Sunday, December 4, 2016

Family Trees, Part I

The discussion of Dylan and O's family trees I saved for the second post - since O is bred to Dylan, the resulting baby will be a combination of all of these things, which to me is very special.


O is of course very special to me. We have been through so much together, and truly, she is my best girl. 

But, she comes from a nobody pedigree. At least on her sire's side. 


Well, I can see where she gets her short neck from *cough that mare*. 

The stallion is a nobody from French lines that I know nothing about. Supposedly, right before his stallion testing he contracted EPM and was unable to complete his requirements. Although supposedly he won some things in hand. He's handsome but he did nothing and I have no information on him whatsoever. I've even asked my contacts in France who are Selle Francais breeders and sellers. They don't know anything about him either.
His dam was a TB, so basically O is almost 3/4 TB. I just like to pretend that she isn't. Supposedly the dam evented up to Prelim, but it's not clear if that really happened or not. All I can tell is that she was small, and particularly unattractive. The sire improved on this mare A LOT.

O as a baby. The caption in red does not appear to be correct as I think it says '15 or '18?  

On both sides of her pedigree she has crossbreeding, particularly to Nearco line horses. She has Nearco four times in her pedigree. A lot of TBs do, of course, but to me that's a heavy emphasis on one family line. Some of the big names that show up multiple times in her pedigree include:

Northern Dancer 
Fleet Nasrullah - Nasrullah - Count Fleet 
Raise A Native
Native Dancer 
Man O War - Fair Play - Hastings -Bend Or

And others.

To me what stands out as a red flag the Raise A Native breeding. Those in particular were known for spindly crooked legs and a bad attitude. O inherited all of that to some degree, although her legs are not so spindly and crooked that they kept me from either using her heavily as a sport horse, or from breeding her. She has held up both in terms of soundness and in brain, so she earned that in my book. Still, Dylan's soundness and depth of bone did factor into my choice. If he was less stout in his limbs, I probably would not have chosen him as a match for her.

Gawan D'Amour


Raise A Native


Dylan comes from an unbroken line of FEI level ultra-champions. He is no exception to that. The breeding clearly works. 

Baby Dylan!

His sire is the PRE stallion Plata Leon, and his dam is the rather innocuously named Snow Flake. I think it probably got translated from Spanish and didn't sound nearly as pretty in English, but that's just a theory. Dylan himself is a PRE but his ANCEE paperwork did not get filled out when he was younger, so he only has IALHA papers. But he is full blooded PRE.

Plata Leon

Plata Leon

Plata Leon is a son of the famous Regalado II, an FEI level dressage stallion who was imported to the US from Spain. Regalado II shows up in both Dylan's sire and dam sides. 

Regalado II is a son of the even more famous Leviton, one of the greatest breeding PREs in Spain - he was the number one military breeding stallion in the Military Stud program and produced more champions than any PRE alive at his time.

Leviton's sire, Agente

Also in Plata Leon's pedigree is the famous Legionario III, one of the most influential Spanish stallions serving as a foundation for the breed in the US. If you collect Breyer horses, you probably have his model - he was their first ever Andalusian. 

I could go on and on. Every horse in his pedigree is famous. And I know very little about Spanish bloodlines but even I recognize the names!

The things I am hoping to get out of this breeding:

Ridiculous flashy movement
Ability to turn on a dime
Excellent stamina
Strength and soundness

In short, an ideal combined driving horse and also a dual purpose dressage/working equitation horse. 
It is also guaranteed to be grey, and maybe not the most mentally stable of horses. But, I can't imagine myself with a mentally stable horse anyway, so that's fine by me!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Big Frank

There is a new mule around here. Obviously I didn't need another mule - I'm basically an animal hoarder at this point as it is - but his owner needed help out of a situation and I agreed to her proposal. She's a client of mine, so I've known this mule for about a year now, and have always loved him. The owner unexpectedly lost her lease on her property after being there for years, so she had to rehome two of her four very fast. Since the mule is old, and she didn't want him passed about, she decided she would either find him a home with someone she knew, or she would euthanize him rather than risk him being lost in the shuffle. So I stepped in to help.

This is Big Frank. 

Yes, he is basically a giant Eeyore. 

Big Frank is about 21-22 or thereabouts, although we don't actually know. My dentist is coming on the 9th, so we will see what she says. Pmare will be 21 next year and she looks 10 years younger than Frank does, so it's hard to say really. He might be older. 

Frank came with all of his tack, including blankets, halters, custom saddle and saddle pad, custom bridle, custom breastcollar. He's a fully equipped riding mule. I had the idea that he would be for Future Hubs and we could go riding together sometimes, although whether or not this will happen is up for debate.

Big Frank is big, but not BIIIIIIG. He's 16.2, although his butt is probably near 17h. His head is the truly enormous thing about him - it makes Pmare look like she has a dainty face, which is saying something considering I literally named her Pangea because her head is the size of a supercontinent. Frank's one vice is that if you don't lead him with a chain, he just sort of leaves. He's so strong that you can't physically stop him without a chain. 

That is one big schnoz

Big Frank is very gentle with the little ones. If he wants them to move, he just slowly turns around and backs towards them. They're all not sure yet who is the boss but they're all happy to cohabitate. It takes a special draft mule to be able to live peacefully with minis, because one kick would knock their little legs off. 

Mostly they get along, anyway

Frank is pretty simple to ride. He steers, he stops. And that's about it really. 

Turn Frank turn!

He's pretty much amazing. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

End of November Analysis; December Goals!

Truly, this was one of the weirdest months I can remember. I started out SO strong with my blogging, I had all these things to write about, all these things I had to do. Then the election blindsided me. Completely knocked me off my feet. I know it sounds stupid, but it's hard to describe how negatively the whole thing has affected me. It's not just the election results, it's all of the fallout following it. Every day we get more bad news about picks for the transition team and cabinet, every day the scenario gets more frightening for me. At this point I'm just trying to get myself mentally pulled together enough to face this uncertain future. I have a lot of things to focus on, and it's very distractinb to feel like my attention is being pulled elsewhere to something so very negative.

So, back to writing I go. I have a lot of things I want to blog about after all!


O-Ren November:

1) Go on ponying hacks with Dylan 1x a week
Success, kinda - Dylan had the last two weeks off post horse show so she sat around just being fat!

2) Continue to be a big fat relaxing preggo momma horse!
Success! Not that this is hard to accomplish of course. 

Dylan November:

1) Attend second WE show in Tyler!!!
Success! We had a pretty great show in Tyler. Some hits and some misses, certainly, but lots of homework and of course some beautiful satin to boot!

2) Decide if I want to dip my toe into the circus of breed shows (there is an IALHA show going on with the WE show this month. I kind of don't, because it sounds sort of completely not fun, but I am considering it for the future. Most likely I will stick with just WE and dressage shows this year, and then consider breed show stuff later on in 2017/2018.)
I definitely decided not to. I don't regret it - I added up the costs but it was very expensive. I do think Dylan would have done well, as he has done well in the past, but breed shows aren't high on my list at the moment. I have more important goals in mind!

3) Continue putting together 4th level and Intermediate (WE) level dressage tests
Success! But, the Intermediate tests need more work at home. We need to figure out how to chill Dylan out when he goes into the ring, so that he can quietly execute the walk work in this test. It is mentally VERY hard for him.

4) Increasing fitness work - more walk hacks added to each ride
Success! This is getting harder now that we are running short of daylight, but I'm happy with his level of fitness compared to where we were this summer following his injury. 

5) Trailer out regularly to practice WE obstacles in addition to trailering out regularly for rides at WD
I have been out once to the arena which had the WE obstacles and it went very well. It's an outdoor arena, which can be troublesome in the winter, but I intend to continue to do this. Bonus: I asked if I could toss the babies on the trailer and bring them along for experience and they said of course!

6) More lessons!!
This was hit and miss as well, but not for lack of trying - it's very hard to get ahold of L and sometimes our schedules do not mesh. She teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays, and while I can usually take that off in advance, sometimes I don't hear from her until 10 or 11 at night the day before the lesson. I have one scheduled in advance for next Tuesday though!

Pangea November:

1) Continue using her as a pony horse for the babies
Pmare didn't get ridden at all this month, not once. Which is fine, but I would have liked to make it happen.

2) Go on some off property trail rides with Pax or Zoodle!
Again, didn't get to do this - just not feeling quite like myself this month. 

Pax November:

1) Be ponied off P regularly
Didn't happen, see above. 

2) Go for some off property trail rides with P!
See above, again. 

3) Continue wearing a bridle and doing general handling/baby school stuff!
Success! This we did do. Pax gets groomed regularly and handled a long on the ground, so this went well. She is wearing her bridle well and now lets me walk up to her in the pasture and toss a blanket on and blanket her while she is loose. Last year she still wanted to be a wild naked animal and leave whenever the blanket would come out, this year she has become decidedly more domesticated. 

Lendri November:

1) Continue to do lots of long lining around the property and off the property a bit!
Success! I did decide after the bicycle incident that long lining her out on the road is dangerous. Come to think of it, everything near the road is dangerous - riding, driving. Cars drive fast out there and I fear accidents. I think I'll try and stay closer to the property or exclusively on the property, or in subdivisions only, especially with Lendri. She is too green still to take that chance.

2) Once new harness comes in - start to hitch again and really drive!
The new harness did come in and fits great, and she has been hitched one more time. I still harbor reservations about her being a reliable and safe driving animal though. Her abuse runs so deep and the equipment still sometimes frightens her for no particular reason that I can tell. I have a whole blogpost on this coming up!

Zu November:

1) Continue working on lunging without pulling - when he pulls he stops and turns himself around!
Success! Zu has done incredibly well with this. Shaping behavior with a zebroid is so interesting - I find that just doing a tiny bit at a time is the key. If you do something once or twice correctly, and give big praise, then just quit for the day. Even if you just worked for 3 minutes, just quit. It's enough. You've done enough for him to retain it. If you push and do more than that, and you end up with a confused or sour zorse, you're in big trouble. It's going to take a long time - a looooooooong time - this way but the outcome will be worth it.

2) Ponies with P - on and possibly off property!
Didn't do this - see above above. 

3) Toss him on the trailer whenever I take Dylan or anyone else off property! 
I didn't do this, but I asked if I could, and now that I know that I can I will!

4) Wearing a bit comfortably
Success! He is going well in the little mullen mouth half cheek that Lendri goes in too. Everyone seems to like that bit. It's sized appropriately for tiny mouths with fat tongues. and they all carry it comfortably. 

Uma/Sriracha November:

1) Continue general handling 1x week
As usual I handled them less than I would have liked but I have been messing around with them both regularly while she is in the pasture. I think Sriracha has a definite future as a driving mule but I'm not in a hurry. She is only 2 after all! And who knows, maybe Uma will get big enough and they can be a pair!


O-Ren December:
1) Go on ponying hacks with Dylan 1x a week
2) Continue to be a big fat relaxing preggo momma horse!

Dylan December:
1) More lessons - I would like to do them every other week if possible
2) Continue putting together 4th level and Intermediate (WE) level dressage tests
3) Work on RELAXATION! We really need this for our Intermediate level tests! 
4) Trailer out regularly to practice WE obstacles in addition to trailering out regularly for rides at WD (and take the babies along!) 

Pangea December:
1) Continue using her as a pony horse for the babies
2) Go on some off property trail rides with Pax or Zoodle!

Pax December:
1) Be ponied off P regularly
2) Go for some off property trail rides with P!
3) Continue wearing a bridle and doing general handling/baby school stuff!

Lendri December:
1) Continue to do lots of long lining around the property and off the property a bit!
2) Once new harness comes in - start to hitch again and really drive!

Zu December:
1) Continue working on lunging without pulling - when he pulls he stops and turns himself around!
2) Ponies with P - on and possibly off property!
3) Toss him on the trailer whenever I take Dylan or anyone else off property! 
4) Wearing a bit comfortably

Uma/Sriracha: November:
1) Continue general handling 1x week
2) If desired: do a little more lunging work with Sriracha. She is only 2 after all and is in a good place in her training to have a winter off, but I may do a little bit here and there to keep her fresh.


You'll notice many of my December goals are the same as my November ones. This is because they either didn't get worked on, or because they're ongoing things that need more than just one month to accomplish. 

Two stallions mean-mugging each other

I have lots to write about - working with the babies, Dylan, family trees, photo dumps, and there may or may not be a random giant mule at my house right now....

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Working Equitation B-Rated Show 11/20/16 - Intermediate Division

Thanks for the heartfelt comments on my last post. I am feeling better (maybe not better about the situation, but sort of back to my normal self) and most importantly my desire to write has returned.

Which is good, because I have an ENTIRE SHOW to write about!!

I had a really good riding week leading up to this show. I had regressed in pain levels - quite badly, actually - after my last lesson, where I posted a lot and was surprised at how much that hurt me. It's frustrating to know that something so elementary and simple can still cripple me. But my massage therapist sorted me out, and the last two rides I had right before the show were really good ones. I even got a clean line of 4s, something which I've struggled with - apparently I can't ride and count at the same time! Dylan, like any schoolmaster, requires a particular kind of ride and if you don't give that to him, you don't get anything in return. So the better I sit, and the more clear and quiet I am with my aids, the better he goes. On Friday in particular, I rode the pants off him, because I wanted to make sure he was good and quiet for the weekend. 

Leg yield, and half pass

Saturday came early, with all of the prep that comes with getting ready to leave for a show. I needed to fit in a local client, needed to go get hay, needed to make sure everything was packed, needed to clean out my truck. I did manage to squeeze in an oil change for the truck the day before, but everything else took a little while, and it wasn't until about 1pm that I got Dylan out and bathed and readied to go. Since this was our first away show together, I had no idea if he would mash himself in poop overnight, so I completely embarrassed him with this getup:

I like to call this, "keep the white horse clean at all costs"

Two sleazies, a cooler (later a blanket, because it dropped in the 20s overnight), leg wraps, and a tail bandage for trailering. And he still managed to get his face all filthy by morning. Dilly!

By about 2-2:30 we were rolling. I had been trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with show management for a few days - I never even received confirmation that they had gotten my entry, much less my ride times or anything, but I just decided they surely had to have received it, and off I went. The drive was pleasant, complete with lots of Christmas music and some comedy radio, and the 2.5 or so hours flew by pretty fast. By the time I arrived, the sun was setting, and I had just enough time to duck into the office and see where I was supposed to be stabling before darkness really set in. My stall was #5 in one of the front barns, on the shedrow side. 

I spread my shavings, brought in my buckets, and unloaded Dylan. No sooner had I put him away than a nose appeared on the other side of the stall wall, shortly followed by the head and neck of a rearing horse. Dylan started roaring, the other horse continued rearing, and I heard voices on the other side of the aisle. They came around to my side, and told me that the horse on the other side was another stallion. They put my stallion next to another stallion!

Well that wasn't going to work. Since a large portion of the barn was empty, we sorted it out with the office and got him moved down the way to a stall which had no other surrounding horses. That was definitely a snafu that should not have happened, but it was mistake I was willing to forgive since they were so willing to get it set right. 

I went back to the office once Dylan was settled to check for times and courses. They're supposed to give us the courses the day before, and everyone has a designated time of go, so we all needed to know when that was so we could prepare for the morning.

And... no courses. No ride times. No organizer. The ladies in the office seemed frazzled about it. They had no information for me at all. 

Well... that sucked. It wasn't even clear what time the show was supposed to start in the morning. The flyer said 9am, but the show papers in the office said 10am. Everything was chaos. 

I just decided that there was only one thing to do - get up really early and try to find out as much as I could. I bundled Dylan up for the night and left him to rest and eat. I checked on him once at 1:30, and he was standing around resting, with a good portion of his hay gone. I refreshed it with a few more flakes, then left him to eat again. I love to camp out at the showgrounds usually but this night was VERRRRRY cold. It dropped into the 20s overnight, and I was so glad I had extra blankets and warm clothing to wear. I was very comfortable in my little cocoon but I did not want to get up in the morning.

Checking out the course at the in-gate in the morning

When I went to the office first thing in the morning..... No courses, no ride times. No NOTHING. I couldn't believe it. The ladies finally managed to find the courses for me, but gave me the wrong one (an Introductory EOH instead of the Intermediate EOH), so I had to go back and get the correct one. While Dylan was eating breakfast, I went and walked the courses, which were absolutely beautiful. They were well designed and super attractive, not to mention completely easy compared to the last one we did!

Plus they had the coolest toro with real toro horns

The course went from the start gate to single slalom weave poles, to a gate (which was metal and not rope - remember this for later), to a bell corridor, to the garrocha and toro. From there it went right into the livestock pen, to the double barrels, to the bridge (which was wide and beautiful), to the switch-a-cup (pick cup off of one pole, replace it onto the other pole on the other side of the horse). It went from there to the double slalom, a jump, sidepass poles, the 3 cloverleaf drums, and then an earthenware jug that had to be lifted from a table (which was actually a gallon milk jug), then to the finish. Pretty straightforward!

Finally, ride time were posted, around 8am. I was riding at 10:40, which meant I needed to be on by 10. I didn't feel that I had enough warmup at the last show, so I wanted to have some extra warmup at this one. I had to get moving! I had tack to clean, a horse to braid!

R and B2 showed up to help at around 9:30, bearing with them gifts of delicious Bucee's Nuggets. My running braid on Dylan was basically just terrible, but I put enough hairspray in it that I hoped it would stay put. While I dressed, B2 helped finish getting Dylan tacked, and I was on board by 10am as I had planned.

Best crew ever

We had a much better warmup for dressage than we did at the last show. The last one was much much too short. This one felt too long for me - I was so ready to get in the ring way before it was our time, although I also think they were running a bit behind. To be completely honest though, the warmup didn't matter very much. The judge rang the bell, and Dylan did a literal full body shiver. He knows what the bell means, and all our relaxation went right out the door.

The Intermediate dressage tests are VERY hard for hot horses. You canter in, halt and salute, and then you walk. And you do all of your walk movements right off the bat. That is SO hard for a horse who has shown his entire life and knows that after that first halt, you trot or canter. He can achieve a quiet immobile halt basically anywhere else with some work, but his first halt at this test was awful. He jigged, piaffed, and went sideways while I was trying to salute. He continued on in some kind of goose stepping not quite jig down the rest of the centerline, then was a bit stilted in both his half passes because I was trying very hard not to let him canter off. The rest of the test went pretty well, nothing fantastic but better. The canterwork was better than at the last show, except I botched our second change. Considering how clean they've all been lately I was dissapointed in myself for that one. Ah well. I'll have to conference with L about achieving relaxation in the ring with this kind of hotheaded critter. I have no doubt the tests would be much better if there was trotwork right after the halt.

And some from the actual test:

Oh yeah I'm totally not constricting his face or anything

Please just walk

Aaaaand my braid came out

Trying to convince him to walk before his entrance

Supposed to be a walk half pass... more like a jig half pass

And yes, my braid came out in the ring. It also came out in the warmup and we had to stop and put it back in. But to no avail.

I have to say though I'm pleased with the improvement of my position, even in just the last few months post-injury. I feel like I'm finally sitting better and being more effective in my position. I am probably clamping everything down a bit the second I *also* hear the bell, which doesn't help his tension levels, but I do think I'm riding better for sure. Better even than at the last show. I actually am putting my leg on finally!

We let Dylan go back to his stall for a rest while I went and walked the EOH course again. I had no concerns about it whatsoever, and was looking forward to actually getting a scorecard this time. I wanted to know what my scores were so I could figure out what needs more work!

The course started out fantastically. The slalom poles were first, and we did simple changes between each one. Dylan did these nearly perfectly and I was super excited. We circled back around to the metal gate, walked up to it, and unlatched it. I tried to push him towards the gate, and he stopped. I tried again, and nothing. This started this little wigglewar where he just danced forward and back, refusing to go any closer. The Interemediate horse before us had also eliminated out at the gate - as had like half the other people at the show! - so I knew that time was running out. I pushed the gate as hard as I could to create an opening, and went through. We struggled some more on the far side when he decided he could not back up anymore, but we finally managed to get it shut. I had the latch in my hand and was just about to finish closing it when the judge rang the bell - we were eliminated for going over time. Damnit!! I didn't even know there was a time limit. And I had the latch in my hand and was shutting it! 5 more seconds and I would have completed the obstacle, if that.

So that sucked, a lot.

It looks like we were about to be successful, but we were not

I schooled Dylan for a few minutes in the dressage ring, mainly going back and cantering in to halt at X, trying to get him to stand still. Speed was up next, and there were only a few people going in it. (The lowest level doesn't do the speed round.)


To my enormous relief, for the speed round a rope gate was pulled out and set up in place of the metal gate. Oh thank GOD was all I could think. I know we can do that!

And, indeed we could. In the speed round, it doesn't matter if you walk, trot, canter, gallop, flail, crosscanter, buck, whatever - as long as you get through the course cleanly and as fast as you safely can. Since I wasn't able to do much of my EOH round, I decided that while I wasn't going to care what he did for parts of it, I would take other parts to try and school a little bit of what I would have tried to attempt in my EOH round.

Last week at EOH practice, I managed to spear the ring on the toro at the walk with the garrocha pole. It was the first time I had ever attempted to spear the ring. I hadn't tried it at any more speed - it had rained, the footing was a bit soft, and I didn't feel like I wanted to risk his legs too much. Since I had done it a couple of times at the walk in practice, I had something of an idea how it needed to be done, but I didn't expect I would get it in competition when I was cantering.

BUT I DID! I speared the ring! Not only that, but we managed to canter the bridge, and we also got several changes in the double slalom. Usually I do these as simple changes through the walk, which is also allowed. The score will be higher with clean flying changes, but of course, if the changes get botched then the score will be lower than a good clean simple changes attempt. It's a riskier move but it will pay off if successful. If you watch the video of my last speed round, all of this is improved over last time.

Yes, his braid fell out AGAIN

It was a great speed round. And I think it will continue to get better! I just need to figure out how to settle him in his walk portion of his dressage test. That is very hard for him to deal with.

Of course, this was the best part of all:

It was quite a weekend. It was a poorly organized show at best - maybe one of the worst organized shows I have ever been to - but the courses were absolutely beautiful and the showground was gorgeous as always. There were things that were hit and miss, but I have stuff to work on now, and I think it will continue to get better from here!

My other husband