October 31, 2010

Very scary halloween dream!

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...


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.


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!


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!


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