Monday, February 5, 2018

To Everything, Turn, Turn Turn

This past weekend was my local Pony Club's February Mounted Meeting and I got to jump things!!!!!! It was a brisk 30 degrees when we started but we were dressed well enough and had a great time knocking the dust off.

I have zero media so lets look at Chimi back in April jumping around FENCE XC!

I think I've mentioned it before, but just in case I haven't, I'm a Horsemaster in my local Pony Club. Basically it means I can participate in all things Pony Club but have aged out of Pony Club. I mainly joined so I could enjoy the monthly lessons with the various professionals in the area that my club brings in to teach. I feel like it's a monthly clinic with people I don't ride with on a normal basis. Plus our club is has a lot of great moms in it so I enjoy hanging out with them! Lol, when you live in the middle of nowhere you take any socialization you can get!

Chimi at The Fork, b/c these are the only jumping pictures I have on my phone...

Anyways, back to the lesson! We didn't jump any giant fences or anything spooky, but we did do a really fun course of turns. The jumps were set up as 3 lines so you could either do the straight forward line or you could turn to each of the various jumps on the different lines. I don't really know  how to explain it with words but good thing I can "draw"
The exercise... you can ride everything in a straight line or you can turn to the various jumps, heck you can even make up your own course as you go along!

Warming up was just trotting in and cantering out over the red line of jumps. Then we incorporated halting between the the jumps to get out horses listening to us. After that we moved onto the more exciting turns.

We started out with the red jump and then had a really tricky left hand rollback to the  blue. This was probably the most difficult turn for Chimi and myself b/c we're not that great on sharp left turns. He's kinda dead to my right leg so when I try to balance him around the turn and use my outside aides to keep him going he sort of blasts through me and I end up having to pull him with my left rein to make it to the jump which then gets us all out of balance and the jump usually sucks. Stuff to work on, but it did get better through the course, especially when Chimi's brain woke up and he realized we were jumping!!! Damn horse loves to jump over sticks, which I'm very happy about!
If I remembered the 1st course correctly this was it, starting with the red vertical and ending with the blue the 2nd time you jump it.

Other than the tricky turn from the red to the blue Chimi nailed all the other turns and I just made sure I was looking where we were going. The best part about the entire lesson was at the end when my legs started to turn to jello and I was struggling to keep my leg on him Chimi still jumped all the jumps! I literally just had to look and somewhat steer towards the jump and hang on over the jump and Chimi did all the rest. WHAT MAGICAL HORSE IS THIS???? Guys I can't help but be giddy about this b/c there was a time that Chimi would stop at EVERY fence until he had a chance to analyze it and even then I had to package him up and say YES I really do mean jump that jump! This lesson just made me realize how much of the hard work I've put into this guy has paid off. Granted the jumps were plain verticals and not very big (2'9" and below) but when I started to fatigue Chimi was able to take over and keep doing the task at hand. He's gotten to the point that he knows his job and will do it even if there's a monkey riding on his back and I love it!!!! Now I'm not saying that I'm going to stop riding and become a passenger on him but it does mean if I screw up Chimi's got my back and that is the best thing to have when you're a bumbling adult ammie who just wants to have fun with her horse. Basically I love my horse and am so appreciative of all the hard work I've put into him and the results are there. Squeeeee!!!!!!!

How cute is this face??!?!?!!?

I have a lot of work to do this spring to get us ready for our next adventure (more about this to come, hopefully this week) but damn it's nice to have Chimi as my partner, quirks and all.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Fat Chimi is a Bad Chimi

Just look at that “Dad Bod”… he looks chunkier in person though :)

Last Wednesday I decided to take Chimi out on a trail ride so we can start legging back up since we both gained some weight over the holidays from being idle for so long. It was a normal late afternoon ride and I thought nothing of it. The weather was perfect, the footing dry, and it was going to be light for at least an hour or more, plenty of time to hack down to the river and back! HAHAHAHAHA NOPE.

It started out like any ol' ride that we do and Chimi felt great. He was walking forward, was relaxed, and life was great. We even stood on the side of the road talking to one of the neighbor's barn help on a loose rein until my husband rode by on his new motorcycle on his way to get a movie for that night's entertainment. Did any of that bother my horse? No. He was his normal perfect self.
i didn’t do it

I had decided to go down to the river b/c the lady that rides Arrow had said they'd done a bunch of work on the culverts trying to improve the footing and allow for good drainage. I wanted to check out all the new improvements and so thats the direction we went. Suddenly Chimi started to fret and dance about. I didn't think to much of it and booted him forward and we made it down the hill towards the field right next to the river. I figured he was being a bit spooky b/c it was getting close to dusk and the deer like to hide in the woods by the trail we were taking. When we got to the point where the trail overlooked the giant river field I saw about 60 deer take flight and scatter into various directions into the safety of the woods and Chimi stood like a statue on high alert. Was he looking at the deer bound across the field, no, he had his eyes and ears fixed further off in the distance at the orange tractor moving a giant metal pipe that was probably for one of the culverts and he went batshit crazy. My normally calm horse started popping up and freaking out and tried to turn around and head home. I don't ever remember Chimi being this freaked out over anything that we've encountered in the past 4.5 years that I've owned him. I made him go down to the field where the ground was flat so I could do a little bit of flat work to chill his brain out but instead it had the opposite effect and wound him up even more. He was popping up on his hind legs non stop and trying to take off with me to the point that I decided I'd rather be on the ground instead of sitting on his back. This was the first time I've EVER felt like I've needed to bail on one of my horses instead of just riding it out. And I'm so glad I did bail! Twice he almost fell down in sheer panic b/c he couldn't focus on his feet and when I got him to stand still the poor guy was just standing there trembling from head to tail. I didn't want to just leave and let the whole ride be a negative experience so I did what I could to calm him down.

I never got any closer to the tractor, which was clear on the other side of the field, approximately a little less than half a mile away. I started out by trying to move his feet so he had to concentrate on me but that only seemed to set him off even more and he got worse instead of better so I switched tactics and made him stand with me and put his head down. He's such a good boy and really does try to do what I asked and I never felt in danger of him running me over. I gently put my right hand on top of his head and kept making him drop his head closer to the ground, and I'd rub his pole which he really enjoys in the crossties. My theory of getting him to put his head down came from a vet in PA that is a good friend of my mom who was explaining how horses' head positions can create positive and negative experiences. She said that when a horse has his head straight up he is looking for the predators. He's on alert so his nervous system is taking in everything and his body is getting ready to flee in case it needs to. But when a horse is relaxed their head is down and the body's nervous system is not getting ready to flee. So b/c of this if you can get your horse's head down in a stressful situation it will help to calm them and the negative memory won't stay in their memory bank for the next time you are in that situation aka the next time Chimi and I would be down at the at field. I have no idea how long we stayed in the field but after a while Chimi did stop trembling and calmed down a bit. I let him grab a couple of snacks with his bit b/c I wanted him to do anything that would create a calmer Chimi. Finally he was calm enough that I felt like the blind panic he had been in had passed and we could safely go home.

We were about a mile away from home so I hiked it next to Chimi praying one of my nosey neighbors wouldn't drive by and see me walking my horse. Thankfully no one did and Chimi and I had a pleasant time walking uphill the entire way back. Nothing like a mile hike to kickstart my fitness goals for the year!

But I really did enjoy the walk with my horse on the way home. By then the sun had set and we walking back in the dusky dark and the last bit of orange hovered on the horizon. The temperature was starting to drop but I was dressed appropriately and kept warm by keeping moving. It was a really nice way to end a less than ideal ride just hanging out with my horse in the fading winter light. Sometimes a shitty ride can have a silver lining, but please Chimi don't lose your marbles again, that was not fun!!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Chimi the PrickHole

Yesterday morning I awoke to a buttload of snow that I wasn't quite expecting. Previous snow forecasts that I had read said we would see about an inch of snow and the forecast that I had looked at  before going to bed seemed to only predict snow for approximately 2 hrs total during the night. Whoops. It had started snowing at 3am and pretty much snowed all night and morning and stopped sometime around lunch. We ended up with ~4" of snow by the time is stopped!

Wed weather at 9pm... gah!

Because I thought we were getting just a small dusting of snow I decided to keep the horses out. They have warm, waterproof blankets with a neck cover so I knew that they would stay dry and warm even if it did snow more than predicted. When I went down to feed I figured they would want to stay in their stalls for the morning and then I'd let them back out once it stopped snowing. So I lugged 3 water buckets down to the barn filled with warm water for each of the ponies and dropped 3 giant flakes of hay into each stall. After finishing their breakfast Marley and Arrow were quite content standing in their stalls eating the giant pile of hay, Chimi on the other hand was not.

In other news it snowed in my barn... it's never snowed this much on the tiny aisle before! Guess the wind was blowing...

Chimi ate his breakfast like normal and I offered him his bucket of warm water like we do every day. He took a few sips and then stared off into the distance on high alert in his stall. When I wouldn't let him out he started cribbing and I tried to get him interested in his hay. Normally if he has hay in front of him he doesn't crib but he had zero interest in his hay. He would walk a circle around in his stall, crib, stare intently off into the distance out his stall door, crib some more, maybe take a bite of hay, walk another circle, crib some more, stare, snort, crib, pace, crib, snort, pace, crib, etc. With the sudden change in temperature I was worried that he was going to work himself into a colic so I opened his stall door to see if he wanted to go out. He immediately walked out of his stall and made the right hand turn that takes him out to his pasture. I then had to let Arrow and Marley out of their stalls so no one would be left alone in the barn or outside. (I currently only have 3 horses at home instead of 4 like I have had in the past... Finn moved to a new barn with the girl that's leasing him...yay!)

Yummm.... must share hay pile with Arrow

Once Chimi was out he took a big sigh of relief and immediately calmed down. I tossed out more hay outside and Chimi quite happily settled down to eat a hay pile with Arrow while Marley looked annoyed that she had to be outside in the pouring snow. Poor Marley kept following me around the pasture as I dumped hay and de-snowed their water trough. She looked at me like "Why are we outside when we could be dry inside??" I gave her extra kisses on her frosty face and apologized for her brother being a prick-hole and making them stay outside in the snow!

Poor Marley, following me around hoping I'll let her inside

After spending all day in the snow and with the real feel hovering around 15 because there was a steady wind blowing, Chimi did come into his stall for dinner and decided to stay there for the night. Marley was quite relieved that he finally came to his senses so she didn't have to spend another night out in the snow!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

F you Crazy Cold Weather

What the hell SC??? This isn't normal!!!!

The past 9 days were just insane and I have new respect for you guys that live where 30°F is a warm winter day! I had enough of below freezing temps on day 3 and yet we had 6 more days of it! Barn chores took 2-3x as long as they normally do between breaking ice, carrying hot water from the house, changing blankets, cuddling with my horses for warmth (and b/c they're cute and cuddly), and making sure everyone was doing well and staying healthy. But we made it through this arctic air blast and being as far inland as this area is we missed the snowy bomb cyclone that caused the coastal area of the Carolina's to completely shut down. I really enjoyed seeing pictures of Charleston in the snow!

The good news is we survived and are here to enjoy some warm weather before the rain comes back on Thurs/Fri. Hopefully between work and the rain I'll be able to log in some fun rides with Chimi so we can really get the ball rolling and start moving forward in our riding. So enjoy theses pictures below from this past week plus of cold!!!

Armed and ready to feed... soaked hay cubes, soaked chia seeds (they absorb a lot of water!!) and a bucket of warm water for drinking... doing any and everything to make sure ponies were getting plenty of water in their system

Hummm...which bucket of hot water do I want to drink out of??

Marley didn't care- she just wanted all the water!!!!
It was always a relief seeing that they were breaking the ice to drink water inbetween the multiple times I was down at the barn breaking ice and adding hot water
Water? For Me? Yes Please and then go away b/c I will be eating my hay

Hay Buddies
Night Check selfie with Chimi....awkward....

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Goals and Year in Review

Getting ready to leave the start box at the AEC's PC Shannon Brinkman Photography
I didn't do a 2017 Goals post at the beginning of the year bc 1) I'm a bad blogger and post inconsistenly and 2) I'm crazy superstitious and don't like telling people plans before they happen bc it increases the odds of it not happening (it's a real thing guys and seems to happen to me!!! 😂) But I'm all about reflecting back on what I wanted for myself and did I accomplish it?

1) Compete Novice successfully- CHECK! Well we only went to 2 novices in the spring of 2017, the Fork and FENCE. The Fork's xc jumps were massive and I fail at judging speed at TIEC bc the cross country course is basically one giant circle that twists around and around and you never really go full out bc you're constantly circling. It's annoying. But either way we jumped clean, kicked some dressage ass, and didn't place in the ribbons bc of XC time. Out next outing was at FENCE and compared to the Fork I felt like I was running around BN again. We smoked it around XC bc we COULD gallop in a straight line, and jumped clear with an ok dressage test. And got a ribbon AND 1 of 2 qualifying scores for the AEC's (you needed 3 events and either 1 event 1st or 2nd or 2 events placing 3rd. We were 3rd for amateurs at FENCE)

Coming to the last jump on course at the AEC's PC Shannon Brinkman Photography

2) Qualify for the AEC's- originally I had wanted to qualify at Novice and had plans to get the 2nd score needed at River Glen but 2 weeks before I slipped while hiking and my knee popped out of joint and I was crippled for about a month. So yeah, no riding which meant no AEC's. But then I got an email end of July/first of August saying I HAD qualified for the AEC's… at Beginner Novice. They changed the qualifying dates around and suddenly I had the 2 scores needed for BN to go. So I did! In hindsight I should of saved the money bc I wasn't really fit enough since I didn't really ride all summer bc I was working 12 hour days 6 days a week (I run the riding program at a summer camp for boys, it's not teaching plus it's summer camp so I still fall under the amateur status rules, I checked :) ) and since I didn't think I was going to the AEC's I wasn't making the effort to ride 4-6 days a week. Chimi stayed in work bc I had a lady taking him out on the trails but neither of us had attempted Dressage or a jump since I had injured my knee. Plus the cross country course was a big letdown from last year's AEC's and BN just ran around in a damn circle around the Derby Field at TIEC. At least last year we got to go around the barns and down past the congested water complex and loop around by the river and had real galloping spots. But I did have a great time and while the riding part wasn't very exciting at the AEC's this year I really enjoyed the social part and I met new fun people and hung out with old friends. Plus I ran into my trainer growing up who I hadn't seen in YEARS (at least 5 years or more) so it was great catching up with her! So basically I'm kinda torn whether it was worth it to be there or not. I do know if it hadn't been at TIEC which is all of 22 minutes away from my house I wouldn't of gone. But since it was local I did it bc I really wanted a pretty ribbon. Sadly due to my lack of fitness and not enough saddle time we got an awkward distance to jump 9 in stadium and pulled the rail (it was probably the most pulled rail on the course, probably bc you were coming out of a tricky corner and if you didn't ride forward enough it the jump fell). While we were definitely forward enough coming out of the corner Chimi was unbalanced and not listening to my half halts and I sort of froze and didn't do anything so we just sort of ran to the base of the jump in an ugly canter and Chimi did his best to get over it but he was so close to the jump that he pulled the rail. I should of been more firm balancing him through the corner but I do think if we had been working all summer he wouldn't of been unbalanced bc he would of been strong enough in his hind end to power through in a nice canter. Grrrr. I'm still a bit sad about that ribbon though. They really did give out gorgeous ribbons.

When I rode well enough to let Chimi clear the jump PC Shannon Brinkman Photography

3) Karen O'Connor Clinic- I DID write a blog post about this so I'm not going to rehash over it but you all know that Chimi was lame so I took Joe.

I love the horses in the barn windows of this jump PC Shannon Brinkman Photography

My fall season was basically shot with the Abscess of Doom but after the AEC's I didn't really want to spend the money to compete when I realized I needed to get the basic fitness back that I had lost over the summer. I'm glad I had made that decision BEFORE the Abscess of Doom so I wasn't to disappointed when I couldn't do anything with Chimi.

I feel so international with the flags in the background! And if the giant white tent wasn't there it'd be a really cool view of the mountains. Plus one day my horse will learn to gallop with his nose day. PC Shannon Brinkman Photography

So there ya go. The AEC's and Novice were my goals for the year and I mostly accomplished that. I'm not really the kind of person to set other types of goals like work on half pass or jump 3' or go XC schooling 1x a month. I kinda let those type of goals happen naturally and tend to stick with picking a competition goal like going to the AECs. If I pick something big like that or decide to move up a level I do what I need to to accomplish that which would cover the jump 3', go XC schooling, work on connection, and whatever else we need to do to be prepared for the competition and do well (not necessarily 1st place well but want to finish successfully, if that makes sense.) And on that note 2017 is coming to a close and we'll see what we have in store for 2018! But first we must survive Christmas... WOO!!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!!!!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ambling Through the Snow on an Angry Painted Pony…

Last weekend it SNOWED!!!! I know this isn’t any big news but it was a big deal for us in a normally nonsnowy area. I didn’t think it would stick like it did but we got around 2” of really pretty fluffy snow. Just up the mountain in the Hendersonville/Asheville area they got even MORE snow with anywhere between 10” to 12” of gorgeous, packable, snowman making snow. And just a short drive south or across they got flurries and rain with little to no accumulation. Crazy how within an hour drive you go from nothing to a foot of snow…(also apologizing now if pictures and captions are weird… I’m editing this post on my phone)

Everyone goes to Waffle House when it snows!

ANWAYS back to ponies!!! By the time I got back home from work on Friday I had time to feed the ponies and then it was dark. But the snow kept falling and I couldn’t help but get excited as I tucked the ponies in their stalls for the night. The next morning I was determined to go riding while the snow was still falling in big beautiful fat flakes and grabbed the trusty old horse, Arrow, for a “magical” snow ride. HA. 

If I stand still maybe she won’t see me…

Marley and Chimi happily went out to eat their hay and poor Arrow looked over at them longingly as I grabbed my rope halter for him. Arrow is a pretty chill dude, and the guy has had some really nice training somewhere in his past, so you really don’t need a bridle to ride him. He’s 22 this year and he’s just the perfect “let’s do it” horse bc he’s not going to do anything completely stupid and can take a joke, even though he might roll his eyes at you. 

I drug poor Arrow over to the mounting block and he would not stand straight to save his life. This should of been clue #1 that he was not in the mood to play games but I sweet talked him into a short ride and off we went!

Look at my Yak fur! 

The entire time up the driveway and down the road he kept trying to turn around. He wanted none of my magical snow ride and made his opinion very clear. I couldn’t help but laugh at him and promised just a little bit further! And he ambled on. Finally after trying to take some pretty snow ride pictures I let him turn back and ZOOM. Arrow was on a mission home. 

When we got back to the barn he was very happy to be let out to munch his hay with his friends. Actually I don’t think he cared about his friends, he just wanted food after being “tortured” for 15 minutes!!

I am pretty lucky that this little furball showed up in our life 4 1/2 years ago. He’s quirky enough to make life interesting but safe enough that I can put anyone on him and he’ll take care of them. Plus this old guy is still going strong and has plenty of life left! Maybe next time he’ll be more excited about a snow ride but I doubt it!!! But either way he gets plenty of cookies and love when I ask him to do something that’s not a part of his normal life and he always obliges. :)

Ok ok ok, you got your picture, let’s go home. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Every Time Every Ride

Day 28 of NaBloPoMo bought back so many memories of my childhood growing up in Pony Club that I had to share, even if it's Day 30 now :)

Helmet or No?

Helmet. Always. Every Time Every Ride. Why? Because of the short movie I watched at so many Pony Club events/meetings/festivals/etc that I attended growing up. It was called Every Time Every Ride and it's on YouTube (sort of)

So fashionable!

The entire video hasn’t been posted on YouTube but you can see various clips. Oh man those clips. It goes to show you how much fashion and helmets have changed in the past 30 years. The ugly plastic helmets!!! I had the white schooling helmet for years!!

the experts

Like any good 90’s scare tactic movie they had experts talking about helmets and their function and a handful of horror stories of people dying or becoming severely disabled bc they fell off and weren’t wearing s helmet. From what I can tell by glancing through the videos is they edited out the personal stories on the YouTube clips and just left you the rest. Including the scene that has been burned into my brain forever. The jelly brain. 
Jelly brain inside a plastic bag inside a helmet being dropped- brain stayed intact

No joke- ask any of the other kids that grew up watching this video and they’ll probably talk about the jelly brain!!! They took a mold of a brain and drop it with and without a helmet to show you the protection helmets provide. But the jelly brain scene that really stuck with me was the expert lady digging her fingers into the brain and destroying it

So there you go. That’s why I wear a helmet when I ride. I like my brain just as it is :)

90's fashion at it's finest