Sunday, March 2, 2014

End of February Analysis; March Goals!

Is it already time to do our monthly goals? Where did the time go!


O-Ren February Goals:

1) Survive our next LD at Racing Stripes I!
Success! We finished 8th with the High Vet Score. She was bouncing around like a maniac the next day, she recovered REALLY well. I, on the other hand, not only caught a stomach bug but also couldn't eat or drink much during the ride, and therefore felt like I got hit by a bus the next day.

2) Dressage work - back to walk-trot, and add in canter gradually! Get to it!!
This did not go over the way I was hoping. Due to the ride schedule, I spent more time focusing on conditioning, and she had a fair amount of time off before and after rides. Unfortunately, I planned for us to be at a another ride this weekend, and therefore gave her a chunk of time off between the last one and leading up to this one, but I ended up bailing on the ride this weekend because I was feeling too cruddy about everything to even consider going. Thankfully, Funder gave me some pep talking, and I'm not quite ready to dump the endurance idea yet. That said, more dressage work and more eventing-type focus is DEFINITELY warranted for the next few months. 

3) Ramp up conditioning - possible 50s in our near future....
Well, I don't really know about this one. I'm not completely sure that I want to pursue endurance beyond LDs at this point, or if I want to pursue it at all. I don't really know. I think that I do, but I don't really have any intention of doing 50s in the barrel saddle. Unfortunately I also can't afford a new saddle right now. I could possibly do more work in my dressage saddle, but I don't really think I'll find it secure/comfortable for very long distances. So, I dunno what we'll do! 

4) Attend one or two more open XC schooling days! Spend time as well putting cavalleti/jump work in on the calendar as the canter improves!
Again, total fail. My endurance-y schedule majorly interfered with this goal, as all of the XC schooling days around here coincided with ride times or times when she needed to not be working that hard (right before/after a ride). We'll make this a higher priority this next month. I have been lunging her over single cavalettis at the canter though, and that's a start!

5) Install Easyshoes when they get there and see how they go! (Or, try glue-on boot shells instead!)
Much to my pleasant surprise, I ordered and received O's EasyShoes and discovered that she has sized up since I last measured her, which was not that long ago! She seems to have broken through her plateau, and has not only sized up but gained quite a lot of concavity as well as increasing surefootedness over rough rocky terrain, which is all great. But I'd still like to use her as my crash test dummy for the EasyShoes... we just have to get her into the right size. 

So basically, February did not go as planned at all. 


O-Ren March Goals:
1) Dressage work - back to walk-trot, and add in canter gradually! Get to it!! High priority!!
2) Attend one or two more open XC schooling days! Spend time as well putting cavalleti/jump work in on the calendar as the canter improves!
3) Install Easyshoes and see how they go! 
4) Consider 'what else' we want to try and figure out how to fit it into the schedule - keep doing endurance? Try roping? Barrels? Driving?
5) Look at show/ride schedule - what will we be doing in the next few months?


On the riding front, we've been mixing up some actual work with some fun. Last week, my best bestie best was here visiting from California, so of course we had to take the mares for a spin!

First, I put her up on Tre, and we went out to check on all the new calves:

And that was fun, but of course she had to get up on the Big Comfy Couch and try her out too:

O powerwalked with her for a minute, and then they meandered along on a long rein with no stirrups. She is a cool cucumber, that's for sure!

Our weather steadily improved over the course of the week, until it was sunny and in the 80s:

 Naked girls were LOVING the sunshine!

When I decided to bail on Bootlegger, I set her to work lunging instead. She had been a total wild animal all week, like she gets when she hasn't been worked enough - running around, refusing to be caught, and double barreling at us when we'd try to catch her. It's a playful thing, more like a 'whee haha you can't catch me neener neener' thing, but it's 1000000% never ever acceptable to kick out at your human, even if you think it's a game. I got fed up with her antics and freelunged the crap out of her on one of those days, long enough that she sweated up and stood panting for a minute when she finally decided she had better knock it off and stand still to be caught. Following that little come to Jesus meeting, she has been marching up to me in the pasture whenever I show up, nickering to me the whole time. She might be a wild animal when she is not in work, but when she is in work and getting her willies out every day, she's a TOTAL peach.

On the lunge, she needed to canter for about 30 minutes before she finally settled a little bit and got to work. I don't really like them to have to be on a circle zooming around for that long, but she needed to blow off some steam before I asked her to get to real work - there was no way she could focus until she got some of her zooms out of her system. Some of her zooming included cantering over a small raised pole, which was a big zoomy and exciting at first:


And then, she settled. She did some nice stretching:

Trotted and cantered the little groundpole like a champ:

And had some nice halts at the end, which included giving me inquisitive looks:

She also had a nice bath and a mane trim, since it was nearly 85 degrees out by this time. Both mares are starting to shed too, which is AWESOME!

Yesterday, we had a REALLY great dressage school. The last dressage school we had was kind of a disaster, but this one went very well. She was being fresh at the start, like she usually is, and I tried a few things that were different this time around to see if they would make a difference. I warmed her up at the walk, then did some SLOW trot work, where I felt like she was not going forward enough and was a little too bundled up, but was at least not zooming around. I half halted her about every other stride, and held her together with my seat more than anything else. She liked that quite a lot, and back at the walk, she stretched out and loosened up over her back. She eventually melted into that putty-like state that I love so much, where they become all loose and buttery, and it feels like you can smear them in all directions with your legs and seat. That's really the best description for it... they are butter and you smear them in whatever direction you want, side to side, forward or back, up into your seat. She is different from Gogo in her extreme desire to go forward, and in her rhythm... Gogo was born with perfect, consistent rhythm, always with that long and slow sweeping stride of her, always going at exactly the same balance and cadence, even when she was just starting under saddle. O on the other hand doesn't really have an innate sense of rhythm, and tends to bounce around from speed to speed within gaits, especially when she is hot or using speed as an evasion (her favorite). That said, they both require(d) a very quiet, uncomplicated ride, and neither mare can(could) stand a noisy hand. Gogo would rear if you got too up in her face, and O just braces and runs.

Gogo and her perfect rhythm all the time. So miss that mare.

Near the end of our ride, O kind of melted into that nice, relaxed state where she is happy to stretch out and take a quiet contact, and was happy to trot around willingly without having to half halt her constantly. I called it a day with that, very pleased with her. We even did some really excellent leg yields both towards the rail and away from it (rail = perimeter fence) - I haven't schooled lateral work very much, but she had shoulder-ins and leg yields, and when she is relaxed they are REALLY good. When she is still too up and forward, they just kind of rev the engine and spice her up too much, but when she is relaxed they really help to loosen her up. (Gogo was like that too... they really are similar rides, even in their differences).

Nice lipstick! I had a running martingale on her yesterday for the first time in months - I've never actually used one on her during flatwork before. However, Tre was down in her paddock hollering for friend, and everytime we came around the corner into view of the paddock, O would give me a good head toss. I thought that habit was over and done with, but apparently not yesterday! I jumped off for a minute, put on the martingale, and headed off, instead of getting into a fight about it. The head tossing stopped, the mare went to work, and all was well. I doubt I'll use the martingale much, but it is nice to have as a backup to toss on as a reminder - much easier to let her figure out out herself instead of get into an argument with her about it. Goofy mare.

Today, temps are hovering in the low 20s, with windchills below 0 and sideways sleet. O is wearing 3 blankets and Tre is wearing 2, and they are snuggled up in their shed with lots of hay to keep warm. All of my appointments for the day cancelled (thankfully), as did all of my appointments for tomorrow. We might have more sleet coming in Tuesday, which is SO NOT OKAY! Come on now winter, all the daffodils were up and the trees were flowering.... we thought you were over! Cut us some slack!


  1. O is the epitome of "beef cake" and I LOVE it. Like I love her and could steal her. Those darn red headed mares get me EVERY time.

  2. So over this winter. O just keeps looking nicer and nicer.

  3. Sounds like great goals, she's an absolute BEAST!

  4. Oh, Gogo was such a lovely, lovely mover :)

    High Vet Score is a great accomplishment! Now go get some of your eventing stuff accomplished this month with that beefcake of yours ;)

  5. Naked ponies...jealous. O is a beast, a beautiful beast :)

  6. Hello! I'm a silent stalker :) I wanted to see if I could pick your brain about supplements. My Arab mare always did well when' we lived up north with great hay and minimal hay. She's been barefoot for years and we've done some LD and hunter paces all barefoot. Since we moved to SC her feet are going to pot and now I've noticed her coat being dull and she has a couple bare patches. I'm blaming the horrid hay that's local to here that she has been on all winter. I can't afford right now to ship in other hay but can do supplements. Basically I want to add back in what she is missing. Where do I even begin? I know you have done a ton of research and use a lot of great products. Thanks!

  7. Let me know if you need/want to run anything by regarding the EasyShoes/glue-ons or if you decide to continue with the endurance thing and need an extra ear :)

  8. I hate this back and forth drastic weather! What is up with this stupid weather?? I hope it figures itself out soon...

    O is so gorgeous! I'm glad the dressage work is going better. She will get it figured out. :) I wonder if the speed evasion thing will ever go away or if that's just a part of who she is?