Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Did I Get So Lucky?

I have been panicking while watching my bank account slowly drain itself this week as my deposit on Misty got withdrawn, then board, and now VET BILLS. I'm officially horse poor.

Yes, out of my three horses that I'm working with right now, only one of them is sound. You thought this was going to be an upbeat post about how I got to be so lucky to have three awesome horses, right? Well wrong.

I think I mentioned that Jetta had a baby cut on her knee. She got it last Monday while turned out and I thought it was healing fine, I've been putting antiseptic ointment on it. Anyways, this Monday she was a little off when I rode, I didn't see her on Tuesday and then Wednesday she was definitely off. I called my vet friend to see if she could come look at her (which would have been awesome because no fee!!) but she was out of town and she told me to have it looked at asap just to make sure it wasn't getting infected though she didn't think it was since her lameness was so slight.

Anyways, I had a local vet out this morning to look at it. Besides trying to develop proud flesh he said it was fine and that it wasn't really hurting her because she didn't mind flexing it. He pinched and whacked her hoof to see if maybe she had a bruise or abscess going on but there was nothing. So, he thought she was just being a baby and it was just a little uncomfortable to her. Typical delicate flower. He gave me some bute and called it a day. I lunged her fully before sticking her in the stall and her lameness seemed less than yesterday, just barely noticable. Still frustrating though.

Then Misty. Yes, my brand new horse is lame. She also has a baby cut, this time on her back leg, just below her hock. Yesterday I saddled her up and lunged her and didn't even notice she was off until we changed direction and she was noticeably limping. I looked at the gimp leg in question and wondered how I HADN'T noticed it. Her whole leg is swollen and had a nice stream of dried blood down the back (though in my defense I thought it was mud). So off to the wash rack we went. I hosed it off and cleaned it up. It's a fairly shallow cut, just like the one on Jetta's knee. I don't understand why she's having such an adverse reaction to it, though I do think it's because she has a cut and (hopefully) not because it's a tendon issue. I put some antiseptic ointment on and called it a night.

Baby cut.

This morning I expected for the swelling to have gone, assuming that it was just a reaction to the trauma the day of getting the cut. But no, it was still swollen and the cut has oozed a little bit so I washed it up again and put more ointment on it before sticking her back in the stall.

So Misty and Jetta are gimpy buddies now. They didn't get to go outside, instead getting a gram of bute each. Tomorrow if the swelling is still going on with Misty's leg I think I'll wrap it, just to give it some support and get rid of the fluid stocking up. I didn't have the vet look at her, so I do hope he won't need to come back out. Because I don't think I could take another farm call and exam fee, even if there is NO DIAGNOSTICS done. Geez, I know I want to be a vet and you don't make that much as one, but as a horse owner it's spendy!

Pretty girl is all decked out. But I can't ride her...
On the plus side though, if there is any, is that I think my dark oil tack all fits Misty. She is so tiny, but Jazz's old bridle is quite adjustable and the semi-QH bars of my saddle seem to be a better fit than the full QH bars on the saddle Queenie's using now. Plus the dark color looks pretty on her, now if I could just actually RIDE her. I'm getting excited to try out cow stuff with her though. Found this picture on Facebook and am stealing it to share with you:

Can't wait to do this

Monday, May 27, 2013

Triple the Trouble

Managed to ride all three girls this morning!

Everyone was inside which made it a little easier since it was super windy and raining out so at least they were all dry and I didn't have to trek out in the mud to catch them since apparently Misty doesn't understand the whole "come here" thing and Jetta has decided that since there is a new mare in her pasture, she is under no obligation to come when I call and instead chases all the other horses around the pasture. Brat. If she doesn't watch herself I might ask that she gets put in the small dry lot paddock by herself!

Anyways, all the mares were pretty good. Misty was up first. I started her out on the lunge line with side reins. They were super loose because 1) they don't fit her cause she's so tiny and 2) I wanted her to get used to them since I'm sure she hasn't worn them in a while since my barn owner last owned her. She wasn't too happy about them, but they weren't restricting her, it was just basically the weight of them coming into play. Regardless, I think they helped her get an idea of what I was asking her undersaddle since I thought our ride was better today. I also rode with a dressage whip which was helpful in getting her to maintain a steady tempo and asking for that right lead canter.

I tried to take some pictures of her being pretty on the lunge, but mostly failed.

At the walk she gets behind the bit and breaks at the 3rd vertebrae instead of at the poll so we worked on that a bit. I've decided to focus on more dressage stuff first before we move to western and going to a loose rein/slow pace, etc. She really does have a nice trot, but the canter needs work. We'll break out the trot/canter poles eventually to help with that. I asked for a little bit of leg yield at the walk and she tried. We'll need to work a little more on getting her to move her haunches over. Regardless, it was a good ride.

Jetta was next and wasn't quite as good. She was a little uppity and kept trying to canter, but other than that we had a good ride. Our leg yields are feeling quite nice even without carrying a dressage whip! I think that Jetta's feeling left out or is just plain trying to destroy herself because she came in from the pasture with a nice cut on her knee, a kick mark on her flank, several large bug bites and a patch of hives on the left side of her neck. Geez mare.

And then Queenie was last and she was just her plain old good self. So it was a rather good morning at the barn, though it culminated in me locking my keys in my car and having to wait another hour for AAA to come unlock it. So they all get a good grooming.

I got to run home and get some of my western tack that I haven't used in a while to try on Misty. Hopefully the saddle will fit better and I hope my bridle fits her too!

Yes, those first three faces you see are mine. I basically own half the barn.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day One

I went out and rode Misty for the first time this morning. She was out in the pasture and didn't even look up when I approached her. In fact I had to put the lead rope around her neck and pull her head up to halter her because she wouldn't stop grazing, lol. Definitely food motivated.

She was quite antsy in the cross ties, but she hasn't been ridden in a while. She has a habit of picking up her front leg and holding it there instead of pawing, because I guess she knows she's not allowed to paw. I put my barrel saddle on her and it fits ok, but I think it's too wide so I'm going to get my other western saddle from home to try on her. She's soooo small! The saddle looks big on her. I couldn't find my height tape but I need to see how tall she is. JS said she thought she was 15 hands but hadn't measured her. I don't think she's even that...

I didn't have a western bridle to use on her, but I used Jetta's dressage bridle. It was almost too big, so I might have to get her a cob sized bridle. It worked though.

After a quick lunge I got on. She knows a little bit of everything, but she's not finished. She knows how to give to pressure on the bit, but she doesn't know how to maintain contact or to carry her head in one place. She doesn't maintain gait very well, her right canter lead is a little sticky. She has a pretty good halt and back, but she isn't very good about being straight. She knows how to move her shoulders and her haunches but doesn't know how to leg yield or do any lateral work. But she seems pretty game to learn. She wasn't too sure what I was asking, but she tried.

Afterwards I decided to forgo the bath since it was a little cold out and she was just going to be turned out in the muddy pasture again. I put some thrush meds on her hooves, some meds on her leg for the scratches and then gave her a good brushing. She's got a really pretty mane, it's long and has a white stripe in it. Her tail is rather nice too, though how all of those things did not add up to a nice forelock, I don't know. It's just kind of floofy. So I just rubber banded it. After our ride she stood in cross ties just fine.

"Get my good side"

Cute stuff

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Details

So, the full story. Remember when I talked about how my barn owner went through horses really fast? I mentioned a certain mare, her name is Sissy.

Well, I bought her. Her new owner that bought her from my BO was selling her, I noticed via Facebook. I made the comment to my BO that I wish I could afford her, since she was listed for $6500. Soooo, the BO talked to the new owner, JS, and told me that she'd take $2500 with payments. I talked to JS and got the price down to $2000 if I came and picked her up on Saturday (today) and hauled a horse for her. Basically it was a - "come get her tomorrow at this price or she goes back up to her original asking price".

I've been oscillating between panic and excitement. I spent the whole entire day yesterday messaging my BO and JS determining the terms of our agreement. I'm super stressed. This is the most expensive horse I've ever bought. I mean, my last three horses were FREE (well, ok, I didn't actually own them) and here I am buying a horse for $2000. I've never spent over $750 on a horse (Jetta) so this is crazy for me. Add in the fact that I haven't even sold Queenie yet, and I have THREE horses at the moment. What is this craziness???

Anyways, today went fairly smoothly. It was a LOT of driving and I ended up spending about 6 hours on the road. I had to go pick up JS's new horse - a 17.2hh TB that hadn't been handled for the last 6 years. That was fun. Reminded me a lot of getting Jetta. It took forever to wrangle the horses since a couple weren't halter broke. Luckily the big guy loaded up with only a slight hesitation.

JS lives in the middle of nowhere so it was a slightly worrying drive - I made three wrong turns and ended up having to turn the trailer around to go back the correct direction. Let's just say my trailer turning mojo was not with me today, but we made it.

I got to JS's barn, signed the papers and loaded up my new pony! I've decided to name her Misty since I didn't like Sissy that much. Still needs a new show name though (recommendations welcome!). Her registered name is Henny Penny which is just AWFUL. Ack. She's six years old and maybe 15 hands so she's way smaller than I'm used to. The plan is to turn her into my all around horse. The person who owned her before my BO supposedly had a ranch and moved cows on her and did breakaway roping. I'd like to do some sorting and reining on her, as well as competitive trail in addition to doing dressage and possibly teaching her to jump. 

She's a nice mover and easily tracks up at the walk and trot and has a lovely natural headset. She's straight paint/QH breeding so no TB in her. Her only fault I think so far is her feet. She has front shoes on, but threw one of them so she only has one shoe. Her hooves are a little bit upright, but at least they're big, no tiny halter hooves here. She has a definite toe-first landing and contracted heels so it'll take a bit to get them in shape, but I don't think there'll be a problem transitioning her to full barefoot. She has a scar on her left front pastern that's hosting some scratches so I'm going to get to work on getting rid of that pronto.

Tomorrow is going to be a spa day/first ride. Eek! I can't believe I bought a horse with this little preparation. I've seen her be ridden maybe three times at my barn, I've never ridden her myself. Just crazy. I don't know what got into me, but I'm blaming my barn owner for talking to JS and getting her to bring the price down... It's still a lot of money for me, but I just have to think that it's "just money". I can earn it back and if I need to resell Misty (though I'm not planning on it) after a little more training I think I can make a nice profit.

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Have I Done

Oh dear lord. I think I just bought a new horse. Details to follow later this weekend... Please let this have been a good decision!!!!!

Where Did May Go?

Can't believe it's almost June! One week left and I'm feeling behind "schedule" (like we've ever really had a schedule though).

I'm ashamed to say that besides going xc schooling, we haven't jumped since the jumping show... Bad. I mean it's really more for my benefit than for Jetta's since we are going to be doing beginner novice at our two events which is 2'7" max I believe. And at least at the one-day trial they weren't even close to max last year. So that's not the problem, I just need to get my stuff together. Last time I rode without stirrups?? Um... couldn't tell you.

So the plan is to get on that pronto. Wesnesday was an interesting ride. Jetta was ok - not too terrible, but not good either. The good thing about the ride is that instead of feeling like just a rider and just trying to work through the ride without making things worse, instead I felt like a trainer in that we worked through the problems, got clear improvement and made it into a learning experience for both of us. She made me work for it the whole ride, but it always feels good when you're able to step up and not just end on a better note, but to completely turn the ride around.

The plan is for a jumping ride today, warm up with a little stirrupless riding. Then either Saturday or Sunday we will go xc schooling again.

With Queenie, the plan is to squeeze in an arena ride today, then go for a trail ride on Saturday or Sunday. On Saturday I should have someone coming to meet Queenie which I'm hopeful about so I could use all the good thoughts possible that this person actually shows up!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I had a great ride on Queenie on Monday. I decided that we'd go explore some new trails since it was going to be possibly the only sunny day this whole week and it's now back to raining.

We had the lot all to ourselves...

This set of trails is closer than the other park we've been going to, only 30 minutes away, but boy is the road curvy and narrow!

Starting off
We made it there safely and had the whole horse camp to ourselves. It's really neat because there's campsites with corrals if you want to stay overnight. Neat! I'd love to go horse camping someday - well, that's basically what endurance is going to be, but still.

Queenie was bright eyed and bushy tailed coming off the trailer. She LOVES going on the trails. She had her head up and was looking all around. The first half of the trails I had to keep her on a short rein, simply because she's so ADD that wherever she looks, she goes, so we're weaving all over the trail, going through bushes, etc because she's like "Oh look! Over there, let's go over there! No wait, let's go that way! Ooh, ooh, what about that way?!" I have to remind her that I'd rather not go offroading through the thorn bushes.

The first part of the trails we went on were all graveled. You almost immediately cross a very pretty stream. Queenie had no qualms about going through. Her hooves were great on the gravel too, even with some big sharp rocks mixed in. We crossed a narrow bridge, then came across an old road that had been closed off with a large bridge to cross. All no problem. We cantered a little on the flat road, then reached where the trails started going up hill. These trails were all dirt, but with the recent rain they were a little slick, especially for Queenie with her big hooves.

Crystal clear stream

We went uphill for a bit, just walking on a loose rein. Queenie was so good, I could just ride her on a loose rein all day. There were a lot of downed trees and logs and stumps, and besides giving them a good snort and stare, she didn't spook at them at all. When the trail started to go downhill again, we turned around because I didn't want to wear poor Queenie out completely and I wasn't sure how long the loop we were on was going to be, and we retraced our steps back the the trailer.

Pretty sure we're not 20 tons... just 1 ton, lol.

The old bridge for cars to drive over

Such a good pony - her new nickname is QATV - Queenie All Terrain Vehicle :) We stopped at the creek for a quick drink, then untacked at the trailer and I let Queenie graze for a while. We loaded back up and got back to the barn just in time for the girls to get their toes trimmed! A perfect way to spend the day.

Well deserved graze

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And Nevermind

So, I had a post written up and waiting to be published about all the endurance goodness that's going on in preparation for this weekend. And the ride that I have been looking forward to FOREVER that was supposed to happen this weekend got canceled which was a huge bummer. So disappointed. Apparently something happened with their permits, so they're not able to hold any rides there until possibly this fall which sucks because it sounds like such a nice camp!

Goodies! A saddle bag for my dressage saddle in the most wonderful color, a phone holder and some electrolyte tabs

So now to figure out another ride that I can actually make. All my weekends are super busy with other shows that I really want to go to, so it's sort of an eenie-meenie-miney-mo game for which show I want to do. Dressage? Jumper? Endurance?

The next possible date looks like maybe the 22nd of June which just sounds so far off now...

It does look like this is going to be the summer of dressage, which I'm super excited about. Even with our lackluster scores at our past two shows, it still means that we have enough to go to the League Championship in my area which is kind of exciting. Us, in a championship? I mean it's not too fancy, it's just a league show and the requirements are fairly minimal, but it sounds like fun. The only problem is that you can't carry a whip in a championship class. At first thought, this isn't a huge problem since we haven't been showing with a whip and only schooling with one rarely. BUT, they don't offer First Level test 1 there, only test 2 and 3, both of which have leg yields and we still need a bit more encouragement there, so I may have to test out my spurs and see if that helps.

Then we are pretty much for sure attending our first recognized show in July! I'm so excited. We will definitely be a little out of place with all the fanciness that occurs there, but I don't care. It will be fun! I'm planning on making the League Championship our first "overnight" show, but at least I've been to the barn where the recognized show is being held. We attended a JR/YR camp there almost two years ago that was several days long.

We will have a show or clinic almost every weekend in June which is insane to me. Since our dressage team ended up not being able to show in IDA (Intercollegiate Dressage Assoc.) we have a lot of money to spend on sending members to shows so otherwise this would not be possible!

The plan for Jetta is to focus a lot on dressage because it's just been kind of lackluster. I want better work, especially because our last couple arena rides have been awful. Jetta had a date with the side reins yesterday which will help a little bit with accepting contact, but she just really needs to get steadier. I'm hoping to squeeze a dressage lesson or two in with TS because I know that will help a ton. Then some more jumping of course. I'd like to go school xc at least once before the one-day horse trial. Then we have an xc clinic the week after, then probably go school at least twice before the big Inavale show. So much to look forward to!

Queenie has been doing well, which I will post about later!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Show Ribbons

Whew, this past week has been crazy. I was planning on going for a trail ride and generally paying attention to my horses but somehow it all got away from me. Thankfully, the show that I was managing went well. I think this was the first show I hadn't stressed about, though it still took a lot of time out of my already busy schedule.

I think one of the most important things about running a show - besides getting everyone scheduled properly, renting a great facility and having a good judge - is great ribbons. Obviously that's one of the most important things ;)

Most horse people love keeping their ribbons, especially if they had a great ride or it was a milestone of some sort for them. I definitely keep most of my horse ribbons. The ribbons I don't keep? The tiny scraps of fabric sometimes labeled as ribbons and the generic rosettes that simply say "first place" (or second or third or whatever).

If I'm going to keep a ribbon I want to know what show it was from. And it's even better if it's unique.

Being part of the dressage team, I end up being the show manager for our bi-annual dressage shows that serve as fundraisers. I rent out the facility, find a judge, get prizes and generally organize all the details. My first year being a show manager, I knew I wanted good ribbons. After all, it's so awesome to get neat ribbons at a show!

After researching various online places, I decided to go with They are super easy in that you can just design your ribbon any which way you like online (and see a virtual representation) and buy them right then and there. They will even double check your design and offer you tips if you want them, in order to "fix" anything that needs fixing. Ours turned out awesome!

We did not put a year on them, so we get to use left overs for all the different shows, which is good because I would rather order too many than too few, then those that we didn't use can be used at the next show. Also, customizing the center button is really neat. It isn't necessarily a must in my book (though if you are buying ribbons for a dressage show, please don't put a western pleasure horse on them!) they look pretty fancy when it is custom. Our ribbons are also unique to some degree because they have black writing instead of the usual silver or gold, but that was just a random decision.

So those were our general ribbons that we give out in each class.

Even our fifth place ribbons are pretty!

This year, we decided to get neck ribbons for the overall and reserve high percentage of the show. Someone on Facebook recommended for me to like this page, Ribbons N Beyond, for a somewhat local lady that makes ribbons. She makes BEAUTIFUL ribbons. This was several months ago, but she was still in the back of my mind when we came up with the idea of doing neck ribbons, especially because working with small businesses is awesome when possible. I couldn't have been happier working with her either since I contacted her on such late notice, she already had a queue going, but she fit us right in, got the ribbons done and sent off!

Since our school colors are black and orange, we decided to go a little crazy and make them in those colors instead of the traditional tri-colors or purple that you normally get. I think they turned out awesome! With ribbons that you don't re-use, especially for larger prizes like high percentage or champion, it's a nice touch to put the year on it so you can display them and know when they were from (at least in my opinion it's nice).

These look super-awesome in real life

So that's my little spiel on ribbons in case anyone's going to be running a show in the near future and needs ribbon maker recommendations. Basically I just wanted to brag about them :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Too Much

Queenie Update:

Went out to ride tonight and examined her ears. She was fine with me gently handling them, but any pressure made her panic. I shined a light in and felt everywhere and didn't find anything - no ticks, plaques, bugs or anything else. I lunged her and she was fine except for being super head shy, so we worked on that for a bit then I tacked her up and lunged her again. She was perfect so I got on. I decided to treat any head shaking as a behavioral issue and we had only one instance. I kicked her forward when she started sucking back then made her stand still without throwing her head everywhere. Finished out our ride cantering both ways with absolutely no problems. She had a little bit of "airplane" ears going on like she was uncomfortable and thinking about bucking, but whenever I felt her make that move I shortened my reins and pushed her forward.

I feel like something happened with her head/ears and now she's just anticipating it. She kept acting like I was going to whack her on the poll while riding which I've NEVER done. She was pretty head shy on the ground so I wonder if something either happened with the barn owners or maybe she got spooked in her stall and whacked her head on the overhead beam of the stall front and is just sore from it. Regardless, by the end she was much better about having me play with her ears or run a rope around them, so hopefully it's nothing. And MB is not going to be buying Queenie, though she said the reasoning is because she and her husband decided it wasn't worth it since he probably wouldn't ride much anyways. Lame excuse, you would have thought about that prior to asking me to hold her for you for TWO WHOLE MONTHS because you were sure that you were going to buy her. Whatever though, I'm over it.

Anyways, I've been getting my entries together for stuff and there is just too much paperwork! We're entering the Inavale recognized Horse Trial, a recognized dressage show and the endurance ride. I sat down today with all of Jetta's info and got to work.

I am now an AERC (American Endurance Ride Council) member and Jetta is registered with them. Jetta is also registered with the USDF (United States Dressage Federation) and USEF (United States Equestrian Federation), not to mention her being (actually) registered with the Jockey Club. Since I'm only doing beginner novice at the horse trial we don't have to be USEA (United States Eventing Association) members, so I'm going to put off that membership fee for now. I'm a member of my state's dressage society which also gets me a group membership to USEF. I also got a TIP (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) number for Jetta. Then I still need to sign up for the PNER (Pacific Northwest Endurance Ride) membership. Geez, we've got too many registration/membership numbers now!

 I'm sooo excited for everything coming up. We have our first endurance ride on the 25th and everything's coming together. I finally got my saddle bags in and my new hoof boots are on their way. I bought a neoprene girth to use instead of the fleece one.

We are doing a one day horse trial on June 2nd then maybe another endurance ride on the 15th (we'll see). Then the Inavale HT starts the 28th! I'm super happy that my dressage club ended up with too much money this year since we couldn't do IDA so they're paying for part of Inavale and for the recognized dressage show. Yay! This means that I will still have money after Inavale to do a couple more shows over the summer, which is always a good thing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pick Me Up

Today has been a no-good-very-bad day. I'm glad it's almost over.

Poor Queenie, all cleaned up and nowhere to go.

It started off with me showing Queenie off to MB (Tux's owner). She'd been wanting to come see her for a while and was pretty sure that she wanted to buy Queenie, she just wanted her husband to ride since she would be his horse for trail riding.

I got out to the barn early and groomed her up all nice. She had a bath the day before and was all freshly braided. I loved on her while we waited, she was chill. MB arrived and we talked a little before I saddled Queenie up in their western saddle and off we went.

We walk/trot/cantered to the right then changed direction. We went to canter and everything was fine for a few strides and then Queenie threw in a huge buck. Not super unusual, but not normal either since she usually doesn't throw such big bucks and she hasn't bucked in quite a while. I asked her to canter again, and again, everything was going fine. Then she tossed her head and started acting like she was going to buck, plunging her head down and shaking it. Weird. I thought maybe something was bothering her in the face, but everything was normal so we trotted off and everything was fine for half a circuit before she started spinning around and shaking her head, so I bailed.

I thought maybe the bridle was pinching her ears, but it's the same bridle we've been using for weeks now. Nothing has changed. MB thought maybe it was the neoprene girth on her saddle, since mine is felt. So I took off the bridle and just put her halter on. I put my saddle back on and got on again. Queenie immediately flew backward and didn't want to stop and was threatening to buck, shaking her head like she had something in her ear. I got off and she was EXTREMELY ear shy and didn't want anyone to touch either ear, which is not normal.

So I have no idea what was happening. I didn't finish my ride, I lunged her briefly and she was fine.  I just put her back in her stall. MB didn't ride and I don't know if they're going to buy her anymore. I'm super depressed because I just don't know what happened. I'm going to try again tomorrow and if nothing has changed, I'll have the vet out. MB, ever the optimistic person, mentioned "that's like brain tumor behavior". Thank you, thank you very much for now making me super worried. Yes, I know she's not my horse, but I really like her and I just don't want to have to deal with this.

So that was an amazing start to my morning. And it's gone basically all downhill from there.

So, with that gloomy note, I found this post, "First World Horse Problems" on Horse Nation, which gave me a much needed laugh. These remind me of Jetta:


Poor Jetta. Everyone thinks she's a gelding.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Trails and Stuff

After our cross country ride on Wednesday, both girls got Thursday off and then I rode them both Friday. In the aftermath of my fall on Wednesday my butt still really hurts from where she whacked me with her leg, but there's no amazing bruise to show for it. There's just a tiny one. But it HURTS. Luckily it doesn't interfere with riding though.

Jetta was a NIGHTMARE. Oh my goodness, it was ridiculous. I'm not sure that there was anything positive about our ride, except for the walk-canter transitions because she was so hyper. I guess she was still in "go go go" mode from schooling cross country and she was mad that I didn't allow her to run.

We even had a buck/rear in the middle of our ride which was just SO naughty. With the exception of the rear on Wednesday, we've virtually eliminated that sort of naughtiness from our rides so she was being exceptionally awful. So basically that ride was a total scrap. She was just super amped up so everything was awful and I didn't even want to ride Queenie afterwards.

Luckily I sucked it up and had one of the best rides on Queenie ever. She just keeps getting better and better. I didn't want to ride her so I just got on bareback and with her rope halter. It took a couple minutes to agree on a form of communication with only one rein (she's still figuring out the whole neck reining thing so it wasn't really working for us in the halter). But we figured it out and walked and trotted around the arena in both directions even with the arena door open and the stallion hollering at Queenie.

Bonus of riding bareback when it's hot out = sweat makes you more sticky, lol.

Saturday was a trail ride day for Jetta. We went to the same place as last time since there's plenty of room to condition for our endurance ride. Jetta was very well behaved, for which I was greatfull because the park was super busy.

I knew it was going to busy since I was going on a weekend and the weather was beautiful, but there was a ginormous group doing a ride together plus other random riders. Luckily I didn't really run into anyone on my ride, save for one endurance rider. I kept running into him and after about the fourth time when I popped out of the forest and his horse spooked, we stopped and chatted and let the horses graze. We talked about different places to ride on the trails and some good rides that I should go to, then talked about our horses. He used to ride a TB in endurance and now has an Anglo-Arab. But the horse he was on was a little gray Arab. He commented that Jetta looked fit which made me happy, I hope that she won't have any problems with the 25 miles!

Today we did almost 11 miles in an hour and fourty minutes which I was happy with. We only walked in the areas that were a little more rocky, but I think we cantered less this time. Jetta was super happy just cruising at her massive trot. She was definitely a trotting Standardbred in her past life, lol. She was great about rating at the trot for the most part, even when she rolled into a canter I was able to bring her back to a trot with a little half halt.

We got back to the parking lot, untacked and let Jetta drink and sponged her off. I took her heart rate and she was at 48bpm which I was surprised at, since I barely let her walk on the way back to the trailer, maybe just the half mile before the parking lot. I trotted her out and took her heart rate again and it was still 48bpm so that was a good sign! I plan on doing one more long ride, hopefully closer to to 20 miles just to see how it goes on Wednesday, then we'll stick to dressage stuff until the ride. Can't wait!

I rode Queenie around a bit after we got back and rode over to the weigh station and found a little trail and creek. I was pretty sure we were trespassing obviously though it was unmarked so we just meandered in then hightailed it out, just in case. 

Overall, I'm just loving this amazingly beautiful weather we've been having though it makes studying very hard :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Feeling Like a Hundred Bucks

You know how you have a great ride and you're already planning what to write up in your blog? Or maybe I'm the only one, lol. But the title of this post was going to be "Feeling Like a Million Bucks" but we had a little mishap, which I'll get to later, so I had to reduce it to a hundred, lol.

Anyways, today was cross country day!! I felt like a little kid bouncing in my seat on the way out to ride. So excited!

There were two goals for today: build confidence and stay alive.

Let's recap last year: went schooling a handful of times.
  • One time by myself, Jetta was being a brat and refusing everything so I lunged her over the jumps. Everything was going swimmingly until she took off and pulled the lunge rope out of my hand and galloped to the barn. I had to take the walk of shame to retreive my horse... 
  • Another time I went schooling with a group and Jetta half way jumped a Novice coop, meaning she had her front legs over when she stopped and I fell off. Embarrassing, but I got right back on, Jetta didn't run away since she stepped on her reins and was waiting for me to free her. But both of our confidence were shot after that. 
  • And then we did a clinic where everything went great and we learned how to do banks. 
  • Then we competed in a one day HT where Jetta was fairly good, but we had too many refusals on xc and were eliminated, though I was proud of the fact that we were in second after dressage and stadium!
Someday Jetta, you will jump the airplane jump.

This year I'm planning on doing the recognized HT so I want to not get eliminated, therefore we must practice more! I would say we accomplished our goals for the most part.

We jumped that red barn!

I was the only person out there except for a guy re-mowing the grass. Luckily Jetta doesn't mind tractors. She was super hyper and we had the most hilarious baby collected canter ever when I asked her to trot. We started out over all the baby logs and she was good. (Jetta is more scared of logs than anything else). We had our first refusal at a telephone pole. I didn't think she'd refuse it so I didn't ride her enough to it. Lesson: Never assume that she's going to jump it, always assume she will refuse.

But she got over it. We went through the water with no problems which was impressive. Jetta loves the banks so there were no problems jumping up the bank, down the slope and off another bank into the water and cantering through the water. This is when I was feeling like a million bucks. Jetta was being so awesome! No hesitation shown with the water, she was game. Jazz, while she would jump anything, was way too careful and would slow way down to delicately step off a bank and would hesitate in front of the water. Not so with Jetta!

Up the bank
Off the ledge - down the bank into the water

Through the water and up the bank on the other side!

The main problem we were running into was Jetta not wanting to slow down. She was very unhappy when I asked her to return to a more collected canter or trot. We need to find a field somewhere to practice this!

We moved on to the bigger coops (still BN level). Jetta went over a half round easily the first time, but when I came around to it again she ran out. We took it again, then moved onto a weird looking thing - my best description is an open-sided shed with a blue tin roof in miniature - that Jetta was pretty looky at but we made it over. We jumped the BN red barn and then tried to jump a Novice half round. Jetta majorly hesitated but I pushed her over it just barely in time so I got left behind and lost both stirrups. But I stayed on! We took the blue shed thing again and Jetta refused, but jumped it after circling.

We moved onto the other part of the field and jumped a baby little coop that was probably intro level, we jumped the roll top on top of the hill as well that may or may not have been Novice. Then I had the grand idea to come down and take the BN trakehner. Jetta wanted no part in it and when I circled around to take it again, she noticed a branch on the ground and freaked out about stepping on it. She didn't step on it, but for some reason she LOST HER SHIT and reared. I felt like we were going over backwards (already been there once, didn't want to go there again!) so I bailed. Jetta whacked me with a hind foot on my butt when stepping over with me. I landed on my elbow so I've got a nice scrape/bruise there, but was largely unscathed. Luckily Jetta stopped and waited for me to get up and come get her which I was so thankful for since I was not looking forward to completing yet another walk of shame.

My horse is an idiot - that branch in the upper right corner? That is what she freaked out about.

We had a short discussion about the branch - which is NOT scary. Then I got back on and we finished up a "line" of sorts. Over the blue tin roof jump, up the bank, down the bank into the water, sharp right turn to the telephone pole, then over the BN half round. Success! No hesitations, the only problem was, again, slowing her down before the last jump.

But I was quite pleased with our ride overall! The plan is to come school at least one more time this month, then we have the one day trial on the 2nd of June, a xc clinic on the 8th of June and then at the end of June is the recognized HT!!

Awkward selfie after our ride

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two Months

Today it has been exactly two months since I put Grady down. I can't believe it's been that long.

I can't believe how much I miss him. I still think about him every day now. It's still hard.

Found some of my senior pics from high school and this was one of my favorites with him. I wish I had more pictures of the two of us together.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Stress Relief Therapy

Well this was going to be quite the downer post since everything right now seems to be falling apart in terms of school, but I was able to go out to the barn and put things in perspective - what I'm going through is NOT that big of a deal - and have a good ride on both girls.

My housing plan for next year fell through and I'm kicking myself for not following through with the home owner and for trusting someone who I think of as a good friend to look out for me. And also kicking myself for turning down another house offer because I thought I had it covered. So I may be living at the barn with my horse next  year since I can find no other options at this point... At least the tack room is heated - I could set up a cot, there's a fridge, sink and microwave in the club room and hot water in the wash rack!

Then there's my honors thesis. I have to have my thesis proposal in by the end of this term (less than 6 weeks away) and I have no idea what to do my project on, not even who will be my mentor for the project. Just feeling sort of lost at this point.

Just had a minor melt down last night, especially because I was worried about Jetta not being herself, have two midterms this week and am just feeling downright sucky. Anyways, enough whining, back to the ponies:

I got to the barn and the girls were both turned out in the sunshine. This weather is a major mood boost. Queenie had a fly mask on - I keep forgetting to get the poor girl one and I have to order it online because she needs a warmblood size and no one carries that size locally. But lo and behold the barn owner found a draft size mask in her tack collection and put it on Queenie and said I could keep it. Love this barn!

She is obviously not as excited about the fly mask as I am!

I rode Queenie and had one of the best rides on her. She was super good about going slow and maintaining her tempo and keeping her head down. She has trouble maintaining a consistent tempo and will randomly speed up at intervals and still is not that responsive to requests to slow back down (unless of course you just ask for a halt). But we didn't have that problem today! Even with the door open, she was a gem. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we've conquered the "Open Door ADD" that seems to occur when the arena door is open because today after a couple firm reminders that we ignore what's going on outside (aka Jetta running around like a hooligan), she passed the door multiple times without going all periscope head on me or quickening her stride.

Such a good pony! Then we had one of the best canters ever too. Her transitions aren't all that great yet, but she just seemed way more relaxed today, especially to the left. I was able to give her a little bit more rein without her popping her head up and she remained balanced and didn't rush. I was super pleased with her today.

Jetta going in for the roll... I swear she's like a dog sometimes. She literally dug a hole to lay down in.
Jetta didn't quite follow Queenie's stellar example, but she seemed back to her normal obnoxious self at least. Funny how small "misbehaviors" can be cause for celebration, like bobbing her head and fidgeting in the cross ties. She was a little argumentative at the beginning of our ride but mellowed out a bit as the ride went along. We got some nice trot work in where she felt like she was really using her hind end and swinging in her back. Then we had one of our best simple lead changes to date! The downward transition from canter to walk still requires about three or four trot strides, but today her upward transition was near perfect. That made me happy because I feel like that's one of the main movements holding us back from doing second level work.

Both ponies got hosed off and turned back outside, then I cleaned a bunch of tack. No ride tomorrow but I'm still planning on doing some cross country Wednesday!

Keeping it classy with the breeches, socks and flip flops in 80 degree weather

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Too Hot to Handle

Wow, it was hot today! It got up to 91 degrees outside and I was dying.

I unfortunately spent most of the day studying and it was miserable because I was too lazy to go to the library and we don't have air conditioning at our house.

I finally made it out to the barn to ride the girls this evening. I was bad and didn't ride on Saturday, instead just having a lazy day where I got absolutely nothing productive done. The long drive today out to the barn though is never that bad when you can roll your windows down and crank up the music. I got to the barn at 6pm and it was still 85 degrees out. Sheesh.

Queenie was up first. She was fairly good, but now all the mares at the barn are in heat. I think that may have had something to do with the fact that she wasn't having very nice halts. She either ignored my "whoa" voice cue or stopped on her forehand so maybe she's like Jetta who gets sore in her lumbar region when in heat. We worked on canter transitions and trot-halt transitions. The poor girl was quite sweaty afterwards so she got hosed off.

I moved onto Jetta next. I gave the second part of the horses' shots on Friday and I don't think it agreed with Jetta. She seemed her normal self while I was riding Queenie. She had just been fed dinner and cleaned up her grain, then watched me ride with her ears perked, except whenever we passed she'd pin her ears at Queenie. Typical Jetta behavior. But when I went to get her out of her stall she had patches of sweat on her neck, heartgirth and flank areas. Her temp and other vital signs were normal but she didn't seem quite as perky - she was almost falling asleep in the cross ties. Her right hip where I gave her shot was sore too. I tacked her up anyways and had a very short ride on her. She definitely felt a little more laid back than usual, but wasn't off at all and was still enough of herself to spook at the shavings pile.

I hosed her off for good measure afterwards and paid special attention to the injection site with the cold water. Hopefully she'll feel back to normal soon. Unfortunately I'm out of banamine and bute so she just has to tough it out. I think it was probably poor timing on my part to give her a shot during a heat wave plus her being in heat. That combination was probably too much for her.

Even the cat was feeling too hot, as he kept flopping down on the concrete and then wouldn't move, so Jetta had to tiptoe around him in order to not squash him. 

No photos because Blogger refuses to upload them. Anyone else have this problem and figure out how to get around it? I've never had this problem, they usually upload super fast and now they just sit there with out loading...

If Jetta is feeling better, I plan on going to school cross country on Wednesday and hopefully a trail ride is in our future as well! Luckily it will only be in the upper 70's this week.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

Ahh, I love the weather that we've been having! It's about 70 today and it's going to be up to almost 90 degrees this weekend, which is ridiculous. That's a little too hot for me, but I'm just happy that the sun is out and it's not raining. Always a bonus in the Pacific NW where we say that summer doesn't officially arrive until after the 4th of July. And I'm just so excited for this month in general.

First of all, the most exciting news of all... cross country schooling is opening this weekend! I'm so excited, I cannot wait. Usually it's so wet that it doesn't open until the beginning of June if we're lucky, but this is almost a whole month early! This means that next week we will be going to school probably Monday or Wednesday. Cannot wait to get out there for a good gallop. We really need to work on building confidence over cross country jumps this spring. Last year after Jetta dumped me over a Novice coop we both lost a lot of confidence. Jetta has made huge leaps and bounds (haha, see what I did there?) with regards to show jumping, but we don't get that many chances to go do cross country.

(imagine a cute photo here of Jetta doing her first xc school - blogger is being dumb and won't let me add pictures)

I'm only planning on doing two shows this month - a jumper show on the 12th that I may or may not actually go to (the whole saving money issue...) and an endurance ride on the 25th! I'm so, so excited for the endurance ride. I still have a lot of prep I need to do beforehand but I can't wait :)

I had a great, productive ride on Jetta today. This is the kind of ride we need to have every ride if we want to be getting any improvements! Here's what we worked on:
  •  Shoulder-in at the trot. I've been lazy and haven't paid much attention to our lateral movements in recent weeks, so we need to work on that since doing shoulder-in helps engage the hind end. Something we really need! She's much better to the right than the left, so we need to smooth that out and make sure she can maintain a soft bend to the inside without tossing her head, keep our tempo up and forward, and our angle consistent. 
  • Canter spirals. We've actually been doing this most rides since it helps Jetta improve her balance and her canter, plus at the same time it doesn't make her angry, lol. We go from a 20m circle, down to about a 15m to a 10m circle, then back out to a 20m circle. 
  • Counter cantering. Definitely need to work on this because I haven't really touched it, but it too will help improve her quality of canter. Unfortunately at this point this is the exercise that makes her angry. We're talking head tossing, tail twitching, rushing, angry. But we schooled canter loops a few times today until they improved the the point that Jetta wasn't just running through my aids.
  • Transitions within gaits. This is to help her sit more on her haunches and not just rush when I ask for lengthenings. She was so good for this today! We did it both at the trot and canter and she was just superb. She came back to me softly when I asked and didn't get hyped up. I do think I need to carry a dressage whip for the collected trot work just to get her hind end stepping under. I've just kind of stopped using it recently, finding that Jetta is behaving just fine without it.
Overall I was super happy with Jetta today, despite her being in raging heat. We're talking every time we stopped she had to pee a little bit. This is not helped by the fact that we just got a stallion at our barn, which I am NOT happy about. I just don't think our barn is set up fencing wise to house a stallion so I'm worried he'll get out and breed one of my girls (both MAJOR flirts). He was hollering at Jetta the whole time during our ride. Sigh. 

But in other happy news, Dusty's back! He's the cute little Missouri Fox Trotter/Arab gelding that I'm in love with. I'm not typically an Arab fan or a gaited horse person, but I love him. I guess his owner has regretted selling him ever since she dropped him off at his new home, so the lady she sold him to offered to sell him back. I should get a picture of him soon. He's a chocolate palomino and in the winter (only time I've seen him) he's a light palomino with a little bit of smuttiness around his muzzle and on his legs but right now he's a full blown CHOCOLATE. I've never seen one get so dark, he almost looks like a liver chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. Still want him, lol.

I finished up my barn time with a bareback ride on Queenie. She is so slippery that every time I ride her bareback I think about how bad of an idea it is and think that I'm going to fall... But she was quite well behaved today even with the arena door open (which she hates) and the BO had the farrier out so he was tapping away on shoes and sharpening his tools loudly. Queenie was a little worried about it at first but she settled down and was super good.