In 2014 we moved from a city lot on a golf course to five-acres just outside of town. Follow along as I work with Gentry, my current training project, and discover all the ups and downs of having horses at home on a hobby farm!
Two years ago today a couple of good friends and a stock trailer helped me bring Rose home. It was a wet dreary fall day in Oregon. Today it is a beautiful sunny HOT fall day in Montana! It's amazing how quickly two years have gone by, and how much has happened and changed in both of our lives since. All good stuff by the way! As frustrated as I might get at times in our training, it impresses me how far Rose has come only being under saddle for a year and a half and how much we've accomplished in that time. Despite her occasional baby mare "dumb-blood" antics she is a pretty smart and willing cookie. I am lucky to own such a mare. Below is a before and after photo of when I first brought her home and one from this week. Enjoy!
October 3rd, 2009
September 27, 2011
Unfortunately most of the photos came out blurry, due to some camera issues. This was the least blurry photo of the bunch, although not the best in regard to conformation (ie. her head and neck position...not that it's good in the first photo either). Hopefully we can re-take them next week and get some better photos.
I have more or less recovered from our longeing incident on Monday, although I make sure to avoid doing anything that remotely puts me in front of Rose. Unfortunately when I went out to ride on Tuesday she had some swelling on her RH pastern so I cold hosed her, longed her and did not ride. She didn't appear lame on it at all, and there was very little heat, so I probably could have ridden but decided to play it safe. It appeared to me that she must have whacked herself on a fence post or something as the swelling was only on the outside along her canon bone. Yesterday evening I threw on jeans and cowboy boots and went out to check on her leg (our day off). The swelling was gone and she seemed in good spirits. Of course I didn't have my riding clothes on or with me. So she had a second day off. I'm hoping this afternoon the swelling is still gone and we can get back to work and get something productive out of this week.
I have been away for about a week, so Rose got some time off. Apparently she forgot she's a trained horse. So, I decided to longe her before our ride yesterday. Then suddenly we had a flash-back from 2010.
I thought I had posted about that, but it appears I didn't. I believe it happened before I started this blog. Basically back in early 2010 I was hosing Rose's muddy feet off while holding her by her lead rope. Somehow she managed to step on some plastic corrugated pipe that was in her vicinity, which spooked her, and she knocked me over and ran straight over the top of me. I don't recall if I had a helmet on at the time or not. She did manage to avoid stepping on me at least, which was certainly a good thing.
So what happened yesterday? Rose was well mannered and relaxed in the cross ties, regardless I thought it would be wise to longe her to loosen up her muscles if not burn off some extra steam. All groomed and tacked up we headed to the indoor arena. Just as I had run the longe line through her bit and over her pole, and was about to snap it to the far bit, she suddenly bolted forward, knocking me over and going about 30 feet before she stopped. There was absolutely nothing to spook about. In my opinion her action was all attitude. The unsnapped longe line simply slipped loose from the bit and the worse that came of me was a skinned elbow and hitting the dirt. Again, she managed to not step on me at all. This time I did have my helmet on though! So, no harm done really, but it certainly reminded me that regardless of her general good behavior, I still shouldn't trust her as much as I have started too. Basically I was lucky, and I seem to say that far too often with her. After her little stint, a rather guilty and remorseful looking Rose got a good workout on the longe with side reins and then a thoroughly tiring dressage school.
I don't know why, but for some reason Rose being barefoot is more of a novelty in Montana than it was in Oregon when I was around dressage people 24/7. I guess that shows my own stereotypes about "western people". Apparently it's just as weird to western riders in my area for a horse to be barefoot as it is in the hunter circuit. Odd, because I always thought it was common for western horses to be barefoot (that would be my stereotype). So far, dressage people have been the most accepting of it without looking at me as though I have three eyes. Although she is barefoot, I don't preach "mustang rolls" and "natural hoof trimming". I just have a good farrier that does a nice balanced trim, doesn't mess with her frog, and cleans up the edges. So, where exactly is that third eye of mine? I'm still looking and don't see it...or out of it!
Anyway, I've noticed that at some point since moving back to Montana I started getting defensive when people comment on her bare feet. When the question was posed to me recently it was meant as a complement, although my immediate reaction was to be defensive. A very nice gal at our new barn was simply curious about why/how I'd managed to keep her barefoot, who trims her, and thought it was great. Apparently she's aware of all the "it must be shod" mentality in our town and gave me kudos for sticking to my guns and not giving into pressure. It's nice to know that there are a few people around that have no issues with a perfectly sound barefoot sport horse.
Speaking of feet, Rose's feet are also very happy about our new barn. Every single hoof has shed it's frog and the very hard dry cracked solar horn she's been sporting all summer. She'd had rather ugly looking Jabba the hoof frogs going on ever since we moved to Montana. I figure that was partially due to the major environmental change (it's very dry here) as well as suddenly standing in a stall 8 hours a day. Now that she's walking around all day again her hooves are letting go of all that gross stuff and beautiful smooth frogs and horn have once again emerged. It is truly amazing what can change in 3 weeks. I even struggled to get the girth tight on our usual setting today. Looks like we might be letting it out again at long last!
After discussing our current work load with trainer C, I've decided to up Rose's workouts to 4 days per week. She's definitely been enjoying having a break, and is finally gaining back the weight that she lost during her spring growth spurt. I'm surprised that she's gained weight so quickly after only 3 weeks at the new barn, after trying all summer to get it back on her.
My theories are thus:
1. She's happier so she's less anxious and not burning extra calories.
2. Her pasture mate had been running her off her feed at our old barn.
I'm guessing theory #2 is the most likely, as Rose is actually eating a little bit less hay (although she is being fed a lot of hay) than she was at our old barn (maybe the new hay is better?) and during the last month at our old barn Rose started coming in from turnout with missing hair and bite marks all over her hocks and rump. In the last few weeks she also started becoming sour in her stall toward her previously great pasture mate and they had to move her pasture mate to a different daytime stall. My guess is she'd always been getting run off her feed, but finally started making a stand against it, hence the stall attitude? Who knows. I was never at the barn in the evening to witness dinner time in the paddock. However, now she looks nice and round again and I think we can burn an extra hour of calories without the ribs coming back.
We had our first lesson today since April! It was well needed, and such a treat. Apparently my dressage position has improved (as I hoped it had) and is quite decent. We worked mostly on our trot, finding a consistent forward tempo and rhythm while having Rose stretching down through her poll into contact. It was the lightest she has ever been on the bit, and I loved every moment of it! Definitely an "ah-ha" moment. After that we worked on our trot/canter transitions that have been irking me for a while now. I thought our big issue was the downward transition, but apparently that's linked to our upward transition, during which Rose tends to throw up her head and hallow her back and GO. So, we worked on asking for a nice quiet but forward trot and then a very subtle canter transition, while keeping her stretching down and accepting contact. In the end we had some rather nice transitions both up and down! Lots of homework to keep working on, but I am invigorated again and feel like we have a focused direction to work in once again.
Rose is finally, officially a Montana resident and can now move freely in and out of the state. I had been putting off doing her brand inspection, mostly due to accident. I simply put it at the bottom of my moving priority list and then conveniently forgot all about it. However, this week I decided to call the State Department of Livestock and get it done. This afternoon a very awesome old cowboy named Don met me at the barn. He looked over all my meticulously filed paperwork in Rose's binder (well, just her breed registration, health certificate, and coggins) and in a matter of 20 minutes or so, he handed me a lovely laminated card with her lifetime brand inspection on it and I handed him a $48 check.
Back side of card. Front side is a text description of Rose.
I was surprised by how simple the process was, especially since I was sweating bullets about the fact that I was supposed to have gotten it done within 30-days entering the state. Ugh. Like I said, it was low on my priority list as I wasn't anticipating moving her around or showing all summer. Regardless, I always suffer from massive amounts of anxiety when it comes to dis-obeying authority, so I was thinking up every thing that might go wrong or that I might get a fine, etc. But that was all for not. There was no issues with me having gotten it done late. However, had I known how easy it was and that such a cool cowboy would show up I would have gotten it done back in April! I love old timers and their stories. Definitely something to aspire to in the next 40 years.
Tomorrow is our first lesson since April (last weeks had to be rescheduled due to client meetings), so I am very excited. Rose was great under saddle today (and has been since our arrival - she seems to love her new home) so hopefully we will have a repeat tomorrow, and there will of course be a full report!
A measuring stick has finally come back into my life, so I put it to use today, and I am happy to state that Rose is a SOLID 16.1h now. I have a feeling she's definitely going to hit 16.2h by the time she's done, which would be just perfect. Right now we are playing catch up from her latest growth spurt and trying to get her nice and fat again before winter arrives. In our part of the world, that isn't far away. We've had a delightful summer though, and so far an amazing fall Indian summer, so I can't complain about the arrival of winter.
I thought I'd post a little update on Rose's rabicano expression. She definitely has a lot more ticking this year than last and she will keep getting more every year (click here for last years article). The ticking is much more noticeable in person than in photographs, due to her shiny coat. This summer was the first time anyone else has ever really noticed it and asked me if she was "roaning".
Here's the current pic and a comparison from last year:
Equine Genetics Rant:
In case anyone is interested, horses don't "roan". Roans are born roan and stay that way, and you'd be hard pressed to find a roan warmblood. When a horse starts having white ticking show up every year and get more and more white, it means they carry the rabicano gene, as Rose does (click here for rabicano pics). Rose is not the most expressive rabicano out there, but I do wonder just how much white she will end up with. Some rabicanos are pretty darn cool looking, and if I ever bred her I might just look for an Oldenburg stallion that expresses the gene (in addition to talent, etc.) and hope for a foal with a really great skunk tail or max expression. For instance Rose's sire Gatsby does have a small amount of ticking (her coloring comes from Gatsby's side and dates back to the TB Birdcatcher), as does the stallion Escapade and a few others.
Rose is doing great at the new barn, and is settling in well. She was a bit hot with her new surroundings before our ride on Monday, however today she was more like her usual self. She's working really well in the new indoor arena too, NO SPOOKY SPOTS! I'm very happy about that, as we can actually get straight to work rather than spending 20 minutes desensitizing/fighting over a spooky spot before every ride. Big relief. Also, we are having a lesson on Friday! First one since April, when we moved back to Montana. I can't wait.
After not having been on a trailer since April, like the trooper she is, Rose walked straight on Friday evening. It still gives me the warm fuzzy how easily she loads, especially since her last trailer ride was six hours a day, two days in a row! We arrived at the new barn 30 minutes later and she calmly backed off the trailer, walked past the new inquisitive horses, and straight into her pasture. She instantly wandered to the common fence line to sniff noses with her new neighbor, two year old Roxy. They are now BFF's. It's so cute. Rose has always been the youngest horse anywhere I've boarded her, so it's nice to see her get to be the "older" one for a chance. Little Roxy just thinks Rose is the bomb and mimics whatever rose does from the other side of the fence.
Rose and her shadow Roxy
So, Rose seems to be settling in well, and it will be back to work for her on Monday. It's such a delight to be able to drive only 10 minutes, with two stop signs and no stop lights to go check on her! I'm loving it.
Yesterday was supposed to be move day, but due to a big thunderstorm and down poor earlier this week Rose's new paddock got sprayed for weeds a day late, which meant we had to delay our move. So, tomorrow is the big move day, and I'm pretty excited. Although our current barn is awesome, it is a good distance from our home, which makes multiple trips to the barn in one day difficult and very time consuming. The new barn is only 10-minutes door to door, and...drum roll...it has an indoor arena! No heat, like our current barn, but the indoor is insulated and reportedly stays at least 20ºF in the winter. Sounds down right balmy to me. Rose will be living outside 24/7 once again, and this time she will have her own paddock and run-in shed, but will be neighbored by other Oldenburg mares on either side, so she will still have a herd to keep her mind at ease.
I am crossing my fingers that this new barn works out well for us, as on paper it seems like our perfect barn. It's a more affordable price, close to home, small quiet private owner managed facility, Rose gets to be outside all the time, there is a big tack room, wash stall with hot water, grooming stalls, indoor stalls for emergencies/stall rest, two indoor arenas and an outdoor, riding trails from the property with a creek crossing, they feed my grain and lots of hay, and blanket. Unlike our current barn, trainers are allowed to come in and give lessons, and I can turn Rose out in the grazing pastures all alone whenever I like. Since we are so close to the barn I can turn her out, run some errands, and then bring her in on my way home. Thanks to the indoor, we can still work on ground work during her 4-year old vacation this winter. The owner of the new barn seems like an awesome person, and we share a lot of common interests in terms of our horses. She is a dressage rider, plays around with jumping, and breeds Oldenburgs. Currently has two adorable foals, one of which is an Oldenburg pony (love!), on the ground that are going to inspection in two weeks. Fingers crossed, Rose likes her new digs, because I am already in love with the place!