February 28, 2011

Much like parenting?

My husband and I are currently on vacation in our beloved Bozeman, Montana. In the past, a vacation for me always has meant a vacation for Rose. However, in light of show season, I though it best for her to stay in work whilst I was away. I decided to ask my dear friend BA if she would like to ride Rose in my abcense. She was delighted by the offer and instantly took me up on it.

The week before I left BA came out to the barn one evening and we went through "the routine" to cover any little quirks that I may have in regard to Rose and for her to ride Rose from start to finish. In the past I've always hopped on Rose first to get her warmed up and head in the game before BA rode her. However, Rose has come a long way since BA rode her last and BA is a very competent rider, so I knew that there wouldn't be any issues, even if I was scared to death that there might be.

So with a deep breath, I let go of any concerns and hopped in our truck headed for the mountains. I was delighted Sunday night to get a text from BA that "she had her second ride of the weekend on Rose and all is well with her". I'm so glad that my friend is having a good time with her and that she's behaving. I imagine that this is much like being a parent and leaving your kid with a friend the first time so that you can go out to dinner with your husband. I know that in my absence Rose will be fine at the barn, and I know that she will be fine with BA, but until that bridge is actually crossed it is a bit scary!

So, I'm looking forward to the rest of my vacation. I'm checking out local barns in the area while I'm here and putting my old collegiate saddle up for sale at the local tack shop. I think it will do a better job of selling here than at home, simply because there is less supply of quality used English tack here. I do however look forward to getting home and getting Rose ready for her first recognized show on March 13th.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 21, 2011

Schooling show success!

The schooling show this weekend was a huge success and so much fun! I haven't gone to a show with a trainer in over a decade, so it was a nice change from being all alone and having to organize myself and my horse all by myself. It was also great to get to support my barn mates, and to have their support and help too. As for Rose, she was very well behaved and did very well in her stall all weekend. From stall wall and hoof analysis I determined that she did not kick all weekend. Maybe she's been outside long enough that she no longer hates stalls? Or maybe she just sucked it up for a weekend? Either way it was a big sigh of relief for me. She seemed content to hang her head out her stall window all weekend, soaking up some rare sunlight, and watching the goings on. She is still a baby of course, and was in heat all weekend, so she annoyingly called back and forth to a couple other horses when she was in her stall, but beyond that she was just a sweet adorable mare. As soon as I put her saddle on her though, she got down to business and focused. I was amazed. Once again she took it all in stride and was a very good girl.

Our tests went well, and red must be our color, as we ended up with three 2nd place ribbons for the weekend. Granted there were only two or three people in our classes. However, this show was all about the experience, so even if we'd left with all 5th places I'd be very happy. At this point I feel confident and comfortable taking her to shows now, so it's time to really start focusing on our training and our tests. I'd really like to start showing her at Training Level come June, and I think that is a reasonable goal. At this point I feel like I'm the one holding her back.

All Done! With Rose and Gatsby's Mom
after Rose's final test.
We also had a few visitors throughout the weekend, one of which was Gatsby's Mom. It's so fun to see her at our shows, and I love how much pride she takes in Rose. The Gatsby family truly is a tight knit one, and I'm so glad that we are a part of it.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 18, 2011

Shooling Show Number Two

Weekend line up:
We will be at the Devonwood Equestrian Center Blue Ribbon Schooling show all weekend. If you are from my area, you probably know where that is, and you are most welcome to track us down and say hi. I love meeting new people and Rose loves treats, no matter where they come from.

Schooling in the arena...Rose
trying hard to look at everything
possible and ignore me.
Here are our ride times:
Saturday: 12:06pm Intro Test B
Sunday: 11:59pm Dressage Eq (I entered her in this for the experience of being in a class with other horses, unfortunately no on else entered it, so its just us...argh!)
Sunday: 1:00pm Intro Test A

We've been working on our "march" in the walk, and getting into those corners. She had lots of march last night...but that could of had something to do with the full moon. We are as ready as we are going to be at this point though, so the rest is up to fate. My plan is to bring a bottle of bubbly (for post ride) and have fun cheering on my barn mates. I'll let you all know how it goes and I'm sure to have some nice photos, as the husband has the fancy camera with new special "indoor arena" lens charged and ready to go!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 12, 2011

Our first schooling show!

I did a sneaky little thing, I took Rose to a schooling show today and didn't tell anyone about it. After telling friends and family about next week's show, I started getting a bit nervous about all the non-horsey on lookers and the fan fair. I didn't want the pressure of worrying about if something went wrong, and then explaining to my non-horsey friends that that's normal for a baby. So when I found out there was a little local show today I signed us up, kept my mouth shut and at 6:30am this morning hauled her out to her first show.


All I wanted was a low pressure positive experience and for her to stay inside the white arena boards. None of which she'd ever seen before and in an arena at a barn she'd never been to before. She calmly walked off the trailer, into her stall for the day, and we tacked her up. Then, she quietly followed me to the arena and let me hand walk her around, then I hopped up and got to business. I gave myself an hour to "warm her up", although she was so calm about everything I had to ask my friend JM, who came to help me for the morning, to give me my spurs. We had a lot of standing and socializing going on during our warm up, so it was a pretty laid back warm-up. She was a little lookie at a pile of spare pipe fencing in the warm up arena, but other than that she didn't care about anything. Not the big white letter cones with flowers sitting on top, or the applause, or the bleachers, or the judge, or the other horses. She just took it all in stride like a seasoned pro.

When our ride time came, she acted like she'd done it a million times before. We did the USDF Intro Test B and ended up with a score of 72.5%, placing second in our class, and wining reserve champion for our division! That's far more than I ever expected and I'll happily take it any day. I just couldn't be more happy with my calm, sweet, 3.5-year old mare. She is truly something special. Now I think it is time we start working on those Training Level tests.

Here's the video. Enjoy!

BTW this was my first actual dressage show too (I did a couple combined training tests back in 2000, but that's it). I need to work on those slouchy shoulders but I think I'm getting the hang of this dressage thing.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 11, 2011

Drumroll...balanced canter!

Could it really be? Rose has started using her hind end, reaching under herself, and balancing in the canter!

She made it the whole long side of the arena a few times in a row in both directions bent to the inside, accepting contact, and balanced! I was in disbelief at first and softened my aids as a reward too quickly and she broke to the trot. A quick smack with the whip and we were back to it. She was light, uphill, moving at a comfortable tempo with impulsion!

I knew that eventually we would get here, but I guess that it has been so long that I'm in shock that it finally happened. As a reward she also got to do a little hand gallop along the long side, which she was confused about at first, but then decided she liked. Sometimes you really can see Mr. Seattle Slew in her. After the hand gallop, she listened right away and collected nicely back on the short side of the arena. Given how well she was doing lengthening and collecting, I decided to try some figure eights with simple changes. She got even softer and sat-back more, listening, and anticipating the change after only a couple circles. I love it when she shows just how smart she is! She even cantered, balanced, a couple 10 - 15m circles, and yes it crossed my mind immediately that this means she does indeed have potential to do the jumpers down the road, assuming that she can jump.

It's a small achievement in the grand scheme of things, but it will make our rides so much easier now and in the future, so in my mind this is actually a really big accomplishment.

 *Update: I just realized this was my 100th post! Woo-hoo! Thanks for joining us on this journey.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 10, 2011

Learning how to braid dressage buttons!

On Sunday my ride was not as painful as I thought it might otherwise be. After an evening of icing and Advil, I determined that my injuries from Saturday were indeed limited to bruising and road rash. As such I decided to suck it up and ride Rose. I checked her over once more when I got to the barn, and her injuries were indeed limited to a little surface wound on her hock...no biggy. Boy did we get lucky!

After our ride I decided that it was time I tackle this dressage button braid thing. I can do hunter braids in my sleep, and I can't even tell you how many horses I've stayed up until 3am braiding before shows...and then also showing the next day. That was all back before Red Bull was invented. To be honest, I have no idea how I functioned on four hours of sleep all through college, but I did. Anyway, back then I always took great pleasure in my tail braiding ability as well. My braids were always straight and tight and held overnight and through show day. However, it has been years since I braided a tail and I never did dressage buttons back then either. So, like with most dressage stuff this is new territory for me and I decided that I should should practice before I actually need to braid for a show. I braided Rose myself for inspection in August, and although I got some kind remarks from friends, in my opinion my dressage buttons had a lot of room for improvement. I recently un-braided a couple of my trainer's horses, which gave me a great opportunity to carefully inspected the braids to try and determine the technique that was used to make them. These were the most beautiful dressage buttons I've ever seen, by the way. What I discovered was very different than any you tube video I've watched, and is far different that what I did back in August.


First I wet her mane and cut about 15 18"-long pieces of black yarn and found my pulling comb. Starting at her pole, I divided Rose's mane into comb lengths sections as I moved along. When my braid is half way done, I fold the yarn in half and ad it to two pieces of my braid and then braid it in as I finish the braid. Then, holding the bottom of the braid with my left hand, I wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the bottom of the braid twice and knot it. I then do all the braids just like that. Next it is time to pull them all up/make the buttons. Going back to the pole and my first braid, I wrap the braid around itself counter clockwise forming the button and then secured by pulling the yarn up through the base of the braid and then wrapping each string (one to the right, one to the left) around the whole thing and knotting it under the braid. Then I finish by clipping off the ends of the strings. It's just that simple!

Not half bad!

Now that is a tail that braiding was
invented for!

I managed to bring everything to the barn that I needed except for a pull through. I still managed to make it work using my fat fingers, but I know the end result would be a bit tighter if I had used a pull through. This also meant that I couldn't pull up her forelock braid or her tail (I know you don't braid dressage tails, I just wanted to see if I still "had it"). I took me an hour to braid her mane and tail, and aside from one of the buttons on the mane and a slight curve to the left on the tail braid I am pretty pleased with my work. Had this been the real deal, I would have pulled out that one funky button and re-done it, but it was time to throw feed so I pulled them all out and gave the girl a break for the night. It was a good exercise and one I need to do a few more times.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

February 6, 2011

Our first trail ride - and a little worse for wear.

The dry weather the past few weeks has had me dreaming of trail riding. The ground has actually dried up so my fellow boarder JM and I decided to head out the front gate of our barn on Saturday and take her gelding Rio and Rose for Rose's first trail ride. It started out nice an calm and Rose was looking around but happy to be doing something different. As we were walking down the barn's asphalt drive...


Rio got startled, but stayed in one spot. Rose spooked from the combination of Rio and the birds, and as luck would have it the asphalt was little bit moist from a sprinkling earlier in the morning. Rose lost her footing (so much for barefoot traction) and we both went down in a scrambling heap onto the driveway.

The worst of it - road rash
The whole thing happened in a split second. One moment I was aware of the birds, and the next I was in the fetal position on the ground with my eyes shut and praying that I didn't get stepped on. Rose did a great job avoiding my appendages, and aside from some road rash on my shoulder and a couple bruises on my right leg, we both managed to come out of it okay.

Rose got back on her feet, managing to avoid stepping on me, and just slowly meandered a few feet away with a rather stunned look on her face that said "what the h@#l just happened?" After a quick assessment that nothing was broken on myself or Rose, she let me catch her and then stood nice and quiet while I remounted from the ground, and then we continued on our little trail ride. For the most part she just walked nice and quiet. There were a couple head tossing/hopping moments when she saw the neighbors horses in their paddocks and got a bit excited, but she listened and settled down easily.

Although I could have done without the "horse falling under me" asphalt incident, I am very pleased with how calm Rose was immediately after. She didn't bolt or take off for the barn, or the busy road, and she was good about letting me get back on and continue on our way. I also have to say that my helmet did a great job. While I was aware of every part of my body hitting the ground, my head is the one thing that didn't feel like it made contact with anything. So, big gold star for my IRH ATH SSV helmet! Definitely something to never leave home (barn) without. I've very much looking forward to the next trail ride, which will hopefully be without incident.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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February 4, 2011

Thrush Off...this stuff works!

I just put in an order for two more bottles of Thrush Off. The stuff isn't cheap, $11.95 for a tiny 2oz bottle...which applied every day to all four feet will give you a week and a half supply. However it works AND unlike others it's not a carcinogen. I also like that it comes with a tooth brush for application. It took me a while to figure out that is also the best method to apply Durasole as well,  given that their instructions are not very helpful. Gold star for Thrush Off customer relations! Previously I've used Durasole to dry up thrush problems and to prevent potential abscess development after trimming, and it does work. However I don't like the idea of handling a known carcinogen nor applying that to my horse. It also stinks because of the formaldehyde, and the purple stuff in it stains everything.The day I got a speck of it flicked into my eye (they do say to wear safety goggles when applying) was the last straw with that product. Thank goodness for eye flushing practice in high school chemistry!

In my efforts to avoid carcinogenic agents, and after Rose's initial bout of thrush appeared to clear up, I thought I'd try to just maintain thrush prevention with a home remedy of  Sugardyne (a mixture of sugar and Betadine). That did not work, and wow did the thrush ever come back big time! Now it could be that I just didn't make it right. As such, I wouldn't stand by the fact that it didn't work and I'd love to experiment more with it, however a thrush outbreak during training just doesn't seem like the time or the place. So I got back on the internet and started looking for other thrush products, and that's when I found Thrush Off (not to be confused with Thrush Buster) on the Dover Saddlery website. 

Rose's thrush started clearing up after the first application, coupled with the delightfully dry weather we've been getting and repeated treatments the thrush is nearly all gone and she is growing healthy frog back! I am very much looking forward to her trim next week to see those frogs cleaned up and officially say farewell to this annoying thrush issue.

*Bonus: Thrush Off's purple color washes off and it's antibacterial nature should also work for our abscess prevention post trim routine.

Happy trails and swooshing tails

February 2, 2011

New Page - Tack for Sale

So I have a saddle for sale and you can read all about it on my new page "For Sale" . If you are interested you can email me at dock.start (at) gmail (dot) com. It's a great saddle, but it will never fit Rose, so it's time I said goodbye to it and start looking for a wide or exchangeable gullet 17" or 17.5" close contact. I'm happy to trade for such a saddle as well!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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