Square One

That’s where we’re headed.

Winter has continued to hold on, and hold on tight to this area of the world. Until we hit the point where I can consistently work/ride him three/four/five days in a row, Simba and I are “grounded” so to speak. Ground work, ground work, ground work and more ground work until we have a better idea of each other, and then riding in the “ring” (or whatever we can get accomplished on property) and work on general manners under saddle.

“HERRO I R KAYOOT IN MY SHINY NEW BRIDLE”

Thankfully, I have Big Guns to help me with him, because I’m pretty sure I need it. Image, despite his issues, never really unglued his brain. Simba? He unglues his brain sometimes, and that’s new to me. My aunt offered her advice and the words “DEAR GOD HELP” must have been written all over my face.

I took him out last Saturday to do something with him now that the footing was a bit better, and he decided that flying around me at mach 10 was an *awesome* idea. It wasn’t long after I started that I found my ass planted in the snow, having tripped over myself. Once I struggled back up, D, from a very safe distance (smart lady!), called out to me to give him hard and fast commands, mostly changing directions. Every half circle, he was asked to turn and switch directions on the end of the line. He did these fluidly (for the most part), but at a tail-flagging gallop. Wheeee! I was flying my pony, not lunging him!

However, he did click his little pea brain back into place sooner rather than later with the constant demands put on him. It really helped him focus in and not  It wasn’t long before he was walking (okay, huffing and puffing) in a circle around me, calmly responding to the questions I asked of him. D, who has more patience with me than I have patience with myself, walked me through a couple of “fine tuning” exercises that will be extremely beneficial to have in my toolbox when my horse is being a tool (see what I did there??!). We — and I do mean we, because these things were new to me too — hit a couple of speed bumps because of my own learning curve, but he surprised me with just how quickly he picked it up. The one I had most trouble with last weekend was asking him to stop on the circle, instead of turning and coming in to me. It took me a little while to figure out to step in front of the drive line (insert *facepalm* moment here!), but once I did it right, he did it right. I tease him about being blonde and blockheaded, but when his brain is in place, he is a quick learner!

I worked him long enough to click his brain back into place and release some of his excess energy before calling it a day on Saturday. I pulled another 10 lbs of fur off of him, and called it a day there. I’m starting to see VERY small patches of potential summer coat peeking through, and I’m thrilled to see that is definitely a darker gold color under there! He won’t be a deep color, but he’s not going to be borderline white — I’m really curious to see what I have when all that winter coat comes off! It still makes me laugh that they registered this very obviously palomino horse as a cremello. I was looking at his papers tonight and realized his sire was registered as a champagne and his dam simply as a “roan”. Based on her name (Golden Annie) I’m going to guess she’s a palomino. I did a little bit of genetic research…and unless his sire was a cream champagne of some sort, there’s no way he could genetically be a cremello (not to mention he lacks the blue eyes that are a marker of the cremello color). His dark skin immediately ruled out the possibility of him being a gold champagne, too, even though his eye color would qualify. I haven’t had a chance to send in his transfer paperwork yet to the TWHBEA, and I may try and get said papers corrected if at all possible.

Speaking of his coat, pelleted bedding REALLY has helped cut down on his disgusting factor. It absorbs so much more, and he is a much cleaner critter. I am a much happier critter mama when I can find pellets, which has been a bit tough lately. Supplementing with shavings for now until I can scare up some more pellets, which will hopefully be soon because WHERE THE HELL IS SPRING DAMN IT.

A bunny exploded in the aisle, obviously…

Sunday was a quick brain check on the lunge line, and it was like night and day. He was borderline lazy and I had to get after him once or twice to actually move his butt. We built on the same things we had worked on the day before, and after we were both feeling a little more confident in what we had learned, I decided a walk down the road was worth a shot.

He hadn’t been out since the day I Supermanned off the side of him, so he a was spooky mess. Every time he spooked, I asked him to turn half circles around me until he re-engaged his brain. By the third time he did it (thank you, muddy dirt road!), I could tell he was starting to go “oh…you’re going to make me do this every time I do that? That’s work. Do not want.” I pushed him a little farther up the road and with no additional spooks, we turned and went for home. He was much more of a gentleman on the way back, despite still having a good dose of the wiggles in him.

I left last weekend feeling a little less like this had been a giant mistake and I had made the wrong choice in purchasing this horse.

This weekend, despite the rain, was even more successful. I was a little more level headed, and after a great, fun romp in the paddock thanks to Tory’s insistence she not be caught (poor D!), he was amiable and willing to at least give things a try, even when Mom was having a major brain block. Most of the things for last weekend that I learned stuck with me pretty well. We have gone from awkwardly trying to figure out how to stop with our shoulders on the circle instead of turning in to face me, and differentiating the cues correctly. He’s 99.9% consistent now if I have my act together properly. I ask him to turn on the line and he is soft and follows the feel more often than an actual bump on the nose now. Yielding the hindquarters…well…

Watching The Food Lady/Mom’s Coach (aka D) hurry back to the barn because Mom is a moron and forgot her training stick. Sigh.

Remember my 7 Sins list? The last little nugget of info I put under “Wrath” was something akin to understanding a concept logically, but not being able to put the pieces together physically to get the response I’m looking for. I am having a hell of a time with the very simple exercise of cueing for a hindquarters yield. I know I used to know how to do it, but D asked me if he could do it, and I kind of blinked at her like a deer in the headlights. She showed me. I tried. I failed spectacularly. My horse would have raised an eyebrow in amusement if he could have. Wash, rinse, repeat. Even D’s mantra of “pretend you’re going to bite his butt!” really didn’t help things click for me. Saturday’s work on yielding the hindquarters was special. Today’s work wasn’t as bad and there were one or two moments where I immediately recognized that we had gotten it. I do wish, however, someone had been filming us…D telling me to “bite his butt! Bite his butt!” and me trying to figure it out while laughing hysterically was a really awesome moment. I am thoroughly enjoying playing ponies with my aunt!

Today was much of the same, with an even quieter pony who was better at paying attention to me as opposed to trying to be a bloodhound and skimming his nose along the puddle-y ground. I then groomed him within an inch of his life and tossed him and his buddies outside so I could do stalls.

He promptly rolled.

Butthead!

Now that D is ramping up for the season, we’re going to start a 4/5 days a week, so unless it’s torrentially downpouring tomorrow (possible), I’ll be headed back up. I have been quietly assessing that Simba is going to be an entirely different animal when he’s in regular work, and I definitely think that’s the case. I also think it’s going to take a lot more time to build a relationship with him than it did with Image. I’m adjusting my expectations accordingly because of that. Simba does really, really well when he is in his comfort zone, but once he is pushed just a little bit too far outside of it, all hell breaks loose…and he’s the type to say “screw you, every man for themselves, I’m outta here!” instead of making any attempt to take care of his rider. It’s going to be a lot more work with him, relationship wise, due to that. Image was more likely to try and jump into my arms…Simba, not so much! So, hopefully this riding season will be about building a rapport with one another, to the point where Simba takes half a second to “check in” with me before losing his marbles…or something like that, anyway!

In Other News:

1. Facebook Machine is toast until I can get it fixed. Water damage to the Logic board (Apple’s cutesy name for the motherboard) and that is no fun. I’m not sure what my route will be for that, but for now, I’m using my dinosaur Dell laptop until I get things situated. Can’t stick with the Dell for long because it’s old, slow, can’t handle my photography work, gigantic (it’s a 17″!) and has a nonfunctioning keyboard. It makes doing any sort of writing a pain in the butt, so I’ve been mostly limited to writing at work and emailing it home to myself to copy, paste, and post. I am contemplating a Chromebook or an entry level Dell for the time being, but I am an Apple snob and very much miss my Macbook.

2. I am VERY TIRED of suicidal animals jumping under my tires. I smooshed a bunny last week and a deer darted out so close to my car that I only had enough time to tap the brakes and still nicked the bugger. Nothing like the sound of a living critter on metal. 😦

2. There are a few other things in the background right now that are grabbing at my attention, and potentially bringing Big Changes to my life. No spoilers, though!

Obnoxious Things

In order of obnoxiousness…

1. The stubborn snow that will. not. go. away. making it so I can’t implement the riding plan I’d like to start with Simba…or ride in my shiny new saddle.

2. The stubborn cold that continues to make me grumble when I get up in the morning.

3. THE FACT THAT I BROKE MY VERY EXPENSIVE, VERY DEAR FACEBOOK MACHINE AND THEY WANT TO CHARGE ME ALMOST AS MUCH AS I PAID FOR MORE HORSE TO FIX IT.

*flails helplessly*

I’m going to be a bit quiet around here until I get the blasted thing fixed, because up until *I* broke the damn thing, my MacBook Pro has been the best computer I’ve ever owned. Hopefully, I can get it fixed locally for a bit less and be back in time to discuss the animal communicator that will be “chatting” with Simba…no spoilers, and no judging!

Ride on, everyone!

We All Fall

I shouldn’t have ridden on Saturday.

You’d think I’d learn this particular lesson, but with new saddle + new pony + spring fever…well, I rode anyway.

I shouldn’t have ridden without round penning on Saturday.

You’d think I’d learn this particular lesson too, because Simba’s Monday Morning Syndrome is strong on a good day, and downright ridiculous on a bad day.

I shouldn’t have ridden with a snaffle and tried to go down the road on Saturday.

You’d think I would have learned this particular lesson a long time ago — especially with a new horse — but I guess I’m just goddamn brain dead.

I really set us both up to fail on Saturday, and we both failed spectacularly. Simba, in his amped up state, was looking for things to spook at…and spook he did. At nothing. Multiple times. The finale was super special: a sit and spin, paired with a bolt, and then with a few added bucks. Yeah, I Superman-ed off the side of him and faceplanted in the mud (dirt road).

I was super unseated by the sit and spin (which I’m a bit embarrassed about; I can’t remember the last time I got thrown so off balance by a horse doing something like that!) and ended up sprawled on his neck and missing my right stirrup. Of course, he took this as a cue to go “wheeee!” and he took off. Five or so strides in, he threw in a few bucks, and off I went. I landed as softly as one can on a muddy dirty road, and Simba’s feet quit moving the second my butt left the saddle (points for him there, to be honest — I still had the reins when I went off and he didn’t even hit the end of them). I backed his butt up the second I got back on my feet, and the dingbat didn’t even look sorry. At that point, I was mad at him for being a fruit loop and mad at myself for even attempting a ride. I hauled my butt back into the saddle (thank God for snowbanks; ground mounting in a Bob Marshall that hasn’t formed to a horse’s back is kind of impossible) and we walked back and forth in front of the spot that “spooked” him. The only thing I could see was maybe a dirty snowbank? He had been peeking at them on the ride down the road. Other than that, there was absolutely nothing out of place. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but everything was pointing to “bullshit spook”. If it had been legitimate, there wouldn’t have been any question…but it was a bullshit spook and then he was a frazzled mess the entire rest of the ride. We walked (okay, ping ponged back and forth across the road) back home, and I jumped off to walk him up the driveway because he was just not paying attention at that point at all.

It was a shitty ride, but shitty rides happen and you’re going to fall off. I wasn’t hurt in any way, and we both lived to tell the tale. So, onward and upward we go. Next time I ride, I will be round penning him and sticking the short shank back in his mouth. D made a good point: snaffle for “arena” work (I need to suck up to someone nearby who has a ring because we NEED to do some ringwork in an area where I”m not worried about footing), curb for off property. I am anxiously (like everyone else!) awaiting warmer weather and no snow to start working him consecutive days in a row. Regular work will make or break all of this.

And his cute face. Goddamn that cute face. He’s such a dingbat!

Blog Hop: 7 Deadly Sins

In lieu of a real post right now (which would just be: I got launched unceremoniously off of my horse on Saturday and I am mad that I fell off and mad at him and mad at my reaction to falling off and mad at the fact that I’m mad at him and mad at the world so RAWR), here’s a fun little blog hop for now until I stop calling my horse “Fucker” at every passing turn.

Pride
Seven great things/strengths in your riding life
  1. My awesome experiences in many different disciplines, giving me the tools to death with the goofball that is Simba.
  2. Lovely, knowledgable, kind friends who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m being stupid.
  3. A generous horsey family member who has given Simba a roof over his head.
  4. Having a riding partner and sounding board in said horsey family member.
  5. Absolutely kickass trails to run and play on right out the barn door.
  6. My job — I work for Dover Saddlery’s corporate office. I’ve learned a TON in the past three years working here!
  7. Passion for horses. If it weren’t for this passion, I would have given up a long time ago.

Envy
Seven things you lack or covet for you or your horse
  1. Regular training for us both.
  2. A HEATED WASH STALL. AJKLSDFLKASD.
  3. In/out situation where I wasn’t worried about upsetting the balance with someone else’s critters. I may or may not have considered cutting a hole into the back of D’s barn but figured that would make her mad at me.
  4. Monies. Lots of monies…
  5. …so I can also purchase a Peruvian mare. Because horses are like potato chips and you should have more than one!
  6. Truck/trailer of my own. And, um, trailer driving lessons.
  7. Indoor. Definitely an indoor. 

Wrath
Seven things that make you angry
  1. Big lick Tennessee Walking Horses. ‘Nuff said.
  2. All talk, no action. I don’t share out “poor pony” rescue posts on Facebook because unless I can donate or offer a home, I’m not doing much good. 
  3. When I lose my patience with my horse. 
  4. Slaughter debates of all kinds because dumb people make me angry.
  5. People who feel they are God’s gift to horses. 
  6. People who misrepresent their horses to potential buyers.
  7. When I understand a concept logically but can’t put things together physically to get the response I want from my horse.

Sloth
Seven things you neglect to do or cut corners on
  1. Organization. Period.
  2. I don’t stretch before or after riding. I really should with all my physical ouchies.
  3. I don’t know as much as I should about nutrition for horses.
  4. I hate picking feet. I’ve been better about it with Simba because he’s had some thrush issues.
  5. I sometimes forget to be patient. Working on that!
  6. Not compare myself or my horse to other people/horses. That gets us nowhere.
  7. My own fitness.

Greed
Seven most expensive things you own for your horse/riding
  1. My new saddle — in the grand scheme of saddles, it was on the cheaper end…but outside of the horse, it’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made!
  2. My new strap tack — love, love, LOVE the new bridle, breastcollar and reins I got from Taylored Tack!
  3. Simba, himself, was also not expensive when you look at what most people spend on horses, but he’s the first horse I’ve purchased.
  4. Custom quarter sheet from Blue Ribbon…or was it Franconia…? 
  5. Tredstep half chaps and paddock boots (loveloveloveloveLOVE these, by the way!)
  6. All of the Kerrits riding clothing I own…it’s a problem. Not the most expensive out there, but I buy a matching shirt/breech set every year when the spring colors come out.
  7. My Myler bits.

Gluttony
Seven guilty pleasures or favorite items

  1. Owning a horse. Period.
  2. Collecting bits. I’m obsessed. Shinnnyyyyyy.
  3. My “in” with certain vendors/manufacturers in the horse world.
  4. The amount of mane and tail products I have. I want to try ALL the mane and tail products!
  5. Hugging my horse even though he haaaaaaates it. 
  6. Bright annoying colored tack.
  7. Headstalls. I collect those, too…
Lust
Seven things you love about horses and riding
  1. The challenge.
  2. The passion.
  3. The relationships, both with horses and with horse people.
  4. The lifestyle.
  5. Soft pony noses that need kissing.
  6. Fuzzy pony ears that need rubbing.
  7. The feeling of fulfillment when you look at your horse and go “yeah, he’s my buddy.”

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