Monday, April 2, 2012

How low can you go?!

There seems to always be plenty of news lately when it comes to horses. Perhaps it's the impending show season, which feels like it is nearly upon us. Whether that's a good thing or not remains unknown until the first marks are handed out, the tall boots have their first scuffs and Mr. Moon heads down that center line.

We're just over a month from that day, and I know we have a long way to go before we'll be winning any blue ribbons. Or are they red here? I don't even know. But we're working on it.

I headed to the barn this afternoon to practice with my boy again. After a good 45 minutes of riding, I was overtaken by pure fear. "Fear of what?" you must be wondering, as we all know Mr. Moon is not exactly a scary horse to ride. Only scary when meeting elderly ladies... (you'll have to look for the explanation on that one to those who are just tuning in...).

Well you see, he seemed to be getting this whole "long and low" concept. Where before we had milliseconds of it, he was giving me longer stretches and it almost seemed like leg-on would get him to stretch down as well.

But THAT can't be possible. Improvement is NOT within our reach, so the only logical explanation was that he was actually going BEHIND the vertical and I had successfully messed him up completely. Yup. I'm the only rider that could take my head-in-the-sky QH and turn him into a head-to-my-chest QH. Awesome. I'd managed the reverse-ruin, a feat only managed by the truly incompetent.

I sat there on him, doing 20 meter circles and freaking out. Of course, you can't exactly hang over the side of your horse to determine in what position his head lies. Trust me, I tried and it did NOT work. Nor did it help either of our positions...unless heading for the circus really is our ONLY possible career goal at this moment.

Finally, I grabbed my crummy camera from my pocket, parked it on the mounting block and hit record. I had to prove to myself that I was as insanely moronic as I felt.

Unfortunately, Blogger and Photobucket both refuse to publish the .avi, so you'll have zero proof of the whole thing. But just take my word for it. And I'll promise to bring the good camera out next time.

Of course, the instant I hit record, my overall confidence (which normally hovers in the red zone...kinda like when you're the fool playing the archer in the online rpg and everyone else took on roles as knights or something. Look at me, ma! I shoot arrows as I'm getting hacked and slashed by men with mighty big swords!). Anyway, I was suddenly all butterfly stomached-hand shaking-wide eyed and figured, what the hell. Not like it can be any worse then my boy slugging around behind the vertical.

I video'd 6 minutes. Then cooled him off and brought him back in for a final grooming. He's just starting to shed heavily and I love it. Well, I hate it, but it's nice to see a fresh coat coming in. I check over his chest to make sure his vaccine from the day prior hadn't given him any reaction and was happy to see he was fine.

THAT is part of some laboratory experiment in which I willingly volunteered him for. Something about injecting him with the regular 3-way vaccine and him turning into a spider-horse. Or something... ; )

Tied his tail back up, LOVING how long it's gotten. It NEARLY reaches all the way to the ground at this point, which is incredible. I love it. I just need to find some clippers to clean up the fuzzy top half with...

Tossed him back in the mud-puddle we call a paddock (icky rains of spring), and then rushed to my car, determined to watch the video. Could hardly contain myself...


...I'm an idiot.

W had kinda already told me as much in the barn when we had finished riding. Well, she's supportive and kind enough not to actually SAY it, but let's be honest here. I professed to her that he must be going behind the vertical. And she replied "Yeah, I'm pretty sure that'll never happen."


As she explained, he's so stiff and we work so hard to get him to relax, that's there's no chance my dear boy could possibly get his chin to his chest if he WANTED to.

...she's right.

The video proved it.

...(okay, since you can't see the video, here's a bunch of stills with the time elapsing...and his head was down the WHOLE time through that corner!). He had even more of these then I've ever seen in a video of him!

He had moments of proper movement. Neck long, head just ahead of the vertical, neck rounding slightly, legs still moving in sweeping motion. Granted, he struggles a bit when asked to hold it for too long, and starts to really slow down and often break gait. THIS is part of him developing the muscles needed to hold him there. It's for this reason that I keep his sessions short and try not to ask him to do it for too long. Or too fast. Just keep gait, get as low as you can for as long as you can, then try again.

He's getting it. I can see it in the video, and I'm bursting with pride. He has dressage pony moments!

Of course, there will be those who look at these stills and wonder why I'm so proud of 8 seconds of movement. Maybe 6. Maybe 4.

Because when Moon and I came to W's last spring, THIS is what I brought her:

And yes, those are from a TROT! You might not think 6 seconds of horizontal is so wonderful, but I dare you find a horse as inverted, hollow, stiff and high headed as the Moon'er (at the stubborn old age of 12) and NOT be proud of every moment of THIS:

Now, the biggest issue remains his evil rabbit face. THAT will be an ongoing thing, but the very thought that he's getting the contact and stretching out is increbile. Especially when I go back and watch the video from last May. Boy I love this horse.

So, it turns out I'm not as awful and horrible as I suspect. Not quite anyway. I'm sure by next week I'll have come up with some other training I'm ruining on him...

And in other news, I moved my jump saddle over to H's and Moon's bucket. I'm excited. He's going to fat camp. I'll be able to bring my puppy out. I'll be able to visit more, there's tons of active trail riders to go out with and I finally get to feed my boy. Yippee!
I also got a little surprise from H on the weekend, that I'll debut soon enough. Just need a good photo day with my boy first...

The last thing to say, is that on Saturday, I professed myself to be a Horse-Whore. Sorry children, don't read that aloud! But it's true. Maybe we'll say it "Hoar" for those under 18...

What I simply meant, was that I really love riding around. On different horses. Meeting folk's horses, getting to know them, watching them train and seeing how they differ from my own. There's always so much to learn and equine friends to be made.

So a lady from the IRC asked me if I wanted to meet her horse. He's pretty incredible by everything I've heard. But she unfortunately has a broken foot and can't ride.

Insert me, the horse-hoar. Since I was going out to her place for an IRC meeting anyway, I told her "SURE! I'd love to!".

He drives a sulky.

Yes, a sulky.

Do I REALLY need to say more??? How cool is that?!

So on Wednesday evening, I'm hoaring it up. And I'm gonna go out to meet him. Don't worry, I'm not cheating on Mr. Moon! He'll always be my main-man and it's just nice to learn what I can introduce him to, keep my skills sharp and learn from every experience. Plus, help a friend out.

: )

The Moon'er is also getting 3 days off this weekend for Easter (lucky bugger) but I full well aim to get some work done on his trailer. I ordered the roof clear coat today and my dad called to tell me that the doors were on and ready. Which means that Sunday evening I'll likely be hauling the trailer home! And then maybe next week to sand blasting and painting?? Who knows!! : O low can he go... ; )


  1. Hello, I just started following you and look forward to reading more about you and moon.

  2. Nice! It is good that you get the opportunity to ride a bunch of different horses, they are all so different. It will make you an even better rider.

    I guess I am going to be learning all this dressage stuff. . .Shy had a lesson and seems to have a knack for it.

  3. Too funny we seem to be hitting the exact same breakthrough with our horses at the same time! Love those before and after shots! I'm just like you, I always think I can't possibly be doing it right. And my kingdom for mirrors in the arena! But it sounds like Dee is kinda like Moon in that she just isn't one of those rubber neck intimidated by the bit types and as a result is unlikely to get all behind the vertical.

    Of course, I know I'm jumping the gun here and we all have tons of long and low to do to develop muscles etc, but I still have this nagging do you get the poll back up after you get them all happy about being down low? I guess one of those things we'll get to when we get to, right? lol

  4. What a good boy!:) Love the blog design;)