Monday, May 25, 2015

Klein's Summer "Break"

Wondering what Klein has been up to during her break?

 Being beautiful, even when she needs a bath.  She never takes a break from being beautiful.  8 years I have had the privilege of owning this amazing horse and my heart still skips a beat every day when I see her.

And by break I guess it's more like light duty.  The bugs have actually calmed down after their initial spring flare up.  She is doing better this year than last year with them.  She lost her fake tail two weeks ago.  It's GONE.  We looked everywhere for it, but she has been ok without it.  I'm still looking for something else to braid in. 

I have been riding her a couple times a week, doing different things, trying to learn new stuff and switching up the routine.

Here's some of the stuff we've been up to:

 Flat work.

Working on flying changes.  After a dressage trainer told us to stay away from them we never really went back to them, but I feel like it's time.

Being a giraffe.

Enjoying some gallops!

Being her usual serious self most of the time.  If she were a person, her sense of humor would be very dry.  She has always been a very serious horse, and I definitely appreciate that about her.

Having fun with gymnastics.  Here she is over 3'6" this morning.

And the video:
I have been dedicating some serious time both in and out of the saddle to improving my accuracy over fences.

Enjoying her fan.  She secretly loves this thing.  She'll act antsy for the first couple mins in front of it because she wants to go back out, then I catch her like this two mins later, falling asleep in front of it.  Or she'll have her face in front of it.

We're having fun not being too serious right now.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Glass Half Full

DISCLAIMER:  If reading about trucks and mechanical stuff bores you (and it shouldn't if you are a horse person) then feel free to skip over this until the next post.

 The Beast (a Dodge 2500) and my trailer on one of our recent outings.

I've had a little bit of truck drama lately.  I've had The Beast for almost four years now and it hasn't had any issues.  It's been great.  I love this truck, it's super powerful and I have hauled horses over a mountain pass in New Mexico, passing cars as I was going up the pass.

It all started with a rattle I heard on The Beast aka my truck.  I first heard it going through a toll booth on the Florida turnpike and I wasn't sure if it was my truck or my trailer.  It wasn't too loud and wasn't affecting the way the truck drove.  That trip I did notice a rumble in the truck through a certain RPM range though.  My truck is a 6 speed manual so you have a little better feeling for things like that.  You can hold the truck in a gear and really be sure you're feeling something out of the ordinary.  I immediately knew it was some kind of back pressure issue and assumed I had an exhaust leak somewhere, not an overly big deal.  Everything was fine on that trip and I didn't really hear that rattle again.

I've hauled a lot the past couple months, sometimes every weekend for the whole month, so it's hard to remember on which exact trip I heard the rattle again.  I definitely heard it that day I got a flat on my trailer and had the windows down listening for anything else while I was limping my truck and trailer to a gas station.  When I got home that evening I made The Other Half ride around the block in The Beast with me while I'd push the clutch in and let the truck coast.  I was like "HEAR IT?!?!  WTF IS THAT?!?!"  It almost sounded like a rattle in a can of spray paint, but there was another more metallic rattle that sounded like a loose heat shield somewhere.

The Other Half had me keep the truck running and he crawled under it and had me rev it a couple times then jumped up and said he knew what it was.  So I shut the truck off and crawled under it to see what was up.  My muffler...was done.  We hit it a few times and it made the exact rattle I would hear when shutting the truck off, the loose heat shield sound.  Which made sense because it was essentially a loose heat shield the way the muffler had blown out.

See that steel wool looking stuff?  Yeah, you're definitely NOT supposed to see that.

As soon as I saw that I INSTANTLY knew that was the source of the back pressure I felt in a certain RPM range when I let off the gas.  I knew it had to be an exhaust leak and yeah, a blown out muffler is one hell of an exhaust leak.  I had plans to haul somewhere the following weekend so we over-nighted a muffler and had it installed that week.  Mufflers are consumable parts, this kind of stuff is just bound to wear out eventually. 

The Beast has a 4" turbo back MBRP system on it.

Awww yeah!  The Beast was about to be breathing easier with this thing!

I pulled out of the shop and started letting off the gas in 4th...The Beast was super smooth!  Then I rolled down my window and to my disappointment, I could still hear that damn rattle.  I should have turned around and taken it back to the shop but the rattle had no effect on how The Beast was driving.  I wanted to look at everything myself first.

We got home and I got under The Beast with a rubber mallet and hit everything I could get to and just COULD NOT replicate the rattle.  That made sense because the sound was something that was spinning so our best guess is something in the drive line, but the drive line was tight.  CV?  U-Joint?

I dropped The Beast back off at the shop this week and it turns out my annoying rattle was just some worn out u-joints in the driveline.  YESSS!  U-joints are like $20.  Then they told me they thought something else might be going on but they weren't sure yet.  The next day they called me back and said "Well, we found something else, and it's not good news."  FML.  The chain in my transfer case had worn a hole in it.  Then it turns out that actually the drain plug in my t-case had fallen out and all the fluid had leaked out.  The Beast has been running around, hauling horses on a DRY TRANSFER CASE.  If that isn't an advertisement for Dodge I don't know what is.  Do you guys know how impressive that is??????  That thing should have stranded me long ago and ate up its transfer case.  That thing just earned its nickname all over again.  It is THE BEAST.  The Beast doesn't care about a dry t-case.

How did it not affect the way it drove, I have no idea.  And yes, the t-case is necessary for four wheel drive, but even when it's not in four wheel drive the t-case is moving, along with the whole drive line.

You can see the hole with the exposed chain, and the empty drain.  It looks like that drain plug fell out long ago.  Soooo The Beast has been running around for a while like that.  Unreal.  I love you Beast.

So, when I say in my last post that Mochs and I should just be thankful we didn't end up walking home, I MEAN IT.

How does this happen?  There's no way to tell.  The variables are endless.  Someone told me today I should be checking my fluid levels at all oil changes.  Well I check my oil regularly no matter what but checking tranny, t-case, diff, etc... fluid at every oil change would not have stopped this from happening.  What if the plug fell out between oil changes?  And I am sure it did.  I haven't had the t-case serviced since I bought The Beast because when I bought it everything had just been flushed and serviced.  So no shop has drained it since I had it.  There is no way I have been running around for coming up on four years with it dry like that. 

A couple of things could have happened.  Either the plug was stripped to begin with and gradually worked its way out, or it wasn't put in all the way and gradually backed out from all the vibration of the truck on the road.  This is just one of those things that happens.  It sucks, and it's a $1200+ repair (t-case alone is $1,000), but this is some glass half full stuff right here, you guys.  This could have been much worse if The Beast ate its t-case with the trailer on and horses in it down in Florida on the side of I-75, in the middle of the summer, or something.  But it didn't. 

Dodge just got a customer for life this week.  I already loved The Beast enough to never want another make of truck, now I definitely will only have Dodge trucks.  The Other Half ordered me a t-case this afternoon that will be here by the 1st, or sooner, so The Beast will be back to work soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

First Show Fail

 Well, the show didn't go as planned.  Moch and I ended up going home early because something was just not right with her.  After xc we scratched and got out of there.

For dressage I decided to ride in my jump saddle because she seems to go a little better in it at the canter.  So, to make things easier for the both of us I decided to not ride her dressage saddle.

We did a short warm up.  I can trot around all morning but as soon as we throw the canter in there (right now) her trot is highly likely to go to shit.  So, we pretty much warmed up for 15 mins and cantered once then headed in the ring.  The ring was running early so why not?  We were as warmed up as we were going to be!

Mochs actually really surprised me in the dressage ring.  I was very happy with her.  Remember I said it would not surprise me if we got a 2 on our canter and canter transitions, well we got a 5, haha.  Moch gave me her best.  We got a 44.47.  Klein is getting in the 20's two levels higher.  I don't remember the last time I got above a 40 but atleast I pretty much knew that is the kind of score we'd end up with.  I couldn't care less.  I was SO happy with Moch for just going in there listening, and not being distracted by other horses, the judge's booth, or spectators.  She contained the wild pony beast within and acted like a domesticated pony for a few minutes! 

We did manage a couple 6.5's.  Most of the judge's comments mentioned Moch being tense.  You can see it in the first picture of this post.  She needs to release at the base of her neck.  She'll get there!

I got my replacement five point for her from Harry Dabbs this week!  She needs that thing!

XC, I thought we were in the clear after dressage.  We schooled that entire xc course last weekend and Moch did not have one ounce of hesitation in her.  She hasn't had any yet during any ride that we have jumped.  She is super forward and rushy.  For some reason, that pony left the building.  Moch stopped a couple times.  I have no idea what got in her mind.  The xc fences did have decorations and extra natural elements but she normally doesn't take much notice of things like that.

We finished xc, but with her just not being herself I cooled her out, untacked, hosed her off and then went to scratch.  The LAST thing I want is this super green pony not having a fun time and then forcing her to do stadium and deciding shows suck. 

We didn't have that great of a school Friday morning.  She was a handful and a half.  I had a running martingale on her and a piece had broken off and allowed the forks to slip down so it was a little tight on her.  I didn't notice until the end of the ride.  She is a sensitive pony and I wouldn't put it past her to have felt a little trapped that morning and then have that in her head the next morning at the show.  So maybe she lost a little confidence since that school was the morning before the show, she may not have forgotten about it so easy. 

Either way, there's a 3 phase show around here every weekend.  We can take our pick any weekend we feel like at a variety of venues.  The plan is to put some more confidence in her, strengthen her and get back out there.

In the grand scheme of things, we should just be incredibly thankful that we did not end up walking home after what the shop just found on my truck this week!  That's for another post though...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mochi, XC Schooling - 9 May 15

 Serious Mochs.

I decided to go ahead and take Mochs to the xc course any way after our training ride Saturday morning.  She was her usual brave little self out there.  First we walked around the property and then warmed up a little bit.  I wore my helmet cam.  I should have adjusted it to point down just a little more.  It's been a while since I've ridden with it, so next time I'll get it adjusted better.  It also looks like I might have not had it completely level on the front of my helmet.  But, it still worked great.  Here are the stills from it:

About to drop into the water.

And the video:

I was bs'ing with the farm owner and telling her I wanted to bring Moch to her show this weekend but wasn't sure which division I wanted to enter.  I first considered a CT with Intro B dressage test and stadium round with 18" cross rails.  Moch had a great time on the xc course and didn't do anything that I wouldn't feel comfortable with.  My only issue is our crappy canter departs and canter in general in the dressage ring.  The starter division three phase is the Beginner Novice A dressage test, aka two 20m circles at the canter.  That sounds pretty ridiculous.  Two whole canter circles, while all this time I have been thoroughly enjoying running through the test because there are things like canter between K and A.  Between???  That's a lot of runway to get into a canter.  I'm so used to having to make exact transitions with Klein for 1st and 2nd level stuff.  Likewise with the down transitions in BN A, they have to happen between letters. 

At one point I was like, this is an unrecognized show.  This is for miles for Mochi.  Who cares about crappy canter?  I mean, obviously I do, but this will be her first show.  We are not there to compete, we are just there for miles and experience for Mochs.  So, I entered her in the starter three phase that evening:  BN A dressage, 2' xc, and 2' stadium.  I think my biggest challenge will be not giggling during our crappy canter.  I fully expect to get a 2 or 3 for it, and as long as we go in there knowing that, who cares.  We'll be fine!  It will be a great day to just be a team and have fun together.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Training Ride With Carlo Graziani


I took Mochi to school some more xc this past weekend.  Carlo Graziani just happened to be coming to town for the weekend at a nearby farm as well, so we stopped there first and I had Carlo put a training ride on Mochi. 

I really didn't have any expectation of what would be accomplished in the training ride.  Carlo is awesome, he is the grand prix rider/trainer that Klein and I went to Orlando for to spend a weekend at his barn last February.

First, I warned him.  He asked me what I was doing with Moch right now to get an idea of where she was at.  I told him her story and told him that she has only been in serious work since the end of February after being a pasture pet for most of her life.

Carlo had just got on.

It took him about half of his ride to get her settled and connected.  That is just how she's going right now though.  Also, she really needs her running martingale on for jumping right now but since her breastcollar is being repaired she's out of luck.  I am pretty sure I have just a running martingale in her size around her somewhere, I need to look.

He had her connected and balanced in the trot and people were remarking how nice she looked and what a fancy little mover she is.  Then...he asked for a canter, and that all went right out the window.  Her canter seriously sucks right now.  She needs to find her balance.  We have been searching for it lately.  Actually, I think I found some of it this evening.  It was only a little bit, but I'll take a small victory. 

Canter depart last week...told you.

Back to the training ride.  He cantered Moch both directions and was just on her forehand and putting up a bit of a fight.  It was almost time for the ride to be over when he came up and said "She's a challenge!!!"  Oh Mochs...  He was like "She's barely broke!"  Oh boy, that's a tall order.  But compared to the caliber of horses in his barn, she is absolutely barely broke, it's a fair statement, no offense taken, feelings not hurt one bit.  He has nothing against anything not of that caliber, I mean he LOVED Klein and had a great time schooling her and said she was well trained. 

He went on to tell me he has zero control over her at the canter and there's not much you can do at that point besides fix it before trying to jump anything.  *le sigh* I know.  Insert feeling slightly like an idiot for telling him I have been jumping her.  He said "She wears you out!!  You need something to help you with her, some kind of training aid, draw reins or put her on the lunge line in side reins first before you ride."  Well, the thing is, I HAVE went the route of longeing her in side reins a lot and that doesn't do much.  I would longe her several times a week in side reins to see if I could get her to settle into accepting contact a little more.  It didn't do anything for her.  This is actually the second professional to tell me I should try draw reins on her, and I did this week.  She was actually pretty magical in them, maybe they will help her learn that being busy with your head makes life harder.  She is perfectly fine otherwise, she gets adjusted by the chiro, has had her saddles fitted to her by a pro, teeth are good, etc, etc, so don't think I didn't question physical issues for this busy head nonsense.  She just doesn't know any better, and is in the process of learning better.  Somewhere along the way she has learned a bad habit.  I have gotten her settled at the trot, so the canter will follow with time.

I'm pretty convinced that hours and miles are the only thing that will really train this little pony.  I told Carlo that and he seemed relieved to hear it, to hear that taking a lot of time with Mochi was in the plan because it's what she needs.  I have all the time in the world for my little pony, she's not going anywhere and has no looming deadline of be trained or be sold.

He did say he would jump her a few times just to see how she was.  Ahem...she really needs her running martingale.  She threw her head up a couple times coming to a fence but she was willing to go over anything.  After jumping a couple fences he brought her back to me and started apologizing for not jumping her more.  This is part of why this guy is successful, he is so humble despite being such an accomplished rider and trainer.  I told him look, I had no expectation when I unloaded her.  I love the way he rides and if he just wanted to walk around and work on her halting I would have been just as happy.  I told him he is the pro, not me, and I was happy with him doing whatever he felt like Mochi needed that ride.  I had to tell him several times not to be worried about not jumping her more.

Could be worse!

After that ride we headed out to the next farm 25 mins away.  The whole drive I thought about him saying "She's barely broke!" and wondered if I should just take her home and reevaluate my approach to training her.  Actually, it made me feel a little better that he didn't ride her any better than I can.  Plus she's learning little tricks like to halt, for example, all I have to do is take a deep breath and let it out and the brakes immediately come on.  She is so sensitive to it right now that I have basically brake checked myself because I did it on accident and she halted.  That is one trick that helped our down transitions today with our canter work too.  I made sure to take a deep breath in right before I half halted and asked with my seat and she got it.  It helped the light bulb go on for what I was asking for.

Back to wondering about if I should still take her xc that day.  She has such a fun time, and I can manage her.  She actually seems to do better if you just let her go and not correct her over and over.  Just GO, put the miles on.  Make things seem like no big deal and she doesn't turn them into a big deal either.  Plus, we're talking about the Tadpole xc course here 2'3" or under.  That's pretty harmless and it's not like she's out there running into things.  She clears everything and the couple BN fences we've went over she's just fine over too.  This is part of our miles I was talking about.  She needs to get out and just get miles.  She can handle it mentally too, she's super brave and will gallop to anything you point her at. 

So, we went for it, and we had SO much fun!!!!  The next post will be full of pictures from xc and some video from my helmet cam.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

XC Schooling at The Oaks

Last weekend a friend and I took our ponies to a hunter pace at The Oaks, which was built by the O'Connors (and later sold).  Hence, the address being at 211 SW Theodore O'Connor Circle.  It is a gorgeous facility and I LOVE riding there!

 Part of their beautiful barn.

Setting up for the Derby party that evening.

 We walked the course first.  We did Tadpole.  The whole idea was just to go have fun and make an easy confident day for the horses.  We decided weeks before we went that we were not there to care about what our time was.  It was just a great opportunity to run the ponies on a full course at a beautiful facility a short drive from home.

 Our course map.  17 fences including a sweet water complex!

We told the timer not to worry about our time and we left the start box together with Mochs leading the way.


 This one actually had a pretty wide spread for the height, and a sharp edge on both sides.  I should have taken a pic of the actual spread, but we both decided that we were going to skip #2.  This was another reason we told the timer not to worry about us, we already decided we were going to self-eliminate by skipping a fence.  If it would have been further out on the course we would have probably just rolled with it but, not as #2.  Not for the green ponies.  I actually almost said f it and took Mochs over it on our second run, but my friend would have totally called me out about not sticking to our plan (which is great).

Um...I was getting so excited about riding this course I completely forgot to take pictures of fences 4 & 5!!!!  They were essentially logs in the shady area of the woods that we had to gallop down into.


 Mochs had a peek at this but went kept her forward movement.  The second time around she didn't care about it one bit.



 Mochs hesitated a tiny bit a couple strides out but I slowed her to a trot to make sure I gave her enough notice and she hopped on up and we galloped on.  This was the second bank she's ever schooled.




And here we are at a ramp that had the same spread as fence #2.  But this was #13 and we were just out cruising, Mochs was great to it.  If #2 was out here it would have been the same thing.


Water complex!  They have pictures in the office of Teddy schooling this.  I hope Mochs captured some of the Teddy spirit from treading on the same ground he did.  Moch spotted the fountain before we even started.  The organizers were nervous about turning it on with the horses out there.  I told them I hoped they did so that Moch would have something to be extra brave about.  I let my friend lead into the water both times because her horse wasn't really giving the fountain any extra attention.  Again I slowed Moch to a trot to let her have enough notice that yes, we're heading straight to it and IN to it.  She followed her friend in.  The first time we walked through, the second time we trotted through.  It's all good as long as you keep the forward motion!



 Finish flags!  We galloped through patting our ponies and praising them half to death.  There were other people out walking the course and they were probably like what in the hell is wrong with those two?!?!  We were SO proud!  SO PROUD.  Tiny jumps, but forward, brave ponies.  Both their first times schooling a full course.  After our second run we came through the finish and high fived each other.  A lady walking the course was cheering us on that time.  We were so ridiculous, but SO PROUD.

After that we were not about to be done riding.  Not on that beautiful facility.  We went and rode an additional 11 miles on their trails.  I didn't have my camera with me, unfortunately.  It was an awesome ride.  We ended up riding 13 miles that day.  We are doing a 15 mile intro endurance ride together next month.

Every time I ride xc there is always that one fence, or sometimes two that I am extra proud of for the day.  Something a little challenging, or maxed out.  Mochi had two that day.  

 Our fences of the day.  The top one because it was over max height for the level, and the bottom for just being something new to Mochs that she didn't take any notice of.

As we were walking the course I was looking at the Novice jumps longingly and telling my friend it would be so much fun to have Klein out there too.  I have schooled that course with her and had a blast.  But my friend said that wouldn't be as fun as having Mochi out there and experiencing something new with her.  True.  So true.  I mean, it's always fun with Klein.  But I really am enjoying watching Mochi grow and learn.  I also am learning A LOT from her too.  She has fixed holes in my riding and made me a better rider just over the few short months she's been back in work.

We really had a great time.  It was super tempting to head for some of the BN fences during our two runs, but again, that would not be sticking to my plan.  Even thought Moch would, I'm sure, have been fine, it would have somewhat defeated the purpose of a confidence building, easy ride.  Moch couldn't have been any better. 

 Two xc runs and 13 miles later.

After this awesome time we had, we go to leave and had just pulled out of The Oaks.  I was only doing about 40mph when I heard a LOUD pop.  I started looking in my mirrors trying to figure out what just happened.  Nothing felt weird, the truck was driving fine.  I didn't see anything in the road, then...I noticed a flap from one of my trailer tires.  My left side front axle trailer tire had blown out.  We were in no spot to pull over to change it.  There was NO shoulder on either side of the two lane road we were on.  It was a ditch on either side and fields.  Nothing to pull into.  I knew there was a gas station about four miles away so I slowed to 30 mph, put my hazards on and limped my trailer there.  My friend was behind me so she did the same.  She also heard the tire explode from inside her truck...behind me.

We were about two miles from the gas station and I heard another explosion.  Great.  My tired exploded twice.  But it was leaking slowly, somehow, with two blown out pieces.  I just kept my eye on my mirror to make sure I didn't see the damn tire go rolling off the rim or something.  

Finally we got into the gas station.

 It's a miracle it was leaking so slow.  It was hissing when I stopped.

If any of you guys wonder about Trailer Aid, it works perfectly.  All I had to do was back my trailer up on the little ramp and it was more than high enough off the ground.  10 mins later and we were on our way home again.

 Pulling into the legendary Ag Station.  If you read blogs from people that ever go in/out of Florida you will have read some horror story about the Ag station.  You have to stop on both northbound and southbound sides.  They check your Coggins, Health Cert (has to be within 30 days but we have a special state permit that extends them because we haul into FL so much), and come out to match your horse to your paper work.  They actually scan your stuff into their system, with your driver's license.

I got out to re-tighten my trailer lugs, but everything was tight and good to go.  The tire that blew out was one of two that were the next to be replaced.  So, you better believe I took that blow out in as well as the last older tire in and had new ones put on.  I did the back axles just a couple months ago.  So now they are all new, the same, and I have two full size spares.  I have heard a lot of stories of people getting flats on trailers then 10 miles down the road getting a second flat.  Not me, I bought another rim from Sundowner.  Two full size spares buddy.  Never leave home without them.  It's amazing peace of mind putting a spare on after a blow out and not having to drive down the road thinking "OMG I have no spare now...hope I make it home." 

Instead of being mad about getting a flat and having to spend $250 for two new trailer tires, I was the complete opposite.  I could not have been any happier that the tire exploded BEFORE we got on I-75 and were doing 70mph!  I was SUPER thankful for that.  It's not a matter of if, a matter of when.  Besides, nothing was going to ruin that ride!!!