August 26, 2011

Jump day

I don't know how it happened really, but Friday seems to have turned into our jumping day. Rose was much better today, and didn't even try any of that bucking/farting nonsense from last week. In-fact, she was exceptionally lazy today, and then when she finally woke up all she just wanted to do was fly through the lines and over-jump everything! This inspired me to have a bit of fun with Photoshop (see the bottom pic). A big thank you goes out to my most awesome husband (aka. world's best amateur equine photographer) for meeting me at the barn for lunch and taking a slew of photos of us jumping. So for your viewing pleasure, see the cream of the crop below.
The original photo. Bit of an over jump,
but otherwise a pretty decent effort.
She over jumped so much today, that she could have been
doing a 2'-6" course instead of our baby jumps! Doesn't
she look so grown up over a big jump? I simply can't wait
until next summer!
Have a great weekend everyone.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 24, 2011

Rose as an IHSA horse?

I am very excited as it looks like I will be coaching the MSU IHSA hunt-seat team this year! What does this have to do with Rose? The advanced (Intermediate and Open fences) riders always need "fancier" than school horses to show. Usually local hunter/jumper horses are recruited from around the area to be used for the day of a show. This brings up a little dilemma in my mind. I am very happy to trailer her in on occasion and use her as a school horse when she's in a practice lesson that I'm teaching or as an extra horse for a show (to be clear, I am not donating her to the university as a school horse), but is she ready for it? Obviously she's not ready for the open level fences, but she could definitely do novice level fences, possibly intermediate level, and she'd be totally a-okay for flat at any level above w/t/c. But what happens if she has a 4-year old melt down on some poor kid? Oh the guilt. Or what happens if she is perfect and apparently saves all her melt downs for me (less of a problem obviously, just a blow to one's pride).

I suppose I could haul her to a couple practices and see how it goes before committing her to a show. The change of pace might be good for her, the pseudo show environment is always good practice, and learning that she has to listen to another rider would be good for her too. Plus, I'd get to see someone else rider her for a change. That would be kinda nice! Regardless, as the coach I'm not required to do this, I'm just thinking about it.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 21, 2011

Jump Day with video

This week progressed well, we had a great flat day on Wednesday, and then I decided to set up a little course with some simple lines and jump her today. Rose was in a content hay munching mood when I arrived at the barn this morning. The weather was perfect, featuring blue skies, sunny, 70ºF, and a very light breeze. On average it's been in the 80's when I've been riding, so it the contrast was delightful. Sadly, the reality is that it means winter is on it's way. Which also means Rose's 4-year old winter vacation is on it's way too. I hope she enjoys it. I'm not looking much forward to losing my sanity over the winter. I really don't function well without riding regularly. But, I digress.

Rose was in a great well mannered mood, and the weather was perfect. We headed out to the arena, for a quick warm up and then to pop over some fences. After Monday's ride, I've made a concerted effort to give her more breaks and to keep our rides shorter. I set up the video camera and off we went. So, for your viewing enjoyment, here is Rose doing a little 1'-9" to 2' course (walk breaks omitted).

Ever since I free jumped Rose a few weeks ago, she has been more into jumping than ever before. I think it gave her confidence going through the jump shoot without a rider, and now she's totally all about jumping. For the first time ever, we had a buck/fart* moment after taking a little vertical long and ending up with what felt like a huge jump. It was definitely, an "I'm having fun" buck, not a malicious "get the hell off me" buck, but completely not okay regardless. She got a little reprimand, and then we took the fence again, and I could tell she was thinking about it, but didn't go there again. After that we jumped a few more jumps, working on that line a few times, and ended on a really good note.
*I have to admit I am amazed at either how loud her fart was or how sensitive my camera's microphone is!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 16, 2011

Oh, Monday

Today was Monday, and for a Monday our ride was pretty good. Right up until the last 15minutes of course. Not that anything drastic happened, Rose just got sick of working and started protesting. Too bad too, because otherwise I would have been very pleased with our ride.

As Rose had a long weekend off, and did not work much last week because due to her hoof chip, I decided to  longe her before our ride. She was a good girl, and then warmed  up nicely in the outdoor arena. We worked on suppling techniques and transitions. All was going well, so I thought I'd take her into the dressage arena for some shoulder-in work. Of course that meant dealing with the judges booth. Given that the birds have long flown the coop, she did well with the booth and it was a non-issue. That is until I decided to run her through Intro Test 3 before calling it a day. Then Miss Thing's four year old brain hit a wall. Again, she didn't have a melt down, but started pulling out her bag of tricks in protest and suddenly spooking at dressage booth for no reason. Most of our ride was good, so I'd have to say, "It was pretty good for a Monday"... I just wish I'd stopped 15 minutes earlier and then it would have been "Great"! Live and learn, and at least tomorrow is another day.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 9, 2011

Busy bees

After a very productive yet relaxing weekend, I arrived at the barn yesterday to ride Rose. We had been to the rodeo over the weekend, and I had developed an aspiration of trying my hand at barrel racing in my dressage saddle, just for fun. I do realize that if I really wanted to barrel race I'd need the proper equipment and likely a different horse. However, I like to mix things up for Rose and get her to think about different objects in different ways, plus she is pretty darn agile.

It was not to be.

When I arrived a fellow boarder informed me that Rose had just been freaking out in her stall prior to my arrival. Another person, who is a trainer but supposedly doesn't train at our barn (BS, I've seen it. I think its the owner playing favorites), was there and calmed her down. Supposedly when they returned from a trail ride they heard a commotion and when they cam in the barn they found Rose bucking in her stall and in doing so kicking her door. Rather crazy sporadic behavior. My instant thought was a horse fly or bee, and although I couldn't find evidence of a bite or a sting, she did have a nice big crack running vertically up her hind right hoof. The only time I've seen her act like that before was while a bee crawled on her nose while hand grazing. So she may not have been stung, but she certainly hates bees. It is quite likely one was simply in her stall or on her hay.

"Oh great", I thought to myself "well, we aught to see if she's sound". After a quick assessment to make sure that her legs were not swollen anywhere, I grabbed my longeing equipment and took her into the arena. She immediately started showing off a lovely sound floating trot and nicely balanced canter. Then she really started showing off how much energy she had and the canter became a gallop, however still nicely balanced and in a circle, so I just let her blow off all the steam she had. It took me about a half hour of longing her before she started to slow down and tire. Afterward I took a look at her hoof again, and the crack had turned into a big chip with part of the hoof pried back.

After longeing - the vertical crack was pried back

After I snipped off the peeling off part

View of the chip from below
I examined it, and determined that it looked pretty superficial, and if anything I was glad to have a big chip rather than a serious crack in her hoof. There was no blood or anything exposed that looked like soft material, which is why I wasn't too concerned with it. Also, mud season being behind us for now, I assume that there is less risk of infection. However, I am not a hoof expert, and prefer seeking out the opinion of professionals rather than ending up letting a small problem become a bigger one. My farrier comes out this afternoon to take a look and give me a verdict on severity, weather I should be treating it, and if I can ride.

Update: post - farrier visit
She's gonna live! Whew. Actually he said it should be just fine and not to worry about it, just don't ride her over rocks until it's grown out. Not a problem, we don't do that anyway! While he was out he went ahead and trimmed her all around as she was due for a trim next week anyway. It was actually quite amazing to see how much hoof she's grown in just three weeks. There was a whole lot of trimming going on! I think he clipped about a 1/4" thickness off. I remember her feet growing very fast last summer so I wasn't too surprised about it, but my farrier certainly was. I think he trims most of his clients every 6-8 weeks. Rose can't go longer than 4 weeks, especially in the summer, or she gets really bad flaring going on. He probably thought I was just neurotic about getting her feet done so often, that is until today.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 6, 2011

Time for a new helmet...

Due to safety concerns, as of Friday afternoon I am officially retiring my IRH ATH helmet. It was a good schooling helmet, although the shape did not fit my head to well. The IRH fit a lot like the GPA helmets, in my opinion. I have a rounder head and the Charles Owen line fits me much better. I have a GR8 for showing, so now I'm considering getting a JR8 for schooling, and trying to resist the urge to by the AYR8 Classic (I do love the classic velvet hunter look but also love the vents). Like I said, it's a fit thing, and the CO is the darn comfiest helmet I've ever worn.  But, I digress.

No, I did not fall off Rose.  

In fact, I was only grooming her at the time of the incident. In our barn, the grooming stalls have lights in cases on either side of the grooming stall that run lengthwise. They are topped with a handy shelf for putting one's things upon. It has become my habit to place my helmet and half-chaps on said shelf. Well, yesterday, Miss Thing decided to swoosh her big fluffy tail and knocked my helmet right off the shelf. Of course I was on the far side grooming her, so the only thing I was able to do was to say whoa and move forward to the cross tie and pray she didn't flip out. As my helmet hit the rubber mats it gently rolled toward Rose, and simultaneously he lifted and moved her hind right hoof in the direction of the helmets path, stepping right into the middle of my upside down helmet.

A distinct and audible cracking noise could be heard.

Initially my only concern was that Rose didn't freak out in the cross ties. She listened to me though and calmly pulled her foot out of the offending helmet and stood nice and quiet. As all was calm, I quickly retrieved my helmet in vain hope that I was imagining the crack. Not to be. There is a noticeable flat spot on the top of the helmet, and that coupled with the crack meant that I couldn't ignore it.

My new book-end.

With a heavy sigh, and price tags flashing before my eyes I retired my helmet to my bookcase. The IRH and I have had a good three years and two falls together. One fall was off of another 3 year old I was training before I bought Rose in which I had a soft landing in an arena whilst being hurled over a jump and landing mostly on my feet. The second was during our first attempted trail ride back in February. I know I should have probably replaced it after I hit the asphalt, but after careful inspection of the helmet and a review of the fall, I was pretty sure the only thing that didn't hit the pavement at the time was my head. Now I'm being responsible, throwing out the IRH and will start scouring the tack sales for a Charles Owen JR8. In the mean time, I am rocking my old-school non-vented velvet Troxel Grand Prix helmet. Good thing fall is right around the corner, I don't know if I could take too much more of the head sweat!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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August 3, 2011

An actual trail ride

Apparently I have been living under a rock.

I have been dying to get Rose on an actual trail ride, with a trail, bushes, trees, and water. However, riding in the morning doesn't work out for most peoples schedules, and it also makes it hard to meet many other boarders. So, I've continued on with our training in the cool mornings with the entire facility to myself, sands barn staff of course. However, on Monday I was running behind in my schedule due to a wonderful surprise visit from some family and a friend. After all of my lovely guests left I was cleaning my tack when a couple fellow boarders came by and were discussing the creek on the property that you can ride too.

CREEK! What? Where?

I set down my glycerin bar and sponge and politely intruded on their conversation. I was intrigued to know where this creek was and how to get there. Apparently it is pretty easy and is just well hidden enough from the main barn that not many people know that it is on the property. I for instance, thought that the creek ran through the neighbors field. So, I finished cleaning my tack and started thinking about our next ride, which was today.

I am not a fan of going on trail rides alone, but at this rate I figured that it's either go alone or not at all. That is until the fall comes, and the afternoons are cool again. I warmed Rose up in the big outdoor arena, making sure to burn off any of her excess energy. Once she was focused and ready, I put on her Cavello boots and grabbed my cell phone (just in case), and headed down the gravel drive.

It took a little while just to get down the drive since she hadn't seen this part of the property since early May, and with the tall grass everywhere things certainly look different. So we had slow progress, but calm, steady, and positive none the less. She had to stop and look at the geldings in the distant field to our left, stop and think about crossing the driveway culvert, stop and look at the cattle to our right, stop and look at some people leading their horse, stop and look at her old dry lot and pasture buddy (who was of course grazing, the utter horror and torture Rose must have been experiencing), stop and look at the old round pen, stop and listen to the creek in the distance, stop and look at the bushes....and then she saw the grass! Well, that motivated her and we finally had some forward motion. She was devastated that I wouldn't let her eat with her bridle on, and then she noticed the creek again. We came within about 25 feet of it, and I just let her soak it in and listen to it. She seemed calm and bored, so we turned around and headed back to the barn. I didn't want to push it on our first time out, all alone, and make her go straight down to the creek. I felt it was very successful little 20 minute trail ride though, so we ended on that good note.

Next time...we'll get in that creek.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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