Tag Archives: monkey

Back in Action


Sorry about all the down time on Rosey’s blog.  A lot’s been going on in my world lately, so something was bound to get neglected.  In any case, we’re not that much advanced from where we left off.  Rosey came up a little lame over the last week, a frustrating and sort of mysterious thing, and then, when it was her day to go to Loch Moy for some more public exposure, her hock and lower leg turned out to be quite swollen.  While my immediate reaction was “nooo! broken horse! not fair with people coming to look at you this week!!!!” it turns out to not be the really big deal I was worried about.

That nasty scrape she took to her right hind? It turns out it was right over some lymph nodes, and while the injury itself wasn’t that severe, there was some infection.  The antibiotics we gave her at first were probably not strong enough to do the job, and so there you go.

A few days on the new regimen, and life is much better.  Swelling is all but gone, and we rode last night and she felt pretty good.  She still has someone coming to look tomorrow (wish her luck!)

As for our ride last night, it went very well.  I wanted to concentrate on me, so I spent the entire ride screaming to myself (in my head) to LOOK WHERE I AM GOING!!! I have a very nasty happen of looking at the horse’s head when I ride.  On the flat, it’s as if I can mentally push the horse’s head down by putting my OWN head down.  Over fences, it’s just a disastrous habit, as most people know.  So around we went, with me LOOKING UP! and not at her head.

The next thing to scream about was my hands.  My horrible, too low and attached-to- too-straight arms hands.  Elbows bent, elbows bent, wrists straight, elbows bent. 

And then there’s the real killer.  It’s called “straight.”  As in, hips and shoulders level, and legs equally placed on both sides.  My tendency is to collapse the left side while leading with the left shoulder while simultaneously sitting deeper in my right hip and leg, regardless of which direction I’m headed in.  This is a pretty difficult thing to fix- when I am actually sitting straight, it feels drastically not-straight.  Like, really badly not-straight.  Like I might fall off to the other side not-straight.  It’s sort of alarming.

Nonetheless, in a miraculous way, when I manage to get all those things put together, Rosey responds quite beautifully and goes really well (I wonder why, heh!).  I always say to myself that it’s not about “training” the horse, so much as it is just “riding right,” since riding right makes the right things much easier for the horse to do.  But actually DOING that is far more difficult than just saying it.

Monkey-Proof Your Horse in Five Simple Steps

1- Turn and face obstacle

2- Set off at a nice trot

3- Drop your eyes and LOOK AT THE JUMP!!!!

4- Jump way ahead of the horse

5- Collapse in fits of giggles when horse has no clue what to do and stops.

Yep, that was our ride yesterday. 

To her credit, it started out very well.  We warmed up in the big jumping ring, and here is where I think Rosey really shines.  Back when Klondike was with us, he went very well in enclosed, defined spaces.  But when you brought him into the big ring, he wiggled around a lot and just seemed lost.  He would drift like crazy, and look at things more (not in a bad way, it was just like he didn’t know what to do with all that space).  Rose treats the big, fenceless ring exactly the same way she treats the small one.  Could not care less (except that there are new horses to look at turned out nearby).  She may get a little quicker as there’s more space to gather steam, but all in all, the different venue? Not a problem.

After playing for a few minutes there, we went on a little mosey again (not the original plan, but it’s hard to say no when you’ve had a bad day).  This time we tried going to the jumping trail.  It’s a fabulous, very short section of trail that has about 8 jumps in a row.  The first is a log, where you can choose-your-own-height as it is much smaller on the right than the left.  The next few are some very tiny logs and piles-of-sticks, and then there are several slightly larger obstacles, all set about 2-4 strides apart.

Rosey brought up the rear going up the hill to the jumps, and though she sort of stumbled her way across the first, she landed cantering and then cantered out over the others.  All but one were pretty perfect, and I’m really impressed with the way she jumps (when she jumps, that is… more on that in a bit).  I’m not the most “feeling” rider when it comes to jumping- things tend to come up quick and by the time my mind registers that we are taking off, I’m usually in the process of landing.  So it’s hard for me to sort out the mechanics of the whole thing, or really describe how it’s going.  But in Rosey’s case, she has a very neat jumping style that you can feel quite well- her shoulder rises up and she really lifts in front of you quite nicely.  It’s a cool feeling, and not one that I can recall ever feeling before.  Klondike jumped very smoothly and levelly, and my own horse just launched over everything like a cannonball when he started jumping.  My memory prior to that is fuzzy, so I’ll just stop trying to compare now.

After we came out of the woods, we tried another little jump, a small stone wall with a plank over it that connects two fields together (it’s in the middle of a little stand of trees, it sort of funnels you in and is quite inviting).  From one side it’s very small- 2′ maybe. From the other it’s slightly bigger, and I think that’s the side we jumped from.  Her first time over was perfect- she broke into the canter about four strides out and lifted over it with her amazing shoulder action, and cantered off like she had been doing it her whole life.  We did it again, and it wasn’t quite so perfect, but still pretty good.

After that, we moseyed back towards the farm, and this is where Rosey got her lessons in dealing with a Monkey Rider.  The tire jump.  I happen to love the tire jump- it’s a real XC style jump but it’s… well, it’s padded, because it’s tires.  So if they bumble their way into it, or if I should fall on it, you kind of just bounce off.   We took up our position following everyone else, and it felt very much like all systems were go, when she decided… “hmm, not so much” and ran out.

We tried again. Stop.

And again. FAIL!

Several times she got one leg over, and then sort of stalled out, not sure where to go.  At one point she even managed a foot IN the tire jump, twisting her splint boot neatly around her leg so the buckles were on the inside.  Oy.   She was not scared of the jump in any way, shape or form, like many greenbeans are, she just doesn’t seem to understand organizing her legs from the trot.  She’s trying, and she’s watched other horses do it… she just… doesn’t understand.

We kind of gave up on that count, and headed back to the barn.  Went down the driveway to try her over that stuff, and had the same sort of experience at a log that’s no bigger than the stuff she jumped in the woods.  There was much confusion and getting stuck on top of the log.

Not helped by my monkey riding… if nothing else, she will get out of this experience a great patience for all kinds of craziness from people, because I sure wasn’t helping her out.  I think we need one of those robot jockey things, it would probably work better!  In any case, our next step is to do some free jumping in the ring.  If she figures it out on her own, it will probably go much easier next time (she is super smart, after all!).

Ready for the Head of the Lake

(To those who may not know, the “Head of the Lake” is the ginormous water complex at Rolex, and if you haven’t been to Rolex, you really need to go.  Just sayin’.)

Yesterday we had a lovely ride, accompanied by Allie and TRUCKEEEEEE!!!! (sorry, but Truckee is just a silly horse that it’s like you always have to shout his name and squeal, rather than just saying it).  We started our toodle in the usual way, casual walking back to the trails.  TRUCKEEE!!! occasionally saw some dragons hiding in the bushes and jumped or snorted- to which Rosey responded by first flinching (well, he could be right about those dragons) and then rolling her eyes as if she couldn’t believe what a dork he was.

As we continued our trail (with some trotting and cantering and such) we turned toward the creek in the woods for some water education.  Rosey is pretty good with water, even though her first real experience in the creek involved the HORRIFYING experience of having water FLUNG at her by one of the other horses on the ride.  She was pretty insulted by that, reacting much like a teenager in a silk dress might to a kid with a water gun.  On later trail rides, when no one was around to see, she gave pawing in the water a try herself, but stopped quickly, to maintain her air of maturity and superiority.

So this time, though TRUCKEEEE! is pretty decent at crossing water, we gave a lead down the creek to actually walk along it and play in the different kinds of footing that exist in stream beds.  We then managed to find a lovely stretch where the footing was even, not rocky, but also not too soft or trappy, where we could take a little trot through the water.  At first, Rosey wasn’t so sure that’s what I wanted her to do, but she picked it up fast enough and went trotting through like a champ.  Rolex? Here we come!

As I was bringing her back to a walk, I suddenly heard a peal of hysterical laughter behind me.  As we turned to look, we see TRUCKEEE! on his belly in the water, looking completely innocent, as if he had NO IDEA of how he got down there.  “Who, me?  I would never, ever, intentionally try to roll in the water.  Not me!”  Allie managed to get him up before he actually tried to roll, but couldn’t contain the giggles, which lasted for a good five minutes.  Again, Rosey looks down on this behavior, because it is so beneath her, and she’s embarrased all the time by it.  You could almost hear her thinking, “Boys…

We made it back without incident, and because people were schooling in the big jumper ring, I took the opportunity to take her around a little up there.  Klondike was very wiggly his first time out there, with no fence and such a big space, he didn’t seem to feel comfortable his first few times.  But Rosey had no issue with that, and went all over the ring in her usual straightforward way.  After seeing the pictures of Liza riding (see previous post), and listening to how Allie described it, I tried going for a more forward trot.  I think I tend to feel a little uncomfortable on Rose at the more forward gait, if only because she’s small so I feel sort of awkward.  I’m used to slightly bigger striding horses, so it’s an adjustment for me.  I think over the next few rides I will use a neck strap or something, to help me balance on it and find where I’m supposed to be without doing anything bad with my hands. 🙂  In any case, at that more forward trot, she definitely offers to stretch her head down and out much more, at one point approaching something near Long & Low, which was pretty cool.

After a brief canter, Allie set up a small crossrail for us.  The first few attempts?  Sort of a fail.  She’ll go over anything, she just wasn’t jumping it. She was sort of crashing over instead.  Part of this was probably me- I could feel myself getting to the jump and doing the typical lean-forward thing, which really wasn’t necessary.  I don’t know if she was reacting to that, or if she was just being a goof and as a result I was feeling my mistake more, or what.  But Allie put the jump down to a pile-of-poles, and when I approached and didn’t “jump ahead” she actually picked her feet up and hopped over.  From there, back to the crossrail, I tried to remember that feeling, and she did indeed actually jump over.

When going to that crossrail away from the barn, she did get a little salty, wanting to toss her head and go back the other way.  It took a little insistence (shaken rein, a little pop, and lots of leg) but she did go over the jump, and jump it.  One more time over for good measure and she was done for the day.  My lesson… use a neck strap and find my balance better, and stop trying to jump for the horse, as they are quite large and can do it themselves, but it’s a lot harder with a monkey flinging itself at the horse’s neck.  🙂