Friday, April 30, 2010

A New Pickle

When I got to the barn yesterday evening, I walk in to 3 different people giving Chester some lovin'...he was eating it up completely. Head over his stall door, neck outstretched, head cocked to the side and being super cute. I just about died. After all the compliments and "How big is he" questions...which I actually don't know for sure how tall he is...I pulled him out of his stall...and he continued to get some more lovin' from his new admires.
Since the boss gave me the go-ahead to ride (for a very short amount of time, and long and low only) I was really looking forward to it. I am sure poor pickle is bored out of his freakin mind not having been on his program for a month. The plan was for 20 minutes, let him loosen up and keep him on a long and low frame...which I was able to accomplish with so much ease, I really forgot how much I LOVE MY HORSE. He was calm, didn't bat an eyelash at anything (which is so odd considering there were lots of scary things in the arena with rocks and jumps), frothy, stayed low on his own, was snorting to himself the entire time...we cantered for a couple tours of the ring (I stayed up off his back)...and he was even snorting at the canter!! Which. He. Never. Does. Then, we go on a hack through a hay field. Which I did on the buckle with him snorting along to himself again. I know eh?...WTF? Rather then being the uptight, wound up spring/giraffe fire breathing dragon he normally is on hacks, like was his tendency at the old farm, he was relaxed and absolutely 100% enjoying himself fully. It was the best hour I have ever had with him. Hands Down. It gets better. When we were done and he was getting his pre-bedtime rubdown, he stood in the cross ties stretched out completely through his body, his neck was stretched out to the ground and his nose was 2 feet from the ground. I have never seen him stand like that. Ever.
I think he likes his new environment and atmosphere...who needs top notch facilities when all you need is top notch care?
The Boss comes tomorrow to check out the new Diggs.
I have a new horse...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feelin' Groovy!

To summarize Pickle's last 24 hours:

1.Chester has a brand new HUGE FIELD. He was turned out in a smaller one when he first got there and Jen moved him over to the big one early in the afternoon. Out with the 'other avoiders' as she put it. I love that expression.
2. When I went to get him, he was wayyyy out in the middle of the field. I called him, he raised his head, CANTERED towards me (I know eh?!) looked like he was going to stop, then at the last possible second, without running me over said 'up yours lady', side stepped and cantered off happily to the gate, where he promptly turned to look at me with a look that said 'hurry up already'...Chester has NEVER run like that EVER when he has been out and I have gone to get him. I'll let him have this one, although I was swearing at him for making me walk all the way out there like that.
3. My goal last night was to walk him around calmly, and let him look at everything that was "new". Considering it was windy (more like a typhoon), there were scary things that were going to eat him, it was more of a prance/piaffe with his giraffe neck and 34 foot sideways jumps on no notice, it didn't necessarily go as planned.
4. I then turned him out in the indoor arena...and rather then take off like a maniac like he had been doing at the old farm, he trotted and cantered around...nicely...and even jumped one of the little caveletti...huh? What?...I know eh?
He is feeling pretty groovy and probably bored out of his mind because he hasn't really been worked in a month. I am starting to ride him again, with the goal of trying to keep him long and low. We have exactly a month (on Sunday) to get back into eventing form so he can make his debut. Hopefully the typhoon has died down and I will actually have success tonight walking to the outdoor without having a piaffing giraffe to ride....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Launch

Well - the Pickle basically dragged me to the trailer, and practically jumped onto it on his own. Self-loader much?
I am hoping as my best friend just said to me :That he really likes it there and you never have to move him again. That's you and me both sister.
In typical Pickle fashion, he arrived at said new place and got off the trailer calmly and immediately started munching grass, not giving a sh*t about the other horses who were desperately trying to get his attention. I though the field full of mares was going to try and jump the fence to get at him "ooooo, who's the handsome new guy?"
We put him into a small field (which happens to be 4 times the size of the one he was in before, I'm not exaggerating), he then proceeded to prance and snort around like he owned the place for all of 36 seconds, then started eating.
The new barn owner (her name is Jen) looked at me and goes 'He's uh, pretty calm eh?" My response: "Yeah, until I start riding him and he turns into a spook show".
Okay Pickle - it's you and me now, let's get you off the Injured List!
Apparently, he is settling in fine and you wouldn't think he was the new kid on the love love LOVE that horse.
Heading there tonight after my day job, more tomorrow.
ps - you should see ALL the shavings in his stall. I might even take a picture of it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Horse, Comes First

So, considering I am delinquent in posting, let me give you my reasons as to why:
1. Did everyone happen to forget that I work for an accounting Firm and the last 2 weeks of April are the worst 2 weeks of my life? Nuff said.
2. I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday being very unproductive in the office (yes I worked ALL those day) because Rolex was on. I was the definition of unproductive. I had a live chat (hosted by the amazing AND the live feed through Universal Sports open on my screen for 4 days straight...hey - you make me work the weekend that Rolex is on, you can expect I will be watching it.
3. I have been feeling horrible about Chester's condition and have been spending a LOT of time over the weekend and yesterday and today, getting him sorted out. The short version: I am moving him out of his current barn and into another one. Okay, since I know you will ask, here is the long version:
The Long Version:without sounding too horrible and pointing fingers is that Chester was not getting the basic care and necessities he needs to be a happy/healthy/horse. I ran into someone I went to College with on Sunday, who happened to be coaching at the barn that was hosting a show that some of the kids were going too...she asked where my horse was, looked horrified and said, why don't I show you around here? Nice stalls, TONS OF TURNOUT, nice people, SHAVINGS IN THE STALLS, great hacking, xc schooling jumps, closer to home, less $/month. Jen, the person I ran into basically summed it up perfectly and much better then I ever could: We're not as fancy a facility as 'Current Barn that will remain Nameless', but we give much better care. She's right. The horses were all healthy, fat (in the good way), shiny, bright eyed, happy to see people...much different then the depressed looks you get when you walk into Current Barn that will remain Nameless. So, after swinging a couple things for me and introducing me to the owner, whose name happens to be Jen also, Chester has a new home! He will be moving tomorrow morning at 6:30, I will be a little late for work, but at this point, there is NOTHING I WON'T DO FOR THIS HORSE OF MINE to make him better and feel like he used too. After a couple frantic phone calls, everything is arranged and we are out of there tomorrow morning.
Now - this is the tricky part...the current barn, doesn't know I am leaving yet. The worst thing about all of this, is that he has been taken such poor care of, that my dad, both Jens and The Boss have all said, "Make sure he is tucked into his stall safe and sound and then just txt the owners that you are moving him out in the morning"...ugh, that is not going to be fun.
4. The prognosis on Chester. It is coming on 4 weeks, tomorrow actually, that he has been off. Elisha, my vet extraordinaire, who I can't do anything without, confirmed for me that he has a deep muscle bruise under his tailbone which is causing the pain in his hips...he is still quite ouchie when you press in the right spot (I mean, wouldn't you if you got reared up onto?) She said lunging and hacking only. Joyce and I were there on Sunday and witnessed poor Pickle getting the sh*t kicked out of him by his pasture the point where it was almost not safe for me to go in and get him. So also said to get some Traumeel Gel Ointment (sorta like a very very very strong version of A535) and work that into his hips, and to keep a sheet on him to keep the muscles warm. Also, to turn him out into the indoor with boots on(at current barn) so he can have a boot around like a maniac. Trust me: HE FEELS FINE, especially after witnessing him run around like a maniac yesterday evening (he is bonkers). She said the fact he doesn't have anywhere to run, doesn't help him either because those hip muscles stay tight and tense...he needs to be able to move and keep them loose.
So - all signs are pointing in the right direction, and I am still hoping to hit Grandview May 29...BUT, if the Pickle needs more time...he gets it.
More tomorrow after the move....wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rolex Start Box

Is it a dream of mine to ride Rolex one day....? Anyone who says 'No' and is an eventer would be full of s*it.

I guess The Pickle and I have to re-establish our connection before we get to see the above start box though...

Photo courtesy of

Patience is a Virtue...

Re-Establishing our connection...I think will be the focus for the next couple of weeks. :-(
I hit a bit of a lull last night during our ride and came away from it being perplexed and not having a lot of confidence in my ability. Let me back track. On Sunday, we rode (inside) and he was a star. Carrying himself, he was long and low, light in my hands, receptive of my aids. Last night, we rode (outside) and it felt like he was going to pull my arms from their sockets, hanging on my hands, being over responsive to my aids. I tried to keep the canter light (now, he has an amazing canter and normally, I don't even have to touch his face and he will stay engaged, and I just keep my inside leg on), but he was getting heavier and heavier and heavier...when I lightened my hands, he just got faster and faster and faster and heavier and heavier and heavier and longer and longer and loanger. I honestly think he tries to find ways to infuriate me. So of course, he is being a donkey, which makes me get frustrated (i.e TENSE) and it all goes downhill from there.
To try and maintain some sort of rhythm / balance, I figured we would start with level 1 and go back to our canter poles...even THAT was a disaster...he would break to a trot 4 strides in front of it, then bust over and canter away...ugh...that should have been my signal right THERE to NOT jump...but we did, and I shouldn't have...again, he would pull me the last 4 strides to the base of the jump (which was mayyybe 2 feet), fling himself over and then take off like a possessed donkey. So, from trot and canter, I would stop him right in front and then quietly turn and set it up again. I still couldn't get a quiet, I did it from trot one final time and he cantered away calmly...and I called it. :-(
I think I need to take a step back, re-establish our canter work, get his mental capacity back to where were were a month ago and THEN move forward...I still have 5 weeks before our first event. I need to get better and taking it slower with him. I also think because of the high expectations I have of him, that I sometimes expect too much, too soon...
My promise to Chester for the next 2 weeks: Re-establish our connection, make him comfortable, and get his mental game back on track.
The Boss comes tonight, so if anyone can help us re-connect, she can.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rolex Prediction

So - the Big R (see previous 'not your grandfather's watch' post) begins on Thursday morning....YAY...that means Thursday and Friday will be VERY unproductive in the office...
Anyways - the next best thing since sliced bread is Eventing Nation...
AND, the extremely talented, opinionated and witty administrators of that site have put together a little 'Rolex Challenge'...basically asking people to predict the best of the best, winner and even better WINNING SCORE...they are awesome. Anyway, here are my predictions:
Dressage score under 45: Courageous Comet (has consistently been under 45)
Double Clear XC: Woodburn (he is an xc Machine and I will be informing Chester to pay close attention...AND arguably the best and maybe more importantly in this case, fastest rider in the world is his pilot...gee, text book round much?)
Winner: The Foreman (because he really is due...AND arguably the best rider in the world is his pilot...)
Winning Score: 42.7 (Amazing isn't it? Last years winning score was in the 30's!!!)

Sign up and go check out the site, they are amazing...what are everyone's predictions?
Here is the Rolex site again:

I will be lecturing Pickle on the importance of making it to Rolex in 2015 during our school tonight...ha.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Update, not the Saturday Night Live version....
This weekend was monumental in my eyes...simply because 'heeeee'sssss baaaaaccckkkkk'!!! :-)
The Pickle was in fine form over the weekend. Saturday's school was surprisingly cool, calm and collected...until our hack at the end of it when he decided he was determined to see my ass hit the dirt. It felt like I was riding a tightly coiled spring that was that < > far from erupting. I felt like he was saying "ooooo, loooook, it's a TREE, I am scared of those. "oooooo, loooook it's a ROCK, I'm scared of those', ooooooo, looook, it's a riding lawnmower, I'm DEFINITELY TERRIFIED of those...' He was in fine form. We cantered for the first time in 3 weeks...and he was a little surprised by the canter aid, and he threw his head up a little bit, but after a stride or two, he completely settled. A couple rounds of cantering was all I wanted in both directions and it was super nice...this horse is a rocking chair. I realized that although very fit, it'll take a little bit for him to get it back as he was puffing a little at the end of our 4 minutes of canter work. He even was snorting a little while we were cantering...which he never does...and his mouth gets more and more foamy each time we ride. Sunday, we jumped!!! And when I say jump, I mean, a tiny xrail and vertical that couldn't have been more then 2'3 and no more then 4 times...but, we jumped none the less. Annnnnd, he was quite excited to do so....trotting up to them, he was fine and cantered away quietly, but in canter...he was excited to say the I reverted to the days of old and pulled him up in front of the fence, made him stand there quietly for a couple seconds, backed him up 4 steps, quietly turned him around and repeat....3 times...then popped him over that scary gate once and called it a ride...
I spent a lot of extra time this weekend fussing over him....REALLY putting the elbow grease to work and making him the centre of attention. (For a horse who was clipped and heavily blanketed over the winter, I have absolutely ZERO idea where the hell all this hair is coming from. It is really friggin annoying. AND, it gets my eyes, up my nose, in my sucks...the things I do for this horse.) Trying to tell him that I know he hasn't been feeling the best, but that I still love him and will do everything I can to make him feel better again. On Sunday, he was standing in the crossties, neck stretched out, ears floppy and eyes half shut...
It's good to have the Pickle back.

Friday, April 16, 2010


24 hours, makes a big difference.
Last night, Chester was pretty good...all things considering. I was able to keep his head down, although not full engaged...we resembled an alpaca with an elongated neck...but, that was a million times better then it was on Wednesday night, that is for sure. I will take alpaca over giraffe any day.
Chester is quite the emotional dude who likes to have a job to do. When he doesn't have a job to do, he gets well...grumpy. I noticed it a little while ago (again a sign I feel like a total idiot for not noticing sooner)...ears back in the crossties, not looking happy when I am fussing over him. (He is a complete Metrosexual and if there was a 'spa' for horses, he would be a regular and get his hooves done every 4 weeks). I brought it up with a couple of the people at the barn and their responses were the same. He probably ISN'T happy right now - he hasn't felt the greatest, hasn't been ridden in 2 weeks and is more than likely bored out of his mind. I am sure he would love to go out and jump all the scary xc jumps tomorrow, but unfortunately for him, he will continue to play in the sandbox for a couple more days and on Sunday (depending on how his canter is tomorrow, because we haven't cantered yet), we might jump a couple smaller SJumps instead. The comment was made that the Pickle made its appearance once I had given him the reins. As we were finishing our stretches in the crossties, he was relaxed, happy and that twinkle in his eye was back. I feel like telling myself to be patient and give him a couple days until he is back in fine form. I am now aiming for a jump clinic on May 9 and then off site xc schooling May 16 in prep for our First event on May 29...but, if he isn't ready; I. Will. Not. Go.
I believe in giving this horse every single opportunity to succeed and perform at his best and help him feel the best that he can. I believe that although Chester is not the 'ideal' event horse, he is gangly, all legs and neck, no chest on him at all, that I have a diamond in the rough.
My greatest desire for this horse, is to have a good experience in life and to love and be confident in what he does. I don't expect him to go out and win every event he goes into....however I do expect him to go out there and gain more confidence every time he does.
I figure, if I do my part and give him every opportunity, provide him with confidence in his ability, remember to breathe and ride him to the best of my ability, he will be happy. Realistically though, if I can get through a dressage test, xc course and SJ without too much spookiness and drama, then I will be happy. If I can make that happen this year, then I can almost guarantee next year we will come out with fire behind our eyes...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Loaded Spook Show...

You know what isn't a good time...? Riding a very fit event horse for the first time in 2 weeks because he has been off...holy, what an experience...!!!

Dogs in the trees = spook

Dogs in the arena = spook

A slight breeze = spook

A rock in the arena = spook

A branch overhanging into the arena = spook

A jump he has seen a million times before = spook

A set of poles lying on the ground = spook

A horse being hand walked 100 meters from the outdoor arena = spook/squeal

You get my drift.

Perhaps 'Spook' is the wrong word. I think bucking/half rearing/acting like a complete jackass is a better reference. To the point where I was telling him to 'get it together'.

Regardless, the Pickle feels good...very good and he made sure I was fully aware of that fact last night. At least I was able to make him keep his head down and we didn't look like a Giraffe in a 3 ring circus.

Note to self - Self, remember that he has had 2 weeks off, which isn't a good thing for this horse, so of course he is going to have a LOT of built up energy.

I am hoping tonight is better...what the poor bugger doesn't know is that he is in for 30 minutes of lunging (WITH SIDE REINS) on Saturday AND Sunday...jerk...that'll teach him to be a donkey.

And yes, he did in fact squeal...several times...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good News/Bad News

There is good news, and there is bad news.
Let's start with the good news, simply because it is better that way. The Good News, is that Chester is A-Okay!! :-)
Catherine Barlow, chiro/accupuncturist (YES, they those for horses) extrodinaire took a look at him last night. She takes a look at him, her first comment being 'huh, he's a small one eh?' She runs her hands all along his face, neck, withers, back -SIDEBAR, I didnt tell her anything about what I thought was wrong, other then his butt was sore when I pressed down on it - and when she got to his back, he absolutely filnched..hard. "I would like to see his saddle please" she says to me. My response, he has 2 should I get them both? "Yes". So, the jumping saddle fits fine and I have been using a riser pad with it, she says I don't need it anymore....then, the dressage saddle. I put it on and she goes 'ahhhhh....'
"What?" I ask.
'This saddle is pinching his withers, feel how tight it is (I feel, at his withers, and it IS tight) without your weight on it, now imagine that with you on top of him'
I look at her horrified.
'His back is sore because the saddle isn't fitting him properly and it is causing him a lot of pain'
I continue to look horrified.
'So, for the past 2 weeks or however long, he has probably just not been able to take it anymore and has said forget it.'
Still looking horrified I tell her 'He has changed a LOT in the 6 months that I have had him and I KNOW that saddle fit him when I first bought him. He has put on a lot of muscle and definition in his back which is why I am assuming it is pinching him now...right?' (because at this point I have absolutetly zero confidence in being able to properly look after an event horse.)
'You got it. And I would bet his top line has changed a lot since you first bought him too.'
'Yes, yes it has.'
"And I bet you have a hard tme bending him to the left' she continues to prod around his pole and jaw line.
'Uh, yea'
"Well that is because his jaw is completely out of wack'...which she follows up with a proceeding horrible sounding 'crack'.
So, basically, I am a horrible mother and should have realized what was going on, however long ago he decided to be uncomfortable. In retrospec, that first time a month ago when I went to do up his girth and he pinned his ears should have been my signal...and here I was thinking he was in a bad mood...Ugh, I feel absolutely HORRIBLE and like a complete idiot for not noticing that.
What did he have done: His hips were out of wack, his back and withers were super sore, his jaw needed to be cracked...which btw, if you ever have to witness is comparable to a fork being run across a chalk board...yeesh....AND, she gave me a set of 4 different stretches to do EVERY time I ride. When it comes to this horse, I want to make sure I give him every opportunity to be the BEST that he can. If that means adding 5 minutes to my routine at the end of my ride so he can have a stretch, then you're going to bet that I do it...religiously.
The Bad News - I need to find a new friggin dressage saddle. The one I have now (I LOVE IT) is a medium tree...when I first bought him, he was impossible to fit because in typical TB fashion, he was typically high withered. I was very frustrated. Her suggestion: take an imprint of his wither using a metal hanger, take it and my saddle to Baker's harness and saddlery (WICKED PLACE website here --> ), speak with Carmen (who is a GENIUS) and see if he can either a) take some of the stuffing out of your saddle or b) trade in your saddle for one that will fit him. On the weekend, I will be making the trek to Bakers to speak with Carmen.
So - I get to ride tonight (Yaaayyyy) for 20 minutes, no engagement, no turning and just let him stretch back into it. One of the things Catherine mentioned was that he is really fit (kudos to me) which makes his 'recovery' time next to Nil. I am to increase the ride time by 5 minutes each day through to Sunday so I am back at a good 40 minutes, with maybe 1/2 the ride being fully engaged. By Sunday, we can do a little jumping and then hopefully be ready for our lesson on Wednesday with the Boss...even if it is a little less intense. She told me to listen to him and see how he feels "Although by looking at him, he will feel fine and you will notice a huge difference".
I should add, that the pickle was out and in full view the ENTIRE time he was being poked, prodded, cracked and adjusted. To the point where Catherine goes, "Seems like I am dealing with a 5 legged horse here..."Ohhhh Chester, he never ceases to amaze me and I had no idea horses were into S&M...
I won't loose dressage marks for that will I...? If Chester decides to add in his own salute?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm Sippin On Some Sunshine...

Now considering we haven't 'officially' started our show season as of yet, because I don't count schoolings as shows...I have decided to change Chester's show name. Now before I get the collective "gasps"coming through my speakers...hear me out.

You know when you are listening to the radio/iPod/CD, whatever, something, and you hear something that makes you stop dead in your tracks and go "OMG!!"? Well, that happened to me the other day while I was driving to the barn. I heard a song on the radio for the first time and just about ditched my car. There was a line in it that probably just made the most sense about everything and anything to me: I'm sippin on some sunshine
I heard that line, listened to the rest of the song and said to myself that is what I want to call Chester. Sippin On Sunshine
The reasons are numerous: I feel like he will go somewhat red in the summer, my xc colour is yellow, and it matches our personalities perfectly. What exactly IS sippin on sunshine...a number of different things: sitting on a dock having a beer, sitting on the couch with Aaron drinking a bottle of Red, it's how I feel when I am riding Chester...more importantly, in short, it is also S.O.S, which is ALSO how I feel sometinmes when I am riding Chester...ha.

Now - Embarcadero is still very significant to me and the blog will continue to be called Carrie's Embarcadero, because after all, now we get to sip on some sunshine while on our journey...

ps - the song is called Mountain Man by the Crash Kings...amazing...check it out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Sucks...

On Wednesday, March 31, I show up promptly for my lesson with the Boss and while tacking up, notice an oddly shaped (BLEEDING) cut on the Pickle's butt, right at the end of his tailbone...WTF? How on earth did he do that? Did he roll on something? Did he scrape himself on something when he was rolling? Did he get kicked? Huh - weird. So the Boss and I take a look, poke prod etc and he seems fine...the lesson ensues.
Friday, April 9, I show up promptly for my lesson - SIDEBAR: last week for me was a nightmare at the office and I only rode on Monday and for 20 minutes on Wednesday - and tack up. I noticed on the Wednesday, when I was checking out his cut, that he was a little sore on his butt on the left side when I pressed down. It was weird, because I even said to one of the girls that was there "does this look swollen to you, it feels weird." But - he was in good spirits and when we were riding, he was his normal self. On Firday, I get on and the plan was to have an easy flat lesson because a - he had been ridden 1 1/4 times that week and b - I had the week from hell and the last thing I wanted to do was have an intense lesson. Not fair to either of us, or Joyce for that matter. Well, let me tell you, I was frustrated instantly. I couldn't get him to engage, put his head down, be receptive of my contact, his trot was that of a donkey with hip displaysia...he resembeled a giraffe with his head stuck straight up in the was to the point where we tried EVERYTHING and nothing was working. So, Joyce goes 'Want me to ride him?'...UH, YEAH!!! And, the same of the before occurs. So she is walking him, trying to get him to bend and become supple..and I go "Maybe he is sore in his butt from that cut? I noticed that the other say he was a little ouchie" Joyce looks at me, gets off and we immediately start poking around on this butt...sure enough, when we pressed down on his left side, below where the cut is, he flinch away...hard... :-(
Joyce and I have determined that he got reared up on and that cut resulted from Troy's (his pasture mate's) front shoe. The cut is NOT infected (that was the first thing Aaron asked when I told him...for someone who knows NOTHING about horses, he seems to know an awful lot), and we believe it is a deep muscle bruise that took 4 or 5 days to surface and really become ouchie for the Pickle.
I feel absolutely HORRIBLE about a - making him jump all those xc fences b - getting mad at him when I couldn't engage him c - for being a horrible owner/rider and not realizing I should have been taking it easy on the Wednesday (April 7) when I pressed down on his butt and he flinched. I feel like a total jackass. :-(
The Chiro/acupuncturist is coming out tomorrow evening and is going to take a look at him...ugh, I feel so bad for him. So he is still going outside (he is not lame at ALL) and I am hand walking him for 20 minutes/day...which is more like a prance, trust me, he feels FINE, he is just ouchie...and he is getting groomed to perfection each day too, which he loves...I think he thinks he is on vacation. Joyce said about a week or 2 will be all he needs and he'll be fine.
Everything was going amazingly well up until this point and I was very happy with how far we have come as a team. Of course - something like this had to happen. Although not serious in the least (I hope), it is still frustrating and disappointing to know we are loosing 2 weeks and going through a little bit of a set back 3 weeks from our first Short Course and 6 weeks away from our first FULL event. Then again, it could be a lot worse. The Great Max Cocoron (Groom to one of the US's best riders) has said "We have made a deal to listen to our horses more to see how they are feeling, and will do what they tell us", and that is exactly what I am doing. I am listening to Chester, he has said "Mom, I feel good, but I'm a little sore when you ask me to use my butt". How do I know he feels good...? We turned him out in the indoor arena on Saturday afternoon and he resembled a jack russel terrier doing laps around a living room. Aaron looks at me and goes "your horse is a knucklehead."...tell me something I don't know.
So, until then, I will be hand-prancing the dragon (because that is what he sounds like) down the lane way and attempting to keep him in line when we pass the dreaded pile of rocks on the side of the road, which are, according to him, just as scary when I am walking beside him...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flattering Britches...? Fat Chance...

The least I can do for my Partner in Crime is to stay healthy, fit and try to maintain as low a weight as possible...considering he is going to truck my ass around an xc course at 450m/minute, the least I can do is try to he light enough so he doesn't feel like he is towing around a sack of bricks.
Enter - my new goal of dropping 15 pounds by our first FULL event on May 29...I am already 2 pounds, don't get me wrong, I am by no means BIG, but I have gotten a little bit squishy over the past couple of years, IF you know what I'm sayin'. I am just shy of 5'9 and weigh in at about 165 pounds...2 years ago, I was 150...and I looked pretty good if I do say so myself.
Now, Aaron - whom I love dearly - is the person I blame this on completely...he LOVES food and in all honesty, I consider myself to be extremely lucky when it comes to eating, because not only does Aaron like to eat, you will not find a better amateur cook A-NY-WHERE, and I always, always ALWAYS come home to some sort of amazing dinner which he has made....The problem is, he doesn't necessarily pay a lot of attention to what he is putting INTO what he makes....867% full cream...wicked, add 'er get my point. I have a feeling I am going to be a little grumpy for the next 6 weeks while I try to make my britches look flattering...which I have determined that unless you are a size 4 or ain't gonna happen. I should take a picture of my from the waist down in my oh-so-flattering britches now...and then again in 6 weeks...huh, now, if that isn't motivation, I don't know what is...
Lesson tonight with the boss - update tomorrow...

OMG - Wait a second...our first event is in SIX WEEKS...I have clearly been worrying about the wrong thing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I was amazed this morning when I opened my email to have... A REPLY FROM LESLEY LAW....WTF?!!! Amazing!!! Honestly, I feel like a 15 year old girl who got a personal response from Edward Cullen...
In a nutshell, she said thanks for the feedback about her Rolex posts, that if we are ever at an event at the same time to absolutely come by with Bean's twin and introduce yourself and, the BEST part...Leslie will be doing a clinic in August up in Tottenham and I should bring my guy to it!!! Now, normally I am not really a fan a clinics, because you spend too much money, there are too many people and you normally are better off as an auditor...but, get this...Leslie will also be doing PRIVATE lessons on one of the days...So, obviously, I emailed the appropriate Canada Eventing rep, asked for the necessary forms...annnnnnnnnd, yours truly and the Pickle will get to spend 45 minutes with Leslie Law himself in August...Go PICKLE!! Woot!!
Humm - I guess I had better start to beg/borrow/steal to make sure I have the necessary monies in my pocket! Who knows, maybe he will think we are THAT good that he will invite me down to his farm in VA and I can become a 'working student' I too old for that?!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Long Lost Twin

It is funny how people you don't even know can make such an impact on your life. Leslie Law is one of the all time greats of the Eventing World; decorated career, many wins, Olympic Gold, amazing horses...and he just so happened to marry a Canadian event rider: Lesley Grant (now, Law). Leslie is going to Rolex (see the post from a couple weeks ago) and was asked to be a featured rider...basically the Rolex organizers ask 4 of the riders to chronicle the 4 months leading up to the main event. Lesley ('ey') is writing on behalf of Leslie ('ie) and she is absolutely talented and opinionated in her is amazing.

Leslie's partner for Rolex is Mystere du Val...aka Bean. This is how Ey describes Bean: "All legs, neck and ears, Bean is the greyhound of the barn ~ flighty, skinny and alert at all times, he is a quirky yet very very lovable character. It hasn't been all roses however, as just like many an exceptional horse or person, Bean is an eccentric. He is incredibly spooky and more than once in the early days would break from a lengthen trot to a full out gallop in the dressage ring, or go from a 1/2 pass right to an exit stage right"...HUH...? That's what I said....The first time I read Ey's description of Bean...I thought it was Chester that was on route to Rolex...(ha, could you IMAGINE that?!) Never could I have explained Chester's personality better if I had come up with it on my own. Not only are they they the EXACT same in personality, they look very very similar...see...? I feel ike saying to Chester - "look how Bean does it, and do that..."
(In case you couldn't tell, Chester is on the top...haha.)

I was so in awe of Ey's description of Bean, I had to email her and tell her....not that she has ANY idea who I am, but, I just couldn't help it.

This is the link to their website: Check it out...they are 2 super cool people (not like I know them personally), who I have the utmost respect for and who one day dream of having 1/2 of the amount of success they have.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Riding The Bullet Train of Death

It has been a very productive couple of days. On Friday, Aaron and I headed out to the Farm to build some xc jumps...and when I say 'we' I basically mean Aaron and Jason (Desirae's boyfriend)...I provided him with some suggestions/instructions and away he went. We ended up with SEVEN jumps...which all look AMAZING. We have" a ramp, flower box, wall, tires, coop and 2 log is amazing!! The plan is to have 3 or 4 more built this coming weekend - weather permitting. (I love how Des feels it would be more productive to drink beer.) Oh - Brad - Aaron's brother showed up partway though the afternoon to lend out his mad skillz with a chainsaw...regardless of the amount of beer consumed, I was impressed...more importantly, I am so THANKFUL they spent their day building stuff for me to jump over...honestly and truly am thankful. It is GREAT. No one lost a finger either, which I guess is also good news!

On Friday, we worked on some flat and he was great - very receptive and I am working hard at keeping my hands balanced, even and most importantly STEADY. I am also working on having his trot be a more consistent medium trot...which is difficult considering he is such a tourist and it takes everything I can to try and keep his attention. It was a good ride.

Sunday, we jumped a little bit and he was his normal (of late) good self. We did however attempt to jump to coop, and he put the breaks on and said 'not a chance'...the second time, with a LOT of convincing on my part, he sailed over it like there was nothing to be concerned about in the first place. Which brings me to my ride yesterday. I decided we were going to jump all of our newly constructed xc jumps. Something I find with xc jumps is that they always look worse from the ground and not nearly as scary from the back of a horse, especially when said horse is a good solid 16'3. I approached each fence with Joyce's words in my head 'Close the doors, don't let him have any option but to go over'. So, I did...and he didn't take a single look at ANYTHING. Which is interesting to me, because there are moments when I can't get him to walk past a pile of rocks, or a snow bank without him feeling the need to practice cantering on the spot. I was honestly expecting him to have a freak out because of what happened with the coop the day before. I was stunned. He cantered up to all of them, sailed over and cantered on his merry little way...then, there was a moment of old in the middle of the ride when he would run like a bullet train of death the last 3 or 4 strides, launch himself over the jump and then it would take everything I had to have him NOT take off like a maniac...although he did let out a couple GOOD bucks....hence the Bullet Train of Death...I do not understand this horse at all. So, I did the old 'stop him RIGHT in front of the fence so he is listening to you' jobbie of 2 months ago, he settled and then we jumped 4 or 5 more times and he was great. I honestly don't know what to make of this horse. If anything, he will make me the best rider I know I can be...

He also got his spring vaccinations yesterday, so he gets today off and tomorrow - if I get out of my prison in enough time - we will just go for a nice quiet hack, weather permitting. Need to move our lesson to Friday...Until then - I am going to try and get inside the Pickle's head and figure out what makes him tick.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Breaking Young Rider Bad Habits

SideBar - I started riding when I was six, came up through the ranks, fell in love with eventing, had a couple GREAT horses, (Mr. X and Take Notice) both of whom I owe a lot to...I wish I knew what had become of them...then along came university which meant like a lot of people like me who aren't fortunate enough to keep their horses through University had to sell them. So, there was a period of time when, get this, I didn't ride for about 10 years. Then one day I just sort of said, you know what? I'm going to start riding again. Well, almost 2 years after THAT, here I am, having successfully completed one season of eventing (Thanks Dandy, I owe you everything...he's an amazing horse I leased for 8 months to help me get my confidence back, see picture) to having purchased Chester 6 months ago and preparing for the upcoming season.
Wednesdays @ 7:00 p.m., enter The Boss.
After the success of the weekend, Joyce says to me 'let's work on some dressage, he is jumping great'. Super! (Too bad I didn't have my dressage saddle on...ugh, you try having a 'long leg' in a CC saddle, ain't happening.) The idea, was to get him listening to me more, understanding that a half-halt is really a half-go and just because I am asking him to use his butt and come into a frame, that doesn't mean he can lean on my hands, which in turn pulls me forward which leaves me 'balancing' with my hands: Bad, Bad, Bad. Joyce will constantly remind me to keep my shoulders behind the pommel and I always say 'It's so HARD to do that in this saddle'. We were doing serpentines with the focus of having a nice turn, have your moment of straightness, then changing the bend...all while maintaining a light, forward contact without his head coming up...oh yea...AND she wanted me to slow the trot down dramatically to almost walk over the centre line.
Honestly, it was the hardest thing I have ever done...because: I'll admit it, I have a couple VERY bad habits from when I was younger. They are namely: I use my hands to much, I don't have enough weight in my heel, I look at the top of pickle's head instead of where I am going, I ALWAYS have my left hand lower then my right (BAD), I don't connect my legs, seat and hands enough...Let me focus on the last thing I just said, because I had what was probably the biggest light-bulb moment of the past 2 or 3 months. To become more effective as a rider, I now understand that I have to learn how to connect my hands to what my legs are asking Chester to do and the leave him the hell alone when he does what I want and learn how to maintain that without pissing him off..i.e - move the bit in his mouth more effectively and not keep on him EVERY step he takes. Let me tell you, we were fighting last night like we hadn't in a loooonnnngggg time.
Joyce would like to see me get after him a little bit more when he starts to be a donkey and lean on my hands and pull me forward. She says "He is going to lean and pop his shoulder out on you because he doesn't like to work and carry himself, and you are letting him get away with it. When he starts to do that, put your leg on and say not a chance buddy."
Kelly was also there and she said something I should try is counting the rhythm in my head - so a constant 1,2,1,2,1,2 so I know he is keeping a nice slower, more engaged medium trot. If I have a goal for our dressage this year, it will be to get a 9 on his trot work...I KNOW I can do that.

Goals before next Wednesday - in which I WILL be putting my dressage saddle on: 1) steadier hands on my part = steadier, slower, more ENGAGED trot on Chester's part. 2) EVEN hands

Oh - and Joyce rode him last night!!!!...and (of course) he looked like a ba-zillion million dollars....I then threatened her that I was going to enter him with her as the rider at least once this summer...she then threatened my life, but secretly, I think I am going to do it, because I KNOW she will LOVE it.

It is Good Friday tomorrow, which means I get a day off!! Yay...which is also the day we have alotted to build some xc fences at the barn. Aaron, who is incredibly talented, can fix anything, is a plumber by trade and OCD will be helping (or taking over) the construction. He goes to me last night "Beer, chainsaws and power tools, how could I go wrong"...Someone help me please.