Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Cheer

What a lovely weekend!  Northern CA was supposed to get this crazy stormy with about two solid weeks of rain. Instead I woke up Thursday to blue skies. What an amazing early Christmas present. Even though I had an insanely busy day planned (it was my mom’s birthday and some how I volunteered to make pork carnitas for dinner) I couldn’t resist the urge to head over to the barn.

I had remembered to take a bridle home so I jumped on December bareback and rode her over to my neighbor’s barn. She almost looks normal again. Still a little thin but I gotta tell ya she’s already less boney than Tax. I really enjoy trail riding her. She seems very relaxed right now and like Grace she plunges down the trails at a quick walk curious about everything around her. She’s always got her little ears pricked forward and loves to look around at all the scenery but never spooked at anything including an entire flock of pheasants we scared out of the bushes a few feet away. I’ve never seen more than two at a time but I swear there were like ten. Every few steps she took more kept bursting out of the bushes and flying off with this weird honking sound they make. I’m pretty sure the geldings would have had a heart attack. A couple of times going around blind corners where she couldn’t see over the blackberries she was slow and cautious but when I pressured her to go forward she did without much of a fight. What a good girl!

When I got to the barn I actually put a saddle on her and I managed to ride both her and Tax in the arena before I had to take off and finish my shopping and dinner preparations. December is out of shape and wants to lean in through her inside shoulder which was always a weakness but with a little support was trying to move straight. She’s high headed and I didn’t ask her to try to collect much but I got her to relax and got some decent trotting work from her. We cantered just a little and she feels as good as ever…so smooth and comfortable. Tax felt awesome on Thursday too. He feels so connected through every part of his body right now.

Friday I managed to sneak in a little trail ride on December bareback again, and I lunged Charlie. That was about it before the lure of wrapping my kids presents called.

We got some rain on Christmas. I was stuck feeding and cleaning stalls in it (boo) and I didn’t get to ride again until Sunday. Sunday I rode all three horses in the arena and December on the trails to and from the other barn. Charlie wanted to misbehave and every time I’d ask him to move forward at more than a trot he’d kick out his back right leg. I started spanking his butt on that side with my hand when he does it and he finally stopped and we jogged, trotted and loped. My favorite part is that I’m not nearly as afraid as I would have been of him a year ago. I made the mistake of riding Tax without spurs which was kind of a bust. He didn’t feel so connected without them and wanted to lean in and get strung out on me. December was a real sweetheart and the other ladies at the barn were impressed with how much better she looks. We worked on relaxing deep into the trot again and cantered a bit more this time. We even trotted a couple of ground poles and she hopped right over them. She was happy and perky through it all. No tail swishing evil bitch mare. I noticed she didn’t even flinch at the girth this time…hmm. I think grazing all day has been very good for her tummy.

I didn’t get Christmas pictures of the horses and I should have. They are all hairy, muddy disgusting beasts!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A horsaii confession...

I have a confession. I haven’t decorated for Christmas yet. I haven’t completed my shopping. I’m useless unless it comes to barn chores. I’m fairly certain at least one of my children and probably my husband hate me. I didn’t finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo. Even though all of this is true the only thing I want to do this weekend is sneak off a trail ride with Tax. Sigh…

I was looking at December last night and you know, I’m not sure she needs a whole month before we start some trail riding. She’s looking great. Once I get her leg healed up and get a shoe on her I might start riding her over to the barn on Saturday mornings when I feed. I think she will enjoy visiting with Tax. I figure I will just play it by ear and if she seems uncomfortable I will get down and walk her. I’m thinking about investing in a bareback paid with stirrups so I can make sure I’m balanced and take some pressure off her without adding any additional weight.

I’ve decided my plans with Tax are to set up some ground poles spaced far apart. I’m going to try to start cantering over and if he speeds up we will halt right away. When I can get him going over them consistently I’m going to place them closer together. When we can rate our speed over the poles then I will go back to crossrails and start over. I don’t want to undo any of the work that Tina has done with him.

I think it’s time for some real writing soon. Maybe another installment of my Applejack story… Maybe something new... I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the kind of person I want to be and it weighs heavily on me sometimes. Maybe I will just whine and rant about life in general and what I’ve been thinking about. I mean what good are fairly anonymous blogs if not for some ranting?

Monday, December 6, 2010

12.6.10 Updates

Friday it was 4 weeks since December came home and I have great news...still no signs of any actual illness. We’ve continued the routine of turnout all day as long as the weather is good, then she gets put up in the barn at night with her pellets and beet pulp. She continues to seem perkier every week and now she’s tearing around my pasture at a gallop when she’s feeling particularly good. She’s still too skinny but no where near what she looked like when she came home. I was even brave enough to take off her blanket before I turned her out on Saturday without worrying I was going to have animal control ringing my doorbell. I’m hoping in another month we can start some leisurely trail rides and I’ll decide what to do with her from there. I’m wondering if she could make a nice trail horse for my husband now that Grace is gone. He seems to like her judging from the number of bags of carrots he’s bought in the last 4 weeks.
She has managed to pull one of her shoes off and I’m not sure what to do about it. When I had her before she wasn’t sound without shoes in front and we even had to do pads. The trainer leasing her put Natural Balance shoes on her which I have heard some very bad things about, however, she is completely sound without pads and moving better than I’ve ever seen her move. Now I’m torn. I’m doing some additional research but if anyone has experience with these shoes I’d love to hear about it.
She also managed to cut her leg somehow and now it’s pretty swollen. I cold hosed it for 15 minutes last night, cleaned it with an antibiotic and wrapped it. I also gave her some bute. Looks like I’ll be cold hosing at least once a day for a while.
Saturday we had some lovely weather and I got a chance to ride Tax and Charlie. Tax was pretty darn good. Tried cantering a really low fence a couple times but he kept getting to strong and fast over it. We went back to trotting it and he was an angel. I think I’m going to try cantering poles a million times until I can rate his speed better. I asked one of the other boarders, J, if she wanted to ride him and she said sure. Their trot work was beautiful. She commented on how nice he was to ride. She said she could tell he’s had some good training and J rode him well. I think Tina, his trainer, has done an amazing job and has never done anything I wouldn’t have done myself if I was her. She’s slow and steady but has built an amazing foundation. He’s very responsive to everything you ask for and wants to please. He seems happy with his work. J has ridden with some big trainers so it was nice to have her acknowledge that she was impressed.
The trade off was I got to ride J’s Irish Sport Horse. He gets really wound up when they jump and I spent some time just seeing if I could get him to relax. I didn’t get the softness I was hoping for this time but I got a very nice forward trot and we worked on some bending. I think he’s a very fun horse to ride and I’m hoping I get a chance to work with him more just to see if I can figure out how to bring him down a notch and help him relax. J thought he looked nice though and asked me for some advice I what I was doing to get that trot from him. It was fun trading horses and ideas with someone.
Charlie and I have been taking it slow. He’s definitely far more temperamental than Grace. He’s got a lot of TB in his breeding and it shows. He kicks at me on the lunge line which infuriates me but I’m trying not to lose my temper. Each time I just drive him forward until he wants to behave better. When he acts up he gets more work. I think it was a good idea to go back and start slower. I’ve still been getting on but I only push for a little improvement each day. He’s been spooky and stubborn and not wanting to move forward. On Saturday I rode him for longer than I’ve attempted in the past and there was no balking at all. He moved nicely and we even loped a couple of laps each direction. He was so good I called it quits at that. I’m hoping we continue in this direction.
I also got to spend some much needed Sister Time at the barn my sister is keeping her horse at. Promise is fat and happy and his personality is so very different from the horse we bought. He comes right up to the pasture gate whenever anyone comes out instead of cowering in terror. She even managed to find a farrier who could get shoes on him which due to the slight rotation in his coffin bone is probably a good thing for him. I helped her with her chores around the place and fell even further in love with a pretty little barrel horse named Bullseye. She reminds me of Grace but she’s a dark dapple gray. Mmm….gray. We all know I like a gray horse. I do not need a barrel racer, I do not need a barrel racer…reapeat after me….I do not need a barrel racer.
Have a good week everyone. Looks like we have some serious storms coming in so I probably won’t get to do much riding but I’ll update again soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010


 The barn manager at my new barn had a great idea to take pics of December every couple of days so I can document her progress.  It helps me because I don't trust my own eyes when I see her every day.  Also, if anyone were to call Animal Control on me I've got pretty good information to show that I'm taking care of the situation.  I apologize for the quality, but hey, I'm using a camera phone in the dark.

This pic was taken the weekend I picked her up.  At this point I was conviced she was sick and dying on me.  The vet convinced me to observe her for a few days since she wasn't in obvious distress and start weighing her feed.

This pic was taken after one week.  Some improvements but not as much as I would like.  At this point since illness wasn't as big of a concern I used a power pack wormer, and a round of Sand Clear.  Also switched from hay to a complete senior pellet feed, and the beet pulp supplement I mentioned before.

This was taken this Friday.  She's still very thin but so much better than before.  I'll get some better ones this week. This is about what she looked like when I first got her back in 2008.  I'm excited that hopefully we can rule out any serious illness.  It looks like a case of poor management.

Of course now I'm beating myself up for letting this happen to her.  I just fail to understand what happened.  Her feet are excellent, her vaccinations up to date, every time I stopped by she had good quality hay in her stall, and the other horses at this barn are all well cared for and they have a good reputation.  They are really involved with Pony Club which I've always heard good things about too.  They paid a small fortune on the vet when they thought she was collicking.  Why would you do all of that for a horse and then just not make sure it had enough food for the work it was doing?  Or contine to work it when it was obviously too thin and the saddle didn't fit?  Was it ignorance or did they just not care as long as they were able to make money off giving lessons on her?  Is it possible that the work load was just too stressful for her?  These are questions I will probably never know the answer to. 

The good thing is that she's back in my care, she's happy and getting healthy.  I shared her progress with my co-worker and she asked me what I was going to do with her.  The truth is that I don't know.  I've been thinking about that dream I had.  I was so determined to get her well and get rid of her two weeks ago.  Now...I'm just not sure.  With the bigger property we have plenty of room in the pasture and she seems to really love it out there.  My sister isn't sure it's the best idea.  Her point was I might find someone else who actually enjoys riding her who would take even better care of her than me.  I'm just worried and feel responsible for her....she's had a hard enough life and I don't want her to end up in poor circumstances again.  It does feel good though to know she's going to be okay and that there are lots of options.  The future doesn't seem so bleak as it did just two weeks ago. 

Yesterday I hand walked her to the other barn and groomed her.  Tax was so excited to see his old girlfriend!  She got her mane trimmed and her face clipped.  I brushed her out and put some Cowboy Magic in her little stubby tail (It got chewed off bad last spring) which is actually growing back super thick.  I lunged her for just a minute to see how she's moving and she looks great.  Then I walked her home again.  She rolled in front of me for the first time since she got here.  I think she feels better too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Show Pics

 I like this pic of us.  I think I look...not as fat.  LOL  Tax of course looks perfect.

 This is typical.  Tax looks asleep and I have my hands in my lap. 
 Warm up jumps with my trainer, Tina.  I like that my rein is a little loose and I'm not ripping off his face.  Also, I'm looking up. Yay, me.
 Not bad although my leg still slips back a little more than I'd like.
Not sure about this one.  Why are my hands in my lap again?  Why aren't my heels down?  But I love the big pony's face and crazy winter mane.  So cute.
Most of the pics in my crossrails class were too far away to see much.  This was coming down the last line.  Nice and straight.  We may not have gotten a ribbon in this class but you have to add up all the little things that went well.  Tax is right where I want him to be right now. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is December in early 2009 after I'd gotten her back up to a good weight.  I got her in Sept of 2008 and she was very thin and out of shape.

This is December on Sunday, November 14th.  It makes me want to cry.  I think she looks a little better already then when she first got here.

Last night I dreamed about taking December to one of the shows I've been taking Tax to.  In my dream we completed the most beautiful hunter round in front of the trainer I got her from.  He was actually our judge at the last show.  Everyone congratulated us...everyone wanted her.

But maybe I was wrong about her getting better?  Last night December only ate about 4 quarts of pellets.  She ate her beet pulp and rice bran but I'm worried that's not enough.  She also didn't drink much water.  Hmmm...

I honestly can't figure out if something is going on with this horse or if she just needs food.  I had thought her weight looked a little better but then this morning her ribs felt so prominent.  Sigh and more sigh...

I figure its because I spoke with someone yesterday who is really interested in her.  I figure she just wants to stay in my pasture forever and get fat and happy and not work.

In the cold fog that settled over the pasture this morning she followed me down from the barn to the gate.  Her thin frame was illuminated in the high beams of my SUV which I had parked there to light up the early morning darkness.  As I climbed in the car to head to work she watched me, saying goodbye with her eyes before heading off to graze.

My mom says I always learn things the hard way because I never listen.  I'm sure there is a lesson here.  I know there is a moral to this story.  I'm listening now, and waiting.  I'm just trying to learn one day at a time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In the Dark

I'm not a big fan of the dark.  I mean, really, not a fan.  If you'd asked me a week ago the only thing I can imagine worse than the dark house is going out into the dark pasture.  There are animals out there and even though my rational brain tells me that they are more afraid of me then I am of them it doesn't always help.  I've read far too much horror fiction.  Coyotes infested with evil indian gods are not afraid of people (thank you S. King), and I'm pretty sure a zombie deer would come after you too (thanks Walking Dead).  Now, I know there aren't really evil indian gods or zombies lurking in the pasture but there's some primal part of my brain that just isn't buying it.  I like to think I have a strongly developed flight or fight instinct.

This last week and a half I've been faithfully out to check on December at 5 AM and between 5-6 PM.  Given everything above I never would have imagined I could make it out to the barn in the dark.  There are no lights out there at all.  I have to take a flashlight which barely illuminates the path.  In the beginning I took the dogs everytime and sometimes the kids too but now I don't always even though they do make me feel better when the come.  Regardless of how I feel about the dark, or the large animal I heard take off through the field this morning but didn't see, it's all been worth it.  I think that mare is actually getting better and I'm thrilled.

Last night she ate about 10 quarts of pellets, I'll need to weigh them but I'm thinking its close to 15 lbs.  Plus she ate all of her beet pulp and rice bran mix.  That's the most feed she's eaten so far.

And I had a really nice ride on Tax.  I love it when things finally click and all of a sudden something you struggled so hard with seems so easy you can't figure out why it was so hard before.  I used to think his canter was awful and that I'd never learn to sit down and move with him.  Know what did it?  I just needed to roll my legs out a little and keep his inside shoulder up with my calf at the girth.  Now I like cantering him even though it's still more work then on most horses.

Tonight hopefully I will be riding Charlie.  Our first ride didn't go so well and ended with him falling on me...well not ended, I did get back on for a minute just to prove to both of us I would.  Since then I went back to the beginning and I've been working hard on ground work and making sure he respects me and the fact that I tell him where to go before I get back on him.  I think he was still just adjusting to a new place and person.  At least that's what I hope.  I've never seen him act like that before so it caught me off guard.  Why do I always have to learn things the hard way?

Monday, November 15, 2010

December update and our last show of 2010

An amazing thing happens sometimes if you force yourself to take care of another living creature.  It becomes very difficult for most normal, caring people not to get attached.  You become invested in the outcome of that creature.  So it has been with December.  My last week has been a blur of taking care of her while simulanteously preparing for our last show of the season with Tax.

The good news is that she's still hanging in there.  She still seems to be in good spirits and while there seemed to be a small set back when I first got her home where she seemed worse now I think I'm seeing some positive changes.  She's out in our large pasture grazing usually from 5 AM until about 5PM.  I bring her in at night and she's getting about 15 lbs of senior pellets and I'm working toward 20lbs to see if she'll eat all of them.  I've slowly phased out hay completely.  I'm also mixing about 2 quarts of dry beet pulp, 2 cups of rice bran, a handful of flax seeds, a handful of salt, and a handful of sugar and soaking it all in water for about 30 minutes.  She gets that at night with her pellets.  I've started her on a round of sand clear, and wormed her with Panacur.  We'll do ivermectin too in a week.  I'm also keeping a blanket on her to help with the cold.  She's drinking most of a 70 quart bucket of water per day.  At least 3/4 most days.  I'm going to have her teeth checked again to see if she needs a float.  Maybe that's why she wasn't doing good with the hay. 

Yesterday I noticed a couple of things that make me happy.  She grazed further from the barn then I've ever seen her.  As I was bringing out her beet pulp she started heading for the barn as she does every evening when she sees me.  This time because she was further away I beat her there and she came trotting in the last few hundred feet.  This is the first time I've seen her trot in a week.  I sat outside her stall as the light slowly lowered and watched her eat.  She raised her head, alert every time she heard the kids playing up by the house and I giggled as the wet rice bran slid off her chin.

She really is a good horse in many ways.  When I gave her the wormer she just dropped her head and let me squirt it in her mouth.  She's not any kind of drama about it.  She always seems happy to see me and comes running up.  She was like that even before I leased her out and she was in a pasture with two other horses.  I'm sure it's just because I usually have something good to eat but I appreciate not having to chase her down in my 8 acre field.  She's very tolerant of the kids and dogs (unless she's eating, she's been weird about food) and my dumb dogs crawl all around her legs when I'm working in the barn.  She was very good with the lesson kids at the place that was leasing her. 

I hate to say it but hopefully this was just a feed management issue.  I'm taking pics and hopefully soon I'll have before and after shots to post.  She looks pretty bad still so I want to wait until there's some noticeable improvement.  I'm hoping I can get her fixed all up and find a good home that will appreciate and take care of her. 

The horse show went really well.  Tax was an awesome boy all day even though we got some high winds.  Ponies were dumping kids left and right and we had more than a usual number of falls.  My friend, Alyson, who manages the barn at my neighbor's house has never shown before.  I like how she rides Tax and offered to let her take him in some of the walk/trot classes if she wanted to.  By the time we got there and got ready she only got to do a quick warm up and then it was into the arena for her class.  In her very first class she got a 3rd in walk/tot Equitation out of about 15 riders!  As the places were being annouced a pony started bucking, threw her kid and crashed into Tax.  He never even batted an eyelash. 

I got a 5th in my walk/trot Under Saddle class and I showed in my first canter class.  We've been working so hard on it.  We broke to a trot once and I think the judge saw it so we got a third out of three but my trainer said it was the best she's ever seen me ride so I was perfectly happy with that.  We also did the trotting allowed crossbars with the goal of just trotting at a consistent pace for the whole course.  Tax was so good and didn't try to rush any of the fences.  I felt so much more relaxed than last time.  We didn't place but we're slowly but surely creating the type of horse I wanted to own.  He was so mellow the whole day that I even let my 15 year old niece walk him back to the trailer to untack him on her own while I went to close out my paperwork and get my ribbons. 

We're going to start working at cantering over fences now that I feel strong enough to keep him from rushing or pulling on me.  I can't wait for next year!

Oh and I almost forgot...  My mom came this time so I actually have pics of me showing my horse.  I'll get some up soon.  My mom is the cutest thing ever.  On Sunday she came by to give me some magazines she bought because they had articles on exercises for teaching green H/J to jump and on weight management for winter.  She does pay attention when I'm venting even if she's not a horse person!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bad news and tough decisions

I haven’t been blogging much lately and primarily because I’ve been busy. You may have noticed you haven’t heard anything about December since we had her teeth pulled. I wish I could say no news is good news but that’s not the case. I’ve had such a hard time dealing with this situation so I’ve been reluctant to post. I’m kind of at my wit’s end about how to help her and just need to vent right now.

After her tooth was pulled she healed fine and seemed to be gaining some weight. I didn’t talk to the lady leasing her for a while and assumed all was fine. She called me at the end of September to tell me she was afraid she was colicking. She’d stopped eating and seemed uncomfortable. She took her to the vet and had her tubed. They gave her meds, oil and water. They ran a full blood panel and nothing seemed abnormal. No infection and that was a relief. They did note that they thought they heard a cardiac arrhythmia. It sounded like atrial fibrillation but when the did the ECG it didn’t register. Since she was sedated the test may not have been completely accurate, but many horses live with the condition and it could have been brought on by the colic so we decide not to investigate further at that time. Since the episode was minor and the lady leasing her took her in to my vet I didn’t go out to check on her. I talked to the vet and we decided to wait on any more testing.

Then I got a call at the end of October. They thought she was collicking again. This time I went out to meet the vet (not my usual one but the on-call vet from the same clinic) at the barn. I was pretty horrified at how thin she was but figured if she has a chronic condition that they just might not be able to keep weight on her. December didn’t look like a regular colic but she was obviously uncomfortable about her belly and bared her teeth at me when I tried to listen for gut sounds. She was still passing manure and had a rumbly tummy but she was refusing to eat. The lessee shared that they had just ridden her in a barn pagent the day before which concerned me a bit because I wouldn’t be riding a horse in her condition just based on her weight alone. Again the vet tubed her and gave her meds and recommended a million tests if she didn’t start feeling better quickly. She checked again for the cardiac arrhythmia and didn’t hear anything usual.

I did some research and there were a lot of things that to me pointed toward a possible ulcer. The on-call vet didn’t necessarily agree but didn’t think the meds would hurt her any just to try to diagnose by seeing if they made her feel better. She’s always been a horse that seems very anxious and can be girthy and grumpy about her belly from time to time. I bought the meds and asked the lessee to start her on 2250 mg of ranitidine twice a day to see if it changed her behavior. They told me she seemed better after just a day. Then Friday I got a call. They had the vet out Thursday for vaccinations and decided not to give them to December because of her condition. The lessee told me she seemed to be going down hill quickly and needed more than she could provide her. She was depressed and no longer eating again. I made arrangements to pick her up immediately after work to take her to the vet. I cried most of the day through work wondering if I was going to have to make the decision to put her down.

When I got there she actually seemed to be in pretty good spirits. She looked dehydrated and sucked up, but not like she was in any pain. I called the vet and talked to her. We decided that it wasn’t worth the emergency call unless something changed and she was obviously distressed. I rescheduled my appointment for this coming Thursday because I’ve got the day off work. I took her home where my amazing sister met us and we quickly cleaned out the hay barn and spent some time checking her over. There are a few things I found concerning. Her muscle tone tells me she’s been working a lot. She has a rub mark on her withers because the saddle didn’t fit because she’s so thin but she was still obviously working. We checked to see if the blanket was rubbing her but it doesn’t hit her in that spot. The amount of medication for the ulcer treatment that they gave me back indicates they weren’t giving them to her on the schedule we agree to. Also, she was very hungry and thirsty. She proceed to eat everything she could get her lips on and grazed the whole time we were cleaning the barn. She never even lifted her head to see where she was or check out the pasture or neighbor’s horses. I don’t know what to think since this was very different behavior then what I was expecting. She spent the weekend eating pretty well. She grazed in our pasture, ate all of the rice bran pellets I was mixing her meds in with. I also gave her some stable mix pellets mixed with a little salt and sugar (for electrolytes) since the vet was worried maybe her teeth were bugging her since the extraction making it harder to eat hay. She is eating less hay then normal but I’m hoping only because she’s getting so much other food. She has gone through at least half of her 70 quart bucket of water per day and her sides filled in a bit. I was starting to wonder if she just wasn’t getting enough food to meet her needs based on her workload.

Everything seemed to be going pretty well until last night. She was in a lot of the day because it rained pretty hard and was cribbing because of it even though she had a big pile of hay. When I went to check her before bed she pinned her ears when I undid the blanket to check her belly. I was worried but checked her several times in the night and she seemed to be doing okay.

This morning she had eaten most of her hay and was really happy to be let out to graze. She didn’t seem to have an upset tummy anymore. My mom checked on her a couple hours later and she was still doing okay, just grazing.

I would do a lot for my animals but there has to be some kind of a limit and I don’t know where to make that distinction. She’s only 14 and not old enough for me to make the decision of what to do with her lightly. I’m not a rich person but I want her to be comfortable and happy. I’ve already done a lot for her when I didn’t even want to keep her. The lessor was supposed to buy her but then she kept getting sick. She said she wanted her back if we can get her well but I can’t in good conscience send her back there. I also know I don’t want to keep her but I can’t dump all these problems on someone else without knowing what’s going on and fixing it. I need to know she will go to someone who would take care of her if she needs ulcer meds daily. I wish I was okay with keeping her and retiring her but I’m not sure if we have the money to have three horses. I realize a good person would sell one of the healthy horses to have the money to take care of her but I don’t want to and I hope it won’t come to that.

So yeah, I don’t really know what to do except keep an eye on her and see how it goes…

Pictures of Charlie

Not, the best pics ever because I took them with my phone but here's Charlie getting settled into his new home.  This is him in our turn out when I got him back to my barn on Saturday.

I have to admit there are moments I've wondered if I did the right thing.  Grace is such a pretty girl and I'm going to miss her cute face and darling personality.  Then I turned Sir Charles out and let him run.  I'd forgotten how beautiful he is when he's moving.  Moves like Majick is a very appropriate name!

The perspective in this one is a little weird and he looks thin but he's not.  I just wanted to post because look at that handsome face!

 I love that bright chestnut color that shines like new pennies.  Always been one of my favorites.

Three dark spots right down his nose.  I'd recognize this face anywhere.

His high whites in the back.  I didn't get his cool stripe in the front but I'll have to post it sometime.  Its pretty neat.  He also has one belly spot I'll have to post sometime.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Becky - I think I was wrong on his age in my last post or it was a different horse you read about.  Rhonda has had quiet a few of his half-brothers and sisters for sale too and I've loved them all for their temperment, big build and pretty movement.  Charlie is 6 and over 17 hands.  He's bigger than Tax!  He a minimal sorrel overo with a belly spot and two white hinds.  He also has a cool Harry Potterish thunder bolt of white around one front cannon bone.  He has a big blaze with a couple of dark spots in it around his eyes.  He's also got the cutest tight little jog and a slow lovely lope.  He's awesome in the Western Pleasure but can also scoot around a trail course and turns out nicely for the HUS.  A true all-around ammy horse. 

I talked to my trainer last night.  She has a contract waiting.  She has a down payment and she has Charlie's papers signed off by his last owners.  She's also very excited that he's going to me where she knows she'll get to see him again and that he'll be well cared for and shown.  I get to pick him up this weekend!

I'm going to spend the winter just getting to know him and I'll be taking him out on the trails for the first time probably ever.  In the spring I'll take him in to the trainer for a little tune up if needed and then we'll start another show season.  I guess that means I need to call a guy about some chaps.  I never did have them finished and I already paid for the materials.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Its official

Grace went to her new home and I now own APHA Moves Like Majick, aka Charlie.  This is the horse I was talking about leasing way back at the beginning of the year.  He's seriously amazing and now he's mine.  I pick him up Saturday and I will try to get new pics up soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Prepurchase exam is being scheduled and price negotiations are completed for both horses.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'm back

 Becky asked for more pics of Grace and I have been negligent in my picture taking.  I always mean to be better and then I forget.  Here are a couple of my birthday when our friends came to our place to ride.  Yep, that's my pasture right there.  This ones kind of from a distance but I love how my friend, Junior is the same height on Grace that I am on Tax.  He's a big man and makes her look like a pony.

I haven’t been blogging much, have I? Things are afoot though. Exciting things…scary things. I just need to get though today and then I promise I will share. Today is a big day but I’m not ready to say why yet. I keep reminding myself that everything always works out the way it should. What is meant to be will be…but I’m PMSing today and I’m not sure it’s helping. Sigh.

Today, I want to write just to write. I want to write about the most amazing ride on Tax I’ve ever had. It was short but sweet. I asked for a canter, the take off just a little rough. I pressed my inside leg against his side at the girth to pick up his shoulder like I’ve been working on with the trainer. I kept my reins short with some contact. I continued to push him up with my outside leg into my hands.

Suddenly he wasn’t pulling on me. He didn’t feel behind the vertical either. He felt…light…like air. His stride became rhythmic and I could feel my butt sink into the saddle as I pushed down into my heels. My hips, my heartbeat, my breath…everything moving in time with his pounding feet. I looked ahead at the path ahead of us. Down the short end of the arena and across the diagonal, I reminded myself to sit back and keep his shoulders straight. I barely felt him change leads. His pace never changed. I slowed him to a trot and he was right with me. It had to be our best downward transition from the canter ever. I even nailed the diagonal.

If that’s what he’s going to feel like all the time once he’s totally consistent I’m definitely not selling him. He’s really just been amazing. He tries so hard to do what I ask and never gets a hair out of place. He never bucks, never spooks, just sometimes still gets a little quick at the canter especially his lead changes and that’s mostly my fault because I lean forward to look. My trainer rode him on Saturday after him being home since October 2nd. She said he doesn’t feel much different, just keep working on keeping his inside shoulder up. That’s like, the best compliment ever. I’m riding so much better now that I’m riding him 5 days a week. I know my trainer was worried I wouldn’t keep him going but she seems happy with our progress. We might be ready for a 2 foot course at our next show which is in just a couple weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

He’s finally putting on weight now that I am feeding him myself. Weight and hair...lots and lots of gorgeous hair. I’m giving him a special mix of mostly beet pulp and rice bran that Grace’s trainer gives all her show horses. It seems to work wonders.  They all have amazing coats and body condition.  Gots to give it to halter trainers there...they know how to make a horse look good.

Okay, I'll give a hint about what's going on today because I can't help myself.  Unfortunately, you might be getting a lot less pics of Grace.  The good news is you might be getting more of this guy which is good because I hate this pic of him but its all I've got for now.  More soon...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grace, you silly mare...

See the plan was to move you out into the pasture to save me some money when your brother moves in.  I don't think he will get along with the other horses out there as well as you do.  Oh, but you have your own agenda, don't you? (Ususally involving food!)

Why aren't you afraid of the hot tape like all of the other horses?  It has to hurt when you push your chest into it.  Why do you feel like you should be able to just move freely from one pasture to the next by just climbing right through it?  Guess I can nix my plan of adding a hot wire turn out at home for you...  You'd be roaming the entire pasture whenever you saw fit anyway.  Brat. 

*We have perimeter fencing on the entire ranch and a couple of pastures with wood/no climb fencing but also a big one with just capped t-stakes and hot tape along the inside of the property.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Almost home...

I can’t believe its been a month since I posted. So many things have changesd…

On Sat, Aug 7th I moved Grace to my neighbor’s house. There are four of us boarding who live locally and 8 horses total currently. We’re co-opting for cheap board. Grace is the only horse in the nice little six stall barn. Everyone else is out in the beautiful green pastures. There’s a large sand arena in the middle so we have a place to ride. It’s a nice place, and feels like family already. That Sunday we had a little BBQ to get to know each other. I like the other women and everyone seems very responsible so far. Alexis owns a hair salon in my hometown, Jill is a special education teacher and Alyson who runs the place works in IT. We all have real jobs and complicated schedules so everyone seems dedicated to pitching in to make this work. Alyson also has an 11 year old son who is a beautiful child. He looks like and elf, slender and willowy, with dark hair and hazel eyes and freckles on his nose. He raises chickens and plays in ponds which is why his family calls him the Swamp Monster. He’s been a good friend to my 10 year old. I only have to feed and clean two nights a week right now but I’m going to increase to 4 next month because I’ve decided to move Tax over for the winter.

I love having Grace so close and taking care of her myself. She even seems to enjoy it. I think she likes having her own person who loves on her every day. I love how her black and white pattern stands out in stark relief to the green pastures when I turn her out to run around. I love how she comes flying out of her stall to watch me walk up when she hears my car pull in. Love the sound of her voice when she calls out softly to me and the way she smells after tromping through lavender on our trail rides.

I’m teaching her flying lead changes and started working her over ground poles and small cross rails. On Sunday mornings I get up early and jog or bike over to the barn. I usually lead her out to the trails in the nature preserve behind the property and use a picnic bench to climb up on her broad warm back. She has no withers and the most comfortable back I’ve ever experienced. I call her my big comfy couch. She’s so wide and my legs so short that the stick out to each side and I had to learn to balance all over again. Because she’s a pleasure horse if I wrap my legs too tightly around her she stops instead of moving out.

I love trail riding Grace. She’s bright and alert and curious but not usually fearful. She steps out at a quick pace and just seems so happy to be out riding together. The only thing that has ever made her pause is the circle of large granite boulders that line the park entrance closest to my house. I call them “the sentinels” as she seems to think they’re lurking there waiting for her. Now, after a couple of visits she seems to be getting used to the idea that they don’t actually eat horse meat. She’s such a brave girl.

We went to another western schooling show this month. I got 3rd in Showmanship, 3rd and 4th in Horsemanship and a 5th in Ranch Versatility. The judge was amazing and spent a few minutes after each class going over our results with us and explaining how each type of class is supposed to be judged. I agreed with her placings every time and if I had nailed my pivot in Showmanship I think I would have gotten a 2nd. She complimented our back up which was nice since I was really worried about not backing up straight. Then in Horsemanship she added a pivot to the pattern and I’m pretty sure that’s what helped us place third. I had the weirdest thing happen. In my second Horsemanship class the person who was 5th took my 4th place ribbon which happens sometimes, but when I pointed out we’d gotten reversed she refused to give it to me. I wasn’t going to fight with her about it but my goodness that was strange. My niece got a 2nd in Showmanship, a 5th in Ranch Versatility and a 1st in Equitation.

The next weekend we took Tax to another H/J show. I don’t think the judge liked him much so I only got a 5th in Pleasure but I rode my first full jump course on him in the show. It was cross bars with trotting allowed so I wasn’t too nervous but then he refused the first jump twice which he has never done before! Brat. After that I was really tense until half way in and then I finally started to relax a bit. The 15 year old kid that’s been riding him took him in the 2 foot and 2’3 hunters and they made it around but it wasn’t pretty. I’ve still got some work to do and I told my trainer she needs to ride him next time so he can get some more experience under his belt.

I have a lesson on Tax tonight and then tomorrow I’m taking Grace out for her first lesson with the H/J trainer. The trainer likes paints and used to show WP too once upon a time. It should be a blast!

The best part is that now that I’m just riding Grace and Tax and enjoying it my fear is slowly evaporating. I like them both and trust them. Tax is still far harder to ride but I’m building strength and courage every day. As this show season starts to wind down I’m looking back on the year satisfied. I didn’t accomplish everything I was hoping but I’ve enjoyed myself immensely.

I have a couple more shows this year and a 12 mile non-competitive endurance ride next weekend for my birthday on the 4th. We might even get to camp out overnight. I’ll try to update again soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Show update

My niece and I woke up early Saturday to go pick up Grace.  The trainer was at a big paint show in NV so we were on our own for the schooling show.  Got to her place early and of course the gate was still shut.  I called her to ask if she could help and her poor nephew got the 6:30am wake up call to walk down with the remote and open the gate for us.  What a great kid!

Soon we had Grace out and groomed.  Loaded up our show tack and headed out.  The show was close by which was very nice but at an arena I hadn't been to before.  It's a small public riding arena but the footing looked good and there was a small warm up area too. 

I had my niece change while I got Grace decked out for Showmanship.  She looked gorgeous and we got many compliments from the other competitors.  Once I had her ready to go I handed her off to my niece to practice her pattern while I got us signed up for classes. 

We worked a little on her pivot and set up and then it was time to head to the arena.  My niece went first and forgot her pattern a little but otherwise they did great.  Got a second in their Showmanship class.  I had decided to give the 18+ class a try to so it was my first venture into the Showmanship world.  I wasn't nervous at first and had gotten the last spot out of about 5 or 6 so had time to watch everyone else do the pattern.  It was a simple L shaped pattern.  Walk from A to B then jog to C and halt.  Pivot 270 degrees and walk to the judge for the set up.  I'd watched almost everyone else screw up the pattern by not stopping in the right place slightly past C to line up with the judge.  The girl in front of me finally got the pattern right.  I totally intended to nail it and then got nervous and halted too soon anyway.  LOL.  We got set up quickly but then during the inspection Grace stepped forward and I had to move her back again.  Sigh.  We placed third which was good and I got a nice compliment from the judge.  She told me to work on the set up because Grace would make a very nice Showmanship horse.

Next was equitation.  We went back to the trailer where I discovered that I'd forgotten a cinch.  A really nice family let me borrow one.  Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.  We got tacked up but my niece was complaining of a stomach ache and decided to sit out of the walk/jog class so I decided to add and had her lay down in the car for a bit.  I think she was nervous.  I warmed Grace up a little.  Her jog felt ok and her lope was pretty good.  I took my niece's spot in the walk/jog class.  We didn't do as well as I was hoping because Grace wanted to be to quick and was looking around at everything new.  I think I focused too much on getting her to listen.  Probably just should have focused on me and let her go around with her head up.  In the 18+ eq class I felt her staring to relax at little but we still didn't manage to place.

Next up was ranch versatility.  We've never done this class but in the description it just said that you would also be asked to halt and back in the class.  My niece was feeling better so rode in the walk/jog class.  The did pretty well but her hat flew off during the first jog and she lost her concentration.  I'm just proud that she remembered to steer and it went smoothly.  I had entered the 18+ ranch versatility class and I was in for a surprise.  We were asked to walk, jog, extended trot, lope, gallop.  Then we had to halt, back and pivot to change directions.  Next we were asked to lope off the rail, halt and side pass back to the rail.  Then one at a time we had to lope half the arena and then gallop half of the arena and halt back where we started.  I had gotten the first gallop with the group but this time I got nervous again and I accidently got Grace with both spurs and she responded as trained and slid to a stop nearly ejecting me from my seat!  I couldn't be mad at getting exactly what I asked for...what a good girl.  Gotta work on cuing a gallop if I'm going to do that class.  We got going again but it was really still a lope.  While we didn't place it was the most fun I've ever had in a show class.  I think I'm going to work on this event.  I loved it.

Next we were entered in a walk/jog Horsemanship class with about 10 riders.  We went toward the middle of the order.  We were finally relaxed and clicking with each other.  It was another simple pattern.  Three cones in a row.  Walk from A to B.  Pick up a jog and jog a circle tracking right.  Contine jogging to C and halt.  Then back four steps.

We nailed the pattern and got another third.  I felt pretty good about it because we had a trainer enter the class on her old lesson horse and they won it.  I kinda thought it was awful of her to compete against the kids and ammys but I know it happens and the show let her do it.  I'm still counting that as a second place in my head and its the highest score we've gotten in a riding class.  Yay!

My lessons for the day...put my cinch in the saddle bag with my show saddle.  Dress down a little more for this schooling show if we do it again (and I absolutely want to!).  Most riders were wearing nice western shirts but not the blingy pleasure rail tops.  Lots of straw hats which looked so much less hot than my black felt.  Work on the gallop and practice my showmanship.  Grace seems to like the pattern classes.  It may be her niche.  I think I'm going to ask the trainer about learning how to do the trail patterns too.

Sorry we didn't get pics for you.  My camera broke and it's very hard to do pictures when it's just the niece and I and we're running around getting ready for classes.  Next time I'm bringing a friend to play photographer!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Show this weekend

Another schooling show with Grace to prepare for an actual Paint show next month.  Maybe I can get my horse to jog in public this time?  I'm sure hoping I can.  I'm taking the niece too and trying to decide what classes to try.  Keep your fingers crossed for us and I'll update next week on how it goes.

We're doing this show without the trainer who will be in NV for another APHA show.  I'm nervous again!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Long days, short moments

If anyone has any suggestions about how to stop the asian spam comments on my blog let me know.  How annoying!

I've kind of taken a break from riding.  I hate when it starts to feel like time takes for ever and flies by at that same time.  I popped on Grace for a few minutes Saturday morning but other than that nothing.  I've been so busy with the move, with helping my sister with some things in her life and with other animal related issues I'll get to in a minute.  Why does real life always interfer with my riding right when things are getting good?  I did get some pictures of the new place to post though.

On Saturday I also let the trainer know that in August I want to move Grace home for a while.  Actually, what I want to do is move her to our neighbor's until we get the fences fixed up.  I'll be cleaning stalls and feeding about 10 horse two days a week in exchange for board.  I'm actually looking forward to the work.  The trainer was totally supportive and tried to give me another trail horse to take home as a companion!  Stormy is so cute I can't even look at him or I'll end up doing it and I don't need another horse.  He's a pretty red roan with two high whites and a baby doll face.  He's got ring bone or I'm sure he'd still be out showing.  I'm sad to be leaving though and told them I would be back for weekend lessons and if we go to a show I may take her over a week or two before for a tune up. 

I also had an appointment for the vet with December.  She's had reoccurring sinus infections and lost some weight.  We were pretty sure her teeth were involved so it was time for x-rays.  We went to see the now infamous Dr Carlson who floated her for me back in December.  He's too cute and the new vet assisting him, Edwardo, looks like he should be on the cover of a romance novel.  He even comes complete with a shy smile and latin accent.  So cute!  Even though I was pretty distracted by the pretty scenery, Sister says I went a little pale when they told me she had to have a tooth pulled.  I know a human tooth can cost a lot so I was a little nervous about the cost.  In the end it was expensive but not, like, I need to sell one of the children expensive. 

WARNING - These are pics of the gross tooth the vet came out to give me so I could take it home.  I felt the need to share. I can't believe how big this thing is and she's 14 so has significantly smaller roots then a younger horse!

In the second picture you can see the fracture in the bottom left side of the chewing surface that allowed the infection to start.  Hopefully with the tooth out we've resolved the issue but time will tell.  If there was any bone damage in the sinus we'll have to have that removed too. 

I'm back to riding this week.  I have lessons scheduled with Tax for Thursday and Friday.  I'm praying it doesn't completely kill me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Newest Guest

Yesterday evening I walked out in the new pasture to see if I could get to the pond to check out what was going on down there.  I found a little trail to the water and I did wonder for a mintue what was making the trail.  It was too big to be rabbits.  I just about gave myself and a young deer a heart attack when it popped up out of the bushes about two feet from me.  I heard it first and had just enough time to think, "uh oh, that sounds big" but before I could panic it leaped up and I saw its beautiful face.  Amazing.  I've never seen a solitary deer before. 

Did I mention we have wild turkeys too.  So cool.  I think I'm going to like it here.  It suits me well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mostly moved in...

We've got most of the stuff moved in to the new place.  I haven't ever lived this far out in the country before.  Last night I had the window open and there was some kind of weird shrieky noise coming from outside.  What the heck?  I couldn't decide if it was an owl or a mountain lion prowling around our yard.  I'm convincing myself it was an owl.  At least I didn't hear any coyotes.  I know they're out there and they scare me.  And, yes, Sister, I know they won't attack a grownup but that doesn't make me any less scared.  That's why the call it a phobia.  Its an irrational fear.  My brain is convinced that coyotes are invested with evil indian spirits that make them stronger than regular dogs or that they're really inhabited by aliens wishing to spy on my house.  Apparently, I read way too many horror novels...

Friday, July 2, 2010

On riding the broken pony and on moving...

Haha....I just read Sister's last comment.  So, here's how it went with her broken pony last Friday.  He's gotten pretty relaxed with her but apparently I'm still kinda scary.  When I first got on he wanted to work himself up to a tizzy.  I think this is because I ride with slightly more contact in both my legs and reins from being a mainly English rider.  It took him a little while to realize I wasn't going to pull on his mouth, just the soft contact felt a little different.  I stayed very patient, I stayed very quiet.  It was REALLY hot but I wanted him to relax at the trot and carry his own frame and not feel like he was going to run off with me.  Finally after trotting around the arena a gagillion times there was no head tossing and one very nicely moving pony.  We got there but by that time, his eyeballs were already sweating.  I'm not kidding...he lathered up in the crease of his eyelid.  It did, however, feel really good to get to that point without fighting with him.  See, I am patient.  Sometimes...

What I'm saying is that sweat was his own fault.  He didn't have to work so hard.  I didn't ask him to do anything but trot.  He wanted to be silly and get himself all sweaty but we worked it out.  We also walked down the driveway while we were cooling out and he was really good...didn't even try to look back at the barn.  Maybe he was tired?

Sister, I was running late and spent my time cleaning your pony so he wasn't itchy.  I owe you a saddle cleaning too.  He let me clean him up without pulling back or freaking out though.  :)

I also cantered Tax!  Like a real somewhat collected canter that felt like I had time to steer and I wasn't even in two-point.

I also made it out to ride Grace and she's really fantastic right now.  Her jog has actually gotten much prettier then I thought it would.  And she's maintaining it now without me constantly reminding her.  I almost have a finished WP horse.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet but we're moving.  To the country.  With 9 acres.  I'm pricing mare motels and tractrors right now.  I think I'm going to leave Tax in training for now but I think I'm going to bring Grace home to live with us.  The thought of a soft muzzle in the morning before work has me just as happy as can be.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why I need riding lessons

I've decided I'm no good without a trainer of my own.  Really.  I can ride decently when I put some work into it but left to my own devices...I'm lazy.  That's right, I admit it.

What's wrong with jogging my H/J TB like a western horse so I can sit the trot?  Maybe, just maybe, because then I never build up the strength and balance to post?  Oh yeah, that's right.

But having a trainer just does something to my brain.  I can't fail them.  I will post until I fall off the horse dead before I complain.  I always try my hardest to do anything they ask.  I'm learning to ask questions instead of getting anxious or frustrated.  I never thought about it before but having given a few beginner lessons to kids myself I can tell you I can't stand when someone doesn't listen to me and try to do what I'm asking.  They don't have to get it right, they just have to acknowledge me and try to get it.  I guess maybe that makes me a good student although I don't think that's why I do it.  It's an ego thing.  I don't want to embarass myself, I want to be good at this.  I want it so much and I have my whole life.

I had a fabulous lesson on Tax on Wednesday.  It's like something just clicked into place.  I had felt really off balance posting when we first started and I was recovering from surgery.  All of a sudden my legs feel velcroed into place.  My shoulders finally feel far enough back.  Tax feels relaxed in his frame and forward in his movement.  I even got a "that looks so much better; very good" from the trainer.

Do you know what that means to a h/j trainer?  Toture time is just getting started.  Time to start posting for an hour 3-5 days a week to build up my strength and muscle memory.  Besides it's good for the horse.  Am I regretting all the days I made my sister post without stirrups when we were kids?  Nah...not really.

I watched her other student, Homer's dad canter big slow circles around the arena popping over fences every now and then and was just a little jealous.  I am patient, I am patient, I am patient....breathe.  Can I canter now?  We should be able to start tonight as long as things go well.  I'm also going to ride Promise for my sister because she's out of town.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the results are in!

Tax was incredibly good at his first show.  Our goal was just to get him going quietly around the arena.  Since he's a fairly young OTTB we weren't positive how he would react to all the commotion.  He was practically perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better first show experience.

This is him with his buddy Homer.  The rider is the 15 year old girl who's been taking lessons on him.

We took him in 4 classes.  He and I did the first class of the day a novice walk/trot eq class and I got a second place!  In eq!  And I have to tell you it was a challenge.  There were scary jumps on the sides of the arena and a big mirror on a trailer that they decided to move half way through our class.  I could hear the truck pulling it grinding in the gravel and thought it was going to spook him but I stayed calm and talked to him really low and he just went around the arena very relaxed.  That first class was the best.

Then we did a walk/trot under saddle and got a third.  He realized that the mirror was gone and it kinda weirded him out and then there was a kid playing next to the arena and making a lot of noise and that was kinda scary too.  He didn't spook at all but was a little distracted and kept popping his head up to look.  Over all though, he was really good and the trainer thought he should have done better in the under saddle classes but the judge seemed to really like ponies. 

The other girl who rides him took him in a walk/trot and a canter class and he was very good for her too.  She isn't riding in spurs yet so she had a hard time getting him in a frame.  He's still pretty green but they will get there.  Once her leg is quieter she'll be able to ride in spurs too and I think they'll do great.  They ended up with a 5th and a 6th so he placed in all of his classes. 

One of my goals is to get him filled out a little more. He still looks too skinny in this pic compared to Homer behind him even though he's got a ton of new muscle.  I'm going to talk to the trainer about feeding him some additional hay and supplements to see what we can do. 

I also want the trainer to be able to ride him in a jumping class at the next show which is in mid-July and I'd like to try a canter class.  I can't wait for my lessons this week!

Oh and I did get video if I can figure out how to get it off my phone and onto my blog...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sugar, we're going down

We're preparing for Tax's show this weekend and I had a lesson with his trainer last night.  It went pretty well.  This is the first time I have ridden him in spurs for my lesson and it was good.  I get to do a lot less work and focus on myself because he really listens to my leg.  The jumps on the side of the arena still continue to be VERY SCARY so it was nice to have that extra encouragement.  Especially after I explain this next event...

We were working on trot-walk downward transitions because I'm only riding in a walk/trot under saddle class and we really want to get them solid.  When our trainer asked me to execute our first downward tranisition we were right next to the scary jump so I took a second to prepare; lengthing my leg and tightening it slightly to push him into my hands so he couldn't pull me forward like he likes to do.  Everything was going well so I asked him to slow...and he tripped.  He's a bit of a clutz with those long legs and I have a feeling his attention was still slightly diverted to the said horse eating jump.  The good news was I had remembered to sit back for the transition so when he started scrambling my seat felt secure.  I lengthened my reins just enough to give him his head as he tried to find his balance without throwing him away.  I remember thinking, it's okay, I'm here to help but I don't want to get in the way.  I even managed to keep my spurs out of him as I relaxed back into my seat.  As he scrambled I felt his body start to go down.  All of a sudden I was at least a foot closer to the ground which oddly made me feel a little better.  He scrambled down the line so long I had time to think...oh he's got it, nope I'm pretty sure we're going, he's...  And then we were up and he craned his neck around to check me out as if to say, "woah, mom, what the heck just happened?"  He fought so hard to stay up keep me on his back I never even felt anxious.  How do you not love that? 

I gave him a minute to relax telling him what a good boy he was and scratching his neck.  Walked him over to the trainer to check his legs which were fine.  She said he must have scrambled for at least 12 feet and praised me for sitting back and riding it out.   I loved that it didn't scare me at all because I felt him fight so hard not to hurt us.

Our next time around the arena he was pretty convinced those jumps had something to do with his almost fall.  I could just see it in his eyes.  "Did you see that thing come over here and TRIP me?"  Silly boy.  We got back to a nice relaxed trot.  A couple of more transitions and reverses at the trot and called it a day.  We'll see how it goes tonight.  Never a dull moment!

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Pics of Tax in Training

I finally managed to swipe some pictures of the trainer schooling Tax.  This was actually about a month ago so he looks even better now.  This was his first day working on flying lead changes so he was a bit excited.
Aw, before his haircut even!  He's decided to go all flea-bitten gray this year, but he's still lovely.  He looks like something out of a fairy tale. 

Our first show is June 19th.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  He's hard not to notice next to all the dark bay hunters which will either be good or bad depending on how I ride.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Riding

Saturday I took a lesson on Grace and it was my first lesson in weeks on her. I was all disorganized and I could tell the trainer was being patient because she'd done all this work with Grace the last couple of weeks and didn't want me let Grace take advantage of me. They're trying to finish her and even think she's ready for the APHA show in Fallon, NV. That was a surprise because I didn't think they thought she was competive for APHA but she's been doing really well. Her jog is so much lighter then before when she was still pretty heavy in front. Finally Beth the assistant trainer recommended that I close my eyes and try to feel when she had the jog right. All of a sudden I was so much more aware of my balance and my body as well as hers. I could feel her the second BEFORE she started to speed up and was able to catch it.

We worked on turning my toes out to use my spurs and where her buttons are for shoulders, ribs and hips. This all seems to basic but its just slightly different then when riding english with no spurs which is what I've always done. By the end I could get a pivot, sidepass and disengage her hips on cue. Yay! My biggest problem is that I need to learn to ride without my hands now. I'm so used to steering with them to some degree and you don't have that luxury with a WP horse. Your reins are too long to use them for anything but to tell the horse some leg cue is coming.

Closing my eyes allowed me to turn inward and focus on where my body was and how little shifts changed what Grace was doing. It was a very good lesson, and I finally had her staying on the rail relaxed at a real jog. I asked the trainer if she thought I could get away with riding at the show with my eyes closed. :) Wouldn't that be fun? LOL.

I took that lesson and tried it on Tax the next day. It's a little scarier riding the big, fast guy with my eyes closed but as Beth pointed out you can always just open them. So, we practiced our posting trot and transitions without me looking. I finally felt like I nailed a couple of trot to walk transitions without him pulling on me. Yay again! We also walked and troted some ground poles with my eyes shut so I could just try to be consistent instead of anticipating where the poles are. Went much better than I expected.

Yep, it was a good weekend...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photo Friday

Also, this is what happens when mom gets distracted by her horse being a creep. No pants, one sock, shoes on the wrong feet and shirt on backward. And although you can't see it he's covered in a fine layer of dust from rolling himself around in the indoor arena.

These are from Butte Star on our last Cattle Drive. I love this first pic. The guy, Duane is our barn owner and horse shoer. You can almost hear that story he's telling Sister. We have a great time hanging out with Duane.

Jerry and his cutting horse. That little bay is an awesome cow horse.

Very scary jumps

Tax's trainer had a very minor surgery this week so she asked me if I wanted to come out and ride the big guy last night. Of course I did! And here's what happened.

Someone had dragged all the jump standards to the sides of the arena to drag it. Tax says - How dare they!?! Apparently jump standards in the middle of the arena = not scary. Jump standards that move "all on their own" to the sides of the arena = very very scary.

Weird. Tax isn't usually very spooky but he was NOT going to relax and go past those creepy things. I had warmed up at the end of the arena, so the first lap around the arena I picked up an easy posting trot. As we came around the far corner he stopped and started flying backward with that "I might just spin and bolt" tenseness you can feel in every muscle. I got him stopped, calmed him down and tried again at a walk but the whole time he was dancing around and wanting to be silly. Finally I had him walking past them but every time we came around at the trot he would counterbend and do that silly prancing, distracted thing while he moved sideways threatening to teleport. Sigh.

I finally got smart and decided to get down and move them out of the way a little. Tax decided he all of a sudden doesn't trust me. His feelings are hurt because I let the trainer ride him all the time now and he likes her better anyway. She doesn't get disorganized and give confusing cues and then get all mad at him when he doesn't get it. LOL Tax pulled back when I went to move the jump and I lost my grip on the reins. He took advantage and ran away from the scary jump as fast as he could. Of course no one saw that I'd gotten down, they just saw a loose crazy horse running around the arena and I had the guys come running down to make sure I wasn't hurt. Nope...just feeling dumb, thanks.

I collected my horse and moved the jumps. One I had to set upright and push against the fence. They're light things made from PVC though so that was nice when I was moving them. I got everything moved and Tax seemed to be realizing they didn't actually eat horse flesh. I dragged him up the fence a little and started getting ready to climb on. I was kind of fighting him because he wanted to eat the grass at the edge of the arena and was being a creep. I took a step in front of him to get around to the fence side. What the heck was I thinking?!? I know better than to walk right in front of my horse. The evil jump standard took this as it's opportunity and fell over right behind us just as I got myself in front of Tax and he caught the movement in the corner of his eye.

OH MY LORD! Did you see it just try to make a grab for me? I imagine Tax saying it all know after he barrelled me over. I was lucky. I didn't get hurt. I'm usually a careful person and it really made me think about getting lazy and taking the safety stuff for granted.

I got back on and we did nothing but walk past the scary area until he seemed really relaxed. I'd ask him to bend correctly going past them in a circle and just play with my inside rein a little to make him pay attention to me. Finally we got a nice big relaxed hunter trot past the jumps and called it quits for the day.

That was exhausting and my butt hurts from using my legs and posting. Poor me! Hopefully my lesson today will go better.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A special treat

I went through old photos and broke out the scanner finally.

You've read about him and now here he is! This is Applejack my POA. My poor un-horsey mom is actually doing a great job here trying to get him to model for the pic. He was fat with a terrible hind end but look at those feet. He never needed shoes. He loved to run and jump and was an excellent gymkana horse.

I loved his face. I like a nice straight nose.

This was Philly, one of Alicia's horses. I learned a lot taking lessons on this horse.
This is a very unflattering picture of Blaze her dressage horse. I swear he was very cute. I realize here he looks like a pregnant mare that's foundered but it's a really bad angle. And all of our horses were a little fat. This place fed maybe a little too well.
Next up pics of me jumping Cody, my first TB...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Too Busy!

There is so much cool stuff going on and I want to post but I don't have time! Argh.

Clift Notes version:

Grace wants to be a cow horse and we're going out to the ranch again tomorrow. Charlie may be available again after all but I haven't decided what to do about that. December has been to a couple of shows and I got to see her at one. They had a 6 year old kid riding her in one class which made me a little nervous but it went ok. She was tense in the ring and had her head up to high but she wasn't crazy or anything. Tax's first show is this month and he's started over cross rails with the trainer. Also one of the other students asked if she can ride him for a lesson once a week and she offered to pay for his shoes. I'm so doing that!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I just had to post this too...

Because how cool is that?

Up Next

Saturday Sister and I will be going on another cattle drive/sorting. I can't wait to have another story to share and the weather is supposed to be fantastic. This time we're being brave and taking our own horses. Sister is taking Promise and I will be taking Grace. And we'll be joined by our barn owner Duane and his very reliable QH named Jester. I'm so excited for an opportunity to do something different with Grace to bond and just let her be a horse instead of picking at her gaits for showing pleasure. I think it will be good for both of us. AND she should be nice and tired the next day.

Sunday is another local schooling show. My western show saddle is in the shop having the stirrups fixed (they couldn't be shortened without cutting down the fenders) so I'm going to only ride in the english pleasure classes and then just hang out for a little bit. I think I'm going to this one alone and it will be a good chance to just ride her in the warm up ring and let her get used to all the horses being around.

It's going to be another busy weekend and hopefully I'll get some great pics on the cattle drive again.