Friday, May 23, 2014

The Great Bit Debate

Woah, hey, I'm still alive! My blogging in the past three months may tell you otherwise, but I am, in fact, still breathing and generally completing tasks necessary for life.

My pony and I have been up to a whole lot of awesome, including successful dressage shows, jumpingjumpingjumping, and my new job as a riding instructor over the summer, all which are highly blogworthy and exciting, and will get their own posts now that I'm blog-alive again, in due time.

However, today I turn back to the blogger world for some advice. It has come to my attention that my dragon horse excited jumper may benefit from a little change in bits. While she goes beautifully in a loose ring French link snaffle for dressage, when she gets excited, mostly when jumping, she likes to throw every pound of her weight on the bit and drag me all around the arena, with my ineffectual little arms and body aching.

Now, it is important for me to mention that I CAN get her back on her haunches and listening to me, it just takes a lot of time and schooling to get her there when she gets excited. We have definitely been making progress, but it would be helpful to have a stronger training aid that I could rely on to get her attention quicker. I am NOT a fan of relying on harsh bits to make up for training flaws, but I do think having a little "hey, listen" power can be beneficial to training.

So, the question is now which bit to use.

My friend and experienced jumper suggested a French link elevator, since it would be gentle like her current bit, but give me leverage when needed.
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Like so.
My trainer from home thought a gag might be better.
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Liking the rubber option so it is still gentle
The internet says a baucher would be best for my situation.

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Again, rubber/Happy Mouth for the sensitive mareface
Another option is a curb chain.


I've been pretty lucky thus far to have a mare that goes in a very simple bit, but this means I have very limited knowledge of bits. Before I commit to one, I will obviously try all the options (if I can find someone to borrow from), but I am just interested to hear what the blogosphere has to say before I make a first choice.

Need opinions, help please!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Buzz cut pony

I finally bit the bullet and roached B's mane. Not gonna lie, it hurt me inside, but it was necessary if we want to look somewhat presentable for our show next weekend.

"You're going to do WHAT to my hair?"

I guess it looks okay (see below for before and after)... I didn't have clippers so I just had to use scissors so it is quite choppy, but my friend with clippers is going to help me fix it up this weekend.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Training 1 or bust!

Sorry for my long absence on the blogosphere... Life has been nothing short of chaotic lately and blogging just got forgotten. Plus nothing super interesting was happening in my horse life.

But now, something much interesting is going to happen! Beauty and I are making our Training Level dressage debut at her second ever show on April 6! My little greenbean mare is turning into a Real Adult Show Pony.

We will be entering in Intro C and Training 1. I wasn't sure about Training, because her canter is still meh, but the Training 1 test actually looks like it will play to our strengths pretty well, and hey, it is a schooling show, what have I got to lose? I was debating doing Intro B, too, since I know we could rock that walk-trot, but another person from my barn will be doing intro A and B, and I didn't want to compete with her or stress Beauty out with three tests on her second show ever... But I am very excited to see if our canter can hold up in our tests. Could be interesting!

In the meantime, I have to clean up this scruffy little beast! It is only a schooling show, but I was raised to always put a good impression forward, even at schooling shows. It means I will have to roach her mane (kills me inside a little) and trim ALL THE WHISKERBEARDS and bathe if it ever gets above deathly cold here!
Scruffiest pony says "Don't look at ma hurrs, they is too messy for Prancing Competition!"

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Getting back in shape

I've never really brought a horse back from a long time off, so I didn't know what to expect for Miss B after her month an a half of lazies. Well, it is frustrating!

I made the mistake of diving right back into our schedule like nothing happened, which means six days a week of an hour ride. Aaaaannnd my horse got super sore. Like, lame sore. Seriously kicking myself for that..

Scruffy beast does snow prancing

Luckily with the big snow storm that has tormented the mid-Atlantic region, Beauty got two days off there. Yesterday I went out and we rode in the snow for maybe 15-20 minutes, but she was panting and sweating after just that. Riding in a foot and a half of snow turns out to be a super work out! So I figure I should give her today off to rest dem muscles. But I'm not good at time off, I'm so bored!

Beauty, get thy ass back in shape soon, I need something to do!!!!

Snow shadow!

Monday, February 3, 2014

What am I supposed to do with THIS?

So I've mentioned before how Miss B has a large chunk of mane missing, thanks to a hay feeder that is too small for Fat Morgan Necks...

This is what it looks like now:

Shleepy poneh haz bad hurr-do
Oh my god please no.

Excuse me while I mourn my loss
This horse has always had a long, flowing, Morgan-type-y mane that I love to bits and makes her unique and gorgeous. Chopping it off to try to hide this monstrosity was the hardest thing I've had to do in a long time. I want to let it grow out back to its previous glory, but the fact that she is missing half her mane kind of hinders that...

RIP gorgeous, sleek mane

So since we can't leave it like this, I have to find a solution. I've narrowed my options down to about four:

1.) Roach the mane. Not my first choice, since I HATE roached manes and with Fat Morgan Neck, I'm sure that would look awful on her. Plus if I want to grow it out, there is the awkward mohawk time. No me gusta.
2.) Get her a Sleazy. This would be an easy and affordable option, but the question is, would she just tear it apart? She lives outside and if the hay feeder is rubbing her mane off, would it just shred the Sleazy?
3.) Neck cover for her blanket. Less affordable, since they cost more than a Sleazy as it is, plus I'd have to get D-rings sewn on to her blanket(s). And change the neck piece between light and medium sheets every time she got a wardrobe change... And what about the times that she is not wearing a sheet?
4.) Ask Barn Manager to remove hay feeder. They've mentioned it before, when looking at Beauty's mane and other horses have had the same problem, but not as bad. But I feel weird asking them to do that, since I'm not a long-time boarder and it is just a cosmetic thing...

So I'd really like some opinions from those of you in Bloggerland, and any new ideas you might have!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back in the US of A!

I am back in the blogosphere! My absence can was due to three weeks of this:


And even some of this:

It was a fabulous three weeks in Peru, complete with riding Peruvian Paso horses in the Andes mountains!!! Talk about your hill work! 

Peruvian ears!

The grumpiest but best little Peruvian pony
But I am glad to be back, even if it means frigid temperatures and classes starting up again!

I went to see Miss Beauty on Monday, and it was less than a perfect reunion... While she looked happy to see me and we snuggled in the pasture, riding was nothing short of awful. My friend L had ridden her a few times while I was gone, and she had said everything had gone well, but when I saw the barn manager, it sounded like a different story... While there had been no dramatics, the rides hadn't been exactly... gorgeous.

I chose to hop on without lunging, mostly because I was super cold and lazy, and figured I could handle any of her shenanigans, as she's never been one to be dangerous or unmanageable, just a little speedy.

Our first problem was encountered at the mounting block. My little horse that has never given me issues with mounting (other than wanting to walk off the second I touch the saddle, but that is just enthusiasm to get moving!) would NOT stand at the mounting block! We had a nice 5-10 minute discussion regarding that, and finally her brain found its way back into her head and she stood relatively politely.

She was great at the walk, resisting contact a little, but not as bad as I expected. Then I asked for the trot and suddenly we entered a time machine and were transported back to two winters ago, complete with an ornery little six year old mare with minimal undersaddle training. There was shoulder popping of the extreme variety, then a complete tantrum when I tried to correct it, complete with head flipping, tail swishing and threatening to kick out.

Um, excuse you?!!!!

So we had some Back to the Basics lessons, aka "No" is not an acceptable answer when I ask you to do something, tantrums don't make the cue go away, that sort of thing that we covered when she was still being greenbroke.

Luckily, I've dealt with this before, so she didn't get away with her stuff. Mare, please, I MADE you, I know your tricks!

So hopefully the lessons stick and we can get back to where we were before her break. But due to this ridiculously cold weather, she is going to get a few days off until it warms up a little.

Good thing she's gotten nice and fluffy and scruffy to keep her warm

Rocking the "Feral for six weeks mohawk bridle path" and pom-pom ears

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Year in Review

Well, considering I'm stuck at home with not much to do, no crazy little horse to keep me occupied, I figured it would be a good time to shamelessly follow the trend among bloggers and review Beauty's and my year!
Winter reunion

Beauty has been in training with my instructor since September, since I have been away at college. I come back for winter break and am blown away by my little horse! She can now bend, keep her head down and canter somewhat. We work on consistency and suppleness, and generally get very frustrated with that canter! We determine that her saddle does NOT fit well, and begin the dreaded search for a new one. At the end of the month, I take her to a bodywork clinic and learn accupressure!

I go back to school, Beauty remains in training. My mom starts to ride Beauty a little, but not often. I get many reports about what a pain in the ass my horse is, and the vet comes out to determine whether she has reproductive issues that are contributing to raging heats during the winter. She comes out with a clean bill of health, but talk of putting her on Regumate arises. I strongly object. We try a mare supplement instead and take her off a supplement that had soy in it, which can contribute to higher estrogen in mares.

I come back from school and am initially not pleased with Beauty's progress, nor is my trainer. Beauty is tense, bucks during canter transitions and is generally rebellious. After working with Beauty MY preferred way for a while, my good old steed comes back. We find a saddle that works for her, and order one from the company.

We continue working on dressage, Beauty becomes an old pro at consistency and bend/flexion. We talk about entering our first (schooling) show in July! Generally boring month, but slow and steady progress.

We practice, practice, practice for our show! The show goes FABULOUSLY and I am so proud of my little horse! We score a 67.5 on our Intro A test and a 62 on Intro B. We JUMP for the very first time together! Our saddle comes and while it fits Beauty perfectly, I am vastly disappointed in it. I decided to keep it, though, since it is SO hard to find a saddle that fits Beauty and I can tolerate it, I guess...

I ride with an upper level dressage instructor while on vacation. It was fun, but not overly helpful. I head off to school at the end of the month.

BEAUTY COMES TO SCHOOL WITH ME! The trailer ride is not as planned, and takes much longer than it was supposed to. Regardless, Beauty hops off looking no worse the wear and settles into her new home well. She gets a little beat up by her pasture mates, but soon works her way to the top of the herd. That's my bossy little mare!

Checking out the new paddock

Beauty and I continue to settle in to the new barn and continue jumping. I am displeased with the barn farrier, who makes Beauty sore after a trim.

We finally conquer our fear of trails and discover that we both LOVE it! We go out both alone and with a group and Beauty never makes a wrong move (although there is a learning curve that she has to actually look where she is going to avoid tripping). We jump a baby rolltop and both work on chilling out over jumps. Our dressage takes huge steps and we work a lot on lateral work and impulsion. Overall, a VERY good month for us, other than getting cancelled on by the saddle fitter that was supposed to come!

Trail ears!

Baby rolltop

A short month for us together, as I went home on the 19th, and many days before that, I spent the day trying to not drown in homework and finals, so my barn time got cut. But while short, it was sweet! We got new blankets, made some more progress in dressage and got some snuggle time!

Breaking in the blanket
Overall, it was a great year for us! We've progressed exponentially from where we were last winter. Beauty is incredibly happy at this new barn, and I really love it there! I think I like it better than my barn at home (shhh don't tell). I am looking forward to next year and everything we could accomplish! More showing? Training level dressage? Some baby two-phase shows and maybe a baby 3-phase? Jumping higher? More trails? Just having fun with each other? Who knows, but I'm up for it!