Monday, April 25, 2016

Back in action?

It is good to be home and with no other plane tickets currently in my possession!  So of course my horse had to go and get hurt, right?  But I will get back to that.

Ireland was lovely.  The weather was perfect, it didn't rain once.  The business part was fine and the riding part was...ok.  I knew since I restricted myself to the Dublin area that it wouldn't be as cool as on the coast somewhere, but even knowing that there was slightly more walking on paved roads and slightly less playing in the fields than I would have preferred.  Still, the adorable Irish cob/Connemara cross mare I rode was fun and I am glad I was able to do it.

All that mane!
Odin was good while I was away, and I heard that Saturday he jumped a small course with fill in the jumps and didn't look at anything or misbehave in any way.

Sunday I drug my jet lagged butt to the barn to watch and then hop on for a bit.  In the special way that horses have, he didn't have quite as good a ride when I was there to watch.  The first time R2 took him to a cross rail, he was too busy messing with the bit and didn't even see the jump until he stepped on the ground line.  He stopped, confused, and though he didn't do anything else, you could tell he was a little freaked out.

It is the first time something has phased him really, so it was interesting to watch him then figure it out.  He didn't ever stop again, but did spend some time deer leaping and being nervous.  R2 stayed patient and he figured it out eventually.

Jump so high and tidy, it can't bite you

LEAP the mighty cross rail

And never take your eyes off of it

Still leaping

This is clearly a carousel horse impression

OK, still being cautious, but with less drama

More reasonable

Maybe this jump isn't going to murder us all?

Definitely feeling better now

OK, fine, this isn't so bad.
I tried out bell boots because he has a clear overreach mark on his left front and I wanted to see if he cared.  He doesn't, so we will probably implement them for rides from now on.

After he worked through the Most Terrifying Cross Rail in the Universe, he quietly popped over the jumps with actual fill:

This one seems fine but I will still keep an eye on it
Then I got on for 15 minutes, played around at all gates and jumped the cross rails myself a couple times with no drama.

Unfortunately, after a short ride tonight it was clear that his stifles are really bothering him.  Possibly sore from his acrobatics on Sunday too.  Twice his right hind got stuck while trotting.  After the second time, I just jumped off.  I am frustrated because I ordered the estrone from the vet THREE weeks ago and it still hasn't been delivered, but they promise it will be there Wednesday.  So hopefully a day off tomorrow and some estrogen means he will be feeling much better soon.

I really hope so because we are having such a blast and I want to keep the momentum going!  But of course, we will see how he feels and take it from there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Making the most of an April snowstorm

In spite of Colorado's attempts at ruining my life and flowering trees with another fucking blizzard over the weekend, Odin and I had a great time.

This horse is now famous at my barn for wanting everyone's attention all the time and begging people to take him in.  He has total "pick me" face when someone comes to change his blanket, feed, or just walk by.
He has it standing in a stall too

So while most of the other horses were happily hanging out in their runs all weekend wishing they lived somewhere spring didn't equal snow, mine was mugging over the gate, waiting for me to take him in and play.  It's hard to maintain an appropriate pout over the weather when he is so cheerful.

Saturday he was able to play in the indoor some first which he fully appreciated and then we had a great ride.  It is tempting to say his trot has plateaued some at the moment, but that is probably inaccurate.  I am sure he is improving, but we are working on the same concepts every ride.  First, you will steer horse even if you would prefer to chase your friends around and second, you will carry your own head.

This is another thing that is great about trainers.  Because I am so easily conned into just letting my reins gradually get longer and not even noticing.  You know how not to help your horse learn?  Yeah, I excel at that.  So it is probably taking longer than it should to get the concept across to him than it would otherwise, but we get there.  And hey, keeps the pros in business fixing my mistakes.

Meanwhile his canter is just becoming fabulous and I need video.  Lovely transitions both ways and holds his lead much better.  There is still swapping in back, especially if something changes (you turn off the rail, switch your balance, etc) but the canter is now there without flailing.  There is still some dolphin squealing because life is hard.

And we played around with some jumping, which he was perfect for.  He got a little concerned about a cross rail which means he overjumped it but he has never yet hesitated to go over and that is helping my confidence by miles.

Sunday was much of the same only we added in trot in over a cross rail and canter out over a pole.  He rocks at this.  Locks onto the second part of the line immediately and marches right along.  He isn't quite experienced and strong enough yet to be totally straight, but he is pretty close even with me on.

Just to give me something to ponder, trainer R did make a random comment that I will have to follow up on, that she thinks Odie is going to end up being a jumper, not a hunter.  At first I was all defensive - he jumps super cute and uses his knees!  But I think it is more that he is a powerful, expressive jumper and not necessarily smooth enough.  Since I don't plan to really show, it doesn't matter overmuch to me but it is something to keep in mind, I guess.

After awesome horse time, I got on my very very crowded plane Monday (all the poor people whose flights were canceled over the weekend) and now I am in Ireland until Saturday.  Almost entirely a work trip which is a bummer because it is sunny and 60 degrees, which I have heard is a rarity here...

I did book one extra day to be a tourist and have a horse trek on the agenda, so hopefully I can get some photos of that.  Until then, I think I need to go have a pint at a pub with a patio!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Red Queen problems

AKA Running to Stay in Place

Odin is fine, wonderful in fact.  I just am so far behind I can't even see where I am going right now.  I didn't get back from the trip for my friend's wedding until Sunday night.  And I leave next Monday morning for Ireland.  My last business trip for the moment, hoping to take May either entirely off or have one trip max.  But that leaves me a very short time to catch up at the office, catch up with my husband, prepare for a week abroad, and other life things.
I need new media

All of which to say I have barely even spoken to my trainers about how Odie was while I was gone.  I did hear a few things, all of which were positive.

He did some trot in/canter out lines like a pro.  R2 is starting to introduce shall I say...amateur riding techniques into his life.  She has the most quiet damn leg I have ever seen and I doubt I will ever achieve it, so she is deliberately moving it around more to get him used to the idea.  Things like that.  She said he was jumping quietly on a loopy rein and that he is one very impressive baby horse.

Besides that and the fact that he had no issues with leads, I am not sure about much besides the decision that he has to move pens outside because the barn maintenance manager is flat tired of fixing broken boards between him and his rowdy neighbor (ok fine mine is the rowdy one) and he managed to skin the front of his right hock during one of those playing episodes.
Wrapped legs for protection, note broken board on the ground

Sigh, horses.

I did manage a hack on him last night.  At first he was disinterested in me and either blowing me off or just testing me.

Lies my horse told me:
  • I don't steer
  • I don't bend
  • I don't go forward
  • I go VERY forward and can't stop
  • I can't carry my own head around
But after a few minutes and almost running straight into another horse, he settled into some good work.  His trot was a little slow and lazy to the right but he wasn't pulling or rushing so I let it go.  Going left, his better way, he was dead on.  After not too much effort, I let him go a few laps stretched with his nose to the ground and then just walked around and cooled him out.
So adorbs

Tonight's ride was also really good.  Still a little of the "screw you bit" mentality but giving it up quickly and a nice canter both directions!  

After I got off last night and was grooming him I spent some time reflecting just how much I like this horse.  While he is still growing up and too free with his teeth on occasion, he is fun to be around, both under saddle and on the ground.  He can be somewhat arrogant but I think that is part of what is making him easy. He doesn't get freaked out by much.  He is just a nice horse and I am so appreciative.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Progress and such

Odin made some leaps forward in his training last week even with weather designed to make life difficult.  While I was in cool but sunny SoCal and TJ, it was frigid and snowing at the homefront.
The upside of business travel

But R2 got on him nearly every day anyways and then I rode him Saturday and Sunday.  R2 said he was excellent all week and when they jumped on Friday he actually offered two lead changes.

We haven't been asking for lead changes yet because canter is still something that isn't quite mastered, but apparently the youngster wants to be precocious.  And doesn't like being on the wrong lead.

Also as predicted by some of you wise folks, his right lead came back as quickly as it vanished.  I am ordering another round of estrogen because his stifle has been extra sticky and "clicky" but it hasn't seemed to cause much issue.

Some highlights from his week:

  • Cantering multiple laps around the arena both directions while holding the lead
  • Cantering that resembles what a horse does instead of a giraffe camel hybrid
  • Lead changes (I even got two over the weekend)
  • Jumping - still his most favorite
  • Baby shenanigans.  Which are not too surprising.
I managed to ride both weekend days since (sigh) I am flying out again tomorrow - this time for a friend's wedding and won't be back until Sunday.  

Turnout has been nonexistent at the barn since the fields are either frozen or horrid mud and then a horse just lost it in the indoor and took out a chest high wall so we can't even turn out in there.  Which means even with daily work, Odie has still been a little exciteable.

Saturday we didn't longe and it was noticeable with the squeal and half buck into the canter, but he did settle into some really nice trot and canter work and we did some jumping.

Sunday we could actually ride outside again FINALLY.  The Oatsmobile was extra excited about this and needed a legit longe session to buck about 15 times.  It was in the 70s though so he ended up pretty sweaty and regretting his decision when I clambored on.  

We got more really, really nice trot work.  He turns super well and bends around the leg and has reasonable outside shoulder control at this point.  So we use lots of turning to help him not just fall on on his forehand and get fast.  This will be a work in progress for...I don't know, forever?  But we are getting some nice times where he can stay in a good contact for 5-10 strides.  

Then we jumped outside, still over cross rails, and he was perfection.  So brave, so happy to go, so willing to take off from anywhere I asked him too.  Note to self, don't ask him to leave strides out!

After that great weekend, I swung by tonight and he was pretty cranky, I think he needed a brain break.  Instead of the planned schooling session we just had a long grooming time, a walk in the ring, and a trail ride up the road.  He likes working so much but a vacation and fun time can be in order too.

And to wrap up, here are some recent conformation shots.  Definitely filling in with all that muscle.  My Ecogold half pad doesn't really fit anymore so I have switched to a thinner gel pad.  Still can use a few pounds, but looking good.

Posing is hard