I have…..many breeches so this post will be quite long. I’ve never liked buying form-fitting pants – I have always preferred loose fitting, casual clothes and I hated jeans for the longest time. Mostly it has to do with me being a very hard shape to fit (mostly hourglass, a bit pear), and that I have SPD (sensory processing disorder) which can make clothes feel constricting, scratchy and itchy, so I’m very particular about fit and fabrics. But low and behold – I am a bit of a breech hoarder. Something I hadn’t quite realized until actually going through my drawers to catalog this post. Most of these I’m planning to give away or commission at my local tack store since many don’t fit anymore, but those will definitely still be included in this list. This post is about the basics – which brands/types/colors I have and their fabric, style, durability, cost, stain resistance, stickability, and fit. Also, I started this post a while back, so while styles have changed a bit, I’m trying to also provide good links for all the breeches I have.
And at the end, I list my top 3 choices so if you want to skip ahead and avoid my rambling, by all means!
My expectations and fit:
Fit is a huge reason why I am constantly on the lookout for good-fitting breeches. Despite being a bit uncomfortable sharing this, I firmly think it’s important to include my body shape/type and how things fit so that others who have my predicaments or who are not my same shape can make a better informed decision on the breeches I am reviewing. So I am 5’5″, usually a size 30-32, and I usually buy things a little roomy. Most of the time though, my size is a 31 with relative consistency, which many breeches I like don’t have that size. Unless apparently you’re in the UK and they do. I digress. Some brands fit me very nicely and are a size 30. Most brands I go with a 32 tho. I really don’t like feeling like breeches are too small and I’ll split them with one wrong move. Size 30 pants fit my waist the best since I’m hourglass, but most of the time I need 32s to fit my pear and sprinter’s thighs and butt so I’m almost always wearing a belt. I also size up because my thighs are long and my calves short, so breeches will fall down/be pulled down because they tend to taper where my knees should be and not where they are. By getting breeches that are a little bigger, I have a little more knee room and my pants don’t fall down as badly. So, now that you have that rundown, let’s go to my expectations.
As prices rise, so do my expectations. I do have a bit of a price divider – anything over $85 I expect a lot more, and anything under that I have an attitude of “you get what you paid for.” If it’s a light color breech, I am not expecting them to have the best ever stain resistance. Light colors are always more prone to staining, but for a darker color, I expect them to resist stain very well. I’d like for silicone pants to be sticky and long-lasting – especially if they’re full seats – and I expect the silicone to wear well and not come off easily. I always expect for there to be more wear in the thigh rub area since a thigh gap I do not have haha.
As just a quick aside, all of these breeches come up to or just below my belly button because low-rise breeches don’t fit me well nor are they flattering to my body shape (for me personally). So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!
Ovation Aerowick tights – $ 62.95 bought on sale for less than $40
Style: summer silicone full seat , sock bottom, Euro-seat
Fit: I bought the large (equal to size 30), and they fit pretty true to size – they’re even a little loose. So if you’re an in -between-sizes person like me and prefer a bit of a tighter fit, I’d size down. These also don’t have a length choice. I do, however, like the fact that it had belt loops should you want to wear a belt and make them look a little less like tights.
Fabric: AeroWick™ – smooth ultralight spun polyester spandex (this is all I could find on fabric specifics)
Durability: I got these around a year ago but when they were on a “heading into winter” sale, and they are….not durable. Not really at all. Within about 5-10 rides the stitching was already fraying. And this was even me not putting them through the ringer and only riding in them when the dead of summer hit. They did fray in the thigh rub area first – which I expected. However, within 5-7 short rides? Eh, I must admit I expected a bit better from something that was originally over $50 (they ARE under $85 tho so I guess it’s moot?). I also just grazed a spot of fencing in the stall and there was an immediate hole. So the fabric isn’t durable either. This is probably the lowest rating I’ve ever given or may ever give, but considering threads are STILL coming out, these get a 1/5 in the durability category.
Stain resistance: Well, they are black so not many stains are noticeable if at all. So far that’s a 5/5.
Closing thoughts: I would not buy these again. Even on a sale for $40 or less. These are the “older” model; the newer ones may be a little more durable but they’re the same price point and the same fabric blend, so maybe/maybe not. The silicone was sticky for the first 2-3 rides, and now it’s not sticky anymore. They’ve gone below the stickability range of knee patch breeches, which isn’t positive for tights that are supposed to be full seats. The only reasons I wore these a lot this summer was that they were my only pair of tights, and not only was it so hot that my legs were swollen and I just felt too hot in my other breeches, but my weight was also fluctuating a lot at the time, so the tights went on easily and didn’t feel restrictive.
Final Rating: 2/5
Ovation Grip-Tech Unifleece Winter tights – $ 69.95 bought at RW for around $60
Style: fleece-lined, silicone knee-patch tights (but styled to look more like breeches), sock bottom, Euro-seat
Colors: black (in certain light against certain colors they look brown. In other lighting they look gunmetal-gray. Next to black they look black.)
Fit: I bought LG (equal size 30) and these fit nicely, if a bit loosely. Because they’re tights, they conform well without being restrictive in any given area. They were a little loose when I bought them, so again if you like a tighter fitting breech then you may want to size down. I bought them to be a little on the larger side so I could stuff my winter Under Armour tights on underneath them. It never got cold enough for me to need it haha. These breeches don’t have a length choice either.
Fabric: 95% polyester, 5% elastane
Durability: I actually haven’t gotten too many chances to ride in these. It was unusually warm in Vegas the winter that I bought these, and then the next winter Amber wasn’t rideable, so I can’t completely attest to their durability. However, the few times I’ve ridden in them they haven’t split any threads nor is there pilling yet. The silicone knee-patch feels very secure and durable, and looks like the same silicone used on their Aqua X breeches. So far a 4/5.
Stain Resistance: 4/5 so far since they’re black/brown, but still I haven’t been able to test it much so I’m doing a bit of guesswork for these.
Closing thoughts: These are okay, but I honestly don’t like them. They feel like a better quality than the Aerowick, and the fleece is quite warm. They’re tights, but look like breeches, and you can wear a belt with them if you like. I did, since they were a little big on me. I wouldn’t say these are a bad quality, but I really can’t attest to how well they’d hold up in colder climates with a lot more use. I only wore them a few times, and the last time I did sealed the deal for me. I have a lesson recap here describing how they just didn’t work at all for me. They bunched strangely underneath my thighs. The silicone grip tho – the same grip that’s on the Aqua-X breeches – DID work very well. But the grip along with the loose fit just didn’t work for me.
Final Rating: 3/5 I don’t personally like them – and someone else might – but I also feel I haven’t quite put them through the ringer to give them a higher or lower rating.
Ovation Aqua X breeches – $ 139.95 now; bought from RW at $116.95
Style: silicone knee-patch, Euro-seat, sock and mesh bottom (my old navy pair are the only ones with the mesh bottom)
Colors: navy, Aegean blue, green and tan
Fit: These breeches fit me second best. All pairs are size 32 to accommodate the summer expansion. These breeches fit well, and I don’t get the giant gap in the back. They fit smoothly and I love the look of them. I think they’re a very slimming breech, and I love wearing them. The only aspect about these breeches that doesn’t fit me is around my knees. They taper a bit, and since my thighs don’t, they’re a little tighter there and want to pull down. A belt fixes that no problem though, and these pants have double belt holders in the middle of the back, which personally is a favorite feature of mine. The only negative on fit with these is that there is no choice of length – only regular. Which is fine for me since I’m only 5’5″, but it may be a problem for taller people.
Fabric: 77% Nylon, 16% Aqua-X, 7% Lycra
Durability: I’ve had these breeches for over a year, and I’ve worn the crap out of my navy pair. I’ve washed them a LOT, and unfortunately, the silicone has started to flake off a little on my abused navy pair. But the stickability of the navy pants hasn’t gone down at all, and that pair is still my favorite. The silicone hasn’t come off of any of my other pairs, so I do wonder if that’s in part because I washed them right side out instead of inside out on their first washing. Even still, no stitching has started to fray, and they’ve held up to all the torture I’ve put them through lol. They retain their shape out of the wash with no extra stretch or extra shrinkage, and have held up very well as my summer staple. A 4/5.
Stain Resistance: The navy and hunter pairs are very good on stain resistance. 4/5. The only reason it isn’t 5/5 is because I have gotten a few tiny dots of hoof oil on my navy pair, and because the navy is very dark it’s super hard to see. Alas, tho the stain IS hoof oil and is mostly gone, it’s still a 4/5. The Aegean blue and tan are not so stain resistant. The light blue shows a lot of dirt, and maybe I’m just clumsy but I got a bit of hoof oil on those, too and that didn’t come out as well as my navy pair even tho my light blue pair went into the washer faster. My tan pair as well suffered a stain fate too, but theirs is a most amusing story. Unfortunately, it was a very hot day, and my new Kensington bareback pad along with lots of ass sweat caused the blue pad color to stain the butt of the tan breeches. I did not know this at the time, and left the pair of tan breeches sitting with that stain for about 2 weeks before I rode in them again and discovered this sadness. To give them credit tho, the blue stain actually halfway came out after like 3 treatments of Clorox 2 and 4 washes, but at least the butt isn’t so blue anymore. So, even tho it was a bit of work, the fact that some of it came out at all after 2 weeks raises the lighter color stain resistance rating to a 3/5.
Closing thoughts: These breeches are advertised as moisture wicking, summer breeches, and these absolutely fit the bill. Even my navy breeches don’t feel too hot in the summer heat. They have really been instrumental in keeping me cool during the summer, helping to wick away sweat. I love the way that they fit on me and how they look, and even though they’re a tad more expensive than I usually like to spend, I can tell that these breeches are a really good quality. I mean, I do have 4 different colors of these, and I like every single one I’ve worn. The tan ones are the coolest since it is a lighter color than the others, but they’re all great. Even though these breeches are a 4-way stretch and feel like they’d slip on a saddle, these definitely aren’t slick like some other breeches I’ve ridden in! They’re pretty sticky for only kneepatch breeches, and I feel secure and stable when I ride in these. These are definitely tied as my favorite breech to wear, and I am almost always pulling out a pair of these to wear at any given time.
Final Rating: 4/5 I wish these were still only $116, but the price is still very doable compared to other breeches of this quality.
Style: silicone full seat, sock bottom
Colors: turquoise plaid (discontinued), brown, navy & black
Fit: These breeches fit me the best. If I were to pick a breech made for my curves, this one would be it. The size 30s fit me perfectly, and if you look at their sizing chart it shows that they technically measure at 31.5 – which is pretty much my fit exactly. No wonder. They still have great room around my thighs, don’t taper as much around the knee but still give an extremely flattering look. These also don’t gap in the back as most breeches have. I like the wider waistband and the double front clasp, and they have a soft panel of fabric so the clasp back doesn’t irritate your skin if you don’t tuck in your shirt. I also like the unique X-shaped belt loop in the back that help keep your belt in place and evenly distribute pressure. The breeches don’t have a choice for length either – however, these breeches ere on the long side. Perfect for mid height and taller people, but perhaps a little too tall for someone who’s 5’3″ or shorter. These hit right at the tops of my ankle bones for length reference.
Fabric (turquoise plaid): 63% cotton, 30% polyamide, 7% elastane
Fabric (all the other colors): 93% Polyamide, 7% elastane
Durability: I’ve been impressed with the stain resistance on these so far. I’ve worn my brown ones almost relentlessly and not only have they come out of the wash looking new almost every time, but they’ve also retained their shape and fit. Neither pair have shown any signs of threads coming out or premature wear and tear, so I’m plenty happy with how these have been holding up, especially since I’ve worn the crap out of my brown ones haha. And, even with all the washing (inside out – I learned my lesson lol) the full seat stickies remain sticky. They have lost some of their initial really-stick-your-bum-to-that-saddle stickiness, but to me, they’re just the perfect, broken-in stick if that makes any sense haha. There is a bit of pilling and the silicone stickies have come off in the non-thigh-gap area, but that happens in every single pair of pants I own (even jeans) so I see that as normal (for me) wear and tear. They’ve also remained one of the few pairs that have fit me great even as I’ve gained some weight from quarantine and my ankle injury. So a 5/5 on this for me.
Stain Resistance: I’m pretty impressed with the turquoise plaid breeches. I’ve had a few brushes with silver spray and saddle color getting onto the breeches, but they’ve always washed out beautifully. My brown ones have gotten dusty and sweat-soaked and goodness knows what else on them, but so far they’ve washed out extremely well with no staining as far as I can see. Now, I do only have the darker colors, so that is a factor in my rating. I do eventually want to get the white pair that I can dye rust because I love rust breeches, and I can never find any that are both affordable or fit me very well. They do have a lovely dark green now, and I’m very tempted, but have so far been able to hold off the impulse purchase haha. So, for the colors I do have, my rating for stain resistance is 5/5.
Closing thoughts: I’m sure you noticed that I put two different fabric contents, because believe it or not the breeches actually are different. To me, even the fit feels a little different. The turquoise ones feel a bit more snug and restrictive, and can tend to irritate the backs of my knees (that area is super sensitive for me anyway, so that may not be the norm for other people). Also, because they are 63% cotton, they’re hotter with less stretch than my solid color breeches of the same model, so I really don’t wear the turquoise ones as much even though I still really really love them. But no matter which pant, the silicone full seat helps me feel extremely secure when my muscles are out of shape for jumping, and help me have good stability in the saddle when I was working very hard on building up strength for dressage last year. Probably the ONLY thing that isn’t absolutely perfect on these is that the seam for the sock bottom is placed directly above a previous injury. The injury is on my left calf, and I noticed it was pretty sore after a jump ride. But, I made sure to wear tall socks under my breeches the next time (since I usually don’t) and it became a non-issue.
Final Rating: 5/5 These pretty much hit it out of the park for me.
Horze Grand Prix Thermal Breeches – $ 139.99
Style: Silicone full seat, sock bottom
Colors: Navy (though currently they only have grey and black)
Fit: These are a mid-rise and run just a bit big, even a little bit bigger than their regular breeches. The reviews on Smartpak did say to size down, but I still ordered my normal size 30. They’re just a little big, but a little big is how I prefer for things to fit, and I especially like that in winter clothes. So it’s a plus for me.
Fabric: 88% polyamide, 12% elastane, fleece insulation
Durability: So far these are pretty durable. I haven’t needed to wear them all that much since Vegas isn’t very cold, and since I’ve become more heat-intolerant over the years I’ve certainly still been warm enough in the winter to not need to wear these much. The softshell is really nice, and holding up quite well to the general thigh-wear. So far so good for these! Just to be safe I’ll give them 4/5.
Stain Resistance: I’ve worn them various places with plenty of different horses, and I’ve never once noticed a stain, no matter what I’m handling. And I am pretty prone to getting some sort of stain at some point whenever I’m around horses. They’re also a very dark color, which helps with stain resistance in general. So a 5/5 for me.
Closing Thoughts: These are so comfortable. They’re warm enough for me to even get a little overheated in the mild Vegas winters, so I think they’d do well for the colder climes. Despite fitting a little bigger, they have the exact same fit as the summer Grand Prix breeches, so they taper at my waist and are very flattering.
Final Rating: 4/5 only because I haven’t put them through the ringer enough yet.
Style: knee-patch, euro seat, mesh bottoms
Colors: hunter & white
Fit: These are probably my 3rd best fitting breech. I bought the 30s, but again with what has happened in the past year since I bought them they don’t fit as well now and I don’t pull them out nearly as much as I used to. And, well, they were always a weeeee bit on the tighter side and were a titch uncomfortable near my knees. While the Aqua Xs did taper at the knee, those don’t hurt or bother me, but these RJs can get just a little bit restrictive for me. It may be because the knee patch is suede and not silicone so it causes a bit more restriction, but I’m not sure. So, while they fit my shape and don’t gap out at the back either, I’m sure they’ll be even better once I size up. I’m a bit skeptical tho about sizing up, mostly because I might need a 33 in these – so the 32 might still be a bit small but a 34 would probably be too big. I digress. Even still, they do seem to fit curves well, and I like the classic, slim look of these breeches. The pockets aren’t too deep, but I also like the double front hook on the breeches and wider waistband since that is a preferred feature of mine to combat the muffin-top (though definitely not a deal-breaker). These also come in regular or long.
Fabric: 92% nylon/8% elastic, clarino knee-patch
Durability: I’ve had these for about a year now, but I haven’t worn them as much as a few of my other pairs on account they’re generally just that liiiiiiittle bit too tight. However, they have still held up very nicely. The clarino knee patch retains its grip, and the pants retain their shape in and out of the wash. I haven’t seen any threads coming out, on the seams or the knee patches. The mesh hasn’t gotten any nicks in it either, and the pants have certainly held up well so far. However, since these haven’t been through the ringer, I’m giving it a mid score of 3/5.
Stain Resistance: Well, I haven’t worn these too much, so I’m not too sure how they would hold up to a few stains. In general, the enormous amounts of dust and dirt and mud and globs of green horse snot have all come out of these well. Although, I’m not sure I really got tons of snot on them, but since the ones I wore were the green ones, it’d match, right? Again, since these aren’t well-worn, I’m giving it a mid score of 3/5.
Closing thoughts: These are actually the most expensive breeches I’ve purchased, and yet they aren’t exactly my faves. I’m REALLY happy with that since most of the time the more expensive it is, the better it fits me and the better I like it haha. Such is life. Again, I’m sure if I bumped up the size they would fit me a lot better and I’d be a lot more gung-ho on wearing them. As it is right now, with finding the Grand Prix and Aqua X breeches that fit me so well and I always seem to grab, I’m hesitant on spending the extra money on these for a bigger size just to see if I really do like them. Even still, please don’t take my mid-range thoughts for dislike. I do really like the breeches – if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have kept them and worn them throughout last summer and into winter.
Final Rating: 4/5 I think they’re a very nice breech, and it has all of the same good qualities and feel of the Grand Prix and Aqua X – I just need the right size and I think I’ll wear them more often and therefore have a better judge of their performance.
SP Piper Original Kneepatch – $ 79.95
Style: suede knee-patch, sock bottoms, euro-seat, pockets
Colors: navy/emerald & navy/dove grey – used to have a grey/sapphire pair
Fit: While I do actually have 4 pairs of Pipers, these breeches fit a slightly straighter figure than they do a curvy figure. My shape is quite hour-glassed with a dash of pear thrown in, so a straighter cut isn’t necessarily ideal for me. However, I still relatively like the fit of these. They are size 32s, very conforming from my ankle up, and have enough room for my thighs and butt. However, for an hour-glass like me, the waist is bigger than I was expecting. They do gap in the back and pooch a bit in the front, but end up looking fine once you have a belt in place. Funnily enough tho, as I’ve put on a few pounds in the tummy from not riding/working out as much, the waist fits better lol. Even still, because they’re a lot bigger in the waist a belt is a must and these breeches fall down more than any other I have.
Fabric: 63% Polyester, 32% Viscose, 5% Spandex
Durability: The durability on these are so-so. My navy/emerald pair were the first ones I got, and have been my stalwart Piper pair since I got them spring 2016. They fit the best and all the stitching has stayed in place with nothing fraying or coming undone. The knee patches have stayed tightly stitched. Both pairs clean up very well, and have retained their shape well. My navy/dove grey pair have not done as well as my other pair. The stitching on the knee patch started to come undone within 5 rides. It hasn’t unraveled any more than the initial spot, but even still I’m a bit disappointed by this, tho not entirely surprised. Other reviewers on the SP website have had this happen to them as well. So that lowers this to a 3/5.
Stain Resistance: With navy as a base color for both breeches, I haven’t had any issues with staining. I think I do have some spots on them, but the color is so dark that I can barely see it. So for that, I give them a 4/5.
Closing thoughts: Even though the fabric content isn’t cotton, these are definitely a heavier weight breech. They’re not a winter breech, but these are a little too hot for me during the dead of summer. They do breathe and aren’t as hot as full cotton or the turquoise Grand Prix breeches, but the dark colors do retain the heat a lot more than the others, so for me this is a spring/fall/warm winter breech. These were my first “official” breech that I bought when I was first getting into English in 2016, and they were at an affordable price point. At $80 I do wish the quality was a little bit better, but for someone starting out, wanting some cute breeches or are very easy on their pants, then I think these are really great. I must admit tho that their biggest draw is all the matchy matchy potential and that they are quite unique. They come in so many colors that are fun and can cater to so many people, and as someone who likes things a bit unique, I do still enjoy these pants for that very reason. But, compared to my better-fitting pairs, I hardly wear these.
Final Rating: 3/5 (My original review of these breeches can be found here, and I gave them a 4/5. This rating has gone down since then since I’ve found other breeches I like a lot better that are, in my opinion, more worth your dollars than these are)
SP Piper Silicone Kneepatch – $ 79.95 (they have a different type now – these that I have are on clearance)
Style: silicone knee patch, euro seat, sock bottoms
Fit: These fit almost identical to the description I provide above – including being a size 32. The only difference is that because the knee patch is silicone, the pants fit better around my knees than the regular knee patch breeches do. This means that this particular pair doesn’t fall down nearly as much as the regular knee patch ones. I still need a belt since the waist fit is the same, but I don’t have so much trouble with these. The legs feel a little looser on this pair of breeches, so I like the fit of these better than the previous two. These also come in the option of regular or long.
Fabric: 63% Polyester, 32% Viscose, 5% Spandex
Durability: I bought this pair when I went to Rolex in 2017, and these have become my favorite Piper pair. I’ve worn them pretty well over the past year, and they’ve held up well. No threads fraying on these yet, and since there are no suede patches, the silicone has done it’s job as remaining sticky and none of the little bumps have come off. There is a little bit of pilling around the thighs, but again I’m not too surprised because that is perfectly normal wear for me, and for $80 I think these have held up better than the suede knee patch Pipers. 4/5
Stain Resistance: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how stain resistant this pair of breeches has been. The base color is tan, which could very well stain easily, but so far they’ve cleaned up very well with every washing. I haven’t gotten any major stains on them like I have my others (WHY is it always hoof oil?), but I do believe I got a spot of yellow wormer on them at one point and it actually came out. Granted, the breeches went into the wash as soon as possible (which was still about 30-40 minutes later) but even still – color me impressed. 4/5
Closing thoughts: Out of all the Piper breeches I own, these are my favorite. I like the fit better, and I’m just a bigger fan of silicone than I am suede. Plus, because these breeches’ base color is tan, they reflect the sun much better than their navy counterparts, so these breeches I am able to wear in the dead of summer. I still prefer not to tho, considering that the fabric still is a heavier weight and I really can’t bear to think about wearing a thicker breech when it’s that hot out. I actually really like this color tan as well – opposed to other tan pants that are more beige. These have a bit of an olive/taupe tint to them, a bit of a deeper tan, and I find I really like that compared to the beige/khaki color of most tan breeches (like the tan Aqua X’s I own).
Final Rating: 4/5
SP Piper Silicone Full Seat – $ 79.95
Style: silicone full seat, euro seat, sock bottoms
Colors: dove grey/indigo
Fit: Again, the fit of these is pretty much the same as the Pipers above. These are also a little bit looser than the suede knee patch breeches, which also makes me like them a little more. These, like all Pipers, come in the option of regular or long length. Probably the only thing I don’t like as much about the fit of these is the seams on the inside of the thigh due to the full seat. Unfortunately my skin is a sensitive snowflake, and when the seams are too big or continuously press on my skin, it gets pretty sore. These seams do bother me – more so the ones on the inside of the leg that are covered by tall boots. If I get tall socks and put the socks on underneath the breeches the seam doesn’t bother me nearly as much.
Fabric: 63% Polyester, 32% Viscose, 5% Spandex
Durability: I’ve had these breeches ever since last winter. Oddly enough I bought them as a winter breech because the fabric on all of these has been thicker so I thought they would be perfect for desert winter, right? Well, while they are made of the same material and have the same percentages as the other 3 Pipers, the material on these actually feels thinner than the others. So, a thicker mid-weight breech this particular one is not. Maybe because the color is lighter…? Which is odd to me but then I have experienced lighter colored breeches sometimes tend to fit differently than dark-colored breeches of the same brand (weird, I know. Is it all in my head? Eh, probably). Either way, these are actually better for summer, since it’s thinner fabric and the light grey helps reflect the sun. So far, the stitching on these has remained tight and I haven’t seen any fraying from these, nor pilling. 4/5
Stain Resistance: That being said, I haven’t had the grey stain yet. I got some saddle marks when riding in these in my new-to-me dressage saddle, but the marks always came out. I did wash them right after I rode tho since I didn’t want them to stain. 4/5
Closing thoughts: These are a “meh” breech for me. I wish the fabric was thicker since I bought them as a full-seat winter breech option and they really aren’t ideal for when the temperatures start to get a bit nippy. Even as a summer breech they’re not as cooling as my other favorites, and I really haven’t worn them too often. I do like that the silicone is grippy, has remained that way, and none of the dots have come off. They’re fun to match. But, these are pretty mediocre in my opinion, and maybe I’d buy a darker pair to see if they’d work and be a thicker fabric, but at $100 and not meeting most of my expectations? I don’t think I ever will.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
Iridion Essential Boot-cut Tights – $ 79.95
Style: suede knee-patch, boot cut
Colors: black & brown
Fit: I bought a size large which is equivalent to a size 30. They fit just as I would expect tights to fit – not too tight or too loose. These pants come up a little higher than many of the others and hit either right at or just above my belly button. Normally, these would be a little too waist high for me, but it actually works. The waist band isn’t too tight so that is fine, but riding in them on their own they are a little slick.
Fabric: Issential™ Microfibre: 88% Polyester, 12% LYCRA®; knee patch Chamisoft™: 55% Nylon, 45% Polyurethane
Durability: I think I’ve had these around maybe 3 years now, but I’ve only used them sparingly. I actually bought these tights specifically to go underneath my western show chaps. And, well, to act as leggings for work actually haha! I’ve worn them more for work than I have for riding, and as a work tight, they do a good job. No one even notices the patches, and as much as I’ve worn them for that I haven’t noticed any pilling yet or threads fraying. As for showing, they’ve been durable for that. It could be that they’ve mostly been used underneath chaps, but they’ve still held up well. A 4/5
Stain Resistance: I have dark colors, and most of the time they’re worn for work or under chaps so I really haven’t worn them around the barn enough for a lot of stain testing. Granted I’m not the neatest person, but so far, even if I did get something on these they’ve washed out clean since I’ve never noticed anything haha. So a 4/5.
Closing thoughts: By using these under chaps, the tights provide a way for me to stay cooler in the summer, and they’re not as stiff as jeans or as unflattering and uncomfortable as “show pants” that are often used under chaps. They also cut down A LOT on bulk while riding, which I find is a lot more comfortable. They have belt loops so you can add a belt to your outfit (as many western shows require a belt) so there isn’t much of a downside to using these underneath your chaps. As for English, I’ve only ridden in them perhaps 2x, and I didn’t like them for that at all. The knee patch came too low on the calf and didn’t extend far enough up the thigh for me, and they also felt a little too slick for me to feel stable riding in them.
Final Rating: 3/5 (They’re okay tights, and the 3/5 is really due to my personal opinion)
Kerrits Flow-Rise Permormance Tights – $ 69.00
Style: suede knee-patch, wide waist band, elastic ankles
Colors: dune (unavailable/discontinued color)
Fit: For tights, these fit exactly as I would expect a large to fit – equal to a size 30. I can’t quite tell if they do come in long or regular, but it looks like it’s only 1 length. Unfortunately, these are a very thin tight, so if you’re like me and not fond of the thigh cheese, these don’t do anything to hide it. I actually have a few pictures of me in these pants and you can clearly see my kick mark through these as opposed to my other fav breeches. Perhaps the style has changed a bit, but when I first bought these the waist band was very wide, and very restrictive. While the rest of the tights fit well, the waist band felt like those tummy control things you wear underneath dresses or something. It was very uncomfortable for me and the band would curl and do all sorts of weird things when I rode.
Fabric: 91% Polyester, 9% Lycra/ knee patch 100% Recycled Ultra-Microfiber
Durability: These pilled pretty quickly, being polyester. The stitching was okay, but some of it around the ankle did come out a little. I was wearing mostly paddock boots and half chaps at the time, so that could be part of it, but I was still expecting a little better from these. 3/5
Stain Resistance: These were pretty stain resistant as far as I could remember (I finally sold them after I didn’t wear them for like a year and a half). They washed up well. 4/5
Closing thoughts: Being over 90% polyester made them slippery for me. I remember feeling like I was sliding all over the place in these, and they were either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. I don’t know. They were a bit odd, so for me probably just a spring/fall tight. Perhaps it’s weird, but my legs felt….jiggly….whenever I wore these haha! When I wear my others, I feel fashionable and I feel good about myself in those. These just…..really not. I wouldn’t buy them again, probably not even if they were on a $10 clearance sale. And that’s really saying something because I love sales lol. These are probably great for people just starting out, but they seem a little too expensive for me and not quite the quality to be worth nearly $70.
Final Rating: 3/5
Devon Aire Versailles tights – $ 34 – $ 48 (depending on size/color price can be a little more or a little less)
Style: clarino knee-patch, elastic ankle, draw-string waist
Colors: sea blue & charcoal
Fit: These do not fit curvy me. Or I should say that they do fit curvy me, they’re just not very flattering to my cellulite and jiggly-ness lol. The drawstring waist creates a narrow “band”, narrower than sweatpants or gym shorts to give a comparison. The elastic ankle is thankfully not Velcro, so that’s a plus in their favor. Other than that, they really don’t have much shape.
Fabric: 90% cotton/10%lycra 4-way stretch, clarino knee patch
Durability: The cotton 4 way stretch has relative durability, but I would still get little nicks here and there. Mostly picks from Velcro if I ever wore any, but these really weren’t half bad. I remember them being really good when I was a teen. 3.5/5
Stain Resistance: I’m pretty sure these were good on stains haha. Since I don’t really remember because I stopped wearing them about 4 years ago, a 3/5.
Closing thoughts: To give a bit of history, I used to wear these tights as a kid and up until about 14 or 15 when I stopped riding English and switched to western. I remembered liking them and that they fit well, so these were the first ones I looked up when I started back into English. Also, they were $30 or less and at the time I couldn’t imagine spending more than that on pants (I still cringe at $50 for a pair of jeans yet breeches for $119/$150/$130 are totally acceptable prices for me. I know, I’m weird). So I nabbed 2 colors and started wearing them. They were infinitely cooler than jeans for one, and the heat still got to me pretty badly so I wore these even when riding western. But, the cotton remained a little too hot for me, and I’ll admit around that time was when I found a lot of blogs that outlined their fav cooling summer clothes. So, I put these aside. Now, I do think these are a good starting-out breech, perhaps even better than the Kerrits. These weren’t as slick to me as the Kerrits, and I like the clarino knee patch better than the suede microfiber. These would be especially good for kids, since these are a less expensive tights and definitely won’t break the bank as they continue to grow. I think these would be fine even for an adult starting out that isn’t completely sure they’re going to keep riding or ride a lot. They’re just not for me.
Final Rating: 4/5 (mostly for affordability lol)
So, there you have it! My very long guide to all the breeches I have. There have been quite a few of them over the years, and I’ve now settled more ore less on the ones that I like/love. So, to condense it, my top three breeches from this list are:
Either way, if you even got to this last paragraph, congrats haha! It’s certainly a super long post!
On July 6, 2021, we had to say goodbye to our most beloved family member. She officially turned 17 on June 24.
I honestly don’t think it matters whether the downward progression is slow or sudden – losing a beloved pet is devastating. For Choco, it was sudden.
About 3 or 4 weeks before that Tuesday, we had a vet appointment after her first round of antibiotics for a cough that we thought was due to a small infection. We discovered that her heart was a little enlarged – which was concerning since that hadn’t been there at an appointment a month prior – and that she had a slightly collapsed trachea, which caused her coughing but wasn’t as concerning. But she remained active and happy, and still moseyed around the house and kept wanting to go on adventures with me to my apartment.
A few days after her birthday on the 24th, we could tell she slowed down more than usual. She could walk herself places, but it was slower going. Both my mom and I knew we might need to make this decision soon. Part of it was for us to be as prepared as we could be (though you can never be prepared, in my opinion), but it was also to ensure we were constantly looking so we didn’t miss a sign if something was wrong. But when I had her with me Saturday night, she had her first episode. We still aren’t sure what it was, but it was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. She lost her balance, so I went to pick her up, and all her muscles just went limp. It was only for a few seconds, and she was only a bit disoriented, but it felt interminable. After I’d called my mom and discussed what we should do, within 20 minutes Choco was walking, interested in eating, and eager to sniff around outside. Her breathing was a little elevated, but otherwise she was back to her old self. Even still, I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to take her with me anymore after that weekend. So I kept her Sunday and into Monday morning, and I am very glad I did. I nearly didn’t – I was worried if it would cause her stress, but something in me just couldn’t. I think somewhere deep down, I knew I’d only have a little more time left.
Monday evening we all actually ended up discussing what we may need to do (me, my mom, and my sister) and made a tentative appointment for the end of the month. But Tuesday morning she wouldn’t eat, was breathing much harder, and had another, similar episode later that morning. My mom and I knew that was it. She wasn’t stressed, but she didn’t really want to move and definitely wasn’t herself, either. She still gave us kisses, like she was trying to comfort us because she didn’t know why we were so sad. Unfortunately, our vet wasn’t doing in-home visits anymore, but Choco loved car rides, so we weren’t too worried. Our vet – who has been Choco’s vet for 17 years – was so amazing and stayed late so he could see us, and we got to be there with her and take her home with us. We decided on a good spot for her with her nose pointed towards the prevalent west winds that she always loved to sniff.
I still find it amazing that for a relatively still active, 17-yr-old dachshund, she had so few issues. She got her joint meds for general arthritis – glucosamine and previcox – along with eye medicine to help prevent ulcers in her eyes. But other than that she had no back problems, no spine issues, no heart meds, nothing. Even until the day we had to let her go, she was walking herself and could still hold her bladder. She never messed inside the house unless we weren’t as vigilant taking her out when she’d try to tell us, which was still extraordinarily rare.
She was without a doubt the kindest, sweetest, most gentle little soul I’ve ever known. It gives me such relief in knowing we did the right thing, that looking back on all the images I have of her and all the times with her I remember, we didn’t miss any signs before this that it may be time. She was playful, happy, and active for her age. She always knew when it was Thursday or Friday, and would get herself out of bed after I’d completed chores ready to head out for a car ride/adventure where she and I would snuggle for the whole weekend. She’d even get upset if we couldn’t snuggle as much as she wanted. Even though she never quite understood the concept of stairs or a ramp to get to the bed (despite running up stairs in her younger years, silly girl), she was always down for learning new things. She learned how to be an off-leash dog at 15, and she and I both found new ways to work with her waning eyesight and general loss of hearing. She learned different ways for us to pick her up so we could support her back, and knew that if she leapt off of my (very tall) bed I’d be there to catch her to lower her to the floor (and god knows how many heart attacks she gave me when I wasn’t always prepared but somehow managed to catch her anyway).
Choco has been such a huge part of my life – and my family’s life – for such a long time. She’s been with me since I was 13 years old, and while I didn’t always have her when I was in college or my first job, she’s always been there. She has been the light of my life since she was 4 weeks old and we got to puppysit her for her breeders. She loved to bite at the sprinklers, chase the airplanes when they flew overhead, and hunt birds and desert squirrels. She always had a wag and little squeaks when she missed me. Her favorite place to snooze was on a blanket in my lap from high school to now, and no matter how hard the homework was, it was always easier to do when she was with me sleeping peacefully. She’s been there through all of my hardships, a constant part of my life whose presence was soothing and healing. When I was so worried Amber wouldn’t recover from her laminitis, Choco was there, putting a paw on my foot or crawling over me to smother me in her own way of showing love. She always knew when I needed her, and we absolutely spoiled her rotten. She was just so sweet and had such a love of (sleepy) life that it was impossible not to. She had such a strong spirit, and I know she loved us all fiercely in her own quiet, unwavering way. Unfortunately, no matter how strong her spirit was – still trying to comfort us when she was the one not feeling well – her body just couldn’t keep up.
Grief is never an easy thing to articulate because everyone processes it differently, but I know that we all know just how devastating it is to lose our precious dogs. Most of the time I just feel listless, lost, like I’m missing a limb. What do I do now that she’s gone? So much of my free time on weekends and an extra hour after a long day at work was wrapped up in spending time with her, that I don’t know what to do. She has left such a huge hole in all our hearts. I miss her all the time, and these weeks since have been so very long. But, like with anything, I know I just have to take it day by day. Some days are better and some are worse, but that’s how it goes. Amber has been a big help, and Kahlua has surprisingly been too. I’m not as close with her as my mom is, but she’s an amazingly emotionally intelligent little burro, and will just stand there, lean her shoulder against my hip, and hug my head with her ear when I’ve got my forehead resting on her neck. It’s honestly the absolute sweetest thing.
Unfortunately, I am not in a position to get another dog. My apartment complex has breed restrictions, and I also work 10 hr days most of the week and am doing school. I need to plan moving to another place in a few months, and rent is ridiculously inflated here. I would need to lean heavily on my mom for help during long days, and to be honest, despite how horrible and empty and lonely the house/apt is, neither one of us is ready for another dog. For us it’s just too soon. But my sister and her fiancé live very close by with their dogs – dachshund Oscar and mini schnauzer Zeus – so they are getting plenty of attention from us when we really need a dog fix. Plus, I really want another dachshund if I’m going to get another dog. Choco really made us fall in love with dachshunds, and Oscar, while very different from Choco, has solidified that.
This goodbye has been the worst I’ve ever had to say. I could barely even post her tribute on Instagram, and this tribute in itself has taken so long to write and even publish because I can barely get through it. So I’ve had to wait and revisit, because as hard as it is, in it’s own way it’s healing to write about all the good things about her, and remember all the wonderful years we’ve had with her through copious amounts of pictures. We actually took “molds” of her front paws in play-dough years and years ago to use as Christmas ornaments, so I am going to use one of those to draw her paw as the center of a tattoo for my own tribute to her. She was already tattooed onto my heart, so why not reflect it on my skin, too? We miss her terribly, but I know she knew how much we loved her.
So, farewell my best friend. Thank you for choosing us to be your family – we were so fortunate to love you and take care of you all these years, and to have you love us back. I will sit on our bench beside you, and remember you always.
Oh wow, I haven’t blogged in 6 months! Not too much has been going on, so there hasn’t really been too much to say. Ever since I hurt my ankle and was recovering from that I have been taking it easy. No lessons, and Amber doesn’t need much work so there was no rush on that front. Which is a good thing because it turned out it needed a good 5 months to heal and another month before it felt normal-ish again. I swear I don’t know how I keep injuring myself so badly.
Bestest news within these 6 months tho – my mom is officially in remission!
She still needs regular checks to monitor her blood levels, but they’re still looking really good, so the doctors are pleased (as are we, of course). She’s still been out riding despite the tingles she gets in her fingers and feet. She’s a tough one my mom.
She even tried to show this year at our local show club, but unfortunately it hasn’t panned out. First the weather, and then something aggravated an old injury of Whisper’s, and now that it’s feeling better, she’s got residual lameness mostly in her left hock. She’s on adequan tho like Amber, yet it doesn’t seem to be helping that one hock as much as it should. I wonder if something else is going on – she is 19 – but we have a vet appointment in a few weeks to check her psoas and just get a general read on that hock. Amber will get an x-ray on her foot to make sure things are still a-okay on that front, and Kahlua will get her shots and worming done.
Kahlua has become such a reluctant love haha. Not that we were really doubting that with how sweet she is, but she’s asking for pets and attention a lot more now. I give her her nightly ear scratches, and then we hang out together with my hip pressed to her shoulder with soft pats as she looks out and guards our girls. She’s gotten very good with the daily on/off of the fly mask, and will let me do it now, too. She’ll let my mom fawn all over her, hold her face and love on her. She totally doesn’t want to admit that she loves it, and resists most times, but she adores it. Working with her has been such a boost for my mom as she’s gone through chemo.
Amber has been her goodest self as always. We’ve mostly been doing western since I’ve been giving a friend’s younger sister “lessons” and horsey time when she comes to visit since she doesn’t have the opportunity anymore when she’s back home. Amber really likes her, which is always a plus!
We’ve been doing a bit of english again to strengthen Amber’s right side, although I know it’s because my right side is weak. Amber does get anxious going english, and I think that’s more because of her imbalance compounded by my weak right leg than dislike of the discipline. Helping support that side with my leg really helped our last english ride – she still wasn’t totally steady trotting to the left, but was much less anxious, so we’ll keep working on that side for her and me. Whisper is also doing more english to strengthen her left side. I’ve been doing weekly bodywork on her, but it’s only helped so much. After realizing also how narrow my mom’s english saddle has become, she’s using mine until we can make sure that Whisper can continue to do english before my mom decides to go ahead and purchase a new saddle.
I wanted to do more blogging and post on Insta in the last few months, but with school, new opportunities and new directions at work, horses, and other things I’ve tried to squeeze into any of my free time, it fell way at the bottom of the priority list. There’s just so much I want to do, and have been wanting to do for a while, so I’ve been doing that instead of blogging:
Like assembling my own gaming computer.
Learning how to bind books so I can have a physical copy of my favorite works.
Which all take time, so I’ve been doing that since I haven’t been riding. Temperatures are consistently 105+, and it’s still 100* and over at 8 pm. With Amber needing to spend a night at the vet to get fluids last year, I’m being really cautious about getting her out and doing anything in this heat. Especially when the temps were 110+ for a solid week, both she and I were really struggling. She’s basically getting 2 scoops of electrolytes a day because she won’t drink rein water, and only sort of tolerates pedialyte. Honestly, that horse is picky about the weirdest things lol. (She’s not even sure she likes oatmeal crème pies – now there’s some horror for you haha)
I want to post some of my review posts that are all nearly-finished drafts, and hopefully it won’t take me another 6 months to do so. Even still, I’ve been trying to keep up with everyone and read your blogs, even if I haven’t been commenting much or at all. I’m glad everyone is still doing well!
I looked back at when at last posted and that was at the end of August. So it’s been a while!
Between helping my mom after her treatments, nearly tearing the ligament/tendon in my ankle, more school, and everything else going on, I haven’t been doing anything horsey. Because my ankle was so bad, I couldn’t ride (I did borrow a scooter for work and that thing was sooooooo much fun), or do anything remotely fun for around 7 weeks, so there was really nothing to post about. I have spent tons of dachshund time tho so I have tons of pictures for that.
I haven’t bought anything new for the ponies that’s worth a review – well, except for my early Black Friday present to myself: a Pivo! The silver was on a GREAT sale ($70 off), and I found it on Amazon with the same discount (and sold by Pivo themselves) so it got to me the next day.
I know I’m not doing anything at the moment or only doing flatwork, but with Amber on Adequan and Whisper potentially needing Adequan or another round of hock injections, my mom and I have two potentially problematic horses. I get very nervous for Amber if I’m working her too hard or if she feels off, and because most days my mom and I can’t ride at the same time, we’re by ourselves and it’s hard to see if our horses are off or not. Judging via shadow isn’t the most reliable, either. So, while the Pivo will be great for media should I start posting a lot more (and, well, riding a lot more), I mostly want it to assess my rides to make sure both Amber and Whisper continue to look positive under saddle.
I’ve only played with the Pivo a little bit since I got it, but I’m really excited so far. It tracks just like it should so far, but I have yet to really dig into its features and start trying to record anything horsey. Hopefully I’ll be able to use it a bit more in the coming months considering the holidays generally offer more days off than usual.
I was actually able to ride Amber twice this weekend! I’ve barely been able to fit my ankle into any type of shoe except my Uggs, and it was still a chore fitting it into my brown boots with the brace. I was only able to do a little bit of trotting – let’s be honest with all that time off that’s all I wanted Amber to do too lol – before I had to call it quits before I reinjured anything. I mean, I’d already reinjured it 4 weeks after the initial injury, so I really don’t want to have to use crutches or a scooter again lol.
I’ve certainly been lagging in blogging. I get halfway through before something else comes up, or I’m working on other things, and it falls by the wayside. There’s just not much for me to really say even, especially since it’s been god-awful hot and I don’t want to ride, and Amber has actually been ridiculously sluggish as well, so she doesn’t even want to ride either. So it’s been a slew of hiding in the air conditioning lol. I wanted to ride last weekend, but both Saturday and Sunday were already 105 at 8 am, so it was a hard no for that. It won’t go below 110 until next Monday, and looks like next weekend will be a cool 106 and 104. It’s really unfortunate when 106 and 104 actually feel cool once it’s been over 110 for a while. Ick.
Tuesday it reached 119, with some clouds coming in and upping the humidity to 17% while still being 117 as I was doing chores for the evening. I seriously wonder if this is how chickens or turkeys feel when we put them in the oven. Either that or I’m just melting. It’s just gross. Wednesday was 118, Thursday was 114, and it’s generally still 100 degrees when I go out for a barn check at 10 pm.
Amber’s been doing well, too. After discussing with my vet, Adequan seemed a good way to go to keep Amber more comfortable. Her knee has been bothering her more often than not for the past few months, and both of us thought that adding Adequan would help her a lot. So far it has! Before, if she got a little too happy and ran and bucked and had fun, that knee would swell, and I’d have to wait a few days for it to feel better before doing much more than fifteen minutes of walking and trotting. Within a week tho, the swelling was down, and even after a happy episode of running and bucking, her knee only had the teensiest bit of swelling. So she gets another injection this Saturday, and then once a month until it runs out.
I have a lesson this weekend, so that will be a plus to everything I’ve got going on. Between my grandma’s sudden passing, and my mom getting diagnosed with cancer, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind these past few months, so I’m glad for the lesson. I’ll be “taking over the ride” on Whisper for my mom, keep her fit and add to her training to get her just right for when my mom can ride again. I am also hoping to get lessons more regularly, since horses are my happy place, and I’ll need to ride more than I currently am. Whisper and Amber are short, easy rides, and I’ll get the challenge when I lesson. Hopefully that works out and I can put that plan into motion a little better than I have in the past.
I’ll try to at least keep posting on Instagram since I (still) won’t be blogging much, buuuuuuuut I haven’t been doing that much either lately haha. So I’ll try to be a little more active there, but I’ll still at least be following and commenting where I can!
Until next time!
The end of May, my sister and niece Kaylee came to visit. Kaylee is 4 now, and is still the cutest, most opinionated niece ever. I am totally not going to lie that being the “cool aunt” was absolutely awesome haha. I would come over in the morning to visit and after five minutes of being excited to see me, it was “are we going to ride Amber?!” It was great.
My mom has a beautiful Pre de Nations saddle that she’s kept forever in her trunk, and it’s been labeled as the kid’s saddle for whenever kids (more specifically grandkids) were to ride. Well, Kaylee immediately wanted to see the saddle, and try on her kid’s helmet that I bought her as I assembled the kid’s stirrups onto the saddle. So then obviously, we had to ride.
I wasn’t sure how much Kaylee would be able to do, but my plan was to have her sit on Amber all by herself and try to start steering Amber. So I grabbed my Lund bridle, my extra pair of spur straps, and lashed together a sidepull to put on Amber so Kaylee could start practicing steering. I let Kaylee do as much as she could, such as leading Amber and brushing her. Safe to say it was her favorite part of the day. And Amber….. Well, Amber was just the best. I’ll let the photos tell the story from here <3. (Let me know if the videos don’t work! I’ll compile them into a youtube video if they don’t)
After I’d written my Friday post, Genevive texted me asking if I was sure I’d like to ride since it was a) supposed to be the hottest weekend yet and b) she didn’t really have a horse for me to really jump on. Which is no big deal at all – at least the horse part haha. The heat is a definite factor, but I’d been excited for that lesson since I’d made it three weeks prior so I wasn’t going to cancel! As much as I have really enjoyed riding Amber this week and she’s been great, I have missed lessons. And, I ended up jumping a little anyway, so it all worked out. Plus, she offered to let me ride TWO horses – how in the world could I say no to that?!
I will admit I was terrible and got pretty much no media. I forgot my helmet cam, and it was hot as hell out, so I focused a lot more on hydration than media lol. But, I absolutely love the two I got to ride. The two she had were a Lusitano cross gelding named Rooster, and a TB mare named Ellie. I was super excited to ride the TB mare – especially since I’m following a lot of OTTB pages as a possibility for my next horse. We were getting an early start too – lesson at 730 and 930 to not get too caught in the heat. So I drove up armed with a giant jug of cold water, a whole Pedialyte, tech clothes and my really airy helmet.
Unfortunately, shortly before arriving, there was quite an odd smell coming from my truck engine, so when I parked I popped the hood to take a look. I couldn’t see anything at first, but then noticed liquid all over one part of my engine, with it bubbling on top of the battery. That was reeeaaaaallly not good. So I called my dad and proceeded to my lesson.
I rode Rooster first since he was more of a kick ride, and had an absolute blast on him. It helped that he liked me haha! He was such a super chill dude, and being a Lusitano good lord his canter was so lovely and lofty. So rhythmic and steady – at least, once he realized that breaking to a trot was a no lol. His trot was lovely and so steady too, and even Amber gives me a little more up and down push than he did. It was just so nice to ride. He’s green, but green as in merely uneducated. He does want to do what you’d like, he just doesn’t know how to do the fancier stuff yet lol. But G has done a fantastic job with him, and even though he’ll probably get sold for dressage, she’s educated him in some jumping! After a good warm up so he and I could get used to each other, we hopped over to the second arena , picked up a canter and headed to a little crossrail in the middle of arena, set up exactly like the crossrail in my previous lesson with Wyatt. Rooster does have a left drift, but he popped over the little jump so steadily and never once tried to run through my left leg or rein. We ran into a little bit of a hiccup when I asked him to land left lead, he landed left lead, and then just as I was steering left he switched to his right lead lol. So we sorta ran into the fence lol, but he was all “oh, okay? Sorry? I guess we carry on? K cool” haha. He was super chill about it, and we nailed two other passes at the crossrail before calling it a day with him.
I really liked him. He was super brave, very willing, and while he is a bit lazier, when it came to jumping I liked that feeling. Despite only have a bit of jumping education, he was steady, and I felt confident enough to actually work on my position a little. I think biking at home that whole week really helped my legs, and riding Amber in my jump saddle also really helped me be more aware of my upper body so that my shoulders didn’t collapse so much when I went to jump. So that lesson was successful! G had a little girl in between my two rides, but it was great to cool down and rest up before I rode Ellie.
Rooster was really great – he’s nosy and cheeky and has personality and is steady and sweet and I loved his gaits. But Ellie. OMG Ellie. I loved her. She’s not as outgoing as Rooster, not as confident, but you could just tell she was so sweet. I was a bit intimidated since she’s a lot bigger than I’ve ridden recently (maybe she’s about 16.2-ish?), but after grooming her and brushing her it just melted away. Maybe it’s just because I love mares, maybe it’s because her energy felt so reminiscent to Whisper – I don’t know. But I really like her. I even rested my cheek on her forehead and stroked her nose, something that I do with Whisper a lot when I feel she needs it. And Ellie just sighed, and it seemed to have the same effect on her as it does Whisper. She really just seemed to be that way the whole time I rode her too – I recognized a lot of Whisper in her, but she had the easily accessible go that Amber has.
By the time I had Ellie tacked and warming up it was about 108 degrees and 10 am. Just ICK. But the rest and water and Pedialyte had done its job, and I had energy to ride. It was so different though hopping on Ellie right after Rooster! Maybe it’s just me, but as much as I feel at home on Amber, I love feeling the differences in horses. It’s just so cool lol. Anyway, I walked with Ellie, and while she constantly had an ear flicking to the excitement going on, she was constantly coming back to me with an ear too, listening when I’d talk to her, listening when I’d pet her. When we trotted, she started off super fast – there was definitely a lot more OOMPH there than with Rooster! Amber has done that plenty of times, so it was a bit amusing for me to feel something so similar in such a completely different horse. (Maybe it’s that mare factor….? lol) But, this is another reason why I love riding with G, and riding her horses. Some of our cues may not be the same, but our philosophies for working with horses are, so when I sat tall, got a firm hold on the reins and tightened my leg, she came right back down to a lovely, steady trot. It was such a nice trot, but I needed to be firmer and steadier with my lower body, a cool difference since I didn’t need to be as on top of it with Rooster since his trot had less upward momentum to it.
This girl had a lovely lovely hunter canter as well. Again, such a difference from Rooster. It was just so cool to get to feel the differences back to back, because their movements were so different from each other, but I liked them both equally. Even though Rooster was a little lazier and required me to be on top of it before he broke gait, Ellie required more body control and subtlety from me. Super cool.
After we had a good warm up, we ventured back out to the uncovered arena to pop over some poles and crossrails. Ellie is a lovely hunter-in-training, but boy when I first pointed her towards the poles she was all OMG JOMPIES and she was SO EXCITED guys lol. The first time we cantered through the poles she was okay, but the second she was like NOPE HANG ON, WE’RE GOING, I HAVE THIS. And the half halt was non-existent and we had a very bad, unbalanced turn haha. So, note to self – we do not pull on reins and push in stirrups. I am not too sure why I always tend to do this initially, because I don’t do this with western, so maybe it’s something I never fixed in English? Either way, I gave myself a silent reminder to sit down, then sit up, then leg support, THEN we balance with the reins. We did a quick trot circle – a half halt to a halt and then back a few steps. Pause, back a little more. Just to reinstate Ellie’s half-halt.
So we made a pass again, this time cantering to the inside of the first pole jump and aiming to the second. I did all of my little reminder, just with a little too much pull, and she broke to a trot, but we picked the canter up again, and had a great stride over the poles. Half-halt success! We came the other way, and this time we got a super half-halt to re-balance to end with a great pass over the poles. G put that one up to a cross rail for us to trot, and Ellie totally clunked over it the first time lol. And it was totally my fault because my freaking shoulders hunched at the last second. Curse my hunchy shoulders haha. Either way, we popped over it two more times, with Ellie being awesome and me not being as terrible with my shoulders, before I had to call it quits. I wasn’t at my limit with the heat, but I was getting there, and I knew if I kept going, I wouldn’t physically be able to support Ellie the way she’d need. It was still a great point in the ride to finish the lesson, and a lot of good things to think about!
Unfortunately, my truck still wasn’t fixed. We weren’t sure what was wrong with it aside from the fact that for some reason it was not charging my left (main) battery at all, and diverting all power to my right (auxiliary) battery. Which meant it was pumping 18.5 volts into that battery, when batteries should only be charging around 13 to14 volts. Yikes. That’s certainly a fire hazard. The sulfuric acid from the battery that I’d tried to rinse off had still corroded through a few cables, so those would need to be fixed. We didn’t leave the property until about 130, I took a much-needed nap from 2-4 before driving back up north to see if we’d fixed the problem. Apparently not. So, we finally got back around 730 pm, and I finished up horses before getting a ride home. I was definitely feeling the effects of the heat – which, go figure my truck decided to have this issue on the hottest weekend projected for July. It got up to 114 (with the historical average only be 104), and was still 105 at 8 pm, despite the sun having gone down around 730.
The next day my dad and I were back at the property, troubleshooting my truck. We were there for a few more hours, and still nothing. It climbed up to 116 that day, and Amber was definitely having an issue, so I spent a good thirty minutes outside continuously hosing her down and giving her an impromptu bath. She was certainly much better for it! But boy it so miserably hot that when I went out to hose off Amber I could literally feel my brain swelling inside my skull. At least it was breezy, so once I hosed Amber, I hosed myself down too.
Monday morning saw me back at the property to meet the tow truck. At this point Genevive and I were joking that I really should’ve just brought my riding gear for the past two days – I could’ve had two more rides lol! I’m glad I didn’t end up having an episode from the heat, but I certainly came close a few times. I’m pretty sure Aleve and Pedialyte were my saviors. So now my truck is at a dealership to hopefully fix the problem. From browsing forums and speaking to a few Firestones and Ted Weins, it seems like it’s a pretty common problem in the PCM for my year of truck. Go figure. Hopefully that is the issue and it’s an easy fix, but I’m not super positive. When we first asked about the PCM part on Saturday, the dealership said they don’t make it anymore because my truck is too old. Womp womp.
So, it was certainly a very busy weekend lol.
It has certainly been interesting since I last posted. I’d meant to post an adorable photo dump of Amber being the perfect babysitter for my niece (and I still will post that), but things started happening one after the other so it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.
My family has had a slew of health problems in the last few weeks – thankfully not due to covid – but it has been really hard, so I was in need of some retail therapy. I haven’t really bought anything I don’t absolutely need for Amber in probably the last year and a half, so when RW’s 15% popped up, I figured I’d snatch up a few things I’ve been eyeing.
First were the BOT Royal Hind boots. Amber has responded very positively to BOT products, and it isn’t as if I can’t use any of these things on the next horse I get right?! Haha, so into the cart these went. I’ve been eyeing these for a while. Amber definitely needs back boots now that she consistently interferes with her hind legs, but as good as the cheap ones were, there was always a nagging in the back of my mind that a boot this style with hard plastic would benefit her more.
Next was a navy BOT jump pad, because why not? She loves her dressage one, and always moves so well with it. I actually really like this pad almost more than her dressage one tho because it’s a lovely mesh on the bottom that is super moisture wicking even tho it has the Welltex particles in it. It’s super lightweight, and it fits her nicely. Most of my jump pads look weird now, especially since I’m shimming up my half-pad so my jump saddle fits her, but I like the way the BOT one looks on her.
I went back and forth on these, but eventually I just said why not, and added the MDC Sport stirrups. My knee pain hasn’t been bad, especially since I’ve left my stirrups long in my jump saddle, but I’ve experienced a lot of foot numbness the higher I raise my stirrups. I thought about trying the Freejump stirrups, but the price wasn’t quite low enough for me to bite the bullet and try them just yet. But it was certainly different riding in these in my jump saddle! I raised my stirrups, and it was crazy just how easy it was to push my heel down in these. I’ve never had a problem with lowering my heels – if nothing else I push them down a little too much. But I hadn’t noticed there was a slight resistance in the wide composite stirrups until I tried these.
It took a good twenty minutes before I felt numbness in my toes, and usually it’s only about five or ten minutes in that they start to go numb in the composite ones. I had absolutely no knee pain whatsoever, so fingers crossed that continues. My ankles were killing me tho, but I think that had more to do with my boots than the stirrups. Since it’s god-awful hot at 5 pm here (I think when I first test-rode everything it was still 105 at 6:30 pm), I’ve been trying to use the heat and my sweat to my advantage to further break in my black MH boots. I always have ankle problems breaking in new boots, and these seem to be a little tougher to break in than my brown MHs. But, so far so good on the stirrups!
I also tried the BOT boots and pad on Amber in that ride, and she felt really good. I think I was right that the hard plastic of the hind boots, combined with how stable they were around her ankles really helped her feel way more steady in her hind end. She tended to come out of frame a little more, and was a little “hotter” than usual, but that was more due to lack of fitness and my raised stirrups than lack of comfort. I was actually super pleased with how nice she felt. Her left canter felt uphill (for her lol), and her right lead was actually steady, something I am super happy about considering that is her very bad lead now.
All this arrived certainly at the right time! Trainer G has a horse for me to ride now, so I have a lesson with her this weekend that I’m super excited about. Since I am still out of shape, I am trying to ride Amber a little more – get good riding and 2pt practice in – and am working out on my home cycle-bike so that perhaps I have some semblance of “fit” for Saturday haha. Hopefully I’ll be able to post more soon!
When we first got Kahlua, it was really hard for me to work with her. I liked it, but there was also always this sense of dread whenever I needed to work with her. I ended up putting a lot of pressure on myself and it just wasn’t working.
So I backed up for a while. Didn’t work with her at all aside from feeding, mucking, and treats. And honestly, I think it’s been the right choice for me, but actually for Kahlua too. She’s been with us almost a year now, but through our daily routines she’s super willing to come up to us now. She is so delicate taking treats tho – it’s legit the cutest thing haha.
Perhaps two weeks ago, we noticed her right eye was kinda weepy and the flies were really bothering it. We can’t put a fly mask on her yet (she’s totally not broke to that) so we just monitored it. Almost overnight on the second day it just expanded into this huge sore below her eye. She was rubbing it on everything, and taking the skin off her knees even from how much she was itching. We had the vet out as soon as we could get him (thankfully she was considered an emergency), and dosed her with wormer and copious amounts of swat on her eye. Even just by the next day, it looked ten times better.
But, we still had to apply swat and meds to it. She still wouldn’t let us approach to touch her, and she definitely wouldn’t let us near with a halter, so we had to rig one of our panels as like a chute for her. It worked for the first….3 or so times schooching her in there. And then she’d just stand there in one of the corners and stare at us with a distinct “I am not going in there” look about her.
Has anyone ever mentioned how smart burros are? Well, they’re smart. And she was not going in there, no-sir-ee. Even after tapping her on the butt with a lead rope. Nope. She’d just stand there with a leg cocked and let us lightly tap her. She knew we weren’t going to hurt her, and she’d just look at us like “No thanks. I don’t want to” with those big brown eyes.
Well. Hurray that the panel is not connected to any part of her run, so we can move it wherever. I’d have to coax her a bit but we’d get her in her fav corner and move the panel. Her face when the panel moved was absolutely PRICELESS. I’m not kidding, her ears drooped LOL. We only had to move the panel twice more to different parts of her run before she realized there was no escaping her fate haha. She ended up being even better without the rope. Within a few days of her willingly moving towards the far corner, I now just point with my left hand, gently move my right, and cluck to her. She knows exactly what this means now, and just calmly walks over. I even managed to get her over there with treats and following me, so she’s coming around really quickly.
We’ve been haltering her, putting medicine on her, grooming her, and she’s been a champ through it all. I think this time that we’ve just been letting her be, giving her treats has let her settle really well. She knows we won’t hurt her, and through lots of slow, methodical work she’s letting us do so much with her. We still need the panel to apply meds to her face, but where we once had to squeeze her in she just stands relaxed. She’ll even look at us now, sniff my hands, let me scratch her face. And that sore is practically all healed now, which is a relief.
We give her plenty of carrots and apples and grain immediately after we’re done, and she comes right up to us again because she knows the treats are the best part! I swear she won’t even eat her dinner (and it’s alfalfa!) until we’re done because she knows all the treats are coming haha!
A few weeks ago, we had a TIP trainer local to Vegas that we called to come out an help us. While she’s doing well with us, we know nothing about gentling a wild burro, and I know from working with her that while her mentality is similar to horses, it’s the wild factor that’s stumping us. But the local guy is great, and you can tell he really loves working with horses and burros. A lot of what he explained what he does with them makes a lot of sense to me, and I really enjoy that he uses so many aspects of their wild life/nature to gentle them.
We’ve had him come out weekly so far, and after only 2 appointments Kahlua has come leaps and bounds! We’re able to touch her and pet her now, and my mom has been putting in amazing work with her. She can brush her, put medicine on her knee, touch her nearly all over (tho left side only for now) – all without the chute! She still won’t let my mom get meds on her face without the chute, but with how she’s coming, we know it’ll only be a little while before we can do that. In the chute I’ve practiced haltering her, and she’s a pro at it now! It’s certainly helped with the free work that we’ve been doing.
So far, she lets my mom do the most with her, but since I am back to full-time, in-office work again right as I started another IT class I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would’ve liked to get Kahlua comfortable with me. But, she lets me walk up and pet her just fine, so I’m okay with that for now! She’s come such a long way in just three short weeks, so I can’t wait to see how much further we’ll be able to get in a few more!
There really isn’t any excuse as to why I haven’t posted anything, but alas, I have not haha. I noticed through this that while I’m home, I tend not to visit social media a lot. No FB, no Insta, no blogging…. So I’m trying to change that a little with this post haha. I’m enjoying being unplugged from most social media lol. I still follow, but it’s definitely been less. The no blogging has mostly been because there’s not really a lot for me to write about, but a few (very) good things have happened recently amidst all this and it’s a huge relief.
I am extremely lucky in that short of not going to work every day, nothing has really changed for me. I am a very typical extroverted introvert, so while I do miss the occasional brunch outing with a friend, I have found it to be extremely relieving to slow down, spend time doing things I couldn’t before, and let myself be quiet.
I still care for the horses every day. I know that this could be a bit controversial, especially since my parents are in the older age-range for the virus, but since I always take care of the ponies and burro, I never stopped helping my mom care for them. I am there every day, whether just hanging out with my parents or doing chores. For me, with my mom being in that older age-range, I didn’t want her to get too run-down being the only caregiver and then be even more susceptible to getting sick if the extra work, hay dust (we’re both allergic to it), etc lowered her immune system.
With our barn being just us, there really was no change in that respect. Amber is loving all the extra time I’m getting to spend with her, and we’ve been working her fitness back up slowly. We look a little janky at the moment – her dressage saddle is again a little too wide for her since her loss of muscle tone, so we have on all our dressage gear and a 5-point breastplate lol. Amber is much happier with the set-up, and we go back and forth between dressage and western, and I keep our riding objectives the same across both disciplines.
Just the other day we had a vet appointment to x-ray Amber’s left hind, and it’s still looking good! She’s not grown as much sole this time, and her toe is a little long, but I think that’s a battle that will always be there, so I’m pretty stoked with the news that her foot is doing just fine even after 6 months of not checking on it. Her knee and stifle are still doing well, especially as the weather warms her arthritis feels better. So we’re going to keep riding! I’ve taken to riding in a pair of really slick yoga pants to help my strength too haha. Her trot is not bouncy, and she’s much happier at a slower trot pace than what I had her at before, so the slippery yoga pants have been great helping me get muscle and balance back lol.
As for Whisper, for probably the past year and a half we’ve been battling some soundness issues. It appeared in her front feet, and mostly her left front. The biggest setback was how hard it was to really get a read on just what was wrong with her. For the 16 years we’ve owned her she’s been the picture of soundness, and only needed her hocks injected two years ago. So it was very odd that she was having this mystery lameness. Radiographs only told us there was a teensy bit of swelling in her navicular bone, but other than that she never matched any other positive navicular signs. Plus, Whisper is not stoic whatsoever, so she definitely tells you when there is the slightest thing wrong. For a while we toyed with the idea of driving down to California to have an MRI done on her left front since her symptoms were similar to a tear.
Before that though, we decided one last option: consult another vet Dr. P, one who specializes in equine podiatry. I just really need to give a huge, huge, huge shout-out to these guys on here, because it really became this network of people working together to figure out what was wrong with Whisper. Dr. W, our vet here, would work with our farrier, send all the x-rays to Dr. P, who would then consult with both W and our farrier. It helped that W already knew P, and it has been a good 5 shoeings of collaboration between these three and my mom. W would x-ray and take molds of Whisp’s feet, send those to P, who would then handcraft shoes for Whisper and send them back to us with the molds, then consult with our farrier on how they needed to go on her foot based on the x-rays and molds. Rinse, repeat for 5 farrier appointments lol. It was extensive. But, we finally figured out that Whisper has contracted heels, which explained practically all of her symptoms. Once we got the angle of her wedge right, it’s been home free, and this last shoeing just the other day looks so positive. She’s walking so wonderfully on her front legs now, so that is a huge, huge, huge relief for me and my mom. Whisp is just the sweetest, and she’s been a champ through it all.
Well, we were well on the way of getting her sound when she came up lame on her left hind leg. And that just made our hearts sink. But thankfully, such a simple solution. The same vet appointment for Amber’s x-ray the other day was to flex test Whisper, and she’s merely hock sore. So we stuck her on Equioxx, and while she’s looking better, after a week we’re thinking we may need to inject her hocks. Which, after all the crazy with her front feet, we’re ecstatic that’s all she’ll need. Pretty soon my mom should be able to get back to riding her main girl, and both her and Whisper look much happier now that Whisp is feeling better. We’ve still got a week or two on the Equioxx before making a final decision, but Whisper is 18 this year, and if hock injections are all she needs now that we’ve figured out her front feet? I’ll take it lol.
Choco is living her best life. She’s ecstatic to have way more snuggles and adventure time with me at my apartment. She gets very upset with me if she doesn’t get to lay in my lap at least twice a day for a few hours each time haha. Her little snores are the best, and it’s been really great to spend all this time with her. Dogs are certainly living their best lives!
I loved the post that Liz from In Omnia Paratus wrote on Friday, and definitely wanted to add to the positivity. I’m grateful that….
Too much? LOLOLOL Stay safe and healthy everyone!
It has certainly been a very quick, interesting couple of days. A lot has happened in a short amount of time, and a lot of us are reeling.
Tuesday night, the Nevada governor issued a “close all non-essential businesses” directive for 30 days – casinos are directed to completely shut down, and other places had to shut down no later than noon on Wednesday. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, police, fire department, hospitals, etc, are still running, but only to essential personnel.
The directive went out at 6 pm Tuesday night, so I rushed over to our feed store to get food for Choco and hay for the horses since we wouldn’t know if our feed stores would be considered essential or not. We didn’t have a 30 day supply of food for the horses, so I ordered just enough to get us through. Thankfully, our feed store is still delivering hay for orders, which eases my worries on that matter. Our vet office closed their doors, but it looks like they are still open for emergency needs.
I’m worried for everyone here. Vegas runs on hospitality, and practically all of hospitality is closing. Schools have closed, but thankfully the teachers are still getting paid. UNLV students living in the dorms had to pack up all their belongings and go home. People are dressing as Nevada Energy workers and robbing people for food, water, and money at gunpoint. When I went to my grocery store right around the corner, there was a team of policeman – one manning the parking lot and the other the store. There were more than 600 people “in line” to get in when Sam’s Club opened. Which totally defeats the purpose of social distancing and staying in your homes, but I digress. People have been taking so much from the grocery stores that the seniors can barely get anything for themselves, so some places like Target are using their first hour of business for seniors – and they’re checking IDs to make sure the age is correct.
The streets have less cars on them than ever. As I was driving home Thursday night, it was really disconcerting to see practically no traffic when the streets are usually inundated with cars. With everything going on, hopefully places will be understanding about bills and people won’t go into a bigger panic than they already are.
My office is down to essential personnel too, so while there’s not any in-office work that I can do from home, there’s still a lot of extra training I can do so that I’m not just using up my PTO. So as of next week I’ll get a little bit of an unplanned “vacation.” This does mean more horsey time, so I am glad I’ll still be able to ride, and I’ll take care of ponies as always.
Despite things going a little crazy around here, I’m taking this opportunity to find the positives. I’m okay, my family and close friends are okay. I am extremely lucky that my work is fabulous with its employees, and they’re supporting all of us. So in this time that I am not going work, I am going be positive – finish up my final paper for my class early, go see the horses more since I’ll have daylight to do so, start those YouTube yoga or fitness videos I keep saying I’ll do but haven’t yet, really clean my place, catch up on any adulting things I may have fallen behind on, and keep eating healthy since most of the grocery stores still have all the healthy food haha. Obviously I’ll be working as well, but not needing to be at the office for 10 hours at a time will allow me to do more in the long run.
I am sad Kentucky needed to be cancelled, but I am letting my tickets roll over to next year since I do want to go. I thought about just getting a refund for a while, but since I want to go next year, I decided to just let them roll over. I understand what a huge hit they’re taking this year, especially since they’re non-profit. Hopefully next year they’ll have really awesome attendance, and I think they will. I was really looking forward to seeing my grandma and hopefully meeting some fellow bloggers after Kentucky, but that can always wait until later when things aren’t so hectic.
If you could, please keep Vegas in your thoughts! I hope you guys are doing alright this week!
As the week went on between my last lesson and my Feb 1 lesson, I kept remembering how well the line rode (tho still not perfect) when I sat up and back in between the fences. So, I made that my goal for this next lesson, with my leg, mentality, and all the other things I’d made a note of last time a priority for this one too.
This lesson this past Saturday has been the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I always have fun jumping, and this lesson was hard and challenging but I did it and it was an exercise I’ve always wanted to try but never had a horse that I could try it with. I love challenging exercises like this. When it comes to horses, sometimes just sending me out to do it where I have to be on the ball, think really fast, and feel my way through an exercise really makes me ride my best. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but for the most part I really love challenges like these. They’re like puzzles, and I love puzzles (I am such a Ravenclaw lol).
Genevive had three obstacles set up – a jump in the middle, and two cavaletti at either end of the arena. The jump started out as ground pole, and as always, Genevive had me start with pace, position, and track. Wyatt and I warmed up really well, and only did a bit of testing out the circles with the ground pole before Genevive made it into a crossrail and put the cavaletti at their max height.
Initially, we were supposed to start with a trot over the cavaletti then go naturally into the canter, and we did that once, and Wyatt just trotted easily over it lol. Try again, this time with a cluck and a bigger squeeze over the cavaletti, aaaaaand nothing lol. So Genevive had me give him a little tap with the whip and just go straight into the canter. We did one circuit around before capping off the ends with the cavaletti. We did the same to the right, and once we were keeping our pace, position and track, she had us start to the left with the cavaletti first and then on to the crossrail.
And I totally botched it lol. And yes, I got media of it – both helmet cam and ground video because my mom was there to video me haha.
I rode up to the crossrail, sitting, waiting, closed my leg thinking “support to the base” aaaaaand I had too much leg which made Wyatt take an absolute flyer lol. So then I figured I needed to get it together, left out the cavaletti and approached again. This time I had no leg, didn’t ride, and he fully felt that and we climbed over the jump. Same approach, but this time it felt different. The ground video doesn’t look bad, but you can see on the helmet cam how his head went down, we climbed over it again, and I had the distinct feeling that if he wasn’t such a brave, honest, saint of a horse he would’ve stopped. He’d never stopped at anything before, and that was when my brain decided to kick in. It gave me a really good talking to, basically shouting, “What the ever loving hell are you doing?! You know how to ride, and we’ll be damned if we teach this horse to stop. So get your act together, sit up, and ride!”
And, what do you know, it worked. I made the quick decision to put the cavaletti back in rotation, got that done, and rode like I meant it to the jump. I rode, I waited, I had leg on, and we popped over. He had the slightest hesitation, but I think my determination and support and not biffing the distance gave him more confidence, so our next approach went seamlessly. We finally got a break – Wyatt with many many pets – and discussed what had all happened during that, with the reminder of pace, pace, pace, then track lol. Once we’d had that, the position and distance worked itself out.
The right was better. I’d learned my lesson going to the left, so we had a much better go at that to the right. But, while my right leg had been amazing so far (it’s my weaker leg so I’ve been working on strengthening it), it was immediately apparent that my left leg was very blah and unhelpful this ride lol. Because the barn was to the left of us, he bulged left over the jump, which resulted in him switching leads over the fence. And because of my non-functioning left leg, I wasn’t stopping his shoulder from dropping left. Wyatt has very good changes, but I have yet to learn how to ask him for them, so we worked on simple changes. I decided not to fix my left leg that lesson for two reasons – one, I was finally getting the hang of the right amount of leg Wyatt needed before a jump. If I messed with my left leg, I didn’t want that to cause us to have more issues approaching that crossrail. Two, both Wyatt and I needed the practice with the simple changes.
We’d trot, go back into the correct canter, but I started biffing the cavaletti, and after about 3 times Genevive had me stop. I thought it was due to me seeing a half-step and my body going all wonky. But Genevive pointed out to me that once we trotted, I lost the pace, I lost my feel for the rhythm, and that’s why I kept throwing my shoulders too far forward, throwing Wyatt off as well. He was still a very good boy and jumped it, but I’d only get my pace back by the crossrail, when I needed it most in time for the cavaletti.
So she sent me out again. We hit the cavaletti well, got in great to the crossrail, switched, and I immediately did a simple change, kicked him back out to try for that pace again. We were a bit off of it, but it was a lot better, so I was able to make the better decision to just wait, make my body wait, and he chipped but the execution was much better. At one point, he was really losing steam coming off of the rail, so I gave him a tap and he took such offense to it LOL. You’ll catch it in the video but it was just so funny lol. We repeated that a few more times, and finally he didn’t swap over the crossrail! He held the lead for 3 jumps (cavaletti, crossrail, cavaletti), so G and I let him stretch down and go straight before walking.
We quit there, which I thought was a perfect way to end for both him and me. He’s still green when it comes to jumping, and since it’s been a struggle for him to hold leads, the fact that he did was a great place to stop. That, and he was tired and sooooooo sweaty lol! We were both tired actually haha. You can tell towards the end of the video, but we still got it done I think.
That definitely went down as my fav lesson in a long time. Aside from my momentary lapse of sane thought with the crossrail lol, it was such a great exercise and I think Wyatt was probably the perfect horse for me to learn it on, too. I left really excited for my next lesson, but I started my next class that Monday, and knew I’d need to wait a weekend before another lesson.
Since then tho, I kept thinking about the previous ride, when I finally sat up and back, and then this ride, how I was much more successful at doing that this lesson than before. Obvi I still biffed it a few times, but I started to realize that for the past few years in lessons that has always been an issue for me. I tend to crouch in two-point; whenever I’m English I’m always in two-point at the canter. I did that with Amber when I first had the jump saddle too. The only times I’ve sat were in my western and dressage saddles, which sit very differently from jump saddles.
And I had a bit of an epiphany. Almost immediately as I started drawing up a plan to practice going from two-point to sit on Amber (without losing forward), I immediately heard my brain yell “no! get off their back!”
Now it made so much sense! For four years in Hawaii when I rode the lesson pony Air Myles, my teacher would always always always tell me to get off of his back. I’d always sat for the canter before, but Myles didn’t like someone sitting on his back at the canter, so she’d always yell at me to get off his back if I sat for more than five strides. Even in flat classes I’d two-point. I’d never sit. Then we got Whisper, I did western, and my last real experiences with jumping were those lessons in Hawaii until the very few, very sparse lessons these past few years. I’m actually really really liking dressage now, because doing dressage with Amber has actually helped exponentially in making me aware of my shoulders, how I tend to tip forward and not sit, and it’s made me sit up and back.
So, now I can really work on teaching myself to go from two-point to sit up and back. I couldn’t completely fix the problem until I knew why I did it, and can now change my reaction.
Onward from my cerebral observations, I figured I’d do some small but targeted rides on Amber. Since her injection in her knee, she’s been feeling a lot better, so I plan to practice my two point and going from up to sitting back on her until my next lesson. It’ll mostly be fitness/learning rides for me, but I feel more okay doing that with her now that she’s better.
Unfortunately, the lady who owns Wyatt has a second horse that’s working better for her, so Wyatt will be headed for a new home soon and I won’t get to have anymore lessons with him. We’re not actually sure who I’ll ride for my next lesson, but we’ll figure it out lol. I’m disappointed because I felt like Wyatt and I were finally getting into a good groove together, but it happens. Riding different horses is one reason why I’m taking lessons and not just leasing or buying a horse. I’ve had a lot of experience riding plenty of different western horses, but I want more experience riding lots of different English horses too. Helps me know better what type of feel I’d like from horses I try in the future.
Either way, I’m still looking forward to my next lesson, whenever it is!
This lesson on Jan 25 was good. I’m sure it had to do with my attitude/plan/better day, but we synced a lot more. In light of my last lesson, what Genevive said about wanting him to stretch down over the jump and that we were trying to teach him rhythm and consistency in pace to make him a good ride for his owner really stuck with me. I realized that I had been treating him like a jumper horse that last lesson – let’s go go go! – instead of what he REALLY was, which was a Hunter horse. Lightbulb turned on, thank you very much brain.
So for this lesson, I was determined, and had my points all thought out:
For this lesson, we tried Wyatt in a new bit. He’d never been ridden in it before, but I had a feeling he’d adjust just fine with him being a western-ish started horse. And true to form, when he kinked his neck all weird I just gave a soft bump and he immediately got the message. After that, I only had to massage my ring finger, and he was a good boy.
I still had my dressage whip, but I let Wyatt warm up easy. I mostly focused on my position, let him start out slow as he warmed up. Despite his lethargic start, he could immediately tell my leg was different, much more like Genevive rides him, and he could certainly tell the difference. Pretty soon I had him in a pretty nice, forward trot for him. He needed just the smallest tap, but for the most part was quite good about going forward when I’d squeeze and/or cluck.
Most of the ride I was laughing at myself because while I felt that last lesson I jumped better (read: stayed out of his way) and this one I flatted him way better than I jumped. That’s horses and learning tho, right? All in a day’s ride.
So I’ll skip to the fun jumping part since flatting mostly consisted of…well…flatting, and trotting over poles and counting and more practice on me grabbing mane. As he did in the first two lessons, before the jump he’d get squiggly, not wanting to straighten up out of the corner and go so we had some straightness issues. Those obviously knocked our striding off, but it was still a really good learning experience for both of us, and he was still an absolute saint in that he jumped every single time I asked him to. This lesson though was a good learning curve for me since I had had practically no leg on last lesson, and then coincidentally had too much leg this lesson haha. Yay learning lol.
I kept (appropriately) thinking LEG LEG LEG, just don’t forget your leg before the fence, he needs support. You know, all good things. Except, since we’d done very well together on the flat, he was a lot more attuned to my leg than I was expecting when we started to jump. Dude was such an awesome saint of a horse tho, because I kept biffing the distance. Not because I couldn’t see one but my brain was like “yes, we go to right here” and then my legs closed too hard, or didn’t close at all, so he’d go long or I’d bury him to the base of the trot crossrail. Oi. Brain and limbs – let’s actually communicate and do the same thing please!
So usually, our trot jump was just…bad, and then the five strides to the vertical came up okay. We were still long 90% of the time, but hey, this is how we learn lol. You’ll be able to see in the video, but it was a very easy exercise that was just really hard for us to nail. Despite being forward on the flat, and feeling him forward to the jump, it felt like he decided forward wasn’t a thing three trot steps out from the crossrail and our straightness would suffer which mucked up the rest of the line. Y’all know how it goes.
I finally gave him a good smack in between fences. We drifted right, but he powered better, which got us a better distance to our vertical. That time Genevive had raised the vertical, so when we really drifted right, he caught the rail and knocked it. But, was a good boy and tried extra hard the next time. The last time we went through was our best (naturally), but I’m always fine with that. Even if I have a lesson where I struggle, if I can get it once I like to end on that note. Having the good one be the last just really solidifies it in my mind. So Genevive put a trot pole about two steps out from the crossrail. This caught his attention, so he was looking at it instead of throwing his head up and wobbling, and I put my leg on a little too hard. He responded tho, tried a canter step but the pole made him trot, and then up and over the crossrail we went. I gave him a good kick, sat up and sat down, and the vertical came up in 5 lovely strides with no drift.
Which, you know, our last good one was the one that I finally figured out to sit up and back lol. Oh well. It still helped set the tone for the next lesson, so I was perfectly a-okay to quit there. Despite only getting the line once, this overall lesson was still much better than the last. I was a lot smoother to Wyatt with my aids, I had a different mindset coming in, and I know he appreciated that. I don’t generally worry about not getting an exercise as well as I’d want, mostly because as long as my overall mindset and way of riding is correct, I know that the exercises will get easier as I get more experience. Which is why, while I didn’t feel like I jumped as well this lesson, it still felt like a way better lesson than the last one because I was smoother and made sure I didn’t get as frustrated with him.
So, that was it for that successful lesson!
I had jump lessons! Yay! One was on Dec 13, and the other one Jan 10, but at least I’m finally getting around to writing about it? lol I have helmet cam footage for my Dec 13 lesson, but I was running a bit late to my second lesson, so it was either go back to my apartment and grab my helmet camera or get caffeine. Well, I chose caffeine. And once the lesson was done, I wished I’d skipped it and gotten my camera. Ugh. 20/20, I guess.
Either way, both lessons were good. I got to try out a new pony – western pleasure wasn’t the right discipline for him, so now he’s having a blast in his (very) new and (recent) transfer to the hunter ring. He’s absolutely so adorably sweet, and amazingly enough he’s like this crazy-great mix between Amber and Whisper. I am in love. I may or may not have pestered Genevive about where she got him, because he’s 16 hands too and feels like my kind of horse.
The best thing, too? I haven’t gotten my jump saddle made narrower yet (will I ever? I have no idea LOL), but it’s absolutely perfect for his QH shoulders and wider back. (Meaning I need a horse like him because I am deathly afraid that next-horse will need a different saddle lol). Soxie felt longer but more adjustable, with a huge engine if you only thought about it. Which – of course – she was a jumper mare, but I really liked the way that felt. Wyatt feels shorter but less adjustable, with an engine that needs consistent reminders to stay forward. I feel more confident going to a fence on a horse like Soxie, but I feel safer on Wyatt because he’s so steady. He might be slower, lazier, with a “go” button that doesn’t feel forward, but you can feel that he has no stop in him whatsoever and he’s good off of the ground. This was especially apparent in my second lesson.
So, first lesson. I was mostly just getting used to him, but Genevive gave us some super fun exercises to do. She had set up a five stride line (blue x’s), a cavaletti bounce (green lines), and a single vertical with a loooooong approach. She gave me a bit of background with him – he’s generally lazy, gets wiggly before jumps so you just need to enforce forward, but he’s a good guy and will jump anything from anywhere. And he totally gave me that feeling. Despite being wiggly, I never felt like he wouldn’t jump, and he has such a rhythmic canter that it’s the easiest I’ve ever been able to count strides in a line.
He was really good through the first two crossrails, and once he saw the bounce he was ready to go, but coming off the end for the long approach to the vertical he’d get really sucked back. It caused us to miss our distance the first time. The second time around, after a tap-tap on my boot, he went forward enough and the distance came up flawlessly.
Most of the lesson was us getting used to one another, and ensuring that he stayed forward. He had a bit of trouble continuing through the corners at the canter, but he was so steady whenever going over those crossrails from a trot that I always felt confident going towards them. All in all, it was a fun lesson on a new lesson pony with some super fun exercises!
The next lesson I was super excited for, but it ended up being a bit of a blah ride. I was having a blah day, got really frustrated by what felt like lack of forward for Wyatt, and that translated to him. He didn’t really want to go forward, and he’d throw his head and bulge left, but then had a right drift so we kept going in crooked to the jumps. I just got frustrated with him this ride, and it showed in how not-smooth I rode that day.
The only good thing I can attest to that ride was that I really got my knuckles in his neck and grabbed mane for our exercise. I felt a bit behind most of the time, but considering I have a tendency to crouch with my shoulders and bring my hands up to hang weirdly in mid-air, I was happy that I was solidly in a grab-mane, slightly-left-behind mentality the whole ride. Genevive had set up a cool one-stride exercise of a crossrail to a vertical and two cavaletti angled to the side of each of them. I’d trot in the one stride, circle around and hit the cavaletti.
Wyatt was a good boy despite me getting frustrated. I wanted to hit the combo straight, with forward impulsion, but he’d throw his shoulder left cause he didn’t want to go forward, then when I’d block him he’d haul right, so it was interesting getting to the crossrail for one stride to an upright vertical. We had some okay flat work before, but as I said the ride was meh. I’m a little blurry on everything we did this lesson (thank god I had helmet cam footage for my December lesson or I wouldn’t remember anything lol), but I still learned a lot, despite it not being my best.
She had me end both ways off of the one stride to hit the other cavaletti, so we kept Wyatt on his toes a bit about whether we would go left and circle around to the left cavaletti, or go right and jump the right one. He was super solid through the one stride despite how crooked we’d get going in. It was really cool to feel him get in there and get out over it, especially since Genevive made the out vertical a solid height. I don’t know how tall it was, but it was taller than she’s normally had me jump, even with Soxie. But yeah it was an awesome feeling riding that combo because he was so game to do it, and it felt so cool. Which is why I was so glad I was just grabbing mane so I wasn’t in his way.
The one stride and the cavaletti all rode well, and I feel I rode them well once I was in them, but definitely the in between was where my frustration was a lot more apparent if he wouldn’t canter, or he’d suddenly start wiggling before the crossrail. I’d get hunched, try to pull him or something, and I’d execute our transitions badly. Looking back at the videos from the last lesson to this one I think the reason he got so wiggly was that the crossrail faced directly away from his stall, and he definitely sucked back towards the barn.
Towards the end though, he really wasn’t wanting to hold his right lead, so Genevive had me canter a circle around the one stride before pointing him towards the cavaletti. Our goal was to approach, straighten without him swapping leads, and pop over the cavaletti. He was so good though, and did it great on the first try, so we stopped there. So while it certainly wasn’t my best ride, I did learn a lot through it.
Stay tuned for my next lesson!
Aside from some lessons (which will be posted soon!) not much has been going on around here.
Back in December I noticed Amber’s knee swelling again. The farrier had just trimmed her, so I knew it wasn’t her foot bothering her. While her stifle had gotten injected back in November, we didn’t inject her knee because it was fine on the day they checked her. But the cold weather was setting in, and I was noticing that she was stiff on that leg. So, I made an appointment and started wrapping that leg in her BOT quick wrap. It definitely helped her stay more comfortable until the vet came out.
Amber felt better immediately. By the next day she was moving much happier, and within 3 days that swelling had gone down again. Thank god! I still gave her about a week of rest, but then we had some bad weather so it was more like 2 weeks until I could get her out. But she feels a lot better now, so I’m hopefully going to be able to hop on her a little more.
Kahlua has been her usual squeaky self – begging for treats and food. She’s been coming inside a lot more with how bad the weather has been, which is really good. She still leaves when we walk by, but usually her hunger outweighs her caution so sometimes she stays in.
I don’t have a lesson planned for the long weekend, but I’m actually glad of that since The Sick finally caught up with me. It’s been roaming around my office with people coming in still coughing, hacking, sniffling – and one person even came in with a mask over their face. OMG PEOPLE WHY ARE YOU AT WORK IF YOU’RE WEARING A MASK?! DO NOT INFECT US PLEASE! But no, people like the office where I work so they all come and infect the place, no matter how many times I wipe down everything with wipes. I’ve held off getting sick for 3 months though, so I suppose that was a good run lol.
So now I’m just hoping I won’t stay sick for too long. But, I’ve finally managed to finish all my lesson recaps with their media, so I’ll be posting those next week! Happy long weekend everyone!
I loved the 2010s post May As Well Event did, so before the end of 2019, here is mine!
This was my second/third semester in college. I was having a blast beginning my Equine Science degree, but not getting up at 6 am for all my 7 am classes. This photo isn’t actually from 2010, but I actually can’t find a photo from 2010 lol. I still love Fort Collins tho, and I actually miss the snow and these gray days.
This was the year I was assigned to Amber, but my most memorable moments were from my Packing and Outfitting class trip. That will forever remain one of my absolute best memories. I had to pick two photos for this year – one to show just how beautiful fall was in the mountains, and the other one where we got to see a golden eagle and bald eagle hanging out together on that same trip.
This was the year that Amber got sold to someone else, was then sold back to me, and then injured herself lol. But this started our journey together, and I’ll never regret one moment of it, even the heart-stopping ones!
I started a job in Texas working for a reining trainer this year. I got to see a new side to all things horses, and also realized Texas was somehow colder than Colorado lol.
This was my second year working for a trainer, where I got my own string of horses to ride. This guy was one of mine to keep working on, a super sweet stallion by Wimpy’s Little Step.
I came back to Vegas this year with Amber in tow, and ended up getting a job very different from training horses. But, I got to try a few new horses out for a friend before coming back – including this really cool mare that I really liked.
This was the year Amber and I ventured into showing together since we never had before. We started in the walk/trot, and won a lovely buckle.
This was the year I started my blog! And the year we showed again, this time in canter classes while I hunted around for some new english gear for Amber and I to start eventing once the year of showing was over. However, this was also the year I visited Kentucky for the (last ever) Rolex, and that kind of tops the photo’s list lol.
Alas, it was not meant to be, as Amber had stifle surgery and laminitis, and the bulk of the year was spent waiting. But, I did have some super fun lessons, and got to ride Soxie, one of my favorite red mares ever.
This has been a rollercoaster of a year. Not in terms of horses, really, but I think my happiest moment in 2019 was getting a clear for light riding with Amber. She’s still doing well, still likes the occasional work, and it makes me very happy to ride her.
So, a lot has happened in a decade! It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, since time sure flies, but I can’t wait to see where life will take me these next 10 years!
We’ve had cold and wet weather since the week before Thanksgiving, which for Vegas is not par for the course. Temperature-wise it was colder last year, but it was sunny and dry. This winter we’re cloudy and wet with warmer temps, but the lack of sun and the increased humidity has had everyone feeling quite a bit colder than normal. There’s been a consistent 10-degree temp vs “feels like” difference as the days have remained cloudy, and this definitely affects the ponies.
The day before Thanksgiving was windy with a wall of threatening clouds coming over the west mountains, and I decided it was a good day to ride Amber. I…don’t know why haha. The day before was beautiful and I didn’t ride! But nasty weather, let’s do it lol. Either way, Amber was frisky. She had some extra pep in her step. She was so good about trying hard and keeping a lid on her happy, so I just let her canter out. That was one happy pony! I let her just go for one time around the arena, then sat back and asked her to work. Turns out that little “run” was all she needed, and her extra friskiness gave her good pep and energy for us to work on her canter. She gave me some of her best right lead canter to date, and I kept each one short. I needed to lift her up a little, remind her to sit on her butt, but despite the happies she really did well.
We settled to a nice trot, and she was the bestest pony for the remainder of our short ride. I fitted her with all my BOT stuff and fed dinner a little early.
I haven’t been able to ride much since Thanksgiving, but I had considered at the start of December using that month for a no-stirrups instead of November. But in the end, I decided not to, and I was super glad. When I next rode Amber, she was fantastic. She tried so hard at the trot, and her left lead canter was the absolute best I have ever felt that horse canter. She really took to heart the reinforcement of bending through the ribcage, and she was actually light on my inside rein (usually her weight is just consistently in the left rein but I know why that is lol). She was rhythmic, felt wonderfully uphill (for her), and it just felt magical. It was such a cool ride that day. And I think we rode a grand total of 15 minutes because she was so good. She nailed everything I asked. There was no reason whatsoever for me to keep pushing anything. She got so many pets and treats. You should’ve seen her face after though. She knew she’d been a good girl and fully expected all the attention haha.
That ride was the only one I got that week. In between work being hectic, a company Christmas party, and homework I just couldn’t get out there. Last week though I made sure to get out there, but…she just hasn’t seemed herself. She hasn’t liked her scratches as much. She doesn’t have as much pep in her step. I know her right SI ligament is sore, so I made sure to massage her and slather sore no more on her stifle. She has what feels like very minor swelling on her left side. She looks at me like “WTF are you doing, mom?” when I push on it, but she doesn’t move away, isn’t reactive to my hand or leg pressure. So, not sure what that is. But, she’s just seemed overall a bit blah, so I think this persistent cold and wet has her feeling a bit achy. Plus she gets her feet done today. So hopefully it’s just an assortment of things that are making her feel a bit blah.
I did get to ride this Tuesday/Wednesday, though Tuesday was an odd/funny ride. She BUCKED. Haha! This horse hasn’t bucked with me since she was barely 2 and something startled her lol! But we cantered, we were okay for 2 strides, then she full on bucks, and not a little crow hop either! She really tipped me onto her neck. I did get after her a smidge – I love her to death but bucking is not allowed. However, she got the point across to me that something wasn’t right. I asked her to canter (right lead) again, and she did, held it together, but boy she was unhappy and her ears were pinned back. That’s never happened either, so I switched leads, and she was so wonky and uncomfortable cantering to the left with, you guessed it, her ears pinned. So I checked all our stuff before lightbulb going off of “oh this saddle looks way further back than we started…”
Sure enough, it’d slipped back (I was experimenting fit, and that experiment was a big nope). So I hopped off, readjusted, then hopped on and asked for a right lead canter. Huge difference. Collected, correct, with very happy, pricked ears. So I just did a wee bit more trotting before calling it quits. She was a very good girl, and while I appreciate that she told me something was wrong, we just shouldn’t buck lol. We’ve known each other long enough that I would have noticed the wonky feel and pinned ears by themselves. But she still got pats, treats, and plenty of love. Wednesday was much better, with a happy horse but still kind of slow and sluggish in the trot work. With her being kind of sore, I think going slower has been easier for her, so I’ve let her so long as she’s trying and isn’t running through my left rein.
So we aren’t riding as long anymore, and I’m just sort of keeping an eye on her attitude and how she’s looking in case there is something that’s bothering her. I’m hoping that the wet and the cold is the culprit, but we’ll see. I’m going to give her a massage, let her get trimmed, and see how she feels after that. Hopefully she feels better!
After our good lesson, Amber and I have had some par-for-the-course rides. Most good, some in between.
Since I mentioned it in my other post, I’ll start with our “off” ride sometime mid-November. Amber had been really good the day before. It was nearing our 3 weeks post-injection, so I wanted a bit of video of how she was moving to show my vet. I’d gotten good footage the day before, and wanted to show him 2 days of riding in a row. Well, I hadn’t known my cousin was visiting, so in the middle of our ride when they wanted a few pics of me and the horse. Someone had been eating an apple, Amber was very intrigued. We got our canter footage after, and then when I continued to ride, they watched.
After the photos, Amber seemed to get in a Mood. I think part of it was smelling the apple, but mostly people were chatting at one end of the arena, laughing and having a good time as they occasionally watched us, and Amber wanted to be in the thick of it. She did NOT want to work. It was the first time in a really long time she really told me no. She wouldn’t settle, she wouldn’t move off of my leg, and then she’d collapse to a walk when we’d pass by people.
It was also dusk, and I set out cones, so I kept in mind that this may have affected her – the cones reminding her of the past lesson, and dusk since she’s been bothered by it since our last facility. But, despite keeping that in mind, and despite me giving her lots of opportunities to say yes, she blatantly refused. The biggest ways were not wanting to come off of my left leg, not wanting to bend, and blowing through all that I was asking her. I’d bring her to a walk, or a halt, reinforce what I was asking, but no dice. She’d race down the long side to get to the group, and practically slam on the brakes when she got there. Usually, I’d work her butt off in that area, go to where she doesn’t want to be and stop. But really, she just wasn’t listening all around the arena. It’d come and go in patches, so I just kept going around, circling when she’d get too fast. I’m sure I perched forward like I tend to do which didn’t help, but the circles helped us both.
As much as I’m sure there were things my body did that wasn’t helping matters, at the same time, even if I’m not at my best the horse needs to do their job. She knows her job. Even though some of this is new for her, what we were doing (serpentines, circles and whatnot) is not new. She was also great the previous day and got those things down pat. This horse knows that I expect her to do her job, and she gave me a big fat no that day. Usually, I don’t mind when Amber tells me no. It’s always for a very good reason when she does that, and usually she’s trying before it comes to a “Mom, I really can’t do this!” reaction from her. I’ve been especially mindful recently to make sure whenever I get hesitation from her that she understands or is physically able to do it. That ride she was always distracted, would always flop her head and ears in the direction of laughter. She was just not tuned in one iota, really. So I got it a little better, since by that time it was really getting dark and I didn’t want to overwork her muscles. But it was definitely not a pleasant ride.
I never mind if she’s in a Mood (god knows I get in Moods too so I can hardly be critical) but she at least always tries, and I scale back the ride if that happens. But, since this was a different mindset, she still needed to know that that behavior was not okay. So she got tied after the ride with few pets or attention. I let Amber go before feeding everyone but still, very few pets.
Looking at the the clips of me in the royal shirt, it’s hard to believe the rest of the ride right after that wasn’t great lol Also, there’s a quick shot of Kahlua at the end of the video moving the rabbits away from her food lol
That was Sunday, so I gave her Monday off since it was also my long day, and planned for Tuesday. It was a new day, so no hard feelings. Same approach of patience. I just really hoped she decided to listen. Spoiler: she did.
Last year, I purchased a dressage whip so that the few lesson horses I rode would actually freaking go. After the once or twice of using it for those horses, it sat, barely being used. So I snatched it up. My spurs aren’t harsh, and I was having to work way harder to get her to move off of my left leg than my right. Since our lesson she’s been fantastic with the right. But she’s been like a lead weight on the left. So, she needed more incentive to get off of my leg.
Amber hates whips and ropes. I know she’s never been hit with them, but it’s always been something that makes her jump out of her skin. The snap of a lunge whip is terrifying to her. She’s always been a brave, gregarious horse, so I’m not too sure where it’s come from. Not that I’m complaining tho lol. I’ve never ever ridden her with a whip, so I wasn’t too sure how she was going to react considering she hates the things. But, she didn’t even seem to notice it until I started to work on her ribcage while we warmed up. Just like I hoped though, she kept her head, and really didn’t seem all that bothered by it. I used our warm-up walk to move the inside hind underneath – left, right, left, left, right. She was doing very well, and barely tapping the whip on her left or right haunch helped me to get my point across without the cue getting muddled.
She got a little more wary of the whip when I tucked it against her left shoulder as we trotted, but she stopped worrying too much about it since she was trying very hard to do what I was asking. I was super pleased. She still got really stiff at the left, to where it feels like she throws her weight to the left side. But I just brought her to the walk, reiterated the bend with the whip, picked the trot back up. Not much later, I was able to do that at the trot. She certainly respected the whip, but there was no change for the worse in her pace or mind. More like it really helped that light bulb to go off in her brain. I cantered a touch, she was amazing, and even better she had no other thoughts for cantering when we proceeded to trot again. I did the serpentine once. It was just a bit better than the previous ride, but she tried so much harder this time that we only did it once. The walk break was again reinforcing that bend, that when my leg goes here you do this.
We only trotted for a bit more, and she was a very good girl. As I walked her out I again reinforced it, dismounting at her least favorite part of the arena. I made sure to give her lots of praises, grab her face for lots of pets, and she definitely took to heart the previous ride with little physical or verbal praise from me. She was extra cuddly, wanted extra reassurance that she did well. She definitely deserved the extra praise, so I hung on to her face a little longer, and she sighed happily.
Though the ride was great, I still tied her. But she knew this one was different. I just wanted to cement the ride in her mind, and every time I passed her as I mucked, I’d touch her or kiss her nose. She even got treats when I let her go.
With how much the whip helped, I do think that she may not have quite understood the cue, and that had something to do with our off ride, but at the same time, I don’t think it was the major cause. I think that and a few other things contributed, but it was the attention that was the main cause. That was just not the horse I normally get. Even when she’s having an off day herself she’s not like that. Either way, it was a good reminder lesson for her, and it was good for me to approach the issue a different way and offer an easier way to understand what I was asking. It got better, so that’s a win-win in my book!
That I am FINALLY getting to after a month haha. This was a pretty good lesson. Amber was certainly a bit lit for the majority of the trot work and a bit reactive. But I think that’s more due to her being unbalanced and a bit fatigued. I generally don’t ride her longer than 30 minutes, and our lessons tend to be around 45, but I have been filling that 30 minutes with less walking.
This lesson was definitely about figuring out Amber’s balance. I asked Genevive to work with us on our serpentines and transitions, though really the whole lesson centered around those serpentines once we we figured out that Amber was having trouble with balance. In the rides preceding this lesson, Amber got really quick and unbalanced curving left, which helped me decide to inject her stifle to see if it would help – and to just help her stay more comfortable. You can see in the video after we start trotting that she’s being a very good girl and trying, and then just gets super imbalanced when we try to do the right curve through the cones. After a few off steps she got the balance back, but I was very glad that Trainer G had been able to see one of the issues we’d been facing. It just…happened on a different side, but it works haha.
I was really glad I had my helmet cam for this ride. It proved really good for me going back and listening to our conversations. There wasn’t too much in terms of variety. Most of the lesson was focused on that one serpentine exercise, with a little bit of canter and a little bit of free walk thrown in there. But, one of the biggest nuggets of wisdom I took from this lesson was Amber’s bend pattern. You can see in the video (and I add Genevive’s explanation) that Amber is bent from her withers forward, but she has no softness or bend in her ribcage. The main exercise for this was to get her hind leg stepping underneath her. She over bends from wither to poll, but this put the pieces together that I hadn’t even been realizing I’d been searching for. I’ve mostly been thinking about pieces of her body to create that curve of inside leg to outside hand. When Genevive introduced the ribcage with hind leg coming under, it made my mind suddenly transfer that into an image of a whole body bend that starts with hind foot coming under.
And boom there it was! It took Amber a little bit to get it, but once she did, she certainly tried her heart out every time and I could feel the difference. You can definitely hear me praise her in the video when she tries lol.
The biggest problem in the lesson was that she wouldn’t settle until we had a long walk break. She was too fast most of the time, and that fatigues her muscles more quickly. This isn’t really conducive to lessons, so I’ve been thinking on ways of formatting the lesson a wee bit differently, and discuss with Genevive whether this will work for her or not. This lesson gave us some good homework though!
I know I’m about a week late on this, but I wanted to get everything in before posting it!
I had a plan for Black Friday, and it really centered around Riding Warehouse lol. A big part of that was BOT, since Amber has responded very well to it. They had the BOT white and gold pad that I’ve been in love with ever since it came out, so I nabbed that.
That, and the navy and gold BOT pad (long story short there was timeline/shipping cost issues so I grabbed it at full price someplace else), were the two most expensive items I bought, but I added a few other things I’ve been eyeing.
Amber has been smacking the inside of her fetlocks since we got into light work as her laminitis has healed, so I thought about getting her BOT for that, too. But I took a look at them at a local tack store, and they weren’t discounted there or at RW either, so I found a pair of really cheap Horze hind interference boots, AND they came in navy! I’m good on boots now. I’ve got my gold PS of Sweden boots, some brushing boots, and now these for when we’ll be doing more and I’m not sure polos are sufficient padding.
I was in need of good socks, so I bought my favorite Noble outfitters in lots of colors. Since I haven’t gotten dressage leathers, I switched my stirrups to my black jump leathers. I’ve thought about selling those a lot, but I wanted dressage leathers in hand before I sold them, and I’m glad I did. Switching my leathers also reminded me what an absolute pain it is, so I bought the exact same black composite stirrups I already had. They were pretty cheap on sale, so in the bag they went. Ah… you know…. Just in case I have a jump lesson on a different horse one of these days? lol
There was a very small need for Amber to have a new girth, so I grabbed a Shire’s one on sale. It works better than her Smartpak fleece one, whose elastic is all stretched out. It’s also a 30, and thankfully Amber has kept her weight very well to solidly fit a 28. For a small horse, she’s got a deep heartgirth, just….not so deep as a Warmblood haha so those full-size dressage pads are pretty long on her. She’s a fan of fleece and leather, and the first day I rode her in it and the BOT white pad we had a fantastic ride. So definitely a win.
I also added some polar fleece gloves. It hasn’t been very cold here, just very wet, which is so weird for Vegas. But I am anticipating January to be cold, so I’m preparing and we’ll see how these Heritage fleece gloves hold up.
That’s really it! Hopefully for a while lol. I need to keep saving up for Kentucky next year!
So remember back when I was cleared to ride Amber lightly and work her up I bought new Lund dressage stirrup leathers?
Ummmmm….. I still haven’t gotten them.
I emailed back and forth with Rob Jensen until about mid-September, I’ve emailed them again, I’ve FB messaged them, and I’ve filled out the “contact us” form on their website. Crickets. The charge is there on my credit card, and at this point, I’m about to call them and have them remove it since I can’t get a hold of them and I’ve never received a shipping notification (I have before), so I don’t think it’s lost in the mail.
I waited this long because things can be hectic during holidays, but I feel like it’s been plenty long enough for them to have gotten a hold of me.
I am really not sure what else to do except get the charge off my card. Is anyone else having issues? Does anyone else know perhaps why no one’s getting back to me?
Wherein I’m talking about my brain, actually – not a horse’s.
The brain is so fascinating. It runs pretty much 24/7 without fail. Now double that, or triple and quadruple that, and you have ADHD.
I have realized that I want to post a few of my drafts, but I feel for you guys to really understand them, I need to write some background, because the backgrounds are long posts in and of themselves. Plus, I have really felt a desire, a drive to post something about my own mental journey. I’ve loved reading all the posts with you bloggers being so honest about your mental state, and I have been wanting to write a post about my ADHD for a few months now. For those months it sat, half-written and half-formed. It just never quite felt right to post it until recently though.
I am what people consider high-functioning ADHD. To look at me, many times talk to me, you’d never guess that I do have ADHD. I’m smart, sociable, seem extroverted, am pretty stoic, and a think-through-a-crisis type of person. I’m a private person and what people term an “extroverted introvert,” and am reserved when in situations with people that I don’t know well. I seem like a completely different person from what is going on in my head. The truth is though that every day I’m frazzled, struggling, wondering where time went because I literally lost time and have no idea how that happened. I’m either everywhere, ridiculously distracted by random things, can’t be bothered to get out of my chair, or I’m hyperfocused for like 6 hours.
Getting diagnosed with ADHD has been a recent thing – about the past two years, so I’ve had 20+ years of coping with it and thinking it was normal. ADHD can be likened to riding a roller-coaster. Except you do that every day. At least 10 times per day. Your decisions, as well as your emotions, change every few hours. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes every half hour. You walk somewhere, completely forget what you’re doing because something else was merely shiny, and then you’re wandering around trying to grasp that fleeting thought because you know it was there, and you know you need to do something. You just literally can’t remember what.
For ADHD-ers, spiraling is a real part of life. It is so easy to be overwhelmed when you have ADHD. You’ll be happy, doing great, and one thing – one small, tiny thing – puts a divot in that, and it festers and grows until you feel like you’re a failure at life because look at all these people that raise kids and find time to ride and go out with their hubby, and here you are single with a horse and unable to cook for yourself, do your laundry, clean ANYTHING, or socialize, and you look at everything you CAN’T do and are failing at, so then now you’re at the dregs of depression. And then because you feel like shit your sleep is messed up, so to top it off now you’re really exhausted.
Sometimes that’s an every day cycle. It’s why ADHD can be mistaken for depression a lot of the time (though please know that actual, diagnosed depression is different than ADHD-induced depression). Because you’re tired. You’re tired of needing medicine to just fucking focus. You want to be a normal person that can just sit down and do things, yet you literally cannot do that because of your executive dysfunction. You just want to be normal, so you get upset at yourself because you can’t do things, so then you stop taking your meds because why can’t you do what others can do, and then you spiral even harder because you can’t focus, and work or life or everything just suffers. But can you pull yourself out of it? Sometimes. Sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes months. This is all internal, at least for me. It doesn’t tend to show on the outside. Except, well, when it got so bad this past July that it did show on the outside.
RSD, or rejection sensitive dysphoria, is there in nearly every person that has ADHD, and doesn’t help this whole spiral whatsoever. I discovered this probably two or so weeks ago, and wow. So much of how I think, how I’ve done and experienced things, is tied into RSD. It basically is defined as “an extreme (dysphoria means “difficult to bear”) emotional reaction to the perception of rejection, failure, or criticism – regardless of the circumstantial reality.” (Btw, if you are interested in reading more, this article that I stumbled upon where it explains RSD put everything I didn’t realize I was feeling/doing in my every day life into words) This put so much into perspective – why I don’t try, why I always feel like anything I do isn’t enough, why any time I felt like someone would be disappointed in me I experienced this crippling panic, how I do practically anything to avoid failure (this includes not showing because what if I’m not good enough and I fail?! to the point that the anxiety is vomit-inducing). We get so afraid to say anything, to be that failure or disappoint, that it often shows up as indifference, lack of communication, or even disruptive behavior, when we’re really just petrified of that perceived failure, because we’re sure we already are one.
The only time my brain is blissfully quiet, that everything slides together to work like a well-oiled machine of focus and multi-tasking, is when I ride horses. That doesn’t mean my self-depreciating voice isn’t there telling me all the things I can’t do. It’s just that when I ride, my brain is able to focus, to multitask, to consciously remember things I’m supposed to be doing and actually work like a normal brain. It’s why I don’t like taking my meds if I’m going to ride, because the moments around horses are the only moments when my mind is normal, when I can be normal.
It makes sense that – when I was riding horses (Amber, specifically) – I had an epiphany about that self-depreciating voice in my head. I remember Amber tried so hard, and was making progress so I was praising her a lot. And all while I told her what an amazing pony she was, my brain was chanting why couldn’t you do that your hand was atrocious don’t you have any control of your legs and god she was able to do it why not you you’re just no good at this. And suddenly it hit me. I rewarded Amber every time she tried even the slightest bit, made sure that every time she didn’t understand something, I would determine to be extra patient and slow down the gait, re-explain it to her, and try again. Why couldn’t I do the same for myself?
So I turned up the volume of the voice for horses in my head, and turned it on myself. Good job! it’d say. You tried really hard, and your abs were engaged and you kept track of your legs this time – look at you! Our left hand is a WIP, but you had good moments with it. It takes time, and we’ll build it every day, okay? And I forced myself to change the narrative, to have that patience for myself, because right after that was when I was diagnosed, and it suddenly all made sense. Now, because I knew how and why my brain worked the way it did, it allowed me to actually feel and accept the words my horse-voice was trying to tell me. It allowed me to believe them, and I’ve come leaps and bounds with that way of thinking, just like my rewards and extra-patience have benefited Amber immensely as well.
It’s why in a lot of rides I blogged about before Amber’s injuries, and ones I blog about now, there are hardly any negatives because I’ve had to change that narrative for not only Amber but for myself as well. When I don’t understand something, and have to ask for an explanation or for someone to repeat themselves a lot, I get extremely anxious and afraid that people will say “god, can’t you just understand this?! Why do we even bother with you?” or reprimand me for being/sounding stupid. When Amber doesn’t understand something, she gets anxious and afraid that I will reprimand her. Huh. Okay, then. So, now instead of getting upset and frustrated, I bring it back, discuss it another way, and try again. Because I changed this for her, and by extension myself, there are so fewer places for things to go wrong, for us to have a struggled ride. Because she’s trying, I’m trying, and Amber and I are partners in this struggle-bus, so any progress is good progress. Sometimes we still have the off ride (and notice I said “off” not “bad”). She had lost her work ethic when I first started easing her back into riding, but at the same time, I was convinced she also expected things to hurt. So it took extra praises, extra pets, but she realized this is light stuff and her work ethic bounced back. The other night I’m not sure what was wrong but she wasn’t focused, wasn’t listening, and practically the whole ride was off (I’ll expand on the ride in another post). But I do insist on calling them “off” rides because they’re off of our norm. They’re deviations rather than consistent behavior. Speaking about it this way also eases my anxiety, which helps me to learn from the ride rather than let it negatively impact my mood/headspace.
And man, I have worked really, really, really hard to change that narrative in my head. So that my anxiety about not being a good enough rider for my horse, for a show, for anything wouldn’t be so crippling. So that when I tell myself we’re showing for the horse’s experience, and let’s just give it a try, and have fun! I can actually believe the words I’m saying. The anxiety is still there, because I want to be a good leader for my horse that day, and reward all their tries, but it isn’t so bad anymore. It’s been 2 years of slogging through that, of finding pages that have others just like me. I’m still finding things connected to ADHD – like my recent discovery of RSD – that now give me more tools to work with, to understand my neurodivergent brain. It’s a never-ending struggle, a never-ending discovery of information, so a never-ending work in progress.
As much as I’ve worked on my anxiety, you can bet your ass I am pretty petrified to post this. Writing this was therapeutic. Publishing it… Let’s just say my anxiety is a ball in my throat, and my hands are shaking lol. Even though it’s just about ADHD, it’s still personal, still that perceived criticism, despite knowing this blog community isn’t like that. So the anxiety sticks haha. But if this can help someone else, if it can help neurotypicals understand neurodivergents a little better, then I think putting myself out there is worth it.
I know this week is Thanksgiving, and this is a heavy post for the holidays, but I think I can also count this as a bit of a “thankful” post. I’m thankful there’s more research on this. I’m thankful that I’m understanding more about myself. I’m thankful that this blog community is so wonderful. I’m thankful I can ride Amber again and that we can actually have “off” rides again. I may post more this week – I’m not sure. My executive dysfunction has been kicking my ass recently in things non-work related (which, if my brain decides to function during work I’ll take that lol), but I’m hoping I can finally get some more of my posts out.
In case I don’t, happy Thanksgiving all, and thanks everyone for reading along 🙂
Choco turned 15 in June, and she’s still going strong. She has never enjoyed clothes and baths since we’ve had her – she’d much prefer either a nest of blankets or burrowing into you for her warmth, but she would always race around the house like a crazy doxie after a bath. She especially loved it when you chased after her. She slowed down for a few years once she hit 12, but after I gave her a bath the other night, she was in old form, happily racing around <3.
After my last lesson, Amber seemed to take the “conserve all energy” way too close to heart lol. Usually she’s got a good swinging walk when we first mosey on out there for our 10 minute warm-up, but boy she was PLODDING along haha! She was determined not to expend any energy in that beginning warm-up lol! It took a few times around to get her more forward at the trot, but she gave me some good work once I really got her warmed up. As it’s gotten colder, she starts off pretty stiff on that RH stifle, so I haven’t enforced a frame during our first few times trotting. Just letting her stretch, warm up, and work out of it. This has actually been good for me. I set a 10 minute timer for our walk warm-up. A good 2 or 3 times around the arena to get some of that stiffness out. I am one that just hops on and goes. Not that I never did warm-ups for horses before, but I don’t have the best sense of time, so I’m positive more time has passed than it really has. I started to do a few more serpentines since those really encourage balance, and I can tell the faster change of rein amps Amber up a bit. Doing that left turn really gets her tense – I know it has to do with the balance needed for that turn. When we turned tho, she practically threw herself out by hollowing and dropping and speeding up – something she really hasn’t done in a while. So we had a short discussion about how she knows better, and she tried very hard the next time. I was also super pleased that after I cantered her to the right, Amber really listened and didn’t even try to offer me another canter – in either direction. Reining is all in the canter, so she’s used to “once we canter, we canter until we’re done.” I’ve been switching it up for her – cantering is easier for her than trotting, so if I am going to canter, I’ve cantered first and then done the rest of my trot work. It’s definitely given her a lot to think about, so I was very pleased when after cantering, she just settled back down and was content to trot. So I scrapped my previous decision for more cantering, and just let her trot. One more round of serpentines up the long side, and if she tried hard to the left and we were semi-successful then she was done. And she got a little fast, but she tried, so she got many pats and was done.
Leading up to my lesson I didn’t get to ride Amber as much as I wanted. I had completely forgotten about her equioxx in lieu of homework, so I had to order that and I took it way easy on her since I could tell she was trying, but her heart wasn’t completely in it since she didn’t feel so good. Thankfully, between the company and my awesome vet, I had a quick turnover to get them, and she was back on equioxx and feeling a lot better.
Then that Tuesday Amber had her routine check-up. We’ve had success with doing a radio-graph every few months just to make sure that LH hoof is growing right. Also, even though it warmed up after my lesson, cooler weather was on the forecast and we were slated to get some sub-30 degree nights. Amber’s been doing well, but just as a preventative, feel-good measure, I decided to get her stifle injected while the vet was out for her LH. I know it won’t “fix” anything, but it was more for Amber’s comfort than anything else. The winter after her surgery while we were battling her laminitis it was really clear that she was super uncomfortable on that RH stifle. So this winter, especially with me riding her more now, I wanted to inject it to give it a bit of cushion.
She was a very good girl for it all, but pretty sore the day after since she moved a lot during the injection. She usually stands pretty still, even without drugs, but I’m thinking that perhaps it was more tender than we thought.
I didn’t get a picture this time of her x-ray. It looked about the same as the last one (thank god) – she just still needed a lot of toe off. She tends to grow a lot more toe on her hind feet anyway, so I think that’ll always be a battle with that foot. But I am still ecstatic that while I’ve been riding her a lot more, the foot really doesn’t look any different. That’s so promising! I am warily giddy with excitement if that makes sense lol.
Whisper has had a bit of a mystery lameness ongoing now for over a year, so my mom hasn’t been able to get any ride time in. I’ve convinced her to hop on Amber and ride her around for a bit on my long days. That way, Amber gets out with a bit of forced work instead of doing nothing if turned out, and my mom has a chance to play around on a horse again. Its good for both of them!
The day after her injection, she got trimmed and I took her out for a good 15 minute walk. This cold weather isn’t helping (it got into the high twenties one night and Kahlua’s water froze!), so since I hadn’t really been able to work on serpentines under saddle, I did them during our 15 minute walk. It was cold and breezy and it may have been 55, but the “feels-like” said 45 so I am not ashamed to say that I wore my fleece breeches lol. I only had my sneakers on and a halter on Amber, but she knows what to do when I put my feet and hands in certain places. She got tense (as expected) and walked faster, but just a few encouraging words had her ears flicking back to me, then she took a deep breath and relaxed, and our next one was much better. Even if we weren’t “working,” it’s still a good reminder as we’re walking.
My mom rode her lightly on Friday to see how she felt. She said she felt very good – a lot more forward, more comfortable switching directions too, which I was very happy to hear. I want her to be as comfortable as I can get her, and spend good time together while I have the opportunities. My mom said she even did a little cantering – which is huge for my mom! She used to own a horse that bolted with her, and sometimes Amber’s speed unnerves her. But Amber has quite a few stop or slow-down buttons, so I was very proud of my mom for cantering, and very proud of my pony for taking care of my mom.
Thankfully, my lesson was on Sunday and pushed back to noon, so it’d be nice and warm (70!) for my lesson and I could get a good ride in on Saturday as prep. And Amber started out way more up than I was expecting. She felt really good, had a lovely swinging walk, and after one circle at the trot realized she felt really good. I did a little cantering – both ways! – and she felt a lot better. Still difficult, but as always, these things take time and muscle strength. I was very happy with the preliminary results! After cantering, I went back to our serpentines down the long side, and she tried really really hard. She knew she was good, and asked to stop, so I let her and ended the ride. She didn’t offer cantering again, really tried to do the thing and relax and what we’d had trouble on before, so I felt it was a good day and left it there.
Next up: our lesson! I finally remembered my helmet cam, too lol.
I had a lesson bright and early at 8 am on Saturday morning (three weeks ago), right when we were scheduled to get a cold spell. When 730 rolled around and I was out getting her tacked up I was severely regretting my decision lol. I am not going to lie that I was chilled, even though it was probably no lower than 55 degrees. Even still I was in a long sleeve shirt, a light vest, and a thicker pair of breeches. But the sun was out, it was a nice day, so I was warm enough pretty quickly.
Trainer G and I set up some cones for a “dressage court” and I proceeded to warm up Amber. And boy was she spicy. She wanted to go. So we did. I let her canter, but because she still doesn’t have that much strength, I tried to support her. It was like riding Tigger haha, with each stride way more vertical than ground covering. We cantered both ways, and finally I could feel her start to loosen up a bit, relax a little more, so let her walk since I didn’t want to take away all her energy or good movement before the lesson. After walking she was so proud of herself, and it made me happy that she’d actually been so fresh that morning because she was feeling good.
And then when I asked her to trot again she was like “wait, mom, no. Aren’t we stopping? That was all I needed. We’re done right? Mom! Ma!” But, as ever, she was a good girl and kept trying even though she reluctantly relented that FINE we had to keep working LOL. She definitely forgot that lesson of “you may expend your energy but after that it’s work” that we’ve been through plenty of times. She certainly had an “oh crap” moment when she realized there was still a lot of work to be done LOL.
Genevive and I went over some intro tests, riding them through. Amber was TIRED you guys haha! She had no medium walk, barely any free-walk…. I was pretty amused. She totally didn’t know this was going to happen, and I could feel her regretting her decision to be fresh lol. As always, Genevive understood, so the fact that I let Amber not be as forward didn’t bother her. I got some really good pointers tho on riding tests. Even if I don’t show Amber (and honestly, I don’t think I could; I’d probably be excused for riding a lame horse lol), it’s good practice, good knowledge for when I do either get another horse or do lessons on other horses. At the barn where Genevive keeps her horses, there’s an older mare that is a whiz in dressage. I’m thinking of have a lesson on her, as well as doing a jump lesson or two on a couple of Trainer’s horses sometime in the future.
As it was I was thanking Amber’s reining training through those tight turns in the faux dressage court! I know I showed Amber in the dressage two years ago, but two years is a long time, so I forgot haha. But lay that outside rein on her neck and our turn to center line was sharp. You know, when I remembered to make it sharp and ride Amber through it. We worked on a few sharper cue responses, a wee bit of geometry, and nuances of the test. It was a good lesson!
We did a teensy bit more cantering, but Amber was reaching her limit, so I left it at a half-circle and we ended on that. She got many many pats and treats afterwards, and was the proper tired, spoiled pony.
I do have to say that I think part of the reason she was so fresh was her new BOT sheet. I broke down and bought it ahead of the sales, mostly because I knew that we were going to get a cold spell that weekend. Her legs – especially that arthritic right front – have felt fantastic with the BOT quick wraps that I got a while ago. She loves her BOT dressage pad, and that stifle is a hard area to address. The sheet would totally cover it tho, and with my back starting to feel achy and old with the approaching cooler weather, I knew it was just as important for her to feel the best she could. The days leading up to my lesson she felt really good body-wise, so in the end I’m glad I just spent the money to buy it.
I have another lesson this weekend, so hopefully we’ll have had enough practice. I don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze any in, but we’ll see!
I had so much going on (oh crap, it’s been three weeks) three weeks ago. I need a vacation again haha.
First off, I was having a really hard time figuring out my homework, and also had a chance to get a lot of it done early. It was an Intro to Python coding class, and it was actually super fun. It’s like a puzzle when you work through it and I really like puzzles. The flowcharts…not so much. Thankfully, my sister and her family were coming to town that Wednesday, and my brother-in-law works with a lot of coding. So I roped him into helping me and understand way more now about what I needed to do. So that was a load off. (Thankfully, that class is done now! Yay!)
My sister and I dressed up the next day to hit the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Fair that hits Vegas once a year. Even if I never buy anything, it’s so fun to dress up, look at the vendors, and ogle all the amazing costumes others have put together. I (very obviously) loved stepping into the shops that had all the leather work. It smelled just like a tack shop, and if I lingered in those for a while, well thankfully my sister understood haha. We had a great time, and came back for an hour of R&R.
Then, the niece wanted pony rides! Which of course, I was more than happy to oblige. Amber was, too! She’s always loved Kaylee, and honestly I think that horse was the real MVP of their whole trip lol. Kaylee is three now, but every time she was around Amber, or I handed the lead rope/reins to her, Amber knew exactly who was on the opposite end. I am totally bias in thinking Amber is the bestest gem, but I honestly wouldn’t have believed half of the things Amber did to keep Kaylee safe had I not witnessed them myself. She was so slow, so careful, and even if Kaylee was pulling hard on Amber’s reins, she’d just lift her head and pause, almost like she was saying “no, no, I can’t walk faster than this,” and then Kaylee would look back, and Amber would just continue at the pace that matched Kaylee. It was seriously the most precious thing. Made me think a lot that this must be how P is for KC‘s tiniest dictator!
And that little girl, you guys (the kid btw LOL). I only “adjusted” the stirrups once – ONCE – and handed her the reins, and only the second time she hopped on Amber what did she do? Looked straight at me and said “adjust please?” for the second stirrup I hadn’t gotten to yet, reached herself forward and grabbed the reins before smiling huge and grabbing the pomel of my dressage saddle. She’s got it down that’s for sure! And she loved Amber’s bouncy trot, for which Amber was perfect for, and stayed balanced right in the center. Pretty sure she’s a natural lol. It was just a lot of fun being able to hang out with her – especially since she’s (thankfully) past the terrible twos lol. Whenever I would pat Amber, Kaylee would pat Amber. After that second ride, Kaylee reached down without prompting and said “Good girl, Amber!” as she pat her shoulder. It was the cutest thing.
We all had a really good time together. It especially helped that I had about five days off for it, so I was able to spend a lot of good, quality time with my sister and her family. But now, I just want to have more time off again haha!
Btw, Happy Halloween everyone!
Sorry everyone. I know. I suck at blogging. I really meant to post this last week, but a lot happened and I just never really sat down to put all the video together until the other day. As I said in one of my previous posts, Amber did seem to like dressage better for the fact that I was helping to support her. I also know that dressage is a LOT of strength building – particularly in the hindquarters. And looking at her, she’s got a lot of muscle on the left side. Aaaaaand kind of none on the right side. Hey! Just like me! haha (I told Trainer G that Amber and I are 2 peas in a pod & perfect for each other because the both of us have the majority of our injuries on our right sides, and that we’re also too young to be this messed up – Amber arthritic and laminitic at 9, and me practically the same way at 28 lol)
Physical therapy is a pain, and hurts as you get stronger, but then once you’re stronger, you feel a lot better. I figure that Amber is never going to be or look perfectly sound, but I can help her stay as comfortable as possible, and if that’s by strengthening her body, then that’s what we’ll do. I loved Austen’s post about riding the older, unsound horse, and right now, I feel that’s where I am with Amber. Even tho she isn’t older, I’m not gonna lie that I feel a bit nervous posting video because of her arthritic knee, weak stifle, and recovering laminitic foot. But she loves to get out and be ridden, and I’m going to post the videos anyway. It may look bad as we go, and believe me, I’ve had my fair share of worrying that I’m doing too much, pushing her too hard, and she’s just not telling me no when I shouldn’t be doing this. But I can tell she’s so much happier. She nuzzles me after every ride. She’s been nickering at me more. She bumps my stomach as I’m putting the halter on as if to say “I’m so happy we’re going out, mom.” So, we may look lame, or off in videos, but whenever I release her to walk on a dropped rein, she’s always got her ears up.
Even though Trainer G is an h/j trainer, and does dressage in a way that aids jumping, she and I have a great trainer/student relationship. I know she’s always mindful of the horse and it’s abilities, so there was no one else I wanted to start up lessons with again. I was super happy that she was just as excited as I was to start up lessons again. It would be a lot easier for both of us doing lessons at our barn, so I was really looking forward to being able to ride my horse in our arena.
I had ridden Amber the previous week and Tuesday and Wednesday of lesson week. I had a long day Thursday so just walked around bareback on her, and I had Friday off. I had planned to ride, but had a good meet-up with my sister so I ended up not riding. Saturday we had sustained wind at 20 mph, so riding was out. This is definitely one reason I love being able to ride Amber again. I hadn’t really ridden her in 3 days, the wind brought a cool spell, it was still a bit breezy on Sunday, and I knew I would have to worry about absolutely none of it. She’s 9, broke, and is all business when I need her to be. What I wasn’t prepared to find was that my normally “I like to keep clean” pony had decided a pre-lesson nap was in order. And proceeded to sleep in her pee spot. After she’d gotten a bath on Wednesday so that we looked more presentable on Sunday. Oh, horses lol.
Either way we were saddled and ready when Trainer G got to us. It was a beautiful day – maybe about 78 degrees with a cool breeze – absolutely perfect. I will freely admit I was a little chilled when I first went out to tack up lol. Going from the 100s to mid-90s to 70s in about a week has been like whiplash for everyone here in Vegas – hence also why I’m sick. (I have been properly astonished to see how hot it is for everyone east of me/on the east coast and it’s practically noon here as I’m writing this and freaking 72 degrees. I can’t even lol since writing this tho, thankfully the majority of you guys have cooled off a bit!)
We started the lesson slow – a lot of walking, and Trainer G seeing how Amber and I worked together. It was awesome to have a lesson again, and on my pony (finally). There were just small things that I couldn’t tell from in the saddle that I needed to do differently: lower my outside hand, but raise the inside a little, thumb up on the left hand (I think that’ll be an eternal struggle lol). I loved how she told me to imagine I was riding Amber up a hill since I am definitely a tip-forward type of rider. That more than anything got my shoulders and my chin up! I could totally tell the difference after I started implementing that because Amber got a little lighter in front too. I explained to her that Amber can get behind the bit/vertical from her western training, and that I’ve been really careful with contact and whatnot since I really don’t want her doing that. I’d push her forward, but again, it was so good to have Trainer G’s eyes on the ground because I wasn’t pushing Amber forward quite enough. She’d dip and hide, but with a small cluck go forward and lift. She also had me shorten my reins a lot more than I usually do. I know as I was first introducing Amber to consistent rein contact, I’d have to have my reins pretty long, but shortening them really did help keep Amber more upright in her frame.
We did a lot of exercises at the walk as well. One was “standing up” on a front leg. I would transfer contact to the “inside” rein of the direction I was going, open my “outside” rein and use my same leg as the open rein to push her into the middle. It really helped to get Amber’s left side lighter – she’s pretty heavy on that left shoulder due to that right hind, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to work that into our lesson. I’ve worked with Amber plenty of other times on relatively similar exercises, but this one was certainly the best in getting Amber to pick herself up. She got a lot more responsive to my calf when I’d ask her to stand up on that shoulder as we walked/trotted a circle, and we’ve done that a lot since. We had a few fumbles on trot to walk transitions. I’d use my voice and she’s so attuned to that so she practically stopped haha. We figured out the best way was to sit quiet and still my whole body, and supporting ever so lightly with my leg. We’d have really good transitions then – just no talking haha. I did continue talking to her, and with every “good girl” she’d take a breath and try harder.
She tried her little heart out this lesson. We hardly did anything “big” but it was so much fun. We practiced leg yields at the walk as well, and thank god it was at the walk because me being me got directionally confused as usual lol. We were moving towards the rail, and Amber led with her shoulder, and Genevive kept saying “left rein” and my brain was like “yes, I use right rein” haha! So once we fixed me, our leg yields were much more successful lol. If Amber tried to lead with her shoulders, I’d just tighten my fingers, and firm up my arm holding that outside rein, and she responded just beautifully. Success!
There were other small things we worked on – straightness was always key, but we also ensured I completed my turns and kept Amber active even at a walk. She was definitely tired by the end – she was certainly doing a lot more targeted strength building than I’d been doing with her! But good girl as she always is she kept trying, and got many cookies afterwards lol. I was also super proud of her because only once did she think we would be cantering, and then settled right down into the work. I slathered her back, haunches, and legs with Sore-No-More, and she loved all the attention.
We have the incline to the barn from where the builders built up the pad, and there’s a wash off property that has an incline. Trainer G suggested we go up and down that for our strength building for Amber’s weak right side. So we’ve been doing the one near the barn a bit to start with. Amber is very confused about going up and down that, so hopefully sometime this weekend we’ll have a “trail ride” of inclines through that wash haha.
I’d meant to turn my helmet cam on for the lesson and forgot, so I have one of my previous rides to test out the larger SD card first, and my lesson videos my mom so wonderfully took for me second. One thing I didn’t realize is that I talk A LOT apparently. More than I’d originally thought I did lol. I’ve edited out the blank spaces of walking or not doing anything for both rides, so hopefully it’s a pleasant watch. I had another lesson scheduled for this weekend, and it was awesome. Amber felt great. Hopefully I’ll get that lesson recap out a little faster this time (although to be honest I sorta doubt it. Being very realistic here lol).
So, I may have gone kinda overboard. Oops lol.
First off, I’d noticed a trend before Amber’s surgery – she was infinitely more comfortable in her western wear than English. I thought perhaps it was just that she was more used to western, but I thought way back and remembered her easy transition once I’d gotten her jump saddle. The biggest difference? I had a Thinline half-pad and not an Ogilvy, even though she liked the latter for a time. But with her losing so much muscle, I really need something I could shim – even her dressage saddle is a little wide for her.
I will probably sell one of my Ogilvy pads (so if anyone is looking for one, please let me know! I’d love to sell it to a fellow blogger), but keep at least one. I’m loathe to part with a lot of my things I don’t use right now because whatever horse I get next may like different things than Amber.
But anyway. I’d been eyeing the full sheepskin half-pad. Because Amber is a special unicorn – not as special as some horses, thank god – but I want her as comfortable as I can help her be. And if half pads with support, and no neoprene ever is all she really asks for, then it’s hers lol. (I chose the fluffy because perhaps more cushion? I don’t know if she’ll notice the difference but we’ll see lol) But, you know, cue the “I don’t think I’ll be able to ride my horse for a while” thoughts and so for a long while I just dreamed and sighed of All The Things.
Then we got the go ahead for continued light riding. Then Trainer G said absolutely to dressage rides. So naturally, I completely fell apart and bought EVERYTHING.
The Thinline pad I wanted was on sale. AND it had my size where it didn’t previously. Well, what am I waiting for?! SOLD. Through some testing before it got to me, I found that the thickest foam front piece from my xc ECP pad was just the right thickness to shim up her dressage saddle. So a bit of MacGyver-ing later, and my ECP foam inserts are now being used in my Thinline. I will probably end up getting actual Thinline shims in the future, but for right now, this is perfect!
PS of Sweden was releasing their new fall line – they call it Jade but it totally looks teal to me. Anyway, I LOVE teal/turquoise. I dyed my hair teal. Once teal/turquoise became the “it” color for the year a few years ago, I bought everything in those colors because it was so hard to find any other time. And I can ACTUALLY RIDE now, so obvi, I was getting this whole set. It was waaaaaaay too expensive, but WORTH IT. I’ve missed out on their French blue, mint green, and other lovely colors because a) it IS expensive and b) I had no horse to ride, so now that I do I’m buying this one. Not to mention, this teal set is accented with brown and gold, and finding my fav colors accented with warm tones is actually way more difficult than one would think. I prefer warm colors, but a lot of things are accented with blacks/greys and silver and finding a warm color combination that I really like doesn’t happen often haha.
Plus, I need new dressage reins, cause my long braided ones totally don’t work (hint: they actually do work), and I still needed a certain amount to get PS’s free shipping, so what the hell, let’s buy reins to match my bridle. Because why the hell not. And they’re nice. I think Amber does actually really like the elastic in the reins, even though she didn’t when it was on the bridle. I’ll probably cut off the running stops they came with since I bought the snap-on ones. If I ever need a running martingale with the next horse I’d buy, I’d use the PS of Sweden running attachment that has the clips since that really is so much easier than the running attachments that you have to thread through the reins.
I also didn’t have stirrup leathers either! The horror. Just jump leathers that I’ve been using because do we ride much, if at all? Ah, no. I’ve been dying to try the Lund leathers, so a hop, skip, and a jump over to Lund and now I have new stirrup leathers (tho they haven’t arrived yet). To be fair, looking at short videos/pictures of me riding that my mom has taken, I really DO need new leathers because my jump ones are on hole 5 or 6 so I don’t have a lot more room to drop my stirrups down haha. So, uh, it was actually a needed purchase if I was going to keep riding dressage.
My horse stuff is taking over my poor parent’s spare room – ahhh, AND part of the sunroom, actually lol – so before all of this happened I finally bought a tack trunk to put all of my “not using right now and probably for a long time” items. I have a lot of loose leather items, too – the extra chin pad and strap that I got with my PS bridle, my gorgeous beads for my DJD browband, my chin straps for western bridles, extra spur straps – you name it. I kept losing things and finding them randomly, and while that’s normal for me, I really like all of my strap goods and I want to keep them all in one place. Now I have everything organized, and it looks pretty good.
I think this all just exploded because I’ve been super strict on myself to not buy anything horsey that wasn’t absolutely needed for about a year and a half.
Oh, lord. I really need to sell things. Anyone need anything? Black jump leathers? Breeches? Ogilvy half pad? A bling dressage pad? lol
So, I don’t need to buy anything for a while. And yet…. I do know that if RW has one of their 20% off sales, I am totally taking advantage of it and grabbing another BoT dressage pad and their therapeutic mesh sheet because Amber does seem to go a lot better when wearing the BoT pad I have now. Plus Weatherbeeta has a gorgeous French blue dressage pad. You know, since I missed the PS one…. Now that I can ride again I really need to keep telling myself I don’t need more stuff lol.
What about you guys? Have you gotten anything new?
I think Amber is part cat. I swear she has 9 lives.
Either way, I’m gonna do a (kind of) small recap.
In June 2012, I bought Amber as a 2yr old and brought her home with me.
July 2012, Amber got out of her pasture, and sustained a career ending injury – at least a dozen bone chips in her right knee, and – we were later to find out – damage to her hocks and right stifle. Only, it wasn’t career-ending, and 4 months later, to my hope and the vets’ astonishment – she was sound.
In 2015 she came to Texas with me, where a vet discovered that her hocks had sustained minor stress fractures from her injury in 2012. These were completely healed by then and didn’t affect her physically, but we theorized that sliding stops reminded her of that initial injury, so competitive reining was off the table.
In April of 2016, I watched the Kentucky cross country and show jumping live feed, and fell in love with eventing. Amber and I pressed on for our western showing goals, and even won a buckle.
Mid 2016, it looked like she’d gotten cast in her stall, and was lame on that right hind leg for about 3 days before it seemed to work itself out after I checked her over for a month as she still looked fine. (My mom and I later discussed a lot that Amber hadn’t had an issue before, but getting cast possibly set the ball rolling for the degeneration of that stifle)
In mid 2017, I got my English saddle, the horses moved home, and I was able to slip in some dressage work to show Amber English and western, and we won our western performance buckle that now permanently lives on my blingiest belt.
November 2017, just after the last show, we finally realized why she’d felt very slightly off, and scheduled her stifle debridement for January 2018.
December 2017 Amber decided to slam her jaw somehow into something, and cracked a tooth. Surgery was cancelled, and her tooth was pulled. It was expected that she’d be healed in a month. April 2018, after an abscess in her jaw and 4 months of the initial drain incision taking forever to heal, bone chips from her jaw finally come out, and she was cleared for surgery.
May 2018 she had a super positive surgery, and she healed very quickly.
July 2018 we were all scratching our heads. For as well as she’d seemed to heal, she now wasn’t – not really.
The first day of August 2018 we discovered she had laminitis and only 0.4 centimeters of sole left in her RH. We got her boots, immediate stall rest, and I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to be able to ride my horse after this. Everyone around me was positive, but my vet and I could both see that it wasn’t a situation that was likely to have a positive outcome.
The end of October 2018 found her to have grown a really good amount of sole – more than the vet was hoping or expecting (which is always a plus). Still strict stall rest, still soft ride boots, and another appointment 2 months later.
The January 2019 appointment was more good news, so I finally started to let myself hope that maybe I’d get to at least ride my horse at a walk sometime in the near future.
June 2019 the heel of her coffin bone was pretty low, stressing that back tendon, so we put her in a shoe and slightly wedged pad. This would test to see how her foot grew with a shoe and pad instead of being stuck in boots this whole time.
August 2019 check up saw her foot at its best so far, and she’s been moving consistently better in the past 3 months. Good enough that I got a go ahead for very light riding, and as I’ve been riding her more consistently over two or three weeks, she has definitely been happier. The little bit of work has felt like it’s been helping her body feel better too – physical therapy after her injuries, if you will.
And now, just a little over a year later, Amber and I had our very first dressage lesson together on Sunday, something that I never thought I would be able to do with her after that diagnosis.
This little mare, you guys. She’s such a miracle pony. Apparently, she isn’t done just yet. One thing is for sure – she’s going to keep me on my toes with all of her surprises!
More on that dressage lesson next post!