Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trail Dressage Mule

I took Jetta on her first trail ride in a very long time. She's been super good all week, so while I didn't ride yesterday I thought she'd be fine. I was a little worried I should have lunged before I left because she was a little antsy for getting her legs wrapped and hoof boots on but I shouldn't have worried. I have the best trail dressage mule! (I think this should be her new title: large ears + riding dressage + trail rides = trail dressage mule)

Are you done taking pictures yet?
We did my favorite little trail and it was perfect. We were having some boot wardrobe malfunctions plus I want to work on building those butt muscles so I made her walk all the way uphill. Finally got the boots all fixed so when we popped out the other side of the hill to the logging trails, I let her trot for quite a ways and even canter. She was pretty much on her best behavior the entire time! She had to do a nice, dressage quality trot the entire time, which at first she resisted with her best llama impression, but soon settled down into a nice soft trot.

We didn't go all the way to the lookout, which I think is about 7-8 miles round trip because I didn't want to make her too sore, but she was raring to go the entire time. I forgot to turn my tracking app on, but I think we went around 4-5 miles. She then proceeded to speed-walk the entire way back down the hill which I must say is incredibly uncomfortable to ride. 

Best thoroughbred mule beast
At the very end as I was untacking her, this older couple came over and the wife asked to pet Jetta. They were super nice, telling me about the history of the area and talking about how she wished she had a horse at my age. The husband proclaimed that he knew Jetta was a "trail horse, trained to cross bridges and things". As they started to walk away, the husband said "Oh! She's got sandals on!" to which I replied that they were her tennis shoes! They thought that was pretty funny.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Jetta Monster

Be forewarned, I have no interesting media so you get lots of Jetta lunging pictures.

Jetta is back to being the only child, which I'm not sure she's too thrilled with. I have finally gotten back in the saddle with her and it's been strangely... undramatic.

Not enthused

So far only two rides, but she's been strangely good. Lots to work on, and we're aiming to go to a show on July 10th. I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not... but it should be fun. I don't think she'll be ready to go right back to first level, but hopefully training will be doable.

Currently she's getting lunged in side reins before I ride, then I hop on and keep the rides short and simple. The first ride back she was extremely dull to my leg which was so unusual for her.

We did lots of walking and getting her on the bit nicely, trying to get her in front of my leg (unsuccessfully). Finally we trotted and she was just so quiet and good that I even threw a canter in even though I hadn't planned on it.

Is that actually an uphill canter I see??

Ride 2 was done with spurs. Finally got her much more responsive to my leg and we did lots of leg yields, shoulder and haunches-in to get her paying attention. She was really good again, we had one baby spook but otherwise she was quiet again, despite being in raging heat. We even cantered in both directions! Yay for my 10 year old horse actually acting mature.

She needs to get steadier in the bridle, but for the most part she's really steady. Transitions, especially downwards, need work. Her canter is really nice, but the trot needs to get a little more balanced. Overall though, it really shouldn't be too much work.

I'm planning on taking her for a trail ride one day this week, adding in some cavallettis and poles to our rides and working on preparing for a show!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Last Derby

The day before I sold Misty, I took her to the very last show. It was a fun little derby being held at a fancy dressage barn. They've recently been foraying into different types of shows besides just dressage and this is their first year of doing a derby series (of 3).

Unfortunately I missed the first one in the series, but I was able to make it to this second one since Misty's owner pushed back the pick up date by a week.

The derby looked SUPER fun. Basically you rode your dressage test, then the jumping/xc was combined into where you would jump in one ring, jump out of the ring, ride across the grass to the little trails in the woods where there was a jump, jump into a different ring with 3 fences, then ride back across the grass, over a little coop (the only actual xc fence), jump into the arena and finish your course back where you started.

I thought it was awesome. Misty hadn't been ridden in 2 weeks prior to the show and I had time to fit in two rides before the show - one flat and one jumping.

She was actually rather bad for the flat ride. She didn't want to do transitions nicely at all, so we spend the entire time reinforcing that she needed to do them when I said AND they had to be soft and on the bit. Such torture.

But it was well worth it because while she warmed up pretty spunky, bucking every so often and leaping into the canter when I asked for it, she gave me such a solid, awesome test. I was thrilled with her. It was seriously one of our best tests to-date. She was accurate, forward, responsive, steady and soft. The only real bobble we had is the trot to walk transition right in front of the judge wasn't very good, I needed to keep my leg on more so she wouldn't come above the bit. But overall, I couldn't be happier with how it went!

We ended up second after dressage with a 27.8!!

I thought this was such an awesome compliment!

After dressage, a huge dark cloud rolled in and the announcer asked riders to get off their horses and return to the barn while it started thundering and lightning and raining. It was quite impressive. There was a severe weather warning set for the area, but luckily it just passed us by quickly and we were back on schedule in 20 minutes.

The jumping was scored using stadium rules, which was lucky for us. Misty warmed up fairly well, with a few bunny hops and flying leaps here and there. I don't jump enough to really see my distance so the key with Misty is to just ride her forward with an even tempo to the jumps. I'm too used to "compressing" Jetta into a smaller, bouncy canter but it just doesn't work for Misty.

Cute stuff

Anyways, I was a tad nervous about the course just because we'd only jumped plain jumps and all of the jumps were flowery and well decorated (they did a fantastic job with the jumps!). Misty was bunny hopping a lot of the jumps, but at least she was going over them... until the jump in the woods. We went from bright and sunny to shade right at the jump and of course Misty decided to stop. She popped over the second time and continued through the trails to the second arena where the first jump was a brick wall... which she refused in slow motion. I really thought she was going over it, so I'm not sure what happened there. We continued the rest of the course, taking the low option for the coop, and Misty surprisedly cantered right over the downhill jump into the arena which I had planned on trotting since it looked spooky to me. Apparently not.

Love this pic

I was pretty bummed with Misty's refusals so I added a schooling round and we went again. You could see Misty dragging her feet as I hauled her back out of the stall for round 2. "But I thought I was done!" - This is what happens when you're a bad pony.

The second round was near perfect. No refusals, though we did have one rail. And we took the high option for the coop. I was very happy with that round and Misty finally got untacked and stuffed with treats.

Everyone had at least one refusal or multiple rails so we ended up hanging on to our second place!

It was a really great way to end our partnership. I miss my little unicorn pony so much, but I'm glad for the time we had together.

Afterwards I got to watch my friend, PR, ride her amazing mare. They were going to do prelim, but opted to drop down to Training, since 1) she was competing against herself as the only one in that division, and 2) she was sick.

Overall, it was super fun! I can't wait for the next one and I hope to ride Jetta in it, since I have a little over a month to prepare!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Selling Misty

I honestly think this is the hardest time I've ever had selling a horse, not just because it took for-freaking-ever (seriously, like a year and a half?) but because I became so incredibly attached to her in the three years that I've owned her.

For those that don't remember, Misty was an impulse purchase. Yeah. My previous BO bought her from a ranch in the eastern part of the state. Her name at the time was Sissy. I thought she was fairly nice, especially for a stock horse. I watched her take a couple dressage lessons and was very impressed with her movement. I was pretty bummed when my BO sold her (I didn't realize she was being sold), but a couple months later she popped up for sale again. I mentioned to my BO that I wish I could afford her (but she was way, way, way out of my price range). My BO ended up contacting her owner and she dropped her price by over half for me, in addition to letting me do payments. While she was a cheap horse, she's still by far the most expensive horse I've ever purchased.

I remember the night I bought her drinking an entire bottle of wine, then asking my roommate to pick me up some more because I just bought a new horse sight unseen (at least in her current condition) plus I'd never ridden her before. You can imagine how that night ended for me. 

But she made up for that my how amazing she ended up. Her first ride with me was lackluster. She didn't know how to jog or pick up the right lead very well, or just bend right for that matter. She didn't know how to take contact or do smooth transitions. She was broke, just not trained.

Being a dork
From there she had her first dressage shows, first time jumping. Lots of trails and giving friends pony rides. First time galloping cross country. My first time competing at sorting and doing ranch horse competitions. Both of our first recognized dressage competition.

Ultimately, she's literally the best horse I've ever owned. She gives Jazz a run for her money (my childhood amazing horse). While I want to have a sporthorse - some sort of WB or TB because my true love is eventing - I will say that stock horses are amazing. You can't find more heart and try, with such solidness and lack of spook in many other horses. Or maybe that's just my bias ;)

But enough about that, let's talk about her new home. Geez, was this an ordeal. It started with a phone call almost 2 months ago from a lady in California who lives outside of the Bay area. We'll call her TG. She was very interested in Misty. She'd been horse shopping for a while since her last horse died of cancer. She hadn't ridden in quite a while and was looking for something she felt safe on. She just wanted a horse to take on trail rides around the property and take some dressage lessons on, probably not compete.

Napping while grazing the Misty-moo

Since she was an almost 11 hour drive away, she had some friends that lived just north of me come down to try her since they could tell her whether Misty was worth coming to see. I really liked these people. Really laid back, solid horsemanship, no drama type of people. The kind I grew up with basically. They had started riding a few years ago after meeting TG, though they rode western. Through our conversation we learned that we had some competitions in common since they liked to do competitive trail riding (mountain/cowboy trail competitions like I used to do on Jazz). They loved Misty a lot and it was pretty neat to watch someone ride her western since I had never had anyone actually ride her western. Misty was super responsive and just fantastic. Rode her on a loose rein. She stopped when they said whoa, did her roll backs, moved off the leg perfectly, neck reined, the whole deal. It made me so proud. They even said they might start a bidding war with TG on her!

A few weeks later TG finally made the long drive up. She hadn't ridden in a long time, but Misty was very good for her and she said she felt really safe on her. I mentioned the experience a few posts ago, where Misty broke the cross ties and ended up lame. She understood though and Misty was very good.

All the treats

We scheduled the vet check a couple weeks later since she wouldn't be able to come get her for a while. The vet check went really well, I thought at least. Misty flexed a little positive on her right hind, which I knew would happen. It was much more subtle than the last time. Everything else was perfect. She took x-rays of both hocks and her front leg with the scar. All the x-rays looked beautiful, with no sign of arthritis.

TG texted me after the pre-purchase to say that she couldn't pay the purchase price we'd agreed on because Misty would need all these expensive joint supplements and eventually injections. I dropped her price a little, but explained for her history and age, I wouldn't expect her joints to be anything else. She'd been sound in pretty hard work, and with the drop in her work load that she'd have with TG, I expected her to be sound for many more years, even if she did need some joint injections eventually. At that point I expected the sale to be over. But, the next morning I got another text that she thought the price was fair and she was still going to get Misty.

I think this is going to be a really great home for Misty. She has a big paddock to herself, lots of trails to ride and an owner who will spoil her. She mentioned that once she can afford it, Misty will get a custom saddle. She already bought her some boots, a bridle and a half pad. She was texting me about how she started taking riding lessons again and doing pilates so that she can be fit, and have an independent seat and not pull on Misty's mouth.

While I'll admit that I wish she was going to a young girl who wanted to compete her in 4-H or High School Equestrian team or Pony club, and I'm a little bummed that she won't get to be shown, in reality, it's a great home and I couldn't ask for anything better. I'm going to miss my little roany paint pony more than words can convey, but I'm happy for her next journey in life.

Goodbye hugs
 (pictures are all from yesterday while we were waiting for her ride to arrive)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Selling Horses Sucks: Part 2

I've been talking about selling Misty for a really long time. I've never had a horse that didn't sell for so long and at first it was discouraging. I bought Misty as a project horse for the purpose of selling a year or two down the road, maybe longer. But once she didn't sell, I kind of adjusted to the fact of keeping her. I joked "I guess I'll just have her forever since no one wants her."

But I wasn't that disappointed. She's basically a unicorn in my book. She's safe. Even when she decides that she has an opinion about flying changes or halting straight, she couldn't hurt a fly if she tried and she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.

I can go work cows on her, then turn around and go show at a dressage show, then go cross country schooling, and then plop a friend on her and go for a trail ride. She ground ties in the wash rack, she self loads in the trailer, I can clip her ears without sedative. I can not ride her for a week and then decide on a whim to go to a show and win a class. She's absolutely adorable, she's rarely broken (unlike someone else I know, *cough* Jetta). She's given me a lot of confidence back and allowed me to improve as a rider. I haven't regretted that impulse purchase three years ago one bit.

A few of the first posts I made about her when I first got her... how far she's come!

But then comes the time when she actually sells and I have to say goodbye. Now THAT is the suckiest part of selling horses. I've posted about the rude people, the disappointment of sales falling through, etc. But nothing is as bad as actually having to say goodbye to a horse that has become one of your best friends over the past three years.

I'll do a full write up on her new home and everything tomorrow, but for now I'm just going to go cry and hug Jetta and try to remind myself that Misty is going to a great home that will treat her really well!