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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Small Changes and Updates

I feel as though I have a lot of little things to document, but nothing alone warrants its own post.  So, as has seem to be my trend this summer, I will put a bunch of updates all together in between all the showing and lesson posts.

Now that Ellie has shown she is happy in a Neue Schule eggbutt and a drop noseband, I briefly considered buying her a Micklem.  Not wanting to spend $200 on a bridle she may not like, I have been keeping an eye on Facebook for a used one.  I came across a "small horse" aka cob sized black Micklem a few weeks ago for $100 shipped and scooped it up.  I figured for that price I can easily resell it and make my money back.

She definitely liked it!  However, the floppy cheekpieces drove me insane, so after initially using velcro tabs to keep them calm and contained, I bought the Nunn Finer rubber keepers instead.  Thankfully they came in a pack of ten, since trying to finagle those tiny things onto the Micklem was not easy!  The first one broke, but thankfully the following two went right on.

I also splurged on a unicorn bit from Topline Leather during a recent sale, because I thought it would be fun for jumping.  It is much like her Neue Schule, but I was not spending THAT much again on a bit to keep on her jump bridle haha.  She really likes it, so I double checked with USEF to see if it is legal for dressage; it is, if I ever decide to be brave enough to use it in the dressage ring haha.

We have been doing a lot of dressage, for sure, but I have also been aware of keeping things interesting for Ellie.  I've incorporated many different types of ground pole exercises into our rides, including raised poles.  We jump at least once a week and I try to vary it between gymnastics in the ring and jumping the small course in the field.


We trail ride at least once a week. She is becoming quite a brave trail partner, which is great.  Our last two rides out in the woods she was happy to march along on the buckle.  


Now that I have finally painted the six new-to-me jump standards (and cut a foot off each bottom support leg!), I put two new jumps out in the field, for a total of six!  I spray painted the faded old jump cups, and they look better but they are pretty rough haha.  The standards and cups are definitely usable and I am glad I found them.  My only complaint is whoever made them did not line the holes up well.  I am going to order a bunch of these jump cups because I think it will help.  They are pricey but look worth it!


I put the other pair in the ring with a little rope to practice opening the "gate".  It is funny, I can open the actual livestock gate that leads in and out of the ring from her back, but this little rope is SCARY haha.  So we have so far just spent time sidestepping over to it (which she is good at) and standing still while I unhook one side (which she is unsure about because it sometimes touches her side!  Ahh!).  We have also spent some time with me on the ground next to her just moving the rope around.  She will get it if I just spend a few minutes fooling around with it each ride.  This is the goal, not for any other reason that it is good for her to have the precision and listening skills.  We will never have to do this in real life haha.

learning that the gate (aka rope) won't eat her
and that she cannot eat the rope either lol
I finally bought a wooden singletree in order to start teaching Ellie about pulling a tire drag, as the first step to training her to drive.  I sold my lovely Meadowbrook cart years ago, but I still have my little EZ entry metal training cart.  So once she is rock solid at pulling a tire, I will bring my cart up here to the farm, as it is currently in storage in my dad's workshop/garage.

I spent a little time ground driving last fall during the first month I owned her, but I really focused on under saddle training this year instead of driving.  I think once our show season winds down at the beginning of October, I will focus on getting her started in harness.

September 2017 when I first tried my harness on her
I decided to have my chiro vet out to take a peek at Ellie.  There is nothing wrong, I just figured that since her life has changed so dramatically in the past year and I am asking her to use her body so differently, it would be worth seeing what was going on.

After examining her, he pretty much laughed and said she was in great shape.  LOL thanks for letting me know for $209 hahaha.  We spent more time shootin' the shit than anything else, but I am still glad he did the evaluation just to be sure.  All of the things he circled he said were minor and nothing to be worried about.  I guess at least I have peace of mind now?



The only thing driving me insane is I don't think my dressage saddle is a perfect fit.  I reached out to my saddle brand's New England rep/fitter on July 23 and she is still stringing me along.  She asked for pics because she said most saddles are too wide, which is probably true, but I don't like her coming into this with preconceived notions.  Like, just come look at the saddle in person, pleaseandthankyou.  I understand that six states is a large area, but I also don't like the fact I have to wait and wait and wait.  I contacted the saddle company to ask if there were other reps/fitters in the area and got a slightly snooty reply from said saddle rep/fitter that SHE is the New England person and basically that it wasn't worth her time just coming to me without having other clients in the area to see on the same day.  Again, I get it but this type of customer service really grates me.  I have even offered to trailer out to meet HER at any farm where she will be doing fittings, so she doesn't have to travel to me.  I would prefer to have the saddle looked at by the brand rep, plus there are no decent fitters in this area.  But still, I am trying not to fume... It seems to me they could use more fitters in the Northeast.  Or maybe I could pay a little extra for her to come to me if it is soooo out of her way?  She is only in the next state over from me, about an hour and twenty minutes to be exact, so I am not exactly sure why it is such a bother to come evaluate a saddle.

Overall, we have had a wonderfully fun summer and I am sad things are starting to wind down.  I go back to teaching on August 27 booo!  I still will do lessons on weekends when I can and there are plenty of fall shows left!

Comments

  1. I wish I could find reasonably priced unicorn bits in Gwyn's size. She's got a giant mouth :(

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    1. Oh here, let me help....haha 😂 This is where I ordered Snappy's boucher two years ago!

      http://www.evoequine.co.uk/store/p30/Rainbow_Gloss_Bits_-_Special_Order.html

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    2. Idk what size you need Amy, but I've sourced 6" ones under $50 on eBay for a friend, if that helps 😉

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    3. Tell us what you want and your budget and I KNOW one of us can find one! Hahahaha! ;-)

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  2. Lots of good small things! That's super annoying about the Stubben rep... I keep joking I need to become a Stubben rep because I love their saddles (and Courbette, who they bought out) ever so much, but I'm afraid I would suck. Good fitters are so hard to find!!

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    1. It seems they do a lot of training, so I bet you would be fabulous! I am so frustrated in general with fitters that I am seriously ready to quit my teaching gig and become a saddle and bit fitter LOL!

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    2. When I say "they" do a lot of training, I mean Stubben!

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  3. Glad that you guys are having fun. The saddle fitting thing sucks. I would trailer too if that meant it gets done (I have done this exact thing before).

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    1. It has definitely been a fun summer! And yes, I am super frustrated and would trailer basically anywhere within two hours if it meant I could get the saddle looked at. :-(

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  4. ooooh she looks *extremely* elegant in that harness - can't wait to see her when she's all kitted out with a cart and everything! good luck with the saddle fitting tho... bleh, that's my least favorite thing in the world lol

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    1. Doesn't she?!? I am impatient to get her driving but at the same time I don't want to sacrifice riding time right now LOL!!

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  5. Filing away the information that the unicorn bits are dressage legal.....😍😍

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    1. I KNOW RIGHT?!?! I was way too excited when the USEF bit lady emailed me back and said I could use it. She goes so well in it that I was like yeah, you watch, it'll be totally illegal. 😂

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  6. Those are interesting jump cups, I like them!

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    1. At first, I was like yeahhh those are not going to work, but after watching a few review videos (thank goodness for the interwebz), I would say people like them and they will work well for my secondhand standards! It's either these or I try to get my husband to redrill the holes to get them more lined up and I just KNOW how well that will go....haha, aka they will look like Swiss cheese.

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