Hard Work is Hard to Talk About

[caution: photo heavy post]

The last few months have been really busy. Spectacularly busy. Let's put it that way. Guinness and I have ridden and fought and learned and traveled and shown, won and been solidly beaten. It's been a learning curve, and a tough one. We've put ourselves out where we certainly didn't belong, and it stung. But, we're not really ones to let that bring us down. So, we're working. We're working really, really hard.

Right now, the main focus is on me. My riding style, my strength and my effective aids are all questionable as we push forward for more work. This has to change. I won't be the one holding us back. I've been hatching plans to help me move forward. They all basically involve me living and breathing horses and nothing else for every moment I'm not at work. If that's what it takes, I'm game. This little (okay, not so much) horse deserves a rider who's willing to work just as hard as him.

The plan here? Lessons. Lots of them. As of now, I have the opportunity to ride with Nancy Kleiner a couple of times next month. I rode with her once in September, and loved her. She's really helping me find my balance and take proper contact - ride effectively.

The other focus is on Guinness' strength and comfort. We had a huge training breakdown in September that I tracked down to my horse being in pain. The rapid onslaught of cold and rainy weather brought out warm puffy ankles again, something that hasn't been an issue all spring or summer. Besides the familiar stride hitch and stiffness, Guinness was refusing to take any contact to the right rein. In order to keep him from throwing a huge fit (coincidentally, we'd been dealing with lots of rearing ...), I had to ride very crooked. He'd only tolerate rein pressure at a downward angle. Imagine that, if you will. One hand normal, the other dropped 12 or more inches. It's silly, and it's not effective. My immediate thought was teeth.
Unfortunately, the equine dentist was very difficult to schedule. Guinness started balking at even being bridled (very unusual). Once the dentist came out and took a look, the word was clear. A nasty hook with ulceration of the inside of the mouth. Poor guy. I feel awful that it took so long to get his teeth looked at, but he's a much happier horse, and as of last night, gladly opening his mouth and plunging his head into the bridle again. Good boy! Bad mom ...
Guinness gets his teeth filed down and his employee moral reinstated :) 
The plan for Guinness is lots of happy flatwork sessions during the week (when it's already dark by the time I get to the barn), and long hacks on the weekends. Hunting season has closed off the woods, but the roads are open, and I plan to use them as much as possible to keep in shape, and mentally sane. I'm also saving up for another round of injections. Hopefully I can get those done in mid November.
Behold! The ugliest jewelry ever! Guinness' puffy, poulticed ankles. Yes, I poultice like a racetracker. No wrapping.
In other news, we've left Training level behind and have moved (however awkwardly) to First. I was a bit embarrassed by our showing at the last horse show, the Indiana Dressage Society's fall show and championship. However, we tried hard with what we had, and next year will be an improvement. Maybe we'll even look like we belong there! (Side note: IDS is great, and if you live in Indiana you should check out their schooling shows!)
My hair is dirty, my husband is hungover, my horse is unhappy and  ...  you get the picture. At least my braids are nice.
I have to also give a shout out to Riva the Diva's amazing family, especially Kelly. They really came through and were a big help at the show. Kelly even stepped up and read my tests to me, and I can't thank her enough. Check out her blog, her mare is gorgeous. I managed to stick around long enough to see her Intro C ride, and it was a picture of harmony. Seriously, watch out for these guys!

As for everything else? My menagerie is doing well, Guinness looks fat (very fat ...) and happy and fairly sound. My dogs are happy and healthy. Work is stressful, but should slow down next month. I wrecked my car (three days before the show), and now have a new one (that I love). All in all, August and September were rough, but we're pulling through and pulling up.
Happy dogs. Especially that black one.
I think that's enough of an update. Keep your fingers crossed that I can coerce someone to ride with me to my lessons next month so I can have video or photos to share!


  1. My pleasure - I love to read tests :) You are doing such a great job with Guinness - he is a lucky horse to have you in his life. Sounds live a wonderful opportunity to lesson with Nancy Kleiner - I have read about Jen's lessons with her. Looking forward to seeing you all out next season showing First Level!


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