Monday, January 31, 2011

Too Funny

I love reading over at The Literary Horse - Jane is a great writer and she amuses us with her absolutely hilarious stories of Mr. Chips, the Shetland pony. The other day she posted a post from another blog, this one called Hyperbole and a Half. If you have never been there before, you must go. While not horsey related, these stories are gut wrenching, hysterically laughing, crying and peeing your pants kind of funny. I love it. My roommate just looks at me oddly while I'm over here crying, but no worries.

One of the things that makes these stories so funny is the illustrations, like this one. In short, they are pure genius. I crack up laughing just thinking about them.



Borrowed from Hyperbole and a Half, the God of Cake story.
The cake story that Jane posted about at TLH literally takes the cake. I think it's my favorite story from Hyperbole and a Half, though the Wolves story's pretty hilarious too. So if you ever need a pick-me-up, just take a break to go read one of the stories over at Hyperbole and a Half. I promise it will make you smile :)

Barefoot Performance Horses



A gorgeous FEI level mare with no shoes! Photo: http://www.hoofcareunltd.com/Emma%20Hindle.htm
 I must say that I love hearing about performance barefoot horses. Most people I talk to think that barefoot is just for pasture ponies and they would never consider de-shoeing their prize "dressage/hunter/western pleasure/fill in the blank".
 

barefootjump.jpg
A barefoot eventer. Photo: http://healthyhooves.ca/news/barefoot-eventer

 The reality is that with a competent barefoot trimmer, your horses will be much happier without shoes and if they do get tender on rocks, then hoof boots are a much less expensive and less invasive option to shoeing.

I am a regular reader of the Barefoot Horse Blog (go check it out, she's a great trimmer who focuses on the whole package, not just the hoof, and I love seeing all of the horses that she fixes before and after) and today I ran across two other blogs for barefoot performance horses, which just made me really happy.

Rockley Farms - super educational, has detailed posts on shoeing vs barefoot and well illustrated posts on rehab horses.

Tekes Tally-Ho! - an Akal-Teke breeder who has beautiful barefoot, natural horsemanship trained, eventing Akhal-Teke's. I don't think that you could argue with them that their horses aren't comfortable being barefoot or would be better in shoes :)

Upon further searching, I uncovered a multitide of blogs and websites about barefeet. Below are a few of those, but there are even more! There is so much information out there about the benefits of going barefoot. I think the only issue is finding a good natural hoof trimmer...

Hoofcare Unlimited
Barefoot Hoofcare
Healthy Hooves
Hoof Sculpture
The Horse's Hoof - Barefoot Performance

All of my horses have been barefoot, originally just because I wasn't competing and Grady was pastured so in the winter the mud would have sucked his shoes right off, but over the years I've come to prefer barefoot. All four of my horses have great rockcrunchers with only Jetta ever getting a little tender, but we're improving!

A barefoot English Pleasure horse. Photo: http://www.thehorseshoof.com/barefootperf.html

One more site that talks about performance barefoot is Eventing-A-Gogo, Andrea made the decision to go barefoot and Gogo has done so well at eventing as a barefoot girl :)
The amazing Gogo
                                             

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What to buy... That is the question

I love late Christmas presents :) I got an Amazon.com gift card in the mail the other day and I have been trying to decide what to buy with it.

I've been eyeing this book on conditioning for a long time, so I am going to buy it for sure, but then I can get one other book.


 

I've narrowed it down to these two books.
The Elements of Dressage: A Guide to Training the Young Horse
Basic Training of the Young Horse: From the Education of the Young Foal to the First Competition


They both got good reviews and sound like they are chock full of information. I would just like a book that has lots of clear step-by-step exercises that are illustrated, stuff that I can browse and add to my own training program. Has anyone read/owns these books? Or are there other young dressage horse training books that you like?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Equestrian Boots

I must admit that I really like the trend of "Equestrian" boots.

They're very popular here on campus and I really want a pair! One friend said I should just wear my tall boots, but that's a little over the top and I don't think that I could handle walking across campus in them all day.

The first pair I ever fell in love with were these Hunter Hamilton brown leather boots. They're cute and simple. I really like the outside zipper and buckle at the top as well as the low heel and smooth leather. I wish the outside zipper would become fashionable for actual riding boots. Of course as soon as I discovered them they were discontinued and you can't find them anywhere...


                  

Since then I have found two pairs of boots that I love and won't break the bank. I can't believe how spendy some of these boots are. $300+ and they're not even real riding boots!


The Loot Boot from White Mountain Shoes.

                       
Aerosoles - Ride Line-Brown Pu-5.5M - Women's Ride Line Boots in Brown Leather
Aerosoles Ride Line Boots.


Then for my splurge pair, I like the Smarpak Cordoba Andalusian riding boots. I'm not a super fan of the tassel, but I like everything else. Just a bit too pricey for my budget!





It's interesting to read about "equestrian style" and how it's becoming more popular in the non-horsey populations :) It's pretty normal for us and while we of course want to look good in our riding wear, I don't think many of us consider venturing outside the barn or show ring in our horse clothing (at least on purpose!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Funny

A Letter from Your Horse

(Original version)

When you are tense, let me teach you to relax.

When you are short-tempered, let me teach you to be patient.

When you are short-sighted, let me teach you to see.

When you are quick to react, let me teach you to be patient.

When you are angry, let me teach you to be serene.

When you feel superior, let me teach you to be respectful.

When you are self-absorbed, let me teach you to think of greater things.

When you are arrogant, let me teach you humility.

When you are lonely, let me be your companion.

When you are tired, let me carry the load.

When you need to learn, let me teach you.

After all, I am your horse.


And now, the REAL DEAL...

When you are tense, let me teach you that there are lions in them thar woods and we need to leave NOW!

When you are short-tempered, let me teach yo u to slog around the pasture for an hour before you can catch me.

When you are short-sighted, let me teach you to figure out where, exactly, in the 40 acres I am hiding.

When you are quick to react, let me teach you that herbivores kick much faster and harder than omnivores.

When you are angry, let me teach you how well I can stand on my hind feet because I don't feel like cantering on my right lead today.

When you are worried, let me entertain you with my mystery lameness.

When you feel superior, let me teach you that, mostly, you are the maid service.

When you are self-absorbed, let me teach you to PAY ATTENTION. Remember how I told you about those lions in them thar woods?

When you are arrogant, let me teach you what 1200 lbs of "YAHOO LETS GO!" can do when suitably inspired.

When you are lonely, let me be your companion. Let's do lunch. Also, breakfast, snack and dinner.

When yo u are tired, don't forget the 600 lbs of grain that needs to be unloaded.

When you are feeling financially secure, let me teach you the meaning of "Veterinary Services".

When you want to learn, hang around, bud. I'll learn ya.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kathy Casey Clinic

Well the video refuses to be loaded. I'll put it up eventually because it's a great comparison to see how much she has improved since the last video that I posted and you can hear some of what Kathy was working on with me.

I really enjoyed the clinic, it was very helpful. I'm not sure that Kathy really liked me, she was pretty strict and severe in her judgements on me, but I liked her. I've gotten used to dressage trainers being really strict. I think the only really "nice" dressage trainer that I've worked with is Clay Wright and I just love his teaching style.

I've ridden under Kathy several times for shows and she was really lenient in her scores (first time I got a 70% at a recognized show!) and gave great feedback that was effective and clear.

Anways she commented (well, a better description was that she complained) that I was being too nice to Jetta and was riding in a manner like "Oh I don't want to get in your way or make you upset." So I need to start demanding more of her and now that she's coming five we get to work on the "real" stuff, especially making her do an actual working walk, trot and canter.

She had us warm up by doing leg yields with the nose to the wall. Then she had me shorten my reins waaayy up to force her to work in a rounder frame so that she could lift her back and develop better muscling and she wouldn't have her hind end trailing. She wanted the neck to drop slightly and for her head to hang straight down from the poll. I could definitely feel when Jetta was doing it correctly because her back came up, she didn't lay on my hands and I could feel her stride become freer and more swingy.

She really picked apart my position, for which I was really glad, but she hated how I rode. I needed to have my elbows back by my side (funny story there, I know that I need to work on keeping my elbows closer to my body. Two years ago working with Clay he actually ended up duct taping my elbows around my waist. He recommended I polo wrap them to myself in order to help myself remember where they need to be. Maybe it's time to break out the polos again...) I also needed to "drape" my leg around the horse, turning my heels out and stop squeezing with my heels, which by the way was super hard for me because Jetta was getting really tired by the end. She lamented my hunter position (which funnily enough my jumping trainer complains about my position in that I'm not riding huntery enough) and had me really thrust my hips forward and shoulders back which felt super odd, but I'm sure I was sitting straight when I did it. I also needed to really sit up and back for the canter in order to keep Jetta from falling on her forehand.

Kathy said that Jetta was really cantering on her forehand which "wasn't natural for a Thoroughbred and should have been prevented much earlier in her training because it's easier to prevent than fix later on" though I must say it's been an uphill battle ever since I started cantering her to get her off the forehand so I'm not sure how I could have prevented it. It would be something good to know I'm sure.

One thing that bugged me a little was her comments on my bit. I've heard Mylers being referred to as severe by dressagy people simply because they are a little thin but she was kind of passive aggressive about it, saying at a rest when she was rubbing Jetta's forehead "I know baby, I'm sorry, that bit is just so severe for you, poor thing." Umm, really? That's pretty rude. And I could have picked a bit that was way more severe. I mean, it's an average diameter, the most common bits that I see are that size and it has the comfort barrel in the middle so at least it doesn't collapse on her bars in the way a single joint would do with the "nutcracker effect". I'm perfectly happy to try another bit, I do have a hollow mouth french link I've been meaning to try out. At least I didn't have a twisted snaffle or anything right?! Oh and she didn't comment on anyone else's bits even thought they were all the same size as mine... Humph.

At least she seemed ok with my saddle. We had lessons in pairs and the other girl riding with me had a close contact saddle that Kathy didn't like because it put her in a bad chair seat position and didn't allow her to ride effectively in a dressage position.

I think the reason she was so hard on me was because I had a young horse. She wanted to help me train her correctly so I can see where she was coming from. She did apologize afterwards for being so harsh, saying that she only had an hour with me and she just wanted to try to fix everything that she could in that short time period. Overall it was an enjoyable and educational experience. Jetta tried really hard and behaved very well. I hope to be able to clinic with her again, maybe by that time Jetta will be more developed and we can give her a better impression!

Oh and a great quote from her, "Where are your spurs? You're not riding with enough weapons!" Which makes me laugh every time I hear it. I think the first time I heard it was from the Dressage through the Levels clinic with Debbie McDonald and Janet Foy...

So because there are no pictures, I'll just leave you with the gorgeous sunset that we've been having every night.


What a lovely day!!

These past two days have just been gorgeous and sunny and warm. I love it! I am such a warm weather person. I need to be like some of those fancy trainers who move to Florida for the winter ;)


Jetta had a hard-earned day off yesterday after all of her work over the weekend. She really was pretty awesome for how green she is.

Today I went out and rode and again she was fantastic. Oh, when she's good she's great! We warmed up inside then ventured out on the trails. The sun was shining and it was pretty warm. Jetta loves the trails. She was power walking while very curiously looking this way and that.



We came across this huge lovely feild. In the early summer when it dries out and late summer/fall after the hay is cut we're allowed to ride in it and I can't wait! It's nice and big and flat - perfect for going on a nice long canter and doing some conditioning work.


Ahh, sunshine...



After our short little trail ride we went back inside the arena and did some more work as she was pretty fresh. We worked on some of the things that Kathy Casey was working with us on - asking Jetta to be more round. After doing some leg yeilds down the wall and some trot work we had two amazing canters in each direction. I love riding her when she's working correctly - she's light on the bit and you can feel her lift her back and swing her forehand up and forward. It makes me feel like I have a real dressage horse!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fun show!

So today was our show. I had fun and I was happy with how Jetta did. It was so nice though - I left the show at 10:30! I think that was the shortest show I had ever been to. Jetta and I just did the first five baby classes and for the most part she was fantastic.

I was surprised that there were actually quite a few horses in the baby classes :) There were a couple other young horses, an old guy getting back to work and an adorable little pony being schooled by a trainer.

And guess what? Jetta got a first place!!! I was so surprised. Of course it was only in the walk-trot flat class, but hey, this is progress for us! We had to walk, posting trot, sitting trot, reverse at the walk, trot-halt and halt-trot. I was very proud of my baby. We got first out of four horses.

We also did trot a pole, where we got third out of six horses. Trot an X we got fourth out of five, trot a course we got second out of two, and canter a course we got third out of three. I was happy though because 1) I didn't fall off, 2) Jetta only had one refusal, 3) she didn't buck at all, and 4) she really did try. We haven't really done all that much jumping so in my eyes she was great. She was a little rushy and the first few jumps she would always "forget" (or be too lazy) to pick up her feet.

Here's the pretty girl in all her glory:


Now we know what we have to work on for next month's show. We even got a voucher for one free class for the next show because of our first place ribbon, so we get to enter more classes!

I'll talk about the clinic tomorrow. I'm trying to get a video onto my computer but it's not cooperating :(

Saturday, January 22, 2011

HH Rebozo






I must say that I really like this horse. Going to the World Equestrian Games was amazing, especially in that I got to see these world class horses up close. One of my favorites was Vigo d'Asouilles, partly because he was a gorgeous chestnut like my own favorite horse, Grady, but he seemed to have a great temperament and loved his job, and he looked super nice going around the course, but also because he was the shiniest horse I have ever seen!


The gorgeous Vigo D'Arsouilles, piloted by Phillipe Le Jeune


 But I fell in love with the little HH Rebozo. He looked like one of the smallest horses on the course even though he's roughly 16 hh (I think). But he was so cute and super laid back! He was the only horse to get time faults because he was going too slow, lol. I loved his laid-back manner and how he rode in a simple short shank hackamore, especially when compared to Hickstead's get-up!


Hickstead and Eric Lamaze. Hickstead has an eggbutt snaffle
and long shank hackamore kept together with a converter.
Read more about it here. Now this is one hot horse!

To me, the show jumping horses I see, seem to have one thing in common: they like to go. So Rebozo was different. I think some of the top horses have to be just a little bit crazy to tackle the courses at the International level :) It's a delicate balance between hotness and grace, the ability to jump and the ability to get it done quickly. It was interesting to see a horse that had made it to the top, but he didn't seem hot or crazy. It was something nice to see, I felt.


Roderigo Pessoa effortlessly guiding HH Rebozo

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Funny

If you've never been to Hahahorses.com you should go. It can be pretty entertaining. Here are just a few of my favorites...

“Holstein-ER, Daddy, I said I wanted a Holstein-ER”
by Samrdr1

OMG, I’m sorry, your tag DOES say NOT to put you through the dryer….
by Kristin

Your breath. It stinks.
by CD

This one just reminds me of the Mr. Chips
story which I find absolutely hilarious.

The perils of not properly blanketing your horse
by Nick

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Craving a Beach Ride

I want to go ride on the beach! But it's not really feasible at this point. Yesterday the weather was gorgeous and my Animal Science 121 class went off campus to the Sheep Barn and the sun was shining and it just seemed like spring! But it's back to gloomy clouds and rain. It's super windy and rainy most of the time at the coast too...

I can't wait until spring! I am counting down the days... not literally but I really can't wait. One thing that I love about spring is the trail riding. In the winter the local trails are way too slick - I tried to go on a trail ride with Jazz and we were almost cantering in place trying to get up a hill! So I have to wait until things dry out, it gets warmer and the days get longer. One of my favoritest things (I don't think that's really a word... oh well!) is going to ride on the beach. My trainer also loves it so she'll haul me out there a lot and we race down the beach.

I think one of my favorite things, besides riding an awesome cross country course in the sunshine, is galloping across the beach and playing in the water. Jetta hasn't yet been to the beach, so we'll have to see how that one goes, but I'm sure she'll love it :) I hope.

Here are some pictures from past escapades on the beach. Enjoy!

Me and Jazz

My friend AV and Jazz go swimming!


Grady's first visit to the beach :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Introducing Katy

I realize that I have mentioned Katy quite a few times here on the blog but you haven't been formally introduced. So, without much further ado, here is Katy:









Katy is a half Gypsy Vanner, half PMU Clydesdale. Her sire is Taliesan, from Big Sky Gypsy's. She is not yet registered, but she's being shown as Hey There Delilah (name courtesy of ML :) but we call her Katelyn or Katy. She's four, soon to turn five in March. She is such a sweet horse. She can be sensitive and lazy (yes at the same time!) but for the most part she's super laid-back and just an all-around fun horse.

My aunt gave me Katy to train two years ago, then I was supposed to help her sell Katy, but my aunt ended up giving Katy permanently to me, with the condition that I couldn't sell her. I had a major dilemma in deciding whether to keep Jetta or Katy, I couldn't afford two horses' boards, but in the end I get to keep Katy by leasing her out! So it's a happy ending all around. Katy is doing awesome with ML so everything's good :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can't Wait for the Weekend!

This is going to be a busy, hopefully fun, weekend. On Saturday I have a lesson with Kathy Casey, provided by the dressage club that I'm in (aka free!). Then I'm trying to decide if I want to go to a reining clinic with my horse Jazz. We'll see because that means a lot of driving back and forth.

Then on Sunday, ML and I are riding in a jumping show. I just hope Jetta and I don't embarass ourselves. Other than that, I could care less how we do, I just want to get her out and exposed to new stuff. We're doing the trot a pole, trot an X, trot a course, canter a course and a flat class. The course will be around 12" so I'm definitely not worried about her going over it, just the steering and stopping... Anyways, hopefully I'll get some videos and pictures that I can post!

It's only Tuesday, but I can't wait for it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wow

I saw this video of a young stallion on Behind the Bit and I was sooo jealous. He's three! And look at his movement! Already he is balanced with great movement and he's on the bit. Unlike our four year old horse... She's almost 5 years old!

So, to see the difference, look at him:


And then let's look at Jetta. This video was taken over two months ago. Sure, I know that she's not a warmblood, and she's not being ridden by a professional trainer but still. If it were possible, I wish Jetta looked like the above horse ;)

 

I can see that Jetta has improved a lot. I remember filming this video, this was our third take. The first try didn't record (you actually have to press the record button ;) And the second time I lost my stirrup and Jetta was like "One stirrup? Ok, let's go really fast!" and the final try (this video) Jetta was not happy with being asked to canter for the third time. So, it wasn't our best ride at the time, but not our worst either. I can't wait to get a new video up! Kind of...

Have I mentioned how much I hate both uploading videos to youtube and embedding them in Blogger? Not to mention that I accidently changed my youtube account into French and I don't know how to change it back! 



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tack Sale

I don't think there's anything better than a good tack sale :) I enjoy shopping, good deals, and horse tack, so combine all three things and you get a good day! Unfortunately I didn't sell my two saddles, but there are two people interested that would like to take my Collegiate out on trial so fingers crossed that they follow through!



This year the tack sale was at a huge nice riding facility, OHC. My Hippology team was in charge of doing the tack sale last year (it's an annual event that someone different picks up each year) and looking at OHC and the fairgrounds were just way too expensive, so we ended up at another barn that wasn't quite as nice but useable. I thought it was awesome that they worked out a deal with the owner of OHC because he usually charges so much that he had to have cut them a deal, possibly there was no show for the weekend so he needed something to fill the empty space.

Anyways, there was a ton of vendors, as always. Not many as at the Canby tack sale, but plenty to make it more than worth it to come. I sold a few odds and ends - a set of shipping boots my horses hate, a show shirt, a saddle pad, a fly mask that I hate, and some old rubber boots that no longer fit. I spent about half of my earning on some new stuff, a new dressage cavesson (super soft!), a french link snaffle, a jumping hackamore, and a stock tie. Nothing spectacular, but stuff I know I'll use.

I noticed that there were so many saddles, I just think with the economy right now, they just aren't selling unless they're an ok quality for super cheap. As with every tack sale you must get there right away or all the other good deals will be gone. Either that or come at the end and just make really low offers on things. I saw some driving lines that sell for $50 from Schneiders and I headed towards them, but before I got there someone picked them up and bought them! And someone beat me to a nice $20 soft touch dressage girth. Sigh :( And I was there at 7:30, half an hour before opening cause I was there to set up my small amount of tack.

A friend of mine is a bargain shopper - she looks for good stuff that is way underpriced and buys it, cleans it up and resells it. She got a couple nice things, including a pretty show headstall with silver buckles, very nice and understated, not gaudy at all. The buckles were stamped with "Sterling Silver" on the back and she got it for 20 bucks! I think my favorite buy from a tack sale is probably my dressage saddle. $800 for an almost brand new $2500 saddle. <3 I love that saddle.

Have you ever gotten a great deal at a tack sale?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Funny

I decided I might as well make this kind of a regular feature as long as I can find good stuff to post. We all need something to brighten our day on a Friday right?

Horse Self- Improvement In 20 Easy Steps

 
 1. I will NOT roll in streams when my human is on my  back.

 2. I will NOT leap over large nonexistent obstacles  when the whim strikes.
 
 3. I will NOT walk faster on the way home than I did  on the way out.

 4. I will NOT bite my farrier's butt just to say "Hi".

 5. I will NOT confuse my human's blond hair for really  soft hay.

 6. I will NOT blow my nose on my human.
 
 7. I will NOT try to mooch goodies from every human  within a one-mile radius.
 
 8. I will NOT lay totally flat in my stall with my  eyes glazed over and my legs straight out and pretend  I can't hear my human frantically screaming "Are you  asleep?"

 9. I will NOT chase the ponies into the electric fence  to see if it is on.

 10. I will promise NEVER to dump the wheelbarrow of  manure over while my human is mucking my stall.

 11. I will NOT grab my lead rope in my mouth and  attempt to lead myself.

 12. I will NOT pull my shoes off the day after being  shod just to prove that I can.

 13. I am NEITHER a beaver nor a carpenter. I promise I  won't eat or orally remodel the barn or the new  fences.

 14. I am NOT a battle steed and will NOT act like one.
 
 15. I WILL forgive my human for my very bad haircut,  even though I look ridiculous.

 16. I WILL accept that not every carrot is for me.
 
 17. I will NOT bite the butt of the horse in front of  me during a trail ride just to say "Hi".

 18. I will NOT jump in the air and turn 180 degrees  every time I see a deer.

 19. I will understand that deer are NOT carnivorous.
 
 20. I WILL gladly come from the pasture when my human  wants my company.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Redo

Do you ever wish there was a redo button some days? I feel like today was just one of those days. There wasn't anything particular bad about today, I just think that it could have been better.

Jetta was pretty good today, I just walked and trotted around the arena because I wasn't confident enough to canter Jetta with a certain person riding in the ring. I am trying to make myself not keep a hold of Jetta's mouth all the time - I've noticed that it's become a bad habit. Now I'm letting the reins out about an inch or two of where I normally hold them. I'll still be able to take a hold of her if I need to, but overall I've noticed a good improvement in both our trot and canter. It feels fantastic when Jetta reaches down into the contact and I can feel her lift her back, while at the same time we are moving in a forward yet controlled speed.

Over the past 5 days we've had 3 fantastic rides. I was hoping that it had become the norm! Yesterday though was not good, not good at all. Unfortunately the BO was watching me yesterday (of course not any of the three days before!) and again, for I think the 5th time, commented that the alfalfa is making her hyper and act like a snot. Gee, thanks. I think Jetta has increased the bronciness on the lunge, but other than that, I'm not seeing a huge difference in her behavior prior to adding alfalfa. I think her naughtiness is a result of the fact that she is a young, green, Thoroughbred that has limited to no pasture time, not a result of alfalfa. I am very pleased with how much weight she has been gaining back - it made an almost immediate difference.

Since today, albeit not bad, wasn't the best and actually kind of a downer, I decided to do a review of the past two years and everything that Jetta has improved in.
  • I can now easily handle her feet. She no longer tries to kick or lay down while picking or trimming her feet.
  • We can go in straight lines. She doesn't suddenly dive off the rail and refuse to straighten out. Although, we can't really expect straightness when cutting across the arena.
  • When cantering we no longer get bronc bucking or trying to bite me. This one was kind of a pain.
  • She is much more balanced now and I don't feel like we're going to fall going around a corner.
  • She leads without running me over or taking off. Once being liberated from the stud chain I found she had no ground manners but she's learned very quickly.
  • No more rearing when she doesn't feel like lunging. Also, she slows down on voice commands now! No more galloping away without stopping.
  • She accepts the bridling easily and puts her head down for it.
I really would like to continue to improve at an even better rate. While I feel we've improved overall, there are still several things that I want to get done. Including one main goal:
    
    Lots and lots of this!!
    
  • Cantering. My one goal for this entire month is just about cantering. I want to make a nice transition from the trot to the canter without kicking up. I want Jetta to be on the bit yet not heavy and going at a reasonable speed. I want her to slow down when I ask. That is all! It's not too much to ask is it? I'm hoping to work really hard at it this month and by the end of January I would like to meet this goal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jetta's Hooves

So I posted a while ago about showing some pictures about how Jetta's feet have changed. She still needs to be trimmed about every 5 weeks because her hooves grow quickly and end up flaring and cracking, but overall there is a lot of improvement.

Here are her hooves when I first got Jetta.




They were pretty terrible because they had never been trimmed! Not in her whole 2 and a half years that she'd been alive. No one had even bothered to teach her to pick her feet up.

This is her hooves this week during the trim. You can see the difference between her front hooves if you zoom in.



And here they are after the trim. Doesn't she have pretty toes now? The flair is almost all going away. She still has a few quarter cracks that need to grow out and she has some mild thrush that I'm trying to eliminate, but overall a major improvement.

Just kidding. I love my phone for taking on the spot pictures, but it hides pictures from me. I know I took a picture of her hooves "after" but I can't find it! It'll show up eventually and when I find it I'll post it :)

Found it!!! My phone is weird...


So now you know all about Jetta's feet! She's still a bit thinsoled and can get tender on big rocks sometimes, so I think I might get her some hoof boots for riding on rock, maybe the Renegade hoof boots, but overall I love her barefeet and I wouldn't have her any other way.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not Much Going On

Well, there's not too much to report. I don't get to ride Jetta today because this is my one school day where I just have so much class. I start at 8 and go till 12 then go back at 2 until 5. Yeah, long day. I rode Jetta on Friday and we did a lot of walk-halt-back up and trot-walk-halt-back up transitions to get her up off the bit. Our canter was amazing! It was the best canter we've had in forever - she was soft and balanced and wasn't rushing. Ah, bliss. We only cantered one direction because I was so happy with that canter so we just ended it right there.

I'm happy to report two things: one that I have decided that I love my new bridle. I bent the noseband around a bit to get it to sit right on her nose and made a few adjustments. It now looks very purdy. Also, Jetta is gaining back a lot of weight already. It seemed like it was almost immediate change :)

It is freezing today, so I'm kind of glad that I'm not going to ride. It's just too freaking cold. I almost slipped and fell on ice several times this morning on my way to class. It was kinda funny ;)



That's about it for today, hopefully tomorrow will be a great ride!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Your First Horse: Part 2

I remember my first horse. My parents bought a feed store after my dad's work closed resulting in him getting laid off. My dad had always wanted to own a retail store - his dad had owned a hardware store. Working at the feed store always results in meeting a ton of interesting people. One person we met was a horse trainer, I'll call her DVO.

I had been asking for a horse for years. I wanted to take lessons and I used to count horses that we passed while on road trips. Eventually my wish was granted. I could get a horse and take lessons with DVO. I only followed a small amount of my own rules when I got my first horse. DVO was going to take us to visit several horses and the first one we visited I fell in love with (don't do that. Look around at multiple horses before you settle on one). I rode him around the pasture walk, trot, and barely a canter and I wanted him. Sure it took an hour to catch him, he veered off towards his buddy when I rode and he would only canter a few strides. I didn't care, he was the one. He was a 16 year-old QH gelding, 15.3 hh and I would say he was about green broke.

He didn't want to canter, then when he did he wouldn't stop, he wouldn't bend, didn't know how to lunge and refused to be caught. Oh and he bucked and tried to rub me off on fences. But he was perfect in my eyes. Luckily DVO was a fantastic trainer and she helped me to reform my wily horse. He was not a beginner's horse, but he turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I would never, ever recommend that anyone get a horse like Grady. He was a brat to say the least. But I was a fearless child who tried my hardest. It didn't matter how many times I fell off or got bucked off, I would get back on. I learned quickly, took weekly lessons and rode almost every day, practicing what I learned. I had a great trainer, a place to ride at home, always wore a helmet and my parent's were willing to cart me around to lessons and 4-H.

Today Grady is a very well mannered old man that I will own forever. He taught me so much about perseverance and training. He made me want to learn more about training horses, not just riding. He is still a brat when other people ride him and still has the occasional buck left in him but he is a totally new horse.

My lovely boy :)


I'll use one of my lesson kids as an example for what can go wrong when buying a horse. She took lessons from me for two years - she rode english and was interested in learning how to jump. She had taken lessons at a fancy hunter barn before meeting me through my parent's feed store. They were planning on buying a horse. They had plenty of money (illustrated by their beautiful brand new Pessoa saddle and girth that they brought to use for every lesson) so I envisioned a dead broke, fancy Appendix QH to learn to jump on and show english pleasure. I advised them to take a horse trainer along with them when looking at horses. They ignored my advice. Things got busy for them when school started again and I never heard from them again. Talking to someone else, I learned that they went out and bought a cutting horse. It was a very nice horse from what I heard, but do you know their reason for buying it? Well, the daughter complained about a horse that they tryed out because it wouldn't do what she wanted and she blamed it based on the fact that it was a western horse. So the mom, to teach her a lesson that it was the daughter's problem, not western horses, bought her a cutting horse. The horse is super hot, way too much so for a first horse so they have invested a lot of time and money in taking lessons and putting the horse into training so it can become a quieter horse. The daughter has found that she enjoys chasing cows, but the horse is still too much for her. The horse is now for sale. 

So yeah, please don't follow either my example or my student's example unless you are one of those people who is not afraid of horses and will work your hardest every single day of the week to make things week. But even then, sometimes (make that all of the time) a well-trained, well-suited horse is worth every penny.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Your First Horse: Part 1

I saw this topic on another blog today and it's one that I'm really interested in.

I give riding and horsemanship lessons to kids during the summertime and parents always say "We're considering getting a horse, do you have any advice?" And the answer is always yes. Yes I have a lot of advice.

My advice, in its longest form, would take several pages. I have actually written up kind of a pamphlet for parents on what to do/expect when getting a horse. Here is the shortened version:
  • First rule: always take an experienced horse person with you when you go to look at a horse and you can never get too many second opinions. You do not want to end up with a horse unsuited to you.
  • Lease a horse first! That is one of the best pieces of advice ever. Then you know what owning a horse is like, but at the end of your contract you get to give the horse back if it's not for you.
  • Never get a horse that is young or green broke. I would probably place a minimum age at 5 or 6 for a well-trained horse. I really hate it when people say that their child and horse can "learn together" because 99% of the time it doesn't work out.
  • Take lessons. I don't care if you used to own horses when you were 20. You can always learn more and even professionals take lessons.
  • I highly recommend a vet check. You never know what might be wrong with a horse and you certainly don't want to buy a horse to later have it die on you.
  • Know what discipline you want to ride in and buy an appropriate horse. If you want to ride trails, don't buy a show horse that's never been out of an arena. If you want to barrel race, don't buy a gaited Paso Fino.
  • Be fully equipped to handle a horse before you buy one. Have a stall and pasture with safe fences or a boarding barn lined up, know how much tack and feed costs and where to get it.
  • Don't buy a $200 horse and expect it to be a great kids horse to show in 4-H or open shows. Chances are a horse that cheap has something wrong with it. Spending slightly more for a horse than you want to will result in a higher quality horse that will incure less training and upkeep expenses than the foundered bratty pony you got for free.
  • A good rule of thumb when buying a horse for a kid is that the child's age plus the age of the horse should add up to at least 20.
  • If you have kids, consider getting involved in 4-H or Pony Club. They will make a lot of friends and learn a lot. It is totally worth it.
  • Also know that if you buy a horse for your kid, you have to get involved. You can't just leave them to their own devices. Also ask yourself if your child is responsible enough to handle a horse and if they really actually want a horse, not just the idea of a horse.
  • Be safe! Don't get a horse with bad habits unless you are a determined and good rider with a great trainer. Always wear a helmet and boots. Don't skimp on safety! If you "don't want to spend the money" on riding equipment so your daughter can take lessons, then you are not read to buy.
I highly, highly recommend 4-H and/or Pony club in addition to lessons. Also, read up before you consider getting a horse! There are many, many great books, such as Horses for Dummies or others such as this one:


Fantastic, complete and full of information.
Favorite new horse person book!
There will be a Part 2...

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Little Humor

There is a definite "classical" method one should strictly follow while one's horse is bucking.
1. Ensure that you have an audience. There is absolutely no point in being decked by your horse unless there are, oh, say a hundred people around to watch. This way, you will have made them feel better about their own inadequacies, and you won't have to go into tedious detail explaining to everyone you know exactly how it happened. It is considered good form if at least one of the audience members is either:
a. Someone you admire and want to impress; or
b. Someone you despise and don't want to give any ammo to; or
c. Someone you have the hots for and want to impress; or
d. Your best friend, who will have no compunction in falling over, laughing and pointing.
2. Try to be spectacular. I mean, anyone can just get bucked off and land on their backside, can't they? You want to try to make this "the decking to end all deckings." The Titanic of bucks. You get the picture. Now, for this you will need the following: An extremely acrobatic horse - you want one of those twisty-turny jobbies last seen at the National Rodeo Championships; a supple back - you should practice somersaults, pirouettes and handstands at home; a helmet- see, I can be sensible!!!
3. It is best if this buck comes at a time when everyone is watching you, but no-one is prepared for what is to come. During a dressage test is good. Your horse should be working nicely, giving no indication that you are about to become "the person who learned to fly." Of course, experts at this will point to the tail swishing, the ears twitching back, and the tension around the nostrils, but they are show-offs and should be ignored. To the uninitiated, this will look like a dramatic performance which you and your horse have practiced at home. 
4. When the horse leaves the ground, and launches you into the air like a cannon ball, it is far more gratifying for the crowd if you can let out a blood-curdling yell. Kind of like William Wallace when they cut his, um, thingies off. Practice this at home. When the local rangers knock on your door, asking if you are keeping a wild cougar in your back yard, you will know you have it right. 
5. You should try to stay elevated as long as possible. The longer the better. If your arms and legs fly in impossible directions, as if you were a rag doll, you will achieve additional marks for artistic impression.
6. When you land, try to do so with a thud! The kind of dull kind that you hear when you drop a melon from a great height. Try not to go "splat" - it puts the audience off their hamburgers. 
7. Lie immobile for a while, as your horse runs off into the distance. After a suitable time, raise your head and groan : "you b****d".

I figured Friday was a good day for some humor :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bronc Ride

What an interesting ride. Jetta was super good at first, then a few horses came back from a trail ride and Katy bolted across the arena which obviously meant that Jetta had to freak out for no reason too, right? We had bucking and rearing and spinning around, galloping and snorting, with the tail in the air. Geezus. ML got off Katy and lunged her cause she was being all over the place so we had two snorting bucking crazy horses. Jetta didn't settle down because horses just kept walking past the gate and she had to show off with her fast, prancy trot and gallop with her tail curling up. Silly ponies. She was pretty good in the saddle, I didn't even bother cantering cause she was already so worked up and sweaty. Very interesting ride...

This is totally what Jetta and Katy
both looked like tonight, lol.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Raine Dance

In one of my earlier posts about possible stallion choices should I one day choose to breed Jetta (if ever) one stallion I mentioned was Raine Dance. Beautiful guy, but he was injured early on and never got to compete. Out of all the stallions, he was one of my favorites.


Recently, over at Tucker the Wunderkind, Marissa posted that she is selling her lovely filly Julie. Looking at her ad, I noticed that her sire is Raine Dance. The same one that I have been looking at.


Isn't she purdy? I just thought that it was really interesting and seeing Julie just keeps him on my list of possible stallions.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Feeding

Jetta's looking pretty thin, so I've decided to add some alfalfa and Cool Calories to her diet. Last year she kept her weight pretty well on Triple Crown Complete, alfalfa and orchard grass. Triple Crown was a 10% fat, 11% protein, oat and beet pulp feed that had all the vitamins Jetta required.

This year she's getting Allegra Cadence and just plain grass hay along with a vitamin supplement. The Cadence had 7% fat and 17% protein. I think she's missing a lot of the nutrients from the orchard grass so I hope that alfalfa will help add some weight. I'd rather not increase her grain because that could increase her risk of colicking and I feel better feeding less grain and more of a forage. We'll just have to see how hyper her alfalfa makes her. I've had some great results with Cool Calories in the past. It was one of the things that helped put weight on Grady - we tried rice bran and beet pulp to no avail. It's basically a fat supplement (99% fat) and it doesn't result in a lot of extra energy. So we'll have to see. I could go back to the Triple Crown, which I like, but the Allegra is included in the board fee.
The BO recommended beet pulp and rice bran as being more "economical" so I guess she doesn't mind soaking beet pulp, lol. It never worked for me in the past with Grady, but I don't know if it might help Jetta. I would rather pay a little extra for the alfafa and have that work, than load Jetta up with beet pulp and rice bran but save money (but if I give her a ton of it, will it still end up being cheaper than a bale of alfalfa?).

The benefits of beet pulp is that it is low in sugar, high in fiber, and has a lot of calories. On the downside, if you can call it that, is that it doesn't have a ton of energy, only approximately 2.33 Mgcals/kg which compared to vegetable oil at 8.98 Mgcals/kg, is not a lot. But this can be beneficial in that you don't have a super hyper horse. It is very comparable to alfalfa, though it has less protein resulting in less waste. (All excess protein is simply peed out)

Rice bran as a supplement could also work. It is 20% fat and 60% starch. Again, the starch is digested and shows up in the blood stream as glucose thus increasing energy of your (already slightly crazy) Thoroughbred. So I think I prefer the Cool Calories to the Rice Bran, even though it is more expensive - less hyperness, more fat = more weight gain.

What works for your horses?


  






Sources: The Advantages of Rice Bran
             The Myths and Realities of Beet Pulp by Susan Garlinghouse