Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Explanations and Other Things

Blogging is a wonderful, magical, excellent, and sometimes completely miserably terrible thing to do with one's time. It's very akin to having your own cheering squad and your own execution firing squad all at the same time. I learned long ago when blogging about Gogo that there just are some things you *don't* talk about when blogging. I, for one, will never open my mouth about OTTBs again - I was so thoroughly berated for my views on them that I decided the topic was 100% taboo.  Another topic is breeding. Inevitably, when you talk about breeding, you will get scores of people who are all too happy to tell you what a piece of crap your mare/stallion are, what an irresponsible choice you are making, and what a terrible person you are. Likewise, I also just found out that if you take the resulting baby following such a breeding, and you consider changing your mind and listing it for sale, you will get attacked by that same faction of people.

I did list Pax for sale, tentatively. She has two ads up, neither of which are paid for ads, neither of which are aggressively marketed ads, and neither of which have gotten a single hit. I don't know if I want to sell her, really, but maybe I do. I will explain all my reasons in a minute, but I will also explain what happened when the word got out that I had put her up.

It started out as a well-meaning comment. Someone was curious to know if I had listed her myself or if someone else had stolen her information and listed her without my permission, because they had found the ad and didn't think I had planned on selling her. Unfortunately what happened when people saw that comment was a huge email explosion - people left and right flooding my inbox, telling me I was irresponsible, that I didn't care about my horses, that I was a greedy money-loving hog who was just here to make a buck, that I was a trashy backyard breeder, that my horses were garbage that nobody sane would buy, that I should be ashamed of myself. I'm sorry if I got defensive about it - I was really taken aback, and hurt too. It's literally exactly the same responses (and the same people) as I had berated me before for wanting to breed Gogo back in the day - they are the reason I didn't blog about planning to breed P, and why I probably won't blog much about planning to breed anything in the future if I decide to do so. I know that their from-behind-a-computer-screen opinion doesn't actually affect me in the real world, because they're not the ones here making these decisions, but still. I'm kind of a softie and I don't like getting jumped on for something I had no intention of talking about in the first place.

And yes, I am considering selling Pax, maybe. Did I originally intend to keep her? Of course. Am I still probably going to keep her? Of course. I'm not actively marketing her, and I'm not looking to get rid of her by any means. But, if the right person comes along and says they want her, I will agree to that. Here's why:

I bred her specifically because I wanted a fancy, flashy moving, upright-built dressage-type baby. That's always what I had in mind for her. I spent two years picking a stallion that I thought would stamp her well enough to deliver that. And I did get a beautiful, well put together baby.... who moves like the flattest kneed hunter you ever saw. She screams hunter. I am hoping she gets a bit freer in her shoulder as she gets older, but she may not. As such, perhaps her talents are in that field, and that is not something I am interested in. My hopes if I keep her are to still pair her with O so I can use them as a team together, but she will have to match O's size and movement if that is the case. 

I also may breed P once or twice more before she is fully retired. Dylan is actually the stallion I was going to breed her to before I picked DDM, because I thought he would improve her movement the most - now I have breeding rights on him should I choose to use them. I also am still very strongly considering breeding her to Lasting Impression, who is Gogo's full brother. He is still sound and going in his 20's, and was a GP horse. THAT baby would be the keeper. Absolutely no doubt in my mind. 

I don't take bringing new lives into this world lightly, so I gave P this year off for sure to just rest and work on feeding Pax, while I consider all my options. I'm not here to breed crap and garbage and I'm not here to make money from this. I want to weigh all my options carefully. I want to produce only nice, sound, sane things that can go on to good lengthy careers, either with myself or someone else who loves them just as much as I do. That's all I'm trying to do here. 

So, yeah. Basically that's the story. Please stop sending me emails telling me that I need to kill myself because of what a crappy person I am. 


Anyway. Back to what we've been up to. 

I set up a schedule for Dylan's October workouts - it's nothing insane at this point, it's mostly just for my benefit so I can strengthen up and be a good solid rider for him. I renewed my membership to WD and plan on trailering him over there 2x a week. I also will hack him here at home 2x a week. Every ride I get a little stronger and it feels so good. My bad ankle/calf is holding up well and my hips are fine. I don't think I will ever regain full flexibility of that leg though... I can't force it to happen any more because there is just a limited length that it stretches. I'll keep working at it, and working at it. But I may have to accept that I might not be able to ever cram it into short stirrups again.

Dylan lunged last Thursday, went for a hack last Friday, trailered to WD on Saturday, and then had his teeth done on Sunday (and had yesterday off because of that). He went out totally alone for his hack - this was a first, and I wasn't sure how it would go. I was prepared for him to be a noodle head, seeing as he was a noodle head the last time B and I rode them out through the neighborhood, but actually he was wonderful. He gets his giant washing-machine walk going, where you feel a bit like your stomach is going to be sloshed right out of your body, but I think complaining about a forward walk is just not something you should ever do. I rode him in the LG too, which is going to be great for trail rides. 

Wild Stallion of the North

I'm also *hoping* I can grow more mane on him than this. It's a bit pathetic! If I'm going to have a hairy horse, then damnit he better be a HAIRY horse.

On Saturday, we went to WD for the first time. I don't have any pictures of that unfortunately, seeing as there were a bunch of people XC schooling and I had a very hot and screaming stallion to deal with. I think this is just kind of the way he is - the first time he goes out somewhere, he has to be all manly and screamy and prancy, and then once he has been there he chills out. He yelled and screamed for all he was worth, but aside from a few dancing prances he was otherwise really very well behaved. He stood tied at the trailer (mostly still), rode quietly (and very well!), and then stood to be hosed off at the end. Every ride gets a little bit better with him - I think I am just sitting straighter and stronger. We weren't doing anything fancy by any means, but had some nice trotwork, a few good mediums, and some flying changes tossed in here and there. When he gets bothered or confused, he gets a sideways piaffe thing going, and he has almost none of that going on that day. Although he did get really hot and bothered by the mirror and tried to inch over there every time we passed it..... ah well.

Sunday the dentist came. She is the one who did P and O last year, and I was really happy with her work. She flies in from up north a few times a year to do the rounds in Texas, so we made sure to get on her list. Both P and O had minor work done - compared to P's MAJOR work done last year. O was a little bit crooked and off, which didn't surprise me - she bends super well one way but not the other. Dylan's incisors were WAY super long, which was taking his molars out of occlusion and giving him very limited lateral movement in his jaw. I figured this would be what we would find, and it was. 

Checking those long snaggletoofs

Following this, O, who is hyperemotional at best, decided that something changed in her life, so she was going to die. I actually posted this status on Facebook the following morning:

"Sorry to my entire neighborhood who had to listen to the operetta happening at my house all night... O is too hyperemotional to eat after she gets worked on in any way (this time, teeth), so all night she kept wandering away up the hill looking for wolves to pick her off because she is convinced she is dying. Which sets Dylan into a total galloping screaming frenzy because she is the only mare he could ever love on this whole planet and she must be convinced of his love so she will come back and not kill herself. 
I know I for one *loved* listening to that all night long..."

When I went out to feed them that morning, O was lying flat out next to Pax, rolling her eyes up at me in despair, playing a Sarah McLachlan album, asking me to read her will and testament. She was *sure* that she was going to die.

Luckily, the second the haybags got filled, she jumped to her feed and started gobbling, all traumas of the previous night forgotten. Mares....

Friday, October 2, 2015

October Goals: Dylan

Edited to add: people keep ask if I am selling Pax. The answer is, maybe, I don't know, possibly, or maybe not. But I am not interested in discussing it. There are things you just don't blog about without fear of being crucified, and changing your mind about selling a horse is one of them. So, we are not discussing this right now, because I don't want to be violently flayed open. I've learned a few things over the years - don't discuss selling, don't discuss breeding, don't discuss OTTBs. I think everything else is fair game but I may be wrong there. Blogging is kind of a terrifying and uncomfortable process sometimes.


I had a whole long post written up last month about goals - and then just now realized I never actually finished it. Such is the life!

For the moment, I am just going to set out October goals for Dylan. The retirees and babe are doing nothing for the next few months, just eating and having a good time. I have no definite weaning goals for Pax - P will wean her when she gets tired of her. I have no qualms with leaving a babe on her mother for as long as it takes. I regularly take Pax out away from P, and vice versa, and they are quite fine. As the weather cools, I will start teaching Pax to pony off of O - I think her extreme rearing days are mostly behind her, so hopefully she does not kill me when I start to do this. O's one main remaining show for the year is the last playday of the year, should we decide to go. I think we will go, they really are fun despite the politics. O enjoys Hauling Ass and whipping around things, and so do I.

My main goals for the next few months will probably center mostly around Dylan and getting us both back in shape for the upcoming show season. I am getting stronger every time I ride, but I have a long way to go before I can sit the trot again without looking like a ragdoll having a seizure. (Seriously, it used to be so easy... where have my muscles gone!?) Dylan has put on 75+ pounds since he moved here, and he looks really good. He has had no problems at all following his deshoeing, and has totally mellowed out being outside 24/7. He is off all hard grainfoods, is barefoot, and is out all the time - and he looks and feels great. I intend to keep him this way throughout the duration of my time with him. 


Dylan October Goals:
1) Continue gaining weight and muscle and be a happy healthy feral beast outside!
2) Get his teeth checked/done
3) Start trailering to WD - 2x a week if possible!
4) In addition to working at home, hacking out - 1x a week in gradually increasing amounts
5) Start looking over the show schedule and making tentative plans


I renewed my membership to WD for October, which is great - it's only about a 20 minute drive from our new house and therefore completely reasonable to make. Their footing really is the best around, and you can't beat having a covered arena for all seasons. (It never gets cold enough here for true indoors). 

As for riding goals specifically - mostly they revolve around just getting my strength back. Dylan has all the buttons and they are easy to push if you are sitting correctly and are able to access them - but you have to be a strong and sufficiently correct rider in order to make that happen. As I get stronger, we'll be increasingly capable of doing more and more things - but I have to get there first, and the only way to do that is just spend time in the saddle. 

O He Majestic Beast of the North

He really has put on quite a lot of weight. He looks like a different horse already - and he shines, even though he is solidly grey. I may not be good at many things, but putting weight and shine on horses - I got that covered. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NTW Romp in the Willows 9/26/15

Well, that was not our best show ever. 

I mean, it wasn't *bad* per se - but O is in raging, flaming, out of control heat right now, and therefore things were a bit... interesting. 

I've had O long enough to know that when she gets hormonal, she doesn't play the game. As a super hormonal female, I highly sympathize with this problem - I myself have a super short fuse when hormonal, and am prone to totally irrational random outbursts of either yelling or crying. I totally get her problem. As such, I keep her on hormones during the show season for the most part. If I want her to have a level head at shows, I have to keep her on her Estrumate shots. 

When we moved, one of the things I forgot at the old house was my bottle of Estrumate in the fridge. I also forgot all of my show clothes, including the Gold medal that Gogo and I earned. When we gave our notice, our landlady found new tenants with super speed, and ushered us out as fast as possible. She then decided to cut off all contact with us when we tried to get our deposit and stuff back. Apparently what happened was that someone broke into the garage after we moved out,  and stole the landlady's lawn equipment that came with the house. She blamed us (after three years of praising us for being pretty fantastic reliable tenants), and cut off all contact with us. Which is mostly just a side story but, my Estrumate did get left behind in the fridge, and I didn't get it back. Since most of the show season was in the toilet anyway, I forgot about it. 

Until this past week. When I noticed O humping the fence closest to Dylan. A lot.

The Romp is different from the other games days in that it is largely held outside of the arena. The first class was an timed obstacle course in the arena which had several components - a bridge crossing, a flag alley, a mailbox and letter pickup, a little circle that you had to park your wheel in and turn, a backing corridor, and a set of boards that you had to drive one wheel between (that was about 6" wide). We had gotten the course on paper in an email beforehand, but there were no dimensions included - and in my mind's eye I grossly underestimated EVERYTHING. Everything was narrow, and tiny, and difficult. O has many strengths, but fine finessing of exact distances is not really one of them. She powered into the arena at high speed - and to her credit, every time we are at this venue she knows that we are going into the arena to haul ass - and fairly flew over the bridge. When we got to the go-between boards, I totally steered her right off of them, and had to turn around and try again. Being in raging heat, O's temper was VERY short, and it snapped the second I veered her around to try again. We made it through the boards, but barely. When we got into the backing corridor, which you had to drive into and then back out of, she sulled up. And we all know what happens when she sulls up... she will brace herself against everything you ask and will just. Not. Do. It. It took me ages to get her to back up... AGES. She would not do it. It didn't matter how much I sweet talked her, or even just outright pulled on her. She let me pull her nose all the way down to her chest almost - and still, she braced against me with her mouth wide open and would not move. I managed to somehow get her backwards far enough to go to the next few obstacles - the flag alley, the letter pickup and the mailbox dropoff - but when we got to the little circle, all bets were off. She totally smashed through the thing the first go around, and then stopped dead and would not move to go back to try again. This is all stuff I've been through with her before, many times. I tapped and tapped and tapped with my whip, but she was solidly sulled up, and just stood there bracing and refusing to move, aside from the occasional rear-flail. Eventually I just decided that I valued my life and I didn't need to complete the obstacle, and I just proceeded back to the exit over the bridge once again. We did end up finishing fourth in that class, which was kind of a miracle, but it was clearly not our day.

I trotted her from the obstacle course all the way out to the big field, where the cones course was set up. It was a long, winding course, and O really had her big Hauling Ass trot on. We always do really well in cones, as long as I don't steer her into anything - she is fast and can turn tightly. I almost missed the second set of cones - I flew right past them, thinking a different set of cones was actually them, and had to snake around and come back - but the rest of the course flowed well. O was trucking - REALLY trucking - and I had a pretty tight hold on her the entire go of it. To my surprise, even though we nearly missed that set of cones and had to wind all the way back around to get them, which certainly added some seconds to our course, we smoked everyone and came in first by several solid seconds. Good job mare!


After a lunch break, we harnessed back up and headed out to do the final class, a cross country course which had three checkpoints where we would have to retrieve a ribbon. By this time, O had spent nearly all of her energy on acting totally frantic all morning, so she was tired and didn't have a lot of gas in the tank. She is super pleasant to drive out places - her best feature is the ability to put her on autopilot, point her in any direction you choose, and then sit back and relax while she going along under her own steam. I didn't have much in the way of go, so she puttered along at a semi-fast speed, certainly not Hauling Ass but not dragging either. The course was a few miles long and up and down these big huge bumpy hills - it wasn't terrible for a big beast like O, but all of those poor little minis had to do the same course. I'm sure they were all exhausted at the end of it. We weren't terribly fast and finished third - O was a very good girl though, which was the more important thing.

The total times were added up, and I think we finished fourth overall. It was definitely an off day for us. Not our best showing - not horrible, by any means, but just not quite up to what we usually are capable of. These shows are just fun shows, they don't really count for much (aside from Horse of the Year points for NTW, which we were in the running for but are now solidly knocked out), but still.

Ah well. I have sympathy for her hormonal state. I get that way too, after all. When we got home, I turned her out and she promptly galloped off, kicked P in the face, slammed into the fence closest to Dylan, and started peeing on herself. Mares.....

On a slightly unrelated-but-actually-related note: I've written about this before, but I am getting a little bit tired of the politics behind these fun shows. They are supposed to be just that - rinky dink little fun shows. When I first went to one last fall, I won pretty much everything, which was really fantastic and super fun for our first go. The organizer of them had a lame horse then, but she went well out of her way to make sure I knew that she had the best horse in the club and that I just had a lucky break - I would not be so lucky the next time around. A few months later, she asked if I would help organize the fun shows, because "we have the two best horses in the club!" which I thought was an odd qualification. I mean, she didn't really know me, she didn't know whether or not I would actually be useful or helpful. I helped her for a bit, and then she dropped the bomb: if I was helping, I could not show. Well, I *wanted* to show, I didn't want to sit on the sidelines - I wouldn't have agreed to help in the first place had I know. So I did my best to graciously back out, and while I'm pretty sure they were angry with me, they only grumbled for a minute before moving on without me. Since I was told that I couldn't show if I helped to organize the shows, I was surprised to see that the organizer herself was showing anyway at the first fun show. Not surprisingly, she won a lot of the classes and was Champion. At this show, she was once again showing even though she was the organizer, and once again she won most everything and was Champion again. The local club keeps track of points, and the horse with the most points at the end of the year wins a huge trophy and the honor of being Horse of the Year. Our ongoing joke was that the organizer (who was used to regluarly winning Horse of the Year herself) felt threatened by the noob (me), and decided to try and take me out of the points by finding a way to keep me from showing. When that didn't work, she decided she was going to show herself anyway. It's honestly just a joke, but sometimes it feels strongly rooted in reality. 
Maybe this is just because I come from the bigger circuits, but this stuff just isn't allowed anywhere else. The organizers design and set the courses, and can easily custom make them well suited to their own horses' strengths, not to mention the fact that they know the ins and outs of every inch of the courses - whereas the rest of the competitors don't have a chance to see the courses until the day of the show. And because we all know that they are going to win everything anyway, it seems kind of pointless to even bother going sometimes. This show was clearly not our show, and we got beaten fair and square, but I can't help but feel that there is an awful lot of unfairness going on outside of that. I don't mind getting beaten fairly, if someone had the better horse that day, but when things feel rigged it just... doesn't make it very fun. There were even people shouting "rigged!" during the awards ceremony, several times - it was meant in jest but I surely wasn't the only one who felt it was more rooted in truth than not. 

I wish they'd hire a proper organizer for these things. But, that costs money. If they'd hire a separate organizer though, we could all get our butts whooped fairly, or win fairly. I don't mean to sound whiny about it either, I just... I dunno. I like everyone on a level playing field. I like the best person to win because they were the best that day. I don't like it when things are seedy.

Maybe it's just me though.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Uncatchable Dylan

If you've been with this blog for awhile, you probably came from Gogo's blog originally. You also probably know the story behind the namesake of this new blog - Imogen, the little mare who was too terrified of humans to be caught. It took a very long time, but I was able to turn her into a catchable, cuddleable, sweet little thing, though we never quite got her turned around far enough to make her a reliable riding horse. She was uncatchable to start, and that is how the blog got it's name.

I did not think there would ever be another creature in my life who even remotely came close to just how uncatchable Immy really was, but I have found him. He surpasses her. He leaves her in the dust. He is.... the Uncatchable Dylan.

The first day I had him, I turned him out wearing his halter and some front boots/bells. I decided to go out after a few hours and take them off, seeing as he has calmed down and had quit running amok in the field. He would not. Let. Me. Near. Him. For an hour, he trotted in circles around and around and around me, until finally I just gave up and went to go get his food bucket. Then I was able to catch him and take the boots off - but I wisely left the halter on. He was not afraid of me, he was not worried.... he knew exactly what he was doing. 

He lives in the halter. I NEVER  take it off. I can always catch him with a food bucket by reaching out and grabbing his halter before I let him take a bite, but I hadn't tried the same trick without him already having the halter on.

I was starting to feel badly though. Poor guy, always has to be in his halter.. that's not very fair, is it? Maybe I can take it off now and he will be better to catch... maybe? 

Well, I got my wish to see how exactly he would be without his halter on a couple of days ago. I came home from work one day to find that he had broken the snap on his leather halter, and had subsequently rubbed it off. Oh dear... well.... here goes nothing....

I walked out with his feed bucket and a halter. The second I walked in, Dylan knew exactly what was up. He knew that he did not have a halter on, and that I had a halter in my hand, and that I was coming over to bribe him to try and get the halter back on him. And he was having NONE of it. 

He is the ultimate in uncatchability. He has all the latest uncatchable technology installed and he is ready to prove it to you. He know ALL the tricks in the book, and he has a counterargument to all of them.

You can't chase him like you might try in a roundpen with a deadhead. I find that some horses respond to that ("whew it is way easier to let this lady catch me than to run around here all day getting tired"), but that others do not. Dylan has energy to spare and an ego the size of Texas - he is not going to give in and just let himself be caught by virtue of being lazy. He has no intention of letting the humans 'win' the game. He surely would run himself into the ground before he just let someone walk up and catch him.

You can't bribe him. I thought maybe this would work, but he knows exactly what you're up to. With a bucket of his dinner, I tried... and tried.... and tried.... but could not convince him to come to me. If he didn't come to me, I would take the bucket and leave - no dinner for you. He was angry that I was doing this - striking the fence, shaking his head - but he still would not give in and come over to get the food. Every time I lifted that halter, he would turn and leave. He wanted that food SO bad but he still would not let himself be lured. 

So, I'd take his bucket and leave. He had plenty to eat out there, but he of course wanted the grainfoods, and every time I came back with the bucket he would come right over nearby me and stare. If I took a single step towards him, he was gone. If I waited for him to come closer, he would try to get to the bucket, but anytime the halter came near him, he was gone.

This went on for TWELVE HOURS. I'd try to get him, it wouldn't work, and I'd say "fine have it your way, I'm not waiting out there for you." I'd leave him angry for a few hours while I napped the night away, then would try again. Same result. Over.... and over... and over. His ego prevented him from giving him. He just would not do it. 

At 6am, I was thoroughly annoyed. Bribing him was not working, and getting angry and chasing him was pointless because it would only make him stay further away. Since he lives outside, I had no way to really corner him safely - he blows past you at high speed if you try and corner him. He can turn on a dime and he is fast. (Note to self: get some panels and build a catch pen.)

I randomly had a stroke of genius. If I had no extra panels, and nowhere to safely corner him.... what if I backed my truck into a corner and created a chute to trap him in? Would that work? 

It did. I wish I had taken a picture, but it was still dark out. I backed my truck into the corner to create a little box area, got out of the truck, and tried again. He was unconcerned with the truck and didn't move from the corner while I was parking, but as soon as he saw me step out he tried to vacate the area. It took a minute, and he really tried his best to escape, but I managed to chase him into the little boxed off area. Once he was in there, he knew the gig was up and he let me walk right up to him and catch him easily. Had he managed to give me the slip while trying to corner him... I'm not sure I could have gotten him back into that chute area, despite it being the closest one to the mares and his favorite place to be. 

Definitely will be building a catch pen. Definitely.

I swear, he was laughing at me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I've Got The Power

After our preliminary test-the-gears ride on Saturday this past weekend, I gave Dylan a couple of days to relax and continue his acclimation to being barefoot again (and to give my poor, poor thighs a chance to recover). I've been back on him twice now, once on Tuesday and once yesterday. I've forgotten just how much I missed saddle time... how much riding is really a part of everything about me. I had forgotten. I had accepted it. But it was still in there, underneath it all, waiting for the right time to resurface.

Dylan is a super horse for me. We get along well, and he also knows exactly what he is doing, so if you're not sitting the right way he just isn't going to do what you want. I have a good knowledge of dressage by now, after doing it for more than half my life, but he still knows far more than I do. I defer to that, and when he isn't doing what I am asking, I know it isn't because he doesn't know how to do it. It's because I am not sitting the right way. I haven't been in a dressage saddle much in the past few years - I think the last time I was seriously riding a couple horses every day was 2011. I rode O a lot in the beginning of our relationship, but it was not great going and I picked up a lot of defensive mechanisms from it that I didn't realize. As a driving horse, O is supurb. Top hole. Exquisite. She is just great. But under saddle.... not so much. I had forgotten what it is like to get on a horse that doesn't scoot off at top speed the second you put your leg on. 

It it simultaneously really hard and super easy to swing a leg back over and go off to ride after not being in the saddle for years. I feel like a sack of potatoes, and then a lump of jelly, and then a bag of sand, and then a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man. Then I get it together for a minute, and everything works properly. Then I tip forward and have to remember to sit up again, or I get my leg a bit out in front of me and have to put it back. I never used to do this - I think it is a combo of riding defensively, and not having much riding body strength. The good thing is - I know when I start to slide into these things, and I can right them again. I default to them, but I recognize them and can put them back. I just have to keep doing it over.... and over... and over again.

So, in the next few months, you will probably see a LOT of pictures of me in some variation of tipping forward/rounding shoulders/leg swinging forward. But, as time goes on, I think they will all straighten themselves out, once I can convince my body that I am on a horse who is not going to bolt out from underneath me. 

Having a long conversation with my neighbor about the size of Dylan's nuts... no really, we did. 

Asking for a little more.... oh yes, he has more! But what's up with that defensive position? Sigh....

Once more thing about Dylan is his mouth. He never shuts it. He does this while lunging and while being ridden, so I know it's not just me. He rolls his tongue around, snatches for the bit, clacks his mouth, and basically spends his entire time with it wide open. The trainer told me all of these things in advance when I spoke with her on the phone - in fact, she told me not to think that he was lame, he's just bobbing his head being snatchy for the bit. It's hard to say whether or not he just does this when he's not connected through his back, or because he isn't a huge fan of the bit. During that ride, once I got him up and going forward he stopped, so that may be my answer right there. The dentist will be here in a few weeks, so she is going to look him over and see what she can find in there, although I think his teeth were done not that long ago. 

I thought it would be interesting to try a bitless on him, just for kicks. K wants to ride him bitless when she gets him back too. A client of mine was kind enough to let me try an LG bridle (the wording on the website is a bit off, it's translated poorly from German). I've heard lots of good things about them - I was a little skeptical, as I have not found ANY model of bitless before that I liked, and much prefer my plane jane Happy Mouth mullen mouth eggbutt. (I did lunge Dylan in this bit and he did the same behaviors). O doesn't tolerate bitless either... at all. I don't even know that she would tolerate the LG... I'm not really interested in trying to find out either. I know the horse well enough to accept that her very specific Happy Mouth is the only bit she will ever, ever accept. I can't fault her for having her priorities!

I got on him yesterday morning with the LG. The first 10 minutes, I felt like I had made a mistake. He was confused, upset, and wouldn't stop backing. He is super sensitive about his nosey (maybe I will put a fleece on), At some point, he finally went forward. 

And then... he was great. Super! No fuss with the mouth, no nothing. He actually stretched, took a contact, and off he went. It felt like riding with a snaffle. It was cool!

Phew pooped

I think I will keep playing around with the bitless for awhile, but not exclusively. I am a pretty firm believer that good riding = good riding = good riding, and the equipment is secondary to it. A good horse can be trained to go in most anything. Bitless is not dressage legal, so we're not exactly tossing the bits away. But this was definitely a good experiment and I liked the results. 

Now, I just need to get my jelly legs back in order..... 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Factory Reset Button

(As you may have noticed - I scratched from the Carriage Classic. I am super bummed to say it, but my truck still is not working quite right. The engine needs more work before I put a horse in the trailer behind it. It *might* have been fine to drive, but O is worth more to me than that risk. I would rather stay home and miss a row rather than risk an accident or even just a breakdown from overtaxing the engine. I know I made the right choice - but it still sucks. Ah well, what can you do! Part of being a good steward to my beasts, making these kinds of decisions. Also adulting. Adulting hardcore.)

I think I have found the factory reset button on Dylan. He spent his first week incessantly walking the fence - but on Wednesday, he stopped. He just.... stopped! I'm SO thankful for this, I was getting worried about it!

The trainer he was with said that Dylan's fencewalking was incessant. It literally went on 100% of the time that he was outdoors. He spent quite a lot of his time inside - maybe only getting 2-3 hours of turnout a day, if it was a nice day. He would walk the weight right off of himself, so I certainly can't blame them for bringing him in! I am pouring food into him - he looks about the same as when he arrived, a bit on the thin side, but I think now that he has quit walking, he will gain weight again. K said she figured he would walk a week and then chill out - and she was right! We just needed to factory reset him to Horse-mode. It was surprising to me how it went from one to the other literally overnight though - one day he was walking walking walking, the next he wasn't anymore. And hasn't been!

(Although, technically, when I am in doing something with the mares, he walks a bit. I think he takes it as a personal insult. He also goes to the far end of the pasture and shows off a bit for the horses across the way by trotting a few times back and forth. Once he has done that though, he comes back and eats his hay again. Good boy!)

Yesterday was Dylan's first workout since he arrived. I wanted to wait until he had settled in to the daily routine before I started working him - I wanted him to quit walking. I didn't need him to burn more calories than he was already wasting! He can be hard to catch - another one of his little quirks - and he thought about giving me the runaround for a few minutes. Once he decided to be caught - and he does have to decide, otherwise he will NOT be caught! - I brought him up, groomed and tacked him, and took him to lunge. I am trying to decide if he needs a stud chain or not - he is very, very responsive to pressure on his nosey, and it seems like the stud chain is a little much for him. Still, he is a mature stallion, and while he is quite gentle you still have to pay attention, because you never know. He is very much a stallion and does like to prance, scream, and get a little light in his front end when the mares are moving about. I personally think he is quite easy to handle and pretty gentle, but still, he is not a sleepy gelding by any means. 

Tailmasta now can go by the secondary title, Manemasta. His mane is not thin or long but it is SO silky, shiny and to die for!

He was a very good boy. He is SUPER active with his mouth - I don't think he closed it once while he worked. He rolls his tongue back and forth up around the bit, and bobs up and down towards and away from the contact. I don't think I will lunge him much, if ever - he is more schooled than that and he doesn't need it. Lunging is really helpful for O, but I don't think it will be helpful for Dylan. I will probably long line him a fair bit though! I am going to play a bit with nosebands and bits to try and quiet that mouth a bit. I am pretty sure he had his teeth done recently, but my dentist will check and do him when she comes next month if he needs it. 

I also pulled Dylan's shoes yesterday. I didn't trim him at all - pretty par for the course the first go around, although usually if I am doing client horses I round them off a bit and tidy them up. I didn't bother doing that with Dylan as I already know the process and the changes that are going to take place. I need to snap some pictures though - always interesting to document the process in photos. 

Today was my first ride on the beast! I conned asked B2 to come ride O so that I wouldn't be alone for my first workout on him. You never know! 

B2 on O... I see I need to adjust O's hackamore a bit! I think I had it set for Pmare, it was a long time ago so I can't rememeber. I will have to mess with it. 

Oh yes... this will be good fun times.
I had a GREAT ride. I got a really good feel of this horse's personality and training and I like what I saw. He was great out in the pasture - took a minute to settle while I was mounting up, standing still is not his favorite thing. I walked and trotted him for a few minutes, getting a feel of him and enjoying it. He is very smooth, and very classically Spanish - and he has buttons and more buttons. He is very responsive to half halts and weight. I have to decide if I want a spur or not - I doubt that I will need it but I think I will want them for occasional use. I almost always ride with a spur, though I very rarely use them. 

He is super trained, but he is also super wound. He gets these great moments of relaxation where he strides out and stretches down, and then the next minute he has a very up-and-down walk with his head tucked in. As I rode, he chilled out and because to relax over his back. The trainer said she did a whole lot of gymnastic work with him, and I totally agree that this is going to be the key to keeping him loose and supple through his back.

Once we had warmed up a bit, we headed out for a hack through the subdivision across the way. I wasn't sure how Dylan would react, so I relied on O's quieter nature to help get us back some of the spooky stuff out there. Dylan tried a few times to spook and turn on his heel and go back the other way, but after a few times of that I got tired of it and gave him a bit of a boot forward. Surprisingly, he jumped right ahead and didn't try it again. He led almost the entire way. On the way back is when things got interesting - he started to get increasingly up and up, and started jigging sideways and piaffing in place. He would not. Stand. Still. No matter what I did, he could not keep his feet from moving. He had a few minutes where he verged on a bit of a meltdown, and we went from rapidly backing up, to turning in some tight little circles, to piaffing and piaffing and piaffing. (It wasn't really quite real piaffing, but it was close enough to call it that.) Finally, we moved on and he relaxed. After that, he was great! He walked the whole rest of the way on a longer rein, stretching and leading the way. We had a few little kids who wanted to stop and pet O, but she was feeding off of his energy and she was not exactly on her best behavior either. B2 has driven and now ridden her, so she was able to compare the two - she astutely commented that while she drives the exact same way that she rides, she feels much less stable and sane under saddle than she does when driving. I completely agree with her - for whatever reason, she just enjoys driving way more than riding. She is fun to drive, and not terribly fun to ride. 

I can not WAIT for more rides. I can't tell you how much fun I had. Even when he got antsy, even when he got tight, he was so easy to sit chilly on - we will get on very well. 

Friday, September 11, 2015


Repost from the Eventing-A-Gogo blog: 9/11, a Tribute

I share this post every year. I don't really know how to explain just how much my world changed on that day. I was 16 - old enough to fully understand what had happened, but too young to have ever experienced real evil in my lifetime. That day was the end of my childhood. It shook me to my very core and changed who I was. And even to this day, it still affects me. 

Things have changed since that post, but I share it every year because it is worth sharing. It is worth remembering. On this day, we unite, and we will never forget.

In exactly one month, Gogo will have been gone for 4 years.