Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Polly Pictures! Plus, Foxhunting Attire Haul.

Had a friend come out to the barn this weekend to meet Polly and I finally have PICTURES!
Pretty girl got to show off her stuff!
 We did a little bit of everything--started off with our routine of walk-trot transitions and cantering in the ring (slowly but steadily improving there with promptness and balance), and then we headed through the creek to the XC field where we played with some of the lower logs.



Nice push there Pollywog!



It was only our second time jumping in the XC field, and these jumps were new to me, so I led Polly up to them for a good sniff.


She said, "What, do you think I'm stupid? I know what to do with logs!" Took me by surprise so I just flung my hands forward not-so-gracefully, but my friend and I were cracking up!

And we got a little video of  jumping the logs the other way.

The pictures revealed that I am pinching with my knee at some times and getting into a chair seat at others. I'm going to have to work on that!

I've also been slowly picking up hunting clothes...some used/on sale, some not...

For my birthday a few weeks ago, Byron won fiancé of the year (again) for buying me a brand new Melton at the Tack Box in Middleburg (despite my protests to get one used)! It is very warm, like a peacoat, but not as heavy as I expected it to be. I cannot WAIT to wear it this winter!


Foxy buttons
And even though I already have a navy show coat, that isn't quite proper for cubbing. I doubt anyone would care since I am new to the sport, but I did feel a little out of place when I went hilltopping and everyone else was in their beautiful earth tone tweeds and I looked like I was doing a hunter-under-saddle class. So...I caved to my weakness...Facebook tack trader groups. I found a jacket for $50 and a patterned stock tie for $10!



The stock just arrived today, and now that I see it with my jacket, I'm not 100% loving the combination. I think blue might go better with a gray jacket, so I may just make my own stock with more of a green-tone fabric.

Aaaand that's not it. The tack shop closest to me is on my way to the barn. Can we say temptation? So on my way back home this Sunday I saw  they were having a tent sale...and picked up a NEW canary vest (normally $160) for $60. I'm just telling myself that I haven't taken lessons regularly for months...this is just making up for it cost-wise. Right?

Byron was giving me prompts for modeling. This is my response to "Foxhunt for me baby!"

And, I may be able to actually use the informal coat for a hunter pace in a few weeks! It's kind of unnerving me that you have to register for hunter paces the day of, since I have to rely on others for transportation and I'm semi-worried that something might happen where they wouldn't want to go. Crossing my fingers that I will get to wear all these new things sooner rather than later! (Well, except the Melton.)

In the meantime...I do NOT need new breeches, I do NOT need new breeches...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First lesson

OK, so our first lesson together was actually LAST weekend, but various projects have meant I wasn't able to write it up until now.

Are you SURE that was the last carrot?
So the instructor at this barn is the daughter of the owner (who also teaches lessons, and helped bring another boarder I've been hacking out with to First Level dressage scores in the 70s...not too shabby!). The daughter is a Pony Club graduate (not so long ago, since I think she is about my age) who has gone Prelim eventing, and she also foxhunts and plays polo (her polo pony is Guacamole/Guacapony if you remember from Byron's interpretation). I told her I was basically looking for help getting Polly fit over the summer and getting her to actually canter in the arena, and I was pleased that in the lesson we mostly worked on stuff I'd already been working on--lots of walk-trot transitions to get her in front of my leg. We also worked on attempting to bend in the corners, with only moderate success (remember, Polly is a draft X who hasn't been asked to do anything but trail ride and hunt in her entire 9-year-old life). At least Polly is very willing about trying to find the right answer.

So the big challenge for Polly is picking up the canter inside the arena (as opposed to just going into a giant carthorse trot). This is something I've encountered a LOT from my days volunteering and teaching at Gentle Giant Draft Horse Rescue--when a big horse is unbalanced and out of shape, they want to run into their gaits rather than picking them up promptly, and since they are so big, by the time they've got their groove going, then there's a corner and it all sort of falls apart.

Prior to the lesson, I had gotten to the point where I could get a canter transition in a corner, and maybe a step or two of canter before we would get disorganized and fall into a trot. That was OK with me, since apparently she just didn't canter inside before that! But in the lesson, the instructor recommended sitting on my outside seat bone when I asked for the canter--something I wouldn't have figured out on my own. Presto--after all that walk-trot work, we got a prompt transition, and we got maybe 5 or 6 strides of canter on the long side!

I like to think of her as a tall pony.
Steering, not so much--so I brought her back to a trot before we careened out of the open end of the arena. That will come later. This week I did try cantering down (most of) the long side, trotting the short side, and then picking up the canter again on the long side. That seemed like a good exercise to keep practicing.


And I imagine transitions outside in the big gallop field would be good too since she would be a little more naturally forward...if it would stop snowing/raining/sleeting! Seriously, what the heck! But other than weather...so far, the first month with Polly has been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to both of us getting super-fit this summer.

She's too big to get all of her in a wash stall shot! It will be interesting to compare photos each month.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Non-riding significant others say the darndest things...

Ok, so this is a topic I've already covered in a meme-tastic post for Horse Nation a couple months ago...but Byron just keeps supplying me with excellent new material. (Though of course, he would never say something boorish like "the horse does all the work." He is better trained than that.)

Me: I just met a polo pony named Guacamole today. Isn't that the best name ever?
Byron: Would've been better if it was named Guacapony.

Me: The lady I trail rode with today had these awesome rubber boots. Not like the cheapy ones I have--they looked like real dress boots, but you could wash them off with a hose.
Byron: So why don't you buy them?
Me: Because then I would have to admit to myself that I'm a secret tack ho.
Byron: Oh sweetie. You are undoubtedly a tack ho. And what's worse, you hate spending money, so you're like a $5 tack ho.
Me: :( I know...

Not that kind of tack ho (via)
Clerk in tack shop: So do you ride too?
Byron: Not yet...my first lessons are in May.
Clerk in tack shop: How great!
Byron: Yeah, you'll see me in the next Olympics. (signs receipt) You should probably save that autograph.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Draft Horse Heresy

Our first "real" trail ride yesterday (as in, actually on a trail and not just around the farm) was frankly...disappointing. But the good news is that I was able to figure Polly out a little more which made our second trail ride today AWESOME.

Yesterday I went out with Polly's owner and another boarder, both also on draft crosses (much smaller than Polly though!). We walked, trotted, cantered, jumped--but Polly was stronger than I expected, and was ignoring my half-halts and attempts to create some space in between her and the horse in front of her. Steering? Not so much.

Polly's owner told me to just get after her when she wasn't listening--stronger half halts, booting her to move off my leg, etc.--and for last quarter or so of the ride I had a lot more control, which was good.

So for today's ride, rather than meandering around for the walk warmup, I insisted that Polly stay straight and march on. We also did a few 20m circles in the arena before we went out, and I think that helped to set the level of responsiveness for the whole ride. And it also helped that I had some idea where we were going since we went on the same trails. Mostly trot today, but we did have a little bit of canter after we hopped over some logs! Tearing around the woods is my new favorite thing! I'm hoping I might be able to borrow a GoPro camera from my dad or Byron's dad to record our adventures.

She roots at the bit a fair amount, which is annoying but I just bridged my reins and let her do whatever she was going to do with her head. My upper back is going to be REALLY strong from riding her!

Yesterday was also a spa day for Polly. Like many drafts, she has issues with scratches on her white feet, and the feathers do not help with keeping her skin free of mud and moisture. So I bought myself some Andis 2-speed clippers as a belated birthday present to myself, and committed draft horse heresy. The feathers are no more.

Before/After:


Before/After:


It took me a while to figure out how to make it look neat, but she was an angel for clipping and practically fell asleep. Aesthetically I think she looks much better with feathers, but it's impossible to find where the scratches are with all that hair. With spring rain and mud ahead, I'd rather get a jump on it before it gets too bad.

Poor girl. I don't think anyone was really managing her skin so her pasterns are like...lumpy. It's really weird. But I'm cleaning with Betadine, drying, then rubbing on Desitin to keep the moisture out of her lumps and bumps.

In other news, it is currently snowing in MD and it's the middle of March. WHY?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Because this is what I think about at work.

So I work as an editor at a financial media company.

There have been many, many times when I've come across some financial term and thought, "Wow, that would make a good name for a horse."

Which is your favorite? (If you're curious, I've linked them to their Investopedia definitions, but I didn't want to bore those who just want to look at random horse pictures from Wikimedia Commons and fantasize about names.)
via

Silver Futures

Called Away

Depreciating Asset

via

Black Swan

Volatility Spike
Welsh Cob for  my cob-loving readers! via

Gold Bug

Dead Cat Bounce (OK, maybe this would not be the best name but it wins for strangest chart pattern)

Liability Swap

Seeking Alpha
via

Foreign Exchange

T-Note

Takeover Artist

via
Return on Investment 

Tangible Asset



What about the rest of you? Does oddly specific work terminology inspire you to think of horse names? Or am I just that nerdy?



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Viva Carlos: What's in Your Name?

Because L of Viva Carlos wins at equine blogging, and because I can't get enough of this weird-ass unicorn.
Everyone has a story to tell and in blog land, most of us have stumbled upon each other mid-sentence, so to speak.  
What is the story behind your blogname/url?

I started this blog as part of a blogging class I took my final semester of college. I wanted an easy class I would have fun with, and that would hopefully keep me in the habit of writing even after I was done with school. At the time I had just started to pay for lessons again after several years of just riding on breaks from school, and it had just dawned on me that if I just told people my situation--that I was a poor college student--then they were willing to help me figure out ways to ride, or work off lessons and things like that.

The name Collegial Equestrian was sort of spurred by that gratitude for others, the collegial atmosphere of the class, and also the fact that I was involved in horse rescue through Gentle Giants and I exercised horses for a therapeutic riding center--hence "collegial" to invoke a sort of volunteer community. And what better way to become a better horseman than to come together and share our knowledge?

Truth be told, though, I sort of wish I chose something that wasn't so simultaneously dorky and ostentatious. But why fix it if it ain't broke?

For giggles I looked up my final assessment from my blogging class professor...would you give me the same grade?

Presentations, In-Class Assignments, and Blog Community-Building: 30%

You performed exceptionally well in this category. You attended class 27 times (in a 3-way tie for first in the class) and did all four of the in-class writing assignments. You got an A- (blog tracking), an A (blog roots), and a B (blog theorization) on the group presentation. You were also an exemplary citizen of the class blogging community, through comments left on other students’ blogs, posts to the class blog, participation in blog challenges, and conducting a tutorial for the class on Photoshop. You went above and beyond the call of duty and so earned an A+ in this category.

Learning Analysis: 20%

Your learning analysis essay is also exemplary of the genre. It’s a well-designed essay and an incredibly thoughtful reflection on the practical and theoretical components of the work we did throughout the semester. You never strain to make the connections between those two realms, as writers of such essays tend to do. You make them smoothly and purposefully. Excellent work. A.

Blog Building: 50%

You came into the class with a clear sense of what you wanted to do, and you set about doing it with considerable skill and discipline. You set the class record for quantity of posts and a very high standard for quality as well. Collegial Equestrian is well-written, well-designed, knowledgeable about its subject, and savvy and generous in its efforts to make connections with like-minded others. You prove well Blood’s claim that great blogging is fueled by passionate interest. You also prove that writing about oneself doesn’t have to seem self-involved or self-aggrandizing. In your case, precisely the opposite is true. You draw upon your own experiences as a way of informing and connecting with your audience. You do it very well. I look forward to seeing where you and the blog will go from here. Thanks for your hard work and your generous participation in the class. Keep riding, and keep blogging! A.

COURSE: A

Not like it's that hard to get an A in blogging class if you just do the assignments though...lol!

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Yeah, I'm way late to the Snapchat party.
KITTENS inspired by PONIES

Midnight's cooler is now Polly's quarter sheet
Big sexy tail got cleaned and Show Sheened this weekend
And something bizarre and hilarious from the barn bathroom