the run by another 9 minutes above what the app calls for.  It seems hard to "rest-back", after the efforts I put in last week to be ready for 4-27. 

Waiting on Tuesday


When we finally will get to see the vet.  I tried to ride Wednesday, and nothing went well there.  Harley was okay at walk, okay at trot, then canter-right, he was having no part of that.  It was super disappointing.  I decided to stop rather than push him and risk getting hurt (him worse, or me at all).

So now after searching for a vet, and finding no one reliable enough to get us in this week (a horrible experience even trying to schedule something), I'm waiting for our Tuesday afternoon appointment.

In the meanwhile, I've had a couple good rides on Mo, along with a few hard runs.  Wednesday also brought a funeral for a friend, which was incredibly difficult.  Between the troubles with Harley, and the funeral, I needed a release.

So I ran.  Hard.

I'm entered in a 5k this coming Sunday evening, knowing I will be walking and jogging.  But today, I put in 2.9miles.  That's pretty darn close to far enough.  Of that, I'm pretty proud.  I've got my clothes washed & line drying, running shoes cleaned, playlist set. 

Now it's just the R-u-n.  *gulp*

4.23 Preparing


I have the plan in my mind
Walk , Trot , Canter.. all on longeline-. If he checks OK there
Ride the same, as loose rein , then contact
I have checked H over every day. No heat, no swelling, Nothing gets a reaction.
Here's hoping he is ok...

4-20 What I Saw , And What I Heard


I had to know, Was he really lame? Was he hurt? Was it a bad day? I put H out on the longe line , and stared. Short but even trot, Dare I ask for canter? I did, and he gave it. Left, and right. Dang.

Turn on forehand. Nothing. Clean. Turn on haunches. Clean. I stood a while and watched him.  He was licking and chewing. Hmm...

 Sent him back out on the circle.  Still sound. Wtf .  He was dead lame Saturday.  I checked his feet. Clean and when I pushed with the hoof pick, no reaction.   I stretched his front legs and he enjoyed it. I stretched back legs forward and back, more yawning and licking. Hmm...

 Had I been more brave, I would have sat on him to feel. No saddle, suspect lameness, and I knew better.  I quit him before anything else happened, not real sure wnat was going on.

Then, later in the day, I find out BO hasn't ridden above Training in YEARS. More, she hasn't been competing in a very long time. What did I do?   I had her ride him?! I've lost it. Totally.   I let peer pressure talk me into not only letting her ride, but I almost let her tell me *I* can't ride well enough to own Harley.  What the heck was I thinking ...

I've nearly relaxed about it today,  but I'm still ticked at myself. I didn't listen to my gut and stop when he was off.  I didn't give him a scratch show, and find someone I trusted to check him out.  I didn't consult anyone that has seen me ride consistently.  I'm almost over feeling like I let him down.

The Show - A Sh!t Ride


An utter disaster.  Well, mostly.  I stayed on, Harley didn't try to dump me.  His "try" is just freaking amazing.  That's about where the good ends.  Arrived at the show plenty early.  He loaded and unloaded great, happy.  Warmed him up on the longeline, in side reins.  Walk, trot, canter, left, All good.  *nice*  Walk, trot, can---can---... c'mon Harley, canter right.  Just wasn't happening.  I didn't have my longe whip with me, so I figured he was being lazy.  I would get a few strides, and then he'd quit.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I thought he was distracted by the big long trailers off in the field.  I thought maybe a fish jumped in one of the ponds.  I even saw water rippling.  Yeah, that's it. A fish. I took all the longe gear off, and quietly got on.  Walk, bend, exaggerated bend, all good.  Even got what felt like a slight shoulder-fore down the long sides, on both directions.  Asked him to trot.  Ouch.  He was super uneven in the back end.  I couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong, but it was very uneven.   So I figured he had a rock up in his hooves.  The show scribe ran for her hoof pick.  I checked - clean.  No reaction to anything.  I poked and pushed on his heels, nothing.  No pull, no reaction.  I checked for heat in the hooves - nothing.  In fact, they were all cold to touch. By now, the judge had come back from her lunch break.  She asked me to ride again for her to see.  Walk, was okay.  "Short and lazy, but even."  Then the trot.  Oops. Yeah, she sees it too.  Then, the owner of the barn showed up.  "Well, let me move him on the ground a little."  She found it at the walk.  She asked to ride him a little, and I told her, "If he dumps you, it's all on you.  But go ahead."  Someone commented to me, "Of course it's safe to let her ride, she has been as high as grand prix."  I thought to myself, "Yeah, so what.  She's not competing now, and isn't riding other than some basic client repairs, so... hmm.. I haven't heard her reputation like I have other instructors or trainers... anyways.."  I watched her ride him a bit at trot, to see what was up.  Short on the right hind at trot.  She said something about, "Harley was telling her I ride crooked, and I don't sit evenly in the saddle, oh, and I don't use even rein pressure, and ..."  Something.. right about at, "I ride crooked, and I've made him hurt like this", I started fading paying attention. Ms N hasn't said I ride crooked.  The other friends I rode with a few weeks ago, didn't say squat about me riding crooked.  Jen has been around me for YEARS, and she hasn't said I ride crooked. Barn Owner hand-walked Harley a while, to "ground drive and chiro adjust him", saying he was out in his hips, topline, withers, and at the poll.  I watched from a distance - all I saw was a lot of inside rein contact (only), and pushing his hips over on corners, with a long of long & low free walk.  Not a forward free walk, but a very slow, relaxed, walk.  Hmm. I can do that.    So I walked over to her, and said (in an effort to be super polite), "What'cha doing, so I can do it when I get home this week?"  Her response was, "Well, it's really hard to explain, and I'll try to email it all to you, but now isn't a good time to show you.  Harley's in a very relaxed, super state of mind, and I don't want to disrupt him."  He sighed, and licked a little.  "See?  He's breathing quiet, licking & chewing.  All signs that he's relaxing and stretching[...]



Wednesday, I longed Harley in side reins.  Warmed up without them over the X, trot and canter.  Nice work, good efforts.  Added the side reins, and sent him out.  Lots of transitions, LOTS of push forward trot.  Pretty stuff.

Last night, he was a turd.  Flat out turd.  I checked him all over for any soreness, and saw nothing.  He didn't want to canter-left, but instead just rushed out in a stupid racing trot.  He spooked at the wind, a bird, and then a few deer.  NOT a good ride day.  I ended up hopping off and putting him on the longeline.  Then he cantered left without an issue.  Dork.

Now, on to the torture sessions exercise new hobby.  What the fuzzle was I thinking?!  I've started ru.. ru... okay, I can say it out loud, I really can.   Running.

*gulp*  Running.
I have loaded the couch to 5k app on my phone, I already had fancy schmancy earbuds.  I even picked up a pair of overpriced running shoes.  I run nearly every other day, but with the show tomorrow, I'm going to have two days off of running this weekend.  I think.

I'm on week 2.  The app starts out nice & slow, goes easy, doesn't push.  But seriously.. what am I thinking?!

Oh yeah, here's why..

My friend Jennifer lost her brother in an accident a few weeks ago.  I later learned he is an Army vet.  I then asked my Marine friend Ben, "What can I do or have done to honor her brother?"  He said, "Why not run for TAPS like I do?"  awwe, geez.  Okay,  shoot,  That's what I get for asking, right? 

This means, as I start picking out 5k events, I'll be fundraising for TAPS in honor of Alan Chastain.  I'll post up the links when this happens.  Their wish for each runner is $500 a race.  That's $10 from 50 people, followers and readers.  We can easily do this, right?  



What I have learned lately:

The "squeeze, kick, WHIP" lessons have made Harley just a bit antsy when I'm carrying the jump bat in the jump saddle.  Oops, I think.

It wasn't the act of "going over little things" that had Harley upset.  It wasn't the saddle fit, and it wasn't me.  I set up an X on the circle, fairly large, to see what it would take to get him jumping and not stepping over.  He hesitated.  He refused.  He went around it.  He tried *everything*.  When he did jump, it was gigantic.  Enormous, freaked out, he did it with the biggest look of fear on his face.  We repeated that for quite a while before the quiet jumping horse came back. 

I can actually "STICK IT" when he tears off like a loon.  Last week, R came over to stand watch while I rode H over some X's. We had been doing all our work on a circle (not far to go when I'm looking around the circle mid-air).  This was the first on a line in quite a while.  Harley planted, jumped, landed, THEN took off.  I sat there, briefly bewildered.  "What the heck, I'm going to fa... screw that,  I see a corner.  I'm heading there."  As Harley realized #1 I'm not going anywheres, and #2 the corner fence was still there, he quit being a fool.  I hopped off, measured the ground poles I had set out after the X, and realized they were pretty far apart. 

Since then, I haven't lowered or raised anything in the few jumps I have set out.  I have sent him down the line, around the circle.  I am lucky to get a real jump, and since I have had all of the other rides alone, it's hard to hop off to adjust things.  When I dismount, I lose a LOT of his energy, forward, and willingness/eagerness to jump. 

We are mailing out registration for another show.  Scheduled for this weekend.  I'm technically already in the line-up, but I just don't want to jinx anything, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

As if riding nearly every day, some days both horses in one day, wasn't enough .. I've picked up another athletic sport muscular punishment hobby.  More on that soon.

4.1.14 No Foolin'


Harley - brief longe to "test the mood" -- quiet.  I sent him over pole, elevated, pole at the trot and canter.  Perfect-O.  Little blurbs of break to trot, but he fixed himself and got the strides figured out.

I rode a while.  Aimed to ride some trot leg yields like I did at Laura's barn on Saturday - I should know better ... never ask for a leg yield when there's a jump on the quarterline.  I didn't exactly stop looking where I wanted to go, but more let my mind scroll thru the cues to figure out why he wasn't yielding.  And there it was.  The X, less than 4 trot strides out.  well, gotta do it now. I haven't asked for canter from the saddle yet.. he's had a very short warm up.. oooh boy here goes nothing.

Step Step.  Stinker.  Didn't even try to jump it.  So I sent him to the other X, set slightly higher.. .Half a jump.  We rode both X's a while, both directions.  Then I had to decide.  Will I hop off and raise the X, or will I set up a second one in line, or ride the pole, elevated, pole, at the canter on the circle.

Circle it is.  Entirely too lazy to dismount, and not wanting to disrupt the mojo we had going, I sent him at canter, rode one circle without the poles, and then went for it.

Perfect.  Three times in a row perfect.  He added a short stride in before at least once, but he stayed in canter, rode them gorgeous.  Changed direction.  Broke to trot once, reached hard once, but still quiet.  The reach-hard trip over felt a little rushed afterwards, but he settled with a heavy sigh. 

So I started to think ...
The fitters had mentioned that, with his newfound muscles in the shoulder and his withers coming around, he might not need that front strap on the saddle to the girth anymore... They had suggested I experiment without it, and when I asked why, Louise said, "It'll smash the saddle down on his shoulders if he develops and you keep using it.  Very uncomfortable."

Maybe that's been it the whole time.  Perhaps Harley has grown the muscles required to hold the saddle down with the original girth straps 1 & 3, as opposed to the 1 & 4 we're using now (with the front strap I'm using attached to the front of the saddle tree instead of the middle like the normal ones are).  He has been known to "do what's asked but fight about it" when he's uncomfortable or in pain... Just like when his rear heels were soft & tender, and while he worked, he did it bucking & kicking up. 

Something to work on, and make a good effort at.  I've contacted the fitters in Scotland, and will adjust my ride plans accordingly based on their feedback.  Anybody else got some ideas?  I'm all ears.. well.. all girth straps, that is.

And of course, based on that ranting post I put up a week or two ago, it's also likely I'm not as secure in the jump saddle, Harley feels that insecurity, and he's relaying that message back to me by overjumping , and running off to "get it over with".  Maybe he feels my lack of balance... Hmm.. Perhaps some shorter stirrup flat work or some stirrup-less 2 point is in order... Hmmm... Still taking suggestions on any of this, too.

Ending March


Last Thursday, H and I had a good ride.  Jump saddle, all work on the flat, no poles or jumps, just getting some forward without
Friday, was more of the same.  Nothing amazing, nothing disastrous either.
Saturday, I hauled to Houston, and rode with my friends Laura & Traci for a while.  I rode Harley, she rode Harley, I got back on.  Rode baby cavaletti trot to and canter to.  Even canter to with a ground pole.  As we started the canter, things didn't feel perfect, and I turned him in some circles to get a nice steady feel canter before I even looked at the jump.  When he did approach it, it was amazing.  Totally quiet, just like a stride.  Laura called out, "Ride like it's not even there.  These are super short, so no reason to over-prepare.  Quit thinking so much and just ride it."  Laura has seen Harley compete before, over a year ago, though, and she was impressed with the improvements we've made.  Quite the compliment there... :) 

After the two less than stellar jump rides I'd had, I expected some of his little fit to arise with Laura. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Total angel. Granted, everything was short, and small, with no opportunity to go any higher (at least not with what was pulled out to use), but he didn't do a single silly thing. 
Take home thought? He was super quiet over the cavaletti - especially after a long dressage ride. :) 

Then yesterday, I was worrying about what I needed to do in the ride.  Which saddle?  Which bit?  Would I longe him first?  Side reins?  What about jumps from the line?  Which height? 

And I decided to take it completely opposite.  I saddled him up dressage, in the myler combo bit, put on my helmet, and hopped on.  We walked all over the pasture, then wandered down the road a teensy bit.  He was quiet, and while observant, he wasn't overly alert.  Back to the house, followed by a U turn, and back down that road again.  Total ride, 25 minutes. 

Tonight, we'll just see. 

3/22/14 Lesson and Homework


Got Harley up and moving with the shorter reins, and had some decent work.  Must continue the emphasis on bend, and forward.  I gave him a healthy smack with the whip only one time, with a nice shot forward, and after, he wasn't as heavy to move out. 

Jump work was rough.  Really Really rough.  He overjumped a little X first, and I managed to get his attention back.  Second trip, he overjumped yet again, and burst out in a gallop I wasn't prepared to stay with.  After a short discussion, I hopped back on, and we backed clear up to trot poles.  Things were okay.  Ended each line of trot poles with a sharp halt. 

The X was set back up, smaller, then eventually raised back to where it was originally.  At best, we had one trip of a true jump.  The rest were trot-over steps, or a half-effort jump.  The complete opposite of what he originally offered.  I approached the line, saw a small X, followed by a stride and a vertical, and paniced.  I didn't see that happening pleasant, and didn't need any more bruises, so we called it a day.


Continue the bend exaggeration in the warmups.  Ask for forward, nicely once, then with the whip.  Insist on forward. Canter early in the warmup, which improves the contact, the bend, and the quality of trot.

Start with trot poles.  Gradually increase the height of the X until a true jump effort is reached.  Lots of energy heading in the trot to the line.  If he starts to get that "rush away" attitude, halt gently after the jump as soon as reasonable.  Repeat a few times. 

One day a week of longeline work on side reins. 

Find a safe place, and introduce him to the gallop with a rider.  We've not yet done this, at all, since I started riding him.  I've got a few ideas on where this might happen, but I'm not certain when.

The weather has been rainy since.  This is a good thing.  We need the rain, and it's nice to see a green pasture starting in the back yard. 

Quick Update


I owe more, but..
 Rode Mo a time or three, Still fun. Still reliable. Just out of shape. Longed him up & over the box. Trot JUMP trot. I often wonder, maybe Romeo is a jumper after all. I probably didn't start him correctly, but I bet it could be fixed.

 Harley got his jump saddle adjusted.  A bit of stuffing was all we needed.  Also had a neat dressage lesson with Ms. A. one of the fitters. Take home? Squeeze him forward, then kick, then SMACK with the whip. whip. Shorter reins, and insist on forward. 

 We had a few rides before and after the fitting. Trott and over an X. A bit of canter over ground poles (5 a few times, 3 others ) , and a few pole, X, pole. All canter on the circle.
  After the fit lesson, Harley and I had some good dressage moments. He still fights in the warm up, but things are improving.

Ready for our lesson on Saturday. Anxious to get back in the swing, and get back on the gymnastics. We are ready to let Ms. N. set the pace, and get our confidence back.

No, Tell me What you Really Think...


I follow and read a LOT of blogs.  More than I've linked.  Here's what I've come to learn: Some people blog as a "Here's what I do, what I think is the best way to do things, and you should learn from me".   Others blog as a, "Here's how it went for this ride, what I did well, what I was terrible at, and what I'll do differently."Then, there's a mix of the two.  Usually someone who touts themselves as an "expert" in whatever field they ride in.  They're either pleasure princesses, dressage divas, reining-roping-racing runners, trail or endurance trotting, something.  These folks will blog about their adventures, or the lack thereof, and then delve into all the details so the 'rest of us underlings' might learn something from them. My favorite has to be the blame-blogs.  You know .. "I had ___ happen in my ride/play session/groundwork stick training, and it's all ___ fault."  There's no possible way they could admit they can't ride, can't read a horse's mind, the horse is too much for them, or my favorite, *gasp* they need riding lessons from one consistent ride until your damn legs fall off and come back in two weeks for another round instructor.  Here's my two cents, because those 28 few of you that follow me here, read what I post, sometimes comment, sometimes send me messages through email or facebook, or in person.  Feel free to share this post, comment here, email me, facebook message me, toilet paper the old oak tree in my front yard (if you can find it).. If you have a terrible day riding, it's your own dang fault.  Fix it at home before you go anywhere and search for blame somewhere else.  (For the record, I had to censor that first sentence... that's how aggrevated I am.)  Quit looking for some karma-riding batshitcrazygoofball to blame your bad day on.  The horse knows what you want, 98% of the time.  They either choose not to listen because your cues suck, or you're distracted.  If you can't ride it out in your back yard, there's not much a chance the show ring, or competition field, or the trainer barn can repair it.  30, 60, 90 days with a professional will only fine tune the horse's skills, and if you can't handle the ride now, your horse will definitely over-react when the cues are less sensitive. Each of our disciplines have the good, the bad, the ugly, and the "holysh!t I can't believe they haven't banned that person for life".  Quit pretending you have the perfect sport and only *that other riding event over there* has the crappy trainers.  Quit stereotyping breeds of horses, or styles of riders.  Not all dressage riders practice rollkur, not all event cross-country horses are goofy and injured, not all barrel racers spur their horses bloody, and not all trail riding is benign.  That being said, not all western pleasure horses are forced to go slow, some horses LOVE to jump (pulling their riders to a jump if the rider isn't paying attention), some barrel horses live to run, and some trail riding is outright dangerous.  If you're a quiet reader that isn't a follower, doesn't comment, and thinks I'm evil for picking on your or your best friend, that's your problem.  I've been blogging for quite a while, I comment here & there , and I'm reading enough every single day to see the trends.  I should say here, "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings or offended you", but I can't muster it today.  Maybe a few months from now, but not today.  Here at work, we have a phrase with one of our[...]

A Couple of Good Rides


Last Friday & Saturday, Harley and I had some good times.  I got lots of really pretty bending work from him, which kind of shocked me.

Then, we had some nice canter over three consecutive ground poles on the circle Saturday.  It was amazing how smooth he did it.  Over the pole, X, pole, again, step overs.  One decently nice jump.

Not this coming weekend, but next, I think it's time for another lesson to see what's ahead for us.  I need to figure out how to get over this "barely stepping up over" lazyness without pushing him so hard that he panics again.

Which leads me to the next entry posting ... Well, sort of.



Well that settles that.

On the way home from work last night, I was eager to ride.  I was going to hop on Harley dressage, and we were going to get. to. work.  It was going to be amazing. And then, half way home, my belly/gut/nether regions I'm hating right now, said, "Uhm.. No.  You're not riding." 

With that, I parked it on the couch, cancelled my plans, and scratched the show.  I'm deflated today.  I had already backed off the test plans, but cancelling?  Bah Humbug.

I'll get some good riding in this weekend, but competing just isn't in the cards for us tomorrow.

The Weather and Mud


Monday - cold, and raining.
Tuesday - coldER and raining HardER
Wednesday - MUD

Today?  I hope to actually ride.  Nothing says "bring on the rain" at my house like a paid show registration.  As a result, prix caprilli 2 was changed to 1, and I'm going to hope for the best.  With trot-to jumps (of tiny size), I can nearly count on comments like, "Horse needs to jump". 

Ah well.  We can set our sights on future lessons to work on things in a more orderly fashion, and perhaps prevent a train wreck.



Things are looking up. 

Harley, dressage saddle.  Longed him warmup, and included over-three ground poles at canter distance.  Lazy.  Just lazy.  It wasn't until I popped the whip with force and growled at him that he finally even tried to canter over them. 

Under saddle - rode the three ground poles at canter.   Then three poles on the straight away (trot then canter).   Things were good.  A bit lazy, and sometimes rather than reach hard, he'd break to trot.  I did feel a few "little canter strides" before the poles, which seemed like a good thing. 

Trotted over two different X's,  one a bit shorter than the other.  Barely stepping over them.  And I mean barely.  It was near painful to feel like I was winding him up for a ... step ... boo hiss.

Sent him to it at canter right-lead.  The more difficult to jump from, at least over the ground poles it's more difficult.  He broke once, then cantered the ground pole, X, pole.  Another break in gait, and another pretty canter.  The last one, in fact, was gorgeous - he set his strides up perfectly for it, and while I felt like I was leaning too far forward, I had a handful of mane over the line, and things went well.  He cantered a stride or two away from it, then settled to trot.

Went back to it from the left.  Trotted over once, he knocked one of the X rails over.  Pathetic.  I hopped off and set it back up.  I stood there a minute.  I "played the good canter over in my head", and decided no matter what we got, trot or otherwise, if he at least tried, he'd get praise. Courage is being scared, but saddling up and doing it anyways, I remembered.  Let's get this party started. 

First canter depart, he broke to trot as soon as I turned him down the line to see the jump.  I turned him away on a circle.  Next time, he had a huge trip a ways in front of the jump.  Back on the circle again.  Finally, I was determined.  A tap of the whip and a harsh growl, "Come ON already!", and Harley was ready for action.

He cantered right up to the ground pole, stepped over the jump, the following pole, then went back to canter, licking & chewing.  I took that as an "I'm sorry, let me try again."  So right back to it we went.

Cantered over it most beautifully.  After the pole, Jump, pole, a stride or two, then back to trot.  I gave him a good verbal praise and a huge pat... Asked him on the short side corner before the line to canter again, and sent him to it again.  More of the same.  A really nice canter over the X. 

It was the bigger of the two X's I had set up, so I didn't even bother with the smaller one.  It's time to pick that bigger X back up to where it used to be - fourth hole up on the standard.  Send him to it at the trot, then again at the canter. 

I think we're slowly working past it.  I'm probably mentally hesitating in front of the jump, my little subconscious sees the huge over-jump he had.  Harley feels it, and probably sees the same fear again, then breaks gait.  It's okay  -  baby steps.  I'm getting a little more courageous, and so is he.



Hunter saddle, Harley warmed up nice on the flat.  The wind was howling (20mph with 35+gusts), so it was nice to have him paying attention.

Trotted to the pole, X, pole.  He was barely moving.  Crawling.  One time, he had a beautiful canter over the pole, jumped, pole, and quietly went back to trot.  Lots of verbal praise from me, Jen, and a good hearty pat.  Next time?  Back to that lazy trot.  Both directions, just stepping over.

Cantered over ground poles a while, and he started to find his stride. 

Today?  I'm going back to the dressage saddle, and we're going to at a minimum canter over three poles in a row, on the circle, and on the straight. 

I'm entirely 100% not sure if Harley's hesitant, nervous, or just being flat-out lazy over the X at trot.  He isn't really jumping, and that's NOT the horse I had before.  Though, I do remember once we did canter the little X, he started only stepping over the X at trot.  Hmmm..

Things to ponder while I plan for the sunrise.  Weather's supposed to turn yuck late tonight, and be yuck the next three days.  Cooler tomorrow, slight chance of rain.  Then more cold and rain Tuesday.  Certainly not the best timing, given the show Saturday.  At least for the dry days, I need to "suck it up and ride".

2/27 & 28


Getting back in the tack after the soreness eased up a bit, and the rains came & went...Thursday, I longed Harley out a little, and found him quiet and confident.  Nice.  Saddled up dressage, I quickly remembered the one drill from the lesson ---Trot a small circle, then quickly depart into canter.  Amazing.  Got some nice transitions out of that little exercise.  Something to remember for warmup at the show, for sure.  Also need to remember to exaggerate the bend in the warmup, and not worry about it being "pretty". To reinforce the "stop when I exhale", we did some serious transitions - and I mean serious.  Walk/halt, trot/halt, canter/halt.  Only one of them was seriously ugly, and after one ugly canter/halt, he was paying attention, and realized that exhale/shh means slow down, and "whoa", means right this minute, or as soon as possible.  No dilly-dally around, and I even intentionally had crappy balance and posture for a few of those.  While I know darn well I need to work on staying relaxed, and asking for a quiet transition when he freaks out, he also needs to hold up his end of the partnership, and that's actually slowing down when he's told to.He behaved so amazingly well in the flat work, I saw the X set up on the long side, and thought, "that'd make a nice reward for all the job well done here."  I pointed him to it at trot.Stopped. Flat dead stopped.  I knew it wasn't high, so I made him step over it anyways.  It took three more trips before he stepped over it semi-confident.  :(  Dang.  We changed direction and things were better - still hesitant to start, then he got better.  By the ride's end, I had all trot-over steps over the X.  Once or twice, he actually jumped and landed in a canter over the ground pole following.  I could feel the hesitation, and I felt pretty bad for him.Yesterday, jump saddle.  He was lazy to start, as usual.  Flat work was alright - I didn't push for lots of bend in the start, but rode some cute trot serpentines, and while it wasn't pretty, he was bending in the turns, and paying attention. Sent him at trot to the X, no refusal, no hesitation.  Both directions.   Not so much "jumping", which is disappointing, but I didn't have my whip in-hand, so he probably needed more trot energy going in to get a good jump.  I stayed happy with the trot-overs. Pointed him at the 19" vertical from trot - stop.  s.t.o.p.  I gave him a good pat, and sent him away at a trot again.  Lots more trot energy going in (thanks to tapping him with the reins a bit), and I purposely squeezed in front of it, staring at the tree tops outside the arena.  Boing!  A nice step-over.  He didn't exactly jump it beautiful, but he went over.  Landed in canter, over the ground pole away, and settled to trot with an exhale.  EXACTLY what I worked on Thursday.  Terrific. We repeated the vertical from trot both directions a few times, and realizing he was paying attention, and quiet, I quit.  Shorter ride Friday than Thursday by only a few minutes, but it was nice.  I didn't want to add a second jump after the X, and I sure didn't want to worry about canter ground poles or otherwise.  He was quiet, and seemed to be gaining some confidence, so I left it right there.Today, we've g[...]