Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Settling In

Today was Junior's 4th full day at the new place and I am just in LOVE with it. I think he's going to love it there even more once he starts getting turned out with the other horses. I HATE keeping him on quarantine but of course I understand it needs to happen. It's just making both of us very impatient. He continues to flirt with Nike and the barn manager says she's never seen her horse that enamored with another horse. Cute.

We did go for our first little ride today and he was a little better than I expected he'd be. There were some girls riding their horses at the same time so I think that was helpful for him. We alternated short periods of work with short periods of standing and looking around to take it all in. And by "work" I mean simple walk/jog/trot/collected canter, but nothing actually hard. He was a champ about the other horses jumping cross rails in the center. This place does a lot of obstacles and desensitization so there is a cowbell hanging in the arena and we hit it a few times and he didn't even flinch.... and by "we" I mean it hit ME but he wasn't bothered by the noise. We even went over our first bridge platforms. I had walked him over it a few times on the ground. He had small fits when the other horses left the arena one by one (just like he does at shows) but we just schooled through it and once he was calm and still I dismounted and we were done.

Then we got to watch Max get his new shoes on and chat with the new farrier about Juniors feet. We made an appointment for Junior two weeks from today to get his shoes off and a trim. Now that we have such lovely footing I'm going to go back to barefoot as long as we're able. The farrier took one look at Junior's feet and said "has he been stumbling?" I had to laugh and say "since the day I got him!" We seem to go through spurts and I've not yet found the formula of why it happens when it happens It might be all feet, all dropped shoulder, all distraction, all something else, or any combination of the lot. Grr. Maybe with this new, very thorough farrier we'll eliminate the feet at least. This guy was actually an engineer (not sure what kind) and decided about 15 years ago to change professions because he loves horses so much. I LOVE the idea of someone that smart and educated working on my horse's feet. Even in our consultation today he asked lots of questions about how he's been and what we're planning on doing and his history with his feet.

I know that there is no perfect barn, or perfect farrier, or even perfect horse, but things are looking up for us it seems. But don't worry, this Overanxious Horseowner will certainly find more to stress over! I was listening to the radio on the lovely drive home and Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" (yeah, I was disappointed it was her, too) came on. I had to laugh because that song is so me... minus the Hannah Montana part. :) This is what Junior thinks about Disney packaged stars:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We've Moved!

We moved on Friday evening. The new BO was able to come a day early and I jumped at the chance. The faster he can get acclimated the better. The hauling went smoothly. I was relieved that he loaded into the 2-horse straight trailer just as easily as he's learned to get into the big 6-horse slant he's been to shows in. He unloaded fine but he was shaky and snorty and more nervous than I'd seen him in 21 months. UNlike 21 months ago, *I* was not nervous and I'm sure that was helpful for him. Though he was snorty and nervous he never really spooked. We walked through to the barn and I took him down the aisle that leads to Max's stall. All the horses can look out over their doors so Max became very excited but it took Junior a while to realize he was there. I took him to his stall and he rolled right away and drank some water and proceeded to flirt with Nike, the huge mare in the next stall, who then proceeded to flirt right back, much to Junior's delight. On his other side is an adorable little Mini named Red Apples. (the picture @ right shows his Bettie Page I gave him)He was given some lovely hay while the other horses were fed their dinner and he was content to watch them all very curiously when they went out to the fields for the night. He didn't fuss much, to my relief.
He's on quarantine for a few days so he was turned out alone for the morning in one of the sand lots and came in at noon. All of the fields and sand lots have shelters and automatic waterers and they look very well maintained.

I arrived in the afternoon today to find him looking adorably cheerful, hanging his head out of his clean stall and nickering to me. I spent some time cleaning out our tack area with Max's girls. We chose to go in the uncovered room closer to our stalls rather than the closed tack rooms that you have to walk through the arena to get to. It's not a very busy place so it wouldn't be a big deal, but it's also nice to have a TON of room all to ourselves. Other than some rarely used bins and trunks, we have a 12'x16' (or so) room to ourselves. The most immediate downside is that it is open to the indoor round pen and therefore has a nice coating of dust, but the area that Max's girls swept when they arrived 2 months ago is not bad at all yet so I think if we just keep up with it it'll be fine. When my tack-box-to-be is finished all of my stuff will be covered. I can always move to the other rooms later if I choose to. The area had been built as a farrier's area, but the farriers hate it so it has just been storage. The white squares are lights, but they're not functional at the moment.

After he ate his lunch hay (that's right, they get lunch hay!) I took him out for a walk into the outdoor arena and he snorted at things but walked up to and touched everything and walked right over the bridge so I thought he did really well. I let him eat some lawn for a while but it was so hot in the sun so I took him back to his cool fan and he drank water right away.

Then I went for a walk with Max and two of his girls along two of the trails. (That's Max on the right.) I cannot wait until Junior and I can explore them. He's not the keenest on trees (must be a Texan thing) so I'll be hand walking him through to start and we might not get that far before I head to MN/WI for my summer vacation month. I just want him to relax and take it slow. He was still showing some disgruntled school horse behavior before the move so I'd like to give him a chance to forget all those bouncy pokey yanky college kids and get back to the attention-whore horse that loves everyone and everyone loves. I still put a NO TREATS sign on his stall.

I asked Junior if he approved of his new surroundings and he replied .....

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Show Photos

We are moving to our new stable tomorrow morning so you can expect a post about that soon. I'm very excited. Of course I have mixed feelings about the good things I will miss about that barn, but those things are good for ME, not necessarily good for Junior. I know that if I give him better care we will both benefit, but I will miss the friends I've made and I will miss having KAT and shows so accessible. BUT Max and his family are at the new barn (and loving it), and there are other great people at the new place, too. But still, it's mixed.

So to tide you over, here are some more pictures from the show!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

High Point!

No really! We won High Point for the 19+ Division! Seriously! Of course I have to clarify that it was a much smaller show than the last one and my showmanship classes had only 2 and 3 people in them, but I still won them both! Yes, we got two blues in showmanship at only our 2nd time out! We also placed 2nd in Equitation, Horsemanship, and Western Pleasure and 4th in English Pleasure. There were really no other adults that competed in both English and Western this time, so the competition for high point wasn't too steep, but I'll still take that cash and run!

It was a fun day. I had the worlds best surrogate show mom who made all my work much easier so I could relax and enjoy everything rather than being frantic. It was such a difference to have her there and I am eternally grateful to her! She even took videos of my classes but I'll have to spend some time editing them. Right now I'm just so tired I think I'll just go to bed!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Make It or Buy It?

Here are pictures of Junior modeling what he got me for my birthday!

It's usually a jerk move to get someone a gift that YOU are actually going to use... "Happy birthday Wifey! I got you season tickets to the Vikings!" but I appreciate his gift all the same. I think he chose this because black has become his color. When you have this flashy of a horse I think too much color starts to look like kindergarten finger painting.... and he prefers it over the baby pink pad I've been using. Not sure why....

I can sew and make my own patterns. It's what I went to grad school for so making things comes pretty easy to me, I know how to source materias and I can look at something and usually figure out how it was made. It is not always what I want to do when I get home after a work day of.... sewing, though. The bottom line is unless it's a custom item like a show shirt or a particular printed fabric you just have to have as a pad, it's not worth it financially. Now if you simply ENJOY the work then that's another thing. I mostly enjoy it, but unlike people who sew and design and play with fabric as a hobby, it's also my work and it's not always relaxing. I find that during times of the year when I'm doing much more classroom teaching and much less designing and sewing I will pick up projects at home.

I had plans to make some pads, but I have learned that making things is rarely cost effective if you can find the same thing off the rack. This is due to the inflation of fabric and notion prices. Once upon a time only the poor people made their own clothes (just like the period of time when only poor people still owned horses) because it was more economical. But now the DIY market has created a surge in prices of materials and a downward spiral of availability. Even JoAnn Fabrics is only about 30% fabric. They sell patio furniture for heaven's sake, and not just the kind you would decorate!

I had a coupon for EquusNow and I went in to look at jointed stirrups but decided I should ride in a pair before I spend the $50. Then I wandered over to the pads and found a black one with grey piping, the same as our monogram patches. Sold. Done.

The pad cost $27 with tax. It would have taken probably 2 yards of fabric at maybe $7/yard, $3 of piping, $7 of batting, and probably $10 of lining, $4 of webbing for the keepers, and $3 velcro. I'm not good at math but throw in the time of me taking a pattern off of an existing pad (or $ for purchasing one from Suitability), laying out the fabric, cutting all 3 layers, cutting the bias for the edge, figuring out how to do the spine correctly, wrestling it through the quilting process (these things don't seem big until you try to maneuver them through the arm of a domestic sewing machine!), adding the piping, binding the edges, sewing the velcro to the webbing, sewing on the webbing.... and you've got an expensive and labor intensive project.

I did make a pad/blanket carrying bag over the weekend and I'm sure that was not cost effective, but I couldn't find one with dimensions big enough to carry both my English and Western pads so I just made my own. It's not pretty, but it will do.

Speaking of Show Shirts, I'll do a post soon of the shirt I made for my horsey friend for her graduation present.

Oh, and I posted my saddle for sale last night and got a bite already that wants to look at it at the show. That would be SOOOO awesome to get it sold this weekend!!! Here's the link to the ad.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Easy Bake Oven

When I started this blog, the tagline was "How an almost thirty-year-old perceives her world as a first time horse owner..." Of course when I turned 30 I had to change that tagline. Tomorrow I have another birthday. If you've done your math and paid attention to my posts about Banee and I being the same age... and that she turned 31 in April.... yeah.

This week I'm getting ready for a show. Now that classes are done I am not teaching or in meetings, but I do have a play opening on the 24th so I'm still working, just not as much and more flexible hours than during the school terms. This means I can get out to the barn every day until the show and hopefully get some good work in. It has been so wet here that the outdoor is a lake, the fields are muddy messes. All of the standing water has created a mosquito population that is grotesque. We have also been experiencing humidity more native to late July. On top of that we have the least ventilated arena in the history of riding. There is NO ceiling vent and the only doors are on the North and South ends completely eliminating any chance of a cross-wind. No windows. So the only place I have to ride right now is in a sauna.

Tonight I noticed some dried blood on Junior's left hind leg that was not there yesterday. Not a ton, but enough that I investigated by hosing the leg until I could see the would, felt for heat and sensitivity, and watched him walk and jog to make sure he wasn't showing an lameness. It was not deep or large or swollen and it did not bleed after I hosed it off so I put on some Tri-Care.

The heat in the arena and his leg gave me an excuse to take it easy. We practiced a little showmanship and I was absolutely dripping. Junior didn't break a sweat, but I made sure he had fresh water and turned up his fan.

The best news of the day is that my friend who was my show mom at the show last fall is coming to the show on saturday to help me out! I am SOOOO relieved to have her there. She is AWESOME help and knows how to do everything to prep a horse. This will help me out so much I won't have any excuse for forgetting patterns! Oh I probably shouldn't have said that out loud....

Friday, June 11, 2010

And Then There Was Grace...

I have a dread of taking green horses to shows. I was VERY nervous about taking Junebug to his first one and he really didn't do anything crazy and gets better every time. Before Junior I had taken three different horses to their first (or first in a LOOOONG time) shows and all three acted like crazy idiots. Lots of factors are involved in this, but the biggest factors can be classified as 1) mileage (lack of) on the horse and 2) the fear or anxiety (in abundance) of the rider/handler. The first was Gigi who tried to beat me up at the county fair in halter class so I didn't show her in anything else and have only ridden her a few times since. I've spoken of Sonny before. The third was Grace. She was a gorgeous arab filly and sweet as pie. She became my lesson horse during the short time I was at an Arab barn in MN before moving to Ohio. The boss asked if I'd take her to a small open show and I was thrilled. She was fine to load, fine to unload, fine to warm up, fine to braid, fine fine fine. As soon as I remounted to head to our class she started gettin' uppity. We even needed the boss to lead us through the in gate... and then....

I still get a little twitchy when I watch that video. She did have some lovely moments but I edited them out for time and because the crazy stuff is much more interesting. Did you notice all those nice paints and QHs we keep passing at warp speed? Yeah... and you wonder why I went and got myself one of those nice calm stock horses?

Grace went on that same summer to win something big at the MN 4-H horse show with a 16 year old kid and is now owned by a kid who takes lessons and shows. She really was a nice mare, we just had a bad, bad ride.

Monday, June 7, 2010

No longer AWOL.

Though I wouldn't want to flatter myself by suggesting anyone actually noticed I had a lapse of more than 10 days since my last post, but just incase you were anxiously awaiting something: I'm sorry. I was without a home computer for a whole week for the first time in many many years. My new MacBook Pro is here and I'm back online. I also have a video camera on my screen so I might even attempt some vlog posts, but don't hold your breath!

In horsey news, Junior is being used for far fewer lessons than he had been and though I still hear that he is a bit uncooperative during grooming and tacking, he hasn't done anything major that I know of. It seems we're both counting the days (18) until we move to the new place. I'm heading out there on Wednesday evening for a pot luck, hopefully I'll get to meet some of the other boarders.

My post-surgery toe is getting much better. I have been riding without pain (only Western so far) and can wear my old Ariat lacers, my Sketchers and any sandals. Haven't tried my show boots yet, but they weren't painful before so I doubt they'll be painful now. Still not into my Converse shoes yet which is a bit of a downer.

My lower back is not doing great. I took too much time off of riding right after the surgery so my muscles got weak. It's not debilitating, just annoying, and if I didn't have a vet bill on the way for my clumsy horse's eye I'd get myself a massage! Darn pony.

Right now I'm trying to get us back into work. We have a show in less than two weeks and it might be our last one of the season so I'm going to try to make it count. Still trying to secure a show-mom for the day. That'll really help. I might be able to show later in the summer but I'll have to wait and see about scheduling and trailering.