Saturday, December 7, 2013

In the Holiday Spirit

More horse show updates since we last spoke:

Cool and Gus both showed at CVF in November, making it Gus's debut into the "hunter" world. Even though he just showed on the flat, it really gave me a chance to evaluate him and take perspective of where we are and where our training needs to go.

Cool showed in the Hopeful Hunters again. He is incredibly bored with the small heights of the jumps and has resorted to loosely cantering over them instead of actually jumping anymore, but he is doing well, making the numbers in the lines and is getting more confident about walking into the ring and doing his job. I did start to see a lack of fitness at this horse show, as the weather turns and I'm able to ride him less and less. By the third over fences class I literally had almost no horse left. He didn't get the lead changes this time (too tired and not forward enough) but he was excellently behaved (as usual) and he placed 3rd, 4th and 6th out of 14 horses!

After Gus's semi-poor showing at the last "pleasure" show that we went to back in October, I was pleased to see that he was back to his normal, amicable self at CVF. I really do believe that he just doesn't have super fond memories of the "pleasure horse" venue. He was quiet and perfect like he had been to CVF his entire life. We just showed on the flat, where he placed a VERY respectable 5th out of 14. Did I mention that he hadn't been ridden all....prior to this show? After the class, I let two friends of mine ride him around the warm up to see how he handled other riders. D is a middle-aged amateur adult and S is a young adult college student. He was absolutely perfect for both of fact, D is so in love with him now that she inquired about leasing and showing him. I'm sure that she would really love to buy him, but he's not for sale! S took him over a few small cross rails for me to watch. The G-man was ready to go! After a few awkward over-jumps he settled in and was jumping with his knees to his throat. Watching it really renewed in my spirit what had felt so crushed just a month before at the BL show. This horse has really got something, its just banged up and buried a little. Once we finally unlock it, I think that he's going to be stellar.

We are taking the month of December off from showing because of the holidays and such. Hopefully we can get back to it in January, although much of that is weather dependent :/ Ohio is not extremely conducive for outdoor riding in the winter months...which is my only option now that all three horses will be living at home for the winter while my fiance and I plan our wedding for next year.

Speaking of next year, its almost time to do a yearly look back and goal assessment! This will be soon to come in a following post! For now, it's horse show photo time!

 Gus in his under saddle class

 Getting rewarded for a job well done.

 S hacking Gus around in the warm up...look at him go!

Another shot of S and Gus

 S flatted Cool for me in the under saddle class so that I could ride Gus

 Coolio doing his thing...and barely jumping such little fences

 Lost my leg a little over the fence...Cool is barely even cantering over these

 I like this one, his ears make him look so happy!

Another not so stellar equitation show of me, but at least Cool is somewhat applying himself. I can't wait to see what his knees look like when he actually JUMPS. I have jumped him 2'3" and have yet to feel him actually put effort into it.

As always, more next time!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Horse Show and More

Just a quick update since I left you all hanging before the horse show.

Cool was AMAZING!! He was 3rd and 4th over fences out of 9 the lead changes and made the numbers! In the flat class he was 7th out of 9, which is a better performance than usual. Sunday I showed him again just in a flat class and he was STELLAR again. This time he was 5th out of 13 horses! Getting better every time. I was SO happy with him!

Last Sunday I took Gus to a horse show too, just a local pleasure show. A friend of ours showed him in halter and he was 2nd and then I was 2nd with him out of 5 in our Adult hunter under saddle class. He got run into in our equitation class though and then kind of wigged out a little. He was still well behaved but he was really nervous after that. Poor Gus! I promised him that I will never take him to a horse show like that again!

I'll do a more detailed post later with some pictures. It's very late now!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gearing Up For the Horse Show

Gearing up for CVF this coming weekend with Coolio! Hoping to move him up to the 2'-2'3" division at this horse show. Hoping that the weather holds off so that I can school him over fences this weekend at home. K is working on a small outdoor sand ring for me so that I can ride in inclement weather instead of being totally bound by the weather while riding and jumping on the grass. The sand ring will be small but it will be very good enough for now!

I rode yesterday and Cool was pretty good, only one little bucking session but after some cantering he quieted down. We cantered over some single and bounce poles which was very good. Today it rained, but I am hoping to get back to riding Tuesday (as long as the ground dries out) and then Thursday I will haul Cool to a nearby arena to jump him around before hauling to the show Friday. We will be there all weekend this time, Friday thru Sunday...poor Coolie!

More updates when I can finally get back to riding.


Professional Photo

Got our professional pictures from the horse show, Gus looks fantastic!

Great photos from the photographer, she got a couple of good ones but this was my favorite. I think that my "Silver Lining" looks wonderful in our first outing together. Hoping for many more shows with him :)


Monday, September 30, 2013

Dressage Day for Gus

What a beautiful fall day today! Perfect temperatures (low 70s) with just enough sunshine to warm your body but not enough to make you feel hot! My best friend C and I took our horses to a dressage show today. C has always loved dressage and her Canadian Thoroughbred George is just a wonderful dressage horse. While he's still young and green, he's part Fresian and an extravagant mover. I took Gus along to the show...even though he hasn't been ridden in almost a month since he popped a splint back in early September. I have the vet out to check him over last Thursday prior to the horse show. She found the splint to be good, cold and settled and gave me to ok to ride him. C and I both picked Intro Level tests for our horses. She rode all 3 tests, but I just picked one. I figured that it wasn't worth breaking Gus again and trotting in a couple circles for 2 minutes shouldn't kill him right? I rode him Saturday evening and that was it pretty much.

We arrived at the show early this morning, got the horses settled in their stalls and picked up our numbers. The show was outside at a venue which we have never been to before, but it ran nicely and we had a great time. Gus was phenomenal! So calm and quiet! He was a little stiff since he hasn't been worked much but over all I was super impressed with him! He's never seen dressage rings or judges stands and he just stood by the in gate watching the other horses go around, then walked into the ring like he'd done it his whole life. The footing was a little hard and so I was very conservative in my warm up, especially with all of the problems we've had with his feet and his latest splint catastrophe. While all of the other dressage horses trotted and cantered outside the ring waiting for the bell, Gus and I trotted one lap and then just walked around waiting for our que to enter the ring.It seemed like we walked around forever!

Gee, I hope he trots through that narrow opening into the dressage ring...

I thought as I walked him past the entrance at A and realizing that I had no idea how he would feel about suddenly turning and trotting through such a narrow opening into some scary small white ring with big black letters. Oh well I thought, at least this is a good experience for him. Whats the worst that could happen anyway right? He goes sideways and we try again.

When the bell sounded we picked up our trot, took a deep breath and entered at A.

I honestly expected....something. Anything really. I was ready for there to be a fire breathing dragon, weaving, snorting and jumping left-right-left-right as we trotted down center line. Based on what I had learned from Gus's previous owner/trainer, I was ready for a bomb to explode the second that I walked into that ring.

Instead, I got nothing.

He glanced slightly sideways upon entering the arena, and then trotted straight to X. I settled in the saddle and whispered "whoa." He stopped square and pricked his ears at the judge ahead of us who stood up to acknowledge our salute. When I closed my leg, he trotted off, continuing down center line. As we reached C, I was again ready for the bolt and spook that I assumed would come as we turned by the judges box.

Instead, he just turned.

We rode our entire test with no drama, no explosions, no fireworks. Not a single spook, snort or sideways step. This was the horse that I had been told to lunge for 40 minutes before showing. The horse that hadn't been ridden in close to 30 days prior to this horse show. The one that I took out of the field, cleaned up, and loaded into the trailer.

We scored a 61.093 on our test, the third highest score for our division.

I was so pleased with him, what a champ! And what a positive horse show experience for him. There was no lunging, no hard warm up. We literally showed up, trotted and cantered once each direction and then stepped into the show ring for 2 minutes and he was done. Just like that.

Easiest horse show ever.

My friend C put in stellar rides on her gelding George and after tieing for first place (tie broken only by the score of the collective remarks) came out with 2nd place ribbons in both of her classes under 2 different judges.

What a wonderful day!

And now it's time for Gus to go back into the field and slowly step back up into a training program. For now, the next two weeks are focused on Cool as we get ready for our last hunter show of the season!

Gus and me (left) and C with George (right) Gus and I can't help it that we look like hunter riders!

What a gorgeous boy!
Sporting his dressage number with pride
Waiting to check out some professional pictures from the photographer...hopefully there are some good ones!

Until next time...


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Are you tired yet?

Are you people tired of me telling you that I am going to come back and then being silent for months at a time?

Yeah, me too.

I'm so sorry my friends. I promise to get this disappearing habit under control! Life was so much more simple when I was in college, semi-boyfriendless and having my whole life revolve around nothing but horses. Mainly, I used to also have the option of shutting myself in my bedroom or going to the library/student center/etc for some personal time to blog. When you suddenly find yourself ENGAGED :) and living with your fiance, these things become harder to do. Between working full time, cleaning the house, the dishes, the laundry and taking care of the horses, I barely even have time to take a shower at the end of the day...let alone blog :( I'm seriously trying to be better though...seriously.

So that is my big news for this month...I'M ENGAGED!!! We set a date for next September, so literally only a year away...ahhhh!

All of the horses have been good...ish. Cool has been dominating the hunter ring at horse shows, holding his own and getting very respectable ribbons. We have our last show for season in a couple of weeks on October 12th. He's been a super star lately.

Emmy is also doing well, although she's not doing much these days. Part of the reason is that a) I have no time and b) I have no where to ride. Now that the horses are back at home, we have lost all of the conveniences of a riding arena :( My fiance is working to get us a small sand ring by winter...I sure hope it pans out!

Our 5 months of owning Gus have been a journey of ups and downs. The poor horse has terrible feet and we have been working hard to get him put back together. Its amounted to months of not riding him, which is really a bummer. Not that I have anywhere to ride him anyway, but still lol. Hopefully we will actually be able to work him this winter once the sand ring goes in. Otherwise he has been a good boy and I can't wait to really start working him.

Here is a photo from Cool's latest horse show! Our friend is riding the bay horse and (obviously) Cool is the chestnut!


Friday, June 28, 2013

More new beginnings and a "Silver Lining"

Hello again friends,

I promised in my last post that I had another surprise in store didn't I?

Here it is:

Oh, wait...what's that? A NEW HORSE!!!

Meet my new man "Silver Lining" (known around the barn as "Gus") He is a 2005 Quarter Horse (3/4 QH, 1/4 TB)

He is a stellar mover and a pretty good jumper! Can't wait to get going with him!

So ta-ta for now from Gussie and I :)


Friday, June 21, 2013

New Beginnings

Hi everyone! Sorry that I have been away for so long. I left off my last post pretty upset and didn't really tell you all the whole story. Long story short, I had the vet come out to do some routine allergy checks on Cool's lungs, eyes, etc. I happened to mention to her that he had been tripping a lot lately, both up front and behind, and I asked her to check his stifles and hock joints. After finding everything to be alright, she asked to see him free lunge int he arena. He trotted and cantered and she suggested adding a glucosamine supplement to his feed along with his MSM and allergy meds. Then, just to finish up, our vet suggested running him through a quick neurological exam. Out of 5 tests, Cool didn't pass two of them.

Needless to say, I freaked out. I'd never had a horse that was "neurological" before. Our vet told me to ride him with boots on all 4 of his legs and to never ride him alone. Then she suggested that we schedule a re-check in two months. I had a meltdown. And rightly so I believe...the treatment for EPM and neuro diseases are VERY expensive and I was crushed at the idea that my 9 year old gelding's life might be completely put on hold.

The more I read about neuro diseases and the more I talked to people though, the more I thought that Cool's "symptoms" really didn't fit the classic symptoms of neurological diseases. He had no muscle atrophy, no other apparent problems...I mean, the horse could gallop across a field of frozen mud divots and never trip or take a could he be neurological? He could gallop full speed at a fence and make a sliding stop and could he not be able to sense where his legs were?

So I started looking into other alternatives. I was convinced that a chiropractor should look at him, but after having trouble arranging a chiro appointment, I went out on a limb and called a miracle working woman that had work on Emmy 4 years ago when I was a freshman in equine massotherapist. I set up an appointment with her to come work on Emmy and Cool.

This miracle working woman spent over an hour working on Cool's back...and I felt terrible when she was done. Cool's back was literally a rock (thank god I called the massuse and not the chiro...). She was actually amazed that he could even canter, let alone jump. All of his younger years of living outside in a muddy field had mad his back muscles rock hard that Cool was actually in excruciating pain basically all the time. The massuse had a rough time working on him too...he was bucking and kicking at her while she working on him. She worked most of the knots out of his back in one session, but couldn't get them all.

The next day I rode him and he was AMAZING. Totally different! And the tripping totally went away.  He really hasn't had any issues since, THANK GOD. I don't think that he was ever actually neurological, but his back was so messed up that he literally couldn't pass his neuro tests. He's been totally fine ever since. This past Wednesday I had he massuse come out again to work on him and she couldn't believe the difference! He didn't protest at all to the deep therapy massing like he did last time. The massuse was totally amazed! She said he felt like a completely different horse! Yayyy Coolie!!

In other news, I have been showing Cool over fences in the hunter divisions. We were reserve champion at out last show! Here is the professional photo that I purchased!
What an amazing horse he is! I love him!

I have one more update for you guys for my next will have to check back and see what it is!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

The things we do for love...

Yesterday was a really rough day for Cool and me. The vet came out to do some routine checks on him and we ended up in a place where I have never been with a horse and have never wanted to be. I cried about it for a little while last night, did some research and talked to the vet again. This morning, I'm still feeling pretty crappy about it. I was online earlier looking through some of my friends photos of them and their horses, both at home and at horse shows. Cool is so young, only turning 9 years old next month. He's got his whole life ahead of him.

Dear Coolio -
I will fix you if I have to, I'll find a way. Don't give up on me and I won't give up on you.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekly goal assesment

So far this week I have done an excellent job with sticking to my goals!

Cool got ridden Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (I also plan on jumping him tomorrow) and Emmy got ridden Monday, Thursday and Saturday (today). I worked over canter poles Monday and Thursday with Cool and jumped a small cross rail. We even did 3 canter bounce poles in a row....go Coolie! Friday I did a fitness ride with him, I asked him to come round for once and to canter and trot for longer periods of time than he is used to. Today he got just a turn out, but tomorrow I want to do a little pole work and maybe build a little course up in the arena. We will see how tired I feel!

Emmy was good on Monday, but felt a little iffy in her banged up hind leg, so I gave her off until Thursday. She was a LOON on Thursday, being super rude and leaning on the bit, trying to bolt off and spooking. I also worked her over some of the canter poles that were set up for Cool and she was just running at them like a looney toon. We had a very long ride but at the end, she was really good. Today I hacked her and cantered over a single pole to practice getting my eye back in shape and also to see if she was going to run and drag me again. She never did. Clearly our Thursday ride made an impression...I hope she continues to stay good!

I've been riding both horses in a loose ring happy mouth (french link) and I think they both are doing well in it. Cool is unfortunately one of those horses that just hates flat work, but his neck is still so upside down....I hate riding him in draw reins a lot, but he just isn't quite getting the whole rounding up thing. He's also veryyyy slow to warm takes him forever to drop is nose and get round. I think he just needs some guidance of the draw reins...but I also hate putting them on! It means that I have to add the breast collar to his tack and run them through everything, such a pain and I'm usually pressed for riding time as it is. I have a neck stretcher bungee, but I don't think that really "teaches" them anything. Any other time saving ideas? I must video soon!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Goals

As always, the start of a new week brings about a new slew of goals that I attempt to weave into my life and accomplish daily. There are only a few weeks left until the next horse show for Cool, and since the last show he's only been ridden 3 times. Oi vey!

This morning dawned early when the alarm went of at 4:30am. Time enough for me to get up, pack lunches for the bf and myself and send him off to work before defrosting some pork for dinner while getting myself dressed and ready for the day. The dogs need to be taken out, dinner needed to get put into the crock pot to slowly simmer and cook all day. By 5:30 I was in the car and headed to the barn to see Emmy and Cool, turn them out and clean their stalls quickly before work at 7:30. They had a quick turnout in the snowy outdoor ring while I picked stalls and then came back inside just in time for breakfast. Emmy's right hind leg was swollen last night (and still was this morning) and she has taken a huge chunk off of her hoof....I have no idea what that silly mare did this time, but I've been keeping it bandaged. The farrier will be here next Monday to cut the chunk of foot off and re-shoe her and Cool.

Work was from 7:30 to 3:30 and was fairly uneventful. Afterwards I stopped back at the barn on my way home and tacked up Cool for a quick ride. Chels was there riding her warmblood and, after lamenting about our lack of time spent in the saddle recently and our quickly dissipating riding skills, we set out a single pole in the arena and just practiced cantering over it and seeing our distances. I have a hard time finding a distance on Cool...I just can't quite find the right canter step yet for him. Chels had some trouble too...we are both so out of practice! Thursday we are going to meet up to ride again after work and practice some more.

Cool's right front ankle has been puffy lately as well. I had the vet out recently to look at his face (he fractured it...go figure.) and mentioned it to her and had her look at it. She said that the tendons all feel good and she thinks that its the joint capsule itself. She told me to keep riding him as long as he's sound, but I think that I might get some Surpass for the fetlock...I know he's not off, but I hate unclean legs! And swelling is a sign to me that something is stressing that joint and causing a problem...maybe not right now, but certainly it could be down the road.

So here are my new goals for the next few weeks:

- Pole work 3x a week
- Jumping twice a week
- Equitation work
- Getting Cool rounder and bent more correctly, especially to the left!
- Take photos/videos

Thats all for now!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cool's first horse show!

After a busy first week of work and not a whole lot of riding (sub-zero temperatures were to thank for that) we decided to just wing it and pack up Cool anyway for the little schooling horse show last weekend.

What a disaster that was...just getting to the horse show was a nightmare. Not only did it snow all day, but we also has some trouble with the truck and everything was so cold and frozen that it made digging out and hooking up the trailer a feat all in itself.

The best laid plans always go astray don't they? My goal was to get Cool to the horse show shortly after dinner time, leaving us plenty of time to school over jumps and let him see the show ring. False. With all of our troubles, we didn't roll into the show grounds until after 10:00pm. The show ring was already dark and it was so late that the bf and I just tucked Cool in for the night and got back in the car to make the hour drive home. We got in around midnight...cold, frustrated, hungry and tired.

The next morning I left for the horse show bright and early to make sure that Cool had adequate time to school before showing in the afternoon. I rode him early in the morning in the warm up ring with the jumpers and then a little later in the show ring between classes. The arena has a large viewing room with plexiglass windows across one entire end of the ring. Cool has seen them once before when we hauled him down last fall just to school him, but it was late at night that time and there were no people behind the windows. Today, the entire place was packed with faces staring back at him through the plastic. And among those faces? My new boss and the trainer that I have been grooming for. Neither of them had ever seen Cool, nor had they seen me ride, let alone jump anything, and they had come to watch. I was desperate to make a good impression, but Cool was having a mini meltdown about the windows, refusing to go near them entirely. It didn't help that there were plenty of other horses taking advantage of the few moments that the ring was open, they were schooling the jumps like mad, cantering across the end of  the ring one after another, making it literally impossible to let Cool just stand and look at the windows for a moment. I made the decision to just forget the windows and just start jumping him and getting his mind on something else. The first two jumps I trotted him to and he literally stopped at them and kind of awkwardly leaped over. Oh god... I thought, this is going to be such a disaster. I remembered back to Johnny's first show, where I made the mistake of stifling him so much (thinking that I needed control) that I took away his confidence and his natural ability to do his job. Was I doing that to Cool too? Was I thinking that he was going to be fresh and spooky because of everything that had already gone wrong this weekend? Was I helping to create this? And if not creating it, was I prolonging it? I'd never shown Cool before, so I didn't know how he would walk into the arena. I didn't know what it felt like when he was ready to go versus needing a little more prep. This was a learning experience for both of us and right then I decided that nothing else mattered but letting him have a good experience. The trainer and boss watching didn't matter, my parents and the bf and his mom who had also all driven out to watch, didn't matter. The check that I had written for his entry fees and all the time it took to get him here didn't matter, what did matter, was that he walked into that ring and did what I asked. The jumps for his division were 18"...he could step over them and I decided then that if we had to walk the entire course then so be it...this horse was going in that ring and he was going to do it, no matter how we had to get it done. My job was to let him do it, to let go of the control freak and the worries that were built up in my brain and just let him do it. I pointed him at another jump and kicked him forward into a canter and let the reins slip through my fingers. This time he actually jumped the fence, although he was still questioning me a little off the ground. We landed on the backside and I let him slip the reins through my fingers a little, then added more leg and kissed, asking him to march down the line to the jump at the end of the ring, headed right for the scary windows. He jumped it (with the help of my opening outside rein) landed, and I kissed and squeezed again, pushing him forward past the windows and to the next jump. His haunches were drifting in, and he was really wanting to run out past the jumps, but I kept my inside leg on, opening the outside rein over top of the jumps and just kept riding forward. George Morris always says, if you feel unsure, come at the jump with more than you think you need, you can always close your fingers and pull the reins a little, but no one wants to be kicking down to an oxer, hoping that it works out. Cool was jumping baby jumps today, but we were laying the foundation for his entire show career at this very moment. We changed directions and went around over the small jumps again. The more forward that I rode, the more that the distances started to smooth out. The forward ride is hard for's not my natural "ride" on a horse. Cool and I were both learning today, and we needed each others support to do it.

I won't bore you all with the details of every trip, but I will tell you that we walked into that show ring and jumped every single jump when it came time to show. We botched some of the distances, took down a rail in the first class and had late lead changes every time, but we did it and he never once spooked or tried to stop. In the hack classes, he didn't try to race and catch up to the other horses. I maneuvered him through traffic and he didn't freak out about having horses close to him. He broke for a moment in the canter (he was soooo tired at that point) and threw a wrong lead once (he has trouble with the left lead when he's tired) but over all I couldn't have been happier with how he behaved. We got ribbons in everything...bottom of the pack for the most part, but it didn't even matter! I think the was 6th, 7th and 7th over fences and then 5th and 6th in the hacks. I fed him almost half a bag of cookies and gave him so many pats and rubs. I can't wait for the next horse show! Overall, it was a really successful day for us. This horse always continues to amaze me with how he handles changes in his life...almost 2 years ago we pulled him out of a field and stuffed him into a trailer. At 7 years old, he'd only been hauled once, never been in a barn, never been stalled, never walked on concrete, never been clipped, never had shoes, never had his teeth done or been blanketed. He'd never seen an arena. He'd barely even been ridden and had never been ridden with other horses. He had lived in that same muddy field with the same two horses for his entire life. We rocked his world when we bought him and, although we've had a few ups and downs, Cool has been so open and willing to cope with the changes that we've made to his life. Although he can be spicy at times, he's tried to give back to us all of the things that we have given to him. I thought that no horse would be able to take Johnny's place when he left. No other project would excite me like he had, but Cool is working his way into my heart in a way that I didn't think he could. He will never replace Johnny, but he sure is trying his best to fill the big shoes that J Dizzle left behind for him :)

Here are a few photos from the show...his knees aren't very good, but I have confidence that with some gymnastic work (and maybe a bigger jump lol) that they will get at least level

In the hack class. We purchased these photos.

 This is my favorite one (above)

Below are video stills from the videos my dad took:

Petting him afterwards! My mom and the bf are standing with me.

That's all for now!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bits and Bridles and All Sorts of Things

I've been so busy this past week that I feel as though I have seriously been neglecting my blog, not to mention that my mental list of updates for you guys has grown so long that I can't even remember what I wanted to say anymore.

Let's see what has been going on this week...

I worked another weekend at the horse show (last weekend) and still have one more to do this weekend before I get a break from grooming for a couple of weeks. I feel as though I seriously have spent the last two months at Chagrin, and although I love doing it, I'm ready for a atmosphere change! In other news though, I secured a new job as a barn manager at the place where M (the trainer I am grooming for) is now working out of. It's not a new facility, but it's under new ownership and the owners are looking to streamline the barn work and get the barn running smoothly. They practically begged me to come work for them, which I have to admit, made me feel pretty good. So far, I think that I have the hours and the pay that I was really looking for and I am excited to become a part of their "family" and help them establish their business....not to mention that a steady, sufficient paycheck would REALLY be helpful to my current life situation. It would be nice to finally save some money versus always living paycheck to paycheck, weighing my purchases on whether or not I will be able to afford the next month's board on Emmy (thank goodness the bf pays for Cool!) I would like to be able to put some money away for a new(er) car, hock/fetlock injections for Emmy and a nice joint supplement for Cool...not to mention some horse shows! I start Monday at the new job and will only be working 5 days a week! Woo hoo!! Who knew that barn jobs ever gave you so few days? I've been accustomed to working 6 days a week since I first started in the fancy "A" circuit hunter/jumper world 6 years ago, this is going to be the ultimate treat :)

So, with that news out of the way, here is the update on the el ponias:

Last week, Emmy took a couple of questionable steps on one of our rides. Not that she was really "lame" but she didn't quite feel right to me. I let her get ridden in her walk/trot lesson on Thursday, but since then she has been on turnout only. I got back on her today after almost a week of rest and she felt fabulous! I have put her back into her french link slow-twist d-ring (versus the double jointed happy mouth loose ring that I was working her in) also. The slow twist is what I have always ridden her in, but over the summer I was trying to soften her mouth back up a little and re-school her with the loose ring. It was a nice idea, but it really hasn't been working and I have come to accept the fact that Emmy just needs some extra brakes when working over jump/poles. It's not fair for me to get in a tug of war match with her mouth just because I want to ride her in "less" bit. I would rather bit her up just a little and be lighter with my hands versus trying to stop a run away freight train with a piece of string. There are some things that just are the way they are, and Emmy's bit is one of them. It reminds me a little of that old saying: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

So, back into the slow twist we went today Emmy was actually really good! For one, I had brakes in the corners (halleluiah!), for two, I was able to let the reins out a little longer and ride with a much softer arm, letting her stretch down without her getting heavy and hanging on me. I think that Emmy was silently thanking me for getting my head out of my rear and just riding her the way I always have. Sometimes I feel like she just looks right through me with those big brown eyes and thinks "...idiot."

I set up a course of poles tonight consisting of a single on the long side and a single on the diagonal, with a two stride on the other long side and a one stride on the other diagonal. Emmy started off really good, cantering quietly over the single pole on the long side and then down the single diagonal with a PERFECT, clean lead change, but the more we rode the more it started to fall apart and she wanted to run at the poles. I think this is something that is going to take some serious thinking and mental work on my part to keep my body out of her way to help get her to balance herself backwards without running. I know that her hocks are old, but after watching her run around the arena today in turnout, bucking and rearing and leaping in the air, I have to say that I think her hocks are good enough to canter quietly. All in all, it was a good ride and I was happy with it. I finished off with some transitions (with a few pretty strong half halts) to sharpen her up and get her more focused on me and not so much on "jumping." George Morris would say that the best way to work a horse is with transitions, so that is what I did/am going to do!

Cool on the other hand, has been incredibly spicy the past two weeks with a little bit of an attitude and I have to admit that his attempts to buck me off are getting a) old and b) ANNOYING. He's been off his rocker lately, dragging me around like a crazy horse and then wanting to buck and leap through the air. I had to give him two pretty good gallops over the past week and a half just to make him ride-able. He was pretty decent today, no bucking but he was making nasty faces when I was asking him to go forward. Finally, I got off and got the dressage whip out and after a few swats of that he was trit-trotting around like he couldn't be happier to do anything else. I worked him through the same course of poles as Emmy and he was SO good also!! Not only did he canter them all, but we got the majority of our distances and even (dun dun dun) LEAD CHANGES! The left to right was CLEAN and correct, while the right to left was a change in the front and then I had to circle him and kick a little with my outside leg to get it behind, but by god he got it! The extra circling/kicking made him a little wild going into the last line of the "course" (the two stride) and we practically ate the line for lunch. Either I accidentally set it really short or Cool's stride is getting bigger!

I've decided that we are going to canter poles at least 2-3 times a week and jump 2 times a week (no more than 3) for a little while. The poles are really helping me and him to learn to read each other and work as a team. Cool is a little bit more of a Johnny ride versus an Emmy ride (remember going through this with Johnny? Because I do!) and I really need to learn to feel his canter and not lean at him like I do with Emmy. He's so much lazier than her (on most days) that I really need to take some time to learn what is his best canter and where is stride is the best, without burning him out over fences or making him loose his confidence. At least with working over poles, if I mess it up than no one dies or gets hurt, we just try again!

This is a little like Johnny all over again I feel.

I was wanting to take Cool to a small schooling show next weekend but I'm not sure that he will be ready, especially with the new job starting, I'm still not sure how that will affect my riding time...and this whole weekend (fri-sun) is shot because of grooming at the horse show.

I also want to work on some position things for myself to improve my rides:

- Landing better in the heel over one time I had this going really well, but I'm so out of shape with jumping that its gone caputskies.

- Keeping the eyes up and looking to the next fence...this will in turn help my shoulder from getting ahead

- Riding FORWARD to decisions...STOP pulling to the chip! Also something that I had once fixed but is now gone by the wayside.

- Loosen up the low back and hip...why am I so stiff all the time now? UGH

- Video myself once a week (at least) to keep tabs on the riding and see how the improvements are going.

That's all for now!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A few photo updates

Here are some photo updates from last week's riding:

Oi Vey on the jumping position....George Morris would smack me if he saw this lol. I definitely need to shorten my stirrups a hole for jumping! That jump is also the out of a 4 stride line, and Emmy left like half a stride out! We trotted into the line, so it should have been a 5 stride line, but Emmy was like NOOOO ITS A FOUR! Lol Oh mare, she always thinks she knows best. However, I love her flat photo. That's my 26 year old baby!

In other news, the vet came out last Thursday and checked out Emmy and Cool. She pulled their coggins for the year and check their teeth. Cool has also had a lump on the side of his head for about 3 weeks. I was thinking that maybe it was in infected tooth or an abscess, but he had no nasal discharge and no bad breath. The vet checked him out and agreed that it was not a tooth. She actually thinks that its a mirco-fracture in his skull. Its a very bony lump with some fluid around it. Our vet told me to keep and eye on it and if it seems like its getting bigger than we will take some xrays, but as of right now, she thinks that its a fracture and unless you do surgery, there really is nothing to be done about it. It doesn't seem to bother him at all...I'll try to take some pictures of it for you guys.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Holiday Training Updates

I know that I'm about a week late, but I would still like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

This has been a really phenomenal week for the horses and me...well, maybe even just in general also! The bf had a nice long weekend with the holiday and we spent Christmas morning with my family followed by Christmas evening with his family. My wonderful parents bought me a new pair of clippers, which wasn't necessarily a surprise, since I picked them out at one of the local tack shop big sales (Dad wanted to make sure that they were the right ones) but I am still grateful none the less! My old pair finally crapped out on me while body clipping Cool. The bf limped them through finishing his face and ears but his hind legs are partially clipped from the hocks down still lol. Good thing he's chestnut with big white socks, it makes it hard to tell what a mess they are! The bf got me some wonderful gifts; a warm down riding jacket by Ariat and a pair of "expresso" colored breeches. I've been wanting a dark brown pair for so long! I think they just look so classy. The bf's mother gave us a very thoughtful gift...she had a photo of me, Emmy and Cool blown up and printed on canvas to hang. It's really beautiful.

Aside from all of the holiday stuff though, I've really been cracking down on my riding and Emmy and Cool have been wonderful (fingers crossed!) It's been a little difficult, since we have had non-stop snow since Wednesday, but I've managed to ride at least one horse a day and usually both of them if I can.

Wednesday I hacked them both, they were both pretty fresh from having multiple days off, but they were both good! Cool was pretty fresh but he didn't try to buck at all which I was very proud of him for. I tried to ride lots of figures, circles and changes of directions in the arena to re-organize his energy, versus just letting him barrel around on the rail with me hanging on his mouth. I try really hard to keep my horses mouth's soft and to re-soften them when I feel that they are starting to get hard or unresponsive. Let's be honest, I just don't like to have to work that hard to ride my own horses! The re-direction of his energy seemed to work well and we finished off with a good ride. Emmy was also pretty fresh, but she's much more seasoned and schooled in comparison to Cool, so she is more readily controllable lol. However, the past year or so Emmy has begin to bottle herself up and get behind the bit and hang on me when I ride and jump her. My big goal for this winter is to back up with her training a little bit and really work on getting her to relax and poke her nose out again versus just balling up and hanging on me. It's been a really hard call for me to make with her because I know that she's getting old and I'm sure that her hocks aren't feeling as good as they used to, but I really think that she will feel better in the long run if she stops getting into a little ball....I would think that it would be easier on her joints to get into a little longer shape versus into a ball, but maybe the hanging is because shes having a harder time rocking back on her haunches and carrying herself? She really should get her hocks injected, but I just can't afford it right now :/ Anyway...on with the rest of my weekly riding...

Thursday I set up some poles and a jump for Emmy. I had a cross rail on one long side, a set of 9ft bounce poles across the short side and a 4 stride line of poles on the opposite long side. I rode Emmy first and she was a little bit nutty. We started off with cantering the 4 strides poles individually, working over them in circular patterns versus just a straight line, since lately she's been wanting to just grab the bit and run. I've taken her out of her regular slow twist french link bit and put her into a loose ring happy mouth with a double joint. I think that I want to keep her in the loose ring for flat work and maybe eventually put her back into something a little stronger when I start jumping courses again with her, although that won't be happening for a little while yet. I've shown her in a rubber pelham ever since I started doing the hunters with her 7 years ago. We tried all sorts of different bits before realizing that she just really liked the pelham...and even with the pelham, I think I went through three of them before I ordered her the jointed rubber one. It worked perfectly for her for the last 6 years until she started stopping all the time and I decided that she just didn't want to jump anymore. I gave her almost a whole year off from jumping and just hacked her around for fun, but she started to get bored and sour. So, last winter I started seeing if she wanted to jump cross rails again. When she did readily, I began to work her slowly back over fences. This past spring, I decided to show her again and took her to a local A circuit hunter trainer for some lessons before taking her to a hunter derby (something that I always knew she would be good at). I was expecting to have a little bit of trouble with her, since she's always been a bit of a peeker/stopper when she's not continuously jumping flowers and boxes and walls, but I was completely unprepared for what I got. It took an hour just to get her back jumping an entire course. Once she was back "on it" she was perfect, just like she had always been. But every day was a battle. After a REALLY dirty stop at a show this summer (I can't believe I stayed on...I post the picture of it below) I was crushed with how she had performed and decided once again, that she just didn't want to jump anymore. I gave her the rest of the summer and fall off from jumping, and once again, she got sour. This is a horse who has always LOVED to be ridden and work, but once we moved to the boarding barn, she was just sour all the time. I tried to just let her get turned out and groomed, thinking that maybe she was finally done with being ridden but she stood in her stall with her ears flopped to the side every day. I tried to just hack her instead, she stood in the stall and the cross ties with her ears flopped. I used to go in her stall and just stand with her while she pressed her face against my chest and looked up at me with the saddest eyes. I lamented to my parents about her, hinting at the idea that I thought she was maybe hurting and needed some vet work. My parents consoled me but assured me that they couldn't afford to dish out any extra money for it. I was watching my horse slip away and I had no idea why...nothing seemed to make her happy anymore, her eyes were just so sad. Then one day, I had trot poles set up for Cool and I thought why not and trotted her over them. She immediately perked up, so I kept doing it and suddenly she she started to brighten up again, her ears came forward in the cross ties, she started whinnying to me again when I came into the barn. And I thought to myself, "this horse just wants to jump again." So, Thursday I asked to jump a cross rail. I walked her up to it the first time to let her sniff it, thinking that she would for sure try to stop at it, but instead, she jumped it from a stand still! Something that she never does...after that she was DRAGGING me to the jump. I felt bad to keep pulling on her mouth but she was crazy! She launched through the bounce poles and just seemed SO excited. This is when I hatched the plan about fixing her.

Friday I rode both horses and once again, set up some poles and a small cross rail, this time with a flower box under it. I had trot poles set up on the short side of the arena and then 9ft bounce poles again on the opposite long side. I rode Cool first, he was really good with the trot poles but was wanting to seriously drift left through the canter poles when cantering left. He's also been having some trouble all of the sudden with picking up his left lead. I'm not sure if he is hurting or if his body and muscles are changing and he's just got to figure out his balance again. The left has always been his hard direction. The vet is coming Thursday to check him out and do some routine stuff so I will mention it to her. Jumping him was alright...he's also started to rush the jumps a little bit, which I think is alright for him. I also hate to pull on his mouth when he dragging me, but he does need to learn to half halt. I've been riding him on a really loose draw rein and he's doing wonderful with that! I think his rushing to the jump is really just because he's getting more confident with himself. He used to be very wussy about getting up to the jump so I think that he's just feeling better about himself and its translating into rushing. I think it will end up alright though!

After Cool, it was Emmy's turn. She's only a 15.1 hand horse, but let me tell you, she's got a monster stride when she wants too. I started her with the trot poles, which she was perfect with and then moved on to the canter bounce poles (after trotting them both directions). I let her just canter at first to see if she would back herself off, but as usually, she just wanted to barrel through them. I kind of forgot how big her step can get until that day! I flatted her for a bit, taking continuous breaks to walk her up to the cross rail with the flower box. She really wanted nothing to do with it at first, but I finally got her to stand by it for a little while. (I had her eyes checked over the summer...she can see just fine) I eventually got off her and took the cross rail down to just poles and walked her over it in hand. It took some coaxing, but finally she tried to leap over it. I kept walking her in  hand until she stopped jumping it, then I got back on her and did the same thing. When she stopped trying to jump it, I asked her to trot up to it and did a slow sitting trot. She jumped it the first few times and when she finally stopped jumping and started just trotting over it, I gave her big pats and kisses and put it back up to a cross rail. We jumped that little both directions, but instead of just coming at it from a straight line, I approached the jump on a circle, and on a diagonal, trying to break up the "straight line grab the bit and run" thing (maybe I should do this with Cool too!) when she got heavy on the landing, I circled her over the trot poles and let her correct herself. In the end, she was jumping amazing and quiet. I think we are going to to a lot of this! Just slowing down and getting quiet over very small jumps with flowers.

Saturday I hacked Cool and my friend videoed...I will post some photos below!

I hacked Emmy again the other night and she was super good! I also have a video of that, but I need to upload it still. Both horses have had a couple days off because of the holiday, but we are back to riding today!


As promised...Emmy's dirty stop!