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.