October 18, 2013

Reality Check

Thanks everyone for your comments about Holliday. I was really touched and encouraged by all your heartfelt enthusiasm. I was actually moving forward with the purchase, as the owner agreed to a two week trial, delivery, and a killer deal of a price. Then this morning at 6:30am while I was sitting on the living room area rug in front of the fireplace with JR and Bourke, I had a moment of clarity. This is all I have time for. Raising a toddler and grooming a dog. My his coat is looking really good these days and his nails that had long been neglected are in great shape again.

Then, as I walked to the coffee pot to make my morning cup of joe, I checked my blog and noticed a new comment. Ashley quite eloquently stated everything that my super-ego was trying to get through my consciousness and past my lala-land horse crazy id that had been running wild the past few days. My id hates when that happens. Sorry for the psycho babble, my dad is a shrink so it just kind of spews from time to time. If you haven't has psych 101 here is a link that explains the id, super-ego, and ego. When you go to college, take psych 101 it is fascinating stuff and a lot of it actually applies to horse training.

Holliday really is one of those awesome opportunities that don't come along often (very much like Rose was). I know I will be thinking about and regretting passing him up for some time. However, anyway I look at it the timing is bad. Bad timing all around. If any of you are in the market for a young prospect, I would really encourage you to contact his owner. She's really great and is in need of selling quite a few of her prospects, so she's really willing to work with the buyers. http://www.warmblood-sales.com/HorseDetail.asp?HorseID=33176&UserID=3399

At least I have Hugo to play with, and once the evenings get too dark too early for me to ride him I'm hoping that I might convince Hubs to take a long lunch on Wednesdays so that I can still at least go play with him on the longeline, if not ride. We'll see.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 16, 2013

Feedback/thoughts please!

First let me preface that I am NOT horse shopping at the moment. We ARE house/land shopping. Horse shopping should begin AFTER the land is purchased, ideally. Unfortunately though, when a good opportunity comes along I find it hard to let it pass buy. So...

I first learned about this guy last year when I had first put Rose up for sale. I thought he had sold, but recently found out he is still available. Right now what I need are lots of reason to not buy him! Hubs would be eternally grateful to you all for talking me out of this. But really, I would love to hear your thoughts on this guy in terms of conformation, etc.

Holliday -  August, 2 year old
Holliday - Early spring 2 year old

Holliday - August, 2 year old

He is a two year old Dutch warmblood by of the KWPN stallion Richard and out of an Irish Sporthorse Mare named Gotcha. The mare has Hanoverian lines that go back to Gotthard (the rock star jumping stallion that Gatsby comes from). Gotcha has no performance record due to injury, but she does have a killer free jump (see below). Richard, if you are unfamiliar, is an awesome jumper in his own right.

Holliday has a great trot and from the small amount of video I've seen looks like he will make a good lower level dressage horse and clearly he has the breeding to jump. My goals are to find a horse that I can do all around stuff with, much like Rose. Some dressage, adult ammy hunters (3' max likely...unless I suddenly get some kahunas again), field hunting, trail riding, etc. He's supposed to have a good mind, is calm, easy to handle, and already has all his basics down. So, what do you all think? I know his photos aren't the best for conformation critique but it's all they had on hand at the moment and he's a 4 hour drive from here. Certainly if I move forward I'll ask for a few more pictures, but for now TALK ME OUT IF IT!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 14, 2013

Revisiting Rope Halters...

Back in January 2012 I posted about Stud Chains vs. Rope Halters. I still stand by my feelings regarding the two. However, once Rose got going in full work back in January 2013 she also got a large dose of groundwork. I revisited using a rope halter at this time and I did become quite fond of it as a training tool when working on ground work. You may have noticed a lot of photos of her in a rope halter this past year. A lot of Rose's groundwork happened non-stop during while being handled. This included everything from hand grazing, tying (with blocker tie rings for safety), to actual in hand work. The rope halter was not used during longeing (bridle or longeing cavesson only) and if anyone else except for my trainer was riding her in my absence. I wanted them to cross tie her in her leather halter only.

In her rope halter, being a good girl for her first shoeing.
I did however cross tie her in the rope halter myself and under my constant supervision only. This was due to the fact that some of our groundwork consisted of getting her to stand quiet in the cross ties. I would need to frequently take her out of the cross ties, do some groundwork, put her back and repeat. Clearly switching halters was not an option, and stud chains in cross ties is an even worse idea than a rope halter. No harm ever came from her being cross tied in the rope halter, and under constant supervision with quick release cross ties, I felt that it was being done as safe as possible. Her groundwork got so good as a result that she behaved very well in flat halters.

The result of all this groundwork was astounding, and I now have a better understanding and somewhat affection for using rope halters as a training tool. I still don't like using them as a day in day out halter, especially on a mature and trained horse. I just don't think they should be used if there is no need for them. However, on a big opinionated youngster, they are definitely a very helpful tool.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 11, 2013

Hugo learns to longe

One of the things EB mentioned when I was meeting Hugo the first time was how she had to free longe him because he doesn't know how to longe and bolted on her. Since the outdoor arena at EB's barn is not lit, and daylight is quickly waning in the evenings, I have pretty much run out of time to free longe Hugo and ride. So I decided to forgo riding, and start teaching the boy how to longe property. Happily when I arrived at the barn no one else was riding so I could put my plan into action.

My assumption with all green horses is that they've never seen or done anything. This way they get introduced to things nice and slowly. If it's new they will have a positive relationship with said object/task, if it's not new and they have a previous fear of it then they will make it known and we will work on desensitization and correcting the fear, and if it is old news then we can just reinforce the proper training and move onto the next task.

  1. First I "free longed" him. This consisted of me chasing him from grass patch to grass patch around the very large arena. He exhibited very little interest in running around, so I threw in the towel on that rather quickly. At some point I lost my desire and steam to run around an arena chasing a horse. I figure if they don't run around on their own accord then they don't have that much energy to burn off.
  2. Second, I did a little bit of ground work to try and get his attention on me, rather than the grass patches under the fence line. 
  3. Third, I put on my helmet and gloves and I introduced him to the longing cavesson. He clearly hadn't had one on before and only showed a mild concern (ear twitch and hairy eyeball) about the metal loops rattling on his nose. Once it was properly fitted I lead him around by it for a few minutes. He didn't know really what to think of  the longeline being attached above his nose and defaulted to halting a few times. After a few minutes I got him to walk better.
  4. Then it was time to longe. Because I had no idea how he'd react, and I assume his only "longeing" has consisted of being chased around at the end of a 10' lead rope in a rope halter and being kissed or clucked at, I decided to leave the longe whip out of the equation until next time and use what he was likely familiar with to apply pressure. If he didn't respond then I would use the longe whip. So I swung the end of my longeline in a circular motion like the NH people do (assuming this is his prior experience with longeing). My only goal for this was to get him to walk/trot on a good sized circle and begin to listen for and recognize my vocal walk trot commands. 

To my surprise Hugo is a very good and willing student. He clearly had no idea what I was asking him to do initially. I had to lead him in a circle and associate the words walk and trot of course. I even had to kiss/cluck at first, gah. But we got passed that and he was going off my verbal commands rather quickly. He also initially did the annoying NH thing where at the halt he would spin and face me. I hate this when longing. People don't get how dangerous it is for the person on the ground if the horse decides to charge you. Unlikely to happen, yes, but still very possible. I do think it is a good ground work exercise for babies to get them to pay attention to you, I just don't like it having an association with longeing. He figured out to stop spinning quickly though, as I would send him right back off to the walk anytime he spun. We longed in both directions, quitting once he gave me good upward and downward transitions and halted perpendicular to the line. He was also licking and chewing like mad by the time we stopped. I was so pleased with him.

As for the bolting, only once early on did he pause at the trot and think about bolting. The second I applied a tiny bit of pressure on the cavesson he abandoned that idea and continued on at the trot. So, no bolting = win! Granted we did not canter yet, and in my experience that is when more of the bolting happens with the youngsters. My plan is to get him going well at the walk and trot, so he understands that he is to just keep going in circles, and then I will introducing cantering. I don't want to jinx myself, but I don't think it will be much of an issue. Once everything becomes a non-issue then I will try longeing him in tack.

It occurred to me on my drive home that my training and reaction skills have become extremely well honed. Rose did that for me. Early on I think it was a matter of survival, but then became a wonderful asset to my training abilities. I had to think one step a head of her, anticipate all possible outcomes, and react before she had time to act. Certainly I can always learn more in regards to training, but if I had the skills that I have now back when I first got Rose many things would have been much easier. It makes me excited for my next youngster. I'm glad I have Hugo to help EB with in the mean time so that I don't get rusty on the green horse front.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 6, 2013

Patience is a virtue

So what's next? The few people in my real life who cared knew that I owned a horse have asked me if and when I'm getting another. I haven't had a really good answer for anyone, or myself really, beyond "yes, at some point". It's just not a simple question to answer. There are a lot of moving pieces to that question. Here is a little bullet list summing them all up:
  • Hubs would be completely happy if he never saw another horse again (tough luck buddy). However, Hubs recognizes that his life is happier when I'm in a happy horse mood, so he recognizes the need for them in my our life. I have a personal theory that if I can get him his own horse that is small and not a crazy warmblood baby old ranch horse that he trusted and could take hunting he would enjoy and appreciate horses a bit more. If not, well then at least JR would have a horse if he wanted to ride.
  • Getting a riding age horse right now would be pointless. I don't have time to ride regularly, so I would be only creating the same problem that I sold Rose to fix. This will not change for at least another year and a half, until JR starts part time pre-school.
  • Getting a baby/youngster right now would be fine as they require much less time. 15 minute ground work and handling 3+ days a week is a lot less demanding than 3 hours at the barn 4+ days a week. However, I would still have to board said baby/youngster. Pasture board with no indoor arena is doable during this age/stage but it still isn't all that cheep, and although my last barn was a great place I stress a lot about the care of my horses and I am tired of putting up with things I don't agree with in terms of horse care. So searching for a different boarding situation, while it may be less expensive, is not at all appealing. I don't really care to board anywhere but at my last barn. This brings me to bullet #4.
  • Buy land. This is the current direction we are going and the main reason I've agreed to be horseless for a while. Once we trade in our lovely, yet pointless, 5 bedroom home on a golf course for 5+ acres we will have plenty of room for an outdoor arena, a baby/youngster, and a steady Eddie project/babysitter/husband/kid horse. This will also make doing regular ground work and riding easier now that JR is in the picture. Honestly if we lived on land to begin with I never would have sold Rose. Maybe bred her until I had time to ride again, but I wouldn't have had to justify the cost of upkeep on a show horse that I wasn't riding.
The last bullet point is the current plan. Once that happens then the baby/youngster shopping will begin. The hard part is waiting. I know it takes time to sell and buy property. It's not a fun process by any means, and moving is never fun...well with the possible exception of moving one's horses to one's own property. That I imagine would be good fun.

What makes it really hard though is that I'm regularly coming across in-utero foal options that I would love to jump on as well as OTTB project options that would be a lot of fun. Those are the two options I am considering for my next project(s). I really know nothing about breeding other than genetics/pedigree/and registration, so I'm not inclined to jump into the unknown world of breeding my own horse. Hense the in-utero consideration.

I would love to have another Gatsby baby for my forever horse. His babies have such good minds and wonderful talent and are such good all purpose show horses. While the baby is growing up I think it would be fun to flip a couple OTTB's. As for the husband/kid/babysitter horse there are so many dead broke ranch/hunting horses around here that I think the right one will be easy to come by....as a few have already. Now I just need land to put the ponies on. They say that patience is a virtue...one I'm working on.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

October 3, 2013

Hello there winter

It's official. Our two week period of "fall" weather has abruptly ended. It is all white and snowy outside. I'm feeling very happy with myself that I rode Hugo last night. The last night of fall as it turns out. Winter is good though. It means no rain and no mud. I'll take it. However, I don't have as much to celebrate about the season change without having a horse to incessantly worry about and fawn over anymore. I keep catching myself looking at the weather and habitually worry about Rose and blankets until I remember that she isn't here anymore. It's weird.

Due to the winter weather and EB's outdoor non-lit arena my riding time on Hugo will probably come to an end sometime this month, and certainly on November 3rd when daylight savings time ends. I wish they would just keep daylight savings time all year and stop this silly switch. Not only is it annoying for anyone who holds down a job (be it a legitimate paying one or a stay at home mom, ahem) that would like to ride after work, but now that I have a baby I find myself stressing non-stop about the upcoming time change and how it will effect JR's schedule and send his sleep pattern into a downward spiral of torture and torment once again. Gah.

So now what will I do for the winter withoug Hugo to ride? Hopefully it will be a good snow year and I can get lots of skiing in. I've said that for the last two years but there has been a noticeable lack of snow. I can always keep jogging I guess....

Or maybe, just maybe, the right youngster at the right time will come along sometime soon...

Happy trails and swooshing tails! 


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