Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saddle Search - Part I

There is a 1/8" to 1/4" of ice coating all of outdoorland right now so there will be no driving to the barn. Instead, I'm working on my saddle search. There are previous musings about this HERE and HERE and in other random posts.

Mission: to replace 2 Western Saddles of very different styles with ONE saddle that can be used for small local open shows, cowboy challenges, and trail riding. Must fit HIM, of course first and foremost, which also means the skirt probably has to measure less than 29" front to back, as the awesome Chiro pointed out my training saddle is too long for his conformation. I want a low horn, moderately deep seat. Not too fancy, but not too plain. Not too expensive, but not a cheapo one. Suede seat and/or fenders preferred. I think the medium to darkish oil will look best on Junior, even though that's not "in" right now. I do have a budget and can't buy anything new until the old ones are sold. I've found that Reining saddles are the closest I'm finding to what I want both visually and in functionality. They are more workmanlike in appearance which I like, but they are close to the equitation seat of the current show saddles.

Right now I have this:

And this:

Which is listed, as of this morning on Ebay because I found a similar but not as fancy saddle without the matching tack that sold for $1,300 and had 22 bids on it, so onto Ebay mine went. If Craigslist isn't helping maybe Ebay will. I sold a saddle on there once and miscalculated the shipping costs so I made very little $ off of the transaction after paying for the box and packing materials. I was avoiding the Ebay for that reason, but if I can get it sold then it's done with, and I am more informed this time.

I initially thought having two saddles would be a huge benefit but after a few years of it I have changed my mind. I don't like showing in a saddle that feels differently than when I'm riding at home - but you don't want to ding up a show saddle so you have to be careful. The show saddle is stiff and wide compared to the work saddle. And I never really fell in love with it. I don't really love the super-fancy contemporary show saddles you see now, either. They look like machines or medieval furniture or something. Example 1, Example 2. I used to drool over them, but now they look COLD and hard to me, I guess.

Here are some of the prospects I've mulled over:

This one is at a local tack store called Keith's, and as much as it has almost the perfect look I want, the skirt's too long and too expensive. It's a Billy Cook 16" reiner. Even with the trade-in they'd give me on my show saddle I'd still be over budget. It's a nice saddle. Good color, good amount of silver and tooling, very pretty and not too masculine for me, but not too feminine either.

This one is at the same store in their small Used section.

I think it's sort of hideous. It's a used Rockin' R Reining saddle and it's a 15". I sat in it and it felt kind of small but my 16" show saddle feels too big. Maybe I really do need a 15.5, but they are all different between brands. This one has a 26" skirt. It has about the right amount of silver but it's too light, basket weave and I am not a fan. I hope this does not end up to be my best option.

This one is at Rod's, but I haven't yet gotten over there to ask if they do trade-ins and to measure the skirt. It's also a Rockin' R brand. I've heard very good things about the brand for the price range. I actually like the look of it. There is a very similar one HERE that has the addition of some floral tooling accents. I even like that one better. The one at Rod's might be a teense too masculine, but at least it's not barbed-wire tooling like THIS ONE.

They also carry this one. It's a lot like the ugly Rockin R with more silver. The only thing about it I like is that it's a Silver Royal, the same manufacturer as my training saddle which I find comfortable, but this one is 27" in the skirt. It IS a show saddle, but it's still pretty basic and I like that it has rough out seat, jockey and fenders. This one is quite affordable if I order it from somewhere rather than buying it at Rods. I WOULD like higher quality than this.
I was looking at other ones of this manufacturer since I don't dislike my Royal King. Other than the above, the only thing they have that is close to what I want is also FUGLY and probably too big:

How can a company that makes such a contemporary looking training saddle NOT make the same style for pleasure/reining and instead make something that looks like THAT!?!?

I know the best option is always to get a good quality used saddle instead of buying new, but with something as pricey as a saddle I'd hate to get screwed on Ebay - yet here I am trying to be an honest seller of my own saddle on there!

I don't know where all the used saddles go in this town. There were only a small handful at Keith's, and I only have seen one or two at Rods.

Anyway, that's where I am now. The search continues...
Anybody want to buy a saddle? Or two? :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not Broken!

I'm happy to report that my pony is not broken after all. Two weeks ago I posted that Junior was having issues with weight and balance. Though the issues are not completely resolved, he is very much on the road to better times. He is showing improvement all over and increasing muscle in his hind end. I did increase both his grain and his hay rations but I won't get into the details just now. The biggest steps have actually been in the way we've been working. I've been riding more frequently, and have switched back to my english saddle and a snaffle bit. We've been trotting for 25-35 minutes every other day and have been working on keeping his back up and increasing impulsion. I don't suppose that sounds like much, but remember how lazy I am and how it's winter and how f*ing busy I am with work right now - it's my busiest time of year. But improvement is visible and palpable.

We had a session with an equine chiropractor/massage therapist on Friday morning. We'd been trying to get her and she happened to have a cancellation. I can clearly understand why she's in such high demand. She spent over an hour with us. He was "out" in his poll, neck, both shoulders, a couple of ribs, and his pelvis was twisted. Though she said none of that was "scary". She attributed most of his left hind issue to his pelvis. When she was done working on him he was incredibly calm. He even stood by his open stall door while I put his blanket back on and didn't move an inch even though there was a pile of lovely hay in his stall. He was super chill. She also took a gander at my training saddle which I've always questioned whether or not it fits him. She said it seems fine, but that the skirt is too long for him considering how far back his shoulder slopes. So my hunt for a new saddle has a somewhat limiting new factor. I WILL do a post on that eventually, I promise.

Today we had a lesson with Monet. Yet again my mind is completely blown. She says our biggest issues are increasing straightness and impulsion. Which in a way means that we don't know jack sh*t because straightness and impulsion are kindergarten. But I'm okay with that. In the 17+ years I've been riding I've had to accept that I will probably always be in kindergarten. I'm very comfortable with our reality. I didn't think that way when I was about 17 and thought I was the queen of the ring, but we all thought ridiculous things when we were teenagers, right? But I digress. The lesson was great and exhausting for both me and Junebug. But he was such a champ. I did feel his LH go ONCE but it was when I brought him to a walk improperly because I needed to take a break from all of that standing and pushing and releasing and swinging and half halting and whatever other 200 things I was trying to do all at the same time. And I learned today that he DOESN'T lose the LH when he's USING his LH, only when he's NOT using it. So I have to keep him using it. Kindergarten again.

Here's two clips from today. The first is Monet riding him. She mentioned that he feels much better to her now than the first time she was on him back in late summer. Then it's some of the last 10 minutes of our lesson when I finally started putting things together and he (because Monet had been on him) had started to figure out what on earth all my in-saddle shenanigans were all about. You'll notice I look completely ridiculous and flappy. Snicker away. I sure did when I watched it! But just like teaching a horse to steer, you have to exaggerate in the beginning. Don't watch me, just watch him MOVE!

I do love him.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Junior's Weight - The Never Ending Saga

One year ago I began drastically changing Junior's ration. As you know, this was based on an Equine Nutrition Class project. I took TJ's data and made some choices. Our goals at the time were to:
  • Lower his BCS with a low starch/low sugar/high fiber concentrate. The digestibility of the hay was very low so this would help the digestibility of the hay, too.
  • Not lower his busy-work feeding - he was stalled too much - he had begun cribbing out of boredom and frustration.
  • Somewhat affordable because there was no discount on board if I stopped feeding the 12% barn grain - so the feed costs were additional. AND I had to pay for any hay over the 4 thin flakes/day. This was MY goal, TJ did not factor in cost, only suitability.
The whole "Plan" is HERE, but due to some questionable grain storage practices I ended up switching entirely to the Safe N Lite instead of the 50/50 mixture I had listed.

We seemingly met our goals in the Spring. The barn move greatly helped with a number of things including increased pasture access (from random less than 5 hours to up to 12 hours/day.)

However, as the winter began we noticed weight loss and I believe some energy loss as well. I don't mind having this calm, collected guy, but his BCS is too low. So it's back to the math.

I can't (thankfully) make this Rocket Surgery type science this time because I'm estimating the DE in the hay rather than having it analyzed. I think we were, in fact, underfeeding him this fall. When he was getting all that grazing (1.5 lbs/hour estimated) he was fine. The BM thinks he currently gets an estimated 18-25lbs grass hay per day. He gets a good 18-20 in his stall, but some hay is fed in the pasture so it's hard to accurately guess how much he's getting of that. I can't really do math with 18-25lbs, so I'm using 20. He had been getting 2lbs Safe N Lite each day. Then in fall it was upped to 3lbs/day. With that ration he SHOULD have been fine on DE of 21.48 Mcal/day, but apparently not. NRC guidelines list 20 Mcal/Day for adult horses in light work.

He is currently getting 5lbs S&L/day bringing him up to 23.4 Mcal/Day. This SHOULD be enough... wasn't he an easy keeper!?!?!

A new puzzle piece to this problem is that I will now be going through 1 BAG EVERY 10 DAYS!!! That is a lovely $52/month for 3 bags. When I made the choice to move him to S&L it was cheaper per bag than now and we were feeding so very little. I get an $18 discount on my board for providing my own grain. If I switch to one of the barn grains: Strategy or Kalm N EZ, I can pay only $18/month for grain AND not have to make trips to the feed store.

So what next? Some more math and research. Kalm N EZ was one of the grains TJ analyzed for me. She was looking for low starch low sugar feeds so she did not analyze Strategy. Max is on Strategy Healthy Edge, but that has to be bought by the owner.

A possible switch to KNEZ will be feeding him 2lbs/day giving him 21.44 Mcal/day. I just bought 3 bags of S&L, so when she's at the last bag I'll probably start switching him over. If the 23.4 Mcal/day seems to be helping over the next few weeks (he's been on that a few weeks now) I might do 3 lbs/day which ups it to closer to the DE he's on right now.


On a side note: I missed two days at the barn due to long work days and crappy winter snow. It's amazing how quickly 3" of snow can cripple a city that doesn't have enough plows. Anyway, I rode last night with the help of the BM telling me when he was "round" like Monet told me to make him. I'm much more of a visual thinker than a tactile one. I would LOVE mirrors in the arena! His neck was not solid but the two hard bumps were definitely there. Before and after the ride I did stretches. I broke down and did it with treats - need to go buy carrots. I was reading an article and it said to do the stretches in a special location to help prevent the horse from being grabby. His annoying grabbiness has been the reason he doesn't get treats. Can I train him to know the difference? He certainly stretched further and longer with the food reward than with the pat/verbal praise award. Hopefully we can keep him from being like this:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update and Award

First the update...

I got some advice from my wonderful dressage trainer. I sent her the same info I gave you all, and since she's seen him do this in person I figured she's a good place to start. She said he's not using his left hind. She said he needs to get rounder and over his back so he can use his hind end. She told me to slow him down, get him over his back, get his belly swinging and keep him at the trot. I will see her on the 29th and she can do some body work with him then, too. In the mean time I'm going to do exactly what she said. I started tonight.

I did about a 25 minute ride. His neck seemed very stiff, probably from the lunging yesterday and the very damp weather. I tried to massage it and did our carrotless stretches before and after the ride. I only felt his leg go about twice. His attitude, though not excited about the work, was fine. No defiance or arguments. He did what I asked, had a soft wet mouth, and I could see him licking and chewing (in our shadow silhouette) so I don't think he's hurting or anything.

Found out I can do the Alpha Stim with a gel instead of water so we might do some of that, too. Of course the next five weeks is going to be my busiest time of the year at work, so I have some juggling acts to do about going to the barn as often as I feel I should be, even if it's just for stretches and massages.

Anyway, my dear blog-friend In2paints, over at R Lil Bit of Cash has awarded me the "Stylish Blogger Award."

As with all of these little awards, there are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

I'll be honest that I don't even READ 15 blogs! So I'm going to narrow that down to 5. Sorry for breaking the rules, but that's just the way it is.

1. Thank you, In2paints for thinking we are stylish! Your award was a bright spot in my recent overanxious worries! For those of you who do not follow Becca, Lilly, and AJ, you really should. There are great pictures, and though they've been having a bit of a rough year, their journey is fascinating and heart warming.

2. 7 things about myself...
  • I just bought what I consider to be my first "grown-up lady" purse and I'm 31 29 years old!
  • I almost completely stopped cooking when I began living alone about 4 years ago. I wascooking AND eating for 4 and I couldn't make it stop. So now, sadly, I eat a lot of "food-in-a-box" otherwise I'd weigh 200 lbs. I'm trying to cook more... but there's also that little issue of time...
  • When I moved to Ohio there was a washer and dryer in my apartment. It was an old rental unit. The apartment managers clearly did not know it was there so when I moved last September to another unit I took it with me... and they never said a thing about it. WIN!!!
  • I have 2 unfinished quilting projects I started in the summer of 2004....
  • When I'm stressed and have major work deadlines I will clean and organize my house/tack box/car, anything but actually do the work. This is the worst when I have papers to grade.
  • My recyclables really need to be taken out, but they keep moving the drop-off locations and now it's a place I never go.
  • This morning I ordered 3 custom-made lime/black zebra print biketards (leotards with bike-short length shorts) for 3 college boys who do not yet know they will be dancing in them in front of the entire campus/community..... bwahaha.... sometimes my job rules.
3. Award 5 great bloggers!
  1. Bexley Chickens is a blog about four urban chickens and their family. Since raising chickens was a very big part of my life for a few years, I find their pictures and videos to be a slice of home. It has also been very educational about the increasing trend in "backyard" chickens in urban environments.
  2. Welcome to Joshland is a blog by a very active member of the Cystic Fibrosis community. Whether or not you know someone whose life has been affected by CF, Josh's blog is full of honesty, reality, and hope that you won't find very many places. I knew Josh in the 5th grade but my family moved away that summer. We found eachother many years later in the blog-o-sphere. It's a small world.
  3. Eventing A GoGo is a blog about a girl and her extremely stylish and beautiful mare, Gogo. They focus on eventing and the barefoot horse which I as a barefoot showing horse person enjoy. And NOTHING is as stylish as Gogo's most recent clip job!
  4. Musings From the Judge's Box is a blog by an open horse show judge. She is extremely kind in her answering of questions (including a recent slew of my own!) and gives honest and useful answers. I think I would like to show under her someday!
  5. Side Saddle Girl is across the pond! She rides side saddle on EITHER SIDE and has lots of posts about side saddle habits and tack which really appeal to my clothing history addiction.
4. Here I go!!!

And here's some pictures from yesterday of Junior's buddy, Little Red. SOOO FUZZYYYYY! I cannot resist petting him. I want to put him in my pocket and take him everywhere with me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weight and Balance

In some ways I hesitate to post what I'm about to post. Though I know that you, my loyal readers, will only have constructive comments and suggestions, but being the "Overanxious" person that I am, I dream up all sorts of horrible things in my head like someone telling me that I'm doing something so obviously cruel that I should be ashamed to call myself a horse owner or that I've ruined my horse beyond repair.

So please be kind and be assured that as we speak I'm already soliciting answers from professionals. I'm just sharing the case study with you. For those of you who have not followed this blog from the beginning I have some history re-caps:

First a little history re-cap about "Balance": In the beginning I used to call him "The Eight Legged Moose" or say that he had "four left feet." I also said he had ADD because several of the incidents included him looking off to the side quickly when he saw another horse. For a long while he was stumbling in the front end at the canter. Often. We actually dropped to his knees on at least two occasions. There was a time early on that I worried about cantering him at all, convinced we were going to go ass over tea kettle like I did once with Banee. These are the only two I have on film: the first in a lesson during our first few months (Nov. '08), and the second at the last show we were in (June '10).

THESE seemed to be front-end related, only at the canter, and the one in June was the last time he's done it... knock on wood. I had him checked by Chiro #1 shortly after that and his only response was that he was "stiffer in the neck than I expected" which doesn't make me feel like I got my money's worth. Then he was tight in the right shoulder and I started doing the Alpha-Stim and stretches, which I've not done much of since he shoulder got better. Possibly related or unrelated is this other issue: every so often and with increasing regularity in the last few weeks an issue seems to be expressing itself in his left hind. I know this has happened on and off for a long time. If I can describe what it feels like during the ride, it feels like he forgets the foot behind himself. It hesitates to come forward. This is mostly happening at the trot, more so the more I ask him to extend and hardy at all when we are jogging. He happily exhibited it to Monet who gave me some homework to do to help it, which I promptly forgot and therefore didn't really follow through with. When I had my jumping lesson on Nov. 21, she told me the bumps on his neck were evidence of vertebra out and she adjusted him. Fast forward to now: he's still got the bumps and that left hind is very frequently "catching". This is from today. You can see it if you stare at his left hind. I slowed it down a few clicks so that it's easier to see. It feels bigger than it looks:

History re-cap on Weight: Bought him in early September '08 and he was underweight. Not dangerously so, but thin. This is him that first month:

I'd say he was a 3-4 on the BCS scale. He proceeded to gain WAY too much weight and he yo-yo'd for a good while. In the fall of '09 my friend TJ used Junior as her project horse in her college Equine Nutrition class and in January of 2010 I changed his grain and started measuring and bagging his meals since I couldn't rely on the barn feeders to get it right. Further history in the Topics tab under "Equine Nutrition." When TJ did the project we palpated him at an 8.5 on the BCS scale and looked like this:
Now he looks like this and I think he's at a 4 (BTW you really have to FEEL a horse to estimate accurately, pictures are far less accurate):
If you compare the rear shots, he not only is more triangular, on the topline, the top of the hips is narrower than the bottom, which looks disproportional.
And ribs, even visible through the fuzz. :( Only positive thing is that his tail is much fuller and longer than it was even a year ago. But that's just cosmetic of course. :( Nobody cares about the paint job if the engine is broken.
You can look at his full profile in the Christmas pictures, but we'd been outside for a bit and his hair had fluffed up. He's just been unblanketed in the three that are here.
What was most upsetting to me today as I compared these images, is that even though his side view from 9/08 is similar to now, the rear profile is much flatter in todays images. This leads me to think that he's lost more than fat: he's lost muscle and that's not a good thing.

Is the muscle loss the cause or the effect? Or are we looking at two different things?

I wish I knew the answer. I know the possibilities: sore back? sore hip? hock? caused by what? bad tack? does he have a mild injury somewhere? Does he need more chiro? Certainly not from Chiro#1, but we're trying to get Chiro#2 scheduled. More massage? A supplement? More Alpha-Stim? Where do I do the Stim? Stim is difficult in the winter because the horse has to be wet. Though well insulated, the barn is not heated. Should I lunge him instead of ride him? But I can't get him to extend a trot on the lunge line so that won't work him very deeply.

I did some sensitivity tests, running my comb down his back from withers to spine but didn't get much reaction so maybe his back/loins are fine and the issue is in his hip? He was doing this before Chiro #1 saw him, but like I said, I didn't get much information out of that guy.

I know I NEED to get that muscle back, but I need to ask for some professional opinions on how that should be accomplished. I want a better diagnosis that what I have so far and I don't want to do any more damage. He seems perfectly willing to work, just not as willing to extend as he should be because clearly that's difficult/painful. He's not fighting me, I just need to keep pushing him and if I let up at all he drops right down to a slower jog.

All of the preceding questions were rhetorical, of course. I'm afraid no one can really answer those from watching a video or looking at pictures. If that were the case Vet's wouldn't need to make farm calls. So we've got some work to do.... just not sure what it is just yet.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I need your help today! This a totally shameless plug, but two of my pictures, taken by Max's girl Chloe, have been selected as the the 75 pictures in EquusNow's photo contest!

Please go here:

You might have to friend EquusNow to vote. The first two pictures, the black and white ones of my saddle and my stirrup/boot/shoulder are ours. If we get the most votes, we get a $100 gift certificate to the store!!!

Your votes will win my undying love and appreciation!!! (You already have that anyway, of course!) Voting closes January 21st at noon!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Woe of Winter - Gloves

I hate winter. I've mentioned this fact HERE and HERE and pretty much every post during the months of January and February for the last three years. The only thing nice about winter is one very specific kind of snow that falls in big, soft, slow, silent flakes that makes everything seem like it's in a beautiful and quiet sort of slow motion. Everything else just plain sucks.

***Just a note that this barn is INFINITELY better insulated than my last barn. I know for a fact that they've had solid frozen buckets in my former barn for weeks and we have yet to see more that a slight crystallization on the tops of the buckets overnight in our barn. Usually my winter included thawing, dumping and refilling my buckets each day and worrying sick on the days that I couldn't make it out that He wouldn't have water. Max's Mom and I would trade off days when we could. We'd also end up doing some of the lesson horses buckets on the weekends when no one else was there because the feeders wouldn't actually dump buckets, only break the shell with a hammer, so when they were frozen solid they were just frozen. And that barn leaked like you wouldn't believe. But I won't continue on that rant. We are so very pleased with our new digs and the very attentive care Junior receives including changing his blankets for appropriate temperatures at no extra cost. Such a relief to be getting what I'm paying for!!!***

But back to the Woe part: I have a difficult time staying warm if the temp is below freezing. I have to take winter dressing very seriously and have had to invest a lot in warm clothing. Target carries a knock-off of Under Armour in their Champion C4 line. Turns out to be the best thing EVER. On a normal day lately I wear the Cold Gear mock-turtleneck and leggings, jeans, either wool or super fuzzy microfiber socks, Mountain Horse Ice Rider Paddock boots, a thermo fleece zip up, a down vest, and a Mountain Horse Inferno Jacket. On my head is a cheap fleece cap I bought for 50 cents at JoAnn Fabrics and then cut a pony-tail hole in it. This way I can pull the hat down far enough to cover my ears. Brilliant, I must say. My helmet has ear home-made warmers attached to it. (Eventual tutorial on that.) My toes and especially fingers are still very difficult to keep warm.

I recently learned that I have a vascular condition, which explains a lot. (Only KAT seemed to wear more layers than I, but she was the skinniest thing I've ever seen and she would teach in that uninsulated arena for 8-10 hours every day. Each spring she would shed her Carhardts and I would remember with a double-take that she was actually a size zero. That's her on the right. This was the winter before Junior, so I'm riding the dear old Nubbins.)
This condition means essentially that if left in cold temperatures long enough 2/3 of my fingers from the tips down become white, numb, and very painful. It's referred to as "an annoyance" rather than a severe issue but it is highly recommended that those with the "phenomenon" should not live in cold climates and should wear mittens rather than gloves. BUT IT'S REALLY HARD TO RIDE IN MITTENS!!!!

I have been on a 3 year search for gloves that accomplish 3 things:
1. Warm enough not to set off my aforementioned condition.
2. Provide enough dexterity to be able to work the necessary buckles and tools of grooming and tacking. (Removing mittens to do those things is tedious and that burst of cold commonly causes an episode.)
3. Actually fit my absurdly short hands. I wear children's sized mittens. :)

Aparently what I ask for is vexingly elusive. I bought a pair of Ovations the first winter at EquusNow for I think $35. Then miraculously found the exact same pair at my University's Thrift Store for $4 last winter. They only seem to last one winter and both pairs are retired during the deep winter, so I don't think I want more of those, at least not at that price. This year I'm wearing a pair of "Defender Rider" leather and 40g Thinsulate gloves I got for $5 on clearance from Dover. They were just so cheap I threw them in with an order I made last summer. They don't fit as well as the Ovations with the stretch panels did. I've been having to put Grabber Warmers in them along with silk glove liners. The only problem with that is it's costing me $1 every time I go to the barn. It adds up after a while, and my fingertips are still cold.

I spent a good while at Dicks Sporting Goods today looking for gloves. Even the thin little Under Armour ones are $50. NOTHING I found actually fit and I was afraid nothing would be warm enough. Now that I know I actually have a condition I know I'm not crazy that gloves are never warm enough for me.

Before Christmas during some extensive interweb searching, I found the SHE System Gloves which I think is exactly what I need. They are a set of gloves and over-mittens made for female hunters, hence the real-tree camo. I love that the mitten part can either be removed, or be held back by magnets so it'll be easy to go from the mitten for standing around quickly to useful fingers and back again.

But of course they were on infinite back order at I even stopped at a Cabelas in Minnesota to see if they carried them in the store... That store freaked me out. There was a mountain in the middle with a bunch of sad, dusty, faded taxidermied animals. It was disturbing. Taxidermy doesn't freak me out, in fact my Dad was quite an accomplished critter-stuffer once upon a time, and I still have a fondness for a particular Canada goose mount I named George when I was a kid. It was just that these were in terrible condition. There was a huge skylight above them and it seems nobody thought about making it UV blocking glass...

After more web searching and searching I found them in stock but for nearly double what they were at Cabela's at some random site called "Modern Markswoman". It took a good while to convince myself that it's okay to purchase something at a store who's logo is a bullet going through a rose. And they're camo, which is not exactly my style... And again, expensive gloves that don't work suck as much as cold hands. They might just LOOK warm and not be warm at all. It's hard to say. I might have to put the silk liners in them, too, but after spending $20 today on Grabbers to make my $5 gloves and $7 silk liners semi-sufficient......I'm willing to take a gamble and I ordered them. So no Starbucks for two months, but they're out of Gingerbread syrup anyway so oh well. *Sigh* At least I got free shipping. :) I sure hope they're a legit company and not just one of those web site fronts that just steals and sells people's credit card info. But I paid with Paypal and I was pleased to see I had a $20 balance which I had forgotten about, so maybe that's a good omen?

I'll certainly be doing a product review when I get them.
Below, just for fun, is Junior catching snowflakes on his tongue last winter.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stuff I'm Learnin'.

It's cold here. Too cold for comfort. I know I grew up in Minnesota, but I didn't ride in the winter and in fact took to hibernation from about mid November until May. So I haven't been riding much. Things are fine here. Been working a little on slowing the lope, but I think I have to re-strategize. Junior has lost some weight and some muscling. This might be due to lack of exercise and or the cold. He's from Texas, ya know, and he's less fond of Winter than I am. So we're giving him extra feedstuff. It's hard to measure exactly how much hay he's getting since he gets some in the field when he's turned out and I'm not sure how equally those four boys share. Junior more likely to share with someone than someone is likely to share with him so who knows. We'll watch it. He's surely lost muscling in his rear end. I've also been paying attention to his stride. I lunged him Sunday instead of riding so I was able to really watch. At the walk he tracks anywhere from half a rear hoof into the print of the front hoof or about 100%. At the trot he doesn't track at all, and stays a few inches back from the hoof print. He wants to take tiny steps, surely a side-effect from training for the western pleasure jog. This is what I will be working on with the Dressage trainer at our lesson next month. I'm skipping this month, but he'll be ridden by one of Max's girls in this month's lesson.

He also has a vertebra out of place about midway down his neck. Monet diagnosed this back in late November and she adjusted him then, but he's still showing the lump and the tendency to turn his head to the right when we halt. I don't think he's hurting and his work ethic is fine, but we've been taking it easy until the equine chiropractor/massage therapist can come out.

I am auditing a class this quarter on Photoshop. I have some basic skills in the program but I'm entirely self taught so there's a TON I don't know. So far the class has been review but with little things about each tool that I hadn't figured out and that make things WAY easier. Today I made this just for fun:

I'll probably continue working on it. Unfortunately the picture of us is poor quality because it's a screenshot from the website of a photographer that was at our show last June so the color is bad, but it was just a practice experiment. You can see the original in my post on that show HERE.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Equilutions #3 - Happy 2011!

For background on our Equilutions, start with Equilutions #1 - 2009 and then Equilutions #2 - 2010.

First, how we did in 2010:

1. Start working on Showmanship.
Achieved! Not only did we start working on it, we competed in four showmanship classes, even winning 2 of them! This has also helped TREMENDOUSLY with his ground manners, which was a somewhat-unachieved goal of 2009.

2. Find a new western work pad that WORKS.
Achieved.... mostly! I still think I'll end up with a different one someday, but the neoprene/felt contour pad is doing the job WAY better than my thin old fleece one or that monster of a bald-patch maker. The only downside is that the wear "leathers" are vinyl and their adhesive is beginning to separate, but they're also sewn on so they're not actually going anywhere.

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.
NOT achieved, but only because I decided to sell my Circle Y show saddle and therefore am on a slow hunt for a western saddle that does everything I want it to. (see 2011- #1 below) Probably will be a post on this at some point, but I can't really move forward until the Circle Y is sold.... anybody want it?

4. Have all my tack bags monogrammed.
Achieved! My boot bag is not done because I haven't convinced myself it's worth wrestling it through my machine. I'm also trying to make a stencil out of the monogram so I can paint it onto my hat can, grooming box, etc.

5. Get Junior's weight stabilized.
Achieved! And boy what a difference. I was watching the video from showmanship practice and what a CHUNK! He looks so much better now and he seems so much more chill. Still a goof, thankfully, just more chill. I now estimate his BCS at a 5 instead of the 8 he was a year ago. Going through the process of analyzing his ration was very time consuming, sometimes frustrating, but in the end very rewarding. He has been pretty stable at this weight since last June, so it took about 6 months to get him down safely and he's maintained it for about that long.

I think 4 out of 5 goals is pretty good!

And on to 2011:

1. Solve the Western Saddle issue. I want ONE western saddle that's pretty enough to go to shows in, but workmanlike enough to do Cowboy Challenges, trail riding, and regular work in without having to baby it too much. This goal is dependent on several factors somewhat beyond my control including selling my show saddle before I can consider moving forward. There will be a post about this in the near future.

2. Work on jumping. It would be cool to do the Hunter Hack class at the shows next summer, but I'm not going to commit that as a goal after only ONE lesson. So for now my goal is to have a few more lessons, get a little stronger and better balanced and start to feel like I'm staying out of his way.

3. Learn to braid well enough to pass at a show. I still may opt to hire someone (probably KAT) to do it for an actual show to save myself some prep time, but I would like to see if I can learn to do pretty and consistent braids. I understand the mechanics and I've done the first step a few times, but I've yet to get out the yarn and latch-hook and really DO it.

4. Place in a cowboy challenge. I would like to say WIN one, but lets not get silly.

5. Trailer out and go trail riding. Junior is pretty great now about going into our woods around the farm, but I need to test him in woods he's never seen before.

7. Be able to do a fast and slow lope. I've pretty much given up on doing that gross WP head bobby navicular-looking lope and I didn't really want to do that anyway, but it's hard to place in a western pleasure class if you have to canter in a dressage frame to avoid looking like a (relative) runaway. I know I've made noise about not showing western anymore, but I do like riding western. I'm lazy and it's less physical. Just bein' honest. It seems the training we've done so far has plateaued though. So taking a page from the reining book, I'm looking at training steps to achieve both fast and slow lopes.

I just got back from a great trip home to Minnesota to visit family and friends. I was thrilled to go from 23 degrees this morning in Minneapolis to 57 degrees when we landed in Ohio. Tomorrow I head out to see the pony. I need some horse hugs!

Happy New Year!