Sunday, June 25, 2017

It's... complicated

No new pony pictures this weekend - between the planned trip to see how Justice's daddy is doing at training (exceptional, from what I've heard) and the rain that pre-empted both said trip and normal barn time... well.  Old pictures are gonna have to do.

Anyway, one of Emma's recent posts reminded me of my whole, "Which discipline am I going to do, anyway?" problem - something I referenced in my comment there as "it's complicated."

Let's talk about complicated.

When I first started riding, I was riding at a hunter/jumper barn.  In hindsight, it was... not a very good h/j barn.  Or, indeed, a very good barn at all.  But it was what I had, so I learned to jump.
Oh god, please don't ask how old I am in this picture. Also, if you've never been to Texas/Oklahoma - yes, the dirt is that color; that's why it's the Red River.
We did a little trail riding here and there, but mostly, we did trot poles, then single jumps, and eventually we worked our way up to courses with four whole jumps.

That was about the time that the mare I was riding in lessons at the time (not the above pony) flipped out a little and started bucking after the last jump on the course.  I... honestly, I've ridden bucks since then that were way worse.  It kinda felt like she was doing something stupid at the canter, but I had no idea what it was until I got her stopped and my mother and the instructor freaked out about the bucking. After that, the decision was made that I wouldn't be jumping anymore.  I assume I was part of this decision, but I cannot for the life of me remember saying, "I don't want to jump." 

Thus began an ill-fated career as a dressage rider.

Well, ill-fated might be an exaggeration.  It might be more accurate to say, "career of being a dressage student while riding with all the wrong people."

First instructor: the same h/j trainer I'd been riding with.  Bless her heart, she had no idea what she was doing.  We made it to two shows, and let's just say that if we got a dressage bingo card going, I could make a line with any of the following:
  • "What's a diagonal?"
  • Misunderstood judge's instructions
  • Plenty of whoa, absolutely no go
  • Spooked at judge's box
  • Retired or withdrew
  • Judge's comments: "egg-shaped circles"
Four of those six were this day, all on the same test...
Second instructor: the dressage instructor from hell.  Thank you for convincing my parents to buy me a saddle, crazy woman, but it's not cool to make teenagers cry because you've decided that we really aren't buying one of your half-broke monster horses.

Third instructor: clinician while riding with Psycho Bitch.  Seemed nice?  Probably would have been more helpful for me if I hadn't been terrified of the barely-broke three-year-old colt Psycho Bitch had me on.

Fourth instructor: another hunter/jumper trainer, this time entirely in group lessons where everyone else jumped and I didn't.

Fifth instructor: eventing instructor.  Going the right direction!  Sort of!  Until she had a baby and stopped teaching.
Such a pretty property. These days, it's a stupid subdivision...
Sixth instructor: dressage instructor!  Real, honest-to-god dressage instructor!  And she even kept teaching after she broke her leg.  Unfortunately, the barn was sold to one of those guys that believes that only he could teach you, and if you didn't have your own horse... well, you weren't going to learn from him.  She moved out of town; we moved on.

Seventh instructor: theoretically a dressage instructor.  Actually cut from much the same mold as Psycho Bitch, but we noticed her directing that at my friend, with whom we were sharing lessons, and the two of us cut and ran.

Eighth instructor: English rider from South Africa who was apprenticing with a Western Pleasure rider.  Meant well, but by this time my confidence in my riding was completely in the can, thanks to a couple of falls and Psycho Bitch, and after another fall, it didn't get better.  Kind of suspect I'm why she stopped teaching lessons (oops).

Ninth instructor: Western Pleasure rider who was game to try teaching me English riding.  Great at rebuilding my confidence, up to a point; I don't think I ever made it back to where I was when I first started.  Taught me all kinds of things, very little of it dressage.
One of the last days I rode with instructor #9, and probably the last time I rode in my old dressage saddle.  Best picture from that day, unfortunately; the rest of the photos are tilted and/or blurry. Yay for letting a random teenager at the barn use my camera...

By the time I stopped taking lessons with #9, I was in college, and I'd realized two fundamental truths:
  • I like dressage just fine, but it's not that exciting by itself
  • I don't remember actually being scared of jumping
So my first riding instructor that I chose for myself was another hunter/jumper instructor - hilariously, one operating out of the same barn I'd started at, easily a decade before.  I rode with him for a few months, and never did get around to jumping again - which I respect that he had to back things up a bit, I really do.  But I found after a while that there were some things that I had fundamental differences of opinion with him on. (The biggest being, "We put our horses in hackamores so the novices don't chuck them in the mouth with bits."  Practical concerns about leverage aside, the Clyde/TB mare they had me on needed a bit; I got to ride her in both, and she pulled like a goddamned freight train without one.  Shouldn't need freaking gloves just to keep your fingers from being torn up, sorry.)

That's not quite my last formal instruction experience - one of the BOs and I did a clinic a few years ago for what's basically Western Dressage on video - but close enough.

So what discipline do I ride?

All due respect to those that do endurance, but I'm pretty sure if I tried to do more than a short trail ride, I'd be a miserable mess of a human being.  I might could survive an intro ride without breaking down into tears or screaming at someone?  Maybe?

To be honest, at this point, I've had so many confidence issues that it's hit or miss whether I'm comfortable outside an arena at all.  The last time I tried, a combination of an unfamiliar (and HUGE) mare and an individual I didn't entirely trust meant I couldn't do it, even though I knew that mare wasn't going to do anything more frightening than stumble; the time before that, on a mare I trusted, I was fine to motor along on the exact same trail ride in a larger group.

(If you want to be really, painfully honest, me and my confidence issues aren't always comfortable inside an arena.  *wince*  We're working on that.)

So I'm not really a trail rider.

I'm not just incredibly excited by dressage.  I seem to be reasonable at it, and I've got a shitload of technical, book-based knowledge bouncing around in my head that needs to be linked up with experience to really make sense, but it's not something that I sit here and go, "Whee, dressage!"  I'm excited by some of the upper-level movements?  And I kind of feel like I should enjoy watching it more than I do if it's "my" discipline; I love watching the freestyles, but the rest of the tests... meh.

Hunter/jumper... I like watching them.  But I find myself unenthusiastic when I read about the shows.  All due respect to George Morris, but there are too many appearance-based things to hunters.  Jumpers might be too fast for me - speed and my confidence issues aren't always friends - but it's slightly more interesting to me than hunters.

Ask me what discipline I'm enthusiastic about, which one I enjoy watching, and the answer will be eventing.  Except eventing involves at least some being outside the arena, and also immovable jumps, which is somewhat intimidating because I'm used to seeing the size of those jumps at the kinds of events that they televise - you know, Rolex... the Olympics...

I am so not prepared to be a Western rider of any sort.  I have been an English rider way too long; I cannot neck rein to save my goddamned life.  I get the concepts.  I know what I'm supposed to do.  But tell me I have to neck rein, and I am going to sit on that horse with a stupid look on my face and hope like hell I don't have to do anything other than go left and right, because "stop" and "back up" are utterly beyond my ability to actually do.

Also not all that interested in most of the Western disciplines.  I don't do cows; they're stupid and gross and I'm just not interested in trying to herd or rope them.  I'm mildly curious about reining?  I'd like to ride a barrel pattern some time, but not if it's a pattern anywhere near 90% of the "barrel riders" I've met locally?  That's about all I've got.

Play days and the like sound like fun once in a while, but I am clumsy as hell and somewhat competitive; that's gonna end in frustration for me, sooner rather than later.

I know that since I'm not really showing, what discipline I ride doesn't actually matter - except it does matter to me.  I'd like to do some showing - not a lot, but maybe one or two in a year?  I guess I just feel weirdly cheated by the fact that I went to all of three or four shows as a kid.  And I want to have some sort of goal more than, "Putter around the arena for a while."


Me and disciplines?  Yeah.  It's complicated.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A random note on white patterns and family lines

I follow the Equine Color Genetics group on Facebook (which... I hate FB so very, very much, so consider the word 'follow' to be a generous description).  Some days, it's great, and you can see some really cool colors and discussions.

Other days... well, I've said to my BOs before that it's a good thing I only check FB every few days.  I have a high level of sarcasm in my bones and a short fuse for repeated questions with blindingly obvious answers.


One of the discussions I saw recently was about the sabino-1 and splash-2/splash-3 lines in stock horses.

I had mentioned in the classic paint post that SB2 seemed to come from a single Quarter Horse mare, and was related to the Gunner line of Paints.  If what they were saying in the FB group was correct, that mare is Katie Gun, the dam of the stallion Colonels Smokingun (otherwise known as Gunner).

SW3 looks like it's coming from a Paint stallion named TD Kid.

Sabino-1 in stock horses seems to come from Real Luck and Gold Mount in Quarter Horses, and Nylon/Jetalito/Scenic Jetalito in Paint horses (again, per FB discussion). Although I have... questions... after looking at Scenic Jetalito's pedigree - the way it was phrased in the FB group was as though Nylon were an ancestor of Jetalito, which does not seem to be the case.  Instead, Jetalito is Scenic Jetalito's sire, and Nylon is in Scenic's damsire lines.  Real Luck was a 1970s stallion (born 1968), and Gold Mount would have been 1940s (born 1940).

It's not really ground-breaking information or anything, but it's fun to have names that you can look up to see what a pattern or color looks like.  :)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Look who turned 2!

"Mom says if I wear the funny hat, I can have cookies."
Gotta love the kiddo - I whipped out the hat, and he was more concerned with whether my trunk still had treats in it than with the hat.  The only time he even seems to notice it was when it fell off his head.

He even ate treats out of it.
"Mom, can you add a few more?  I can't quite reach them."
"Thank you!"
And we even got a side shot of him that isn't embarrassing!  I mean, as long as you account for "pocket pony wants to cuddle, not be a model."
Not much in the way of back muscle still, but neck's getting better and the rest isn't ridiculous. I'll take it!
Cessa got some cuddling too, but that was cut short by someone sneezing in my face.  A big, fat, WET sneeze.
You can look innocent all you want. We know the truth.
Gross, mare.  Gross.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How many grooming things does a person with 2 horses need?

Apparently, all of them.
Call this "before."
Not pictured: saddle, two bridles, a breastcollar, several sets of reins, the good halter, a couple of fancy bathing products... lol All stuff that either should not be in the trunk long-term (well, ok, the helmet shouldn't either; I need to change that) or is needed rarely enough that it can just be tucked away to go to the barn in a bag when I leave the house.

For the record, in that state, it was taking me 4+ trips and probably 10 minutes to unload my trunk.  It's freaking annoying.

So I bought a cheap trunk (with wheels! and a handle!) and decided to put my day off to good use by doing an inventory and re-packing.

Let's start off with the preface that this:
I tell my husband these are his brushes.
Is not my fault.  My parents bought me a grooming kit for the Christmas after I bought the ponies.  I appreciate it, but... umm... let's say it maybe might have been unnecessary.

For those counting at home, that would be:
12 curries
2 shedding tools
3 pairs of gloves
3 hoof picks
6 washclothes
11 brushes
and 1 roll of vet wrap that I have no idea why I have it.

What's that?  That sounds like a lot of grooming stuff?

Ha.  Haha.  Ahahahahahahahahahahhaah.
This is:
6 combs
7 brushes
1 rake comb/brush/thingie
1 skein of yarn
1 seam ripper
1 package of clips
2 containers of hair bands
2 plastic needles
and 1 pair of scissors.

Y'all, I haven't braided a horse for a show since 1996.  But I am effing prepared for if and when I ever need to.

What's that?  You don't see bathing stuff?

How about three separate sweat scrapers, four sponges, a bottle of magic horse bathing fluid, a spray-on detangler, Cowboy Magic, two bottles of fly spray (in my defense, one of them is nearly empty) - oh, and antibacterial gel and the hardware to repair a lead rope?

Halters?  We've got halters.
Halters for a good boy - although I guess I don't still need the halter he grew out of...
Halters for Miss 'Standing Tied Is Boring.'
Halters stretched out to draft size by Miss 'Standing Tied Is Boring.'
9 halters.  7 lead ropes.  *facepalm*

Other horsey stuff?  Sure, we've got that too.
1 pair of nylon split reins
1 dressage whip (okay, it's technically a pig whip, but there's... not much of a difference)
1 riding crop, well-aged but barely used
1 pair of garden gloves that... I honestly have no idea why I bought them and put them in the trunk, but I assume I had a reason?
1 uber-soft sorta-chamois cloth
1 weight/height tape
2 round lunge lines
1 pair of driving reins
1 flat lunge line
1 hat I've had since the 1990s that miraculously still fits and has not fallen apart
2 girths of a size that didn't fit Cessa
1 pair of side reins with extra hardware that I got as part of a pacage
1 pair of the most awesome European gloves, well-loved and with at least two holes from lunging escape attempts
1 surcingle
and 1 girth that really does fit a certain fat bay mare

How about human stuff?  YEP.
1 helmet, of an age that it probably ought to be replaced even if it hadn't spent the last few years in my trunk
1 pair of mud boots
1 pair of nice Ariat paddock boots
and of course, the most hilarious box to hold the boots ever.
Or maybe it's just me that wonders just how Santa's beard got glitter all over it and whether Mrs. Claus knows...

Net result?

Note to self: next time, maybe buy new paint pens and don't use the paint pens you bought like 9 years ago that miraculously still worked, but tended to get paint places you didn't intend to put paint so that you then had to go out of your way to make it look intentional rather than clearly a drip or mismark...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

One day...

One day I will learn to take my goofy selfies with the camera not pointed at the sun...
That day was not yesterday.
In other news, somebody has figured out back muscling and neck muscling and is starting to look more and more like a real horse.  So of course I only got a 3/4 view proof of this.  lol
Someone has also figured out that humans sometimes hide treats and that maybe if he puts his mouth on said humans, they will give him treats.

He seemed somewhat surprised when I kicked his butt for that little trick.

Also, a thing to file under weird shit the Appaloosa gene does: my horse has stripes.
I've seen LP horses with rib stripes before; it's really easy to mistake rib stripes for ribs standing out, though, so I don't tend to post photos of that when it shows up.  But this is on his spine.  He's also got lots of golden patches and lots of almost black patches; based on this year's shed, those golden patches are going to be white, probably when he sheds out for the winter.

It was too freaking hot to go chase down Cessa, so no fat bay mare photos this weekend.  :)

In other news, this is my next horsey project: organization.
It's not that I keep ALL of my horse stuff in the car. It's just that it takes me 10 minutes to unload what I do keep in there...