Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Tale of Melkor the Mighty

I promised some awesome older videos and here is the first one, I hope that youtube doesn't block the music I added to the video....

Meet Melkor. I bought him as a 13 year old, at the time he was called "Red." If you don't get the novel reference of his new name Melkor, look it up. I liked calling him Melvin and eventually after I saw Madagascar, Melmen. He was a total Melvin, a total nerdy kid, but such a sweetie! I broke my own rule by buying him, I bought a Quarter Horse. I've never cared much for the breed, they are just not my style and I do not care for the QH show circut, english or hunter, or for the rampant lack of good breeding which has led to lots of conformational trainwrecks, Melvin was a good example of this. He was "line-bred" to Hobar-Tek (not sure on the spelling anymore) quarter horses and he was originally from Arizona, where he was given the brilliant and very Quarter Horse name: "Amberjacks Be Nimble." Right. Awesome. Sorry QH enthusiasts, I just don't go for your names......Paging Mr.Sonny Bar Smokin Impressive Big Chex Zips Shiny Cash. And I know that most people don't like or get my horse's names, so whatever. Just my opinion. :)

Here is what I do like about QH: their mentality. Melvin was very tolerant of me and my bad riding. He never spooked. He never bucked. He had an excellent mind. So that is the redeeming quality of the QH.

Anyway, his owner before me was an old 4-H friend, he had originally bought him to use in Hunters and then by the end of his 4-H career he was board with hunters so he rode him in the games division. I believe that he also used him for team penning sometimes too. So when I actually bought him, he hadn't jumped for at least a year and was in game horse mode. I bought him in October, and we went to our first event in May. So we had lots of work to do!

Aside from being a conformational trainwreck, Melvin was also blind in his right eye. He always had runny eyes and eventually we figured out that he couldn't see a darn thing on the right. That just makes his personality so much cooler. Waradaca was our first event, our next event should have been the LHPC HT in June, but we had a very wet spring and the event was cancelled. So our next event was the EHSC HT where we went Novice, this picture is of us going over one of the max height/max width Novice jumps. He was awesome at the event, but we did not place. At this point I was still showing in the Open division because I still working in the idustry and trying to make it as a professional. After that I ended up moving from Erie back to Chambersburg and we kept jumping and schooling and he was doing very well, I was going to do one more Novice event at Difficult Run and then move up to Training. Which was bad decision making there too, yes I could make it around a course, but I was not a strong enough rider to actually be doing that level. My dressage stunk, I don't care how high you can jump, without having solid dressage basics, you shouldn't be jumping fences that are over 3'. Its one of my qualms with the eventing world, I get that the majority of events hate the dressage phase and just "get through it" to get to the jumping phase, but seriously guys, put on your big girl panties and learn how to ride dressage, it will make your jumping much better and wouldn't it be nice to have a respectable dressage score?? And I totally used to one of those people who was like "dressage is dumb." Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

I digress. I was supposed to do the event at Difficult Run, but we never made it. He started landing funny when we were jumping, more on the left than on the right where he had always landed square before. He was off :( after about a week with no improvement, I took him to Charlestown Racetrack to get xrays. He had arthritis in both front fetlocks. The vet gave me two options. Bute him and event for the rest of the year and then he would most likely be permanently ruined and lame or retire him, he was I think 17 by this point so I chose option B and retired him. It took about a year or so for him to fuse, so then we started focusing on dressage, I had moved onto the next trainwreck of a horse Craige (he'll get his own blog coverage) and so he eventually made it New York and is someone's forever trail horse, she loves him and is taking wonderful care of him. He is very happy.

So here is our video of our first ever event together at Waradaca in Maryland. I like their course, it was simple, friendly and inviting. Lots to pick apart in the dressage, I understood the theory behind having the horse's head "down" and "on the bit" but did not know how to properly achieve it (obviously! look at his poor head!) I was too stiff everywhere, which is partially show nerves and partially just how much I stunk. I was also way overweight. I'm still on the heavy side, but here I was over 200lbs, sorry, I have a thing for food...its yummy and is my downfall. Right now I'm about 175 and need to drop some poundage, so I was not fit and not helping him out there either.

Lets see...poorly planned transitions, bad geometry, no throughness or connections...I'll just stop there, and move on to the stadium. But overall our dressage stunk. Thank goodness he was a point and shoot jumper. Seriously, every jump I am off balance, behind the jump or ahead of the jump and he just takes care of me. Which totally boosted my confidence and my ego, I thought I was an awesome jumper....which as it apprantly turns out was not in any way true... I'd also like to mention that while we dressaged in a french-link loose ring, we had NO brakes jumping and the only way I could keep him slow and get him to listen (because I didn't understand about using your core) was to ride him in a double twisted wire gag. It is one of my all time most favorite bits because it is just mind boggling. By the time we were schooling for difficult run a year later we were using the french link to jump with too, we had figured out a few things by then.

But he was honest and he did not refuse, we had one run-out in our life and it was a narrow up-bank at Erie, I didn't steer him to it so he was like, hey, why don't we just go around it? Wouldnt' that be easier?? And then there was XC, um, we had not schooled XC before, this was pretty much his first time dealing with any kind of XC fence. And what a champ he was. There is one jump where I get way left behind! But he just kept on trucking. It was our jumping that got us our 7th place ribbon at that show. But what a great guy. I'm hoping that Bastian will one day be as cool as him, he has the same left hind leg marking as Melvin. That was Melvin's only white marking and its Bastian's only white leg. Bastian also has the same blaze as my pony Goldie.

So I hope you enjoyed our XC video. More fun videos to come!

I did get to ride Bugs again today and it had definite good moments and some definite bad moments. Good Moments: down transitions were good, canter was very controlled and uphill
Bad Moments: she tried to buck me off two times, not totally sure why, but it freaked me out a little, the second time I was more prepared and yelled at her and then she was fine. Not sure if she was a little ouchy somewhere or just decided to have a cranky moment.

And she did not feel tired at the end of our half hour session, this was the first time she felt like we could have done more so maybe she is starting to get more fit.

And finally, Bastian is almost home! He is now working at Wolf Creek Stables with my friend Tawny as a Hunter Lesson horse and is very happy with life. I can't wait to go visit him!

Till next time!

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