Saturday, June 9, 2018

Show Time!

Klein and Ms. B went to a dressage show last weekend.  That was Ms. B's first time at a show.  I didn't expect anything too crazy from her since she has been all over the country already.  Klein, well, we all know Klein knows the routine and is an absolute pro at it.

I put Ms. B into two Intro tests and Klein did a couple First Level Tests.  Klein was her usual amazing self and Ms. B just wasn't quite sure what we were supposed to do there.  She had her green moments in the ring but the good news is that is all they are.  She wasn't being bad, she just doesn't know her new job yet.  I also suck at time management at shows and I got on her later than I planned.  Right as we were walking up to the warm up I heard our number called that we were on deck.  Oops.  So that wasn't fair to her. 


Her first test had issues with contact, which are a work in progress and she wasn't quite straight down the long side.  Though we almost didn't make it IN the ring to start with, so the fact that we were in there was a victory.  This was the second time she had ever been in a dressage ring too.  Which really shouldn't matter because the movements are so simple and elementary for those tests, but I honestly think she was just kind of like wtf do we do in here?

Enter at A...maybe.  

Nice recovery.

The second test was slightly better except after the first halt we had a disobedience because she didn't want to pick up the trot when we went forward from it.  Once she got going though, she was fine.  Her bend needs some work, but that is something we have been working on.  I have taught her shoulder in to help that, and we have started putting leg yielding into every ride.

That was the first time I have ever had a disobedience in a dressage test, and also the lowest scores I have ever gotten (55-56%). 

We started off in a good place...

Then, instead of trotting off from the first halt she did a turn on her forehand and was like nah, I'm good.  Thankfully she did get going again and was over it.  Every now and then she'll get a little stuck somewhere.

Ending on a good note.

But, for a horse that had five mins to warm up for something she has never done, I'd say it was successful.  Also, there were some horses having some MAJOR spooking issues and she was not one of them.

Watching the world go by in the warm up.

Klein. Oh Klein mare.  I genuinely had fun with her tests.  All of our dressage rides have been fun lately.  Show included.  She warmed up great and was ready to go.  We did First 1 & 2.  I would have done 3 as well but I only learned First 1 & 2 the day before and had never ridden them so I thought I better just work on remembering those two for now.  Once I heard the bell and went around to A, I had the biggest smile on my face, because I was just having fun already.

First 1 went great until I forgot the last lengthening at V but as soon as I got about one step past V I immediately did a U-turn and came back around to correct myself.  That is the second time in 7 years I have EVER forgotten a movement in a dressage test.  So I robbed Klein of a couple points but she still got a 64%.  First 2 went well and I made no errors.  Our biggest thing was the straightness on our leg yields.  I didn't sit the first one, and I should have.  I sat the second one and it was much better.  We also got a 64% on that test as well.  We got comments on both tests about our 15m canter circles that suggested we work on balance a bit because Klein was falling in just slightly.  Though the judge did say it's pretty obvious I'm working with a force about 10 times my body weight haha!!  She said she wasn't unsympathetic to the amount of work it takes to ride a big horse like her considering the weight difference alone.  Our halts weren't great either mostly because I wasn't really paying attention to them.  Normally I sit the trot into them and they're better, but for some reason I didn't that day and it showed.  Overall, the points we lost out on are very, very easily made up.  Klein couldn't have been any better.

I had a long break between Ms. B and Klein.  B was first and then a couple hours later Klein went.  I know Klein doesn't care about hanging around all day.  It's obvious Ms. B doesn't either.  The both of them quietly ate their hay on the trailer.  When Klein got off the trailer to start getting ready Ms. B nickered.  I think she thought it was time for her to unload too because she kind of looked around like "me next, right?"  I just went about my business of tacking Klein up and B just went back to eating her hay.  When I walked off with Klein she didn't care.  She never made a peep. 

I'm really happy that neither of them really cared about the other.  They can clearly be trusted to go places with each other without one of them needing to be babysat.  Klein will be going to a rated dressage show in a couple weeks and Ms. B will definitely be going to another schooling show again very soon to get some more experience and learn what this showing thing is all about.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Wild Miss Benburb

So, where has Ms. B been lately?  Enjoying spring grass, mostly.  About a month ago, when the spring grass really started to come through, Ms. B decided that was the best thing in the world and decided she was no longer domesticated.  At first I was a bit disappointed because that meant our progress came to a halt.  Then I decided it wasn't a big deal, I'll wait her out, let her enjoy herself, and gain a little weight off this grass.

About two weeks ago she started to come back to me.  Now I have no problem getting her, but she is still being kind of a pain for the people that bring her in for breakfast and dinner.  She is hit or miss with them, but lately it's been more hit than miss, so she's getting over herself.

She's baaaaaaaaack :)

She is now back in regular work and I'm excited to make some more progress with her.  She'll be going to her first dressage show in a couple weeks with Klein.

Workin' it for one of her lunge line workouts last week.  I don't ever lunge her before I ride her.  The days she is on the lunge line, that is all she is doing.  I just always lunge her in her dressage tack so that she gets more and more used to the feel of it.

Something else that I have figured out with her is that she very much likes her quiet time.  I had an idea she did but lately she has made it blatantly obvious.  The barn she is at can get pretty busy some days.  When she's in the aisle and there is a lot of commotion going on she makes mare glares and is a little antsy.  Some evenings I don't get there until a little later and it is usually just us on those nights.

On those nights she stands like a statue and is half falling asleep.  She has no reaction to anything really.  One example is when I'm trying to put boots or wraps on her with a lot of commotion going on, she'll paw.  When it is just us, she stands like she's glued to the ground.  Normally she'll make some mare glares when I go to clip the front buckles of her sheet, when it is just us she has NO reaction whatsoever.

She would probably be mad if she knew I showed this to people.  It wouldn't be good for her image.

She raced for 5 years. She had 52 starts and they were all over the country.  I think she's just over the all the commotion of a busy barn.  Her life up until last November was filled with the busy activity of the backside of racetracks around the country.  I think she is genuinely enjoying just being able to relax, be a horse, have a person and not a slew of them handling/riding her.  She let out the biggest whinny to me the other day too, which totally made me forget all of her feral-ness the past few weeks.

My other theory is she puts on the tough mare front when people are around to give the impression of "Oh..........she's.........a bit hard to handle."  Maybe it's a defense mechanism so that she stays with me haha.  Normally when people are around she also doesn't like it when you kiss her nose.  You can pet her face, you can pet her ears, but do NOT kiss her nose.  She'll make a nasty mare glare.  When no one is around?  All the nose kisses in the world are completely acceptable.  There is no reaction, just a soft, kind eye.

This tough mare front is all on the ground, she's generally the same no matter if it is just us in the ring or if there's five other people in it with us.  The amount of other people and horses riding around never seem to make any difference to her when we're working.

Cooling out after a ride.

I'm looking forward to getting her out to shows.  I can't wait to get her all prettied up and braided, she's already a stunner, I can't imagine it's possible for her to be more beautiful, but show turnout might up her game just a little bit.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mochs' First Dressage Show of the Year

Last weekend I took Mochs to a schooling dressage show.  It is time for her to just get back out there.  I had a feeling she was going to be wound up with the way she's been going lately.  I was right, but that is why we went.  Shows need to become part of her regular routine again.  She made it to two shows last year and prior to that it had been two years since she had been to a show due to the Navicular roller coaster we've been riding.

While it could have been a worse day, it definitely could (and will be next time) be better.  She was her usual anxious self.  Two out of the three tests we rode she had ants in her pants for the halts at X and G.  She just couldn't relax, which has always been her biggest issue.  No matter if it is a place she's been a thousand times or not.  It doesn't make any difference, she's always been a handful from the day I bought her. 

Most of our comments referenced the lack of relaxation and the fact she wasn't seeking the bit.  Tell me something I don't know.  I have tried just about everything with her, she gets out of the ring regularly, she's just ALWAYS been an anxious little horse.  Though I am going to start riding with an upper level dressage trainer in the area, hopefully no later than sometime within the next two weeks.  I am hopeful she'll have some new ideas for us to get some relaxation going on.

Luckily, where we lost points are areas that are very easy to gain them back.  Things like not being immobile at x, or being a bit resistant in a transition.  She has the basics down well, we just have to clean some things up.

Though, it wasn't complete craziness.  Mochs did have some very nice trot and canter when she did come through.  It just wasn't consistent and it was mostly in the warm up of course.  She was a good pony overall though.  She stayed in the ring!  What more can you ask for at a dressage show, right?

We did three tests and all were 60%+ so I guess it could have definitely been worse, and really, I just need her to get out to shows and get used to the routine again.  So, this weekend, guess what we're doing again?  Wish us luck :)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

My Heavy Hitter

Looking and feeling as great as ever.

Now that the weather has somewhat stabilized, it is time to bring my heavy hitter out.  The past couple weeks have mostly consisted of hacks and stretchy flat work with some cavaletti, and lateral work.  I did a small jump school with some bounces, a vertical, and an oxer.  Klein was perfect.  She feels amazing.

Perfect evening.

Last week I added shoulder-in, haunches in, turning on a square, collected trot, and lengthenings back in.  Klein never skips a beat.  Even though her work load lightened up for a few months it's like that never happened.  She has been super soft, and responsive.  

Another perfect evening.

I would like to finally show some second level dressage with her this year.  I have said that for a while and it hasn't happened mostly because I couldn't pull myself away from eventing and CT's to concentrate on it long enough.  Well, we won the Prelim and Training CT divisions last year, and eventing is a big disappointment right now so, it's time for a different adventure with Klein this year.  She makes dressage fun these days, probably because we are both A LOT more educated about it than we ever have been.

The other evening we schooled some second level movements and she nailed them.  Counter canter, 10m canter circles, serpentines of simple changes, canter/walk transitions, etc...  

There is a schooling show in a couple of weeks that I'm planning to ride some first level tests at with her.  We are going to have some dressage lessons coming up too and then we'll hit the second level tests at some shows.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Marilyn Little's Bloody Horses, Continued

Let's not forget the Practical Horseman cover that was published seven years ago where she was pictured using a chain flash.

I am happy to say the momentum continues to grow after the latest blood incident at Kentucky.  Read the post before this one if you need to catch up with what I am referring to. 

FYI, this request is also spreading far and wide:

So, if you were there and have any, please, by all means, send them in.

Heels Down Magazine took a brave step forward on Friday and published an article addressing what we are all wondering when it comes to equestrian media outlets whether it is on Facebook, Instagram, a website, etc...  They saw something, why don't they say something?  They have a platform with a massive amount of reach.  Eventing seems to harbor a lot of people that are afraid to speak up whether it is media or the upper level riders.  I know the upper level pros are quiet due to their connections.  Often these connections are involved with other people that are somehow connected to a sponsor or owner that associates with other professionals.  They are trying to remain civil, despite this being a huge slap in the face to them.  Though Heels Down has had enough.

I feel for them, the position they are in is a difficult one.  They are damned if they do and damned if they don't when it comes to writing about things like horses running around courses with a bloody mouth, or now this past weekend's Badminton issues of excessive whipping and another horse death.  It seems most equestrian media stick to just the facts for the sake of not making waves. 

Please take a minute to read their article, Are We Doing Right By Our Horses? where they address the issues.  If you're not a regular reader, you should subcribe to their email list or like their FB page because they do write some really awesome, insightful articles.

I think Sally did a great job in this paragraph, "Regardless of the circumstances, the number of photographs circulating of Marilyn Little on multiple horses, at multiple events, with blood in the mouth do not lie. Do horses bite their lips? Yes. Do photos only capture a moment in time? Yes. Are there other riders who have had a bloody mouth or body part or a too-tight noseband? Yes. Should all of these instances be thoroughly investigated, not only on a case-by-case basis but as an overall pattern as well? Yes! Case-by-case is all well and good until you examine a track record. Where is the strike rule when it comes to blood on horses? Why are we not finding a better way to quantify and identify repeat offenses that warrant a more serious investigation?"

She also finishes strong with, "I am calling for this to apply to all horses and their riders, rather than a select few. When repeated instances occur, don’t stop at the vet box. Why should a more stringent investigation be shunned, particularly if there is nothing to hide? I’m not endorsing a fine-toothed comb over every photograph or video reel, but perhaps a more discerning eye that doesn’t pay mind to favor would go a long way for the overall improvement of our sport."

GREAT POINTS.  Thank you again to Heels Down as a whole, and Sally Spickard as an individual willing to put her name on this article.

One last thing, The Other Half decided that since MDC listened to their customers and dropped Marilyn Little, he would like to show his support, and I am now the proud owner of a new pair of MDC Classic Sport irons.  I have ridden in these before but now I have my own pair and they are comfortable and super high quality, there will be a more detailed review later!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Marilyn Little's Bloody Horses

Finally it seems the outrage over Marliyn Little, aka Bloody Mary is starting to gain some ground.  If you're not familiar, the latest incident that caused the recent uproar was at this past weekend's Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event.  Chronicle of the Horse wrote about it here:  RF Scandalous Displays Blood on Mouth at Land Rover Kentucky, But Veterinarian Clears Her

Now for those that don't follow eventing too close, that story sounds like it easily could be legitimate.  A horse cuts it's mouth somehow whether it bites its lip or trips and hits its face, both are absolutely possible.  The problem here?  This is the latest in a string of MULTIPLE bloody mouth incidents at MULTIPLE events on MULTIPLE horses.  Is that not kind of odd to you?  Why is it that no other upper level riders seem to have this problem on a regular basis, on multiple horses?

Here are some other articles about these incidents:

Bloody Mouth on RF Indie in 2015:  Marilyn Little Addresses Fairhill Blood Concerns

Article on same RF Indie incident in 2015: If it Bleeds it Leads, Or Does it?

Fairhill Incident in 2016:  Marilyn Little Addresses Fairhill Blood Concerns

2016 Article about Fair Hill Incident also referencing bloody mouth incidents with RF West Indie, RF Demeter, and RF Scandalous:  From the Magazine: Fair Hill Blood Incident Incites Frustrations

Three horses, multiple incidents at various events.

Initially there was some support for Marilyn Little in the form of not only officials but media outlets (blogs). It appears as if that is beginning to decrease, finally.  How do you defend something that keeps repeatedly happening?

Now I do see where some of the social media outlets, blogs, etc... are coming from when they claim the outrage is the equivalent of a bunch of arm chair quarterbacks.  We without a doubt have WAY too many people that like to talk about riding more than actually riding and criticize upper level riders who ride at a level they would only be able to dream about.  Or they act like they have NEVER made a mistake in their life while on the back of a horse or around the barn. I for one would NEVER claim to have a fraction of the skills the upper level riders have.  If they do something I don't understand I would immediately default to the fact that they have light years of experience on me at a level I will never compete at.


Does it really take someone that trains and competes at that level to understand that this is not right????  No, it doesn't and in my opinion it's a piss poor attempt to justify it that way.  One article even stated "Have you ever bit your own tongue?" Yes, I have, and it hurts like a mofo.  The inside of my mouth or my tongue, they both hurt if you bite them.  So your point is?

Others have claimed it is the eventing world being bitter that Marilyn Little came to the world of eventing from the world of Grand Prix showjumping and has had significant and consistent success at every level she has competed at no matter if it was in or out of the U.S.  Maybe some people would be pissed since 8 years is nothing compared to the amount of time they have been competing in the eventing world as professionals.  But, all of us?  Hey if you have the talent and the resources to come in and have quick and consistent success in a fair way, more power to you, I don't see a problem with that.  I don't find that grounds to hate on a professional rider.

There have been other upper level riders eliminated for bloody spur marks or blood in a horse's mouth at different phases.  Some were immediately eliminated, others were not.  Again, shit does happen, especially at the upper levels on super hot, super fit, super strong horses on massive, technical courses.  I can totally appreciate that fact.  But, these other riders, some from the U.S., some not, are they REGULARLY running around courses with blood on their horse somewhere?  Again, why does Marilyn Little have this problem again and again on various horses in various incidents?

There also have been claims made in an attempt to defend her that there are other upper level riders that are conducting unethical practices to keep horses sound and they are the reason more of the professionals don't speak up.  That still doesn't give anyone a right to be of the mind that if other pros are doing it and not getting caught then why is this a big deal?  Well, shame on those that are doing ANYTHING unethical to mask lameness just to be able to still compete.  Put them on front street to.

Marilyn Little just has the misfortune that her issue is out there where officials and spectators alike can see it for miles at a time.  Not all of the spectators are at every jog, and if anyone does capture something odd going on at a jog, by all means, post pictures and video of that too.

Even RF Demeter has not been seen with blood in her mouth on course since another rider took over the ride on her.  Weird.  Though, coincidentally that rider (Hannah Sue Burnett) is actually in trouble with the FEI at the moment after failing a drug test, but hey that's still not blood in RF Demeter's mouth is it?  I'm not saying that is any better either, btw.  You can read about that here, where she had a positive test for Adderall, a prescription drug.

Here is the response from Marilyn Little after last weekend:

Marilyn Little Responds to Outcry Following Visible Blood at Kentucky CCI4*

...where she fails to address the fact that this is something like the seventh incident now.  Only this time, I think she has found a new strategy, reporting it in the warm-up to shift focus slightly off of herself and on to the officials.  This weekend was basically like, "hey look I told on myself and the officials said it was fine."

After this past weekend, the heat is finally beginning to increase as public outcry has hit an all time high with some companies cutting ties with her.

Admittedly I was not familiar with EnviroEquine and Pet prior to this, but you better believe I have went shopping on their website after this!

MDC Stirups' FB page is very interesting today because just hours prior to the post below they had posted something in the 100% opposite saying they support her and will continue to since no official charges had been filed.  Well, I have news for you MDC, just because charges aren't filed does NOT mean something did not occur.  Anyone that commented on that post in the negative had their post deleted with some of them being blocked from the page.  Real professional.

Now, here we are, just hours after that all took place, with the post below.  Well good for you MDC.  Way to grow a spine.  They have a lot of other professionals that they sponsor and my hope was that if they kept up their support of ML the other riders would drop their sponsorship if they could.  But, MDC remedied that quickly today.  Smart move.

Also, last weekend since she was the highest placed U.S. rider at Land Rover Kentucky, she was named the Land Rover/USEF CCI 4* Eventing National Champion.  That has prompted a new, trending hashtag for her:  #notmychampion This hashtag is lighting up equestrian social media right now.

I have also seen a few posts from officials that both participate in recognized and local unrecognized horse shows of various disciplines to include eventing that are in support of Marilyn Little.  Hard to describe how disappointing that has been.  Respect for them to some degree has been lost.  I was genuinely surprised, and disheartened to see those posts.

With the public outcry being so loud this time (it increases with each incident) and sponsors cutting ties, that the governing organizations are listening.  This has been nothing but a massive disappointment with the FEI and USEA.  Sure, she is involved with very big money but so are some of the other upper level competitors that are competing ethically and fairly.  I hope this one person is not worth the risk of losing supporters and all of us lower level peasants that bring money into the organization in an already dismal time for the sport.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Most Complex Ride

Look, a real, live puzzle to put together!

Why do I constantly mention how complex Mochs is to ride?  Surely she can't be THAT complex, right?  You guys, I have owned this pony coming up on six years this September and she IS that complex.  There have been days when I have been at a loss, days where I'm completely confused by her, and then days where she is the best thing I've sat on all day.  This makes her sound like she has multiple personality disorder, but she doesn't.  None of those days are from attitude.  She has never fit the typical "pony" stereotype.

If she's acting crazy it can be anything from frustration, to a new movement that is hard for her to hold, to maybe it being time for a tack adjustment (gullet change due to improved fitness, etc...).  You have to listen to her.  There's ALWAYS a reason she does what she does.  She never does anything to just generally be disrespectful or "mareish," which I'm still not even sure what that is because my mares don't act like what people describe "mareish" to be.

She has taught me to be more aware of my body than any other horse I have ever ridden.  She's sensitive to the SLIGHTEST most TINY adjustments you can make with any part of your body and requires them to also be very independent.  She responds immediately to seat aids, she doesn't ask for much in the way of contact, and if you talk too much on the outside rein, she will tell you to knock that shit off.  She takes micro adjustments.  For example if you touch the saddle just 5cm behind where you were at the trot, that may be all she needs, any more and she won't go quietly, any less she won't go quietly.  She's one of those horses that if you don't ride her right, you'll be riding a mess, there is no pretending with her.  Either you ride her correctly, or you don't.

What is a mess?  And what happens when you don't ride her correctly?  She falls on her forehand, she's not steady in the bridle, she'll be fussy with contact.  You have to be quiet, consistent, make tiny adjustments if needed, and listen for her to approve.  It is loud and clear when she approves because you have a nice, balanced, quiet, steady, yet super responsive pony on the flat and over fences.

Some of this may be because of her size, but definitely not all of it.  You can't have too much contact, and you can't have too little.  She is fairly light, and when you're screwing up, she'll get heavy in your hand and you'll wonder wtf is going on.  You.  You are what's going on, and you have to fix yourself.

This may sound like not a lot of fun to some people but, I love it.  She has taught me so much by making me develop new skills.  The reminders she gives me with my own riding are priceless.

Also she sure is feeling amazing after this last round of injections.  She feels the best she has felt in years.  She is also getting more and more fit now that she is in regular work.  I am still riding her several days a week with a lunge line workout once a week.  I can tell she is making strength gains because she is now also stretching down at the walk and trot and lifting her back a lot more than she ever has.  She really is feeling great and it shows.

Wild pone.

Mochs lives in Back on Track products.  If you have been thinking about getting any of Back on Track's boots, do it.

She is also going in a Golden Wings gag now (still a french link Boucher or Loose Ring Snaffle for dressage).  I tried her in a french link 3 ring one evening for a little jump school and she was amazing.  The only downside is that the mouthpieces were just a little too fat for her little pony mouth.  She now has a Golden Wings, which not only has smaller mouthpieces, but also the wings that protect the corners of the mouth and guarantee no pinching or rubbing.  It has worked out perfect for her.

Here she was yesterday evening:

A post shared by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

I'm beyond happy to be able to take her places again.