March 31, 2011

March 30, 2011

Oh the HEAT!

What? What did I do?
Spring heat has arrived, and I'm not talking about the weather. Our ride Sunday was an improvement on Saturday's lesson, so I was happy about that. What was interesting about our ride happened before we warmed up.

When I arrive at the barn Gatsby was being ridden/shown to some potential breeders. This was a good thing because I got to chat with his dad, whom I haven't seen in a while, and I got to watch Tracie ride him. He's just so beautiful under saddle (or otherwise). Once he was underway I pulled Rose from her paddock to get her groomed up. As I put her in the cross ties she started doing a stupid little impatient rear thing! I turned around. Straight in her line of sight was Gatsby. "Ugh" I said to Rose "Seriously? He's your father, knock it off". The funny thing is, I was worried that pulling her out would disturb Gatsby, not the other way around. Gatsby didn't even seem to notice that Rose was alive.

Rose on the other hand was ridiculous.

About that same time our newest addition to the barn, 17.2h and very handsome Trucker was pulled from his stall and put in the cross ties down the aisle in front of Rose. Good lord, it was like waving a candy bar in front of a toddler and telling them they couldn't have it. She LOVES Trucker. I ignored her antics for the most part, grooming her and tacking her up. Gatsby finished his ride and got put away and Trucker went into the arena for some ground work, so she settled down. When we were ready, we went into the arena to mount up. She was a good girl about mounting, but as we walked a few strides with her staring intently at Trucker, she suddenly stopped and peed, with me on her! Rose won't even pee in the cross ties or during ground work in the arena, and certainly not while under saddle. Unless she is on stall bedding, she will hold it all day long before she will pee. All of this added up in my mind and I resigned myself to that fact that she was indeed in her first FULL BLOWN HEAT of the season. Oh mare!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 27, 2011

Saturday Lesson: Recap

Its funny when you raise the bar, how much more work you suddenly realize you have to do! Yesterday's lesson was better than last week in a few ways, but there is still A LOT to work on. I love that Rose is so smart that she remembers lessons quickly, and when she "gets it”, it generally sticks. However, she is also stubborn at times. Yesterday was one of those times.

The good:
1. Upward transitions were much better - she is listening to lighter aid and responding more quickly.
2. She is out of heat so she was less fidgety and cranky than she has been all week.
3. When she was focused and listening, she was balanced and amazing (that was probably 10% of our ride).

The bad:
1. She is doing everything that she can to focus on everything else, and trying to ignore me.
2. She is getting frustrated that I am insisting she listen.
3. She is so frustrated about this that she is stubbornly doing everything she can to continue to ignore me.

I know we'll get past this current little meeting of the minds, given that eventually I always win because I never let her stop until I do, but lord it takes everything out of me. I am very sore today...and I am sure she is too. She was dripping in sweat and foam by the end of our lesson. Silly mare, it would be so much easier if she just listened and did not fight me the whole time! We will get there, eventually...I just keep telling myself that. In the mean time, I cannot wait to get her out of the arena and on trails. I think it would be a good mental break for her.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 23, 2011

New Portrait: Surgraaf Over Fences

This post has nothing to do with Rose, but I thought I'd share anyway...a kind of get to know DS better post.

Surgraaf Over Fences
Oil on Canvas
It's a little known fact that in my free time I paint. I have a BA in Studio Art, and have always been one of those "artistic people" that is constantly smelling of turpentine and covered in oil paint as I have a bad habit of scratching my nose when I'm painting. Most of my paintings are hanging in my house or are in storage, but about a half-dozen of them are in private collections around the world. I much prefer to create art for others than to hang it in my own house, or even trade work with other artists. It might sound crazy, but quite frankly one can only have so many of their own paintings hanging in their house. At any rate, on Sunday I finally finished my latest portrait, a commission piece that will be delivered in person this weekend. I am quite pleased with how it came out, and I know its new owner will be too.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in commissioning their own equine portrait I am going to have a lot of free time shortly, so I am definitely offering my services again. Please just email me at dock.start (at) gmail (dot) com with questions, photos, etc. for a quote. Don't worry, it is more affordable than you might think and heck it doesn't hurt to ask!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 21, 2011

Saturday Lesson: It's an attitude thing

Rose has progressed a lot in the past few months, and I've very proud of her/us for that. However, she has reached a point where she's decided that somethings are hard and that she doesn't want to do them. Now, the Super Full Moon we had this week might of had something to do with the increased stubbornness...but, I doubt it. She's just testing the water like any teenage girl would (in my mind she's right around 18/19 in people years), and well, she didn't like the result.

On Saturday we had our lesson with Tracie. I've been having difficulties with her canter transition specifically, but as Tracie noticed, I am having difficulty with all of her transitions. So we decided to work on that. So, what's my difficulty with all the transitions? She's not listening to a light and polite aid, and aside from her attitude I figure that the rest is my fault for letting her get away with it.

The Problem
  • Trot: I hadn't noticed that I was having to ask 3-4 time for her to pick up the trot and that in doing so my legs had become vice like, resulting in me having to work way too hard.
  • Canter: About a month ago she started running into the canter transition, occasionally picking up the wrong lead.

The remedy
Starting with the walk - trot transition, I would ask her once, very lightly to trot. If she didn't she got a good whack with the whip. I started out with nice dainty taps with the whip, which she thoroughly ignored. Eventually I found a level of smack, rather than tap, that she paid attention to. Solving the walk-trot transition was swift and easy, and I was delighted how easy it was to comfortably sit the trot when I could relax my legs and not have to impersonate a vice.

Next was the trot-canter transition. This took a lot more time. First we worked making it clear that she doesn't run into the canter. Every time that I lightly asked for the canter and then she started rushing, I gave her a smack with the whip and pulled her back to the trot. Then, I asked again. After a few repetitions she got the idea that she had to just pick up the canter right away, and not run into it. After a few smacks with the whip, she was very energetically lurching into the canter. Once we got that down, we asked her to keep contact on the bit through the transition, and to maintain a bend to the inside (this was to solve her wrong lead issues, mostly going to the right - her bad side). This required a bit of manhandling on my part, insisting that she maintain contact and the inside bend. Although it required a lot of work on my part, resulting in very sore biceps the next day, it worked. Once she did maintain a light contact and the bend I softened my hand and gave her lots of praise. After that we'd have a nice downward trot transition and then she'd get a walk break.

Simple stuff, and very effective. A lot of this I should have been able to realize on my own, but it is so much harder to see the solution when you are working with your own horse. That is why I love lessoning with a trainer. It is so helpful to have someone on the ground with an outsider's perspective telling you what they see. The fact that Tracie is an amazing trainer/rider certainly doesn't hurt either! I'm looking forward to my next ride so that I can reinforce the lessons learned.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 17, 2011

How to haul a horse to Montana :)

The vet was out yesterday to do the barn's vaccinations and worming. I didn't know that they would be out yesterday when I called them to let them know...


I am so excited, that I can't even communicate my level of excitement through writing. Anyway, as it turns out the vet was already scheduled to come to the barn yesterday, so in addition to her vaccinations they would pull a coggins and work up Rose's health certificate while they were there. She also got her feet trimmed yesterday, so I decided to give her the day off, since she was poked and prodded so much in one day. Overly nice concerned owner = yes.

How do you haul a horse into Montana anyway? 
That's the question that immediately crossed my mind and so the research began. If you don't know, Montana is one of, if not the most difficult state to haul a horse into. Given that Oregon doesn't require brand inspection anymore, the potential move was one of the many reasons I got Rose microchiped a few weeks back. Just one more level of  "yeah Mr. State Trooper Person, she is legally MY horse, why don't you scan her microchip?". Not that that is enough, or even a requirement. You have to have a current coggins, health certificate done in the last 30-days, brand inspection if you have one (and you have 30-days to get a MT brand inspection once entering the state) and/or bill of sale. In addition, all the info that goes with the coggins and health certificate must state the days of travel, day of arrival, location of arrival, and local contact information. Luckily, I'm good at moving, I've done it A LOT, so we already have all those details nailed down.

How do you haul a horse on a long trip?
The reality of it is that I'm more worried about the actual act of hauling her than crossing the border. We've never hauled her anywhere for longer than 1-hour, so 12-hours is certainly going to be a trial for her. In addition, I've never hauled a horse for that long either. So, new experience for us all. Luckily spring is here, and we won't be hauling her over snowy passes in negative degree weather. One less thing to worry about.

The plan is to:
  • Haul her loose (we have a big 2-horse slant) I need to put down shavings?
  • Stop every 2-hours for a 20-minute rest break and water (with apples cut up in the bucket to encourage drinking). 
  • Break the drive up into two days with an overnight at the halfway point in the Spokane, WA/Post Falls, ID area. I think we have a place figured out, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear it.
  • Hard wire our "Trailer Eyes" video camera to the trailer/truck so that we don't have to replace the 9V battery every two hours.
So that's the big news and the beginnings of our moving plan. It will be so nice to live in our big old house again. Three years paying on a mortgage for a house you aren't living in is not my idea of a good time and I don't suggest anyone try it. Unless of course you are independently wealthy, then go for it! It was fun to pretend that we had a "vacation home" for a while, but really, when you do the math it's much better to rent a condo at the ski hill when you actually go on vacation. Way less maintenance, bills, headache, etc.

Happy St. Patrick's day everyone...I hope you are wearing green!

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March 13, 2011

Survey says...Red is still our color!

I am so proud of my girl! She did terrific today. We placed second in our class with a score of 66.5%. Not too shabby if I do say so myself! I really couldn't have asked for more of her for our first rated show. She certainly did me proud. Of course we have plenty to work on, but I feel confident in our showing abilities now and for the years to come. Rose works so hard and gives so much, that I know our partnership will be one that will continue to make me smile from ear to ear for a long time. I just love my girl so much.

And....a HUGE shout out to my husband AR for all his hauling and husband photography and assistance this weekend...which just so happens to be his birthday weekend.

Best. Husband. Ever!

Have a great Monday everyone. I know I will :)

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 12, 2011

Equine Performance Minerals Best of Show - Equine Mineral Nutrition

I was recently asked to review the new Zinpro Equine Mineral Nutrition DVD. I have to say I was honored to get such a request, and I love reviewing products, so here goes:

I have to say that I've never watched a DVD about horse nutrition, so I din't know what to expect. Most of my knowlege is based on things that I have learnt from various barn managers or trainers over the years, supplemented with my own independent research. Never was this information provided to me in an overall view, but rather in piecemeal form in regard to specific nutrient needs given certain problems at specific times.

I wish I'd been given this DVD the day I brought Rose home.

I found the DVD to be very informative without being too technical, covering a broad array of nutritional requirements. It covers the importance of water (thrilled they included this), roughage, grains, and minerals. This would be a great gift to gift to give any new horse owner. It is, of course, an advertisement for their specific product, which they point out is in the ingredients of many different feeds already, and might be in your current feed. However, the overall information present was really well covered and would certainly cause a new horse owner (or a seasoned one) to pause and look at the ingredients in their feed. I know that I just looked for the feed tag from my LMF (but couldn't' find it). I'll have to check if I have it at the barn, but I know that I saved it and have my feed tag somewhere. Given my own reaction I'd have to say that from an advertising point of view this DVD = brilliant.

From a graphics and presentation point of view, I think they did a great job. The graphics look great, there are lots of pictures, and the menu is really easy to understand. So I'd give this DVD 4-stars, and would recommend picking up a copy of it. You can order a free one on their website by clicking here.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle

I had a lovely evening at the barn last night. I managed to get there in good time (yea flowing traffic), and it was still light out by the time I was finished feeding and ready to pull Rose from her paddock. I find this time of year to be fantastic and invigorating. A sense of spring budding is in the air, and after this weekend we will have an extra hour of light in the evenings...woo-hoo! Maybe having 10 days to get away from the rat race helped too.I highly recommend vacations once in a while, even if it is just to one's own house 750miles away. I digress.

Rose was terrific last night. She is shedding like a mother, but that's her style. Rose doesn't do anything halfway, she's all in all the time. One of her many great qualities. We spent a good amount of time with the curry, making a tidy pile of spent hair on the floor. Come April she'll be all black for a brief period of time. I can't wait to see it.

I'm also happy to report that after our initial week and a half with Thrush Off, her thrush never came back. Since it is still wet outside I've been applying it once a week as a maintenance prevention, but I'm not sure that is even necessary at this point. I'm glad that I bought the extra bottles of it though, just to have on hand for the future, should we have to deal with that again.

As for under saddle work, she was relatively quiet in the cross ties, so I decided to just hop on her and go for a longer ride, rather than longe her first. Another rider was in the arena at the time, and I'm not a huge fan of longeing in the company of others. Granted, if she's hot I'll longe her without reservation. I find that the presence of another horse often distracts Rose, which turns into a fight between her and I where not much is accomplished other than my Alpha mare-ness gets asserted and she ends up really tired, and then I don't have much horse to ride. That process generally interrupts their ride too, regardless of how polite they are that it doesn't bother them. So, if she's not hot and I feel it's one of those days that it will go either way, and someone is riding, I just hop on her instead. Now don't misunderstand, most of the time she longes like a perfect lady. I am probably just too conscientious about others.

Our ride was good. She started out really forward with a nice walk. Her trot was much the same, but she was rushing badly. Something she hasn't done in a while, so I took her into small circles every time she fell on her forehand and rushed. Eventually she remembered that she had to balance HERSELF and stopped with the rushing. When I asked her to pick up the canter she obliged. She was great to the left. However, when I asked her to pick up the right lead, which she did, as soon as I brought her into a 20m circle she started trying to do little bucks.

Not cool.

This is something new for her, and I was not about to have to deal with it again. I don't tolerate two things - bucking and rearing. I nip them in the bud immediately. So, as she was trying out this new little trick of hers, I put more leg on her and made her keep cantering, more forward, and in a 15m circle. The more she acted up the smaller the canter circle got until she obliged, then as a reward we went down the long side of the arena. As a rule of thumb, when horses try this sort of stuff with me I never let them break into a trot...otherwise they just got what they wanted.

She didn't try it again.

After that she began stretching through her back, and really starting using her hind end in the canter, and got very nice and light in the contact. I focused a lot on transitions, as our class at the show this weekend is the Mare Material class. We don't have a test to do, but rather WTC on the rail in a group class. She was great, and didn't give me any more issues with her canter transition. We ended our session practicing the Training Level 1 test, and we actually did pretty good for our first attempt ever. My brain seems to be getting the swing of memorizing things again!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

March 8, 2011

Gatsby's first 2011 foal...and it's a long legged black filly!

I love this time of year...the foals start hitting the ground. I love going to inspection and seeing all of Gatsby's long legged babies bouncing around, and I love how much they all look a like. I think I can see Rose in pretty much every one of them.

If you are a fan of helping to name foals this pretty girl's owner needs a "L" name for the BWP registry this year. You can join in on the naming fun and find out more about her on Gatsby's Facebook page.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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March 7, 2011

We're back

It's always weird for me to say I'm home because, really, Bozeman is my home, not where I live now. So I guess I'll say that I'm back. It was nice to see Rose yesterday, although I didn't ride her since I was very tired from our long drive. I just groomed her and played beauty shop and she seemed quite content with that. I did have to remind her of who I was though, when she was wiggling all around in the cross ties and then quite absentmindedly ended up stepping on my entire foot (no broken toes this time though). After a little discipline she remembered that I am alpha mare and focused on her really hard task of standing still, getting groomed, and eating treats. I do ask a lot of her, that is for sure!

On all accounts she was good for BA while I was gone, with the exception of the start of their lesson on Saturday. Why crazy Saturday behaviour?

Rose was:
  1. In heat (although BA was unaware of this).
  2. The horses were turned out in the paddock next to the arena thus causing Rose to be extra excited.
  3. She's a baby and likes to get her play on.
BA was not expecting Rose to behave how she was about to since she'd been really calm and quiet for her all week (my bad...I forgot to mention to BA that sometimes life's a bit more exciting around the barn on Saturdays and Rose will attempt to act like a crazy baby so plan on longeing her first). Apparently when BA hopped on, Rose was very hot and trying to do little baby sort of rear/crow hops. BA and my trainer got her in line quickly though, with a little longeing and then all was well and they were able to go on with the lesson.
It is so easy to forget how young Rose is most of the time, because for the most part she is so well behaved and easy to work with under saddle. That is until her usual routine is disturbed and then it is so clear that she's not yet four. I am very much looking forward to age five...but then I'll be looking forward to her turning seven I'm sure! At any rate, I'm glad that BA was able to handle it so well and still enjoyed her lesson. As for me? I'm looking forward to getting back on my girl on Wednesday and getting ready for the show on Sunday. Should be lots of fun!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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