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Grooming Vinnie

All Bay Night

Last night I had my weekly lesson on Vinnie. It ended up being a group, with all four of us on bay horses — thus “All-Bay Night,” heh. Vinnie managed to stay semi-clean from his marathon grooming on Sunday, so I was able to groom and tack up in fairly short order. I went into the arena a little early to walk around by the end where the bear lives, especially since the big door was wide open [which means the bear has even easier access to tasty ponies, according to Vinnie]. We started out the lesson with just a crossrail to warm-up and that went pretty well for everyone. We moved on to schooling some of the line, and that also went well. Our first line [#3 and #4 in Course 1] was a bit wiggly. It was set right against the wall with the entrance door open, so of course we had to check for any baby bears that might be around, but our second time through was much improved.
Then we moved to schooling the other line, which proved to be everyone’s biggest challenge of the night. The first jump was a plain white rail with orange cones [#6], which was fine. The second jump was two brick boxes [#7], and just about every horse said “WTH?!” We all had at least one refusal the first time, but everyone eventually got over it and we were able to move on to coursework.
The first course went well for us. We struggled all night to find a good spot to the white gate [#2], but it wasn’t horrible. The brown natural vertical [#5] was our best all night. I’m still having trouble adjusting from Diamond’s big 12′ stride [14′ if you’re not careful!] to Vinnie’s 10′ stride, but it’s getting better every ride. I also hope that once Vinnie gets in better shape, and we get outdoors, that he’ll have more of a motor. Right now, it feels like we’re crawling. Even the BF said the difference in pace between me and the other girls was noticeable and it made it hard for him to see how my was position was. Note to self: to work on pace!
 
Once we all did that course, we moved on to a second one. I received mostly the same comments as the first course. I still had trouble with the distance to the white gate, but my first and third jumps were pretty good. Everyone in the lesson had success- the two greenies did great and one girl is headed to IEA Nationals this week and she has been just stellar in our lessons lately. I’m really excited for her and I honestly think if she has any luck at all in the draw, that she’s going to do really well!
Vinnie Grazing

A Good Ride

After my busy day on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning and was a bit lazy. I enjoyed my breakfast, watched a little bit of TV and enjoyed my coffee. I did a few chores [luckily I got most of them done on Saturday!] and then got ready to go to the barn for my flat ride.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside, 60 degrees and sunny. I was worried I would have to ride in the small indoor with Vinnie, who believes that a very large horse-eating bear lives there, since the outdoor isn’t quite ready yet, but luck was on my side and the last lesson in the big back indoor was cancelled! After spending 30 minutes knocking all the mud off my yak–I mean horse–we proceeded to the arena. We rode all alone and I was proud of Vinnie for only spooking mildly a few times. Starting out, I focused on warming up with asking for a nice bend at the walk through each corner of the arena. When I moved up to a trot, I asked for lots of large circles to start building up more fitness and strengthening Vinnie’s weak left stifle.

Once we were sufficiently warm, I used some ground poles to work on adjustability. First I cantered the “line” in five strides and then six; working on both directions. We had to take lots of walk breaks because we’re both a bit out of shape still, but I was really pleased with how Vinnie worked once he was warmed-up and supple. By the end of my ride, he was bending and giving to the left quite nicely. I finished off our session with nice rinse at the wash rack and let Vinnie graze while he dried. As we were perusing the yard, Trainer came out and we chatted for a bit. She said Diamond is doing well, and although her cut isn’t healing as quickly as she’d like, Diamond is going back on regular turnout. Her inner fire-breathing dragon is rearing its ugly head and she needs to go back to work. Trainer even said she might be ready for a light hack later in the week!

Rodizio food

Date Night & Equine Affaire

Thursday night BF and I decided to do an impromptu date night. For a while we did a scheduled date night once a week, but we’ve both been so busy lately that we haven’t had the time. Since I haven’t been my usual cheery self this week [I blame the rain and grey skies] we decided to go out. Where to, exactly, was the dilemma. BF and I are both creatures of habit; we like to go to the same places over and over. But last night we decided to be adventurous and try someplace new.

We ended up at Rodizio Grill, a Brazilian steakhouse. Spoiler alert: it was fabulous. The only option is the buffet where you get unlimited access to the salad bar, which has may more than your average salad. I sampled a lobster and shrimp salad, pineapple cole slaw, as well as a mozzarella salad, just to name a few of the options. You also get unlimited appetizers which included polenta, cheese biscuits and cinnamon-fried bananas–yum! After that is the main course: various bite-size meats are brought around the dining room by waiters, and you pick which ones you want to try. I had pork, fish, several cuts of steak (the best was a Parmesan-crusted filet), as well as rattlesnake sausage. I guess I really was feeling adventurous, haha. After eating way too much, we retired to the house and watched the Lincoln Lawyer. Well, I watched the movie and BF fell asleep.

Tracy and Sam Selfie
A rare selfie of myself and the BF

Equine Affaire

Saturday was a busy, busy day. I got up and started chores: cleaning, picking up and laundry, followed by a quick workout. I’m really liking Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD; the workouts are only 20 minutes and I don’t need any gadgets except hand weights. I hate being in the gym with everyone staring at me, so for now, working out at home is a great option. Finally, I took a quick shower and took our dog, Rocky, to his grooming appointment. I even managed to get all the grocery shopping done before picking him back up and heading home. Productivity FTW!

After all of that the BF and I trekked over to the state fairgrounds for Equine Affaire. In case you aren’t familiar, Equine Affaire is an exposition with educational seminars, riding clinics, breed demonstrations and a huge trade show. I usually try to make it every year, but this year I especially wanted to attend. I had a few friends participating in various riding clinics, whom I hadn’t seen much in a year or so since I moved barns. So we met up with them first and chatted about their ponies [who both did stellar in their respective clinics] and went to visit them back at the barns. Ledger, my friend’s Appaloosa colt, was actually broke in his session, and it was so great to see him–he’s certainly filled out a lot in the last year!

After we said our goodbyes, BF and I traversed the [quite large] trade show. I bought a new rubber grooming mit, as well as some Back on Track No Bows for a friend. Her OTTB has an old suspensory injury and she’s working on bringing him back into work. I hope she likes them!

Baby Ledger
A photo of a much younger, baby Ledger!
spring daisies

It’s Finally Spring!

It’s finally spring here, but of course I didn’t get to enjoy the wonderful weather at all over the weekend. I was stuck working–inside–all day on both Saturday and Sunday. Luckily the warmer weather and sunshine held for my lesson last night and I was able to ride in just a t-shirt [no Under Armour, huzzah!]. I rode Vinnie again, and while he was a very good boy, we’re still struggling with some conditioning issues, which is to be expected after his four-month winter break. Currently, his weak left stifle is extremely weak, which makes everything to the left more difficult. But all he needs is some more fitness, which will come with time.

We started out with a flat exercise, focusing on varying degrees of connection and moving from a collected canter to a more forward canter and back again. By the end of the exercise, Vinnie and I were on the same page and it went pretty well. Then we moved on to some coursework. With Vinnie’s lack of fitness, we only jumped small jumps, maybe 18″ at most, but that’s fine with me; I need to focus on getting re-acquainted with Vinnie’s stride and pace anyways. Overall it went really well–when I focused on my core and keeping my legs still, it was all right there. When I didn’t… well, let’s just say it wasn’t as pretty. But, it’s all a work in progress!

As for Diamond, she is doing well. All the swelling in her tendon is gone, so we just have her wound to deal with. She’s still on stall rest, but at least she’s doing better. I’m hoping to flat this weekend and give her some extra spa treatment… if she cooperates. A cooped up red Thoroughbred mare might not make for a relaxing hour in the crossties!

Showing Vinnie

Back on Vinnie

After talking it over with my trainer, we decided to move ahead with the duo-horse option. I will plan to begin the show season riding Vinnie, while still taking lessons on Diamond. While I don’t love the idea of being back to showing in the same division as last over, over little baby 2′ fences, my number one priority is having a good, safe time showing this summer… and I’m not confident that I can do that at the end of May with Diamond. Fortunately, this decision didn’t come a moment too soon. I skipped one lesson due to a lingering head cold and when I got back, Diamond decided to cut her heel and pull off a shoe in turnout. She’s doing much better, but the wound isn’t healing quickly [three days later and it openly bleeds without a bandage on], as well some continued swelling in the right front tendon. So she’s on stall rest until further notice, poor girl.

When I went out to the barn on Saturday she was sulking in her stall, so I tried to cheer her up with some treats and cuddles. By the time I showed up for my lesson on Monday, she looked downright pitiful. So I loved on her, told her how pretty she was [that’s her favorite] and snuck her some extra treats.

Diamond and N 2012
Happier times for Diamond with my friend, N

Anyways, this post is really all about my return to my main man, Vinnie. He took the winter off and has only had three or four rides since returning to the barn about two weeks ago, so I wasn’t sure how the lesson would go. He’s still a hairy yak and way out of shape, but man, it sure felt like we hadn’t skipped a beat since last summer. I felt comfortable on him right away, and remembered his little quirks like the bear that lives at the end of the arena and how he likes to fool you into a slow-as-snails jog at the beginning of the lesson. It felt good to be back on my little solid-bred paint gelding.

Our lesson started out with flat work and working on adjusting striding between ground poles. I did pretty well, but it’s still a tough exercise for me; I just don’t always have a good feel for our pace. After we completed that exercise with a relative amount of success, we moved on to jumping. We started with some small crossrails since Vinnie hasn’t seen a jump in about four months, but he popped right over them without a thought! Good pony. We struggled a bit with our coursework, Vinnie’s lack of conditioning making it difficult to generate much energy at the canter–plus I forgot just how much leg he really needs! Overall it was a good lesson and a great reintroduction for the two of us.

I’m happy to be able to say that I can feel improvement from last year, but that there are still things I can work on. Now if only the weather would cooperate so that we could ride outside!