Monday, January 31, 2011

Pie's Foot


So I said I'd do a post on Pie.

So, lets see,  I rode him on friday, he was doing the same thing again, tense tense tense and getting really quick, pretty much not wanting to give me his back. So I decided to mess with the saddle, I've recently started using a Passier Grand Gilbert dressage saddle on him, it's owned by the owner of the barn I do chores at, as long as he's not using it, I'm free to use it on Pie. Well, I had initially started to use it with my fleece half-pad, cuz I was thinking it was a tad wide, well, friday I gave it a try without, soooo much better. He was still quick, but was giving me his back. I felt rather sheepish (ha!)... I should've known better.

But, I jogged him down the road on our walk back over to his barn, and he was just a little off, but that's not unusual for him on hard pavement like that. So i decided to give him Saturday off. Sunday I'm at work all day so can't ride. I did get a call from my barn owner Sunday evening, she wanted to give me a heads up that Pie was favoring his front right again, I thanked her, said the farrier is coming on Tuesday.

For those of you who don't already know Pie and know what his right front foot is like, let me show you.
Lovely ain't it??

About 9 years ago or so he got his foot caught in a piece of barbed wire, the last bit on the property of course. Ripped off the inside heel bulb. He was on stall rest for 6mo, almost got put down, but fought through. I got him then as a project to re-hab, and was eventually told that if I ever got him sound, he was mine. I did, and that's how he's my horse. The foot has, as a result, been the source of a love-hate relationship, I love it becuase I have a fantastic horse, hate it because it means I can't compete or really jump this fantastic, tallented horse. Oh well, I guress it's good because I'm in school and don't really have the time nor money for serious training and showing anymore.

Anyway, that nasty crack has been there since the injury happened, it's grown out twice, so I know it's possible. I've gone through so many farriers with Pie, but so far I'm really liking the one I have now. Especially cuz he is inexpensive! But he's the FIRST farrier who has actually done something proactive about this crack, instead of just "Oh, just let it be, do it's thing". He put those staples in it, to hold it stationary, and to keep it from moving and opening up. I'm starting to see some new growth without that huge crack, there is still a hairline crack, but nothing of the same magnitude as before.

So we shall see what the farrier says when he comes tomorrow. I think for Pie, with this foot, we gotta stay on a strict 6 week cycle, any further than that and the heel starts to get I'm hoping it's not going to be too terribly cold... we were hitting record highs on Friday... now we are going to be hitting record lows... c'mon Colorado make up your mind!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Well this stinks


Ugh, life...

So yesterday went pretty well until about 5 o'clock. It was nice and warm, unseasonably warm, ate breakfast, watched a movie with the kids, went to lunch at the in-laws house (and I love my in-laws by the way!), then I took off to the barn to get my chores done while they went to the pool, got done with the barn, then went to the grocery store to get stuff for dinner, chicken alfredo was on the menu. I'm feeling pretty good about things, well I'd been home not but 3 minutes when I get a call from my husband. The first thing he tells me is "Sweetheart, I just got in a wreck."

....... "what"

I felt like I'd been slammed into a brick wall. My heart sank. It was just a minor fender bender, and nobody hurt, but because he was the car at the end that couldn't stop fast enough when the ones in front braked unexpectedly, he is, in the eyes of the law, the one who "caused" the accident... i'm not looking forward to seeing what insurance is going to be :(. And, the cost of repairs for the front bumper on the car will likely be LESS than what our deductible is, so to put it simply, we probably aren't going to get squat from insurance, in fact, they are only going to be getting more $$ from us. Personally, I think insurance is a big fat scam to rid you of all your money, and you still have to pay to fix your car. Ugh.

Well, I had to scramble and find insurance information at the house, because apparently the card he had with him was showing an expired date, when it's really not. Lovely. So I rushed off with that paperwork and sat with him and the kids for almost 2 hours waiting for all the paperwork to get completed by the police. I read books to the kids and did my best to keep their minds off their hungry tummies, they were gettin grumpy. Needless to say, the chicken alfredo got nixed, we ordered pizza instead.

And to top off this wonderful evening, we got home and inspected the work that a handyman had done during the day on the deteriorating floor in the laundry room, the floor was fixed, but the guy forgot to re-install the vent for the dryer. The hose is UNDERNEATH the house in the crawlspace. What an idiot. My husband called and had a not-so-nice chat with the guy, he's coming back today to fix his work and clean up the trash in the backyard. To say he was un-professional would be an understatement.

Today I'm stuck at work all day, I really really really don't want to be here. But oh well, I've gotta, every penny counts now. Probably for the best, hubby and I are both very stressed about this and rather snappy in mood, we do need time to chill about things apart from each, just wish my "chill" time wasn't taking cancel calls at work. Maybe I'll type up a post about Pie inbetween calls, to cheer me up.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Half-halt: a lesson in review


Well... when I mentioned earlier that our half-halt needed work, I might have under-estimated HOW much work! It's practically non-existent *dies*

I guess it doesn't help either that I only get to ride here and there thanks to my work and school schedule. Getting to ride on consecutive days? Forgettaboutit!

Sooo... my lovely OTTB who has had a few days of rest and is feeling very good because his foot isn't hurting him, combine that with the lovely warmer weather and a light breeze, you've got one VERY wound up horse! The thing with Pie, he gets quick, quick quick quick. And that's when he gets tight/tense and goes into a headset, and braces his back and looses all contact on the reins with you, either that or just runs against him. When he braces his entire body against me like this and gets quick, I literally have no control over his rhythm and tempo. Ugh.

A few things I did yesterday that helped:
  • When changing direction ride a down transition, from trot-walk or walk-halt, but only for a moment, change direction/bend and then gently ask for him to resume the previous gait, focusing on a slow and steady to rhythm, also focusing on making sure he doesn't fall against the new inside leg
  • Our western jog trot, I know this is like anti-anything dressage, but this has worked incredibly well in the past, it forces him to slooooooowww doowwwn and focus on a slow n steady pace, keeping the rhythm the same, and it also helps me because I can focus on using only my legs/seat to control the pace, and keep his back up with my legs to keep the engagement. When I feel he's in a steady pace, I ask for the impulsion again and move into a working trot.
  • Lateral work. This is was my big error yesterday, I didn't do aaaany lateral work until the end of the ride, and of course wasn't until then that he finally started to give me contact in the reins, instead of a head-set. So he really needs that lateral work, be it leg-yield, shoulder-in, travers, whatever, he needs it to really get that lower back swinging needed to get that contact.
  • Incredibly, when I SIT UP he suddenly becomes very responsive to my half-halt, practically sitting on his butt. It's like the difference between a Mack truck and a Ferarri... I just have the most horrible habit of slouching in my upper back and shoulders, when I put my shoulders back, *gasp* wonder of wonders, the half-halt works *face palm*
The long and short of it? I really need to ride him almost everyday, he's soooo much better the next day. Unfortunately today I'm going to busy with school and work all day. Hopefully I can squeak in a ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The one that got away


I was just looking back over some old pictures, mostly from reenactments, there is a movie shoot this summer I may participate in (how cool is that!!??) and they need pictures of us mounted in period uniform, so I was flipping through my photos to see if I had a decent one I liked. Well, didn't find that picture, but did find a bunch of pictures from one of my very first reenactments, where I didn't take Pie, but I took a pony I was riding at the time, a black paint breeding stock pony named Chloe. Goodness how I miss that pony, so so soooo much. I let her get away and I regret it to this day.
 She was owned by my trainer, she had three foals during the time I knew her, and I got the privilege of getting to train her first baby, Rosie. But for some reason, I liked Chloe better. In 2006 my trainer "gave" Chloe to me as a project, to ride and work with. She was so fun! She did everything, dressage, jumping, reenactments (mounted shooting), I taught her to pull a cart.
 Early summer some friends of my trainer, their daughter took lessons, one of their two old horses passed away, and the remaining horse was going crazy. Unannounced to me my trainer sent Chloe away to be a companion to the other horse. I was sad, but I figured she'd come back eventually. Well, I was working towards taking Pie to the 2006 Western Pony Club Championships in First Level dressage, but 2 weeks prior to the qualifying rally he came up lame, lame lame LAME. So, it was a scramble to find another horse, my trainer said I can give you two options, 1) go and pick up Chloe or 2) you can take this other horse I've been training for somebody. Well, the pros of going and getting Chloe was that she was a horse I knew, buuut she had been out of work for a month and a half, and she was juuust starting to school 1st level movements when she left, the other horse however, while I'd ridden him off and on, he'd been in solid training and would be more adept to the first level demands. I initially decided on Chloe, and I was going to go pick her up, but I got lazy and didn't feel like driving all the way over there to get her (about an hour away), so opted to go with the other horse. BIG MISTAKE. And I regret it to this day. Ended up with a big fiasco with his owners when I did qualify, getting insurance and they had all these stipulations about going to california for the championships, ick. I should've gotten Chloe and dropped down to Training level and gone with her, I had already been scheming how to buy her from my trainer. Well, as karma would have it, the people who had her ended up falling in love with her and bought her. Poo :(

The only positive note, is that about a year later, I finally got to say my final good-bye to her. I was working at a vet's office, and they brought her in for a pre-breeding exam, I guess they had decided to get a foal out of her, which is good, she threw NICE babies. She looked awesome, was very fit and healthy. I keep a picture of her in my truck.

I only hope to one day find another one like her. She was awesome, and I could had done eventing on her, she loved to jump, and while she was only 14.1hh she could JUMP. But she was awesome because she was so versatile, that is my one requirement with my horses, that they be bomb proof, I don't like having a spooky horse, at all, it's no fun. They can be hot, like Chloe was, but not spooky.

Anyway, I gotta run to the barn and clean stalls and ride Mr. Pie himself, and think about little miss Chloe. Ah what a great pony she was.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

phone post


So, this afternoon I am attempting to post from my phone (while being bored in between classes), nothing much exciting going on. I managed to get our chickens to venture outside of their coop for awhile. They've been rather shy about coming since Fiona our dog terrorized them last week, she now wears her shock collar to remind her how a good doggie behaves around chickens! I went out and took some pictures of them, they are so darn cute, I'm rather smitten with these birds!

Well class is starting, so I'll finish this off with a phone pic of Pie man.

edit... ok so inserting photo via mobile phone failed, will have to keep experimenting

Monday, January 24, 2011

busy busy busy


Ugh, life can be a whirlwind sometimes.

My days start at 4:45am when my alarm clock goes off. I work full time in an inbound customer service call center, that's about 37 +/- hours per week, on top of that I do barn chores 4 days a week at a private farm, about 5-6 hours a week. Then I'm going part time to school, two classes, one of which is chemistry with a lab, so that's 9 hours a week I spend in the classroom. That all adds up to a total of 52 hours a week, that's not including homework...

On top of all this I've gotta find time to spend time with my husband, cook and clean at home, and squeak in a ride or two on Pie.

Someone tell me how I'm suppose to do this all? Guess I'm just feeling very overwhelmed at the moment.

I was so stressed out last night, I went and just sat for an hour in Pie's stall and talked to him. He stood over me the entire time like a mare over her sleeping foal, hanging his head in my lap, I obliged him with many scratches. I love my horse, he could've been over munching on a ginormous pile of hay, but instead he came to me to make sure I was ok.

Sunday, January 23, 2011



So welcome to my blog, nothing of much consequence, but it's something. Mostly to pass the time at work inbetween calls... the title of this blog is maybe a teeeeny big exaggerated, considering I actually live about 300 feet under the 1 mile elevation mark, but considering I previous spent most of my life living at 7600ft, and most competitions and whatnot that I'll go to (at somepoint in the future) will be at or above 5280'. Sooooo it all evens out in the end right?? Regardless, I love where I live, love the view of the mountains, and love colorado in general :)

And I love my pony!! For 3 years I leased another gelding, fondly nicknamed "Buddy", that I evented on, but last summer sold him on as I just didn't have the time between working full time, going to school, and my husband to devote to him. During that 3 year time I had placed Pie on the back burner, I'd kinda shuffled him around with a couple different people trying to find someone who would take care of him for me as I couldn't afford board on two horses for a long time. But now that Buddy has moved on to his new home I've been able to rediscover my friendship with Pie, one that's been there a long time. He'll be 18 next month, and I've had him since he was 9, wow time flies! Especially in the past couple of months, when I've landed a sweet living arrangement where he is boarded only 1/2 mile down the road from my home and I have a fantastic private indoor to ride him in year round. I'm trully blessed. I've been relearning his little quirks, his likes and dislikes, and best of all, we are rediscovering our love of dressage. Buddy had kinda soured me on it as he DISliked it so. But Pie makes it FUN.

Our most recent dressage discovery has been FLYING CHANGES! For the longest time I've been able to do flying on every horse, but him. He's about as stubborn as the day is long *sigh* but oh I love him for it! The other day I got on to ride him after almost a week off, and boy was he full of it. So, instead of doing the nice easy, long and slow trot/canter work I had planned for conditioning purposes, we instead got to do a bunch of rapid-fire harder movements, lateral work, lengthen and collect, something to keep his mind busy as it was running a million miles an hour. After doing a nice lovely collected canter circle, he was so straight and light that I thought, what the heck, I'll try and change, I had to force the issue a little, buuut... HE DID IT!! I was on cloud nine, we managed to do one the other way and then I called it a day, what a good boy!!!! The day after we management semi-successful repeats, once each way. So now that I know he can (and KNOWS how to do them, ...turd) I think we'll not do them for awhile, and work on fitness, then we'll start schooling them this summer more. The german dressage rider who owns the place I do barn chores for (and where that fabulous indoor is) said he'd help me with them. Yes! I can't wait. In the mean time, transitions, transitions, transitions... our half-halt needs work.