Monday, July 26, 2010

The Horses Prayer

My brother sent this to me on a post card that he found in France. It was so beautiful and true that I thought I would share it! Of coarse, the original is in French, but this is what the translation reads:

The Horse's Prayer

You conquered me; may you know how to keep me:
I will serve you if you are fair and respectful, attentive to my mood;
if you know how to talk to me,
measuring my pain and caring for me like a brother,
never forgetting that the horse is more than half of the horseman.

Let us never forget this!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Best of Friends

So I didn't take pictures of Johnny's legs as promised, but I do have something even better. I think it's the cutest picture of my two horses ever!!

Johnny is sporting his barrel racing gear (did I mention we're running barrels at a show in August? lol this horse is sooo multi-talented!) and Emmy is ready for Heather to ride her!

Can you believe that Johnny is a 17 year old Standardbred and Emmy is a 23 year old Thoroughbred? These two are the BEST of friends!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Working Hard

Once again, I've fallen behind in updates...I swear this won't happen once I go back to school and actually have time to sit down with the computer at night!

Johnny and Emmy have been doing well. Em's leg flared up again, but she's not lame on it and so I've been following the vets advice and continuing to work her. I have to admit, I am worried that something may really be wrong, but it doesn't seem to bother her AT ALL so I just have no idea what to do about it. Since the horses are now going out at night, I've been going to the barn early in the morning before work and wrapping it so that she's got standing bandages on while she's standing in her stall during the day. It seems to be helping slightly. I think tomorrow I am going to try a leg sweat.

John's been a very good boy lately! I gave him some time off after the show and then started riding him lightly in draw reins (just for 15 or 20 minutes) to improve his top line and get him to come up through his back at the trot. I can finally sit his trot now! He's starting to move his back correcting! Also with that, I've thrown in a little work western as well....crazy I know, but I REALLY want to run Johnny in barrels at the next SCSHA show (August 14.) He's for sale now (the goal has always been to either sell or donate him before he gets too old) and I think he would make a fantastic 4-H horse for someone, so I'm trying to get him out and let him play in the all-around. His canter definitely needs some more work to be competitive in the open hunt seat divisions, but it will get there...he's currently a walk/trot champion!

My biggest fear for trying to sell Johnny is that he isn't going to vet clean. His front legs aren't very nice looking...since I never actually purchased him, I never had him vetted. He is sound, but I have no idea what all the lumps and bumps on his legs are and if an experienced horseman walks him on pavement, you can hear that the steps are a little uneven because his strides just a hair shorter in the right front.

I'll try to take some photos tomorrow and let you guys tell me what you think!

Johnny this morning in the field
Emmy and my friend Heather riding yesterday


P.S. Also, selling my hunt saddle if anyone is's a 17.5 Pinnacle Dorset in a regular tree. EXCELLENT condition! Stirrup leathers included. $550 neg.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CVPHA Horse Show

We did it!!! Johnny and I had a wonderful time at the horse show! Friday I hauled him down to spend the night with the barn I work for because they had an extra stall (I was originally planning on just hauling in Saturday morning) Friday night I schooled him in the show ring and he was a PSYCHO...his trot was great but the second I asked him for canter it was like the Kentucky Derby had let loose! He was running around like an idiot, careening around turns and over jumping everything so much that he was literally jumping me off his back (which, let me tell you, doesn't happen very often with how flat he jumps) I took him back to the barn feeling were we going to show if he was like this? I planned on an early lunge and a hack the next morning.

Saturday morning D and I got to the show around 6:30 a.m. and Johnny was on the lunge line by 6:45. He was still snorting and looking all around him...complete A.D.D. He couldn't focus to save his life! I tried to get him to canter on the lunge and maybe get some bucks out, but instead his head just went straight up in the air and he went into his crazy running STB trot which I hate so much. I think the entire time he cantered maybe 5 strides total both directions. "This is going to be a disaster" I told D.

A little later in the afternoon when the schooling ring was a little quiet I tacked him up and D set some fences for me. He started off crazy AGAIN...his canter was quick and unbalanced and he was trying to just grab the bit and go. I had D set a cross rail, a vertical and an oxer across the ring. Starting off over the cross rail, he was dragging me and jumping long, dragging me then chipping, dragging me, dragging me, dragging me. I suddenly remembered last year how, at this show, he had stopped at every single jump in the show ring and never even made it around the course. I remembered K's words when we schooled him again after our disastrous rounds: "Stop getting in his're pissing him off and making him nervous. He's not like Emmy, he doesn't want you there with him, holding on to his mouth, micro-managing his every step. He wants you to just sit still and steer with your legs."

I thought of that as he dragged me towards a tiny cross-rail in the schooling area and literally jumped three feet over it. At the top of the ring, I stopped and thought about what K would have told me, to just sit back and let go. The next time around, I did just that. He ran again at the cross rail, but I didn't correct him. On the other side he landed with better balance and a rounder back. We trotted like that a few more times before I we finally jumped, landed and I felt him take a deep breath on the back side as if to say "Thank you! I can do it if you'll just let me." After that it all started to fall into place. I forgot about all of the AA circuit trainers and clients from work who were sitting along the rail watching me ride him, I forgot about the show ring which had been making butterflies churn in my stomach all morning, I forgot about the other horses in the ring that were worth 5 and 6 figures, who did perfect flying changes and jumped like little freaks. For a little while it was just me and my horse and a fence. I sat in the saddle, felt the rhythm and rode it. He was jumping beautifully now, quiet and round and balanced. We schooled the vertical and the oxer off both leads and the distances where suddenly all there. We went back to the barn being a team again.

When it was time to show, D and I talked strategy. After our schooling session earlier, we decided that he only needed a few jumps to be ready for the ring. We jumped a vertical and an oxer off both leads and then went to the ring.

As soon as we walked into the show ring I knew the first trip was going to be a schooling round for him. Trotting down the quarter line, he shied away from a 4 stride with yellow flowers and then spooked again at a jump with red ones. we got our canter at the top of the ring and cantered maybe 5 strides before he spooked at the slanted roll top on the diagonal line and then weaved like a drunken sailor to the single on the quarter line coming home. If he could talk, he would have been saying "I can't do this! I can't do this!" and for a second I thought he wasn't going to. I remembered last year again, and how I had left my stick at the in gate with D, thinking that carrying it would just light him up. "If he refuses," I thought suddenly "I'll have no way to punish him." At the last second I closed my leg hard and clucked. He sailed over the jump and we were off! Our first trip was a lot of repeats of that same scenario, but he jumped every jump! When we came out of the ring, D suggested that I try to canter the entire second trip. "He seems less spooky out of the canter" she observed. I thanked her for her opinion and told her that I would try.

Our second trip was SO GOOD! (Alright, well, good is a relative reality it was terrible but for Johnny it was AMAZING so that's all that matters! He cantered almost the entire thing, made the numbers in the lines and even landed his leads! I couldn't have been happier! Of course, we still broke gait a few times and therefore there was no way we would be in the ribbons at a show like this, but it didn't matter! My $80 entry fees were totally worth it!

Here are some video stills and professional pictures from the show. All rights for the professional photos belong to Anne Gittins and I claim no right to them. They are her rightful property. No copyright infringement is intended.

He spooked at the shadow on this jump and over jumped it by like 2 feet!

Good boy!

Video link coming soon!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Over, Under or Through

Here are some photos of Johnny jumping the other day!

He's looking pretty good I think!

Saturday I am taking John over to the CVPHA Horse Show...I'm soooo nervous! Today I schooled him over fences for the last time before the show (tomorrow I think I'm going to lunge him in the side reins a bit) I made the fences a little bigger, the oxers wider (toe to toe), and put "scary" things on and underneath them (such as logs, saddle blankets, coolers, stall guards, etc.) Last year at this show, Johnny was SO preoccupied by the people watching and all of the activity going on (its an outdoor show) that we didn't make it around a single course. This year, I wanted him better prepped, so I put out the things that I knew he hated to jump (coolers and saddle blankets) and made him jump them all. We had one stop the first time to a jump with a yellow western saddle blanket draped over it where he did a drive by. Luckily I had my stick with me and so I swatted him good right on the flank, walked him a few strides back away from the fence and as soon as I turned him around he took off and LEAPED over the jump. He jumped everything after that but he was definitely in a bit of "jumper mode" for the rest of the ride. It's alright with me only goal for this weekend is to get around the course! A trainer of mine once said that you're only job sometimes is just to get the job done...whether you go over, under or through the fence, you MUST get to the other side. That's my philosophy for this weekend! WISH US LUCK!