Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Plans

There is a mellow schooling show this weekend and I had planned on taking Dickie. We were just going to do halter for the expirience. He has been quite the handful as of late and taking him was starting to feel more like a chore. He has a white sock that I would need to clean and I think keeping him couped up in the stall all day would make him batty. I also work all week and wouldn't be able to brush up on ground manners.

I have had the thought that it would be fun to take Bre to one last show. This would be an easy time to do it because two other people are going from the barn she lives at right now. A month from now she will be back at her old barn and it would be a chore to arrange trailering. She hasn't been ridden much lately but these are all flat rail classes. The only pattern is showmanship and I am only doing that to keep her warmed up and let her see the arena. She won't ever break a sweat. She gets more of a work out in a twenty minute ride that she will by going all day to the show. It is close by so she won't be sleeping in a strange stall. Not that she cares. She is the easiest traveler. She will even be going with a pasture mate.

I filled out the entry form for all the english and western rail classes we qualify for. She would rather be out of her stall hanging out with me and her buddies so I figured I might as well ride her in classes all day. I am really excited now that it is official. It love my mare and it will be fun to have one last adventure. I haven't really done much in the way of rail classes so it will be nice to do it on a trained horse. My only worry is the fact that the footing in that arena really packs in the horses feet and she has princess feet. She could run all day on hard ground but pack some arena footing in there and it's the end of the world. Thank goodness for Pam and Crisco. I might have to bring both.

Reassessing Goals

We have been trucking right along pretty much hitting every goal I set right on schedule. Even when I thought "No way is he going to be ready for this show" or "Not sure if I will have him ready to ride by his third birthday." things always seemed to work out better than planned. I never felt like I was trying to make something happen. It just seemed to git. Now I we are hitting a phase where I feel what is best for my horse is to back off a bit.

He was a little over 16.1hh at the rump and 16hh and some change at the wither all winter. He filled out a bit and was even looking a bit porky the end of Jan when I had my first few rides. Then all the sudden I had a different horse (literally I had photos one week of a fatso and the next week I could see every rib). The barn owner said he was growing and I thought she was crazy because he didn't stick at any taller. Then I noticed that he can reach all the way over the top of the stall divider to bite Bre. A month ago he could only reach over to give her the stink eye. When we go for walks I barely have to duck when he swings his head over mine. His wither might not have been taller but he sure had been growing.

Tonight I put the stick on him (my fancy one with a level) and he is definitely 16.1hh at the shoulder. That means he has grown and inch since last July. An inch in eight months doesn't seem like much when foals grow inches in a month but at his age that is a huge amount. His back and neck are longer too. And I know that their legs aren't supposed to grow at this age but I SWEAR they have.

Even before this growth spurt I was rethinking my goals. I had hoped to start walk trot with him over the next month but it doesn't feel right. It isn't think I don't think we can, it is that I don't think we should. So far he has taken every new thing in stride. If he has gotten a little frustrated with something new he quickly figured it out and started having fun. His attention span and ability to focus seemed to be improving at the same rate I was adding new tasks. Moving from tolerating a rider to allowing a rider to give commands is a HUGE jump. It takes more mental focus because he has to listen to me with a million other visual stimuli stealing his attention. When I am on the ground at least he can see me. When I see the vacant "Ohhh other horses in the distance" gaze set in all I have to do is wave my hand in front of his face and he remembers I exist. On his back I can see him quickly forget I am even up there.

Taking his growth spurt and his attention span into account I have decided to back off on the riding for at least the next few months. Spring is a really hard time for horses to focus let alone a giant baby with the attention span of a toddler. I want his entry into the riding world to be fun, there will be plenty of time for battles down the road. Now is the time to just follow his lead.  I don't want to ever look back and wonder if I pushed him too hard. I look at Bre often and wonder what she could have been had she been allowed to grow up. The growth plates in his legs won't seal for another year or two, his spine won't mature for another THREE years. That goes for every horse breed. Even those "fast maturing" quarter horses don't actually mature until they are at least six. This isn't a horse who will just be expected to plod along on the trails. I have high hopes for us and taking it easy as a three year old could mean the diference between a career ending injury as a six year old (Bre). Maybe all the pushing Bre recieved isn't what caused her problems but I will never know. At least this time around I won't have that doubt.

I still plan on getting on and off him over the new fews months but nothing more on the riding front. He gets his teeth done in two weeks so I will feel better about ground driving some with the bit. Once the weather is nicer and the spring crazies subside it will be good timing to start trotting a little. I am not going to be that owner who has a six year old who is green broke. I still have goals and a plan. In the sport of horses we just need to make sure they have input into that plan. Right now Dickie is saying "Slow down mom, lets play more!!"


Sunday, March 17, 2013

TACK SALE!!!!

Over the last month I have had a weird schedule without enough relaxing days. I had to take a long stretch off to help at the HS eq meet then somehow the rest of the month I didn't end up with more than a few days off in a row. When you add in visiting a sick family member, shuttling a sick car to and from the shop, and never ending laundry I couldn't seem to find a full day to waste at the barn. I have been looking forward to this stretch of five days off since the schedule first came out. Five days off meant I actually got to sleep for eight full hours on my first day off. Usually I take a nap then have to rush off for some kind of appointment and I am a zombie all day.

I slept for almost 24 hours then was a good girl and spent most of Friday getting paperwork done for school. I start my RN to BS program in a few weeks and kept putting off paperwork. I swear I have been fingerprinted more in the last 24 months than a professional criminal between new job, getting licensed, and this nursing program. It required me getting the fingerprints, getting it notarized, then hitting up the post office. I felt so organized. I even managed to fit in dropping off pony poo at the vet and picking up wormer. I didn't manage to fit in actually working the horses but I did hang out with them for over an hour in the pasture while they refused to poop.

Sooooo with all my work done I had all of Saturday blocked to play with my best most favortest pony friend (Josey's mom). We were like little kids on xmas. We couldn't sleep the night before and couldn't wait to get up. It was her first time going and I haven't been in years. I also haven't been when I actually had a little money to spend. I have a tax return on it's way and a list of things I could actually say I NEEDED without lengthy creative rationalization. We made out like bandits. I might have spent a decent sum of cash but I am happy to say I didn't spend very much on any one item.

Dickie now has a nice show sheet, a light cooler to throw over his saddle walking to and from the big barn, two sets of reins, cross ties, show pad, and tons of other good stuff. I think I am actually being literal when I say tons. We had to store our first load with the 4-H tack wagon girls because we couldn't hold one more thing. Our second load was just as heavy and my back is still sore today. My only disappointment was a missing out on a drool worthy padded leather halter. He needs a leather halter to show in and I drool over the padded ones but they are just a little to spendy for my current budget. I passed it up because it was at the first booth and I didn't want to spend half my money right off the bat. It was more than worth it though so I actually went back only to find it had sold :(

I guess I shouldn't say the halter was the only disappointment. My other half found this lovely like new turquoise cooler. It was fleece on top and mesh on the bottom, perfect for summer. As she was turning it over to look for the size this creepy crusty old lady grabbed it and said if it fit her horse she was buying it.  It turned out both our horses were the same size but she wasn't handing it back. I kicked myself for the rest of they day for not fighting her but we were so shocked over having something snatched from our hands that we stood there in horror.

Luckily our wounds of losing the halter and having the blanket stolen were quickly healed. We stopped at wilco for wormer and they were having a crazy sale. The prices were cheaper than the Wilco near our house too. They had a super fancy halter they didn't even carry at the other store. AND they had a lovely turquoise rain sheet. After Wilco we spent hours playing dress up and deciding where to put all of our junk. Perfect pony day. Even the pouring down rain didn't ruin our parade.

Super sexy in his new padded, fancy stitched, leather halter. 

Treats?

Fancy grown up man. 

He wanted to eat my vest zipper. I guess I fancy halter doesn't make him alllll grown up. 

Josey's momma was sent this blanket my mistake (she would never  purchase a  non turquoise blanket). I bought the lovely turquoise one on sale and Dickie looks fetching in this one. 

I found leathers and a girth that actually match my saddle!!  The girth is a little light but it is brand new so I know it will get darker with some oiling. 






Friday, March 15, 2013

Proof We Are All Alive and Well.

Romeo and his girl sharing some love time before our lesson. 


Josey has to be the only horse in the world who wishes she could be stalled 24/7. She begs to come in as soon as she is put out. It was warm and sunny today and she wanted none of being outside. 


This is Dickie's "I am concentrating very hard on eating the new blackberry leaves without getting poked" face. 


video
Our newest trick. It is hard to get him on video because he responds better when I am next to him but then he's too close for the camera. 

Visiting with the mares instead of focusing. 

ALIVE!!!

I wanted to stop in and say that I am alive and well. The horses are alive and well too. Maybe a little too alive. Dickie has been super sassy with the barn owner and I have five days off in a row so he is going to get some work. I have been away from blogger world mostly because of work. I had a stretch of working on day, one off, then two, one off, then four in a row, then more of working odd days. It wouldn't be so hard if I was on days but it is hard to flip back and forth so fast on nights. I work three in a row every week for the rest of the month then I AM ON DAYS!!! It is bittersweet because I love my corworkers. I also really like the shift. I don't have a problem staying awake and I sleep just fine during the days. It having to be up early for the horses that kills me. If I go in the evening it is dark and wet and the arena is crowded. I actually like being out in the round pen but I can handle dark OR rainy not both. The arena is empty during certain hours but I don't really want to be riding dofus when no one is around to call an ambulance.

So as of April 8th I will be on day shift. I will also be starting school again (getting ready for that has been another time sucker). I really will be back on blogger. Dickie an I have exciting plans on the horizon. We have a show the end of the month and I hope to start taking him to school at local cross country courses once the weather dries a bit. I have a friend who jumps her mare and it will be fun to take him along for the ride.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review

I received all three books Tuesday and I LOVE THEM!!!

Note: links should take you the amazon descriptions.

 Equine Fitness book is very simple. It has pull out cards so that you can keep them at the barn. I might photo copy them so I can glue them to index cards and have one set for Bre/Romeo and another set for the Dickster.

The two human books are: Pilates for Riders by Lisa Wilcox-Reid and The Rider's Fitness Program 

The Pilate's book gives a wonderful overview of Pilate's from the point of view of a dressage rider who kept plateauing just before reaching upper levels. The first half is a lovely overview of how Pilate's will help your riding and anatomy. It isn't too wordy-it is just right and you can read it in short bursts. The second half goes through a variety of moves. Each move lists level of difficulty and how it will help your riding. The end gives some sample workout routines for different difficulty levels.

The Rider's fitness program is all strength exercises. It is set up fairly similar. The first portion is an overview. The second half runs through each exercise with a simple description and photos. The end gives you a six week program. Some of the exercises look like you need a gym. All but a few would be very easy to modify for use without equipment. I did get an exercise band ($10), already have a physioball, and have small weights. If you don't have hand held weights go to a thrift store!!

I love that they are both super simple and given you options to mix and match routines. It isn't that I have soon most of these exercises before but it helps to have it all in one place. I might even be crazy and make flash cards like with the horses....

Here's my plan (we shall see if I follow through).....
I wrote reminder notes in my phone that go off each day so I can check them off. They each run for a week and are calling "week one" "week two" etc..... (so far I just have two). In the note I wrote out the plan for that week. I also took a photo on my phone of each exercise to remind myself of what I am doing that week. I am all over the place so I won't always have the book w me. Some of the stuff I can even do at the barn when I am having cuddle time with Bre. Since she has been at Dickie's place she has needed lots of time with me just standing in her stall (yes, she is totally high maintenance) so I might as well make it a work out.

That's my plan, not sure if I am sticking to it though. It's too soon to tell.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Books and structure

Riding more has made me realize how out of shape I am. I have been slowly losing my nursing school weight but I have jello for core muscles. You can't even tell I'm losing weight because my gut muscles stick out instead of in, lol. Then there's the problem of my pelvic injury from a fall. I was jumping Bre outside in a field and her spring sprung me right out of the saddle and onto the ground. I was able to get back on and ride but when I got off I realized I couldn't bear weight on my right leg. There was no bone damage but the docs didnt follow up with looking for soft tissues problems. I was ok crutches for months and have just learned to deal with chronic pain. Most days I don't notice it but some days I'm wiped. It's all I can do to get through the day.

My back issues make my job hard. My back is my money maker if I can't lift patients and move fast I can't work. As much as my work should be my biggest motivator riding seems to be the thing that will actually force me to get myself in gear. I have physical therapy excercises and it bores me fast. I've been thinking if I have excercises that are specific for horses I would follow through. When I have a specific plan and can see tangible results I am more apt to follow through.

Sooooo I bought a few books with excercises plans for riders. I am thinking I can make a list in my planner of which things I want to do each day. If I know its a busy day I can keep it simple. Some things I can even do at the barn! I also got a cheap book with a fitness program for horses. That book has flash cards you can pull out and keep at the barn. Some stuff is in hand which will be great for Dickie and I. I am thinking it will help Taylor too.

The books should arrive midweek! Ill let you know what I think.