Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Blog Hop: The Little Things

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

I love this question. Because what I love about Runkle isn't always his athleticism or his innate talent. He's an athlete and I treat that seriously but first and foremost, he is my pet.

I love how when I go to put his halter on he shoves his nose into it. It's like he can't wait to hang out with me and go somewhere, or he knows when he comes with me something cool and fun is going to happen.

Where to, mom??

When he gets something right and I pat him and make a big fuss he romps around going "I DID IT I DID IT!!!"

I adore how much he loves other animals. His best friend is Biddie the cat, but he wants to hang out and play with anything that moves. He really loves dogs and is sad when they're not as much of a fan of him as he is of them. Except my sister's dog, I think she actually likes Runkle better than most other dogs she meets.

He loves his scratchies. He used to grump about being groomed, but ever since blanket season kicked in he is ALL ABOUT the curry comb. It got to the point where if I wasn't currying him but I had it in my hand he would inch closer and closer and put his shoulder in range of my arms. Trying to drop anvil-sized hints that he would like moar scratchies.

Runkle says: the absolute BEST.

Now I want to go hug and love on my pony. <3 <3

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Gift Horse, Part 2

I watched the rest of this movie. I know you're glad. Here's part 2 of the thrilling conclusion of A GIFT HORSE.


When we last left our heros, the unthinkable had happened. F, who am I kidding, your horse getting injured is not unthinkable. Like even a little. My horse is probably at the barn injured right now. Just purely from an aesthetic sense, he looks like he's been through a woodchipper.

Anyway, Misty comes up lame. So we're told. Mary Sue must be some kind of prophetic horse genius because the mare doesn't even take a lame step before getting pulled up and everyone freaking out. Deciding it needs immediate veterinary attention, they ride back to the stable. Because it would take too long to dismount?

Don't even get me started on how she's holding the reins. 
And leading by the martingale.

The vet comes and looks at Misty, and the prognosis isn't good. According to the lady in scrubs, she sprained that ankle pretty bad. I'll give the vet the benefit of the doubt, maybe she was checking both legs for dissimilarities. But to me it looks like she's looking at the wrong leg.

That's the left leg....

ANYWAY, the ankle is sprained, and the vet says it needs surgery which you wouldn't do on a horse of this value. I guess Mr. Fancy Britches Canton has maxed out his insurance. Or doesn't have any. But at the desperate look on Mary Sue's face the vet relents and says that with some cold compresses and injections she could be just fine. Maybe I am a n00b, but I have no idea what kind of injury this horse has.

Mary Sue is next seen putting an Ice Vibe boot on the horse's knee, backwards.

You keep doin' what you're doin' kid. I"m sure you won't cripple this horse for life.

Mary Sue blames herself for Misty's injury. "I think I pulled Misty's reins too hard and I might've hurt her foot." I don't know how those two things are linked. Also it's her ankle. Or maybe her knee, as that is where you were applying the ice boot. I was going to say they probably should've put a standing wrap on it but you know what? With how they do things, I'm sure that would've made things worse. Mr. Canton says if Misty isn't better in a week then she's toast.

At some point, and I think this should've actually been in the first part, Mr. Canton's ex-wife shows up to ask for more money in addition to her normal alimony. She threatens to call her lawyer and Canton caves. I gotta say this woman is... really something.

As an aside, there are a lot of gratuitous shots of the inside of Mr. Canton's mansion in this movie and he has like six different animal heads mounted on his wall that are featured prominently. I want to know there's a subliminal reason for this. Compensating for something, maybe? Ms. Tiffany then does something rash. She may or may not be seen dropping off a check to Mr. Canton in his big game hunter hall. The drama! The mystery! The buying off of a step-parent to their new step-child!

I'll be honest, that looks too big to be a personal check.
"When Amanda is happy, her dad is happy. When her dad is happy, I'm happy." OH ARE YOU, MS TIFFANY.

if u no wut i mean

Then comes, in my opinion, the funniest scene in the movie. Abigail has a replacement horse, who she is trying to train by lunging it. Except she can't get it to trot. Charlotte's advice? "Kick sand at him."

When the sand kicking doesn't work, Charlotte pitches in by throwing dirt.

Movie gold.

Mary Sue is up at the barn working (probably putting the ice boot upside down and on Misty's face) when Thomas shows up and tries to win her affections and get a job. He walked two miles to get there. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways. I'm sorry, what were we talking about? After three days of him hanging around Mary Sue invites him to have dinner at their place. And then says "you better not try and kiss me either". Hey whoa lady who said anything about kissing??

u have cooties.
At dinner we have an awkward talk about Thomas's parents being broke as shit and not having enough food to feed all their kids, so Thomas sometimes has to do without. :( Be strong, Thomas. And eat your brisket.

The next day Misty is pronounced sound! Ish. In a few days? Abigail shows up at the barn (for the first time in years), says the horse is a dud, and people throw some shade.

I'll kill you. WITH MY EYES.
Charlotte goes to Mr. Canton and asks if Mary Sue can ride Misty in The Super Big Show. Mr. Canton is initially tepid on the idea, and he's concerned Mary Sue will get her feelings hurt by being absolutely destroyed by the high level competitors. Mr. Canton has obvi never seen a tween horse movie before.

Mr. Canton is driven in a golf cart (by a DRIVER) to Mary Sue's next lesson. Ms. Tiffany is on the rail, playing horse show mom, and he tells her that Mary Sue is a sweet girl but "not a true rider". And you're not a real big game hunter Mr. Canton but you still have a fucking hippo head in your lodge. Ms. Tiffany impresses him with her use of the word 'anomaly' and we find out that he went to Harvard and Ms. Tiffany got a full ride to Yale on a soccer scholarship. Right.

Mr. Canton asks Ms. Tiffany to talk Mary Sue out of the show, probably because he's worried his daughter is going to flunk out. And then he says "You see that? You should save her the embarassment".

And you know what? I kind of agree?

So then arrives The Big Horse Show. Everyone is there to cheer Mary Sue on, even her boyfriend, Thomas!

We start with Abigail on her New Bay Horse. She goes around and tragedy strikes as she knocks down one of the impossibly tiny jumps again. She leaps off the horse (again) and goes to storm out when Mr. Canton intercepts her and says if she doesn't get back on that horse right now she won't have a home to come back to. Which seems a little intense for a two foot hunter (still not sure?) class. His ex-wife is there, still looking... um... fabulous and comes to Abigail's defense. Apparently it was Mr. Canton's obsession with winning that drove his family apart like this, and he sees the error of his ways immediately and they literally have a group hug.

Then, the moment we've all been waiting for. Mary Sue's round.

I could just end the post here and you'd know exactly what happened. Of course, she wins.

Oh my god look how long that ribbon is!!

Of course, everyone is happy. Even Queen Crab herself, Abigail.

Of course, Mary Sue finds out Ms. Tiffany paid for the horse and now their relationship is on the ups.

Of course... she takes out a compass and smiles to herself?

Did I miss something??

And they all live happily ever after. The End!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Surprise Clinic Report: Jennie Brannigan, 2/14/16

Ages and ages ago I did a clinic with Ann Kursinski who was (and still is) one of my jumping idols. I would have paid good money to have her slap me and tell me I wasn't worth her time. In fact, we started the clinic with twelve people and ended with seven. One woman was asked to leave and everyone else quit. She criticized how I gave her a leg up and hated my saddle. But she did ride my horse!! And fourteen year old Megan was fine with this.

In contrast, I had decided to audit when Jennie Brannigan came to the farm to teach. I heard she was good but also very tough, and apparently I'm a weenie adult now who wants to be told they're okay and right all the time. How the mighty have fallen. Clearly I need to go find my cojones again.

You get crappy screen shots.
On Saturday I rode at the buttcrack of dawn since the ring was closed all day and it's day forty five of winter so the horses were stuck inside and it's freezing so the ground is frozen. Yeah, no one is tired of winter. Post ride I studied (at the LIBRARY! nerd) for a few hours before heading back to the barn to audit a few rides. Well, my intent was a few rides, but I was freezing after an hour so I gave up.

I watched one of the trainers at my barn ride her young horse (Keeper) on the flat with Jennie, which also included Jennie riding him. First off she's a total badass riding a six year old whiny, spunky Thoroughbred in Uggs. And she was able to carry on a conversation while she walked, trotted, cantered and did airs above the ground. She didn't even lose her breath!!

Then Jennie got off the horse and continued the lesson on the ground. It definitely gave me a chuckle, because I imagine Keeper and Runkle to be different animals but their flat rides were shockingly similar. The focus of the lesson was on getting the horse accepting of the outside leg and pushing into the contact. My trainer had the same problems I sometimes do; she was worried about Keeper's head every once in awhile and Jennie had to remind her to focus on keeping her hands out in front of her and elbows bent.

Part of my concern with Jennie was that she had looked at Runkle when he was for sale, and I was worried about our progress and if I could handle someone being tough on me. But after watching the lesson I felt kind of sad I wasn't doing the clinic. The best way to describe her teaching style is invigorating. I take two lessons a week and it's easy to feel like you're in a rut in the middle of winter. Jennie teaches like every horse and rider is on the cusp of greatness.

A little birdie seemed to hear the wishes in my head because Saturday evening I got a call that a spot was open later the next day for a jump lesson. So naturally, I leaped on the opportunity.

Runkle was wound for sound, which is so unlike him but was kind of a welcome change. He was keyed up about the group situation, and all the jumps set up in the ring and the people standing at the door watching. It took some doing to get him to loosen up and for once when I applied my leg he was coming off it like he was electrocuted.

But he was SO COOL to ride. And Jennie was sweet to him, because of course no matter how he feels he's still an absolute cuddle love bug and tried to crawl into her pocket (for warmth, most likely). He rested his chin on her and nibbled on her coat.

As the lesson progressed I felt like I was riding better and better and Runkle settled and got more adjustable. Jennie was encouraging and precise and went into it saying her goal was for me to have fun. She made me feel very confident in my riding and while I definitely needed to work on a couple things (not 'helping' him in the air with my hands), I didn't beat myself up about it. Instead I felt really excited. Spring is coming, and we kicked butt in that clinic. Runkle didn't start out his best but he ended his best, and he's come such a long way since I've gotten him!

Mostly I'm excited for March, and I'm finding myself wishing I can spring for a flat AND jump lesson with her, because I think she's genius for both. I'm so so excited for the future with this horse.

Happy campers after a cold and successful day!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Runkle and I have been chugging along at our work. On the flat I've been trying to get him to open up his stride, and in my jump lessons I've been working on getting him to sit and push off from the ground with his booty.

The flatwork is actually going amazingly. It blows my mind to think that a few months ago the only way I could get him to move forward or off my leg was to cow kick him like a seven year old on an obstinate Shetland. Our turning consisted mostly of running into walls and if I had as much weight in the bridle as I wanted I was just holding his nose to his chest.

Runkle's A-game face and cookie face are similar.
Now he's learning to do little baby lengthenings just through my seat and thighs and the shift in my posting. We (almost) never run into walls anymore. He's even got transitions! TRANSITIONS, PEOPLE. The canter is coming along but his walk/trot is obedient and balanced. I can push him into the bridle and he'll actually go to the bit instead of hovering around behind it.

We still have issues when I 'forget' to sit straight and I'll be honest, I have no idea what my right leg is doing because my right stirrup ALWAYS looks longer no matter what I do. But, when we trot and canter around we look like we know what we're doing.

The art of becoming functional.
And then there's jumping.

I don't mean that to sound like the jumping is going horribly (because it absolutely is not). I'll be honest though, I don't feel that same connection I do on the flat. I don't feel the seamless communication between my hands and his mouth, and my butt and his back. I've kind of been struggling with why but I think I've been afraid to say it out loud because I feel guilty.

I don't trust him yet. I could claim I do until I'm blue in the face but my heart and my body will betray me. I'm afraid to let him just canter down to a jump and 'figure it out' because I don't know what he'll do and I don't know that I can stay with it.

I need to let go of the reins and let him stretch his neck out but I'm worried if I don't STUFF HIM over the jump he won't go at all.

I feel bad even writing this because that's not fair to him at all. He was a little squirrelly in the beginning for sure, but when has he ever done me wrong? He always wants to do the very best for me. So I need to learn to trust him. How else am I going to get around the big boy cross country jumps if I don't?

We can do this.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Gift Horse, Part 1

I typed 'horse' into Netflix one night, because why not, and it gave me a little film called "A Gift Horse".

It has it's own Facebook page, bless. And you can own it for the low low price of $7.97.

It even has free shipping!

I'm not sure if it was intentional, but I think it should be filed under comedy not family movies.

The plot line is a tale as old as time. Unappreciative daughter of a multi gazillionaire is not enthused enough about riding. The poor stable hand loves the horse more than the rich daughter. Rivalry and drama ensues.

The movie starts off on an immediate high note when the main antagonist (Abigail) shows up for her riding lesson in a goddamn helicopter. Then we meet the trainer (Charlotte) and the poor stable hand who loves the horse more than the spoiled daughter, Mary Sue. I mean, Amanda. Excuse me. The kid's name is Amanda. Nah, screw it I'm just gonna call her Mary Sue.

Mary Sue

Charlotte can't even control her artful braid, let alone a combative teenager, so Abigail blows her off to play on her phone and Mary Sue offers to jump on the grenade and ride the magical white pony Misty instead.

Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get it someday.
A few things I notice off the bat:

1. The horse looks nothing like the one in the video poster.
2. Nobody in this movie can ride. But maybe this is a story of self exploration and learning.
3. We get introduced to, in my opinion, a kind of racist character.

I watched this movie almost three times, and it took me a partial third watching to figure out who he's supposed to be. Avery is allegedly the best trainer this side of the Mason Dixon line (which side, I'm not sure. But I suspect the south). Wait, then why the hell is Charlotte there? Probably because Avery is too smart to want to deal with teenagers.

Excuse me what are you doing to that saddle???!
Then we meet the feared Mr. Canton, Abigail's father. Part time intimidator, part time millionaire. He has a weirdly out of place tender moment with Mary Sue in which they walk out on the porch and discuss absolutely nothing and then leave. Also she has a broom.

"Never mind I'm just an old guy, an old dad, rambling rambling rambling." What?
Mary Sue goes home after 'finishing her duties' (her words, not mine). We are introduced to a sort of unwanted step-mother situation where her dad's disproportionately hot girlfriend is met with an awful lot of hostility by Mary Sue. Sounds like Abigail isn't the only moody teenager around here, Mr. Canton!!!

This is probably nit picky of me, but look at this girls room.

Do they really expect me to believe this is the room of a horse lover? Does this look like the room of a tween rider to you? A BUTTERFLY decal? Really? They couldn't scrounge up some Young Rider posters?!

I digress. 

There is a lot of concern over Abigail not being ready, and everyone running out of time. What, is she aging out or something? I fail to see the urgency.

Avery tells a story about someone putting superglue in his toothpaste.

Make of this what you will.
Mary Sue is all bent out of shape about everything which leads to her and Charlotte sitting by the lake, talking about life and how selfless and full of love Mary Sue is. Talk inevitably turns to Mary Sue's mom.

Charlotte: "Your mother sounds like a smart women."
Mary Sue: "Well, she wasn't smart enough to beat cancer."

Then they have a cry and profess their love for each other.

The day of the big show arrives. Everyone is grooming the spotless white pony, although apparently no one can be arsed to braid it. Considering this is a two foot class (Jumpers? Equitation? I don't know) there are an awful lot of spectators. Mary Sue is watching the show innocently sucking on an ice pop (??) and suddenly cupids bow strikes and a prepubescent boy does a double take.

Dayum gurl.
Then before we know it, it's Abigail and Misty's turn. Misty knocks down one of the impossibly small jumps and Abigail yanks her face off, dismounts, throws her hat and stick on the ground and leaves the horse (and, frankly, everyone else) standing there staring in disbelief.

The face of disappointment.
So the show is a bust. Saw that coming. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mary Sue doesn't like how cozy 'Ms. Tiffany' is getting with her dad. She then accuses Ms. Tiffany of not keeping her dad happy.

Don't worry Mary Sue, I'm pretty sure he's happy.

After her blowup at the show Abigail declares Misty a dud and refuses to ride her EVER. AGAIN. Of course Mary Sue loves Misty and everyone believes in the horse because 'her father was a champion'. This movie has a lot of daddy issues. Everyone convinces Mr. Canton to give the mare another chance, although Avery honestly doesn't seem too optimistic if you ask me. Every time anyone asks him about her potential he's like "uh, I don't wanna say". Yeah, he doesn't want to say because ~plot twist~ the horse is actually a piece of crap.

Mary Sue starts 'working' Misty. In quotes because I'm not sure what they're doing is considered riding. But then, the unthinkable happens. 

Misty is injured.

What will happen to her now? Will she live up to her father's expectations (I'm talking about the horse, not the kids)? Or is she bound for New Holland? Will Abigail stop being a petulant teenager? Will Mary Sue stop Mary Sue-ing?

I guess you'll have to wait and see.