December 30, 2010

Cure for the common cold.

My 10-day vacation and holidays included two days of airport borne food poisoning followed immediately  by a nasty cold and cough. We've been back in town and back to "real life" for three days now, and the cold just lingers. Last night I finally made it to the barn to see Miss Thing and to feed.

I'd be lying if I said that I was indifferent to the fact that she didn't seem to care that I finally returned, and was focused entirely on the fact that she wanted dinner, NOW! Hump. Well, once she was fed she seemed to be pleased that I pulled her from her paddock for a grooming session. That's something I guess.

After spending an hour, mid-sniffle and cough, hanging out and getting her all pretty I put her back and headed home. I contemplated ending her vacation two weeks early, as I hate not being able to ride her. However, I made a promise that she'd get two full months off...so I'm sticking with it. I think I may longe her tonight though, as she seems to be quite full of herself. She is holding weight well this year, which is a relief! I was not sure how being un-blanketed all winter would effect her weight. To that end though, she will need a clip of some sort for getting back into work, and will have to be blanketed for a few months. I'm thinking I'll put an Irish clip on her so that she still has bum hair to protect her from the wind and rain. However her tummy (the part that gets the filthiest) and her sweaty parts will be trimmed. Regardless, it will need to happen in the next week or two so that her summer coat doesn't get effected. This also means I'll have to find a warmish day to wash at least half of her. This will definitely be a challenge.

The moral of the story though? I've been taking everything to get this cold to go away. Well guess what I needed? Apparently one night in the fridged, cold, wet, air at the barn! Today I can finally breath through my nose and I have more energy that I have had in two weeks. Go figure.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 23, 2010

Longer days at last

December 21st has finally come and gone!

It is by far my most favorite day of the winter. Yeah, Christmas and New Years are fun an all, but December 21st means longer days, the end to driving to the barn in the dark, the eventual end to the non-stop rain, the return of riding in polo shirts, and taking Rose to her first show. Yea! I simply cannot wait for that day to arrive.

I have very little to report lately as I have been traveling all over the place for the holidays and haven't had a single break until now to sit down and blog. Rose is enjoying her vacation, and it appears to be doing wonders for her attitude. She is very excited to see me when I come to the barn and greets me at the gate every time, not making me walk to her. I guess she enjoys a lifestyle of playing all day, and then getting treats and spa treatments in the evening, and I can't say that I blame her. I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle though. Outside of riding and skiing I don't get much exercise as I don't enjoy running in the cold rain and I'm not going to join a gym for two months. As such I feel like a marshmallow. Anyway, I am very excited to get going again and move forward in our training and start practicing the intro level tests...bring it 2011!

Happy holidays!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 9, 2010

Dental Work

Rose gets her annual power float.

I can't believe it's been a year since the super cold day last December (9ºF) that I spent an hour loading Rose onto a trailer and hauling her to my vet for her first float. Luckily, this year, the barn vet made float house calls, so no need for a wasted vacation day and a 45 minute haul (although I now smile happily with the knowledge that it takes all of a few second to load her onto our trailer). I think it made Rose more comfortable having the vet make a house visit rather than being hauled off the property. She was super relaxed and well behaved on minimal sedatives, and she even rested her favorite hind foot the whole time. She was such a good girl, the vet couldn't have been happier with her. Gold star for Rose!


Side note:
For my few non-horse owning/riding readers out there...this is not a medieval torture device. This is actually the most humane way for horses to get their dental work done.



Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 6, 2010

Saddle at long last!

I've finally found a saddle, in my price range, that fits me and is super comfortable, and fits Rose as well as a non-custom, non-adjustable saddle is going to fit her ever-growing and changing warmblood back. Rose was a bit miffed that her vacation was interrupted for 20 minutes Sunday afternoon, but she got over it. Now she can go back to enjoying the remaining 5 weeks of vacation.

What is it? It's a used JRD Accord. Prior to trying out this saddle, I'd never heard of a JRD before. However, upon closer observation in my surroundings, I discovered that several people at my barn have them. The only thing I'm not totally thrilled about is that it seems to have the heck flocked out of it. That's no biggy to get fixed though. I'm hoping that the saddle maker/owner of JRD, Mehrdad Baghai, will be up our way in the next couple months so that he can adjust the flocking for Rose's back. Right now seems to sit just fine on her back, but I know that it was flocked for the previous horse that was ridden in it, so I'd like to make sure that there isn't anything weird going on that could make her crooked, etc. I'm being overly paranoid about it I'm sure! It also seems a tiny bit wide for her. However, that's hard to judge because she's lost some muscle tone already, she'd butt high again, and I think the pommel shape is just different than the saddle I've been borrowing to ride her in. There is still plenty of room between the pommel and her wither...so I think it's just fine. However, I think I shall have Mehrdad look at that as well, given that apparently he can do some minor adjustments to the trees of his saddles. I figure in the worst case scenario, I can put a shim pad on her.

Well, I'm looking forward to 2011 and this horse vacation being over so I can play with my new old saddle!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

-DS

Adventures In Colt Starting

December 3, 2010

Barefoot diet...follow up

Thank you everyone for your helpful comments. The ration balancer that Story mentioned seems like the perfect "grain" solution for Rose. I have decided to try the LMF Super Supplement Formula G and to swap out her alfala pellets for timothy pellets, and I have already cut out the vegetable oil that she was getting.

Rose's front left, showing the "shedding frog",
which all of her feet are currently doing.
I like that the Supper Supplement also provides a good source of copper. I have noticed that her frogs on all four feet completely "shed" several times a year. My farrier is not concerned with it, as most peoples barefoot horses do the same thing around here and he see's it as normal. It also does not seem to make her feet sore at all. However, I can't turn my curious brain off...ever, so I looked into it more. From what I've read it sounds like this "shedding" might actually be due to some sort of low grade thrush that is caused by our nice wet/humid PNW environment we live in. One assumption is that horses lacking in copper tend to have more frog shedding issues. So, hopefully the copper in the LMF will help with that.

As for me thinking this might be some sort of thrush, let me explain that she doesn't have the black stinky thrush that we all immediately think of. Other than the "shedding" frogs the surface of her hoof looks perfectly normal. In terms of her environment, she has a clean paddock that is picked daily (wet on rainy days but not muddy), and a nice big clean dry loafing shed with pellet bedding to hang out in. Regardless of the weather, her feet are always dry and clean when I pull her from the paddock. Her frogs shed at this same time last year, and at that time she was on day turnout and stalled at night, all winter long. So I'm thinking that this copper thing might actually be the case. At any rate we shall see!

Just doing my best to get her hooves in the best barefoot condition possible.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

December 2, 2010

A very special visitor!

Something very exciting happened last night. Gatsby has come to stay at our barn for a while! I am so excited to get to know him better and to watch Tracie work with him.

Awesome rider + awesome horse = one very cool thing to watch.

Of course I am biased, but I think he is just one heck of a handsome horse, not to mention how amazingly gentle and sweet he is! Yesterday was one of my night check days and he was a perfect gentleman at feed time and gave me no problems blanketing him. Quite impressive given that he'd just arrived that afternoon. His personality is far cry from the stallions I had to handle in my early 20's (halters, stud chains and whips in hand were needed just to enter the stalls). After I was done with my nightly chores I couldn't help but hang out with him a bit and notice how much Rose looks like him and how many mannerisms / personality traits they share. I'm guessing that it is probably a really rare opportunity for someone to get to board with and get to know their horse's sire, so I don't plan on taking it for granted.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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December 1, 2010

Getting serious about barefoot performance...

4-weeks post trim and looking good!
In the beginning, I had no reason to put shoes on Rose, she was only 2½ and not started.  Given that she was just getting used to having her feet handled, my farrier wasn't inclined to rush her into it either. We were both certain that to put front shoes on her would require drugs...LOTS and LOTS of drugs. So, over a year has passed, she graduated from filly to mare, started work...barefoot, and has been just fine. At some point I came to the place, when asked about it, that my automatic response became "I'm going to keep her barefoot as long as I can, as long as she can work barefoot and be sound".

Today I started thinking about that automatic response of mine and have realized that along the way I at some point became a barefoot performance horse owner AND I am 100% going to stick with it (again, so long as she can perform and be sound). This lunch time realization made me ponder what all I know about barefoot performance.

I know very little.

The fact that I don't know much about going barefoot isn't that surprising. I've never had a barefoot horse before. Hunters "don't do barefoot" unless they are ponies. "Going Barefoot" was always something sick, old, dying horses had to do, or was analogous to witch-craft. However, now that I have decided to keep her that way and stick with my barefoot performance horse goal I need to shrug off my hunter biases, embrace the inner wiccan, and bone up on my material (here is a great website showing some great barefoot jumpers).

Self educating facts that have lead me to stick with the barefoot thing:
  • The hoof is part of the horses circulatory system. When a horse steps the hoof pumps blood back up the leg. Stick nails in a hoof, it disrupts that system, and the horse doesn't get enough blood pumping/oxygen to their heart to perform at their best when in work.
  • The hoof expands and absorbs pressure when the horse moves. A barefoot horse, raised barefoot, will more quickly and easily achieve balance and coordination with their feet and be more surefooted than their counterparts. This doesn't mean a shod horse can't be balanced or coordinated, but it's just harder for them to do the same thing than a barefoot horse.
  • A horses hoof, like the rest of it's body, keeps growing until it is 5 years old. If you put a shoe on it before then, the shape and structure of the hoof can become permanently be deformed.

These all seem like no brainier good reasons to keep shoes off of any horse to me, especially a young one. Of course some horses really do need shoes and I'm not anti shoe now, I'm just really going to try and keep Miss Thing barefoot if possible. Why, I wonder, is this never discussed in show barns? How did I have to end up with a barefoot horse that was difficult about trimming to find out about this? It seems like an educational deficit...and a topic could spar a whole separate blog. Back on topic: from what I've read, we are already doing two of the three basic things necessary for sound barefoot performance horses correct, albeit by accident.

1. Turnout: She is on turnout 24/7, in a large dry paddock so that she can move all day long, and then is on pasture during the days when permissible. So she has a range of surfaces to walk on and the ability to move around constantly.  This happened entirely due to her utter unhappiness being in a stall all the time.

2. Trim: She gets very good barefoot trims from Rick every 5 or 6 weeks depending on schedule. Not only is he a certified Journeyman Farrier, but he also specialized in natural barefoot trimming. She has begun self trimming at long last and only needs to be tidied up now. She has very healthy frogs and heels.The self trimming started entirely on its own once she was on 24/7 turnout.

3. Diet: This is where our biggest deficit is and my research begins. Apparently sugar is bad and can make a barefoot horse "ouchy"...which I've certainly noticed when she walks over large gravel or when the ground freezes. From what I've read, that tells me she has too much sugar in her diet and we need to fix it.

Rose's diet over the summer focused on putting weight on her ever growing body for inspection this past August. She's on 5-6 flakes of high quality Eastern Oregon Orchard Grass hay, 2qts of Alfalfa Pellets, 1qt LMF Showtime, 1/4cu.vegetable oil, raspberry leaves, and vitamins. Since barefoot horses need a high fiber/protein, and low sugar diet I'm guessing this means removing the oil and showtime from her diet? I am thinking that I should replace the showtime with whole oats so that she doesn't start dropping weight. I am also not sure about the alfalfa pellets? Should I switch to timothy pellets instead? Any advice would be most appreciated.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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Adventures In Colt Starting

November 29, 2010

She's official!

Rose's ISR papers finally came in the mail! I was so happy about how well her inspection went, that I'd more or less put the paperwork out of my mind. However, at long last she has a record of pedigree and her mare approval. I am certainly looking forward to a blue-blooded 200lb bouncing baby in our far distant future. So much so in fact that I have a hard time not mentally pairing her up with stallions on a somewhat regular basis. The stallion of the day? Schroeder. I have to say that their website is a bit of a drawback, but his foal crops so far seem promising. I'm sure I'll be interested in an entirely different stallion tomorrow, and most certainly by the time I actually ever do breed her.

For now at least all of the necessary details are taken care of and we can just focus on training and competing. Just curious, who are everyone's favorite warmblood stallions out there?

November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks

Rose
Thanksgiving Eve 2010
This year, more than most, I think a lot of us in the horse blogging world have been given reason to pause and give thanks for our healthy sound horses.

I have long been a fan of Denali and her blog. Her mom has a talent for recording the antics of Denali and their adventures together. I can't even imagine being in her shoes this fall. It's an experience that I don't think one could prepare for or know how they would handle the pain of what she is currently going through. For that I have a great deal of respect for her and wish her the ability to find peace in this experience.

Her ordeal has also caused me to reflect on what a wonderful year I've been blessed with. After several years in a row of struggle, pain, and heartache 2010 seemingly flipped the karmic switch did me good. Not only did my relationship and training with Rose progress and flourish, but in my personal life I found myself a newlywed, a licensed professional, and I'm managed to remain fully employed through this entire recession. All in all I can't really complain, and next time that I start to focus on the trivial, I shall endeavor to step back and focus on how great my life really is as a whole.

Wishing you all a wonderful start to the holiday season, and certainly sending positive thoughts and wishes in the direction of one specific mare and her owner.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

November 21, 2010

Time off

I have been planning to give Rose two months off this winter, December and January. She's butt high again, and still growing like crazy. I've just been waiting to either have that perfect last ride or for December 1st to arrive. However, I think mother nature is trying to tell me that she has other plans.

Today I woke up sore from cross country skiing with AR on Saturday, and then proceeded trace clip three horses in the freezing (literally) cold weather. By two o'clock I was completely frozen to my core and every single muscle in my body ached. I still drove to the barn with the intention of riding my girl. However, bad weather was eminent, and I didn't want to be on the road too late tonight. For the first time in a while, Rose heard me at the gate, ducked her head around the loafing shed...

noticed me and decided to come to the gate...

rather than making me come to her.

For some reason the combination of the cold weather and her happy greeting made me just want to groom her and spend some time with her and not ride. At that moment I decided that her time off just started.

All in all, I think it is time for her vacation to start. She's been going very well, getting a hang of bending in both directions, stretching through her back, accepting of contact, her gates have become more balanced and consistent with less rushing, and our downward transitions are nice and reliable. Pretty good for a 3.5 year old that is being more or less trained by her amateur owner. In addition, I was only able to ride her one day last week due to weather and work schedule, and would have only been able to ride her one day this week also due to weather and holidays. It seems a bit silly to consider that "work" anyway. Our last ride may not have been the "perfect" ride, but it was darn good and satisfying, and will have to do. It was certainly good enough to cling to the memory of it for two months.

Now I guess I'm going to have to figure out some other sort of exercise for the next couple months...


Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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November 18, 2010

Weird Wednesdays

The mother of all rain and wind storms decided to come slamming into our part of the PNW yesterday. For most of the day I was able to put it out of my mind, sitting in my nice dry warm office. Then sometime around 2pm the power went out. A frenzy of "football catch" broke out in the the hallway while we all awaited the power company's fix. An hour or so later and the power was back on and we were back to business as usual. I worked through lunch, so I decided to leave at four and head to the barn while it was still light out. 

I'm not a fan of driving at freeway speeds through driving rain in the dark. Not so much because of my driving abilities, but because everyone around here turns into entirely inept drivers when it rains. It's a something you wouldn't expect from the residents of one of the wettest places in the USA, but it is the case nonetheless. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea, and traffic sucked. Pedestrians weren't doing any better than the drivers either. I managed to narrowly avoid hitting a pedestrian that was dressed in all black and in attempt to shield her face from the rain was only looking at her feet. Her only awareness of my presence was the squealing sliding stop that my winter tires made on the wet, above 45 degree, road. "Geesh" I thought, "what next"? I started getting that pit in my stomach that I get when I know more is going to go wrong. "Perhaps I shouldn't bother riding Rose tonight?" I thought, as I continued my internal dialogue, "maybe I should just feed and groom her". I couldn't make up my mind, and since no one ever speaks back when I think to myself (whew) I decided to throw on the breeches and make up my mind after I got to the barn.

A half hour later I got to the last intersection before our barn driveway. There was a power company truck with flares and hazard/yield signs all over the road. It looked like a power pole was half falling over the road, the lines of which were currently right above my car. Either someone drove into it or it was rotting and the wind blew it over. Shoot, I'd have to back track and drive the long way around. Not normally a big issue, but at this point I was sick of driving in the dark and rain already. Off I went, and 10 minutes later pulled into our barn's driveway. I pulled up and instantly realized something was wrong.

The gate wouldn't open and the barn was pitch black. After a call to the barn manager, I was told the location of a flashlight in the barn and asked to make sure the automatic waterers were still working. Well this would be interesting. I threw my dog's rain coat on him, and found a people gate and walked toward the big black dark barn. Thank goodness for the dog, otherwise, this is the sort of thing that would have massively creeped me out. 

As we walked through the rain to the very dark barn I remembered that I had a flash light app (MotoTorch) on my phone. Yea DROID! With the help of my app, I was able to find said flashlight on the work bench. Unfortunately the button on the handle is broken, so it wont stay on unless held down. Argh! Oh well, better than nothing. 
I found my wheel barrow, hay, grain buckets, and went about feeding. The horses were understandably startled by the flashlight, but by now they all know me and my voice, so they settled right away and happily munched on dinner. All in all it only took me about an hour to feed in the pitch black with a half working flashlight. My ever so loyal dog was a unnerved by this weird this break in our usual routine. He was glued to my side the whole time, tail down, and on guard. I've never been so happy that his weatherbeeta blanket had reflectors on it. When you have a black dog  reflectors are key! Before calling it a night, I checked Rose's legs by flashlight, and decided that was the grand total of grooming she'd be getting, as grooming her in the dark with a flashlight seemed like a bad idea.

On the way out of the barn drive, it appeared that the power company crew had arrived and were working on the power pole. Here is a shot of the glaringly bright work crew surrounded by pitch black driving rain. Feeding horses in the dark may not be a blast, but at least I didn't have to do those guy's job!



I hope your wednesday was bright and dry!

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November 14, 2010

Review: Bates Caprilli Dressage Saddle

Update: I re-reviewed this saddle a few years later and ended up purchasing it afterall. Here is the more recent post: http://adventuresincoltstarting.blogspot.com/2013/07/product-review-bates-caprilli-dressage.html

***

I was more excited than usual to get to the barn and ride Rose today, because I finally found a used and in great condition 17.5" Bates Caprilli dressage saddle at one of our local tack shops. After signing my life away on my visa it now mine to try out for a week. I have been thinking that the Bates might be my best saddle solution for my budget as well as Rose's ever changing back and withers. However, I've never seen one or sat in one. Finding one locally to try was a very fortuitous event! Without further adieu, here is what I thought about this saddle.


The good:
The leather seems to be a decent quality, and the saddle overall appears well made for it's price point. I liked the adjustable "y" billet system. The gullet was very easy to change out as claimed (the saddle had the regular gullet in it and I needed a wide gullet). I also liked the idea of the movable/changeable thigh blocks. I found the seat to be comfortable, but not very secure. Rose seemed to like the saddle, stretching, bending and moving well under it. 

The bad:
Hello bouncy! I like the idea of the CAIR panels, but lord it is like riding on a bouncy ball. Every small amount of bounce in Rose's gate was quadrupled by the saddle. The billets were too short. I struggled to get my girth on the bottom hole on each side, which is not a problem with other saddles I've been riding in. One would certainly need to go a size or two bigger on their girth with this saddle. The saddle did not sit completely on her back, which only added to the bounciness of the CAIR panels. 

Result:
I will be taking this saddle back to the tack shop tomorrow. After struggling through one ride in it I certainly do not need a week to make up my mind. My saddle search continues...

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

-DS

November 9, 2010

How I taught Rose to longe.

Rose is the first horse that I've ever taught to longe from scratch. I didn't have access to a round pen, and I didn't have a clear idea where to start so I did some research and came up with a game plan. This is more or less what we did.

Equipment: 
1. Longeing caveson. Halters do not provide you with the necessary leverage, so I knew that this would be a necessity for teaching her to longe. BTW, now that I own a caveson I'll never longe in a halter again.
2. 30' Longeline
3. Long longe whip
4. ASTM approved helmet
5. Boots. Some people like to use sport medicine boots. I used my open front jumping boots, because that is what I had on hand at the time. Basically, I just needed something to offer support and protection, as she didn't know what do do with her legs/hooves just yet.
6. Good leather work gloves. This was a necessity to protect my hands from rope burns.
7. Round pen (I used a small square paddock).
8. USDF Longeing Manual. If you haven't had classical training in how to properly longe a horse, I highly recommend this book. There are reasons for longeing correctly, and you can avoid a lot of problems down the road by teaching yourself and your horse to do right in the first place. The book covers everything from voice tone in your commands to posture, etc. It's often available at used book stores and on amazon for only a few dollars.

My Approach (Game Plan):
1. Leading:
First I taught Rose to lead properly. I worked with her for about a week in 15 minutes sessions on leading. I wanted her to walk next to me at my shoulder on a loose lead, paying attention to me. We practiced, walk, trot, and halt transitions on the lead rope. I made sure to use voice commands with each transition up and down, just like I would eventually be doing on the longe line. I wanted her to know what those words meant in a controlled situation. As she got good at this I slowly started walking farther to the side of her, putting 5-6 feet distance between the two of us so that I was walking parallel to Rose keeping her on the rail at all times.

2. Hulla Hoop:
During our leading exercises it became apparent that Rose did not respect "the bubble". Now that she would lead properly I wanted her to respect my space more and see me from a central point, with a longe whip type tool in hand. I used Clinton Anderson's hulla hoop technique to accomplish this. Using the stick I drew a large circle in the dirt around me and would make her "back" out of my circle/space and focus on me. If she turned her head a way or lost her focus on me I would wiggle the lead rope to get both ears focused on me. If she stepped in to my space I'd ask her to back out. When she did good she got a break and I would lead her about 20 feet and then begin again. Again, I kept these sessions to 15 minutes, always ending on a positive note.

3. Free Longeing:
Once I got her respecting my space and listening to my voice it was time to get her to move in the direction that I wanted. Keeping a keen awareness of my body language I let Rose loose in our smallest paddock. Using the longe whip in my right hand, I pointed to the left with my left arm extended, pointed the whip at her haunches and asked her to walk on. She trotted off, but that was fine. At this point I wanted her to just move in the direction of my choice. Trotting, walking or cantering were all fine, so long as she went in the direction I asked. She would often stop at a corner and try to change direction, but I stood my ground and got the message across with body language and whip which direction she should go. After a couple sessions of this she was complacently going around in the direction I asked, and changed directions when asked as well. To change direction, I'd ask her to halt, switch the whip hand, extend my other arm out pointing in the new direction and use my voice to ask her to change direction. Then off she would go.

4. Introducing the longeline:
This was definitely the most exciting part of longeing, as it is not natural for a horse to be attached to a long line. Just figuring out the longeline was a challenge for Rose, as she seemed to think that it was a fun new thing for her to chew on. To start off, I kept the longeline out of her mouth somewhat short and parallel led her around the paddock. Slowly I would make the distance between us larger, until she would test that distance and try to turn around or bolt or do some other silly baby thing. When that would happen, I'd get control of her first and then I would close the distance again and repeat. Eventually I ended up walking in a 9-ish foot diameter circle while she went around at the walk, trot, canter, etc. We would focus and work on one gate at a time. Once she would give me a nice constant walk we'd try trotting. If she cantered or got out of control we would go back to the walk, and then try the trot again. Once the trot was good and relaxed and she stretched down and exhaled we would move onto cantering. Eventually, with time she began nicely longeing at all three gates and the halt.

5. Tricks she tried to pull to get out of longeing (ie. working):

a) Bolting: At all costs, I would stop her from bolting. If she got away with it once, I knew that there would never be an end to attempted bolting. This is a good reason why I worked her in a small paddock rather than a big open field or arena. The caveson gives you a lot of leverage to stop them as well. If she'd had a halter on there would have been no way to stop her.

b) Coming in: A few times she tried pining her ears and coming toward me. To stop this I simply stepped sideways toward her rump and got after her with the whip making her move forward. I didn't care what gate she took off at so long as she went forward. The point is that she goes where I say, and does not come into the middle with a pissy threatening look on her face. That put an end to the turning in.

c) Changing directions: She would on occasion not want to go to the right (her weak side) and would try turning around and going to the left. I would halt her immediately and have her turn around again and then make her move and work harder. Once she complied she would get a break for going in the correct direction.

d) Rearing: She tried this once and I put an immediate end to it. The solution was the same as the Coming In issue. I just got her feet moving away and made her work harder. This is a good example of why you should always wear a helmet when teaching a young horse to longe. Rose isn't a rear-er, but you never know what new trick they might try out in order to get out of work.

e) Playing with my dog: He's a herding dog, so if she got bucking and galloping and crazy he would want to come in the paddock and protect me. He meant well, but smarty pants Rose turned it into a game to get him to come in. Simple solution...he went into the tack room while we worked. One less distraction for Rose.

f) Walking in after the halt: I like my horses to halt and stand in place on the circle. I do not like them to walk into me after they halt, unless asked to (this is another verbal command which I teach them, and she now knows). She tried to do this a few times when she was trying to figure out what to do with the halt command. To get the message across I would ask her to walk on immediately if she turned and started coming in. If she stood still I would praise her and let her have a little break. She was not allowed to move her feet though until asked.

g) Cutting in on one side of the circle: Most babies do not naturally go around in perfect circles. They have to develop muscle and learn to balance themselves. If she would cut in repeatedly in one spot I would prepare for it and ask her to move forward right before she got to that spot. This would help her go forward and not fall in. Also, I taught her the voice command "out". Every time she would fall in I would point the longewhip at her barrel and say "out". Eventually she became more balanced and now stays on a nice circle.

Final Notes & Things I learned:
As time has gone on I've learned that Rose thrives on praise, and had I praised her even more in the beginning things probably would have been even easier. Now, she gets praised like crazy when she figures out a new thing. Also, for a long time I would still walk in a circle while longeing her, as seeing my feet move seemed to help her to realize that she needed to move hers. Now, nine months later, I no longer walk in circles, but pivot in the center of our longeing circle as one should. However, when the babies are learning new things, I have learned that sometimes you have to operate differently to get the message across. Mostly though, it was fun and rewarding to teach her how to longe. After we accomplished this, her training really got going, and she was able to work and begin building muscle.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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November 7, 2010

Lesson...well over due!

I am sitting in a McMenamins enjoying a captain neon burger and a well deserved wheat beer. I spent my morning driving way out into the countryside and body clipping the most adorable pony. He was probably the hairiest pony that I've ever clipped! He went from yellow appy fuzz ball to pretty gray appy show pony in a matter of hours. By the time I was done I just wanted to put him in the back of my car and take him home. I am sure his six year old owner will be thrilled with her pretty pony. I am looking forward to the day that AR and I have a kid as I figure I will finally have a legitimate excuse to get a pony. I'll just have to make sure to get that pony before our kid decides that snowmobiles are more interesting than horses. I'm thinking 6 months sounds good? Anyway, I just love ponies and I think it is because I've always been an adult in the horse world I never got my pony fix as a child. Before you start thinking that I have a one-track pony mind let me assure you that sitting alone in a pub with a hamburger got me to thinking of things beyond children and ponies, and I begun going down the dangerous road of reflecting on my past rather than my future.

Yesterday, Rose and I had a very over due lesson with Tracie. It was so badly needed and I'm looking forward to having regular lessons again. I find it amazing how much harder Rose works when we are in a lesson. I try to push her and work her hard when I hack her, but invariably I give her a lot more and longer breaks than when I'm in a lesson. Plus, it is just so much easier to have someone constantly telling you what to do, rather than trying to just think about what to do. Hopefully, just hopefully, I will be able to apply yesterday's ride to this afternoon's. Bending, bending, bending, is what we need to be working on now. It is nice to move on from transitions, that is for sure. Not that we won't be doing transitions still, but it is good to add another level. I also need to work on leaning much farther back and stretching up in both my sitting trot and canter. So that is my personal homework. One of these days no one will ever know that I ever showed hunters! That is my goal. I'm looking forward to a nice afternoon ride of bending and leaning back! Oh, and my farrier is coming out tonight at last to throw a trim on Rose. Yea, Rick!  

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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November 3, 2010

Don't turn your back, not just for one second.

I kept looking at my watch and was wondering where my farrier was as he was running a little late. I decided it was best to keep my phone on me in case he got lost, since he got lost the first time he came to the barn last spring. Fifteen minutes go buy and Rose is happily hand grazing on some grass. My phone rings. It's Rick and he's at my old barn. "Where are we?" he asks. Ugh. Apparently he forgot that I moved barns in the middle of his vacation. "No worries" I tell him, "Rose's feet are holding up okay and we can wait until next week". Besides, I have my new friend the rasp to get us by. Still, it's a bit of a bummer. I always look forward to Rick's visits. I learn something new almost every time.

That was the bum news, but on the flip side I now had time to give Rose a well needed bath. It was 70 degrees today, which is unusually warm for our part of the country in November, and I knew that this very well might be my last bathing opportunity for Rose for the next four months. An opportunity not to be passed up. Off to the wash stall we went, and given that she's still in heat, she was more or less a good girl about her bath. Afterward I decided to put her out in a grass paddock that was drenched in sunlight while I went about feeding everyone else. Just as I turned to head to the barn I saw Miss Thing kick up her heels, fart,  and prance around enjoying a gleeful moment. I hadn't seen that in a while and I decided to run to my car and grab the camera from my purse and snap a shot. In the 30 seconds that I was gone she apparently managed to slip in the little bit of mud next to the gate (so much for the bath) and some how get her head close enough to the gate to cut her nose on one of the small vertical bits that hold the steel tubing together!
 
Had this happened a year ago I would be fretting over the cut and probably calling my vet. However, during the whole leg cut incident back in June he showed me how to determine weather or not a cut needed stitches, and therefore an emergency vet call. This cut, as it turned out, is pretty small and superficial. So I cleaned it up with some betadine, was relieved to see that it was no longer bleeding, and applied some nolvasan ointment. After that I checked the rest of her for any other injuries, and she seemed fine so I put her back in her paddock, but not on the grass. Silly pony. Just when I think she's growing up she goes and does something like this! Thank god I'm not showing her for conformation or halter or whatever it is all those super pretty horses that are never allowed to get a scratch on them show. Rose will just have to have talent instead.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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November 2, 2010

So that's a hand rasp huh?

My farrier took a vacation! Good for him. More farrier's need vacations. However, this means that he couldn't get to Rose until 7 weeks from her last trim. My imagination started running wild with how chipped her feet would become and weather or not I should I just have the barn farrier put a trim on her this time? No, I decided. Rick has done amazing work with her feet. Aside from the damage she caused from stall kicking, her feet have come a long way and held up great all through the dry summer and are very healthy right now. I don't want to risk something going awry with someone else throwing a trim on her. Typically, because of her recent kicking episodes her feet would start to chip at week 5 and they would get trimmed every 5-6 weeks. So, 7 weeks isn't that much of a stretch, but what was I going to do if they did start chipping, especially now that she is outside in a gravel paddock?

I bought a hand rasp!

These things work, but they are definitely designed by and for men. Is it very heavy and awkward. However, over the past few weeks I have figured out how to roughly use it, and have also developed some sort of technique. Rose has also gotten to work A LOT on her manners. I always appreciate Rick's patience with her, but know that I've had a taste of it for myself I think the man is probably a saint. Rose's manners are now much improved, and she is very politely picking up and holding her feet.

7 weeks from her last trim and her feet are looking pretty good. I think that she has even started self trimming a bit, due to her new gravel environment. Much to my relief she has not taken one "ouchy" step since moving into her paddock. All of the walking around and over tough surfaces seems to be doing her feet a lot of good. Maybe between my new found friend the rasp and her new environment, her trims can become more spread out? Only time will tell. But for now, I am looking forward to Rick's visit this week so that I can observe more closely how he wield's the rasp and hopefully improve my technique.

Left Hind: Her hind right were you can see the area that's chipped due to her stall kicking. I've just been filing off any chips that start sticking out in order to avoid a big chip coming out of the wall.

Left Front: This is what both front feet look like. They have little chips along the sides where her foot flares out a bit. These flares were horrible when I first got her, and have improved tremendously. Her feet were also very lopsided and 1 year later she's starting to have nicely balanced front feet.

On a side note, does anyone have a good method for cleaning up the coronary band area? She seems to hang onto some sort of cuticle material on the top 1" below the coronary band. I was always taught to leave the coronary band alone at all costs so that is what I tend to do, but is it okay to scrub off that cuticle material?. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

October 31, 2010

Very scary halloween dream!

www.kecute.wordpress.com
I usually dream during the morning. I don't know why, but it always seems to be in the morning, and this Halloween morning was no different. I can't really say weather or not I've dreamed about Rose before or not. I have a feeling that I had a few anxiety ridden dreams when I first got her, before I started blogging about her, when I had so much to tackle that I didn't know where to start. Regardless, if I did previously dream of her none of them were memorable. So I thought that before this morning's dream fades off into the distant ether of gray matter and repressed memories, I would share my...




SCARY HALLOWEEN DREAM!

I was running late and then I was busy running to Rose's paddock to grab her to show her to a girl and her mom. Apparently I was selling Rose and this was a prospective buyer. I got Rose and then remembered that I needed the buyers to sign release forms to be on the barn property. So I handed Rose off to the small, 13 year old girl who tells me that she does the 3'9" jumpers and out grew her little pony. I then ran to the tack room and grabbed paper work. Then I rushed back and started tacking her up. During that time I started showing the girl some white spots on Rose's side (she does not have these in real life) and told her that coupled with her ermine spots she could be registered paint. I then decided to lounge her for them, and then rather than me riding her, I was going to let the girl ride her instead. Then, I woke up.

Alright, maybe it's not a scary dream in the sense of Jason, and Freddy Krueger, Lady Gaga's meat dress, or the TV ad's during the last two days of the 2010 political voting season, but the way I see it that was one pretty scary dream. My waking thought was, "What the h-e-l-l"?  My second waking thought was "Ooh, I need to put the sticky buns in the oven....yum"!

Why my dream was so scary:
1. I was running late. I hate being late...it causes me a lot of anxiety.
2. I was apparently selling Rose.
3. I was selling a 3 year old warmblood that doesn't yet jump to a 13 year old girl that does the 3'-9" jumpers.
4. No one wore a helmet in the dream at all.
5. Prior to having any release paper work signed I handed a 3 year old warmblood that can be unpredictable at times off to a kid I don't know while I disappeared out of sight.
6. I was apparently about to let a 13 year old girl ride my 3 year old warmblood without actually having any knowledge, other than what she says, of her riding abilities.
7. I was incouraging the girl to register Rose as a paint. Not so scary, as just plain weird and random.

So, if you ask me, that was on messed up, scary, Halloween dream.

Happy haunting everyone, and look out for the headless horseman out there!

October 26, 2010

Who is this focused mare?

Rose is in heat, which normally does not warrant a blog post, but something a little odd happened last night.

I've become very attuned to and used to her expressions of discomfort when she is in heat. It usually starts with dancing in the cross ties, being pushy, not standing still, tenderness on her sides being brushed, and being distracted by anything and everything possible. Not to mention randomly peeing everywhere. "Oh boy" I thought, as I put her in the cross ties and she began dancing about. Luckily the gelding Chico that is stalled next to the cross ties seems to have no interest in Miss Thing at all, which is a huge relief to me. He got a carrot for being such an awesome chill gelding superstar. Anyway, we worked through her touchiness, and surprisingly she was fine about being saddled and girthed. "Odd" I told the stable dog Taboo who was now focused intently on the fact that I have carrots,  "That's not her 'in-heat' MO". With a shrug and sigh into the arena we go for a hack without much expectation. I decided to just work on my seat, let her be in heat, and see where we end up. Well, she stood perfectly still at the mounting block. "Humph" I thought. I swung a leg over and off we went.

Rose was instantly focused on the task at had and gave me 110%. About half way through it occurred to me that she wasn't even pretending to spook at anything. "Humph" I thought again. I worked on my seat a lot, and boy am I sore today. It's hard work transitioning from hunt-seat to dressage. The whole relaxed lower leg and sitting on one's arse is defiantly a new one for me, but I am making great progress. Aside from that I was also able to work on all of our training tasks at hand as well. We had nice straight balanced walk, trot, AND canter gates, and our best downward transitions to date. And...drum-roll...half-halts at the canter! After all was said and done, I drove home through the torrential downpour the happiest that I have in a long time. She was such a good girl.

Happy trails.

October 24, 2010

The deluge begins...

I love, love, love having an indoor arena that is fully protected from the wind and rain! Yes, the rainy season has officially arrived in the PNW. However, at least we have shelter and properly constructed paddocks this winter. Warm tinglies all over!

I had a great afternoon at the barn working with Rose, who continues to be calm and happy. Given that today was our "Monday" (she has Thu, Fri, Sat off), that statement means a lot. I was able to put her straight in the cross ties where she behaved like a lady, then we went to work and she picked right up where we left on on Wednesday. She was such a good girl!

We have been working on moving straight and balanced. Originally I had spent a lot of time working her on circles and serpentines, and pretty much anything other than the rail. Last month it became clear that she wasn't really listening to my aids and didn't really have steering. Instead she had simply gotten used to moving on a circle, and throwing her shoulder out and falling in badly in both directions. The fix? We have been working on moving straight at the walk, trot, halt. She seem to be mastering the downward transitions at last and is finally moving straight, and going deep into corners instead of cutting in and throwing her shoulder out. So it seemed time to move on to the next step. This past week I started cantering her on the rail as well. On Wednesday we got one whole length of the arena in both directions without her falling in and trying to cut across the area and ended there. I was curious where we'd be today. Well, Miss Thing is such a smarty when she want's to be and picked right up where we left off. We CAN canter in a straight line. It still needs much more practice, but she's got the idea at last! In addition, once we get going nice and straight and balanced on the rail, with downward transitions, then we finish up our session riding 20M circles at the walk, trot, halt. Guess what? She's balanced and not throwing her shoulder in! I am so proud of my girl.

After our ride, I pampered Miss Thing until she was far beyond cooled off and dry. It was time to throw evening feed so I put her back out in her paddock and then went about my chores. After I was all done I went to say goodbye, expecting that I wouldn't actually see her since it was POURING rain. Well, wouldn't you know it, she was standing right by the gate. In the POURING rain! Diva at least had the sense to go hang out in their giant dry loafing shed full of hay. Maybe Rose decided that she needed a bath? Seriously, if you zoom in to the photo, you can actually see the rain beading off of her. Silly pony.

Have a great Monday everyone...and if you are in my neck of the woods, stay dry!

October 21, 2010

1000 words

Rose & Diva

There just aren't words to express how happy this sight makes me every time I arrive at the barn. Happy, social babies.

October 19, 2010

And the loot arrives...

Yep, that's what a box full of pointless boredom breakers looks like. Sigh. This, combined with the Amazing Graze and Redmond Rock, would have equaled the purchase of a new and badly needed girth instead. Good thing my birthday/Christmas is right around the corner, maybe AR will surprise me with tack! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge if you are reading this AR, she needs a size 25.5/26 in black). Oh well, at least the box of goodies won't go bad, and one day we will inevitably be back in a stall and they will definitely come in useful then. So, off to storage to accompany the Amazing Graze goes the box. Except for the paddock likit. I think that Rose and Diva will love this little nugget!

Speaking of which, when I arrived at the barn this evening the two girls were inseparable! They were standing shoulder to shoulder at the gate happy to great me. Poor Diva wanted to come with us though when I took Rose out of the paddock. It was so adorable. As for Rose, I suddenly have a very happy and complacent horse! She was happy to see me, happy to leave her paddock, happy to hang out in the cross ties, happy to be tacked up, happy to stand at the mounting block...you get the idea. I had an awesome evening with Miss Thing! When all was done, I took her back out to her paddock and Diva let out the most adorable whinny when she saw Rose walking down the aisle. I couldn't help but stand there for a few minutes giving them both head scratches over the gate. They are just so darn cute together, it makes my heart melt. I'm so glad to see my girl happy again. :)

October 17, 2010

Room to run, play, and be a baby!

Trailer...headed south
Rose went for a ride this afternoon, back to a familiar place. I found out earlier this week that GMF (where Rose was started this past spring) had an opening for pasture board with another warmblood mare, 4-year old Diva. As our barn had a waiting list of four horses for the next available stall, the whole situation couldn't have worked out better. I will definitely miss everyone at our barn, and especially the barn owners. They took amazing care of Rose and I always new that she was in good hands. We will have a good home at GMF too though, so I'm happy about how everything worked out.

Rose (left) & her pasture
playmate Diva (right)
Rose is now enjoying a nice big dry and mud-proof paddock with a huge loafing shed and lovely Diva as a playmate. The two seemed to remember each other from Rose's stay last spring, and got along right away. They make quite a handsome pair, and if it weren't for Rose's star I'd probably have a hard time telling them apart! As for the human? I already saw a few friendly faces that I had met when we were there in the spring, and it's great to be back and to feel so welcomed.

Now for all those boredom breakers I just purchased? I guess the jury will be out on those for a while, until we are back in a stall. A situation I am more than happy about! I'm fairly certain that Diva will turn out to be the best boredom breaker ever.

October 15, 2010

Amazing Graze Treat Dispenser

Rose & her new stall toys.
In my attempt to stop this whole stall kicking nonsense, Rose has two new stall "toys". The first is the Redmond Rock, which you can see in the far left of this photo. Although not strictly a toy she seems to like it, which was evident when I arrived at the barn last night and noticed that she'd already been licking away on it, wearing the top down as smooth as a river rock. She can also scoot it around the floor, which I'm sure entertains her a bit too. I picked mine up at my local feed store, Coastal Farm & Ranch for $12.99.

Next on the roster is the Amazing Graze Treat Dispenser which arrived yesterday. I purchased mine from drsfostersmith.com, for $38.19, and it arrived in just a few days with regular shipping. I love it when that happens! After our ride, I put a portion of her feed (alfalfa pellets) in it and watched to see what she'd do with it. I was mostly concerned that she would ignore it, much like the Jolly Ball. Nope! The first 30 seconds were dramatic. She was instantly interested, as she knows the sound of pellets in plastic and she could smell them through the hole. She shoved it once, nothing happened. Then she picked it up and tossed it a foot or so, nothing happened. Then she tried to bite the center of it, presumably to get straight to the grain, which didn't work either. Then she sighed and apparently decided it was too much work and she went to eat her hay.

At this point I went ahead and fed her the rest of her grain in her feed bucket and went about cleaning tack, etc. After a while, she finished her grain and returned to the hay rack once again. I finished up with my tack and organizing things to sell that this weekend's giant bi-annual Canby Tack sale (Jolly Stall Snack anyone? A bargain at $5!), so I decided to up the anti and add another cup of alfalfa pellets, carrot chunks, and cookies to the AG. Well, that peeked her interest in it again. This time she was more determined and finally noticed that when she rolled it treats came out the hole. She was sold and just went about dispensing treat after treat. Hopefully, just hopefully, this will keep her entertained through the wee hours of the morning. We shall see. For now though, it's a keeper.

Happy trails!

October 12, 2010

Lunging or Longeing?

Teaching Rose to longe,  winter '09
A relative a while back asked me why I spelled "lunging" funny. "Well", I said "I don't". It's French and is spelt LONGEING. I think the confusion comes from non-horse activities that are forced on the majority of American kids in PE class...lunges. I recall my tennis coach making us do 10 sets of lunges down the very long hallway in one wing of my high school every time it rained. One of the many joys of participating in sports in the PNW. I digress. For everyone's clarity I have assembled the following definitions/historical info in an attempt to educate the masses and provide a concrete answer to the age old lunging vs. longeing question.

DEFINITIONS - CORRECT USE


Longeing: a technique for training horses, where a horse is asked to work at the end of a long line and respond to commands from a handler on the ground who holds the line. It is believed to be derived from either the French word allonge meaning "to lengthen", or the Latin longa meaning long (www.wikipedia.com). This is the classical spelling of the word and as such, in my mind, the correct spelling.

Longe Line: The 30' long line that is attached to the caveson or bridle, and held by the handler in the center of the circle. I personally love padded cotton longe lines...so much more comfortable to hold than those stiff web ones!


DEFINITIONS - INCORRECT USE


Lunging: to thrust or propel (as a blow) in a lung (www.merriam-webster.com). For instance, racehorses often lunge out of the starting gate. Not really what you want your horse to be doing when you are on the other end of a line. 

Here's an interesting little story that makes the whole lunging thing rather clear, by No1Dazy:
"My trainer went to a racetrack to try out a new horse. (OTTB) She asked the horse's trainer, "does he lunge?" The race trainer's response: Just a little, when he first breaks out of the gate!"

Lungline or Lung Line: Not a word/phrase. Do you really need to swing a lung around on a 30' line? I think not.


Lungeing: Not a word, just a total misspelling. A hybrid between longeing and lunging. Even google doesn't' like it: "Did you mean: lunging "


Lunge Line: A misspelling of longe line, based on using lunge instead of longe.

Longing: : a strong desire especially for something unattainable (www.merriam-webster.com). Just a common misspelling I've noticed. It's pretty easy to leave out the e when you are typing quickly. I can say though that I've had my horse longings for sure!

Longline: a heavy fishing line that may be many miles long and that has baited hooks in series (www.merriam-webster.com). I don't know about you, but I am not attaching that to my horse!

Happy trails and swooshy tails!

October 9, 2010

Much adue about stall kicking

When we moved to our current barn, Rose immediately hurt herself and ended up on stall rest the first month. At some point in that period she picked up a new and bad habit, stall kicking. I haven't dealt with a stall kicker before, so this is all new to me. We made it until August when the barn owners couldn't take the 3AM wake up calls anymore, and I was persuaded to obtain a kick chain (although I was very concerned about putting it on her, I have to admit that in the end it has been relatively harmless). In addition to that, at the end of august turnout was cut to only every other day (and no turnout if it rains). Lack of turnout has abruptly made the problem worse. In fact, she's so bull headed that the kick chain helps, but hasn't stopped the problem all together. This, of course, makes me feel terrible. Certainly I hate the fact that there is a jingle whenever she walks around her stall, but I also hate that she is damaging her stall wall and the building siding in her run, and potentially hurting herself. After a good, albeit emotional, discussion with the barn owners I spent some time on DoverSaddlery.com ordering Rose some stall toys. Here is the roster of what's coming in the mail in my desperate attempt to keep her happy and less destructive in her stall...and to get rid of that kick chain. Basically, I want to get that kick chain off of her because I don't think it's fixing the problem, just masking (sort of) the symptom.
What has worked in the past and is a keeper: Last winter someone gave me a Likit tongue twister that Rose loved and used a lot, but it broke about a week before we left the old barn and I just never replaced it. It could be that it was keeping her from developing boredom issues in the first place. What didn't work: Back then I also got her a Jolly Stall Snack, but she managed to eat the entire thing in one night, so I'm not keen to bother with that again, although I do still have it somewhere, so I could hang it up in her stall and give it a go. I also got her a Jolly Ball which she could care less about, but my dog loves. New things we are trying out: I decided order the Paddock Likit which should help simulate grazing/turnout while she's in her stall...assuming she doesn't eat the whole thing overnight as well. I also picked up a Redmond Rock salt rock. She licks her current salt lick, but it's just the plain white salt, and I know that she prefers the more mineral laden salts. I also like that it is big and can just hang out on the floor of her stall under the hay feeder. In addition, I heard that a local trainer in the area uses Fetlock Rings instead of kick chains. Basically they stop the horse from being able to cock their foot the whole way and thus kick. I figured that it was worth a try, especially if it will get rid of the jingle jangle. However, what I'm really excited to try out is the Amazing Graze Treat Dispenser. If this works, I can see it being a great substitute for the lack of turnout! I think I might throw a nibble net in her stall too. Hopefully toys will give her something productive to do with her brain while confined to her stall/run. Pretty soon she won't know what to do with herself, she'll have so many options. Her stall is also going to be more decorated than a Christmas tree! Wish us luck in breaking this bad vice!

October 7, 2010

What downward transitions?

A funny thing happened after Rose's month off (stall rest) this summer...we lost our downward transitions. This, I think is primarily my fault, but certainly the stall rest didn't help. Transitioning from hunt seat to dressage, and also riding a bit defensively (she is a baby...and baby's spook and do stupid stuff unpredictably) caused me to be a bit forward (hello hunt seat rider) and tense in position...and that resulted in our downward transitions going to pot. The good news is, I've been working on my position like crazy and I'm finally starting to naturally get my body in the right place. I'm also becoming more centered and balanced...and relaxing, regardless of potential spooks. I guess if my arse hits the dirt, that's life, and that's what my helmet is for.

So how are we re-establishing those downward transitions? Back to basics...which is what is helping me with my seat a lot. We are doing a lot of walk, halt, GOOD GIRL, walk, halt, GOOD GIRL. Then once she is straight and balanced (and I am too) we move up to Trot, Walk, Halt, GOOD GIRL, etc. Repetition! It is simple and it works. She's very proud of herself at the end of our sessions, and gets lot of carrots and scratches as a reward. She's been such a delight this week I couldn't be happier. There haven't been any spooks or exciting moments either. She's learning to keep walking and halting, even when another horse is in the arena and cantering. Rose wants to play and canter too, but is learning that she must listen instead!

Thanks for visiting. Happy trails and swooshing tails!

Surprises in the pasture

I had a very proud moment last night while riding Rose. We were practicing our downward transitions, and right when I asked her to come to the walk in the corner she all of a sudden stopped dead, imitated a giraffe, and froze. I immediately searched the property line for what she was starring at. Cougar, fox, coyote? No...a far more dangerous animal...a deer!

"Crap" I thought, "she's either going to act like a Percheron or a Thoroughbred". I immediately prepared for the TB reaction. I should have had more faith in her. After about 30 seconds of letting her stand perfectly still while petting her neck and saying GOOD GIRL, I assessed that she decided to be Percheron at that moment and was not going to flip out and gallop to the other end of the arena. Instead she just stood there with her gaze following the slow movement of the deer across the pasture. I decided that was enough, gave her another good pat, applied light leg pressure from my left leg and asked her to walk on, tracking to the right along the long side of the arena and then asked for another halt transition. She took a sigh and obligingly listened to me and abruptly forgot all about the deer. In fact, she didn't even try to slow and look for the deer the next time we passed that corner! What a good girl. Some days I am so proud of Miss Thing. She just makes my heart feel good.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 4, 2010

More fun with trailers

This week's ground work returned us to our old friend the trailer. Rose has been hauling well since March (by that I mean she walks right on and slowly backs out on command). So what's my problem? We've only ever hauled her loose with the divider open, like a box stall. Granted she hauls great this way, and if I knew that I would never sell her or that I would never own a second horse, I would probably be lazy and just haul her that way for the next 20+ years. However, I do hope someday to have a second horse (husband, kid, etc.) and one never knows in this economy what will happen, so if I were forced to sell her then I'd like to know that she's hauling in a slant divider safe and sound.

We decided to teach her to stand in the second slant first, before moving onto the first slant. Right way I noticed a slight problem with our current loading methods. Because we've always hauled her loose, I've always walked on the trailer with her and then handed her lead out the window to AR and then shut the back door, after which we'd un-clip her lead. Our problem: with the slant divider closed there is no room for me on the trailer. This means Rose needed to learn to self load. So we spent the hour figuring out that we needed to get her to self load, and then getting her to do it. We spent a good amount of time walking onto the trailer, only for her to turn her head, look at me not moving forward, and then stopping all forward motion. The look on her face said "Mom, why are you standing back there? Don't you want to get on? No? Okay, we must be getting off then. Back?" Finally, toward the end of the hour she figured out that I wanted her to still get on, even without me. She walked right past me with the lead looped over her back and put all four hooves on the trailer in the second slant. Good mare! After a good scratch on her rump, lots of praise, and a carrot from AR through the window we had a nice slow back out, on command, and ended the day's lesson with that success. I think a few more successful loads like that, with the back door shut, and we may be ready to move onto the front slant (heart caught in throat at prospect).

Please everyone, teach your foals and yearlings to load and stand in a divider, so it doesn't have to be taught once they are a 16.1h 1,100lb 3 year old!

September 30, 2010

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today I brought Rose home. A lot has changed in that time (read my original post here). At the time she taped 15.2h and 900lb. Today, at 3½ years old, she stands just shy of 16.1h and is a solid 1100lb. Wow! One year, three inches and 300lb! Fortunately, we took a photo of her three days after we brought her home, so I thought I'd share a before and after photo with everyone.

Rose & I, 2009
Rose & I, 2010



Happy trails and swooshy tails!

September 27, 2010

Just when I was about to swap out my summer/winter wardrob this weekend we were blessed with some unexpected late summer weather! As such, AR and I decided to take some quick glamor shots of Rose. So here you go...my big beautiful baby. Unfortunately we didn't get photos of her freaking out about the bee that landed on her nose. Mostly AR was more concerned with the fact that I slipped on the dewy grass and fell on my arse at her then flailing feet, which resulted in her getting loose and running amuck (no horses or humans were harmed). Luckily she ran toward the back paddocks and not the driveway! What a video/photo shoot that would have been, but alas memory will just have to suffice.

September 24, 2010

What! No more Nolvasan Cream?

Stop the presses, Nolvasan Antiseptic Ointment is no longer being made and virtually no one even knows about it! I discovered this travesty recently while placing a SmartPak.com order to stock up on wormer, and knowing that I was low on Nolvasan I thought it was time to bulk up. After being perplexed as to why it was no longer on their site, and also not on DoverSaddlery.com I went to the forums. The result? No one seems to know what the deal is, it's just disappeared from the market. So I I called the fine folks at Pfizer and this is what they had to say: "It's been discontinued and there are no plans to introduce it back to the market". No reason given why.

Utter perplexed silence.

Given the lack of Nolvsan on the market I decided to just buy this month's wormer (Equimax) at my local feed store and also to pick up a bag of black oil sunflower seeds to add to Miss Thing's supplements. To my utter delight there were two tubs of Nolvasan Ointment still on the shelf. I resisted my urge to buy them both, knowing that barring any major injuries one tub will last me more than a year. Even Nolvasan has an expiration date after all. So the other tub is sitting there, lonely on the shelf at Costal Farm and Ranch in Oregon City. First come first serve, just saver every last little drop of it because once it's gone it's gone.

Updated 10/21/2011

Replacement options:
If you can't find one of the last remaining Nolvasan tubs though, here are a couple replacements accoding to the internet.  The important thing to remember is Nolvasan ointment had 1% chlorhexidine in a hydrophilic base, so you want to find something similar. I've never used these products so I can't vouch for them or recommend them, but it seems that it has the same active ingredients and percentages, however they seem to be more and more difficult to find.

Dermachlor Antiseptic Ointment
Vedco Chlorhex Ointment
Priority Care 1 Privasan Antiseptic Ointment

Personally I've just resorted to using Vetericyn Universal Wound & Infection spray. It seems to do the job for the most part on minor abrasions, but does require repeated application throughout the day, which doesn't work for most of us. I've also used Corona ointment on a few things that I'm concerned with getting dirty and that has seemed to be okay. Like with any wound, I just make sure to clean the wound with betadine solution really well before application. It is nice and sticky and seems to do the job, but it is still not a completely happy replacement for me.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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