Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB


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In Which M Gets a Job!

I know what you’re thinking– two C&C posts in a row?! What’s happening? Is the apocalypse happening right now and M is trying to crack out some posts before the world implodes?

I thought about scheduling this for tomorrow like a good blogger, to be published at ‘prime time’, but I am way, way too excited to hold off.

But before we get to the good stuff… some M riding history!

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2000, 2005, 2010, and 2016

I started my riding career doing summer camps, from 2000-2004, and then proceeded on to regular lessons when I was 11 or 12. Bartles, pictured second, was the spunkiest school pony so of course I had to ride him in my lessons (even better, I know the lady he retired with, and visit from time to time). Danny was the first horse I leased, as you know, and Cori is my first horse. So this picture set is basically a progression from summer camps to lessons to leases to my very own horse, all in all, 16 years of riding (3/4 of my life).

And today, I got hired as an instructor at the very same pony school that I started out at, teaching kids 6 – 10 the very basics of riding.

It’s so funny how things like this have a way of coming back around, and I know that the first 6-year-old Mia pictured never would’ve dreamed she’d be there. But I could not be more thrilled that I might be able to give these kids what the pony school gave to me back then– work ethic, determination, heels down, and a lifelong passion for riding.

Keeping this short and sweet. I am on cloud nine!

— M


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Baby Horse Rollercoaster + Free Jumps!

I haven’t been riding/writing as much because my body decided that now is an excellent time to come down with the plague. And to be fair, it sort of is, since my area of California is getting a lovely rainstorm for the next week-ish.

sick dog days

upsides to sick days… Jack!

However, as most of you know, rain is never an excuse not to ride, and being the genius/masochist I am I scheduled a jump lesson for this morning’s rainstorm. Our footing is terrific, so it was outside, and we got soaked– but a few things finally clicked with both C and me, so definitely worth the next day or two of wheezing and red noses.

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“Stop watching me eat, crazy lady.”

One thing we’ve been working on is getting C to understand placement poles to trot jumps. He likes to throw an extra half-step in there, just for poops and giggles, but today he was really understanding the point of the pole and putting some real effort behind the trot jumps.

I started out a bit poorly, which I will happily blame on my cold even with the knowledge it’s just, you know, me. But anyway, I kept letting my core collapse over the fences. So if I had a less game/honest/confident baby horse, I probably would’ve found myself face-down in that lovely arena footing, more than once. During the lesson N kept saying, strong through your core, and because I’m a chronic leaner/floater in the saddle, she chose the opposite direction. Basically, she told me to let myself get left a little behind.

And because human brains are funny little things, my body sort of met me in the middle, and although we never got a perfect distance… I didn’t lean or get left behind. Sorcery!

washrack cori

wistful Wednesday — where’s my sunshine?

 

I’ve been trying to cope with some of my huntery feels at missing distances. I think once C figures his legs out more it’ll be easier, but the hunter in me gets so mad every time I chip in short. They aren’t even bad chip-ins, and still I grit my teeth or make “ugh” or “oh jesus” exclamations. And N is like “That wasn’t an oh jesus moment!” and then I just have to deal with a lot of my feels. Look, I even made a rhyme: Short spots are good, short spots are fine, short spots > long spots unless you’re left far behind. And sometimes even then.

Anyway, on one of the days I felt particularly crappy and C had many energies to give because currently, he’s not getting turned out much, I popped a couple of small crossrails on each long side of the indoor and let him get some sillies out. He was a cheater-cheater and chose to go around them most of the time, and other times forgot there was a jump there until it was literally under his feet:

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it r hard being uncoordinate

But other times…

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who need xrail when u can jump standerd??!1?/ and hit it wif hind feets?!1

cori free jump 1

majestic liek unicorn

Aside from the shoddy videographer, look at his kneeeees!

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going to pretend the silhouette thing was on purpose

I think under saddle we’ve just not jumped anything big enough to encourage him to pick his feet up that much, but hopefully that’s an idea of what he’ll look like over bigger fences, whenever it is that we get there! Right now for free longing I’m not planning to do anything bigger than crossrails on my own (and because obviously he doesn’t need much encouragement) but maybe one day I can snag N and do it The French Way. I’m curious, what can I say?

And because I promised a feed update, we’re reducing his grain in a few more ways because, well. N called him fat the other day. Possibly one of few scenarios where that’s cause for celebration! Yay, pudge!

pudge controls the weather

definitely haven’t been looking for an excuse to use this gif.

He was starting to get less spooky in the warm weather after nixing the rolled barley, but with the current decline in temperature and near-constant mist or drizzle, well… we’re back to our old ways. That’s okay, though, I can sit whatever he throws at me while it warms up again!

If this were a very lengthy, picture-heavy Facebook status, I’d probably set it to “feeling optimistic” with that big-chinned smiley*.

And I do have a pending exciting announcement re:job hunting, but that’s for next time!

— M

*Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.47.39 PM


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Boots (and Bank Accounts)

I may have mentioned in my last post that I spent an alarming amount of money on horsey items recently. I think there was a lull in my spending where I was like, “Oh, crap, I am running low on savings. I should probably stop spending it before I have a solid job lined up.” And then I was like, “Oh, crap, I really don’t have all the things that I need/want one/two/three versions of for my not at all spoiled horse, right?! Another bill won’t hurt!”

CHAOS.

Anyway, for some odd reason I’ve convinced myself that having white boots is an excellent idea, and have purchased both white XC and white open front boots for princess C. Of course, the white open fronts need matching white fetlock boots, and they have to be the same heinously expensive brand because I can’t have black-lined white boots because they won’t match the fronts and everyone will know I’m a boot heretic.

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also Riding Warehouse is the best and I love them forever and ever so I didn’t bother finding an image without a watermark.

BUT SERIOUSLY. Look how pretty! And they’ve got the snap-latches. So shiny and white. And they’re breathable and shit. And they’re ALL MINE. The hinds match (price and otherwise).

So now I have a growing collection of boots (doesn’t include polos, eek):

  • Pink splint/brushing boots
  • Pink open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • Black open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • White open fronts w/ fetlock boots
  • Black XC boots (Dalmar)
  • White XC boots (Majyk Equipe)

I think I may sell the black XC boots to subsidize the cost of the whites but also they’re pretty and what happens if the white ones get too dirty? Then what?!

Princess looks awesome in the open fronts though, and I’m sure even moreso when his whites are less… yellow.

The other thing I splurged on last week was a FITS Zephyr II mesh show coat, which I snagged for a real deal off Tack of the Day. Since they don’t ship out for a good while, I probably won’t see it for a bit, but I’m stoked to get it! I’ve heard great reviews about these things and they are awfully pretty and lightweight. At $125, it was a huge discount from Dover’s $230 price tag and since I was coat shopping already… well…

My credit card took a hit last week, and I have so few regrets, it’s a little frightening.

I think a fourth bridle might be a good idea?

As a side note, C looks more and more like a real horse every day… N and I think he’s put on 50-70 lbs just in the past month, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how his body condition has changed and improved!

cori March 2

At awkward stages of shedding, but all the same…

Sept 2015

September of last year.

I love progress shots, as you can tell! But it’s so satisfying to see the hard work pay off in muscling and weight in general.

This month I’m hoping to post at least twice a week, since I only got one a week done in February. Jump lesson recap is pending for Saturday!

— M


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The $900 Facebook Pony Blog Hop: The Little Things

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With some behavioral snafus over the past couple weeks, Amanda at the $900 Facebook Pony’s blog hop is timed perfectly. No matter how spooky or naughty C gets, there are always little things I love about him.

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soggy booger 

Question: “What are the “little things” about your horse that you’re so fond of?

The first that comes to mind is a bit of an odd one. C likes to stretch when I’m walking him out to pasture or in, or just in hand in general. He’ll drop his head so far that his nose is dragging on the ground, shoveling through whatever happens to be there, and he occasionally kicks himself on the chin and then looks up in shock, wondering what hit him. It’s adorable.

Another little quirk is how much he likes having his sweaty behind-the-ears spot scratched after rides. He’ll lean into it and grunt, and if you stop, move his head up and down to simulate it.

I love how much he loves jumping, because I love jumping, and I love his silly excited bucks when we’ve had a really good jump and he just needs to celebrate! I love the occasional flying lead changes he throws in, just to pleasantly surprise me sometimes and remind me how super awesomely talented he is.

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wheeeee!

Playing peek-a-boo at the barn is fun too, even though I know he’s only cookie-hunting. It’s still cute!

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THERE you are! now, where’s my cookie?

On a more serious note, the change in my riding has been incredible since I’ve owned C. He makes me a better equestrian, in the saddle and out, every time I sit on or handle him. Owning a green horse has been one of the most simultaneously challenging and rewarding thing I’ve taken on, and that’s one of the things I appreciate most about him.

So basically, I love him because he makes me happier than I’ve ever been!

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smiling and pretending I didn’t just spend $400 on horsey items… shhh

— M


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What Lurks in the Shadows

…nothing, C. Nothing does. Especially in your own shadow.

This post may come off a little rant-y and I swear it was totally intended that way. C has settled in really nicely to the new place in many aspects. He’s got his appetite, turnout, no vices, and seems to have adjusted somewhat to the high-traffic facility. The weather is pleasant and warm, and by all means he should be displaying some semblance of manners.

I’m going to preface this by saying I never expected C to stay the exact same way he was when I bought him. He wasn’t getting enough calories to have that ‘crazy’ TB spark, but sweet Jesus on a bicycle, he sure is now. Guys, my horse will not. Stop. Spooking.

Over the past couple weeks almost every ride has been punctuated repeatedly by sideways flying, little rears, mareish squeals, and the occasional bolt. I can sit these, that’s fine, but dear lord is it irritating. I’ll have him in steady, light contact, his trot will be rhythmic and floaty, and then a bird across the arena will take a hop and he loses his brain. The worst part is it’s only for flatwork, which is a solid 85% of my rides. I don’t know if I’m not challenging him enough to keep his attention, or if whatever semi-immobile bird/car/horse/trailer/tree is just genuinely terrifying in that moment, but it’s been something that has made some rides feel like chores instead of fun.

I don’t know if I coddle him too much and am “letting him get away with” these things, or if the ‘fear’ is real. Sometimes I’m convinced it’s an evasion, and others I’m like damn, well if a trailer was rattling behind me and went over a bump and the sun hit it juuuuust right I might think it was a monster too.

N and I are taking a closer look at his feed and we’re going to cut some things out and see what happens. Hopefully, he’ll regain some sense. If discipline, not sense, is the missing factor, then I’ll have N do a few training rides on him and see how she fares with the whole fiasco. It’s getting exhausting, and I hate saying that because I know people with horses who have been dealing with this sort of thing for years, and I know I’m lucky to have such a game, talented horse, and the spooks are well worth the rest of the ride, and all the rest.

So, while it’s nice to hear “You dealt with him well!” and “Nice job sitting through that!” I’d just, well…. rather not. 🙂

So in case anyone was wondering why posts have been pretty sparse so far in February, it’s just been me trying to deal with the extra frustration and trying not to write a whine-y post (oops?) about baby antics. Outside of the kajillion (read: ten) spooks per ride, we’re getting pretty solid work in, so I feel guilty for complaining. But, in the words of Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants and mine wants to whine right now (it also wants white XC boots, but unfortunately, the heart can’t always pay for what it wants).

Keep your fingers crossed for me that feed is the source and we can pin this down before we trailer out to our first event (which is, actually, on the schedule for late April. Eek!). If trees and birds at home are scary, I bet Fresno trees and birds are downright terrifying.

No photos because C’s cute face automatically exempts him from any fault.

Okay, just one.

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but it’s a gross, drooly one, so who really wins here?

— M


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And Now, A Scenario:

It’s a stunning evening in early spring. Birds are chirping, trees rustle in gentle winds, and the dying sunlight casts long shadows into the flawless footing of the arena. Upon bringing C in from turnout, M notices he is fresh and decides that popping him on the longe might not be a bad idea. Under the orange light of the sunset, reflected in his copper coat, C canters and bucks and farts in a relatively civilized manner as M coos him praises.

A truck and trailer slowly turn the corner. C has never seen a truck and trailer before. Instinctually he bolts in the opposite direction; M digs her heels in and tries not to lose her balance despite being dragged by a 1300 pound 16.2 hand-high behemoth. C realizes that not even an inch before him lies a mounting block, which he flies over, majestic and deer-like. On the backside of this ‘jump’ he tries to kick out, nearly falling flat-out on his face. M screams, “Well, what the hell did you think was going to happen?” at the top of her lungs while the pony clubbers in the neighboring arena look on in a mixture of horror and awe. The majestic baby OTTB recovers his balance and fancy-trots as though nothing happened.

As M leads her horse to the upper jumping arena, trainer (N) says, “I saw a chestnut streak down there. Was that C?”

Yes. Yes it was.

C proceeds to be angelic under saddle and his canter feels like clouds.

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“To what chestnut streak are you referring?”

Ah, the sweet art of give & take.

— M