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Bel Joeor Sale and Giveaway!

Amanda from Bel Joeor is hosting a big sale on her Etsy site and a giveaway on her blog!  She makes beautiful saddle covers and bags.  I highly recommend checking out her shop and entering her contest.  

Sweet Summertime

Tomorrow will mark three weeks since school was released for the summer.  As a teacher, it is no secret that I LOVE summer with all my heart.  I love being home with my kids and I love having lots of time for horses.

Sometimes I find it hard to figure out what to write here beyond lesson/ride recaps and horse shows haha.  I mean, there is a lot going on that I can share, but sometimes I wonder how much of that really matters to officially document.  It is boring to only write ride/show summaries or is it boring to write about the mundane parts of life?  I hate going too long without a post of some sort, so I am just going to write haha.

We had an intense (for us) heat wave last week, with the temps in the 90s with the humidity not far behind, so after the show on Saturday, I gave her Sunday and Monday off.  Monday is her normal day off anyway, so I figured I would just pick things back up with a low key dressage ride on Tuesday.  I rode Tuesday and Wednesday nights around 7:30p, as it finally didn't feel like an oven outside by that time of night.  Tuesday she was LIT UP.  It was one of those rides where you just go, yup, there is not much I can do without getting into a huge fight, so I just dialed it way back to walk and trot leg yields and called it good.  She was unable to bend in the trot on a circle and wanted to explode into the canter transitions, and I was just not in the right frame of mind to deal with her sassiness.  I think her peeing at my friend's gelding maybe triggered her into heat (who knows?), maybe two days off was too much (who knows?), maybe she's just an opinionated redhead (yes, definitely).  Whatever the case, Tuesday was just not a good ride.   And that's ok.  I know that happens.  
how we deal with heat waves when we are tired of sitting in the AC hahaha

Wednesday night I was like, welp, we will school a little bit in the ring and then go out into the field and hack around.  She was in the exact same mindset as the previous night, unfortunately.  Instead of dialing things back, I decided to ride it out.  I was in the right mindset to be patient and not allow her to pick a fight with me.  I realized that you know, there are going to be times in the future (for probably several years haha) where she might not want to do the things, but she's got to work through it and do the things anyway.  And maybe this cranky pants mare will be the horse I get one day at a show.  I need to figure out how to manage her sassy attitude without dialing things way back.  Don't get me wrong, there are times in training you have to take a huge step back for the moment, but I also think there are times you have to recognize that things need to be worked through.  I also think Ellie is smart enough to eventually connect that if she is a royal pain in the ass, she gets out of working.  Not something this mare needs to learn haha.

taken a few weeks ago but still cute

So we pretty much worked in shoulder fore the entire ride at walk and trot.  Yes, you DO know how to bend.  Yes, you do know how to change your bend.  Yes, you can stay soft through the transition.  Here, let's do that again.  I had my middle school teacher patience out in full force hahaha.  When I tried the canter, she BOLTED off, and I was like, yeah here, let's walk instead.  After a few tries of bolting into the canter followed by sitting her ass back down into the walk, she decided that maybe she could try the transition a bit more ladylike.  Haha.  Ellie isn't the kind of horse you can just make work longer or harder, because she has limitless Morgan energy.  She is the type of horse I have to make work smarter.  Like, she has to be made to think about how much harder it is to work in constant shoulder fore and how NICE it is to have a huge release of the inside rein when she chooses to bend appropriately.  And how NICE it is to just canter like a normal dressage horse instead of bolting like a racehorse out of the starting gate instead of being sat on her butt immediately back into the trot or walk.  She finally got her head on straight and we got some decent work, so I thought I would bring her out to the field to walk around.  Lo and behold, I see we have two small does standing directly outside the ring in the Christmas trees.  That could account for her ridiculous "energy" from the two rides because these little deer are not afraid of me on a horse, but it made me decide to not hack out right at that moment haha.  I would have had to push them out of the way like cattle and after the ride we had, I wanted to end on a positive note and avoid creating theatrics haha.  Ellie just stared at them wide eyed for a while, and then she acquiesced to free walked around the ring, keeping a close watch on their grazing among the rows of trees.  I was pretty proud of her for working through her attitude and being agreeable enough for me not to feel as down as I had the night before.  It was still a mediocre ride, but at least it wasn't all crap.

Thursday I had no idea which attitude I was going to get, but I was determined we were going to hack out instead of drilling her with another dressage school.  I did a quick walk and trot around the ring and she was lovely, soft, and in the aids.  Ahhhhhhh finally my horse is back haha.  I dared try for the canter and she was listening and agreeable, with my half halts actual half halts instead of downward transitions hahaha.  We headed out to the field after about 2oish minutes of good solid work.  There really is nothing like dusky summer nights in the fields.  We spooked a few deer out in the large field (Ellie was super brave!) and then met our two little doe friends on the way back.  Thankfully we were able to push them out of the way so we could get back into the ring and barn.

nothing like 8:45p at night and you are out enjoying the gorgeous views!

hard to capture in the twilight, but here is one of the little does!
Dressage lessons have been going really well.  I have been sticking to once a week, though I had to move my Wednesday lesson to Saturday this past week because of the Fourth of July.  No big deal there.  So she had Friday off and then a lesson Saturday morning.  We rode in the outside competition arena this past week since it was such a gorgeous summer morning (instead of hiding in the shaded and cooler indoor away from the sun).  It was nice to take a lesson outside because there is so much more to look at and while Ellie started out distracted and tight through her topline, she relaxed within the first ten minutes and we had a really productive ride.  

We worked a lot on the canter this lesson, riding in a slight counter bend to encourage her to travel straight instead of motorcycling her way around the circle.  Her leads were all solidly there, though a few times I really had to influence that inside shoulder to get the lead.  She is still not as prompt in the transition as I would like, but I am hoping that we can get that squared away.  It is like we are taking baby steps here in the canter and for now I should be happy we are getting our leads and the promptness will come.  Still, I had to pony kick her a few times which is a pain, but hopefully she will learn to start stepping into the canter as she gains more confidence in the gait and strength throughout.  We had some really nice trot work in the lesson, which I have had glimpses of at home, but she really started reaching forward and down in the trot, opening up her shoulder and her stride.  Ellie's default is to get scrunched up in her neck and shoulders, which is partly due to her conformation and partly her reaction to being tense through her topline.  So to have her open up in the trot and not need to be micromanaged in the gait was really nice.  Instead of a half circle or half long side of it like I have seen at home, we got several circles and changes of direction in this nice flowy trot.  It was great because she also didn't get heavy on the forehand or drop the contact, but it was a super lovely Training level working trot. 

This ride was leaps and bounds better than Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so I felt soooo much better.  It helps to have a lovely ride, especially a lesson where I feel like we are being pushed and it all comes together, after having mediocre crappy rides at home.

Sunday I decided to do a short jump school, which is always more fun and definitely needed.  Ellie warmed up again like a champ, giving me more of the nice trot work from our lesson.  We started with a tiny crossrail a few times, first at the trot and then the canter in both directions.  She stayed with me and never considered bolting into the transition or after the fence.  She took the correct lead after the fence 90% of the time, which was great.  

I swear the X wasn't this offset before I moved it apart to canter in haha

I had set up a one stride with two crossrails, so we worked on that in the trot.  She was excellent and totally happy to land in canter after the first jump and canter out on the correct lead.  She wanted to get a little wiggly to the second fence, but easily took my opening rein correction.  After going over it a few times in both directions, I made one a just under 2' vertical, and again she hopped over it quite well.  I moved the distance between the two out just enough so we could canter into it, and I was pleasantly surprised how easily she took to it.  She was careful and balanced and stayed centered over the fences.  I strung together the single X to the one stride and then back over it again in the opposite direction and called it good.  I love how much she seems to love to jump.

that face you make when you have to wait for your mom to jump crew by herself hahaha
In unrelated news, my tall riding boots have begun to really show their age.  I have been dreading the day when they finally give out because I am cheap and don't want to spend $$$ on boots haha.  I am also impossible to fit given my wide calf, narrow ankle, and stubby legs, but luckily ten years ago I landed on the Ariat Challenge field boots which fit me perfectly in a size 6, wide calf, regular height.  Go figure.  

But, as they are now ten years old, they are starting to crack on the sides between the toes and the heels.  New ones cost $400, which is not a lot to those who regularly buy high end boots, but this girl sure isn't spending that much (the old pair were bought with a Christmas gift card from my father, so I didn't pay the $400 then either haha).  I happened upon a marked down pair in my size on the Big Dee's website, so $170 later I am pretty excited to have brand new boots!  These are actually the Ariat Heritage field boots, but they fit as well as the Challenge pair.  I haven't worn them to ride yet, because for some reason I cannot wear them until I have the boot trees and boot bag.  Hahaha I am weird like that.  So for now they are sitting in their box in my kitchen until all their accoutrements have arrived.  I might just save them until my old boots really die or maybe I will just show in them for now.  I really haven't decided, but I am pretty excited to have found them for cheap!!

And speaking of good deals, my farrier's wife tagged me in a post last night about jumps for sale.  Someone 45 minutes away had six standards and nine poles she wanted to get rid of, and which I snagged this morning for $50. Whoever built them made the "feet" waaaay too long, but once I cut the excess off, clean them up, tighten a few screws, and paint them, they will look great!  

I currently have four wooden jumps out in the field that don't get moved unless we are mowing and two jumps made of plastic triangle standards and PVC poles in my dirt ring because they are super lightweight and easy to move out of the way.  It is hard to find the round wooden poles for sale at any lumber store anywhere lately (save for buying square posts and milling off the edges - no thanks!), so I had looked up prices this spring on buying more PVC poles.  I have had good luck with the six I already own, as they are heavy duty and have lasted now for almost 12 years without issue.  But holy cow they were $22 each at Home Depot!  No thanks LOL!  So the PVC poles I bought today alone would have cost me $198 plus tax.  They are older and ugly, but they will work just as good as new ones.  Someone had previously painted the PVC poles and then painted over again with a different color, so they could use some attention, but they will do the job.  I am definitely going to paint the standards (and repaint my old wooden jumps too, as they really need it!) and maybe eventually I will repaint the PVC poles.  

We are off to a dressage lesson on Tuesday and a jump lesson on Wednesday, so I will have lots to write about, I am sure!


Amy McKenna said…
What a deal on those standards! I made my own and I didn't make the feet nearly long enough so a good stiff wind and all my jumps fall over, lol.

I used landscape timbers for my jump poles. They're pretty cheap at Home Depot!
Total score on those jumps. We've been making do with the 8 foot rounded poles from the garnering section. We don't mind practicing on skinnies and they're cheap, but I'd love to buy a ton of jumps for $50.
Sara said…
That’s a lot going on! Great snag on the jumps. I have 4 sets of poles/standards and wish I had more.
Nadia Novik said…
I'm so jealous you can go for a ride at 8:45pm from home. How lovely! Ellie sounds a bit like Macy. I was just nodding along with all the different things you were doing with her depending on her mood, lol
TeresaA said…
What a great update. Carmen is like Ellie- you can’t wear her down you have to make it easy for them to figure it out. And what a deal on those jumps!,
Liz Stout said…
The patience of a middle school teacher is nothing short of incredible - I bet that comes in handy a LOT working with horses!

You picked up those jumps for a STEAL. Wow! That's freaking AWESOME. I've taken to cobbling jumps together from random materials in order to save money lol. Helps that the husband is a contractor and has scrap wood a lot.
I write about about my mundane and boring life, so that's actually what I love to read in other people's blogs, haha. I like the nitty gritty of daily life -- because you're right, it's not all horse shows and lessons and ribbons and breakthroughs. Sometimes it's a slog :) I'm glad you were able to have a good ride even after Ellie maybe didn't come out to play right away, and WOW what a deal on those jumps!!
Martidoll said…
wow you have been busy!! Great snag on the boots and the jumps! YAY. Ellie being bad LOL she sure had something up her butt yes?

Glad she settled down. And glad you are enjoying your summer!!
I know, right?! I was so excited. Whoops about your jump standards haha! Thanks for telling me about landscape timbers! SO CHEAP! Are they heavy? I just wish they were ten feet like my other poles, but they would work great for ground lines!
Definitely good to practice on the 8' poles because it makes 10' easier at shows for sure!
I just happened to be tagged at the right time on a FB post! There were about ten people in line behind me haha, so I am glad I jumped on it.
Honestly, I am usually in bed by 9, but sometimes the gorgeous summer nights just need to be enjoyed haha! Oh yes, Ellie has her moods though thankfully not quite as opinionated on the daily as Macy haha! ;-)
Exactly, there are times you write about Carmen and she sounds a lot like Ellie. They are thinkers and you have to help lead them to thinking the same way as us hahaha!
Hahaha there are times when I am super impatient but as a teacher I think I go into a zen like trance haha. Ellie is lucky I know how to have patience with little turds hahahaha!

They need a little fixing up but yes, totally a huge steal!
YES me too, I love reading other blogs about how we all get along day to day! I just feel like I sit down to write the mundane details of daily life and I think, well this is boring haha. I would say Ellie's progress has been a fairly steady and successful climb, but sometimes she has her rebellious teenage girl moments and those need to be shared, too! Haha
Right!? Not as busy as moving hundreds of miles away haha, but I love how our summer has been a mix of busy and not-at-all busy so far. It is a good balance. I try to keep at least one weekday of just staying home and chilling!

I know!! ELLIE IS A PERFECT ANGEL!! Untill she isn't hahahahahaha! Honestly, I would say she is pretty darn perfect 90% of the time. I wonder how much of it was truly her coming into heat, because so far the last few days she has been back to her agreeable self. As my instructor warned, she is probably going to always have those moments for a few years until she mellows out. I responded with, well my last chestnut Morgan mare took until she was about 18 years old, sooooooooo we may be looking at more than a few years hahahaha! ;-)
L.Williams said…
The older Ariat boots were made better IMO. I hope these ones hold up (My heritages did not :( ) but at a deal eh replacing them in a couple years won't be a total heartache.
Yeah, I definitely get the feeling these are NOT the same quality as my ten year old pair. Though as you said, for the deal it was worth it for now!