Do you have another neck strap?

I was having a second dressage lesson, in two days, on Neuf.  The universe has spoken and sent him back to me, again, which secretly makes me (if not my savings account) happy.

Tack adjustments

Yesterday, I grabbed my Stackhouse saddle, as it fits him quite nicely, but as I proved 4 or 5 years ago, that saddle does not fit ME when I ride Neuf.  I’ve never loved how straight the flaps are and how big the thigh blocks are, as they are too restrictive, even on Bali, but it does fit me on her, so long as I’m in long stirrups, but Neuf, his movement is way too big for me to have stirrups that long.  And there is NO room to even go up a half hole in my stirrups in that saddle.  I also use my neck strap on him, every ride.  He is big enough in movement, that I don’t want to catch him in the mouth if he surges forward.  Joanna asked if I had half holes in those leathers, I don’t, so we carried on.  Today, I brought out my old Albion Euro-Comfort that fits him, but remembered it is why I have a lift-back Mattes pad, put that on and ended up adding half holes to those leathers, and also remember why I like that saddle.  It has fit on Pico, Aster, Tanq, and I’m sure a few others I’m not remembering.

A Second Neck Strap?

While I was bridling Neuf today, Joanna asked if I had a second neck strap.  Yes, I do, and I grabbed it.  I knew where this was going, I can only really hold the neck strap with one hand which means I’m constantly changing hands on the strap and since I’m always working on my hands, I have a long, enduring love affair (abusive relationship?) with too much inside rein, and it is damaging to my developing a solid relationship with the outside rein.  I try to break up, but I’m seduced again and again by relying on it too much, incorrectly, for steering and bend!  It doesn’t help that my attempt to break up with TOO much inside rein has me abandoning it altogether, which also not good, I need to learn how to be good friends.  Over the years I’ve used all kinds of tools to work on my hands, carrying a whip over my thumbs, one handed riding, bridging the reins, using a neck strap, a bucking strap on the saddle….the list is long.  A second neck strap was a new idea.

I liked this, it made adjusting rein length a bit trickier and moving my crop to the outside a little more cumbersome, but hello bad habits.  Trotting was good, this helps me stabilize both hands, especially with Neuf’s powerful trot.  Then, when it was time to canter, I couldn’t. I mean, I did it, but it took me a quarter of a circle to find the rest of my aids because I’d taken away the ability to pull the inside rein, I knew I did this to some degree, but this really called MY attention to it and even better, a tool to help me break the habit and develop a better one.  Making adjusting the reins harder is good for me too, motivates me to keep them a consistent length.

The rest

Neuf’s lazy.  Not dull, lazy.  Joanna was prepared with a lunge whip to assist me in going forward and NOT allowing my position to deteriorate.  She wants to see a more working, on contact warm up, instead of our usual walkabout on a loose rein.  Neuf was a bit resistant in the usual corner, at one point, Joanna just went outside the ring with the lunge whip and that fixed that.  Today, in the other saddle with shorter stirrups, it was much easier.  We had a couple of really good circles with a nice, big canter step.  I need to remember that feel and how we got there.   For Neuf’s resistance cantering the corners left…yes, the barn end of the arena…I worked on some turn on the haunches in walk, kept that feeling and aid in trot, made/let him fall onto his shoulder crossing the diagonal, then used that aid to bring his shoulder back over inline to straighten him, and then again, at the canter, but adding in a few steps of leg yield left.  Keeping him straight is so helpful in this, but throwing away my inside rein completely is not the best way to get him straight.

Two good lessons, and a new tool for me to work on my hands.

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Three Wise Men

OK, so three good boys, close enough and with Christmas just around the corner, I couldn’t resist a misleading title.

I had a lovely vacation in Hawaii where I relaxed, was warm, went hiking, swimming, and saw my son and daughter-in-law.  So the horses all had most of 2 weeks off as well.


I got home to cold, windy rain, followed by a nice deep freeze.  A lot of MUD by the gate in my front field, I just don’t DO mud and I’m already planning the long-term fix for that in the spring.

Sailor had nearly 3 weeks off so yesterday, I lunged him briefly, then hopped on and rode around in the ring.  It was his first time riding under the lights, and he was fabulous.  Then today, I wanted to ride him on a little trail ride and got my friend Marit to ride Bali for company.  I started him out in the jump field, we walked, trotted and cantered, both ways, did some reasonably nice circles, he is starting to relax a lot, and sometimes he starts to reach forward towards contact, but mostly he’s on a loose rein while he figures out his balance.  After that, we went to the back gate and I was able to open it from his back.  It wasn’t the most graceful gate opening, but the little fat boy is only 3 1/2 and still has had less than 30 rides.   He led the way, he likes to be in front, he is too short to see around the big horse’s.  He is a confident little horse.  Then, another friend brought over a proper measuring stick and his withers are right at 145cm, about 14.1 hands.  His croup is just under 14.3 hands!  Well…he might end up a downhill pony yet, the withers is where they get measured, and he moves uphill.

Neuf is enjoying life back at the farm.  He prefers the fields and hacks to the arena, but that is mostly because he’s so big and my small arena is tight for him.  In addition to general riding, lateral work, transitions, stretching and such,  I’m working on refining his retrieving skills, today, we added in the fake flowers that blow off the jumps, which I can then drop back into a single pile.

Legacy is the bomb!  I told him that both boys had been rock stars already and he could continue the trend.  He did.  He is super willing, so very focused on doing what is being asked.  Lots dressage work for him this week.  His shoulder-in and haunches in are developing, and today I asked for shoulder-in to renvers at the walk, one direction, and the boy did a pretty respectable change of bend!  I only asked for 3-4 steps, then straightened, did it one more time, and told him how brilliant he is.

I took Neuf an extra blanket at night check, he’s fully clipped, and was surrounded by the geldings.  I do so enjoy the snuggles and nuzzles that the three boys shower me with.  It is nice to go out, late and enjoy that bit of quiet with the herd in the dark.  The girls didn’t have time for me, I shifted them over to a different field, so snuggles weren’t in order, finding the hay was more important.


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Legacy – Making Mistakes & Fixing Them

I had a jumping lesson with Martin yesterday, it was pretty good, but at the end, I allowed a run-out when a fence was added at the “spooky” end of the arena.  So, then we worked through it and ended very pleasantly, but I still need to be quicker in my reaction time and ride a bit better the first time so that I can avoid the run outs.

I was surprisingly ok with the fence heights, a couple of the oxers were definitely bigger than I’ve been jumping.

The course Martin put together, this is the first time through and it went reasonably well.  A couple of moments where I could have maintained the rhythm better.

Next time through, a little bigger on a few, and added the second vertical to the line riding into the distance.

A few short clips as we worked on fixing the problem and building up more confidence in Legacy.

After this, Martin dropped the first fence to make the question easier for Legacy.

Putting it back up.

And confident and smoothly through.

Martin reminded me that Legacy is still green/young in the jumping.  The Makeover was only his 3rd show where he jumped.

His winter coat is such a beautiful, rich shade of brown!

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Sailor – kindergarten continues

Kindergarten continues…maybe restarts would be a better way to put it, or this kindergarten has a lot of vacations.  We gave him a haircut and took a picture for the yearbook today.  I didn’t take out his tail braid, I had just re-braided it!


Fat Boy, I mean Sailor, has been back to work.  He’s 3 1/2, he’s been a slow-grower and since he’s a little dude, there’s been no concern about doing stuff before he gets too big.  I went through my calendar and he’s had 18 rides or lunges this year.  One in April, one in May, 2 in June, 3 in July, 1 in August, 2 in September, 2 in October and now 6 in November.  Five of those rides were Alyssa Peterson, helping make sure he gets excellent basics.

He’s been making remarkable progress despite the exceptionally light schedule.

He’s now walking, trotting and cantering under saddle, steering relatively well, he’s able to go in the un-fenced ring, and went out to the jump field for the first time today and walked over a  couple of poles and a flower box.  Next up will be some walks off the property, with company.

There was a short video clip in this blog, if you want to compare. Fatty Lumpkin, Becoming a Riding Pony

Here are a couple of short videos of Alyssa on him today.

He’s looking a bit more trim than in July, he’s been spending a lot of time in the dry lots keeping Bali company, but now that Neuf is with a friend in Maryland, he’s back out in the front field with Legacy, but with a muzzle most days.

I adjusted the saddle fit for him today.  It was pretty wobbly, so I added wool, a bit too much, so then I had to take some out, which is annoyingly tedious work.

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Long Legacy TB Makeover 2019 – Finale

Saturday morning it was cool & crisp.  Almost cold.  Which was nice.  The jumping divisions were going first and the instructions to those in places 6 through 10 were to be down at the arena 10 minutes prior to the end of the division to get your ribbon and participate in the awards presentation and victory gallop!  We put on our show clothes for the pictures!

Legacy was feeling fresh, so we went over to a warm up ring and let him get that out of his system.

Cameron videoed for me.  Next year, I’ll make sure she’s uses landscape mode for videos!

Afterwards, we went out to get a picture with Martin, who coached me for a good portion of the year on Legacy.


Then we put Legacy away and came back to watch more of the Finale!  Since it was cool, I got to wear my new jacket…I’m proud of his 8th place finish!


Then I got a call from the CANTER organizers, I had won another prize, 3rd place of CANTER finishers, so I won a cooler!!!! And $100 and a gift membership to RRP for next year!  We had to come back later for a picture in that.


I love this cooler, it is a Rambo fleece!  I’ve wanted one for years!

We watched Jenny participate in the Freestyle awards.


Then we were all tired.  We went back, did a preliminary breakdown on the tack stall and ran a bunch of stuff out to the trailer.  Went to dinner, then bed.  We headed back to Virginia early the next morning.

On the whole, this was an amazing week.  A repeat of Legacy, since he is the reason I participated in the 2019 TB Makeover.


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Long Legacy TB Makeover 2019 – Part 6

It was a good thing I’d signed up for that nightwatch/feed breakfast service.  I slept a bit late!  Until 7!  We didn’t get to the park until 8:30.  I wanted to go watch some of the Master Class and check out more vendors, take Legacy for a ride to stretch out, and then get to the dealership.

I put on Legacy’s front hoof boots and went for a long hack around the back of the XC course, trotted a bit, cantered a bit, and came around the front side of the Rolex arena, making sure I stayed back from Head of the Lake, the famous water complex used at the big XC competitions.

This looked like a good photo op…It didn’t say no horses, but “No Vehicles”, but I ended up over in parking lots, with no horse paths.  I probably should have gone back the way I came, but we pressed on.


We went through the office building parking lots, curbs, people, all the associations, and ended up riding around the traffic circle, over the car bridge, past the kid’s pony rides, and all the way around the way you drive into the park.  I was now going to be late, so I started trotting a lot, on all grassy sections.  We got back and I was just a few minutes late to my appointment.

I did not want to spend my vacation afternoon sitting in a dealership’s service waiting room, but the Horse Park was too far for the shuttle service.  I asked the Service Advisor for a suggestion, and he suggested they take me to Keeneland for the races. That seemed like a fine idea, given I was at the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover, so I agreed, called Chris & Cameron to see if they wanted to come join me.  They did.

Keeneland is gorgeous!  The saddling area.  Oh, it was the first day of the fall race meet, so loads of dressed up men & women!


And they’re off!

We watched a few races, then Chris took me back to get my truck, now fixed, and we had to take care of the horses, go clean up and go to the Makeover Celebration Party, which was conveniently about 1/2 mile from our AirBNB.

The next morning was the Finale, both Jenny and I would be coming to our respective awards ceremonies for a ribbon.



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Long Legacy TB Makeover 2019 – Part 5

Thursday was the second day of competition, Dressage for me.  11:29 and 11:49 were my ride times.

I had forgotten to take a clean, white show pad out of the trailer and needed to get one, my saddle pad choice from RRP was All-purpose, not dressage.  I also wanted to get Legacy out for a hack, to make sure he wasn’t stiff from all that jumping the day before, so I decided to hack Legacy over to the trailer parking – trotting and cantering down the side of the road for time, hopped off, went into my dressing room, grabbed the pad, carried it over to the fence, and climbed back on, trotted and cantered back, where Cameron was going to get him braided and ready while I got changed and mentally ready to do the tests.

It is a pretty long walk over to the Rolex arena from the barns, and I didn’t want to be late…and I was early.  Too early, but I was able to go early.


The video of our test, with multiple passes by another rider who apparently did not realize she was crossing in front of the video.  I almost crossed in front of someone videoing a ride between my two rides, and realized what I was about to do, and pulled up, turned around and did my walking around on one side.

After the test, you waited 20 minutes or so, to go to the second ring to ride the demo ride.  You stayed in the big arena though.

This judge did not use a scribe, she did her own scribing.  I know, because I paused to ask, since I wondered if the scribe had needed a break.

After that, I was done with competition, as I was certain that I was going to have moved way down in the jumper placings and I am not a solid dressage test rider, so top 50% was where I wanted to be.


A glamour shot in the Rolex arena.

There was nothing left to do but go put away Legacy for a well-deserved rest.  Check out the vendors and watch other parts of competition.  I got back to the barns and my new friends across the aisle asked where my placings were for jumpers, but I had not checked.  So, I found the scores and checked and was surprised to see I was still sitting in 5th.  Yikes.  This was potentially nerve wracking.

I was able to check dressage scores in an hour or two, and was shocked to see we were sitting in 20th at that point!!!  Well, the Makeover was shaping up to be quite successful!  No matter what happened, I was hopeful we had good pictures, since “It is all about the pictures” is my amateur showing mantra.

Dressage pictures weren’t so exciting, but there was one decent canter picture from the demo ride I bought.255LongLegacy_dressage

We wandered the barns to check out some of the stalls being decorated for the stall decorating contest and came across Chris E’s fully tacked up horse, Untethered, or “Tie”,  and started wondering where was Chris had gone, she was getting herself ready for her hunter class.  Worrying about her lack of whip, since hers is yellow, and inappropriate for Show Hunters.  I said she could use my black one, so we walked past my stalls on our way to the ring, got her the whip and went with her up to the Hunter ring.  And, then stayed to watch some jumpers and video her rounds, which were quite respectable!  Tie is a “Warhorse”, and raced until he was 10 and had 94 starts!  His last race was in February of 2019.

During my shopping, I liked the halters at Clever with Leather and they let me take a cob size back to try on for size.  I brought it back up and had a name plate made for Legacy.  I finally bought him a halter.

I was starting to check scores more often, and at around 3:30, I finally dropped down to 6th, now I could breathe again and not worry about riding in the Finale, but just if I’d stay top 10.  You get ribbons and a victory lap for top 10 finishers.

It was pretty late before they got the provisional scores all posted, it looked like I was 31st in Dressage and 8th in Show Jumping.  If there were no protests.

We headed out for some Thai food in Georgetown, and it was quite good, and home to collapse!  No showing on Friday, but educational seminars and the Master Class, and I had to take the truck into the dealership to have that “Service 4WD” warning light checked out around noon.

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