Saturday, January 31, 2015

End of January Analysis; February Goals!

January is leaving us in the same gloomy way that it showed up: with yucky, grey downpours. It's not cold out, just sort of dismal and blah. The horses are tucked into their stalls with giant bags of hay, and I'm sure will be snoozing the night away in the soft sand instead of out in the nasty mud. We need the rain, so it is hard to complain about it, but rain always makes me feel a little grumpy and house-bound.

I went ahead and told the driving ladies that I can't commit to helping organize their playdays. While I feel crummy for doing that, I really wasn't told all of what goes into it, and there really is no possible way for me to do what they are asking of me. Not surprisingly, I'm pretty sure I made them furious (even though telling them I can't do it is a whole lot better than saying I will and then just not actually doing it), and haven't heard a single word from them since. It makes things a bit awkward.
I don't know though, I'm just not a club kind of person. I want to show, and train, and be with my horses. I'm really, really not into the social aspect of clubs or organizations. In the past, I've always been a member of whatever organization fielded my particular area (like Area VIII or Area I), but never went to any of their banquets or functions. It sounds terrible, but I really just want to be a part of these organizations so that I can show. If you could accumulate points and win things without being a part of an organization, I'd totally do that, but that's not the way it works. In a tiny club where everyone knows each other, it makes it awkward, because I think you're expected to join and then partake in club-like activities. I know it takes club members to run club shows, that much is a given... but it's not something I have time for, nor an interest in. I'm not sure if this will affect my show season or not - I will be able now to show in all of the playdays, but do I even want to go to them if the people running them hate my guts for being a bad team player? I don't know. I just want to play with my horse and show and be left alone, but that is not something southern folk can understand. Northern folks leave you to your own devices... southern folks want in on your business, and then are quick to ostracize and shut you out if you don't indulge them. It's a gross oversimplification of Texans, of course, but I've been here long enough to know just how true it holds in a lot of situations. Up north, everyone just left me alone to do my thing... people down here just don't do that. On the flip side, southerners will be right there for you if you need them in a pinch, and northern folks are less wont to do the same, so I guess it's an even trade.

Anyway. Enough with the whining, onto the goals.


O-Ren January Goals:

1) Practice and memorize all Training level dressage tests (specifically ones needed for the two upcoming HDTs)
This didn't go as planned at all unfortunately. The pastures got seeded, and they still aren't useable. The neighbors have very kindly allowed me to start driving in their field, which is less rutted than the jump field and therefore useable, but it is quite hilly and parts of it have ruts and cactus, so there is only about a 30-40m area that is usable. I'll have to see if I can get exact measurements on it, but it isn't anywhere near actual driven dressage arena size. There aren't many arenas nearby that are either, at least not ones that I can use - not to mention the fact that I still haven't figured out how to transport both horse and cart simultaneously. Thankfully, I am familiar enough with dressage arenas that I will be able to relatively wing this one should I not ever be able to get into a properly sized arena before our first show. You do what you gotta do.

2) Cones work - practice cones in the new cart at show measurements
Well, we have done some obstacle work, and a small bit of cones work, but for the same reasons listed above, we've done very little of this. There just isn't anywhere to do it.

3) Whip work - teaching left-right cues
 This is going well! She is starting to understand the idea, although it is still very hard for me to handle my whip - and my whip is too short. I need a trainer to help me out with this one!

4) Steady transitions, always! 
Going very well! O is a sensitive beast, and you have to be very quiet with her. Downward transitions usually go quite well for her, but upward transitions she can sometimes be a bit jerky for - she is SUPER sensitive to voice commands, but not always in a good way. I usually preface a command with a very, very soft "aaaand..." which she usually takes to mean "OK NOW WE ARE GOING." If you cluck at her, or are too loud, or don't give her some sort of noise to preface the next noise, she tends to throw her head in the air in alarm and jolt forward. This is nothing new - she has always been this way - but finding a way to make this quieter has been interesting. We'll continue to work on it, as we always do - and as always with her, I know she has this tendency and it is deeply ingrained in her personality, so it's not something I think will ever be 'fixed'. Rather, there will be a way to prevent it from happening, and a way that will always make it happen. I just have to make sure it is always the first, and not the second.

5) Start to plan out show season, show clothes/tack/equipment needed!
Success! I have my show season more or less laid out, and I have a list of equipment I need. I need to whittle it down to a more bare-boned edition - sure I *want* new things, but do I *need* new things, or can I make due with what I have? - but I have a pretty good idea of what I need to get.

 Pangea January Goals:

1) Change diet
Success! Her diet has been tweaked to accommodate for her last trimester, including the addition of some alfalfa and a change in her vits/mins. She looks awesome.
2) Solidly make plans for vax/deworming dates up through due date
Success! I target deworm with fecals, and hit for tapes and encysted strongyles as well, so that is attended to, aside from the fact that she'll need to be dewormed when the kiddo arrives. She'll get her last rhino shot on the 15th, then will have all her vax updated in March (early-mid March, spread out - they crash her immune system if given too closely together). And then... baby arrives!!


 O-Ren February Goals:
1) Find an arena to trailer to - and use it for dressage work, cones, obstacles, anything I can set up!
2) Find a trainer if at all possible - and trailer out for some lessons
3) Solidify plans for cart transport - in truck bed! Get ramps, winch, ratchet straps, and padding
4) Make a purchase list for equipment!
5) Continue on all of the same training fronts as before - work on transitions, dressage work, cones exercises, etc

Pangea Goals:
1) Continue monitering food intake, weight, and comfort level
2) Give final rhino shot!


I sent out an SOS on the CD-L asking for trainers in our area, and I was not disappointed - within an hour I had three emails, two of which were very helpful and gave me some names of local trainers. What a great resource that list is. I NEED some lessons, I am desperate to get out for some! I am equally as desperate to find a place to actually drive, but have the distinct problem of needing to find a way to transport cart and horse at the same time. Buying a whole new truck and trailer is just ridiculously out of the question, so I have to get creative, and quickly. I measured the cart and my truck bed, and lo and behold, the cart will fit in there! It's a tight fit, but it's a clear fit. I also have done some research, picked out a set of ramps and a winch, and once this rain stops, I plan on purchasing them and having the winch installed in the bed. I don't need a particularly powerful one, just one sturdy enough to haul a few hundred pounds up a short ramp. I imagine it will take a bit of finesse to get it up there, but if I support the shafts while operating the winch (which has a remote control), I think it won't be too difficult to get it into the bed.
I also spotted this handy page and saved it for tips on how to secure the cart once it is in the bed. Resourceful cheapskates of the world, unite!
I also asked K if I could trailer to her arena to drive so long as lessons weren't being held. Being wonderful, she was quick to say yes. Her arena is general riding size, not huge but the footing is good, and I can set anything up in there that I like so long as I take it down. I can practice dressage tests (in miniature, sort of), do cones exercises, and even set up barrels and jump standards as simulated marathon obstacles. I just have to get everything secured for transport... that's the first step.

But I feel like this is all a step in the right direction. Get the winch and ramps, figure out how to get the cart loaded... email the driving trainers.... then start transporting cart and horse to the local arena and to lessons.

This week, we've had a few lunge days and a few driving days. Our lunging days were all very good, save for today's, when she decided at the end of the session that she had forgotten how to halt. I shooed her back off again, and she proceeded to gallop dead out for about 5 minutes - shooing her apparently was terribly offensive. I had her rigged up in the chambon, but after her fit I switched her to the Faux-ssoa and gave her a secondary light work in each direction. She was foot perfect for that. When relaxed in the chambon, she is lovely, super stretchy and great. When she gets her panties into a twist, she braces hard upwards against the chambon, and she'll keep doing it until she rubs her chest raw. She will NOT relent unless she is relaxed. Not only can you not tire this horse out (she'll keep galloping until she flat out dies if she feels like it will prove her point), but you also can't force her to comply with anything (she will brace against you and literally hurt herself rather than give into your whim if she feels like it wasn't asked for fairly - like rubbing her chest raw with the chambon. That CLEARLY has to hurt, but she'll never let on about it until you finally give up and stop her, and then go "oh my god what did you do!" Ergo we don't ever let it get to this point... better to just stop and put her back in the Faux-ssoa. She is the ultimate cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face personality.)

And then, of course, on the opposite end of bracing upwards, she also likes to overachieve and get waaaay down low...

Sigh. Mares.

And yes, you did notice correctly - I did reclip her! She was getting WAY too sweaty with just her trace clip, especially since it had grown back in some. It has been almost 80 degrees here most every day for the past week or so, so something had to be done. Behold! Just like last year, I modified my trace clip into a blanket clip:

Pardon the awkward pose. I was literally running in circles around her, trying to get far enough away from her to take a quick picture before she turned to follow me.

We've done three drives since I last blogged, I think - one endurance day where we went about 3 miles down the road (and did some dressage-y bits as well, mostly just transitions and trying not to die while trotting past a No Trespassing sign that had come partially loose in the wind and was flapping evilly against the metal fence), one day of just walking around obstacles in the jump field, and one dressage-y cones-y day in the neighbor's field. I got videos of the last two, the first being the walk in the jump field. All I really wanted to do was just get some maneuverability and tight turns in with the larger cart, and she did well with that. The camera was poorly placed, and the field was super rutted and bouncy, so I sped up the very boring video and gave it some jaunty music:

Slightly more interesting. Slightly.

The dressage-y cones-y video is just about as boring as the obstacles video. The light was bad, I didn't catch much of anything interesting on video due to the camera angle, and ehhh... you know. I'm also going to hang the liverpool up for good for now... she just doesn't like it. Even though it is the SAME mouthpiece as her snaffle, she still hates it, and alternates between randomly tossing her head and curling too deep. She'll take a nice contact part of the time, but the rest of the time she is being evasive. You'll see it in the video - the moments when she is hiding/tossing her head, and the moments when she is good.

There is no reason to keep using a bit she doesn't like. Back to the snaffle we go - she is always good in the snaffle. Now I just have to decide if she likes the Bloo bit more, or the regular Happy Mouth. They are both Happy Mouths, but the design has changed somewhat inbetween purchasing the older one and the newer one. Only one way to tell - experimentation!

The weather might be crummy now, but just a few days ago, O was hamming it up for the camera as usual.... she plays like a wild thing almost every day!


  1. LOL!! That picture of her playing is hilarious! Her clip looks great. She's so gorgeous. Oh and the rain makes me feel the same way.... ick....

  2. love that last pic - the mares are lookin good!! good luck with the club/play day thing too. i wouldn't worry too much about whether they're mad or not. if you carry on like it's nbd they'll likely follow suit. very exciting about the cart transport and trainer possibilities too!!

  3. LULZ on Bonanza theme!

    And don't feel bad. I am the same way about hating the social aspects of competition. I do not want to volunteer and I do not even want to carpool. I want to hang out with my HORSE, not some tard who only loves me for my gas money and wants to ditch the show grounds and go out drinking. (i'm dry, fyi)