Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So much to share!

OTTB-Tee's, cross country schooling, eventers are the best people on the planet and I can't believe how much freaking stuff I have to do before I leave on Thursday.  One of them being cleaning my house doing all the laundry and packing for everyone for the weekend.  All that has to be done before I do the one million things that need to be done for the show.  I have NO idea how I am going to fit it all in. 

First and foremost Kristen and Laz deserve the biggest shout-out ever!  I surprisingly procrastinated and didn't order my OTTB-Tee until just a few days ago.  I sent a note to Kristen and I had my shirt in had like 3 days later <3!  That is awesome!  I then got to sport it on our cross country lesson!  And it will be shown off with pride at the Horse Trial in just 2 days!  OMG it is 2 days away!  My favorite part of it all was the note she sent along with it.

How sweet is this?

I made sure Steady got his kisses from Kristen.


We went XC schooling on Memorial Day.  Once again this horse never ceases to amaze me.  The trust that I have earned with him over the last 2 years is paying off 10 fold now.  I can point him at anything and he just does it.  There is no looking or over thinking.  I say jump and he says how high and it is so damn fun!  We did some completely new things we did this weekend!  A hanging log over a ditch.  I saw it from far away and told the instructor I wanted to go do that because we have never jumped anything with a ditch under it.  I would say 3 ft high 3 across and he did like it was nothing or like he had done it a million times.  We jumped a stone wall, a large bench that had big rocks all over it and one of my favorite a skinny palisade.  We have never done a skinny and I was very thrilled.  It was all so awesome!  I feel like we are as prepared as possible for the HT.  The only thing I didn't get to practice that I would have liked to is water, there was no water in it.  I guess that leaves us with one surprise.

It is crunch time.  I leave at 3 pm on Thursday.  So just 40 hours until departure and it is unbelievable what I still need to do.  Let me tell you a few things.  I have to deliver for the Co-op tomorrow which includes driving about 200 miles.  I have to bake 8 loaves of bread, pick up everything, sort it, weigh it, pack it into my car then deliver it.  That is not even touching the facts that I really should ride my horse (not sure that is going to happen), clean my tack, wash all saddle pads, go grocery shopping, pack for camping (such a chore in itself), pack the trailer and so on and so on.  Yikes! 

I have followed along with some of my favorite bloggers and started a facebook page.  It is a quick and easy way to update from my phone.  So if you want to come over and "like" us here is the link
Well I guess the next 6 of those 40 hours are best spend with my eyes closed good night.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"If I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars..."

Excuse me for just a moment while I indulge some random materialistic urge.  I am NOT a materialistic person.  I am more of a functional kinda gal.  Don't get me wrong I love beautiful things. When it comes to trends, brand names and latest and greatest I just really care to pay NO attention to such frivolousness.  Actually on the contrary I go as far as to not buy a certain brand just because that is what 'everybody' is doing.  I am sorry but I just don't care to be just like 'everybody'.  I happen to like being an individual, thank you!  But I have been bitten by a bug and am going to whine just for a moment about what I would do if I had even just $1000 to play with for a day. 

I would buy a pair of breeches that were not at the minimum of 15 years old.  I have a total of 3 pairs of breeches and two of them are hand me downs that I received 18 years ago!  Yes they were hand me downs then so who knows the real age.  First of all they don't make breeches like those anymore that would last so many years.  Mind you I didn't ride in them for 13 of those 18 years.  When I lost all my weight I found out that I could now fit in the same breeches I rode in when I was 15.  A blessing yes,but I had no real excuse to go out buy new ones then.  You know if I had $1000 I would buy 3 pairs of breeches.  Then since I was on a roll I would buy a breast plate and running martingale attachment. Ohhhh and a new bit.  I am really wanting to try the Myler Combo bit that my friend uses.  Well and while I am at it: a new show shirt and a new bridle but now I am just being greedy.

But alas a thousand wouldn't be enough because I really want an arena.  It hasn't rained in, like forever here and the ground is turning into a rock hard surface.  I am careful to keep our work short and we don't jump because I know it cannot be good on legs or hooves for that matter.  We can make due when we are entering a BN HT but with the idea of training not being too far away I just don't think we could manage the daily work without some decent footing.

Ok I feel better now that I got that off my chest I really need to balance that with; I am so grateful for the simple facts that I have such a super, cool, awesome horse to ride and that he is in my back yard and in the end that is all that is really important!

One week from today!  I am getting pretty stoked!  (and I don't use that words so that is saying a lot!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jumpy Mcjumping Photos

Here are the remainder of the photos from the clinic.  This was day 2 and SO much fun!  Having a horse that is so game is so fun.  He just does it.  He is beautiful at dressage and I have never found a height yet that has been remotely a challenge for him.  I try my hardest to be a good rider and work at it but when I screw up he's the kind of horse to save my ass every time.  It just makes it all so fun.  Our number one, numero uno issue in show jumping was, is and will be that right shoulder and my left rein.  Why oh why when he starts falling into his right shoulder do I instinctively grab on to my left rein??!?  I cannot tell you how many a trainer has yelled at me for this and how many times they have had to say it.  I have to say I am getting better BUT it is our kryptonite.  Going to the left every damn time we are straight and steady then to the right we zig and we zag and we some how manage to make it over jumps simply because, he could jump 3ft from a crooked standstill all day long, no problem.  But it's not pretty and surely not what we want.  Especially as the jumps get bigger and courses get more difficult.

Jumps?  No big thing.  But you can take notice which direction we have drifted in the photo.  Surprise we have drifted to the right!

I don't know the difficulty of the course at IEA but I am sure it will not be child's play.  I am praying for more left turns than right but the course at Heartland was probably 75% to the right and it really made our weaknesses stand out.  I HAVE to HAVE to HAVE think about my turns.  I need to know my course like the back of my hand so I can do it with my eyes closed so that when I go in there I can think about my turns.  Where they are, when to make them and where each one of my aids needs to be to make each turn count.  Weight in my outside foot, turn with my outside rein and correct with the right rein before he pops out his shoulder.  Peter says ride every stride.  Don't wait until you have to 'correct' a problem.  Stop it before it starts.  I mean I KNOW my horse will pop out his right shoulder every single chance he gets.  So I need to half halt with my right rein BEFORE a turn.  I need to think about counter flexing when turning to the right.  If we could just get this right shoulder/rein thing worked out we would be golden.  It is truly our weakest link. 

A phenomenal dressage test?  That is nothing for this horse.  Cross country jumps we have never encountered any problems on that front.  Height?  Just never been an issue.  But in show jumping?   That right shoulder and my left rein are going to be our biggest challenge.

We will see how IEA goes but if it wasn't for that right shoulder issue we could take on Novice without an issue.  So that will be our project for the summer to tidy up our straightness so that by fall we can knock out a Novice show and who knows maybe Training will be on our horizon next season!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cuteness alert!

These two this weekend at their first show together.  Macy's(7) first time in an english saddle.  She did great.  Snappy the mini can be a handful but she is cool as can be and handles him well.  I could go on and on about how they did in the show but I will spare you the proud Mama moments and just leave you with these pictures.

Ride today was lovely.  The ground is getting so hard here since it just refuses to rain ever again.  So I do try to keep my rides quick and to the point with out slacking either.  We did a little bit of everything and I have no doubt that Steady can pull off a kick ass dressage test as long as we can keep his nerves in check.   We will be arriving two day before I actually ride for the HT so I really feel good about him having enough time to adjust and get enough ride time in to get him nice and relaxed.  This morning I rode early to beat the heat.  It is May and these 90 degree temps are going to get old fast.

Nerves are starting to set in.  The thing that really seems to be rattling me the most is #1 getting eliminated and not getting to finish.  #2 and having a repeat of the Heartland show when all of our training was right on but then his nerves took over.  #2 like I said I do feel like I can get a good handle on that part but #1 I have no control over.  There is something about this sport that no matter how hard you work or how long you prepare if your horse is having a bad day there is just nothing you can do about it.  I will do what I can to keep my own nerves in check.  The count down continues....10 days until our departure!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Let the count down begin!

With 13 days until our departure for IEA HT I plan to do a count down as the days get closer to why and how we ended up here, in this place ready to tackle our first Horse Trial. 

13 days to go: how we got here #1

Time, it's a funny thing.  Sometimes is flies and others it seems it stands still.  But looking back on the past 2 years it seems that on one hand it took no time at all and on the other it seems it took forever.  I can't help but second guess myself sometimes when I see others who take their horse and fly through levels.  I ask myself why it took us 2 years to get to a measly Beginner Novice horse trial?  Then I look at my horse, I get on my horse, I ride my horse and I am 100% reassured that I took the right steps for as long as it took.  Not to prove anything to anyone.  Not to 'get' somewhere.  No that is not why we did this, that is not why I am doing this.  We took each step to do what was right for Steady, on that day, in that moment.  We made the right path by choosing to live up to no ones expectations and muddle through our issues no matter how hard it was or how long it took, that is what we did.   I did it for love.  Love of this horse.  I believe to this day he has greatness in him.  I just knew it wouldn't be an easy process to unveil it.  I did it for him.  I made every choice I did to do right by this horse.  The care, the feed, the work, the time, every step was for him.  And somewhere along the way, I don't know exactly where but the tables turned and I found that every step my horse took it was for me.  He saw my love and raised it, he showed me that by making the right choices by him that he would gladly take me as far and high as I wanted to go.  He trusts me.  Not because I have always made the right decisions but because when I made poor ones I was never too proud to appologize to him and humble myself to listen to him.  He has taught me more about being a horseman than any human has ever been able to.  So though some may say it should not have taken us this long to get here.  I say that we are exactly where we are supposed to be right in this moment.  We are ready, it is our time!  I know that in my heart of hearts we are right where we are supposed to be.  There is something about knowing that, that means more than any higher level ever could.

So we will embrace our Beginner Novice and we will live it like it is our Rolex because it is for us.  No matter the outcome I know I did right by my horse and even if he jumps out of the dressage arena and we come home empty handed I know I can still come home with my horse that we love and trust each other and that is all that really matters to me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to me, I've been published!

I sent my clinic report to Eventing Nation and they published it yesterday!  Which was not my Birthday, but today is.  You probably have already read it but here it is on EN!  That is it my friends, until next time.

<3 all of you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two years in the making; our anniversary post.

April came and went and I never made mention that just a couple weeks ago marked mine and Steady's two year anniversary.  Two years since Steady Smiler first owned me.  It is crazy to look back and see where we started and to see where we are now.  I have changed in many ways.  We have both changed physically.  I was just ignorant enough to have taken a chance on a horse that I am fairly certain 9.9 people out of 10 would pass up with not as much as a second glance.  He came straight from the track after racing for 8 years.  He was not much to look at, ewe necked, dirty, the fact that he acted like a complete psycho when we went to load him on to the trailer, not to mention that with so many years on the track what did that mean for his legs and soundness?  None of that was enough to deter me.  Why?  I really cannot tell you why, I just knew I wanted him.  Little did I know where the next two years with him would take me.  I will let the pictures tell the story.

Here we are the day I first met Steady Smiler.

A year later.  I shrank by 55 lbs and he still has his ewe neck and hasn't come out of his track adjustment process.

And here are a couple photos from this past weekend.  Notice any differences?

We don't really look like the same person and horse.  We are both healthy fit and have worked SO incredibly hard on our training to get where we are.  It was countless hours studying, reading and learning anywhere I could.  It took countless hours in the saddle working, making mistakes, fixing them and working some more.  It was restraint to loose weight, determination to not quit.  A horse that is hard working, athletic and has an incredible amount of heart.  I feel priviledged just to have had him be a part of this journey with me.  He didn't come to me ready to please me but once I proved to him that he could trust me he gave me every ounce of his heart.  He will do anything I ask of him and doesn't second guess me (well unless I am second guessing myself, he knows it).  I just don't know many people that would have taken a chance on a horse with so many strikes against him but he sure has taught me that heart can make up for 90% of those 'strikes'.  So here we are two years later and it just seems the right time.  We have officially entered our first Horse Trial ever for either of us.  I went last year as a volunteer and watching horse after beautiful, healthy, fit horse go I just kept thinking, "I want to do this one day".  At that moment I never dreamed that day would have come so soon for us but here we are.  May 31st we depart for a weekend at Hoosier Horse Park competing in our first Horse Trial!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The quick summary of the weekend (and also the IEA newsletter article that I need to write)

It was about 4 am on a Friday morning. I still had an hour to sleep and still be able to make my first lesson time but the excitement got the best of me so I got an early start since there was no way I was falling back to sleep anyways.  I finished packing the truck, loaded Steady Smiler and we were on our way to Frankfort, KY for a flat lesson with Dorothy Crowell.  I had been given the IEA(Indiana Eventing Association) scholarship and with it I decided to participate in a 2 day Peter Atkins clinic in Lexington, KY at Champagne Run Farm.  Knowing I was going to be so close to Dorothy I could not pass up an opportunity to lesson with her also.  The drive down to Frankfort was a bit more exciting than I would have liked with detours, windy country one lane roads and coming face to face with a cement truck around one of those windy one lane bends.  But we made it safe, sound and ready to learn!  Thankfully since I got on the road earlier than expected, even with all the detours I still made it with time to spare.  Dorothy was gracious enough to let me come and participate in a lesson she was finishing up. 
Getting ready to go at Dorothy Crowell's farm.

When it was our time to start in true Dorothy fashion she immediately picked up on our weaknesses and we started right to work.  She really takes as much time as needed to work through an issue and if something doesn't work then she quickly gave me another option.  She really has a knack for the OTTB's and since Steady is as OTTB as they come, having raced 8 years, she is knows what works for these guys.  Though I swear the few times I have had the opportunity to ride with Dorothy I always feel like she has me doing contortions on horse back, like some equine Cirque Du Soleil.  But it is amazing when she finally got me to have my body in balance over my horse how freely and happily he moved underneath me.  I walked away from the lesson with a huge amount of information and much to work on when we got home.  Stop one, HUGE success.  Then it was back on the road and heading to Lexington.

If you have ever been to Lexington then you know how driving down the country roads feels like you are driving through some sort of horse lovers heaven.  The acres and acres of lush green pastures all framed in by black board fencing with beautiful barns scattered about.  My GPS tells me we have arrived at our destination and I think to myself, "is this REALLY where I get to ride?"  The facility was breath taking.  From the barns to the beautiful rolling pastures.  Then you step out back with a panoramic view of the cross country course.  And as any sensible, mature, 31 year old woman would do I look at my horse nearly bouncing up and down and in a ridiculously giddy voice I say, "Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh we get to play out there, yeeeeeeeee!!!"  Don't worry, no one was around to see this display, I hope.

Driving into Champagne Run farm

A partial view of some to the XC jumps at Champagne Run Farm

We were the first ones to arrive from out of town and we took a walk, unpacked, got settled in to our new "home" for the next couple days.  All the out of town riders had a little barn all to ourselves complete with beautiful pine stalls and even our own wash rack.  I decided to make use of the wash rack so that my horse didn't look as much like the back yard farm animal he really is.  Then others started to arrive.  I think half of the reason I fell in love with eventing is the people that are involved in this sport.  It doesn't matter where you came from, what kind of horse you ride or how fancy (or in my case not fancy) your equipment is you all seem to become instant friends bonding over horses, training issues and successes.  Dinner with friends, tack store stop and a beer run later I was all tucked in.  All tuckered out with a full belly, happy heart and visions of jumps and hearing Peter telling me to "look up, kick up, stand up!" running through my head.
The black barn was our 'home' for the weekend

I awoke the next morning bright and early to feed, get ready and hack out Steady to find out what horse he would decide to be that day.  He seemed calm enough(calm for this horse means that he isn't acting like he is running in the Kentucky Derby) and we were ready to go.  Our first days lesson would be grids with Peter.  With Peter's recent injuries I wondered if it would slow him down any.  I should have known better.  By 8:30 am he already on his crutches with a whip in hand going around and threatening to whip unsuspecting riders if they layed on their horses neck over a jump.  YUP that is the Peter we all know and love! 

It would take more than a broken leg to slow Peter down!  Another rider in the clinic.

 Showing Henry some love, sporting my "Run Henny Run!" shirt

In our lesson I found my horse became a bit more excited when he realized he got to canter around with other horses.  We started out with some wild, crooked racing around right off the bat but with some coaching from Peter to "post to the canter, set the rhythm and sit UP"  it wasn't long before we were going around in a lovely dressage quality canter that Peter wanted.  In a way that only Peter can do, he asks each rider question after question partly for us to know the answer but mostly to get us thinking for ourselves and analyzing every single moment we are on our horses.  I will give you a tip about riding with Peter, no matter how dumb an answer he doesn't care as long as you NEVER say 'I don't know'.   We started out with Peter's puzzle of poles that we let the horses slowly and calmly work their way through.  Then, one by one started to add in jumps.  We ended the lesson on a great note and I was more than pleased with the progress made.
That is the canter that Peter wanted.

Steady Smiler and I figuring out the 'puzzle of poles'

That night was a potluck dinner at the the owner's home.  I have never been to a 'potluck' that there was shrimp and prime rib, oh my was it good!  That evening the rain started and of course in the back of every one's mind was, what did this mean for cross country day?  Well it didn't stop.  It continued through the night and never even quit once through out the day Sunday. 

The plans changed and Sunday we spent the day in the indoor starting with grids then moving to some show jumping work.  Though of course I would never turn down any opportunity to school cross country but if I am being honest the area that we (we as in I) need the most work is in show jumping.  So really it was exactly what we needed.  This was by far my most exciting lesson!  I was with another lovely lady and her warmblood x TB.  We were both at right about the same level and Peter spent the next hour and 15 minutes raising jumps and challenging us until he found a challenge for both of us.  Jumping on a diagonal!  Something neither of us had ever done and I know Steady had never done either.  It was a bit of an optical illusion on the approach.  I don't know why but having jumped jumps straight on for so many years then coming up on a large oxer and jumping it at a diagonal was a bit mind boggling but thankfully I have a horse that when asked and ridden in even a partially straight line he will jump anything.  It was pretty awesome to learn something so new and exciting.  We did a three jump angled line and he put us through a small course of finding our angle and seeing our lines to the next jump.  This is by far the most technical we have ever been able to get as of yet in our training and I was so totally FUN!!!

 With the conclusion of our lesson this meant our time in Lexington was over and it was time to pack up in the still steady rain but that didn't dampen my spirits one bit.  I was on cloud nine and that is where I stayed for the long drive home all the way up until I got home hit the couch and crashed.  I came home to my family, Husband and 3 little girls having cleaned the house, cared for the animals, dinner on the table and cards, flowers and Mother's Day hugs.  I tell you this is one Mother's Day I will never forget.  Thanks IEA for making this all possible!!!

That is the conclusion of the article.  The next few posts will contain more photos and a little more detail.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just a teaser.

Not enough sleep, buckets of rain, 3 days, beautiful Kentucky, awesome friends, possibly half of a cheesecake and my horse is a freaking ROCK STAR!  More to come when sleep has been had and cheesecake has been digested.  I am one satisfied, happy girl.  I came home to the house cleaned, dinner made, kids cared for, amimals cared for, cards and flowers!  Happy Mother's Day to me!

Mr. Steady playing with my boot as I was stretching my legs during a lecture from the guy on the crutches, AKA Peter Atkins.  What a stinking ham.  Have I ever said how much a LOVE this horse?
Picture by the one and only Karen AKA Hampton's mom, she is the bomb diggity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tomorrow is the big day!

Hard to believe it is here already but I leave at 5am in the morning to make it to Dorothy Crowell's farm by 9 am.  Then to Champagne Run for the 2 day clinic with Peter Atkins.  I am trying to keep my thoughts positive and remember that even though event camp last year seemed like hell the amount of knowledge I came away with and how far it has taken us was worth it.  The weather looks like it should be quite lovely.  They are calling for scattered showers on Sunday but hopefully they will steer clear of us.  My ride times are Saturday at 9:45 and Sunday at 1pm.  Besides the fact that I have tack to clean and everythng to pack other than that we are ready!
Our rides this week have been nothing short of amazing.  He is moving so well and we are really just connected.  Our galloping seems to be at a controllable level and that is really all I ask from this horse.  I doubt we will ever have much success at galloping at Beginner Novice pace.  That is just who he is, he is big and fast but what I do require is collecting, balance and at least some speed regulation ability and those things I have.  So ready or not here....we....go......

I doubt there will be blog updates until I get home so bye for now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tiny umbrellas and amish buggys.

What do these two random objects have in common?  They both happen to be two objects that make every sigle one of my horses stand at full snorting attention.  We have probably 15 amish buggys go down our road every day but that does not matter.  Each and everyone is just as captivating as the last.  I can't say that I blame them.  It has to be as phenomenon to watch these horses pulling their people down the road.  I have to admit everytime I pass an buggy as I am hauling the horses I cannot help but wonder what those horses are thinking as they are hot, sweaty and working their butts off watching our horses fly by in their horsey limos.  I imagine even the good amish horses they are I imagine there is a lot of swear words involved.

As for the tiny umbrella, I was turning out Lily.  Steady, Blaze, Snappy and Moonlight were already in the pasture.  Then all of the sudden all of them simultaneously jumped to a stand still on high alert.  I began to scan in the direction they were all staring.  What caused such panic stricken horses?  Nothing but my 5 year old running around the yard with a tiny umbrella.  Really guys?  I small child with an umbrella, really?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wither wedgie

Kinda crude title but I think it is funny in an immature sort of way.  Every year or so I try this and every year or so I say I will never do it again.  It takes about that long for my mind to start saying, well it can't be that bad.  You probably guessed it, I was lazy yesterday and didn't feel like changing my clothes or getting all tacked up so I hopped on with shorts, tennis shoes and rode off.  Elaina hopped on Snappy for her first ever bareback ride.  I actually am kind of in disbelief she had never ridden bareback before.  She has now been given permission to ride Snappy bareback anytime she pleases as long as she has close toed shoes and a helmet.  Cause that is how kids should be raised, with pony freedom.

It was better this time than ever before.  Steady finally has some what of a topline( and by topline I mean he is not complete skin and bones on his back) and filled out behind his withers and that makes a world of difference.  It was actually quite pleasant beyond my shorts ridding up.  We did some trot work and he has such amazing gaits.  His walk is actually the most difficult gait of his to ride because he has such a huge stride and always walks with such purpose over reaching and swinging that it can be jarring at times.  I canter and and even got a little gallop out of him.  His canter is serious rocking horse canter so that is a dream also.  He gave me a few fits to the right for whatever reason.  Switching behind then flying changes (unprompted of course) we aren't that good yet.  When he would do a flying change I would ask for him to change back like I normally do.  I figure if he can do it on his own he should do it when I want the one I asked for back.  It is about 50/50 getting it back.  If he didn't get it then I would just do a simple change.  All of this got a little bobbly but still I was shocked that I felt as secure bareback as I do in a saddle.  No joke I did everything the same way I would have done it had I been sitting in a saddle and never felt insecure in the least.  Even galloping, flying changes, switching behind, transitions  all of it.  That says to me that not only has Steady come a long way in the last year but I have come leaps and bounds.  I even posted bareback!  Only like 10 strides but still, posting bareback?  That was stuff I last did when I was like 14 and had the body to do it.  Once he got about 3 20 meter circles on the right lead I took Peter's advice when he said if you ask something of a green horse and they are struggling with it and once the do it beautifully GET OFF immediately and reward them.  You bet they will be more willing to do it next time you ask.  He said he didn't care if he was out way out and had to walk all the way back it is worth it in your training.

Tomorrow me and the kids are going to go out for the Indiana Eventing Assocciation work day at the horse park and then go to a tack store afterward.  So we should have a fun day tomorrow.

That is all that is going on in my horse related world at the moment.  I am super excited to start seeing little blades of grass popping up out in the pasture.  I also took on Aimee's 2-point challange though I have not been able to get a baseline yet.  I tried yesterday bareback and I am fairly certain it was probably about 40 seconds bareback but to be fair I believe this is to be done in a saddle so surely I can get better time with stirrups.  Today's goal get on my horse and get a 2-point baseline.  Doable?  Should be, but I am feeling incredibly lazy on the overcast, misty day.


Happy Derby Day!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guess what today is?

I will give you one guess what happened at my house today. 

Yup that is right, it is that time of year again when the weather is warm and flies are aplenty.  Here is a before.
Dirty boy!

Here is the after.......oooohhhh, aaaahhhhh....

One thing that became very appearant after Steady's first bath of the year is that yes Steady's body condition said he was healthy, his work says he is healthy but now I think it is official he can join the shiney coat club of healthy beasts.  The picture doesn't even really do it justice for how shiney he really is.  And his new summer coat is coming in a cool deep liver color that I have not seen on him before. He still has not shed out on his barrel and top of his butt but you can kind of see the darker color on his neck and  behind the flank.  He is the best I have ever seen him and it was a long road getting here so humor me a bit while I revel in it.

I cannot have just one topic, sorry.  I am too ADD for that.  Tonight I felt more "farmer" then ever before.  Can you guess what I am doing?
this is how I roll.

I will give you a hint, it has something to do with the look of my pasture. 

This should have been done months before a horse ever even moved into the pasture.  But instead, per ususal, I had NO patience and bought a horse 3 days before the fencing was even finished with that being my only option for pasture.  Last year we fenced in another acre or so and that currently has grass but considering we have to keep 2 horses, 2 ponies and a mini on it for the next 2 months we may need to replant that this fall, ugh. 

For all of you who board horses can I just say no matter how frustrated or annoyed or even mad you get at your BO just think there may be more to all of this than you realize. That it is not as easy or cheap as it may seem.  A pet peeve of mine is people complaining about their BO, really it drives me bonkers.  I understand if you have disagreements or real issues but most of the time the things I hear are, "our pastures aren't nice enough", "we have too little sawdust in our stalls", "the ring didn't get dragged this week", "my stall is not emaculate at all times", "they didn't bring my horse in and it got sprinkled on, can you believe it?", "they looked at my horse funny".  Ok I may have made up the last one but still I think they are all just as silly.  Keeping horses is tough, it is expensive and it is hard to keep up with everything all the time.  My stalls are not always clean, I have terrible pasture issues, hay is so expensive, fences always need repairing, my horses stay out in the rain (gasp!), my horses get minimal sawdust for the rare times they are even stalled and I am never even close to having all the projects done that need to be done.  They are HORSES people!  Animals!  They will be OK, trust me.  Just think of it this way, pampering them just makes them weaker and less able to fight off things on their own.  I believe in proper horse care but I think people take it way too far.  The way I see it is if you feel it is neccessary to pamper your pony then take it upon yourself to do so.  Don't go finding someone else to blame when they are not.  It is kinda like those parents who send their kids off to public school then get mad at the school, teachers, government when their kid fails.  Uh yeah those people bug me too.  It is time to take ownership, suck it up and fix somethings yourself and stop whinning, complaining and bitchin' that someone else didn't do it.  It is YOUR horse and YOUR responsibility.

Yes I realize you feel like you pay a lot of money for your horses care but do you realize barns make very little profit off of boarding?  You feel you pay good money but just think you aren't paying the morgatge on a barn and land, the vehicles it requires to maintain a farm, repairs to said vehicles and other equipment, property taxes (and they are high in IN I can't imagine other areas), fencing, hay, sawdust, pasture management, and there is so much more.  Then let's get into hourly wage, what if you have to pay employees to keep up the property?  When does the BO get paid?  Trust me expense is astronomical to keep up a farm and I can bet your BO is not getting rich off of your boarding payment.  It is a catch 22, if you have the land to board 3 horses you have to take on 5 to even pay for itself and then you knowingly are over taxing your land that will in a short amount of time be destroyed.  Or you have the land (and morgatge payment) for a farm that can take on 30 boarders but it is next to impossible to keep it full all the time chances are you are loosing money on boarding.  So next time before you open your mouth to complain about something at your barn, stop and think that maybe, just maybe there is more to this than you might think.  Unless you have owned a farm yourself you probably cannot even fathom the reality of it.

A little side note I do realize there are real problems sometimes when boarding that should be corrected by the BO.  I am not speaking of those things I am speaking of the complaints I hear come out of peoples mouths 90% of the time.  Only about 10% are real issues.

Real quick since I want on an unexpected rant here is an update on our rides this week.  This will be short and sweet. They have been wonderful.  Each time I get off and wonder, "will this same horse show up next weekend at the clinic?"  I sure hope the answer is yes.  I don't like hauling 8 hours and paying a small fortune so that we can work on things we already can do but because he acts like a tool it makes it look like we don't.  But I am paying that small fortune because both Dorothy and Peter are amazing professionals and can see right to the heart of the issues.  Dorothy especially has an incredible wisdom of OTTB's that is invaluable.   Each ride I have been focusing on just keeping things calm and relaxed, stretching, long and low and even tempo.  And each time I get beautiful results.  He is cool as a cucumber and giving me what I ask on a light and responsive contact.  Just beautiful.   So today the count down begins to Lexington.  This time next Friday I will be at Dorothy's farm tacking up and getting ready for my lesson with a 4 hour drive behind me ready to spend 3 whole days doing this thing I love SO much!!!!

and for good measure here is a video.
I am so glad that rules have been put in place over the years to prevent things like this.  It is so sad to watch.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I knew it!

I knew I could count on you guys.  I have taken all of your advice into consideration.  At the moment I have gone ahead and upped his feed amount.  He already seems happier and more relaxed just even in the herd.  I then have started ground work sessions.  First with me and him and then I hand him off to my daughter and coach her through ground work with him.  It needed to be done anyways on a consistent basis so this gave me the push to get out there and do it.  I also think that is the only way that he will gain more respect for children and that my daughter will be able to start to trust him again.  Don't get me wrong I don't want her to EVER let her guard down around him or any other horse but also don't want an unhealthy fear to start creeping up either.  They both did amazing yesterday.  He respected her and she was not nervous and just stayed alert and did everything I told her to.  That kid is amazing I tell you.  Most kids you get them out and make them work and you get complaints or whining.  Not this girl.  I knew she was afraid but she did not let on one bit when she was working with him.  She did everything precisely and accurately without getting upset or frustrated.  I am telling you she has something special with horses.  She has that "Buck Brenaman" aspect about her.  That kind, understanding yet steady and strong way about her.  Maybe I feel that way because she is my kid but if I saw any kid with the passion, determination and work ethic at the age of 9 that she has I think I would say the same thing about them.

Ok ok enough bragging on my kid.  In other news?  Well there just is not much.  I have not been riding much, sadly.  I have been making it a point to not ride when my husband is home because it seems to be a trigger for him.  Though things are really starting to look up.  We are still in counseling and are down to working out a budget and a plan.  That is way better than where we started this whole mess with bitterness and ultimatums.

I did gallop the Steady the other day and we are getting better.  I still have not resorted to a stronger bit.  I don't know, I guess I am just optimistic that we can get there without it.  It is about rhythm with him (and probably every other horse out there) and it seems if I can just find and hold that rhythm he is much more manageable.  But I tell you what we are light years beyond where we were last July at event camp with the giraffe head in the air and completely hollow.  Now it is more of a speed regulation issue.  He will stay collected and responsive but we have a hard time keeping the speed consistent.  Our other issue is straightness.

I did get our dressage test in the mail the other day.  Though it was an awful score I was still very curious what the judge saw in it.  I was very relieved to see that she saw it for exactly what I felt like it was.  Every single line was the use of the the word "tense" in one way shape or form.  We got "tense horse, but obedient", "horse very tense", "too tense".  My favorite comment was "no real walk".  I find this amusing because it was so true.  The horse never walked.  During the walk portion he went down to this trot that is slower than a walk but still a trot and very up and down.  We didn't get above a 5 on anything except on rider I got a 6.  Ouch!  But I was most relieved to read her comments on the "rider" portion.  She nailed exactly what was going on.  I got into the arena with this strange bundle of energy.  A completely different bundle of energy and nerves than I had in the warm up.  Warm up was up and fast.  As soon as I entered the area for the test I got this super tense, hyper bundle of nerves that was completely sucked back and resisting forward motion.  Her rider comment was, "good effort, don't be afraid to put leg on and tell horse what you want."  Since it happened so suddenly that is exactly what I was afraid of.  I was not afraid of what he would do, I am strangely not afraid of Steady at all.  I was afraid of looking like a terrible, mean rider by kicking his ass forward, which is what I would have done anywhere outside that test arena.  I guess I need to realize that test or not in that moment I need to just do what I need to do as a rider for my horse.  But aside from the numbers on the test I am happy with the feed back and have learned an incredible amount through this situation.  My 5th dressage test ever and by far the worst one and the worst score we have ever gotten.  Hey at least we got that out of the way early and we can just get better from here!  Let's hope!