Monday, February 24, 2014

Show Prep

So many things to do, so little time! This was definitely not in my "plan" to do a horse show this early this year, I wasn't planning to go to one until April or May. But I'm sooo excited for this show. The group I'm going with has been making plans and it's going to be a ton of fun!

Now I just have to work around my last midterm, final project being due, homework, work and get Misty bathed, tack cleaned, show clothes found, test memorized and trailer loaded. Not too much of an issue, right?

I was looking at my schedule for the week and I think tomorrow is the only day I have enough time to give Misty a bath. Which is really early in the week. But it will have to do! She'll need her legs rewashed of course before the show, but I can handle doing that the day of or night before. She has a sleazy to keep her neck clean and I'll keep her tail braided so she should still (hopefully) be presentable by the time Saturday rolls around.

Thursday will be our last ride before the show and I'll take tack home to clean, then Friday I should have time to load all my stuff up before heading out!

In terms of riding... today was rough. It worked out fine but Misty made me work for every little bit she gave me and I had to really ride every single step. It was exhausting. She has started flipping her head every so often and I really have to resist the urge to take a stronger hold of her to get her to knock it off, but right now I'm just keeping a soft contact and kicking her forward every time she does it, which seems to work well in getting her to stop doing it. Definitely need to have her teeth done after the show.

Oh Misty
Our canter-trot transitions were fine, but trot-walk were super abrupt today and she never really did give me a good one. Stretchy trot and walk have improved quite a bit but I don't think it will get us any 8's in those areas. I'm really hoping for at least a 7. Upward transitions are fine, circles are good, bending lines have finally come along (though they aren't in Training Test 1). Luckily with Training 1 you still have quite a bit of leeway for where you make downward transitions so hopefully we can get some that aren't too abrupt.

Neglected Jetta. At least she got to go naked and enjoy the sun!

We had some lovely weather over the weekend and I was so, so bummed that I don't have my truck at the moment. All I wanted to do was go for a trail ride! It's back to rain, but at least it's been downright warm in the mid to upper 50's and it is supposed to get to 60 degrees this week! Spring is (hopefully) finally here.

So beautiful!! Why did I have to be inside so much?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bit the Bullet

I bit the bullet and entered the first dressage show of the year and Misty's second dressage show ever!

We are going to be doing three classes over the course of two days. One Intro C for warm-up and then two Training Level Test 1 Maiden classes. I'm really excited, but at the same time wishing I had waited for a later show to debut. But a group of friends are going so I got pressured into it and I think it will be a lot of fun not going by my lonesome for once!

Of course I was just gushing to my mom how awesome Misty has been lately and how much fun she's been and that we are going to show at Training Level... and then we don't have the most encouraging ride. But that's kind of the way things go with horses right? They've always got to keep you humble.

It certainly wasn't the most awful ride ever. I'm still seeing a ton of definite improvement in all sorts of areas. I mean, thinking back to when I first got her, we've improved:
  • Bridling. She now lowers her head and I don't have to pry her mouth open to get the bit in. She still takes a little prompting to open up, but she's accepting. 
  • She's not so one sided. She was super left sided. Holding a right lead canter was hard for her and she almost didn't even bend right. Now, you can barely tell that she is a left-sided horse. She still has a bit of trouble doing spins right and occasionally wants to counterflex when going right, but TONS better. 
  • Upward transitions can be done on the bit! Before, it was much too hard for her to consider transitioning up, using her butt and lifting her back all while staying on the bit! But her transitions are 90% amazing in the upward direction (I say 90% because today was the other 10% lol). 
  • She is more willing to take contact. She's still iffy on it and can get afraid or defensive of contact, but at least after warming up she can take a nice, soft and steady contact.
  • Her canter has always been uphill, but it has gotten even more soft and round and uphill. Just lovely really. 
  • Tempo and rhythm are much more even and appropriate. She has always been a little unsteady in her speed, not wanting to hold one tempo. But I didn't even realize it until today that she's become so even. I didn't even notice!
So in the grand scheme of things, we've come quite a ways. Not to mention that we've also done a lot of improvement in working with cows, and jumping, and trail obstacles, and reining, etc.

Today I lunged her first and she was sassy as per usual. Got on and walked a bit before going to the trot. She absolutely didn't want to take contact at the trot. She ducked, she inverted, she even did a bit of rooting. After a few laps of this nonsense I put her on a smaller circle (somewhere between 10 and 15m) and put my inside leg on and made her sort herself out. About a dozen circles later she finally accepted the contact and we were able to get to work.

We did a lot of work opening up her stride in the trot. Her natural trot is quite spring and pretty, but it's somewhere between a western jog and a dressage trot so she needs a bit of prompting. Lots of figure eights, bending lines and making sure she was appropriately positioned to the inside. She's not the fanciest horse so in order to do well at a dressage show she needs to be very accurate in our movements. I think this definitely tired her out and made our canter work what it was.

Downward transitions-wise she's slowly but surely improving. She's probably at about a 60-40% of bad to good transitions. Either I ask too much with my seat and we get too abrupt of a transition or I use too much hands and she braces. But, we're getting so close to 50-50 and we had a couple NICE transitions today.

She was having nothing to do with leg yields so after a little bickering and finally getting a nice two step crossover, we moved onto the canter. The left wasn't too bad, but that is her good side. For some reason even just cruising along she thought it pertinent to throw a few little half-hearted bucks in. I think she was just telling me she was tired and didn't want to keep moving in a frame, but she knew she wasn't allowed to drop down from a canter.

Gave her a walk break and then moved on to her more difficult side. Transitions to the canter were slightly too "uppity" but not bad. But she did not want anything to do with my leg on her side and after one time of falling out with her shoulder and completely blowing me off when I used my outside leg/rein, I really put my heel into her and got some nice hop-skipping across the arena. After that she at least listened a little better to my outside aids.

We finished off with some nice stretchy trot and then cooled off with a free walk. So overall, not awful, but not very confidence-inspiring for our upcoming show in about 8 days. Lots to work on, I think namely just making sure there's no theatrics in our canter, she moves out in the trot, bends nicely, and transitions downwards politely. So not all that much, right? Only mostly everything ;) Regardless, it will be a fun first outing of the year!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Drama Queens

Geez, my mares are being a couple of drama queens! Misty is usually the sweet, quiet one but I think she's been taking some cues from Jetta lately. She's been quite the little fireball on the lunge and under saddle which is quite adorable.

We've had a couple really nice rides, despite the drama. Trying to work on our Training level work. I'm considering taking her to a dressage show on the 1st of next month, but I need to decide by Thursday. It's the same one I went to at the beginning of last year, that I wasn't going to take Jetta to again because of the footing. But, Misty isn't as picky about footing so she'd be fine. The real reason I want to go is that a group of friends are going for the weekend and invited me to stay with them and I think it'd be a lot of fun! So we'll see.

Her upward transitions are coming along a lot better as are her rhythm and acceptance of the bridle. Downward transitions are still a touch hairy so we need to work on those. We did some trot loops which started out quite fun - me asking Misty to come of the wall, her thinking that I wanted her to walk.

Me: "No, I need you to keep trotting"
Misty: "But you said to walk!"
Me: "No, I said to bend. Trot please"
Misty: "Oh, canter? Okay!"
Me: "No, I said trot"
Misty: "Ok, walk"
Me: "Sigh... just trot please"
Misty: "Why are you being so mean to me??"

We eventually got it figured out though and she proved to be nice and bendy. We just need to work on the whole, "coming off the wall does not mean to change speed" thing.

We've started some lateral work, shoulder-in at the walk and leg yields at the trot. She's taking it quite well though we can only keep things short before she gets a bit flustered. But I love how quickly she's picked up on it! She's finally "clicked" on the stretchy trot. I love when they finally realize that the stretchy trot is actually... fun.

Still fascinated by her reflection

Jetta is still off. But I'm not sure if she's actually hurting all that bad or faking it... She's been known to fake it. She was definitely off on the lunge to the left at times (head bob and all), other times just barely short on it. I decided to get on and walk her in the tack just because I want to ride her so bad! Of course, prior to this on the lunge she was launching herself all four feet at once into the air and I was questioning the sanity of my decision to ride...

Luckily she was a perfect angel (nearly) under saddle, despite a few moments when I could just feel her getting ready to launch. Not a very good feeling. Luckily there were no theatrics. But she felt GOOD under saddle. Not off in the slightest to the right and barely noticeable at all to the left. She just didn't really feel lame at all. Hmm... Just in case I gave her some bute and we'll still take it easy, but I'm thinking she's probably fine. If she continues to be slightly off I'll have the vet look at her, I'm planning on scheduling a dental day for both girls so she could evaluate then. I just really want to ride!

So cute and innocent looking
"Oh hai pretty lady" - Jetta looking at herself

Show season is coming up so fast, I hope that we can resolve whatever's going on so we can get back to work. There's a clinic with Jimmy Wofford that I'd love to be able to do with Jetta this spring, as well as start working on our second level, do our first recognized dressage show and so much more! I'm definitely ready for summer right about now...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Horsey Valentine

A day late, but I got to spend some quality cuddle time with my ponies yesterday for Valentine's Day. Jetta has been extra cuddly for the past couple days, following me around her stall while I cleaned, trying to groom me even, except for today when I really wanted to cuddle, she wasn't interested. She briefly sniffed me all over to make sure I didn't have any treats and then went back to eating her hay.

Oh well, I still love the big goofball.

cute stuff

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was too perfect. This is basically our relationship!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hill Climb

First off I want to thank everyone who sent conformation pictures to me yesterday. I'm so excited to get to work on them! I've got all sorts of neat horses, all different breeds and types. So thank you!!

Perfect pony day yesterday!

Started off the day fairly early and cleaned stalls. Had a major wipeout when I went to dump manure, which was probably the only downside to the day. I fell flat on my back and got soaked with nasty manure water. Ewwww. At that point I was about ready to give up on our trail ride and just go home, but AC convinced me otherwise since the weather was PERFECT for our ride (a little bit of sun and most importantly no rain) and who knows if we'd have another day like this.

I'm really glad we went through with it. The trails were only 20 minutes from our barn and we decided on a short uphill ride to start some muscle building in their backs, butt and abs. It was a good ride. 30 minutes up and 30 minutes down. The horses were puffing pretty hard by the top and sweaty. We just made them walk on a light contact on the bit up the hill and I let Misty out on a loose rein the way down. Pretty much all cooled out by the time we got back to the trailer.

Both horses were great. Crossing the bridge is snort worthy, but tramping through the random piles of snow and going through standing water and over fallen branches was no big deal. I think this is going to be an awesome addition to our rides! I think we might go again on Sunday if the weather is actually dry like it says it will be. Maybe if Jetta's sound I'll take her instead of Misty because I don't want to do too much too fast with her because she's so out of shape.

I'm thinking a long and low workout for Misty today just in case she's sore to get her all stretched out, then a dressage ride on Saturday and either another climb Sunday or she'll get the day off! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Conformation Clinic - Request

I have a proposition for you. In the past I've done conformation analyses of my horses and there seemed to be some interest in having me analyze readers' horse's conformation.

For my equine exercise physiology class we're using a neat program called On Track to look at conformation and movement. It's much cooler than my little MS Paint pictures that I did for Jetta's conformation. It can do angles and lengths, all sorts of nifty things.

We have to do a final project for the class and I've decided to analyze conformation for dressage. Basically modeling it after the conformation clinic you'd see in Practical Horseman. I'd like to compare 5 horses. I have a limited amount of time with this program and free time in general, so depending on how many pictures I get I might not be able to do them all. But, hopefully I can!


  • Horse must be set up properly (square or "open" stance), preferably on hard, level ground. Ideally not standing in tall grass or deep arena footing.
  • No woolly mammoths. A little fuzz is okay, but the furrier they are the harder it is to analyze.
  • I don't care if they're braided or in a halter or really if they're all that clean.
  • You have to be ok with me potentially using the picture in my project. Only my teacher is going to see it. I'd like to share some on the blog (I promise I won't tear them to shreds!), but if you don't want it to be, specify that in your email.
  • Good quality photos only, no cell phone pictures.
  • Include name, age, height and breed.
  • Doesn't have to be a dressage horse. I'd like to get a range of body types so jumpers, western, endurance, whatever!

Good photo except for the grass!

I'm really hoping people will take me up on this. I'm definitely not an expert on conformation, but I like to think I'm well educated, though everyone will have their own opinion on conformation.

Let me know if you have any questions and if you'd like to help me out, send a picture with the horse's information to

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The snow has finally receded enough that driving can be considered "normal". Still a little slushy in some places but most roads are clear! Phew, I was ready to be done with that nonsense, I don't know how you people that live in colder climates deal with it!

Anyways, today was supposed to be a nice long, relaxing day at the barn. Not. Woke up almost two hours late to start it off so I didn't have enough time to begin with. Cleaned stalls which was a major struggle because the path to the manure pile has gotten super muddy so it's nearly impossible to get a full wheelbarrow up the little incline to dump it. I was definitely breathing hard by the end.

The plan was to lunge Jetta, braid her mane, ride Misty and wash her tail and legs. It ended that I lunged Jetta. She's definitely a bit off on her left front. I'm pretty sure she pulled something up in her shoulder area from her shenanigans yesterday on the lunge. Sigh. She's almost completely sound to the right, but slightly off to the left. No swelling, heat or tender spots on her legs or hooves. I really should invest in some hoof testers, but digging around in her feet with the hoof pick got no reaction. So that's a bummer. I'll just hand walk her the next few days, maybe give her a bit of bute and we'll see from there!

I cut our lunge session short and braided her wild mane and gave her some cuddles. She was in an especially sweet mood today. 

This mane is out of control... Hopefully soon she will get her teeth done and I can pull it while she's drugged!

Oh mule-horse. Why do you look so disproportional here? At least her body condition is looking good!

I ended up not having enough time to do much with Misty. She was quite spunky on the lunge. She has little scrape marks all over her body which I'm assuming are partly self inflicted (the ones on her face) and partly from her bratty neighbor (the ones on her butt, even through the blanket). She had a new scrape on her left front that was a little bloody, so I rinsed it off and put some vetricyn on it. Luckily she wasn't off as well considering her tendency to be a delicate flower.

Hopefully Thursday I will get to retry having my "nice long, relaxing day at the barn". Give Misty her leg/tail spa day, ride at least one monster and hopefully have two sound horses!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


I wasn't exactly the most prepared for this little snowstorm we're having. I didn't think it would snow this much! Especially after our last snowstorm, we usually only get snow once, so I didn't believe the weather forecasters!

I rolled down my window this morning and the ice stayed behind.
So much snow! It almost goes over the tops of my boots.

What I did to prepare:
  • Fill the horse's water buckets all the way full so if the hoses froze it wouldn't be a few days until I needed to fill them again. 
  • Got my truck back from my dad/brother. It has four wheel drive and all weather tires. 
And that's about it...

What I should have done as well:
  • Brought the horses' spare blankets from home in case I needed to switch out blankets for drier ones or layer. 
  • Make sure I had feed before the snow fell.
  • Bring my sled and driving reins from home so I could make the horses pull me around :)

I am currently trapped at home. I worked yesterday morning and the drive home was slightly terrifying so I decided that there's NO WAY I was going to the barn and I'm slightly apprehensive to go today. I'm hoping the roads will be more melted and less icy so I can brave it by this afternoon. We shall see... Otherwise I have a friend who lives right down the road from the barn and I can ask her to clean stalls and check on the ponies for me.

My afternoon/evening yesterday:

Cleaning my tack with my Higher Standards Lavendar Vanilla cleaner. Love this cleaner!

Clean tack. Sadly, this is not all of my bridles/breastplates...

Also, being stuck inside is the perfect time for internet shopping... I lost my nameplate bracelet that I got as a present. So I need a new one! Of course, I want one with brown leather with silver hardware. (It will match my horsehair bracelet better) Which apparently doesn't exist. One of the girls I follow on instagram got a neat one from Equestrian Collections that the studs are crystals. So I went to take a look at it. And it comes with a silver nameplate! But, the buckle is brass. Clashing metals, I don't know if I can handle it... So I need thoughts.

Either this bracelet, with the silver nameplate and clashing buckle, but I can get it with Aquamarine crystals (my color!).

Or this bracelet in all silver. But it's an inch wide. And I have small wrists...

Also, I am considering getting pizza delivered (yes, they are actually still delivering!) so I don't have to leave the house and I can be lazy and not make any food.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow Day

It's so unusual to have this much snow around here. This is our second round of snow and our cities just aren't cut out to handle it, lol! We've gotten quite a bit for us, around 14-16". SO MUCH SNOW. I love it, but it does make driving places scary with some of these drivers...

Anyways, snow makes for pretty pictures. I turned Jetta out in the outdoor arena to let her run around.

My favorite nosy

Jetta: "Here, let me smoosh my cold, wet nose in your face."

Jetta: "I hate selfies..."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Well I survived round 2 of riding the monster pony yesterday. She was much more manageable. I got to the barn before feeding time and decided to ride while the arena was still empty instead of cleaning stalls first. A long warm up on the lunge, before throwing a leg over the fire breathing dragon.

She was a lot better. I switched out her bit, from the Myler loose ring to a Herm Sprenger Mullen mouth. I really like this bit. Before Jetta, I never tinkered with bits. Everyone got ridden in the same bit and they all went perfectly well. Then there's Jetta. I've tried all sorts of things on her. I still ride her in the Myler most times, but she goes really well in this HS bit.

I've had a couple dressage trainers tell me that the Myler is "too severe and thin" for her, but honestly it's one of the bits she goes best in on the flat. And if a bit is too severe for her, then she's even worse and dives on the bit, flings her head and gapes her mouth. So it's definitely not too severe. Thick bits make her less responsive to my aids and she grinds her teeth. But even though this HS bit is definitely thicker, she has a very quiet mouth, no grinding or gaping. She is also still responsive without being too sensitive. The mullen aspect means she can't lean on the bit, but she more than happily takes up contact with it. I just wish it were legal to show in! (While it's described as being "shaped for the horse's mouth", USDF considers it to be ported since it has a deviation of more than 30mm, therefore not legal).

Anyways, our ride was a lot quieter with only one spin/leap when someone walked past the arena gate. We even managed a nice canter. It was short and sweet though because almost as soon as I switched directions another boarder started leading her amped up horse to the arena to lunge. Just what I needed, another horse to convince Jetta that spooking is necessary! So after a quick trot to the right, where she was soft and polite. I stopped and dismounted just in time for the other horse to enter the arena and blast off on the lunge. Whew, crisis averted.

Me? Be bad? Never

Today was just going to be a lunge Jetta and ride Misty day. But when I got to the barn after work, at 28 degrees... I'm embarrassed to say that I wimped out. It was FREEZING. I know, I know. It's way colder basically everywhere else. Well, 1) I'm a wimp and 2) it's been 50+ degrees the past few weeks so I haven't gotten acclimated to the temperatures yet. I resigned myself to picking frozen poop nuggets out of the stalls. Jetta was pretty amped in her stall so I decided I would lunge her anyways even though my nose and fingers were about ready to freeze off.

Again, psycho pony. It was feeding time and everything was terrifying. She pranced and galloped and bucked and whirled around. Finally calmed down, cooled her off and put her away. Tomorrow it's supposed to snow and campus is freaking out with their winter weather warnings and "dangerously low temperatures". Personally, I'm not sure how big of a "storm" this'll be, but if it snows I'll be happy! I finally have my truck back (four wheel drive!!) so I can get out to the barn.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Rodeo and The Beach

Such a crazy weekend! Luckily the horses got to fit in there somewhere.

Friday I mentioned that I was finally going to ride the monster pony. She had almost two weeks of lunging in side reins and finally looked sane enough to hop on. I had lunged her fairly hard the day earlier.

Did it help? I have no idea. She was a nutcase.

I don't think she's bucked/reared that much since that one time (almost two years ago?) she decided that she didn't want to be a riding horse any more. 

I'm quite proud for managing to stay on because there were some IMPRESSIVE moves in there. Including, but not limited, to the "drop shoulder and spin the opposite direction", "bronco bucking", "rear so high your rider thinks you're going to fall over backwards", and my favorite "pretending to get ready to rear, then snatching the reins out of your hands to take off across the arena". Fun, right?

Several of these... luckily none that involved me flying off.

I think it was a combo of time off, riding in a dimly lit arena and of course feeding time was happening in the loft. All sorts of scary things were happening during our ride and she just couldn't handle it.

Eventually we got some nice work. As long as she was moving forward in front of my leg and being soft in the bridle I let her trot out as much as she wanted. We didn't canter. Lots of reminding myself to drive her forward into the bridle (no pulling!), lots of 20 m circles getting her to bend and fill that outside rein. Lots of transitions.

We worked so hard last year to get where we were, I just want my nice horse that I had at the end of summer back! I promise I have a nice horse...

Take 2 will happen tomorrow. I will be wearing my sticky breeches this time.

In more uplifting news, I took Misty to the beach. A group of friends was going and invited me. I decided not to take "the crazy one" since I had no desire to be ditched into the ocean, even though Misty has never been to the beach and Jetta's been quite a few times and is quite good there.

It was interesting.... Definitely not the best group to go with for the first time since they were all spooky but one. There's only so many horses that the "good" horse can babysit at one time. There was tons of spooking at everything. Including the worst experience I've ever had with a person on the ground, being a complete jerk about being asked to walk instead of run with his stroller past us. I don't understand why people have to be rude... 

Overall though it was good. No one got bucked off (one horse did roll though but at least it was in the sand and not the water). No one got run away with. It was absolutely gorgeous out. Misty even hopped over some driftwood! Baby xc schooling right there ;) Eventually I hope to actually get her in the water, but at least she went in the little river.

AC, the girl I board with, and I are hopefully going to stick to a plan of going for two trail rides and one beach ride every month. I'm excited! It's awesome to be with someone who is motivated to do the same thing as me. And we both have Thursday's off of class/work so it will be perfect. Once Jetta regains her sanity I want to take her lots of places to start working on our fitness. First LD endurance ride is in May!

Hopefully next time I'll get some "real" photos with my nice camera. AC's horse was so upset when she stopped to take phone pics of me, rearing and spinning so we didn't get that great of pics.

I have no idea what I'm doing in this picture. I look like I can't ride...

Heading back to the trailer.

I just love this one. Gorgeous day and wonderful pony!
New best friends. William and Misty, sitting in a tree...

Cross country log! I wanted it.

At least she crossed the river like it was NBD.