Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trail Ride Train Wreck

So many interesting (fun?) things to write about but I've been so crazy busy I haven't gotten around to it!

First up, last Sunday, Trask and I had our first trail ride together. He has been on trails before with the trainer, JM, who started him almost a year ago, but I don't think he has since then. Because of that I wanted to go with people for our first time and KP said she'd go with me. She just got her horse, Rogue (Trask's half brother) gelded so he is out of commission for a bit, so she needed a horse to ride. So she invited trainer JM to come with us so that he could bring her a horse. He came with his two stallions, one of whom is 6 years old, and since his niece was visiting, gave her the ride on his dependable gelding Duncan and KP got to ride the older stallion.

Pre-ride ciders for the pony
Apparently he loves cider. A lot.

I really like JM, he's a great trainer and rider but I should always remember how crazy our rides together always go! His horses are VERY hot and VERY fancy upper level horses and VERY big. He hadn't ridden the young stallion in a while and I have never seen a hotter horse I think. Plus he's giant. Like 17.2 hands I think. Anyways, KP and I hauled Trask out to the trails and met JM there. We tacked everyone up, which included the "Great Booting" since all the horses are barefoot. Between boot collections of KP, JM and mine, we managed to fit boots on all four horses. Trask stood very well tied to the trailer (which couldn't have been said of some other horses *cough* baby stallion *cough*).

Everyone hopped on and away we went with baby stallion charging ahead at the front, followed by KP on the more mature and manageable stallion, with Trask and Duncan bringing up the rear. It was an exciting start.

What followed was the most insane trail ride of my life. I felt bad for poor baby Trask, but now that we survived that experience, I am confident we can survive any other experience we can throw at him.

Apparently I should have drank more of the cider instead of Trask and maybe I would've been more relaxed!

It was basically baby stallion trotting or cantering back and forth and back and forth in an effort for JM to get him to chill out. Trask was second in the line since he absolutely hated being in the back of the group. Then KP on the other stallion. She was feeling a little nervous about being on the stallion since he was not putting up with baby stallion's antics and he's a very strong horse. He was being perfectly behaved, but she ended up walking for a while. And reliable Duncan, literally a saint of a horse, bringing up the rear with his rider who couldn't steer or stop.

Trask got extremely worried when baby stallion got too far ahead of the group, complete with cantering in place and feeling like a bomb ready to go off. We had just reached the top of a hill, about an hour into our ride, at a place where we could either go around the long loop or just turn around and go back. JM wanted to keep going - he was having a blast on his fire breathing dragon of a horse (like I said, he's a great rider and seriously nothing could rattle or unseat him. Ever.) but KP was having a mini panic attack and was like "nope, we're going back" and turned around and led the way down the hill. (I think this was a fantastic choice)

The ride back down was much better for the most part, we were able to spend most of it on a loose rein. Trask was confident enough at this point to lead the group. Minus a few hilarious spooks, one when he stepped on a cruchy leaf and all four feet left the ground and then later when he stepped on a branch that lifted up and he teleported about five feet to the left and I landed on his neck. At one point JM got very far ahead of the group and Trask was having a come-apart about this. There was a cliff to our left and he started skittering left, completely ignoring my aids to move in the opposite direction. I let out a strangled yelp and JM turned back quickly, seeing what was happening, to come give Trask some company.

I seriously saw my life flash before my eyes. I thought we were going over the cliff.

After that, KP and I led the group with our horses side by side. They seemed to get along well, and JM and his niece brought up the rear. It ended with us nearly at the end and a mountain biker zooming past up. I heard a commotion as baby stallion spooked at the biker behind us, saw the biker coming for us and leaped off Trask. That was all I needed was for him to be surprised by a rude biker coming up his butt at a fast pace!

I seriously have not had a more rude experience with a biker. Every one (and I've encountered a ton since I trail ride a bunch) have usually either hopped off their bikes and waited for us to pass, walked their bike past us, or called out and asked if our horses were ok to pass. It's just common courtesy. Luckily, Trask only glanced at the biker since I had him tucked behind his new stallion friend.

The ride ended uneventfully and KP and I were stunned that we survived the chaos. Baby stallion is now permanently banned from future rides since we don't want to test our luck at not dying ...

I was extremely proud of how Trask handled that environment. It was utter chaos and while we had some spooks and scary moments, I cannot blame him for feeding off of that crazy energy. I think we will be absolutely ok to ride by ourselves in the future, and I definitely prefer being alone to that crazyness!

Other random pictures:

In other news we had a lovely evening ride a few nights ago!

KP was kind enough to buy him a fancy new halter so he didn't have to wear the purple halter of shame

Weirdo loves just holding the stirrup iron in his mouth...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lucky He's Cute

I ended up taking Trask to our first show together yesterday! It was... interesting to say the least.

I was pretty sure that it was going to be an interesting show with my lack of preparation. I've had Trask for a month and had maybe 10-12 rides on him with school and being gone so I was kind of on the edge about whether or not it was a good idea to go to the show or not.

Pre-show lunge

We just did Intro A and B since our canter is still pretty iffy. My one goal was to stay on!

Of course the best show prep is to not ride for two days beforehand, right? I gave Trask a bath on Saturday night and loaded up the trailer, but didn't have time to clean any tack or anything. Sunday morning dawned wayyy too early, though it helped that I didn't really sleep the whole night before. Horse shows on 4 hours of sleep are super fun!

I braided Trask as soon as I got to the barn - at least we were going to look good even if we did awfully!

I was pretty happy with my 10 minute rubber band braids

Once we got to the show I tied Trask to the trailer with his hay bag and then went into the tack room to start getting my tack. A piece of paper blew out of the tack room and spooked him, he set back and broke both his halter AND his lead rope before going for a nice jaunt around the property. That was such a fun way to start a show - 20 minutes of chasing a horse around the giant field and getting myself a very large blister in the process. I was not pleased.

We had nearly no warm-up after I caught Trask. Luckily I had an extra halter and a lunge line in the trailer to replace all our broken tack... We had 15 minutes to tack up, get on, and memorize our test. We had a quick walk-trot in the warm-up arena (after convincing Trask that the large blue flappy-tarp building was not going to eat him).

Our test went about in the same vein... the judges booth was absolutely terrifying (after all, they have all those horse eating papers in front of them!) and I didn't have enough time to convince him otherwise. Our test was tense and while mostly obedient (save the judges both), we were not accurate in the least.

We had just a couple minutes before our next ride so I quickly memorized the next test and again only had a couple minutes to trot around warm-up and convince Trask that some sort of softness would be nice. Our next test was much nicer. Still tense, with some nice giraffe moments of looking through the arena windows and whinnying at the other horses, but overall much better and there was only one little spook at the judges booth in one direction.

After our test we had a nice real ride in the outdoor, complete with cantering. It was nice to get Trask around other horses since we tend to only ride alone. Plus he came to terms with the scary blue tarp building so it wasn't all bad.

Overall, it was an interesting show. Not great, but it could have been worse. We got some nice comments from the judge, even managing to get a 63% in our second class which is respectable. Now we have more stuff to work on (can you say desensitizing to paper?!) and someone is now the proud new owner of a rope halter for practicing standing tied.

Hopefully we'll get a chance to redeem ourselves next month, schooling dressage shows are few and far between right now, but we are going to find some sort of show to make it to again!

Only "real" photo of us we had since I failed to sign up for pictures. He's so lucky he's cute!!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Still Alive

Wow, it's been busy around here. And it's been forever since I posted!

Last I wrote, I was heading into finals week. I successfully passed everything, even earning myself a place on the Dean's List! That was a goal for this year, to get on it at least once. I never really thought about it in undergrad because I was always on it without even trying. But vet school is WAY harder and I kinda thought I'd never do well enough to get there. So I was super excited to get the letter!

I am now officially one half of a vet. I think that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure yet. Third year is going to be fun and terrifying all at the same time as we actually get to do surgery.

In my last post, I wrote how excited I was to leave my old barn. Not even close to how happy I was on Sunday when I bailed Jetta out of there after the barn owner went full psycho sleeze-ball on me. I tried to write up a post about it but it made me so mad, so hopefully I can calm down a bit to write about what happened. It was a complete fiasco.

Home and happy. Jetta very rarely rolls!

I am so glad Jetta is happily at my parent's house where she has a big 12x20' stall complete with deep bedding, attached run and large paddock. She always has clean water, nice orchard grass hay and we recently started feeding her alfalfa which she thinks is the BOMB. She absolutely loves the alfalfa, even preferring it to her grain. She's never been fed it before so it's going to be a rude shock to her when I take her off of the alfalfa after baby is weaned! AND THERE'S LESS THAN 27 DAYS LEFT!!!

That pregnancy glow

I have seriously been having nightmares about this baby. I had one the other night that it was still born which was depressing. And I had another last night where the wrong semen was used and we got a buckskin welsh pony... not exactly what I ordered lol.

And Trask has been doing great. He's a good baby, still with some baby moments, but he's so mature for a four year old most of the time. I didn't ride him for over a week and when I got back it was like I never left.

I had the best ride on him today. He's an interesting horse, not in a bad way, but he's still really figuring things out. When I saw him being ridden a year ago, he really liked to be behind the vertical and I was worried he might be afraid of contact. Luckily, this is not the case, but he still really wants to go BTV but he's just trying to figure out what you want out of him, you just need to push him forward and he'll come back up to vertical. He's happy to take contact and he doesn't get heavy on the bit. I think part of the problem is that the person riding him was afraid to push him forward and did a lot of holding instead. My first ride on him KP told me that I couldn't put my leg on and hold him with my hands because he'd get really claustrophobic and freak out.
We even rode outside!

And while that was initially true, I think we're working through that. He's not a hot horse in the slightest - really he's in that ideal middle range of being forward but not hot but not lazy either - so I have no problem letting him go forward and now that he knows that, I can even use a strong half-halt to get him paying attention when he's thinking about spoooking and we can resume business as normal without him getting claustrophobic.

Our canter is still not very strong, I can't blame him too much because his haunches are a good 3 inches taller than his withers right now! I really need to measure him, I hope he'll finish out around 16 hands! I figured out that posting on the inside (wrong) diagonal really helps him get the correct lead so it's a work in progress.

The main thing I need to do is gain his trust. He's not really sure that humans are trust worthy, though he doesn't dislike people, he's a bit afraid he's gonna get in trouble and KP thinks that the trainer was mean to him so he just needs someone to be nice to him. He's a sweet horse with a good work ethic but I think getting him to trust me will get him so much farther.

Today's fun trust lesson was clippers. KP has only drugged him to be clipped since he's afraid of them and offered to do the same for me. I'd rather not use chemical restraint as a training tool, though I know many people who do and it works for them which is just fine, but I've always been able to teach my horses to be clipped head to toe with no restraints whatsoever, so there's no excuse that a baby can't learn the same thing.

These two are TROUBLE - both 4 year old geldings and two peas in a pod


They literally do everything together

I make a point not to tie horses when introducing potentially scary things so we stood in the barn aisle while I rubbed the clippers all over him. That was fine, so I held the clippers a good couple feet away from him and turned them on. I've never gotten such a big reaction! He shot backwards about 10 feet and stood wide-eyed and snorting. I got him to step forward within reach and petted him with my free hand. I turned the clippers off, rubbed them over his face, held them away and turned them on again. No spooking this time but he was adamant that they not get near his face. We repeated this process for a while until I was able to rub his neck with the clippers turned on. Then I got to the point where I could rub his face with the hand holding the clippers so there was some vibration but not as much as just the clippers touching his face. Finally I was able to easily trim his bridle path with no complaints on his part. I could rub his cheek and jaw line with the clippers on but they are still absolutely terrifying if they touch his chin, so we'll just keep working at it a couple times a week. But I was quite pleased with how much I was able to do in one session! And now he has a nice bridle path :)

My tack locker is getting closer to being functional

Monday, June 12, 2017

Spread Thin

This last week has been so busy and I have some fun stuff to share!

Trask is now officially my lease horse and we moved to a new barn! I'm so, so excited to be at this place, it's AMAZING. When Alanna moved Emi home, I stole her place at NDF. I've boarded at the last barn (we'll call it SS) for over three years and it was time to move on. While I'm excited to have Trask at NDF I cannot wait to move Jetta here. She's gonna love it!

It is so beautiful here

I'm still spread pretty thin though. Jetta is still at the old barn until I'm done with finals (exactly one week until I'm 1/2 of a vet!) then I am moving her home to my parent's barn to foal. She'll have a nice big 12x30' stall with an attached run and a big paddock to hang out in. Once baby is born we can turn them out in the big 3 acre pasture where there's lots of room and hills for baby to roam.

I'm still riding Vante a bit just cause I enjoy it, not that I really have the time for it with finals approaching, but oh well.

Things I'm not gonna miss about the old barn:
  • Struggling to get the hay in the loft, especially since the hay elevator is permanently broken
  • Having to buy hay because I don't want my horse to eat straw
  • Parking my trailer in a swamp underneath an awful tree where birds nest and poop on my truck and the beetles breed and infest my truck and trailer. And I have to use 4-wheel drive to park and pull my trailer out of the swamp
Swamp after a couple days of "drying out". Mud up to my ankles... Vs. my new parking spot!

  • A wash rack with no warm water
  • The slickly lined poop mountain (aka manure pile)
  • A stall that I pay to get cleaned daily that often looks like it hasn't been cleaned in 3 days

  • Not being told my horse is out of her supplement
  • An open tack room where all of my tack is covered in a thick layer of dust and my things regularly walk away
  • An arena where it is deemed a miracle when the ground gets worked
  • Passive-agressive text messages from the barn owner
  • When my horse gets turned out in 80+ degree weather with a blanket on and no shade
  • Not being allowed at the barn before 9am or after 9pm
  • Not being able to see a dang thing when it's dark out because the barn lights are so dim... you know it's bad when the farrier has to use a headlamp and you basically never really get to see your horse in the light for months at a time during winter 
  • Tiny grass-less "turnout" paddocks
  • Not a single pitchfork is missing less than 2 tines

Things I'm going to miss about the old barn:
  • Outdoor arena (though new barn has a big pasture we can ride in and set jumps in once hay is cut!!)
  • Round pen
  • Absolutely nothing else 
I can't decide what I'm most excited about at the new barn... the fact that I can ride before class some days or get to the barn late when I have a busy day? How absolutely beautiful and well-kept everything is? The fact that I get to park my trailer on actual gravel? That I can access trails right off the property?

Trask learning to pose
We get individual tack lockers at NDF so I'm still figuring out how to organize mine. I pulled out an old saddle blanket rack I have for saddle pads, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna keep it. It only has one saddle rack, but I have a free-standing saddle rack that will hopefully fit. I got some awesome aqua-colored plastic bins at Target that I'm going to use to store boots/polos and other random things. Plus I have my plastic drawer thing and a bin of sheets that I think will fit. I still have a ton of stuff to move from the old barn, but the new barn has a storage room where I can stash my bin of winter blankets and other odds-and-ends.

Current configuration of my tack locker... still need to cram a bunch of stuff in!

I cannot convey how perfect this new barn is and how excited I am to be there! I was reaching my breaking point at the old barn so this was amazing timing.

Happy boy

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Baby Boys

I've got two young boys in my life these past couple weeks and I'm having so much fun!  I love riding babies.

Matchy matchy game is strong

Cute speckly ears
I rode Vante the first time in a week yesterday and he was great. Last week I introduced the vienna reins to him. I really think they'll help him learn to stretch down since he still has a really hard time grasping that concept. His neck is coming along but he still has upside-down muscling going on, so it'll help with that, and I think it'll help him grasp that he can maintain contact for more than a handful of strides before becoming a giraffe again! We're not going to use it too often, but already that one time made a lot of difference!

After I lunged him in it last week and hopped on, he was so much softer and accepting of contact. We just had a short ride since he really was so good. I was putting him away and his owner came out and told me how she rode him the day before after not riding him in over a week. She said he was really good and that whatever I'm doing with him has made him be a perfect gentleman under saddle for her! I was so happy he was good for her and that she noticed a difference.

Today I put out some ground poles and after a quick lunge I got on. He was again, really good. He's obviously used to ground poles so he trotted politely over them, except for when he stepped on each and every one. Dork. We worked a lot on the canter because it wants to be four beats and he needs to build up the muscle to hold it together. His trot-canter transitions are much better and I only had to get after him once today, the rest of the times he transitioned softly just with my leg and maybe a light tap of the whip. He did break a lot to the right, but he just needs time to get fit. The left is a lot more difficult for him, he has a really hard time maintaining an inside bend, not falling in, and not being a giraffe. Multi-tasking is tough guys! But he's getting it. He's already so much more maneuverable. I can ask him to move his shoulders and his around much more easily.

Sweaty boy
He got a bath and this is 5 seconds before he rolled... right before his owner showed up

The highlight of our ride as when he maintained a nice forward working trot (he wants to do a little western trot a lot of the time) and maintained contact without chewing on the bit excessively and he was coming over his back and using the correct muscles in his neck. He's really good at faking contact using the muscles on the underside of his neck. It felt amazing and he held it for all the ways down one long side and one short side of the arena before I asked him to walk and gave him the reins. He learns so quickly! I've been riding him only occasionally and he's starting to really get the concepts I'm trying to teach him. Even on the lunge line he doesn't go around like a big gray giraffe as often any more.

He tries to eat EVERYTHING - he's got my whip here

So more about the new man in my life:

Trask is an almost 4 year old registered Swedish Warmblood gelding. I believe he's half Trakehner and half Thoroughbred. He's small, probably 15.2hh at the moment. He's actually the first horse that I've ever castrated (don't tell him that, he doesn't remember me luckily!). He's owned by my friend/roommate/vet KP. The plan is to lease him until Jetta's baby is weaned. He's had almost a year of dressage training supposedly but is still really lacking in some areas. We're going to try and fill those holes in, start him over fences and turn him into a well rounded individual with lots of trail riding and such!

I'm really excited. I've ridden him a grand total of 3 times and he's a total sweetheart. He's gonna be so much fun! I really do love riding babies. If this whole vet thing doesn't work out, I'll just go start horses for people...

He really didn't want to get out of bed on Monday

"Make me"
I rode him on Sunday and Monday and he's going to be a lot of fun. I love how he's built, super compact and I think he's going to be a fun jumper. We did our first little crossrail the other day and after walking over awkwardly a couple times, he trotted right over it and cantered away like it was nothing. Now if he could just not whinny every 5 seconds when horses are getting turned out...

We jumped!

He moves to the new barn (more on that exciting news soon!) on Sunday. I'm so excited to have a horse that's a little more "mine" for the summer.

 And lest everyone forget who the real star of this show is...  Jetta is now officially past her 9 month mark! She got a nice bath the other day (which she did not appreciate, as per usual). Her belly has gotten so big!

Shiny girl, who also rolled in 5 seconds
 Also, don't forget to enter our baby contest I wrote about in my last post!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Baby Contest

I always think it's fun for foal contests, so here's my own! Jetta is now 63 days away from her "foaling date".

The baby is going to be buckskin, so we don't have to guess on color. Instead, let's have some guesses on markings, gender and foaling date!

Here's how it works. Comment your guess for the foal's markings and gender (for instance colt with a blaze and two hind socks) and/or pick the foaling date and time. I will pick a winner from each category (marking/gender and foaling date) and you can enter both if you want.

I honestly don't care whether the foal is a filly or colt, but I'm really hoping it's got a blaze and at least one sock!

For reference, Jetta has a blaze and one hind sock and a white spot on her other hind coronet. Mirabeau has a star and two hind socks. Jetta was bred August 26th, so if her pregnancy is exactly 342 days, then she is due August 1st.

For example, my guess:
August 4th at 3am. Colt, with one hind sock and a blaze. Basically what I'm hoping for: (pictures stolen shamelessly off google)

Also, any name ideas are welcome. I've already picked out it's registered name (Merely Gold = Mirabeau x Gold Jet Away), but I need a barn name that starts with "M". I was thinking Midas or Milo if it's a colt and maybe Mira if it's a filly, but I'm not sure. Ideas?

Guesses are due by the time of foaling (obviously) so you have lots of time to make your bet! I will pick two winners, each will win a $15 gift card to your tack shop of choice (Dover, Smartpak, or Riding Warehouse).

Let the games begin!

(and let's all just keep our fingers crossed for an easy foaling with a healthy foal!)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weekly Update

You may recall in January how I posted I was going to use some christmas money to buy some awesome aqua colored leather gloves. I was super excited to get them... well it only took 5 months but they finally arrived!

Seriously the worst experience I have ever had buying something. Ever. I cannot believe the poor customer service, but I'm just happy I finally got them!

They are actually a brand of golfing gloves, called GFore, not made for horses so I'm not sure how long they're going to last since they're not actually made for the demand of riding. But I'm still in love with them! They're kind of difficult to get - if you order them from a golfing store (NOT the equestrian store I went through), you have to find a left and a right glove and order them individually. Pretty much no store had both a left and a right, in a size small, in the aqua color. Hence why I impatiently waited 5 months for them to come from the place I ordered them.

I can't recommend them yet since I've only ridden in them twice and I'm kinda just waiting for them to unravel... but they are butter soft and the most beautiful and perfect color. I love them!

Perfect #rootd

In other news, just a PSA. I found this super cute Joules Welly boot bag for over half off and it seemed about the right size to fit my Dubarry boots, so I bought it... and they fit inside perfectly! It is the cutest bag with a nice wide opening, so if you ever find yourself wanting a cute boot bag for your Dubarry or Faux-berry's these are perfect!

In other news, Jetta is still very pregnant and I have baby fever. My roommates' horse just had her baby on Tuesday and she is PRECIOUS. I love her. I sure hope Jetta doesn't make me wait that long though... she was at 361 days pregnant. Holy smokes, I might die if she is pregnant for that long!

Hard to get a non-blurry picture of the little ginger

Baby belly!

Fresh out of the oven

And finally, I have still been riding Vante three days a week. He has been a little fireball the past three rides. I pulled him out on Friday and tacked him up. He was a little hyper, but nothing unusual. I got him to the arena and went to tighten the girth and he exploded and reared and tried to take off. So we went and got a lunge line and he had a grand time leaping and bucking and rearing and running around. I had never seen him so full of it! He was very good for our ride, especially being in front of my leg.

I ordered some cob-sized cheek pieces (it was super hard to find one with rounded buckles to match my bridle) that arrived last week and now my bridle fits him perfectly. So much better.

Monday and Tuesday I rode him and he was still a little fireball but not as bad. We lunged first and he was ok under saddle. Monday was incredibly windy and the entire barn rattled and he was quite on edge the whole time. Tuesday he just couldn't handle the distractions - one other horse being ridden and a person on the ground watering the arena. He wanted to stop and say hi to everyone! And the left lead canter was just non-existant. He wouldn't bend to the inside, he wouldn't give to the bit and just wanted to be a giraffe, and he didn't want to go at a normal speed, more of a hand-gallop. So that was a bit frustrating. Overall though, he's still learning very quickly and he's still fun!

Maybe we can get these neck muscles developed correctly one day!