Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bits and pieces

I haven't ridden or done much of anything with Princess in a few days, so I'll just post about a few random things....

This is the big one I'm pretty sure I've forgotten to mention for over 2 months.

My baby.
I sold her.

The decision wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, which confirmed the decision.  There were a number of reasons, but it basically came down to this:  She's got far more potential than I do, so she deserves an owner who can take her where she can go; and I don't have time for her, and why invest another year and a half in a horse I might end up not even enjoy riding when I've got one that I can and do enjoy now.

It was my first time in a real buying/selling transaction.  ("Buying" River doesn't count, nor did when I got The Mare.)  It went really well and was quite pleasant.  The vet check was interesting..  the vet is the current president of the AAEP, so I was kind of freaking out because if anyone was going to find something wrong, she would.  But she checked 100% fine.  And the vet commented repeatedly in person and in her report on how exceptionally well behaved she was.  Yay!

Also, last week was the 3 year anniversary of my accident.  (Whole story here.)  Nothing notable beyond that, really.  Just...  yeah.  3 years since I turned my leg into a jigsaw puzzle!

Yesterday the BO texted me, letting me know she bought both of my horses.  Wait, what?  They're not for sale...  Oooooh, she BROUGHT them in.  As in, lead them from their turnout into their stalls.  And clearly that made less sense than her buying them, as it took me a few seconds to figure it out.  Riv was a perfect gentleman.  Yay!

Friday, May 24, 2013

I'm really starting to worry.

River has been good for a while now.  Like, really good.  I don't know how long this can last.. I'm kind of hoping he's naughty just so we can get it out of the way for now.

Last night I got to the barn and wasn't sure about riding.  So I asked the BO if I wanted to ride.  She informed me that yes, I did want to ride.  So I rode.

I set up 3 trot poles, a little over 3 feet apart.  Normal trot spacing.

He proceeded to canter and/or jump it.  Repeatedly.  I'm pretty sure he thought it was a bounce?  Which doesn't make sense, because the one and only time he's done a bounce (free jumping), he was very confused by it.  *shrug*  So I just half-seated the poles and let him do his thing.  He'd be silly, and I was literally laughing out loud at him.

He loves the stretchy trot.  Loooooves it.  It's hard getting him on the bit normally, but ask him to stretch and he reaches right down for it.  Here's another pic from yesterday when my friend was riding him.  I was hoping to get someone to take video of me last night, but no luck *sadface*.
He needs to stretch forward more, but it's not bad.  (I've already made fun of friend's equitation, so no need for anyone else to :).)

By the time I was done, he was so foamy!

His head looks really weird.  His eye is huge and his muzzle is tiny.

The judge for our Intro A dressage was very right about him needing to accept the bit on the right side.  As you can see, he's got lots of foam and saliva on the left, but none on the right.  Eeek!

Anyone have advice for getting an old warhorse to soften on the right?

Good news!
A wonderful event trainer is at our barn for the next few months!  I've talked to her about lessons, but we'll have to wait a week or two to get things sorted out--she's crazy busy now.  If nothing else, I can ride while she's riding and she can give me some input.  Hey, we'll take what we can get!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Random Draft from Last Year

I've had this draft sitting in my blog since about a year ago.  I have no idea if I ever posted these pictures and am too lazy to go look for them.

Enjoy these pictures of River from last year and be amazed at how much better he looks.  (Turns out, you're supposed to feed them.  Who knew?!)

Such a handsome boy!

My friend is visiting from out of state this week and she requested to ride River.  I'm always happy to show him off, so she came over this morning.

We didn't do anything big, just trotted and cantered...  he would not pick up the right lead canter (until we gave up and went back to the left, silly boy), but he did some pretty decent left lead departs.

I also had her let him stretch at the trot a bit, partly because he loves it and partly because I wanted to see it.

Isn't he so cute??  Not a huge stretch, but pretty nice.

I rode him last night briefly in the outdoor.  Nothing great, nothing bad.  I might ride him tonight, I haven't decided.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Good pony!

I rode Riv last night for the first time since the show.  I was just going to hop on him for a few minutes, but he was being so good I ended up riding for a while and he got pretty sweaty.

Last night I rode him like my old guy.  So I rode him like I meant it, and like he's capable of doing it.  I've been babying him.. with him being so good at the show, I trust him more and have more confidence, so I can ride him more decisively, if that makes sense.

We did a lot of circles, transitions, etc.  Nothing major, just decent work.  He does loooove the stretchy trot.  I tried to get video, but my phone wasn't cooperating.

Foamy lips:

Such a good boy!

Suzanne Warmack of Bel Canto Farms in Texas is the Best Person Ever

Yes, that's an actual street sign for a real road named River Mountain Rd.  As it turns out, there's a River Mountain Rd in Wimberley, Texas, just a few miles from Bel Canto Farms owned by Suzanne Warmack.

At the risk of sounding like a total nutcase, I emailed Suzanne, explained the road name and my horse's name, and asked if she could take a picture of the street sign for me.  She agreed and only asked for a picture of River in return.

So how cool is that??  Next mission:  get someone to steal the sign for me!  (I'm kidding, I'm kidding!  But, uh, if you're inclined to steal a road sign anyway.....)

A million great big thank yous to Suzanne!  I really can't say how happy this makes me!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Guess who is being a good horse!

It's Princess River!  Yay!

As I've posted about many times before, River can be a total jerk when he's being brought in at night.  The final straw was last week when he got loose and was running up and down the road.  He and The Mare got switched to the turnout nearest the barn in the hope that the shorter distance and separation from other horses would make him easier to deal with.

Well, so far, it's been a huge success.  I had been bringing him in with a chain (over the nose, under the jaw, clipped to near cheek ring).  Sunday, I decided to try without a chain because he's been so good.  Got The Mare out first and she was kind of annoying.  Princess was trotting and nickering when she left, so I was a little concerned he'd be naughty.

Well, this is how he led in the past two nights:

Phew, I could barely keep him under control!  He hasn't put a foot wrong and has been a perfect gentleman.

Fingers crossed that he keeps it up!  The true test for him is after a couple weeks when he's adjusted to the routine.. 

I'm totally dumb.

How do I follow someone's blog?  There are a few that I want to follow, but I have no idea how to do it.  So blonde sometimes...

Monday, May 20, 2013

So much to post about! Part 4

Saturday May 18 - The Show

Big day is here!  Me being me, I overslept and got there about 20 minutes before my dressage time.  I was ready to go a few minutes before my time, but they were running behind, so I didn't ride until about 15 minutes after my time.  He wasn't bad.  I don't actually remember much of the test, it was all a blur.  The judge commented that he needs lots of work to the right and that he's a nice horse.  I totally agree on both.  We ended up with a dressage score of 47.5%, which was fair, if maybe a little harsh (not a complaint!).

So we went into jumping in 8th out of 10 with our 52.5 penalties.  Warm up was interesting... a crossrail and a vertical in a grass field with a bunch of other horses trotting and cantering and jumping.  We've never jumped in grass.  We've never jumped in an open area.  We've never jumped with other horses.

In typical fashion, Riv was a champ.  He wasn't sure about the warmup fences, but he went over them eventually.  By the time we went in the ring to do our course, I was ready to throw up with show nerves.  (Typical for me.)  He stopped at the first fence.  Tried again, he went over it.  He stopped at the second fence.  Tried again, he went over it.  Then the lightbulb went on--ooooh, we're jumping!  Okay!  And River hopped right over everything.  He was praised wildly after every line, like the jumps were 3' instead of 12".

So with the refusals, we ended up in last place.  I cannot being to say how much I don't care about our placing.  He did what I wanted him to do.  It was a very very very positive experience.

We also did two more dressage tests.  Intro B was our best, with a score of 61.9%!!  We did Intro C, but we didn't canter, so we had some zeroes.  I'd already entered, so we just did it for experience and to get feedback on stuff other than the canter.

I am so incredibly proud of him!  He took everything in stride (except the first two jumps, lol) and behaved better than I expected!  I've said it before and I'm saying it again--I am so lucky to have him.  I hit the jackpot of OTTBs.  And contrary to what my stalker thinks, we're a pretty darn good match.

So much to post about! Part 3

Friday May 17

Off to the show!  We got there around 5... later than planned, but it worked out fine.  I hand walked Riv all over--the indoor, the outdoor dressage ring, the jumping warm up.

I'm kind of freaking out.  We're doing the Intro combined test.  Intro dressage is always inside.  Always.

Except this time.  This time, Intro senior is outside.  In the great big scary dressage arena without a fence.  With a gazebo at one end and a pond full of noisy frogs and stuff at the other end.

I tacked up and got on in the indoor.  He was distracted but well behaved.  Then we went to the outdoor.  Again, very distracted.  We walked all around and then picked up the trot.  No.  Not good.  He either tossed his head and tried to rush, or he popped his shoulder and skittered sideways.  So I'm mad and frustrated and really really not happy.  I got off and put him away.  An hour or two later, I got back on.  Pretty much the same..  Ugh.  I'm just so upset about everything.  A girl I know offers to get on him for me.  I waffled for a second, then said I'd try anything and handed him over.  She spent about 15 minutes trotting him all over.  I got back on in the mostly-dark and he was fine.  Thank goodness.  I guess he just needed to trot around and get over it.

Called it a night, put him away, fed him, and went home.

[Note to my stalker:  I did not pay this person to ride him, nor have I ever paid anyone.]

So much to post about! Part 2

Thursday May 16

Show in 2 days.  Time to jump outside.  I set up several jumps, including a long line (no distance--we trot, so I didn't bother counting strides).  3 jumps were with planks and one was 12" boxes.  He stopped a couple times, but no big deal.  After he did everything, I raised a couple of the planks so they were.. I dunno, 1'9"?  A decent size as far as I'm concerned.

I would like to state again what a good boy he is.  Point at fence, grab mane, and go.

Then it was bath time.  I hadn't yet fixed his halter that he broke, so he was borrowing The Mare's old halter (nylon with leather crown).  The lead was looped around a fence post while I bathed so I could have both hands free, and he managed to snap the crown.  So I'm like oh crap, my horse is loose without a halter AGAIN.  But he quietly meandered over to the grass and I was able to grab his head and get him back by the fence so I could get the lead on his head.  Took him into the barn, stuck him in his stall, and went to my car to get out the rope halter I've had for like a year and a half and never used.  Finished bathing him without incident.

Having a blingy horse is a challenge sometimes.  How do you keep white socks white?  I scrubbed them, rinsed all the soap and dirt out, squeegeed the water off with my hands, sprayed liberally with ShowSheen, and rubbed it in.  Worked like a charm--any dirt stayed on the surface and brushed right off without staining.

So much to post about! Part 1

Wednesday May 15

 Show in 3 days.  Insert me thinking "...jumping is outside.  He was ridden outside here once back in November, and I wasn't riding him then.  Should probably do something about that."

I got to the barn in a hurry so I'd have time to ride before dark.  Tacked up and got on in the indoor.  Rode him around for a few minutes just to make sure he wasn't going to be goofy.  He was fine, naturally.  Then we went to the outdoor.. it was being dragged when we went out, which was good because it gave him a few minutes to stand there and check everything out.  Don't know if he cared, but it made me feel better.  This is a recurring theme with us.  I worry he'll act up, I do something to counteract it, I feel better because I think I'm actually accomplishing something, and we're both happy.

Anyway.  He was wonderful outside.  Horses were being brought in from turnout, so I was a little concerned he might act up, but nope.  He was a bit distracted, but that's to be expected.  He hasn't mastered the art of focusing on me yet.  And who can blame him?  I'd ignore me, too.  He didn't put a foot wrong, although I was very careful to ride "tight"*.  I also set up a cavaletti, which he was a good boy about.  We walked and trotted quite a bit both ways before calling it a night.

*I'm not sure what the best word for this is--when I'm concerned about my horse potentially acting up, I make sure to really get my heels down, keep my leg on, sit deep, and keep my body up.  I call it riding tight, as in "tightly connected to the horse so I stay on".

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You need to do this.

I know what you're thinking.  "It's a check for $17.  So what?"  Okay, it's not a lot of money.  But here's the thing.... it's bonus money.  I did almost nothing to earn it.  Here's the deal:

There's this website called Ebates.  Click on the link and sign up.  (And pretty please, sign up through that link.  If you sign up through it, I get a bonus!)  They have well over 1,000 online stores they work with.  (Not many horse ones, though, sadface.)  All you do is find the store you want, click the "shop now" button, and place your order.  [Also:  They keep track of current coupons, so you can skip Retailmenot.] 

Depending on the store, you get a certain percent cashback.  Some stores only offer 1% or 2%, some 10% or more.  But even the 1% stores--I was going to spend money anyway, so the 30 seconds it takes to buy through Ebates is no big deal and I make at least a little money back.  They do promotions weekly (I think) where some stores are double cashback.  Right now, Old Navy is 14% cashback.  Holy crap!  I ordered a couple pairs of jeans and a clearance shirt.. my order was just over $50, so I got free shipping, and I'm getting $6.72 cash back.  It's an awesome deal.

If I want to buy something that's available from multiple online stores and the price of the item varies, I make my decision on Ebates.  If it's $2.00 more expensive at Store B, but Store B has 5% cashback versus Store A's 1% cashback, I'm buying from Store B because it's less expensive in the long run.

I think this kind of sounds like an infomercial, and it kind of is, but it's seriously something you should sign up for if you shop online.  My sister told me about it a couple years ago.  I just got a check for $17, and all I did was shop online and buy things I needed to buy.  It's not quite free money, but almost.

And again, if you decide to sign up, pretty pretty please sign up through this link so I can a refer-a-friend bonus.


Super Awesome Farrier was out tonight.


I love Super Awesome Farrier.  But I hate writing the check.  He's worth every cent, but still.  It's a lot of cents.  Boo.  Ah well, I have another horse to trim tomorrow, a few that will be due soon if they're not due already, and a ton of manes to pull.

River behaved himself tonight when I brought him in.  I kinda figured he would, but it's nice to seem him actually be good.  He had barely enough hoof growth.  His shoes are so gouged up from running on the road, but thankfully they were okay for another reset.  He does have quite a lot of fresh bruising on his feet.  He's okay now, but there is a little concern that he might get ouchy in the next day or two.  I just hopped on him for a few minutes.. didn't want to do a lot and make him sore, just a reminder about being ridden.  Also, I was wearing jeans that are not made for riding.  I could barely get my foot in the stirrup or spread my legs far enough to ride (that sounds so so so dirty).  We trotted a couple minutes each way and I was done.  We'll ride for real tomorrow.

Oh, and both he and The Mare have bug bites on their chests..  poor things!  The bugs came out of nowhere.  I was going to put Riv's fly sheet on, until I realized the stupid cat had peed on it.  It's getting washed and the horses got doused in fly spray.

I'm experimenting with a new way of repairing breakaway halters.  Instead of doing the leather with the chicago screw, I went to walmart and got some velcro cable ties (but the ones I got are 15" x 1/2").  I attached it to the buckle and ring like with the leather tab and pressed the velcro firmly.  As a test, I pulled as hard as I could and it started to give.  So I think it'll hold for most normal situations, but give when the horse goes nuts.  Depending on how much overlap you have, it'll be easier or harder to give; or you could use two ties side by side.  Nice thing is I don't think it'll truly break, just the velcro will come apart and all you need to do is stick it back together.  Like those expensive Field Safe halters, only this is way cheaper and you can use your own halter.

River is a Very Bad Horse.

I'm too annoyed with him and stressed to do a whole big long story.  Short version:

Last night, I asked the BO if she could bring River in because I was going bowling.  Halfway through the second game, BO called to let me know he was loose and running up and down the road.  I bowled another frame and left because I was too stressed to have fun.  As I was leaving, she called to say he'd been caught.

Turns out, he reared a few times and snapped the breakaway on his halter, which then fell off.  He panicked and just went nuts.  He was in the road, nearly ran into a car...  finally caught him and just stuck him in the indoor, which is where he was when I got there.

I don't know what is up with him.  He's been SO GOOD for me for the past month or so.  He's had squirrelly moments, but nothing major, just "hey, stop being an idiot, it's fine".  He just plain does NOT like some people.. BO knows that he hates her, but there's absolutely NO reason for it.  She's never done anything to him... heck, she's the one who feeds him 95% of the time!  And frankly, even if he doesn't like people doesn't give him an excuse to be a complete and total asshole.  To make it worse, when he gets scared, he just plain loses his mind, so that's really not good.

So now I'm bringing him in every night.  (Which I was before anyway, but if I couldn't do it, someone else could bring him in.  Now, if I can't do it, he's staying out.)  And he and The Mare switched turnouts with another pair.  So they're closest to the barn, hopefully that will make him easier to deal with.  Next step is separating him from The Mare.  We're also going to leave him out some nights.  He doesn't do well with a set routine.  He starts anticipating and acting up.  Maybe if he doesn't know when he's coming in and when he's staying out, it'll set him off kilter enough that he stops being a total jerk.

And I'm going to call the trainer I got him from, maybe there's something that happened to him..  sigh.  Stupid horse.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Longe, ride, ignore

Friday--longed him for about two minutes.  Basically just working on canter departs.  Very easy to do on the longe, just say "can-ter" and he picks it right up.

Saturday--rode briefly.  I didn't really feel like riding, so just a quick walk-trot-canter-done.  Although he was not picking up his left lead canter.  Kept doing the usual--sitting trot into the corner, sit up tall, canter aids, and say "canter".  Nothing.  He was getting worked up, so we walked a bit.  I was like what the heck, why not?  And asked for the canter from the walk.  BOOM, no problem.  *eye roll*  He was okay with the right lead canter.  He picked it up and held it for a few strides, anyway.  I wasn't feeling great, so I called it good enough and was done.

Sunday--yucky day, no riding.  I did feel really guilty, though....  I do chores on Sunday, so I got my stalls done and went to bring horses in.  Princess is last because he gets scared when other horses come up to the fence (*eye roll*).  He and The Mare were standing in their shelter (it had been raining and snowing).  So I walk down to get a couple horses.  They see me, nicker, and come up to the gate, and I ignore them to get someone else.  Put horses away, go out to get more.  Have to pass my guys' pasture.  I keep my eyes averted hoping they won't notice.  They nicker and come up to the gate.  I pass them by again.  Poor horses.. I felt so mean!

Oh, random:
He has white on his belly!

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's a miracle!

We have....



a RIGHT LEAD canter!

The more amazing thing?  He got it without trying for the left lead first!  And then when we switched back to the left to canter that way again, he picked up the right lead again.  I didn't fight him on it. 

Wednesday night, it occurred to me:  I'm taking him to a show to do jumping in a week and a half.  We haven't jumped in two months.  We should probably get on that.

So I set up a crossrail.  He hopped over it without hesitation both ways.  Then I took off my jacket and tossed it over the jump, because he's nervous about scary new jumps.  He went right over it, no problem.  He jumped it a little more enthusiastically, lol.  Such a good boy!

When I got off, I was too warm to put my jacket back on while I put the jump away, so Princess held onto it for me:

Thursday, my friend came out to ride.  As you know, I have three friends.  This is the friend who rode him for the first time he came off the track, and again this past January 1.  I got on him first and did a crossrail, a scary new jump (1' high box, 4' wide, with a jump block on each side to encourage him to stay in the middle), then cantered.  Then my friend got on.  Keep in mind, she hasn't ridden regularly since August, and the last time she rode was pretty much the last time she rode Riv 5 months ago.

(He wore the purple boots because purple is my friend's favorite color.)

Gah, he looks SO CUTE.

This is the scary jump.  Clearly, it's terrifying.

Not a great canter pic, but just proof that he does it.

After she jumped him, she took a break before cantering.  Another horse and rider came in the ring to ride.  The other horse is very excitable.  Riv was chilling in the middle while the other horse danced around.  After a bit, I checked with the rider if her horse was okay with Riv cantering.  She said it was fine, so off they went!  Riv and the other horse were both cantering--Princess's first time cantering with another horse since the track!  He was a little excited, but he kept his head and stayed in control.  They also cantered to the right, which took some more work to get him to pick it up, but he was a good boy.

Afterward, they trotted a couple circles each way just to remind him to relax and chill, and he was done.

So proud of my pony and my friend!  I owe her $5.  I told her I'd pay her if she could get a decent canter transition out of him, which she did.  He picked up a left lead canter within a few trot strides of being asked.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I don't think he realizes that he's a horse.

When I bring Riv in at night, there's always some other horses out.  Usually, at least one horse says "oh boy, it's time to come get dinner!" and comes up to their gate.  When horses come trotting or cantering up to the gate/front fence, Riv FLIPS OUT.  He basically goes "holy sh!t, they're coming to get me!" and tries to run forward or backward or in circles.

I don't think he understands that he's a horse.  And that they're horses.  And that he does the EXACT SAME THING when he wants to come in (hurrying to the gate).  WTF?  It's not like he doesn't do this every.single.day.


My next horse WILL be smart.

Princess River is a princess.


This is what he does when I take his girlfriend away.  He's not being a total nut because we're still right there, he gets more annoying when we're farther away.  Pathetic.

I think I mentioned a while ago that my barn owner refers to The Mare as Sweetpea, which cracks me up because The Mare is a mega-bitch.  Well, River has his own nickname.



Look at that chest!  You could drive a semi between his front legs!  BEAST.

Riding last night was interesting.  The tractor was out and about and frequently going by the open back door of the indoor.  Riv was alert and a bit distracted, but he didn't spook (knock on wood).

Going to the right, he was not interested in going on the bit.  He tried to trick me by leaning on the bit and dropping his forehand about 6 inches.  Uh, close, buddy, close.  But, you know, not quite what I was asking for.  It was hot and humid and yucky and I was just like OMG would you just do it for two seconds so we can be done??  I finally did an exaggerated "turn the key and release" and voila, he softened right up.  I was like "finally!  I can't believe it took him so long to figure it out!"  He was probably like "finally!  I can't believe it took her so long to figure it out!"  LOL.  But really, isn't he too green to be so picky?  There's a whole big world of riding techniques he knows nothing about it, hasn't he been awfully hasty in picking a preferred method?

No cantering yesterday.  He was a bit on edge from the tractor and I saw no reason to push it.

Look at how nice and even the sweat marks are from the new saddle!

Speaking of which, I took out the rear shims in my ThinLine pad and I like the saddle's balance more now.  I'm not sure if less than 1/4" actually made a difference, but whatever.  I also rode in breeches, so that might have helped.

Really not sure how I feel about the webber leathers.  Next ride I'm going to pull the leathers off my CC saddle and try them.  I may end up buying regular leathers.  In which case, uh, anyone wanna buy a pair of very lightly used Ovation webbers?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saddle, fly masks, etc

The ponies got pretty new fly masks.

So cute!  River is of course wearing his fly sheet..  Kinda funny when he's galloping up and down the fenceline because I took The Mare away, because he looks like he's wearing a dress.  Hard to take him seriously, lol.

Yesterday I rode in my new saddle, FINALLY.

I like it.  It's very comfy and fits Princess well.  I do feel like I'm tipping forward a bit, but I also tend to ride with my hip too closed... when I open up more, it's fine.  I might also change the shims in the ThinLine pad to see if that makes a difference.  I took off the velcro knee blocks (which are ENORMOUS) and much prefer it that way.

I'm not sure I like the stirrup leathers I bought.  They're the Ovation "webber" style leathers.  For some reason, they seem less stable than normal leathers.  Maybe I just need to get used to them?  Or I may put some saddle tite on the inner side to keep them still on the saddle.

We tried picking up the canter like normal (in a corner, then circling) with no luck..  I asked him in the far corner so we could go down a long side, and he was able to get it.  I stopped him at the end of the long side and suddenly remembered.... I forgot to put in his ear plugs!  Ooops!

We tried the canter on a circle again and we were both floundering.  BO came out and agreed that he's having a hard time circling, and suggested making the circle longer so he has a few strides of going straight.  And what do you know, he picked it up and held it until I asked him to stop.

He was a pretty good boy, especially considering that I got on, rode for a minute, dismounted, changed a couple things, remounted, dismounted, changed again, remounted, and finally rode.

When I took the saddle off, the sweat marks were nice and even, so that's a good sign!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Horrible Weekend

Saturday I spent the whole day teaching at my other barn.  They were annoying lessons that pay about half of normal lessons, so basically it's a waste of time.  I had one fun lesson scheduled, but two of the people didn't show up, and the third's horse was going nuts so no point doing a lesson. 

I had a break, so I figured I'd go to Chipotle and get a burrito.  Except I forgot that the area where Chipotle is is crazy busy on weekends.  By the time I got there, I was going to be 10 minutes late for my next lesson... walked into Chipotle, and the line was like 15 people long, so I turned around and left.  Wasted 30 minutes and no burrito to show for it :(.

The dumbass nonhorsey husband of the BO double booked the 2:00 time slot, apparently forgetting that everyone was gone and I was the only one there.  So super awkward being like "yeah, I know you were told to come at this time, but actually there's no one here to teach you."

Couple hours later, people are showing up for lessons from a girl who was gone (but on the way back), and they're getting cranky with me.  Dude, not my fault!  I don't make the schedule and I'm just substituting.

Last thing was a birthday party.  That was a mess, highlighted by the birthday girl being dragged off her pony screaming and crying because she didn't like what we were doing. 

On the way to River's barn, a deer jumped in front of my car.  I swear I missed hitting the stupid thing by about a foot.

Brought my horses in.

On the way home, I hit and killed a bunny :( :( :(.

Sunday was just the usual long day of barn work.

And I haven't even had a chance to ride in my new dressage saddle.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Delicate Princess


Princess River really is a princess.  Not a tough, independent princess like Jasmine from Aladdin.  More of a "Princess and the Pea" princess.

Poor, delicate River has very sensitive skin.  His halter was rubbing behind his ears, so now he gets a halter fleece to protect his fragile skin and coat.  Apparently he needs a halter made of silk or cashmere.

River got to wear his brand new pad tonight!

You can see his hind boots--we did opposite legs in pink and purple boots.  With the square pad and half pad, there's a lot of pink, so the purple boots keep him from being too matchy-matchy.  These things are important, you know.

Riding, he was was pretty good.  I only got him to canter once, and it was kinda rough.  I think I'm trying too hard and messing him up, because he picks up the canter just fine on the longe.  But at the same time, when I'm quite obviously, albeit messily, asking for the canter, he should pick it up.  I didn't want to overdo it and get into a situation that could get yucky, so I gave up on the canter and worked on transitions instead.  We did a ton of walk - trot - walk - trot, then trot - halt - trot - halt.  This was to A. get him listening to my aids; and B. using his magnificent butt.

I mean, really, he does have a fantastic butt.  Look at this butt:

 I believe the technical term is "an ass that doesn't quit".   As Sir Mix-A-Lot would say, I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Gosh, I'm just looking at his butt and getting overwhelmed by how lovely it is.  Let's have a moment of silence to honor River's butt.

Okay, now that we have paid proper tribute to River's Magnificent Ass.

Look how sweaty he got!  I'd like to say I worked him hard, but it was also pretty warm out, so I can't take full credit.
I am glad to see how even the sweat marks are.  There's one tiny dry spot, but overall the saddle fits him very well.

Handy-Dandy Super Easy Fun Saddle Pad Making Photo Guide

Please visit VWSucks.net!  I hope you will spare yourself the trouble I have had!

Welcome to my Handy-Dandy Super Easy Fun Saddle Pad Making Photo Guide!

If you're like me, or if you're not like me but wish you were, or you don't want to be but recognize that your life is incomplete and being like me will help you fill the gaping hole, you like fun, pretty, colorful things.  I have no idea how to make pretty boots; that I leave up to the good folks at Horze.com.  (I'm not getting paid to advertise for them, but it seems like I should, doesn't it?)

What I can make are saddle pads.  Yes, I can technically make a pad 100% from scratch, but frankly it's a lot of work and expense and it's so much easier to just buy a saddle pad.  So this is where we start.  I generally like Tuff Rider All Purpose pads.  They're inexpensive (around $16), fairly large (I have a big butt and therefore a big saddle), and well made.

Here we go.

Step One:
Gather your equipment.  Here's what you need:
  • Saddle pad
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Pretty fabric.  Length needed varies depending on fabric width and saddle pad size.  1 1/4 yard is generally sufficient
  • Ribbon.  I use 7/8" grosgrain ribbon.  It comes on an 18' spool.  If you get wider ribbon, the spool will be shorter, so you will probably need two.
  • Thread.  Color should match the ribbon, not the fabric, though the world won't end if you do it differently.
  • Optional but highly recommended:  Temporary fabric adhesive, AKA basting spray.  I only recently discovered this stuff and I am in love.

 Step Two:
Cut off girth loops and billet straps.  Set aside for later reattachment.

Step Three:
 Spray the pad with adhesive.  Smooth your fabric down, making sure there are no wrinkles.  Trim the fabric roughly around the pad.  You do not have to be precise here.  Just get rid of the bulk so you can see what you're doing.  Note that I'm working on one side here, the fabric is not on the other side yet.

Step Four:
 Sew down the fabric around the outside edge.  Again, you don't need to be precise.  At this point, you're just getting the fabric sewn down so it can't move.

To sew along the back seam, I roll half the pad so it fits under the arm of the sewing machine easily.  If you have a fancy pants industrial sewing machine with tons of room, you can skip this.  But if you have a fancy pants industrial sewing machine, you probably don't need my advice, so get lost, make your own photo guide!  Sew down the middle of the seam, not off to the side.

 Step Five:
Sew a couple or a few big U shapes to keep the fabric from wiggling around.  The adhesive spray is temporary, so you need to sew the fabric down.

 Step Six:
 Trim the excess fabric around the edges to just about where you sewed it down.

 This is a pretty good example of where you want it.  Yet again, you do not need to be exact at this point.  The ribbon will hide the edges.  You want to get rid of the extra fabric, that's all.

Step Seven:

Repeat steps three through six on the other side of the pad. Try to have the fabric on each side of the back seam come as close together as possible.  It makes the next step easier.

Step Eight:
Now we're starting to cover up the rough edges with ribbon.  If you were able to get the two sides to more or less meet along the back seam, you can sew down one length of ribbon to cover where the fabric doesn't.  If you weren't successful in keeping the sides close, you'll have to use two lengths of ribbon side by side, which is much more work and doesn't look as nice.

 Voila!  A nice, neat seam completely covering both raw edges of fabric.

Step Nine:
 Now we're going to start sewing ribbon down all along the outer edges of the pad.  You must always start with the edge of the ribbon toward the outside of the pad.  This is when you have to get a little more careful, because there's nothing to cover up any mistakes here.  (Not that I'm the poster child for perfection.  I'm the poster child for "Good Enough."  Or even "Not really Good Enough, but I don't care enough for Good Enough".)

Step Ten:
 Once you've got all the outside edge sewn, we move to the inside edge.  For the most part, this is pretty straightforward until you come to a curve (pun was not intended but I'm giving myself major points for it).  As you can see, it's a little tricky because you have excess ribbon.
 Using your fingers, pull the ribbon taut and make a tuck.  Very carefully sew over it.  Chances are it'll get a little messed up in the process.  If you really care, you can do...something... to prevent it.  Pin?  Throw in a few hand stitches to hold until the machine gets it?  I don't know because I don't care enough.  Also, note that I'm folding the tuck forward.  If you fold back, the foot of the sewing machine will catch it and make it even messier.

Step Eleven:
 If you're smart, you kept the girth loops we cut off at the beginning.  Sadly, I lost mine and am substituting ribbon.  I don't know how well this will hold, so I don't recommend it.  But if you're an idiot, it's an option.
 To figure out where the loops should go, feel for the stubs of original loops. Sew the new loops in more or less the same spot (but not the exact same spot, unless you want to make your sewing machine cry as it tries to get through the layers).
 I use a zig zag stitch because my mom told me it's strong.  Seriously.  That's my entire rationale for using the zig zag here.  Go back and forth approximately a million times, or until you think they're more likely to come off because they've been compromised by millions of needle holes than because they haven't been adequately sewn down.

Note:  I only do girth loops.  I don't bother reattaching billet straps because I never use them anyway, but feel free if you like them.

Finished Product:
 Ta-Da!  A beautiful, one of a kind saddle pad!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Miscellaneous notes:
  • When selecting fabric, I don't like to use flannel or anything with a nap.  I used flannel a long time ago and in my experience it wore through quickly, presumably because the nap created friction from my leg and wore at the fabric.
  • Grosgrain ribbon.  It's cheap and it's sturdy.  I've never used satin ribbon, but I don't think it would stand up to use.
  • Ribbon width:  I like 7/8" because one spool is enough, and it covers edges and adds color without being overwhelming.  You can use wider ribbon if you wish.  If you're really questioning your ability to be even remotely tidy, it will cover more mistakes.
  • I used a white saddle pad because it's what worked best for the fabric I chose.  You can use any color pad you want.
  • This method would work well for dressing up an old pad, or if you buy a pad with a monogram or other embroidery that you don't want.  Rather than ripping it out, cover it up!  Have a pad that's faded/dirty or a little torn?  Give it a facelift!  If you're nervous, you might want to practice on an old pad first so if you totally mess up you won't care.
  • I'm not entirely sure how you can mess this up.  It might seem complicated, but it's really not.  Just take your time!
  • Total time to make:  about 2 hours 

If you enjoyed this post, please go to VWSucks.net to read about my troubles with my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.  I hope it will prevent you from making the very expensive mistake of buying a VW.