Friday, February 5, 2016

Oh wait, we suck after all

Naturally, the awesome rides can't continue forever. Eventually something has to give.

Look at our canter from Tuesday. Our canter is great. Our downward transition, not so much, but there's always something. Why can we not do more of this canter?

Last night's lesson was so not what I wanted. Taran started out stiff, I started out too demanding. Having an agenda when riding is generally a bad plan. Riding Taran when it's dusk is also generally a bad plan, especially when all his buddies leave him alone in the arena just as it's getting truly dark. I never really got him truly connected, so our canter transitions were several steps back from where they had been.

This is not the face of someone who really wants to play.

I had also decided to try riding in my saddle, since Fuzzypony's tends to put my leg on his shoulder instead of back where it should be. My saddle doesn't fit him as well, so he objected to me doing any form of sitting trot by doing his little hop-canters. Add that to the fact that I was working on not driving with my seat - which at this point means I am not coordinated enough to do anything else with any other part of my body - and we definitely didn't end on a good note. Blarg.

Then I switched tack and brought Paddy out, because he's far enough along in rehab that we can do a 30 minute w/t lesson. We did one last week, and he was super - those short trots on straight lines were just the thing to get him really listening and on the aids. Alas, last night he had his own agenda, which involved walking as fast as he could and ignoring me completely. We did circles. We did laterals. We did bending. He was having none of it - it was dark and he was alone and he couldn't possibly be expected to actually focus and work. We quit after 30 very frustrating minutes when we finally got a few supple bendy circles and I couldn't feel my fingers or toes because it was so cold.

Sometimes cuteness is the only thing he's got going for him.

Ah, horses. The highs keep you coming back for more, the lows crush your spirit and leave you wondering if you'll ever get it halfway right.

Naturally, I have plans to ride all weekend - in hopes that we'll get it halfway right. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Taran confo shots - what a difference a month makes!

Dec. 23 2015

Feb. 1 2016

He still has a long way to go, but his croup and topline both seem to be filling in nicely. The muscle under his neck is on its way out, and his shoulder is stronger too. We've still got a lot of work on the area right in front of his withers, but even that has filled in a little. He's even standing better behind!

It's amazing how much difference just a month makes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Things that Taran is awesome at

It's been almost exactly two months since I started riding Taran seriously, and boy has he ever made progress in that amount of time. So much progress that I'm kind of blown away by him - this guy has a serious work ethic and he tries so hard to please. Top that off with him being fun to ride and making huge leaps of progress forward (and also sideways, shadows are dangerous) every time I ride him, and I can't wait to get in the saddle each day.

He's got a great work ethic
Taran's a bit on the lazy side, but he tries so hard and if I ask for extra effort, he tries hard to give it. He lives for those "good boys" and pats. Having a horse that really *likes* to work is wonderful.

He learns quickly
Two months ago, I couldn't keep him straight to save my life. His idea of bending was to crane his neck at a 30 degree angle to his body. He would fling his front end up into the air for every transition, and sometimes just because he didn't think he could go forward. Now, he understands how to bend his body from nose to tail. He knows that he can use his hind end for transitions instead of his front end (ok, this is a work in progress, but he gets the concept). He knows that he can move forward and stretch out and use his shoulder. He understands how I'm asking him to change how he uses his body and he seems to remember those things from ride to ride - I can pick up right where I left off on my previous ride and add to it. Assuming there are no terrifying deer or anything, of course. In that case, all bets are off.

So much freer in his shoulder, and not a bad connection either!

He's got a natural tempo and he's balanced
These are the two things I struggle with most on Paddy, who requires micro-management to keep a steady tempo and not fall on his face. It's exhausting and you can't lose focus for a millisecond. Taran, on the other hand, is like a metronome. Even when I ask for baby lengthenings, he just stretches his frame out a little more instead of getting quicker. And despite being built pretty downhill, he sort of levels out under saddle and just carries himself right along. He still needs help and plenty of reminders to keep that hind end engaged and such, but he's not constantly running over his front end and going splat on his face. IT'S AMAZING I TELL YOU. I have no idea why Paddy can't do these things.

He looks a little downhill in this lengthening, but it's mostly the camera angle and the fact that I'm not helping him any. Look at how much he's stepping under! 

He's steady in the contact
Paddy's very challenging because he actually likes a very light contact, and if you start taking more he starts to lean. That of course snowballs into a pulling contest, which I lose every time (you'd think I'd learn not to do that, wouldn't you?) Taran prefers a fairly heavy (to me) contact - it's like he wants to know I'm there at all times. Loss of contact means instant giraffe, but if I add leg and take up the contact, he's right there. He doesn't lean on me or ask me to carry him around, but he's very clear on how he prefers me to hold things. It's so interesting - if I took up that much on Paddy, he's start to pull and hang. For Taran, it's just right.

Steady contact = better canter too.

He's uncomplicated
Taran isn't a tricky horse to ride. He doesn't have any big evasions up his sleeves. If he's not straight it's because I'm letting him be crooked. If he throws his front end up it's because he feels blocked. If he doesn't step through with his hind end it's because I screwed up and didn't ask. The spookiness isn't naughty or trying to get out of work - I genuinely think he's got a vision problem (although the vet cannot find anything wrong, but identifying equine vision problems is difficult if there's not something visibly wrong with the eye). He's not a super physical ride either - he doesn't take a lot of core strength to hold together (unlike some Haffies I know), although he does take a good bit of leg. But overall, he's just a solid guy, and that makes him such a pleasure to ride!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What's wrong with this picture?

There's something odd about this...

Ah yes. I'm pretty sure we didn't install Moo on the roof. 

I have no idea how she got up there, but she did in fact manage to make it down without assistance. Cats are weird, y'all.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Aforementioned chocolate cake

On Friday, I mentioned that while Hubby was going jousting, I planned to stay home, do some dressagzes, and eat chocolate cake. I'm pleased to say that all these things happened.

And that I'm going to share the chocolate cake recipe, because it's for MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE and it's so easy and so (soooooo) delicious. And everyone needs this in their lives.

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter & flour 6 ramekins or small Pyrex baking dishes

  1. Cream 1/3 cup sugar with 4 tablespoons of butter
  2. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and beat very, very well after adding each one (I have a stand mixer, I used high speed for 2 minutes after each egg)
  3. Fold in 1/3 cup of flour (I used a spatula for this - basically, you don't want to use a mixer for this, just gently stir in the flour)
  4. Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 8 oz baking chocolate, whatever you have on hand) (I do this in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring lots in between. It doesn't take long and you don't want to burn the chocolate, so be careful!)
  5. Fold in the melted chocolate (again, use a spatula)
  6. Pour batter into ramekins (batter should be about 1 inch deep)
  7. Bake 10-12 mins, until they look cooked but the centers are still jiggly.
  8. Cool 5-10 mins, then serve as is, or with whipped cream, ice cream, both, etc.

If you're wondering what makes the inside squishy, it's basically uncooked batter. And OMG is it ever rich and delicious. I'm afraid I couldn't wait for mine to cool so I just ate it very carefully.


I have no pictures to prove our dressagzes, so you'll just have to make do with chocolate cake pics. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Knight in Shining Armor

Ok, so his armor could use a bit of polishing. And it's a bit dented. But I'll keep him anyway!

And his horse is pretty awesome too.

Hubby is off doing jousting things this weekend for a friend's 50th birthday. I hope he has a great time! Paddy, Taran and I will be home practicing our dressagzes moves, and eating chocolate cake. What are your horsey plans for the weekend?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Neat vs. Messy

So tidy - not even a crumb out of place.

Needs a bib and a vacuum.

Do you have a neat pet and one that's, er, less than tidy?