Who is this horse?


Fiction has undergone a transformation so dramatic that the past four years seem more like a dream than a reality. The once easily upset, tantrum throwing, run-away-from-all-my-problems thoroughbred has been replaced by a level-headed sweet creature that comes to me in the field, nuzzles me constantly, and acts like a gem under saddle.

Last night was by far one of the best rides I have had on him. And, probably the only ride where riding felt effortless. As in, there was absolutely zero fighting, very little fuss, and all of my aids were adhered to.

I couldn't stop smiling. It felt as if we had finally emerged into the sunshine after trudging along in the dark for so long.

His mane desperately needed some maintenance and since I can't pull it (bc of big floofy braids) I braided and cut.
The ride started off great. After 24 hours in a stall (the fields are just so bad right now the horses spent the day inside), he was a bit stiff to the left in our warm up, but quickly worked out of it. We moved into trot and he gave me very little fuss in the upwards transitions (we've been really working on these since he loves to brace from walk to trot).

The trot was stupendous. He was forward without being zoomy. He was light on my hands with only a few half halts needed to keep his attention. And, most importantly, he kept his own pace, even down the long sides.

When we moved on to a set of six trot poles, spaced further apart than usual to encourage stretching, he balked the first time but went through. After that, he was pretty much ok with them, but I allowed him his head and back to do whatever he wanted with for the first 10 or so run-throughs before I started to encourage him to actually use himself over the poles rather than just traverse them.

This gigantic tub of a cat wanted to sit on my shoulders and practically refused to get off.
His turns to the poles were wonderful. Instead of turning like a freight train because he is so worried/anticipating going over the poles, he listened to my hands and legs and bent in a correct turn. His approach was far better than it's ever been, and after the poles he immediately came back to me and halted on a dime. As an added bonus, he even stood perfectly still and just watched me when I hopped off to adjust the poles.

Needless to say, he got lots of praise. After I hopped off I also noticed that his mouth was covered in thick white foam - a different type of foam than the thin white stuff he gets from time to time. I made sure to stuff a peppermint in his mouth almost immediately and gave him lots of face rubs.

After four years of struggle, I'm finally seeing the horse I've always wanted in Fiction. It feels amazing.


Trekking Along


As you can tell, blogging just isn't a priority right now. Primarily because there isn't much to report.

I'm still riding 3-4 times a week. We've been working over poles every ride, save for the last two rides.

The ride before last it was a gorgeous day so Fiction got a bath and we went on a trail ride with a handful of other people. I think Fiction enjoyed getting out of the indoor arena for a while.

Then yesterday I wasn't feeling too well and it was pouring down rain (which eventually turned to thick, heavy snow), but I went out anyways to try on his new bareback pad.

After watching The Magnificent Seven, I arbitrarily decided that February will be bareback (and Western - thanks Jan haha) month. And, since I can't seem to ride Fiction bareback without dying (primarily from his bony back), I picked up a Best Friend Comfort Plus bareback pad.

He looks very unloved/unkempt in this photo, but he was dripping wet from the rain and this was the cleanest I could get him :(
I only rode about 20 minutes in it last night, but I can already tell that a bareback month is something I desperately need. For example - when going into corners, Fiction sometimes likes to throw his inside shoulder and lean in. The normal response should be to sink into my inside seat bone and push him back over, but instead I find myself leaning to the outside in some weird way to compensate for his leaning. I've known this was a problem for a while, but the saddle always saves me. Bareback, however, is another story, and I very quickly had to start correctly placing my body in order to keep from falling off. It made me much more aware of what my seat bones were doing.

The pad itself is super nice. I'll do a full review at the end of February.

Fiction seemed to enjoy the ride.
Aside from that, nothing else has really changed. I switched up Fiction's supplements in an effort to save money. He was on Exceed 6-way, but I swapped him to Docs OCD pellets (which Jan had amazing success with when Mikey was injured, but I'm just using it for maintenance/prevention) and Dumor Ultra Shine for some added yeast/omegas/vitamins. This drops my cost per month substantially.

Anyways, updates will probably be relatively sporadic for a while. They may pick up in April when Fiction is shipped off for training (and stuff is actually happening lol), but then again, I'm not sure if I'll be able to ride him much during this time, so who knows.


2016 Blogger Gift Exchange


I'm so glad I got to take place in the gift exchange this year, since I was unable to last year. Many thanks to Tracy for putting it together each year!

My package arrived a few days after Christmas, which was actually pretty awesome because who gets tired of opening presents?

My secret gifter turned out to be Kathryn from Incidents of Guidance! To be honest, I think the best part of this gift exchange is the introduction to bloggers I don't know. It amazes me sometimes just how large our group of equestrian bloggers actually is.

Anyways, Kathryn sent me some great gifts, including the book Master Dressage by Peter Dove (which I already started reading), a Strip Hair Saddle Pad Saver (which I am super duper excited to use, especially in the upcoming spring/summer months when Fiction starts shedding onto EVERYTHING), and some candy canes for Fiction. Fiction is absolutely addicted to anything peppermint flavored and he adores candy canes. Now his treats get to be festive for the better part of the year!

Anyways, thanks so much Kathryn!


The Little Things


I left work 30 minutes early yesterday to dash out to the barn and hop on before the chiropractor got there. I only had time to set up five poles, so I raised the three in the middle to make it more of a challenge.

Fiction was prompt off my aids during warm-up, and very soft at the trot. In fact, it was one of the best trots he has given me in a long time. He was supple, calm, kept an even pace, and listened to my half halts.

We ran through the poles multiple times in each direction. He rushed a tiny bit going into the poles, and fell a bit on his forehand as he went through the poles, but his recovery time afterwards was pretty much instantaneous. He also only stumbled over the poles one or two times, compared to hitting them nearly every single time on Monday.

The ride was a vast improvement over the last. When I got off I noticed a nice foamy mouth and relaxed eye.

Since our ride on Monday, Fiction got new shoes with snow pads. His feet have finally progressed to the point that he can have the same size shoe on both feet (right foot was struggling to grow enough hoof), and I could tell a difference in his striding yesterday. The saddle was also reflocked, which gave a noticeable difference to my seat, and was probably vastly more comfortable for Fiction. I would like to think that both of these things contributed to our nice ride yesterday, though it is also possible that he's very quickly coming to terms with poles as the new normal.

Cooper did something he's never done before - curled up in the dog bed under my desk by my feet. It was kind of heart warming, for me at least, so here is a picture :)
After our ride, Fiction was seen by the chiropractor. This is the fourth chiropractor I've gone through, since the work is a bit subjective and I like testing the waters to find someone who's approach I agree with. Interestingly enough, this chiropractor found very little wrong with Fiction in comparison to every other chiropractor who has told me everything in the world is out on my horse.

He adjusted him at the base of his neck and his left shoulder, where he has felt a bit sticky as of late. And he evened out his hips (the right was dropped). That was it. Unfortunately, I won't get to test out the work for a few days, since the forecast is predicting super cold temps and snow. I physically can't handle cold weather (I freeze at like 65 degrees, seriously), so anything below 30 is exceptionally hard for me to handle, even with a bajillion layers. So Fiction will probably get time off until Monday, when temps go back up from the teens to above 30.


January is Poles Month!


Well, for us at least haha :)

While my Trainer is down south I need something to concentrate on that is simple for me but difficult for Fiction. That makes it easy for me to get motivated to do the exercise.

Modeling the BoT blanket he got for Christmas. He wears it overnight every night now.
So, for every ride in January, I will incorporate pole work of some sort. Preferably a new pole exercise each ride but I'm lazy so who knows if that'll happen. It doesn't really matter to Fiction - all poles are exceptionally terrifying to him.

We started off on New Years Eve with a set of 4 trot poles to a set of three trot poles down the center line. The goal was to maintain rhythm in the blank space between the sets of poles and to not rush the second set. Fiction, of course, attempted to rush the start of the poles, but since he can't rush through them he was forced to slow down. I don't like to half halt him too much before the poles because then he tends to hit every single one of them, so I half-halt till about a couple of strides out and then just give him free rein. My hope is that he will find his own pacing.

From a few weeks ago when he got his teeth floated.
The on Monday I set up a new line of five poles with two of the poles raised on one side. Fiction was absolutely petrified of the raised poles and actually dropped down to a walk in his first run through. He rushed these even harder than the other set, so we worked on coming to a halt in a straight line afterwards. There were many disagreements about when to stop, so I had to utilize the wall a few times.

Outside of the poles, he's a perfect gentleman. He's really figuring out his own pacing down the long sides at the trot and he's doing exceptionally well in the corners and in his changes of rein. I'm really pleased with the work he has been giving me on the flat lately, so I don't mind his llama rush through the poles as long as he comes back to me afterwards. He'll get there! That is what this pole month is for :).

Oscar the new barn corgi!
On Monday the saddle fitter came out and checked my saddle fit. I've had this saddle for a year and the wool had compressed along the spine so she added some in and fluffed it up. I quickly test rode in it and it seriously felt like heaven. It's amazing the difference a well-fitted saddle can make. I'm sure Fiction appreciates the extra fluff as well.

Yesterday he got his feet trimmed and today the chiropractor visits. I'm hoping to sneak a quick ride in before the body work, since he'll get a couple days off to recuperate.