I Love My Not-A-Pony

This weekend turned into a bit of an adventure although not because of Nibbles. When we left on Friday, the weather was clear and cold. On the drive up, we got caught in a lake effect snowstorm. Within 15 minutes, we had minimal traction and highways were going 15 MPH. We decided to stop tempting fate and – 30 minutes from home – get a hotel for the night.

The next morning, the roads had been plowed and salted so we headed back out. On the way to the barn, we stopped by a local tack shop that was closing and got a steal on an early Christmas present for Nibbles (but I’ll be doing a new post just to talk about Christmas this year so you’ll have to wait). From there, we headed to the barn to see my pony.

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Candid happiness

And my pony is not a pony anymore. You guys, dressage done right completely transforms a horse’s body. We sticked her at 15.2 but I swear she grew two inches and has put on 25lbs+of muscle. It could be that I’m also more used to Joker who is 14.1 on a good day but wow, I couldn’t believe how big she is. I could tell a huge difference in her posture as well – and those gaskins<3

Nibbles hadn’t been turned out in 24 hours so she was tense and up. *sigh* One day, mare, you will come out with brain firmly installed and floor all of us. But until then, to the lunge! Elise popped on her first which was helpful for me to watch in person. She sure loves to canter now and wasn’t too keen to trot. One day all three gaits will be installed in equal measure but until then, I’ll take finally having a lovely canter.

After Elise’s brief spin, it was my turn.

I upped my stirrup a hole just in case.

I didn’t need it. Guys, she was awesome. The trot was tense (shocker, Nibbles). Looking at the pictures, you can tell she’s tense but it doesn’t look near as wonky as it felt. She wanted to tip her nose to the left, too, which is interesting to me. Elise says that’s not uncommon for her.

IMG_4135And then we cantered. Heaven on earth. Her canter was effortless. The cue was effortless. Riding it was effortless. It had the perfect amount of suspension. The best way I can describe it is that I felt like I was floating. Unlike her trot that day, it was more forward than up and calm and just dreamy. I didn’t want to stop.

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I stayed in a lighter seat just in case although wow, I’m farther forward than I thought in pictures. But at least my toes aren’t pointing straight out? One piece at a time for me and for her… After several trips in each direction, I hugged my pony and decided it was Christmas picture time.

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But you’ll have to wait for those 😉

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All smiles

Canter Nearly Cured

Nibbles’ toughest gait under saddle has been the canter. She has found it very difficult to tolerate a rider in more than half-seat while still using her body correctly. It’s not highly uncommon for green horses so I haven’t been too worried about it. My thinking has been that the stronger she gets, the better the canter will get.

Elise has been so patient with Nibbles which is yet another reason my decision to send her there is 100% affirmed.

And because Elise is the bomb, we have lots of video to compare. Watching these really makes me appreciate her progress. You can get a feel for the change even by watching 5-10 seconds of each.

The canter 30 days under saddle (50 second mark):

The canter 60 days under saddle:

The canter 6 months under saddle (40 second mark):

The canter 7 months under saddle:

It’s not perfect yet and probably not quite yet to Training Level quality (and certainly not consistency) but it’s such a big improvement. In the most recent video, she loses balance and the canter gets a little bit lateral and tense but relaxation will help with that. Elise says it was 10 and 12 meter circles on the lunge with lots and lots of trot-canter and canter-trot transitions using sidereins that seemed to turn on the lightbulb for that particular ride. Elise didn’t have to ride in a half seat and there was a lot less dramatic head flipping.

I’ve been wanting to get her chiropracted for a while but it hasn’t lined up with moving barns. I’m really, really hoping I can get her checked soon because I think it will only really help as she learns to really use her body.

Husband and I leave later today to head up to Michigan to see her. I am dying to ride her and beyond excited for Saturday morning when I get that chance. I’ve seen her but haven’t ridden her since July! I AM READY.

 

New Video of Nibbles

I’m hosting my first Thanksgiving which means being a B&B for 8 people plus the actual Meal…gulp. We also had 7″ of snow dumped on us on Saturday and the temperature hasn’t broken 30F since so yeah. Needless to say, I’ll be riding less this week.

In the meantime, enjoy these new videos of Nibbles! She sure doesn’t have much of a coat for being in Michigan in November. I love how sleek she looks. Elise and I are planning a photoshoot in the spring when she has finished shedding out and is all muscle from so much *wonderful* work.

Enjoy the commentary by Elise’s trainer friend who took the video while on her mare, ha!

PS- Having Nibbles away has given me too much time to look at stallions and contemplate getting her Trakehner approval (since she’s a registered purebred Shagya)….hmmm….

Nibbles Update

Trainer Elise blogged about her ride on Nibbles yesterday – complete with a little XC field galloping! Nibbles is doing so well and really growing up.

Here is a video of her trotting along in the autumn leaves. I’m jealous!

Joker hasn’t changed yet. As soon as he can’t see other horses, he melts down. Elise is actually driving down today so we can work with him together and see if she can provide some insight. In the meantime, he’s getting a slew of tums everyday to see if that doesn’t alleviate any minor ulcer symptoms so his body can heal itself. We are trying to avoid having to shell out cash to scope him but, if this doesn’t work, I think a course of UlcerGard will be in order. Horses, right?

Chchchchchanges

Happy October, everyone! The leaves are changing, our wardrobes are changing, and some things are changing for Miss Nibbles. But before we get to that, can we just take a moment to appreciate fall? It’s finally fall while means boots and cute sweaters and breezes and bonfires and pumpkins and orchards and cider and hard cider and hot cider with alcohol and the most beautiful time of the yearrrrrr.

not my photo but ♥

not my photo but ♥

Okay, now that that is out of my system….

Nibbles has moved barns! Before you panic (because let’s be honest, you are uber invested in Nibbles’ story hahaha), she is still in training with Super Trainer E. Trainer E ended up leaving her position at the farm she was managing and where Nibbles was boarded. A big time trainer is taking the reins there so we have moved on and while figuring out exactly where things will land, Nibbles is at a friend’s beautiful little farm near to Trainer E’s home.

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Nibbles loaded right up with Trainer E’s warmblood gelding, Atlas, and settled in pretty quickly. Good mare!

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Nibbles is probably going to enjoy the change as she will get a ton more turnout and she didn’t even have to give up her love interest, Atlas.

Atlas' 16.3 hands dwarfs Nibbles' 15.2. She cares not.

Atlas’ 16.3 hands dwarfs Nibbles’ 15.2. She cares not.

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Nibbles had her first ride there yesterday which I’m told went well aside from reassuring her that that hay wagons do not in fact care for horse meat.

Isn't this pano neat?

Isn’t this pano neat?

This arrangement may change in the near future but until things shake out, I think this place is just too cute and I’m so pleased Nibbles is taking the change in stride.

headless horse is curious and loves her window

headless horse is curious and loves her window

Almost Showtime

Bad blogger is bad. I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office several times over the past two weeks with some random health issues and am back in physical therapy for what I thought would be my knee. It turns out my hips, specifically my gluteus medius (the muscle along the outside of your hips), are extremely weak and my knee just tried to compensate this time. I’ve been banned from posting in the saddle temporarily until they clear my tendonitis in my knee so I haven’t been back for another lesson. Hopefully in the next two weeks!

In much more exciting news, Nibbles is heading to her first show according to plan this coming weekend! My sister and I are driving up on Saturday. Nibbles and Elise are doing Intro A and B. The goal is to give her a positive experience. I’m incredibly excited.

I haven’t been back up to see Miss Thing since July (arghhhhh) but here’s a video with Trainer Elise up from this past week. Just a quick clip of trotting but I have still been drooling. I think you can see her trying to reach for the contact, although she clearly isn’t there. This is almost exactly 90 days under saddle.

After much talking and exploring of options, Trainer Elise is going to keep Nibbles through the winter, probably until mid-March 2016. It’s a long, long time to be without my girl but I think she will benefit from it immensely. Elise has been so generous in making the dream of full training a reality for someone who doesn’t have a full training budget. As soon as my physical therapist clears me, my goal is to take bi-weekly lessons like I said before but that means my personal goals with Nibbles will change since she’ll remain in professional training longer.

Pretty boring update. You can expect gratuitous pictures from the show. My sister is bringing her fancy camera and has an incredible eye for shooting ponies.

Watermelons & Being Broken

Husband, 6-year old stepdaughter and I made the 3 1/2 hour drive one way to see Nibbles over the weekend. I barely slept the night before. I was excited because I hadn’t seen my horse in a month. I was nervous because I haven’t ridden in months. What if she dumped me in front of my husband who, even though we’ve been together for 3 1/2 years, has never seen me ride?IMG_4727When we arrived, Elise met us and pulled Nibbles from her pasture. Nibbles’ turnout buddy is Elise’s gelding, a 16.3 hand (I think) Latvian Warmblood named Atlas. He makes Nibbles (15.2) look like a foal. In the crossties, I showed my stepdaughter how to pick out hooves and the proper order of brushes for grooming. Nibbles seemed much more at ease in the barn than last time I visited over a month ago. Elise tacked her up and we headed to the outdoor.

I want to do a comparison or progress post based on video so I’m saving the good stuff. If I had to describe Nibbles’ improvement in one word it would be confidence. Watching Elise ride her looks less and less like a wiggly baby and more like a horse who knows her job.

Elise up

Elise up

Elise put Nibbles’ through her paces on the ground first, showing me some of the lateral work and exercises they’ve been doing to strengthen her hindquarters and get her off the forehand. Then she hopped on and walked, trotted and cantered her around the outdoor and even through some lakes puddles in the arena. She’s still green but Nibbles is most definitely broke.

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By the photo and video above, you can see what I mean as far as brand new baby versus maybe I kinda got this. By all accounts, Nibbles is progressing by leaps and bounds. I don’t know how else to say it besides I couldn’t be happier. This time, though, I didn’t just watch Super Trainer ride the mare.

I rode my horse

I rode my horse

Photographic proof that I rode my horse. She was also completely fantastic. I walked and trotted her around poles and through flower jumps and she was all, ” I got this mom.” I was grinning like an idiot the whole time. I didn’t canter on account of my own haven’t-been-riding-sloppiness because Nibbles was foot perfect. My husband took a quick video. You can hear Elise ask me how it feels and my response to her if you have your volume on.

Note to self: bend your elbows and stop posting so quickly. I did not fall off. I didn’t even feel unstable (even if I look like a sack of potatoes). Nibbles spooked once right after I got on at a bird. It didn’t scare me. I want this more than I’m afraid of it. But then came the best part: after a year of promising, my stepdaughter got to take her first ride (rather than just sit on a stationary horse).

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Bless her, she begged not to get off after 15 minutes of walking around. I taught her that if she just exhales, she can stop Nibbles without tugging the reins. She thought that was way cool. She also learned that if she’s nice and relaxed and happy up there, Nibbles will be too. My husband may kill me for giving her the bug…

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After three riders, Nibbles was sweaty and we planned ahead by packing a swimsuit for the little one. So Nibbles got a bubble bath though I’m sure the kiddo was just as soaked when it was all said and done. After her bath, I had a plan. When I was a kid, we used to feed watermelon in the summertime to the horses…

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Nibbles LOVED her watermelon. She wolfed down three slices.

All in all, the day was virtually perfect. I had a quick chat with Elise and decided that Nibbles will remain in training indefinitely, possibly until next spring or summer. She is progressing so much faster than she would if she was here with me. In the meantime, I’m going to get back in the saddle near where I live so when I do bring Nibbles “home”, I’m ready to set us up for success. But more on that later…