Sunday, November 27, 2011

New saddle success!

I have made a considerable upgrade in saddles over the last year. Last January I found a deal on a keiffer dressage saddle, that while quite used, was a huge step up from my ancient-as-time-itself Steuben which was not quite as straight and deep seated as a dressage saddle, but not forward enough to be an all purpose. The improvment was not exactly luxery or even a taste of new saddle smell! It was an extremely practical improvement though. The straight long flaps helped me to finally learn to open my hip angle, and the deep seat has helped me to learn to scope the saddle and canter correctly.

Recently, I upgraded my jumping saddle. After having used a super-flat-no-padding-or-blocks close contact for years, I decided to steal my mom's ancient Crosby out of the garage. It had a deeper seat and more forward flaps, and it worked for a while. I have been jumping in it for over a year, while always keeping my eye out for an appropriate replacement. The thing was used back when my mom purchased it in her 20's, so it was way older than me, and I decided not really comfortable galloping a cross country course in tack that old! Should have thought of that before the season, but we survived, so no point fretting about what could have happened.

About a month ago I finally got around to finding the used saddle shop that had opened up nearby. As luck would have it, I found a used Stueben with all my favorite things! It has nice forward flaps, a deep seat, and while it doesn't look to be brand new, it has hardly been used. I took it out for trial and actually rode my dressage lesson in it that day to be sure it got trainer approval on fitting both me and Bear. He seemed happy, I felt secure, we were sold!

Best of all, it was only slightly more than my "Saddle Savings Account" so a little haggling on the price and a little cash from another account and I have a new saddle!

I still dream of upgrading both saddles to something magical! For now, the money is better put towards lessons. No point owning a Devacoux if I can't jump anything more than a cross rail! I think leaving the truely nice saddles out there in dream land gives me a little motivation to earn the right to ride in one! I really hope that some day I'll be in a position to NEED a nicer saddle. For now, a respectable one will do!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Davis Derby

In my last post I was explaining how sure I felt about the Derby. Then I went and stopped riding! My great dressage lesson had been the Sunday before, and then with the time change taking away all my daylight, I couldn't ride a single day that week. Of course being a Saturday meant I couldn't even ride the day before. Ugh.

Despite my best efforts to get out there early and even getting up 10 extra minutes early, I was late. (I lost my keys and then left a bag at home and had to go back.) I had hoped to be on 45 minutes to an hour before my ride so that I could have a solid half hour warm up and still be over to the ring to collect my thoughts 10 minutes before my ride time. If that had happened, I think we would have done ok. Instead, I frantically raced over to sign a release form while my friend tacked up Bear. I raced back over to throw boots on and grab everything that I needed. I found my parents on the way over to the warm up arena, which was great since I suddenly realized that I had left my number at the trailer so I sent one of them back. By the time I got the the warm up arena Bear was jumping out of his skin! He was SUPER excited. I tried to go straight to a trot warm up hoping that I could get him worked down a bit in the little warm up time that I had, but no such luck. Instead of transferring his energy into a forward trot it was like there were little sparks of energy shooting off fireworks in unexpected directions. He went sidewise, he canted in place, he was WAY to light in the front like he could go up at any time. I could have worked through it with a good walk warm up and strategic exercises, but I had about 5 minutes and couldn't figure out the best plan of action. Pretty soon I was being called to head over to the ring. Okay, this would be interesting! Here's his camel impression!

So needless to say, things did not go well! I managed to lower my score from our debut ride a few weeks before. It was ugly, and felt horrible. He tried his best to leave the arena the first time we past A, and I think we were probably far enough out to have been considered leaving the arena! At least it was a schooling show. What a shame.

It did not go well, but some days surviving is good enough! This was the naughtiest I have ever seen him, tense at best with that feeling he might explode out from under me! My favorite comment from the judge was "mildly disobedient" when he threw one of his tantrums, but on the rider's note I got "quietly and tactfully ridden." We managed a few decent pictures of trying to fake it. Our little bitty trot and bulging under-neck muscles was not the goal, but at least he wasn't going sideways!

He went back to the trailer and got to snack on hay for a while before heading out for jumping. I wasn't nearly as worried about the jumping since it was such an easy task, but he was just as explosive in the warm up arena there. I don't think I even cantered him. He was hot, tense, sucked back and behind my leg. If I tapped his butt to go forward, he'd buck, which got him several more taps. Ugh. We also completely obliterated one of the warm up fences which got him to be a whole lot more careful and actually jump the fences.
When we finally got out into the arena he was still feeling like he was sparking unexpectedly, and you can see he had a great "firework" at the beginning trying to get to the first fence! BAD spook, but I was very impressed with our recovery. He walked past it, and even trotted past when we circled back again. Luckily this was all before our round and once we got started, he did quite well.

I think we have a whole lot of potential. It will be a lot of fun to really get him started over fences this winter. This was meant to give us some experience with show ground atmosphere, and interesting jumps. As much as he overreacted to the silly pile next to the arena, he didn't even look at the scary jumps with flowers! So as an exposure exercise it was a success, I just didn't get out of him what I was hoping for. That will come. We survived. Then we had a kick-ass lesson the next week to make up for it! He's got some fantastic potential for dressage! I just need the time to tap into it. Can't wait!

In between shows...

Last spring when I took Lola to the UC Davis Event Derby, I SWORE that by the October Derby I would have Bear ready to go for his jumping debut. This was because it was such a convenient and "greenie friendly" event at a good price. I lucked out that the event got pushed back to the beginning of November leaving me a little more room to cram in some work!

So after the dressage show we squeezed in one more lesson and started to put the pressure on to really accept the bit and stop his nonsense in front and start focusing on pushing forward from the back. We had a great lesson and could really see a ton of improvement in his fitness and strength, as well as breakthroughs on understanding submission and seeking the bit instead of being behind the bit to evade the connection.

We also went to a poker ride where I won the 4th best hand! I was so surprised because there were so many people there. We had fun, and I got a second poker hand free for dressing up in costume! Bear looks pretty stunning!

I also hauled him out to a friends barn to do a little jump school. I walked him around while she warmed up her horse so that he could settle in. He was pretty distracted, so it was nice to wait it out and be able to enjoy a ride on a quiet and relaxed horse an hour later! So I spent the first bit leading Bear around and raising jumps and measuring so that she felt good about the height that she'd be jumping at the Derby. Then I dropped all the jumps back down the the smallest cross bar height and warmed Bear up. We had just four set up, and they were all the the center of the smallish square arena, so it wasn't much of a course, but still got Bear to pick up his feet. He mainly just trotted them one foot at a time since they were so small, so I did canter over one twice. He was quiet and didn't think much of it. That was the extent of our jump schooling before the show! I mean they would be tiny cross rails, how much prep does a pony need? And I had already done well on the same dressage test, so that was in the bag, right?

I was feeling pretty proud that in one month I had gotten Bear ready for this despite all his time off! I was pleased with how easy it had all been. I was feeling a little to secure and stopped pushing to really prepare him; I was in for a surprise...

First dressage show, and setting ourselves up for success...

I keep running into the same problem with my greenie horses. If you ride the LOWEST level, it means have to ride first! First is usually WAY too early for me. My ride time for our first show was 8:08, and it was a really far drive.

This is painful to even look back on, but I got up at 3:30am to make this happen! I had agreed to swing past a friend's barn to pick up her horse, so that added in some time. Plus it was almost a two hour drive out there. The saving grace? I had set us up for success. As a schooling show catering to young riders and horses, they had a "Greenie Weenie- All Walk Test" and I thought that would be the best way to introduce the dressage arena, and judges booth. This meant that my warm up could be pretty limited before our first test, and then I could come back to finish the warm up before our Intro Test A.

Watching an all-walk test can be about as exciting as watching grass grow, but Bear tries to make it interesting by demonstrating his amazingly dramatic head tossing abilities. He is seriously talented! He can get his foamy mouth dribble on my face, isn't that impressive? I think his nickname of "Giraffe"has been substituted with "Camel".

The warm up arena was right next to the barn and trailers, but to get to the show arena you had to walk away from everyone and through a pasture which, obviously, held some horse eating monsters! It took some coaxing to get Bear all the way there, but once he was there he did alright. We were able to use the test to calmly introduce him to the arena, and develop some relaxation while working on keeping his attention. Perfect start!

Before continuing I want to take a moment to review where Bear is at in his training. He was started under saddle in the winter of 2008, and he was going well under saddle by the end of spring of 2009. He was only three, though, so I really just wanted to get him out to gain exposure and experience before asking anything too physically or mentally challenging. That should have lasted for a year, but instead his trail riding life kept getting extended. January of 2010 he moved to his first boarding facility with the goal of getting his training started, but we had one health problem or injury after another until we switched barns in May. Basically 5 wasted months. Through the spring he was ridden just enough to be sure my (then boyfriend now husband) could ride him. That's to say, walk, stop, turn, and patiently ignore the rest of confusing cues in order to be safe enough to trail ride. I was gone for the summer, and then that fall, we went about the same. I feel like in all of 2010 we had probably 10 good training rides! Mostly he was just ridden on the trails or used as a beginner horse. He moved back to pasture at my parent's house in November 2010 and just finished his pasture vacation in October of 2011. Basically in three year's he's done quite a bit- horse camping, trail riding all over, various riders and such, but never been asked to do much more than walk, trot, canter calmly under saddle- no real considerations to quality of gait, being on the bit, or being fine tuned to respond. Now ALL of that has changed, and he's a little confused by the new rules of the ride.

That said, our goals for this test were to keep him forward while accepting a light and following contact, that was really it. We had prepped for the show with one dressage lesson. Literally he went from a handful of rides to get him back in shape, to one dressage lesson, and an attempt at a show. Taking that into consideration, it was an enormous success.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Catch up time!!!

I LOVE holidays! Not just for the holiday eating and family, but for the complete break from reality. Its a Wednesday, and I'm not at work! How wonderful is that? Instead I got to sleep in, enjoyed super sale prices and no state sales taxes while shopping, and am currently cozy in my in-laws home while the Portland weather steadily assures me that sitting on the sofa with my laptop is indeed the right choice! I don't have a kitchen to clean, meals to make, laundry to do, closets to organize, or any of the other busy and never-ending work that I have at home. I don't even have a horse to ride or a dog to walk! This complete freedom means that I finally have time to reflect just back to the last few months of fun that I've not gotten a chance to write about! We have been BUSY!

I am going to break each of these out into several posts since I have pictures and video to go along with it. We've had plenty of training moments to capture so that I can go back and look at them later. When I look at all we've done, frankly I'm impressed with how well Bear is coming back into work and handling it all.

We've now had several "first times" to add to his list:
first dressage show,
second dressage show,
first time jumping cross rails,
followed immediately by his first time jumping a course at a show,
sprinkle in some impressive progression in a only three dressage lessons,
and a poker ride where (despite him being a little coo-coo for the first part) we won the fourth best hand and looked fantastic in our coordinating Halloween costume!

First of all, to set the scene, we moved to another barn...again! I feel like I'm a transient horse owner based on how many places Lola ended up living (heading off to her lease home was her 9th move to her 6th location), but I guess Bear has had less moves and he spent the last year at the same place: happy in pasture at my parent's house. This worked fine for occasional lessons and hauling out to trail ride or use the community arena, but it got to the point that I had to hook up the trailer and haul several times a week to get anything done. I even hauled out to lunge. Ugh. So when Lola found a lease-home, it became clear I needed to find a place with an arena and jumps, trails nearby, and at least some lights to do some quick riding or lunging after work on weeknights. That's what I needed to make it better than leaving him at my parent's, because really he had it good there! On his side, I didn't want him to have to give up all his horsey freedom since he's always been in pasture or a pasture sized paddock with a buddy. I wanted to be sure it wouldn't turn to a mud pit, since we've had to move because of that before. Quality of care has also been a problem before, as well as his penchant for destroying things. Then of course there is price and gas cost to consider!

I can tell you that I was feeling pretty hopeless for a few weeks. Then I stumbled across the winner: small facility body-wise (only 8 other horses) but really quite large land-wise! It has a good size arena with footing that is still ride-able after a rain and enough jumps to get us started. The six stall barn only has two horses which leaves plenty of hay and tack space and a warm dry lit place to groom or tack up. Add in room for my trailer, outdoor wash rack, and super nice people, and it has turned out to be wonderful! Here's the cherry on top: we have direct access to some of my favorite trails in the area! These have always been my favorite training trails because they are fairly flat, wide with good footing, and since they area is fairly small the trails loop and crisscross giving you endless options to get miles of ride in without having to stay on the same trail out and back. We've been enjoying them regularly, and will be the perfect way to keep him fit and fresh with some long trots and canter sets through the winter.

We still need to get the lights back up and running for winter, but I have faith that piece will fall into place also. As for Bear, he has the best pasture ever! He has a hug big pasture in the very back of the property, and he has it all to himself right now. This means lot's of grass, no competing with others for feed, and plenty to do to keep him happy.

Funny enough, one of the woman there had taken lessons with my dressage trainer in the past, and so we've started to split the travel fee for her to come out to give a lessons at our barn. Now I don't have to plan the extra time for travel or cost for gas! Plus there is an extremely reputable hunter/jumper trainer right next door with an enormous jumping arena with incredible fences and complete with a bank in the middle. As much as I loved my eventing trainer for my jumping lessons, she is always hard to schedule time with, and if I have the choice to WALK next door instead of driving 30 minutes each way, the choice should be clear. I hope I like her, I'm a little intimidated by her, especially being an equitation focused coach! I probably need some ripping apart though.

I've got huge goals for this beastie this year, and I'm excited to have the right set up to support the progress.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Horse show insanity...

About noon I was SUPER excited about the lesson and show this weekend. After looking at ride times and creating my schedule I'm horrified to see that I need to be leaving at 4:15 with horse in-tow in order to make this crazy plan work! Why do I do this to my weekends???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Outing number two!

We had a second scary outing this week, and, aside from some bug-eyed giraffe impressons, we survived!

I hauled Bear out to ride with a friend where she boards her horse. They have lights in their covered arena, so we could manage this after work even with the short days. It was just dusk when we got there, and the place is a bit chaotic for a greenie. The train tracks go right behind the property, and since the communter train passes by it is a pretty regular distraction. So it is dark, there is a loud train, its a new place, add to it pigeons flitting around in the fairly low rafters, a man with a bike and trailer zipping around in the dark past the arena, a very unruly teenage girl/mare combo out of control or out right defiant in the arena, and a donkey braying in the dark pasture on the other side, and you can imagine Bear's alarm with the situation. Luckily he gets over anything with time.

We just walked around the arena, or stood in the middle for quite a while. I basically decided to wait out the dangerous horse. With a total of four riders in an arena only slightly larger than a dressage court, I didn't want to get in a bad situation if I found myself next to the pissed off mare. So by the time we started riding, he was calm and focused. We took it easy and worked on some walk-trot transitions, walk to free walk transistions, and plenty of bending to ask for more contact on the bit. He was a good boy, and we finished the evening by standing in the middle of the arena while my friend practiced the dressage tests for the show Sunday.

It felt so good to be on him. He is built and moves so differently than Lola, it is a weird feeling! He is narrow, where Lola was round, so my leg hangs differently. He's so easy and pokey most of the time that's it hard to create the energy at first, but he's got bigger and more relaxed strides. With Lola I was working to turn her energized strides into slower longer swinging steps, with Bear I'm trying to energize his lazy jog into his long swinging stride! He's also so ignorant! He is an easy horse to ride, so its hard not to treat him like a dead broke lesson horse. But he is just getting the idea of accepting the contact and from there we'll be working on stretching to reach for it. A work in progress. He did start to get the idea of stretching his nose down at the free walk. Getting it, but not quite there yet!

I have a dressage lesson on Saturday and I think we'll make some good progress towards tidying things up before Sunday's show. Can't wait!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And then there was one...

Yes, that is right, down to one horse! It is quite bitter sweet. Lola and Bear acted like such a sweet old married couple, that it was heart breaking to split them up. Lola is off on a lease with a junior rider who will be taking her to more competitions this coming year than I would have had the time or money to do in five years! It is a fantastic situation, but I will miss her. do you get over missing your horse? Ride your OTHER horse! Bear doesn't even know what hit him!

Immediatley after sending Lola on her way, I loaded Bear up and took him off to a local western schooling show. Their trail classes were marked english or western, but I'm sure I was the only one in an english saddle! I squeezed in two walk-trot trail classes and then went and worked in the warm up arena for a little bit. It was good to get him out and exposed to the world again. He hasn't been anywhere without Lola for about a year, and he hasn't been to show grounds for probably two years. He was not exactly his lazy and laid back self, but he wasn't a complete wreck either. Good start!

We even took a fourth in one trail class! (I was disqualified in the other for being off course.)

Just look at that silly sweet face!

I've got big plans to keep him busy and me distracted from missing Lola. We will be hauling out to a friends this week after work to ride. I have our first dressage lesson in probably 2 1/2 years on Saturday. AND we will be going to a dressage schooling show Sunday! We're off with a bang! I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Working equitation

I've been riding my entire life... well almost... a pony at the age of 4 should count for "all my life". As a horse obsessed, kid, teen, college student, and now adult, I have made a life of reading about horses, horse products, horse disciplines of all types and around the world. I've participated in western horsemanship, trail, barrel racing, trail trials, endurance rides, hunter/jumper, IHSA, dressage, and eventing. So when I come across something that I've never heard of, working equitation, I was surprised. But when I looked into it an thought it sounded right up my alley, like it could be the coolest thing that I'd ever not hear of, I was amazed! Its a crazy combination of trail obstacles, jumping, livestock, with lances and all. Seriously, it sounds really fun!

Not sure how I find a place to compete in this obscure discipline, but it would be fun to try to find a way!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oh the weight of it all...

If you don't read Lola's blog, take a look at my last post here. I took Lola to our first Horse Trials at Beginner Novice level. This was a HUGE step for both of us. We prepared as best we could, we schooled the cross country course prior, we have been working over fences that size all summer, and now that we've sorted out canter departs, our dressage was good enough for the test. Should have gone fine, right? Except we had an epic FAIL. Now you really do want to go back and click on that link don't you!!! Really, I understand! I while I like hearing other bloggers talk about how well they did at shows because I can learn something from it, I LOVE getting hear everyones' sob stories about terrible shows! Ok, maybe not truly terrible, I can't ever stomach hearing about riders or horses injured. But boy does it feel good to hear that there are other people out there like me, just trying to make it, and feeling just as awkward about it!

So please, if you have a bad show experience to share, leave it in the comments. I would LOVE to hear that all the bloggers who really seem to have it all together have also fallen off at shows at one point or another! Yes, that's right, after a embarrassing dressage score, and a refusal and rail in stadium, I was eliminated from cross country for a falling off at our third refusal.

I completely psychoanalyzed the ride on Lola's blog, and it was a very cathartic exercise, but there is one more aspect I need to vent. Since Lola is a sale horse, I feel personally responsible for her future. Riding poorly when I can just come back stronger next year on a horse I'm committing life-long ownership to is one thing, but riding like I did at the last show that I can afford to take her to for the season is fairly devastating to her sale promotion.

I am feeling the weight of not giving her a good enough ride, the weight of the tediously slow work it takes to get Bear back into shape after almost a year of extremely inconsistent work, and the weight of the reality that summer is gone and my evenings are fast disappearing. And then I remember that having a horse at all is a blessing! Owning TWO talented horses is a stoke of extreme fortune! And really, compared to many of the winters other bloggers face, I have an extremely mild and short season of bad weather! I may not be managing them to their best, but how dare I allow horses,such a positive area of my life, to bring me down? Well, I'm a perfectionist, and I get frustrated when I can't manage it just right.

So now that I've vented on failing my mare, I will focus my energy positively. I will trail ride more, even in the rain. If time limits us, I will take Bear for walks in hand (I'll get fit too!). I will remember horses need time to develop as much as they need good training. And I will definitely still find other bloggers out there who have bad days at horse shows every once in a while!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New (used) saddle fail

I've been shopping new jumping saddles, but have been at the mercy of what is available in my budget at the local tack shop. I stopped by on a whim last Thursday and found... drum roll please... a Pessoa for $300!!! Some minor issues from regular wear and tear, but seriously, only $300? I don't know a ton about the different models, and maybe this started out life on the lower end, but it seemed like a great deal for me if it worked. "If it worked out" was the problem.

It fit me great! Loved it. It fit Lola alright. She seemed to go fine in it. There was as a little bit of dry hair under the wet saddle pad that made me question it though. But on Bear, it was a total fail. I didn't even need to go in to the saddle fitter to decide. Not nearly enough wither clearance. Sat right on top of his withers in fact!

Oh well... guess I'm waiting for the next great deal!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A moment of cuteness to brighten anyone's day!

So the question is... will I ever think the baby is cuter than the horse?? Does that maternal instinct kick in at some point and give me the desire to pinch chubby cheeks? For now I just want to pet the pony! And I'd rather scoop poop than change a diaper any day!

Humorous Pictures
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Monday, June 20, 2011

When life is multiple choice...

We all have times in our lives where we set up a Plan A and a Plan B, and if we work it just right, we could be equally happy with either. Right now I've got those, plus a Plan C. Yes, its THAT complicated!

Plan A: Lola and I keep working our tails off to prepare to go Beginner Novice at the next Horse Trial in late July. We're on a roll, and I'd love to do it! I really feel we have so much more to prove to each other.

Plan B: Lola sells (one great potential getting her trainer's opinion as we speak) or finds a leaser (one coming out next week to try her) and I get the chance to put ALL my love and attention into the spotty beast. He is MAJORLY out of shape, so that would be our limitation, but he'd be more than capable of trotting logs. His training is far enough along, that with some tune up we could do the same event if we stuck to Elementary. It wouldn't be fantastic, but wouldn't be disastrous either.

Plan C: (This plan is also contingent on a Lola living with another rider.) Instead of launching into another big commitment to training and competing, I take two months to work on me! I am getting married August 13th, and all the plans to work out and get into bikini shape have fallen clear off the priority list! I have friends that I promised to visit, and I can't find a free weekend. And of course I've still got a wedding to plan! I also don't want to take the fun out of my fun horse by putting the pressure on too quick. We'd have a blast just trail riding and starting the occasional dressage lesson this summer. So, for my own sanity, I really should probably stick to that. But where's the fun in being sensible?

Whatever way the plans fall, I will be happy, my horses will be happy, and I'll still manage to get the wedding plans under control before the actual event. It's nice to have options!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bear would be so jealous if I told him...

Lola and I went cross country schooling!

Just a sneak peak...more photos on Lola's blog!

Of course, at this point, Lola thinks going out of the arena means strolling along a trail, and generally relaxing and taking in the sights. That's because I've worked very hard to ingrain that in her! So she headed out to warm up on the course with big relaxed swinging strides and things got better from there.

I am so excited to have taken her out, and were head back this next weekend to compete in the horse trials. This is great news for two reasons: I'm SUPER excited, and with it over I can start splitting my time a little more evenly between the two beasts. Bear needs to get conditioned if I want to start really stepping up his training this summer. The next horse trial at Eventful Acres will be in July (on my birthday weekend), and based on what I saw of the elementary course, any horse that can lift his feet to step over something at a walk can probably handle it! So the goal is tentatively set to take Bear out for our first horse trials.

Of course this is contingent on Lola being sold. Otherwise Lola and I will be pushing up to compete BN in July. She's been simply fantastic lately. The horse market is weird, so I know I won't get a ton of response to her ads, but I really can't imagine some one NOT taking her home if they tried her! She's just so much fun.

Anyway, big open grassy fields to canter in, this is just something that I know Bear will be great at. How high he can jump is a question we can figure out later! I don't really know that I have the guts to compete any higher than Novice, and I think he can do that just fine. So now that he's five this year, I'm eager to get back into work with him and bring on the fences!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Long days… warm weather… LOTS of hair!

I have been sort of ignoring everyone’s complaints about shedding horses because Lola has been sleek and shiny since that warm weather we had in January! A box stall and blanket will do that for a horse. Plus she’s worked hard and groomed regularly. I forgot that my pasture ornament wouldn’t be exempt from the spring shedding craziness! I snuck out to see Bear right after work last night in order to get a quick ride in before the 7pm Maundy Thursday service at church. (He’s sort of on the way.) So I scurried out, grabbed a saddle and grooming bucket, and he was waiting by the fence as usual. I pulled his sheet off (we had a rainy spell again), and I started currying only to find he’s one hairy mess!

With the sheet on I don’t think he’s been very effective in rolling any of the hair off his body himself, so he had hair matted to him! CRAZY! He hardly grows a winter coat, none of this long belly and neck hairs that Lola gets, so I was surprised that he had that much to come off! He certainly enjoyed the curry, and as long as it doesn’t rain again, he’ll be done with that rain sheet. The poor guy is probably itchier than all get out! So at least he can start rubbing it off rolling.

After getting all this off... we didn’t have much time left. So we took off down the road for at least a half hour ride. We did our usual walk down the back roads, and I am just always amazed what a good boy he is! He hasn’t been out for a two weeks, and hasn't been regularly ridden for months! Yet he was a perfect joy to ride. He stopped and looked when the donkey snorted at us, he got a little prancy when the crazy arab rushed the fence at us, and he flipped his head once while we were climbing a hill and a tractor started up (loudly) behind us somewhere. That’s it! So very impressive for a horse that is out of work right now, and all pumped up on spring grass!

I’m realizing that if I do want to get serious about putting him back into full work this summer, I better be consistent about our conditioning. The trailer is at the boarding facility with Lola, so trailering him anywhere will just be a lot of work, but we’ve got enough back roads and trails from there to at least give us a 2 hour walking ride. From there I’ll need to either start trailering out to the local arena or get him back to the boarding place. We’ll see how long it takes to sell Miss Fancy Pants. She’s doing SO well right now, I feel like she is a really marketable horse. We’ll see though. It has to be the right home.

Such a good boy, if only he’d hold still for his picture. But he sees the camera and comes to sniff it. Does it every single time!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I was in a Derby!

I was in a derby!!!! But it was on Lola...
By the next on in October Bear will be the horse choice, I'm sure! I have big plans for him this year!
In the mean time, check out our awesome success on Lola's blog...

<--- click there...

or go here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bear takes the back seat... as usual

Bear gets the lush pasture of spring grass while Lola does all the work. When I put it that way, Lola is getting the raw end of the deal! I, however, can't help but feel guilty for not balancing the two.

We're doing lot's of fun stuff with Lola, but writing about it on her blog means this one has seriously dwindled over the last year too. I am a worrier and a guilt traveler (a guilt trip only works if you take that trip, right?). I am a sucker for guilt trips. If there isn't someone around to give me a guilt trip, I misread peoples comments to make it into a guilt trip (my poor fiance is so patient with me!), and when that fails, I just create my own guilt trips for myself because I am not perfect and I cannot live up to my unrealistic training expectations while working full time. There of course being the catch 22, because I can't afford the horses without working full time!

So I move on, and do what I can, and every so often I call myself out on it! So here I am again, justify (to myself) why I haven't completely ruined my horse through my neglectful behavior.

He is happy! He has two acres of pasture to play in. He's always cared for, vaccinated, wormed, and trimmed. He's gets excellent care.

He is already off to a good start. He just turned five and he has more training on him than some horses get their whole lives. By starting him early we opened up his options, I can take him trail riding, alone, with friends, or with completely new horses. I can take him to canter across the big open beach at the lake. Some horses are never under control enough to do that! He can put up with a beginner rider! Probably 10 years down the road I will be so happy that I gave him such low impact/ low stress miles in the beginning. Whatever happens to him physically later one I'm just going to blame myself for anyway! So I guess this is a blessing to have one less item of guilt later.

Its spring, and he's full of it. That's the decision I've made on the uncomfortable or naughty debate. We went for another walk last Saturday. I tacked him up and walked about 15 minutes then rode the rest. He was perfectly fine. He seemed happy, and he was relaxed. It helped that I convinced the whole entourage to come with us! My fiance came and walked our dog, my dad walked their crazy energetic German Shepherd, and my mom walked the old mare (who was THRILLED to get to come along, and was out walking my mom!). Even walking back up the big hill with me on him he seemed comfortable and no signs of head tossing as he tried to push himself and my weight up the incline.

I think the chiro work has done its job. I think Bear needs to get down to business to get this head tossing/half rears in check. I fee like this spring will give us a chance to slowing move back into working condition through trail riding, and this summer maybe we can get back into training mode. Its time I asked more of him on the flat, and this is his year to get started over fences.

He's got a bright future ahead of him. I think its ok that he's not there yet, we still have time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Well the old mare pulled through. The vet came out for a follow up visit later that week and basically said that she had muscle soreness all across that right side, as well as a bit of swelling in the tendon on that leg. She's made a good recovery though and she is back to her perky little self. She even ran around a bit last weekend, and when I went out to stop her, she pranced and snorted at me! Looks like she's back to normal.

The trailer is fine, it was all covered by insurance. Its not the prettiest trailer, but as the guy at the shop pointed out, it wasn't that pretty to start with! Thanks... I know its not shiny and new, but its MINE. This is what it looked like going in... Plus the sun roof/vent was totally busted. Now at least it doesn't leak! I'll post pictures as soon as I get back out there. (It's been so rainy that I have been sticking to the barn when I'm out, it was even SNOWING when I picked the trailer up!)

Bear is still not quite himself. The wet pasture hasn't helped. The second chiro visit was good news. Basically he seemed much better, so that means two good things, he was better after only two, AND that an improvement after one helps to show that it is something physical (that can be corrected by chiropractic) and not something systemic or neurological that wouldn't have responded quickly. The vet basically prescribed a slow rehab back into work. So far that has meant taking him for walks down the back roads since everything else is too wet to give good footing. We've only been doing in hand work because the first day out he spooked and lost both feet out behind him! I though, well if he wasn't injured before, he probably is now! He seemed fine when I made it out there the next week (darn rain) no lameness at walk or trot. I hopped on in the pasture and he was crabby and defiant under saddle. I don't know if it is attitude or pain. He might be getting a little more cantankerous with age, but based on his character I think its more likely he's in pain or afraid to move around under my weight with the bad footing. So for now we'll play it safe and take our long walks down the road. I think next time I'll tack him up and see if I can't get on and ride a bit once he's had 15 minutes to warm up.

That was my plan for yesterday, but Monday night after walking him I started throwing up when I got home, now I'm down and out with the stomach flu. I am looking forward to longer days, sunshine, and actually getting out to see my ponies!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A week of being too close to death...

Last week was not what it was supposed to be...

I had the dentist/chiro out on Tuesday. Good news for Bear and Lola... good news meaning Bear had some stuff clearly out of alignment, so hopefully his issues will go away with chiro care and he won't spend the rest of his life being a clutz. Their teeth looked good, AND the vet tells me Lola is a year YOUNGER than I was told when I bought her. Bonus!

Then we got the old mare... she needed extra sedation and two infected teeth had to be extracted. No fun for anyone. Plus I had volunteered to pay for it, and the extra work cost QUITE a bit extra.

It got so late that I didn't want to take Lola back to boarding that night, and put it off for another night. I was all set to go out on Wednesday, pick her up, tack up at the barn, and have my fiancé get some good video of us. But when I got to the house the old mare was down. She got up after a bit. But she didn't seem right. She was stomping her back legs and backing up. I went down to check on her, and she seemed alright so I thought she may have been stiff. I hooked up the trailer, pulled it down to the driveway, and before I could load Lola, the old mare went down again. Not a good sign.

And so the night began... 8 hours of stress and anxiety, numerous vet phone calls, a dose of bute, an hour of walking, one poop (YEAH!), a dose of banamine, lots of monitoring her laying down to keep her laying quietly and not rolling, one vet's opinion to either get her to an intensive care for all night monitoring or put her to sleep, a frantic call to our regular vet for a second opinion, a midnight ranch call from said vet, lots of oil down her nose, and one last shot of "stuff" to help, and she finally thought about eating a little. I went home relieved that we hadn't had to put her down, but not convinced that she'd make it through the night.

This mare was my mom's 40th birthday present to herself. She always wanted to own a horse, the one she bought at 18 tried to kill her, numerous times. And yet she bought a very hot arab at the age of 4o... She basically became one of the horses that I grew into. We did all sorts of stuff together, and she became my primary horse once my show mare developed terrible arthritis my first year of high school. So I did some trail trials and endurance on my hardy little arab. She was the horse that I could come home to while in college, and jump on bareback with just a halter and canter circles in the pasture. She was a HUGE part in training Bear. She was such a trooper to come out of retirement to pony around the naughty and frisky young thing that he was. We've owned her for 17 years now. She's a huge part of the family. I was a wreck at work the next day, I kept expecting the call... the one telling me to come out quick because the vet's coming back to put her down.

She did make it through the night, but with all the getting up and laying down (and by laying down I really just mean "choosing a place to fall" because she was so weak that night) she somehow hurt her ankle. She's hardly putting weight on it, holding it out in front, and limping terribly. So now that she's pulled through the colic, she's having to have this injury evaluated. I still can't let myself believe she's out of the woods.

So with all this terrible news, I was understandably edgy when I got a voicemail from the barn owner where I keep Lola. I was so relieved that it wasn't another life or death horse emergency that my first reaction was to laugh when I hear that A TREE HAD FALLEN ON MY TRAILER!!!! Well after seeing it, I'm not laughing. Not what I need just when I'm hoping to gear up with a full schedule of lesson, schooling off site, and showing. I can't afford a new trailer. I'm hoping for the best, and sort of planning for the worst. If the repairs cost more than 70% of the value, it's considered a total loss. I'm not sure I can replace it for what I'll get. I can't justify buying a new one now. I'm not ready to lose my horse trailering independence.

The old mare's name is Lacey. I don't think I've ever said her name... it was just such fun to call her the old mare: a background character in the story of Bear. Truth it she has been a huge influence on my riding, and my life. So I think I might take some time to tell her story too.

Vet should be out tomorrow. We'll see what there is to say about the leg.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Bear!

My spotty valentine is five years old today. This year he has to quit playing and get a real job!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Yesterday I hooked up the trailer at the barn, loaded up Lola, and then swung past my parent's house to pick up Bear. He was super excited to see a trailer pull up, and proceeded to gallop up and down the hill in the lower pasture. This was fine by me, as I was hoping he'd take the edge off his spunkiness before I put the finacé up there!

I caught him, through him in the trailer, and the finacé and I set off for a trail ride! It was the perfect day for it, we just didn't have much time. Both horses were hot and sweaty when we pulled them out of the trailer. It is unseasonably warm, Bear had been running around, and Lola had been probably nervously sweating in the trailer not able to fully see what all the commotion was about, so it was understandable. It didn't change the fact that it felt weird to take up sweaty horses!

They both settled in pretty well once we got up the first hill. I wish we could have done the whole trail, but the day just didn't allow for it. We at least got them out. They weren't crazy or too attached about being together again. I was surprised how fit Lola was compared to Bear, but he really is a weekend pony at the moment, so it makes sense.

When we got back to my parents we had to take off right away for a dinner, so Lola stayed for a sleepover. I knew I'd have to split them up later to feed that night, but I turned them both out to pasture while we were out to dinner, and they were just adorable. They ran around... sided by side, ate grass... side by side, stood to watch each other roll their sweaty back in the grass. They were the picture of perfect contentment. It will be heartbreaking to separate them again today, but Bear needs to be out in pasture, and Lola needs spring grass limited and daily supplements given. Plus they were getting too dependent on each other, and I think the separation will allow me to more easily take them out alone to shows and such.

They will get a repeat of this horsey sleepover next weekend. I have the farrier coming Friday night and the dentist/chiro coming Saturday morning, so I'll be consolidating the horses to one property for the appointments.

Alright, enough thinking about horses, time to go do something with them!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Plans and Goals FAIL!

How ironic that the last post was about plans and goals... this one is all about busy-ness and pasture vacation!

After deciding that the mud ocean that was their pen had become unacceptable I started looking, once again, for a place to keep two horses. I didn't find it. Lola needs certain things, Bear just needs to be dry and turned out. Lola moved to a stall at a place with an indoor arena. Bear moved back to my parent's house. It was good timing really. I am SO busy at work (9-12 hour days). He's SO happy in pasture. Really my parents have the ideal set up. Two half acre pastures to rotate back and forth, a large 1/4 acre pen with a huge shelter, another horse to keep him company, and the put up with his antics. They have refused to unblanket daily, but I don't blame them, what a pain. Not that it matters right now since its cold enough to leave on all day. Then when it warms up I'll just switch to the sheet so that it won't be too hot during the day.

Needless to say, he hasn't been doing much. We did have a fantastic trail ride with the gal that bred and sold him to me! He's certainly grown up since she saw him last! The trail was great, it was a clear bright day, and we had a blast. We also got to do lots of crazy water crossings with all the rain that's been coming down! So we had a good time, and I definitely want to head out there again.

I couldn't get a picture with my phone, but somehow I got some video! New phones... ugh.

Silly, I know...

Bottom line: Bear is happy a clam. I don't feel guilty. He's only 5 minutes away from Lola's barn. So this weekend I'll pick him up on the way to the trails and try a Bear-Lola reunion so that I can take my fiancé out for a ride. We're all happy, and, for now, we all have just what we need. What a good feeling.