Wednesday, June 29, 2016

it's just a little pony!

This past weekend's lesson at OF was a bit of a departure from the norm for us. Everyone else in the lesson was deep into show-prep mode. Meanwhile I was just hangin around like, "let's try something different, put me on one of your schoolies!"

this is Noel
Aaaaaand that's how I ended up riding a children's pony haha. I mean, Isabel is basically a pony, but this little mare was the real deal. She was TINY. But. Ya know. Super fat, so it all worked out. She still took up my leg. lol

she be little. and i have a sick sense of humor so i dressed her in orange. you're welcome.
Trainer P apparently used to ride and show Noel's grandmother. Noel herself was P's daughter's pony through novice, and taught quite a few other kids in the family how to ride. And she has since gone on to produce more excellent lesson ponies for OF. If there's one thing that OF specializes in, it's ponies. Well. Technically Shetlands. But all kinds of ponies too.

not my typical red ears. mane is just as wild tho
And whadya know, this pony was legit fun to ride. She hasn't been working regularly for a while, and when she does it's just with kids who don't actually make her work. So she tried to act like she didn't know what work was. It was a weak effort tho, and she actually pretty willingly got down to business.

It was funny - she rode in some ways very similarly to Isabel. Not at all like the tank that she looks like. Clearly a horse who has been schooled. We didn't push too hard at the flat bc the poor thing was definitely out of shape lol. It felt reassuring tho to feel like I could get on a new horse and find all the buttons.

that moment when the pony is super tidy up front, but almost takes the rail with her belly
Jumping was definitely super fun. The pony knows her job and just kinda does it. Her canter is a little weak tho and her tendency is to get long and flat, so P asked me to do the adds in the lines. This, after I had done the step through a triple combination 2-3, and we basically super-manned out of it. Slightly dicey.

P pointed out that you don't really want to be riding a pony at their maximum stride length, that it's better to make sure you can compress when needed. So we went back and did it again in 3-4 mostly nicely. Tho when we put the whole course together it became a 2-4... but rode well so it was all good.

turns out i can drift left on equines of all sizes!
Trainer P had warned me that the pony was very one-sided, and that she has a wicked twist over fences - diving left then jumping right. I expected to be a little unsettled by this, but actually barely even noticed. Possibly bc Isabel and I are already quite proficient at the left handed Tokyo drift haha...

wheeeeeee pony!
The pony also had a fairly lateral and very flat canter and jump. So a VERY different feel from Isabel. Isabel cracks her back over the merest of cross rails, whereas Noel just easily pops over. I barely moved at all. Also made it way easier to see my spots (not that I didn't still goof up there anyway, but you know what I mean).

she was a kinda cool ride, actually
She handled nicely tho. It was REALLY obvious to feel when she dropped down in her shoulders and got too heavy up front, but also surprisingly easy to lift her back up again with my legs. Again, a reassuring feeling since that is essentially one of my biggest issues with Isabel. Turns out on a better-schooled horse I can actually properly identify and correct that problem. Who woulda thunk.

We basically did the typical P lesson of working through all the individual parts of a course - lots of bending lines and skinnies and a corner and a sharks tooth and a liverpool - then putting the jumps up and putting it all together.

this photo makes me giggle. a lot. lol
Some jumps always came up a little awkwardly for us - like the oxer on a short turning approach. While others rode perfectly every time - like the 4 stride bending line, the out of which is pictured above. That picture makes me laugh bc I look so ridiculous on her haha, and yet we mostly nailed that jump. It was pretty close to an even bend, tho I guess the last stride got slightly short. And yet I'm hovering like... 18 miles above the horse.

Whatever tho. I'm in balance, and she jumps so flat and the jumps were so small that a more aggressively folded position on my part would have been maybe equally ridiculous. Maybe. Idk. I can rationalize anything haha.

run Noel, RUN!
The final course mostly went pretty smoothly too. I tried to leave a stride out in the line to the corner and Noel kinda just covered my ass like a good little pony...  and we were still icky to that darn oxer.... Oh and we missed a turn early on course and had to circle lol. And the poor thing was huffing and puffing by the end...

But whatever. It was fun. I think the pony mare had fun - I honestly mostly left her alone to do her job, only putting in corrections like lifting her up to the fences and balancing in the corners. But otherwise I just enjoyed being a passenger.

Then we hacked out to the xc field so another lesson mate could school a ditch or two before her show and called it a day.

thank god for barn rats who are happy to hack her down to her field way out in timbuktu!!
It was such a crazy feeling riding her too. She is smaller than Isabel, but yet jumps so much flatter that everything just felt like speed bumps lol.

I've always said how much I love riding other horses, but actually haven't jumped anything other than Isabel since Bali left the farm. It was a nice change of pace! Especially bc I've also always said that Isabel has never been my kind of ride - she's just the horse that fate put in my path. Sometimes it's good to remember that there are other kinds of rides out there!

What about you - do you like to switch it up and ride other horses when possible?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

following up on that Rolex swag

Remember back when I went to Rolex? Earlier this spring?? It was totally fun and we had a blast, even if we got soaked. Oh. And I bought some stuff haha. As promised, here's the follow up post on all that, now that I've had a chance to use it all for a while..

the whole shebang, everything but the gloves (more on them below)
I already reviewed the Le Mieux cross country boots (which I continue to love), so we'll just move right along to the rest of it:

kastel sun shirt in action!
Kastel Sunshirts

I got two of these - the navy with red collar and white paneled sides (below), and royal blue with white collar (above). And have since bought another one from that closeout shop on ebay. So. Obviously I bought more, so I must like the shirts haha - so there's the bottom line, I guess.

If you want more details tho, here they are:

These are nice shirts. They are comfortable, have good long sleeves with tight cuffs that prevent rolling up (and thus defeating the purpose anyway), are pretty colors, and have a nice classic look to them. The material is not the most forgiving ever, but it's also not the absolute worst. If you're unsure, tho, size up.

Also, they clean up nicely and have even survived an accidental pass through the dryer (oops). The mesh sleeve panels are delicate tho, and one of my shirts now sports a snag or two.

kastel on left (with free hat with purchase), horze saddle pad on right
The shirts are also more comfortable in heat than the few other sun shirts I have tried - including SmartPak and Under Armour (sold via SmartPak).

At the end of the day, tho, I'm still uncomfortable wearing these shirts in high temps with high humidity. I have done so bc they do an excellent job of protecting from the sun... but I've also put one on, only to switch it right back out again for something sleeveless bc... just, ugh, too hot.

So idk. That might just be my problem with the concept of these garments. I am not likely to buy another one at full price, but reserve the right to purchase one at close-out prices should a fun color come around. Bc let's be real, they're still cute shirts and it's not going to be 90* forever.

so pretty!! even if they're a little sweaty
SSG Gloves

Ok. So these gloves. There is some history here. I tried these on in Dover over a year ago and was basically in love. I'm a bit picky about glove fit - through the fingers and especially through the wrist. These things fit me exactly the way I like. Plus. Ya know. They are just suuuuuper pretty. So pretty. Omg.

But I didn't buy at that point (after waffling way longer than you might expect for, um, gloves). The price point (somewhere around $30-$35 if I remember correctly) seemed a little high for material that felt like it might not stand up to the test of time.

gloves purchased at the end of april, picture taken in june
Then I saw them again at Rolex after searching fruitlessly for brown or navy Roeckls and immediately went for them. Treat yo'self, right? I still loved them after all that time had passed since first trying them on, and with the new job I felt more comfortable with giving them a shot despite the price.

And in action? They are fantastic. I love wearing them. They are like a second skin and are much more comfortable and flexible than my thicker SSG crochet gloves. PLUS. They work on touch screen phones - bonus!

definite wear and tear happening here
Alas, the SSG Lycrochets are holding up way better than these pretties after YEARS of use. Whereas these brown gloves are showing signs of holes to come after just two months. Much sadness :(

I don't regret buying them, tho. Bc damn they are pretty and I am happy every time I wear them. (For now. Until they are in tatters and ultimately need to be thrown out...).

same saddle pad, different color
Anyway, moving right along, let's talk about this Horze Supreme saddle pad. Keen eyes might notice that this pad above is gray, whereas the one I bought at Rolex is royal blue. Well. The short story is, I love the pad so much that I scoured the internet for more.

branding is not as crazy as some Horze products
Unfortunately the pad appears to be discontinued and finding more was REALLY difficult. I had wanted Navy, but every lead was a dead end and I ultimately picked this pretty gray color up off Amazon for probably more than I should have paid. Whatever. No regrets.

weird branding on the back mostly disappears under tack
For whatever reason I just really prefer this contoured cutaway shape, and have had a hard time finding saddle pads like this that don't have built in half pads. And the colors of these Horze pads are pretty nice too.

The royal pad (not pictured her bc it's pictured in practically every other single post from the past two months so if you're super curious just, ya know, keep scrolling lol) has held up well to my near constant abuse. It's a nice weight and thickness, the piping and stitching is solid, and it just looks like a nicer fit on my near-pony.


So. Kinda probably not the best product review post haha. The item I love the most (saddle pad) is no longer available. The other two I really couldn't recommend for their advertised purposes at full price, tho both are pretty and look very nice (kastel shirts and gloves). Plenty of people are fine with the kastels in heat tho so again - your mileage may vary, and if you see something in that closeout ebay shop definitely go for it!

But hey, shopping stuff is fun, right? And don't we equestrians always have a running list of things we want etc etc? What's on your list?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

cats stealing snax

Quick Sunday post here - mostly (only) bc I got a giggle out of the following series of photos so perhaps you will too? (if you don't that's cool too, I guess....)

Basically anybody who is unfortunate enough to know me beyond my published words here on 'Fraidy Cat Eventing might be familiar with my woeful lack of skills in the kitchen.** The long and short of it is that I can't and won't cook. It's terrible on a few different levels.

cats are closing in! 
Anyway, I was giddily proud of myself (to the point of snapping and texting pictures!) for putting together this little cracker-chorizo-cheese assortment. If you look at it sideways and pretend that it's not a cut off nub of string cheese and prepackaged, pre-sliced chorizo, you could alllllmost pretend it's like, a tapa, or something. Maybe. Maybe have another beer and you'll believe me?

It was perfect too bc I'm essentially chained to the computer working all weekend on things that probably should have been finished earlier... oops. So going out for actual real tapas was not really an option.

But then the cats came in and ruined all the fun... again. Ugh. These damn cats. So cute. But such terrors! That overturned box of crackers didn't hold them off for long, and alas I had to wrap up my little party and pack it in early. Womp womp.

pony mares will in fact make pony mare faces, no matter how many carrots you stuff into them
Lest you despair tho, actual horsey things are happening this weekend too. Involving a couple new characters too - like Noel, the little paint mare above. She looks so tired bc she thinks I miiiiight have killed her haha. She was fun tho! More to come.

Actually, more to come on a few things - I still owe a write up from our second clinic with Stephen Birchall, plus a few other odds and ends. It's just been tricky to sit down and write about anything deeper than cats stealing my sad little snax haha.

Oh well. Stay tuned I guess haha. And in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend. Hopefully it involves better food and snacking than mine lol (so jealous of all y'all who can actually, ya know, cook!)

**And I guess now that I've written it, you don't really have to know me to know about my embarrassing lack of skills lol...

Friday, June 24, 2016

sad mare diaries: nope, not dreaming

In Isabel's latest entry in the sad mare diaries, she writes woefully about that time she fell asleep after I brought her in for a pre-ride dinner and brushing.

Poor exhausted, over-worked creature that she is, the post-meal nap attack was more than she could bear. And obviously I'm never one to pass up any sort of photo op and started snapping pics and vids of her adorable little twitches and snores haha. 

Before realizing that, actually, she was standing almost kinda ok-ish from a conformation type perspective. Sure her front and hind toes aren't pointing in exactly the same direction... And I kinda had limitations (bc of walls and such) on getting the best angles...  But hey. First confo-esque type shot since this February post in which I whine at great length on Isabel's body condition. I'll take it! 

But I guess all my picture taking disrupted Princess from her slumber, and she awoke to discover her feed tub very conveniently located directly under her nose. Primed and ready for polishing off any forgotten morsels from dinner! 

And of course she was very intrigued and excited to awake to all the activity going on out in the aisle-way. 

With all her neighbors and such coming in for their own dinners. 

"OH. You're still here. Damn, thought that was just a bad dream..." Most Disappointed Mare Ever

"Well shit."

"Do we have to?"

"Ok, ok - now hear me out. I have an idea!"

"I know you put the dressage tack on me, which probably means, like, work and stuff.... BUT. But like, what if we didn't?!?"

"....You don't look very convinced. Fuck."

"You'll pay for this indignity. And for waking me up from my sleep. And. Ya know. Just for existing in general." Most Disgruntled Mare Ever

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

remembering why

Genny from A Gift Horse just posted about finding old photographs from her teenage self that went a long ways toward reminding her why she rides in the first place. Why she goes through all the contortions of balancing home, family, career and horses. And why it's so critical to love and enjoy every second.

finally found this photograph - first ride ever! 

with Toby at a show

we rode a quadrille pattern

Her post is a teaser of sorts - as I believe she'll be sharing more stories about some of those horses. But it really resonated with me, and sent me scurrying over to my old boxes of photographs to scrape up a similar sentiment for myself.

CJ! i loved this pretty little gelding so desperately

and he was incredibly tolerant for a young guy

Buddy! another resident of the 'fat field'

These pictures barely scratch the surface of my childhood memories and the horses that have been most important and influential to me. But they still prove Genny's point: I am pretty darn happy in every single photo, and these horses are and will always be in my heart.

Harry, the ottb i showed for a couple years in rochester

he gave me my first real taste of success in the show ring, including getting my name on a couple perpetual trophies

As I've gotten older and become more accountable for the resources that are devoted to horses instead of, say, literally anything else, my mind more easily clouds with expectations and goals and rules and ambitions and wanting to be better and and and...


And I DO want to be better. I DO have goals.

And I pretty firmly believe that we MUST be accountable for the resources we expend in this hobby. There has to be some sort of reward, fulfillment, or value added from all the blood, sweat, and tears, all the time, energy and cold hard cash we pour into it.

Lad <3

he was the most fun ever to jump

so many fond memories of this horse!

But Genny's post was an important (and timely!) reminder to not get confused about what the end game really is: deriving joy in its purest form.

At the end of the day, the heart wants what it wants, and mine wants horses in my life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

outtakes + blogger meet ups + a sad sad mare

This past weekend proved to be even more exciting than I had initially expected when signing up for another lesson with Stephen Birchall. Mostly bc fellow blogger Liz stopped by on her way through town to stay with Austen! And naturally I had to crash the party again haha.

Austen & Guinness, Liz & Teddy!
wait WAIT - got that backwards. That's Austen & Teddy, and Liz & Guinness
It worked out perfectly too, as my ride ended up scheduled for Saturday afternoon while Liz was still around (with her fancy camera - woot woot!!) so we got to spend some quality time hangin out together at the barn after my lesson.

Teddy does his best to look fancy. not hard to do with the picturesque gazebo lol
During which time, obvi Austen and Liz went out for a little ride of their own and I got to return the favor by playing photog. It was actually kinda awesome watching Liz get a mini lesson on Pig - esp as it reminded me very strongly of doing the same thing when I first met Austen last summer. And got to learn first had about Pig's go button. Hint: it WORKS lol.

Liz & Pig looking quite nicely matched in blue!
Liz was just as wonderful to meet in person as you might expect from following her blog - and it was particularly exciting timing as she and her spunky arab mare Q had just completed their first ever 100 mile race. Crazy. I can't even imagine riding for 100 miles - and yet they went out there and made it happen and the entire post about that journey is incredible and I highly recommend you settle in and read it all!

offended mare is offended
Anyway, between Liz and Austen there are approximately 18 thousand pics from my ride in the clinic haha. And lots and LOTS of outtakes. Mostly of Isabel making ridiculous faces at me when I unwittingly try to touch her face uninvited. Like the above - where she makes it perfectly clear that while she may rub her face on me, I am *not* to try and reach out for more pets. The nerve!

"NOOOoooooooo!!!" - saddest mare ever
Poor thing, the indignities didn't stop there... Perhaps I've mentioned it before, but Isabel HATES getting wet. It's so bad that I can't even get her into the fancy pants gorgeous wash stalls at Austen's barn (trust me, I've tried and it's basically humiliating bc mare just WILL NOT DO IT). So we settle for just sponging off at the trailer.

"not the face!! NOT THE FACE!!!!!"
And obviously Isabel got totally tag-teamed haha. Esp with Liz fresh off a 100 mile endurance ride where getting the horse cooled off and pulsed down is of critical importance, she wasted no time on pandering to Isabel's delicate sensibilities about the sponge. I love it haha

plus naturally we had to hit the district too
Anyway, there's plenty more to come from the clinic itself (I'm still digesting and working out the details in my mind) so stay tuned!!