Sunday, November 30, 2014

End of November Analysis; December Goals!

Geez is it the end of the month ALREADY? I think I say that every month, but it really surprises me every time it comes up. We had a really excellent November, full of goal-achievements and fun (and vacation!), and once again have accomplished all of our goals and then some. 


O-Ren Novemeber Goals:

1) Successfully get through our SECOND SHOW!
 Success! A BIG success! Not only did get just get through it, we cleaned up and took home a slew of first and seconds AND were Champion in the Horse division, AGAIN!

2) Get on a better schedule - last month things got crazy and we didn't keep one very well. This month, once back from vacation, she needs to be driven 3 times a week with 1 lunging and 1 other training day, no exceptions!
 Success! Or well, mostly. The week I got back, I worked her all four days (which was all I had) and showed, the following week she only drove once but lunged twice (which made me reevaluate my schedule), and then this week she drove four times and lunged once. Given my schedule, that's great! I have a pretty rigorous training schedule set up for December - we'll see if we can stick to it mostly!

3) Keep hunting for what kind of vehicle we'd like to upgrade to!
Success! And then some! Not only did we locate a great little cart, but it has been purchased and is now sitting in our cartport under a blankie!

4) Get a new whip and work on whip training!
Just got the new whip in... now whip training can begin in earnest!

5) More work with the chambon... it's very helpful!
 Success! We did lots of chambon work - I like the chambon a lot, but I also think we need to do more regular long-lining. We'll add that in this coming month!

 Pangea November Goals:

1) Watch her levels of comfort as we get into wetter weather
Haven't needed to worry about this one thankfully... it has largely stayed dry, and she is moving like  a million bucks (for her). She even came galloping in this morning for breakfast!

2) Her dietary needs will change in January... do more research on what she will need!
Success! But, I need to fine-tune this!


O-Ren December Goals:
1) Keep a tight schedule and stick to it! (Needed days off for either of us and changes due to weather acceptable of course!)
2) Whip training - teach her how to move off the whip
3) Figure out ways to life-proof the new cart - to keep it nice while in use!
4) Start working more on dressage tests and cones exercises
5) Transitions transitions transitions - keeping a steady and quiet contact throughout upwards ones!

Pangea December Goals:
1) Same as before - watch her comfort levels, especially as she gets bigger!
2) Fine-tune dietary needs, starting in January changes will begin!
3) Next rhino shot!


Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be cruddy and dismal, so today I decided to get the new cart out for a spin! I was worried that she might be a little scared by the weight and the big-ness of it, but she was totally fine - although slightly confused about the additional weight for a second, until she figured out how to push harder to start forward. She definitely has solid brakes with it though!

 Boy we sure have come a long way from this in just a few short months....

You can see that she was fussy with the contact - she is NOT happy with the amount of curb that the first rein slot on the liverpool offers. It is way too much for her. Next time I will move it up to the next setting, which offers *very slight* leverage when engaged but otherwise sits like a regular snaffle! Our field is rutty and bouncy, so I get jostled around a bit (in any cart), but otherwise it rides great - SO much springier than the other cart, which was kind of jarring both our kidneys out I think!
Also, all the little animals running around in the video were my two catahoula mutts and about 5 cats... I should have included the footage of all of the cats suddenly galloping off in one direction together across the screen!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Little Red Corvette

Wow what a day!!! I think O is going to hope that I don't have any more days off anytime soon... I messed with her ALL. DAY. LONG. So many things got done today and I am exhausted!

Yesterday in the mail, two packages came for me, both things I had ordered. One was a driving whip - a nice one, a little shorter than I thought it would be but it has a nice long lash - and a liverpool with the same mouthpiece as my Happy Mouth mullen mouth. It's made by Zilco, but it's basically the same thing.

Santa came early!

Eager to try everything out, I headed to the barn in the early morning, fed the girls, and left them to munch hay for a little while. I pulled out my cart, switched out my snaffle for the liverpool, and off we went to do some dressage work.

Mom y u do dis

I put the liverpool on the first slot. There are a lot of different ways to attach your reins to a liverpool; I might try the next mildest next time. Mostly it's trial and error, seeing what she likes and what is too much vs. not enough.
She's a very interesting case in that the more you put the pressure on her, the harder she pushes back against it. She doesn't relent to pressure, she sulls up against it. She is an absolute buttermouth with a light touch on the reins, but if you pull hard on her mouth, she will clamp down, root to the spot, and completely lock up against you. I liked the way that the liverpool gave me a really solid feel - no reins sliding around the rings of the bit - but it took her a minute to realize that she could still continue to be nice and light without consequence. She was kind of ehh for about a 1/2hr, and then we had a nice long walk break to let her regroup her mind and relax a little. Once she had done that, she was very happy to goober up, take a contact, and be a little rounder than she has been. And, who knew - she can bend to the right after all! She just kind of forgot how with a snaffle I suppose! We did a of transition work, and ended on a really good note.

I had a few clients to do, so I left for awhile and got that done. On the way home, I got in touch with the lady I was buying the new cart from - we decided I would come pick it up today!!

Before I did that, I decided that it was high time to clip O. It has been very warm lately, and she has been getting pretty sweaty during workouts. I hadn't decided on what theme I was going with, and mulled some patterns over in my head while I bathed her and prepped her for her clip job. A hazy idea popped into my head... she's a zoomy mare, zooming around... she should have some flames, but flames are hard.... maybe she could have some racing stripes... yeah... like, a little sports car...

Because I am stupid, I decided to freehand the entire thing, and used big huge clippers with giant wide blades. It therefore did not come out particularly well, but it's pretty cute anyway:

Little Red Corvette! And that's not an E, that's a chomp mark from another horse - she likes to hump the fence and let the other horses bite her when she's in heat.

I guess, considering the super wide blades (that are at least twice as wide at the stripes) and the freehand job, it's not terrible. But remind me next year to tape it and use smaller blades - imagine how much better and cleaner it would be that way!

Once that way done, I released the wild beast (who galloped away bucking), took the divider out of my trailer, hooked up, and headed out to pick up the new cart! Getting in and out of their property and loading the cart were all little puzzled to be solved... it was tricky, but we got it done. Let me tell you what though - I will be making a serious effort to figure out how to get my cart into the bed of my pickup. Taking the divider out of my trailer was a HUGE pain in my ass, and I tried for 30 minutes to get it back in without any luck. Given my wrists and shoulder, I shouldn't really be doing that anyway, so eventually I just gave up! SO infuriating. Getting the cart in and out of the trailer is hard enough as it is - it nearly mowed me over when I was unloading it. I will have to get creative in order to figure this one out. 

I let O check the cart out after dinner - she didn't care, and was happy to stand between the shafts and look at it. 

Whatever, can you please leave me alone now

She'll have tomorrow off, and then we'll go for our first drive in the new cart on Monday!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks 2014

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, as I do every year. It's a general repeat post, with add-ins... but the bases are all the same, as they are all the same things I am thankful for year after year.

I am thankful for my family, who still puts up with me even after all these years. The older I get, the more I appreciate them, even though they are just as certifiably nuts as I am.
I am thankful for all my friends and contacts worldwide, who have always been there for me throughout the good times and the tough times alike.
I'm thankful for my wonderful Future Hubs, who puts up with me, laughs with me, gets into tickle wars with me, dances like an idiot with me, sings out of tune with me, snuggles me, and looks into the future with me, always right there by my side no matter what.
I am thankful for my menagerie of pets... the make me smile and laugh every day. Without them, life would be empty and colorless.  
I am thankful that I am still excited for the future, because it's only just beginning. This year has brought me further than I could have possibly imagined, and if I accomplished this many things this year, I can't wait to see what next year holds.
I am thankful for Texas, because even though it's STILL one of the most ridiculous and random decisions I've ever made, it led me right to Future Hubs, my herd of cats and dogs, my kooky mares, my career, and new friends and adventures... and that's exactly where I want and need to be.
I am thankful for Metro and Quincy, my two long gone but never forgotten boys. I honor their lives by naming my business after them, and not a day goes by without missing and remembering them.
I'm thankful for five beautiful, crazy, intense, amazing, eventful, and memorable years with my Gogo. She made me a far better horsewoman and rider, she made me laugh and cry, she molded who I am now as a young adult, she got me started on my career path of choice.... and so much more. 
I'm thankful for my two crazy, nutty, wonderful mares. P and O are polar opposites and both ridiculously awesome in their own ways. I can't believe that this time next year, I'll have another little baby horse to celebrate with too! I am thankful for P for being her father's child, and for helping me perpetuate her cherished bloodline. I am thankful for O for being exactly who she is, every day, without fail - because it reminds me to do the same. She wasn't supposed to be a keeper, but she barged her way into my heart, and she has a place here with me for life. I am grateful for every single day together, and am looking forward to our adventures in the coming years, especially with our newfound sport.
I am thankful especially this year for eight wonderful years with my old lady greyhound Ti. Losing her this year was very hard, but her memory lives on in all of us. We hope to all be reunited at the Rainbow Bridge one day, along with the rest of the critters I've loved over the years. I am also thankful that we were able to adopt a shelter dog last month (his name is Pike, and he's a wonderful holy terror!) - there is nothing like giving a second chance to an animal at death's doorstep.

From Pike, Tonka, Twiggy, Jasper, Snidget, Mimi, Saba, Pickles, Monster, Shitner, Pangea, O-Ren, Future Hubs, and myself, Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have plenty to be thankful for too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BOOM! New cart time!

Ahhh! I went to go see the navy cart in person today. I sat in it, loved it, and put a deposit down for it. So excited!!

I picked it over the Meadowbrook for several reasons:

1) While I actually technically liked the Meadowbrook better - the detail on it was JUST SO GORGEOUS - it was quite a lot more expensive, and also required a russet harness. Russet harness is $$$$$$. My current harness is a very well loved Smuckers, and while it is old, it cleans up nicely enough to use for local shows - so with the navy cart, so long as we swap out the black/chrome parts for brass parts, it will match AND look super fancy. 
2) It's easy entry... gotta love that part.
3) The carriage maker is right here in town! I know her and if I need anything, I can just zip my cart right over to her for touchups or repairs. She'll switch everything out to brass for me!
4) The cart itself is also right here in town. I don't have to pay for shipping or deal with going really far away to get it!
5) I took a *really good look* at what the carts would look like with O's color:

Here's a chestnut colored horse with a russet harness and a similarly colored cart (not the same cart). It's really kind of cool picture, but it is really kind of chestnut-intense.

And here is my cart with the carriage maker! She actually made it for herself before selling it to the lady I am buying it from. Conveniently, she made it for a similarly colored red horse, so you can get a good idea of what it will look like. Very flashy! Picture it with brass hubcaps, brass shaft tips, and a brass rein rail (and with O, of course) - it will be awesome!

It is really kind of amazing to me that 6 months ago, I hadn't even considered ever doing this with her yet. Now here we are, already upgrading to show-worthy stuff. Who would have thought it? I've enjoyed this so much that I haven't ridden at all in several months. While it feels really weird to say that, and when I think about it I'm definitely uncomfortable with that idea, in reality I've been enjoying the pain relief. I miss riding sometimes, but am thoroughly fulfilled by driving - I definitely don't miss it enough to swing a leg back up onto my fire-breather. This is probably the longest I've ever gone without riding, from about 7 years of age on. I didn't ride much when I lived in New Zealand for 6 months, but we did go on two horse treks during that time, which were wild and full of galloping. I do hop up on Pmare once in awhile for a bareback toodle, but that's about all I've done. I do really enjoy those little rides though... I will need to make a point of doing them more often.

We had a fun little drive today... I wasn't asking for too much connection, just forward motion, seeing as she started off a bit lazy. (I also have some injuries and need to take it easy!) Since her dental, she has suddenly found the ability to really bend left for the FIRST TIME EVER! Unfortunately, now she thinks that is all she can do, and she is perpetually stuck in left bend with no interest in bending right. I need to have the bodyworker back out and see if she is stuck somewhere... if I had a good chiropractor, I'd start there first, but there isn't one around here that I like. Doing carrot stretches (which I am notoriously bad about remembering to do), she is equally as locked up on both sides, but when she releases she stretches all the back to her loins... so who knows. It's always something! In the video, you'll see me doing some tight turns and see her fighting me pretty hard. I'm not pulling on her, she is just actively trying to counterbend while being bent anyway - the contact is very light. SHe is quick to bend to the left, but as soon as you release the left rein, she flies to the right - like a car with some alignment issues. Some long lining exercises will help this as well - and will tell me if this is an evasion or an actual body issue somewhere.

I was stepping on the gas in that last shot... she was lifting her head, powering on, and giving me the "all right fine" ears!

I'm having a lighter week because of not one but TWO sprained wrists AND a damaged rotator cuff. As far as we can tell, it's just repetitive stress to old injuries. It doesn't hurt me to drive (and my wrists are wrapped), but everything else HURTS, especially motions where I'm rolling my wrists a lot. I'm doing some light work tomorrow, and then will have off until Friday... hopefully by lightening my schedule, I'll be back to full work soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Short Babbling Report

O is starting to understand the chambon concept finally. It is serving the purpose I wanted it to - let her stretch down and out over her topline, while being able to stretch her nose out and not be restricted by a contact.

I love that picture. Stretching down, but still uphill at the same time. 

Thanks for all your input on the carts.... I am definitely going to look at the navy one this week! My training cart just sold to a client (who will love and use it), which gives me the money to invest back into a nicer cart. This of course means I will have to life-proof it a bit - the last thing I want is for my cart to get banged up and scratched while it is in use. Any tips on how to do that, please feel free to share!

I had an idea for helping to tie the cart and O back together a little better. The cart is so solidly dark all over.... it has pinstriping, but that's about it. My Smuckers harness (should I decide to show in it) has brass. If I swapped out the chrome shaft tips for brass, and swapped out the black rein rail and black hubcaps with brass, it would lighten up the cart and it would also match the harness. A lot cheaper than buying a new harness! I love brass, I always have, way more than I love silver colored metals, and I'm happy to try and work it into my turnout if I can!

O lunged yesterday, had today off (busy day for me), and will probably have tomorrow off too (busy again). I wanted to make a point this month of getting back on a schedule of 3 drives a week, one lunge a week, and (hopefully) a day of groundwork/other stuff. Two weeks ago, we got all of that done, but last week she lunged twice and only got driven once. Bah! With my busy schedule and the waning daylight, we'll have to get creative if we want to keep a tighter schedule. She'll probably have tomorrow off, lunge Tuesday, drive Wed, have Thanksgiving off, and drive again Friday and Sat. I have some amazing cones exercises I want to practice!

I had a chance to peruse the ADS website as well, and in terms of sanctioned stuff in the first half the year, we have these to choose from:

May 23, 2015: HACA Pine Hill Driving Trial

There will be more added to that calendar for sure. All of the little NTW fun days will also be in there, and the second half of the year will hopefully be posted soon too. There are lots of other little shows around to choose from too!

Enough babble for me for tonight. Back to work Tuesday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hey You People! Buy My Stuff!

As November settles in around us (read: really unpleasantly cold), I find myself looking ahead to the coming year. After O's performance at the games day, it dawned on me that I really for real might have an amazing combined driving horse in the making. I've already been perusing the ADS website, trying to see what kind of options I have for next year. I used to do this on the USEA website around this time of year, every year... plan my whole show season out, and set goals. The idea of being able to do this again is really, really exciting.

She had Sunday and Monday off after the playday, got back to work with a very zoomy lunging session in the chambon on Tuesday, and had a very zoomy drive on Wednesday. Not sure what got into her, but she had places to go both days!

I drove her barefoot on the pavement, but thought that she was a hair more flat-footed than usual, not her normal big gigantic trot - the concussion on the blacktop is an awful lot, and I usually drive her in boots when we go down the road, so she may have been protecting herself a bit. The last thing I want to do is concuss the heck out of her, so we'll probably stay in boots whenever we venture onto the pavement.

Also, check out the shine in the lunging picture. That is her winter coat! I'm actually *gasp* considering not clipping her this year. I *want* to clip her, just for the fun factor, but in reality it kind of seems silly if that is the max amount of hair she is going to grow. She hasn't been sweating much at all this year, just getting slightly sticky under her tack on warmer days - hardly enough to warrant a full clip. This time last year, she was sweating absolute buckets with every workout... my only deduction is that she is so completely not stressed out by driving that she doesn't even break a sweat. She is definitely an anxiety sweater.

I may have located a couple of really awesome show carts for sale locally! I am having a really hard time deciding what I might want to go with! That said, I *really* need to sell some stuff before I commit to buying a brand new cart, so I went through my trailer (finally) and pulled out a bunch of stuff that I don't need any more. I am a total packrat, so you can imagine how much stuff is still left in the trailer!

Here's the list of stuff... (shipping is not included!) See below for email info!


Size 84" black plaid stable sheet - pretty good condition, all straps working. $20.
Perri's white all purpose pad, never used but some stains. $10.
Purple all purpose pad (IV Horse brand, from the UK) - never used, stain on one side but can't see under saddle! $20.
Schneider's Dura-Tech navy blue heavyweight neck cover - snaps are broken and need replacing. $15.
Nunn Finer no-slip pad - brand new, never used. $15.
Small horse sized zebra Sleazy - some small tears and needs a good washing. $20.
Purple tail bag - needs washing. $5.
Light blue sparkle tail bag - brand new, never used. $10.
Small horse/cob sized brown leather halter - well worn. $15.
Cornflower blue horse sized nylon halter with poly lead rope - brand new, never used. $20.
Blue head bumper - snap style, used but good shape. $15.
Formay saddle bags, pommel and cantle, black - horn bag was used once but other is brand new with tags. Both for $25.
Two old-school style Easyboots - one size 1, one size 2, size 2 has a crack - good for temporary backups. $10 each.
Breakaway halter replacement leather strap - brand new, never used. $5.
Black suede half chaps - used but in good shape, for medium-sized calves. $20.
Flash strap - back with silver buckle. Or use it as any kind of strap you like! $5.
Black leather halter with silver hardware - includes nameplate that hasn't been ingraved yet. Has some scratches and wear. From Germany. Nice halter! $25.
Mohair cinch - 26" or 28"? Fair condition, some breakage to mohair, good as a backup cinch. $10.
Blue/black lycra and mesh flymask with zipper - only used once, some stains, has ears. $10.
Leather and elastic sidereins - only used once. $20.
Quilts, quilts, quilts! One tiny 12", a bunch of 14", and one big pair of 16"? Wilkers. Wilkers are thick, the rest are thin quilts. All have stains. $10 a pair, Wilkers are $15.
Ladies black Ariat gloves - probably size 7? For medium-large hands. Feels like a second skin. Won't be sad if they don't sell! $20.
Bevals knock-off brand pull on bell boots - black, labeled as large but fits like a small medium. $15.
Blue glittery bells - missing a strip of velcro on one but top velcro works well. Medium-large size. Perfect for that horse who is gonna destroy them anyway! $5.
Light blue spur straps - brand new, never removed from package. $2.
Gold chain browband - dirty and worn. $5.
Gorgeous Kieffer Anja rolled leather black dressage bridle - horse/cob size. Padded crank noseband, padded adjustable crownpiece. Well worn and well loved. Only selling because it looks ridiculius on my current jugheads. Paid over $250, asking $100.
Weatherbeeta Freestyle (older model) heavyweight turnout blanket - size 78", needs a good wash but everything is intact! $70.
5" copper single joint snaffle - well oxidized. $5.
5" slow twist full cheek snaffle - like new. $20.
5" Baucher single joint snaffle. $10.
5.5" double jointed loose ring snaffle, KK knockoff. $15.
5.5" Happy Mouth double jointed snaffle, some small rough spots. $15.
5.5" Myler Level 1 dee ring with hooks - like new. $60.
5.5" silver colored double jointed loose ring - like new. $20.
5.5" KK Ultra loose ring with Aurigan - has darkened with age but still great, thick mouthpiece, slightly oxidized. $50.

Shipping is not included. (Neither are the errant cats.) Email me at for more info!


Two of the local options:

These carts are both gorgeous, but very different. The detail on both is just stunning. Both would call for a harness upgrade as well (for showing).

This Meadowbrook is totally drool-worthy. It requires a russet harness (which is basically a chestnut colored harness), which would either look STUNNING on O, or make the entire picture totally melt together in a chestnut-y blob. Hard to say. It has a lot of really nice upgrades, and was built for low-level CDEs specifically. I love love love these natural wood carts, and think they are well-suited to O's color and movement (she is borderline being too flashy for them, but not flashy enough for a painted vehicle. Also she is chestnut, which is apparently not a fancy color.) It more expensive than the other cart I am looking at, and a bit harder to get in and out of.

This road cart is painted deep navy with baby blue pin striping. BABY BLUE! You know how much I love that. Given how dark the cart it, it would REALLY be a showcase of horse and driver. This is kind of the total opposite problem from the other cart - is this one TOO dark and different, will my horse stand out TOO much with this cart and clash with it? The other cart she might blend in with too much! That said, I think O is just fancy enough to look really nice with a painted cart (so long as it isn't too fancy), and I think the deep blues would look really nice with her coat - not much looks good with an orange-y chestnut, let's be real. This cart is also easy-entry, which is always a plus.

Both of these carts are totally gorgeous. What do you all think?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

North Texas Whip Games Day 11/15/14

I'd say that went pretty well, wouldn't you say?

Did I win?

Once again, O completely surpassed my expectations at the driving playday yesterday. She was just. So. GOOD. I could not have asked for anything better than what she gave me!

It is easy to forget that O is a horse who has only ever seen minis once before, and other horses attached to carts once before. There are a lot of horses on this planet who just FREAK when they see tiny horses, or carts, or carriages, or anything that isn't in their realm of understanding, and they never get over it. O, on the other hand, is always interested in new things but is rarely upset by them. She acclimated to the sight and sound of rattling vehicles the first time she saw them (after her first initial surprised reaction to them), and this time she didn't even bother to look at any of them. As is her usual way, she assessed them, accepted them, and moved on with her life. This is one of her truly great and admirable qualities - she approaches everything in this way.

Ok so are we getting on with this or what?

It was cold today for Texas. I mean cooooollllllllddddd. The sun never came out, the wind howled all day, and the temp *maybe* reached almost 40 when the wind died down. I'm actually glad that I haven't clipped her yet.... she would have frozen! It is one thing to be riding in this weather, but it is another to be sitting relatively still in a cart, especially when you have to stand around for large periods of time and do nothing at all. With the icy wind and the immobility for long stretches, I was pretty much frozen all day long. I decided at the last minute (last night, actually) that I had better bring my quarter sheet for O, just in case, and I am SO glad I did. I think she would have been a very cold, very unhappy critter without it.

Because of the cold weather, the organizers decided to start the show at 11am instead of 10am, so I got an extra hour of sleep! It was too cold to bathe, so she got a vigorous rubtown with a damp towel and a tail wash (and leg wash too). I left her to eat hay with P for about an hour, and then popped on her Gloves, loaded her up, and headed off to WD. She unloaded, looked around, and went "oh yes we did this before, that's nice," and started in on her hay. It was SO blustery and cold that I decided to let her trot in the roundpen for a few minutes to get her willies out.... of course, she had no willies at all and was content to just trot around the pen bored for a few minutes before I let her stop and took her back out for more hay. 

The plan was to do two games, then break for lunch, then do the cones course and the final two games. There were quite a lot of people that turned up - 20, which is a lot for a freezing day! - and a lot of them were horse sized horses. I had some competition! After our warmup (in which O was very quiet, very buttermouthed, very responsive, and very awesome), our first game was the Hazards course. O got into it and whipped around the gates at high speed, zooming across the finish line to finish first! (Note to self: wheeling around hazard obstacles so fast that your tires spit arena dirt is serious fun.) We had a length wait between games, and O was the perfect carriage horse, parking herself up next to the arena to stand with total immobility and a leg cocked for as long as she was supposed to (which was a really, really long time. Thank god I wore layers!). The second game was the root beer barrels game, which O also attacked with gusto, earning herself a second!

After lunch (which was awesome cause one of the organizers made us all hot potato soup!), we all walked the cones course and hoped we'd remember it. After another period of hurry up and wait, O went in and smoked around it, earning yet another second. The final two classes were the double barrels and the cloverleaf barrels. O had been in harness for a very long time at this point, and had long since realized her martingale was not on for the day, so in her boredom she had started to fling her head around while standing still. Once she was in the ring, however, no nonsense happened, and I had a super fast but super responsive horse. She slung dirt around the double barrels course, and finished first! Pilot error on my part prevented her from taking the fastest route in the cloverleaf, but she was well behaved and had her first and only actual break to the canter in that final course on the way back to the finish line. If you remember at the last show, she was very hot and strong by the end of the day, and revved up enough to break several times because she wanted to go! She did none of that this time, and never got strong or too hot. She was super forward, definitely, but only when we were on course. The rest of the time, she was asleep!

I have no complains whatsoever about the show. All of our placings earned us the horse division Champion, again! Her behavior was lightyears better in every way this time - and she was already better than I expected she would be at the last show! Sadly I have no more video or pictures, but you'll just have to imagine how awesome it was to watch her whipping around those courses at high speed. (Well, trotting speed. But you can go mighty fast at a trot.)

Let's go lady!

That probably ends our show season this year - there are no more NTW shows, and the only show remaining that I know of that has driving classes is this coming weekend... and woudn't you know, I *just* realized that my Coggins expires in a few days. Dangit all.

Three cheers for the red beast!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We're Home!

Phew, we're home! We had an AMAZING time in Florida (Disney, Universal, AND beach time, all in one vacation!), and while it sucks that vacay is over, it is awfully good to be home. The dogs apparently pitched a fit halfway through our trip and ate all of our wooden blinds, and the mares filled their ENTIRE SHED with a thick layer of poop, but everybody seems to have otherwise survived. I did a lot of cleaning today, not surprisingly.

The timing of our trip unfortunately coincided with a surprise cold front. I haven't clipped O yet, simply because I couldn't count on her to be blanketed while I was gone and I wanted to make sure she was hairy and warm - thankfully the good weather persisted until yesterday, and I was able to come home from the airport and toss blankets on them. Our next driving playday is this Saturday (!!), and the cold weather is supposed to persist through then, and well into next week. She is filthy from a week of rolling in the mud, so she desperately needs a bath before I even think about clipping her, but I doubt it will warm up enough for it within the next two days. I doubt I'll be able to bathe her at all before the show, which I just *hate*. Thankfully it's just a playday and it doesn't matter if my horse shows up grimy and dirty, but I will do the best I can to make her somewhat clean and presentable. 

Seriously though, the show is TWO DAYS AWAY! I have so much to do, I don't even know where to start! Today I sent her off on a quickie lunge first thing in the morning to get her willies out (and she had some serious willies after a week and a half off work, plus our 26 degree morning), and then drove her this afternoon. She was very cold and a bit shivery even under her blanket, so she was pretty cold while we were harnessing up, but once she was underway she was very well behaved and warmed up well. All I wanted to do today was to get her moving and listening well, and she gave a very good effort despite not being particularly interested in being out in the cold. 

The bitter cold kept us from being out there for too long. My hands were aching from the cold, I couldn't feel my face, and my mare was very politely responding but definitely ready to be finished. I bundled both her and P up in more layers since they were both a bit chilly (the high today was only 35!), and tucked them in for bedtime.

I still have A LOT of stuff left to do - work her tomorrow and Friday, clean out my trailer, clean my cart, clean and polish my harness, figure out what I am going to wear (I'm going to freeze!), memorize my patterns, make sure she is clipped/trimmed/clean, and several other things like wrapping and loading the cart. 

I think these patterns are easier to remember than the last set. The hazard is the one I am excited about - it is one like you do in actual marathon, and it confused the heck out of me at first, but I think I get it now! 

I better get my butt to bed.... I have an awful lot to do before Saturday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

End of October Analysis; November Goals!

This post is obviously late in coming, and it will probably be the last post for the next week-ish - we're currently in Orlando on vacation, thoroughly enjoying Disney/Universal/the beach! I was utterly desperate for a vacation and I am SO GLAD to be here, and so thankful that I have the ability to afford it. Admittedly, I hope the neighbors don't kill my horses while I am away...

Anyway, while I am resting my very tired feet from our first day at the parks, I figured I better finish my monthly write-up! O hasn't been worked hardly any all week - I was just too busy leading up to vacation time. We get back late on the 11th, and of COURSE the next driving show is on the 15th... I'll have 3 frantic days to show prep. Ahhh!


O-Ren October Goals:

1) Set and maintain a schedule - certain days for fitness, dressage, obstacles
I didn't do as well with this as I wanted. Between work and the waning daylight hours, I really had a hard time keeping any sort of proper schedule this past month, and I haven't had much time to work on her fitness at all. We have done a lot of dressage work, however, and since that is the basis for everything else, I don't think it is a lost cause at all, but I want to make sure we keep a better schedule next month.

2) Finessing dressage work - half-halts, work on really moving forward and compressing
Success! We did really well with this. She has built a lot of impulsion, and following her dental work, she is actually bending well to the left for the first time in, well, EVER. Unfortunately now she is not bending at all to the RIGHT, but I think that has more to do with her crooked SI area than anything else. (Old injury and asymmetrical SIs... with much purposeful work throughout each drive, this vastly improves, but I think it will forever be a thing we need to work on. Chiro, bodyworker, and vet can't find anything to fix in that area, so we face it as a training issue, although I highly suspect at some point we may need to pay some more attention to her stifles... I have a feeling they will be the area that gives us problems, if anything is going to.)

3) Self-education, as always!
 Success! I continue to read everything I can get my hands on, and this month I was able to take not only one but two of the Coachman's Delight online classes, one of which was a Halt class and one of which was a Whip Aids class. The halt class was pretty much as self explanatory as I figured it would be, but it gave me some great exercises to work with. The whip aids class was awesome! I have been having trouble trying to figure out how exactly to introduce proper whip aids to her (or how to even execute them, really), but the class was SUPER helpful and I have a lot to work on. I also need to invest in a better whip... mine is a good starter whip but has a super short lash, and it doesn't touch her without also touching her with the shaft... also I really can't even reach her shoulder. Fail!

4) Look for some more fun shows in the future - what is next!
 We have a show on the 15th! I have all of the patterns for it, and we're entered - I'll have more about it up when I get some time. There is another show the following weekend, but alas! I realized far too late that my Coggins is about to expire, and will be up before it. I won't have time to get a new one in time for that show, with us being on vacation and all. Oh well! 

5) Planning ahead: harness and cart upgrades I might want to consider in the future as we get more seriously into this sport!
Oh man this is a painful one... I found not one but TWO absolutely awesome vehicles I'd LOVE to have in my barn, one 2-wheel and one 4-wheel. What's the problem? They are $$$$$$$$$$$$. And considering everything, they are both REALLY inexpensive when it comes to vehicles that are as high quality as they are. I just can't justify dropping $1500-$4000 randomly out of nowhere on a sport that is brand new to me. So I continue to drive with what I have, I continue to save money, and I continue to shop around, until something comes along that will suit AND that I can afford.

Pangea October Goals:

1) Possible casting as we get wetter - see how sound she is!
Haven't needed to do this... it hasn't rained in well over 2 months aside from one day of sprinkles!

2) Walk hacks if sound! But only if everything works out!
I haven't had time to do this more than a few times, but they are always enjoyable. She is starting to slow down a bit, so we probably won't do too much more of these, but I hope to keep squeezing them in here and there.
3) Second Rhino shot!
Success! She did get a bit of fungus following it - vaccines tend to wreak some havoc on her immune system, so it doesn't surprise me. It has cleared up, so no big deal.


O-Ren Novemeber Goals:
1) Successfully get through our SECOND SHOW!
2) Get on a better schedule - last month things got crazy and we didn't keep one very well. This month, once back from vacation, she needs to be driven 3 times a week with 1 lunging and 1 other training day, no exceptions!
3) Keep hunting for what kind of vehicle we'd like to upgrade to!
4) Get a new whip and work on whip training!
5) More work with the chambon... it's very helpful!

Pangea November Goals:
1) Watch her levels of comfort as we get into wetter weather
2) Her dietary needs will change in January... do more research on what she will need!


Girls getting ready for the chilly incoming weather - it has been raining for two days back at home (but sunny and nice here!) The peace sign sheet is really awesome, but she has been soaking wet and clammy cold under it three times now.... I think it is just SUPER unbreathable, and when she sweats she can't get dry (and it must be hot enough to not breath enough to not sweat). That won't do, so it has to go.

Also, is it just me, or is P looking REALLY REALLY pregnant so far? She's only at 6 months! No twins, so she is either carrying a really big baby or she is super stuffed with hay. (Hopefully the latter!)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

8 Tips On How To Survive Wintertime With No Lights

We've been on a bit of hiatus this past week, as I'm sure you could tell. One of my dearest college friends has been in town all week, so we've been off having fun.. between that and work, the mares haven't has much of anything done with them all week. We're also fast approaching winter, which means that there is less and less daylight to make use of. 

Fewer daylight hours and chilly temps mean that O starts to do an awful lot of this in her paddock if she isn't worked regularly:

We affectionately call those "handstands." She was galloping in circles around P bucking like a maniac yesterday... P was standing there looking completely nonplussed the whole time. (She has always been an economical horse, but now that she is pregnant, she is saving literally every scrap of energy she has for the sole purpose of eating everything in sight. I had to let her blanket straps waaaaay out yesterday to accommodate her growing belly!)

So what do you do if you are me and you still want to make sure your horse gets worked and you don't die every time you climb up into your cart, but you also don't have an arena, lights, or much time? You CAN in fact get your horse exercised in the inky dark, if you get creative! Here are some tips for getting it done!

1) You Need *Some* Light
Horses can see pretty well in the dark, a lot better than many animals... but unfortunately, humans are not very good at this kind of thing. In order to make sure you are not about to fall into any potholes, put any equipment on backwards, or walk into a skunk on a nighttime stroll, you need at least *some* measure of light. Really bright moonlight, lights from the nearby barn, or even headlights turned to your area are all really helpful. (Note about the headlights: use caution with this, because you WILL drain your battery and have a dead car and then have no way to get home. Ask me why I know this.)

2) Know Your Horse and Your Equipment
When you are working in the dark, you are operating in the dark. You need to know which hole all of your buckles go on, which things go where, and exactly how everything sits - you may need to do some things by feel. This is no time to break out the new bridle that needs tons of adjusting to get just right. Likewise, you need to know your horse. Is he liable to be stupid and spooky, or a steady eddie? Since you'll be giving up some of your eyesight, you need to make sure that your partner is going to be there for you, and not take this opportunity to dump you into a bush and go galloping back to the barn.

3) Tell Somebody Where You Are
Seriously. If you're out there in the dark where nobody can see you, and you get hurt, and nobody knows where you are.... how long do you expect it will take for them to find you? Make sure you let somebody know where you are and what you'll be doing. This is a good daytime tip too!

4) Befriend Your Weather App
Your weather app is your new best friend. Is it going to be -15 degrees? Snowing hard? Everything covered in ice? Maybe not the best days to be out working. The weather might mean you have to forgo some training and riding, but it is far better to skip a few days than to risk injury to yourself or to your animal. Be smart, and only work when the weather means that you'll have some decent footing and not die from hypothermia, unless you're some sort of polar bear. (Below 10 degrees and I'm hiding in my house. Too icy on lungs for me!)

5) Good Footing Only - Know Where You Are Working
Speaking of footing - you need to know your riding/lunging area like the back of your hand. This is not the time to go exploring down the trails! You have to know that your footing is solid and without holes/major terrain issues/etc, because you won't be able to see well enough to avoid them. Don't work somewhere unless you know for sure that the footing is safe - it's not worth it!

6) Keep It Simple Stupid...
When it is dark out, keep things simple. Does your horse really NEED four boots and bells? Does he NEED a bunch of extra special grooming and prep? Does he NEED polos, or can you just slap on a pair of simple strap boots? In the dark, I usually skip legwear altogether - but O goes naked-legged more often than not anyway, simple because she never interferes anywhere. If you have a total clutz on your hands, opt for what you need to protect them, but don't bother going beyond that... too many pieces of equipment to make mistakes with in the dark! Likewise, this is NOT the time to decide to start teaching your horse flying changes, or add in anything else new, unless you are particularly adventurous and/or have a super complacent horse. And if I am working in the dark, I am just doing groundwork or lunging - I wouldn't dare drive her in the dark. Same goes for jumping - don't do it! It's just not safe without proper light.

7) .... But Don't Skip the Basics
Even if it is dark, you still need to make sure that your saddle/surcingle areas are clean and groomed. You also need to make sure that feet are picked and shoes are checked, if your horse is wearing them. And if your horse is clipped, don't forget a quarter sheet or a cooler if it is really cold!

8) Know That Your Horse May Be Stupid
It's cold out. It's dark. It might be before breakfast, or after dinner (although you should make sure your horse has some hay in his belly before you get out to work him anyway). Your horse might not be particularly thrilled about this prospect at first - he might be cold, or spooky in the dark. Let him get used to his weird work schedule, and don't be too hard on him if he's having a heartattack about the weird shadows over there that he hasn't seen before. He'll get over it, they always do!

Not totally awake yet but happy to get out and do something

Happy riding/lunging/whatever! Get out there and get it done!