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

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!

post signature

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!

post signature

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:


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. 

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!


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.

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!

post signature

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!

post signature

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!

post signature

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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails