VCMBH: Appreciate What You Have

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons.

  • Funny pony is funny! He makes me laugh.
  • Um, he doesn’t buck me off…not that it was ever Image’s fault, but getting on and not immediately having to do donuts to keep the horse from going esplodey is nice!
  • His lovely, gliding gait…Quarter horses and the like may be easier to come by, but I will always own gaited horses from here on out.
  • His teaching ability. Owned him for six months, only been riding for three months, and I’ve learned a great deal about myself and horses in that short amount of time.
  • He tolerates me dressing him up. Sort of.
  • He also tolerates long hours of being groomed. Mwahaha.
  • He’s fur-reeking cute!
Gaiting around the paddock yesterday. Thanks to S for coming and playing with us yesterday!
I have a ton to say, no energy to say it (SSDD). Hopefully this week I will be able to formulate something coherent and worth reading — I’m house sitting RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Simba for the next ten days so I will be nixing about 10 hours of drive time from my week. Simba lives an hour and fifteen from my house, which is ridiculous, but I trust two people in the whole world with caring with my horse when I’m not around (namely, my aunt and L) so I’m happy to make the drive. It does get tedious, so these house sitting stints up north make my life much better for a little while!

Ride the Glide

You know, the second the weather turned decent again, I’ve had exactly zero time, energy or brainpower to form more than one coherent typed sentence at a time. I cannot brain, I haz teh dumb. *flail!*

So, in short:

1. Simba was accosted by Chad the Vet last Friday from all ends. He had his teeth floated, his vaccines updated, and his sheath cleaned (under a lovely happy pony cocktail). He was an angel for most of it, though he clamped his tail and scooted something fierce when Chad went to take his temperature. Chad said Simba just wasn’t “that kind of horse”. I about peed my pants laughing. Have I mentioned that I LOVE my vet?

2. I rode him briefly before Chad came (it was a “hey I’m in the area can I poke your horses with needles?” type deal), and he was juuuust a little on edge. He chilled out after some schooling circles in the paddock and we gaited around kind of aimlessly for a half hour before I hopped off. It was entirely unproductive but outside of his coiled start, he was paying attention and made attempts to do as I asked.

3. Saturday he got the day off — he looked just a bit punky from the shots and was a liiitttllleee too quiet. I took advantage of the little bit of free time, as I was also house sitting, and…well, I slept. A lot. A+.

4. Sunday we toodled in the paddock again, as Tory was definitely still off from her shots and long trail rides by our onesies are not in the cards just yet, so we did some gait work in the paddock again. The paddock is basically a giant hill, so we were able to do some hill work weaving back and forth across the paddock. He was soft and responsive, especially since I flopped him over to a bit with a port. We then went on a very short solo trail ride with Dolly the Border Collie and Poppi the Papillion, and he was tense but didn’t put a foot wrong. I hope to build on the short little rides away from home to build his confidence when he’s out by himself.

5. Monday was actually FUN — we went out with M and Clara again, and did the whole loop. Simba’s “sweet spot” is directly in the middle. He much prefers a horse ahead of him and a horse behind him, and he was, dare I say, relaxed and happy to be on the trails? Gasp!

I also found out he has this REALLY COOL button…I’ve been raving about how he occasionally pulls out this gait that is like gliding on air. We gaited out quite a bit during this trail ride when we could, and after fussing at him every time he broke into a pace, I had him hit that wonderful, four beat glide…and I realized it was when I lifted my hands to adjust my reins a bit. Something went “ding!” and I dusted off my old saddleseat knowledge from high school. I rose my hands a bit, sat back on my pockets, and all of a sudden…off we went. Magic button! Magic button!!! We ambled after Clara and M and he kept his gait and speed without a second thought. I tried it again later on in the ride, and even though he took a flying leap over a downed branch, garnering a very girly squeal from me, it was the same result. I think I’ve been riding some very pacey/trotty walkers in my time, because while his gait is not the silky-smooth gait of a Paso or Peruvian, it was LOVELY to sit to and my back was not cranky when we were done.

Progress, progress! That’s something, at least! The wind out there today is wicked so I’m not sure what the riding plan is for after work…I might be flying a Simba shaped kite, not riding a horse!

Friday Fotos (And More!)

I took my big camera out yesterday for realzies after six-ish months…there was some fumbling and I missed some shots, but I didn’t do too badly, thankyouverymuch!

Mama Tory and Baby Flynn watching D with the Scary Flag of DOOM.
“Don’t you DARE wave that flag at me, ya hear?”
This is why we call him Fabio.
Perri’s kicked ASS with this halter. Love it!
My first ever Photoshop attempt…removed the fence (mostly successful) and the halter (mildly successful; definitely have work to do there). I am kicking myself for not attempting Photoshop stuff earlier…picture looks so much better without the fence!
K removed the fence for me in this one, which is what kicked my ass into gear and I started watching some YouTube videos last night. Zoooooooms!

This was our entertainment last night, so I didn’t torment him with actually riding. Once they were done running around, however, I did a TINY bit of liberty work in the paddock. I have zero proof because I, stupidly, chose to do this just as D was going inside to set up grain, but it was just very soft walk-halt-turn-face me stuff in the paddock. He kept one ear on me at all times and kept himself in a respectful circle around me. By the end of it, I had him “hooked on” and he was with me for a solid five minutes before I purposely released him from me. Then I stood there giving him scratchies…and found two ticks on his chest.

*high pitched keening nose* NoooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!

I hate ticks. Haaaaate. I yanked one off of myself in early April but figured it was just a fluke…with the winter we had, there’s NO way that ticks could be out yet. Well, they are. Goddamnit! Next week-ish will be spring shot time, and D and I plan to grill Dr. McGee about the lyme vaccine.

Work is slow as all get out today so I’ve been blessed with a half day. Oh Simba…time for woooorkkk!

Happy Friday, ya’ll!

Hakuna Matata

I told you the Lion King references wouldn’t ever end ever.

I put in an order for Simba’s very own special leather halter, lead shank and nameplate from Perri’s Leather (in the metallic turquoise/black color combo — duh!) early last week. I am a name snob (among other things) and decided to leave Simba’s registered name off of the plate, and instead go with a “show name” of sorts, even though we’ll never set foot in a show ring. I chose Hakuna Matata, because Lion King, obviously. I also find it kind of funny because it means “no worries” and both of us are kind of worrywarts! The person in charge of our custom/special orders here at Dover gave me a call this morning to double check on a few details of the name plate, and we immediately burst into a sing-a-long of Hakuna Matata.

Over the phone. In separate departments.

Welcome to Dover Saddlery. We’re AWESOME here!

Once I stopped laughing and hung up with my buddy in purchasing, I started thinking about how pony boot camp is going…and it’s “going”, I’m just not sure how to label it yet.

Simba isn’t a “brand new horse”, not by a long stretch. Regular work has definitely improved him in the past two weeks, but it’s going to take a lot more for him to be a solid equine citizen. More often than not, he is a palomino fire breathing dragon as opposed to a horse. He’s certainly got a motor to him (when he wants to!) and he can be responsive and soft, but most of the time, he’s sucked back behind my leg and a snorty, uptight ball of nerves. We are working on building up fitness, and while the long, slow trail rides are good for everyone, he has SO much energy that the long, slow trail rides are a bit difficult for him. He still has an AWFUL case of the Mondays as well. He and Tory get two days off and when we picked things back up, he is okay-ish on the ground, but a headcase under staddle. Now, I’m not used to asshole horses. Frightened, unsure horses I’m 100% okay with, and don’t mind coaxing through a difficult patch. This is all new to me, and on Simba’s “Monday”? He’s an asshole, plain and simple. Bargey, resistant, “la la la la I’m not listening to you” asshole. He knows exactly what I’m asking him to do, but he’s being a punk about it…and then gets bent out of shape when I ask a little more firmly. Dingbat! Unfortunately, I really don’t have a ring to do some serious ringwork in, but I’ve decided that Thursdays (Simba’s Monday) are going to be on property boot camp days. I can’t properly discipline him half the time out and about because the trails in New England are mostly rocks, and I don’t want to kill either of us just yet.

Clear trails! Or, as clear as the rocky-as-shit New England trails can be!

Something that has DEFINITELY helped is that we spend 20 minutes doing ground work — general lunging in the paddock, and then quiet “fine tuning” in the driveway — before saddling up and heading to the trails. Simba has really picked up on the groundwork exercises we’ve been working on, and has really shown me that he only PRETENDS to be blonde sometimes. I do joke that he’s a dumb blonde, and sometimes I wonder if there’s a brain in his head, but he really isn’t stupid and he does pick up on things correctly provided I ASK correctly and consistently. I’m still having a brain block when it comes to asking for a hindquarters yield (seriously brain wtf), but when I ask him correctly, he responds correctly. He has been giving me softer and softer responses every time we work on these things, and he ends with his head down and letting me rub his ears. Hope is not lost! 😉

We did have two big “firsts” this past week — L and her assistant manager/right hand/awesome best friend S came to visit and take the funny yellow horse for a toodle around the paddock. The yard is still a bit squishy, so, ignoring all safety precautions about riding in a paddock with loose horses, D opened the gate and in we went. Flynn and Tory went “ooh, plaything!” and I waved my Sparkly Fairy Wand (aka my blue, sparkly crop) in their faces. They mostly backed off…Flynn made attempts to play with us once or twice, but S came into the paddock to take pictures and she was a MUCH more interesting plaything.

Baby Flynn, who as an almost a two year old, is nearly as tall and as heavy as Simba. No, his neck is not that short…he just turned to look at me at the last second!

Once I gaited around a bit, I hopped off and L jumped on. She giggled and wiggled her way around the paddock, but being a Quarter horse person, she had a hard time figuring out what to do with him. He obliged her with no questions, though the confused look on his face said a lot. S hopped up afterwards, and was able to get him to canter. Lots of laughter all around for all of us! I was very proud of him for taking on two completely different riders and not putting a foot wrong.

S put a running braid in for me. He promptly rolled it out. Stinkerhead!

Sunday we rode with someone new. Neighbor M and her ADORABLE little Connemara pony, Clara, came up the road to go for a little ride with us. We did the full loop, with Simba and I in the lead. He was in full “fire breathing dragon” mode but eventually loosened up enough to walk and gait a bit on the trails. We all laughed and talking with each other while we enjoyed the warmer weather, and were having a great time…until the Evil Ground Bird of Doom fluttered up under our noses!

The bird popped up and scared the ever loving shit out of everyone — horse and human! Simba was SO GOOD, and now that I have my saddle 100% figured out, I didn’t even get unseated. He spun away from the offending bird, I made a terrible squeal-y noise out of shock, and that was the end of it. I turned him around to crow proudly at my riding buddies that I had NOT eaten dirt (this was the first major spook since I Supermanned off the side of him), just to note that we hadn’t all been as lucky to hang on for dear life like I had…! Man down, man down! Thankfully, no one was hurt and no horses took off in the meantime, so those among us that hit the ground remounted and off we went.

This was Simba’s first trail ride with more than one other horse, and while he was sucked back behind my leg and a snorty monster, he really didn’t put a hoof wrong other than that. Rocks, however, are suddenly terrifying. So are puddles on the ground. We haven’t had issues with either of these things until the past trail ride, so I’m chalking it up to him being a dunderhead. Good thing he’s cute!

One other thing that’s a bit new is that we’re starting to move out after a week of purely walking. We’re starting to add more gaiting into the mix, and he’s been pulling out his lovely, smooth rack for me. The long, slow rides drive him nuts but they’ve been very good for his hind end, especially because the trails are basically one big hill….you ride down to the bottom, and then aaallll the way back to the top! The hill isn’t exactly an easy one, either, so he’s definitely using his butt to haul both of us back up. He is slowly gaining strength and stamina. I took a conformation picture of him two weeks ago, and I’ll be really curious to see what he looks like at the middle and end of the season!

Even comparing this to when I first saw him…

He’s not nearly as much of a fluffy marshmallow as he used to be!

In other miscellaneous news, my butt is officially comfortable in my new saddle. I am in love with the thing! It took me a little to find the magic combination between what hole the girth needs to be on, warming up the memory foam pad so it has time to form to his back, and shortening my stupid stirrups (um, duh?), I have a stable, comfortable saddle that I can work in and NOT worry about it sliding off the side. I am still tempted to give a tackaberry girthing system a shot or even a center fire billet situation from Taylored Tack, but for right now, this works just fine.

PRETTY PONEH IS PRETTY. Yes, the stirrups were on backwards. Yes, I have since fixed this issue. No, I don’t own a brain. Any more questions?

With all the tack stuff figured out, I just need to start learning to coordinate the iPhone again so I can start taking more pictures…no pictures of Clara, no pictures of D on Tory, very “as seen through horse’s ears” shots the past two weeks. Bad photographer! Bad! Hopefully, now that Facebook Machine is back, I’ll be getting behind my big camera again more than just once a month! I’ve been spending a ton of time down on the other side of the state with M and her motley crew of critters. I even got my big camera out to harass her ponies.


To sum up with the moral of the past two weeks? Simba is a tough critter for me. He’s probably always going to be tough. I’m coming to learn this the hard way, so hakuna matata it is. No worries. We’ll take things as they come and see what happens. I was supposed to go start our week today, but I am wiped from lack of sleep and have made the executive decision that my inability to function today + Simba’s “Monday” toolbaggery = inevitable knock down, drag out fight because I won’t have patience and he will pick up on that. See, I do learn things and can be an adult about it!

Okay I was an adult for, like, a minute. I’m done now. Can I have a cookie?

Alive and Well


I also have a complex pony who makes my brain hurt a little.
In depth report tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I have time and energy. For now, here is a picture of me with my God-Pony, Ember. Emmie is a TWH mare that M fosters for Beech Brook Farm Rescue, and she is the sweetest horse I think I’ve ever met. She has a stifle issue that makes her mostly unrideable (she can poke around at the walk), and as an ex-big lick horse, I’m pretty sure she deserves it. 
She decided she wanted to be my hat the other day while we were playing around. I couldn’t help but oblige!

Little Moments

Tuesday night, I went to the barn to feed for D. I was going to work with Simba on the same things we have been working on, but I was wiped out from a very uneventful day at work (it was so quiet we were all falling asleep!). I actually lucked out, because while Tory was being a twit about being caught, Simba got his exercise in the form of being inadvertently chased around the paddock with the stubborn mare. I groomed the crap out of him and scraped off another 10 lbs of fur, and stuffed him back in the paddock for a bit before feeding. Once he wandered off, I stepped out to say hello to the other horses.

I was talking to Tory and Flynn when I realized Simba was shuffling up behind me. His eyes were soft, and he didn’t immediately mug me for food. Instead, he stood quietly a few feet away (good boy!) with his ears pricked. I reached out to touch him, and he reached towards my hand with his nose. I tickled his upper lip, and he flipped it around, wiggling it across my knuckles. I laughed, and he heaved a blustery sigh at me, dropping his head. I rubbed his forehead and he stood there, head down low, eyes fluttering shut, allowing me to love on him. When I stopped, I got a look that plainly said “why has the petting stopped? More petting!”

Well. Okay then. Twist my arm, why don’t you??

D’aawww! Sidenote: realizing now I never got that post up about the tattoo. On the to-do list.

I had a soft eyed, mushy pony who was happy to stand around with me and be cuddled…and, to top it off, he plunked after me as I went to head out the gate. He probably was thinking “fooooood tiimmmeeee!” but he walked with me with his shoulder square to mine, stopped when I stopped, and backed up with me. Hey, I’ll take it!

These little moments give me hope. I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’ve been struggling just a bit with connecting with this funny yellow horse. I haven’t really made the direct statement, but between an insanely terrible winter (never. again. will I purchase a horse right before the worst season of the year in New England), not giving myself enough time after Image’s passing, and trying to navigate a relationship with an animal who is much different in temperament than I ultimately wanted, I think I’ve had a harder time adjusting than he has!

Warm weather is finally looking like a possibility. D is gearing up for the season so we’ll be riding buddies soon enough. Friends from all over the state want to come and play with us.

Time to kick our asses into gear for pony boot camp! Yeehaw!