Monday, September 30, 2013

Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst

Best of the Best:

I worked Griffin on the ground (sometime last week) for 10 minutes or so to give him some exercise and busy his mind.

Trot. Canter. Over the jump grid I'd set up for Q.

He was forward and eager and more attentive than he'd been in awhile. Slightest error in my body position and he'd halt or change direction. He was so attune to what I was doing. He even jumped when not asked to jump a few times, insisting on doing something extra before I could correct.

I was pleased with his attitude and his efforts. And thus, I decided to ride some since he seemed to be having an okay day. I wasn't expecting much at all. Just a little tooling around the barnyard.

He stood stock still as I mounted and then moved forward when I asked. He was responsive and forward.

Circles, figure eights, and a serpentine at the walk around the barnyard.

What the hell, I figured, let's see how you are if we do a mini trail tour of the property. I'll turn around if things head south.

And so we headed out, with Griffin eying up the suspicious object while still moving forward.

Across the creek without issue and into the far field. I gave him leave to pick up a trot if he deigned.

He did and it was amazing. Finally, I got to ride the big, beautiful trot he gives when I work him on the lunge! It was perfect to post to. Not jarring. Forward and powerful. He reminded me so much of the war mare, Gracie, I rode in August at our endurance ride with his gait. Love.

As we progressed through the field, I turned him up the hill Q does sprints on. He moved forward into a canter, snort-blowing with each exhale as he headed up. He was focused on his job and doing it so well.

Turning to descend at the walk he was a little feisty, but nothing worse than what Q does. It was just excitement and eagerness, nothing rude or mean. We worked through it and when we reached the flat again we set off trotting and then cantering.

Oh. My. Goodness. His canter on the flat was powerful and uphill. So incredible. He was collected yet forward. Snort-blowing with every exhale, he was yet again forward, but responsive. He gave a very small series of excited crow hops at one point, but these were without attitude.

I trotted and cantered him a little bit more in the field before heading back to the barn with a huge smile on my face. I cannot wait to develop this horse in the coming years. Days like this are the previews I love into the horse he's going to be.

Worst of the Worst:

After giving Jeremy a brief lesson on Q Sunday evening, I lunged Griffin in the same manner I had the evening I had the incredible ride on him. I figured that the level of work he had to do pre-ride that time had been a special key to getting him so behaved under saddle.

He presented the same eagerness and responsiveness. When I was pleased with both his efforts and Jeremy's communication with Q, I mounted Griffin and we set off for a little tour around the property like what I did with Griffin the prior time.

Immediately after mounting and moving forward, Griffin presented his snotty teenager attitude. Head thrown down and crow hopping commence, complete with little squealy grunts. I pulled his head up and to the side and cracked him on the neck with my hand with a sharp reprimand. He stopped and we moved forward without issue.

Down the drive and around the scary things without issue. Across the creek, up the little hill, into the field - all without issue. Ask for a trot, the same nonsense as before with the crow hopping and attitude. The same reprimand from me. (Jeremy was following and doing quite well it seemed.)

We move forward again into the trot. No issue. I turned him to trot up the hill I do Q's sprints on hoping and anticipating that he would present a good attitude as before and move forward and focus on his job. Besides, horses can't buck going uphill very easily - or so I'd always been told.


About 3 strides up the hill the bucking commenced. Rodeo bronc bucking. Head DOWN. Back ARCHED. Pushing off in the front to get air to get the back end up higher.

I yelled at him to cut it out. I tried to get his head up. I lost all support as he thrust his head so far down. I went forward too far on his non-existent neck and lost balance, tipping forward out of the saddle as he rocketed upward again. I hit the ground hard, grunting. I rolled over and sat up to watch my little shit of a horse spring across the pasture.

Q was acting up due to Griffin's swift departure. I yelled direction to Jeremy. He handled it very well and got her pretty well under control considering the circumstances.

I stood. My left ankle was smarting. Musta landed on it wrong. I hobbled to Jeremy and Q, calling direction all the while. He had her well settled by the time I approached - multitasking between helping him and trying to approach my snorty little shit of a gelding who was prancing around like a maniac.

When I realized Griffin may head back to the barn without me (and this was not something I wanted him to learn he could do), I asked Jeremy to dismount for a bit. I hopped on my wonder-mare in a too-big-for-me western saddle with stirrups much too long.

I kicked her forward from a standstill into a gallop a la barrel racer in the direction of Griffin. He bolted back toward the barn. I whipped her around and as I trotted by Jeremy called, "Watch this" as I cued her into a canter and called over my shoulder, "HEY GRIFFIN! WHAT'CHA DOIN'? BETTER BE CAREFUL 'CAUSE YOU MIGHT BE LEFT ALONE!." And then galloped Q up the hill we do our sprints on.

I halted her, turned to look down the hill, and saw - to my pleasure - my shithead gelding sprinting toward us. I dismounted Q in anticipation of his fast approach and stood beside her, both of us watching as Griffin blasted through the field, flaps on my saddle blowing up with his efforts, bucking, and screaming past Jeremy.

All I could think at this point was, Dear god please let him not destroy my saddle. My beautiful new saddle. My precious...gollum gollum....

He tore up the hill and slowed near us. Prancing around Q and I. He halted behind her finally. I snatched up the (thank god still intact and not broken) reins and proceeded to force him to back all the way down that goddamn hill. Q following placidly behind. <3 her.

At the bottom I reprimanded both - now hot - horses as they tried to walk ahead of me as we walked toward Jeremy.

The short of it, we both remounted, thanked a worried Dee who had ran from her bath where she'd witnessed the whole thing to come check on us (she was clothed no worries), and headed back to the barn on a loose rein without issue.

I called it a day then. Jeremy and Q got lots of praise. Griffin go a single itty bitty tiny little peppermint treat with his brushing before I released the Kraken to his field.

My ankle is still hurting. RICE until better. Very much considering not riding the shitlord until post-Fort Valley. I don't want to risk another worse injury!

Monday, September 23, 2013

I bought a saddle

Because clearly, reading about several other bloggers purchasing sweet new saddles and various other expensive tack items wasn't enough, I decided I'd drop some dolla dolla bills y'all and get a saddle, too.

No, but in all seriousness - I BOUGHT A SADDLE!

An Ansur Classic to be precise.

And it was my biggest equine purchase investment to date.

After completing the Virginia Highlands 55 in Mary's Ansur (race 2 in this saddle) and having nearly zero soreness and being able to ride my own horses 2 days post-ride, I was convinced I needed this saddle.

The fit of the Wintec on Q isn't bad at all. But its not perfect. The Ansur is treeless, thus less of a fit issue when compared to treed saddles. And despite being a treeless, I have had very little issue mounting from the ground on the trail.

I rode Q for 8 miles in Mary's Ansur in early August with zero issue. I rode her in a borrowed Ansur from Mary for 10 miles the weekend prior and again this past Friday for another 14.5 miles with no issue. In fact, Q moved freer in the Friday ride than she has of late. She felt as though she were absolutely floating at times - and that's saying something because this little mare floats and bounces lightly along almost always as is!
I really wanted to say something on here when I found this saddle and when I purchased it and when I got the tracking number so we could all obsessively stalk it to my door together, but I just couldn't. I'm one of those people who is convinced that if I talk too much about what seems like too good a thing then it just won't happen.

And thus I only told a couple people. Only one horse person. I knew once it arrived, if it was truly in the condition in the photos, then I'd get to blab all about it.

And show up it did. And in such amazing shape!! It was really a STEAL at the price I found it for when you consider what they sell for new and what you usually find an older model like this one in this condition priced at. I base these facts on help I received from Mary, who has served as an Ansur rep for years.

The purchase was a little risky though as I found the ad on Mesa, AZ. For anyone insanely new to this blog, I live in WV. Craigslist isn't exactly what you think of for secure internet purchases! But I emailed the lady and she got right back to me wanting me to call. I refused to call until I could see further photos. She sent them! Satisfied with what I saw, I took the plunge and called. She was polite and amiable on the phone. We discussed price/shipping/payment options and it was all squared away! She shipped it the following day and I had it within a week of shipment. Nicely wrapped, packaged, and boxed (which I believe the sticker on the box shipped USPS ground said was only $24 for anyone wondering what it costs to ship a saddle).

Happy happy happy.

I'm currently awaiting a Toklat Woolbak dressage girth (because the borrowed mohair/neoprene from Mary did not make Q's skin happy AT ALL) from the Distance Depot and then we'll be all set!

Onward to happy, long trails!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Photos of Q being awesome. I love her.

Life is super busy as far as work is concerned for the next two weeks. Readers will have to settle with becoming viewers of photos for awhile!

She totally walked between the two motorcycles like it was NOTHING.
High mountain meadow
I love her I love her I love her I love her

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Climbing Seneca (again)

Seneca Rocks climbing - it never gets old! Its the closest climbing from home for me at 40 minutes away. Franklin is about an hour and a half. Coopers and Snake Hill are about an hour and a half, as well.  And the infamous New River Gorge/Summersville Lake/Meadow River Gorge area is 2½ hours. And that's all just climbing in WV!

Seneca is the most unique though. Its fin formation is the highest of its kind east of Devils Tower, WY.

Our leader on this trip is an old guide on Seneca. He and I had been planning to climb it together for ages now - so nice to finally DO it. Our other friend Dylan joined us for his first trip up. This trip had very special meaning to him as he spread his grandparents ashes from the summit per his grandfather's wish. Pretty crazy stuff!

So without further ado, have a ton of photos from my 6th trip up Seneca!

Before shot!
Really showing off how much rock there is here
My friend Mike, leader for the day and a used-to-be guide at Seneca
Routes 33 and 28; Spruce Knob high peak trending top left distance; Allegheny Mtn. high peak in center distance
Not perfect posture, but seriously, y'all, this is like an 8' fin with hundreds of feet of vertical to my left and right.
You don't wanna fuck that shit up.
Worth viewing at full size. Feel free to giggle at Mike in a heap with the very girly Seneca log book in his hand.
After shot
Such an awesome day!