Sunday, December 29, 2013

The New Year Approacheth

Holy crap, the New Year is ALMOST HERE!

I have mixed feelings about this. 2013 was a really, really good year for me, all things considered. I had lots of positive changes, lots of big steps towards my future, lots of fun and lots of happiness. There is always bad stuff and stressful things and whatnot, but for the most part, it was all good stuff. It was different year than I'm used to having, but in a very good way. 

I have a lot of yearly goals for myself and the business, but my personal horsey goals are not quite as concrete as I'd like them to be just yet. I have a lot of musing to do when it comes to what my real goals for O are - do we event, do we do endurance, do we do other fun stuff, do we do it ALL? I have to solidify goals there before I want them totally written out on paper, but what I am leaning towards with her in particular is that I want to do LDs with her (and do several AERC sanctioned rides), start playing on the barrels a bit more seriously (because the mare lives to run fast and turn on a dime), and keep working on her dressage and jumping. Some days I want to event more than others - sometimes the idea just doesn't feel the same since Gogo died, and sometimes I crave it badly. Over the next year, I'm not sure that I'll go to anything recognized or not, but I want to get her to the point where she could be competitive at BN-N even if she isn't showing. I need to direct my finances towards the business more than anything, so spending money on shows isn't going to be a huge priority (even though I badly want it to be!!). Endurance is extremely affordable compared to pretty much everything else, so we can get our fix that way and save some cash at the same time ;) As for late 2014-2015, if she is going the way I want she'll be out doing recognized stuff. I want to be smart with my finances and only go out when I have a horse that is going to go out and win... it's just not worth it for me otherwise. 

Once I get more concrete goals written up, I'll put them up. I have to spend a few days really mulling it over in my head before I really make a decision. A lot can change in a year, after all.

BUT, one thing I DO know is that next weekend - the 4th - O and I will be doing our FIRST LD! Oh man... so excited, and a little bit nervous. It's always a little nerve-wracking doing something for the very first time. She is plenty fit, and I am hopefully fit enough too... ahhh! I have just a week to make sure we are all packed and prepared! 

I was seriously craving saddle time over the Christmas break, so when I got back from FL, about the first thing I did was hop on O and go for a little 5 mile ride to stretch her out after her five days off. We walked for a few miles, tried to trot for a bit but failed due to some extreme mucky mud, and then I let her blow off a little bit of steam on the way home. 

Before I got on, I cleaned their pen for them. The girls must have known a cold front was coming in today... yesterday they went BANANAS for no particular reason while I was cleaning their pen. I have no idea what got into them, they just started running and didn't stop for ten minutes! 

As predicted, today the weather turned for the worse, and it dropped into the 20's with nasty sleeting mist. O still had a lunge on her calendar that needed to be done, so I got my lazy butt up and did it despite the weather and despite me being a bit ill. I seem to have caught some sort of icky bug on the plane ride home from Florida... gross.

This mare is just looking better and better. There are definite improvements here in the canter, although there is a lot way to go before it is any sort of show-ready. I've been doing a lot of cantering and galloping out on the trail, and have spent a lot of time on a very long contact - this has done nothing but benefit her. Her topline, which was nice before, has improved even more, and her neck has gotten increasingly loose and supple. She has really unwound herself through her neck and back. She still would rather be up and moving like a giraffe, but that is the way she is. I am loving how loose she is through her neck in the video, and how well you can see the difference in the canter from when she is too tight in her neck to when she is looser. 

The more relaxed she gets in the canter, the better her balance will become. 

Tomorrow if the weather holds, I'd like to get a good 10-15 miles in on her or so, even if it ends up being a bit slow and quiet. She'll have the rest of the week as mostly downtime to rest up before the LD on Saturday. Let's hope my cold goes away before then... 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mare-y Christmas!

The mares and I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!

I took all my holiday stuff to the barn to get some cute pictures of the mares in their garb, but alas, it never happened before I left for Florida (which is where I am now)... so we'll either have to get some belated pics or you'll just have to deal with some adorable photos of my gone-but-not-forgotten Christmas ponies!

Gogo and I in 2008:

Metro and I in 2005:

Quincy and I in 2002:

Happy and safe holidays to everyone. Thank you all for riding along on this wild and crazy journey with us, and may all your 2014 hopes, goals and dreams come true - and keep writing and riding! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Opening the Pipes

With all the stress and chaos of the holidays, I haven't really had much time to ride this week. I am leaving for Florida tomorrow for the holiday, so today I made sure to make some time to get on the red beast. 

Today's Workout!
(Minus 15 minutes of me milling around down by the barn after the ride before I realized the GPS was still on....) 

Sometimes, you just got get on and open up the pipes. It felt good to Haul Ass down the side of the road and forget about all of the stress of the season for a few minutes. My GPS clocked her at 30mph and she was in no way maxed out. 

Not looking forward to a whole week without saddle time... not looking forward to it at all. 

(The candy cane did in fact pass inspection. Once she had taken a bite, she decided that she LOVED them.)

Last but not least: if you haven't already, go help Stacey out by donating to Wes' fund!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Warp Speed

Hmmmm. Well, I think O is plenty fit at this point in her life.... after riding her for 4 hours the previous day, included a 5 mile dead run controlled hand gallop, I wanted to see how she was moving and feeling. Her girth swelling was 80% gone and was no longer painful to the touch, but you never know.... I figured she'd poke along and I'd get a good look at how she was moving.

Yeah.... I think she's JUUUUUUUUUST fine. 

I'm gonna go with "we'll be fine for the LD in January." 

Also, this, because she's adorable:

She's a funny thing, isn't she? She is SUPER interactive, and always has her head on you (in a respectful kind of way). She loves when you blow into her nosey, and she loves when you pet her face. She is always watching your every move. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hauling Some Butt

O and I GOT TO IT today in our workout. We headed out at around 10am, and made for the big cow pasture. She wanted to GO, and I let her. We did 5 miles in 30 minutes, which included our walk warmup and several breaks to walk down hills and to check out the cows. The GPS clocked her max speed at almost 27mph! I really thought we were just canterimg, but apparently we were Hauling Ass. She really, really needed to get the zooms out of her system, so I let her pick a speed and just cruised along for the ride. S was tacking up and getting ready to get on her mare, so I headed back to the barn after zooming for 6 miles, and let her have a drink and a snack before we headed back out again down the road. We rode for another 9 miles just at a walk... the sun was out, the sky was blue, and everything was warm and drying out. It was SUCH a nice change after our horrible ice storm!

Much to my dismay, back at the barn I discovered that my soft fleecy girth - the one I have been using on her for SIX MONTHS - had for some reason caused her entire girth area to swell up. The ENTIRE area where the girth made contact was HOT and SWOLLEN and PAINFUL to the touch. Wtf!? What is up with this mare and her sensitivities!? I have NO idea what caused it... same girth, clean horse, not really a longer or harder ride than usual. And since it is O, you know it's going to be swollen for weeks... her knees and back knob are finally down, but the leg where she got chewed on by the neighbor's dog is still big. Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff.

I guess I'll be looking for a new girth... suggestions? 


As for Miss Tre, this is what we did today!:

She pretty much does anything and goes anywhere. I also confirmed her changes today.... they're there and they're easy to get! 

I logged 4 hours on O and 2.5 on Tre.... pretty sure I'm going to sleep well tonight. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hotmess Express


O is (very thankfully) back to full work. As chill as this mare is, she really craves a regular work schedule and tends to get a little weird when she's doing nothing out in the field. She can walk along all day on a long rein at a pokey 2mph walk (seriously, she likes to walk that slow), but as soon as you pick it up, she is ready to ROLL. She's not running, pulling, acting goofy, or doing anything wrong per se.... she just is ready to go go go to infinity. All you have to do is give her a light aid, and you're off booking it on autopilot, on a totally long rein. It's really REALLY nice to have a horse that is this easy... she's definitely not the same horse as the one I pulled out of a field 9 months ago!

Still, she's sometimes a little funny about things. Once in awhile, she'll bump herself on her hackamore and have a moment of head flailing and thrashing. Sometimes she thinks random things are very scary (today, for instance, the For Sale sign in front of a neighbor's house that has been there for quite a long time) and will go past them with her tail flipped up and eyes bugging. (Sometimes, when she's not in work, she'll double barrel at S's head!!) Aside from that, she's easy. You don't have to leg her on, you don't have to keep slowing her down, you just motor along until it's time to pick it up or quiet it down. 

The day after our blanket hack around the pasture, I actually bothered to tack up and let her blow off some steam before continuing on to the pasture again for another walk hack. The girl was practically shooting fire from her nostrils in the barn aisle - she caught sight of the neighbor's new paint horse and absolutely lost her mind. I had to get on and canter laps around the top field until she chilled out! We set out from there and rode out at a walk in the big field again for about an hour and a half. O was ready to roll the entire ride, but kept it together for the most part. It was still too slick and icy to really do any more than that unfortunately. 

Yesterday, it was still gross and slick and wet out, so I hopped on with just a halter and her blanket on again, catching the very last rays of sunlight for the day. We walked the barrels and the poles, and meandered around the field for about 30 minutes. At some point, I realized she was responding to my lazy neck reining. I tested it for a few minutes, and she was very responsive, turning and straightening with the lightest of aids. When the heck did she pick that up? I know for sure she didn't do that when I got her! 
I'm suppose not totally surprised to find that she has picked up neck reining, even though I never actually taught it to her... I spend so much time riding out on a long loose rein on the trails that she must have just picked it up on our perpetual quest to stay straight and forward. I'm lazy, so if I get to ride on a loose floppy one-handed rein when out on the trails, that's exactly what I am going to do! I inadvertently taught it to Gogo too, for the same exact reason! 

Today I set out for our first actual conditioning ride in several weeks. She was great, as usual, cruising along on a long rein at a fair clip for most of the hour long ride. I tried out a new app called MapMyRun that I really liked - it gave me realtime stats, spoke to me at every mile mark, and recorded it all via GPS. 

You can scroll along the ride to see what speed I was going at at specific points in the ride, and can also see what speeds I was going at per mile. I logged my walk warmup and cooldown as well, but for the rest of the ride I kept a pretty even pace, somewhere between 7-8mph. (Your average large horse, larger than her, trots at around 9-10mph.) Since I had realtime stats, I sent her forward into her Hauling Ass trot, and found that she can easily reach 12mph+ at a trot. If she were really reaching and were on softer ground (not the road), I'm sure she could hit 13mph+ at a trot. It's not a Standardbred speed trot, obviously, but for a 15.1hh horse, that is definitely in the Hauling Ass category. Choo choo, make way for the Hotmess Express!
(Flying along at 13mph is not sustainable, so it's not really something to push for... but it is interesting to see where she maxes out before breaking into the canter! I'll have to test that and see.)

We finished a quick 6 miles with her still snorting and staring at the neighbor's paint horse. Obviously she didn't lose much in the way of conditioning!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Uhh, brrr.

Hooray, Icemageddon 2013 is finally mostly over! My yard and driveway are still covered in several inches of ice, but all of the roads are clear, and it was in the 40's today. Hopefully it will continue to melt over the next week or so.

It hasn't been very much fun being trapped like rats in our own homes for the past 5 days though. This is what we've been doing to entertain ourselves. I know, I know, that outfit.... at this point I have a PhD in layering, even though it makes me look a bit like a hobo Eskimo. Can't say we're not innovative about finding ways to have fun in the dismal weather though!

Thank GOD, we finally managed to get by Tuesday. The city of Fort Worth finally decided on Tuesday they they should probably do something about the several inches of ice still on the roads, and were laying down salt on the bridges and blocking traffic for HOURS. Yes, it really did take them five days to figure out that maybe they should try to make the roads passable, since the sun was not coming out and the ice was not magically just going away. I lived in the Great White North for 25 years and I've never seen anything like this. It was absolutely insane.

Tuesday morning, I had had quite enough of staring blankly at the walls of my own home (seriously, what do homebodies do all the time? I need to be outside, I can't live in a building forever!), and made it to the barn before I had to leave for all of my make-up appointments (seriously, being iced in will RUIN your tight schedule). It was absolutely bitter cold, even by northern standards - my truck said it was 16 degrees. My trailer tack room door was frozen shut, so I had no way to get to my tack, but I still wanted to ride. I hadn't been on O in over a week, given 1) the dog attack, 2) the truck mishap, and 3) Icemageddon. It was 16 degrees and the horses were all spinning around like tops. Hmm, what to do?

S and I were tired of sitting sidelined, and we decided to go anyway. We hopped on our horses with their blankets still on, S's horse in a simple snaffle and O in a sidepull/halter. Lucky for us, both of us have exceptionally chill and awesome horses, and jumping on with just their blankets on and halters when it was only 16 degrees out and neither of them had been worked in a week was no big thing.

Omigoodness, when it warms up, MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT FUZZHAWK. 

I tell you what though, six months ago I could DEFINITELY not have ridden this horse on a 16 degree day at all, much less on a 16 degree day with no saddle or bridle, after a week of no work, through a huge wide open field, right up to a big herd of cows. She's such a cool cucumber now that I can do just about anything I can dream up. 

She is just. Too. Cool.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snicy Death

Yet another day of being trapped in my house.... I'm going TOTALLY STIR CRAZY!

Yesday, the roads were severely hazardous to drive on, but everything was still *somewhat* slushy, so I got around slowly (but safely). This morning, road conditions had taken a dramatic downturn for the worse - temps were in the teens overnight, and all of the slush/wetness had frozen solid. EVERYTHING was completely, 100% covered in thick ice. It was measured in my area to be around 3-8" thick ON THE ROADS.

Yes, that's a road. It looks like a lake, but it's a road.

I tried to go to the pet store on my way to the barn to get cat food... they weren't open. NOBODY was open. I got stuck in the parking lot on the way out... I don't even know how I managed to get myself out of that mess.

I only made it about a quarter of the way to the barn, maybe not even that far. I weighted the bed of my truck and tried alternating between 4WD and 4-Low, but nothing was effective against the ice. When I totally lost control of the vehicle and did a 180 - in the middle of the road, on flat ground, doing 10mph, in 4WD - I decided maybe I should go home. 

The neighbors were nice enough to trek over in the ice and throw a bunch of hay to the horses AM and PM. I'm gonna do my very best to get there tomorrow, but I can't make any guarantees.

This is how I spent my evening instead:

Thankfully, ABC Family has been running back to back Christmas movies all day, and I have enough hot chocolate to last me quite awhile. I feel a bit like a prisoner here though.... poor Future Hubs is stuck at work (yes, the poor man is out driving an ambulance in this crap), and I am stuck alone here with all of my similarly stir-crazy critters. This is definitely the worst storm I've seen since I've been in Texas. These are also the worst driving conditions I have EVER seen in my life.

All major freeways in Ft Worth tomorrow are being shut down for cleanup. Most of the DFW area freeways are in total gridlock right now anyway from stranded cars and accidents. I've had to reschedule everything several times already this week - we had no idea it was going to be this bad. It just straight up sucks.

Hopefully I'll get out to the horses tomorrow, but I can't make any guarantees. I'm not going to kill myself trying either... if the neighbor has to throw them more hay until I can make it there, they certainly won't die. 

I, on the other hand, might die of actual physical boredom if I don't get out of this house soon...

Friday, December 6, 2013


Gingham, I'm not sure Miss Pia would like it here after all.... 

Welcome to Texas! I hope you brought a bathing suit AND a jacket. You might get to wear both in the same week! 

I woke up this morning to find the world covered in a thick layer of snice. Beth coined the term for it, and it was spot on... not quite snow, not quite ice. Snice. It was snaining all night.... not quite rain, not quite snow. Not really sleet either, more like... large chunks of ice falling from the sky. You know, the kind that makes loud drumming noises when it hits your coat and feels a bit like stinging hail when it blasts you in the face. Did I mention my truck thermometer read only 22 degrees?

85 two days ago.... 22 today. That was the high. 

Texas is THE WORST place to have these winter storms. Up north, as soon as the flakes start flying the cities get their salt trucks and plows out and rolling. They are ON IT. The roads are cleared mid-storm and they stay clear. Even if there are a few slick spots here and there, most people have years and years of experience driving in that kind of weather, and they can adjust their speed accordingly. 

Texans? Texans totally forget the concept of inertia whenever ice or snow comes to town. They have no idea that you need extra intertia to get UP the hills, and that too much inertia will also send you spiraling out of control DOWN the hills. They either creep along going 15 miles an hour and get stuck on little inclines, or they fly along in their pickups doing 50, fishtailing all over the place (weight your beds, come ON people!) and tailgating. The worst problem is that the roads go completely untreated. I get it, we don't have snowplows or salt trucks written into the state budget (why would we need them most of the time?), but seriously, the occasional fumbling sand truck is just as useless as everything else because the drivers also don't know how to handle the weather! 

Therefore, all of the roads get reduced to this:

That's a three-lane skating rink, in case you were curious. 

The horses were not particularly amused by the weather either...

That's her "really?" face.

Oh no.... et tu, water trough??

That's a LOT of ice for Texas. 
I really wanted to get on O today, but everything was SO slick that I decided against it. Better safe than sorry, especially after everything we've dealt with this month!

I've been blogging a lot lately, which is great - this is probably the most I've regularly blogged since I was showing Gogo. The problem is that I am doing it partly because I have been stuck in the house so much! Well... I suppose a few more days of being a couch jockey aren't going to kill me. I hope the weather relents soon though, I'm not sure how many times I can go over my spring calendar and 2014 plans.

So far, I'm feeling a bit stuck in terms of planning. Priority goes to the business while it builds - if it comes down to it, money and time get directed to that first. Second priority (in terms of fun hobby-type things) goes to eventing, and whatever else is left goes to other horse endeavors (mainly endurance). I'm not happy to find that there are only 5 endurance rides within 4 hours of me (I decided 4 hours is the cutoff, and I'd REALLY rather not drive that far anyway for rides), and all of them finish up before the end of March. One of them is already over with (the one we had to miss because she fell out of the trailer). Two of them coincide with recognized events on the USEA calendar. One of them is really too far away to consider doing. That only leaves us with two rides, one in January and one in February. Both rides are between 3 and 4 hours away. That is making it sound less and less feasible. 

Basically, it boils down to this: I have a TON of recognized events to choose from in the area, and not many endurance rides. Two of the endurance rides also overlap with events, which isn't ideal either.

Endurance Rides To Choose From:
January 4th: High Roller I Endurance Ride (TX)
February 15th: Racing Stripes Endurance Ride (TX)
March 1st: Bootlegger Boogie Endurance Ride (TX)
March 15th: Heart of the Hills Endurance Ride (TX)

Recognized Events To Choose From:
March 1-2nd: MeadowCreek Spring Social HT (TX)
March 14-16th: Feather Creek HT (OK)
March 28-30th: Texas Rose Horse Park HT (TX)
April 13th: Pine Hill HT (TX)
April 19-21st: Holly Hill Social HT (LA)
May 3-5th: Greenwood HT (TX)
May 25-26th: Corona del Sol HT (TX)
June 8-9th: Texas Rose Horse Park Summer HT (TX)
August 31st: Corona del Sol HT (TX)
Sept 13-15th: Feather Creek HT (OK)
Sept 26-29th: American Eventing Championships (TX)
Oct 11-13th: Greenwood HT (TX)
Oct 25-27th: Holly Hill HT (LA)
Nov 2nd: Pine Hill HT (TX)
Nov 9-10th: Texas Rose HT (TX)
Nov 22-24th: MeadowCreek Park HT (TX)

While I would love to pour money into AERC and TERA fees and go to just one or two rides, I'm not really sure that's the best use of money. But, I WANT to keep doing endurance stuff with her... it's admittedly a bit frustrating. I'm a very goal-oriented person, and I use competitions/shows as motivation to push on and keep going. Without something rock-solid on O's calendar, I feel like I'm floundering a bit. What exactly are we going to be shooting for? Are we going to put conditioning miles on, when there is no real reason to aside from base fitness for everything else? Do we keep working on molding her as an eventer, when it looks like Tre is probably going to be the one I will be pointing at recognized stuff (she'll be ready sooner)? Do I work on other things, barrels/poles/driving/etc? 
She might not be the most outrageous talent, but I am hopelessly attached to her. I want to make sure I point her at something she's going to be successful at in the long run.

Lots of thinking and planning to be done before spring starts. Perfect for crappy, icy days. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

.... really, really frightful. 

Yesterday, it was a balmy 85 degrees. I had been stuck in my house for a few days waiting on the truck to be finished, and I finally got it back yesterday, just in time to squeeze a ride in on Tre. We had all this beautiful warm weather to ride in, and I was stuck at home... ugh! 

Tre was HOT after her few days off, and I lunged her for a minute before I got on. She was still a bit uppity when I mounted up, but I figured I would ride her down for a few and she would settle. She did not settle, unfortunately... O started calling to her a few minutes into the ride, and she lost it. I was not getting anything productive done at all, so I hopped back off and put her on the lunge for a second time to wind down some more. She ran, and ran, and ran, and ran for several minutes before finally slowing down, blowing hard and rolling her eyes at the watchful neighbor dog. I can't blame her for feeling fidgety around the dog though, seeing as the dog has been raising hell in the pasture :( Finally she settled, and I got back on again. She was really quite good, especially in the canter.... I could ride that canter all day long. It's just AWESOME.

She is not like Gogo or O, both of which need(ed) a very, very, very long trotting warmup. Gogo could not be pushed until she was sufficiently ready (mentally), which took up to an hour of trotting on a longer contact. Every ride, she always had a moment where she suddenly would melt into this incredible pliable state, and once she was there she would do absolutely anything with just a thought from me. She felt smooth and buttery, it's the only way I could describe it... moving her around between my legs and hands when she was in her zone was just like spreading butter. It was really incredible. O is similar to this in that she needs to be in that ultra-relaxed buttery state in order to really come together. Gogo would shuffle along on the hollow side until her back came up, and O runs along on the hollow side until her back comes up - both need(ed) total relaxation through their toplines in order to be able to take a contact and come round.
Tre is a bit different in that she needs to be activated a bit. She is more than happy to plunk around on her forehand, head too low and disengaged - plenty relaxed, but totally disengaged. When she is hot and fresh, then she is similar to the others, but by and large she is quiet. Once she gets warmed up (sometimes she really has to be booted forward, sometimes she needs some relaxation work), her best friends are lots of transitions between the trot and canter. She needs activation more than she needs relaxation - but she needs to be relaxed in order for the activation to work. Everything good in dressage starts with relaxation.

She is pretty hairy, and given the fact that she worked pretty hard in the 85 degree weather, she was very sweaty when we were finished. I took the opportunity to rinse her off for probably the last time in awhile - not quite a bath, but it was close!


The expected cold front came blasting in today and dropped temps into the 20's with sleet and wind chills in the teens. I managed to squeeze in a good lunge with Tre before the worst of it came in. I was not in the mood to get bounced around by a very fresh little 5 year old, so I didn't even think about getting on, but she was actually very quiet all things considered. Regular, consistent work is key for keeping her brain in order!

Lots and lots of transitions help to activate the trot. She wasn't particularly engaged in the canter, but she was getting some nice trotwork in. Pieces, pieces....

I wanted to lunge O today as well, but given the state of her nasty leg, I figured I would just wait until the storm fizzles out in a few days. With several days of cold hosing, Theraplating, medicating, and wrapping, it seems to be relatively under control.... 

I lunged her last night after I rode Tre, and she was very fresh and very sound. I hate to push it, but she looks great, so she'll go back to work when the weather relents. We have stuff to do... we can't be sitting on the sidelines like bums! No more leg stuff please!

Also, no more crappy weather please... we really weren't feeling it today. It's only supposed to get colder, icier, snowier, and crappier..... 

Gingham is temping me by telling me she'll send her lovely Pia down here to join my crazy mare herd.... like I need THAT temptation! If she comes complete with her own trust fund, she can come! ;) My bank account can't handle temptation like that!

Most importantly of ALL, Niamh's fundraiser to help replace all her stolen tack is up on her blog.... go help out if you can!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Easy December, just settle down....

I had big plans for December. Big plans about how it would all be awesome and there would be so much riding and fun and Christmassy goodness and nothing would go wrong because it's CHRISTMAS! 

So far that has entirely gone down the toilet. We're only 3 days in, it has to get better right?

December 1: many clients, much business. Tre got lunged but that's all I had time for, I couldn't even squeeze in a hack with O. So much for that.

December 2: S pulls O out to feed her in the morning and calls me with the news that O has been attacked by the neighbor's dog. WHAT. The dog has lately taken to chasing my mares rather incessantly, which is really not ok. Tre doesn't put up with it and turns and chases the dog out, but O is nice to the dog and just sort of runs away with the dog is being aggressive. It's just a hind leg that is fat and has big raking teeth marks on both sides of the leg - looks like the dog got one grab in and that was it. We can't really prove that it was the dog that did it - who knows, it could have been something else? - but it's a pretty good guess. 

She'll be fine, but still. Kind of would like a break from the neverending scrapes/bumps/lumps/rubs/everything for once! 
I decided to just not even think about riding since I was all riled up, and decided to take the dogs out for a good long walk and romp in a local park. We drove out there, I walked them out to the lake, and we all went diving off trail to go get down to the water's edge. We splashed and played and enjoyed our very nice 70-degree day, and then as it was getting dark we all headed back. It was then that I realized my keys were no longer in my pocket. Desperately I searched for them, trying as hard as I could to retrace my steps, but I had been off trail so much that I had no way of finding where I had been. It was dark at that point, so we just had to give up entirely. No truck keys, no home key, no trailer keys, no nothing. No way to get home. Future Hubs came to the rescue and called a tow truck, and we had the truck towed to the local dealership so they could break into it and program me a new key. It HAD to be one of those special magnetic keys that costs $150 to replace... I have spares to get into the vehicle, but not to start it, and what use was it anyway if I was miles away from home? The nice tow truck man let all three stinky muddy wet dogs ride in the cab with us back home. 

December 3: Here I am, stuck at home, waiting for them to program a new key. I had to reschedule all my clients for the day, and can't get to the barn to ride either. I can't go anywhere at all!

So much for jumpstarting my December!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of November Analysis; December Goals!

Time to go through our monthly goals! I feel like we had a pretty good month overall!


O-Ren November Goals:

1) Really consider the eventing question.... to keep at it or no?
I did really think this one over, and I really do want to keep working towards that goal. What I think I am going to do is continue on with the goal of competing her in endurance, and training her for everything else. She's ready to tackle endurance competitively, she's not quite ready to take on anything else. If I want her to make a good event horse, I can't push her - I just need to coax it out of her and get her there in her own time frame. And I do think she'll get there, but she is not going to be ready to be competitive at the level I want to be at by the time the spring season starts (end of February). I think Tre will get to that point first, and so she's probably going to be the one eventing in the spring - but you never know!

2) Get through our first endurance ride alive! And look for the next one!
Success!! We did it, we made it through our first little Intro ride (15 miles), vetted in and out great and had plenty of gas to spare. I think she could have done a 25 that day and been fine. We were *supposed* to do our first LD today, but after her goofy little wipe-out coming off the trailer (she slipped on the ramp and fell to her knees), she had a solid two weeks off to try and get her lumpy knees to go down. They are finally sort of less big than they were, and she has been sound the entire time. I'm tired of her sassy fresh attitude so she's going back to work! The next ride is on the 4th of January, and she will definitely be ready for that one.

3) Continue patterning on the barrels... and try poles!
I didn't do this, mostly because she was off for half of the month... mostly this is just for fun, so it's not really a set goal! But the poles are set up now, so it's time to play :) I did them with Tre the other day too!

4) Chiro adjustment! She hasn't needed anything so far but it pays to be proactive!
Success! The chiro didn't find much on her, just some things to adjust in her neck/poll and some mild things in her asymmetrical SI region. She feels the same after the adjustment, and looks the same, but it's good to be proactive.

5) Continue long-lining, all over the place!
Again, didn't do this because it's a) just for fun and b) she was off for two weeks. Along with the barrels and poles, it's just some fun stuff to do!

It was REALLY nice to get back on her the other day. I missed riding her!


Trebuchet November Goals:

1) Get going under saddle.... good behavior, w-t-c!
Success! She has gotten better and better over the course of the month, and is starting to do some halfway respectable dressage work. She is quiet, but can get a little frisky and forward sometimes. She tends to fuss a little at first during her ride, going a little slow and not wanting to really take her contact, but if you warm her up and then take a contact for her and bump her forward into it, she will reach out and take it and stay there. It will take work and finesse, like it always does, but I actually think she is going to be pretty uncomplicated here.

2) Trailer out to a few places... behavior in the trailer and at the places we trailer to!
This one we didn't do, but I don't count that as a failure - she is ready to start going places, I just chose not to because the place I want to go (the local arena that has a very small covered, versus WD which is HUGE and far away and spooky!) was flooded out at the end of the month. But we'll be going soon, she is ready!

3) Start going out on trails with a buddy.... work on being a good girl!
Success! I just wrote about our first trail ride and how AWESOME she was... I'm also starting to ride her out away from the barn by myself... not very far, and not very fast, but she is starting to learn how to go out by herself. We will be doing A LOT of this in the coming months!

4) Tack... try to find some things that actually fit her tiny shrimp size!
Success! Or well, I at least was able to determine that pretty much nothing fits her all that well. My saddles fit pretty well, and I was able to fit her to a bridle and martingale on the smallest holes, and she can wear my smallest pair of bells, and polos of course... but hardly any of the boots fit her, all of the bits are too wide for her, and I've had to borrow all her blankets. O is just over 15.1, and Tre is just over 15.0, but Tre is seriously half the size of O in almost every way. She fits into a pony bridle and a 70" blanket!

5) Put on some weight and muscle!
Success! I think that management is going to be critical for this horse and her gastric health - with her little dewormer incident, her weight fluctuated, and I think if she gets heavily stressed it will throw her system into some disarray. Yesterday she was bouncing around when I had O out for her ride, and I couldn't get her to eat much hay before our ride (I always try to have a little something in them before I go and slosh their stomach acid around with a ride). She was excellent under saddle, but then later that afternoon wouldn't eat all of her dinner and wasn't eating much hay either. Whether or not that has ANYTHING to do with it, I played it safe and gave her a dose of Ulcergard. Today she is just fine, voraciously hungry and eating everything in sight. As long as I stay very, very proactive, I think we'll be fine, but I'm going to always have to err on the side of caution to keep her healthy.

I didn't think she had really gained much weight or muscle in the past 6 weeks, but then I put these two pictures side by side, and she actually did!

She was NOT being cooperative for these pictures... she was very distracted by the other horses and had absolutely no ability to hold still and focus. She's in heat (so is O), which might have something to do with yesterday's appetite fluctuation. My guts feel super crappy when I am all hormonal, so it's not that much of a stretch to think that they go through something similar. 


O-Ren December Goals:
1) Work on fitness - prep for the High Roller ride in January!!
2) Work on improving the canter - work on the lunge and progressing to work under saddle
3) Dressage work - progress in training as well as compliment fitness work
4) Fun stuff too! Barrels/poles/driving/etc!
5) Make sure all tack/boots/etc are squared away for higher mileage rides - everything needs to be chafe-free! 


Trebuchet December Goals:
1) Continue w-t-c dressage work, really push to get her going! 
2) Trailer out to other arenas! Behavior at other properties, behavior on the trailer!
3) Start jumping little things! Small grids, pole work, until she builds up enough muscle and strength to handle more complicated things
4) More trail rides! Trail ride all over the place! 
5) Start to introduce to little ditches, water, banks, XC obstacles!


Speaking of in heat, here is O and her buddy Coy playing sexy playtime over the fence...

Dorks. SUCH dorks.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tre-il Ride

Tre has been doing really, really well under saddle - she is starting to understand the idea of forward and taking a contract, and she is also starting to ride out away from the barn. Therefore, it was high time to take our first trail ride!

You guys know me - I try to make my horses broke, broke, broke. I want them to go anywhere and do anything, and I want them to be able to physically and mentally take it all in stride. I want them to be confident and careful about their footing. I want them exposed to EVERYTHING, and I want them to learn that they never have to be scared so long as I'm with them. I did the same thing with O, and now she rides anywhere on a long rein at any speed no matter what is going on. I wasn't sure how Tre was going to handle her first ride out, but it was time to give it a go! We opted to go ride out in the big cow pasture instead of down the road, which is a nice place to start them out. (Obstacles to deal with on road: cars, emus, donkeys, running dogs, mailboxes... a lot of things. Obstacles to deal with in the cow pasture: cows, water, scary looking debris... also if she were to freak out and dump me, she wouldn't be loose out on the road!!)

She really surprised me with how bold she was. O is more of a tag-along model - she likes to tailgate the other horses and follow behind the others, she is not really interested in leading. If she is by herself, she's the same (although it took a long time for her to be that way). For as speedy as she is at the trot and canter, she has a pretty slow walk, and usually the other horses outpace her anyway. Tre, on the other hand, totally surprised me by being the immediate leader, barging in front of S's mare and walking along at about 9000 miles an hour with her ears pricked. S's mare is a real hothead, and she couldn't even keep up. She broke to the trot several times - she wanted to go! Despite that, she took all of her half-halts REALLY well, and was easy to maneuver and turn.  

Her old owners told me she had been on a trail ride once, and that the only thing she really didn't like was he water (apparently they had to back her in). There are a LOT of water crossings and puddles out in the pasture, which is good practice! At the first little puddle, she followed S's mare right across. S's mare actually skirted around one side, but Tre just stomped right in! At the next puddle - a BIG LONG puddle - she looked down, paused for a second, and then plowed in. Halfway through, she quit following S's mare and turned of her own accord so that she could stay in the water! She had fun splashing around for a few minutes, and then she started to do that leg-buckling-I'm-about-to-lay-down thing, so we exited with haste. The final water crossing she encountered was pretty scary, complete with muck and moving water. S's mare went first, and with some hesitation, Tre bounded across too. O doesn't like that water either, I can't blame either of them!

There are large piles of debris around the old cow shed, and we decided to go check the stuff out (there are many things to make jumps with over there!). Tre wasn't afraid of any of it, but wanted to check it ALL out. She was more than happy to walk back and forth over a giant white plastic pipe (looked a bit like a huge PVC pole), and didn't care about all of the debris around. She is a little too bold for her own good - she walks TOWARDS anything that she isn't sure about! There were even several huge tractor tires piled up next to the trail that she gave a wary eye to, but then decided that she better go check them out. She stepped right up to them, clonked both fronts on them (and didn't care about the noise), and stuck her nose right into the center of one of them!

The last test was the group of cows. The cows see us all the time so they don't care about us, but of course Tre hadn't seen them before. She wasn't completely sure what to think of them, but true to her form she went marching boldly up to them - I had to actually stop her so she wouldn't get too close too fast! She didn't like when they were behind her and walking towards her very much, but she'll get used to that. SERIOUSLY impressed... some horses totally melt down when they see a cow. I suppose she is a QH after all...!

Can't tell you how impressed I am. She led the way, walked boldly up to all the scary things, and kept her cool the whole time. Not bad!!!!


Both ladies had really great lunges today too. O is back to work, not because her legs are no longer swollen, but because I was getting tired of her sassy crap. She is sound and she is SASSY - her bumps will continue to go away with time, but somebody was going to get creamed if she didn't get back to work. She always comes to me in the pasture, but apparently she won't let S catch her anymore, and the other day when S got her into a corner to bring her in for breakfast, she fired off a couple of double barrels directly at her. NOT okay! She's never done that before - I really didn't think she had it in her, and I'm surprised she did it. Either way, she needed some work before things got any more out of hand. 

When working on the lunge, Tre and O could NOT be more opposite. Tre likes to give her best little low-headed trit-trot and slow pokey canter. You have to really engage and push her up into a proper working gait, and it takes reminders to keep her going forward, especially in the trot. O is her polar opposite - her working gaits are WAY too fast and forward, and she likes to go in a very high-headed, totally inverted way, with her front legs running out in front of her and her hinds flying out the back. I did the same exercises with them both today, but used them for completely different reasons, and had great results with both. 

The exercise just involved the Faux-ssoa and three trot poles. I feel like I lunge these two quite a lot.... I'm normally not a lunger and not a gadget person, but I really like the results I've been getting. I won't use the Faux-ssoa on them forever and I certainly will totally cut out the lunging when they are ready, but it is doing great things for them both right now. 
The three trot poles were spaced so that Tre had to stretch to make them, and O had to compress to make them. Same distance for both, their length of strides is just that different in the trot - and it is totally opposite in the canter, since Tre covers twice the ground that O does in the canter. 

For Tre, we warmed up, and then started trotting over the trot poles. We then did lots of quick transitions, trotting over the poles and then up into the canter, and down into the trot right before the poles came up on the circle, then back up into the canter right after the poles. It really engaged her hind end and stretched her back out, and she really had a great trot going by the end, complete with super soft slobbery mouth. (I lunge them both in a Happy Mouth mullen mouth and just a headstall, no cavesson.) 

For O, I let her roll for a few minutes before getting to work (she was SO FRESH), and then we started doing trot poles. We did LOTS of trot poles before we even thought about the canter. I actually think doing quiet cantering in the lunging system is really going to help her canter under saddle out a lot, since it will help her figure out how to balance herself better and not get so dirt-bikey. The canter started out rushy at first, but what I did was canter for a minute, then go back down to trot and put her right back over the trot poles. When she comes down from the canter, her tendency is to just run as fast as she can out of control in the trot - she has speed in her head after the canter and that's what she wants to do! When she came down out of the canter and had to go right to the stride-regulating trot poles, she had to really adjust herself. It worked really well, and by the end, she too had a super slobber goober mouth!

We started with this...

Hollow back, running, compressed neck, no contact, ticked off.... not good.

Then we did some of this...

Top picture was early in the session, bottom picture was later, as you can tell by the sweat... you can see how she was really starting to use her body as time went on.

Then she offered up some of this on her own....

Stretch that back woman!

And we ended with something more like this:

Loose and swinging, relaxed through her back, taking a contact, much happier, much better rhythm/balance/cadence/speed/everything. 

And a nice goobery mouth to finish on, which she doesn't always have!

She says "phew that was hard." SO glad I clipped her, look at her sweating!