Author Archives: KC Scott

Wax in My Ear

This past weekend, P was extremely challenging. I had no idea what was up his rear end, but both days I ended up getting off to lunge him to see if anything was wrong. Saturday I quit after about 20 minutes on my ticking time bomb, but Sunday when he was the same way…he just had to deal for an hour so I could get some practice in. Was it fun? No. We jumped (i.e. flung ourselves over) some little stuff, and did spiral in/out and leg yields at the trot because he was so tense in the walk and he’d give half a circle of canter before side bolting into the oblivion. I was so disappointed because I’d sent BO a fun exercise that she had set up and I was excited to try it out.

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Both days when I went out to the pasture to get him, he stayed where he was and just didn’t look thrilled to see me. He’s never run away or been hard to catch, but usually he comes to the gate or at least meets me halfway. Both Saturday and Sunday, he just stood there and watched me approach with judgy eyes.

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So yesterday came rolling along and I headed out to the barn after work. Pulled up the driveway, next to his pasture, and look who came up to say hi:

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When I continued on to the barn, I saw movement in my rearview mirror:

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And then I went in the barn to change and all that, then headed to his pasture:

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And even though he looked like this…

 

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And this is the horse that hates currying…

 

Wouldn’t ya know? We had a great ride. Walk? Sure. Trot? Stretchy and working: check. Canter? Here’s some super calm transitions. Jump the course? K. Put the jumps up to 2’6″and go around again? Thumbs up. Get off again, raise two to 2’9″ and canter around it again? No worries.

 

 

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Pilgrim last night

 

 

I was definitely stewing on the way to the barn yesterday. At the old H/J barn, he was ALWAYS spooky/tense/obnoxious/frustrating, so I was afraid that maybe the magic was wearing off the new place and he would just forever be a nightmare at home. But after talking to BO, turns out people were shooting ALL WEEKEND in the land adjacent to the farm.

I think I just need to do a better job of listening.

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Cause of Death: 18″ Cavaletti

After giving P 3 days off (2 were on purpose), we headed to Trainer B’s yesterday for our 2nd to last lesson before he heads off to sunny Florida.

 

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Me when he gets back and I don’t remember how to ride anymore.

 

I had no idea what was in store for us that day, but I wasn’t expecting the question, “How often do you leg yield at the canter?”

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Everyone, horse and human, has a stronger side and a direction they go better in. I used to be better going to the right, while P was better going to the left, so we sort of (emphasis on the sort of) balanced each other out. Then I broke my left ankle and that makes going right SUCK.

Combine that with going right being P’s worse direction, we’re just a hot mess. Going to the left, I can usually keep P round and bent correctly. Going to the right takes all my physical and mental ability, and when P and/or I get tired, it’s just all over.

 

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Not round, not bent correctly. And the reason why we missed our planned turn.

 

In our lesson with Trainer J last Tuesday (before the HT), she had me step to the outside as hard as I could and shift my hands to the left to try to counteract P leaning in.

 

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Which I had to do so hard just to get P to arc out a little bit so we didn’t plow into the jump

 

Trainer B said he felt it last Wednesday when he rode him, and it was time to fix that.

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When I ask P to move off my left leg, he, ya know, does it. When I ask him to go to the left off my right leg he resists against my leg and just gets super bendy with his shoulders. And then gets fussy when you put his shoulders back where they belong, almost like he’s trying to distract you because THIS IS HARD. And then rather than keep my leg soft and rhythmic, I brace because THIS IS HARD. See a theme?

So Trainer B had us start on the left lead down the straightaway, then leg-yield to the right. Left lead? Check. Right lead? Tempi changes.

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P: Let’s skip the 1st level BS and go straight to 4th. But only tracking right.

But it got better each time around, so then Trainer B set up a cavaletti, with an obstacle that we had to get past after landing.

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We  were supposed to land, half-halt, leg yield. Leg-yielding off the left leg wasn’t so bad:

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And I didn’t even notice that he moved the chair a little bit each time to make us work harder.

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But then we turned around to go our collectively harder way.

 

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So close to going past the mounting block. Not.

 

 

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Not even a little closer

 

Until we didn’t screw it up.

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So then the cavaletti turned into a bonafide jump, which Trainer B joyfully announced would make it harder.

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And, well, he wasn’t lying.

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And this is our GOOD way.Left4.gif

I can’t even tell you how many times I lost my right stirrup and almost hit the dirt before I finally proclaimed this was the most dangerous thing Trainer B has ever had me do. Ok, maybe it was just 2 times.

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Then we turned around.

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Heaven help us. But we eventually got it right.

 

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And without tempi changes!

 

I will say, for how challenging it was, it’s really an excellent (and simple to set up) exercise. The point is to get the horse to land off a jump and go, “What next?” instead of just charging into the abyss. So we’ll be incorporating that into our routine now until it gets a bit easier and consistent.

Then Trainer B brought up changing P’s bit on XC. And I could feel the defensiveness rise. Yeah, P has been a little bit of a freight train on XC lately, but I’m actually enjoying it because it’s so different from the whole crawling-and-stopping-at-every-jump thing we had going on before. So I asked what he had in mind, and imagine my surprise when the response was, “A fat, rubber snaffle.”

I think I stuttered, “But that’s milder than even this bit.”

Duh.

But the reasoning is sound. I currently use a Herm Sprenger KK Ultra loose ring on P. The double jointedness encourages him to give to the bit and keep steady contact, which is great for dressage and show jumping, but P needs to be bolder on XC (getting there, but not enough), and Trainer B thinks that him being able to have a more solid feeling in his mouth might help.

No more horse trials this year, so the experiment will have to wait until next year. Which actually isn’t so far off now that I think about it. So if anyone uses a rubber snaffle and has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

War Horse Event Series- The Saga

Thursday afternoon we headed to Carolina Horse Park for the final HT of the season. It’s already a very popular show, but since it was the last one of the year, they were also running the championship divisions in addition to the regular HT, so that made for approximately 350 entries.

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Since the weather was going to be in the 20’s at night and 40’s during the day, I had to pull this little guy out of my library at home to, ya know, stay alive.

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And added curtains and lights!

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Friday was the schooling day. For a whopping $125, you can school all phases as many times as you want. The only other time I’ve been to CHP, I was in the BN division and the schooling was the stuff of nightmares. I opted for the 2’3″ division to get us off the main course and that turned out to be the best decision ever. Because OMG, SO MANY HORSES.

Trainer B was there as well, with some horses there just to school and also riding one in BN for a client. And that made for a seriously successful schooling. I got my usual, “Go faster than you want to” instructions, and had zero stops in our 2’3″ SJ schooling round. Then we went out to XC with another client on her horse (the one Trainer B was riding in the competition), and Trainer B on his young OTTB. Both of the other horses were super nervous, where P was acting like an old, reliable pro. So Trainer B had P lead the other 2 horses around the tiny XC course, and again, zero stops. So then we went to our course with us leading again, and once more, he jumped every single thing.

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The horses got a break, and then we headed to the main arena to school the BN SJ course. For some reason, even though we routinely school BN+ height with Trainer B, these just seemed intimidating for some reason. Maybe it was because there were a ton of people watching. Maybe it was because the last time I was in that arena, I face planted in the dirt.

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Then Trainer B came in after me on his client’s horse and put my round to shame. But I was still thrilled.

On Saturday my dressage time wasn’t until 12:30 so I had all morning to drill into my head that I needed to halt on the first centerline at X. I’ve done Intro C once before and I despise it; it’s a terrible test for P, but we were really there for the jumping anyway. He warmed up super soft, relaxed, bendy, and engaged, and we had a great, uh, first few movements until I went to ask for the first canter and at the same time, a nearby stuck tractor let out a loud boom and P went, “Baiiiiiii.”

 

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Bye bye, good scores

We stayed in the arena, though, which was no easy feat, but alas, my relaxed horse was gone. He did his best to hold it together, and while, blah to the 36.5 we scored, I at least scored higher than my horse in the collective marks. Take that, P. That put us in 5th place out of 20.

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4. “Quite resistant in beginning.” Ya think?

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About an hour and a half later, we headed to SJ and while yeah, P had schooled most of these jumps the day before without issue, there are never any guarantees with this horse.

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But we pulled it off! That made 2 full days with NO STOPS. And we moved up to 4th.

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One of us is overexcited and the other isn’t nearly excited enough

Sunday I pulled P out in the morning for a light lunge, which I always do 1-2x/day each day he’s stalled. When I sent him around, he looked a little stiff behind,  but as he went on, seemed to work out of whatever it was. There were no lame steps, and it was FREEZING, so I left it at that. I got on at 10:15 for my 10:40 start time, and headed to warm up with Trainer B. P warmed up great on the flat, then started cutting turns to the right when we started jumping. Trainer B observed he looked a little sore in his hind end, which could be causing him to drop his shoulder like that. He did a lot more than usual the last couple days so it wouldn’t be surprising. I decided to start XC and if he felt off, I’d pull up.

He started great, albeit steering wasn’t all that great. My biggest concern was the 5AB combination, but it turned out to be jump 6 that did us in. For NO REASON. Seriously. Usually I know what went wrong, but not this time. We were straight, he was on pace…I really thought he’d jump. Trainer B saw it and doesn’t know either. So. Sigh. But the rest of it was fine though he went into freight train mode when I tried to get him to trot down the hill from 6 to 7 because the footing was super torn up and there were roots everywhere. Sorry for trying to keep you sound. Won’t do it again. Anyway, the stop dropped us to 10th instead of moving us up to 3rd like we would’ve if we’d gone clear. Boo.

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So we come through the finish, I let P out on a loose rein, pat him and all of a sudden he decides that a motor bike is super scary and TAKES OFF. I can’t believe I stayed on, but seriously dude, WTF?

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And then he literally stood in his stall with his head in the back corner for the next hour or so until we left the show grounds. Not sure what that’s about, but he seemed very down, or at least the horse version of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have run XC, but I don’t know. While yeah, he stopped at one jump, the rest of them he was attacking the same way he did at Windridge. So I’m a little confuzzled right now.

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This is not normal, even if he is tired

 

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Happy to be home

 

I also could be way overthinking it. Horse had a dressage lesson Tuesday, Trainer B rode him on Wednesday, then he spent Thursday-Sunday at a horse show. I know I was exhausted when I got home. But either way, he’s going to get the next couple days off and we’ll regroup with Trainer B on Thursday. No more horse trials this year, and we’ve only got 3 more weeks before Trainer B heads off to FL until MARCH. He’s thinking he’ll be back one weekend a month BUT IT WON’T BE THE SAME.

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Concluding thoughts:

  • This was probably my favorite show weekend ever. Usually I’m alone, with sometimes Husband and kids coming. This weekend I had an amazing support team. Trainer B, Trainer B’s wife, client, client’s mom (also the owner of Trainer B’s farm), and one of their friends. It was so much fun stabling with them (especially when owner’s mom brought donuts), going out to dinner with them each night, being able to cheer on Trainer B (who naturally swept the division) and the owner of the horse he was riding, and getting that back as well. Not to mention the help from Trainer B on the spot was invaluable. And of course, Husband, with the kids in tow, drove 4 hours round trip on Saturday to be there. Because Best Husband Ever.

 

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Required golf cart selfie

 

  • Yes, my horse stopped at one jump. And it was terrible timing- during the competition, really? BUT. This is a horse where, not so long ago, stopping used to be the rule, not the exception. Over the course of 3 days, P jumped dozens of fences between warmup jumps, schooling, and courses, all fences that were new to him and he stopped ONCE. So, for this weekend at least, stopping was the exception. I’ll take that.

 

  • Always camp next to someone with an LQ trailer. I had set up my pop up shower outside my trailer, but due to freezing temps definitely was NOT going to take a shower. No way. Dry shampoo + hat all the way. But the people next to me took pity (or maybe they could smell me) and offered me their shower. And it was the best shower ever.

 

  • Quick hilarious story: I had P tacked up for XC and we were standing outside his stall while I got my gloves and helmet on and a girl walks up and says, “Are you the girl from the Kastel video?”giphy.gif

 

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Just a cute picture of P to end this post.

 

 

 

Testing 1, 2, 3…

Yesterday we went to Trainer B’s for him to give P a little tune up ride (which I’ve made him promise to do before every HT), and the arena was set up pretty much the same as when we were there Friday, besides the flamingo/Liverpool jump now being a vertical instead of a cross-rail. After a much more in-depth warmup than I usually do, he pointed P at the same pallet jump he refused on Friday and P sailed over.

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So far, so good.

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giphy.gifIn fact, I was super excited because P went over everything the first try, even the new-to-him flamingo jump (which looked terrifying to me).giphy.gifThen Trainer B says, “He’s a lot better than the last time I rode him.567f0886c3d9cc98598ed421388f968cd13897f49132c7c4499063dd0e955f87

And if there were any doubts before, it’s clear now that P can understand the English language.

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Yikes..

That was an even rougher “NOPE” than he usually gives me and I was extra glad I wasn’t on his back. P has jumped that coop before (and didn’t have any refusals), but without the wavy plank on top, and so it did look a little intimidating. But still, stopping is just a no-go, and luckily, Trainer B is much better equipped to deal with that nonsense than I am.

 

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OMG P, JUST GO.

 

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Dramatic much?

The cool thing about Trainer B is that he doesn’t get rattled (either that or he hides it really well) and after P went over, he came around again like nothing had ever happened. He wasn’t all angry and whipping him (like some other trainers might), he just rode him positively towards it and that’s what P needed.

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And then they put the line back together again.

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I’ll be surprised if P ever stops again. If he’s smart, he won’t.

Then Trainer B did a few more things, and says, “Your turn.”

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But I did. And instead of giving me a course, Trainer B just called out jumps. Probably so I wouldn’t get all freaked out about jumping the coop myself.

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So he called it, said to get straight and gallop, and I did(ish), and though I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes, we survived.

And it was fun. Well, it was fun when it was over.

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Hitting the road in T minus 8 hours!

 

We Need All the Help We Can Get

Last Friday we trekked up to Trainer B’s for our weekly “Leg on” lesson.

Someday I’ll get it right.

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Trainer B says, “Suuuure.”

So we warmed up, then I pointed him towards the one jump he’s never refused before: the brush pallet, except this time it didn’t have brush sticking up in it.

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So apparently the LACK of decoration is less spooky than brush? Cool.

 

Then went over the rainbow. I mean, tried to.

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When is he going to learn stopping doesn’t mean he’s done?

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And then Trainer B cursed me by saying, “One more time.”

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Again, Trainer B

And well, gross.

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Then we both got our acts together and did it a few more times.

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Trainer B apparently gave up hope on us successfully schooling single fences and just sent us around the course.

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Super surprised he actually went over the final 2 jumps, but ok, thanks

And then finally ended on this:

It was going so well, that I’m pretty sure I actually started praying, “Don’t screw up the last fence, don’t screw up the last fence.” as we landed off the Swedish oxer.

But we didn’t, and got to be done!

I can see from the videos that I’m even more hunchback than usual, and I think I’m going to test out bringing my stirrups up a hole or two. But the good news is that I’m getting consistently more and more comfortable sending P forward.

Yesterday we went for a field trip to see Trainer J and it was the most effective dressage lesson I’ve ever had, thanks to ditching my dressage saddle and riding in my beloved Volty.  Husband didn’t come, but Trainer J took a short video of us warming up….and it only got fancier from there. We worked a lot on canter to trot transitions and trot to walk, and while the walk leaves something to be desired, that’s my fault for not making it a priority.

Today we go back to Trainer B’s and true to his promise after Windridge, Trainer B is going to ride him first, which I’m greatly looking forward to.

Then we head to CHP tomorrow!

I Can’t Even

Find the right title for this post.

Last week, Kastel posted a contest on their IG:

Kastel4I like free Kastel but alas, I’m of the wrong gender.

So what to do?

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I mean…Husband was an infantry Marine for 10 years. Surely nothing I can come up with would be worse than terrorists in Iraq/Afghanistan.

 

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Horses vs terrorists…should be a no-brainer. Apparently not.

 

But he’s also the very bestest in the world. So….enjoy.

And the blooper reel. Actors we are not.

And then I got a comment FROM KASTEL:

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Duh. Yes, you can!

And.

WE WON!

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Husband is the best! And P, of course. This was the only thing he did on Thursday and he was absolutely amazing.

Thank you, Kastel!!

Wait, It’s NEXT WEEK?

When you ask your BO if the farrier can switch the appointment from the week after the HT to before the HT…

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I don’t do so good when a new month begins.

But we’re officially entered!

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I entered P in the 2’3″ division again, for a few reasons.

  1. The first, last, and only time we’ve been to CHP for this HT series we participated in the schooling day and it was total chaos, which was exactly negative 30 degrees of fun. I said I’d never do it again. But the 2 lower divisions have their own SJ arena AND their own XC course, so we can participate in the schooling day without being run over by all the BN-Prelim riders. This is a very popular show, and there are already over 130 entries a week before the closing date, with a lot of non-compete horses coming specifically for the schooling day. So I’m ostracizing us.
  2. I want both P & I to come out of the jumping phases going, “Wait, that was it?” like we did at Windridge.
  3. I need to make sure Windridge wasn’t a fluke.

Since this is the final HT of the series for the year, it’s also the championship. Needless to say, since I finished the June HT on my back in the middle of the SJ arena, we’re just participating in the regular HT division.

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I can’t believe we’re not qualified…

But I was still in October mode, where anything November related seemed so far away. And while I quite enjoy camping in my trailer in the summer with my AC, it will be my first time cold-weather camping.

I mean, yeah, I’m in NC and it’s currently 77 degrees but still…it COULD get cold.

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So. I have to do some shopping.

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I thought they were opening up the stabling Thursday night, since for the other HTs they opened stabling Friday night and then schooling is on Saturday. But when I entered, they only had selections for Friday/Saturday night, so I guess we’ll be rising and shining early to get there before the insanity begins.

 

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P giving pasturemate S a lead into the new pond to show him water isn’t so scary after all.

 

Riding-wise things have been a little sucky. P got off Monday, then Tuesday decided hacking out was super spooky, which was a little weird. Wednesday was more of the same thing, so I decided to test a theory. P and BO’s horse Sandero are turned out 24/7 now, only coming inside to eat (which I LOVE), but all the other horses just got switched from night turnout to day turnout. This means dinner-time has gotten pushed back so the horses have more turnout time. Good for the horses, bad for P’s internal alarm clock. So yesterday when P started being a prick about not being allowed to bolt, I brought him in, gave him half his dinner, and bridled him back up. He was much better, even popping back and forth over a 2’6″+ vertical a few times with no drama. So, verdict? Homeboy was HANGRY.

hangry-noun-a-state-of-anger-caused-by-a-lack-5588937I just wanted to test the theory, but BO is awesome and said she’ll bring him in to eat while she rides S, so that way when I get there after work, he should be good to go. Hopefully that’s the ticket and we can get back to our boring (so fun for me) rides.

 

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Trying on a new blanket

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Stop following me, P, I need a picture

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Stalker alert. Super confused when I left the pasture without taking him out.

 

Lesson with Trainer B tomorrow and I have no idea yet what trickery he’ll come up with.