Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shoe pulling fail


Being able to pull a shoe is, in my opinion, a skill that any able bodied horse person should know how to do because inevitably there will be that time when you've got a shoe half on, half off that needs to come off now and could potentially cause damage if left until the farrier can get there.  Really, it's easy, well in theory at least. What I do is first rasp the clinches off, then I pull the shoe off a little to loosen the nails, give it a pound which frees the nails from the shoe allowing me to pull the nails out individually.  Once only two, maybe three nails remain I can simply pull the shoe off the rest of the way.  It takes me about 15 minutes per foot as the strength (and thus efficiency) of a farrier I have not.

Never before have I NOT been able to get a shoe off, until Cash.  Granted, in the past the horses I've worked on have always been good about their feet, or were at a point where they had become good with their feet and would happily stand patiently still while I did my business.  Cash, however, does not dig the farrier or anything to do with farrier work.  The first time my farrier ever trimmed his feet he danced around like a jumping jack on puppet strings, screaming his head off because he was not with his buddies.  This elicited the muttered comment from the farrier of "I bet you had a margarita to get your feet done on the track".  Over the past 10 months or so he's gotten worlds better, but still requires a firm hand and he will still squirm and jump from time to time.

I got as far as getting the clinches rasped off (and to my farrier's credit, his to date have been the toughest clinches to get off of any shoe I've pulled!  They were in there good), but as soon as I got his leg in between my knees and started working on that shoe it didn't take long for Cash to figure out what was going on.  I quickly gave up on my endeavor when A) he started leaning incessantly on me to the point of almost loosing his balance and B) when that didn't work he started fidgeting and jumping around, attempting to yank his foot away.... UGH.  He got a good reprimand for that, and then, since Baby K was starting to fuss (she hangs out in the heated tack room office and I carry a baby monitor to listen to her), I decided to give my farrier a call instead.  He'll swing by on the 8th when he's in this part of town and pull the shoes for me. 
Beautiful Colorado snow - a main reason for getting rid of the shoes! I hate ice balls...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That Coveted Yellow Watch


I think that there needs to be an official term for the hangover like syndrome that happens after Christmas... All that hype and anticipation, planning and gift wrapping, baking, entertaining of family members (both wanted and not), which climaxes in a dramatic tearing open of presents which lasts maybe half an hour. And then, it's all done... or is it?  My house has been in a post-Christmas state of chaos ever since, with mounds of new clothes, toys, gadgets, and should I mention the now empty wrapping supplies??? Two days out post-dewrapping and I've only managed to half tame the beast.
The view Christmas evening after it was all said and done

This year things were a tad tight for us, so we focused on getting gifts for the kiddos above all.  And, I would say, they came out pretty good... lucky kids, I never got stuff like that as a kid... Anyway, of the two (or was it three?) gifts I got, the prize jewel was something I've been coveting for years, that iconic eventing symbol: the big, yellow faced, Optimum Time Event Watch!!

Thank you Mom! She had asked me for some things I wanted for Christmas, I poked around, came up with a list... and then, on eBay I spied an auction for a barely used Optimum Time Watch at half the price they sell for new.  I promptly emailed her the link and said, "This! Want!"  And, well, I was very very happy to open up that lovely watch on Christmas morning! 

Previously I've been using a cheap, $10 digital watch from Wallyworld, not very stylish but it worked fine--although it would only count up, not down.  So, I certainly can NOT wait to get out there and use this bad boy!

But first, Cash is getting his shoes pulled.  We had a beautiful white Christmas, and more snow is on the way, so that means the ground will be soft-ish and I feel comfortable taking those shoes off to let his feet get a rest.  Plus, I can't ride in the snow with shoes on, but I can with them off (read: ice balls).  I will be taking them off myself this afternoon, so we will see how he does soundness wise. I fully expect him to be a bit off for awhile, but who knows, maybe he'll surprise me.  I discussed it with my farrier a few weeks ago, and we are going to try and keep his feet just a smidge longer than we were--he just wasn't comfortable, especially in the toes. Maybe even go to 9 or 10 weeks inbetween trims/shoes, especially in the winter. 

In the mean time, I've having a little too much fun working with one of the ponies at the barn, I'm getting him back in harness so that he can pull this adorable little farm wagon they have.  A post about him will be forthcoming.

I'll leave you today with a Christmas Baby picture, because I think she's too adorable not to share :)
My little snuggle bug

Monday, December 17, 2012

Issues with Selenium


In the last 4 months or so Cash has really started to have a notable problem in one of his front feet with the hoof wall just deteriorating around the nails whenever the farrier tries to set a shoe.  This was surprising and concerning to me as when I first got him I instantly put him on a ration balancer to provide a balanced mineral supply to his diet.  The product I choose was Ranch-Way's Defiance Vital Edge Pelleted Mineral.  I'd used this product before with good results (or so I thought) and it was a better price than the other option in my area (Enrich 32) plus I liked that it had Biotin in it (yay! no extra hoof supplement needed).  In general, I expected it to help him out overall, with visible improvements in his coat, hair, physical appearance, and hoof growth.

Well, I did see a difference in his coat and (for the most part) his hair.  When Cash shed out in the spring I was very pleased with how his coat looked, it quite literally would blind you:

Physically he was gaining weight and muscle.  His feet were looking good, and we were making progress with correcting some poor angles he had.  But the new horn growth coming in didn't look any better than it had before.  I brushed it off as a result of the incredibly hot and dry summer we were having.

In September I took Cash off the Vital Edge, not really because I wanted to but because I was starting to pinch pennies for my upcoming maternity leave and unfortunately extra fancy grain for the horse was not a luxury I could afford--after all, horses have survived thousands of years without special supplements.  His weight was good and he was on a really nice, rich hay so I wasn't worried.  In hind sight, I am really really glad I did this, as if I hadn't taken him off it I might not have made the important connection that I will now explain.

Right about this time the horn growth that started way back in February when I started Cash on the Vital Edge was reaching the ground and being actively engaged by the farrier and thus shoes. This is when the issues with the flaky and shelly feet started.  My farrier noticed the difference right away and made an offhand comment wondering if he had a mineral deficiency.  I said I didn't think so and we left it at that.  However it got the wheels to turning in my head.

Fast forward to December.  Looking at his feet you can see that the lower 3/4 of the foot is this weak, cracking mess, the upper 1/4 (post Vital Edge) that is growing in is stronger looking, less cracks, and in general, healthier.  I pondered this, why would horn growth look better without a mineral supplement than with.  So, I sat down yesterday with the feed tag from the Vital Edge and did some research into mineral requirements for each ingredient listed.  As I went down the list and did my research one article pointed out that Selenium is a mineral that is often over dosed and that very little can create toxicity in horses.  I found a couple great articles from Kentucky Equine Research.  The first, Selenium - How Important Is It? told me that the minimum requirement is 0.1 mg/kg of diet per day, which for a horse consuming 10kg (2% of body weight) equals 1 mg per day.  Toxicity can start around 2mg/kg.  Another article, The Many Phases of Selenium stated that toxicity levels start at 5 to 40 ppm in horses (ppm is equal to mg/kg).  This wide range is dependent on the amount of exercise the horse is getting along with other minerals in their diet that can off-set the Selenium such as vitamin E, sulfer, and copper.  Well, the Selenium amount in the Vital Edge is 2.2 ppm.  Based on the first article, this is right at that threshold where toxicity can start.  A little more digging yielded that it is common for hay in Colorado to be naturally high in selenium (Merek Veterinary Handbook, Selenium in the Equine Diet), and hay alone can cause toxicity without additional supplementation.  Uh oh.  I learned too that the first signs of selenium toxicity is loss of hair in the mane and tail along with weak, cracking hooves.  Essentially what happens in the horn wall is that the excess Selenium replaces the sulfer in the keratin bonds, this weakens the hoof wall and will result in weak, flakey, and soft feet.  If the Selenium toxicity is high enough it can even cause the entire hoof to slough off... YIKES.  On the flip side, selenium deficiency can cause white muscle disease, myositis, and Exertional Rhabdomyolisis or "tying-up".

Based upon that research, and what I was seeing (which included a mysterious loss of hair around the dock of his tail--which at the time I had assumed was again, due to the dry conditions and I guessed he was rubbing his tail to relieve the itchiness) I have determined that Cash was suffering from a mild Selenium toxicity.  It is safe to say that I will never feed the Vital Edge again, bummer, because aside from the Selenium it really provided a wonderful balanced mineral supplement. 

So, now I'm on damage control until the compromised portion of Cash's feet grow out.  I've ordered some Keratex Hoof Hardener which is a product that chemically alters the molecular bonds of the hoof structure, resulting in a physically stronger hoof wall.  This is fantastic for helping a horse that has currently weak feet and needs help now and can't wait the 6-12 months for a new foot to grow out.  The reviews on it are great, plus it is a Horse Journal editor's choice.  I'm excited to try it!

Secondly, as soon as I start getting paychecks again I will be getting Cash on a hoof supplement so that he can get that Biotin back in his diet, which, without the excess Selenium, should be able to actually do it's job.  Research has shown that while a horse really only needs 1-2mg/day of Biotin, when supplemented between 15 and 20 mg/day it will therapeutically help to improve the quality of horn growth.  So, while you do see those hoof supplements that boast 30, even 40 mg/serving of Biotin, it's really a waste of money, you just don't need that much, it's excessive.  I compared ingredients and selected Grand Hoof Pellets.  It has great levels of Biotin, Methionine, Lysine, and Zinc--all of which are vital to hoof growth (though the methionine is kinda a moot point, it's an amino acid that is created when protein is broken down, so really if the horse is getting an adequate amount of protein already this isn't truly needed... but I digress).  The other thing I like about it is that it contains 5,000mg of MSM which helps with joint issues.  I was wanting to get Cash on a supportive joint supplement anyway so this works until I can actually add in a real joint supplement. 
Well, so I guess that is that.  I feel better now that I've located the issue and can actively proceed with fixing it.  I've gained a whole new respect for carefully analyzing the feed tags that come with your grain.  I obviously cannot feed a grain high in Selenium, and will thus be very picky about what goes into my horse's diet from now on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Making Goals


"Plans are always made in pencil but writing down your goals makes your dreams achievable."
- Sinead Halpin

I just don't think I could say it any better, everybody always tells you to dream big, and sure, we all can imagine we are millionaires with a lovely huge mansion and a barn full of expensive ponies... but, how do you get to that point?  That, my friends, is the million dollar question. 

The above quote was written by one of my Eventing idols, Sinead Halpin.  She narrowly missed out on a trip to the London Olympics but rebounded with an amazing second place finish at Burghley that I'm sure had selectors regretting leaving her off the team... anyway, I digress.  Today a post was put on Eventing Nation about a new syndicate she is putting together for her current 4* horse, Tate, and a new up and coming project horse.  Sinead outlined the plans for both horses for the next few years, but summed up with the above statement.  Essentially saying that no matter the plans you lay, you never know what fate will throw at you... something she got a big taste of this past summer when she was left off the Olympic squad after an amazing season.

It really struck home to me, I've always dreamed big, as a kid I fantasized about riding in the Olympics and had a whole plan in place to get there.  But as I grew up reality began to take hold, I learned that horses cost money, and Olympic horses cost a LOT of money, and that dream of riding in the Olympics has since down graded to simply competing (and completing!) in a CCI* event--something that I know is more than achievable and not just wishful thinking.  That I now have a horse who is physically able to perform at that level makes that goal and dream all the more attainable!  And to be honest, I can't wait.

So here we have it, this is my plan for the next few years with Cash, penciled in of course ;)

2013: Start the year introducing him to showing with a few schooling shows before debuting in the eventing world at the novice levels in May, compete at Novice through the summer with a move up to Training in October.
2014: Continue at Training with the goal to move up to Prelim over the summer, focus on getting qualifying scores at Prelim which will set him up for...
2015: The CCI* event at the Colorado Horse Park in June. Continue at Prelim and try to compete in another 1* event and contemplate a move up to Intermediate the following year.

There we have it. Ambitious? Perhaps, but do-able? If I put my back into it and devote the necessary time and energy (and money), it is absolutely 110% do-able. This of course is assuming there are no lamenesses, accidents, or natural disasters to contend with.

It will be interesting to look back on this blog in a few years and see how far I made it.
In the mean time: 2013 here I come!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Confronting the Spook


At what point do you determine that a horse is genuinely scared of something versus just being naughty?

Do you soothe the horse, letting him know that it's OK? Or do you discipline him in hopes that he learns he will be corrected should he act up again.

But the thing about giving discipline for naughty spooking is this: some horses are looking for that confrontation. They want you to get against them, they want to fight back, they want to get into that battle with you. So, giving them discipline is in fact just adding fuel to their fire, they will continue to spook (and spook harder) over and over again knowing that they can egg you into a fight.

As the rider it is so important to just ignore the horse and not do anything. At all. To just ride out the spook and shrug your shoulders and go "no big deal" and continue riding and doing what you were doing. To the naughty spooker this just bursts his bubble. He doesn't get the reaction he wanted from you and instead has to continue on with whatever it was that you were working on. Eventually he looses interest in spooking and becomes rideable.

But the problem with the rider is emotional attachment.  This is your horse, your friend, and you have great expectations for your horsey partner and want them to succeed so badly, so every little miss-step is a huge deal to you. You get upset that your horse is not performing and become flustered and frustrated. The horse picks up on this and it just snowballs.  I think the single hardest thing when working with a spooky or naughty horse is remaining emotionally detached. Especially with a horse you know and love. It's not easy, it's hard.

So, my plan for Cash is this: essentially stay away from that "stupid corner", work in areas of the arena that I know he'll behave in, and really focus on the core elements of his training, of staying in front of the leg and moving off the aids. Once I feel that he is more solid in listening to my cues we will readdress the issue of the spooky corner. As much as I want to push him through his spooking and try and correct it, I know I need to fix the underlying issue before I can even think about correcting the spook.

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stupid Pills


Some days... I swear Cash must eat stupid pills for breakfast. Arrrgg!

He has this corner, that he can, and will be, just plain stupid about!! It seems like it's every other day too. What's frustrating is that you can walk him over there, you can lunge him in that corner, and he's perfectly behaved. But... when you ride him all of a sudden it's full of horse eating boogey monsters and must be avoided at all costs.  Sigh.

At least you can feel it coming a mile away, he may have a spook in him, but it's so very predicable. Thank goodness.

I know what the root of the problem is: he just plain doesn't understand leg-into-hand yet. He doesn't even fully understand staying in front of the leg for that matter, he wants to suck back and dink around with his hind end unengaged, and when that happens he can spook and spin. He's also still learning how to move off the leg, well more specifically how NOT to fall in on his inside shoulder instead of standing up around the turn. So he's against my leg, behind my leg, and no where near to being on the bit.

Really, I need to completely ignore the spook and that corner and just focus on those training basics listed above, but I have a haaaarrrrd time not wanting to get after him for acting so stupid, especially when I know he's not truly scared, he's just playing a game.

I think I really just need to back off, stay away from that end of the arena for while, avoid that conflict, and work on those training principles, and when he's more solid we can confront that stupid-horse-syndrome inducing corner.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Back to riding!


Well, it's been a looooonnng time since I've written in here! Being very pregnant and not getting to ride at all really put a damper on my enthusiasm to write blog posts. But, thankfully we are past that now! My little bundle of joy arrived on October 15th and I've officially been back in the saddle for 2.5 weeks!!

It really didn't feel like I hadn't ridden a horse in over seven months, it just felt like I was getting on a strange horse and learning his buttons. The first couple of times I just walked, then walk/trot. And then my old trainer, who is also a good friend, came to visit and she gave me an impromtu lesson. WOW have I developed some bad habits over the past several years - I probably haven't had a lesson in over 3 years. I really need to start riding with someone. Anyway, she drilled my butt, and made me realize how stupidly out of shape I was.  I may not have lost any skill, but I sure lost a lot of fitness! However over the past couple of weeks I've really felt like that fitness is quickly coming back, core strength though is still lacking.

As for Cash, I quickly determined that he had a good basic set of skills as far as bending, transitions, and steering go, but the connection and engagement was quite lacking.  I've thus been really working on that connection, getting him on the bit and pushing with his hind end, which is no easy task--for a thoroughbred he's lazy!!

I'm also starting to get him out of the arena, I took him on a trail ride with a friend a couple days ago, we went down the road to a neighbor's place where there is a small galloping track dragged in the pasture and we walked/trotted around that and came back. He was SUPER good! Well, aside from the scary horse eating mail boxes, he was terrific. They have some large logs sitting out in the field (read: cross country jumps!!!) that I need to ask the owner's if I can have permission to jump them.

In short, this horse is SUPER FUN and I am so excited to be riding him again!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Olympics are upon us!!!


And oh my goodness I'm so excited!! I love the Olympics, I've dreamed long and hard about how I can one day ride my horse in the Olympics. Granted now that I'm older and my family has taken center stage over competing, I realize (and I am OK with) that I am never going to ride in the Olympics. My riding and competition goals are much more reasonable now than when I was a teenager. If I can complete a CCI* I will be one happy camper!
In the mean time, I'll just stalk... errr... follow those who have made that grand achievement of Olympic fame by trotting their horses down centerline tomorrow morning as the Eventing competition gets underway at Greenwich Park in London.
And let me say this: We have a KICK BUTT team this year!!! The list of tallented and overly qualified riders this year was incredibly deep, resulting in a team that truly is the best of the best. Four years ago in hong kong we were scrapped for talent, NOT SO this year!!! We welcome P-Dutty and Mystery Whisper the unbeatable, Boyd Martin and "The Flying Frenchman" Otis Barbotiere, Karen O'Connor and the impressive Mr. Medicott, Will Coleman and Twizzel, and the incredibly talented young rider Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister.
The remaining names on the short list that didn't make the team is just as impressive! We have a seriously good chance at a medal this year, if we can pull in the dressage scores I know those horses are capable of, and then jump clean, we are gonna rock it!
The Brits have a really strong team and so do the Kiwis, oh and we cannot forget the Canadians and Germans!! This is going to be an awesome competition!! WOOHOO I'm so excited!!!!
Dressage day 1 starts at 3am mountain standard time (10am London time).... and yes, I am seriously considering getting up and watching it live :D
Until then, I'll leave you with a super adorable photo, my horse is a child magnet. I tell you what, I'm really starting to fall in love with this horse, I just adore his personality!

Monday, July 2, 2012

An update on life!


Oh my, long time no blog!
Probably the majority of the reason being that I've just been plain busy. Secondly, I've felt like I haven't had much interesting to say. But, anyway, let me kinda sum up what's been going on as of late!
  • First off, and the biggest news of all, I am just about 6 months (holy cow!) pregnant, with the little munchkin due mid-October. I actually found out two weeks after I bought Cash, how's that for timing?
  • Subsequently, I have not been riding since April (boooo). I've had a wonderful gal coming out and riding Cash for me and she's been doing an awesome job. She totally understands that I would otherwise be 110% into training and starting my own horse, so if I tell her that I would like to see him improve in a certain area or learn a certain skill, she has been doing a fabulous job of doing it for me!
  • Cash, like I said is doing great, he's learning bending, how to move off the leg, serpentines, baby turns on the forehand and turns on the haunches. We are also starting to work on canter departs under saddle!
The most recent update is that I'm working on clearing up some residual swelling in his left hind fetlock from a freaky infection that he got in his leg about two weeks ago! It was the weirdest thing ever. About a week prior to the leg he had developed a puffy eye, it had no discharge and when it significantly reduced in size after 24 hours I chalked it up to an allergic reaction to all the cotton flying in the air or he was just itching his head to hard and bonked himself.
It very nearly went away but then some slight eye puffiness and clear discharge came back. I went out midday on a wednesday to lunge him, and he was totally NOT himself. When i pulled him from the turnout he was lethargic and breathing very heavy, I got him under the shade and took his temp, no fever. Ok, it was very hot that day so I thought maybe the heat was just making him drowsy. But after about 15 minutes under the shade and he didn't perk up I started to get worried... this is the horse who marches right along side you when you walk, and is always alert, head up, checking out what's goin on, interested in what you are doing. I sponged him off with cold water and hand walked under the trees, that sorta brought his respiration down but still he didn't perk up.
That's when I noticed that he was significantly dragging his toe on his left hind, no limp, just a very pronounced drag. I then spied the tiniest bit of puffiness around the fetlock. I went to the round pen to see him move, that's when I saw he was short striding on the leg, I asked for a few steps of trot and was horrified to see he could hardly hold the gait, he just couldn't pick up the leg and get it under him. YIKES! But I was baffled, the dragging leg and inability to get it under him make me think a stifle issue... but the leg puffiness and tenderness made me think it was a tendon/ligament problem. I cold hosed the leg, got him comfortable in his stall with a fan blowing, he was interested and willing to drink water, but he would NOT touch his food, not even his grain. That really really concerned me! I wrapped his legs for support, gave him some banamine, then called the vet and set an appointment for the next day.
The next day his leg had totally ballooned from the pastern to the hock, and if I hadn't had the wrap on it would've been twice as large. He was walking better, and his attitude had perked up as he was semi-interested in his food now and would actually turn towards me instead of hang his head in the corner. I told the vet his symptoms such as temp, resp, and heartrate from the day prior. The vet felt the leg and immediately pointed out that it was a pitting edema, meaning that if you pressed into the swelling it would hold the fingerprint, much like memory foam. The cause? An infection of the lower level of the skin. I pointed out the eye puffiness and the vet said it was possible it was connected.
A week's worth of antibiotics was prescribed as well as bute as needed. I asked if poulticing the leg would be helpful and the vet confirmed "Absolutely!!". So, for the next week Cash got himself 17 little white tablets dissolved in his grain twice a day, top dressed with an amble amount of molasses he happily gobbled it down (though I did have to convince him the first day that I was indeed not trying to poison him). He got bute for the first two days or so until the majority of the swelling had gone away. He was so funny about the bute, he would stand perfectly still and let you stuff it in his mouth (good boy!), but then when you let him go he'd just stand there but turn his head completely away from you with this neglected child look on his face, soooo dramatic!! I couldn't help but laugh at him.
He's now off the antibiotics, I'm still cold hosing and either applying liniment or poulticing to continue to draw out the last of the swelling from the infection, and he is getting hand walked and oh so lightly lunged until the swelling is completely gone. He's perfectly sound and back to his normal, energetic, obnoxious self. <3
Now our only issue is back-to-back-to-back-to-back triple digit days. GO AWAY HEAT!! This is Colorado, not Texas. But... that is a whole 'nother blog post and I will save that for a later day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting to be Derby time!! (and ROLEX!!)


Well, it's that time of year again!! Rolex starts in just a few days (AND I'M GOING TO BE OUT OF THE HOUSE ALL DAY SATURDAY AND UNABLE TO WATCH THE LIVE CROSS COUNTRY FEED!!!! D:) and the Kentucky Derby is just around the corner.

Aside from my minor crisis about this saturday and cross country (maybe I can stream it on my phone.... hmmmmm), I decided to post some thoughts about some of the Derby contenders coming up here soon. I've listed the favorites, because, well they are all I've had time to analyze, I'll take a peep at some of the other entries (they are mostly GII and GIII winners) maybe later this week or next.  So far, my pick is Dullahan, depending on how he works I can see him being a big threat out there. I also like Union Rags and Gemologist.

Union Rags - BIG strong horse, with a powerful running style. Got boxed in during the Florida Derby but once he was clear he made an impressive late run to finish 3rd, if the race had been 1/8th of a mile longer (aka derby length) he would've won.
Dullahan - Another big, impressive horse with a lot of power. Absolutely aced an impresive field in the Blue Grass Stakes this past weekend. I bet he will be a strong challenger in the closing rush. Additionally, he ran the 1 1/8 mile race in 1:47.94 which is a new track record for the polytrack at Kneeland. How will he fare on the dirt? We shall see!
Bodemeister - Got to the front early on in the Arkansas Derby and never looked back, plowing away to win by 9 lengths in a time of 1:48.71 for 1 1/8 mile. Impressive, yes--initially, but looking at the competition? The rest were just not the same quality.
Take Charge Indy - Gutsy little runner, led wire to wire in the Florida Derby with a time of 1:48.79, if Calvin Borel keeps the ride for the Derby he would be a wirey contestant in the end.
I'll Have Another & Creative Cause - Two good horses who ended up neck and neck in the Santa Anita Derby with I'll Have Another just eeking out the win by a nose with a time of 1:47.88 for 1 1/8 mile (granted, on a polytrack). I suspect both to be up there in the heat of things in the stretch run to the wire.
Gemologist - undefeated, he ran 1:50.96 in the 1 1/8th Wood Memorial to hold off a charging Alpha, the time wasn't very impressive, but he was easily able to hit another gear in the stretch when challenged. It'll be interesting to see how many more gears he can hit when the pressure is on.
Hansen - Impressive sprinter, not so sure he has what it takes to go the distance, he definitely seemed to flounder as Dullahan rode him down in the Blue Grass. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Busy, busy, busy...


What to say... well, just that, I've been busy!
Mostly thanks (or not?) to school: I've got term papers, lab reports, exams, and lecture notes coming out my ears. Three more weeks. Three more weeks!!
Needless to say, I've not been able to spend much time at the barn :( Oh well, guess it's alright, Cash has been a bit ouchy on the insanely hard ground for the past month, he's getting shoes on in a week, so that'll help a ton. He's not limping lame or anything, and walks out just fine, but at the trot you can tell he's hesitant to stride out for fear that he would step on a rock or something. Also, he lost a bit of weight in late Feb/early March so we are finally getting that back on him after a couple feed adjustments--you should SEE the small mountain of food this horse eats!!! He's a big boy, no doubt! I don't want to think about the number of calories I'm gonna havta give him when he's in full training for a horse trials, yikes!
Otherwise, the weather is warming up nicely, we are starting to get spring thunderstorms (happy happy happy am I!), and everything is in bloom and getting green. And of course, the ponies are shedding... and shedding, and shedding, and...
So, I'll leave you with a cute picture of Cash. Ishn't he adorabulz?
you has carrots... right?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Phone and... Football?


Soo.... a very non-horsey post today.

Aaaahhhh so excited, I finally was able to ditch my 2 year old HTC smartphone... however, smart, it was not. It was about as slow as molasses, continuously froze up, and could barely manage more than one app at a time.

So, when I discovered that I was eligible for an upgrade early (!!!) I promptly toted myself down to the Verizon store and picked up a brand new, shiny LG Spectrum 4G LTE phone.
It's a lot bigger than my old phone, but then any new smartphone is huge compared to my old little piece of junk... but, IT'S SO PRETTY!!!!

The graphics are amazing, HD indeed! Everything is crystal clear, and with an 8mp camera, it is really gonna make my already underused Nikon collect more dust (I really need to get a DSLR... but that's another story).
Plus, it takes video in 1080p HD. Schweeeet!! Be prepared for extra pictures and video as the weather continues to improve. Yay!!

2) Peyton Manning is now a Denver Bronco!!
One of my all time favorite QBs ever is now officially here to stay in Denver. To the tune of 96 million dollars... yikes! I have mixed feelings, while I love Peyton and have cheered on the Colts for years, I am also a huge Tim Tebow fan and I will be really really sad and dissapointed if he leaves Denver.  I really hope he stays because, well lets face it, Peyton is no spring chicken, the guy is old for QBs.  He's not going to be playing forever, and the Broncos need to be thinking about cultivating their next QB for when Peyton retires... something they didn't do too well after Elway.
Sooo... I'm just gonna be sitting and watching and seeing how Denver deals its cards over the next few weeks.

Beyond that... on the horsey side of things, Cash is a little ouchy (surprisingly) after getting trimmed on Friday, so I'm (not so) patiently waiting for him to get past the tender feet.  He may be getting shoes on a littler sooner than I thought, we shall see. Back to working on ground work in the meantime.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Teaching lateral flexion at the poll in an OTTB


It's not as easy as it sounds.

Cash has this lovely little track habit of when there is contact on the bit to twist his head to the right and chew incessantly at the bit. Chew. Chew. Chew. And because his head is turned to the side, he is most definitely not flexing properly at the poll.

Under saddle it is just a process of being patient, very very patient. And gently correcting him every time he tries to twist his head to the side. At the halt I flex his head back and forth, teaching him to give from the reins, and then use this skill while walking. This is also starting to teach him the basis of bending through his body.

I'm also just starting to teach him to move off my leg by teaching turns on the forehand, and starting to teach a reinback. Both I've only done once, but hey, gotta start somewhere!! I think I'm going to move him from a regular caveson to a drop noseband to help avoid the chewing. He needs to accept the bit, not gnaw at it.

Otherwise, I'm really pleased with his progress. Today we had a bit of a discussion about going where I ask him to go. We have 4 blue barrels at my barn, and they get moved around daily, so they are always in a new spot, there is also a garden right next to the arena and they recently set up a small greenhouse cover for a row of plants. Well, Mr Cash decided he wanted nothing to do with any of that, and didn't want to get near those spots. I said otherwise. At first he just tried to pop his shoulder and shy away, when I just brought him around again, he'd balk and do this slow motion spin on the haunches. What's funny is all of this, it was never out of the blue, he would just slowly progress in his level of "spook". I just remained very insistent with my leg, seat, and reins that "yes, you are going to go over to that area"

Took me oh about 5-10 minutes to get that point across, but I think he got it :) I'm sure he got away with spooks like that at the track, but in my world, that's a no-can-do.

Overall, he's been awesome so far! Super smart, willing, and sane.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

He jumps!!!


I will let pictures and video tell this story today, enjoy!

A few screen shots from the video:

I'm very VERY pleased!! He picked up on it quickly, and showed great form over the fences. He also seemed to really enjoy it once he figured out what to do and was going over the jump with little to no encouragement from me :) I couldn't be happier!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March Madness


No, I'm not a basketball fan... I avoid it at all costs if I can.


Between work craziness, term papers, lab reports, exams, shuttling kids around, laundry, housework, homework, and barn duties, with an extra helping of menopausal weather..... it sure feels like madness right now!!

We pretty much checked off all the February goals with flying colors. With the exception of the hand walking trails/roads and the free jumping. But because those are weather dependent, I wasn't too stressed about meeting those goals. Plus, in order to free jump I needed to prep the poles. See I bought a bunch of poles last fall for cheap, but they were old fence poles and had a bunch of iron nails in the end. Hubby finally lent a hand and pulled them all out for me so I've been working Cash over trot poles and cavaletti this week and he's being doin GREAT with that! Starting to really think about where to put his feet over the poles and to pay attention (he had some almost crash-n-burn moments at first).

So, that said, my goals for March are as follows:
  1. Establish lunging work in side reins at the walk, trot, and canter (focusing on relaxation of the topline in the canter)
  2. Working under saddle walk and trot, starting to work on contact, bending, steering and moving off the leg
  3. Free jump!! At least once... maybe more :)
  4. Explore those trails/roads
Can't think of anything more in particular, but I will add to the list if I think of it.

If the weather is nice and things go as planned, I should have some fun photos and videos for y'all tomorrow ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Aaannnd... we are in the saddle!


So, today was awesome!

Cash has been doing phenomenally as of late. Despite some yucky/windy weather and having to skip a few days of work, his lunging skills have been coming along in leaps and bounds. We are doing walk/trot/canter without side reins, the canter is still very tense, but it's starting to settle down--the walk and trot are awesome, he's quiet, relaxed, and doing solid circles. Walk/trot lunge work with side reins is going very very well. He's starting to take a steady hold on the bit and accepting contact, YAY! Now I just need me a pair of elastic side reins as I think he's past the vienna reins.

Today I introduced two things, a ground pole and RIDING!! :D

The ground pole was kinda funny, I put it down and had him on a short line on the lunge. He walked over it the first time without blinking. I'm thinking "OK, this could be easier than I thought..." The second time was kinda my bad as I didn't aim him correctly and he kinda squirted out the far end and went around it. The third he stopped cold in front of it and wouldn't budge!! It took a bit of convincing to get him over it, not sure why he stopped, but he did. After a few more times around he was totally cool with it and walked/trotted over it both ways. Next step is to add more poles!

And then of course the BEST PART was that I got on him and walked him around. He was sooo good! He stood still while I mounted, waited till I told him to walk off, and was in general very "Ho-Hum" about the entire ordeal. Steering starting out very iffy but once I showed him what I wanted he picked up on it rather quickly!! As well as halting. We even walked over the pole a couple of times.

I couldn't be happier! He was awesome. He was even giving me a nice steady feel on the reins and really walking forward and swinging through his back. It felt awesome! WIN!

I absolutely cannot wait to get him out and kick some butt at shows. I mean, c'mon, how will judges be able to resist this face?

Happy and content after a great "first" ride :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A look at those February goals so far


So, here is what I had for goals for this month with a current update on our progress for each goal:
- Takes treats out of the hand: Check!! This obviously didn't take long to master
- Being haltered and caught willingly out in a large turnout: Check! He now sees me and comes marching right up, doesn't even blink when a rope goes around his neck and holds his head still for a halter. He is also getting led to and fro from his stall to the turnout in nothing but a neck rope. Awesome!
- Paying attention while being led: For the most part, check, he walks with his head level, when he does get pushy normally asking him to back up, turn a circle, or do something to refocus his attention works well.
- Manners (no biting, pushing, kicking, etc.): Really haven't had to work on this much, he's really good actually and respects my space rather nicely.
- Stand tied quietly without pawing or wiggling: We weren't getting anywhere much tying him by the tack room, away from the other horses, he'd stand but he'd be not focused on me and often jumping around. So I've started tying him up on the other end of the barn, closer to the turnout and he's much better, still gets fidgety sometimes but its getting better. I think he gets bored easily, cuz when he's not paying attention to something else or watching the other horses he's trying to munch on the tie post... grrrr.
- Lunge walk/trot, starting on using side reins: so far lunging on a line in a larger open area such as the arena is hit or miss. He was AWESOME one day and I was even able to ask for a little canter, which he did willingly and without taking off, just very tense. But, thanks to lots of snow I haven't had much of an opportunity to do consistent lunging. But often he's tense and doesn't want to relax, and keeps cutting in. So the last couple times I've done round pen work, which he is really catching on to, he's picking up on and listening to my body language while free lunging, which is awesome. He's showing relaxation and submission, and doing what those natural horsemanship gurus have made millions off of by calling it "joining up". I recently picked up the book called "Beyond the Track" and it had a whole chapter on free lunging in the round pen to start establishing rhythm, balance, and relaxation in the gaits. It refreshed my memory of years ago when we started all the young horses with free lunging, teaching them voice commands off body language, it was then a walk in the park adding the lunge line and moving to the arena. So, that's what I've decided I'm going to do with Cash. I may get lucky and have things melt/dry up this week, so I want to get him going in side reins in the round pen, get him accepting the contact and then moving to the arena.
- Explore roads/trails via hand walking: This had kinda been weather dependent, while he is to the point where I almost feel comfortable, I really don't want to do it with icy/wet/muddy roads, so if it clears up we'll give it a go in the next week or so.
- Free jumping over a small single jump: Again, veeeery weather dependent, the arena hasn't been dry, much less visible under the snow for two weeks now. It's suppose to get warm(ish) this week and next, so maybe I'll be able to free jump him before the end of the month!! We shall see :)
So, really, not bad!! For only being half-way through the month. I'm pleased. Now.... if this mud will just go away!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I own a mud lark


Sooo... I walked out to the barn today to find this:
Yeah... brand new blanket, less than a week and he's got it filthy!!! None of the other horses blankets look like that... c'mon! Ah well. What's really the bugger is that, notice his nice n white socks, not a speck of mud. That's tallent!

Besides from that, while the arena is still covered in snow, there is a large dry patch out in the turnout, so I did a little mini lunging with him, mostly walk, working on focus and circle size, baby steps! He's learning how to stand quietly, I've moved to tying him up closer to the turnout, once he's learned to be chill there we'll try out the new skills further away by the tackroom. In the meantime, he can chill by his buddies.
Cash + Sassy = <3


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snow Day


Well... my plans to ride Cash this weekend got snowed in. A monster snow storm hit Colorado these past couple of days, dumping a LOT of snow. We got off easy with only 6" of light and powdery snow. However, this made any sort of riding on a green OTTB out of the question. Ah well, my puppy dog and I can still enjoy the snow.
We love snow, we really really love snow!

I wandered out and said hi to Mr Cash, brushed his mane out, fed him some cookies, and gave him some scratches. He has obviously had his mane pulled in the past, he does not even like having his mane brushed, I'm working on trying to trim it up with scissors, it's a work in progress. Overall though, he is getting really friendly and comfortable being caught and being around people! It's awesome and I'm trilled to pieces, I couldn't have asked for a better temperament!
I can has cookies?
 So, now I'm counting down the days till this snow melts and (hopefully) the arena and round pen dry out so that I can work with him again!! I'm rather impatient at the moment. Oh well, I guess this is a good excuse to work on lab reports.... right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Progress Report


So far things are just moseying right along for Mr Cash and I! I couldn't be happier!

Last week we were having a bit of difficulty with the lunging, he got the idea to go around me, he just didn't get that it has to be a ROUND circle, and that it has to be done at a speed much slower than "racehorse". He would cut in on one side of the circle, then rocket out and hit the end of the line and spin out... and repeat, completely tuning me out. I had started to use side reins on him adjusted moderately loose, 90% of the time he was just braced against him, he'd eventually stretch down into the contact, but it took awhile and I'd end up with only 1-2 circles of quality work with the right muscles.

So, change of plans. I MacGyvered me up a set of sliding side reins (think draw reins in a side rein form) out of a few rings & snaps from my local farm and ranch store and some 1/4" nylon rope I had sitting out. I also moved to our little round pen, I had wanted to avoid it if possible just because it's so small (maaaaybe 15m across) and he's so big and unfit for circles.

We did two days in the round pen, focusing on A) staying out on the end of the line and B) listening and staying at a nice consistent, steady pace.

Today I decided to test what we had learned and lunged in the "big kid" arena! And.... I think it's clicking!! He only tried to cut in a little at first, but I was able to subtly but quickly correct it and the rest of the time he was out on the circle with a steady feel on the lunge line, and about 80% of the time he was stretching down and for the most part, out with his head and neck. Was he consistently on the bit? No. But that will come.

Then he was being sooo good that I asked for a little bit of canter! Which he took quietly, albeit very tensly, and cantered about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way around the circle before trotting. And that was it, he came back to a calm and quiet trot right away after the canter and was none the worse for wear. YAY! No meltdown, no out of control, awesome!

Weather permitting, I plan to start riding him on Saturday, just walking, but to start teaching turning and leg/seat cues.

So exciting!!
So cute!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Horse = happyness


Yeah, life is good! I can't even begin to fully express how happy I am now that I have a horse again! Love love love love it. :)

Each day I'm counting down the hours until I'm done with work, until I can go to the barn with hubby to play with our horse, to take the kiddos so they can play in the hay barn. On top of it all, the Spring semester is off to a good start, homework is going well, and I feel like I can conquer my Chem class!

The new guy, Cash, is settling in well. He has a new girlfriend, a 10hh Shetland pony mare who is also new... it is the funniest thing ever! He threw a little temper tantrum today when she left, which I promptly shut down when he decided he would start kicking (!!!). Other than that, he is doing awesome. Manners are coming along, and he's start to get the idea of lunging like a grown up horse! I feel that those goals I listed for February are definitely going to be very attainable. But more on that later.

For now, life is good, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

Awww! Hubby + horse = friends!
For grins and giggles - our pitt/boxer mix found herself
the mother of all fetch sticks. She was VERY pleased with
herself carrying that thing around!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well, he's here!


We went and got the new guy yesterday! I was thinking there for awhile it wasn't going to happen because of the wind. My word it was gusting something awful. But it died down right at 4:15 and gave us just enough daylight to get him!

He stepped right into the trailer like a good boy, although was a bit nervous once he got in, overall he trailered well and when we got there he backed out of the trailer without fuss. I put him in the arena so that he could run around a bit and meet the other horses over the fence that he'll eventually be living with. That all went well and he sniffed noses with just about all the horses. Baby just pinned her ears, gave the sassy mare head toss and walked away, the others were excited at first then lost interest. Shadow, the little hackney pony, was strutting his stuff though, pawing and snorting and squealing like a little stallion. Oh pony!! He thinks he's as big as the new guy, even if his back only comes up to the new guy's belly!!! It's all about attitude right?
But yeah, the new guy looks downright ginormous compared to all the other horses! He must be a good hand higher than the tallest horse out there. Woooohoo! I need to stick him, I'm wondering if he's closer to 16.3 or 17hh now.

After an hour we moved him into his stall as all the other horses came in. He wasn't quite so sure what to think about that, he kept grabbing mouthfuls of hay then spinning around in his stall trying to see everybody! He was most fascinated though by the billy goats on the other side of his stall, they had jumped up on their hut so he could sniff noses with them across the top of the wall. It was rather cute!

I absolutely cannot wait to get back out there after work and school today! Time to start working on those ABCs. The biggie is going to be getting caught, even with the halter on it's difficult, he sees that rope or thinks you are going to grab his halter and he takes off. Thankfully bribing with treats and lots of scratches (he loooooooves having his face and withers scratched) works, get him distracted with that and he doesn't notice getting the lead rope clipped on. Right now, he's just gonna get lots of pampering so that he associates being caught with good things, not just having to work really hard and be handled(probably) rather roughly. Now that he's here he is going to be handled at least twice daily, once to get turned out, the other to be brought into his stall to find his hay and grain. So I think that will help a ton, he'll soon learn that it's a rather un-climactic thing to be handled and caught, and that it just isn't a big deal.

So yeah, I can't wait! I'm so excited to have him and I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

I still need a nickname though... hopefully that will come soon as I get to know him.

He says he's ready to be an eventing pony!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The ABC's of being a horse


I went out to see the new boy again yesterday afternoon, just to see how he was without being all wound up. Boy, when I said he knew nothing... it literally meant nothing. Yesterday morning I had jotted down a list of goals that I would like to reach by the end of February with him. Things like lunging w/t/c, simple free jumping, hand walking along trails.... I'm gonna leave those on, but I will be adding a few much more basic skills on top of it.

A) When a treat is offered, one can nibble it from the hand offering it and munch it contently
I took a bucket of horse cookies out, I offered one in my hand and he sniffed it suspiciously, then looked at me like "ok, now what". So I let him eat a few out of the bucket, once he decided he liked them I was able to transition them to my hand. He had it figured out in about 15 minutes. I was told afterwards that supposedly he really likes carrots, so we shall try that next.

B) Halters & ropes are not horse eating monsters, and it is OK to stand quietly in a large paddock and let your owner catch and halter you, because you will get one of the above mentioned treats
He would let me come and pet him, curry him, stand next to him, without a fuss or care. But as soon as I even reached for the halter he was outta there! Especially a halter with clinking brass hardware. Even with it over my arm and close to my body he wouldn't come near me. I swapped for a rope halter and he found that much less suspicious, and I was able to move it around slowly in front of him, letting him see it without him taking off. But unfortunately, in order to actually catch and halter him we had to herd him into a stall sized enclosure and I had to corner him to get it on. Poor guy was shaking and had his head up in the air to avoid the halter. But, the good thing was he never got aggressive, never pinned his ears, or threatened to harm me, he just wanted to get away. Once it was on him he was cool, but having the halter/rope rubbed over him was a bit of a freak-out thing. At the end I was able to rub the loud clinky halter on his neck/shoulder/side, he tried to pull away at first, but when he figured it out it wasn't going to hurt him, he settled down. I left a halter on him, so he will live in that for some time while we practice haltering/catching. I'm happy to say that by the end, when I unclipped the leadrope to let him free in his paddock, he stood there with ears forward and nudged me for a treat :)

C) When being led by your owner, it is important to pay attention to them, not to the other horse over there, or the birds in the trees, or the cars going by, or...
I took him into the round pen to just go over some basic leading, halting, backing skills. He knows how to do it all, but was NOT paying attention to me, he was paying attention to everything but with his head sky hi. So I just kept it fast paced, whenever his attention wavered I asked him to do something different: walk, halt, back up, walk, turn, halt, walk, turn, back up, and so on. Within about 10 minutes he had figured out that it was much easier to pay attention. He was walking quietly with his head level with his withers, and when I asked him to back up he yielded at his poll and stepped back without resistance. Good boy!!

So, I definitely have my work cut out for me. I feel like I'm in one of those mustang challenges lol, get a completely unbroke and untouched horse and train it. I'm in hog heaven though, it's definitely a challenge and I'm all game for it!!

For the fun of it, here is the list of goals I jotted down yesterday morning, it will be interesting to see how many I can check off by the end of February.
- Manners: Respect of personal space. No biting, shoving, pushing, pulling, etc. Being caught and turned out without fuss
- Stand tied quietly without pawing or wiggling
- Lunge walk/trot, starting on using side reins
- Explore roads/trail via hand walking
- Free jumping over a small single jump

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New horse!!!


So, I got him! He's mine! I'm so excited!
Just pending paperwork, but most likely I'll get to go get him next Saturday and bring him home. :)
He's 8 years old, about 16.2hh (but I've got to stick him, he could be taller), BIG boned, bold, and with a super flashy trot. He raced for about 4 years and just came off the track last august and has pretty much been sitting in a paddock for 4 months. His legs are super clean, only blemish I could find was a tiny tiny popped splint on his inside right front leg. His feet need attention, they look as though they haven't been trimmed in quite some time, so I was pleasantly surprised at how sound he trotted out on hard ground!!
Some pictures:

My only critiques on his conformation are a shortish neck and his front pasterns are a touch short/upright. Otherwise, he is a very nice looking horse. Tons of bone, clean and straight legs, a lovely hip and shoulder. Typical TB withers, but nothing to distract from him. He very much resembles an old style warmblood. 

He was rather wound up when we got there, he had been moved to a smaller pen closer in, and as a result the other horses around had gotten excited and he was full of it. So he wasn't happy about getting stuck in a round pen where he couldn't see out!! We let him run around a while, then caught him, and I felt him down, he doesn't care about being touched anywhere. Moved away from pressure pretty good. Then I tested to see if he knew how to lunge... yeah, nope. I literally taught him how to do that when I was there. But, he picked up on it super quick!
 Free in the round pen
Learning how to lunge
I saddled him up and hopped on to see what he knew there. Again, nothing! Yeah this boy doesn't know anything beyond running in a circle to the left. Sterring was iffy at best, but he got better at it towards the end. When he actually relaxed and put his head down, his trot felt huge! This horse is gonna be awesome in the dressage ring.
First ride

My husband came and gave his stamp of approval (YAY), saying that he really liked him. So that was great to hear! I lunged him a bit more in the arena to see what he'd do, he wasn't bad, still iffy on the whole lunging idea, especially to the right, but he was getting the idea. Then I untacked him, tied him up (he ties, but doesn't know how to stand still). Struck a deal, shook hands, and put him away! Horray!!

I'm so stinkin excited, he's gonna be a huge project, he's just a big baby, but he is going to be so much fun. I can't wait to start working with him! I'm going to head out tomorrow after work to see him again, and I can't wait. 

It feels so good to have a horse again, and it's an even better feeling knowing that I own a horse that is injury free *knock on wood*. Yes!!

I need a nickname!
Now he just needs a nickname... everybody keeps saying Johnny, but I'm not doing that mostly cuz there already is someone in my family we call johnny. Not doing Cash cuz I used to know a horse named that and didn't like him lol. Some other ideas I've liked are Max, Mickey, Tex, Regi, Laredo, & Folsom. Nothing is sticking so far, guess I gotta get to know him more first.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Possible, maybe, could be, a horse for me?


Not much details at the moment!

But, I've gotten wind of a thoroughbred gelding in my area that the owner is looking to find the perfect home for. I'm awaiting contact information so I can get ahold of the owner, but I may go and look at him here in the near future! When I talked to my dear hubby about this horse I was not expecting a positive endorsement, however, to my complete surprised he suggested going to look at the horse before I even said I wanted to! Win!

From what I've been told, this is a chestnut with white socks, big, bold, and energetic. Mmmmm!

So, when I hear more I will post more :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas/New Years Update & Much Belated Show Report


It's been awhile since i've updated this. Life has been hectic to say the least between school, work, and my family. Trying to find a spare minute to sit down and relax for more than 10 minutes is rare. Lets put it this way, I could use a vacation!!
The horse show back in October (wow! time has flown) went pretty well. We got there a touch late, walked Baby around in the indoor, and she was doing really good, nice and chill, I was thinking things would be great. Her owner (who will furthermore be referred to as V) rode her first in two intro tests, she warmed her up in the warmup arena with a few other horses, and Baby was great. A bit of a looky-loo but not bad, she was listening. But, as soon as we got over to the indoor, and got inside where she couldn't see the other horses anymore.... oh heaven forbid! She was a bit batty, hot, tense, moving like a sewing machine. Oh Baby.
We got through the first test and then I took them over to the other side of the property, away from the other horses, to a empty grass arena and had them walk, and walk, and walk, and do a teeny bit of a trot and canter. We got Baby settled a bit. Then we were called back for the second Intro test. Baby was again OK till she saw other horses right before going into the indoor. *sigh* She was a bit better, but still very similar. I was very proud though of V for handling her so well! It was her first show ever and she was super nervous which didn't help, but she rode through it and got it under her belt. I told her the next one will be much easier.
There was then had a few hours to chill until my test, Training 2. By then a friend of mine and my hubby and the kiddos had shown up. So it was one big happy family (oh yeah and my Mom, the best horse show Mom in the world, was in town for a visit and thoroughly enjoying herself being the horse-holding, rag-carrying, camera-weilding horse show Mom that she is so good at! I love her). I got Baby ready and went to the warmup, she warmed up nicely with the exception that she would not stretch, at all. Hmmmm. Well, nothing I could really do to fix it at the show, just ride around it the best I could. The thing was, she has always been a fantastic stretcher at home, she loves it, and then works so much better into contact afterwards. So I had to push her a little bit more into the bridle to get a somewhat sorta connection.
Baby and I got called for our test, went over and she started to get a bit tense, i made her just walk, and walk, and walk while we waited. We went into the arena and I could really feel her tensing up, I picked up a trot and tried to get her working into the bridle and focused on me best I could before the bell rang, which wasn't much time! We got through the test, our two big bobbles was the free walk and the stretchy trot circle, go figure. I got a 4 on each. Ouch. She didn't want to stretch, and then in the free walk she was very inattentive and jigged towards the end. The other low mark was one of the trot to walk transitions, that was totally my fault, I asked her to walk and used a bit too much leg in the down transition, so she jigged into the walk and it was very unclear. Otherwise, I tried to make it as accurate as possible and do my best as a rider, because I knew the relaxation was not there!!
The judge awared us a 58% for the test.... ouch! I was aiming for a 60% or higher. Oh well. The judge comented that there was not enough jump in her canter (not surprising considering she is used to working on very hard ground and the footing in that arena was soft and deep in comparison!), and that her trot lacked suppleness (yup, I totally agreed with that). The judge mentioned that I hang too heavily on the left rein, causing the horse to tilt her head to the left. So I've been trying to pay attention to that since, I think it's because my left leg is weaker, so I try to compensate by overusing the left rein. Man... I need a lesson so bad!!
Baby and I in the warmup prior to our test
Since the show, or, since the daylight savings time change, I've gotten to ride maybe 5 times. :( It's not been fun. With all the stress of the holidays and other issues at hand I've been missing having my own horse something fierce. There just isn't quite anything like being able to cry your frustrations into the mane of your horse. They just stand there and let you get it all out. And you feel so much better afterwards!! I'm really wanting to put down a deposit this coming year for a 2013 in utero foal. Hubby says that I need to pay off my Jeep first, but that's a good year off at least unless he decides to help me out. I understand in the big picture, one year is not that long, but it seems like forever right now. Oh well, what can you do?
That said, the ponies are obviously enjoying their winter break, getting nice and fat and fuzzy. Baby's owner and I did get together right after thanksgiving (before it snowed here and got bitterly cold) and had a jumping day. I set up a little one stride in and out. I was riding Magic, the little QH mare I've been training. To my knowledge, she'd never jumped before in her life. I set up just one jump first, a teeny 12" verticle. I had V take Baby through a few times, and they did great, I instructed V to stay up out of the saddle over the fence.
I then decided to try to take Magic over the fence, the first two times she just plowed through the fence, sent the rail flying! The third time, I gave a good squeeze a stride out, and whadya know! She picked up her feet and hopped over it perfectly! I did it a few more times both ways to confirm the skill, then we set up the second half of the in-and-out.
V and Baby went through in a few times, and did really well, Baby knew exactly what she was doing and was a complete pro going through. Which was perfect for her owner, who hasn't done much jumping. I coached her on sitting up, grabbing mane, and keeping up out of the saddle so that she wouldn't get left behind over the fence! By the last time she went through, she was starting to get it! She had a huge grin on her face and said she may just be tempted to switch from dressage to jumping. At this point I put in my little sales speech for Eventing, hahahahahaha! ;)
Then, I took Magic through the in-and-out, I think the first time she kinda plowed through it. But, then it clicked, and as long as I gave a good hard squeeze about a stride and a half out she aced it!! The one time I didn't, to see if she had the idea on her own, she plowed through the first fence. Ooops! I was so tickled pink, I would have never pegged her as much of a jumping pony, but she seemed to really enjoy it! She also is really starting to show aptitude towards dressage, she is really getting the leg-yeild down, in the walk at least. I haven't started schooling it at the trot yet. Her canter still has a lot to be desired, but that's more of a fitness issue than anything. The day we jumped she gave me the best canter so far, controlled, balanced, not rushing around like a freight train. I was amazed! Goes to show that looks can be deceiving. I can't wait till spring time and I can start to ride her a bit more and get her in better shape. Who knows, maybe I can do a few dressage schooling shows, I'll have to talk with her owner and see. 
Last little bit of news that I'm very pleased with myself about: after the jumping day I decided to try and find some more poles and whatnot to jump with, since we only have two wood poles and a couple tiny wimpy pvc poles for two sets of standards! So, crusing around on craigslist I found an ad for old fence poles, as many as you could want. Horray! So I went and picked up 20 poles, wooohooo! They are 8ft poles, so a little shorter than normal jump poles, but for our small arena it will work out perfect. The only other option was 16ft and that wasn't gonna work lol. Then, I stumbled across an ad for empty plastic barrels!! Oh happy day! So I went and picked up four of those, and now we have plenty of fun stuff to jump and play around with. I'm super excited and cannot wait to get to use them :) Next project is to build a few sets of jump standards and then we'll be golden!
So, long post, but that is what's going on in my horsey world. Updates will probably be sparse over the next couple of months, but I'll try to be better about poking my nose in here from time to time. 
I hope everybody had a wonderful and merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year! For grins and giggles, little Maggie bear says hi too :)