Friday, December 31, 2010

The best of 2010.

These are some of the years highlights from my world.

1. Horse ownership and my dream come true that is Steady.  This is the post of our first ride together.

2. My daughter getting her very own horse.  This is a proud moment in my life.

3. Riding my first cross country derby.  The most exhilerating experience!

4. Losing 35lbs.  Now that's alot of cake!!

Those were my personal highlights but here you can read more on all the highlights with the family and on the farm thoughout the year. 

2010 has been a great year!!  I am expecting even more excitement and more goals achieved in 2011!!!

Wishing you a happy happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

Back at it day two and a video.

So two days in a row really was a miracle with this weather.  I am so glad I got to though because day two proved to be 100 x's better.  I also gave up on relying on 2 goofy girls to video for me and set up the camera over a chair with board over the arms.  So people use tripods, country girls, we improvise..:).  I have cut and edited the video to get to the point. The our ride was about 30 minutes and he even worked up a sweat.
You can see in the warming up clips his signature head high, nose out and all stretched out trot.  But after a minute you can start to see some of the beautiful movement he has.  You'd never guess he wasn't meant for dressage when he starts moving like that. You definitely wouldn't guess he spent the last 10 years at the track.  You will notice sometimes his reaching for the bit becomes a bit excessive but I learned out to correct that pretty quickly and easly from the clinic this month.
I am most proud of his canter.  It has been a long time coming to get anything halfway decent at the canter.  I actually have not even focused on it at all up until December.  I figure we needed to get our aides down pat  before we went farther in our training.  The slow steady process seems to have really paid off.  There hasn't been long frustrating rides.  It has really set us up for continued success.  There is some patience involved with not just jumping on going full speed ahead in training. But I can say from experience it has made this process so enjoyable for me and for him.

P.S.  I set up our saddle fitting and lesson for Monday at noon.  Looking forward to it!  Keep your fingers and hooves crossed we find a good saddle for the both of us.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WOW!

This year is going to be a dream come true in many ways.  This is a huge part of that dream and I am soooo very excited about it.  On June 23rd I will be flying out to Sacramento, CA to visit a friend and go trail riding.  We will be camping and riding this trail.  The veiws are absolutely breath taking.  I plan to get a helmet camera by the time this rolls around so you guys will be able to experience it along with me and I can have it documented.  Here is a video of the trail we will be riding.  A caption comes up that says Big Meadow and that is where our campsite is.  I am blown away by the trail and cannot wait to experience this. Check it out!

Eventing Camp. I am over the top excited.

Eventing Camp at CAF July 11-14 with eventing superstars...

Leslie Law

Dorothy Crowell

Peter Atkins


I haven't yet posted about it because it is pretty far off at this point but I cannot contain my excitement any longer and must post about it.  A friend of mine introduced me to the wonderful farm and owner Come Again Farm (CAF) and Lee Ann Zobbe(LAZ).  Lee Ann is an amazing person, trainer and has done an amazing job turning CAF into THE eventing farm in central Indiana.  She litteraly built an amazing cross country course.  By built I mean she constructed many of the jumps with her own two hands.  Each year she puts on an Eventing Camp.  Last year I did not know about it.  Actually I didn't even really know about eventing(gasp) yes it's true.  This year though I plan to be first in line when it come time to register.

From what I have heard it is a jam packed 4 days.  Starting Monday and going through Thursday with a schooling show to follow on Saturday.  Listen to the line up!  Dorothy Crowell, Leslie Law, and a name you may have heard this year or you have been under a rock Peter Atkins has just been confirmed!!!  She did have Becky Holder but schedueling did not work out.  Though Becky will be doing a clinic in Indiana in August so I am hoping to make that also.  They pack in as much information as possible.  Such as last year they had a vet come in and talk about lameness in sport horses during lunch.  How to spot and treat it.  I seriously get butterflies just thinking about being out on the cross country course with with all these amazing olympic and WEG medalists. 

So come July 11-16 I will be in eventing heaven!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I snuck it in.

Oooof that was one of the worst rides I have had in months.  And trying to have my 7 and 5 year old video was just as terrible.  Steady clearly had other things on his mind and cared not for what I wanted from him.  I do believe though we are having yet another saddle issue and I not only need to get in for a lesson but also a saddle fitting and have my fingers crossed I can find a used saddle that fits.  First sign is the fact that he reaches around as I am tightening the girth as if he is really ticked or just flat out wants to take a chunk out of me.  Instead he takes chunks out of the board fence he is tied to.  Thats a good sign something is not right.  Oh saddle fitting woes I know someday I will rejoice when you are over.  Down the long side he immediately put his head up in the air.  I am thinking it may have been that the snow was deeper over there and he was struggling to get through it but who knows.  This was a  problem he had in the begining and it has been a while since it reared it's ugly head...ok silly pun.  But on the near side he would at least start feeling for the bit and rounding some.  But all in all his energy was high and he wasn't focusing.  There was ALOT of hard bridging.  Agian not something I have had to do in a long while.  The one and only positive that came out of the ride is that he is starting to pick up his correct leads and right when asked and the canter is bouncy and fun and somewhat collected.  So I guess my goal for the winter months was to get the canter under control and to slightly resemble something that belonged in a dressage arena and that is actually coming along.  I just didn't expect to loose all the other stuff we had down pat.  Again another reason to head to that lesson.  Ho hum lets hope tomorrow proves to be a better day.  So not really any salvagable video but I will leave you with this.......baby it's cooold oooout side!


Sneaking in a ride.

It looks like today and tomorrow are my only chances of getting in a decent ride in the near future.  The sun is shining and a warm 27 degrees(insert sarcasam).  Tomorrow's high is 32...oooh ahhhh.  Then comes the rain which will turn our winter wonderland into a slippery, muddy, winter mess.  So I am going to sneak in a ride or two and enjoy it while I can.  And we got a video camera for christmas so I am going to see if I can't sneak in a couple videos too.  Now if I am riding my 7 year old will be maning the camera so don't be expecting much.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Horsey wishlist 2011

I have a selfish wish list and of course I don't expect to get any of it but well I guess that is why it is called a "wish" list and go figure almost all are horse related.

I really want a cross country vest and kind of need one in order to do any cross country schooling or showing. 
A new helmet which is probably going to happen because with Macy starting to ride we will need another helmet and Elaina fits into mine so I guess that means I need a new one! 
An outdoor riding arena.  It is not neccessary but would be soooo helpful and then I can also take on more lessons and not have to worry about letting Elaina and Macy going out to ride. 
A new saddle.  This is just wishful thinking.  Saddles are so expensive and I have had such a hard time finding one to fit Steady.  If nothing else I hope to find a used one that will at least be better than the one I have for him. 
Build a tackroom in my barn.
Get 2 more acres fenced in.
A new bridle but it doesn't make sense to get a new bridle before I have my saddle.  Who knows maybe I will just get a new schooling bridle considering mine is like 20 years old.
Show clothes; breeches that fit, a shirt and collar, a jacket and gloves.
Also a few smaller items like Saddle pads and boots for Steady.
The list could go on but I will stop there because at least these are the more realistic from the list.
The unrealistic are a new trailer.  A truck. Build a new barn.  Have a pond dug.  Remodel the bathroom and bedroom.

And the thing I need most of all to afford all of it....A JOB!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You know it's a good day to ride when....

You know it is a good day to ride when you go outside to feed and your face doesn't instantly sting from the fridged windchills.
You know it's a good day to ride when your snot doesn't freeze before it makes it out of your nose....eww....I know.
You know it's a good day to ride when you finished feeding and none of your body part are numb.

Give you one guess what I am doing today ;)!!

Nice part about having a quiet Christmas at home and no running to and fro to family events is I can get in as much riding time as possible!!  Merry Christmas too me!!

You will probably even see a post about driving!  It has been a couple months since we have driven Snappy but we always take an annual Christmas day cart ride through the snow.  One day we might even get runner attatchments for our cart to make a little easier on the guy.


Friday, December 17, 2010

I can't feel my fingers.

But it really doesn't matter because I got to ride my horse, the footing is great and it feels sooooo good.  Like many people across the country I am struggling to find a time to ride that the weather will allow.  Whether it is rain in the PNW, cold, snow or a little bit of all of it, it seems that it is not the cards for people to get out and ride unless you are fortunate enough to have an indoor at your disposal.  But even then there are no guarantees if it is still too cold or your horse doesn't particularly like the arena.  I just haven't heard about many good rides as of late and goodness knows I don't have any to write about.
But against every bone in my body I forced myself to get out there today.  It is really the first day in 2 weeks that it has been even reasonably safe to ride.  With windchills hanging in the single digits it was just not safe to ride or sensable.  Today though the sun never really peaked out from behind the clouds though it tried but there was not much wind at all and the high was 25.  I was feeling very very down and overwhelmed.  Though I didn't want to I got out and saddled up.

Steady by no means was a perfect angel but he hasn't been riden in two weeks either so I think it is to be expected.  Also when all of your aides are frozen it really makes it hard to know if you are giving the correct aides and at the right moments.  The numbness kind of inhibits good riding.  He was very forward, more forward than he has been in a long time.  He was partially listening most of the time but I took what I could get.  There was no way I was getting flustered on the only ride I have had in weeks.  I see though that I am going to have to hit the ground running come spring time after all this time off.  I had about 2 very nice leg yeilds and he picked up his leads nicely and stayed in a nice collected canter.  I cannot not ask for anymore than that because that is great progress.  Even though we have not been able to ride since the clinic it was great to see that just that one day really helped us get the canter put together better. 
I am happy to say my mood has dramatically improved and my Steady therapy did the trick.  So I can't feel my fingers or my toes but my heart is happy so all is good!

I would like to add that this was his first ride since his shoes were removed yestereday and no sign of soreness!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hoof day tomorrow.

You will never see pictures of my ponies getting their pedicures.  Why?  Well because my farier is amish and amish do not appreciate their pictures taken.  But regaurdless he is a darn good farier. Every 6 weeks I head over to pick up Jessie and his anvil and bring him back to the farm.   One of the first times Jessie cam out to our place about 5 years ago my husband went to pick him up and when they got to the house his wife had come with him.  She gets out of the car and well she was barefoot.  We headed to the barn to get the horses and all the while the girl had no shoes on.  Nontheless they are a very nice family and it has been a cool experience getting to know not just that family but alot of amish families in our area.  But really when you go to the barn put on some dang shoes!

My husband loves to badger them with questions like "so you can ride in a car but not drive a car?"  or "oh you came from Pennsylvania.  how long did it take you to get here in the buggy?".  They are really good sports though or at least they put up with him long enough to take his money.

I am having him take Steady's shoes off and see how it goes.  He only has front shoes on and they were only put on after our first trail ride and he came up lame because his hooves wore down to the sole within the first 2 hours out.  As an OTTB he has probably had shoes on his whole life.  I am hoping that we can go barefoot over the next few months and we will see how things go in the spring.  Tomorrow at one I pick up Jessie and all the pony boys get their feets cleaned up.

Moonlight got new diggs.

Moonlight's stall has been a source of issues for years.  It does not drain properly and it doesn't help that there is a leak in the roof above his stall which makes it basically a constant wet mess.  I have tried getting gravel hauled in and grating it.  I even had a failed attempt at making a small trench so the pee and water would run out of his stall.  Which it would work to a certain extent but  once outstide the fluid had no were to go.   So a few weeks ago as I was in my frustrated state of mind trying to figure out a solution.  It occured to me that if I moved all my feed and stuff I (and by I, I mean my dear, sweet, patient, hard working husband) could put a stall in. 
So I decided it was time to do some rearanging.  Saturday was spent setting posts, cutting boards, moving stuff, putting up boards and viola a brand spanking new stall was done.  Steady now has a next door neighbor and Snappy is freed from the forelock pulling bully.  It is a win win.  Not to mention Moonlight not having to deal with a wet mucky stall ever again, Halalujah!!!

I would post a picture but I have seen some of the barns that people board at and I am a bit embarassed of my not horse barn that I have done my best to convert into a workable space for my four legged friends.  Don't get me wrong I am soooo grateful for my barn and the fact that it is workable so I can have my horses but it is just not the same as some of the boarding facilities out there with all the fancy schmancy pants stuff in some barns.  I am not knocking it because if I could afford it you better believe my horses would have the best out there but they are quite happy witht their pasture and stalls and that is all that matters.  I never have to deal with turnout times, or too many riders to get in a good ride so it does have it's benefits ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting the most out your lesson

I am a fan of The Chronicle of the Horse on facebook and they have some really interesting articles.  I especially liked this one.  I could relate to it and it was great information.  Making most those 45 minutes amateurs; guide getting top value from lessons.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Worms, parasites and other fun topics.

I heard the most facinating talk on the radio the other day.  I don't know if any of you have heard of or listen to Horses in the Morning but they have some interesting topics and great for those of us that love to indulge our horse addicted minds.  Last week I listened to this facinating topic of worms and parisites.  I honestly am not very educated on the subject and that show was very informative.  This may be stuff everyone knows but I did not so it helped me but also left me with questions.  I plan to talk to my vet this week about it.

My limited knowledge of de-worming was you buy a de-womer at the farm store and keep your horse on a scheduele of every 6 weeks.  Administer the paste orally and that is about the extent of it.  I found out that de-worming isn't necessary in all horses.  That a majority of horses maintain a healthy level of parasites with no help.  There are horses though that do need to be de-wormed but the best way to regulate parasites is to have their poop tested.  Now I have not checked into the cost of parisite analysis and I hope to find out this week.  I am thinking though that even if I find out that one of them does not require regular worming in the long run it would not cost more to have them tested periodically. 

The reason though that they do not suggest the regualar de-worming method is not to save any money but to preserve the effectivness of the medicine.  I found out that there are no new developments in the area of de-wormer and if we over use them and ruin the effectivness and we will be left standing with little help in controling parasites.  That IS a great reason to use de-wormer resposibly.  I will not go into any greater detail in this post because well you could just listen to the show but it is interesting and definitely worth a listen.  It's pretty funny that the topic of poop could be so very interesting and only horse crazy people can understand..haha.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A butt scratching mystery.

Literally.  I went out to feed this am and give Steady his once over.  Pretty much the extent of what I have done horse related this week since the temps were hovering frightening close to 0 all week.  As I was looking him over he had a large, fresh gouge out of his hing end at the top about 6 inches left of his tail.  It was wet with very little blood.  Looks like it just scraped off the top layer of skin but didn't break it.  It looked to fresh to have happened last night.  I looked his stall up and down over and over and could not find anything protruding or something with his hair on it.  I have no idea how he got it.  The worst part is that he did get it and if I don't know how I fear it could happen again and God forbid in a worse place on him.  Grrr it is frustrating.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Are you calling me a horse??? Why, thank you.

How am I like my horse?  I think I am like Steady in just as many ways as I am not.  In our determination, competitive nature, never giving up, high pain tolerence and work ethic we are all but identical.  We could be dangerous together working toward a goal,

In his stoic personality, his steady temperment,  his level headedness those are traits I do not possess.

Mostly though in his guarded heart we are the same.  It is not that he does not possess the ability to love or be loved.  If I had to guess it is more of the past disappointments in his life that have caused him to be gaurded.  That there were those in his past that he trusted and gave his heart to and they took that precious gift and abused it.  They didn't return the love or they left him standing alone when he thought they would be there for him forever.  It is not that he doesn't contain the ability to love or be loved because I have had the rare priviledge to feel his love.  It is not that he cannot trust because he has placed that fragile gift of his trust in my hands.  It is quite the oposite we are both creatures that to most of the world seem tough, cold, indifferent but to those few souls in this life that we trust with our hearts they are the only ones who truely understand the depths and lengths that our love goes.

Ok seriously didn't even mean to go there I just thought this would be a light hearted personaity analysis and that was extremely powerful and deep.  Excuse me, I need to go kiss a horse.


Thanks to those who posted this.  I don't even know who the originator was but I first read it at A Year With Horses and also at Opening Up the Chord and Counting Strides and  A Fearsome Beauty.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Elisabeth update

I did my best to make their Thanksgiving as nice a possible so I doubled our entire Thanksgiving and brought it to them.  I just knew that her mom had to spend so much time caring for her she wouldn't  be able to spend all day in the kitchen.

She has really been in alot of pain and on vicodin around the clock.  She went in on Tuesday for an appointment and the dr. said that surgery was neccessary.  We were all really hoping it could be avoided but that is not the case.  Thursday was her surgery and it went well.  She got to go home the same day.  The first few days following the pain was still just as intense but now about 5 days out she seems to have moments thoroughout the day that she feels "good".  good enough to get up and move around.  She is in in a splint and can now stand and walk with her arm in a sling.  Her break in her elbow was the most severe and the bone was actually rotated out of place and that is why she had surgery.  She had 4 pins put in.  They were very happy that they did avoid using screws.  So she is very slowly getting better each day and now it is time to figure out what she can do since all the things she loves she cannot do for a while.

They have also not been able to even think about the horse and how to handle him.  I am trying to help them as much as possible work through it but they can only deal with it the way they need to.  Right now I think they are leaning toward selling him but they are not going to make any quick decisions which I think is for the best.

Thank you so much for all of you who have been so sweet and supportive through all of this.  It really means alot

Last minute clinic! Are you kidding me!?!

I am still in awe that this happened yesterday.  So a couple weeks ago I got an email that there was a dressage clinic at the stable that I take lessons at.  I have never been to a clinic before but covet the opportunity to do so.  I didn't mention it to my husband because I knew the answer would be "do you have the money for it".  So I abondoned the idea.  The clinic was to be yestereday and I awoke with one the on the brain yestereday.  "Maybe I could at least go to watch".  It is about and hour drive for me.  I had already promised the kids we would do our traditional Christmas tree cutting down day so I was not sure if it was possible to squeeze in a trip to the clinic.  I was looking at the email and Ryan asked what I was looking at.  I explained it to him and would you believe the next words out of his mouth????  "Well why aren't you going?"  WHAT!!?!  So you better believe I jumped out of bed grabed my phone and asked if they any openings.  Well why yes they did and I was to ride at 1:30!!

 
  • Run do chores
  • get the family ready and in the car
  • drive 30 min away to tree farm
  • walk through hundreds of trees to find the perfect one
  • cut it down/shake it/ tie it to the roof
  • drink cup of hot cocoa
  • drive home
  • put tree in stand
  • throw in saddle and all riding gear
  • hook up trailer
  • throw in Steady ;)
  • drive to clinic to arrive at 1:20
  • Throw on tack
  • warm up for 5 minutes
And that is how one shows complete inabilty to control their absolutely insanely crazy horse obsession.
There were three of us riding for an hour.   Lynn looked about 16 on a bay warmblood that she has owned for about three years and Alisha looked about 17 on her chestnut thoroughbred mare that she has owned for a few months.  Each of them had all the good horsey gear.  The Anky saddles and Charles Owens helmets and all the other goodies that I probably turn green just looking at.   Then me trying to hide my green with envy face riding my Steady, 30 years old with my troxel helmet that makes me look like an egg head, my used coventry saddle and my probably 20 year old bridle.  Can you tell I have a bit of a complex..lol? 

Lightbulb #1 using correct aides at the walk.
She started off by trying to give us a mental picture.  She started with the "hallway"  she said we should think of riding in a hallway and always trying to keep our horses within that hallway.  That they like to get out of the hallway because in the hallway means work so it is our job to always keep them in it.  Then on a walk she explained how to ride a walk.  The walking thing is foreign to me.  I don't think in the hunter jumper world that the walk is ever given much attention and thus I do not know the first thing about how to ask for a correct walk.  She explained that I should apply leg alternately as the horse moves and coordinate with his movement.  This made sense and this was light bulb number 1.

Lightbulb #2: sweeping in to the outside rein.
Next mental picture was to "think of sweeping the kitchen floor all the time."   We should always be sweeping the horse into the outside rein.  The inside rein is the just there and not used to get correct movement.  Lightbulb #2: sweeping in to the outside rein.  Use the inside leg and sweep into the outside rein.  That the outside rein is where the contact is. 

 
She put us all on about a 20 meter circle in our respective parts of the ring to do trot work.  About 20 minutes in I started noticing the lack of attention Steady and I were getting.  About 30 minutes in I started noticing I think I need to start doing a little more trot work at home cause I was starting to get tired.  By that time Leslie had come down and appoligized for not giving Steady and I adequate attention.  Listen to this, she said "You two are just farther along than the other two" I think I had a momentary ego boost on that one.  I was soooo proud that we had a little acknoledgement on our progress and by a pro none-the-less!  She made a few more statements headed our direction the big ones were:  "You have got a beautiful horse.  You two seem like a perfect match.  Do you realize with the correct work what an amazing dressage horse he could be?  You have a wonderful horse, he is very honest and obedient.  He really wants to please you."  I am blown away that a woman of her calliber saw so much in my OTTB.  I am not trying to brag but she did not say those type of comments to the other girls or about their horses.  So I am fairly confident she wasn't just saying those things because I was paying her...ha. 

So my complex of not having all the proper or fancy horse gear turned into "See you don't need all those fancy things to get some pretty amazing stuff out of your horse".  The stuff will come little by little but it was nice to remind myself that it is OK to not have all that I want in this world.  I just need to be content and  take what I have and make the best of it.  And always remember why I am doing this, it is not for the progress though it is nice.  I am doing it for my love of horses and as long as I get to go out and ride my pony then the rest is icing!!!

Next she said two words I was hoping to hear.  LEG YIELDS!!!  Ever since I read the post about leg yeilds on TB at X I have been facinated with trying them.  The post is very descriptive you should check it out.  I also loved that the aides explained in the post were the same aides Leslie told us to use.  Outside rein/inside leg.  She said "Starting at the A end of the ring turn at the quarter line and start the leg yeild at the second letter.  Inside leg to the outside rein."  It was at that moment that I realized I have started to understand the "language" you know that second language called dressaganese.  I realized she had been using termanology all day that two months ago would have been just as effective to give me directions in Chinese than Dressaganese.  Woohoo, next step to actually learn how to speak it.  If you have ever learned a second language you know that you can understand a spoken language much sooner than you can fluently speak it.  That is where I am at I can understand about 75% of the language but can only speak bits and pieces.  Hopefully the speaking of it will come soon.  Nevermind that we were talking about leg yeilds. 

Lightbulb moment #3 what a leg yeild feels like.  The neck is to stay straight, inside leg to outside rein and they only cross over slightly.

Light bulb moment #4 Where his head needs to be. 
For the first half of the lesson Steady would go on the bit nicely and then be super dramatic and pull his head super low.  This is not a regular occurance but I am glad she was there to see it so she could help me correct it.  A couple half halts and if it doesn't work then transition to a walk and quickly back to a trot.  After fiddling with him for few minutes I figured out the half halt idea worked in conjunctin with pushing him forward with my leg.   At some point during our ride Leslie said "Right there, that is where you want his head.  So lock that image and feeling into the microchip in your head."  Very helpful as long as my microchip does not fail me.

Lightbulb #5 The motor is in the rear end
My goal is to get him to work from the rear end.  As a racer he is inclined to go out in behind but he does come under himself nicely he just needs more practice and fitness.  haha speaking of fitness about 40 minutes into it, mostly troting, I was reeeeally feeling it and my muscule response was getting slower and less acurate.  Poor Steady.  It probably started to feel like Gumby was on his back.

Light bulb #6 how to properly ask your horse for a canter....REALLY?...not sure how such a basic priciple is a lightbulb for me but obviously what I needed. 
At that point she ended the lesson.  She appologized to me that we didn't get to the canter but she just didn't have time with the three of us.  I then so sweetly beeeeged if she would take 2 minutes at that canter with us.  She agreed!!  This is where I am really hoping to improve over the next couple months and we need some help.  She had us on a 20 meter circle at the center line prepare aides and quarterline ask.  Bwahaha not good.  He scooted off and in her words "ran like a chicken".  Well that is typical and I just always thought it was an issue he had.  Oh boy was I wrong.  After her correcting me, my aides and my movement he really had very little problem picking it up.  I think her exact words were "why in the world were you posting?  What do you think posting really fast tells him?"  me:" Uh to trot faster".  L: "Why do you think he takes off running like a chicken?  Because he thinks that is what you want from him?  Me: "OOOOH".  Duh!  L: "Sit your ASS in the saddle, sit back, look up and ask your horse to canter!!!"  Me:  AH HA, now I get it.  Oh boy is my horse tolerent. 

I walked away with so much information and so much excitement I thought  I could explode.  It was phenomenal!!!

The remainder of the day went like this
.
  • Untack 
  • go into the tack store at the stable and buy a leather halter with brass nameplate for my daughters horse for x-mas (get a little jealous that I don't have one for my horsey) 
  • attempt to load Steady into trailer
  • Steady slip getting in and then deciding it was not something he cared to do today. 
  • Freezing my butt off trying to convince him he needed to get in. 
  • Did I mention it was cooooold outsde? Brrrrr 
  • Begging for an innocent bystanders help.  which I hate to do because they always have their own ideas of how to get a horse in a trailer and I know EXACTLY what it takes to get Steady in. 
  • After 5 minutes of me saying no all I need you to do is _______.  No do not get close to him.  All I need you to do is _____. 
  • The nice girl finally doing what I asked and Steady jumping right in.
  • Me telling Steady that that wasn't nice and now I am frozen.
  • hour drive home.
  • unload Steady
  • cook dinner
  • do chores
  • eat dinner
  • try to thaw out
  • Decorate christmas tree with the kids
  • put the kids to bed
  • crash on the couch and watch a movie

THE END....until tomorrow.

Baby it's cold outside.

The dedication and passion it takes to go out and ride when it is 27 degrees is a strange thing.  I happen to posses that ability.  Some call it dedication, some call it passion others (including my husband) call it obsessive.  Call it what you want it is cold.  I am glad I forced myself to get out and ride though my body was telling me to curl up on the couch and watch a movie.  Other than the fact that I still cannot feel my toes I stayed moderately warm.  But getting to live in that connection there is when I am on Steady's back is no match for dropping temperatures.   He proves his abilities each time I get on and I am usually in awe.  First at his work ethic, then and his intellegence and mostly at his tolerence.  He has had to put up with me making so many mistakes on the ground, in our rides and in saddle fitting and those are only the mistakes that I recognized.  Not to mention the ones I completely over looked.

He gave me a great ride and always tries to give me what I am asking for.  His trust for me is phenomenal.  His seperation anxiety has gone down tremendously and if I am near it is gone completely.  He does still struggle when I leave and there are no horses but he has made wonderful progress.  He knows I will take care of him and he has almost no fear if I am there with him.  It is scary to me to tie my heartstrings so tightly to another living thing but it cannot be helped.  I love this horse and our bond is amazing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Terrible day turned into a terrible week.

In the ER there was alot of waiting, alot of pain and alot of x-rays.  Elisabeth was in terrible pain and could not recieve medication until she was thoroughly examined.  Then they could not get a good x-ray because of where the break in her left arm was.  We knew it was around the elbow.  So they kept coming in and trying.  Everytime they had to move her around to get different angles and everytime she moved she was in intense pain.  The pain that makes grown men scream in agony.  Not to mention an 11 year old little girl.  They decided they needed to keep her overnight for fear of blood clots and swelling.  They found the breaks but still were not pleased with the x-rays.  She broke her left arm in two places in the bone above the elbow and below her shoulder.  They needed to watch it to see if the bone was going to shift.  If it did then she would need surgery to put pins in place.  And she also broke her right wrist.  It was not a complete break which was better but will not have full function of that hand.  My heart broke for the poor thing.   The amount of pain she was in and not to mention she is 11 years old a die hard horse lover, she loves to play piano and takes a dance class every week.  All things that she will not do for quite sometime.  Thankfully all of her injuries were isolated to her arms.  They saw no sign of head injury which is wonderful.

At about 10 pm she finally got settled for the first time all day and she dozed off.  So I thought it was a good time to go home and let her get some rest.  I came out early the next morning.  They did not have a good night nor did she get much rest.  The pain was just too much for her to bear.  Tuesday they had to do more x-rays and later that afternoon they said she could go home.  They basically were wanting to wait and see what happens with the break then come back in one week to see if the bones have stayed in place.  So I helped them get home and get settled in.  The next day I came to sit with her and help in anyway I could.  I helped with chores, milked the goat things like that.  I just wanted to help in any way I could. 

I wanted Thanksgiving to still be a special day and I knew because of the amount of attention her injury required her mom couldn't realistically cook all day.  So I just doubled our Thanksgiving and brought over their meal.  She is slowly but surely getting a little bit better.  She is still on Vicodin 24 hours a day but she is becoming a bit more comfortable.  It is the 2 steps forward one step back kind of progress but it is progress.

The day it happened and the couple days to follow I was so overwhelmed by the situation and I was just completely filled with guilt.  Guilt that I should have been able to prevent it.  I felt so helpless and mad at myself for the whole thing.  I felt completely resposible for her and in turn felt responsible for her injuries.  I was afraid her family would be angry with me.  Thank God her family did not blame me one bit.  And after stepping back and getting a better, less emotinal look at the situation I realize that it was not my fault.  I had such support with friends and my husband and I am so grateful for them and their words.  Otherwise I probably would still be blaming myself.

Why I think King bucked.  First off  I have known King for a couple years and have ridden him a handful of times.  He is a great horse.  He has never done anything like this before.  He is the kind of horse that you could get on every few months and he would be a great ride.  I have trail ridden on him and never had an issue.  Elisabeth has ridden him ALOT.  She has been riding for about 2 years.  There was nothing to indicate that there would have been a problem.  Like I said I could tell the horses started getting anxious and that is why we turned around.  They didn't seem to want to continue ahead and I saw no reason to force the issue.  We were just out to have fun.  My non expert opinion about the situation, like I said I am no expert though I have been around horses my entire life and ridden for 15 years, is that he had one goal in mind, to get her off and go to the barn.  There was no spook involved.  It was a dirty move to get his rider off so he could high tail it out of there.  That is so upsetting and I did not tell the family that story for a few days because I didn't want to compound their pain by getting them angry at their horse.  Once I got a minute to talk to her mother alone when things had settled a bit I explained to her the situation.  Of course it is not an easy thing when you love your animal, he has never done something like this before and then he does something so drastic and awful.  I told her I would get and experts opinion on the matter before she makes any decisions.  It is tough.
 
But that is that.  That is how my good day turned into a terrible week.

On a side note I hope Elisabeth is not afraid to get back up on a horse after all of this and I will do all I can to ensure that she gets past that fear.  She doesn't just love horses, she lives for horses and I think she can get passed this with time.  I am surprised but my daughter did not devolop any fear because of the situation and her and I went for a ride on Saturday.  She just got on one of our mini's bareback and even fell off once but just got right back up.  I am so proud of her for keeping her head even when her mommy kind of lost hers.

I don't know that I can answer the question WHY? do we get back up there.  All I know is that there is a powerful drive that pushes you to.  It feels like it is not even a choice it is just a reflex.  So I quess the answer to Why?  Is because you just have to, it is the right thing to do.  Horses are powerful and unpredictable but they are also kind and loving.  Sometimes we just need to take a step back and remind ourselves that they are potentialy dangerous and a healthy fear is a must.  The reality is we could get hurt at any moment of our lives doing anything.  There are no guarantees.  So unless we plan to live in a bubble we will most likely get hurt along the way but we can't let that stop us from enjoying today.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A terrible terrible day.

There are moments here and there in my life I have asked myself, WHY?  Why do I ride these beasts?  Why do they have such a hold on my heart and life?  Why do I place my life and my childrens lives in the hands/hooves of these powerful, unpredictable animals?  Monday was a day that all of those questions rushed through my brain.

The day:  Monday was a sunny beautiful day for mid to late November.  63 degrees and just a lovely day.  My daughter has been wanted to ride with her friend and I saw this as one of the last great riding days until spring.  So I called her mom and we worked it out so we could go for  ride.  I drove out with our horses to their place.  I took my daughter on her horse and Elisabeh on her horse out for a trail ride.  We all tacked up and headed out.  I asked Elisabeth were she likes to ride since I am not familiar with riding around their place.  She led the way as we went to one of her favorite trails.  When we got to a place where we had to go under and overpass and the horses seemed to be a bit uneasy I made the decision to not continue ahead and do something else that the horses were more comfortable doing.  As we turned around we had to go down a small ditch then back up to the field to head back to the house.  I led the way, Elaina followed me and Elisabeth was behind her.  Elaina and I turned around and were watching Elisabeth make her way through the ditch.  Elisabeths horse is King.  King went down the ditch and on the way back up kind of bolted up the ditch.  Then as soon as he made it to the top he threw his head down and gave a huge buck.  Elisabeth was thrown up and over his head.  He proceeded to trample over top of her then bolted bucking to the barn. 

I jumped from my horse and helped my daughter off of her horse and told her to stay put holding her horse.  I still had Steady in hand and made my way over to Elisabeth.  On my way over I asked if she could get up.  She tried and said "NO, I can't move".  Immediately my heart sank and ran faster to get to her.  It was hard to get close with Steady in hand.  As soon as I made it over to her thank God someone saw us from the road and stopped to help.  The man took Steady so I could tend to Elisabeth.  She was terrified and so was I.  I asked her what hurt and if she could move.  She said her arms hurt and she could not move.  I didn't have my cell phone with me and by then another car had stopped and he was making his way to us.  He had his phone and we made the call to 911.  She had a helmet on but she did have a bloody nose.  I had no idea the extent of her injuries but it was so scary for her and myself.  After a few moments she said she could move her legs and a sigh of relief came over me.  I kept her laying down and asked her to please try not to move.  She wanted her mom but I could not get in touch with her.  It took about 20 minutes for the first emt to get to us.  By then we did get in touch with her mother and she was on her way out.  Once her mom made it and the ambulance got there I decided that I needed to get the horses out of there.  It had been about 30 minutes and my daughter had been holding her horse and the good samaritan holding Steady.  So I as quickly as I could got them loaded and home.

I immediatly made my way to the ER to stay with Elisabeth and her mom.  When I got there I found out that she had broken her left arm and possibly her right wrist.  Otherwise she was going to be fine.

I will conclude the story tomorrow.  It is late.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Put your money where your mouth is.

In some cases litereally.  The goals have been made and put down in writing.  Now how am I going to make those goals happen? 

Lessons:  I would like a lesson with A and L over the next two months.

Riding:  I need to ride at a minimum 3 x's a week.  Preferably 4.  One ride strictly dressage work, one ride dressage and jumping, one ride hacking/trail.  If 4th is fit in then dressage and jumping.  Practice and patience make perfect.

Money: I need to work on finding a position somewhere.  I need to start to bring in money.  If I cannot find a way to pay for my lessons then I cannot take them.  Also there is a fair amount of horse related items that I need and would like to own before next show season.  Those items cannot be purchased without money brought in by me.

So there you have it.  These are the steps I am taking to turn my goals from goals into reality.

The next step

In my last post I said that Steady and I are ready for the next step.  Not that  haven't introduced the next steps but I think it is time to refocus and concentrate on mastery.  Our goals

Canter:  It really is coming along.  Leads are becoming more consistent, and like we started with the trot there are those few wonderful moments that shine through.  I know it is in there and we just need some time to get it to come out.  But when it is good it is real good.  So more canter work.  Which will be sketchy considering the weather for the time of year in my area.  With no indoor it is not safe to do alot of work for alot of the season.  My goal is to fit it in everywhere we can so come spring he has a strong foundation.

Walk:  He has a beautiful walk.  Alot of movement and energy.  I just struggle to figure out how to ask for it when I want it.  medium walk is fine but free walk is hard to find. I  know it is there I just don't know how to get it.  Great thing is we can work on the walk no matter what weather is thrown at us.

Transitions:  Walk to trot is good, Trot to walk is progressing, trot to canter needs work, canter to trot/walk needs work.

Centerline:  We have some work to do on our center line.  Again an easy all weather project.

So my goals for the season have been put in writing.  These are the things I want to make noticable progress on by spring.

Next how do I plan on making these goals happen.

Getting it together.

In June Steady and I took our first lesson with A.  It was a slow start and the idea that I could ever grasp dressage seemed far fetched.  I we had probably close to 8 lessons since then.  One every two weeks for about 4 months.  A would give us something to work on and in our daily ride we would practice and go back to a two weeks later.  Sometimes ready for something new and some times needing help with the last task.  The thing we worked on the most.  I mean hours and hours each week was getting a consistent, collected trot.  She would show me how to ask for it and he would show moments here and there of the dimond in the rough.  But all of our rides consisted of me working and working for those few good moments.  Once I would feel his mouth feel for the bit, his back come up underneath me I would praise and praise him.  I loved the day that A pointed out that "he really listens to you, when you praise him".  Ever since I make sure each ride he knows how great I think he is.

Today I was out for a ride and about 20 minutes into it I realized there is no more working the entire ride for a few good moments.  He has got it together, he knows what I want and he stays collected, on the bit and BALANCED!!!  It is a beautiful feeling.  I amazed at how far he has come in such a short period of time.  I feel we are ready for the next step.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is it that I love men too much or do I have something against women?

I was out in the pasture today and a thought occurred to me;  I have a thing for guys.  I am not particular about my men either.


                                                              
                                                                 I love short ones.
                                                                    
                                                                         
I love fat ones.



                                                                         I love tall ones.


                                                          I even love extra hairy ones.


Where are all the girls?  Maybe I am making up for the fact that God saw to bless me with all female two legged children.  Really though this was by no means intentional but I do wonder if on some subconcious level this means something.

I can't help it I just love lots of big, little, fat, hairy guys, and if you promise not to tell I will tell you a secrect.  Promise?

I even love the....



                                                                    
                                                                  DIRTY ones!


In this post staring:

 Blaze as the short guy

Moonlight as the fat and dirty guy

Steady as the tall guy

Snappy as the hairy guy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Steady's first event Part 2 cross country

So after much love, praise, kisses, good boys I feed the big guy his breakfast and let him eat.  When I was walking out of the barn I recognized a man walking around.  "Hey that's my Dad!"  My dad came to see me with camera in tow.  This was a big deal to me.  As a kid I showed ALOT and often my parents were working on the weekends.  So I did most shows with the barn crew but no real moral support.  So to have my Daddy there to watch mine and Steady's eventing debut meant so much to me.  I found my phone and called my husband he was holding down the fort and I wanted to check in and tell him how the day was going.  I was excited to hear that he was only 30 minutes away with all the rugrats in tow!  I had some serious moral support and I was so happy. 



Mom/daughter team getting me ready to head into the areana.

I ran to the dressage ring to watch my friend do her dressage test.  She did great!  She was frustrated becuase of  a few mishaps in the pattern but they still did awesome and she ended up getting second place!  Then off to learn my very first cross country course.  With some help from my team I muddled through the course and got a better idea about this whole cross country thing.  Next off to tack up and warm up.

Walking the course with Verna.
Warm up went, well, weird.  He was sooo relaxed and being bendy and sweet but it was time to jump...lol.   So he would trot up to these baby crossrails all tucked  on the bit and pretty for the dressage ring.  So when he got to the jump it was like "oh, we are jumping!?!, oops I never got that memo."  Boiiiinggg.....clearing the the little fence by a good 2 ft.  Jessica was out there helping us and she told me to do a few half halts on the approach to get his head up.  It started working.  My position is just a mess over a jump right now and we tried to sort out a few of those issues but that will take a bit more effort than a 20 minute warm up.  So my goal was to get through the course still on his back and HAVE FUN!




Awfully pretty Steady but this is not dressage.





                                                 Jessica trying to help the helpless.



Um pretty big take off for such a small jump.

Waiting to go in.  See that cute kid hanging on the fence thats one of my babies. and my husband to the right of her.

We walked to the entrance gate and waited our turn.  We were up.  I came in circled for the judge he said "Are you doing cross country?"  I said "I sure am"  He said "go ahead and have a great ride!!"  The first jump was a yellow and orange crossrail.  My mind was trying to keep track of where my position needed to be.  "don't climb his neck, push my tail bone back, relax my hand...oh wait he is not juuuumping"  Oops, not what he was supposed to do.  We circled and headed back at it.  I put on the leg and he went right over.  Next another X then out to cross country.  #3 was up the bank.  we didn't have to jum the bank just go up and over it.  It was gravel and the color change sometimes throws horses off.  No problem for Mr. Steady.  A little pheasant coop then to the lincoln log.  Funny think about the log was it is placed right next to a cattle field.  The one time we got to school this course there were baby cows out there watching the us and he put on the brakes and had to check those horse eating calves out.  When we walked the course the baby cows were no where to be seen and I was so very grateful.  The jump is set at the top of a hill and on the way up the hil, holy cow, litterally.  Baby cows are there.  Steady quickly took notice BUT he just gave them a quick look and stayed right on path.  Yay!  After the lincoln log was down hill and I think he got a bit excited and I had to bridge to get him to come back down.  (Interjection: I got a little glimpse of how much he is gonna love galloping a big boy course.)  He was not out of control just excited and I really just wanted to take everything slow and relaxed for our first time around.  A low log, to a small stone wall then into ring for the final two jumps.  All of the jumps were under 18" and easy for my big guy but our goal for the last show of the season is to build his and my confidence and have FUN!  And that was did.  I was high as a kite after that.  Not much in life can compare to the feeling of coming back from a cross country course.  Cloud nine was not high enough to describe what I was feeling.  I was beyond proud of Steady.


Second attempt at the first jump.  I take complete blame for falling asleep at the wheel.

On the way to the killer baby cows.






On the way back Jessica said "you have a novice horse easy".  That has stuck with me.  Honestly I hadn't even thought about where we are going to progress to I have been completely focused on just making progress.  When she said novice instantly I thought have you seen those jumps?  Well of course she has she gone beyond Novice.  So I guess maybe we will make it there someday but today I am going to focus on getting a halfway decent balanced canter and even that seems a ways off...lol.

So one refusal 5 pt +34 for a total score of 39!!!  I am as happy as I can be and I saw the greatness that is in my horse that day and how show life is just second nature to him.  I guess all those years at the track really prepared to to feel at home in the show life. 

There, you see that grin?  If you stick around you better get used that grin because I can't get that off my face on the back of that horse.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's this!?!

This is my seperation anxiety complexed thoroughbred that came home to me just a few short months ago.  Walking back from our 11 acre field toward the barn on a loose rein!!!   


Yeah that's right my hand on the buckle!  I don't care what anyone says, now that is progress.

Gooood Boooy!

Pictures of my dressage test.

There was a lady taking pictures at the show and she posted them here .  I would do a play by play if I could but if you want you can check out the site and pictures if you want.  The first few pictures are of our attempt at coming up the centerline...lol.  We came down he got crooked and I tried to correct it and it just made it worse.  There are some great shots of my beautiful boy.  And you can really get a look at my roots in the hunter world with the whole hunter pitch I have going on.  Then centerline at the end he was a bit more straight but he was a looking off into the distance.  He cracked me up and made me so proud! 

Pause in the event update for leg pics.

Sorry I am delayed in updating about the show they will be posted soon.  The reason I have been neglecting my update is because I have gotten absolutely hooked on a blog I have been following for a while but started back at the begining of her blog and haven't been able stop reading.  It is We are Flying Solo and if you are a wanna be eventer or have any interest in reading about it I highly recommend starting at the begining.  It is an awesome read and a great story about evente79 and her horse Solo.  You can do as I have done these past 3 days cuddle up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee and indulge my addiction of all things horse.

Anyways she has some fantastic posts on horse boots including a very informational video that you can find here .   I am need of some advice on the subject and begged her help.  So I am posting some pics of the problems my Steady has with his legs.  So here they are my big guys sexy legs.

Front left there is a healed over lump on the fetlock.  I think this is a recurring problem because of the lump.



Right front
There is that lump again

Mom I am not amused.



The definition of truth and heart is in those eyes.

Oh wait we're talking about legs.

Hind;


Right hind seems to get the wosrt of it



Left hind




These are front boots that I use now.  From watching the video posted on WaFS I learned that the only function these really serve is puncture wounds.  Which I think is better but does not protect from concussive blows which is important especially if they are recurring. 



Also remember that Steady raced for 8 years so some of the marks on his legs are old wounds from his days at the track but he is sound and has been since I have owned him.  Though I think part of him staying solidly sound for so many years has alot to do with his incredible tolerence for everything, including pain.  So there you have it Steady's legs so I would LOVE all the help I can get to protect them the best I can.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eventing derby part 1 Dressage

So it was an unrecognized event but in the few short months that I have been riding again and Steady has been off the track I'd say this is huge!  So I entered the eventing derby which consisted of a dressage test and a stadium/xc course combined.  Really if you could see how I have tried to pull this together and "look" like I wasn't a complete idiot you would laugh.  I have asked about a million question spent hours watching video after video to try to figure out what it was I was supposed to be doing.  What I found out was I to do the 2007 USDF dressage test B.  So I set out to try to first figure out what a dressage arena was and then to memorize the test.  Ha and then to actually make it happen on my horse.  Thankfully it is a W/T test so all pressure to perform at a canter was off.  We are just not there yet.  Trot to canter transitions are well a mess.  I think I may have actually done the entire test correctly once before I went in.

First I must mention that a Mom and daughter pair that I had met once before so generously offered to come out (1 1/2 hour drive) to be our (mine and my friend Susans) groom/trainer/right arm.  They were such a blessing.  I have been trying to figure out a way to properly repay them.  I cannot imagine pulling it off without them.  So Daughter Jessica took me in to warm up and helped me work on my center line.  Something no one had ever told me the correct way to do this so I was so grateful.  So about 5 min. till go time we went out and worked a bit outside the show ring.  So the judges yells "next rider"  I hesitated.  I don't know if it was nerves or what but I didn't go.  I wasn't positive it was me.  Jessica says you can go in do a lap around the ring once she rings the bell you have 30 seconds to start.  Still I was not moving.  Then the judge frantically rings the bell and yells "you missed your chance to ride around the arena you need to start". 

Oh no!!!  Not a good start to my first dressage test ever.  Two months ago I couldn't have told you the first thing about dressage and now I am trying to do it on a race horse!  So I am frazzled and I enter.  All that work on the center line, out the window.  Nerves had taken over.  We went up all cadywompussed his head looking in another direction at our halt.  During my salute I had a moment of clarity and thought, Amy this is it put your head the game.  So then it became me and my wonderful OTTB doing our thing.  We nailed the pattern which I am impressed with by itself.  The trot felt good though he was super relaxed and enjoying himself a little too much because he was making me work to get him moving and that is not like him.  Then at the walk it all kinda fell apart.  Then trot to the right and back to center line, which went much better this time. 

Judges comments:  "Beautiful trotwork" oh that felt good.  "the walk left much to be desired"  Now that bugs me.  She was right it didn't go well but his walk is naturally beautiful, long and covers great ground.  I just felt like he was distracted.  "though you will still get good scores because of the level".  "Is he green".  Hahaha um yeah and so am I.  About as green as they come.  She was impressed with him and his progess since being off the track only 7 months.  Oh that feels so good because I know that we did that together.  We had lessons here and there but WE did all the work.  She also said sometimes he tucks his nose instead of move into the bit and we will definitely be working on that. 


Drum roll please.........our score for the first half of the derby is.......... 34.0!!!  I will have to admit, and this will prove how little I know about all of this, I was disappointed.  What a low number.  I have read dressage scores and people are happy when they get a 67 and I only got a 34 :(.  Then my friend explained that 34 is equivelent to 66.  That again is another reason why I think dressage is harder than learning a new language.  Why so confusing :).  Apparently in a dressage test it would be a 66%  In eventing it is reversed to a 34%.  Who knows all I know is that everyone was impressed with that score..lol.

I was the only one in the eventing derby so I was in first place but there were others doing a combined test for the green as grass level and I believe I would have gotten first or second out of 6.    I have no pictures of my dressage test.  My Dad (a professional photographer) showed up right after I finished untacking.  So I do have some great pictures of my cross country round so come back and see how it ended.