Sunday, July 31, 2011


(I feel like I'm copying Kate and Lucy here, lol.)

So today actually wasn't that bad. I was expecting a whole lot worse, haha. I acheived all of my goals!

  1. We stayed in the arena. Probably helped along by the fact that Jetta was a little scared of the letters!
  2. I didn't get any comments about keeping my shoulders back
  3. We got a 7 and, drumroll please... an 8 on our free walk!! And, I forgot to write this goal down:
  4. We didn't get a bazillion comments about being "counter positioned" which I think is one of Kathy Casey's pet peeves.
So overall it was awesome! I did get a video of both our rides so I will eventually try to get it on YouTube then embed it in here, but I have no idea how, so it might take a while :) But I'm just so pleased with Jetta.

Here's a breakdown of our rides.

Training Test 1

We placed second out of five JR/YR! Not half bad :) I was fully expecting to get 50% scores and a last place, so this went beyond what I was expecting. We got all 6's and 7's on the movements, save a 5 on our stretchy trot circle because Jetta didn't stretch and instead got too speedy. We got only two "counter positioned" comments in our working trot and circle. On our collective marks we got all 6's and two 7's - one for impulsion, though she commented that she needed to carry a little more weight on her haunches, and a 7 on harmony. She also commented that Jetta needs to improve her balance. Not too bad! Riding the test, Jetta felt very stiff and heavy in my hands. She was a little speedy,  but not as bad as I know that she can be, and our trot-canter transitions were a heck of a lot better than they've been at home. Our downward transitions, though we had no comments on them, were really rough and I had to use way too much rein to bring her down, so that is definitely something we need to work on. We got a 63.75%

Training Test 2

This test felt a lot better than the previous one. I really focused on getting her to bend to the inside and give to the bit. We warmed up with a lot of stretching in the walk to get her to relax. We placed 3rd out of four JR/YR. This test was a little more all over the place. We had mostly 6's and some 7's. We got a 4 on our stretchy trot, sigh... Again, the same problem with speeding up too much and not stretching. We also got a 5 on our trot circle because she was a little too eager and broke into a canter for a stride. And an 8 on our free walk! This just made my day :] I was really pushing her to get into a nice rhythm and she really stretched for the whole movement. Good girl! We got all 6's on collective marks, with comments for me to look up (duh! that should be automatic for me by now, sigh) and that we need to work on slowing down and coming over the back in order to get our stretchy trot circle. And we got no comments about being counter positioned! We got a score of 61.79%

So, here's what we need to work on:
  1. Downward transitions - I do not want, and should not have to pull so much on the reins.
  2. Straightness when we enter the ring and halt at X. While there were no comments on this, she sure felt wiggly! But on the plus side, Jetta did very well on halting and standing still and we had at least one awesome square halt.
  3. Steadiness in the bridle. She was fussing with the contact quite a bit.
  4. Yielding to my inside leg. While she was pretty good, I want her to be a little more attentive to my leg so her shoulder doesn't fall to the inside.
  5. And lastly, the dreaded stretchy trot. She was doing so good! But I think the pressure and stuff going on around her made her lose focus and she was going much too fast to get a good stretch going.
We have plenty to work on, but overall, not bad for our first real dressage show!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Third Place

Third place isn't bad! We only missed one obstace, but my competitor, the mule guy got all of the obstacles. We have a little friendly competition going on, the last competition I won, this one he won and there's one competition left :)

Today was just an awesome day. I woke up early to feed a horse that I'm horse-sitting. I got home and got Jazzy all ready and headed out to the barn where the competition was. We went first and then she hung out at the trailer for the rest of the day. She did everything very well, even a few things I was thinking she wasn't going to do, like a large ditch filled with water and a giant log you had to jump off into water. The one obstacle she didn't do was to back a zig-zag between two logs and if you stepped out of the two logs you had to start over. Unfortunately I just couldn't get her hip over to the right and we ran out of time (there's a minute time limit per obstacle) though as soon as we did, she backed the whole thing perfectly.

I took pictures the rest of the morning. After lunch, one lady I know asked me to ride her horse through the course because she was nervous about it. He is an adorable little horse and he did super well, though boy did he like to launch himself over everything! We almost cleared the log/pond combination like that picture I posted yesterday.

After I rode him, his owner rode him through and did pretty well, though she didn't attempt the log/pond combination. Then my competition (initials DF) showed up and just aced everything. His mule, the Bailiff, is just a solid guy. DF and his wife both have mammoth mules and afterward they wanted me to ride them. It was fun! The gray mule, Nora is sooo tall! I think she's maybe 18 hands or at least close. I had a hard time getting on her! Hopefully I'm going to go on a trail ride with them soon, should be fun!

After everyone went through, there was a lull in the traffic flow. The competition went until 6, but around 3 people stopped showing up, probably because it was so dang hot! We all just sat around inside and hung out and talked. I love being with my "horsey family".

Overall, a good day. I got a couple people signed up for pictures and even some riding lessons. Awesome!

Then I came home, took a nap, went and fed the horse I'm sitting then rode Jetta. I'm thinking that tomorrow is going to be a disaster. Just sayin'. When I rode her tonight, she was manageable, but still quite a brat. I have three goals for tomorrow:

  1. Stay inside the dressage arena.
  2. Get a 7 on our free walk
  3. Not get "shoulders back" in the comments on every single movement.
Other than that, this is going to be interesting. I paid for it so I'm going to go, but I have very, very low expectations. I don't know what Jetta's deal is, but lately she's been a terrible brat and even the "magical stretching" we did at the camp a little while ago doesn't slow her down or get her relaxed. Sigh... After I rode we worked on some trailering and she was great! Totally blew my expectations out of the water. She, get this... trotted, by herself, into the trailer and stood tied with the divider shut. A first! Hopefully it will be a repeat performance tomorrow!

I'll try to add some pictures tomorrow, I'm going to bed!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Trail Competition

Sorry I haven't been writing regularly! I mean to, but it's just hard to motivate myself when there's not a whole lot going on and I have so much stuff to do! Balancing a part-time job, horses and two online summer classes, while doable, is still quite a bit on my plate.

Anyways, this is going to be a fun-filled weekend. (I'm not really sure if I'm trying to be sarcastic or not here!) Today and tomorrow is a trail competition out at JF's that I help with every year. I'm the photographer so today I spent the day snapping over 500 pictures and tonight I get to sit down and edit them. I love taking pictures at events. Tomorrow I'm going to take Jazz and compete in the morning and then take pictures for the rest of the day. It is unfortunately so. hot. out. I thought summer would never make it to our neck of the woods, but I sure feel it now!

I love hanging out at the trail competitions. I really enjoy meeting new people or seeing old friends and I think I knew almost every single person who rode today! Crazy. Tomorrow should be fun, I hope Jazz and I do well. While she has, at one point, done every obstacle on the course, it's been a while so I hope she does it. This is the second show in a three part series of trail competitions, the first one we got first place, but there's a little more competition at this one and a more difficult course.

Here's one of my favorite pictures of the day. This is one of the more difficult obstacles in the course, stepping off a huge log into a little pond. Some horses delicately step down into the water, but others, well, they do this:

This little girl sat the leap admirably well and it was really funny to see her little horse take such a huge flying leap!

Next week I'm going to bring out Jetta and school her on the course, so I'm really excited for that. Especially since we get to work cows!!! This is going to be so entertaining :]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fun Day!

So my friend IC came out today and we did a photo shoot! It was really fun and she got some great pictures and I can't wait to get them from her.

For now though, you'll have to be content with my cell camera pictures :) Guess what I did? I braided Jetta all by myself! For the first time ever! I did try last year at a dressage schooling show but it was a fantastic failure. They looked terrible. Today though, I was so proud of myself!!! (In case you couldn't tell). It was kind of a pain though and took me 40 minutes. The first 30 Jetta was actually really good and stood very still but by the end she got impatient. I swear that horse has an attention span of about 3 seconds. More on that later. This was my first success at doing button braids. I can do a perfect running braid in under a minute, but this is the first horse I've had with a mane short enough to do button braids with. I can't even imagine trying hunter braids, dressage ones were hard enough. I'm fine with paying someone to do hunter braids, lol.

Are you ready for these pictures of amazing greatness? Well here they are:

Halfway through...

All done!

Close up, not so pretty. I didn't have any black yarn.

So pretty!

What do you think? Not bad for a first time. I've read and reread and read some more about how to make nice braids and I've even watched videos, but experience is the only way I'll get better. I think I'll braid her for the show this Sunday. I ride at 12:30 and 1:20 which is pretty good. I think I'm also going to scribe for a bit because they need volunteers, but I enjoy scribing for Kathy Casey. She's pretty nice as a judge and I feel comfortable scribing for her since I've done it before.

Anyways, the photo shoot. It was pretty fun, though surprisingly exhausting because standing in the sun for two hours and trying to get Jetta to stand still is hard work! This was IC's first time taking pictures with a horse so now she knows what it's like! I swear that every time she put down her camera, Jetta's ears would go forward and she got very still. Sigh. When we actually were trying to take pictures, she would move around, bob her head, search me for treats and let her ears go floppy. She has mule ears, seriously. When they stick out to the side they look even larger than they really are and then when she shakes her head she'll whack me in the face with them. Mules...

Hopefully I'll get the pictures back soon and I can share them with you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dressage at Devonwood

I drove up to watch Dressage at Devonwood today and am really enjoying it. I have several friends riding so I enjoyed seeing them.

I got here and watched a couple third level rides. I really appreciated seeing one rider opt for the snaffle and she had a really good, solid ride.

After browsing a few of the little booths set up (I want!) I happened upon the breed awards and saw that one friend got a breed award! Her mare is absolutely gorgeous and can go much higher than the first level she was ridden in. Then we had lunch and I watched another friend ride.

Right now I'm watching the FEI Four-year-old tests and drooling over these lovely horses. There were only three, but all of them were awesome. I don't think that even if I started Jetta at the beginning of her four year old year she would have been even close to how well-developed these horses are. My favorite is a liver chestnut Hanoverian stallion with chrome. Too cute! All of the young horses are really steady in the bridle and super balanced for their age. It's also really interesting to hear the feedback from the judges! I can't help but think that if I rode Jetta in the Five-year-old test they'd rip us to shreds, lol. But then again I am not a professional trainer and Jetta hasn't been ridden as consistently as these horses. It makes me wonder if these horses are started at three years old...

The only five year old horse was just stunning. He had a gorgeous trot and a natural passage! But he was very opinionated and did not like the counter canter so there was some head flinging involved :)

I watched third level and saw Jason McAfee with whom I did a clinic. He seemed to have a pretty good ride, but the lady after him.... Yikes. Has a lovely horse but spent the whole test yanking on her horse's mouth. Pretty painful to watch. If I had been the judge I would have been tempted to give her a 2 for the rider's harmony score. (ETA: Scary lady got a 65% and Jason McAfee got a 69% so at least she won't be getting first!) But the lady after her had a lovely fluid and pretty test. Her horse was kind of funnily put together with a looong head and neck but a short body and almost stubby legs, but it worked because he was awesome.

I can't wait to come back and actually ride next year! Overall a good way to spend the day and now I'm motivated to go home and ride my pony! :) Which is good because against my better judgement I signed up for a dressage show on the 31st so we have a whole week to prepare! Sigh... But we will have a video of our ride which I'm pretty excited about! And my friend IC is hopefully going to come out and do a photoshoot with the horses this week. Can't wait!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sweet Itch

My horse Jazz has sweet itch so I thought I'd share my experiences with it and hopefully spread the word about what it is, since a lot of people I know don't really know what it is.

Sweet itch, also called summer itch or it's more technical name, Culicoides Hypersensitivity is an allergic reaction to the saliva of biting midges, or Culicoides. These are those little no-see-um's that swarm in the summer, especially in swampy/wet areas, but can be found pretty much anywhere, I've noticed.

This sensitivity takes several years of exposure to develop. I have owned Jazz for almost eight years and about five years ago she all of the sudden developed these lesions all over her body. My first thought was a fungus because they just "showed up". Jazz was boarded at a barn and no one had seen her itching, yet here she was!

During the fall and winter, midges aren't around so there isn't a problem. It's just when the weather warms up in late spring and summer (hence the name "summer itch") that there's a problem.

Treatments can involve putting the horse on antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce the reaction. Talking to my vet, he advised against this because they would lose effectiveness in a rather short amount of time and Jazz's sweet itch is pretty well under control.

Here's what I do:


Kool Coat Fly Sheet

Jazz wears a fly sheet pretty much 24/7. I have one with a neck cover and she also wears a fly mask. Typically I can at least get two or three summers out of a flysheet before they literally just fall apart, but it's worth it to protect Jazz. I opt for one without a belly band because they usually just end up ripping out within a couple weeks. This year I tried the Kool Coat Fly sheet and I really like it. It's durable and actually has a long enough neck portion and stays fairly well centered and doesn't rub. I also use Weatherbeeta fly sheets. Some might say that fly sheeting a horse this much is a little overkill, but in Jazz's case, it's needed. I also think she looks like a midieval war horse in it :)

I also like using the flysheet to protect Jazz from the heat. Being a black horse is tough in the sun! And of course she opts to graze in the heat instead of staying under the trees. Her coat also gets burnt so this keeps her coat a shiny black instead of a washed out brown-ish color.

Fly Spray

Nasty stuff. But it works!
Jazz also gets sprayed with fly spray every day. She gets a roll-on fly stick on her face and SWAT on her belly. As much as I hate the greasy, smelly SWAT it does a good job of fending off little blood suckers on her belly and because it's sticky, the midges will stay away too. Baby oil is recommended to put on their muzzles because the sticky, oily-ness will deter midges, but I've found that the roll-on is just as good and since Jazz gets fussy when there's flies on her face, it does double duty.


Another thing that can help with midges is getting rid of standing water. Unfortunately we have a large pond in the pasture, but moving the horse to another pasture would be a good alternative. Stalling at night (especially as the sun sets, when midges are most active) in a stall with good airflow, possibly with a fan and even plastic strips over the doorways to keep flies out will help too.


The Boett blanket is another option. While I've never tried one, they are marketed specifically for horses with sweet itch and aim to cover every susceptible surface of the horse.

There are also some relatively new treatment options available, but I haven't heard much of how effective and safe they are, but since Jazz's sweet itch is very manageable, I haven't looked further. Horses with a severe reaction may benefit from a medication.


A side note, if you're looking for flysheets or fly masks right now, Smartpak is having a sale! Free shipping on all masks and sheets, plus some of the fly masks (the Cashel ones) have free embroidery. I love the Cashel masks :) Enter FLYFS when you check out and as long as you have a fly sheet or mask, your whole order will ship free. Make sure to check out this offer before the 25th (this coming Monday)!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Breastplates Revisited

I did one earlier post about breastplates, but recently I've been oggling breastplates again since I'm stuck inside with the rain and I've been (somewhat) diligently doing homework. I want one. The problem is that there are so many! I thought I knew which one I wanted (an Antares one) but then researching further, I found a ton of neat breastplates!

Personally, I love weird/different looking breasplates. Here's an accumulation of all of the ones that I like.

First, the basic 3-point breastplates. My personal requirements are that they have a wither strap, elastic inserts and clips to attach to d-rings.
Antares Leather Breastplate

Vespucci Jumper Breastplate

Passier Marcus Ehning Breasplate
Then there's the 5-point Breastplates. Personally, I don't like fleece.
Passier Auriga Breastplate
Voltaire Convertible Breastplate

Passier Corvus Breastplate

Five Star Tack Five Point Breastplate.

What do you think? If you could choose one of these breastplates, which one would you choose? Do you have one of these and how do you like it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Ugh. It's still raining here. Out of the past six days, five of them have been rainy. It's terrible.

Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately) I am stuck inside anyways. One of the classes that I'm taking over the summer is French, and while I've stayed caught up on the book work, my written assignments have gotten sadly behind. Very behind. And I meet with my teacher tomorrow. Sigh... So the past two days I've been doing homework! All day, not even kidding. Not very much fun.

I really would like to ride Jetta, but I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to ride in the rain right now, so I'm hoping I hurry up and finish my homework by this evening and it stops raining long enough to ride. I could haul her to an arena, but again, zero desire. Not to mention that I have french verb conjugations coming out my ears right now! I have four assignments of conjugating two different verbs each, 10 different ways per verb. I've finished two and a half of those assignments and I just had to take a break! So I came to write this :)

I did get to take Jetta to JF's arena and ride with her a couple days ago. Jetta was very good, though I think partly due to the fact that the footing was so deep, Jetta wasn't physically able to motor around. Fine by me! JF complimented me on our work, which was super nice, she's seen Jetta from the beginning so she can tell how much we've improved!

Another interesting piece of news - I sold Katy! She's going to a great home with a younger girl that wants to do 4-H with her. I think that they'll make a great pair. The girl that's buying her (we'll go with her initials, TP) actually boards at the same barn that I board at while I'm at school so luckily I'll be able to see her often and I'm going to be giving lessons to TP. I really do enjoy boarding a little bit just because of the people you get to hang out with! I heard that the BO is finally putting in some turnout though the going is slow. Hopefully it'll be all set up by the time I come up!

It's amazing how much weight Jetta's gained just by being on pasture. The pasture has replaced her hay for now and she's getting the same amount of grain but before you could see the faint outline of her ribs and her spine, but they've all disappeared! I'd like to get her nice and fat (for her at least!) before I take her back and I'm planning on bagging her supplements all up so I know she's getting them and the BO won't have the hassle of measuring them all out. I'm possibly also going to get a NibbleNet so she'll hopefully have food in front of her for as much time as possible.

Well, back to my homework! Hopefully there'll be more interesting posts to come :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beach Ride!!

First beach ride of the summer!

I took Jazz and we went with AR and her horse, Quincy. It was so nice, the perfect way to spend the day :)

It was my first time driving to the coast, usually someone else drives, but it was an easy drive (minus all the curviness) and we made it there without getting lost. Which is always a plus in my book :)

I took Jazz because AR and I have a long standing bet as to whose horse is faster. It's funny because Quincy is a Foundation Quarter Horse and Jazz is an Appendix Quarter Horse, yet they are built almost identically. We had never had the opportunity to really race in a wide open space, so this was going to be the true test!

It was also Quincy's first time on the beach and he was pretty good. He was totally fine with the waves as long as we were trotting and he was by Jazz. Otherwise, you never knew how much damage a wave could do to a horse! He spun and sidepassed quite athletically, lol.

We meandered down to the far end of the beach and played in the little river that flows into the ocean. After crossing it a couple times, I had the grand idea to try to canter Jazz into the water. Hah. Not my best idea. We were cantering, and cantering and cantering and we were going in! Not. At the last possible second, no warning whatsoever, Jazzy slams on the brakes. Ouch. I pulled a muscle. Then Jazz delicately steps into the water and we trot off. When we went back to see where we were supposed to launch into the water, you could see her hoofprints were half in, half out of the water. Sigh, really Jazz?

Then we played around on the driftwood by the river. The sand was a little wet and packed down so the driftwood is nice and stable so we jumped over some and played around. It was fun.

Then on the way back, we decided to race :) This was the fun part. We wanted to race to a log that was in the distance so we started off. Jazz went into a gallop easily, she was waiting for this part! Then she heard Quincy's hoofbeats behind her and she kicked it into high gear! Geez. We won by a long shot and I had to circle Jazz a few times to get her to come down, she loves to run!

Overall, it was a perfect day at the beach. We almost couldn't find the exit though, which was pretty funny. Next time we go, it will be with Katy and Jetta, that will certainly be very interesting! Here's some pictures:

Jazzy is not enthused about this whole thing...

Crossing the scary water like a pro!

Random stop sign, Jazz was wondering
what on earth it was doing there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rain, rain go away...

Yes, the title is correct. It is currently raining. Sigh. But I guess it's a good thing because I'm stuck inside anyways so at least I don't feel like I'm missing out on something. I don't really feel like riding in the rain anyways, especially in July!

Jetta's had a little break since we've returned home. I hoped to ride her today, but again, rain and summer homework have gotten in the way. I'm taking two summer courses - an online Principles of Animal Nutrition, which, while I find interesting, is incredibly dense and takes a lot of time, and a self-study Third-Year French course. So, a lot of homework.

On a happier note, I won a t-shirt from Behind the Bit which made me really happy! I don't think I've won anything (as in a drawing or raffle) since I was in the eigth grade... And it fit my mood perfectly this weekend due to a little "situation". More about that later, but suffice it to say that it was very stressful and caused quite a bit of tears, so this coming week will be a wait-and-see-if-it-goes-away kind of week. This shirt encompassed exactly what I've been feeling.

My hair obscures part of it, but it reads "Horses make me happy. You, not so much." While I have to say that the majority of horse people I meet are awesome, there's the minority, that are well, not the greatest :) So thank you Stacey!

In other news, I was talking to my mom about presents. My birthday is coming up in a couple months and I always give my parents a "want list" that they pick one or two items from for my birthday and Christmas. My mom mentioned that she'd rather get stuff for me, rather than the horse. Sigh. But I don't want anything for me! Besides a new pair of breeches or two, I'm set. Instead, I'd really like a new saddle pad and breastplate for Jetta. And really, getting stuff for my horse is, by extension, really getting something for me.

I have to say that my favorite present (besides going to WEG) has to be when someone I knew gave me a completely unexpected birthday present. I knew her, but not very well, and we were both involved in horses. She ended up giving me some fancy horse shampoo, a tail wrap (because my horse at that time enjoyed rubbing his tail out for no reason), some riding socks and other horse-y related things. It was a super sweet gift because it was something I didn't specifically ask for and it was really well thought out. I mean, she had remembered that my horse rubbed his tail, so she got me a wrap, something I didn't think about, and other things that I normally wouldn't buy for myself, but were appreciated nonetheless. If you're trying to get a gift for someone horse-y, and don't have any idea what to get them, I think a lot of the time that expensive shampoo or horse treats/bran mash are a great thing because they're useful and will make you feel like you're pampering your horse which, as we all know, making your horse happy makes us happy. Also, gift cards are always good. I think I live on those the couple months after Christmas :)

In other news, the entry form for the Dressage Sport Horse Breeding (DSHB) Show is finally up! I'm trying to figure out if I really want to attend or not. It will be a one time thing because I just want to compete in Materiale and it's our last elegible year as a 5-year-old. We would also enter the Thoroughbred conformation class and the DSHB 4 year old and older maiden mare class. So it would be interesting, but I'm still a little bit wavering on the edge of trying to decide to go or not. It's a two-day show, so I could choose to ride both days, but then I'd need to bring a tent and spend the night and get a stall for Jetta. I would also have to pay the added expense of finding a braider, because I want Jetta to look great for her big debut, and my braiding skills are sadly far below par. Also, Mary Cornelius is attending to take pictures, which I really want some by her of Jetta. She was at the Youth Clinic, but she only got two pictures (plus one where I'm in the background in a truly awkward canter moment) so I really want some good ones.

When I write it all out, it seems like there are no reasons not to go! The only negatives are of course the cost (especially if I choose to do two days) and the fact that Jetta is a Thoroughbred. While I personally love her movement, there is no way that she can compete with a warmblood, so going to this show may just be setting myself up for disappointment because chances are that we may place dead last in every class. Sigh, decisions, decisions.

So yeah, those are my random thoughts for the day. I hope everyone else enjoyed a sunny day and put in a good ride with their horses!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blog Stats

I was looking at my blog stats and they are the funniest thing ever!

Most of my traffic comes from other blogs but there is quite a bit from google as well. The most popular search words that lead to my blog are... "dragon", "horses in armor", "brindle horses", "where is the stifle on a horse", "breastplate", and "jetta (as in the car)". Hmm, what does this tell you about my blog?? Maybe I should do a post on equine anatomy so all the people searching for where the stifle on a horse can find it more easily :)

Funny that someone clicked on a link to a horse blog while searching for the car, I guess that's what happens when you name your horse after a car! It is a pretty cute car though :)

And the dragon one cracked me up. I think I've only mentioned Jetta once or twice as my "fire breathing dragon" which is a very fitting name for her. My other favorite one is fireball.  Anyways, the fact that searching for "dragon" turned them onto this blog is kind of funny!

It's also amazing to see where people are reading my blog from. Not only from Canada, but also Australia and a few European countries as well! I just think it's amazing the audience that you can get over the internet and that there are so many people that read my blog on a regular basis. I love learning about the people who read my blog and following their own stories through their blogs. It's so great to have "internet buddies!"

I hope that everyone reading this continues to do so. I hope to entertain you, commiserate with you, learn from you and share my story. Thanks for following and I hope more people will choose to do so as well!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Youth Clinic Day 3

The last day of the clinic dawned bright and early again at 6:30 in the morning. At least I had a better night's sleep!

My lesson time was at 8:00 again, but today it was actually kind of cold out.

I got Jetta ready, I was super glad that I had brought two sets of white polo wraps because after a couple rides they start getting really gross, lol. I should have brought two white saddle pads though, because just the one gets really dirty. Anyways, I got Jetta tacked up and lunged her. I was thinking that it was going to be a super good ride because Jetta was actually acting lazy on the lunge line. Ha. I think she was just still half asleep.

I went to the arena where we were riding for the day. One good thing about this clinic was that we changed arenas every day, so it was really good exposure for Jetta.

Our warm-up sucked. I was trying to work on what we had done the other day, but Jetta was still rushing with me. It was a little frustrating. Meredith showed up and we started right into our lesson with trotting a stretchy circle. Jetta started really rushing again and didn't want to stretch at all into contact. Sigh. Frustrating again because Jetta's actually really good about stretching down on the circle while trotting. Eventually though, it was like a switch went off and she started stretching. Meredith had me ask for the stretch by exaggerating the bend to the inside, pushing her into the outside rein with my inside leg and asking her to follow the contact down.

Meredith wanted Jetta to stretch down only a little bit, enough for her to lift her back and you could notice Jetta doing just that when the hollow in front of her withers filled. Once we had the stretch well-established, we went out around the arena and whenever Jetta sped up or braced, I asked her to stretch, especially in the corners. It helped so much! She wasn't trying to run away with me and was no longer bracing against my hand.

We worked on it in both directions. After a short break I used the stretch in trot-canter transitions. I tried to maintain the stretch in both the upward transitions and downward transitions. It was so awesome!!

After that Jetta was bathed and I put her cooler on because it was actually a little cold out (weird summer weather). My friends and I ended up going to the morning lecture so that we could leave early, nothing else too interesting, it was on Barnby notes and learning styles again. No surprise there, I learn best through reading/writing.

After that, it was back to home!

I really enjoyed the lessons and it was worth it just because of them and meeting new people. Meredith was one of the only instructors who didn't compete on the JR/YR circuit, but instead she did Intercollegiate Dressage (IDA). I'm trying to form a team for this next year so she said that I could contact her if I needed any help or if I had any training questions. It was really neat to meet her and make these connections so that if I have questions I know someone to ask.

In relation to the other riders and horses, I think about half were little kids and half were 14 or older. There were about half warmbloods/sporthorse/sportponies and the others were your average horse, nothing fancy. There were only a couple kids all decked out in fancy tack and clothing, so at least I didn't feel outclassed :) I saw one horse that looked like a thoroughbred, but he couldn't possibly be because of his amazing extended gaits. Only one girl rode in a double bridle, and I don't really think she was ready. Her collected gaits didn't give the impression of being powerfully collected, but instead appeared too compressed and broken - his gaits were short and choppy and I think his hindquarters weren't under himself enough. I really enjoyed seeing the different horses and riders - how they rode, what kind of horses, what kind of tack/clothing, etc. Very interesting!

Overall, a good clinic :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Youth Clinic Day 1 & 2

So much to write about! I was going to try and write a post earlier, but there was just so much to talk about and I was exhausted. This is going to be an incredibly long post, so just be forewarned :)

So, Tuesday I made my way up to the clinic that was at Devonwood. It takes me about 2 and a half hours, so it's not a terrible drive, but just feels so long. I got there and settled Jetta in and checked in. The schedule for the day was to have lunch, do introductions, have a group schooling session, dinner and then a lecture.

Our stall set up

Everyone was assigned a different instructor, mine was Meredith Crawford who trains at Donida Farm. At first I was a little tentative about having her. She was more quiet than the other instructors, not quite as bubbly or outgoing.

We had our schooling session and Jetta was okay. Not great, but not terrible. Meredith didn't really have me do anything - just commented that what I was doing (serpentines, circles, and transitions) was good and mentioned a couple things she wanted to work with me on later. I was a little worried because everyone else's instructors were working with them on specific exercises, while I only rode for maybe 20 minutes out of the full hour.

It was so hot! This was about 4pm and the sun was still full strength. Jetta got rinsed off and then put in her stall. I loved how this barn was set up, the facilities are gorgeous! There were temporary stalls set up for people coming to shows and three wash racks for competitors to use.

One of 6 gorgeous outdoor dressage arenas.

That evening after dinner we had a lecture on sporthorse conformation by a judge and breeder. I really enjoyed the lecture because I'm interested in functional conformation. She was a little bit negative about breeds other than warmbloods (I think good conformation is good conformation no matter the breed!) but of course warmbloods are bred to do dressage so it tends to come easier for them. She made a comment that "We're breeding elite athletes here!" which made me think, well aren't all horses bred to be athletes? I don't think jumping or reining or racing horses are any less of an athlete than a dressage horse! But it was a very good lecture and she had some great explanations for the why certain traits are good and bad. I thought it was awesome.

After dinner we had time to clean stalls and feed/water the horses and take them for walks. We went and grazed for a bit, then it was bed time! We had to sleep outside on the grass, which sucked because 1) the dew in the morning made everything wet and 2) I'm allergic to grass pollen, so sleeping on grass is not ideal. I slept absolutely terrible that night. I was freezing and the little kids were so hyper! How can they have that much energy?! Anyways, we were up at 6:30 in the morning to have breakfast and care for the horses. My lesson was at 8am which at first I was hoping for a later time so I could sleep in, but it was actually the best ride time to have because it was still a little bit cool out!

Jetta grazing

I had a fantastic lesson on Wednesday with Meredith. While I felt that she had some interesting ways of describing what she wanted me to do (in response to me lower leg swinging: pretend that the horse's barrel is a nut and your legs are a nutcracker and you want to crack the nut! Me: umm, ok? do you really want me to do that?) But Jetta was her usual brace-y and rush-y mess, though half way through the lesson the change was amazing! We worked on softening Jetta by playing with the bit a little, doing circles a lot and opening my inside rein a lot to help her bend. We also worked on my position, which I know is terrible on Jetta. Since she's always trying to yank me out of the tack, I've developed a defensive position which I know is terrible. She had me lean back more, especially in the canter which in turn helped me to still my lower leg (opening hip angle -> helps knee to point down and not allow it to swing as much). Weighting my elbows was something she had my work on to help lower my center of gravity so I couldn't be pulled out of the saddle as much. It's a hard concept, but it worked!

After our lesson, we walked around on the trails. They're kind of wimpy trails, but well maintained and nice to be able to walk around on. Jetta's feet were so great with all of the gravel! She got rinsed off and then I went and audited a couple lessons. I really enjoyed watching the different instructor's styles. I made friends with a group of girls, they all had adorable Arabian horse and they were super nice.

After lunch we had two different lectures. The first was about Centered Riding. At first I was a little skeptical, but a lot of the ideas seemed to make sense. She mentioned something about using your elbows to lower your center of gravity which reinforced what my instructor had me do in my lesson. Unfortunately it was more geared towards the younger kids (this camp was for 7 to 21 year olds) which was really disappointing. After that we had a lecture on using a training notebook, by Barnby notes. It was a little bit geared towards marketing the Barnby notes, but there was more information that made it educational too. I like having a blog as my training journal because I get to share it with other people and make it my own personal space to talk about whatever might be on my mind, not just training. The Barnby notes program is similar because you can have an open, online journal to write about your rides and people can comment on it, so it's more of a focused type of blog really.

Conformation clinic

We had dinner, then took care of the horses. We had another lecture by a vet. I was really excited and hoped in would be really interesting and something that I could learn a lot from. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed. It was geared towards that little kids (again) and basically he talked about how to be safe around your horse, some of his interesting cases that could have been avoided by using safety practices. It was super boring and I was disappointed.

Again, we had to sleep outside, so I stole Jetta's cooler so I could be warmer :) At least this time they had a movie going inside so that those who wanted to sleep, could! I was looking forward to our lesson the next day and wondering what we were going to work on.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Off to a clinic!

Well, I survived the drive up to the barn where the clinic is. Jetta is all settled in her stall and the trailer's all unloaded. So glad I squeezed my giant wheelbarrow into the tack room of the trailer - note to self: always bring wheelbarrow! And pump up the flat tires.

But anyways, it's gorgeous up here. Unfortunately we're going to be riding outside so I guess I'll get to work on my farmer's tan, lol ;)

I said I wasn't going to do any posts, but how can I resist when my phone has 4G service up here?! I've never gotten 4G and it's so nice and fast! So depending on how cramped my thumbs get, you may get some updates on how the clinic goes :)

Let's hope Jetta decides to behave, though that is doubtful given that she appears to be in heat, starting today. Oh, mares... I'll leave you with some pictures of Jetta trying to make friends over the top of her stall. Such a dork.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Trail Horse

Meet my new trail horse... Jetta!

While we did do a lot of trail riding on the trails around the barn we were boarding at, they weren't like the trails that we have here! These are some "real" trails :)

Yesterday my neighbor asked if I wanted to go on a trail ride with her today and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take Jetta! I certainly didn't want to go alone our first time out. I also decided we would test out the western saddle. I've never ridden Jetta western so it could have been interesting.

She was amazing! Couldn't have cared less about the saddle - I lunged her before we headed out and she didn't buck or barely flicked an ear at it. We headed out on the trails and she was looking around and had her humongous walk going on, so I had to hold her back a bit so poor Danny (my neighbor's horse) could keep up!

They're haying next door finally so we had to walk past all the scary machinery. Jetta barely glanced at it but gave the flower beds a wide berth, haha. I was so proud of her! We had a couple minor spooks at imaginary thing where all four legs went in different directions and she stopped and snorted, but for the most part she lead the way fearlessly!

We did have a little sticky spot when we had to squeeze past the horse eating log (read: walk past a small log on the side of a trail that's about 10 feet wide and Jetta had to walk right on the edge, as far from the log as possible!)

I am also super happy with Jetta's rock crunching bare feet. When I got her she had giant paddles for hooves and they cracked and chipped at the drop of a hat. She had thin, flat soles and it really hurt for her to walk on gravel. She barely even noticed the gravel today - strode right out and only landed funny on a couple large rocks. Yay! Her feet are getting so much better! They still have a ways to go, but we are almost to our "perfect" hooves.

Here are a few pictures of my new trail horse :) Is she not the cutest thing ever?!

Friday, July 1, 2011


I ended up splurging and getting Jetta a fancy leather halter.

I got the Wellfleet Halter by Smartpak because it was on sale and came with a free engraved nameplate. I do so love Smartpak :) It is gorgeous of course, though it needs a little suppling. I just am thrilled at the look of the nameplate though - it makes me feel like Jetta and I are professionals! Of course photos won't load, so you'll have to do without.

Best Quality:
Smartpak Wellfleet Halter

Great Deal:

Blenheim Oakridge Halter picture
Shires Oakridge Blenheim Halter

Most Fun:

Personalized Horse Products Color Padded Halter

I've been eyeing a leather halter for a while, just to get so when we go places, Jetta can look all fancy :) I did get a Weaver Leather Halter, and while it was very pretty, horse size was hard to squeeze Jetta or Jazz into and it gave me an excuse to get an even prettier halter with a name plate. And it will go great with my leather lead line by Perri's - softest ever! And one of the few without a stud chain.

Perri's Leather Lead With Snap
Perri's Leather Lead with Snap

Personally I love fancy stitching and padding on a halter, do you have a favorite?