Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Equilutions #2

Last New Year's Day I recorded some goals for the year under the guise of "Equilutions" or equine related resolutions. Here they are, with commentary on how we did, and then I'll give my Equilutions for 2010...

1. Do more groundwork when it's warmer to earn more respect while leading. He's not bad, but we could use some more personal space.
I didn't do this per se, but we have spent all year working on ground manners. He will still lean towards me if he is looking to our right at something extremely interesting (usually another horse) but overall he's doing much better. He will ground tie in the aisle without even a rope on him, at least for a bit. We've started to work on some things that will be helpful for showmanship including stopping and walking when I stop and backing up when I turn and walk him backwards. Turns? yeah...that'll take some help from KAT. We've also used lunging to work on respect and manners and that has helped.

2. Increase Jr's winter wardrobe with some clearance blankets in the spring. Having only one blanket doesn't allow for much temperature adjustment and means I have to wait until spring to launder it again.....
eeew. I bought one new blanket in the spring, a Techno-Fleece turnout and I LOVE it. It fits well and is great for our fall and spring when the temperature goes haywire. Much nicer than my heavyweight Blanket I have from them. We also gained a fly sheet that I've never used, a cool plaid sheet to keep clean at shows, a lycra hood, and of course our fitted cooler we've yet to use.

3. Change his
muley mane to a pleasure mane. This was much easier than I was expecting. I was told his mane was crazy unruly but it's really not. It has a bit of a cowlick in the middle but I'v seen MUCH worse. After the roaching grew out I kept it pulled during the show season and have only combed it since September. It could use a pulling, but it's laying nicely. It will need a LOT of pulling before we show again. It is thick.

4. Get English and Western show tack. Just need an english bit and we're all set. Still working on which bit will be best.

5. Get black pants, chaps, and make a show shirt. Designing and sewing/dyeing a fully custom show outfit is completely within my skills and abilities, however, I don't think I SHOULD until we've proven ourselves in the show-ring. Until I feel like we have some "ring cred" we'll stick with a basic outfit in black and purple that look appropriate and not too flashy. A bay roan paint will stand out enough on his own, I'll let HIM catch the judges attention. I have boots, a hat, gloves, and a blanket from my old show days that I will use. This will save some money for tack, too. I did buy a black show pad because the old one ended up too small to cover our work pad. I'm also NOT planning to do they type of outfit I was once planning. I'm too old. :) and the shows I go to don't really require that level... thankfully!

7. Ride in one
wtc HUS class and one wtc WP class. KAT takes students to shows all summer long so there'll be one or two I can go to. There's a multi-day show in town I think in May that will be good for us. A whole day on the grounds to acclimate before classes on day two. We did THREE HUS and WP classes! We didn't place in the top, we actually placed better in our Equitation and Horsemanship classes. You can read all about the shows here, here, and here.

And for 2010:

1. Start working on Showmanship.
2. Find a new western work pad that WORKS.
3. Have my work saddle taken in to have the buckles replaced and the seat replaced with soft pink suede instead of the icky brown slick leather. When I told KAT I wanted to do this she said "Well then how am I going to tell all the kids they still can't have pink tack!?!" I told her to tell them when they are 30 they can have all the pink tack they want.
4. Have all my tack bags monogrammed.... this is in progress.
5. Get Junior's weight stabilized.

Our ride last night was pretty good. He was playing school horse with one of Max's girls while I was away so I put him to real work right away. There is a new and adorable Welsh pony gelding in our barn named Charlie. He and Junior are turned out together and I guess they are very playful together. Charlie was in the arena with us last night and I had to do a bunch of Charlie-Desensitization. Each time Jr. came near Charlie he would pop his head up and want to go play with him. It took several tries and I even had to smack him with the reins once, but eventually we could jog by and he'd only perk up his ears at Charlie. Such a social butterfly!

And just because: here's Junior's new Christmas Present since he managed to destroy his green halter while I was away. He broke HARDWARE instead of the breakaway crown. Oh, June-Bug.... This is nothing more than a plain black breakaway halter, but i think he looks handsome in it. I went to a pet store and had two small black dog tags with his name on them, one for the halter and one for his black lead rope. They were about $7 a piece and I like the way they look. Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Twas the Night Before (the journey before) Christmas...

I fly to the Arctic Tundra that is Minnesota tomorrow so this will be the last post before New Year's or so.

It seems that all the blogs I read speak of the winter weather lately. It's 20 degrees colder here than normal and the wind is bitter. Having grown up in Minnesota this is not foreign to me, but I still do NOT like it. The milder winters are one of the only things I like better about Ohio.... sorry Ohio. There was ice in the buckets for the first time today. Not solid but the slushy crystalie stuff. I wore long johns under my fleece-lined jeans, my thermal boots, and multiple layers on top. I was comfortable, but I think I'm going to invest in Under Armor this year. I don't like how the layers I wear sort of cling together so I feel a bit constricted.

I went out about 1:30 or so so I could at least have light. I don't know about you, but it it's dark it just feels colder to me. Junior was out in the field with his only remaining pasture buddy, Max is still on stall rest or hand walking and seems to get sore quickly, and of course the little Arab mare trotted over the Rainbow Bridge so Jr. and his girl Zippy are a duo. I brought her in, too since she was standing between us and the gate. She doesn't really LIKE to be outside and will always be the first one trying to get OUT of the field.

We had a very nice short ride. He was very good the whole time. He's really "getting" lots of stuff. It's very encouraging that whenever I find something new to teach him, like the lope-jog-lope transitions I've been working on lately, he gets things pretty quickly. One thing at a time, and I'm sure there will always be another refinement we can work on. I have been riding all over the arena whenever I can, working on keeping him aligned and in frame in bends and circles, as well as being calmer and less anticipatory while working off the rail.

Over the past 15 months I have become a whole lot less Overanxious, but leaving for 17 days is still a cause for anxiety. I know there is no more chance that something terrible will happen while I'm away than while I'm home, but I tend to catastrophize and dream up horrible situations like him getting badly hurt or sick and me having to quickly fly home, or worse, having him suddenly drop dead and me not even able to say goodbye. Horrible thoughts, huh? I know KAT and Max's mom will look after him very well, but that's just how I think.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season and you find time to share it with the important people in your life. And whatever you celebrate this season, I wish you a Happy and Merry everything. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm BAAAACK..... with an Epiphany!

I was given the golden opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in three years so I took it and that is why I've been AWOL.

Junior survived without me but gave me the silent treatment and was REALLY mouthy trying to see what was in my hands. I have signs on his stall asking people to not give him treats, but I'm not sure it's working. I think I need to make more signs that explain WHY so that people who think it's "mean" not to give horses treats will know I have my reasons. He stopped being mouthy when he hadn't been getting treats by hand. I will put them on his ledge from outside of his stall and he can take them from there, but he does not get treats by hand, ever.

I rode him last night after watching part of a lesson he was in. He really is VERY good for the novices. He packs around with a very pleasant look on his face. The only "bad" thing he does (if the rider doesn't know enough to prevent him from doing it) is that he will beeline himself over to say hello to one of his horse buddies and he's not very cautious or polite about it. The only "bad habit" he's gotten (someone asked me if he was getting any) is that when I get on I need to quickly establish 2 things: A) When I ask for Whoa you WHOA (he sticks his nose out and drags his feet for the lesson kids) and B)No, you may not pack around like a giraffe, you will lift your back and relax your neck. He does not fight me on either of these, I've just discovered that if I start the ride with those two reminders he's great the rest of the ride.

Since TJ gave me her nutrition project packet, I've been trying to make a decision on what to do about his feed. Her evaluation showed he is currently getting 30% more digestible energy than he wonder he's fat! Now, as you know, I am not rolling in the dough, so in addition to making decisions about what is best for Junior, I must try to get the most out of my money. So yesterday I had an epiphany...

My latest Epiphany is that I dropped his feed from a full scoop to 3/4 scoop sometime (I didn't write down the date) between August 19th and September 6th when he started SmartCalm. Considering the 3/4 scoop (combined with his forage) is 30% more digestible fiber than he needs, the full scoop was even MORE energy than he needs. I'm wondering if the change in his attention span is more a result of the decreased energy than the inclusion of the SmartCalm. He is not deficient in any of the ingredients of SC. TJ and I will be working out a plan that I will start implementing in the New Year. Why wait? Well, TJ's project was based on samples and rations including his pasture time, which being December is not the same as it was when the grass was growing. So we're taking her project and we'll be extending the research to include a cost analysis of the feeds she determined were good choices, and a ration that is accurate for the winter. Plus I'll be gone soon for 2 weeks over Christmas and new grain means I have to pre-measure and pre bag and it'll take some time to slowly switch the feed over.... another month won't kill him, even if I am the Overanxious Horse Owner.

I rode him again today and since we had the arena to ourselves we worked on some hard stuff: pattern prep for Equitation and Horsemanship classes. I can do stops and pivots and lots of gait changes along the rail, but when I start moving around the middle of the arena he gets excited. When I ask him to stop he dances around and chomps at the bit. My goal each time is to wait until he is standing calm and square before asking him for another cue. I just try to stay calm and patient with him. I'm sure I need to ride him without a rail more often, but when my riding time is during lessons that is often where I have to stay.

I ordered a cooler, by the way. I had a coupon in the last Dover catalog for their Rider's contour cooler at $29.90. That's the cheapest I've found and the reviews on it were good. Here's the link to the cooler at the coupon price, if you're interested.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bad Tidings Come in Threes... Part 2

Sadly, the third tragedy did strike after all. My favorite pony, the cutest and coolest pinto pony ever, had to leave this world. SBF Debonaire was a 9 year old pony I had the opportunity to work with in 2006. He was green broke and we took 1st in all four of our walk-trot classes, 1st in Showmanship, and 2nd in English Pony Halter. He was so calm and so beautiful. I loved him dearly, as did his owner. I talk about Debon in the last paragraph of my blog entry "Peeking Around the Corner" and there's a photo of him there. He had a history of colic and this time he just couldn't be pulled through. When his owner emailed to tell me I was afraid the bad news was Banee, her 30 year old mare whose loss I've been preparing my self for years, but unexpectedly it was about Debon. I am very sad, but I know his pain is gone. I like to think of all the horses of my past running through green fields together, swapping stories and playing tag. My friend sent me this video. It's a bit sappy but kind of what I needed.

Enough of that sad stuff.

Junior's friend Max is doing MUCH better. He's able to be turned out with Junior for short periods and both of them are SO happy. We watched them a good part of the day because the weather was so beautiful and they were so funny. I tried to take a Christmas card picture using my tripod today and it was ridiculous. There are like 60 shots and none of them are good! I set my camera to take 10 photos in a row so if you scroll through them fast enough it's almost like a movie. He was not cooperative, but that is SO his personality. He tried to eat one of the decorations on the wreath I hung on the fence. Oh Junior.Here's one of the rejects, but isn't he cute? I just will NOT send Christmas cards with just a picture of the horse. It's just way too close to crazy cat lady behavior. At least if I'm also in it I feel a little better.

On Friday my friend who used Junior for her Nutrition class project came out and we took a bunch of pictures. She painted a Schleich horse to look like him so now he has a Jr. Junior!

I had her take a few photos of us riding so i could show you how much he can look like a western pleasure horse when he wants to! He's been riding well. We got a nice ride around the hay field today for the first time since the corn was harvested. He did one spook but i don't know what it was about and I turned him right back towards where we were going and all was well. I bought reins with clips at Congress and I hate the attachment. Every other ride or so one gets twisted and snaps off. Not cool. Now I've attached them to my swivel hooks and that is helping, but it just seems like excessive hardware. A bit of a kludge, really. Anyway, I still think he's too vertical or behind the vertical here, but you can see the rein is soft so I think he just carries himself that way. I do think he stretches out more when we are along a rail. Both of these pictures I was having to keep him turning a lot to stay in the right light.

And yes, he's still fat.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blanket Info Solicitation...

Dear Calm Readers,

(I figure since I'm about as overanxious as they come, my readers must ALL be calmer than I.) I beg you to share your knowledge with me, yet again. I am thinking it's time to purchase a cooler for Pig Horse/Captain Destructo/Jun-Bug. He is blanketed in the winter, but I've found that he gets sweaty during our lessons. I don't know a thing about coolers. I believe the concept is to wick the sweat off the horse to help dry him faster so that he doesn't catch a chill? Am I anywhere near the truth? Does it work for after bathing, too?

Catalogs never give you instructions, and the books I have only list them as equipment and don't really give a full explanation of their use/purpose.

I am one who needs to have clean blankets so I would like it to be washable. I don't think the wool ones are washable, are they? I see Acrylic ones, but do they work as well (or nearly) as the wool? Do I need one that extends onto the neck? Do I need one that straps on or are the big blanket-like ones with and ear strap good enough? And what's an Anti-Sweat sheet? Is that the same?

I don't have a large budget, but I don't want to buy something so cheap it ends up being worthless. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

What do you use? Hate? Would buy? Wouldn't buy? Any advice at all?

Feel free to send links if you want to help me shop. Rods and EquusNow are right in town but I do a lot of catalog shopping since the stores in town seem to carry more of the high end (and by high end I mean often out of my price range) and have much less variety than the web stores.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Grandma's Fall Visit.

My Mom came for a long weekend and we enjoyed some time at the barn on a gorgeous Saturday! Junior enjoys being a Grandpony and was an absolute Angel all day. We put him outside and worked on cleaning his stall.

Junior was content outside until someone brought another horse out to the turnouts, then decided the other paddocks were too muddy and then took their horse back behind the barn to the mudlot. Junior was NOT okay with the tease of a possible playmate and I had to go rescue him as he was tearing up and down the fenceline screaming and getting himself all sweaty and upset. Oh well, we were nearly done with the stall anyway. Though the ground looked pretty dry he managed to find a nice muddy spot and rolled both sides in thick mud. We had to tie him to dry for a bit before we could even start removing it.

My mom had horses in the late 60's (and oh were things a bit different back then) so I always had a kindred spirit and support system for my horsey endeavors. My mom was at every one of my horse shows up until I graduated from high school. Yes, Dad came to most of them and dutifully held the video camera and enjoyed the socialization, but he was also the one who put my western hat on my head backwards during a versatility class' English to Western change. But I digress.

This is Mom on Cody, her grade mare which she paid for with baby-sitting money.

This is Mom on Saturday, enjoying the weather in the mid sixties, the sunshine, and the breezes.

Junior was an angel the whole time. I rode him first to get him a little warmed up and collected. Mom hopped on and walked and jogged around. Before I could even suggest it she asked him into a lope and he was such a good boy.

What she said she'd really like to do is go for a ride around the farm. I agree, but I really only have one horse so that wasn't an option for today. My plan is to ask some of my barn friends if they'd be willing to loan me a horse for a ride the next time Mom comes. I'm sure someone would be happy to oblige and that would be great fun!

I had Junior's shoes pulled for the winter on Wednesday and the farrier kept the shoes for me so we can put them back on in the spring. Anybody know if I should do anything with them in the meantime other than keeping them dry so they don't rust?

I have a lesson tomorrow that Mom gets to come watch.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad Tidings Come in Threes...?

Don't worry, Junior is just fine. He's fat and loving his life as a lesson pony. He digs the attention, has stopped cribbing, is playing with his Jolly Ball (I found it full of water the other day...impressive) and seems to be in a lovely mood every time I see him. Today I forgot my boots and had to ride in my Chucks. Did you know western spurs just don't work on Chuck Taylors? I do now! So I rode without spurs during KAT's lesson of newbie college kids so it was good practice for busy warm up pens. He was fine, just had to move my feet around more to get him to respond in his normal manner. He had already had a lesson and turn out so I didn't ride hard, but I did make him do a nice true lope for me. It was 72 degrees and sunny today so we went for a walk outside in the breeze to dry off the humidity induced sweat. He's a little terrified of dry cornstalks in the wind. He was not sure about it when it was green and now that it's brown and very loud in the wind he would have nothing to do with it. I think we'll do some tarp work in the spring when it's windy....

So the Bad Tidings. Max, Junior's BFF is on stall rest for a really bad cut on his coronet band which he received in turnout. He's doing just fine, but it'll be a while before we know if he's going to be 100% afterwards.

Bad news #2 is that our only Arabian in the barn had to be euthanized yesterday due to a compound fracture of her pastern. She was 22 years old. She did that in turnout, too. Both of these accidents happened when my horse (and Zippy, too) were with them. Neither of these injuries are consistent with a kick from another horse, so there's nothing to make me think that my horse is at fault, and he's not aggressive but he will encourage other horses to run and play. Though lately when I've turned Jr. and Max out, Max is the one running around and Junior is calmly eating his grass, so I know I shouldn't feel responsible in any way, but KAT said he, Zippy, and the injured mare were all running together when she saw that something had happened. The Arab was running on three legs. Aside from the tragedy of any sweet, bomb proof horse having to be put down, she had been purchased by a family with a 7 year old and a 4 year old .... just one month ago. This mare was also a lesson horse (the first horse I myself rode at this barn) so there's also the life lesson for all the little lesson girls.

So the third? Not happened yet, or hopefully we have already forgotten the first, and the mare's death is actually the third.... we can hope.

So what is the overanxious horse owner to do? She hugs and kisses her own pony and says a little prayer (to whomever will listen) to keep that silly pony (and yours, too) safe. These are "fragile friendships" and we are nearly guaranteed to outlive all of our 4 legged friends. I think the triumphs outweigh the tragedies, but it's still terrifying to be reminded that accidents can happen at any time. We do our best to protect, but tragedy can always happen.

This is a video I had watched ages ago. This woman's dedication to her horse was inspiring and frightening. Her words "your horse has come in acutely lame from the pasture" still echo in my mind.

Luckily this horse seems to have recovered enough to be a useful mount. If you watch her latest video, though, she hasn't had to best luck either!

Tomorrow will hopefully be nice enough to turn Junior out long enough for me to really get his stall cleaned. It's kinda nasty after being ignored by me for two weeks..... I can SOOO tell the difference when I get all the wet out on Saturdays and when I do not. I took two tubs out tonight so there will be a few less tomorrow. Oh the joys of horse ownership. No really, it IS a joy. I am constantly grateful that I get to be a horse owner.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day at the QH Congress

When I decided to take the job in Columbus, Ohio and move far away from my life in Minnesota, one of the silver linings to that black cloud was the realization that QH Congress and Rod's Western Palace were IN Columbus, and Schnieder's Tack was just up by Cleveland. Ohio has proven to be packed with horses and packed with very high quality Quarter Horses. Even the small open shows I go to have Congress quality teams. Boarding is expensive here compared to back home and horse property? EX. PEN. SIVE. But I'm lucky enough to get to enjoy a trip to Congress each year, and that's one of the small things that keeps me satisfied with living in Ohio.

Today two of my college students and I spent about 9 hours at the Congress. We started off by shopping, of course. There are TONS of vendors. I refrained from any outlandish purchases, but I did manage to find some new show gloves, a big Jolly Ball for only $10, and some new work reins. I went back and forth about reins, almost buying some from Rods but decided to check some other places and ended up with a $20 pair of brass snap-ends from Dee's. They were the cheapest I found and I almost didn't get them because they were 7' I thought my show reins were 9'. Luckily my show reins are only 7' so it's a good thing I didn't get the 9' as I can barely maneuver the 7'! Having the same style of work rein should help me be more comfy with the show reins.

While we were shopping I stopped by the model horse booth and a nice older gentleman introduced himself as Peter Stone. Yes, Mr. Peter Stone himself, there to sign models. Though I like his sculpts a lot, I have stopped spending money on model horses when there's a real one who needs shoes! Mr. Stone was incredibly nice and we talked mostly about how he's gone back to school at Notre Dame for a PhD in Peace Studies and Theology (or something like that!) and how he's actually in the middle of mid-terms right now! He also gave me a pamphlet about their "Design a Horse" when I told him his new foundation Quarter Horse would look just like my Junior if he had the spots.

I also ate a huge plate of "ribbon fries" and a Stromboli, but not at the same time, of course!

We watched lots of Pole Bending and Barrels and all the splits of the Amateur Select Horsemanship. We didn't stay to watch the finals because we felt like we had seen all the outfits already and were a little blinded by the crystals. Some of those ladies were so sparkly they looked like they were covered in those old "twinkle" Christmas lights! I kept thinking that if the point was to sparkle that much putting battery powered LED lights in the blouses wouldn't be so off base! Poles was Novice Youth so the kids were lucky if they got a clean go-round, but the Barrels were really great times so it was exciting to watch, but it was chilly in the Colosseum.

My iPhone was super helpful. I was able to find out when the HMS was starting in the other arena by checking the live video feed. When we were watching the Horsemanship we were debating on who was doing this one part correctly and I was able to go onto to see the actual pattern they were doing.

Then we all became exhausted and I didn't realize until I got home that my feet were freezing! Dry fuzzy socks and being wrapped in a blanket has not broken the chill yet.

I saw a lot of ugly tack, some I drooled over, some show clothes I thought should be banned, and some I recorded into my memory for use in later designs. The funniest thing we saw all day was an advertisement all over the Colosseum. Not only did they get their own phone # wrong and had to fix it, there is a lovely spelling error that makes them look like professionals! I photographed it for your viewing pleasure. I have blackened out the # to protect the stupid.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My training question was answered on Mugwump Chronicles!

For those of you who don't read Muwump's blog, here's a link: Mugwump Chronicles. Today she answered a question I emailed her in mid August about Junior and his mouthiness. I really like what she had to say. As I think I've mentioned on here, he's doing better with the mouthiness and the ADHD, but on days when he doesn't get out due to weather/no lessons, he goes back to the behavior. So we'll continue to work on it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BooBoo Progress

I've got a busy week at work ahead of me, but thought I'd quickly update with Junior's leg. He's fine. The swelling was nearly all the way gone when he came in from turnout, he had a lesson at 3pm, then when I arrived at 7:30 he was a little puffy again but better than Sunday. The scrape itself looks quite healthy. He wasn't tender anywhere and I could push on the scrape and the swelling and he didn't register any discomfort. He rode really well and KAT was happy to see how well he was moving. He's really improving every day now that I'm better at being consistent with him. After our ride his swelling went back down again. I'm not planning (because of busy week) to go out again until Friday so I asked KAT to keep an eye on him and if I need to come out to call me. He'll be turned out when the weather is decent and he's loving his lessons. He's a barn favorite among the college kids and the experienced show kids alike.

So worry is over. We'll continue to monitor, of course, but it doesn't seem like any more than a hard scrape that's continuing to heal. Thankfully it's improving.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boo Boo.

These are the days when I wish I had either: A) A vet's knowledge of Equine injuries/illnes OR B) Enough money to burn that calling the vet out just to have him say "Um, yeah, your horse is fine, that'll be $100" will not mean I don't get to eat for two weeks.

I'm sure he's fine, but I wouldn't be the Overanxious Horse Owner if I didn't freak out about everything. So here I am freaking out because on Saturday when I brought him in from an hour of turn out I noticed a big black spot on his left hind cannon area, right over the suspensory ligament and the flexor tendon, or at least right about where #46 is pointing to.

Big Black Spot was between the size of a dime and a nickel. Upon further inspection Big Black Spot was a scab. Too old of a scab to have happened during the hour of turnout.... there's nothing sharp (that I know of) in his stall....Oh yeah, I had to re-mount 1/2 way through my Friday night ride because my iphone launched itself off my belt and after I remounted he tripped over the mounting block, flipping it over. He's very graceful, don't you know? I think he must of scraped himself pretty good and I feel like a terrible person for not noticing until the next day. In my defense it was very dark out and the lighting in the barn is not stellar, plus he didn't seem to ride any differently and it didn't bleed much, just in the area of the scrape. Still, I should have noticed it. He's got white legs after all!

Anyway, back to Saturday. He didn't seem lame at all. He didn't freak out when I touched it but he did try to take his leg away. He didn't seem to be in pain when I picked up all his hooves and made him put weight on the hurt one. BUT, there was a little swelling and warmth below it so I opted not to ride, just to let him rest it and I put some wound salve on it.

Well, today the swelling was worse and most of the outside of his cannon all the way down to his fetlock (#26) was warm and swollen enough that the tendons were not visible. I washed the wound with warm water and put some more salve on it. He still didn't seem to be ouchy to walk, but the worse swelling makes me nervous so KAT will look at him tonight after she gets back from the show. I gave him a little anti-inflammatory to help.

Again, he doesn't seem to be painful, but this is more swelling that I've seen on him before and I've not yet experienced swelling/heat getting worse rather than better.

On a lighter/better note, no one (knock on wood) has heard any cribbing since the feed tub was removed so hopefully that'll continue!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Toy - with Update

Enjoy a moment of Junior's new toy, a rope bone/giant tennis ball combination. He took to it right away, smacking himself on the face with the ball a few times, even going to investigate it after I tossed it back into his stall. We'll see how long he stays this interested....

UPDATE - I went to ride tonight and didn't see his toy anywhere on the floor of his stall. Then I found it.... it his water bucket. I took it out and he came right over and took it away from me and put it back in his bucket. While I had him tied to groom/tack I pulled it out and set it on the ledge. After the ride when I untacked him he grabbed the rope again and put it back in his bucket.... oooooookaaaaaaaay. So I guess he still likes it. Puppypony.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bored This Month?

First, about Junior; had a nice ride yesterday. I could tell I hadn't ridden since Wednesday and that I have been riding a lot fewer times per week than I had been doing over the summer. I didn't ride that long and I only did 5 muck tubs up into the honey wagon and hauled 8 buckets but my back is rather tender today.

I discussed the Boy's nasty little cirbbing habit with KAT and she reported that she hears him crib more often now. So even with near daily turn out, near daily riding, and SmartCalm (not that I think it'll help with that but you'd think a calmer horse would crib less but what do I know) he's cribbing MORE than before. We've tried the McNasty but since he cribs on a plastic (non-porous) thing the McNasty doesn't last long. I know collars work, but I am hesitant to use one for a few reasons. First, because my old lesson buddy, Rip, wore a miracle collar and he had white haired scars where the straps were. I don't want that. Second, with Junior in the lesson program, there is a possibility that the collar could be put on too tightly or incorrectly and that could be painful for Junior. I know KAT will check him each evening after lessons, but it considering how many halters I've seen put on upside down/backwards, you-name-it, I would rather not expose him to that if it's not necessary.

So what's my next step? Following advice from one of my readers, we are removing his mounted feed tub, which is, so far, the only thing we've seen him crib on and using a ground tub for feeding. The ground tub is purchased and is sitting outside of the stall waiting for the old corner mount to be removed. If he starts cribbing on his buckets or on the walls or something else we'll move on to a collar...with fleece covers and with the correct holes marked so if anyone puts it on besides me they will know how tight to make it. I will periodically check the fit, of course, and adjust the markings as necessary. That's the plan, anyway.

SOOOO, if you are bored at any time before the 25th, you could entertain yourself by watching live feed from the All American Quarter Horse Congress right here in Columbus, OH. I will be spending the day there on Saturday the 24th, shopping and watching some classes. If you've never been there it's pretty incredible. The show is absolutely HUGE. Rod's Western Palace has a sales tent there that is actually bigger than their store and I think the same might be true for Schneiders. Last night I was watching the HUS Maturity rounds and was reminded why I hate AQHA HUS. Yes, I realize it's the style I'm attempting to emulate, but MY horse doesn't carry his nose at his knees, act like he's a robot and have an illegally altered tail. I think it's still an AQHA rule to disqualify horses who carry their ears below their withers for more than 5 strides (or something like that) and nearly every horse I saw should've been disqualified. Yuck.

But anyway, there are two streams so when the HUS creeps you out you can watch the jumping or barrels or whatever interests you. This link takes you to the Home page, the links for the feeds are on the right side and the schedule is on the left so you can see what's in the rings.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's All Relative.

Tonight I just did a quick ride. He was good all around. I was riding during a jumping lesson (just the 1/2 that they were on the flat) and I was pleased to realize that while we were loping we were not catching up to the trotting horses. Well, we caught up to a 14.2 horse eventually, but for the most part we were staying in speed with them all. When I ride alone, especially, I have a hard time feeling if we're loping slowly enough. I really don't like to go "fast" anymore at all so everything over a collected canter feels like the Derby to me. (Wuss, I know.) I got a comment on my last show video complimenting my ability to collect Junior into a lope. I also thought while watching my videos that I could (and probably should) let him stride out during the English classes at the canter and that my lope did look pretty decent. It's nice to be around other horses and NOT catch up to them to remind me that we're not going as fast as I think we are! I'm going to keep working on slowing him. I don't make him go slow all the time. His canter is much smoother than it used to be and he never really rushes or anything anymore so I usually let him canter a few laps before I start to ask him down. I'm going to try to translate our success at jog-posting trot-jog into lope-canter-lope next. We'll see how that goes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Junior becomes a Guinea Pig

One of my student-friends (Equine Science major, President of the college club I ride with, 2 time Intern at the Gluck Center), we'll call her TJ, is using Junior as her subject for a Rations project in her Equine Nutrition course, taught by my friend, Dr. Vet. In a nutshell, the students gather information about the horse and it's food stuffs and work out the ideal feeding plan. I AM SO LUCKY to have this done at no cost. So far, TJ and I have gathered pasture samples, cored bales of hay with a nifty tool that takes a tube shaped sample out of the middle of a bale of hay, took grain samples, and yesterday she weight taped him and felt him all over to do a body score. His weight (tape weight made more accurate by Dr. Vet) is 1150lbs and TJ scored him at a 7 (dear god) and KAT said she would say a low 6. This is TJ's first time scoring, but she had to make a call based on what she has learned already.

The weird part is that the BO is nervous that if our feed stuffs are lacking that I will run screaming through the barn telling all the boarders that their horses are being starved or something. Though I think we ALL have a right to know what our horses are being fed nutritionally, I will not be very loud about the outcome. Most all of the folks in the barn who know anything about equine nutrition feed their own feeds already anyway, which is probably a clue that the barn feed is crap, but we'll just have to see. I'll be able to compare the analysis of the grain to the feed tag and see if the tag is accurate. I've already told Max's Mom that I'll be sharing the info with her (she already feeds her own grain) but I won't go spreading it around. If the analysis is REALLY bad I might share the info with the BO, but knowing what I know about them and how they treat complainers, it'll be a, just-so-you-know offer, not a "YOU NEED TO FEED BETTER" demand. Pick your battles. In order to stay with KAT, I have to stay at this barn. Period.

So what if the analysis IS really bad? Well, the project should give TJ a plan for how to counter-act any deficiencies in his feeding and I'll have to decide what to do with it. If it means buying my own grain, then I'll buy my own grain. If it means another supplement, then I'll feed another supplement. I don't know the first thing about procuring Hay so I hope I don't have to deal with that, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So I'll be updating you with whatever info I get from TJ and her Rations Project.

Had a nice lesson last night. He was very good and he surprised me when KAT asked for an extended jog on one long wall and he was super easy to extend and super easy to bring back down. He kept his frame perfectly on the way up, but did pick up his head on the way back down. I could use very subtle cues and I wasn't expecting it to be so, but I guess beginning most of our rides with a jog to posting trot and back down again have made this smaller transition better, too. Neat!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hump-Day Hoot

Still battling the fungus. It's not spreading anymore and some areas are clearing up while others seem to have more plentiful bumps. Gave a good dousing of listerine tonight. Still trying to use only one brush on the areas affected

This is OT, but I came across it while looking for something totally different, so it's your Hump-Day Hoot! Reminds me of Junior a little....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bit of Video

I know I promised (myself) not to take the time to do this, but here's one of the more interesting moments of last weekend's show. Totally unedited. I had my "show mom" take small clips to make it easier to upload and this is just one of those. This is the last few minutes of the Horsemanship class that I got 2nd in. This is the footage of our 2nd lope where he broke down to a trot without enough warning for me to prevent it (usually if he's going to break I can feel it but I was probably thinking about one of the many other things one thinks about in a class, most likely the position of my off hand) so I had to correct it, which he wasn't great about. But it's right after that you can see two other horses having issues and the judge was looking at them. I don't know what happened, I just got his lope back, looked up and saw a mess in the corner and steered around it.

I left the sound on, sorry about the windy audio. You can hear KAT's coaching, too. Obviously we still have work to do, but you can see a few moments of good stuff. I do think the smartcalm is helping.

I washed his fungus areas yesterday with Aloedine and will do it again today after a ride. Yesterday we needed to have a strong conversation about standing still for hosing. He's not great about hosing off, unless he's super hot, then he'll stand like he enjoys it, but usually we have a bit of dancing to get the job done, especially if I need to spray his rump. We don't have a tie post option. Yesterday just ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back I took him back into the barn, put a chain over his nose and reminded him that he is not in charge. It was a simple issue of respect and it's a conversation we needed to have a while ago. Once he stood perfectly still at the end of the lead while I hosed all around him, including his tail and up between his rear legs, I stopped the hose and petted him and scraped him off, then let him eat his hay while I cleaned his stall and kept him from rolling until his was mostly dry and had clean bedding. He continues to test me and I just hope I'm passing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fungus Among Us

Last evening I went out to the barn for the season kick-off pizza party for the club I take lessons with. I put the boy out in the mud lot while we ate since he hadn't been out that day. It was sprinkling a little but he didn't seem to mind. I brought him in to groom and tack up and when I was brushing him and got to his back legs I could feel small bumps all over his gaskins and a little on his underbelly. They were NOT there on Wednesday. Being the overanxious one that I am I panicked momentarily and asked KAT to look at him. I thought maybe it was bug bites since he probably hadn't been fly sprayed since his bath before the show last weekend. KAT felt it and pronounced it a very slight case of fungus. Yummy. We discussed treatment options and my best barn mate handed me some betadine scrub. I didn't do it last night, mostly because I didn't have a disposable sponge with me or any towels and didn't want him to get a chill sitting damp all night. I brought all his brushes home and washed and bleached them. Since the area is isolated to the legs KAT said I don't have to worry about his pads right now.

Of course today it's raining today so my hopes of washing his fungus off and letting him enjoy some turn-out while he dries is not going to happen, but I don't want to wait until tomorrow to get it scrubbed.

I would really like to procrastinate work even more by editing the video from the show, but I am forcing myself not to do that. I have a conference presentation a week from today and another work project I'm a bit behind on, so I need to do those things before I can crack open the imovie....probably in November. *Sigh*

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Show #3 - The Last Show of 2009

Not much is fun about waking up before the butt-crack of dawn, but sometimes it's worth it.

I woke up at 3:30am. (I also woke up at 11:30pm and panicked that it was 11:30am and I had overslept, then realized it was dark outside and went back to sleep.) I had my alarm set for 4:30 but decided to go ahead and get up at 4am anyway. We had the 6 horses loaded and were on our way at 6:30am. I tried to nap in the truck but just rested mostly. I was my usual nervous/nauseous/antsy/tired/yawning self, Junior was pretty awesome. He loaded like a pro, unloaded like a pro, lunged pretty well, but spooked when he realized we were next to a hill and there were things (people/horses/cars) MOVING on that hill. But he calmed right down. Show started at nine but we were not on until class 12 so he rested with some hay and kept us all entertained by his silliness. He LOVED the 1/2 doors on the stalls and his face was over/under the door at all times begging and nodding and being Junior. I brought along my awesome horsey friend, Jessica and she played "show mom" and photographer/videographer, so the photos are all hers and I'll put up some video when I have time to edit something.

He was very calm all day, even with the big show crowd and he was awesome in the VERY tiny and VERY busy warm-up area. I cannot fathom what he would have been like in May in that kind of situation! Horses going every which way, not all of whom had riders who were defensive drivers, kids on frighteningly un-controlled horses, you name it. After the jumping KAT was yelling to us about how disgusted she was with the scoring of the jumping classes: "If I had been judging I would have brought all those kids back in the ring and told them they ALL needed to go back to walk/trot and find new trainers!"

I was very pleased that when we lunged (he did one spook during the lunge when he realized there were people ON that hill next to us but forgot it immediately) there were hardly any people/trailers/horses around, but when we came out for our classes it was a zoo and he didn't seem to mind at all. Smartcalm? Mileage? He was not as polished looking as he has been at home, but I could see lots of improvement over the last show so I am happy we are making progress. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all.

He's funny about Max, though. He's not buddy sour, just buddy concerned. He wants to know where Max is, is visibly irritated when Max leaves him, but doesn't freak out or anything. Between my 2 English classes I kept bringing him to Max at the side of the warm-up and they'd nuzzle and then I'd take Junior back in and he'd be just fine. Happy to have a little Max-time, but just fine regardless.

Our first class was English Pleasure and we did not place, but I was not disappointed. There were some nice horses there and the judge seemed to like the bloodhounds. English Equitation was next. I spent the time between classes in the warm up trying to get him to frame more and it worked somewhat. I was surprised watching the video how slow we canter but we seemed normal in comparison to the rest of the class. Coming down from the 2nd canter to trot I lost my outside stirrup but watching the video it was actually hard to tell. Much to my surprise and delight we got 2nd out of 8! It had started to rain lightly during my classes so as soon as we were done we headed to the barn to rest and get ready for Western. It rained all during the break, but miraculously cleared long enough to do my western classes.

We did not place in Western Pleasure, again, I was not disappointed nor surprised. Just like the English, he did essentially everything I asked, but wasn't consistent in his frame (he LOVES looking around) and we got into a little traffic jam at the lope and he threw a little hoppy-buck-thing. Not pretty. In Horsemanship he was better but threw in an un-asked for flying lead change and then wouldn't switch back until about three tries. Luckily the judge was distracted by two other horses getting into a train wreck in the other corner and must not have seen anything but me loping past said train wreck as if nothing happened. I'm sure due to a combination of the aforementioned train wreck and subsequent obliviousness to my lead issues we were awarded 2nd place again! I guess he liked my riding much better than he liked WHAT I was riding. I had signed up for the Western walk-trot class but scratched it. There were too many horses and he wasn't jogging up to snuff so we decided to end on a good note.

We received several comments from strangers on what a gorgeous horse I have and I accepted them graciously and with a smile. I can't help it, I think he's beautiful, too and I am very proud to show him off!

You may notice that Junior's tail miraculously grew fuller....yes, I did it, I bought a fake tail. I feel like a hypocrite because I am morally opposed to taking the tail off of a dead (slaughtered) horse because you are too lazy to put the hard work into making your own horse's tail fuller. So I'm trying to convince myself I'm honoring the deceased animal(s) by using their otherwise forgotten parts. It's the same way I look at vintage furs: if it had lived a natural life it would be dead and forgotten, but preserved in a coat it will be cherished forever.... or something like that. Anyway, I figured since I managed somehow to find a freakishly exact match of his tail at Rod's (labeled as Dark Sorrel Mix...) when I stopped there on Saturday to get rain gear (which they sadly do not carry), that it was somehow meant to be. He holds his tail out a little too far so it doesn't look as nice as some other horses, but at least he looks like we're serious about showing. Maybe next time we'll tie it in a little lower.

I am much relieved that the shows are done for us for this year. We'll have a whole 'nother year under our girth for next year's shows and I am much more confident now that he will continue to get better and better. I was so upset after the June show that I was very nervous about a repeat performance this time. I am very glad to say I feel very differently now and I love my silly pony even more now. He just seemed "mine" at this show. He looked to me for instructions and he tried very hard to please me.

Oh, and this was weird: There was a horse I almost bought before I settled on Junior. By "almost" I mean I kind of fell in love with him and sent a deposit, but decided to have my vet friend (actual DVM, but is now teaching college instead of practicing refularly) come with me to see him a 2nd time before getting an official vet exam, just to see if she saw any red flags. I also took her to see another paint I looked at and she was very helpful in pointing out conformation flaws my inexperienced self didn't really notice. Anyway, back to "Flash", He was 15, sorrel, adorable. A little small, only 15 flat, and he had suspicious front legs, over at the knee with long toe/short heel. My vet friend informed me, once we were back in the car that he was lame. Not extremely, but enough to give a big red flag. She talked me through what it could all mean and I decided that for a 15 year old horse with terrible front legs, I didn't really want to settle on him when it could mean all kinds of vet bills down the road, or at least an expensive pre-purchase exam simply to conclude what I had already figured out. So I didn't buy him, obviously. He was at the show yesterday. I heard his name called in one of the English classes and about jumped out of my skin trying to see where he was. Instead of the adorable glowing red gelding I met, I saw a skinny, bloomless, weepy eyed, sad little horse who paddled as he jogged on his crooked front legs. My heart broke (as would the heart of the sweet and caring woman and her daughter who owned him before) for him, wondering what on earth had become of him, but at the same time I hugged my beautiful silly pony and thanked the fates for putting us together. I knew when I saw his picture he would be mine, but for some reason yesterday he really became mine.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Go away, come again.... NOT on show day.

It sure isn't any fun to watch the weather prediction for show day go from 77 degrees and party cloudy to 79 degrees and 60% chance of rain.... outdoor arena. Urgh. I got myself up at 6:30ish this morning to help adjust my clock for the 4:30am alarm tomorrow morning. And being the Overanxious one that I am, I've been searching EquusNow and Rods (since I'm lucky enough to have both of them right in town) for rain gear. I can't seem to locate my western hat cover even though I know I had one at one time. NO idea where else to look. Found the English one which doesn't help since my show helmet isn't velvet. I suppose if all else fails I'll just wear my schooling helmet with the black rain cover on it. Not very pretty, but serviceable and safer than my show hats anyway. You know the rain gear I speak of, it's this stuff. So I'm going to call Rods soon (they don't open the store 'till 10am) and see if they have them but I'm not searching correctly. I care less for my personal comfort than for the protection of my show clothing. Particularly my hunt coat since it's a rather nice RJ Diamond (on sale, don't worry) and my western hat. It wasn't an expensive hat and it's something like 15 years old so it's not like it's a precious thing, but a 3.95 hat cover is better than a new hat. I guess that's one of those things you don't think about until you need it and it's too late. Guess what's going on my shopping list for Congress!!

Allright. I'm awake enough now to consider getting dressed and heading out. Agenda for today: turnout while I do a good clean of his stall, move my stuff from my car to the trailer, good long ride that is hopefully peaceful and cooperative, good full bath with show-clean on his socks, re-clip his clean legs (did a rough clip last night) then he gets blanketed/hooded until KAT comes back from the IEA show today to clip and band him. Then it's off to bed early tonight because 4:30am is not my friend. Neither is rain on a show day. Just my luck.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Q and Pre-show ramblings.

Does anybody know how to search for blogs? Does Blogspot have a search somewhere? Whenever I try to explore other blogs by hitting "next blog" I end up with something in a foreign language. Not that I'm not "global" and all, but I can't really read anything but English and 2nd year high school Spanish, so it's not so much fun.

Anywhoo. Rode just a little on Tuesday. KAT rode him that day and then he had a lesson with one of the barn girls who said she liked him. I just rode for 2o minutes or so. He didn't want to slow down at the lope to real WP but he had just had an English lesson so if I got to canter at my own speed for an hour's lesson I would probably not feel like loping either. I worked at him until he slowed down when I asked him to, let him lope a lap on a loose rein to remind him it's easier to just listen and do it. Then I just jogged and walked, working on my horsemanship position. I think that EXTREME lean-back is ricockulous, but I've seen from my show photos that I am still leaning forward too much, so we've been working on that. It is sad that the bigger named trainers have the fugliest equitation and their horses look quite unnatural. Sometimes I feel like I have to defend myself because I like riding Western Pleasure, because I can see the yuck that happens at big shows. I remember watching an English Pleasure class at the MN State Fair one year and there was a lovely Paint in the ring who moved like a hunter and passed every horse in the ring. She was a relaxed looking natural frame. She didn't place. I nearly passed out. That was the first time I really noticed that it wasn't just MY hunter-type arabs being ignored by the judges in favor of the framed-up QH's that didn't even EXTEND a trot when it was called OR HAND GALLOP when it was called. I've got that class on video. For shame. I will NOT have a 4-beat lope, and I will NOT ride a bloodhound. But I WILL ask him to round up his back, relax his topline and keep his hocks underneath him and his weight balanced so we can roll back at any moment. Slow is good, but smooth is better.

Last night I polished boots, ironed my show shirt, and started packing for the show. It's a one day so I don't have the luxury of coming home again the night before the actual show to grab whatever it is I forgot the day before. Of all the "stuff" I've bought to go with my little show hobby, I think my best investment (aside from training/lessons, of course) is my tack bags. I bought them at and though I wouldn't buy much else from them, I LOVE my bags. I got the English Set, the Western Saddle carrier, and one of those hanging bags with the tack hooks inside them. They all match and I can easily tell which ones are mine in the tack room at a show and they fit all of my stuff, except for my Western hat which I will have a plastic case for next year, right now it's in a huge cardboard hat box the nice hat-shaper at Rods gave me when he turned my Arab roll into a QH crease...bless him.

I have a private lesson today with KAT, then ride and bathe and pack the trailer on Friday and Saturday. I also need to finish my lectures for Monday and Tuesday since I will be exhausted on Sunday after the show and will be in no condition to create power points. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody Puts Swayze in a Corner

I just wanted to express my sympathies to the family and friends of Patrick Swayze. I always admired his horsemanship and love of Arabian horses. Of course, I cannot ignore his role in Dirty Dancing, the film that kindled my love of the music of that era and made me pine for romance.

Thank you, Mr. Swayze, for giving us the time of our lives. Rest well.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Weekend of Summer

My own riding life has been pretty uneventful this week, and for that I am grateful, but it doesn't give me much to write about, or for you to read. :( So I apologize if I simply ramble.

Junior has been showing small but steady improvement with his whoa, and I even did a jog to halt without using my reins, so that was pretty cool. I have not put a spur-stop on him and I don't really want to. I'd rather be able to halt using my body weight and a light rein. Right now I am using the verbal "whoa" because I'm also working on "whoa" and "stand" on the ground so I'm hoping it all starts to make sense to him. I asked KAT if an audible "whoa" would kill me in an equitation pattern and she said no, but I didn't ask for clarification, i.e. "no" meaning it won't kill you but it will count against you or "no" meaning the judges won't care. There are no patterns for Eq. and HMS at the next show, which, BTW is a week from today. I put the English bit I used at the last show on my bridle for Thursday's lesson and he did REALLY well with it. He hasn't been bad with the regular snaffle but he is SUPER good with his Myler ported Dee. I didn't fare as well because I moved on Wednesday to a 2nd floor apartment and my hamstrings and calves were already on fire before the lesson and when KAT called for 2-point and then posting with stirrups dropped I had to laugh because I could NOT do it. I can post without stirrups (sort of) on a normal day, but there was just zero strength in those quads.

School starts tomorrow and I teach and have meetings until about 10:00 pm and class every day and a few more meetings. KAT is going to put a few training rides on him during the week and I have a private lesson on Thursday so she can walk me through what she does this week. Then Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday I can do some good rides, bathe, clip, and get ready for the show on Sunday.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Five Hundred Twenty Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes. do you measure, measure a year?

Tomorrow is our 1 year anniversary. Of course I have to work all day tomorrow so we sort of celebrated today. We didn't do much, I just let him and Max out into the field, cleaned his stall, rinsed his buckets, puttered around with my stall front, finally put a piece of adhesive behind his stall plate so it'll stop sliding out. I had planned to ride, but I thought he'd enjoy his day a lot more if he just got to relax. I made him run around a little in the field, trying to coerce him into running with the 2-year-old filly in the next field. He did a little, enough to stretch his legs and enjoy the chance outside. It's supposed to be rainy all week so he may not get much turnout and I can't go out again until our lesson on Thursday. He'll probably be in lessons, though so not to worry.

I don't want to jinx it, but I think I can already see a little bit of the SmartCalm working. It's hard to explain what's different, but I guess he seems more able to focus on me. He's been very good. Today we worked on STAND and BACKUP on the ground and he was getting it.

"Getting it" seems to be where we've gotten to after this first year. When I think back to what we were like and then compare it to where I think we are now, I have to feel a bit proud. Certainly he'd be further along if I wasn't an amateur learning along with him, but I think I made a good choice with him. He tests me constantly and keeps me on my toes, but I can definitely see progress. Not sure if I'll get a chance for video until the next show, but I'd really like you to see how he is compared to the video from last November. And that footage from November was the few "good" moments of that 30 minute lesson!

So what HAVE we learned in a year? Keep in mind he was totally broke when I got him, just had not really been asked to be a show horse, to use his body elegantly and to take cues with refinement. He was also tough to lope, both tough to take the cue and tough to keep from tangling his legs up or dropping shoulders all over the place. We've learned to jog, pivots on the haunches, backing on the ground, ground tying (kind of), frame (or self carriage), we can lope off from any gait and we rarely take a wrong lead. We can do simple lead changes and even a respectable flying change every once in while (I don't school that much), we've survived two shows, didn't get last place in all of the classes ;), we've had our sheath cleaned, we will stand untied for clipping, even the ears, and we have totally turned around any trailering issues he had. He was only tough getting onto the trailer the first show and all three loadings since then have been easy. Personally I think that's not too shabby for a nine-year-old horse and a novice am. owner. More and more I see him "getting it" with different things. I feel like my increased strength and balance I'm able to be more consistent with him and I know that helps.

How has my life changed? I am certainly "horse broke". Don't worry, I pay all my bills and stuff, but I have to be really careful with my money, and constantly make choices. It's funny, though, I hardly bat an eye when I have to spend money on Junior, but I haven't bought myself more than half a dozen new clothing items (non horse-riding) in the last year, which is pretty sad! I have actually kept ALL of my receipts from horse stuff. It makes me want to throw up a little! But there are only a few things we still need, like a hat case and maybe a new helmet. I still drool over catalogs, though and am trying to choose colors for next year's show outfit. I'm going to design-scout at Quarter Horse Congress in October.

All in all, I am very pleased that I bought my pony. We've had a good time, learned a lot, and I hope that luck continues.

Here's a fun picture I did. The text is a reference to the book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. In the books, the Mist is what keeps mortals from seeing the half-gods and mythical creatures that continue to exist, including Cyclops, centaurs, and of course, pegasi.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Week 51.

We started Jr on SmartCalm yesterday. If it works KAT thinks we will start to see results in only a week or two. That would be SOOO cool, but I know there's a chance it won't work at all. There are three other horses in the barn on it and KAT said it has worked for them.

Last night's lesson was fine but a bit chaotic. He had his worming done so he was stuck in his stall all day and I could tell he had some energy to burn so we warmed up with some extended trot and a little canter (because he wanted to) while the rest of the class was mounting up. I've been playing musical lesson times this summer. When my college lessons are going on I'm in those and I really like them. They're all western and all the riders are around the intermediate to advanced level. Most of the intermediate/advanced riders at the barn (those of us who show) are primarily English so most of the Western lessons are more beginner oriented. (I'm back to being the only one who shows western.) I did some Thursday mixed lessons this summer but now they are all English riders since my one western buddy has switched to English so she can show IEA. KAT said she felt like I was missing out while she was having them do more "english' things and moved me to an all western lesson. Last week there were only two of us and it was nice and we got to work on some patterns. Last night it was ridiculous. Only three of us could w/t/c, the other three seemed to be beginner beginners, one on her first lesson so I got very little instruction and spent more time navigating traffic. One thing I'm pretty good at is navigating lesson traffic, but I had to stop twice because there was so much veering going on by the other horses that I got stuck. I have only one more at that time and I might try to swap it for a private since it's the week before to the show. I'm doing an English lesson next week. Last night was also weird because there was the new reiner practicing in the arena and when she hit the gas to get him into a sliding stop Junior went a little batshit. It took me a rough 1/4 of a lap to get him to come back to me. Then he was constantly looking over at the reiner. When he did his second sliding stop he set off one of the kids (boarder, not a lesson kid) horses. Then at one point we were loping and he forgot what he was doing and looked over at the reiner and while I was trying to intercept his ADD he stumbled and I heard the same boarder's horse go nuts behind us. Kid was fine, of course, she's far too brave. I apologized to her but she just laughed and said it was like a roller coaster! Oh if I only had 1/2 of that kid's nerve!

When I compare how he rides now compared to how we rode at the beginning of the summer I can see a huge difference. I can also see a difference in how I manage him. We're still not awesome at the lope. Better at the canter when I don't have to add "slow down" to "stay upright" "pay attention" "stay even" and "go where I point you." He seems (knock on wood) to need less shoulder maintenance so I can work on an even, cadenced stride. The weird stuff he was doing about turning to the right is totally gone.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Completely OT

I was just looking at this website and wanted to share these with you. The website is

I guess we know who rides the big horse in this marriage:

This just made me thankful I didn't think of having my senior pictures with one of my show chickens!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Captain Destructo and the evil villain: McNasty!

We had a pretty good lesson tonight. He seemed really relaxed in the stall and was really good through the lesson. KAT was highly complimentary on his jog and he was really good about the lope. We worked on slowing him down but maintaining the impulsion from behind. There were only two of us in the lesson so it was a short one, but we ended by doing a pattern (jog, halt, pivot, lope R lead, halt pivot, lope L lead, halt, back) and KAT was surprised at how much he's improved on his pattern work. During my rides this past week I've been working on halting, pivoting, and then trotting or loping off, trying to keep his weight off his front end by showing him it's easier to halt if he does so. I've already really seen an improvement in his frame and his quick halts. His pivots are much improved, too. He still wants to move his back feet too much when pivoting to the right but still showing improvement. He still dances around, anticipating the next move, so I wait until he's still before I ask. Luckily the last show we're going to this season has only rail work for Equitation and Horsemanship but his halts on the rail will still be improved. KAT also said we might want to do the "balanced rider" class which is with a saddle but no stirrups. I was kind of excited that she thought I could do that! I do work without stirrups occasionally and feel pretty confident that way.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but sometimes I catch him cribbing on his feed tub. KAT said she's heard it a few times too. He puts his teeth on the back corner of his feed tub when he does it. Last week he finally got his old feed tub off the wall. He'd been working on that for a while, both pulling on it with his teeth and banging up underneath it with his knees. The barn replaced it with a new tub this week but they used the same beat-up holes in the concrete block so it's already coming loose. He broke his Stall Snack a few weeks ago, too. I think he pulled on it hard enough to break the hole in the top of the little green stick so the rest of his Himalayan salt probably got scooped up with the manure. He'll get a new one this weekend. I really don't want him cribbing, obviously. First I'm trying a good coating of McNasty on the sides and back corner of his feed tub. I doubt it will prevent him from eating his grain, but that stuff really is nasty! I caught a bit of it when I was spraying it and my eyes watered and I can STILL feel it in my throat a little! I guess I should've stood further back! He put his mouth on the tub after I sprayed it and he didn't crib, but lifted his head up and curled his lip back a few times then went to get a drink. I didn't hear him do it again before I left the barn. I know there are other options, Quitt, Miracle Collar, etc., but I'd like to start with simple solutions and see if they work...

I think I'm going to put him on SmartCalm which has Magnesium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Inositol (a relative of the B vitamins) and Taurine. There are a few horses in the barn who are on it and KAT said she has noticed results in them. I was reading the testimonials and people respond that it works well for "ADD" horses and I definitely have one of those! Any thoughts?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My English lesson went pretty well on Thursday. The outdoor was too we so we had to ride in the indoor and it was like a sauna in there. I hadn't eaten much for dinner so it was a hard lesson. There was a point I slowed down to a jog because I thought I might pass out! I rode with the slow-twist snaffle and a training fork. Suddenly at the end of the lesson I figured out how to get him to lift his shoulders and drop at the poll. I decided to keep that going and rode the same way on Friday and Saturday. Saturday I even dropped the training fork and he still did really well. I am strongly leaning towards showing English at the September show, but we'll see.

Today I went out and turned Jr. and Max out in the mud lot since the front fields are still to muddy. Shoe-pulling mud. There was no manure wagon so I didn't clean my stall. Instead I cleaned and bleached my buckets, Max's buckets and Mighty's buckets. Noone else was at the barn and the weather was so nice and cool that I took my chair out of my trunk, set it up next to the field and read my book for a while. (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse) It was a really nice way to spend an hour. Twizzler, one of the barn cats, jumped into my lap so it was even more enjoyable! I really didn't get much reading done as I kept looking up at the horses and Twiz kept demanding I pet her.

Once Max's girls got there we took the boys in and we rode. The kids wanted to ride in the indoor so I rode with them instead of going out to the outdoor alone. It was a decent ride. After three days of letting him canter at a normal speed it was tougher to get him to slow down to a lope. I have a western lesson tomorrow so I should get some time with KAT to help me with that.

The view from my chair: