Monday, March 6, 2017

Lazy Horse & Awesome Sister

On Saturday I was able to convince my sister to come out to the barn with me to play photographer. Since nobody in my family really loves horses, it is always a struggle to get anybody to come out with me, and I had new field boots that I really wanted to get photos of (before I totally destroy them with all of the dust and mud that exists in Oregon barns in winter). My sister probably just took pity on me, because I'm not certain that she finds coming out to take horse photos fun, but she did an awesome job!
My sister captured this gem. It might be my new favorite photo of us.

Casey was in a bit of a mood when I was grooming her (never really a good sign). She was being very agitated and pinning her ears. Grooming requires brushing her ticklish spots (which is pretty much her entire belly), so she's a bit of a snot some days about it.
This is as happy as she could manage to look

I was expecting a fiery cannon-ball horse when I hopped on her, but to my surprise, she was calm. Not only was she being calm, she was being downright lazy! I've owned Casey for six months now, and this was the first time that she's ever been LAZY. Some days she's been uncooperative, or slower than normal, or unmotivated to do what I want to do, but she's never just not wanted to do anything at all.
So calm that I did some trotting with no reins

The laziness was good in some ways. I got a really nice trot and canter that was calm and collected. This sounds like a broken record at this point, but holy crap Casey's canter has gotten so much better. It is now calm and collected-ish for the entire length of the arena (both long and short sides) and she will instantly collect if I slightly wiggle a rein. It's crazy. I don't know how or when this happened, but it's awesome. I'm able to sit her canter without any issue and no longer have to be in half-seat (although I still use half-seat plenty). 
Trotting in the dappled light

Such a balanced corner

Trotting horse butt

My new field boots were awesome at keeping me in place. They are super duper grippy. I'm not sure if this is a field boot thing, a this brand of boots thing, or a my-half-chaps-are-dying-and-no-longer-grippy thing, but it was super helpful for refining my position. I'll be posting a full review of them at a later point, once I've gotten to test them out more thoroughly, but so far I'm liking them.
Starting to look more uphill

See the little bit of bend! I'm much too excited about that...

Cantering nicely

Since we were just doing basic work at the trot and the canter it was nothing too exciting. The only truly exciting moment was when Eden (my dog) decided to mosey his way out into the arena to sniff at the rubber. At one point, Casey and I were cantering around the corner and at exactly that moment Eden trotted in front of our path. Casey tried to do a sideways kick/buck thing to try to murder him and my poor little dog went crying away to my sister, who then consoled the pathetic one. It was quite funny, and taught Eden a lesson. He is super well-trained, but doesn't take me seriously when I'm on the horse, because I can't get to him! So I was happy that he didn't get hurt, but also he totally deserved that.
Don't be deceived by them nicely walking next to each other. They are mutual enemies.

Once all of the trotting, cantering, and dog-murdering was over, Casey and I popped over some little jumps to get warmed up. This is when the laziness really started to show. Casey is very exuberant over jumps normally, and I just couldn't really get her going over decent sized jumps. She tried to lazily canter over to a 2'9" vertical and we almost didn't make it! (I mean we did make it... but only because Casey is ridiculously athletic and can save her own skin at the last minute...) 
Warm up cross-rail

A bit awkward, but we cleared it!

Excited for the jump

We didn't mess around with the single jumps for very long, just enough to warm up. Then we moved on to the bounce set. I set up the same bounce that Trainer set up for me in my last lesson. A cross-rail, followed by three cavaletti bounces, followed by a one stride to an oxer. I started with the oxer at about 2'7" and before I got back on the horse I tripled walked all of my distances to make sure they were right... but it didn't matter anyways. 
When will I learn to look up.... I swear I've been trying!

Our first attempt through, Casey jumped the cross-rail and then somehow managed to stop before the first cavaletti and then awkwardly trotted/walked her way through the bounce set. And then at the end she tried to rush to jump the oxer! I didn't let her, because that would've been a disaster, so we circled and tried again. 
Not enough energy!

Totally messing up, but I couldn't stop laughing

Trotting through the bounce

The second time through, Casey apparently still hadn't really learned her lesson because she was so slow that she had to throw herself to get over the bounces and then had a very awkward extended canter stride before throwing herself over the oxer. At this point I started second guessing my distances (even though I had triple-walked them), so I had my sister move the oxer forward about a foot. We went through again and though it was slightly better, Casey was still having to stretch to get over the oxer. So we moved it forward again by about two feet. 
Bouncy bounce

A bit more energy this time around

At the point I really got on Casey's case, and the next time through the bounces I gave her a nudge right before every bounce and finally we got a decent amount of power to get us nicely over the oxer. Even though I think moving the oxer helped, it really was just a case of not having quite enough horse. Casey's energy levels were just not there when we started, but once I kinda kicked her butt into gear things started working again.
Looking for the next jump

Jump!

Landing

Once Casey figured out what we were doing (and that she needed to at least partially put effort in), we started flying over the jump line. We eventually got it up to a big 2'9" (it might have been more like 2'10"ish) and Casey was soaring over it. I had originally planned on rising it up to about 3'3", but since it took so many jumping efforts to get her jumping nicely in the first place I didn't want to push her. You have to ride the horse that you have, right? So I just gave her a nice long cooling down.
Her bascule is improving so much!

Cool angle

A big 2'9"

Post-ride, Casey was very hilarious in the cross-ties. Her butt is incredibly itchy right now, and I apparently hit the right spot because she was acting like a dog when you scratch them well. She was leaning into the scratches and her lower lip was quivering! It was really amusing, but she started to get a little bit too into it and stopped supporting her body enough so I had to stop because I was worried she was going to fall over! It was cute though :)
This was the spot

Quivering lip of happiness

I'm really glad that my sister got to come out with me. I know that it's not her thing, but I love it when I get to show my family why I love horses so much. They'll probably never get it, but I like to see that they care. Plus, she's really good at photography and so I get some awesome pictures out of the deal!
Cuddles with my love

She's so cute!

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