Saturday, October 13, 2012

Congress of the equine variety.

I have been around horses before I ever knew what a horse was. 

Exhibit A: me on a horse in my back yard before I could even walk.

In all my years around, on and with horses there has never been one time that I have even been remotely drawn to the "sport?" of Western Pleasure.  I actually know very little about it and am completely fine with that.  There is nothing about a horse that 'jogs' (sloooooooooooooow trot) with it's nose on the ground that exudes anything attractive or even natural to a horse.  The closest I have ever come to Western pleasure was a couple years ago I went to a trainers barn.  The entire experience was odd and nothing felt right about it even though the trainer tried very hard to make me think that the way he trained horses was the absolute best.  He broke horses at the age of 18months, and when I say broke I mean like the old timer BROKE.  Like if a baby horse doesn't listen the first time you pull on that big ass leverage bit in it's mouth then you take all your power and yank their face, cause then they will learn to not want to resist you.  NO seriously he said that to me.  Then since there is nothing natural to a horse to walk, trot and canter around with their nose on the ground all the time the way you fix that is you have hooks in their stalls so for a couple hours a day you tie their head up so high and leave it there.  That way they will WANT to put there head down.  He pulled out three not yet 2 year olds while I was there to show me how 'well' they were trained.  Not ONE of those babies came out of their stall without some swelling and soundness issue.  Then proceeds to tell me how all of his horses are on adequan and injections.  I left that place and never returned and though I was never drawn to WP before now I will purposely flee from it from here on out.  Now I will not go as far as to say all WP trainers are that way.  I believe there is good and bad in every equine industry.  I am just saying that was my experience and it was repulsive.

So a few weeks ago when my two friends said they were going to the All American Quarter Horse Congress  on Monday it went in one ear and out the other.  I mean go to watch the uppity WP folk all day?  Nah.  But then they told me about the shopping...hmmm ok well maybe that would be fun.  I mean I have no money to shop but one of my girl friends barn burned down a couple months ago.  No animals were harmed but the barn, everything in it and even their 4 horse trailer that was parked near it was all a complete loss.  Here are some picture of one of the days we went to help clean up the remains.

My husband, he earned the hardest worker award,

and my Macy, she won the dirties award for the day.

 My friends goal was to have all her insurance stuff done so that she had money to go replace a lot of her items.  Though I have NO interest in Congress itself the equestrian shopping available anywhere near us is so limited that I am actually really excited about going and having some girl time and shopping.  So I don't have money to spend but she has a bunch and if you can't spend your own money then the next best thing is to help a friend spend all of hers!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Good news update.

Just really quick because I have no time but I just wanted to thank everyone for thier input on Steady's issue.  I made a couple changes today: Used a different saddle pad and added shims to my halfpad thinking maybe since he has lost musculing that my saddle is getting uncomfortably close to his withers again.  I don't know which or if any of those changes had anything to do with it or if it was just coincidental but today we have a nice ride.  No twitching, bucking or nipping.  He worked fairly nicely even though it was a very windy day and that makes me sigh a little bit of relief.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Peculiar Happenings.

Last week I had a strange ride on Steady. I didn't put much thought into it besides thinking, "that was strange". It was his first ride since he was hurt so I chalked it up to that. So I gave him over a week and today was the first ride since.

Today as soon as I started tacking up he started doing the "strange thing". I ignored I continued tacking up and got on. As soon as the ride started it all began. It is strange, peculiar and I just can't figure it out. I am completely stumped. It has never happened to me before and I have done all I can think to do to try and figure out what is causing it short of calling the vet. If it continues tomorrow then that may just be what I will have to do. So what is this strange thing?

I am warning you it is strange so it is going to sound strange explaining via the Internet. It starts with the signs that he is obviously irritated and annoyed and not really caring to listen to me at all. The he starts shuttering his skin on his right side repeatedly. Then goes on to reaching around and trying to 'itch' his side. Acting exactly as if he was going after a fly. But the thing is THERE WAS NO FLY!! No nothing. When I ask for anything, and keep in mind I am not asking much just a simple relaxed trot, his ears are back, his tail is twitching, he is continuing to try and "itch" his side while trotting, shivering his side and randomly throwing in completely irritated bucks.

So what do you think? What is going on with Steads??

 I have checked everything like tack, or actual source of something touching his skin and annoying him. I even got off and took the saddle off and got on bareback and the he was still wanting to explode so I emergency dismounted and decided to not try that again. I put on the lunge line and check for any soundness issues. He did not do any of the strangeness on the lunge. He started out acting like a prick (he has never been the best lunger) but we worked until we ended on a nice note. I decided to get back on and see what I got. He started out like he was thinking about starting it all but then I got about 10 minutes of mediocre trot work and since he didn't have his ears pinned, tail swishing, twitching or itching so I called it a day. Not exactly what I was looking forward to after spending the last 2 months trying to get him healed and sound just to get this strange behavior pop up. I have to admit it is pretty disheartening, I was looking forward to making the best out of the last month of the year that we will have enjoyable riding weather. humph...thoughts?

 On a more totally fun and kick ass note I am STILL on a Fox Hunt high. Here is another video for your viewing pleasure. at about 4:15 on the video when we stop that is the end nothing exciting happens after that so you don't have to keep watching after that :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Remember that really fun and exciting stuff? Well I had NO idea!

At the end of my last post I mentioned some fun stuff that I may have had the opportunity to take part in yesterday.  I am stoked to tell you that it did happen and that my helmet cam came along for it.  Enjoy the video of the days events. 

My mount for the day, Dave a former 4'6" jumper prelim horse who also had been a whip horse in the past.  He was amazing!!!  To say the least.  He knew exactly what he was doing but loved hunting so much that he had that fire in his belly and made the ride safe, fun yet completely thrilling.  He could be chill with the hilltoppers but was game in first field.  In the video you can see a bit of head tossing excitement anytime I had to hold him off at all.  He just LOVED to do his job!  It was awesome.
In beginning of this video you see a man standing next to his horse as we pass him. He and his horse hit the ground in this fall but thankfully they were both stunned but ok.

If you are ever in need of "growing a pair" I recommend hunting.  Holy cow I had no idea how badass they were.  The speed, the narrow paths, the terrain and the jumps.  You can see me dodging branches and hear them hitting my head as I am flying through the wood.  Yes there were a lot of small starter-BN sized fences but there were also quite a few solid Novice height fences out there too.  They had a couple two stride 8 jump combinations.  Those were low crossrail type fences but they were one of my favorites because of the rhythm you had to have through that many fences in a row.  It was like cross country on steroids.  On cross country you get a map, get to walk and memorize each step of you path.  Most of the galloping takes place in an open field and all paths I have ever ridden on have been wide and completely cleared of low hanging branches. And only last a total of 5-6 minutes tops.  Don't get me wrong the trails were nice and they had good footing but you have no idea what is coming.  One second you are hauling ass and the next second you are doing a sliding stop to avoid hitting the horse in front of you.  Once one of those stops happened when Dave and I were halfway over a jump.  The saint that he was half way over he planted his feet then climbed over the jump with his back legs. And this goes on for TWO HOURS!!! SO AWESOME

4-5 riders came off and they do not stop the hunt for a rider down.  Within the first 10 minutes a young pony clubber came off when her horse reared.  In one video you see the girl in front of me came off and one of the huntsman stays with her but the rest of us are told to go on.  In another video at the beginning you see a man standing on the ground holding his horse.  He and his horse had just fallen.  Everyone was fine and immediately returned to the hunt.  There was only one injury and I believe it was a broken ankle.
Here you will see the sweet girl in front of me fall off of her horse.
I went on a very special day, it was the "Blessing of the Hunt".  They have a priest come and have a short service praying over the horses, riders and hounds for a safe season.  A friend was the one who allowed me to ride Dave and hauled him up there for me.  She was so sweet and kind and generous to do that and would take no offering she just asked that I braid her brothers horses mane.  It was the least I could do.  All of the people there were very friendly and helpful.  I learned a great deal but feel I just scratched the surface on the sport of hunting.  So now I, of course am in the process of finding one near by to better my "education".  This hunt was in Battle Creek Michigan.  I was up visiting my family and jumped at the opportunity to go along with a friend.  One thing I learned was that hunters like their 'beverages'.  At check points they pass flasks and you are greeted with a smile and glass of champagne at the end of the hunt.  It was amazing and I can see myself searching for a way to make hunting a regular happening in my life. 

It will be an interesting process to get Steady out there and sane but it will be good for him I think and he is smart enough to catch on. There are more videos that will come.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What I got, what I want and then there is what really ends up happening.

First what I got.  So with my first call from the school for 3 days of substituting I figured what better way to celebrate going back to work after nearly a decade then to spend all the money (and a bit extra) before I even get it?!  Great logic, right?  My husband has become a patient man over the years to my ways.  So yesterday I got to experience that extreme joy when you see "the box" on your doorstep that some of you, not going to mention any names SB, get to experience on a very regular basis.  My daughter and I share the same obsession and we tore open the box like Christmas morning and rummaged through all the goodies.  This can all be blamed on Sabrina at WeanieEventer.  She posted about the sale at Horze(my husband gets a kick out of their name choice).  50% off of everything and free shipping?!!  How can a girl pass that up.  I am by no means a tack whore nor a brand slave.  I am more of an affordable, functional yet not a piece of crap kinda gal.  I had never purchased anything from this company nor seen their items first hand but I figured for the prices it was worth the gamble and they had free return shipping too!  Here is what we found when we opened the box.
Horze sporty tall boots  I only paid $50 for them.  Oh and a boot bag came free with the purchase of a pair of boots!!  I have never owned one of those and now I can feel all cool and stuff.  I am an everyday tall boot and breeches kinda girl.  Don't know why, I just like it that way.  Probably has most to do with growing up in a Hunter/Jumper barn.  That is what we did.  I am most comfortable riding that way.  My tall boots have paid the price for it.  They are in much rougher shape because of it.  I just had them repaired and I would like them to last at least another year.  These will be my schooling at home/barn boots.  They are perfect with a fluffy pair of winter socks or even two just the way I wanted them, YAY for not freezing toes in the winter!!!Ones I won't be concerned if I go from Steady's back to mucking stalls to tromping through mud which happens on a daily basis around here.  They are synthetic and not super fancy boots but they are cute enough and they will do just what I wanted them to do.
French Link Pelham  I only paid $20.47.  Now that I know Steady goes well in a pelham I figured it was time I got my own and returned the borrowed one.
Venice Breastplate/running martingale I paid $40.97.  I liked this version because first off it is black.  It is hard to find black tack in an item you actually like in the USA.  Black is much more common in Europe but everyone is brown folk here.  So I snatched this up because it was the style I wanted with the martingale attachment that just easily clips on and off and it was black, WIN!  What I noticed and you will if you spend any time on this site is that their descriptions are lacking.  I was afraid that was because their quality and makes were lacking.  In receiving the items I realized that no, they just need to hire someone new to write their descriptions.  The Breastplate was much nicer than the description gave credit for.  It is a nice supple leather(not the best ever but nice and soft) and it was padded on the part that goes over the neck and the whole piece that goes on the chest and between the front legs and attaches to the girth(sorry don't know the technical names) and has a few inches of elastic at the top on both sides for a comfortable fit.  I have yet to put it on Steady but I am really happy with the quality and appearance and for $40, that's a great price!
Horze Stirrup Leathers  I paid $22.50 in brown.  These are for my daughter.  Though I need some she needs them more.  If I showed you the ones she is riding in that are probably 20 years old you would all surely drag me to the center of town and stone me to death.  They were real bad and I rode in them when I was not much bigger than her, yikes!  They are nice soft and and reinforced and light years better than what she was using.
The rest of the items were small miscellaneous items like, two slow feeder hay nets $6.47 each, a 3 blanket rack $7.97, 5 winch snaps $.82 each am I the only one that uses these things for everything?  I never have enough, 3 bridle racks $3.00 each.  All a steal of a bargain and good quality!

Just like Christmas!

I want to do a quick review on my winter blanket I purchased last year.  It seems some are shopping for/purchasing winter blankets now and I have LOVED Steady's from Schneider Saddlery we have the medium weight royal blue.  It looks brand new and though we did have a mild winter and Steady is easier on blankets than some it is still very well made and crazy affordable and kept him dry and cozy last winter.  They are offering %50 off of neck cover with the purchase of a blanket right now too!  Wish that was going on when I bought mine last year.  I will be purchasing the neck cover soon.

What I want:  The great news is that Steady is now happily sound!  There were no complications with the metal in the hoof thing.  I attempted to have my first ride on him on Saturday but he just didn't feel right yet.  The Vet said 2 weeks and that was about 4 days early but I thought I would try.  The ride only last 20 minutes before I could see he was NOT happy and I just let him be.  I will be back out there today(hopefully).  He appears to be moving better so I think we should be in the clear and now if he gets pissy I will push him through it.  But what I really want is for him to have not had the last month and a half off because of issue after issue when we shoulda, coulda, woulda been out there hitting it.  Getting ready to have a fabulous October.  I want to be riding Novice in CAF Horse Trials in a week and a half not volunteering(though volunteering is great fun and I think essential to being being a well rounded Eventer) but we are just now getting back to work.  I cannot complain too much, I set some lofty goals that I thought they might have been high yet achievable and I have met all but one of them.  The one I am lacking is ending the season at a Novice schooling show.  If I can get our butts in gear that can still happen, just not when and where I had wanted to. I am now shooting for the Novice derby at CAF in November.  I have been lacking that get up and go since it feels as if the season has ended before it began but I have challenged myself and Amy over at Moose on the Loose who is feeling quite the same way I am right now, to meet me there in Nov.  Come on Steady (and Moose!) let's get this!!!

There is also some possible really fun and exciting stuff for me(sorry Steady you are going to have to sit this one out) in the next few days.  But I will post about that after it actually happens, but I am SO excited, it is something I have always wanted to do!