Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wonderful Weather

The weather has been so nice lately! I can't get over it. Usually this time of year it's warming up, but it's still super rainy. Not so for this week! It has been sunny most of the time and warm, today it was in the upper 70's which in my book = perfect weather.

I've been cramming as much stuff as possible in my last few days of spring break. Sad to think that I go back to school on Monday.

The girls were both waiting for me!

I had a fairly good ride today, it was nice to pull out my light weight breeches and ride in a tank top. Love this weather. Both girls are shedding like crazy now that it's warm and light out. I rode Jetta first today and despite being silly spooky at some stuff she was really good. Both mares have been super hyper lately so the goal for the day was to tire them both out.

I'm still planning on trying out endurance this year with Jetta and doing a couple limited distance rides. I'd like to do one in May possibly, so I've been trying to figure out what stuff I need to do it and one of those things was a new or different saddle pad configuration. I've been looking at pads and oh my goodness. I really don't want to spend $200-300 on a saddle pad. I don't think I've ever spent over $50 for a pad. So, I sorted through my ridiculous number of pads and found my eventing shaped pad that I got last summer. Perfect! It's shaped so it's got a little less coverage than my dressage pad which will make it cooler, plus it's thin so it will breathe better and not soak up so much water/sweat like my other dressage pads would. It's a little small because it's made for a jumping saddle, but it will work. 

Looks much better on her now than it did last summer when she was so fat!

Jetta was being a dork and spooking on the lunge line at the reins flopping around on her neck. Every so often she would catch sight of one of them flapping around and she'd give a little leap away from it. At first I thought she was getting bit by something, but then I realized she was just being silly. Then when I got on, the BO brought in her daughter's Easter present - chicks. She put them in one of the recently vacated stalls and Jetta thought they sounded terrifying peeping away in that stall. She decided that that whole end of the arena was now off limits as there had to be some sort of monster lying in wait for her, making peeping noises.

But we still had a productive ride, I did a lot of lateral work both in the trot and a little bit in the canter to get her poor spooky brain occupied and work those muscles. By then end we actually (both of us) worked up a sweat so she got hosed off and put away.

Then Queenie. She's been really good lately, save for getting a little attached to other horses. She was in love with the BO's little yearling filly that got sold the other day which she is still upset about. She's settling back down but it's just midly annoying to have a horse that gets upset when her friends "leave" meaning that they're going from their stall to the arena, but hopefully she'll figure out soon that it's not the end of the world.

Our milestones of the day: cantering without bucking for the first time ever and opening a gate without me having to get down (though it did take us forever and was a little rough, but we did it).

With the cantering, she's learned my cue for it (kissing) so she goes into a little more easily. But she still gets really scared about it and right now it's more of a barely controlled hand gallop than anything. There's a little but of steering and we're getting the hang of it so we can now go about two laps around the arena, so there's improvement. The cool thing about her though is that she doesn't always pick up the correct lead, but when she doesn't she will automatically do a clean flying change to the correct lead. Cool!

My highlight of the ride - deciding to test out our "whoa" vocal cue when we were cantering and I was surprised that she instantly halted right when I asked. And it was a nice halt too, light and not heavy on the forehand so it was easy to sit. When I did the same thing in the other direction, she literally tucked her butt and slid a few inches. What did I say - reining draft horse here we come! The thought makes me giggle but seriously, once we get this canter under control she would be a fun horse to play around with reining on.

I was actually toying with the idea of taking her to a schooling show and doing some W/T western pleasure classes just to see how she'd do in a show environment plus she's doing great just poking around on a loose rein at a nice slow jog. It would be funny too to see what everyone thought of the draft horse doing western pleasure :)

No ride for the girls tomorrow, but Monday I'm planning on taking Queenie trail riding! So excited and I hope she behaves for it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Dreaded Tarp

I ended up riding Jetta today even though she still had some puffiness on both hind legs just above her fetlock. While I kind of see a little bit of head bob to the right, she's not reluctant to move (actually just the opposite today!) and tracks up just fine so I thought I'd get on to see how she felt.

Can barely see the small amount of fill on the outside (right side of pic) above her fetlock joint

First though was an introduction to the dreaded tarp. She was a little hesitant about it and snorty at first, though walking on it was no problem, just having it touch her was scary. Anything that she can stomp on is good in her book :) She accepted it pretty quickly and in no time at all I had it draped over her back and she didn't care. I walked her around with it on her and she was fine, so I scooched it farther up her neck to right behind her ears.

Obviously not okay. She took of running and pulled her lead out of my hand, ran into Queenie who I had tied in the arena since she was freaking out about her new neighbor horse that had just moved in and was being obnoxious. Queenie broke her lead rope while getting bulldozed by Jetta. Jetta then fell down, leaped back up and continued to gallop around with Queenie in tow, all while the tarp still remained on her back. Queenie was just along for the ride - We're galloping? Okay, I want to join too!

Finally the tarp fell off and both girls ran over to me, obviously counting on me to save them from the tarp monster. What a great way to instill confidence right? All of this had been viewed by the new trainer that just moved in (JB, that I took a lesson with once but didn't like her training methods at all) who looked on with disapproval. Whatever.

I was hoping to get a picture of Jetta too like this, but after our little incident I didn't dare take my hand off the tarp...

Once I got both girls settled down I had to reintroduce the tarp all over again. It took a little bit longer this time but by the end Jetta was fine with me tossing it over her back, though I didn't dare take my hand off of it just in case she decided to take exception to it.

Once on, she felt fine! She didn't feel off in the slightest and was very well behaved for having had the past few days off. I was hoping to go to the beach this weekend with her, but I don't know if I want to stress her tendons like that just in case, so we'll see. Otherwise, it's back to riding as normal and hopefully she'll stop this nonsense with the kicking soon. The stalls got rearranged so at least she has two buddies on either side - Queenie and the baby horse, Ellie, both of whom she likes so I'm hoping she doesn't think that she needs to have a kicking match with them through the stall wall. I'm sure the BO would appreciate it too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Unhappy Camper and the Queen Bee

Nothing too exciting going on around here.

Jetta has been an unhappy camper lately. Being in heat (it's officially spring now...) and having Queenie favored over her has made her really grumpy and while I have been riding her at least every other day and lunging her when I don't ride, she is still mad at me. Yesterday I came out to find her left hind was all puffy. Usually not too much of a concern with her - she stocks up periodically or gets swollen when she's being dumb and kicking the stall, which is what I guess she's been doing lately.

But when I went to lunge her she was slightly off to the right. Odd. So I put her standing wraps on her and put her back in the stall for the night. She stood there with her ears pinned the whole time I was grooming and tacking up Queenie, lol. Poor unfavored child.

All wrapped out
Today I unwrapped her and all the swelling and heat was gone. I let her run around in the arena and get some pent up energy out and she looking mostly good but there was still a slight head bob to the right. I ended up hosing her legs for half an hour then putting some liniment on and sticking her in a paddock with some hay. I think if she's still the same tomorrow I'll try and ride and see how she feels. I'm an awful judge of slight lameness on the ground so I'll better be able to feel it in the saddle.

Queenie has been the main one receiving all the attention lately. She's been so good! We still haven't made it out on the trails because I'd really rather not go by myself, but I'm completely lacking anyone to ride with... My friend AR came out to ride her yesterday and after a brief "Don't leave me" and not moving forward, she was very well behaved for her which made me happy.

Queenie & AR

Today I pulled out the tarp and she didn't bat an eye at it! Our next goal is learning how to open a gate from in the saddle. She's always just out of reach of the latch so we need to work some more on our side passing skills.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Endurance Bug

I went to the horse expo yesterday. I hadn't really been sure all week if I wanted to go or not, I didn't go last year just because I was disappointed in the year before and I knew it would be the same old stuff. But I was bored and I noticed that a certain speaker was going to be there, so I went.

I've always wanted to try out endurance but never really got around to it. Partly because I had no idea how to get involved and also because I don't have any close horse friends who do it. When I had Jazz I wanted to do it with her because when she was fit, she could go all day on the trail, nothing phased her, she had awesome feet, etc.

Now with Jetta, I still want to do it. She's not as bombproof on the trails as Jazz was, but we could manage it. She loves being on the trails almost as much as she loves jumping. I love trail riding and I am a very goal oriented person, plus gorgeous views from horseback, sign me up!

AareneX over at Haiku Farm released a book on Endurance for people just getting into it and I've been eyeing it for a while... and she was speaking at the expo! So I woke up earlyish (for me - hey it's spring break!) and headed over to the fairgrounds.

First of all, geez it's expensive to get in. $12 entrance fee plus a $3 parking fee. I'm sure it's expensive to rent this fairgrounds because it's super nice, but holy cow, I wasn't planning on spending $15 just to get in.

Anyways, I walked around the booths and had fun window shopping but didn't buy anything. My favorite tack store was there with some good sale stuff, but nothing that I particularly needed in my price range. There was also a really neat booth with vintage equestrian fashion, some new clothing and used quality saddles. Drool. Everything was way out of my price range but fun to look at!

After finding the conference room (it's hidden!) I really enjoyed Aarene's talk. She's funny and a good speaker. Plus she showed some amazing pictures from endurance rides, the scenery was awesome. Nice to put a face to a blogger that I've been reading! Her presentation made me want to do endurance so bad! I ended up buying a book from her (autographed to boot) and talked to the local endurance group about how to get started. Everyone was super nice and the lady at the booth didn't live too far from me so she told me which rides were the easiest to drive to.

Can't wait to get started. My summer plans are still up in the air so I have no idea what rides I'll be able to make it to, but hopefully we'll get to do one or two limited distance rides. Already planning what things I'll need to for endurance (oh dear, more things for the tack whore to buy, though I'm not going overboard yet and buying a new saddle or replacing my leather tack with biothane, lol) - but I do need saddle bags that fit my dressage saddle since it's the most comfortable saddle I have, need to make sure the camper shell for my truck is still alive (it's hanging out somewhere in the forest at home...), new saddle pad that won't become an absorbent mop for our ride, some sort of way to keep Jetta from running away from the trailer overnight... and of course we need trails to practice on so I need to get to work finding some local trails that allow horses. I know of one (need to remember how to get there first) but then I also need a trail buddy.

Definitely bitten by the endurance bug so I hope I actually get to do at least one ride this year!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pony Therapy

Well, finals are over for me. Unfortunately they did not go as planned. Today was not my favorite day - two finals, both cumulative with an enormous amount of info to cough up on the test. Barely slept last night because I was stressing, first test went ok, second test did not at all.

Found out the jumper derby thing we were going to on Sunday got cancelled. Me: Why does this always happen to me?!

Then got home and found that Smartpak delivered Grady's memorial plaque (not that it's bad that they delivered it, just depressing). Cue tears.

So to fix this, I ate a large amount of raw chocolate chip cookie dough, went and rode both horses, and tonight the plan involves copious amounts of Netflix and a good book to read before bed. Too much negativity in one day - I should be happier that it's spring break!

I ended up giving Jetta a bath and getting her nice and sparkling clean. If I patted her on her butt I got a huge cloud of dust, so I figured it was time for a bath. Not that it's going to last. I knotted her tail up so that if she gets turned out it hopefully won't get muddy and I'm planning on wrapping it like an Arabian's tail to keep it clean. We'll see how that goes.

My rides on Queenie are getting better and better.

We're still working on stopping and standing still nicely, but it's getting there. Cantering was slightly better today - she still bucks and gets scared, but we worked on going forward and not stopping when she gets scared and we had more like 4 or 5 strides instead of 1 or 2 at the canter. I have to say though, that I LOVE her personality, she is just such a sweetheart. And I have two people interested in her already! Hopefully a trail ride is in store for us soon...

Worried ponyface

Beautiful spring sunset

Carrot stretches!

Pretty girl posing

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Procrastination at its Finest

My approach to studying for finals:

But today I decided no ponies for me, I need to study for my two tests tomorrow and then I'm free for spring break!! Instead of studying though, here I am writing a blog post... But oh well.

Yesterday I took a break and went out to the barn. It was too gorgeous not to get outside (it's back to raining now) so I had to go ride. 

Jetta had just gotten turned out in the muddy paddock when I got there and she had of course rolled right away. Since it was sunny and upper 50's she was naked so I opted in the interest of time and my own laziness to let her enjoy her turnout time. I didn't want to have to deal with a horse encrusted with wet mud!

Queenie, luckily, had been turned out in one of the two smaller, drier paddock so she was fine to play with. And I had a really good ride on her actually. 

She tries so hard to please and she learns really quickly. She easily bends in each direction now. She stands still when I get on, though she still feels a little tense. She's starting to figure out how to move off my leg and not run through it. She has a lovely little jog for such a big girl, though she goes through phases of being worried and speeding up, then slowing back down, then speeding up, etc. so we need to work on maintaining one speed. 

Her stop is still all wonky. I don't know what this guy was thinking while training her - it's just plain weird. Half the time she slams on the brakes like she's a reining horse (which just makes me giggle) and the other half she blows off my aid and then gets upset when I insist that she stop. Regardless of how she stops, she then proceeds to wiggle around and not stand still which drives me nuts. I don't think this guy was mean to her in training her (I hope) just that she's uneducated and is still afraid of the bit, she doesn't really know what it means so she swaps between leaning on it, ignoring it, or overreacting to it. 

Bahaha, I googled draft reining and came up with these two pics:

I thought that was hilarious - maybe Queenie could be a reiner? That is, if I could ever get her to canter...

But yesterday I found that she's super good about voice aids. As in, within one ride I was able to get her to stop with a simple "woah", from the walk or trot. Awesome! Not completely sure if I want to train her to have a voice cue for a halt, but I figure it's good for a trail horse - I don't think she's going to ever make a show horse of any kind. She's also getting better about backing. She'll still occasionally fight me on it, but it's getting to the point where I just have to barely pick up the reins and without putting pressure on her mouth, bump my legs a bit and she backs right up. Still working on the straightness part though. 

Cantering is still non existent. She gets too worked up and her avoidance techniques are to either buck or whip her butt around and stop. I think I'll recruit someone at the barn to lunge me on her because she understands the canter on the lungeline, just not in the saddle.

So I was super happy! I was actually not looking forward to riding her - I wanted to ride Jetta instead, but it ended up being really good. Always nice to have good mood boost! I'm so relieved that she tries so hard and learns quickly.

Jetta has been good lately too - we had one jump school and one bareback ride and she was good for both. I actually measured our jumps when we set them and stuck to mostly 2'9" but then jumped the 3'3" set up a couple times! It's big for me - that's the highest I've ever jumped. It's the height we jumped last time, that I postulated was between 2'9" and 3' because I didn't have my tape measure, but lo and behold it's even bigger! Makes me feel good about that. As for the bareback ride, I'm still sore... Miss Sharkfin withers needs more padding than just my dressage pad, apparently I'd forgotten that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Such a Small World

Sometimes it's really funny what a small horse world it really is. This can be bad of course sometimes, but mostly I love it! Such funny connections. I've had several incidences this week with talking to a horsey friend and then discovering that they know another one of my horsey friends through some way or other.

Today I went and rode both mares early this morning. They were both quite good.

I let Jetta graze outside in the brief window of sunshine we had - clover for St. Patty's Day!

Then the fun stuff - I get to see my other horses that I haven't seen in a long time! Meaning Jazz and Patch.

Jazz I am leasing out to a lady that's getting back into riding and wanted to lease a horse before buying. It sounds like her and Jazz are getting along quite well and while I've gotten pictures once a month for the last 5 months I haven't been able to visit in person. She asked to renew her lease for another six months so I wanted to go visit Jazz and make sure everything was looking ok before I agreed.

Jazzy looks good. She'll be 23 this year though she doesn't look it. She is starting to get some more white hairs around her muzzle though and has lost a lot of her topline, though she's just been puttering around the arena and trails, so that's part of the problem. Other than that she looks good! LL (her lessor) was riding when I got there and Jazz looks sound and happy. LL has gotten to go on a couple trail rides and told me Jazz is still quite spunky for her age! She moved to a new barn with lots of turnout so she barely spends any time in the stall which is nice to hear. I considered not renewing the lease for this summer because I kind of want her back since Grady is gone now, I'd like to keep a closer eye on her. But I like LL and she's taking very good care of my girl, so I decided that she can keep Jazz for the summer, after all that's the best riding time! And next fall I hope to bring her home.


The night before I was trying to mapquest my way out there but mapquest did not acknowledge the existence of such a street so I was googling barns in that town, trying to find her barn and get directions. I never did find her barn, but while I was searching I ran across an ad for a barn in the same town, just 5 minutes down the street from the barn Jazz is at, that had a picture of Patch on it! I facebooked her owner to ask if that was the barn she boarded at and if it was, if it would be ok if I came and visited. Turns out it was, so I swung by to say hi and give the Patchy girl some carrots.

Pic stolen off FB - this is her getting ridden the other day

She looks really good - she's furry and fat from having the winter off due to her owner going through chemo and surgery. It sounds like they have such a good bond, I'm really glad they found each other. She's got a little pasture and the owner's other horse as a buddy. I think she's 9 this year - crazy to think that I sold her five years ago.

Nice to see my horses that I haven't seen in a long time!

Friday, March 15, 2013


The weather was magical today! It almost felt like it was summer! It was 65 degrees, sunny and gorgeous. Not a bad way to end the term.

The ponies were both fairly good today. Jetta was on her best behavior and I had a really good ride on her - it was almost magical too!

I ended up not riding Jetta yesterday, but I just let her run around the arena for a bit. It's amazing how much her movement has improved just at liberty - she seems much more uphill and freer in the shoulder. Such a pretty girl :)

Pretty or not though she just loves being muddy. She got turned out all morning/afternoon and she was so filthy. I almost didn't even want to touch her. A bath is definitely in order soon!

warm weather = no blanket = this awfulness

She even had it smeared all the way down to her tail bone

Today I just rode dressage, but she must have heard about the jumping reward if she was good because she was very good. We warmed up a lot at the walk, asking her to halt softly, making "square" corners and then doing shallow serpentines along the wall. When we went to trot she was soft and carried herself but didn't drop contact or rush. Such a great feeling! Did a few trot-halt-trot transitions and they were very nice. Did some loops and 10m half circles to get her bending nicely and then cantered.

Her canter was really nice too - very uphill and soft. It felt like I could easily ask her to go forward and come back to me, which she did, and we did some 15m circles and I asked for a couple 10m circles but she got a little unbalanced with those. Her downward transitions to the trot were awesome. Her right lead canter seems to be slowly but steadily improving and is fairly respectable at the moment. And get this: no spooking today! It was just an all around great ride!

Queenie is getting there too. We worked on mounting and desensitizing yesterday and today she was much better. She didn't move a muscle when I got on which was nice! Also yesterday we went for a walk across the street to the weigh station and she was very well behaved. I brought my dressage whip and wore gloves just in case she decided to be naughty, but while she was very snorty about everything, she was on her best behavior and I only had to tap her on the shoulder a couple times to remind her to stay out of my "bubble". She has a "please save me!" personality when something is scary. It's slightly adorable, but less so when you realize this 1700 POUND HORSE (I weighed her!) with dinner plate sized hooves wants to sit in your lap.

Just being a good explorer pony

I decided to try out some spurs on her today since it's hard for me to get her 1700 pound self to move off my leg. They made it a lot easier but almost backfired on me when I pushed her to trot "RIGHT NOW" and she started bucking. Yeehaw! She just doesn't have a very good "forward button" and her response to a lot of things is to whirl her butt around, effectively disengaging her so that is now on our to-do list: install forward button.

Other than that little bucking episode she was pretty good. She has no concept of carrying herself when on a circle. She really wants to stick her nose to the outside or if she bends in she falls in with her shoulder and then our circle gets tiny and she thinks it's time to stop. So hopefully I will put her in side reins soon to help her figure out that she can carry herself on a circle without me trying to hold her head to the inside and push her barrel to the outside - I tend to try and help too much so it's better if I just get out of the way and let her figure everything out herself. We had minimal spooking today, the only scary thing was when the BO started washing off horses that had been outside - water eats ponies don't you know!

Pretty sunset today

Tomorrow is the big, bi-annual tack sale, aaand I don't think I'm going. There's nothing I really "need" at the moment - I have more than enough blankets now that Grady's gone, both Jetta and Jazz have a fly sheet for this year, I don't have any basic needs - I kind of want a second hunt bridle and a second dressage bridle, I've been thinking about getting a D-ring or eggbutt waterford to use instead of our loose ring, I kind of want a scrim sheet. But it would be pretty hard to find those things there (though I have been lucky in the past) and with finals starting on Monday I feel like I could use the time better for studying. And my more pressing wants - like some Equilibrium Stretch Flex wraps or a Vespucci breastplate would be near impossible to find there.  It's an almost painful decision for the tack whore in me - "Don't need anything?! But you always get such good deals on everything!" But who knows, I could always wake up at 6am with a burning desire to go drive for an hour and a half in each direction to look at stuff I don't need and spend money that I really shouldn't spend...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Desensitization Extravaganza

No ride for the poor ponies yesterday. It's dead week which means I literally feel like death. Can this term be over pretty please? Today started off rather well with me waking up early (not a morning person) to get to my one class today. Only to walk all the way across campus and show up at an empty classroom. Huh, guess I forgot to remember that class was cancelled today? Oh well it was a nice walk I guess.

At least I got to see my favorite flowers blooming everywhere!

Anyways, onto the ponies. Goals for Queenie today:
  • Mounting: She has no problem with me jumping up and down besides her, throwing myself at her or bouncing in the stirrup but as soon as I throw my leg over she has a minor melt down. Not okay, I don't particularly enjoy the feeling of sitting on a bomb about to explode nor will it inspire confidence in anyone who comes to look at her and the first thing she does is spook.
    • How we're going to fix it: lots of mounting! Get on, wait for her to settle, give her a treat and lots of scritches, then get off. Get back on, wait for her to settle, give her a treat and lots of scritches, then get off. Rinse, repeat until she decides that it's not such a bad thing. 
  • Halting: I don't know what was done to her but halting scares her. I pull on both reins, albeit gently, and she sucks back and stops suddenly then moves her feet all over the place. We established an emergency one rein stop as soon as I got on her for our first ride (thank GOODNESS I decided to work on that first, it's a lifesaver). The one rein stop doesn't bother her one bit, she stops and stands nicely. 
    • How we're going to fix it: lots of stopping! I feel like this is something that just has to be done over and over and over again because there's not a lot else to do to fix this. Once she finally plants her feet she's fine, just the first 30 seconds to a minute she dances around and I don't want to have to rely on a one rein stop. 
  • Spooking at Everything: She literally spooks at everything. Oh poor mare. I promise that not everything is out to get you. Hence my title for the day.
    • How we're going to fix it: Expose her to lots of scary stuff! I'm going to go buy a little 5x7' tarp this weekend, going to bring a plastic bag to tie on the end of my carrot stick to work with her with, I'm going to set up a mini "trail course" with poles and barrels and flowers and such, and we're going to go for a scary walk outside over to the weigh station (I want to see how much this beast weighs!) During all of this we're going to work on ground manners because blowing through the halter is not okay. She's in a rope halter but she still doesn't listen to it and I hate chains so I never want anyone to feel like they have to use one one her so she needs to learn how to respond to a plain halter.
Goals for the Jetta monster:
  • Steadier in the bridle: She was driving me nuts the other day with her playing with the contact. I told her last time I rode her that if she can act like a grown up the next time I ride her then I will set up jumps on Friday. We'll see how that goes.
  • Desensitizing! Like I stated in my last post, Jetta has the spring spookies. She's not typically a spooky horse. So like Queenie, she's going to get the whole nine yards of desensitization. Remember the whole running away with the ribbons thing? Yeah, those ribbons are coming back and we're going to work on that. I am sorely tempted to just tie them to her bridle and set her loose in the arena until she figure out that they're not going to eat her but I figure that's unusually cruel so we'll just work on me rubbing and fluttering them on her face until she decides they're not worth the effort of spooking.
If all goes well with Jetta being a grown-up (she is after all almost seven so I can't pull the baby horsey card anymore) we will jump on Friday and then I will decide what classes to enter for the jumping show at the end of this month! It's actually an indoor event derby - they will have show jumping classes and indoor xc classes. I feel comfortable doing beginner novice at 2'7" both show jumping and xc, and I feel pretty comfortable doing novice at 2'11" for show jumping but I'm not quite sure if I should test the waters and try xc. I'm still a bit of a scaredy cat after she dumped me over that novice coop last summer. Plus I don't know if I should spend all the money doing all four classes since they're $20 a pop. Decisions, decisions.

And in a slightly more random note, please someone buy this horse:

This is Dusty. He boards at my barn and I'm in love/in serious want with him.

He's four years old and get this: he's a 1/2 Arab, 1/2 Missouri Fox Trotter. Now, I don't like either of those breeds typically, I'm just not a fan. I don't have anything against them, they're just not my thing. But I LOVE Dusty.

The owner just dropped his price to $2250. I wish I could afford him but my budget for horses tends to be $500 or free. And I can't rationalize another project for that much when I have several at my disposal that are free.

What I love about him: he has gorgeous conformation. That picture doesn't quite show it, but he's got a neck that's to die for. And he has lovely gaits. I was quite surprised to see him move, he's got a floaty trot and canter and he oversteps by several inches without even trying when he walks and trots. Dressage prospect!! He's only been ridden western but I think he'd make an awesome dressage horse and be versatile enough to switch back and forth from dressage to western.

Only thing I don't like about him is he's very mouthy. Not bitey, but just loves to lick and lip you at all times. Definite pet peeve of mine, but he's like a puppy. You can't get mad with those big brown eyes looking at you.

Another girl at the barn just started "working" with him cause his owner doesn't have time to ride him. She just posted on facebook about this new "colt" she was putting "training" on and "starting" him under saddle and that he'll make a nice horse for gaming. Oh dear, first of all he's already been started, second of all you aren't going to increase his value with gaming training. Please someone save this poor guy. He doesn't want to be a gamer he wants to be a fancy dressage horse!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Spookies

Rode both ponies today and it was interesting...

I think the spring spookies are going around. Jetta was fairly good - she's getting better at carrying herself, but she just likes to be annoying. Today her evasion of choice was bobbing her head even when we were trotting. Part of it was anticipating the canter, she really is better after I let her canter but I don't want that to be her decision, sooo I made her trot and trot and trot until I decided she was acting like a grown up horse and we could canter.

Today we had "only" one spook, but I'm glad I have good balance! We were trotting along and we had a stop and spin at some imaginary scary thing that was outside.

Canter transitions are getting a little better I think. We did lots of random stuff today just for fun - turns on the haunches, baby canter pirouettes, shoulder in, leg yields, walk-canter-walk transitions and she did them all fairly well!

Next up was Miss Queenie. Sigh... Worked with her a little on the ground and she was much better about bending side to side. I took my time getting on and she was fine until I fully swung my leg over and she had a little panic attack again. After a minute she settled down and we walked around. I carried my dressage whip for some back up and it helped - I was afraid that she'd be scared of it, but it ended up fine. I might dig out my western spurs to see what she thinks of those because she just blows through my leg aids when she spooks (at virtually everything).

Today was super exciting because there were a bunch of people at the barn and the stall cleaner turned all but two horses out who had a fit and fell in it. Plenty of spooking and squirrellyness, but finally by the end she settled down pretty well. I got her to step away from my leg aids, worked on stopping without having a panic attack, asked her to soften to the bit at the walk, lots of circles and trotting. I asked her to canter and I don't think she ever has under saddle. She almost acted like she had a spur stop on her (I don't think she does, just saying that's what it felt like!). The more I cued for it the more she sucked back and when she finally took a couple steps she ended up bucking.

So I left it alone and I plan on working on it on the lunge line and establish a cue for the canter to help. Poor girl was so sweaty at the end so I gave her a bath which went ok. She walked into the wash rack with only minor spooking/snorting and stood ok for the water, but a couple times she just blew right through me which was quite annoying, she didn't run me over, but she didn't listen to me on the other end of the lead line one bit.

So I definitely have my work cut out for me with these two girls! No pictures today but I'll try to take lots more later to make up for it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

More Than I Bargained For

So this post was supposed to be happy and exciting because I have a surprise to share! But I wanted to warn you ahead of time that it is going to be more of a rant instead...

First off, meet Queenie. My new project!

She is Tux and Katy's mom (see "The Herd" tab if you don't know who they are), an 11 year old, 16.2hh Clydesdale PMU mare.

So here's the deal: she's had 60 days under saddle with a professional trainer according to my aunt. He didn't have the time to help sell her and show her to people interested so my aunt asked me if I'd be willing and I said yes, as long as she can pay for board. She agreed and brought Queenie down yesterday. I get two months to try and sell Queenie. Not a hard thing to do right? I mean after all, she's already started undersaddle and that's half the work right there!


We all know that anyone can call themselves a trainer and charge for their "training" when the truth is that they know nothing about training a horse. Well, I'm pissed because this "trainer" is exactly that - he put hardly any training on this horse in the 60 days she was with him and charged my aunt for it.

I expect a horse that's been under saddle that long to know how to walk, trot, canter in both directions and maintain gait without being nagged. I expect her to stand still for mounting, to halt and back in a relatively straight line willingly. I would expect them to bend, soften to the bit, and move off the leg to some degree. I would expect them to yield the hindquarter and forehand when asked and be relatively well exposed to things like whips, flapping straps and normal noises that they might here.

Queenie is basically none of those things. If I hadn't seen a picture of her being ridden by this so-called trainer, then I wouldn't imagine she had any training.

I put her in cross ties and she stood very well, which I was surprised. She was started by a "cowboy" type of guy so I wouldn't have expected her to be in any sort of cross ties, but she didn't seem to be bothered by them one bit.

I got her all groomed up - she's got a little bit of rain rot along her back, not bad but not unexpected given that she's got a little valley going down her back because of how chunky she is. I banged her tail, braided her mane and forelock up, then broke out the clippers to shave off her beard and whiskers. She had never seen clippers before and was a little scared of them (I unclipped the cross ties so we wouldn't have any "accidents"). But with some treats she quickly accepted them.

I saddled her up without any problems though she was a little jumpy about me cinching her up. She accepted the bit rather well. I lunged her and she seems like she's done it before perhaps, though very badly, plus she was quite afraid of the lunge whip. She walked and trotted but had no "brakes" that I could find. Once I got her stopped I asked her to go the other direction, to the right and it took her several minutes to figure out to go forward. Cantering takes quite a bit of convincing and at this point her toes are so long I'm afraid she's going to trip and fall on her face.

She does yield her hindquarters but she does so very fearfully. Some people don't seem to understand that your horse can be responsive and respectful without being afraid. After finishing with lunging and seeing that she didn't look like she was going to buck I asked her to bend to either side which she had also apparently never done and was very stiff and heavy.

I got on and almost immediately regretted it. She spooked and danced around and I thought she was going to take off with me; she was very reactive. I talked to her and patted her and after a couple minutes she calmed down. I let her walk off and she was ok. The posters on the wall are terrifying, she spooks at every noise that the other horses make. She doesn't steer very well, she doesn't listen to any leg cues very well, trotting involves a lot of kicking (from me, not her) and she doesn't maintain her gaits. When you ask her to stop she does so very suddenly and bracing-ly, then dances in place like I'm going to do something to her or ask her for something. She doesn't appreciate backing and roots the reins out of your hands and cannot go in a straight line to save her life. She kind of sort of goes on the bit at the walk, but not at the trot. She's got a short, easy to sit stride so I don't think she'll be making a dressage horse at all, but I was hoping to make her into a trail horse/husband horse.

My aunt told me that she is "green broke" but I don't even consider her that. By definition broke = trained and green broke should mean "trained but inexperienced". She's most certainly not trained. If I compared her to the horses that I've trained then her training is about the equivalent of being a week under saddle and having maybe 5 rides on her. Just makes me upset that this guy is calling himself a trainer - he's at least twice my age, therefore he should have twice my experience, especially if he considers himself a professional trainer. I may be young and not have a lot of experience training horses to the upper levels of any discipline, but I sure can start a horse a million times better than this guy.

Anyways, rant over - just had to get that out somewhere! It's not that I mind doing the training on her, I love training horses, it's just that I didn't expect to have to. Now of course I'm concerned that I won't be able to get Queenie trained and sold in two months, especially for how much my aunt wants. I could probably have her trained by the end, but I don't feel comfortable marketing her until she has a basic skill set down. Definitely more than I bargained for right now...

But isn't she cute?! Her face reminds me a lot of Tux and I think she'll be similar to train personality wise.

It's not her fault no one ever taught her anything...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Just What I Needed

Just what I needed - a great, distracting weekend to keep my mind occupied!

It's still really rough thinking about Grady. I knew it would be hard having him gone, but it's random things that make me upset, like opening my ebay watch list and finding a blanket I was thinking of getting him, or finding a to do list with "Groom Grady" on it. And the pasture is so empty... I keep expecting him to walk into his stall or whinny at me. I created a page at the top of this blog for him, just in case you're interested. I still have a few pics I want to find and scan to add to that page.

My friend AR and I made plans to go ride at the beach since the weather was supposed to be nice and boy was it gorgeous! It was a lot of fun, I really needed that.

We have a cool shadow :)

Jetta behaved pretty much exactly like I expected her to. Her attitude as we started out was pretty much, "heck no, I didn't sign up for this!". She spooked at everything. She spooked at the grass, she spooked at the puddles, she spooked at the different colored sand, she spooked at the hikers, she spooked at the driftwood, she spooked at the waves. Geez horse. But she's this way in the spring every year since she's shut inside pretty much all winter. And after some impressive maneuvers in wave avoidance (her technique - frog leap the waves so that your legs go in five different directions at once, nearly unseating your rider, or if that isn't satisfactory, spin and bolt), eventually she got over it and we had a really great ride.

Having a good gallop is a cure for everything!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Hardest Thing

The hardest thing to do is to let someone you love go.

I haven't had to deal with that a whole lot in my life, so having to put down a horse is just so devastating.

Grady has always been my best friend, the best horse a little girl could ask for and my first love.

This morning I got a text from my dad while I was in class saying there was an emergency and I needed to call him. Knowing my dad, it's really important if he calls it an emergency. I stepped out of class to talk to him and as soon as he spoke I knew something was wrong. Grady wasn't doing well and they had the vet out. My heart just broke right then. I gathered up my things from class and left, already crying (poor teacher, he looked kind of speechless when I told him I had to go).

It was the longest hour of my life trying to get home as quickly as possible. I was so worried that they'd put him down without me being there. That's something I've always worried about, especially when I'm traveling. When I got there the vet had sedated him - given him a ton of morphine and banamine. He colicked this morning and twisted his gut badly. He ended up getting his back feet stuck in the fencing when he rolled too close.

I'm so lucky to have such an amazing community. The neighbors called my parents when they saw him rolling then three other neighbors stopped to get him out of the fence. One person pulled the fence post out of the ground, another cut the wire away while my neighbor LC sent my brother to the barn to get a halter and calmed Grady. I'm so glad they all stopped to help.

The vet said there pretty much wasn't anything he could do. He had tubed Grady a couple hours before but there pretty much were no gut sounds still. He palpated him rectally but could hardly get his hand up very far because of the twist. Grady was feeling a little better when I got there from the morphine, he nickered and nuzzled my face when I got there. But he had a hard time standing, his muscles were shaking and he was obviously still uncomfortable.

Hardest decision of my life. I spent over an hour with him, just petting him and loving on him. It was a beautiful day out today, not a bad day to die I guess, all things considered. The vet finally came back an hour and a half later and I decided it was time to put him down. The longer I waited the harder it would get and I didn't want him to hurt any more.

He would have been 27 this year. I always thought he would live until he was 30 years old. It was something my trainer who helped me buy and retrain him always said: that he's the kind of horse that I'll be riding until he was 30. I had so many things I was looking forward to with him. He was just starting to shed out and I always get excited when that happens - he goes from fuzzy teddy bear to sleek stallion. I was going to have a professional photographer come take some pictures of us together this summer since I don't have too many of me and him together. My parents were planning on turning the old vineyard area into his new pasture and had just planted some orchardgrass. I always thought he'd be around when I finally got around to breeding Jetta, that he'd be the foal's buddy when it was time for weaning, that he'd help me start my next project horse this summer, he was always the best horse to use for ponying.

I'm just going to miss him so much. Even just today, walking down to the barn to get a saddle I expected to see him pop his head over the fence. He was my baby, my handsome old man.

My favorite pair of ears

Last time I saw him and he was so spunky!