Saturday, September 29, 2012

Poor Red Mare

Bre has had issues with soundness over the years. Initially (age 4) it was a trimming issue then she did great until I took five weeks off for a knee injury (my own) and she came back super lame (age 5). We never really figured out what it was (yes I had multiple vet opinions). I brought her back to Oregon and tried a few things that seemed to work because for the most part had a sound happy horse. She has super thin soles and I have to be really diligent about how her feet are trimmed. She has received regular chiropractic or acupuncture treatment since she was a 4yo. For about a year my friend who was in human chiro school and training to do horse chiropractic as well worked on her. Since she was hired to work at a horse/human chiropractic clinic in Boston I let Bre's body work go. It has admittedly been almost two years since she was adjusted. When Bre went lame about a month ago I immediately assumed it was feet issues. Her farrier (who is awesome) has had to let her go long twice this summer because of vacation. The horses just happen to be growing super fast this year so her angles are off on one foot. She also has chunks of dead sole coming off in patches and catching rocks in the holes. With these things in mind I just assumed he would get her all fixed up at this next shoeing.

When he arrived I let him know what was going on and he said the last time he trimmed her she had a hard time holding up her right foot because she wanted to keep weight off the left hind. I have noticed her pulling her way with the right front and took it to mean she didn't want me messing with that foot. It is hard for me to see what is going on with the rest of her body when I am the one bent over. Watching him do her shoes I could really see her tucking her hind under and shifting her weight on the hind often to get comfortable. She really didn't want to put all her weight on her hind to pick up a front foot. When he trimmed her left hind she was obviously uncomfortable. When left to her own devices she cocks up the left hind and puts more weight on the front. She has a hunters bump that I have noticed looks larger than usual.

He said she is acting similar to when he first trimmed her. Lo and behold after he first trimmed her I started intensive body work. My friend was working on her several times a month until she moved away. I also put her several scoops of cosequin a day. I ran out of cosequin in June and was planning on putting her back on it this month now that I am more financially settled after graduating from RN school. She sliced her right leg open last year and was swollen and sore for over a month. I wonder if she tweaked herself then and it just kept getting worse. Between that and a longer than usual spring abscess I am not suprised her back is sore. She's also a nut and won't walk when she's sore. She runs everywhere if it is physically possible so she doesn't give her body a chance to heal. I have a bum hip that does the same thing if I don't rest and nip it with proper chiro work. I felt terrible and guilty to see her sore. I love this mare so much my heart feels like it is going to burst so when she hurts I always feel like I should have fixed it sooner. She is the sweetest smartest girl. No one has been riding her the last month but she loves to be ridden and we have some great fall trails calling to us. I am hoping she can get back on track.

Romeo needs some work done too so I have called the vet out Thursday. My vet clinic does acupuncture work. Bre used to get acupuncture work from another vet who has since narrowed her practice down to small animal. Luckily that vet trained my equine clinic. It is nice to know whey will be able to notice if something bigger is going on. I am going to start massages on Bre tomorrow and keep on top of it over my next week off work. She loves her massages and will position herself so I am getting to the right spots.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Ride!!!

Video of Mr Goofball in the arena this weekend. 

Gahhh!! I feel so behind on blogging. I have been able to read every one's comments on my iphone between running around and just haven't gotten the chance to respond. I am also keeping up on blogs and loving all the horsey stories. It inspires me with all my horse adventures. 

I worked Weds-Fri which means I was off Sat morning. I found myself totally exhausted after a busy week at work. Sat I pretty much slept all day but enjoyed an amazing birthday dinner with my partner. My birthday was Sunday and I got to spend a good chunk of it at the stable. I gave a riding lesson on Romeo and was very happy with his young rider. He still wants to break to a canter rather than move out at a trot. I believe this is remnants of jogging wayyyy to much. She is doing really well at riding him through different lengths of stride using only her seat. I think that he will remember he can move out pretty quickly. I am going to ride him again this week once I finally have a little break from work. 

On another Romeo note, he managed to imbed some wood chips into his head a week or so ago. Erin was worried that the puncture wound (which was cleaned by the vet initially) was looking a little oozy. There is nothing I love more than the chance ot squeeze something nasty so I ran out there today. I had been picking at it every day until I worked Wed-Fri then yesterday I didn't tack him up so I forgot to look. Sure enough today I saw it was swollen so I cleaned it with betadine and gave it a good squeeze. Out came lots of goo and I flushed it was sterile saline then squirted in some medication from the vet. Looks like it might need daily irrigating for a few days but it was actually not too bad. I think he will live to tell about it. 

Romeo's wood chip piercings......

Dickie play time was also on my list of weekend fun. By best friend and silent co-owner used to start horses for a living. He has been trying to get out there to play with him and give me some tips but he's been working 10 hrs a day five days a week for the last few months. We decided to see how Dickie would feel about me sitting on him. I have no plans to do anything more than sit on him a few times before his third birthday and the BFF is the only person I trust to lead me on him. I trust his judgement to tell me when the horse is ready, to keep the horse under control, and tell me if I should hop off. I have been leading him up to the mounting block since I got him and leaning over him too. We gave him a good workout first and BFF did some ground work as well. It was great to see how he handles him and learn some new tricks. 

After his workout we went to the mounting block and I got on. We have an awesome super tall mounting block that I barely have to lift my left to swing it over him. I had to hop off twice when Dickie got mad at the BFF for refusing to be eaten but Dickie could care less about me. He turned around a few times to chew on my feet but other than that didn't seem the least concerned I was up there. I mounted from the block at least 5 times with zero objection. The first couple of mounts we just walked a step or two and stood still.  By the last time we walked around a lap around the arena. IT WAS SO FUN!!!!! I loved feeling him move under me and he's pretty comfortable bareback. I won't be doing it again anytime soon because he is too young but it was amazing to be up there. I have never been the first person to sit on a horse. I was so happy that it was the BFF and I together for the ride. Dickie is going to go on so many fun adventures with one, or both, of us over the years. It is only fitting that we are both part of his first journey's into real working horsedom. 

For now though we go back the drawing board with ground work. I got some good ideas from seeing the BFF work with him. I can't wait until I have a stretch of seven days off and can work with him consistently for a longer stretch. I am also really looking forward to riding Romeo too. It is fun to feel the progress with a horse. I think I might even pop him over some cross rails (Romeo not Dickie of course). He seems to enjoy doing something different. Yay for Friday at 730am when I am off work for a week!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I think I am fairly good at figuring out the general personality of a horse quickly. However, I love taking time to really get to know what makes each horse unique. I have known Bre for 11 years and at this point know her as well as I know myself. I can tell what naughty thing she is thinking up by just the look on her face. I knew both Bre and Belle for many months before buying them. I had been taking lessons on Belle until she needed colic surgery. Then when she was rehabbing from surgery I spent a ton of time hand walking her and getting her back in shape. When it came time to buy a horse of my own I kept looking for one just like Belle so when they offered to sell her it was a no brainer. I started training Bre at age three and bonded with her long before buying her was an option. By the time my name was on her papers Bre had already chosen me as her owner.

In comparison Dickie and I have only know each other for a very short time. I bought him after only meeting him for a few minutes. He has one of those personalities that sucks anyone in so it didn't take me long to fall in love. He is such a social guy that he demands everyone within his sight loves him. Even with that endearing personality it still takes time to really know a horse. After two months I feel like we are getting to the point where we have a personal bond. He doesn't like me just because he likes everyone, he recognizes me individually. He whinnied for me twice on Sunday and I went all gooey inside. It was the girliest little baby whinny and hilarious coming out of this big studly looking horse.

The more I get to know his weird quirks the more I love him.  For example he likes to put everything in his mouth but there are a few things that make him as joyous as a little kid on Christmas. When I get my gloves out he perks up and starts this crazy ants-in-my-pants dance with a gleam in his eye because he wants to chew on them BAD. Today he was super focused on unscrewing the top of the treat tub but left that in a second when he saw the gloves. If they are on my hands he doesn't bother them but if I haven't put them on they are fair game. God forbid I let my guard down because once he gets a glove in his mouth there is no getting it back. I would have about as much luck winning a tug of war match with a pit bull.

His lead rope is also apparently as tantalizing as horse crack. We will be walking along with him looking around at the birds and cats and things then suddenly I see a light bulb go off "OMG LEAD ROPE!!!" he will do a crazy double skip hop in the front and bite the air away from the lead but his ears and eyes are a dead giveaway to what he is planning. If I can catch him at the first skip with an "Ahhhh ahhh ahhhh" I have some hope of keeping the lead out of his mouth. If he gets past crazy hopping to air snapping his mouth then I might as well just give in and let him carry the rope because he has his mind set. He cracks me up because I really think he thinks he is being sly. There is nothing sly about this guy though. When something gets him happy he hops and does crazy dance moves with his head and snaps the air. Usually he gets most happy when he sees I am in possession of something he might want to put in his mouth but large fluffy dogs have also been known to elicit dance moves.

The more I get to know him the more I love his personality. He is just so fun. Sometimes he is exhausting because he never stops. He is always looking for something to grab or knock over so I can't let my guard down. I know horses who can just chill out while people are talking and he isn't one of those. If you watch him closely his mind never stops. I have never seen him just zone out and chill. It isn't that he is anxious. This horse is far from anxious. He's has to be the happiest horse I've ever been around. Even when he throws a tantrum because he doesn't want to do something the second he is done Mr Happy face comes right back. When I am not keeping his mind busy he's just always watching, plotting, and planning. He doesn't see why we should just stand around when we could stand annnnnd pull down halters, knock over plants, smack humans with the lunge whip, twirl the lead rope, and do a little dance at the same time. I am really trying hard to find the balance between having an obedient horse and without expecting too much of him. I don't want to lose that curious nature by expecting him to stand still at all times.

Tonight I took him in the arena to lunge and drooled all over myself. He is getting so strong and confident in his movements and it doesn't seem real that I will get the privilege to work with such a nice horse. He has some real talent. We also tried long lining which was both a win and a disaster. My main goal was to make sure he wouldn't mind all the ropes and he didn't. In fact he was so relaxed with all the ropes around his body that he decided the most logical thing to do would be to roll. Somehow I managed to keep everything away from his legs. However, he didn't want any part of steering and decided that he could walk any direction he felt even if I had him turned the other way. I have plans for fixing that but he was so mellow and seemed so happy to be learning something new that I quit and called it good. We ended with our usual stand by the mounting block. We did that quite a bit at the old barn but I have neglected this routine the last few weeks. This arena is a little more difficult because there are really cool things by the mounting block. He wanted to stand still but he also gets a craving for eating lunge whips from time to time and the neatly lined up row of whips was calling to him. This mounting block is also really tasty. The mounting block is made for all the 18h warmblood hunters so I towered over him. I couldn't resist laying over his back to see how he felt. He took a few steps with me over his back and could care less. I slid down to the ground and gave him a good rub down. I love him.

It's hard to get pictures without at least one blurry body part because he is so busy. 
Attempting to throw halters on the floor, and rip his fly mask off the stall door. He is super shiny and you can kind of see here. I am sad that we will be losing the summer shine soon. 
Opening the treat bucket. He left that in a heartbeat when I pulled the gloves out of my pocket.
 Looking quite grown up. 
 Ready for some loving. Notice the fleece surcingle pad isn't on his back where it should be. That occured during the long line rolling fiasco. 
 Rub my face please. 

Just A Photo Post

Photo of jumps for different levels of the horse trial I watched this weekend. Such a pretty fall morning. 

Trailers lined up and ready for the day. 

Tari getting her forelock prettied up before dressage. 

View of the main field and bank complex. 
 Tari jumping hay bales like they are three foot horse eating monsters. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend funsies

I have had a busy few days. I works thurs thru sat. I got off work sun am and managed to stay awake for over 24 hours. I am usually very careful about getting enough sleep and keeping a sleep routine. When I get off work I grab a quick snack and am out like a light by 9am. Sunday I really wanted to go watch a horse show. I made plans to go back when I wasn't working Saturday night. So instead of stopping coffee consumption at 2am I kept it going. I was feeling pretty good by the end of my shift and was actually coherent when I arrived at the show. A new barn friend was competing at a little eventing derby that the local hunt club holds three times a year. It's not a long serious country course but we pretty much have nothing in the way of eventing in Portland so it's fun to go. You have to drive at least 3 hours to get to any events around here and there are only 3 i have found. This one used i have 3 phases but they morphed stadium and xcoubtry into one long course. I felt old when i found myself saying "back when I was showing they has this......"

Everything is low key and try have a few mini courses below beginner novice. I'm hoping I take Dickie to the trot a rail next year because it's so mellow there and only a few mins from where he lives. My only complaint was that the timing was disorganized. Dressage ran late, when does it eve run on time, but the jumping ran on time. This meant there was barely time to switch tack between events. By the time you switched there was only time for two or three warm up fences. It was super fun and my friend got 5th and was one of only 3 clear rounds. It was her mares first event and I was happy I got to watch.

After that I gave my first lesson to Romeos lessee. The person who started Romeo came out before she got there to see I she felt the same problems as I dd. it was nice to have someone who knows the horse come to the same conclusions I did. Because Romeo felt so sucked back I just worked on forward with the girl. I let her know we can go back to a western jog Eventually but he needs to et moving correctly first. I was incredibly impressed with her. Initially he was chomping at the bit w ears pinned the second she picked up the reins. She didn't hesitate when I told her to ride on a lose rein and picked up on everything I told her. By the end of the ride she had him soft, forward, and stretching down looking for contact. He has been really bad about nervous bit chomping and he didn't do it once after the first five minutes. I hope that she had fun because she did wonderful and I think she can go far. I know that ribbons aren't everything but I think she can clean up. It would be nice to see her winning without forcing him into a headset like the other trainer  was so focused on. Im excited for our next lesson!

Dickie got his feet trimmed and a new jolly ball. And he's started whinnying when I get there. It's the funniest high pitched baby whinny. So cute. More on him later. It's hard to write a post on my cell! I have event pics too but can't figure out how to upload them til I get to my Mac.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Wind Strikes Again

What the BLEEP is it with horses and the wind? I had kind of forgotten about the whole wind situation because of Bre. Bre is one of those rare horses who doesn't care about the wind. I recall once when she was 3 or 4 and it was a super windy day. The barn felt like it was going to fall down around us, some people were opting not to ride. I decided I was lazy and going to ride bareback. People were peeking in the cracks of the arena door just to see if that crazy girl on that dangerous (she was known for going to crazy town) red horse were really in there. We sure were riding in the wind and Bre was fine. Bre might think bikes (the pedal kind, not the legitimately scary Harley kind) emit horse killing death rays but she will take you out into a hurricane no problem.

So the fact that it was a brisk fall evening on Weds with the wind picking up didn't even enter into my mind as being a factor on Dickie's walk today. He came up to me friendly and engaged so I figured we would have none of the power struggle shenanigans from the earlier week. Boy was I mistaken. He showed me some fancy footwork. He wasn't being disobedient, when I would focus him he tried his hardest to listen but the world had him on overload. Generally when life is scary he will snort, grab his lead rope, then look at me (sometimes whacking me with his head in the process) to see if I agree it is time to get out of dodge. If I seem calm he will relax and keep going with me. Today he still checked in with me but then decided I clearly wasn't taking the danger of a windy day seriously enough and went on guard for both of us.

Snorts, snaps around to see mom and whacks mom with his head "Sorry about the head whack but LOOK!!! Do you see that!! It's a cougar over there in the field you are leading us to" 
"Dude watch  your big head, how can you even see where you are going with your head looking backwards!! NO NO lead rope is mine! "
"Boy you are clueless today, you must not see the cougar. I think I can calm down if you let me carry the lead rope in my mouth." sigh, relaxes for about 60 seconds "SHIT,  RUN FOR YOUR LIVES IT'S COMING!!" Nearly falls over from sideways scootrip, rears, lands somehow still in upright position, still right next to mom.
"There is nothing there, I can't see anything. Wait wait I see it........Dumbass, it's a cat!! You like cat's. There is grass over there in the cat field don't you want it?"

Both parties walk relatively calmly, albeit apprehensively, into the field.

"Ahhhhhh!!! COWS!!! These aren't normal cows, these are totally zombie horse eating cows. I am so sorry to do this but....... THE ONLY WAY OF ESCAPE IS RIGHT WHERE ARE YOU STANDING". 
"DUDE!!! I am too old for this, my butt doesn't get out of the way fast enough. Time to walk backwards because walking over me is not an option"
"Sure I can walk backwards AND sideways if  you want me to. I will chew and lick and be submissive. I am a good boy. And I can do it all with my tail up in the air and eyes locked on the cows".

Finally horse realizes he is standing fetlock deep in clover and decides zombie cows need friends too.  After clover eating both parties head back home towards the gate. Said gate goes between tall blackberries bushes.

Zombie Birds in the Bushes:
"SQUAAAWWWWK, cackle, cackle, squeek, SQUAWK"
"No way man, we can't walk by those bushes, haven't you seen that Alfred Hitchcock movie?"
"They are just birds, totally unnatural sounding birds but birds. You are HUGE, you can kill them if needed".
"Not moving, you can't make me. And I certainly am not walking next to you. You just want me between creepy devil birds and you."
"Ok, maybe you are right. Those birds are a little creepy, sounds like they are plotting something. Now you are freaking me out. UGH, I will go first but don't run me over if I walk in front".
"Seeeeeeee, I told you those birds just aren't right. I will follow you through. No, I won't step on you but I don't have to be calm about it". 

That was a snap shot of our walk. I am happy to say that no feet were harmed in the process. We had round pen workout that was going great until dinner time started so I would say today is a win. At least I got a good taste of how he behaves when he is upset.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Who's Lazy Now?

I remember the first few weeks Dickie got here I wondered if he would have enough fire. I really like having a horse who is a challenge and has spunk under saddle. He was so easy going and ho hum about everything that I wondered if maybe he would be a lazy bones. My gut feeling was that this horse was really smart and was sitting back figuring out the situation but more than a few people mentioned how lazy he was. I would have still loved him to pieces and he wasn't going anywhere but I do love to have that horse who wants to be in front. Then today as he was telling me the birds in the blackberry bushes were TERRIFYING, I started laughing.

Where did that ho hum lazy guy go? Out of nowhere he has figured out how to get those long gangly legs under him and is a fire cracker. I didn't think that walking in hand, and ground work could build up muscle. I just thought I was teaching manners. But lo and behold he really has gained muscle. The vet mentioned it a few weeks ago and I didn't  think it was true but IT IS!! He looks effing fantastic. When I work him in the round pen he really uses himself. Looks nothing like that uncoordinated confused goofball in the first lunging video I posted. And somehow despite his butt being close to two inches higher than his shoulders he manages to carry himself uphill quite a bit now. Imagine how uphill he will be when he is actually built that way!

My gangly goofball is still there. He still randomly trips over his own big feet and runs into me because he wasn't paying attention. In the arena he will do some fancy moves then remember he isn't coordinated yet and canter off with his butt ten inches above his shoulders. He still looks like a yearling from one angle, two year old from another, and full grown horse from yet another. I am weird and really love goofy stages so that is fine by me. However, it seems like overnight I can see more than just a glimmer of the horse he will grow up to be.

Here is a flash from the past, pictures of the Doofus himself one year ago (1.5 yrs old) :
At the auction :(
Home safe and saved by Pony Up
 I think this one is post baby's first bath. Look at his pot belly, this horse has never gone without. 
 Still has that big goofy face, with mule ears. I LOVE the mule ears. I hope he doesn't grow into them. 

What happens to old horses.....

Recently a former FEI level dressage horse ended up with a horse trader known to take horses to slaughter. He was sold by unsuspecting owners and was on the brink of a very bad ending when someone on Chronicle of the Horse posted his sales ad. By a stroke of luck the person who owned him during his show days (5years ago) saw the posting. She bought him with another person and he will now live the rest of his days in the lap of luxury. Here is the blog about his story.

One of the most heart breaking parts of being involved in the horse show world is seeing what happens to our old friends. I know it happens with recreational horses but show people are big offenders when it comes to selling horses. When someone out grows a horse, the horse gets too old, or the person wants to change disciplines the horse gets sold. Each time the horse is a little older and the little worse for the wear. And worst of all a little closer to ending up at the auction with no one but a kill buyer bidding. In this economy young, sound, and often trained horses are a fraction of what they were even five years ago. With that in mind, why is someone going to chose the old guy with creaks and groans? That isn't to say that there aren't saints who buy older horses. However, in the general public those people are few and far between. When you sell a horse there is no way to guarantee where that horse goes. It is really important to do your home work and if anything sounds fishy then go with your gut. Please please put a buy back clause in the bill of sale but know that people can still sell the horse without talking to you. It is important to keep in contact with the buyer because in five years when they want to sell that horse they will have forgotten about you or lost your number.

My friend sold a horse she started and showed dressage through her teen years. Then, like many teens, she found herself ready to leave for college and unable afford or care for a horse. However, that is where her similarity to the hoards of teens selling their horses before college ends. At the young age of 18 she had the maturity to know she needed to continue looking out for her horse even after she sold him. She had leased him out and sold him to a person who understood part of the sale was a buy back clause and continued contact. Over the years she contacts the owner often and goes to visit her horse. And if the current owner will not provide for a retirement when he is old she is going to see to it. She hasn't owned him in ten years but she is still making sure he is ok.

The best thing you can do is commit yourself to keeping the horse you buy. That horse loves you and depends on you. As soon as you sell them the downward spiral of his/her life has begun. More often than not it isn't going to end well. According to a New York Times article the government reported 138,000 horses were sent out of the country to slaughter. After all they did for you, you owe it to them. I know horses are expensive and it is hard enough to keep one let alone two. In my book you need to think about that when you get the horse. And this will be very unpopular but sometimes euthanasia is the kindest thing. If you are selling the horse because it won't hold up to the rigors of your riding it isn't fair to pass him on to someone else. Give him a kind ending because slaughter isn't kind at all.  They don't walk quietly into a box and die without stress. They are shipped in horrible conditions, in holding pens for sometimes months, and killed in a horribly inhumane way. Watch some videos on slaughter and it will make you feel better about humanely euthanizing that old friend who "Won many shows but has arthritis and would be sound for light trail riding"

 For me selling Bre has never been an option. She is well bred and when she was a little younger someone would have paid a pretty penny for her as a brood mare. Some little girl could clean up in 4h with her. But I know where she would eventually make her way. So she stays with me for the rest of her days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ups and Downs (it's a novel)

I am going to attempt this on my iPhone because I left my computer elsewhere so sorry for crazy spelling/grammar.

I had the longest break from Dickie since he's been here. It was a long work week and I had to so some annual housesitting for my family and Bre's farm. Usually they don't fall on the same week so Sunday I was very ready to get back to a routine. I was expecting him to be a little wild Sunday and he exceeded those expectations by exponential proportions. He immediately gave me the cold shoulder. Usually he's pretty cuddly right away but he was trying to bite me and push me over the second I walked into his stall. I wont deny that he's a mouthy bugger generally he tries to bite his lead rope or nip in my direction. Sunday he threw in some carefully aimed bites and even caught a boob. I know they are big but I am not looking for an equine assisted breast reduction anytime soon.

The first order of business was getting his brush boots on. He thought standing still for long enough to get those things on was an unreasonable task and his fancy feet put Fred Astaire to shame. During our walk to the arena, he threw a tantrum when I wouldn't let him walk in front of me. He was offended and reared like a maniac when I pushed his shoulder off the top of me. He reared and pawed and even kicked at me when I worked with him on moving his haunches and shoulders. After some basic ground work in the arena we headed to the round pen. He was willing to listen but very disconnected. Usually he's always got an ear on me and is ready to come in to visit as soon as I say it's ok but today he didn't have a submissive bone in his body.

I still didn't feel like I had really connected but I don't like to do any one thing for more than 15-20 mins so we wrapped up with a walk. I have found that we always make the most progress through our walks. He kept trying to bolt ahead of me and the second I corrected it he would rear. He likes to get ahead then walk right in front of me so I worked on getting him to take a step back and haunch turn away from me. I would reward him if he would move that shoulder away by letting him have more forward motion while still moving away from me (kind of like a few steps of haunch turn then a few steps of leg yield). I wasn't expecting anything fancy. I just wanted to feel through his body that he was submitting to me. I also wanted him to understand if he walks over the top of me and acts like a doofus it's going to be way more work than just watching my cues and following my lead.

At this point if he isn't walking on a slack rope, a few steps behind, and more than an elbow away I won't tolerate it. He isn't trying to be mean but is testing boundaries and I know letting these little things slide can mean huge problems down the road. I am sure I could have avoided the rearing and bucking if let him pull on me or walk a few steps ahead. It might have "looked" like a less exciting walk if I had ignored some of the pushiness. However, I would rather have a few knock down battle of the wills than constant minor disobedience. At the end of the walk he was stopping when I stopped and walking quietly next to me. He was wasn't thrilled about it though and had an Appy stink eye. If you have worked with an Appy you know that look that says "I'll do what you say because I feel like it but I will not give you the satisfaction of being happy about it." That made me chuckle because I LOVE a good Appy stink eye.

I stopped in to see Bre on the way home. It was so nice to be around her calm cuddly presence. She has a way of making me feel better about pretty much any problem I face. She also gives me confidence that I can train Dickie. Bre's worst days were enough to make me wish I had on Depends to protect my panties. Despite all of that in less than a year she was a dream to be around. I also called my friend who started two horses on her own. She made me feel better by sharing stories of her TB kicking her in the boob (it's not his fault, she has big ones, they are hard to miss), biting her, and all the expected baby stuff. It reminded me that just because we had a rough day I am not a horrible horse trainer. I logically know I am good at training horses but self doubt creeps up I worry that I will make a mistake and let him down.

Today it seemed our little argument did the trick. When I called his name he snapped his head up and made a bee line to me. His ears were locked in on me and he was chewing/licking. He nuzzled me but didn't ram into me. He wanted a treat but asked politely. He was alert during our walk to the arena but instead of snorting and scooting ahead he looked at me to see if I thought things were scary. We had a nice session in the arena walking around looking at all the jumps and cones. Our round pen session was just as lovely. He licked and chewed from the beginning. Every time I asked him to stop he would chew and ask to come in. I didn't work him long because he was where I wanted immediately.

Poor guy,  I think I dropped him off at an unfamiliar place and he had to be his own leader for too long. Sunday he said "Dude, I have been on my own all week and it's scary out there. If you want me to be the leader I'll try my hardest but I am a baby so this is FREAKING ME THE F*&@ OUT MAN." Today he seemed really happy that he doesn't have to be the leader and can let me worry about the scary world.  I suspect there will more than a few days where he tries out being the boss but I will just have to remind him who the real boss mare is. I wanted a smart, athletic, strong willed horse, who was going to make me use my brain so I can't complain!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Resolutions for 2013

Everyone is familiar with New Year Resolutions. That is when you decide to work out everyday, never eat candy again, read a new book every week, never leave dirty clothes on the floor, always be nice to your spouse in the morning..... all that stuff you forget about in a month. When it comes to horses I usually find myself thinking about goals in the fall. I am not sure why. Maybe it is because after the crazy activity of summer I start to feel more introspective as a way to balance myself. Some of it is the fact that show season starts to wrap up at the end of the summer so you look back over what you accomplished and think about where you want to go next year. Here in Oregon (and in Alaska) it is difficult to ride outside in the winter so we are often forced inside. Once inside it is nice to have some goals to look forward during those long dark days.

As you get to know me you will realize that I am against pushing young horses. They don't finish growing until 5 or 6 which means it is so easy to cause long term damage in those early years. When I round pen/lunge I keep it at 20 mins or less because all those circles aren't good on their maturing bones/ligaments. If I get on him before he is 3 it will be just to sit on him for a few minutes bareback. Once he is 3 he won't be worked very hard under saddle. I believe in short rides of 20 mins or so for those first 6 months. Slow and easy will give him a better chance at staying sound for a long time. However, I still have some goals for us! My goals for his first year under saddle won't include any statements about the quality of work I expect out of him such as "An energetic working trot, soft downward transitions, bend in the circles." I have no idea where his strengths/weaknesses will lie. And he is a baby. The only thing I expect out of him is go button, a stop button, and some level of steering. Other than that his first year will just be about experiences, not about how he performs. Soooo here are my resolutions for the next 12 months.........

1) Attend two shows before next summer. "Wait, wait" you say "He isn't even under saddle yet, are you nuts?" I am totally nuts for many reasons but not because I want to start showing him right away. We have tons of very low key schooling shows in the area. I am not worried about how he looks or what score we will get. As soon as I feel like he has go button, and brakes, I want to start taking him places. The more he can get used to showing now, the less stress it will be once I am actually a little more serious.

2) Participate in a combined training event next year at this time. Don't panic!! I won't be jumping him. There are trot a pole classes that won't require any thing that resembles a jump. He won't be jumping until he is five. It will just be a fun low key way to expose him to different types of events all in one show.

3) Ride in a clinic next summer. I have a few ideas about who I want to ride with. I am not looking for an intense clinician just yet. I would like to find someone who understands young horses. I plan to start auditing clinics this winter so I can make a good decision.

4) Go on at least two away trail rides. We have fantastic trails nearby and I can't imagine owning a horse who I can't trail ride. As comfortable as it would be just to take Bre on the rides I need to start working on the baby right away if he is to ever have a chance to live up to Bre's trail prowess.

If I find myself in one piece, with no broken bones, and a happy horse after accomplishing these goals I will feel like a winner. Ok, now to start my starvation diet so I can feel OK about white breeches. I will start right after I finish this pepsi..........

Bre's first show ten years ago when she was four. I hope Dickie is far less exciting than Bre was.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Absent Blogger

It was a crazy week. I watched Bre's barn last week. It was fun to take care of the animals but it's always disorienting to sleep away from home. Midweek I worked the last three days of orientation on my unit. For the first 6-8 weeks nurses orient to a unit with someone experienced. You are assigned the same patients and as the weeks go on the new nurses takes on the full load. From now on I will not be working with another nurse. It is all me all the time. Luckily I have an AMAZING team to work with who will help me anytime I have questions. The saying "Nurses eat their young" is true in many places but not on my unit. Every nurse there has made an effort to help me feel welcome and confident. I didn't get much done on my work days. There are pros to 12 hour shifts but they are pretty tiring. You don't get much done during work days. If I get home by 8am, crash by 9am it is 4pm before I get up. That only leave a few hours to wake up, do dishes, and make a lunch. I don't like to plan anything during that time. I like to be in a relaxed space when I get to the unit. What that all means is three straight days not going to the barn, or seeing friends. This week was particularly tiring. I had a few patients who needed me in their rooms pretty much every 15mins. That meant lots of laps up and down the hall between my computer and their rooms. I really need to wear a pedometer to see how much a walk on nights like that! I spent the last few days housesitting at my parents house. I can't wait to get back to my routine of a familiar bed, work, my honey, and the ponies.

I have a great pony week planned. Sundays have traditionally been horse days for a years. That went out the window the last year of nursing school and during the first month or so of the new job I worked almost every weekend. Now I am getting into a routine of having a few weekends off a month. I actually have every Sunday off this Sept. Tomorrow I am going to clean tack with my new horsey BFF, ride her adorable draft/appy cross. I just love her horse. She is half draft but isn't too stocky and is light on her feet.

I will be able to head out every day until Thursday to work with the big guy. I also want to work with Bre's BFF Romeo a little too this week. He has been worked western (he is built like a WP guy) and is looking hollow in the back, and scrawny in the butt. A teen was giving a lessee lessons and was very focused on what his face was doing. I want to get on him and feel what is going on. I am hoping that now the the "trainer" is off to college the girl will either take some lessons from me or from the trainer where I now have Dickie at. Some good solid dressage lessons will help build up his bum and back. I also noticed the lessee starting some bad habits with her hands. I was really bummed to see it because when I last saw her riding she was lovely. She is wonderful posture, soft/tall back, solid leg, and her elbows were bent like a pro dressage rider. She was still more of a passenger, than an active rider but at 13 she had all the tools to be a really great rider. She now has her hands back at her thighs and is seesawing and jiggling. It was such a bummer to see that. Most people have to work their tails off to get where she was naturally riding, now someone has grilled bad habits into her. Hopefully all is not lost though. I am thinking if they get out of the western saddle and do dressage and trot over some little jumps he will get moving out again and she be able to forget about fussing with his face.

I am excited to have horse projects all around. After being away from riding for so long it feels great to have horse problems to solve. I love have goal to work on. At the same time I am grateful for miss Bre. Bre has been there done that and it is heaven to have such a connection with an animal. It is nice have an animal you know inside out to fall back on.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finally some video of him moving around.... (VIDEO PROBLEM FIXED)

Sorry the video looks like a drunk person took it. It is on my iphone and I have realized that it is hard to chase a horse and keep a steady hand. I am so happy he has a bigger arena. He is already more confident and balanced now that he has more room.

Now you should be able to view the videos as long as you have the link ;)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Moving Day

I have already shared that Dickie and I gave 30 day notice with plans to move to a new stable. Thursday on the way to work (graveshift) I got a text that we could move the 1st of Sept if we wanted. Someone was looking for board ASAP so we could go to the new place and our old stable would be able to fill that stall right away. Win win!!! My only problem was getting Dickie to the new place. I don't have a trailer so I depend on Bre's surrogate family for horse transportation. Normally it would be no problem but they happened to be leaving town for the weekend and took the truck. My wonderful new barn manager said she would give him a ride if I could be ready Friday. The vet was coming for fall shots at 3pm so it was a bit of a marthon day. I got off work at 730am, was asleep by 9am, up by 1230pm so I could stand for Bre, Romeo, and Dickie to get shots. By 4pm our ride arrived. 

I suspected he would be great but I wasn't sure if the 3+ hour trailer ride from Washington had made him leary of the trailer. I really shouldn't doubt my horse. He hopped right in without a second of hesitation. He didn't seem worried or stressed once we got to the new place. He snorted at a few things in the aisleway but was willing to follow me to his new stall. He made a few laps around the new paddock with a big fancy trot. He didn't panic though and came right back to check his stall out. There were about 3inches of soft shavings and he immediately plopped down to roll. Then he calmy strolled to the far end of the paddock where there is some grass to eat. Five minutes later he was acting like he has boarded there for years. I am excited that we found a comprimise between me getting the facilities I need to train him and Dickie getting the room he needs to be a happy pony. 

I can't wait to play in the new arena.

Dickie quickly went to the end of his paddock and set to eating grass. 

Bre and Romeo feeling sorry for themselves because they have been banished to the lower pasture. Poor poor ponies. 

Lounging in the hammock while I housesit at Bre's farm this weekend.