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Miles winter 2013

Earning Respect

I don’t know if all equestrians are this way, but my rides always seem to go better if I start with a plan. For the last few months I’ve been working on this and I think it’s really been working, as more often than not I get off feeling as though I at least accomplished something instead of wondering “where did 30 minutes go?!”

Since my lesson on Saturday, my plan has been to set the tone early and get upward transitions to the canter without serious attitude from Miles. On Tuesday, things were going okay until I went to bridle. I was reaching up to unclip Miles from the crossties and he bit me!

I saw red.

I kept my wits about me and unclipped the crossties before waving my hands in the air yelling “NO!” and backing Miles right there in the aisle. We did a few forward, stop, back maneuvers before I successfully bridled the beast and went into the arena.

I was still pretty pissed, but I channeled my energy into forward, forward, forward. I was actually pretty proud of myself because while I was still clearly angry, I didn’t get in Miles’ face for every little thing and instead we had a good ride where we worked on circles and transitions. I made Miles work, and he didn’t really get much of a breather for the 20 minutes I rode, but it was very productive.

Miles winter 2013

Wednesday I was able to go out to the barn in the daylight (yay for holidays!) and I again went in with a plan. But my plan started from the very beginning, instead of just goals for my actual ride. I didn’t put Miles in crossties, just stood him in the aisle with the lead rope over his neck. As soon as I turned away to grab a brush, he tried to bite me.

This time, I was ready. I grabbed the lead rope and immediately corrected his behavior. And you know what? Throughout the rest of my grooming session, Miles was a perfect gentleman! He didn’t even put so much as an ear back the whole time.

And the only misbehavior during our ride was when I first asked for the left lead canter. He picked his head up, flicked his ears back and refused to walk forward. So I gave him a reminder tap right then, and sent him into a forward march. Five steps later I asked for the transition to the canter and he obliged without a fuss!

It might take a few more times out, but I think I’ve finally got Miles’ number and I’m beginning to earn his respect.

No Stirrups Nov 2013

Alls Quiet on the Miles Front

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoyed a bit of a break — I know I did. I usually try to limit my holiday travelling, but this year that just wasn’t possible; more travelling equals less pony time, so there’s really not much to report on the Miles front.

Rocky demonstrating the post-Thanksgiving coma

Plus I’ve been taking it pretty easy – the farrier was supposed to come out and trim Miles about a week and half ago, but he hurt his back and hasn’t been able to come out yet. He’s scheduled to (finally!) come out today, though. Yippee! And since I’m an overcautious mom, I’ve just been hacking around and doing spa things… which Miles hates.

Anyone have tips for mane pulling? Miles will NOT stand still, so I finally just cut it – and I think it looks okay, except for a section near his ears, which is just too thick. So any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Anyways, I rode for the first time since before Thanksgiving yesterday and Miles was a bit grumpy. Probably the grumpiest I’ve seen him yet, with a few “No, I don’t wanna!” moments that included head shaking and a cow kick. But I just pushed him forward, and as soon as we started doing more interesting things, he was better.

I set out a circle of death with ground poles and worked on that. It went well at the walk and trot, but I didn’t measure and one pole was too close to the center, so the canter was a bit iffy. I really liked this exercise for a multitude of things I’m working on though, such as:

  1. Ride leg to hand (not hand to leg)
  2. Look where I’m going (not where I am)
  3. Increase Miles’ flexibility

I’m definitely going to revisit this exercise later this week and try to set it more properly so we can really work on the canter. I think this will help us focus on our balance and pace, which are two things we desperately need to improve.

I finished up the ride with a bit of no stirrup work. Thus far the key to success for me has been lowering my stirrups one hole for my flat rides and just adding in a few minutes without them at all at the end. I need to work on pushing myself though, because after one lap my legs were burning so I stopped, but today I’m not sore. Guess it’s No Stirrup December for me!

Miles is not enthused about No Stirrup December, LOL

 

Miles poses in Vespucci

Vespucci and 2’6″

Saturday was a day of quality “gotta get it done.” It was nice because I didn’t have a bunch of appointments going on, so Sam and I were able to spend the day together running errands and crossing things off the to do list. Most of our travels were boring, mundane tasks like deposit checks, buy groceries, fold laundry, etc. The two exciting stops you ask? Dr. Shoe and the barn.

Dr. Shoe

When I bought Miles he didn’t come with much: just a bridle and a halter. His bridle had his old owner’s nameplate on it, so I’ve been working on getting that switched out. The new plate came last week, so Sam and I trekked up to our local shoe repair store to get it changed.

I’ve been excited because duh, new nameplate, but also because I absolutely adore this bridle and I want to get a matching martingale to go with it. Of course, the current plate is located dead center on the crown piece, right over the logo. So when we stopped at Dr. Shoe, I asked them to remove the plate first so I could see the brand. And I promptly almost suffered a heart attack.

The bridle that I got FOR FREE with purchase of horse, that I’ve been using to school in, is a fucking Vespucci. I thought it was some SmartPak brand or whatever, but no. This is a $400 bridle! Holy fucking shit!! And I’ve been dragging that thing around in the mud, only occasionally cleaning it and it turns out to be the nicest, most expensive piece of tack I own. Fuck me. And no, I didn’t pay enough for the pony to warrant such a nice gift, haha. Anyways, the matching martingale is $220… so it goes without saying that I’m now shopping for a used one and that this set will now be Miles’ show attire. Tre excite!!

The Barn

After my excitement at the shoe repair shop, Sam and I went out to the barn. It was a nice day, high near 60 degrees, but pretty windy. I opted to ride inside and set up a few single jumps to practice, since I’m still in a funk with my flatwork. I’ve only jumped Miles once outside of lessons so far, and it was just a not-even 18″ baby vertical. I’m not very comfortable jumping much without my trainer — I’m always worried I’m going to make some terrible mistake and fuck up my horse (plus I will NOT do it unless someone else is in the arena with me.) But it’s good for me to practice a few more jumps (I really need the reps) and it helps increase my confidence when I can get things done all by my onesies.

So Sam set up two outside single crossrails, and I trotted and cantered over them. Then he put them up to verticals and we went over those. My jumps weren’t very pretty — I kept chipping in — but Miles was very good. Then Sam thought it would be fun to jack them up.

Sam: Want me to raise them?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. They look good.

Sam: Let’s measure them. (Finds tape and sticks them at 2’3″) I’ll just raise them one hole and if it looks too big you don’t have to do it. (Raises one jump)

Me: I dunno… it looks kinda big.

Sam: Just do it!

Me: Okay, fine.

Uh yeah. That’s me and Miles jumping our first 2’6″ vertical!! I know my leg looks like shit, but my release is solid and my breakover isn’t half bad!!

Just in case you’re wondering why I even care: I haven’t jumped 2’6″ since probably one jump I did on a friend’s horse LAST WINTER. And before that I hadn’t jumped 2’6″ since high school… which was a long ass time ago. I know for a lot of people 2’6″ is nothing, but for me it is a HUGE FUCKING DEAL!!

Miles gives zero fucks about this jump. But I am fucking ecstatic! 

Also, go enter Hillary’s Contest for Saddle Soap!

Miles posing Sept 2013

Miles’ Week

Monday

On Monday, I enjoyed a nice, leisurely hack inside. It wasn’t too long, and it was nice to get out and stretch my legs. Except for the end where the monkey on my back my rider decided to participate in No Stirrup November. If you haven’t heard of it, be sure NOT to mention it to your human, it’s borderline cruel and unusual punishment, and I’ve already threatened to get my lawyer involved.

After that I got cookies (Stud Muffins, my second favorite!) and extra hay because I am awesome.

Tuesday

My human came out in the dark and brought her boyfriend (although I’m told he will now be family… color me skeptical). I thought it would be business as usual, but she was all frantic and I was amused at her impression of running around like a chicken with its head cut off (which I’ve never seen myself, but I have it on good authority from the cow pony next door that it’s very funny).

We promptly went to the wash stall (in the dark) and I got a bath. Which was okay, except for the part where I had to get my face washed — my human needs to learn that she has a maximum of 15 seconds with the hose in my face. More dedicated training in this area is needed; however with winter fast approaching I fear she will forget all of her lessons by the time summer rolls around. Sigh.

Then I stood around in the crossties with my blankets on, which was very boring. But the boyfriend held my bucket so I could eat dinner… hopefully this whole “becoming family” nonsense does happen because he is a good bucket-holder.

I was angry because I did not get to go outside with my friends and I don’t know why! I was in the barn all by myself for hours before my human finally showed up. But then there was a CAMERA, which is my favorite because I get to be the center of attention, which is where I belong, because I’m awesome. So we did some walking around the farm and I got to eat a lot of peppermints (which are my favorite!), and my human tried to pose for the camera, but she’s not very good at it. Poor thing. I also got to meet my younger brother, who smells like a dog, but is small like a cat. Very confusing, but whatever — I got more peppermints so I was happy!

Hack-9-14-Pose-3

Wednesday

But then everything went downhill very quickly. The human’s friend came (she is not well-trained, does not feed me treats and does not think my grumpiness is “cute” like MY human). And she CLIPPED ME. And I hated it — those clippers feel so funny and are ticklish and the human went SO SLOW. It was awful.

I only got to go to the indoor today to play, which started my day off very poorly. There is no grass and I do not get to chat with my buddies in the indoor. To make matters worse, my human’s friend came BACK out and clipped me AGAIN. I told her that this kind of treatment was unacceptable, but she didn’t care at all. Bitch.

Thursday

Finally my human came out, and we did one of those sessions with all my friends and the other human in the middle who talks a lot. I like her the bestest because she always tells me I am good and helps make my human ride less like a monkey. But I was still very upset with how poorly my week had been and I decided that it was time for a tough lesson for my human.

So I was really cranky the whole time — I pinned my ears at all the other horses, swished my tail when she put her leg on and cow-kicked a few times when she asked me to canter. That should teach her to treat me so poorly!

But then there were jumps! And I love to jump — the human in the middle who talks a lot always lets me jump so I love her. Today she told my human to leave me alone and ignore my “attitude” (thank GOD someone around here understands me!)

So after that things were good, and I got very sleepy so I slept while the other ponies jumped around. It was a nice nap and my buddies told me I didn’t miss anything exciting. Afterwards, my human didn’t even brush me (the training is working!) so I went to bed nice and tired and happy with my treats and hay… because I’m awesome.

Here’s hoping my human doesn’t come out to see me today. I am really sick and tired of her this week.