Well that failed

Sunday I got out earlier than the day before but that apparently wasn’t enough. I was melting before I even got on. I did manage to ride for about 30 minutes but that was about all I could handle. I think I got a little burnt because all my sunblock slid right off my face.

After the ride, I had everything setup to clean Scarlet and he wouldn’t drop. At all. I spend probably 45 minutes alternating between having my hand shoved up his sheath to try and pull him down and resting my back. It hurts to stand stooped with your hand up your horse’s tender places.

90% of the time, he will drop after a ride while I’m grooming him. And I’ve messed with him while he was hanging before. But when I’m ready to clean him? Nope not gonna happen.

Monday, I totally skipped the ride. It was going to be almost 100 at the barn and neither Scarlet nor I deserved riding in that heat.

Tuesday, it was still mid-80s but that was significantly cooler. Scarlet was happy to go riding. I’ve been working very hard on keeping up riding off the rail. Since I’ve been doing it so much, I’ve really felt how Scarlet hangs on the right aids. This is why he feels like a motorcycle going to the right. The left has always been better but now that I’m asking him to “GET OFF!!!” he is having issues going to the left as well. Not because it’s hard for him but because he really doesn’t want to have to do all the work himself. I’ve kept after it and we are getting much better feeling at the trot. I do sometimes have to give him a pony kick with my right leg to get him off of that and onto both reins. We finished off popping over tiny cross rails since we did have a good ride.

Wednesday was much cooler and I decided to work Scarlet in a different arena, just to test how his focus was with different places. It wasn’t as good but we still got work done. I did some canter figure eights with him where we counter cantered. I’ve been trying to push him in that area and he is doing remarkably well. I do need to try to make it as easy for him as possible. By that I mean, I probably shouldn’t do his bad lead second, when he is tired from the rest of the work we are doing. Bad mom.

These last few days, I’ve been trying to get him to drop and look. I did get him to do it once on Tuesday but he didn’t drop far. I was able to see a bean and tried to get it out but it was either too big or Scarlet wasn’t relaxed enough. I debated with myself for a bit and decided I need to get a vet out here. It feels stupid to ask a vet out more or less just for a sheath cleaning. But I’m the one responsible for Scarlet’s health and whether it makes me feel like I failed or not, I need to get the appropriate things done. I haven’t cleaned his sheath since I got him. I should have. I should have done it more regularly. But I didn’t. And I’m embarrassed about it. But being embarrassed is a piss poor excuse for not getting the vet out. So I’m going to call a vet the barn uses a lot and see when I can get a visit. And in the future, I’ll work on conditioning Scarlet to drop easier and cleaning his sheath more frequently.

Advertisements

Riding and flies

Friday it was much cooler out. I think it was about 80 when I got to the barn and it only got cooler as I was there. Scarlet had lost his fly mask (again) and he was rubbing his face like nuts. I had got some new supermasks so I had one of those for him after the ride. I was hoping a brand new, not run down fly mask might have a better chance at staying on. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look into the roma stretch fly masks per suggestion from L.

I got a rag wet and wiped off around his eye to try and clean up the goopies he had generated from rubbing himself. I really hope the mask stays on better because his hair is starting to get rubbed off on his face.

Scarlet was feeling pretty good since it was nice and cool. It was also windy out which always gets under his tail. I ended up having to work him quite a bit to get some brain and good work out of him. So we ended up working hard and longer than I had planned. We mostly just did circles around the arena. I did get him doing figure eights at the counter-canter which he did quite well. I’m pretty sure that I’m not actually pushing Scarlet. The counter-canter was fine, not rushed, not super unbalanced. The circles were larger than a 20m circle but definitely not half of the arena. Progress.

Saturday, I tried to make myself get out early to the barn. I kinda made it. I was out there around 9:10. It was pretty cool but humid as well. I considered hopping over some fences but decided not to. We warmed up, did some trot and canter work. Then I worked a bit on my two-point. It was really freaking hard! I’m so terrible at two points. I trotted Scarlet over some poles on the ground and just that change in his stride as he lifted his feet made it even harder to maintain. I did it for a while and could definitely feel my lower back hurting a bit.

I’m going to try to get out earlier on Sunday so that I can get the ride done when it is even cooler. I also want to tackle cleaning Scarlet’s sheathe. It hasn’t been done in a while and could probably use it. So I’d rather not do that when it is really really hot.

Hooot!

Well, somewhat hot anyway. Hot for this area I’m led to believe. The temperatures where I was living before this have hit about 105 every day so 95 isn’t too terrible. Still, it is quite hot when I’m wearing boots, breeches and a long sleeve sun shirt.

My sister graduated college this last weekend so I was away all weekend. Poor Scarlet was left without any exercise for a while. Though, he probably didn’t hate it due to the weather.

I went out Monday and got us all geared up for a ride. There were a couple of people doing a short lunging on their horses but no one else riding. Not all that strange for a Monday but I got the impression it was due to the heat and not the day. Though lunging isn’t all the much better in the heat, in my opinion. I say that partially because they lunged their horses for longer at faster speeds than they would have if they were riding and dealing with the heat of exertion as well.

Scarlet and I did a basic warm up with some serpentines and a lot of walk breaks. He didn’t sweat overly much while we were riding so I think I kept the pace perfect for him to not get overheated. He definitely still had plenty of energy when we were done but I didn’t want to ride anymore. And that slow pace meant that it was about time for us to wrap up so I could get home to eat. I hosed him off which he did not appreciate. I know he felt better after though from being cool so I ignored him. His

His fly mask keeps getting pulled off in his stall. This is frustrating me. He really is bugged by the flys at his face. I can see the hair around his eyes getting rubbed off from where he is trying to rub them away. But I can’t do anything about another horse pulling off his masks. And I do know it is another horse because I’ve had Scarlet for a long time (collectively) and I was able to only use 2 masks over that time period. He doesn’t destroy them on his own.

Tuesday I repeated the same. It seemed hotter than Monday though. I think that is because it wasn’t cooling off as fast as Monday had. I worked Scarlet more at the walk, actually asking for him to carry himself and then doing some leg yields. I added turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches and a bunch of backing up. Even if we can’t work at faster speeds, that doesn’t mean we can’t work period. Luckily, the heat seems like it will dip in a day or so. I’m definitely making sure I’m out at the barn early on the weekend this weekend though. I’d like to ride for a good while without melting like the wicked witch.

Meeting Dante

Sunday, L from Viva Carlos needed someone to be there to make sure she didn’t die if she and Dante decided to part ways abruptly. I hadn’t been out to meet him yet so I said okay, even with the early morning involved. And then L overslept and I ended up chilling at my house for a little while longer. That was fine with me. I ended up drinking my tea in a sedate manner and knitting some on my current project. (Good lord I sound like an old lady. Lol)

Temecula wasn’t nearly as far away as Norco so we got there pretty quickly. I’m still getting used to where everything is down here so I have no idea how long things take. We pulled into the barn and I got to see all the babies. The barn Dante is at breeds and starts young horses so I got to see all the cuties! L pointed out a few of the horses to me while we went to go get Dante from his stall. He didn’t look super big till she led him out. Then he looked monstrous. Scarlet is 15 hands. Dante is 16.3 and he is only 3 so he may get even larger. That is a huge difference in height. He is super chill though. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was at least twice his actual age.

L got him tacked up and I helped with the mounting block. He is really smart and not at all spooky, past the normal baby omg what is that stuff. He seemed to have this look of sheepishness on his face whenever he figured out that something wasn’t worth reacting to. It was quite adorable. He is such a nice mover too. His trot is so springy without any actual effort on his part. He only has a few months of training so there is hardly any reaching or rocking his center of gravity farther back. Imagining how he is going to do when he is older is honestly amazing. His canter is lovely too.

Once L was done, we cleaned him up and chatted with some people from the barn as they headed out to a nearby show. Dante was super chill and, while didn’t totally lean on you for attention, seemed quite content to lower his head and leave it near my shoulder while I scratched him. Once he is done with the halter stuff, I can totally see him becoming a lovebug of a horse.

Monday I decided to not do my no stirrup ride as I hadn’t been out on Sunday. It didn’t seem fair to Scarlet to ask him to deal with a shorter ride and my butt hitting his back a lot after a day off. So we did a flatwork ride. It was quite nice and Scarlet seemed to be happy with it. I’ve been trying to add a slight bit more walking around the whole property after our rides. I want to get him up to the trail arena someday, but it is separated from the rest of the arenas by the main barn and wash stalls. Scarlet does not like that area so I’ve been trying to add it in slowly so it’s not a big deal when we finally do. The jury is still out on if that is working or not.

Tuesday I did my normal no stirrup ride. I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have even gone out to the barn. I was feeling pretty crappy and just wasn’t into it at all. Scarlet was pretty good, with the exception of not wanting to uncurl while I sat the trot. I was able to post over a full lap at the trot and we cantered a lot. So the ride itself wasn’t terrible but my mindset was. I didn’t want to let myself wimp out of actually going and pushing myself. I don’t feel terrible about it but I don’t feel great about it either. I’m not sure if I regret going. It is so easy for me to justify missing something or not doing something if I’m, not at 100%. I’m trying to break that habit but it means I’m going to have some days like this that I will have to get through. Not a big deal, just something that is going to happen. I guess I’m happy that I didn’t let whatever part of my brain that does that take over, but I still feel bleh. Once I feel better, I probably will be happy. Brains are weird.

Lesson! and other stuff

Wednesday, I had a lesson with a trainer at a different barn. The barn was about the same distance from my house as my current barn so it didn’t take me very long to get there. The lesson was scheduled for 5 and I got there at around 4:30 after work. (I may or may not have cleaned my boots specifically for this lesson.) I definitely felt some nerves. I shouldn’t have since nothing was riding on it more than me finding a good trainer. Still had them though, not much you can do about it but work through them.

I met the trainer, D. She was finishing up a lesson with a bunch of kids jumping higher than I have ever attempted to. She had a couple of people show me the horse I was going to be riding and help me find some stuff. The horse, N, was a huge chestnut thoroughbred gelding. Like 5 inches on Scarlet at the shoulder at least. Maybe more. I groomed him, ditching the curry comb after he gave me a few dirty looks. He was pretty dang clean so that wasn’t much of an issue. D checked over my stuff before I got on. Then she explained that we were gonna just test the waters, see how each other worked out. She does a free trial lesson so that there isn’t any obligation on either side. (A good incentive for me to try her).

She had me take a lap at the walk, trot, and canter. D wanted me to ask for the canter from the walk. N didn’t canter from my cue. He just trotted off. I pulled him back and asked again. D explained that my cue isn’t working because I’m basically asking and then letting go. I’m not holding the pressure until he canters up into me. So I tried that. It was a lot harder than it sounded. I had to really work to actually hold my cue, as silly as that sounds. I’m not used to really forcing a gait to happen. But I realized that Scarlet has been not cantering well the first time I ask him to canter lately so I filed that piece of info away to try later.

D set a pole down and had me canter over it so she could observe. She remarked that I need to ease up with my hands before we get right on the pole. I should get him straight and then let my hands go forward and then depend on my legs for direction etc. N is a horse that will keep whatever pace he is set at, unlike Scarlet who rushes the jumps from excitement. Once I did that well, D then lowered a couple of fences and had me canter over them. I definitely got a bit scared then. Not because I thought she was asking for too much, but I didn’t have confidence. Scarlet literally does everything except choose the fence most of the time. I was worried I fail hard enough that I was going to mess up N when he went over. And that did and did not happen.

I had turned N off the rail too early and he got an awkward distance to the jump. He angled it so he could get a full stride in and D explained what I did. I didn’t fix it as well as she wanted the second time. So we did it again and I got the correct place to turn and it went much better. The other direction, I only had to do it twice. N is super sensitive. The second time around, he picked up a much faster, lengthened canter when I asked for it. So I half halted and he almost broke to the trot. A tiny bit of leg and he was like oh got it. It was pretty fun. I liked the lesson and will definitely go back for more. I’m pretty sure that a full lesson, not a trial, will be more intense. And I’ll ask for homework and for what she things I need to focus on etc next time.

IMG_2031
I’m not sure if he hears me walking up or waits like this around the same time each evening but he is waiting for me like this 95% of the time that I go out.

Friday, I was really interested to see if anything from the lesson impacted how I rode Scarlet. It was a typical Friday at the barn which meant no one was around. Perfect for jumping. Almost all the jumps were at or below where I had set them last time so perfect for jumping. I warmed Scarlet up and got a slightly better response for the canter cue with holding it. I’d been having to actually pull him back to a normal trot a time or two recently because he was just running into the canter so another positive to come from the lesson. I jumped a bunch with Scarlet and he actually listened pretty well to a half halt about 4 strides out and then soft hands. He had a few jumps but when we had gone over a few and he was sure we were going to do more, he was very good. It was really fun. Another point toward the lesson. I’ll definitely be doing more.

Saturday, when I was grooming, I noticed Scarlet had chipped his back foot. The inner panicking drama queen freaked saying oh no he need shoes! Death! Fire! Apocalypse! My logical self had to grab that screaming freak by the throat and shake her around a bit to get some sense. Honestly, the chip is tiny. Like the size of my nail. No need to freak out.

IMG_2034
The itsy bitsy chip

We did a different arena than normal so I could do lots of circles and some counter canter. We did a few figure eights of counter canter. It was much smaller than I normally ask him to do and guess what? Scarlet had better balance than I ask for him. Funny how they tend to be a bit better than what you ask of them. I especially try not to push Scarlet much because I’m super protective of him. I need to remind myself Scarlet will only improve with being pushed past comfortable, just like me.

A very productive week and I’m really happy with it. I don’t think I’m going to get too many lessons in. I’d love to be in a once a week plan, or even be able to afford to keep Scarlet at that barn. (I don’t know the prices 100% but just looking at the place made me thing that I probably couldn’t afford it.) I’ll be taking a lesson once a month at the least. Maybe twice if I can scrounge up the extra cash. But any amount of lessons is good because I will improve.

IMG_2042
Our selfie game, still not amazing.

Post-normous

See, the problem with missing one of your normal posts is the things that you did in the past week all kinda blur together. I had to look at my fitness tracking app to see “Did I ride last Wednesday?”. Really memory, you can do better than that. It was only a week ago.

Wednesday was a stretch ride, I believe. I’m guessing that due to the fact that I rode stirrupless on Tuesday. Thursday was our day off. Friday, I was able to stay out at the barn longer than normal because the husband went to hang out with a friend from work at happy hour for a bit.

Since Friday is normally a really quiet day at the barn, I was hoping that I would be able to get a good amount of jumping in. It turned out to be a normal Friday so I went to the jumping arena and wandered around messing with the jumps. Some of the jumps had been set as pretty tall verticals and a few oxers. I definitely am not ready to try hopping over those so I took those down to verticals or cross rails depending on how I felt. Scarlet is used to following me around, oddly enough. I used to just drop the reins over his head and he would stand there while I moved around various poles. I don’t feel like we have been here long enough to trust him to not wander out of the arena (no gate) yet, so he was forced to shuffle after me while I dragged him around to all the jumps.

After getting those set up, I got on and warmed up. I had shortened my stirrups before the warm up as I wanted to practice actually directing him with shortened aids. I don’t feel nearly as effective when I try to direct Scarlet from a two-point. After the warm up, I really focused hard on two-pointing at the trot over the tiny cross rail I had set up as a warm up fence. I wanted to get up and stay up, even though Scarlet hardly needs to jump over that one. I somewhat managed. I also focused on getting him to not rush the fence.

After we had done that one a ton at trot and canter, both directions, I moved onto a diagonal line. It was set as a cross rail to a small vertical. He got really wiggly with that line, so we really had to go over it a lot, trying to get a proper bend in the turn to the cross rail. Scarlet wanted to do the turn going sideways and then turn and launch himself at the jump. We eventually got a much calmer approach and were able to transition to the canter. I’d still say my two point for these jumps was pretty mediocre. Someday I’ll manage to see some improvement on that dang position.

After the diagonal line, I went to a cross rail I had set much higher than I normally set them. In reality, the middle of it was just about as tall as the gate we hop over a lot. It looks more intimidating to me for some reason when I set the cross rail higher. My brain is weird. Scarlet definitely looked at this one as we approached it. It was set on a long approach so that I had plenty of time to pull Scarlet off and circle if he was rushing the jump. He didn’t really rush it, it just got plenty of his attention. We trotted up, he rocked back and neatly jumped it. No fuss, no overly dramatic clearance, just a solid jump. We did that a few more times at the canter and then called it a day. Scarlet got a bath afterward since he was so sweaty. Not his fav but I bet he felt nice after it.

img_2017.jpg
Wet Scarlet

 

So now I have a reference as to how high a jump has to be to actually get Scarlet to jump it. Which is good. It’s not super high, maybe about 18″ which is pretty normal for a small jump. I just need to convince myself that we don’t need the uber baby jumps for warm up. He should be fine jumping the cross rail warm up set at that height with the verticals and other things being the same height or higher. I want to push us so that we improve. But I’m doing it super slow because I don’t have faith in my knowledge of riding and jumping. I want to be good at it, not just go fast and high.

IMG_2025
The “high” cross rail

Saturday I rode and worked on some bending. I tried to do the twenty-meter circle with over bend to inside and then bend to the outside. Oddly enough, Scarlet was great going on his difficult side, to the right, but not great going to his left. He would bend to the outside fine but wanted to lock his jaw and not bend to the left correctly. We worked on that and managed to get it somewhat working.

Sunday, I ended up going to Norco with Karen from Spanish Walk  to keep her company while picking up Aria. We both thought it would be a part day thing but turned into a whole day affair. Her trainer’s barn is really nice and has tons of pretty horses. Luckily, it also has a decent amount of shade. Lucky since when we met R and P we ended up getting a lot more out of the lesson that we had expected. I also got drug into the lesson, much to my bemusement. I know people like to teach and will sometimes give out tidbits of info to observers but R just kinda hauled me in completely. I wasn’t expecting that, especially since I wasn’t the one paying him! But it was educational and completely fun so I wasn’t super upset by it.

Monday was another dreaded no stirrup day. This time, there happened to be people out at the barn and I had four separate people comment on the fact that I was doing it. Slightly embarrassing but also kinda nice to see my hard work be recognized.

I ended up riding for about 50 minutes without stirrups. I was able to do something like 3-4 laps each direction at the posting trot, a few laps of sitting trot each direction and 3-4 laps of canter each direction with lots of walk breaks. So big improvement there on how much I was able to post the trot and just ride without stirrups overall. AND I even was able to almost ride while posting. Most of the time, it’s all I can do to post and somewhat steer. Getting Scarlet carrying himself properly goes out the window. Bend goes out the window. Basically, everything but posting and direction goes out the window. But I had some moments where I was able to apply my leg and still post. So I feel really happy about that and I’m glad that my efforts seem to be showing results. It is hard to do this and if nothing seemed to come of it, it would be even harder.

Tuesday was just a simple ride to get out there. I was stiff from Monday and I had pushed myself running that day as well so I was pretty tired. But I wanted to make sure Scarlet and I got a good stretch in.

Cool news for you guys to look forward to for the next post, I’ve got a lesson scheduled! It’s with a trainer at a different barn so I’ll be riding some horse other than Scarlet but it’s still a lesson! I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be good and I’ll have found a trainer to stick with. I want to improve as a rider and definitely need some direction to help with that. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

IMG_2021
Scarlet face, with a tiny bit of tongue