Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year In Review!

The Reeling's Year In Review!

WOW what a year! I really can not believe an entire year has passed us by once again. While I did originally expect us to be eventing successfully by now, I took the lemons I had to work with and made them into some pretty badass lemonade. Spiked with vodka. Because that's how we turn things around down here. 

While we are not eventing and we won't be, instead this year we...

Went foxhunting first flight
Ran barrels and placed in the 4D locally
 Chased/moved cows
Patterned on the poles
Did lots of dressage in the double bridle
Did two LD endurance rides, placing top ten in both and getting the high vet score at one
Roped a dummy (poorly, but we did it)
Had some fun and successful XC schoolings
Went swimming
Trail rode all over creation
Learned to drive AND won a whole lot of ribbons doing it
AND were not lame, sick, or injured once this year!

I'd say that's a pretty successful year, even if it wasn't remotely what I expected!


January 2014:

O and I tackle our first endurance ride, and it goes crazily but well. We contemplate O's guts, talk about Metro, and have a fun and successful freejumping session (although O's form doesn't actually give me any hope for the future). Clipmasta strikes again, and I talk about how to be subtle with a bossy mare. We have an EPIC blogger XC schooling at Meadowcreek! I make some 2014/2015 goals, which of course have all been modified by now.

February 2014:

We ride, a lot. We have some bad dressage, it is frigid out, and I am seriously grouchy. We survive our second LD, finishing in 8th with the High Vet Score. I linimented O before we stood for BC, which I didn't know wasn't allowed, and I got serious online flack for it (and emailed the organized to ask them to withdraw my placing.) I threaten to quit blogging, again, due to a number of hyperaggressive endurance folks bashing me, accusing me of cheating, accusing me of racing, and accusing me of not caring about my horse. That very effectively ends our short-lived endurance career.

March 2014:

I do another 360 and swing back around from wanting to do endurance to wanting to do eventing, again. I decide we should try a little bit of everything. After all, a horse that can do anything should do EVERYTHING! We do some rope desensitization, and rope a dummy. We pattern on the barrels. After a cluster of events, old Pmare comes home, looking like crap. We run barrels, and win some money! We foxhunt as guests with Brazos Valley, and add first flight foxhunter to her list. Our dressage still sucks, as it always does, and I contemplate if we are going to be eventers, again, as I do every month. I have no answers there.

April 2014:

We try out the EasyShoe, and she tears them off pretty immediately. I have a love-hate relationship with wine. (Still do.) We spin our tires, contemplate more contemplations again, and I blame myself for pretty much all of it. I tentatively think about endurance again, have saddle woes, and pay my pay-it-forward saddle on forward to a client to use. I realize my spirit animal is a spineless cactus. I talk about missing eventing, and about dressage some more, and how I am trying to make it more fun for everyone.

May 2014:

I talk about Quincy. P is looking much better after two months of good food, and goes to the vet for her teeth (which they royally messed up), and to be bred, which I didn't talk about until a later date. O and I get into it, a lot. We trail ride, and trail ride some more. P is confirmed pregnant (after only one breeding!), and I am super excited! I break my snaffle-only rule, and try some giant scary bits on O with a lot of success. I also talk about the kinds of horses I'd like to own one day, for fun!

June 2014:

O is fit, hot, and stubborn as ever. P gets hormonal surges, and flirts studdishly with O. I try a double bridle on O, with quite a lot of success in the brakes department (but not a lot in the reach out to the bridle department). My embryo is adorable, I'm still as addicted to dressage as I ever was, O has bodywork, and I talk about my coming lil munchkin. O learns how to swim! The month ends with me not having ANY motivation to ride whatsoever - our dressage is the same as it has always been, a miserable battle.

July 2014:

My interest in riding is still gone, but I decide mid-month to teach her to long-line and maybe even break her to drive, if we get that far. Long-lining goes AMAZINGLY well - she picks it up like a champ. She's a genius at it. I take it a step further, and teach her to double lunge. My old greyhound gets diagnosed with kidney failure, and O wears a harness for the first time (and is fine although confused about the crupper and blinders, understandably.) We long line in harness. We drag a tire. We drag PVC training shafts. We long line down the road. I ask myself where did this quiet and sensible horse come from, and what did she do with my psychotic mare! We make more progress in our driving training in two weeks than we did all year in our dressage work.

August 2014:

We are loving this newfound thing we're trying. I hook O to Janky the Training Cart for the first time, and she is perfect. She is walking and trotting easily right off the bad, and quietly - in a snaffle. It's hot, but you can't keep us noobs down. I start to think about upgrading already, and we pick up a package deal of cart, harness, harness pads, whip, bits, and books, all for a really good price. We say goodbye to my wonderful old lady greyhound. We learn more about driving, get her going in the blinders, start some fitness work, and marvel at just how far we've come in only a month.

September 2014:

I talk about how O is 100% dead clear on if she likes something, and if she doesn't like something. O still likes to counterbend, the driving folks talk us into coming to their little playday, and we do obstacle work to prep for it. I talk about the joyfully mundane, and show prep. She has come so far in such a short time, I can't believe it. We attend the show, and come home with a boatload of ribbons, including horse division Champion!! O is absolutely perfect at the show (aside from some excited bouncing at the beginning), despite never having seen other driving horses OR minis before!

October 2014:

For the past three months, we have surpassed every monthly goal set. This is totally opposite from the beginning of the year, when we never seemed to meet a single goal, and didn't even make them sometimes. I write about Gogo, and how much she changed my life. Chilly weather arrives, I show off how we have built up some impulsion, and the girls see a new dentist, who does amazing things with both of them. I get ruffled feathers over another blogger outright cheating and admitting it proudly, and I write about it.

November 2014:

It's dark, and we have no lights, but we make do. We take an amazing vacation to Orlando, and get back just in time to have just a few days to prep for our second driving playday. We attend, O is absolutely stellar, and we come home once again with a mess of ribbons and horse division Champion, again! I decide it is high time to upgrade our equipment again, we work in the chambon, and we find an awesome cart locally that I can actually afford! Clipmasta returns for the year with a new design. We get rolling in the new cart and it is awesome.

December 2014:

We are SO into our new navy stuff, which looks amazing with O's bright copper red. I jokingly talk about the differences between O and P. We have a minor setback mid-month when we have a bitting fiasco, and I talk about how, once again, O is 110% clear on what she wants and doesn't want. Basically EVERYTHING except her Happy Mouth mullen mouth eggbutt snaffle is awful in her opinion - even a Happy Mouth mullen mouth (the exact same mouthpiece) 3-ring elevator set on the snaffle is NOT ok with her, for whatever reason! We head to Florida for Christmas, I talk about a hypothetical Christmas list, and have a goofy Christmas drive back in her snaffle. We don't get a whole lot done this month, but we're ready for the new year and eagerly anticipate the coming show season!

What a year! It really was nothing like I expected, but it became so much more than I ever dreamed it could be. We'll be back shortly with some 2015 goals!



Monday, December 29, 2014

End of December Analysis; January Goals!

 Is it the end of December already? I'm pretty disappointed in this month - we barely got any of our goals accomplished, and I don't feel like we got much done. We had the bitting fiasco mid-month, then a lot of rain which turned everything to soup and make it un-driveable, and then we were away for Christmas. Bah! January is upon us, and we're not going anywhere for awhile, so we'll be knuckling down now that the holidays are about to be over and show season is about to begin.


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!)
I was less successful with this than I had hoped. With the bitting fiasco in the middle of everything - which took a solid week out of our schedule to sort out - things got jumbled. Then they came to a standstill when we had oodles of rain and thick, black mud everywhere. Then we went away for Christmas! Not in January though.... we'll be getting down to it in January, barring more winter weather problems. Not having an arena isn't usually a problem, but once in awhile it just plain sucks.
2) Whip training - teach her how to move off the whip
This one didn't get worked on, and I am not happy about that. It's largely my fault - I had chances to work on it, and didn't. The rest of the time, we were bogged down in mud and couldn't drive out in the pasture. January for sure.
3) Figure out ways to life-proof the new cart - to keep it nice while in use!
Success, sort of! I have more ideas for shaft preservation - wrapping them in ACE bandages, namely. That way they stay clean but aren't in the way of work. I have covered all areas of fabric on my seat, and clean the cart whenever it gets dirt or dust on it. It also lives in a carport under a horse blanket with pool noodles on the shafts when not in use, which is a decent system. Beyond that, I don't think there is too much I can do - in the words of my cart maker, the only way to life-proof a nice cart is to just not use it, which is not exactly an option!

4) Start working more on dressage tests and cones exercises
I started working with more cones exercises this month, but unfortunately our lack of a good schedule/useable field made for a failure here. 

5) Transitions transitions transitions - keeping a steady and quiet contact throughout upwards ones!
 We were having problems with this until I switched her bit back out to the Happy Mouth. She was great, but this past drive she was getting fussy and backing up in her halts (she wants to GO). I made the mistake of flapping a rein on top of her butt when she wouldn't listen to a verbal whoa, and I may as well have just shocked her with a cattle prod because that's how indignantly explosive she reacted to that. After that, every other halt was full of bubbling anxiety and a huge head-high lurch forward into a speedy trot instead of a nice walk. I got her to settle by the end of the drive and get some decent walk-halt-walks in, but it wasn't easy. She is VERY easy to offend, and god help you if you do. Even if she likes driving relatively well, it still doesn't change the fact that she has a violently sensitive side, and she's not afraid to show you what she thinks about anything you do that offends her.

Pangea December Goals:

1) Same as before - watch her comfort levels, especially as she gets bigger! 
Success! She went through a small period of discomfort with this last bogging down of mud - it was only a day and it was minor, picking out her feet solved the problem.
2) Fine-tune dietary needs, starting in January changes will begin!
Success! We just added in alfalfa this month, just 1/2 flake in the AM. In January, that will up to 1/2 flake AM/PM, then in February 1 flake AM and 1/2 PM, then March 1AM and 1PM and stay there - depending on her weight. In January, she also is having her vit/min supplement upped as per its feeding recommendations for pregnant mares. Beyond that, everything else will stay the same - she might be growing a baby but she is not wasting more calories than she has to on it, and is packing the rest of them away for herself!

3) Next rhino shot!
Success! And also, self explanatory.


Basically December didn't go as planned, for a lot of reasons. Barring really awful January weather - which is unfortunately more likely than not to happen - we'll be sticking to a much stricter schedule. Our first HDT is in April, after all! That's not very far away!


O-Ren January Goals:
1) Practice and memorize all Training level dressage tests (specifically ones needed for the two upcoming HDTs)
2) Cones work - practice cones in the new cart at show measurements
3) Whip work - teaching left-right cues
4) Steady transitions, always!
5) Start to plan out show season, show clothes/tack/equipment needed!

Pangea January Goals:
1) Change diet
2) Solidly make plans for vax/deworming dates up through due date


O has had nine days off for her winter vacation. She's not a horse that can be hammered on continually forever without experiencing some mental backslide - she really benefits from bits of time off here and there to refresh her brain. She always comes back from these breaks fresher and better... although admittedly there is a time limit to this, as she gets super spicy and feisty on the ground if she has *too* many days in a row off. I know she's had too many days off if she is doing random aerials for no reason in her paddock, and she is about at that level now!

As for me, I've spent the past few days working, doing general end-of-year chores and paperwork, setting up 2015 goals and calendars (and the show schedule!), and giving my harness an amazingly good cleaning. Tomorrow O lunges, then we will be back to driving, provided our forecasted ice storm doesn't come in too hard and shut us all down for a few days. (Not likely but when they do hit, everything on the planet shuts down here, so we all have to be prepared for it!)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mare-y Christmas!

It's a day late - forgive us, we were in Florida with family! - but our little herd wanted to wish you all....

Mare-y Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

We had a fun little dressage-y workout earlier in the week and I dressed it up with some holiday gear. O has had the past week off to enjoy a little holiday vacation, just like us! We'll be back to it in no time!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Hypothetical Christmas Wishlist!

She Moved to Texas just did a hilarious post about what Simon would put on his Christmas list. I think if O and P could create one of their own, there would be only one thing on there: alfalfa. 

Alfalfa is horsey crack. I just bought a few bales for Pmare - she's about to enter her final stretch of pregnancy, and the jump in calories and protein needed calls for some feed changes, which include the addition of some alfalfa to her free choice grass hay. O is getting some too - it's perfect for a hay meal right before a workout. Our climate makes for crappy grass hay - we can only grow coastal around here, which is why we pay out the nose to have timothy shipped in. The lack of grass hay is somewhat made up by the legume hay - they grow some AMAZING alfalfa here. AMAZING. The horses smell it, and their eyes start rolling around. They see me walking by with a flake, and they go NUTS. The stuff I got is all leaf, green and soft and sweet smelling and gorgeous. They're only currently getting 1/2 flake each once a day in addition to their grass hay, but that's the stuff they make a BEELINE for in the morning.

Yes. If the mares had a Christmas list, I'm pretty sure the only thing listed would be alfalfa, in huge capital letters. ALFALFA FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WE WANT MORE ALFALFA, ALL THE ALFALFA ALL THE TIME FOREVER MOAR ALFALFA.

As for me, I have a few other things that I'd like Santa to bring me.... stuff I don't really feel like I should spend money on, and stuff that definitely won't actually be under my tree, but these might be on the list of purchases over the next year or so!

1) Freedom collar (and new traces)
 I love these collars. Love them! My current breastcollar probably used to be pretty nice back in the day, but age and wear has left the backside of it somewhat rough - it's just a flat piece of leather with no padding. Fine for schooling with a harness pad, but not really a show quality piece of equipment. My saddle is really nice with beautiful patent leather on it, and my bridle has patent leather blinders as well, so a gorgeous brass and patent leather breastcollar would be awesome. I'd also need new traces, since my traces are sewn in.

2) Brown show reins
 Driving reins are always brown. There's some tradition behind this - in the old days, black dye was not very fast, and in a rainstorm (or with a sweaty horse), the black dye would run all over your clothes if your reins were dyed black. (And your horse too.) So the reins were left undyed and brown - and so were leather driving gloves. My current reins are half brown and half black - that's kind of a cheaper way of making reins that still don't stain your hands, since it takes a higher quality leather to make brown reins (black dye hides imperfections). The leather on the black part is definitely not as nice as the brown leather, and I don't love them. They're fine for schooling, but I definitely would like a nice pair to save for shows.

3) Show clothes
If I'm going to be showing this year, I need a wardrobe for it! I have EVERY piece of riding show clothing I could ever want in my life, but I have no show clothes for driving whatsoever, save two hats that I got at the driving club's holiday party. Nice brown leather gloves, a show apron, and an appropriate coat/shirt/scarf are all things I'm going to need. Luckily most of these things I can score for relatively cheap or secondhand!

4) A Money Tree
Because you need one for this sport... and for horses in general!

O drove like a little sports car yesterday.... I put her back in her usual Happy Mouth and she was SUPER happy about it. She was incredibly responsive, light, easy, and listening, which was a nice change from the last few drives! She was filthy and muddy (and the mud was fresh and wet black gumbo, so there was no getting it off!), so pardon the lovely grooming job in the pictures... at least you can see her nice goobers.

She had a day off today, gets back to it tomorrow and Sunday, and then will have the week off for Christmas while we are away on vacation. Yes, I know we were just off on vacation... but we get another one, because we are lucky m-fers!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Bit of Experimentation

O is, and has always been, a completely tricky case when it comes to bits.

We know some of the things that were done to her in the interim between her old owner and myself. We know she was being ridden by people with no concept of how to not royally tick off a sensitive red mare - trail riders who didn't even know their own leads yet. We know they wrote her off as "crazy," and put enormous shank bits on her (pony sized ones, apparently, but still with giant shanks) and tried to "teach her sliding stops." A rider who doesn't even know which lead they are on, but who still thinks they can teach a hotheaded animal how to sliding stop... well you can imagine how well that went. Basically they cranked on her mouth hard enough, for long enough, to make her angry enough to utterly collapse into total shutdown mode. Which is how I ended up with her, more or less unrideable, for $500. 

She had huge scars in the corners of her mouth from whatever cranking and yanking they did to her, and scarring on the bridge of her nose. I knew from day one that bitting - and everything, really - would be a challenge.

And it was. Every day of it was a challenge.

Though a lot of experimentation, we discovered a few things:
1) She is REALLY weird and titchy about metal - sometimes she likes it, sometimes she hates it
2) Jointed bits overstimulate her - she gets to jingling and clacking and short circuits herself
3) Going bitless completely freaks her out - but she does like her long shank hackamore quite a lot
3) Her favorite mouthpiece by far is the Happy Mouth mullen mouth - it's simple, lightweight, a little bendy, and very soft on the mouth

Bodywork, chiro, teeth done by a specialist - none of these things changed her behaviors. Believe me, we tried! 

She drives well in the Happy Mouth eggbutt. She can be a bit evasive with it - namely she likes to still dirtbike into her turns and splatter over onto her shoulder. This is something she likes to do under saddle as well, so it's not a unique problem, and more of a body-type problem than a bit problem.

I decided to go ahead and order the Zilco Flexi-Mouth liverpool - same exact mouthpiece as her Happy Mouth, but a different flavor plastic. She was less enthusiastic about this bit than her regular snaffle, but there was quite a bit more finesse to it than the snaffle and things were harder to evade (AKA she found she could actually bend right after all).

The look says it all... she was not particularly impressed with this one but she was tolerating it:

So I thought I would try something else. What could I use that would stop her from using her favorite evasions, give me some finesse, and keep her happy? My friend Sandy suggested a Glory bit, saying her fussy horse who also rides in a Happy Mouth mullen mouth loves his Glory bit and drives exclusively in it. I thought it was a really good idea!

STB Eventer was awesome enough to send me hers to try, just to see. I figured she'd love it - it's a sweet metal, ergonomically shaped for some tongue relief, and simple.

The first drive was pretty good. She threw her head once or twice and stopped herself dead, but then settled into it and relaxed.

Second drive was a total and complete disaster. We went for a short jaunt down the road, and while the warmup walk started out well, the trot was an utter disaster. She spent half the time throwing her head, which caused the bit to slam around in her mouth, which freaked her out, which shut her down, which sent her shooting backwards in a panic. Want to know what is not fun? Being in a big wooden box with a horse attached to it that is running backwards. She also would randomly go from trotting to veering to the left for no reason, head cranked off to the right. It was bad enough that I went back to a walk on a nice long rein, turned our butts around, and headed for home. We ended on a good note - that nice relaxed walk - but given how much more dangerous a misbehaving driving horse is than a misbehaving riding horse, I was not about to get all crazy and try and work through it otherwise. There are other ways to do that.

Yesterday morning, I pulled out my lunging equipment and the Glory bit. I wanted to see if it was me and my noob-handling of the reins while driving, or the actual bit itself. I warmed her up, set the rigging of the Faux-ssoa on the snaffle (not the curb!! Never the curb when you lunge!!), and set her off.

And I had this:

A horse who was actively pitching a huge hissy fit. When she wasn't bucking like a rodeo bronc, she was slinging her head, hitting herself in mouth, doing the random veer-to-the-left thing, and then trying to throw herself on the ground. The top photo was set on the chambon - I tried that too, and it didn't help.
Well. There you go. We managed to end it on a very nice note but it was only due to the fact that I have had this little red firecracker long enough to know how to carefully de-escalate her.

I decided I needed to do a bit of experimentation - literally. Today I broke out the lunging equipment again, and brought out three more bits: a double jointed loose ring with Cyprium, the Liverpool with the same mouthpiece as the Happy Mouth mullen mouth but has a different flavor plastic, and the actual Happy Mouth mullen mouth itself, also knows as the Bloo Bit (it was Gogo's bit, it has baby blue plastic). I have a second Happy Mouth mullen mouth that I usually drive her in; the Bloo Bit is used for lunging since it is getting pretty old and ratty. EVERY horse loves that dang thing though. I tend not to lunge with a noseband anyway, but not having a noseband definitely gave me really good insight into just how quiet she would be with each bit.

The verdict on all four bits:
Glory bit: bucking, throwing head, trying to throw herself on the ground
Loose ring double jointed snaffle: curled behind bit, clacking bit, bolting
Liverpool on the snaffle setting, same mouthpiece as her usual mullen mouth but a different plastic: throwing head, gaping mouth, sticking tongue out
Happy mouth mullen mouth eggbutt snaffle: quiet mouth, goobers, stretchy, forward

Huh. Well, there you have it. The mare has clearly chosen her bit.

It was really interesting to see just how differently she reacted to them. Obviously the Glory bit was a huge disaster, so I wasn't going to try that again - instead I started with the Liverpool. She has been driving decently in the Liverpool (not perfect but decently), but then again, I use a noseband when I drive. Today with the Liverpool on the snaffle setting, she was gaping her mouth wide and rolling her tongue out of the corners of her mouth. I've NEVER seen her do that before and thought for a second that the other bit had fried her brain for good! Since it was on the snaffle setting, I wonder if the bit just wasn't rotated quite the right way in her mouth and if that was bothering her - it sits different with the curb engaged. Still though, it was pretty clear that even though it was the exact same mouthpiece as the Happy Mouth, it has a very slightly different configuration and different tasting plastic, and she wasn't very happy about it. Next I tried the double jointed loose ring - I hadn't put her in one in a long time, and now I remember why: she curled up behind the contact, started to rattle and clack the bit, short-circuited herself with all the movement in her mouth, and took off at a dead run. Last up was her usual Happy Mouth mullen mouth (the Bloo bit). I was very curious to see what she would do, seeing as she was a little wired from the changes in bits - I was almost starting to wonder if something wasn't wrong with her, and that whatever it was was causing her to behave erratically. The second I opened her up for the Bloo bit, she sucked it right up into her mouth and sighed. She then trotted off like a lady, quiet and goobery and forward.

You can't help but appreciate a mare that is going to tell you exactly what she likes and what she dislikes. (And what she seriously hates, apparently). While I'm sure I'll want to go back and play around a bit with the Liverpool (or maybe another Happy Mouth with a full cheek, or something similar), I will keep her in her usual Happy Mouth mullen mouth. It really is the perfect fit for her spicy little brain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pay It Forward!

I have a long post about bits coming up, but there currently is a more pressing matter to write about. Since I've been broke and sad and homeless and unemployed, and have been through similar struggles with friends and family, this story particularly resonates with me and I hope we can all do something to help.

Longer term bloggers will remember Bre and Greta, who hasn't blogged in a long time - she's been busy with college and Greta is mostly retired now. While Bre lives in queer-friendly Austin, this is still Texas, and things with her family have gone very sour due to her sexuality. She now finds herself estranged and with hardly any money to her name. Most of us have been through the broke-college/post-college-kid phase so we know what it is like, and others who went through growing up queer will understand exactly how crappy and hard it can be. Bre needs our help while she gets through this period in her life - she's a fighter and she'll be fine, but right now she needs help to make sure she keeps her heart horse. It is not her fault that she ended up in this situation and she and Greta should not have to suffer and pay for someone else's harsh and misguided judgements.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Girls, in a Nutshell

P and O are pretty much completely opposite personalities. I've talked about it before, but sometimes it cracks me up to think about how utterly different they are from one another. O is quick to look at stuff, lose focus, be playful, zoom around, and spook (goofily) at stuff. All of that nonsense is beneath P - she wants to eat, and meander, and NOTHING concerns her outside of that.

Now, I have a photo that perfectly sums up their attitudes towards life.

The girls, in a nutshell: O is very concerned about A Thing over there, and P is, well, not.

That about sums it up perfectly!

I also happened to catch some video of their personalities - O loves to buck, leap, and play, and P just... kind of doesn't care about anything, and doesn't feel the need to ever go faster than a casual saunter.

Mares... what would I do without them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Daily Grind

Winter is happily plodding along here in north central Texas. It hasn't been bad, or cold, or crummy, or wet, or much of anything really at this point. We've had days in the 80's, and days in the 40's, but mostly everything lingers in the low 60's during the day and mid 40's at night. I finally broke down and bought poor O some blankets that actually fit her - the Rambo that fit her last year got destroyed by Tre, and the Tough-1 peace sign sheet that also fits her is THE most unbreathable piece of garbage I've ever put on a horse. NEVER will spend money on that kind of trash again.
I found a used 75" Hug heavyweight, which hopefully will keep the shoulder rubs at bay, and also found a 75" used Weatherbeeta sheet. I've had really good luck with Weatherbeetas over the years, I have two that are fast approaching a decade old and still kicking. They're just, you know.... HUGE on O. The red plaid medium weight turnout seems to fit ok enough, but it's still too big... I'll have to be on the lookout for a medium too. 

Also, apparently this year winter = FOG. Last winter it was Snicy Death, the winter before was Warm Sunny 70s for Five Months, winter before that was a mix of things. This winter seems to be 60's and FOG EVERYWHERE EVERY DAY. Every Texas winter is a total surprise.

O had Sunday and Monday off (and Sunday was the local driving club's holiday party, and I got two pretty amazing show hats in the little Secret Santa type gift exchange!), and then got back to work on Tuesday with a lunge. I started her off in the Faux-ssoa, but she REALLY wanted to stretch, so I stopped her and rigged it up at the chambon. 

Moment of enthusiastic head-shake

After her canter, she got SUPER zoomy and braced against the chambon with her head in the air and her nose poking straight out. She kept going roundy round in this fashion for a little while; when she didn't relax, I stopped her again and re-rigged it back to the Faux-ssoa position, and she was excellent. When we turned around, I kept her at the Faux-ssoa position until she wanted to stretch, then put her back to the chambon. It was kind of complicated but actually worked really well. It was quite a workout!

Today was a fitness day, albeit a short one. Just to stretch her out and get in a short drive, we did a short mile up and down the road on a long and floppy rein. I'm not quite sure how to do fitness in a cart beyond roadwork - most of our fields are rutty and bouncy, and not really drivable, not to mention full of cows and things to spook at (and opening/closing gates). I made the mistake of deleting the MapMyRun app on my phone awhile back, and now my phone is too full of junk to download anything else. I will have to think of something else.

I have to say, trotting down the road on a long floppy rein in a nice cadenced trot was SO enjoyable. Looking back at just how far this mare has come, I have to say that this is not something I ever would have thought possible earlier in the year.

Paparazzi can go away now please

Check out how the old saggy bat is looking! She is now officially at 7 months and looking BIG. Granted, she has no topline at all so gravity isn't exactly helping, but for her age (fast approaching 19), she looks great. I am a little bit stuck on trying to decide if we want to breed her back to anything next year. Given her age, I'm running out of time to make that decision. I guess it largely depends on what she ends up producing!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

It's All About the Navy

There are a lot of colors that look really poor with a copper chestnut colored horse. Most everything I can think of is terrible with that color. When I picked the painted cart over the Meadowbrook, I had no idea that I was about to stumble upon the BEST color for this horse EVER. 

Navy. Navy is really the perfect color for her. Baby blue is a second best choice - everything I own is baby blue, after all! - and very conveniently, the pin striping on the cart is baby blue. 

I've been meaning to get new harness pads for some time, seeing as my old ones were really great and soft but were getting quite old and had squashed down considerably. The breastcollar pad was also straight, and the actual breastcollar is curved, so it wasn't a great fit. (Also it was sized for a pony. Not sure why that happened?) Anyway, I searched for awhile, found these bad boys, and ordered a pair in navy.

The ad claims they are the "best money can buy." And they weren't lying... these pads are LEGIT. They're an inch and a half thick with firm but forgiving foam, have all the right buckles and velcro in all the right places, fit my harness perfectly, and are lined with this funky naugahyde material that doesn't soak up any sweat. I literally picked the saddle up off her back, and while her back was all sweaty, the pad was bone dry. It was great! My old pads were really getting kind of stinky from all the sweat, and wearing out with all the washing.

Don't you just love that? The color of the cart and shafts is so deep and subtle, and the harness pads match perfectly. I'm sure I'll upgrade to a new breastcollar for shows, since mine is just a big old school flat strap of leather that has gotten a little rough on the underside (prior to me owning it), but I think the navy saddle pad will look amazing. It doesn't stick out, just very subtly matches.

I was punished by the God of Helmets for not wearing my helmet with really really exciting windblown hair that was sticking straight up like Alfalfa, which is now documented forever in these pictures. I got the hint, God of Helmets.... I'll wear it next time.

That video is super, super boring... sorry about that. Hopefully the amazing music makes up for it somewhat.

She started off fussy and titchy. I set up a basic cones exercise and ran through it a few times, but she was tossing her head around so much that I finally dismounted and put the reins back onto the first slot (I had moved them up to a less leverage-y setting). She was MUCH better after I did that... who knew. I think she just doesn't love this bit... it's ok, but it's not her favorite. At a friend's recommendation, I'm going to try a Glory bit on her - she drives her own fussy Happy-mullen-mouth-loving horse in one exclusively, and she says he loves it. A few other folks say their horses love them too. I think O might as well - sometimes she is weird about metal, but this offers tongue relief, and that might be something she is really craving. We'll see!

I'm also working hard to figure out *exactly* where the sweet spot of balance in this particular cart is. It looks like I am riding smoothly along in that video, but in reality it is A LOT of work to keep the cart riding that smoothly. My position isn't quite so straight while I'm trying to figure it out, I'll have to work on that! If you lean too far forward, or sit up too straight, or don't get right where you need to be, the cart bounces all over the place and slams you in the back. When you get it just right, the shafts just kind of float along in their tugs, and become very lightweight to carry. It's tricky to keep it there!

This past week we did two dressage work days, a cones day, and two lunge days, one in the chambon and one in the regular Faux-ssoa. I may do more of that instead of long lining, although long lining is also super helpful. We will have to see.