Wednesday, December 2, 2015

back at it like she never missed a day

I hinted yesterday that Isabel has officially gotten back under saddle!!! So exciting!!! Austen was generous enough to come play around with the mare a bit - and that's definitely not an offer you say no to. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that Isabel secretly likes Austen. Shh, nobody say it out loud, but mare kinda likes getting all fancy ;)

mare stare complete with fancy new bridle!
I'm facing a couple more weeks in the boot (but am pretty much weaned entirely from my crutches - yasssss!!) but am hoping to quickly settle back into a routine once I'm in the saddle again. As such, I've asked for a little help in getting Isabel a head start on rebuilding her fitness.

"this one spot right here. yes. this is an acceptable way to touch my face. but only this." - isabel
A barn mate started long-lining her recently (the same barn mate who taught me how last spring), I've played with her in the round pen, and it's time for her to actually move out again with a rider.

watching her go is almost as fun as riding her
And seriously, I think Isabel missed it. For all her mare glare and expressive/opinionated/aloof behavior, I genuinely believe she likes getting fussed over. She likes being the center of attention. And really, she's just just such a trier - even when it's hard or confusing, she still ultimately wants to be good.

seriously, what's not to love?
The mare looked REALLY good from my vantage point on the ground. Loose, relaxed, happy and seeming to understand and enjoy the 'job' (tho Austen wasn't drilling or demanding anything - just asking for a nice ride). She just seemed soft and connected, not at all fussy, and for all the world like she hadn't missed a day - let alone 5 weeks.

even the huskies want to go running around with her ;) (or maybe they just want their mother haha... whatevs)
Austen seemed to have a positive impression of how Isabel felt too - saying her back felt relaxed and swinging (yay long lining!) and that she was steadier in the connection than last time she rode. Sure, some things didn't magically fix themselves over her vacation (looking at YOU, canter transitions!), but eh, we'll get back to work on them soon enough.

she still remembers how to stretch, sorta kinda momentarily haha
Really tho, I think everyone involved is relieved to see the light at the end of my broken leg tunnel.


They worked for right around 20 minutes, maybe a hair longer, before I got to love on the mare a little bit and stuff her with sugar cubes before returning her to the field. Sigh. Seriously. Cannot wait to ride again. Soooooon!! 

i'm just so happy to spend time with her again!
And now that Dan is on his way to Aiken for the season (tragic that I missed the last few lessons before he left... boo) we're shifting our focus slightly. Sure, we'll still go to weekly jump lessons at OF, but I want to get serious about dressage this winter. Trainer C is so close, and her farm is so lovely - we're gonna do our best to make weekly lessons happen. Exciting!

dis her self-satisfied face
Just watching Austen ride this time vs last time also went a long way toward reassuring me that we *have* been on the right path, we've been learning and improving and the foundation is THERE now. Time to start really building on that!

and huskies too. even if they were pissy about the wet soupy sand
And as a way of thanking Austen, I suggested she hop on my ear be-fuzzed buddy Bali!!!

it's a Bali!!!
Because that's the kind of friend I am haha.

"Here, come ride my super fun, agreeable and talented sports car mare!!!"

"Ooooh and while you're at it, how about riding this green, moderately soured asshole OTTB too. He's pretty much the cutest! Don't worry about him threatening to bite your face off - idk if he can even bite like a proper horse with that parrot mouth ;) "

he wears fancy bridles too
I'm, um, not exactly sure that my enthusiasm for this gelding is contagious. But all I see is ear fuzz. Everything else is noise. Just ear fuzz. All ear fuzz. I luvs it!

and that tail tho!
Tho I did warn Bali's lease rider (who was helping with lessons in the arena) that some serious ass kicking was likely imminent, and that it was probably not a battle Bali would win lol.

looking fancy!
Really tho, Austen did a very nice job with him. She pinpointed the same basic approach for him that I had settled on: don't worry about where he carries his head and neck - they're gonna swing around every which way, but it's essentially all in an effort to balance himself. The real focus is: FORWARD. Always and forever, amen.

looking..... opinionated?
He's got a lot more power in there than he's immediately willing to unlock. You can parse it out a little bit at a time, but it requires working through some, erm, resistance.

at least he's an ambidextrous tool bag? 
And Bali definitely challenged Austen's commitment to forward (eventually prompting her to further shorten her stirrups for easier pony club thumping haha, since I had neglected to grab spurs for her). All the same, it was really interesting to get her take on him - especially as she was able to better identify some ways to help get him moving better, as well as suggesting where I should focus my efforts in making him more comfortable.

there we go - more of this plz bali! 
Still, tho. It was probably *not* Austen's favorite ride of the day. Lolz. Poor unloved Bali. If I had thought ahead (and the ring hadn't been so sloppy) maybe we could have sent her over a fence or two and she would better understand the horse's attraction. He's WAY easier to jump than he is to flat! And FUN :)


Oh well... maybe next time? For now, tho, the countdown is seriously on for my return to the tack!

47 comments:

  1. Aw poor Bali! Life is hard for asshole stiff OTTBs! Haha! Now... About all my riding faults...

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    1. haha seriously tho - thanks so much for coming out! both horses are definitely improved for it ;)

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  2. Bali looks oh so charming LOL. Izzy really looks good though. Awesome that Austen was able to get out and hop on her!

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    1. izzy was phenomenal. i was just super impressed with her willingness, despite being left entirely idle for so long

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  3. Austen and Izzy look so wow. Is it weird I'm drooling? Lol. And Bali had a little world blown up/expansion it sounds like. What a post!

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    1. drooooool away! i certainly was haha. and poor bali - tho to be completely honest, just about every ride with him looks like that. it gets better when he's getting schooled (rather than just lesson kids) more frequently, but that resistance is always there....

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  4. Poor Bali had to really work and objected. Iz looks great can't wait to see you back in the saddle.

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    1. i can't wait either! and bali's #1 reaction to everything is an objection. we're working on it, and his objections aren't particularly long lived, but they're jusssst dramatic enough to scare off some of the lesson kids. so he gets away with it.

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  5. Iz looks awesome after her break!! So convenient that Austen is so close! And Bali... well.. he's a jerk. Ha.

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    1. so convenient, omg! i wish you were closer too!!! and bali may be a jerk, but he's my beloved adorable floofy eared jerk and i will continue to be blinded to his (many) flaws forever and ever lol :D

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  6. Izzy looks great! Bali though, when he is behaving he is lovely!

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    1. ha thanks! that about sums them both up quite accurately ;)

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  7. Huzzah for barn friends!! Also, Izzy looks really good! And once Bali gets going, he does too :)

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    1. thanks! just watching them go made me so excited to get back at it myself too! and honestly, when bali's working a little more regularly (not just doing lessons) so many of his wrinkles smooth out

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  8. Even Val went through a phase much like Bali's. Once he thought we should be finished he would suck back, hollow his back, and kick out, sometimes so hard and high you couldn't see my head over his butt if you were behind us. Lol. It will pass. Just takes patience, and a no nonsense attitude!

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    1. I should add though that they both look fantastic, especially Bali man when he's having a good moment. There's some serious progress there.

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    2. thanks and that's great advice! i really really like this horse (even if he's an asshole haha), he just has baggage. it's usually worse at the *beginning* of a ride, vs the end, and the histrionics pretty much disappear completely when you're jumping (he is SO FUN to jump!).

      my suspicion is that his issues stem from: 1. generally being lazy and 2. learning that being scary and a bully will back the lesson kids off so that he doesn't have to work hard.

      so my whole approach with him has been to show him that, actually, saying 'No' will be harder in the long run and that it's easier (and more fun) to just say 'Yes' to my requests like a gentleman. he'll figure it out eventually!

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  9. You need to photoshop a crown onto Izzy's head in that second picture. Haha! Love it.

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  10. Very fun! I love seeing people ride my horses, so I can imagine it was the next best thing to riding yourself. I have to say Austen maintained lovely position during all the fun.

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    1. i haven't always loved watching others ride my horses (honestly i don't really share very well) but i'm learning, esp when i'm not able to actually hop on myself. and yea Austen handled Bali's shenanigans well - tho she had to take him to school when he pushed the envelope too far

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  11. She looks so good!! She'll be so happy when she's got you back!
    I'm glad to hear you're almost recovered!

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    1. thanks! it's getting so close now - i really can't wait and am so excited to seeing the horse look so READY :D

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  13. I always like to watch someone else ride the pony. I have often times said if I had all the money in the world, I would have more fun providing horses for OTHER people to ride than actually riding them myself. And congratulations on getting mostly off the crutches!

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    1. thanks!! the crutches are officially done!!! (tho i still have one in the truck in case i start to get tired or sore). but yea, if you ever have all the money in the world lmk and i can definitely help you out with the whole 'providing horses for others to ride' thing!!! :D

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  14. Haha! Bali might be difficult and opinionated but he's still cute.

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    1. omg he is the absolute cutest! he'll figure out that it's supposed to be fun soon enough :)

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  15. I'm happy you are on the way to recovery!

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  16. Yay! No more crutches! I bet you are counting down the days until tack time!

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    1. omg the countdown is ON! my doctor was very clear about what kind of timeline i should expect, and reiterated THRICE that i was not to get adventurous any earlier than that timeline.... we shall see tho lol

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  17. Hooray for recovery! And Austen!

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    1. lol seriously! she's welcome back to school our horses ANY TIME haha

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  18. Your mare is looking cute as hell, and now after seeing bridle in this post I'm going to have to go back to your other post about said bridle ;)

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    1. haha the bridle definitely has a slightly different look in action, and the regular non-blinged out browband was used for all these pictures, so it's not quite so apparent that it's so low on her face

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  19. I'm all for watching others rode my horse. I can fall in love all over again: "Aw, so cute!" Glad you ditched the crutches. And all this talk of fancy bridles is wearing me down. I must speak to Santa on behalf of Knight getting his own bridle (as opposed to the 20 year old hand-me-down one we use now).

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    1. lol 20yr old hand-me-down bridles have their place in the world, and i'm completely pragmatic about function over form..... buuuuuuuut.... fancy bridles, sooo pretty!!! maybe if Knight is reeeeeally good and stops doing scary colicky things, santa will reward him?

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  20. I'm a credentialed English teacher. I'm mortified at my wrong verb in the above comment (thank you Samsung swipe text).

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  21. I'm a credentialed English teacher. I'm mortified at my wrong verb in the above comment (thank you Samsung swipe text).

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    1. lolz i'm pretty sure our smart phones have secret plans to embarrass (and eventually undermine) us through ridiculously auto-corrected spelling/grammar errors

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  22. So wish I could have participated more in the fun! Yay for both horses being in work. Izzy looked happy to work and while Bali did not, I think any ride that he learns trying not to work is harder then actually working = win!

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    1. lol Bali.... he really didn't look super happy did he ha. he'll figure it out tho. sometimes it'll be despite his best efforts to *not* learn, but really we just want to have fun with him and he's not so dense as to not eventually become more compliant

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  23. YES for the light at the end of the tunnel. And WOW is he opinionated. Goodness grief.

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    1. lols he's occasionally been known to feel feelings ;)

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