Monday, April 25, 2016

Mule Mondays: Guardian

In today's edition of Mule Mondays...

That's Pax, P, and Lendri all laying down, with 32" Uma standing guard over them all. Even though she still probably can't even see over P's head. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Big Reveal

I've been hinting on and off that I won't be showing O next year, but be focusing on Dylan instead. Quite a number of people have been asking why, and wanting to know what's going on. 


The first part of that answer is pretty obvious: I have an incredible riding horse for a limited time only. I want to fully utilize that! 

Dylan was supposed to go to his first WE show this weekend, but we ended up having to scratch due to several factors - the weather, a change in venue, and a super late running schedule that would be putting me back at home just in time to unload the horse, drop the trailer, and drive back out the driveway to go to my first clients of the morning on Sunday. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. I had no idea a one day show would need three entire days. I would have taken an extra day off had I known! As it stands, I decided it would be prudent to stay home, keep practicing, and prep for the next one, which is next month. Dylan won't be showing much (hardly at all) until October/November, when I expect things to ramp up a bit for him - O's season will be winding down and finishing at that point. And that's when she will be done for awhile, while I focus on him.

But she won't just be sitting around... she'll have something else to be doing in the meantime! 

Now before I get any further, I of course feel obligated to give my little speech asking people to not send me hate mail and tell me I'm an evil irresponsible ass for breeding my horses. I'm 31 years old now and I could give a damn what people on the internet have to say about my decisions, seriously, but it would be nice to not have to deal with all of that hatred. People are UGLY about breeding. I wrote about it when I bred Pmare last time. I got absolutely the WORST flack when I talked about breeding Gogo, so much so that I'd walk away from my posts in tears sometimes. It was horrible. 
Now of course, I am older and give way less of a damn about basically everything. So, I have no qualms about sharing my experience this go-around. Most everyone was super positive when I bred Pax, although I did get some 'you should kill yourself you cruel person' emails when I decided tentatively put her up for sale. Whatever. 
Surely by now I have also appeased the "get a rescue" people. Between Darby, Zuul, and the mules I think I have done my fair duty. And I would absolutely rescue again. And will rescue again!
So, if you have a problem with my carefully thought out and planned for breedings - go away and thanks for reading. Don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.
And if you don't have a problem with it - read on my friends!!

I really believe that O is just one of those super rare once-in-a-lifetime finds. Taking a chance on a spastic, almost unrideable $500 warmblood was risky and may not have paid off for someone less determined than myself. I believed in - and will always believe in - this mare, and fought to find something she would succeed at and love to do. And I found it in driving, and she has been basically unstoppable ever since. Is she difficult sometimes? Absolutely. But I wouldn't want a deadhead slave animal who plods along just doing whatever I ask anyway. That's the kind of animal I *wouldn't* breed. I want my animals to be full of life and power. And now that O has a job she loves, the only troubles I ever have with her are when she is either super hormonal or when something isn't quite right - like needing a chiropractic adjustment. The rest of the time, she gives me everything she's got. She is sound and strong, a beautiful mover who can turn on a dime and go forever. I want to replicate all of those things.
And Dylan of course needs no introduction. He is truly a testament to his breed. His show record is so vast and extensive that I wouldn't be able to fit it all into a simple post even if I tried. He is 15 and is completely sound, and requires no maintenance aside from the basic stuff I do for everybody. He is an incredible mover. He has schooled through Intermediate and I have no doubt that he would be a Grand Prix horse if he were in more capable hands than my own. He is charming, kind, gentle, and easy to handle - watching him bloom into his own over the past 6 months has given me this really amazing insight into his personality, something I think a lot of people breeding don't have access to. And to have both of these horses here - to be able to work them both, have a history with both, and a relationship with both - that is extra special to me. 

What I am hoping to get out of this cross: Big, flashy movement, short coupled and powerful, and the ability to do dual time as a dressage horse and a driving horse. I believe in breeding like-to-like as your best chance of really getting what you want, and I think these two will really deliver. It's not so much trying to improve on one thing or another - it's trying to enhance what they both have to offer. Dylan is homozygous so I am guaranteed a grey - it would be amazing to get a matched pair of driving horses out of these two in the future. But, we shall just have to see about that. 


I've talked a few times about wanting to breed P to Lasting Impression. Look at his bloodlines. Do you know who he is? That's Gogo's FULL BROTHER. He was a GP horse at one point, approved with the Belgian Warmblood studbook, and is now still around in his 20's, bebopping around hunter courses with his adult ammy rider, still sound and going. That says a lot about longevity to me, something I did not get with Gogo. Whether or not Gogo's issues were just freaky ones, or whether or not there was some unknown reason she could never quite heal properly, I'll never know. But at the time, I didn't want to breed her because I was worried her subsequent foals would have the same issues she did, not to mention the fact that I didn't think she could carry the weight of her pregnancy on her legs. And I still think that was very sound reasoning, but I regret losing her and not being able to breed her, and still miss her, every day.

But now I have access to these bloodlines once again. I have access to them, and the chance to combine my most beloved bloodlines into one. He is a fine stallion that I would have been happy to pick anyway - but because of who is he is, he is extra special.

What I am hoping to get out of this cross: A big, good minded all-arounder. Baby should jump like crazy but probably will move quite huntery, which is fine for my purpose. Gogo did too, and while she wasn't going to be a upper level dressage horse, for an eventer she was exceptional. This stallion is known for putting really quiet minds and good size on his babies. I do hope one day to get back to eventing, and do more foxhunting as well. This one is not going to be an upper level dressage horse by any means, but it should be able to do just about anything else with athleticism and a good heart.

Anything and everything can happen when trying to get mares pregnant, so I'm not going to jump on anything until we have heartbeats confirmed for both of them.

I can't tell you guys how excited I am for both of these crosses!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Birthday Pax!!!

Happy 1st Birthday Pax!! My little tiny baby is now a big, bouncy yearling and I can't believe a year has already flown by. 

One year ago today, P decided that 9:30am was the perfect time to lay down and have a baby - we didn't have one single missed night of sleep in the barn! It was an easy birth, and the baby popped right up within a 1/2 hour unassisted and went straight to the milk bar with a strong latch. Basically it was the easiest breeding season ever - P was ready to be bred right at the very first time we took her in to check her, caught with just one dose of semen and only the one breeding, carried with no problems and needed hardly any extra calories, and popped a perfectly complete and healthy baby right out. I'll never have a season that easy again, that's for sure!

She is 14.1 now at the withers and 14.3+ at the butt, shedding out to be a shiny dark liver again. I imagine she'll be like her mother with the fading, unless kept under a UV sheet all the time! She does everything a good baby should know how to do - leads, ties, trailers, clips, bathes, blankets, comes to be caught, stands to be trimmed, wears her flymask and flyspray, knows the very basics of how to lunge, and has worn a saddle and girth and been led around with it. She takes everything in stride and doesn't worry about any of it. She's going to be a fine strapping beast when she grows up!

While it's not 100% a done deal until a contract has been drawn up, I do have a good friend who really wants her and made an offer that I accepted. While I did not breed her to sell her, she truly would be in the best of hands with this friend and I of course would be able to stay in touch and watch her grow up, and have the ability for first right of refusal. This friend is a consummate horsewoman that I have known since we literally were grade school kids at summercamp together. We both grew up totally horsecrazy together!

And selling her does have a small bonus - it frees me up to for my plans for next year... I'll share that next!

Happy Birthday Pax!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NTW Games Day 4/17/16

O does it again!!

Did I win?

Sunday was the first Games Day of the year, and O did not disappoint. She is definitely feeling better after her chiro visit - her first pattern she was still a bit resistant and head-tossy, but as she settled in and found she could actually move her body parts normally again, she really settled into her old self again. She is still wanting to be counterbent in one direction, as she always is, but I think with regular chiro visit from a chiro who actually helps for once will keep her in better alignment. 

We had 4.5 inches of rain yesterday alone, which was pretty crappy. It was pouring when I woke up, pouring when I loaded, pouring while we showed, and pouring on the way home. Despite that, quite a lot of people showed up to play!

There were four classes in the morning - double barrels, regular cloverleaf barrels, double keyhole, and a class called Coney Island which is full of weaving cones as well as barrels. These are all patterns we have done before, so I won't put them up again - but if you want to see them, they are all up on my previous Games Day posts.

And O won every single class. Which was completely amazingly awesome.

In the afternoon, we did the cones course and the Derby, which is run over the same cones course but at speed. All the other classes are limited to trot only, but in the Derby, we can canter/gallop/go however fast we like! It's a huge fan favorite - we all love to go speeding around.

And O won both of those classes too!

The day wasn't without drama though. Aside from the lashing rains and howling winds, we had two major mishaps. The first occurred when an aged pony, who apparently hasn't been eating all that well lately, just quit on his driver halfway through a course. He is normally a really speedy competitor, but with everything combined - weather, age, not eating as well lately - he just gave up halfway through a course and plodded home at a walk with muscles trembling. Pony and driver are both now fine but it was a worrying moment.

By far the scarier moment of the two happened in the Derby. My main tough competitor, the one I have been head to head with at most every show, was coming up 2nd place to me in every class this go around. In the Derby, horses are allowed to (and encouraged to) canter, though they of course strongly recommend doing it safely. She shot off into the Derby like a rocket and was flying around the course - I thought for sure she was going to win. Then she came around a tight turn in her 2 wheel vehicle, and may have been sitting or sliding over to the right - and the carriage rolled right over onto its side, tossing the driver and then dragging her as the carriage righted itself and the horse continued on. Thankfully, this is an experienced pair, and somehow the driver kept hold of the reins, which stopped the horse before she got very far. It took quite a long time to get the driver back up, but the horse stood quietly and both were more or less all right. Needless to say, I cantered my turn in the Derby but took all the wider turns - it was a bit sobering to see a wreck right in front of me directly before it was my turn to go. Getting bucked off a horse is scary enough, but getting thrown out of a carriage? Completely terrifying, especially if the horse gets loose. It could have been a lot worse than it was. 

So far this year, I believe O is currently sitting in the #1 spot for Horse of the Year points. If we're lucky, we might just get it this year!!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mule Mondays: Tall

In today's edition of Mule Mondays...

Uma uses the rocks to get taller than Lendri, and smoosh her. Smart girl... 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Chiro Time!

After O's uncharacteristically poor performance in the dressage at Sunrise Ridge, I thought she might be in need of some chiropractic work. She was definitely full of blazing hormones, which didn't help anything, but she was also really titchy about the bit and about turning to the right, which is a bit out of the ordinary for her. I've used a couple of different chiros since moving to Texas, and hadn't ever really found one I liked - but had the name of a new one, who came out yesterday to work on both Dylan and O. She was both kind and thorough - the horses are the ultimate judge here, but as for me, I really liked her! It has taken me a few years of being here and searching, but I now have a dentist I love and hopefully a chiro I love too. I did have a really good bodyworker as well but she has moved back to Georgia unfortunately, which sucks.

I was definitely right about something being out and restricting her on the right side. She needed adjustment in several places, including her jaw, poll, wither area, ribs, and SI. She also worked on her femurs and front sesamoids on the right side, which I've never seen a chiro do before. She had me feel them before and after - before they were decidedly grindy and crunchy feeling, after they felt much smoother. 
Dylan was the surprise - he was out literally all the way from jaw to tail. K told me he hadn't had chiro work in quite a long time, so it's not surprising, but he rides so well and so evenly in both directions that he must be really excellent at compensating. He really tried to be a good boy, but it was clear that he was really sore in certain areas, and he tried to bite us both several times as well as spent a lot of the time crossing his jaw and chewing his cheek. He's normally very kind and not a biter, so it was obvious these areas were really bothering him. When the adjustment went through, he would yawn these enormous yawns. 

After each adjustment, she waited for the horse to respond with a lick, chew, headshake, and in Dylan's case a whole bunch of yawns. If the horse didn't respond, she worked on the area again until she was sure that the horse had released. 

Both horses have 48 hours off following the adjustment. Dylan needs to be seen again in a month, and I need to do tail tucks with him AM and PM to help engage his abs and stretch out his back. He's already a very typical Spanish horse who gets very short in his back and upright in his neck, so he'll probably want to go right back to old habits, but we'll be sure to do lots of stretchy work with him to help keep that back supple and strong. I haven't ever done much lunging work with him, but I may put a chambon on him and work him that way to help that back stretch out. 

He says ahhh those mares are in heat! Also, riding has helped me lose a few pounds! 

I love these things. Poor dude was getting so bit up by flies that his legs were bleeding. Not anymore! 

O has a show on Sunday, just a fun Games Day, so I was happy to give her this week off after Sunrise Ridge to get adjusted and relax. The Games Days need no preparation beyond that - she'll go in there and work for me like she always does at these fun shows. Here's hoping she'll turn and burn extra fast now that she should be feeling better! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Tentative Show Schedules

It may seem like I'm all over the place sometimes with my kind of erratic blogging, but that's not completely the case. Ok, maybe I'm a *little* scatterbrained about things sometimes, what with so many irons in the fire at all times, but I operate really well this way and when it comes to all the important stuff, it's all well under my thumb. 

I've gotten to the point in my life where things are currently about refining and finessing, rather than empire building. Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I've worked hard to get where I am and I am more than satisfied with the size of everything in my life. The size of my herd, the size of my business, the size of my little empire. It's all big and robust and numerous in characters. Nowadays it is more about taking what I have and smoothing it out, sanding down the rough corners, and making things flow more efficiently, rather than gathering and growing. Things change, business will ebb and flow, horses in my life will come and go - these things I all know. But for the time being, things are going well for me.

As such, I have pretty far-reaching horse-related plans for this year and the next several years. Everyone in my herd has a basic plan and projected goals that span out potentially over the course of the next few years. In terms of the two that I will be showing this year - O and Dylan - I have a show schedule set out for them, as well as plans for the next couple of years. I have Dylan for a large, albeit temporary, amount of time and I intend on making full use of it. K and I discussed tentatively something like a 5 year lease - but as long as she is happy to have him here, I am happy to keep him. I'd keep him well beyond that time if she wanted! I am lucky to have him for any length of time. 

This year, I am going to be showing both Dylan and O. It's difficult and time consuming to show even just one horse, let alone two, so there are limitations to what I can do, and will be changes next year. Next year I don't plan on showing O, just Dylan. But, you'll wait to wait for a later post to find out why exactly this is! O will be obviously showing exclusively driving shows this year, and I do plan on trying to hit all of the major HDTs in our area - there are five of them, along with several of our usual little fun games days. Sunrise Ridge is already over, so that leaves four left!
Dylan this year is going to be shown just in working equitation. I don't plan on doing any rated dressage shows for the time being - maybe in late fall or early winter, when the new calendar year starts - nor do I plan on going to Nationals this year. If it comes back to Fort Worth, I will totally go! But, it's in Las Vegas this year and that's just crazy far and crazy expensive. It would be fun to go to as a vacation and watch though! Next year, I hope to show him in working equitation AND go to rated dressage shows. There are lots of them in our area to choose from, so I'll have lots of good pickings. It will be easier to focus on just one as well. Prepping and maintaining two show horses is super hard, I don't know how some of you do even more than that!


O-Ren 2016 Show Calendar:
April 2nd-3rd: Sunrise Ridge HDT
April 17th: NTW Games Day
May 7th: TREC
May 14th: NTW Games Day Romp
May 28th: HACA Pine Hill HDT
June 4th: OHHA Cowboy Country HDT
September 10th: NTW Games Day Romp
October ??: Let's Have Fun In Texas! HDT
October 30th: NTW Games Day
November 4th: Black Star CDE

Dylan 2016 Show Calendar:
April 23rd: Heart of Texas WE Series Show #2
May 21st: Heart of Texas WE Series Show #3
October 8th: Heart of Texas WE Series Show #4
October 14th-16th: Haras Cup
October 22nd: Licensed Show, Details TBD (MAYBE)


There are other WE shows around, but these conflict with O's schedule. Since I'm hoping to just show Dylan next year and not O, I want the larger focus to be on her for the time being - although I know better than anybody that these things can go in every different direction at any time.

This is a HUGE undertaking. You all know it takes A LOT to even just get to a show in the first place, so I won't be surprised if a number of these shows end up falling off my schedule for various reasons. But I hope I will get to as many of them as possible!

O's next show is next weekend, the 17th - a Games Day. Then Dylan and I make our debut at working eq and try not to make total fools of ourselves. I still have to find white britches and a white shirt! What else do I need? O god I need so many things! It's been years since I really had my dressage gear out in action!

Monday, April 4, 2016

NTW Sunrise Ridge 4/3/2016 - Marathon and Final Results

What a weekend we had. We obviously had some serious lows, which you've already heard about, but we finished on an extremely high note on Sunday with an amazing trip on the marathon!

Drama posing mare and B2, ready to hitch up and get on with marathon!

O was really into the dramatic poses all weekend

B2, R (her husband and also our comedic relief for the weekend) and I walked the marathon course on Saturday after we were done with dressage and cones. Since this post is already going to be extremely picture-heavy, I'm not going to waste more space with individual pictures of the obstacles on course - but you can see them all listed here! You can also see the competitor list, omnibus listing, cones course map, times, and other things there. It's a great resource for us competitors to have ahead of time! B2 has never done a marathon before and this was only my second one ever, so while we knew what was going on and how we were going to approach every obstacle, there was still an element of, "ok let's not kill ourselves today." We just wanted to get through alive without messing up!

As a recap, Saturday just sucked. It was awful. O was not playing the game, there was all the stupid drama with people going nuts with rumors, and the like. We were in 6th after our crappy dressage, then moved up to 3rd after cones - but despite that, I couldn't let everything that had happened go. I was so upset by it that I stewed about it all night long. I'll be the first to admit that I'm kind of an emotional cripple who doesn't handle these kinds of situations well inside my head - it's just part of who I am. I was still so bothered by it still in the morning that I very nearly scratched from the show and stayed home. I didn't even want to go. I was really and truly that upset by it. (Caveat: since I don't think I was clear before, I am *totally* okay with the TD coming over to check a horse with a rumored injury - that's their job and what they are supposed to do! That part is totally fine. It's just the fact that someone started the rumor, and the fact that the whole thing was inappropriately handled and information was allowed to leak out all over the place... those were the problems.)

But, I didn't want to let it drag me down. I didn't want to throw away my 3rd place just because I'm a hyperemotional trainwreck, and I didn't want to let the old bats who were causing the drama to get any satisfaction out of the whole thing. So I got up, put my big girl panties on, pulled my mare in from the pasture, and headed out to the show.

O's specialties are her everlasting endurance, speed, and ability to turn on a dime easily. This is what is going to make her an exceptional marathon horse, and a good cones horse too if yours truly can actually steer properly some of the time. She doesn't have a lot of patience for intricate things, slow work, or anything involving a lot of aids coming from me. She would rather be left to do it on her own without a lot of input on my part. This makes dressage kind of a mental challenge for her - she might end up being like a lot of those event horses you see that kind of just fumble through their dressage but get out and eat the XC up. Moreso than in eventing (or at least it seems that way to me), you must have a horse that can handle the marathon and the cones and not just have a good dressage test - especially in the lower levels of eventing these days, you can have a killer dressage and as long as you can flop your way around a few jumps you'll win it every time. It's not quite that easy in combined driving, which was reflected in the way our placing lept from nearly last to nearly first by the end of the weekend!

B2, O, and myself all went for a nice walk before the marathon began. People were out there trotting around and getting all busy, but we just walked. Why waste energy? We had five hilly kilometers to tackle, no rush for us!

The countdown began.... I started my watch... off we went!

There were five hazards/obstacles to tackle along the way. She handled every one of them like a total champ, including the second one which I very nearly messed up - in each one of the obstacles, there is an enter/exit gate, and several lettered gates you have to go through in consecutive order. The gates are live until you cross them, then they are dead and you can double back through them as much as you like. Training level only does A, B, and C, but there are also gates D and E for the upper levels. You must go through them in order, otherwise you get eliminated. They try to trick you too - they'll put gate B in front of where A is to make you go around, and similar things. You as the driver must walk the course ahead of time and choose your route - and there are multiple ones to take. You play to your horse's strengths and the terrain, and while the obstacles aren't timed in Training level, they are timed at all the levels above it and you must get through them as fast as you safely can.
In the second obstacle, I flew right past A without even realizing it. The obstacle was full of trees and I got lost immediately - thankfully B2 yelled out that I had missed it! I managed to turn her around at the walk, get back through it, and continue on our way without further incident.

What a champ she was. She was just awesome. I didn't have to do anything, just sit back, steer, and enjoy it!

We can flying into the 300km-to-finish marker. We were coming in hot, so I had to slow her way down to make sure we didn't come in under our speed time of 20:05. Just like in eventing, there is a speed time and an obtimum time (which was 23:05 for us). You must come in that window, and if you go on either side of it you get time pentalties. I make very sure that my watch read more like 20:35 or thereabouts when I cross the line, just to play it safe. This will come into play soon.

She cooled out well, was checked by the vet at the finish, got a bath, and took a nap back at the trailer while we waited for results. B2 and R eventually went home, and I continued waiting.

The scores were posted. And... I had 7 time penalties, which means I had about 30-odd seconds of being over or under the time allowed. Since I had been watching my stopwatch so carefully. I knew it wasn't correct. The TD, who was gracious and kind all weekend, took me up to the office and we looked at the official scorecards. And it turns out we did catch a mistake made! It was truly an honest one - whoever handwrote my start time made a 6 look like a 5, which subtracted a whole minute from our time, landing us solidly below the speed fault time. This is why it's always important to check your watch and be sure! It was corrected, the penalties removed, and it landed us in 2nd place for the marathon. We moved up to 2nd overall!!!

Ready for a flood of pictures from dressage and cones? Brace yourselves...

My strategy for cones: go reallllllly slow

It had highs. It had low. It had drama. It had excitement. It had all the makings of a good Hollywood blockbuster. And it was only just the first show of the season!!

O has a well deserved bit of time off now, then our next show is on the 17th. Can't wait!!

Mule Mondays: Sass

In this week's edition of Mule Mondays...

That's a whole lot of sass, in a tiny package.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

NTW Sunrise Ridge Marathon Day 4/3/2016 - Quick Update!

Today made up for all of the crappiness of yesterday. See for yourself how we finished!

That's right - another 2nd place for O at her second ever HDT!

It's late, I have to work all day tomorrow and I need to go to bed - but rest assured I will have a full post up soon!