Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Ugh. It's always something.

Jetta appears to have a large hematoma on her belly. On Monday I had her tied up at the barn while I went to fetch Misty from the pasture since she was being difficult and I was taking both horses back up to the barn I board at.

Apparently I didn't tie a good enough knot because I come back and Jetta is standing with the lead rope completely untied almost, save the end has a knot tied in it so it was still connected to the tie ring. She had the rope between her legs and was standing with her head down and breathing hard. She had rope burn across her back legs and on her belly. It appears that she got the rope wrapped around her hind legs and between her front legs so when she felt tension she pulled really hard and got hurt.

I didn't really think much of it. She wasn't lame, the rope burns weren't bleeding, just leaking a bit of serum. The rope burn on her belly looked pretty owie, it had made a dent about 1/4" deep into her stomach. I put some ointment on it and drove the horses up to the barn and left her in the pasture for the day.

Yesterday I got there and it was really, really swollen. I had a minor meltdown - two options, hematoma or hernia. The hematoma seemed the most likely option. The swelling wasn't hard but it wasn't squishy either. I didn't feel any "hole" in there like there would be for a hernia. It was hot to the touch, not painful but she didn't particularly like me poking it hard (understandably). Temp was normal as were all other vital signs. I iced it and her back legs which were also quite swollen. She wasn't lame but did seem a little short strided understandably with her hind legs since they were twice their normal size so they got standing wraps.

Everything was normal - her demeanor (bratty and trying to kick my head off when I wrapped her back legs), she ate, drank, pooped normally while I was there.

Today I came to the barn expecting it to look worse. Lots of internet searching convinced me it was a hematoma. Luckily its not any bigger meaning it's probably done bleeding. It had just migrated a bit more towards her midline. I unwrapped her legs and they're back to their normal size

I called the trainer over and asked her if she had any experience with hematomas, which she did. She looked at it and seconded that it was a hematoma. She recommended I alternate heat and cold packs, also that I could use DMSO on it to speed healing. Also, that I should wrap the rope burns on her hind legs to keep the scabs soft and hopefully speed healing and prevent proudflesh.

She thought I should still be able to ride just fine, so I think I'm going to give her the rest of the week off, but maybe lunge her a bit. Then we'll ease back into riding and if it gets any bigger I'll stop. 

Oh the joy.

Successful Mayhem

It was a good show! A little crazy with doing two horses which I haven't done in a long, long time, but still good. I was super happy with both horses, they both did really, really well. Here's the breakdown.


Intro B -

I got to the show early and was able to lead Misty around the show arena. She wasn't spooky about anything but wasn't the best behaved - she was speed walking and ignored my requests to walk slower plus was whinnying at every horse that she saw. My mom came with me and we tried to get Misty somewhat respectably clean, but it was a losing battle. I got her all braided and then warmed up.

Alas, we cannot halt on the bit.

Misty requires a pretty long warm up right now. She starts off really resisting contact before settling down. Basically this is how it goes:

Me: Ok, put your head down and trot. 
Misty: But I'm a llamaaaaa!
Me: No you're not. Put your head down. 

Misty: Fine. But only for a second... Llama!
Me: Sigh. Please, put your head down. 
Misty: Ok. [head is down, but starts trotting as fast as she can go] I'm a speedy horse! Look at me go! Zoom zoom. 
 Me: Come on, let's trot at a reasonable speed. Slow down.
Misty: I'm a speedy llama!

You get the picture. Eventually she settles down to a nice trot with her head where it should be.

The first test went well. Her halt was crooked and transitions not as smooth as they could have been but she listened well and didn't even bat an eye at the dressage arena or judges booth. She could have had more inside bend as well, but overall not bad. In this class out of 3 we placed second with a 63.125%.

Comments: "Not quite taking contact from behind. Show stretch and position to inside. More leg to hand. Flat circles. Nice elastic trot! Just ask more push over topline to steady head. Inner flexion helps." Basically that is exactly what I've been working on, it's nice when a judge reiterates what you've been thinking about!

Intro C -

The other rider scratched in front of us but we took our time warming up and practicing our canter transitions. I have a hard time getting my lower leg on her side to ask for transitions because she has such a small barrel but we made it work.

She was really good for this class. Better than I expected. She was prompt and polite about both canter transitions (minimal launching) and the downward transitions weren't too abrupt. She'll need to work on stretching down for the free walk, but was otherwise good. Only a few llama moments. I anticipated her halting with her butt to the right so I asked for the halt with my right heel in her side, but instead of halting straight she halted to the right then swung her butt to the left so we were still quite crooked. I had to giggle at that.


We were the only one in our class and we scored a 63.25%. 

Comments:"Not quite through to bit. Circles a bit small. Attractive pair! Rider needs to use her fingers to supple horse's poll, especially to right and improve evenness and straightness."

Everyone loved Misty and commented on how cute and pretty she was. She was very well behaved with just standing around at the trailer too. A few people asked her breed and were surprised that she's all Paint/QH because "she has so much suspension in her trot". It was a great first outing and I think she's going to make a lovely dressage horse!


First Level Test 1 -

Jetta warmed up amazingly. I still don't know what got into my horse... She was super responsive to all requests - upward/downward transitions, bending, leg yields - you name it and her response was "Yes ma'am". I was weirded out.

Love the engagement she shows here
After a nice warm up we got in the ring. She was a tad heavier in the front end than she was in warm up but it wasn't awful and she was still being nice and responsive. We had our best stretchy trot EVER. She stretched out and down and didn't speed up. Win! We got our highest score ever of a 7.5 on that. Our free walk however only got a 7.5 whereas we usually get an 8 and the only comment was "fairly good". Humph. Our first trot lengthening was wimpy. There was no lengthening pretty much. But otherwise I couldn't complain too much! We cut a couple corners and one of our canter transitions was a little late, but that was it.

A little bit of lengthening. If only I could look up!

We ended up scoring a 66.724% and the best surprise of all - getting first place out of 5 horses! All the scores were really close and I felt like it was quite an even playing field. There two other TB's, an Andalusian and a Trakehner. I feel like I finally have a confirmed first level horse.

Comments: "Needs balance to create joint bending and suppleness. Harmonious partnership! Try saddle further back in dressage to improve balance and quality of gaits."

This is one of my favorite judges to ride under because she give positive constructive criticism.

First Level Test 2 -

Because our warm-up was so glorious, I opted to just let Jetta eat in the hour break in between our classes. She was good and attentive on everything I asked so I didn't want to jinx it and make her upset by asking too much. They ended up running 20 minutes behind schedule but Jetta was perfect about standing quietly ringside. Again, I wondered where my impatient Thoroughbred had gone...

Lengthening - whee!

 This test also went AWESOME. Way, way better than last time we did it at the Championship. Especially for this being our second time showing this test. Our leg yields were actually not bad at all! The only big mistake we made is both the canter-trot transitions on X were late. One was three strides late and one was just one stride late. Oops!

Best stretchy trot EVER

We scored a 66.757% in this class and it was also really closely scored. The winner was a very pretty Friesian sport horse and we came in 4th out of 7, right in the middle of the pack. It was interesting because I watched my dressage/jumping trainer from high school ride her older TB and they looked GREAT. I thought they did quite well and didn't see any major flaws, but they still came in 6th. It was definitely a close class.

Comments: My favorite comment under Submission: "Obedient"! Who would have thunk it. Jetta was obedient. "Nice team! Try to improve basic gaits with suppling poll, half halts and more lateral bending."

Aaand, this was actually the FIRST time this judge has not commented on the test that my bit was too thin. For either horse since I used a Myler for both of them. Aha!

I love, love, love this show venue. They have a super nice indoor arena for warm up with sand and a super nice outdoor arena to show in with sand and recycled rubber footing. There's plenty of trailer parking and it's really close to my parent's house so I was able to bring out one horse at a time instead of making both horses stand there all day (four hour gap in between Misty and Jetta's rides!). The only downside was the ribbons... I've complained about simple ribbons before. Obviously any ribbon is fabulous to win, but I think dressage shows should spend a little bit extra to get nice rosettes that are personalized for their show. Especially when this is the ONLY show I've been to besides 4-H that doesn't give rosettes to their riders.

From the show manager's positions I know that ribbons are a big expense for the show and the goal is to make money, but when you pay $25 a ride, I think they can spend a few cents more and get rosettes. Especially because they ran out of their personalized ribbons so when I won our First Level Test 1 class... I got a generic blue ribbon. The kind you can get at the dollar store... I was kind of bummed we didn't get something that I could show off!

But that complaint aside, it was a fantastic show!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Show Prep

So much catching up to do!

This whole last week was dedicated to getting ready for the dressage show on Sunday. I stuck to my plan of riding both horses every day, save for one day that I got to the barn late and decided to skip on riding Jetta because it was so hot. The next day I definitely paid for that as Jetta was quite up. We had a cow-horse spook and a buck-spin-rear-buck moment. So much fun. I told Jetta that I won't be making that mistake again!

I got to take both horses for a trail ride too. My roommate JK rode Misty and it was fun. Jessica has next to no horse experience. She came out and rode Tux once, but this was her first trail ride. Misty was very well behaved and even led Jetta and I over the (absolutely terrifying) bridge. She did try to test her a bit by seeing if she could snatch mouthfuls of grass when she wasn't looking, but otherwise was a star!

I took the horses home on Friday and they got to spend the weekend hanging out with Jazz in the pasture. Jazz was thrilled that Jetta was there, I felt bad having to take her buddies away by the end :(

I rode both horses in the neighbor's outdoor arena on Saturday. Jetta was so. good. This is seriously the first time I haven't had a lunatic on my hands when riding in that arena. For some reason she just gets a little crazy in it, despite the fact that usually it's the only place I ride her in the summertime. I was worried someone might have come and replaced my horse while I wasn't looking?

 I lunged Jazz in side reins on Saturday. She just looks so good movement-wise for a 23 year old horse. She's getting a joint supplement (Next Level) but other than that, nothing else. She's never been injected or anything and she moves like she's 10 years younger than her actual age. She's also putting on weight nicely. Her hip bones don't stick out quite as much now. But, unfortunately her Sweet Itch is making her miserable. She looks awful. She's so itchy that she's rubbed her entire face. She's scabby all along her muzzle, neck and belly. I think it's so much worse this year because she was at a place that didn't have gnats for the majority of the summer and is now at home where the gnats are awful. Poor, poor girl. I'm going to try out putting her on AntiHist and see if that helps at all.

Misty and Jetta got baths that night but unfortunately I didn't have a sheet for Misty so by the next morning it looked like she hadn't had a bath at all... bummer. I'll post about the actual show tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Jazz came home from her last lessor. She still had another couple months left on her lease, but LL's husband got laid off and hasn't been able to find another job for almost 5 months so she couldn't afford to keep Jazz which was a bummer. She came down on Monday to drop her off. Jazz was SO excited to be home, she power walked down to the barn almost dragging LL and once in the pasture trotted and cantered around whinnying... she was looking for Grady and it made my heart hurt. He has always been there at home waiting for her, no matter how long she was away - for the weekend or for the school year being boarded - he never went anywhere. They were best buds, Grady was the only horse Jazz really got along with. When my mom got home later that day and heard Jazz whinnying she commented that she must be looking for Grady and we both almost started crying. It's really hard for him to not be there.

LL also teared up when she had to leave. Her and Jazz got along so well, it's sad that she couldn't keep her for longer. So it was kind of a soggy day.

Riding around the pasture yesterday

Tuesday I rode Jazz in the morning. She felt awesome! Had to kind of get her out of the western horse mind frame back into dressage horse mode, but by the end she had a lovely trot going on and we had a little bit of a gallop. Boy is it nice to ride a finished trained horse again. I was nervous about Jazz being home because I didn't really know what shape she'd be in, turns out she's a lot better than I expected. She doesn't feel creaky, stiff or sore in any way! She turned 23 this year so I was worrying about whether she'd have arthritis. She's really lacking muscle in her back and hindquarters which isn't too surprising knowing that she was allowed to dink around on a loose rein and carry herself on her forehand, and she does need to gain a little bit of weight in addition to all that muscle. Her feet look good and the nice thing about where she was living was that there were no gnats so she doesn't have any sores due to her sweet itch. At least for the moment.

Playing around in the double bridle last summer. Such an awesome mare!

Not really sure what I'm going to do with Jazz. I think she's definitely still up to be in work so I could find her another lessor. I would love to find someone who'd offer her a forever home so once she got too old to be ridden she could just hang out in the pasture and be loved on. I think the perfect situation would be for someone who wants a solid trail horse and then their kids/grandkids could climb all over her/love on her/learn to ride on her when she's "retired". Or she could retire at home, though honestly I don't know if my parents are up to taking on another horse after Grady. Or I could find pasture board close to my barn up at school (very rare to find something that's year round) and use Jazz as a lesson horse/friends horse. I don't know though... Hopefully something will come up that will magically be perfect :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Battle of the Leg Yields

Gah, one week until our dressage show and Jetta's refusing to do nice leg yields. She cannot, will not and you can't make her do them nicely.

Besides that, everything else seems to be coming together really nicely. Her upward canter transitions are lovely (though they do occasionally take a try or two to get a nice one), she's carrying herself better, bending nicely, etc. etc. It's just those awful leg yields.

After having a ride start out really nice with her on Saturday, only to end badly once I started asking for leg yields, Sunday I decided that the focus of the ride would be leg yields. A brief warm up and then we got right into them. I've been doing them at the walk first and being very strict on how she does them, hoping that getting them perfectly at the walk will transfer into the trot. So far, no such luck.
Poor tired bad pony

Of course she did just go into heat which may have some influence on her less-than-optimal attitude, but I just wish I could get through to her that leg yields really aren't that big of a deal! Just wait until we get to doing half-passes. Oh boy. 

Sunday though they did definitely improve a tiny bit. We had a near perfect leg yield to the right which earned her a lot of praise and a nice long walk break. But the left leg yield is definitely a lot harder for her. She doesn't want to move over at a 45 degree angle, more like a 60 degree one. She doesn't want to stay on the bit but would rather stick her nose in the air. She doesn't want to move her haunches over and she doesn't want to keep her head straight. We ended up getting a slightly better one by the end, but I sure hope she gets her act together eventually, because I know she's capable of doing a lovely one if only she would listen to me and follow directions, lol.

Warming up in side reins

One major problem I have is when she doesn't move her haunches over, I tend to bend her too much to the inside to make them move over, which is incorrect and actually inhibits her overall ability to move laterally. I'm working on it, but it's tough!

I was hoping to get a lesson in before the show, but it looks like I'll have to plan one for after instead. We do have at least one more dressage show planned in the middle of August so I'm hoping to get a couple lessons before then so we can get some outside help on what we're having trouble with!

Plan for the rest of this week is to really school both girls in dressage to get them ready for the show and somewhere in the middle of the week I plan on taking at least Jetta for a trail ride, but hopefully a friend is going to come along and ride Misty so they'll both get a little break.

But at least she's pretty, right?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Officially Official

It's officially official - Misty is now 100% mine! I got her all paid off and her old owner sent me her registration papers so now I can get her transferred into my name. After, of course, I decide whether or not I want to spend $100 changing her registered name and possibly spending another $25 to update her picture plus the $55 cost of actually doing the ownership transfer. Gah, too many charges!

It's a baby Misty!

In other news, our dressage show is exactly one week away. I didn't realize it was this close, it snuck up on us so fast!

Figured that I should probably ride Misty in the dressage saddle for the first time... I've just been playing around in the western saddle. I put it on her today and actually rode her as if we were doing our dressage test. It will definitely be interesting.

Stuff she needs to work on:
  • Consistent contact
  • Consistent tempo
  • Bending and being on the bit at the same time
  • Transitions
  • Straight lines
  • Stretching down into contact
She has such a lovely trot when she's on the bit and she's coming over her back, but it only lasts about a quarter of the way around the arena before she gets distracted by something or decides to speed up or go into drama-llama mode. She does not think it's possible to hold a bend on a 20 meter circle at the same time as being on the bit. Her canter's definitely easier to sit in the dressage saddle, she just has so much suspension! Transitions all around aren't that great - downward ones are too abrupt ("You mean halt really fast?" Misty says) and upward transitions are disorganized. Our free walk is hit or miss, half the time she gives me a nice stretch down but the other half she tries to curl behind the bit. At least she has a nice walk!

She is definitely starting to trust me a lot more and I'm really having fun with her. Hopefully with time we can smooth out all these issues and I think she'll be a really nice little low-level dressage horse.

Trying to take a picture with Misty lying down and not really succeeding...

But in the meantime, luckily we still have the rest of the week to practice!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Full Seats

I've decided I might as well try some full seat breeches out. I've avoided them because I just didn't like the feel of them - they have less give in the butt region and I want my butt to be able to move, lol! But, watching videos from shows, I've noticed my driving seat crops up as I slip around my saddle. I've always had a driving seat, but most of the time it's manageable and doesn't really show up when I'm riding at the barn, only when I'm tense and nervous at shows.

So now I have the "I wants". I've been wanting new white breeches forever anyways, since my white cotton breeches are going on like 7 years at this point (it's a miracle they're still alive). Bonus is that more breeches come in white full seats than knee patches.

I mentioned my thoughts to a friend and they gave me a pair of Kerrits full seat tights that they don't use and I actually kind of like them. My first thought wearing them today though was "thigh sweat!" but it's not that bad and I kind of like how sticky they are, though it will take some getting used to. Unfortunately they're not really show worthy with being tights and all, plus they're a beigy-green.

This is what I have now but diff color

So the hunt begins. I think I'll ask for a pair for my upcoming birthday because I'm not particularly wanting to spend $100+ on breeches at the moment. Ideally, I'd really like FITS breeches because I like how there's more range of motion with the patches and you don't get that "binding" like some other breeches might have. Pretty sure my parents will not be on board with spending $240 on breeches (they hate buying me horsey presents to begin with).

  • Somewhat low rise. Doesn't have to be super low rise, I just don't want them coming up to my belly button. 
  • I like the 2" waist band a lot of breeches have nowadays so I can use a wide belt
  • I would prefer a grey seat, staining shows up less
  • Some sort of elastic or sock leg bottoms would be appreciated because I hate velcro
  • Seat has to have some kind of "stick" to it because some of the faux-suede seems slippery to me
Any suggestions? Here are my top choices:

Tredstep Symphony No. 3 Rosa Breeches - no full seat, but they look really nice, I like the reviews and how they appear to fit.

Kerrits Sit Tight Supreme - they're tights so they're a little thinner material, which is ok, black seat is a little too much contrast for me, but at least you will never see stains from the saddle!

Romfh Sarafina Full Seat Breeches - these are my top pick, but of course the most expensive. They have everything on my check list and I like the look of the fit a lot.

Tuff Rider Piaffe Full Seat Breeches - these are my second pick because they are a lot cheaper and appear to have everything I want almost except they have a slightly higher waist and velcro ankles. But if my parents don't get me breeches, I may be getting these for myself...

And just to make this post even longer, Jetta has been great these past two rides! Not amazing or perfect by any means, but she's trying and wasn't an absolute brat so I count that as a success. We are really needing to work on our lengthenings, stretchy trot circle and leg yields for the upcoming show. Plus trot-canter transitions, fine tuning our turn onto the diagonal at the canter (we've been almost missing it sometimes) and our halt. It's been a lot to think about!

We've been doing our canter spirals and today when I put her on a 20 meter circle she knew exactly what I was going to ask and when I asked for the 15 m circle she shortened her stride a tad and rocked her weight back a little, then the 10 m circle was almost perfect because she was actually prepared for it! Usually it takes 2 or 3 revolutions to get that nice 10 m canter circle before we start to spiral back out.

I did a lot of riding squares today, in making our corners sharp by asking her to pick up her shoulders and move them, almost like doing a pirouette and actually did a couple baby ones on corners where she acted like she didn't want to do the quarter turn so I ended up asking for a full turn. While I wouldn't say I actually know what I'm doing when it comes to pirouettes, I'd like to think I know the basics of training a horse for them so at least I'm (hopefully) laying a good foundation for Jetta's future. I was delighted when I tried the exercise at a canter and got a quarter turn that felt like a baby pirouette! I think this exercise will really help with our movement where you turn onto the diagonal at a canter in order to do a downward transition at X since sometimes I feel like we almost miss the turn...

And, we are still schooling some second level stuff too, including sitting trot work which I've majorly been neglecting. And to my complete surprise it hasn't been that hard! I was thinking that there's no way I could sit through a whole test, but now maybe I should make it a goal to sit a whole first level test by the end of this year just to make the transition to second level easier. While I can't sit Jetta's fancy trot yet (yes, I do think Jetta has multiple trots and I do categorize them, lol) I can sit her respectable trot which at this point would be fine to show her with, though it's my goal to be able to sit her fancy trot through a whole test.

Saw this on Matt the Cowpony's blog and thought it was appropriate!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lumpy Little Horse

Had a much better day today. Super sore from attempting to wakeboard the other day so I decided to stay on the ground and I ended up lunging both girls over some trot poles.

Misty was hilarious. She definitely doesn't know where her feet are yet so she was stumbling/leaping over the poles for a good 10 minutes until she figured out how to trot over them. Poor girl. She is who I'm referencing in the title. I've come to the conclusion that I'm just going to have to accept the fact that she's LUMPY. She has a big old nasty scar on her left front pastern, plus the place where she cut her hock has healed into a small lump, plus her shoulder cut is going to heal in a lump and in addition to all that she had little hives all along her back today. She's just a lumpy little horse.

Nasty scar

In addition to lunging today, I also cleaned out the trailer and wormed both horses. Since I didn't know how much Misty weighed I had to get out the weight tape and while I was at it I also measured her height. Turns out she weighs approx. 860 pounds. She's so little! I just added some Cool Calories to her diet and we've been gradually upping her grain so the goal is to get her to at least 950 pounds. And I found out she's 15.1hh! That was surprising.

When I bought her I thought she was 15.2hh but I didn't ask for some strange reason, then when I actually got her home she seemed so tiny and I estimated her to be more like 14.2hh. Turns out, my original thought was closer, but she still seems small. I guess that's because my last four horses I've ridden regularly have all been 16+ hands, plus three out of those four were draft crosses so she seems extra small in comparison because of her slight build.

Plan for the week: possibly go for another trail ride on Jetta. Or if I'm not feeling it, I'll take Misty instead since she apparently knows how to behave on the trails (glaring pointedly at Jetta). A jump school on Jetta and might pop Misty over a couple little jumps. Then it's time to get to dressage! We officially entered Misty's first show on the 28th). I'm taking both girls, Jetta will do First 1 and 2, Misty will do Intro B and C. I figured I'd keep it simple for Misty since we're still working on accepting contact. And thank you everyone for your name recommendations, they were awesome! I decided to go with Mistaken for her show name, but may still change her registered name to Mist Your Chance (though that may have to wait as it costs $100!!). I don't know if three names is too confusing, but at least all three names are very similar so we shall see!

And, I just had to add this in. I noticed on Facebook today the placing for the trail competition from over the weekend - Misty and I placed first in the Novice horse division!!! So excited about that, I may have a chance at a new belt buckle to add to my collection if we keep this up for the next two competitions ;)

Awful Adventure

I had a no good, very bad, rotten day yesterday with Jetta.

I was feeling kind of down so I decided that I needed a trail ride and a good gallop to lift my spirits. I still want to do an endurance ride so I need to get back to conditioning Jetta so I decided to take her to Silver Creek Falls for a ride since there are some hills (we've only been doing flat trails so far) plus it is almost all in the shade which is nice when it's 90 degrees out!

Loaded Jetta up and got there without incident. There were a ton of trailers in the parking lot. The one time I had been there with Queenie, we were the only ones there.

I started off on the trails and near the very beginning you have to cross a creek. I figured it would be no big deal since it's a fairly big stream (only small puddles are scary, ponds and large creeks are okay in Jetta's mind). But, there are a bunch of logs and a large stump off to one side so Jetta thought those were too scary to approach and wouldn't go in the water. Sigh. So I had to get off and walk her through the stream. As soon as I was off she was perfectly happy to follow me across. Luckily I wore my Dubarry's which are waterproof. Unfortunately they are not Jetta-proof as she gave an enthusiastic splash into the water, making my legs all wet and filling one boot with water. Ugh.

I got back on in the middle of the stream, emptied my boots and then continued on. The first part of the trail is really rocky so I had her new renegade hoof boots on for their first trial run. I've tried them in the arena to make sure they fit and they stayed on so this was their first trail ride. They squeaked awfully at first but once they went through the water they quieted down. Unfortunately Jetta got one twisted all the way around, how I have no idea, so I had to get off and fix it.

We continued on and trotted. Jetta snorted and spooked at every log, branch and large rock she came upon which was quite irritating. We came to the first bridge and she stubbornly refused to go near it so I had to get off yet again and lead her across. I got back on and we cantered down a long flat stretch that doesn't have any rocks. Then her other boot got twisted and I had to fix it. But after fixing each boot once, they were good for the rest of the ride.

The hills came and I let Jetta power trot up them. I lost my crop somewhere along the way. We came upon a couple riders and passed them and then had a great gallop. We came up to a large rock in the middle of the path which Jetta thought was impassable so I had to get off for a third time to lead her past. This was the point in which I should have taken a hint and gone back to the trailer. But I kept riding. We walked for a while and had to go under a low hanging branch so I shortened my reins so that I could make Jetta walk slowly underneath it so I wouldn't get hurt by it. Best laid plans... she instead raced underneath it and the branch caught me in the shoulder and then scraped its way down my back. Owwww. And now I have a lovely scrape mark down my back, even through my shirt.

We continued to trot up the hill and then I heard a funky noise from her hooves and looked down to see only one hoof boot, her left one was missing. How it came off her hoof I have no idea. When I went back down the trial it was no where to be found. I went all the way back to the scary rock in the middle of the road because that was the last time I was absolutely sure the boot was still on her hoof. We walked back and forth, back and forth. I even got off and walked it on foot but the boot was no where in sight. I looked in the underbrush and beneath the bushes. We walked that section of the trail 5 times and I could not find the boot for the life of me. Now I know why I should have gotten them in bright red or orange... I was beyond bummed. My first actual trail ride with the boots and I lose one. And they're really expensive too.

We walked all the way back down the hill instead of continuing on the loop. I was kind of done with our ride. Jetta was a pain in the butt about walking back at a reasonable speed. She was most certainly not done with our ride, despite being quite sweaty. Luckily I found my crop on the way down, but still no boot. Jetta crossed the bridge and the water with only slight hesitation which was good, because by that time I'd about had it with her spooky obnoxious self.

Untacked her and put her in the trailer with no treats and took her back to the barn. Upon unloading her from the trailer, I simultaneously slammed/pinched my elbow into the divider and now it hurts to bend it.

I'm still really upset about the boot. I don't know how it came off her hoof since it has two straps, one to actually hold it on her hoof and the other around her pastern as a back up. I can only think that when we were trotting it got flung off into the forest. I don't think I'll be buying another set of Renegades since they're just too expensive to lose. I'll probably put the other set I bought (for her hinds) which are slightly smaller on her front feet and she'll just go bare behind, then maybe I can sell the one larger hoof boot. Apparently it was too large, even though I tested it out in the arena. I'm still bummed.

Overall, a really rotten ride.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trail Competition Stars

Interesting weekend... good and bad. So we'll start with the good.

I took both ponies home on Thursday for the trail competition. Jetta loves being home because she has the 3 acre pasture to roam and I didn't even bother bringing them in at night. Misty was just glad to have a buddy this time around because last time I brought her home she spent most of her time whinnying at the neighbor's horses.

Friday was the competition and I went out early-ish to avoid the heat. But it was still really hot.

The way that these trail competitions work: 40 obstacles. You don't have to memorize them. Each obstacle is individually timed and you have one minute to complete each obstacle. Unless it's a jump or a really steep hill you must walk. You are placed based on the number of obstacles you complete and then on time. This is a series of three competitions held at two different places so I won't know how I've done until the end of September.

Misty was up first and I rode her through. I was actually really, really pleasantly surprised. She completed ALL of the obstacles in the first section I rode her through! Even dragging this super scary pipe contraption that rattled loudly was totally fine, as was holding the end of a long pipe and walking it all the way around a water trough that the other end was in while it scraped and squeaked its way along.

Scariest obstacle

We ended up completing 36 out of the 40 obstacles. Two of the ones we couldn't do were sidepassing over things (a large black pipe was one and a log was another). Misty was convinced that she couldn't sidepass over something, but sidepassing out in the field was just fine. Then the other two were ones we completed, but went a couple seconds over 1 minutes so they didn't count :( One was a hula hoop you had to pick up and figure 8 around two trees and she spooked at it at first so that couple seconds made us go over time. Then the other was picking a big stuffed monkey up off a barrel that was covered in a cow hide. It was terrifying apparently and when I brought the monkey around to set it back down, she wouldn't walk up to the barrel close enough for me to set it down, she just kept sniffing the cow hide so I had to toss the monkey and we timed out :(

Overall, I was super happy with how she did and it was a lot of fun!

I took her back to the trailer and got Jetta. I was worried how doing one horse at a time would work out because I didn't have any hay for the horses to munch on while I took their buddy for their turn on the course. I tied Jetta loose so she could graze and when I left she was whinnying and pacing around so I had my fingers crossed she didn't do anything stupid.

Upon my return, she was standing super quietly and I was impressed. I cantered Misty up to her, thinking as soon as she heard her coming she'd whinny. Nothing. I got off Misty and called out to Jetta. Still no response and I was worried something had happened to her, like she had a foot stuck in the side of the trailer or something. Misty whinnied at her and Jetta gave a start and whinnied back. Silly pony had been sleeping but I couldn't tell because she had her fly mask on!

With Jetta, I decided to lead her through, even after I tacked her up. I just figured it would be the safest option since I hadn't done ANY practice with her. At all. I mean, I open gates from her back on a regular basis, but that's about it and I had visions of her galloping away when I tried to drag the tarp or rattly pipe from her back.

Jetta did ok. I was less than pleased with her ground manners and we'll have to have a tune up day. But afterwards, looking back, I realized she did 34 out of the 40 obstacles which was way more than I was expecting. She didn't do either bridge or the ditch which I was a little ticked about because those are three of the "easy" obstacles that she has done before. She wouldn't put her two front feet in the tire. And she wouldn't sidepass over either of the two sidepass obstacles, though she'd do it in the open field. The cowboy curtain was scary to her and she barely did it. I had to hold the whole thing back so she'd have a wide opening to go through and she ran through it so I want to go back and work on that.

Obviously both mares need some work on sidepassing. And I'd also like to work on Misty with picking up scary items, so a hula hoop purchase is in our future. And I'm going to go school Jetta on the course so she can have some manners. But overall, it was a good day!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Quality Time

Was able to have a really good day at the barn yesterday. I got up early to avoid the heat and when I got to the barn organized all my tack. Since the new trainer moved in, she moved all of my stuff (grr). Because I have two horses, it stands to reason that I get two sets of saddle racks. I chose two saddle racks right next to each other, but she decided to claim one of my saddle racks and moved my western saddles to the opposite side of the tack room. And all my western bridles got relegated to a single hanger. Not a big deal, just annoying. 

Anyways, I reorganized all my stuff then went and got Misty out first. I decided to do her hooves first since it was still cool out. I think I did a rather good job smoothing them out! They got a bit chewed up from our trail ride over the weekend. The trails were crushed gravel so while there was no ouchiness and she did quite well, the ground was still quite abrasive and since she's due for a trim, she chipped quite a bit. She was much easier to do than Jetta and acted like quite the lady for her rasping. Unlike Jetta who was decidedly NOT a lady when I did her hooves.

Gave her some thrush stuff then tacked her up to lunge in side reins. I decided to try the Micklem bridle on her and it was a success! Jetta's bridles don't really fit her because her head is in between cob and horse sized. Sigh. But the Micklem is so adjustable that it fit almost perfectly! The only place it was too small was the throatlatch, so I may figure out a way to extend it with one of the extra cheek pieces that came with the bridle, lol.

Sleepy poneh. She stood with her eyes closed the whole time I played with getting it to fit right.

But, the bridle worked out perfectly. I actually don't own any flashes because I've never used one. I don't like the idea of strapping a horse's mouth shut, but I've made exceptions for Jetta during cross country so she's better able to focus on the task at hand and listen when I ask her to slow down, and then with Misty since she's so over the top with her displeasure when I put pressure on the bit. She's going to get her teeth looked at soon, but I've felt around and at least there are no wolf teeth, so I think it's just a gap in her training.

I've been using the vienna reins on Misty but I think we may try something else. I think the type of side reins you use are very dependent on your horse. With Jazz I used elastic side reins, but when I used them on Jetta, she learned to hang on them, so I switched to the vienna reins which are all leather and don't allow her to hang on them. Also, since Jetta likes to carry her head high, it asks her to stretch down, which allows her to use her back better. With Misty, I think she needs something different. Since the vienna reins have some adjustability in where the horse is able to hold their head, I don't think they work as well for Misty because she can get her head up really high and tuck her nose in, getting really short in the neck, to avoid bit pressure from the reins. What she needs is something that gets her to put her head down and poke her nose out.

I thought about getting a neck stretcher since they're easy to find for super cheap, but I think a chambon would be the best option because it applies pressure to the poll when the head is up, but releases when the head goes down and allows them to poke their nose out, which the neck stretcher doesn't. With Misty, she tends to curl too far behind the bit, so I don't want something that allows/encourages that.
image from sustainabledressage.net

Regardless, she's definitely getting better at accepting the vienna reins. I still haven't been able to tighten them on her since she'll still panic occasionally, but she had a lovely trot in both directions and a very nice, relaxed canter to the left. To the right, her more difficult direction, the canter was more rough and she had a couple spots where she hit the reins and panicked (boy can she stop and spin on a dime!) but we finally got two whole circles where she maintained gait and didn't panic so we called it a day. 

Jetta was up next and I had a nice ride on her as well. The plan for today is to ride both ponies then take them home for the weekend. We have our trail competition this weekend which should be interesting, as I've decided to ride both of them in it just for the heck of it!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No More

Well, at least the benefit of having two horses is that you almost always have at least one sound/uninjured horse.

Misty injured herself again. She is a definite escape artist and has figured out how to get out of her paddock that she usually goes into. We started using her lead rope to tie it shut as a safe guard, but now she just unties that as well. I guess today when she busted her way out, the part of the latch that sticks out caught her in the shoulder and ripped a little hole in it. I've asked that she no longer gets put in that paddock because it's the one with the crappy gate. 

Blue Kote'd owie
Over the weekend, Jetta had a lovely, HUGE bug bite that my BO texted me about. I guess she turned her out without her fly sheet and she had three bites right next to eachother which triggered a big reaction. And that is why she wears the sheet...

Oh mares, what am I going to do with you?!

Injuries aside, I had a good ride on Jetta today. After the last show I decided I needed to tweak how I'm riding her. While I always ask her to go on the bit, with her head on the vertical, tracking up and using her back, when we show, sometimes that doesn't quite happen because Jetta gets tense and she comes above the bit and we get dinged. And the light bulb finally went off in my head that at home I need to ride her a little more round than I would show her as because not only will that help her engage the correct muscles in her neck (some day we'll get rid of that awful under neck muscle she has, but I blame that on her constant head bobbing) but it will give us a few more degrees of flexion so when she tenses and wants to come above the bit at a show, she'll actually be right where she should be.

I believe this is something that I heard Steffan Peters talk about when I audited a clinic with him. That: "Every horse should be ridden with a different headset in training depending on their needs. If they want to carry their head high, ride them with a lower neck and if they want to keep their neck too low, then ride them higher." It's also something I've had trainers drill into me, but for some reason it never stuck...

Today however, I think it was a success. I rode Jetta a little more round and afterwards her neck sweat pattern went much higher up her neck than just the underside and she was even sweaty at the base of her withers which meant she was lifting the base of her neck!

Foamy lips

I also gained a new appreciation for my farrier. She's not able to come out until next week but both horses are starting to chip and since I have the trail competition this weekend I thought I'd clean up their edges so they don't look so raggedy. Holy cow. I never want to be a farrier. I did a slightly less than mediocre job smoothing out Jetta's hooves and managed to do all four before I called it a day. My back hurt, my knees hurt, Jetta was being a jerk, sweat was dripping everywhere and my smoothing job was barely passable. It does actually look better than it was though. Tomorrow I attempt to tackle Misty's hooves... I can't imagine doing more than one horse a day.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Name Change

Ok, I need input on Misty's name. Her barn name's fine (I already switched it from Sissy to Misty) but her registered name has to go - I need to find something different to show her as since we're entering our first dressage show!

Here's her pedigree on allbreed. Her name as of now is Henny Penny. I hate it. Makes her sound like a chicken. Her sire is Jakes Hawk and her dam is Barrin Itup Leo. I can't get anything out of that that doesn't sound awful. Her grand dam is Dox Magnolia Bar and I rather like the Magnolia part.

I was thinking of calling her Morning Mist or Misty Morning. I think I like the first better. But, I definitely won't get creativity points with that, as there's 22 other horses with both of those names on allbreed. So, I'm calling upon anyone with good naming skills - any recommendations?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bootcamp Weekend

Misty had a bit of a bootcamp going on this weekend. I've ridden her several times during the week. By our third ride on Wednesday she had improved a lot under saddle. She really did try a lot harder to give me a nice jog, which I know is difficult for her since she has such a springy trot. Canter transitions were a lot easier as well, not quite as much running into them. And, I can say that after three rides we have a halt cue using only my seat! It's not 100% yet, but she does it fairly reliably at all gaits and we just need to fine tune it to be straighter and not with her head in the air, but I'm impressed with how quickly that came about! Backing has magically appeared as well, though that brings up another problem which I'll mention later.

I took her home over the weekend to take her to a trail course to practice on. Our first competition is coming up fast, it's this coming Friday! I rode her at the neighbors outdoor and she was fairly well behaved though she started out a little disctracted withe the neighbor's horses running around. I put her in the pasture overnight and she stayed put (she has a reputation for being an escapee).

Then yesterday, I hauled her to the trail course. She was actually really good. I started out on the ground. I sent her up and down steps on a hill. I sent her over some logs arranged in a fan. I got her to walk across the teeter-totter and stand in the tractor tire. She was game to jump off a big log into the water and back up again. She went through the ditches and over the raised logs. And then came the backing through logs. It's arranged in a zig-zag and when you do this obstacle in a competition, you have one minute to complete it. If you step outside of the logs you have to start over. And you can't walk through it first to line your horse up, you have to start outside the logs. Ha.

On Wednesday I tried doing this with her just using poles in an "L" shape and she was not having it. Apparently it is not possible for Misty to move her hip over. Just not possible. Now she can kind of whirl it around 180 degrees, but one step? Forget about it. Add in the fact that with her new backing skills comes the need for... stopping skills. At first I couldn't get her to back up and now I can't get her to stop. Once she gets in reverse, she just powers over and through stuff and won't stop. So we worked on that for the better part of our ride, probably about thirty minutes until we could do it in a semi-manageable way. Geez mare. Definitely going to require a TON of work to do that obstacle the way it should be done.

Once I was on we went back through everything - over more bridges, more log jumps and hills, we did the pulley, opened and closed gates, stood on the tire, went through the car wash, etc. The car wash thing was adorable. It's old fire hose that's been hung to make a curtain. At first Misty wouldn't go through it because she thought it was solid, so I parted it for her a couple times so that she figured out it would move. Finally I got her to go through it without parting it. She was doing it so well, that before I left I was trotting her around the course and I figured I'd trot her through the curtain. She trot right up to it and planted her feet, SHOVED her head through, then kept trotting. I was laughing as I almost fell out of my saddle.

Benefits of a small horse - she easily fits inside the tire

So overall, she wasn't awful. We just really, really need to work on body control so that she will listen when I tell her to take one step - forward, backwards, sideways, whatever direction, I need her to be listening better. I think she'll probably do well at the competition, unless she has to do obstacles that require forehand turns or really technical maneuvers. For instance I found two tractor tires filled with dirt and pushed together. At another trail competition one year, we had the same obstacle and in the first tire the horse had to put both front feet inside and do a forehand turn all around it and then in the other tire put the back feet in and do a haunch turn all the way around. All without stepping out and doing it in under a minute. I definitely don't think Misty could do that. We're going to try and enter a novice division if they have it and if they'll let me. While I didn't compete last year, I did compete and win the past four years on Jazz so they might not let me, unless they have a novice horse division and not just a novice rider. We shall see!

Then today it was time for a trail ride! First trail ride for me on Misty and it was my friend CL's first trail ride on her new horse, Hayes. We used to board together and she has a huge WB named Tanq that I used to ride when she wasn't able to. He fractured his coffin bone and while he has healed a bit, he's still lame so CL finally decided to officially retire him and bought this new horse, who I love. He's a stunning Trakehner with conformation to die for. Can't wait to see him go in an arena!
The odd couple

Both horse handled the trails well. I'd never been to these trails before but they were awesome. The only hiccup we had were the mountain bikers. We passed the first one without too much of a problem though both horses weren't too sure of what to think of him. The second one came up behind us and Misty was not pleased. We scooched over and tried to let him pass us but Misty wasn't having it when he got off to walk his bike passed and picked the front up to let it roll on just the back wheel. I think Misty thought it was rearing up to eat her and we almost had a nice jaunt through the blackberries. We survived and came up to a third biker. My approach? Charge! We were trotting at the time and as soon as he saw us he stopped his bike on the side to let us pass so I didn't let Misty think about it too much and we just kept trotting past. Whew, crisis averted. Other than that she was a champ! I was able to let her walk and trot on a loose rein the whole time. She didn't really spook at anything other than that second biker and she crossed the two bridges like a pro!

Monday, July 1, 2013


It's. Too. Hot. Cannot. Handle. It. Blegh...

It's been in the mid 90's over the weekend and going to continue into the majority of this week. I tried to get up as early as possible this morning to go ride both mares, but ended up only  being able to handle one ride in the heat, ending up with sweat dripping down my back and literally off my nose as I picked out Misty's hooves after the ride. Yuck.

I'm finally getting around to putting some rides on Misty. It's going well, but we have a TON of work cut out for us. I really did think that she was a lot further along in her training, which both my BO and the lady I bought her from led me to believe. It's not a huge deal because I don't mind doing the training, I just didn't expect to have quite so much work to do.

Sunday after I cleaned stalls I sucked it up and worked her on the ground because it was already 92 degrees and there was no way I was riding in the stuffy barn. My BO set up a couple little trail obstacles outside so we worked on those. While Misty is very polite on the ground, it's clear that she's like that simply because of her personality, not because anyone taught her manners, as she'll occasionally try to run you over or completely ignore you.

I worked on teaching her to be sent over obstacles. She'll lead over them fine, but by sending her over stuff it will build her confidence by doing things without me and it's easier for the tougher obstacles if she does it by herself that way if she tries to leap stuff I won't go flying out of the saddle :) She walked over the stall mats arranged in a narrow bridge okay after some convincing, though it took a bit longer for her to send from the left side. She doesn't quite know where her feet are, especially the hind ones, so she kept tripping over the poles on either side. I'd like to work on her with trot poles some.

We moved onto the tarp and raised poles, which she did quite well. Much better than two weeks ago when I introduced her to the tarp and she wouldn't go within 5 feet of it. There was a raincoat sitting on a barrel so we did some desensitizing with that. She spooked at it when I first presented it to her, but when I tossed it on her back she stood stock still. I think she was thinking that if she didn't move it wouldn't hurt her, but I'll take that spookiness over running away any day! She gradually accepted me rubbing it all over her, then I tied it to a rope and drug it around. I'm suspicious that she was never actually roped off of. I haven't gotten my rope from home to practice with yet, but dragging ropes across the ground (such as the lunge line) scares her, which sets off alarm bells in my mind. A rope horse should not be afraid of ropes.

She wasn't a huge fan of dragging the raincoat around, but tolerated it. We had a couple spooks where she tried to run away from it, but ended on a good note when she was able to slowly drag it backwards (towards herself) and then I reeled it in and petted her with it.

Today I went to get her out of the pasture and she didn't want to be caught so I made her run around a bit until she decided that she'd really rather be caught. Saddled her up and away we went. Here's what we need to work on.

Misty's Summer Goals:

-Learn to carry her head low on a relaxed rein at the walk, trot and canter
-Learn to jog
-Fine tune canter transitions, especially to the right
-Learn to reach into contact, not curl away from it
-Fine tune forehand/haunch turns
-Teach her to sidepass
-Begin teaching lateral movements
-Get her to have a quieter mouth
-Teach her to "whoa"
-Play with cows
-Trail obstacles/desensitizing
-Ground work
-Learning to be caught in the pasture

She's able to carry her head relatively steadily at the walk and trot, but completely forget about that at the canter. She has a rough time picking up and holding the right lead canter. She has no jog whatsoever. She does not like contact and will curl away from it and gape her mouth. I am going to try putting a cavesson on her since I'm already using a mild bit, but if that doesn't help may actually try a flash because it's really bad. This is why I like buying unbroke horses - so that I can start them correctly so that problems like this don't crop up. It seems like she wasn't ever introduced to the bit properly, or it may just be something she learned from her last home since her owner used a Tom Thumb curb bit on her (hate those things). Her idea of stopping is to slam on the brakes, heavily on her forehand with her head in the air. She doesn't do any lateral work, though she does have an idea of how to pick up her inside shoulder when asked. She does forehand/haunch turns albeit sloppily. She strongly resists backing. Bridling is a struggle, you almost have to pry her mouth open to get the bit in. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. We've got a lot of work!

I bought Misty a new Cashel fly mask since her cheapy one gave her a huge rub (hence why I love the Cashel masks and will never use anything else every again). I didn't notice that it was one of the new ones with the patterns, but I love it! I think it suits her well, though she is not amused...

In Conclusion

Day 2 of Jetta's first recognized horse trial:

Went out early to feed and found Jetta's hind feet a little stocked up. I was a little worried about them but she was sound, so I wrapped her then went to clean stalls at the barn. Came back and the swelling had gone down a bit and she was sound. I grazed her for an hour while my mom cleaned the stall (so, so glad my mom came!).

I walked the stadium course - it was a pretty good course. Not overly difficult, but I could see that we might have a couple issues. Specifically I was worried about fence 4 and 5. Fence 4 was an angled fence that you took on a turn so it would be easy for your horse to pop their shoulder out and avoid it. Fence 5 was a combination that was rather scary (it was the safari jump, all Inavale jumps are over the top, but this one is one of the more spooky ones) also taken on a bit of a turn.

Tacked up and got on way too early. Oops. Luckily though it was a tad bit cooler than the day before (only 91 degrees! lol) and walking around was better than staying in those hot temporary stalls. I popped over each of the warm up fences and Jetta was very good so we went back to walking to preserve our energy. Closer to our division I popped over them again and Jetta wasn't quite so good and didn't get the right distance, chipping in or jumping from a long spot, but it was way too hot to school them and still have energy for our actual round.

When it was our turn we went in and did our opening circle. Jetta spooked pretty hard at the first jump, the carrot themed one. She went over it from a very small trot though. Turned to take on fence two, a white and shiny gold fence. She sucked back really hard but went over it. Fence three she chipped in to, it wasn't pretty. And then came fence four. She refused it. Twice. We really need to work on controlling the shoulders obviously at home, because it really wasn't that scary of a jump. Then came the safari combo and Jetta refused the first one, knocking off a rail. The judge blew the whistle and I thought we were done, so I left and the next person went in, only to hear the announcer calling me back and telling the other girl to leave and that they were just resetting our fence. We weren't finished yet!

The rest of it definitely wasn't pretty, but we made it over everything with no more refusals or rails and made it exactly on optimum time at 1:14. I obviously wasn't happy with our round, but at least I was glad that I didn't get eliminated. And I wasn't the only one with a slightly scary round, nor did I rack up the most penalties as the girl that went after me had 16 jump faults, whereas I had 12. Anyways, it meant that our placing did not change and we stayed in ninth place, meaning no pretty ribbon for us. I have never wanted a brown ribbon so badly.

Overall, we at least achieved one of the goals that I set (out of three, being: place in top three for dressage, no refusals cross country and double clear stadium) and improved drastically in the cross country department from our last show.

No pictures from stadium since my mom wasn't able to stay to play photographer but I think I may actually buy some pictures from the professionals. I'm always disappointed in the pictures that this photographer takes, over half of the shots they got were blurry or timed wrong, but they did get a couple that I seriously think are worth getting, so once I receive them I will upload those!

I used my fancy-schmancy new "ice boots" (ice cells from Bed, Bath & Beyond for a $1.50 each) on Jetta while I packed the trailer, then we headed home! Not a bad weekend. In my competitiveness I was disappointed in not getting a ribbon, BUT it was a good experience which is way more valuable. I know that if we put in a lot of hard work over the next year we will be awesome when this show rolls around again. Next year I have my sights set on getting in the top three :)