More Two-Point

2pointober is more than halfway through at this point. I’ve been working hard at it and I’ve improved a lot. It’s really nice to have a goal to work towards where I’m accountable to someone besides myself. I mean, I don’t have to keep practicing. Nothing happens if I don’t do well or don’t continue to give improving updates. But there is someone there who is watching what I do. And that definitely helps motivate me.

Monday I didn’t ride due to heat but I did go out and change Scarlet’s bandage. He was very good about standing still while I changed it in his stall. Except for his head. He kept sniffing the top of my head and breathing in my ear. My ears are quite ticklish so it was really hard to focus while he was doing that. Silly horse. I’ll post wound progress pics at the bottom. The one on the left is from Oct 9th and the right is Oct 13th. Both before I cleaned the gunk off and wrapped it up again.

Tuesday it was slightly cooler so I did get out to ride. I didn’t plan on hardly doing anything since I wasn’t sure how fast it was going to cool. We w/t/c around for warm up and threw in some circles there. I was trying to focus on pushing him forward into my hands at the trot to get him to lift his back and connect. I have noticed that I’m pulling back more when asking for connection and that just really isn’t going to cut it. The trot seemed to feel better and more loose quicker but I need to do this more times before really seeing if I’m making a difference. It could have been he felt good that day.

The canter definitely bounced along. I felt like we got a lot more air but it didn’t feel up and down even though he was bunched up underneath me. It was definitely harder to sit than normal. A good sign I think.

I did my two-point and had a few false starts. Those are so annoying. Especially when you get to 80 seconds and then touch the saddle. However, I  managed to hold it till 4:09 which I am so happy about. My lower back hurt soooo badly afterward though. It took our full cooldown walk with my feet out of the stirrups for my back to loosen up. I really need to figure out how to strengthen that up.

The clip seems to have helped. I thought we sweated less but our ride was a bit later in the day than normal. I’ll just have to see how the clip holds up as the heat continues. (Seriously wtf SoCal? WTF?!)

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less sweat
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Short Update

The next few posts are probably only going to be short updates as well. It’s going to be 90 degrees or higher for almost this whole week. That is freaking insane. Isn’t it October? Isn’t it almost Halloween? WTF California weather?! I won’t be riding much if it is that hot. It’s uncomfortable and not fair to either of us. Also, my parents are coming into town this weekend so I most likely won’t be getting any weekend rides in either.

I got out early on Saturday and Sunday to try and beat the heat. Early for me isn’t all that early. (8-8:30) but on a weekend? Yeah, that’s early.

Saturday we worked a lot on circles while warming up. I’ve noticed that we have had an issue of speeding up the last 1/3 of the circle and I have been trying to fix that. Half halts sometimes work but lately, most of the bad work has been because I haven’t been able to get Scarlet to focus his brain on me. It’s hard because I have used a lot of my tricks I normally used to get him to focus and he either still ignores or gets really upset because what I’m asking is harder for him. I need to try to find more tricks to get his attention.

We hopped over some of the jumps after warming up. They were all quite low Xs and it was very easy. Scarlet got very excited and started to charge the jumps. We were heading into a four stride line and he just blew right through me. I hauled him to a halt before the second jump and made him back up and trot over it. The next time around, he listened when I asked for a half-halt and kept his pace much nicer. It was great to see him actually listen.

To cool down, I practiced my two point at the trot. It’s still soooooo hard to do. I kept touching the saddle at 40ish seconds. Then, I managed to get one of 1:53 seconds! I was so tired by that point because I’d been working on it for probably close to 10 minutes that I let myself fall when I got there. I kinda wish I had forced myself to hold on for 7 more seconds to make the two minutes. Next time!

Sunday, I got to go on a trail ride with K and her horse. Scarlet was very aware and tense when we started out. He didn’t ever fully relax while we were riding but he seemed to relax somewhat. We did a huge hill up and down. So good for his booty! And then we were heading to do another trail out. I had Scarlet’s nose stuck in K’s horse’s butt and he had been doing great. Then Scarlet planted and spun around. He was not going forward. I couldn’t get him to turn around and go back. He just kept spinning in a circle and moving sideways. We were close enough that K escorted us back to the barn and then headed off on her own. I wasn’t upset with Scarlet. We had ridden for 45ish minutes on the trail. We had crossed a road and rode most of that on new trails. It was a pretty good ride and I think that if we were able to do this more he would relax faster.

He was really sweaty so I gave him a bath and let him dry while eating his grain. After he was dry, I gave him a modified trace clip since it was going to be so hot and he already has a fluffy coat. He stood really still, which surprised me. I’ve never clipped him beside his feathers but I think the person who had him in between me did it a lot. I’ve also never clipped any horse more than the feathers. I have sheared sheep and I have to say, horses are soooooo much easier.

My results…. well I did fantastic on the left side and the right side I seem to have lost the ability to make a nice line. But Scarlet won’t care about the look and I’m not showing so I don’t really care.

Easy Rides

I rode Scarlet on Sunday and Monday.

He was very much feeling the cooler weather we have been having. The daytime has still had its moments of omg it is too hot but at night it is cooling down nicely. The daytime heat though is kinda sucky, especially because Scarlet’s winter coat is coming in already. I don’t really want to clip him as I am not competing and I’d rather not have to keep a blanket on 24/7. Even clipped, I don’t think winters here in San Diego have cold enough days that I’d want to have him covered. When we were searching for apartments last January, we were told it was a cold winter. I think it was around 65 degrees then. Not cold.

Even though he was frisky due to the brisk wind and having not been ridden for three days, once we got working he wasn’t super misbehaved. It was only a small case of the zoomies happening. I didn’t mind much as it wasn’t zoom run away. It just made him pick up his pace at the walk and the trot during the warm-up. Normally I have to work hard to get him to do that so if the weather wants to help, be my guest.

Monday, I listened to an audiobook while I was riding. Scarlet liked that ride a lot as he did not have to work as hard. I definitely do not focus as hard on him when I’m listening to a good story. I did work on some sitting trot serpentines and my two point. I got it up to 47 seconds. I’m hoping to double that within the next week.

Tuesday, I didn’t go out as I normally would have. Instead, I did something awesome. Now, I try to keep this blog mostly focused on horse stuff because it is a horse riding blog. However, this project has been something I have been working on for a year and I want to share.

I finished my first novel.

I sat down on Tuesday, realized I was just too close to the end to stop writing and powered through almost 2,500 words. I’m so happy that I finally have done it. I’ve written fiction for myself for… too long to remember but I’ve never hit “The End” before. There is still a lot of work to go for editing and who knows if it is actually any good but I’ve done it.

Then I went and bought myself a Costco cheesecake for a reward. Because cheesecake.

What a Week

(Ack! I realized hours later that I didn’t post the pictures!)

I was able to get out more this week than I had in previous weeks. I was able to ride Sunday and Monday. Then I had my lesson on Tuesday. Wednesday’s ride was much less than I had wanted. I was so exhausted from my lesson the day before. I work so much harder when I have someone critiquing me and giving me exercises to do. I really wish I could budget for more lessons just so that I could work harder more often.

Friday I went out to the barn after our day off on Thursday and pulled Scarlet out of his stall to see that he had torn up his leg. He had a small cut that was there previously but it was nicely scabbed up and had looked like it was healing well. It looked like he had torn the whole scab and more off. I’ll put the picture of the wound at the bottom of the post for those who are squeamish and do not want to see it.

It looked nasty but not infected. It was also still fresh so he had to have mostly done it on Friday. I cleaned it out which he was very good for. He didn’t flinch away even though I lightly scrubbed to try to make sure that any gunk that had been ground in was out. It took me quite a while to do and I didn’t really want to ride him after that. He wasn’t lame at all but I felt like he would benefit from having a day or so to let it scab over. I put some wound spray on it, did a bit of groundwork and walking around the barn together and put him away.

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Mom, I think those horses are the flesh-eating ones from that book you read!

Saturday was clinic day at the barn and I wanted to get Scarlet’s shots done. We ended up getting shots, teeth and his wound cleaned. He looks so silly all drugged up for the teeth cleaning.

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Poor Scarlet

I had the vet take a look at his leg since he was out there anyway. Scarlet had managed to do something that got most of the wound spray off of it so I knew I’d need to do something else to keep the flies from getting into it. The vet said he thinks that Scarlet bit himself to open the wound. My mind was going “WTF?! Bit himself? WHY?”. He explained that it was an odd place for a horse to get injured since it’s not a spot where they would easily catch themselves. He thinks that the flies were irritating him and in an effort to help the irritation, Scarlet bit himself until he opened the wound.

The vet shaved around it and cleaned it really good. That took a while as Scarlet had mashed some gunk in there overnight. Then he explained that I’d need to keep it covered until the wound is 100% healed or he will keep opening it. I have an ointment, telfa pads and part of a roll of elastikon to use. I only need to change it ever 4-5 days as long as its still staying on well and he is comfortable. It’s just there to keep him from exacerbating the problem.

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So now he is stuck with a bandage on his leg until the wound heals. Hopefully, it heals fairly swiftly. I can ride him in the meantime because it’s not constricting any movement. This really minor injury made me realize that I’m completely unprepared for anything more than a small nick health wise. My plan now is to gather up an equine emergency kit that will fit into a tackle box that I can keep ready. Obviously, I need some bandage materials. But I don’t know what else. I’ve never had any injuries that needed more than some ointment with Scarlet before. So, I ask the blogsphere, what do you have in your emergency kit? Or if you don’t have one, what are your suggestions of things to add?

Friday picture and blurry after the vet cleaned it picture due to me not being able to see the screen in the sun:

Scarlet Rates Stories – The Blue Sword

This review is based on my opinion entirely and I’ve received zero incentives to review the books I’ve chosen. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for books or any particular books they would like reviewed please feel free to comment!

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

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Harry Crewe is an orphan girl who comes to live in Damar, the desert country shared by the Homelanders and the secretive, magical Hillfolk. Her life is quiet and ordinary-until the night she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hillfolk King, who takes her deep into the desert. She does not know the Hillfolk language; she does not know why she has been chosen. But Corlath does. Harry is to be trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of his men. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

Scarlet’s horsey opinion:

The horses in this book were much more normal than the last book. They don’t try to eat each other. I liked the horses in this book. They seemed to be very happy. They didn’t have to wear a bit and got to just walk around without being tied down. I don’t like the crossties so this sounds like a lot of fun.

One thing that was odd was how much every horse seemed to love their humans. I like my mom and really like her when she brings me cookies but I don’t think every horse wants to nuzzle their humans all the time. Some do but all the horses love their humans.
The fighting parts of the books were scary. I don’t think I’d like to go into a battle. When (main horse name) fought, the author described it like he was slicing open his opponent. Horse teeth don’t really work like that. I play fight with my neighbor but our teeth aren’t sharp so we don’t slice. Horse bites do hurt and we can do a lot of damage in a fight but the horses in this fight weren’t kicking or rearing to use their front hooves much. I think I’d use my kicks more to do lots more damage.

I did like hearing about the horses, even with the little bit of weird stuff. This author really loves horses. She describes perfectly how majestic and important we are.

Alex’s reader opinion:

I normally leave the horse analysis to the horse but I couldn’t resist saying one thing. The horses in this story are described as too big. Desert horses are small by necessity! There is not enough water or food and smaller bodies mean less size to maintain and body to cool down. I’m willing to let it go because the horses were well written otherwise and there is magic involved but still. Small horses for the desert!

This story was a fun mix of horse, adventure and a hint of magic. I had a lot of fun reading it and enjoyed the story overall. I have a few critiques but none of them took away from the story at all. That is the best type of book. No book is going to be perfect so the next best thing is to have the problems be ones that aren’t real problems.

The story uses a sliding omniscient POV. It mostly focuses on Harry as the main character. I think the omniscient POV is due to the period that it was published. The 80s fiction was more accepting of that. Since the readers of the time were used to that, no confusion was really caused. There were a few points where I was a little confused but it wasn’t often and I was able to understand after a few contextual clues. The POV works well for the is story though as there would be a lot missing in plot and character development if there weren’t other POVs included.

The largest complaint I have is that I wanted more. I wanted more of everything. Not just another book, but I wanted more character development, more plot, more about the legends. It felt like we were only skimming the top and some of the plot developments were just shoved in without a ton of explanation. I’m very used to watching my characters struggle and fight to deal with changes and survive in the world. A large part of Harry’s character is that she doesn’t show inner turmoil but I think that the reader should have seen more of what she was going through.

Other than the above issues, I really enjoyed the story and highly recommend. It is definitely a classic older story in fiction and well done.

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Lesson with all the jumps!

Another riding lesson! I wasn’t able to really plan on getting a lesson in September due to being busy so I really wanted to get another one in asap. I was initially going to have one on Wednesday evening but Trainer D texted and asked last minute if I could do it Tuesday. Since I was only planning on riding Scarlet I was happy to switch it around. I prefer not to let Scarlet sit multiple days in a row. It’s better for him to keep moving.

When I got there, all the jumps were down in the two hunter arenas we normally ride in and Trainer D said we were going out to the jumper field. So exciting! I rode Brad, who is a giant. Seriously must have been over 17hh. Every horse I’ve ridden for lessons there seems super duper tall to me. Scarlet is 15hh so yeah, most hunters and jumpers have at least a hand on him but man they are so tall!! I really can’t get over it.

Brad likes to make nasty faces while you groom but he was sweet otherwise. I took him out to the arena and took the initiative to start warming up the way I wanted while Trainer D took a quick phone call. We walked and trotted while throwing some circles around jumps in there. I needed a bit more impulsion from him as he warmed up super lazy. Luckily, I borrowed Trainer D’s spurs as mine were still in the tackroom at my barn due to the change in schedule. She said I was using them well enough so maybe its just Scarlet that makes me think I’m not doing it right.

Once we were warmed up at all gaits, she had me canter over a pole to get the feel of his canter. He leaned pretty hard on me both ways so it was quite difficult to get the turn the way I felt like I should be able to get the turn. Trainer D did point out that my hands were too low for him and I needed to raise them up. This was a theme throughout the lesson. After cantering both ways over the pole, she added another pole on a bending line and asked me to canter over one way and count the strides. Then, I was to canter on the other lead and get the same amount of strides that way.

The first time, we got 7.5 strides. So we did it again, asking for a bit more and got 6 and 3/4. At least it was change in the positive direction. We did it again and got the 7 we wanted. I then cantered the other way and got… something. It definitely wasn’t 7. Brad is a jumper horse and can get fast apparently. What I didn’t realize was his stride was getting longer and longer so we completely blew that one. We did it again and I managed to correct to squeeze the last two strides of the 7 and then tell him to get his butt over the second pole.

Trainer D then set up a cross rail for us to go over. That went very well both ways. We did biff it slightly once because I got him too close. I’ve never had a horse listen so well to me and going to a distance I didn’t realize we had. He completely covered for us and got all limbs and body parts over without issue but it really made me realize that I’ve got to actually ride with this horse as he is going to listen to things I’m not realizing I’m saying. I also experienced him getting excited about a jump and figured out the half halt for him. It has to be a lot more demanding or he is going to just ignore me. But, his response to the half halt is fantastic.

After the cross rail, we did a little gate jump. That had a more sharp turn on the right lead and I felt like I had to compact him much more in order to get the turn. We got there but I didn’t feel like it was super straight onto the jump. After jumping that both ways, Trainer D set up a little mini course for us. We were going right lead over 1 (small gate) to a right hand turn to 2 (another gate), left lead turn back to the first small gate (3) then a roll back left hand turn to the X we had been jumping at the beginning (4).

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amazing course drawing in paint

I have videos of the second and 3rd time over the course. The first time, she wanted to just watch to make sure that she could critique correctly and not get distracted. So off we went. We made the first right turn to the gate and then turned to the second gate. The turn felt like it bottomed out a bit. We had to do a flying change to the left lead since he landed on his right. I honestly have only theoretical knowledge of the cues for flying so I’m so glad he just basically did it for me. Getting back around to the first gate, we gained some length in our strides and I was really fighting for him to slow down. Then the jump came up and I stopped asking because I was worried about yanking on his mouth. Then the rollback turn to the left. I couldn’t get a perfect turn where I lined up straight but I made a straight angled like to the middle of the cross and we did it.

Trainer D had me walk around her at the walk while she explained a few things. I had slowed his canter down to the point that we had nothing really to get us over the fence. That’s why the first and second gate wasn’t as good. We didn’t need a huge canter stride, but I needed to ensure that he had more energy in the canter. She also said that I quit riding before the 3rd jump. I said I didn’t want to yank on his mouth and she said that shouldn’t be a problem.

When she gave me these videos after the lesson, she said: “These aren’t for analyzing, these are just so you can see how you are doing.” (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Oh Trainer D, so funny. )

So, around the second time :

And the third time:

 

This was so much fun. I loved loved loved riding a horse that felt more like a jumper than a hunter. It really melded with how I like to ride. I felt like I was riding and was making decisions during this lesson. I’d respond to her suggestions and make a change. It wasn’t always the correct change but I was riding. It was so much fun.

I haven’t ridden the same horse twice in my lessons yet but man I really hope I get to ride Brad again. I did let her know that I really liked him and that I loved riding him. Maybe she will remember that next time I schedule a lesson.

For homework, I need to be more conscious about where my hands are so I’m not pulling down on my mount’s mouth. I also need to figure out how to keep my lower legs from swinging as much.

Canter Questions

Well, life still hasn’t fully settled down for me. I was only able to get out and ride on Friday. It was a really good ride thought so I was happy I went out.

The two crossties near my tack room were occupied when I went out there but Scarlet was fine with just chilling in front of the room while I groomed him. He stood rather still, almost like he had been trained to ground tie. It was nice. I keep expecting him to do what he did to me when I was younger though. I used to just take everything off of him after a ride at home and groom him like that. I groomed him at the trailer which was parked right next to one of the gates to his pasture. Once done, I led him back with his mane and he was good. Well, I would do that for a while and he would behave himself like a perfect angel. Then he’d decide to give me the middle finger and would suddenly gallop away from me. We lived on five acres and it was all fenced in so I wasn’t worried about him getting hurt but man was I annoyed. He would also rub salt in the wound by prancing in a circle around me when I tried to catch him. I could literally hear him laughing saying, “Nyah, nyah. You can’t get me!”. He is much better behaved now but while my younger self would just repeat the above scenario after making him wear his halter during grooming for a while and never fully learned, older me twitches when he does and goes to grab the lead rope. Guess I’m a slow learner.

When we were warming up, someone had put their horse in the round pen next to the arena to get the bucks out before they got on. Scarlet got really distracted and laser-focused on the horse running around. It made for a more difficult trot warm up as he would tense so hard on that one side and I would just get him back into a good frame by the time we circled back to that same side.  I ended up using circles down that side to try to get him to focus. I don’t love doing that as I feel handicapped if circles are the only thing that gets him to focus but sometimes you gotta use what you have.

We are still struggling with canter transitions but I feel the lack of improvement is due to me being absent a lot recently. When we went to canter, I asked for it on the circle and even though he was very connected and good at the trot, he literally inverted and freaked out. I tried again but it was only marginally better. Same for the other lead. I then decided to do some simple transition serpentines in the arena. I generally don’t do those at the canter because Scarlet anticipates. It only took twice for him to get the general idea and canter as soon as we trotted on the correct lead.

Since he needs to wait, I mixed it up by going back to the same lead or just trotting on for a while. As we did this I noticed that our transitions go much much better. So this prompted a question in my mind regarding the transitions. Is it a warming up thing as well as just not being strong? Should I just let the crappy first transitions happen and then do more when we are fully warmed up? Is that a good idea? The idea of every action being a training action says to not do that. And I’m concerned about that. If I let the transitions go, will he start to continue to put in lackluster transitions? What are your guys’ opinions on those first few transitions? Let them go while we warm up or insist that he work correctly from the first transition?

Strength Training

Life has still been really busy for me recently and I haven’t been able to get out to the barn very often. Between hanging out with friends, appointments and my anniversary I just don’t get the time to go out.

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Anniversary cheesecakes! ❤

That also means Scarlet doesn’t get much done with him. I was able to go out on Monday and he was full of himself. He tried to charge out of the crosstie while I was clipping him in. Standing still while I groomed him was also an extreme hardship. Once I was on, he behaved himself more or less. We did our normal warm up, some serpentines, counter canter and sitting trot. The sitting trot actually got quite good as he seemed to lift his back and actually work vs just hate me sitting there. Progress!

I’ve been working on the transitions for canter when I’ve been out but I know I’m not out enough for them to have improved recently. I’ve been thinking about different ways I can help him gain strength so he has less of an issue propelling himself up into the canter versus just dragging himself through the transition. So far my ideas are:

  • Circles at the canter to help improve his balance
  • Counter canter
  • working on solid up and down transitions in other gaits
  • transitions within the trot to get him working back on his butt

Does anyone have any other exercises that they love which improve the transitions?

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He drooled waiting for his food.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it previously but taking Scarlet off the supplement seems to have stopped the flaky itchy skin. It’s odd because he has been on Omega Showshine before and didn’t have that issue. It’s annoying cause now I have a bag of it just chilling in my tackroom that I can’t use. But it’s good because Scarlet isn’t biting himself to get rid of the itchy.

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Koro sitting on a tiny piece of cardboard just cause.

Scarlet Rates Stories – The Scorpio Races

Due to my best friend coming into town and another set of friends that claimed my weekend, I have only ridden a couple of times this week. This review is more or less taking place of my riding thoughts this week. Next week, I should be back to a normal schedule, more or less.

This review is based on my opinion entirely and I’ve received zero incentives to review the books I’ve chosen. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for books or any particular books they would like reviewed please feel free to comment!

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

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Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Summary:  Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Scarlet’s horsey opinion:

This book my mom picked out had really weird horses. They weren’t really horses. I don’t know a single horse that wants to eat meat and blood. And they seem scary. They attack each other all the time. I like to play fight with my neighbor and we do nip each other sometimes but never as bad as these horses do.

They also want to be in the water all the time, specifically in the ocean. I didn’t know what the ocean was so my mom explained it to me. All that water that is always moving? No thank you! That sounds super scary! And your feet would be wet! I hate stepping in puddles already.

The only real horse in the story was called Dove. She was very brave. She ran with all the sea horses in the race even though they would like to eat her and had hurt her before. I don’t think I could be that brave. But I do like to run. It would be fun to race her, without the monster horses.

Alex’s reader opinion:

So, this isn’t really a horse book. It has horses in it but wasn’t as horsey as I’m looking for with books for these reviews. That being said, I did enjoy reading it.

The writing style threw me off at the beginning. For most of the book, the POV alternates between the two main characters, Sean and Puck. Their voices are very distinct so it would be easy to tell who was talking even without their name being on the chapter page. Puck’s viewpoint is very simple and straightforward. She is a bit selfish and focused entirely on things that matter to her. She isn’t cruel about it though so it was just a character trait to me, rather than a flaw.

Sean’s chapters are more… abstract in the style. People in the story say that he has one foot in the sea and one on land like he is also a mythological creature like the water horses. The chapters are written in a way that feels slightly like a fairy tale and slightly like a dream setting. It took me a bit to like his chapters but they had a lot of plot happening in them and I grew to like how distinct he was from Puck’s directness.
The water horse mythology and the little bit of lore as to how and why the people on the island race the horses was interesting. The idea of a flesh-eating horse emerging from the sea is both cool and terrifying. It’s like sharks suddenly got legs. I would have liked to have heard a bit more background as to how the first capall uisce was caught and trained and why they worshiped the particular gods they had but that wasn’t explained in the story. I don’t really see it as a negative though as it was obvious that Stiefvater was writing to show that this was so integrated with life that no one ever considered the whys. It just was.

The one major problem I had with this book was there didn’t seem to be a very important motivating factor for either main character. The first half of the book was a struggle to read. It wasn’t till around the second half of the book where a large motivation for each character was introduced. What had kept me reading up till then was trying to understand the capall uisce.

Overall, it is an entertaining read and an interesting look and humans and what they want out of life. It is not a horse story in the strictest sense, though there are some moments that speak to the heart of every horse person out there.

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Poker Ride

Karen texted me Friday night and asked if I wanted to go on a poker ride to support the local rodeo. I thought about it and decided that yeah, that would be fun. I was a little nervous because it has been a long time since I’ve take Scarlet off property. He isn’t easy to manage because he gets anxious. He likes his routines and gets thrown off when they change. When I was taking him to lessons weekly, he was better. I was also worried if he was going to actually get on the trailer without a fight. But Karen would have her and a friend’s horse on the trailer already so I thought Scarlet might feel better due to that.

Sunday morning rolled around and my stomach decided it really needed to be anxious about this whole thing and that I HAD to get up at 5:30. Great. So I was up much earlier than I had to be. I puttered around the house for a bit and then headed out to the barn. The horses hadn’t even been fed when I got there and Scarlet was mugging me for treats the whole time I groomed him. I left him in the stall, hoping that he’d get some of his hay tossed to him before we had to leave.

I was waiting for Karen to show up and chilling at a table when one of the horses near Scarlet flipped out. She had gotten her mouth caught on the chest straps of her fly sheet and couldn’t get free. She backed up and flipped over. I was up and running toward her, calling out for her to whoa. She got back up and, luckily, seemed to listen to me. Her poor neck was super over curved as she was stuck. I was a bit nervous about trying to free her because she isn’t my horse. I do know her owner since she has a tack room right next to mine so I knew the horse slightly. I got into the stall and walked over to her. She definitely was waiting for me to help and just stood there while I tried to move the strap. I didn’t want to try to force her head closer to her chest as it was already really close. I tried to undo the buckle but I couldn’t get enough slack to undo it. As I was yelling for help while straining against it, she managed to slide her head sideways while I held onto the strap and free her mouth. What a shot of adrenaline. She stood there, seeming slightly shocked,  while I stroked her for a bit. I then got my phone so that I could give her owner a call and let her know. I had just finished the call as Karen pulled up so I couldn’t stick around but the owner said she would be there in a few minutes so I felt okay leaving her. She had gone over and started eating and didn’t seem to have any more injuries than a bit of blood on her gums.

Scarlet got on the trailer without too much fuss after we gave him a bit of room to get on. Once we got to the place, he kept screaming out for the other horses and didn’t want to stand still. It wasn’t too bad though so I was just frustrated with him but not overly upset. The ride was scheduled to start at 9 but didn’t really get underway until around 9:25 or so. There were a TON of horses. Maybe 50? There were too many. Scarlet didn’t settle but he didn’t get worse. The start of the trail was… interesting. We went by the road, under an overpass and then down a STEEP hill. I didn’t get as many pictures as I had hoped to as I really had to focus on riding.

Scarlet started off anxious and jigging in place while the road was wide. He worried about being left behind, I believe. Once the trail got to single file, I managed to stick his head in a calm appy’s butt and he was much happier. Which is good because the trail turned into a teeny tiny narrow trail about one hoof wide that was basically the middle of a divot caused by rain running down the hills. There were so many hills. Steep too. It was much much much harder than any trail I’d ever taken Scarlet on and I somewhat regretted throwing him into this. He seemed to handle it okay until the last half of the ride.

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There were two trail options, a long and a short option. I wanted to take the shorter options since Scarlet wasn’t used to hills and was pretty sweaty already. When the other horses left us, he kinda lost it. I did get him stuck behind Aria, who is super calm for being a baby on the trail and he managed to hold his brain for a while. But once we got back to the wider part of the trail, some of the other horses were freaking out and heading faster and Scarlet lost it. The third horse with Karen and I couldn’t stand still and he took off really fast to go back. Scarlet lost his marbles and tried to keep up. Up the steep hill. It was really steep and really long. I tried to hold him back to a walk but that caused him to freak out and start cantering sideways. Letting him trot up it was as slow as I could get without him freaking out. So we trotted up the whole hill. It was nuts. I was glad that was basically the last little bit we had to do and the ride was over.

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Sweaty sweaty Scarlet
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Aria kept mugging me when we were back at the trailer after the ride. Yeah right hunny. I’m not gonna give you a treat you are allergic to.

Overall, it was good to get Scarlet out. I didn’t fall off, Scarlet didn’t lose it too much. Objectively, he held it pretty good for not being accustomed to riding away from our barn or even out of the arena much. The trail ride itself wasn’t great. It was really poorly organized and I was not expecting it to be as difficult as it was. There are several things that could have been fixed in order to improve the trail ride in general.

However, I’m very open to the idea of hauling out to more trail places to go riding. It’s good exercise and I do like riding with other people. I’d prefer a smaller group so I wouldn’t have to shout to talk to people but it would be fun to do again. I feel like Scarlet will also benefit a lot from being taken other places.

Overall, a good day with both of us ending up tired and (me but hopefully not him too much) sore. I don’t regret going but I only want to go again next year if I’ve been out on more trails in between now and then.

Oh, my poker hand was trash. Lol