Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bareback Inspiration

There have been some amazing bareback riding videos circulating the equestrian blogosphere lately. Allow me to share:

Shared by EventingNation
2012 Extreme Mustang Makeover challenge winners Elisa Wallace and Fledge (4 months from halter broke to freaking incredible!)

Shared by HorseNation
2012 PRO Bareback Jumping challenge at Fair Hill Horse Trials

Shared by HorseNation (and also featured in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace
The Palio de Siena bareback horse race in Italy
Embedding issues. You'll have to click here to get to the video.

There's pretty much only 2 responses one can have to these videos:
1. Wow! I should really ride bareback more!
2. Wow! Horse people are crazier than I thought!

10 points if you can guess which group I'd be in. ;]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

El Sueno H/J show (pics and video)

Sunday morning we went to a lovely little hunter/jumper show down the road at the beautiful El Sueno Equestrian Center (home of Debbie Rosen of Wild Ride Eventers). It was a beautiful foggy morning that burned off to become a lovely sunny afternoon.

Longing in the derby field.
Let's cut to the chase, shall we? All 3 goals (not fall off, not get eliminated, go forward in between jumps rather than up-and-down) were solidly accomplished! Hemie was an absolute rock star - solid as if he'd been doing this for years.

He got off the trailer and was totally calm. Longed in a derby field. Calm. Warm up in a covered arena (first time). Calm. Go into a new arena and tackle a crossrail course with extra colorful flowers. Calm. Stand around and wait. Calm. Dogs and people and loose horses. Calm. Go back to the trailer by himself. Calm. Get loose from trailer and have a stranger catch and retie him. Calm.

And OTTBs have a reputation for crazy. Ha! I got the *right* OTTB then!

Thanks Weez for the pic! What a nice facility.
As to performance, we competed and placed in:
  • X-rail hunters (2nd of 3)
  • X-rail handy hunters (2nd of 3)
  • X-rail equitation (2nd of 3)
  • Hunter under saddle (4th of 4)
  • 2' hunters (3rd of 6)
The flat class was just for Hemie's general experience. It was our first, and as far as I'm concerned it can be our last.

I was quite fortunate to have a groom for this show. My husband's friend said she was interested in being near horses and "helping out" naturally I roped her into being a schlepper groom. She was quite helpful and very good with the horses.

Here's some more pics and video:

From our first ever flat class.

JD on Pixie, left, Hemie and I, center.
Congrats to JD on winning the blue in her first show on her horse!

Video is of 3 classes: 
x-rail handy hunter (note stop after fence 1 - that was required in the course), 
x-rail equitation, and 
2' hunters.

I'm so pleased with our performance. We have come a long way from our September derby, where we bounced around like bunnies. =]

Saturday, October 20, 2012


What a wonderful Saturday! Horses in the morning, housewarming party (mine) in the afternoon. Success all around.

I got up extra early to go see Hemie. It rained last night and was drizzling this morning. I didn't know how wet the barn was going to be, but since we've got the schooling show tomorrow I knew I'd need to groom him anyway.

It was a beautiful morning - a light misting of rain with grey foggy clouds hugging the hills. It had rained just enough to make the footing nice. The ranch hand was just finishing dragging it as I pulled in. Laurie was gone so no lesson, but I rode with two gals from the barn and we had a fun time. Under their watch Hemie and I did a bunch of jumps and had a great ride. After we had gone around a bit, I decided to take off his saddle and you know what happened next...

Our first bareback ride!

Hemie was perfect. No issues when I mounted. Totally relaxed and calm. We only walked around while the other gals finished their rides, but he was very good about still listening to seat and leg even though they must have sounded different or louder than usual.

After the other gals wrapped up, Hemie and Pixie got turned out in the arena together. They ran around for like 5 seconds and spend the remaining 20+ minutes trimming the trees.  Allow me to present their cuteness (Hemie's on the right):

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Activate Racehorse Mode

Hemie and I had a fabulous jumping lesson tonight. Except for getting run away with. Other than that, it was peachy.

I got off work a bit early so I had plenty of time to warm up and really work on a good outside connection before Laurie arrived. Only 2 more weeks left of having some daylight to tack up in. Daylight savings will be here too soon!

For our lesson we mostly worked on adustability of stride by getting more or less strides in a jumping line. Hemie is learning to really move forward and cover ground, but also learning to listen and wait.

Remember...OTTB means they were a RACE-horse. =P
It was dusk, so the first part of the lesson had the last few strands of sunlight, but then we had to turn on arena lights. Right in that awkward dark time, we changed a jump from a vertical to a square oxer. No biggie, except that Hemie didn't see the new rear pole until we were 1/2 a stride from the jump. He practically halted, then launched over the jump - I got thrown out of the saddle (I *should* have been grabbing mane!) and landed super heavy and awkwardly on his back, and apparently that is the magic button to activate racehorse mode!

He took off, I had no stirrups, reins flopping in the wind, I'm awkwardly hunched, and we careened around the jumps. For the first 2 seconds I tried to pick up my stirrups, but that made him go faster so I just relaxed my legs and focused on picking up reins. I got him under control in about 1/2 the arena length. To be honest I'm impressed with myself for staying on. And thankful to have a horse that "gets over it" quite fast - we just got right back down to business and got over the oxer without issue.

Anyway, I'm very proud of Hemie for tonight's ride. We were able to get from 5 strides to 7 strides in the same line, relaxed and balanced in with good rhythm. We've got a small local show this Sunday at a facility Hemie's never been to, and my goal is to (a) not fall off, (b) not get eliminated, (c) feel like we are moving forward between the fences rather than up and down. Lofty goals, I know. ;]

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back to back lessons

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to Nicku of the Polka Dot Periodical for getting engaged this past weekend! I love reading her blog and am just so happy for her and her fiancee! 

Bohemian and I have been doing well lately. We had back-to-back lessons Friday and Saturday, which is a special treat. 

Jumping on Friday was fun but challenging - I'm still struggling with my position and it does not seem to be significantly improving. My leg is too far forward, then too far back. I'm also sitting down too quickly after jumps - landing like a lump on his back. I'm worried that my practice rides are making it worse and not better. And part of me thinks it is time to get a saddle that actually fits me properly and puts me in the correct position. Meanwhile Bohemian continues to be very careful - willing but not brave at this point. But very smart and a quick learner.

Saturday was dressage and is started off a bit bumpy but then became quite lovely. Both Bohemian and I are learning about real outside rein connection. For example, I learned that its okay that the "feel" is stronger or softer on one side versus the other. Hemie is really good sport about the contact. And is holding himself quite well.
Hemie the handsome.

Lovely fall sky on Friday evening.

In other news, I wanted to share the below photo from riding the lovely Miss Paint up in Santa Barabra. This is one of my favorite views of all time - the El Capitan State Beach coastline, north of Goleta.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More darkness, more gross water, and feed stuff

Mr. Bohemian is a funny boy. So handsome and so quirky, but luckily very easygoing and social. Last night I went out after work and it was the first official day of fall weather. We had rain earlier in the day, so we cancelled my lesson. I thought I'd at least visit and groom him since I had a stressful day at work. But when I showed up the sun was setting (couldn't even finish my longe before needing to turn on the flood lights), the air was crisp (read: freezing. Had to put on a sweatshirt over a sweater), and the footing was...great! Enough time and wind had passed after the rains to make the arena look quite lovely. I stomped in it and longed first just to make sure, but it was good to go.

We rode around for a bit and both just had fun and took it easy. We popped over a little cross-rail just as treat for Bohemian being so light and lovely. For some reason the cross-ties had disappeared (these are giant wooden posts cemented into the ground...all gone without a trace) so we leisurely untacked in his stall while he ate some dinner.

But then an unpleasant smell wafted across my nose. The water bucket. It was quite full, with a hay layer floating on top, and boy did it smell like grossness. Uhg, it took me a good several minutes to use a smaller bucket to haul the water to an okay dumping area, but I just didn't have the energy to scrub it, so its upside-down outside of his stall.

Speaking of, this past Saturday a gal at the barn was telling me how she saw Hemie stick his foot in his water. I told her I already knew of this and found it funny and how I've been cleaning the tub out regularly. She said - no - he's been sticking his foot in his automatic waterer at the back of his stall.

Right. His waterer was replaced last week. The new one had been leaking and was repaired, and now apparently again it needed repairs. And he was spotted with his horsey foot inside his waterer. It's hanging several feet high on his pipe corral fence - normal waterer level. This is no longer cute. I heard our ranch hand mumble "loco" as he walked passed my horse...

Another not-so-cute development: he's no longer taken with his feed. He used to gobble down his beet pulp and oat pellets with a ravenous passion, but now he's not as interested and will even leave some pellets behind in his feeder. I'm now soaking his pellets in with his beet pulp and adding more canola oil to make it a tasty oily mash, but I'm considering getting some senior feed or O&M or something else to be a delicious top dressing. He still needs to gain weight and winter is coming.

Hopefully trail ride and/or lesson tonight, lesson tomorrow, and if I'm not feeling too poor, a small hunter show next weekend!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Next Eighty Dollar Champion

Bohemian is...The Next Eighty Dollar Champion! Our story has been chosen by Elizabeth Letts, author of the Eighty Dollar Champion, for her blog. Check out the post here!

If you haven't read the Eighty Dollar Champion, it is time to do it! Horse people love it, non-horsey people love it. And the author, Elizabeth Letts, is just amazing.

She is using the success of the book to help give back to the horse community. She is highlighting horses that come from humble beginnings on her blog "Do You Have The Next Eighty Dollar Champion?" and plans to one day compile the stories into a book where the proceeds will go to horse adoption programs.

While I'd heard about the book through friends and family, I didn't know about the blog until I heard the author speak on the Horses In The Morning radio show. In fact, one of the hosts of the radio show, Jamie, has her horse showcased on the blog as well (look for "How Did the Son of a Kentucky Derby Winner End Up Here?" for an amazing read).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Random Horse Stuff Update

I'm having an ADD type of day today. Er week. Something. stuff. Yeah.

Water Bucket Mystery
For about a month Bohemian has had an extra water bucket at the front of his stall (thank you Auntie J.D.!) in addition to the automatic waterer at the back. I saw him drink out of it several times the first week or so. Some time later, after making Hemie's feed concoction, I dipped my hand in the bucket to rinse off the beet pulp sludge, shook off the excess water and carried on with my day. A few minutes later I noticed that my hand smelled. Bad. Really bad. I went back to the bucket. No poop in there. Not pee colored. No dead bodies of vermin. Clear (mostly) water. So I went in for a sniff...eeeewww. Bad.

So I dumped the water, scrubbed with A LOT of white vinegar, and refilled with fresh hose water.

Three days later. Same thing. Clear water, smells disgusting. Dump, vinegar scrub, refill. What the heck?

The next week, as I go up to Hemie's stall to say hello, he comes over to me and steps a front foot in the mostly full water tub. I jump back, expecting a wet calamity. And what does Mr. TV star do? Casually withdraws his leg from the bucket.

Huh. My horse soaks his front feet in the water. Making the water smell horribly bad. I actually like that he soaks his feet. I think its healthy. But I'm keeping a close eye on his hooves just to make sure they're not getting over-moisturized or develop thrush or anything.

Too Lazy to Wear Breeches
Lately I've been riding in jeans, or even in my workout slacks. Like Tuesday night. Do you like my pink gloves?

Also its now getting dark much earlier. Boo. My barn looks kinda cool/creepy at night time: 

Lesson tonight. Hopefully back to a more normal life schedule!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Accountability Challenge Wrap Up

Firstly, thank you to everyone who sent their supportive words and vibes! Its nice to feel not so alone.

The final week of the 5 week Accountability Challenge was an epic failure. Zero food journaling, extremely minimal work-outs, and eating was so-so at best. Oh and I bombed the bonus challenge - zero meditation either. Interestingly I'm not terribly upset by this - as in, no major negative emotions, just an intellectual guilt. So, the overall goal of the challenge wasn't achieved.

Also I've been a horrible horse mommy. Didn't see Hemie all weekend due to moving (wow, talk about exhausting - maybe I did get my workouts in after all...).

BUT...I do have an update and it involves the D word. Dressage.

We had another dressage lesson last week and it was absolutely fabulous. Hemie is learning how to hold himself for longer periods of time while moving off of the leg. I'm re-learning how to post correctly in a dressage seat (I was in a jumping saddle for far too long!) and how to move his hips independently of the rest of him for better canter departures. He likes to counter-bend a lot, but inside leg is working on correcting that. He has a puzzle-solver brain, so he seems to be enjoying dressage a lot at this point. He really does try to work hard and figure out what is being asked of him.

There are a few small shows coming up, but honestly I don't think I can afford anything right now. But I'm trying to think positive and work on myself so that when the money is there I can back it up with skill. This week the plan is to see Mr. Heems, food journal, workout, and continue unpacking the house.