Friday, February 27, 2009

Ground Tie = Mouth Tie

Remember when I said I should attach a pacifier to Jr.'s halter? Apparently if I just leave the end of the lead rope where he can reach it.......

Ta Da! A Horsifier!

He behaved himself very well while I un-tacked and groomed him. He walked off three times but I simply put him right back to where he's supposed to be.

You can see his mane isn't sticking straight UP anymore, but it is now sticking straight to the side. Once I get a hood it'll all be okay.

If you look really close to this right forearm you can see his wound from when he spooked and ran into the jump standard. It's healing really well and has hair coming in over it all.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Hijinks

He was NOT in a good mood when I got to the barn. Maybe he was pissed because I stood outside his stall ignoring him while I played with the new barn kittie. Maybe it was because it was 55 degrees today and he wore his heavy-weight blanket all day long....which may also explain why he was SHEDDING like mad, but he wasn't sweaty.

I took him out to lunge him and he was an absolute jack ass. I'm talking rude, jerky, disrespectful to the max. Bucking, switching, refusing, snorting, jerking away, coming in too close, backing away, you name it. They had poured new arena surface (mixture of old shavings and sand) and I don't know if he didn't like the way it smelled or what but he was just AWFUL. I was actually worried he wasn't going to calm down. (Remembering some of the horses of my past.) Once the rest of my lesson came in and mounted up he started to slowly quit the crap but I was by far the last one in the saddle. He was sweaty on his neck and ears. He was fine by then and he was fine the whole lesson, but holy cow was he an ass to start!

We did a simple pattern: lope right large circle, lope right smaller slower circle, change leads, lope left large circle, right smaller slower circle, stop. He did quite well, actually. I'm not sure what it is, but he was super slow when KAT was done with him after Christmas, then he sped up again, but this week he's been back to slower. I didn't attempt a flying change as we were instructed to do a simple, but I considered it. Better leave well enough alone, though and work on the basics. One of my club-mates (a very good rider) hadn't been to a lesson (with us, but she rides with the college team) since November and remarked at how different Jr. is. That was very nice to hear. I KNOW it, but it's nice to see that the difference is noticeable to more than just me and KAT. I'm anxious to get another taped ride but I've no one to tape at the moment. Hopefully soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flying Change!


Now of course I didn't just ask him without warning; when he's been loping well and I have lots of room I've been doing figure-8's and simple changes and I did a few simple changes before asking him for a flying one. I didn't know if he'd do it, but he just DID it. It must've been the "perfect storm" of a transition for his weight to be right and his body to be lined up just right to allow him to do it without stumbling. He's been catching himself a bit more and I did just get by board bill and realized it's been almost 3 months since his last trim so he's probably due. This horse has really good feet, but he gets clumsier when he needs a trim. He's been using his body SO much better though that he rarely has a real stumble. They usually happen when he is distracted by something. I tried another flying change a few simple ones later but he wasn't having it. Remember, my worst accident was during a flying change gone wrong, so I am a bit sheepish about doing them.

He was SUCH a good boy tonight. He seemed really stiff when I started to lunge him, his stride was even but looked choppy. He started moving out more and dropping his head so it was probably the chill and the day off yesterday in the stall. He lunged well and only did one sad attempt at turning (during the FIRST direction, which was odd) but he didn't really seem like he meant it. I left him standing while I switched to the bridle and he stood bare headed and watched the two lesson horses working. He stood while I moved the box around him. Tried to step off when I mounted but as soon as I picked up the reins he stopped.

He did protest a little when the two school horses left him, but I pushed him into the bridle and made him go right back to work and he did. He wanted to watch the other horses come in for the next lesson but not too bad. That's when I started loping and doing the figure-8's so he stayed pretty focused and slow too. He's spending much more time with a low neck and I don't have to work so hard to keep him in check. We can walk and jog pretty well one-handed and with a draped rein, but we're not there yet at the lope. It's amazing if you watch my November lesson video how much moving around I'm doing with my hands trying to keep up with how much HE'S changing and fidgeting. Compare that with the January 1 ride, now imagine another 2 months. He has come SO far in 6 months.

We've been working every ride on ground tying and he's doing super well with that too. I had him facing the arena this time and he stood PERFECTLY still like a statue because he was so interested in the horses in the arena. That was the first time I turned him that direction and maybe that's the way to keep him occupied.

I put KAT's Sleazy on Jr to check the fit. He looked so silly I was mad I didn't bring my camera. I'm going to make a black one, but this one was sort of kelly green so he looked a little like a super-hero. It fit okay, I just have to make the nose-band a little smaller. He protested a little while I was putting it over his face but once his eyes and ears were through the holes he was fine. I didn't think I'd want a zipper in mine, but after putting it on I can't imagine NOT having a zipper. I have a bad taste in my mouth for lycra horse-wear in general because I've seen so many ridiculously obnoxious ones. When I had Debon at a show he was surrounded in his stalls by two huge QH's and this mean black horse was wearing lime green body stocking and he just looked so stupid, no wonder his ears were pinned the whole time. I had to move Debon's buckets to the other wall because every time he went to drink the other horse charged the wall (full mesh panels). I will be doing black for every day and white for summer/shows But we'll see if one is enough. I'm waiting for swatches of a high-performance athletic lycra that is supposed to be good with moisture management.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sleazy is fun to say!

I am currently washing a Sleazy hood of KAT's so I can take it to work and use it to develop a pattern for my own. KAT said I could borrow one of hers and when I went to get it I realized it was in need of a good cleaning. So partially to "pay her back" for borrowing it, partially because I think my colleague would flip if I took something that dirty into our shop, and partially because I could smell it in the car, I'm giving it a double run through the washer. Then I'll hang it to dry. She said I could dry it, but I'd feel bad if something happened to it. I didn't try it on him, but I'll do that when I bring it out, just so I can make a note if it doesn't fit him an any location and adjust my pattern as needed.

It was raining and very windy and he was being a jerk in the stall. I took the training bands out and his mane is sort of at about 30 degrees from straight up, so that's a start. The hood will help. He actually reached out and nipped me again so I yelled at him and gave him a decent wallop. He's getting worse about that and I need to make him stop. I think it's more playful than aggressive because it's not accompanied by pinned ears or anything, but it's not a behavior I will accept. Because he'd been off since Wednesday and his attitude wasn't positive I decided to just lunge him

He tried to turn a total of four times, twice he turned really quickly so I had to pull him in until he stopped and I could turn him and twice I was able to stop him right away and send him off the right way without pulling him in. It took him a while to start to listen (both directions) but there was a nice stretch of time that he did EVERYTHING I asked him to do. I had him on a nice big circle (I keep him in closer most of the time because it's easier for me to stop him if he turns), he stayed consistently on the circle, no pulling or moving in and would lope off from walk and jog, and transition all the way from lope to walk. He was really working for me, working off of voice commands to transition up or down and whip movement to transition up. Even when Rip came in with the family that leases him Jr stayed pretty focused and on the circle. I didn't check how long I lunged him, but he was damp behind the ears and between his front legs so it was at least a half hour. It's interesting to watch him when I lunge him because he goes through the same phases as he does during a ride, but I can SEE his body change and become softer. By the time I was ready to quit he was walking a HUGE circle and he was in good frame with a free flowing walk and a really lovely cadence. I guess that's what he looks like when KAT makes such flattering comments about him. He really is a lovely horse. We've got lots and lots of work to do, but we're coming up on our 6 month anniversary and I am VERY happy with him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday lesson

I rode without lunging again, and though he was a little hot and snorty for a good 20 minutes he didn't do anything scary. It was very windy and the arena surface was blowing into us at the far door which neither of us appreciated. Ow my eye.

Because I didn't lunge him it took a while for him to slow down to a real jog. Using a leg-yield towards the rail before asking him to lope off has really been helping. He seems less like a scattered mess at the lope and actually slowed down nicely at one point when my path was obstructed by a jump so I had to get behind a trotting horse to go around it. He doesn't usually "pace" that well behind another horse but that time it worked really well. It does NOT work well when he's behind Paris the little red roan filly. He'll speed up to get to her and then gets all excited when we pass her. She's 14.2 and a LOT slower than my boy. You'd think he'd stay behind her and slow down to enjoy the view, but nope. As soon as he sees her ahead of him he hits the gas. KAT was riding her one day and we were standing and talking and I let Jr get close enough to sniff noses with Paris and she tolerated it for a bit and then squealed and struck out at him with a front hoof..... women.

Not sure if I'll ride tonight. The temp is rather low and it's supposed to snow all day and I have to work a little late tonight and tomorrow. I don't like Friday nights as much as I used to. I like the solitude and the ability to ride with the arena to myself, but I don't like the (though improbable) possibility that if something goes wrong there's no one around to help. I did just finally ask the barn for emergency numbers, though so I can put those in my phone.

I bought a new Mountain Horse Inferno jacket off of and I think it's too big for me. I followed the measurement chart and got a Medium, but I had to cuff the sleeves and it wasn't nearly as fitted as was shown in the pictures. It's not returnable so I went ahead and wore it to try it out. I think it'll be GREAT when it's super cold out, but because it's a bit big I was annoyed by it. I like to wear fairly fitting clothing when i ride. Not super tight stuff. I tend to ride in a few thin layers of thermals and performance fleece and top it with a down vest. If it's too cold for that I've been wearing an older Columbia jacket that is at least a size too big. I'm dissapointed that the jacket is too big because I REALLY like the style and the first time it was on the site I didn't buy it and then wished I had. So when it was offered again I jumped at the chance. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll list it again for even cheaper and I'll get a small. They're on Ebay listed new for at least $100 more than I paid so maybe if I sold it for the same as I paid I'd at least break even. We'll see. It was warm and stylish, but a little too big. The link to the jacket is $50 more than I paid (without shipping) and they're out of smalls, too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Taking him away from freshly thrown hay is never a good way to improve his attitude, but sometimes I just have to. IF the feeders were more consistent with time, this would happen less. Sometimes (like today) he got hay about 2:30. Some days it's 4:00. I know it takes a LONG time to muck hay, grain, and water that many horses, so it doesn't really upset me. I would like to think that varying the routine a little helps him not be overly timing oriented, but maybe it's actually worse to vary it. When I was feeding 30 horses I was informed very clearly when I was behind schedule. You want to see 30 pissed off ponies? Sleep in for an hour and walk slowly.

He's not that bad when I tie him with food in his stall, but he did nip my thigh today which was not appreciated and I told him so.

Last time I was out was on Sunday. I turned him out and he tried to find grass for a while and then suddenly started to gallop around and buck. I was standing in the middle of the turn-out with a friend and Jr ran RIGHT past us twice. It made me nervous because I don't know if he would bump into me or throw a playful kick my way. Either way, I don't think I'll let him get that close again. He got his legs a little muddy so when I brought him in I wiped the big chunks off and picked his feet.

One thing was odd today: his left front hoof, pastern, and ankle was warm to the touch. ALL his other hooves were cold. I didn't notice until I took my gloves off. I cleaned his hooves and inspected the hoof. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, and he didn't react to pressure anywhere. I walked him out of the stall and down the aisle. He seemed to be walking normally. I finished grooming him, put his saddle on and waited for KAT to finish with the horse she was schooling. She said if he was moving normally to go ahead and ride him, saying that he may have stepped on a rock or strained something during his play time on Sunday and just got a little sore in the stall. He lunged fine with low energy. We've been improving again on his quick-change-artist antics. Now when he spins around I pull hard on the line so he turns back to me and then I position my body to send him off again the proper direction. He rode fairly well, quite well at the lope, actually. I didn't notice anything with his gait, so I assumed he was fine. Walking back in KAT said he seemed to be walking fine so probably not anything to stress over. Unfortunately I forgot to check his feet when I was done, but I think if I didn't remember when I picked his feet they must've all felt the same.

We're still working on ground tying in the aisle and he did really well today. A few steps that needed to be corrected, but he fairly quietly for un-tacking and grooming. To have him go into his stall I moved to the stall door and called him, telling him to go into his stall. He did! I followed him in and told him to "whoa" and he did! I slipped the bridle off and let him have his grain.

I put a set of training bands in his mane today. I REALLY hope I don't have a bald horse tomorrow! He ate hay while I did the bands so I'm not worried about him pulling them out when he stretches down, but I've never done banding or braiding except for single french braids and we could only leave that in for our few classes and then it had to come out. I know people band and do individual braids and leave them overnight and sometimes for whole weekend shows, so I hope he won't rub on them. We'll see. He looked pretty funny. The mane is only about 4" long and isn't pulled so the little pony-tails stuck out to the side instead of down, but we're starting with baby steps.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Riding in a Wind Storm! What Fun!

He seemed so relaxed in the stall that I got brave and decided I'd try to ride without lunging first. I've explained before why I lunge nearly EVERY time I ride: 1)He's stalled all day long unless the weather is really good so I want to give him a chance to get the bucks out (though he doesn't have many) and he listens better after working off some energy. 2)We're still working (maybe we'll always be) on improving respect and discipline. SO since I've ridden for a few days in a row I thought it was worth a try. I took his halter and lunge out with me just in case. He was just fine! I could tell he wasn't energetic in the stall and on the walk to the arena. We had a LOT of high winds tonight so there was enough noises outside to make him a little antsy at times and he did one pretty good spook/spin when I had totally slack reins (we were walking) but I rode through it just fine. He did two little bitty spooks, too, near the doors. He rode the lesson quite well and other than when we were loping the only things KAT said to me were "Good!" and reminding me to get after him when he drops his shoulder and comes off the rail. I'm getting better at checking him myself, at least up until the lope. I still need lots of help there. KAT had me do a leg yield left towards the rail and THEN ask for the lope. He had the best lope-off EVER. KAT surmises that his head tossing is his way to protest having to work harder and that makes sense (I still have my name on the list for the Dentist on the 19th, though, just in case.) and told me to pull him down and in. It worked. It's kind of gross, but when he tosses his head high enough he hits me in the face with spit. Yummy. He did pretty well at stretching forward and down and was even doing so me pretty even and smooth circles. I'm finding that I'm able to keep my weight back more and I think that's helping him keep off his front. I can even tell that it helps him in the corners. I think that means my equitation is getting better!

I'm working on his ground tying skills since picking hooves in the aisleway keeps the mud out of the stall. He is so funny though that it's almost more amusing to let him fondle things to see what he does than to keep him standing still and out of trouble. Tonight he picked up his other saddle pad off the rack and then set it down on the ground. I had my tack box closed (so he can't get the treats) and while I was picking his back hoof he opened the box and started to root around. Clever pony.

I put his new clean blanket back on him but somewhere along the way I've misplaced the leg straps. They're either in my sewing room (did a few repairs before taking it back to the barn) or I left them at the cleaners. I'll find them tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I titled this entry "sticky" because the blanket Jr. has been wearing since mid-November is in desperate need of cleaning. Since this is my first horse and first blanketed winter I only own one blanket. This means that to take the time to clean the blanket Junior gets a night without his blanket. Luckily the low temp tonight will be 51 degrees so he will be fine without it. If you recall, last time I cleaned it I paid for someone else to do it and though it was very convenient and they did a thorough job, I just don't think I can afford that luxury when I can go tomorrow and spend a few hours (and about $8) at the laundr-o-mat while I grade papers. I don't teach on Wednesdays and I have no meetings tomorrow so I can do blanket duty. Just for giggles I tried to stuff the blanket in my washer and was not surprised that it did not fit. It's draped over a dining room chair right now and my house will probably smell like it but whatever. I still consider myself lucky that my car smells like a horse and I pull horse hairs out of my drier's lint trap. What's a little Equi-stench in the dining room? It'll go away.

He was pretty good today. KAT was trying to help me yesterday when he was lunging poorly in the 2nd direction so I was trying that today. He was better. He's just such a baby. The ride was good. His lope (and lope take off) was pretty decent today. I even did a little lope one-handed. He's tossing his head more lately and I'm not sure if that's just his new "thing" like his refusal to lope off a while back, or his refusal to bend to the left from September, or if this is something to be concerned about. He'll be on the list for the Equine Dentist next time they come, but I'm not sure when that'll be.

I have a lesson tomorrow night but we're supposed to have "dangerously high winds" so we'll see how that goes.

I ordered a full set of tack carriers and they should be delivered tomorrow. It's one of those things that I could certainly make myself since I have the skills and technology, but the cost of fabric, trims, zippers, hardware, webbing, etc. would outweigh the cost of buying ready made. Not to mention that I'd rather spend my spare time riding the horse than sewing stuff for him. Now, my show clothes are a little different. Custom it will be!

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Saddle!

I bought a western show saddle! It's a 1992 Circle Y and it came with a matching breast collar and headstall. I got a very good deal on it and it's in REALLY good shape. It fits him pretty well. Of course, when it's show time I'll get better pictures of him all cleaned up with it on, but there it is! I rode in it tonight and KAT said it looks good. It came with a matching headstall and breast collar, too.

He was kind of a brat during the ride, but it was 60 degrees out and I think he's REALLY tired of not being able to get outside much. It is SO muddy though. It was warm enough to leave his blanket off tonight and I know he's going to roll roll roll and be covered in bedding tomorrow. I'm hoping to get out there by 2:30 or so, so I should be able to have the arena mostly to myself for a good long concentrated ride.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thursday & Saturday

On Thursday I had limited time at the barn so I lunged for a bit and then rode for only about 20 minutes. He was a bit of a brat. The temp was warming up so I took one of his two buckets outside and flipped it over so it could drain while I rode. The other bucket was almost empty and icy too, but since Friday was supposed to be in the 30's I was planning to just fill it and let it thaw the next day. I didn't realize until the next morning that I had neglected to put the bucket back OR refill the other bucket!!! I knew the morning feeder would be out within an hour or two of when I got up so there was no reason for me to drive to the barn to check on him.... there's a reason I pay for full board. He would get a full bucket in the morning and another in the afternoon.

I worried about him until I went out today. It was almost 50 degrees! He had about a quarter bucket of water and the other bucket was still outside where I left it. He was laying down when I got there and I filled the 2nd bucket and put it in his stall. He didn't get up right away, but he didn't seem distressed. I took the other bucket out and dumped and rinsed it and by the time I had it full and was carrying it to his stall he was up. He didn't seem like he was acting strange, but When i was grooming him he kicked up at his belly a few times like there was a fly there or something. I know some horses do this when they have a belly ache so it made me nervous. He did not seem lethargic or anything and he kept grabbing everything in sight, me, lunge line, bridle, lunge whip, other lunge whip, etc. I think I need to coat everything I own in that bad-tasting chew deterrent. Why on earth doesn't he use his Jolly Ball?!?!?!?! It's covered in dust like he never uses it.

I lunged him. he seemed fine but he acted like he wanted to roll. He hasn't rolled without his blanket on in ages so I understand his desire to roll in the dirt, I just hope it didn't mean he wasn't feeling well. He lunged poorly to the right as usual. I only rode for about 30 minutes again. He was being kind of a brat and there was no one else there so I didn't want to take any chances. He did some nice jog work and his headset was pretty good, except when he was tossing his head. I loped a little bit and he did some nice work keeping his frame and staying slower, but he also tossed his head and jigged around. Nothing TOO out of the ordinary, but because I'm the overanxious horse owner I was a little unnerved. It was a lot warmer than it's been for a while, so he may have just been reacting to that. He drank some water before I left and he was licking his feed tub in anticipation of the upcoming mealtime.

When I brought him back in I made him stand in the aisle so I could clean his hooves. It's sloppy mud between the barn and the arena and it's kind of damp in the arena so he had a dirt pack going. I didn't want to clean his hooves in the stall and let him roll in the mud so I tried to make him ground-tie in the aisle. If there had been any activity I think he would've been worse, but he was pretty good. I had to keep turning him around because he wanted to bother the other horses. Max doesn't mind him at all, but Max has lots of things to chew on on the front of his stall so I couldn't leave him pointed there..... Minnie was squealing and striking at him so I couldn't leave him there, in the end he was content to sniff the ledge of the lesson tack room and pick up stray bits of hay. He doesn't like to stand still. He needs to be occupied. Do they make pacifiers that attach to halters? Maybe I could invent that and make my million: Horsifiers! Bwa ha ha!

I went to Dublin Tack today. Cute little store. No real possibilities for used saddles for me, but I've been told the inventory moves frequently "like a used car lot" so I'll keep checking back.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chilly Lesson

I certainly do not enjoy riding in 4 degree weather, but I DO love my horse.

He was a bit of a pill while I was trying to lunge him and KAT said he was a brat when she rode him yesterday, but once I got on him he was really, REALLY good! Still working on consistency with his frame but he's really using his hindquarters and reaching under himself so when he's in frame he's packing REALLY well. Our lope is still not so great, but it's improving. We worked on loping in a circle to the right. As soon as he gets it right he starts to quit, which is a little frustrating, but he gets back into it quickly. I'm pretty sure I need to switch to western style spurs now. He needs lots of encouragement from my outside leg and with my POW spurs I have to crank my ankle up and toes out to meet him. Those shanked spurs would help a lot. He was really well balanced at the jog and I spent about half the lesson one-handed. We did a serpentine and he was working off my legs nicely. When we were walking out at the end I dropped my hand to his withers and started turning him around with just my legs. I even got him to side-pass that way! What a good boy!

The scratch on his forearm looks fine and I put some more ointment on it.

I think I found a western show saddle, but I'll go look at it this weekend and let you know! My show is up and running so I should have a bit more time to ride now.

It's supposed to be in the 40's Friday through Thursday and I am SOOOO looking forward to all this ice melting.