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   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

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  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.


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

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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sneak peek! Steady Smiler's first event.

I am too tired to post about it now, but soon.  Here is a sneak peak.  Warming up before cross country.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I can't get enough of this story.

I have officially been sucked in.  Alydar's story is so moving.  Not to mention the rivalry between him and Affirmed.  In the race for the Triple Crown which Affirmed won and the last horse to win the Triple Crown Alydar gave him a run for his money every time.  And Alydar became the only horse in history to come in second in all three triple crown races. Alydar came in second with a total combined distance for all three races was less than 2 lengths!  The Jockey's themselves have some pretty amazing storys too.  Now tell me it wouldn't make for a fantastic movie.

Here they are the first of the three races the Kentucky Derby.

Second is the Preakness.

Last is the Belmont. It is a nail biter.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is awesome!

I started to research Steady Smiler's pedigree and I didn't have to search very far before I found some amazing information.  I personally don't know a great deal in the history of horse racing.  I have been around it my whole life.  My Dad's dream was to breed a Kentucky Derby winner.  Unfortunately that never worked out for him after years of breeding but that is the way the business works.  Not only did he breed but he also has a bit of an addiction to the track.  So I was at the track from a very young age.  I really think that is why as an adult I absolutely LOVE the thoroughbred breed.  I mean I love horses in general but in my mind there is not a breed more beautiful and stalwart then the thoroughbred. 

So this is what I found.
                                                          -Full Tigress
     Steady Smiler-         
                                                         -Steady Growth
                            -Song and a Smile
                                                         -Starstruck Jenny

Look at the top at his sire's sire in layman terms Grandpa.  Do you recognize that name?  Alydar!!!  All I had to do was text my Dad the name and he immediatly rattled off Alydar's story.  There are horses that change the history of racing.  You may be more familiar with one that is a bit more recent.  You know a little filly named Zenyetta??  She is one of those.  Well Alydar is too.  His story is one of the greatest out there and you can read it here .  I will not recap because the biography elxpains it all.  All except for on piece information that was left out that my Dad informed me of.  At the end you read how he died prematurely in a terrible accident.  What they didn't say is that the barn manager at the time was sent to prison for breaking Alydar's leg for insurance money.  It is a sad ending to such an amazing story but amazing it is!!

Not to take away from Secretariat but the next race horse block buster needs to be the story of Alydar and Affiirmed!!!

Feeling out of place.

It is funny the younger I  was I used to think that the older I got the less I would start to feel out of place.  I think that it is easy to look at someone and think that they have it all together.  But the older I get the more I realize no one has it all together some just tend to hide it better than others.  The older you get the better you get and "looking" like you have it all together but inside we all struggle.  I think if we aren't struggling than we are not bettering ourselves.  To be comfortable is to be stagnate.  I am the type of person that  tries not hide my struggles and it is on purpose.  I feel to not be honest to the people around me about who I am then I am not being honest with myself.  I don't want my children to have the same misconception I did about others having it all together.  I think that can tend to breed insecurities.  I value the ability to be translusent, for others to see me for who I am not who they think I am.
 But there are somethings in the blogger world that bother me about all of this.  I think it is hard to portray a 100% realistic view of ones life when you only post tid bits here and there of your life.  Especially if you don't want to appear to be a negative person you have to be very careful not to always post when you are struggling.  But sometimes words come easier in the midst of a struggle.  So translucencey is hard to be in the social networking world of the internet.

Ok I am not sure where that rant came from because it was not the point of the post.  The whole point was that for some reason I feel out of place in the horsey blog world.  Silly probably but still I thought I would mention it because I would love to hear feed back about it.  There are some pretty fantastic horse blogs out there and I have to say there are a select few I am addicted to reading and cannot wait until their next post.  Out of all of the ones I love to read only one of them is in the same part of the country as me.  So I think that may have alot to do with this thing that I am wondering about.  The one thing though that I see to be so very common.  Actually I think ALL of the blogs I love do this.  BOARD!  It is facinating to me that every one of these blogs board their horse/horses.  I have nothing against it I just am very very curious about it.  I want to know why people board.  I am assuming that there are a hundred different reasons for every one hundred people but I am thinking some of the reasons have to be similar.

I don't board, I never have.  Simply because of cost.  It is more costly for me to board a horse than to keep one at home.  I also love to be able to go out any time of day and just groom, talk to, love on, ride or just look out the window and gaze at them.  Those are the reasons I love to have my horses at home.  Not that there are not down sides to having them here  but I dwell on the positives and try not to think about the negative.  But I can see benefits of boarding.  Like stall cleaning, up keep, repair, barn cleaning, up keep, and repair.  Being able to go out of town because they are fed and cared for in your absence, or the commitment of being the ONLY one feeding/watering.  Pasture care and up keep. Trainer on premisis for lessons and such.  Not having to travel for lessons.  Those are some benefits that I can see but like I said I have not boarded so I really have no idea.  Are those some or any of the reasons?  I also thought maybe it is just different parts of the country it is harder to afford land than it would be to pay board. 

So my questions are do you board because that is what you would rather do or do you board because that is what you have to do?  What are your reasons for choosing to board?  What would be the benefit be of not boarding?  What are the benefits you enjoy because you board?

This kind of feels like an interview but really it is just pure curiosity on my part.  I am intrigued.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A page in history.

I have been thinking back on the days that my facination and love for all things equine began.  My parents owned horses before I was born.  They had two Arabians.  Unfortunately they did not ever do much with them and they got them young.  They were taught a couple things but really not much.  When I got to be about 5 that is when I would start begging for my Dad to take me out on the horses.  My sisters had taken lessons at a near by hunter/jumper barn but quickly lost interest.  At about 8 is when my parents decided to let me start lessons.  Of course the interest was never lost and I continued at the at barn until I was 15.

I started with one lesson a week and after about a year I started coming to the barn on a daily basis.  The school bus would drop me off there and my parents would pick me up in the evening.  I started to learn how to jump on two different school horses.  I can remember them like it was yesterday.  Bigenough he was a sweet chestnut horse.  The perfect school horse.  Then there was Pappy,  he too was a perfect school horse and great to learn on.  The only problem with him is that he was half Clydesdale!!!  So he was huge.  He also had the traditional Clyesdale mane that stood straight up.  So they shaved it.  As a beginner I often depended on that mane to help get my but out of the saddle and to keep my balance but not on Pappy.

Then my trainer Mr. Egan.  He was and old pro.  He was old then though I was 8 and not the best judge in age he sure did look old.  He was probably in his mid-late 60's.  He was one tough cookie.  He told you how it was and wasn't affraid to yell.  As a young girl you would think that wouldn't be the best method but I was a tough cookie myself being the youngest of 4.  I could hold my own.  The thing is though he was balanced enough that it worked.  He wasn't affraid to tear you to peices when it came to riding and the horses but he loved on me equally as much.  I have nothing but love in my heart toward him to this day (though he has passed on).

So one day in particular stands out in my mind.  He was giving me a lesson on pappy and we were schooling over a crossrail in the indoor arena.  I remember vividly the whole event and can picture in my mind the entire thing.  I came around the corner toward the jump and when I went to grab for the mane because I started to loose my balance, I WASN"T THERE!!!  So I proceeded to slide  slowly down the saddle, bouncing along and holding on for dear life.  Remember I am 8 and Pappy well he was huge!!!  I did not want to fall off.  I remember hearing Mr. Egan shouting at me at the top of his lungs, "young lady you better not fall off that horse, I did not tell you, you could get off that horse.!!!"  Then me shouting back "But he has no mane".  That did not seem a good enough excuse to him.  He continued "I did not tell you to get off that horse".  It was helpless though I could not hold on and hit the ground.  I cannot remember if I hurt anything but I definitely didn't hurt anything bad enough to not get put right back up on Pappy and forced to get our butts over that crossrail.  I remember being affraid and I remember trying to make excuses, number one being that he didn't have a mane, but to no avail.  Mr. Egan didn't take no for an answer and we did get over that jump mane or no mane.

I am forever grateful for the education and guts that Mr. Egan instilled in me. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A snowy ride

I spent the day in the kitchen with a good friend cooking all day.  Once a month I get together with a friend to cook 15 or so meals to have over the course of the month.  It is going on two years that I have relied on this for our family dinners.  It is a life saver of a busy family.  Anyways at the beginning I am always energetic and ready to tackle the task at hand.  Halfway through the day you start to feel a bit worn down.  By the time you finish the last meal you turn into a grumpy monster.  Then we were to entertain that evening for friends and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and not return to the light of day for a good 12 hours.

I desparately wanted to capture the magic of the moment on camera but disappointingly cell phone cameras and a horse that really could have cared less to stand still just didn't capture the moment.  It is hard to see but really the snow is coming down.
Steady flipping his head in protest of standing still.  Oh I could eat this horse up he is so stinking cute.

I was tired and it was coooold outside but I knew a ride would be the best thing to get me out of my funk.  So that is what I did.  I was cold but as soon as we started moving I started to warm up.  We were working on our dressage test for the show this weekend.  About ten minutes into it little tiny balls of ice started to fall from the sky.  Steady did not appreciate them falling into his ears.  he kept shaking his head.  It was very cute.  Then it turned into big fluffy flakes of snow.  The white contrasts on Steady's dark red/brown mane and neck is such a beautiful sight.  It really came down, making the sky a white sea around us.  It was glorious!  The first snow of the year is magical to begin with and to be blessed enough to experience it this year on horseback is an amazing feeling.

It was hard to believe when I said to my family and friends how amazing it was.  They thought I was joking.  All they could think was how cold it was out there.  I didn't even notice the cold as we were going over a jump and the snow was flying in my face.  They just didn't get it.   I was one of those kids who would ride in the dead of winter.  Growing up in Michigan it made for some fun in the snow.  The the stable I rode everyday in the indoor arena but at home on my unpredicatble little pain in the butt Arab we would take weekly rides through the winter wonderland.  Sometimes bareback galloping through feet of snow and making our own path in life.  I remember those days as the best in my childhood and now as a resposible, grown up, wife, mother I am beyond blessed to still be experiencing the world on horseback.

Napoleon Bonaparte

I saw this horse personality quiz on Living a Farmers Life .  This is Steady's results.  I'd have to say it sounds alot like my boy.

Steady is Napoleon Bonaparte, the legendary ruler of France.
Steady is proud and daring, just like the Emperor and military legend who set out to conquer Europe. Sometimes, his brashness needs taming, but he’s an impressive steed who covers a lot of ground.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One mean son of a bugger!

Any tips on what to do with a mean horse.  He wasn't always mean.  It seems that my little mini that returned home has brought this out in him.  I understand pecking order but he seems to be out to get him not just putting him in his place.  I think one issue is that their stalls need to be completely divided.  Right now he can reach over the top into the mini's stall.  None of my other horses in those stalls have been out right mean so it hasn't been an issue in the past.  Today he reached over grabed the Mini's (Snappy) forelock and tore out a huge chunck of hair, ouch.

The problem horse is Moonlight, my daughters horse.  He is actually being a huge problem in general. He used to be very sweet but has recently turned into Dr. Jekyll.  He has always been pushy on the ground but I knew that we could train that out of him.  He is getting better in that respect but not yet to the point where I would trust him with my 7 year old.  Who's horse he is supposed to be.  Then his pawing habit is TERRIBLE.  It drives me bananas.  I am having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get that issue out of him.  Then the mean streak.  He is really getting on my last nerve and I am really considering getting rid of him BUT I love being able to go on trail rides with other adults.  It is so nice to call up a friend and take them out on the trails.  He is a wonderful trail horse for a beginner.  So he has that going for him.  He is a follower so he always just tags right along.  Has no problem with water or anything else on a trail.   Except he is such a follower he cannot lead but Steady and I happily take the lead.

He is my problem child and he is driving me nuts.  I was thinking of taking him and Snappy out on a trail together with the thinking that might help them bond a little.   I don't know though.  I have ALWAYS been able to take a horse and teach them wonderful ground manners.  All of my horses have respect for me and my space but they each would follow me like a puppy dog.  They all trust me to the point of being able to run at them flailing my hands and they will just stand there (probably thinking "what is with this lady and her crazy fits)  So I know I can handle his problems but some of these are new and he is very persistent.  He is 8 and we just got him a few months ago so he has been aloud to get away with these things for a looooong time. 

I will take any tips on retraining the issues.  My advice to all horse owners, don't let your horse walk all over you.  You may think you are trying to be nice but you are not doing them any favors.  You are creating a life long problem that someone else is going to have to deal with and not all horse people will deal with it in a humane manner.  So in the long run you are only hurting your horse.