Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holiday fun

I hope everyone had a Mery Christmas and we will all have a Happy New Year. The girls and I went on a road trip for Christmas. Two days in the car, 1200 miles and what a blast. We spent the week seeing lights, checking out life size dinosaurs (they loved it!), crashed a party, met some of the coolest people, snagged some of their coolest parting gifts, stayed with a long time friend and the kids also got to go swimming.

The party was at a client from work and now I have faces to go with voices. When you've worked somwhere for almost 20 years, you get to know a lot of your customers, but only by the sound of their voice. I've talked to these people for a long time and imgined what I thought they might look like... One lady, was much like I had imagined. One of the salesmen was close to what I had imagined and the owner? I admit I was off. All really nice folks and they included me and the kids in their party and gift exchange. The girls rocked some awesome stuff to bring home and they are proud of their loot.

On the way back One of the girls got sick and upchucked breakfast... all over the back seat of the rental car. If you're in my area and ent a car, don't get this one, LOL! It just added to the whole 'road trip' experience. It's quite the adventure traveling with kids! The other one had already had the stomach bug and had barfed on the kitchen floor the first night we were there. Awesome.

One of the things we did to pass time and make the trip more interesting was to come up with a game- Roadkill Bingo. Yes it is a bit morbid, but with all of the animal carcasses laying on the side of the road or in the median, that's pretty morbid too when you think about it. The girls decided that spotting 5 of something it was a Bingo! The first thing to hit Bingo was what we called "Mystery Meat". You could see it was a carcass of some kind, but what it was, is anybody's guess. This category won by a landslide for obvious reasons. Next to hit Bingo and with good measure was skunks, then deer, raccoons and coyotes. There were also a few animals we seen 1 o 2 of, snakes and possums and one category that thankfully we didn't see any at all- bears.

We also stopped in a major city along the way and I was able to catch up with an old friend and his family that I haven't seen in years. The kids are grown, they've graduated or will be soon, the dog is still a big bundle of energy and life is good for them which is what we all want, right?

So with 2015 wrappiing up and 2016 on it's way, We'll see what the new year has in store. It should be fun and interesting. There's been plenty of chnges going on so far.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Trudging on

The idea of shutting the blogs down, didn't just strike me out of the blue. It has sort of been a long time in the making. I have posted about things I'm working on with the horses and things we needed to work on, things we've accomplished and things I've wondered about. Some of the posts, I wasn't too sure about technique since I hadn't ever done it before, but in doing my research, found ways to accomplish whatever it was and learned "How To" in the process. WIN!

If anyone reads into some of the things I have posted, there have been some major changes in my life over the past 2.5 years. My marriage is over, it was a sham from the start. The kids and I moved out, horses were shipped off to new homes and life is still going on. It's just heading in a new and different direction. Are things settled? Not quite, not yet. Will they be soon? Time and the courts will tell...

For some of the things I've been thru, there were times I couldn't tell anyone about what was going on. In light of this, I withdrew from a lot of people, places and tried not to withdraw from life itself. It was hard. I knew there would be means to the end, I just had no idea when it would come. There were many times, too many tears to count, a lot of sleepless nights followed by throwing up in the morning. But I had to be strong to get thru this. I am strong. All of this was only making me stronger in some ways, while teaching me to embrace what I may have once thought were my weaknesses. It's all come full circle.

I have changed. I have learned things about myself and others. I have learned what is important to me and what I can let go of. The things I have lost or let go of, are simply that. Just things. For now the kids and I are all ok. The twins recently turned 7 and my daughter will be 22 this month and we are close, though not as close as we were in the past. Some things are collateral damage. Some of that I can live with. The rest? I will adapt.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Last call...

I have posted this blog for almost 7 years. It has gotten to the point where comments are lacking and half the time I don't post much very often anymore either. Sometimes I just don't have the time and other times, there are things I just don't care to share. Blogs are personal in a way while still being public as well.

In the next month or so I will be posting a few more things and then shutting it down, calling it in and walking away. No big deal as I will still have my blogger account, I just won't be writing much anymore. All three blogs will go-> this one, Show in Style and Cheap-Chef. No harm no foul.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Since having Aruba worked over on and everything sorted out for her, lunging her and seeing her use her body differently and actually overreaching at the trot, I was excited to ride her again and get to feel the change in her movement. I also needed to get a final time in for the October Two Point Challenge hosted by L Williams and her blogging friend Hillary. I wasn't sure if I would be getting another ride in before next Monday so I tacked up Aruba and we headed out.

The plan was to walk her around the field and when she relaxed and was ready to work, I would ask for the trot and we would work on that. That was the plan anyways... We all know how that goes. As it was, Aruba would not just settle down and relax. She was looking around, anything but soft, sometimes refusing to bend or give, kept offering to trot on her own and just seemed to be on edge the whole time. At one point she got frustrated and threw in a crowhop to the left. There were a few times it took her several steps to actually stop and even then, she was ready to go again before I would ask. Also when she was walking, she was biting the air in protest of going so slow. Literally biting the air.

She did submit and kept it at a walk for the most part. She did soften here and there, as well as bending and giving me a nice serpentine in between being a Lookie-Lou over there, then over here, back to over there.... But she's fairly green when you think about it so this is all to be expected on some level. We made several stops, backed a few steps sometimes before proceeding on and as always, ended on a good note. At least in the open field.

When we got back to the stalls and into the small arena, I let her trot. As long and as fast as she wanted to as long as she kept it at a trot. What she did was reach out and down, giving me a very forward, soft and giving, ground covering T.R.O.T! I kept my hands low to her neck, not interfering and let her go as long as she wanted to. When a horse is moving properly like this, it is SO MUCH easier to post or even sit the trot. Their body just moves yours without effort. It is such a cool feeling and they feel so powerful under you.

I eventually slowed her to a walk, reversed directions and asked her to trot again. I must've thought she would want to. I thought wrong! Clearly we weren't on the same page with that idea. Going to the left she might as well have flipped me the bird with both front hooves. She made one or two laps and decided it was time to quit. When I pushed her on, she does this thing where she raises her head, turns it to the inside, wrings her tail and grinds her damn teeth. I hate that noise. On the next lap around, as we entered the "Ugly Face" area of the arena, I widened my hands, put my outside leg on her, moved her over a bit and clucked to her to keep her moving. She did, but only after slightly less resistance. Each time around she became a little softer, though she was still grinding her teeth here and there.

This time as she was going around, I was able to work the timer function on my phone and get a reading for the challenge. Two point is a Helluva LOT easier at the faster gaits. We clocked a 2:43 for that. Yay! My legs are still a bit sore, especially on the inside of my thighs, which is strange because I don't remember squeezing that much or that hard with my legs. Apparently I was though, because the muscles don't lie...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Who would've thought?

Last night I gout Aruba out and lunged her. I was hoping to get video of her on the line, in motion, but it didn't happen. The sun was far enough down the lighting sucked and nothing was getting picked up by the lens. Ahhh poop. But true to her nature, she started out at a walk on the line. Since taking notes and tips from Cheryl, this mare has turned some corners and really impressed me. Both by what she can do, but also what I am realizing I already know and can get her to do as well.

Let's start with her walk. Now this mare is Loooong. Not only tall, but long as well. She wears a size 90 sheet which is not easy to find and I have yet to make one for her, so there it is. She's 16.2h and pretty solid put together. Her walk was nothing pretty to begin with, but after Cheryl told me to use my legs and encourage her to step forward under herself more, taa-daa! She was starting to really stride forward and even had some overstep going on there.

I noticed though, that she was a bit more short in her stride on the right. She didn't quite overstep on that side. Her stiffness and tightness was on the left so I figured it was from compensation and let it go at that. But after having Dana work on her the first time, her stride evened out and she was close to a perfect match. The muscles were relaxed and she could move equally well on both sides.

Then came the revelation one night, riding her mostly bareback (saddle pad under the surcingle) to cool her out after some much needed long line work- I was not sitting on her evenly. My left seat bone had more weight on it and contact than the other one. What Dafuq??? So I texted Cheryl on my way home, hoping for some words of advice on how to fix this? She told me to ride bareback and feel with my seat as her back muscles moved beneath me. I shot one back- I was riding bareback and feeling her beneath me. That's how I figured it out! We both had a good laugh over that and agreed I need to do it more often as a reminder...

Working the mare more in the lines and riding her hit and miss, things didn't feel like they were progressing much and Aruba seemed stiff again. So another game of Tag with Dana over text messages and hit or miss on our schedules, yes, no I have the money, I don't have the money, I'm free this day/time, I can't make it... Argh! So I sent her a text on Friday and Saturday morning was on.

Dana worked on Aruba and got her all loosened up and relaxed. At one point Aruba was so relaxed, her eyes were half shut and she seemed to be fading out. Working on a pressure point under her jaw, Dana was able to get a huge release and Aruba stood there yawning and yawning and yawning some more, closing her eyes and trying not to let them roll back in her head. It was funny and awesome all at the same time.

Aruba had the day off on Sunday since the kids go to supervised visitation with their dad. The schedule of getting up at the asscrack of dawn to be there on time after an hour driving one way the opposite direction... does not leave much time for anything horse related on Sundays. Yes supervised visitation, but that's a story for another day.

Now let's talk about Aruba's trot. She has always lifted her neck waaaaay up in the air as if she is a giraffe. Add to that being behind the bit and a few other things in response to everything else and it's just not as pretty a picture as it could be. That's WHY we're working on things. Eventually she does relax and start moving off her back end, but you have to wait for it to happen. Otherwise it just gets ugly and she's not one to easily give in. But we're getting there. Slowly. Some days more so than others... lol

While I was letting Aruba cruise around on the line last night, something happened that has never happened before. She started using her body differently on her own. She was lifting her shoulders and reaching up under herself at the trot. She was striding out in a gorgeous frame and began to actually overreach. Enough so that I could hear it as she moved. Click. Click. Click. Click.... And I thought DAMN! Just don't pull a shoe! The farrier isn't due for another couple weeks and I guess I need to find bell boots now too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Winners and Losers

This morning at the gym, a woman was wearing a T-shirt that said: Winners Train, Losers Complain. Boy is there truth to that! Not just in the gym, but also in horses. Think about it. When was the last time you went to any kind of competition and the winner was someone who rolled out of bed that morning, decided "Meh, I'll load up the horse, go to a show and clean house." Maybe if they have been working long and hard, their horse is fine tuned to the hilt and ready to go... Yeah, they could get away with it. But even then, their horse is not fine tuned from hanging out in the pasture as a lawn ornament while the owner binge watches their favorite TV shows.

Winners train. We take lessons, we talk to people, we read books, we watch videos, we attend clinics, we go to shows and when we don't do as well as we thought we should have.... We take a step back and look at what happened. We try to figure out how to IMPROVE. What we don't need to worry about anymore, what we should focus on instead, our strengths, our weaknesses. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. It's almost an obsession for some of us. And some of us are incredibly far more anal about things than others, but we all strive to do more, do better, get to the top, stay on top and reach our goals. Once reached, we set new goals and keep going.

I won't call the complainers Losers, although those who lose, often complain. But there are enough people out there who don't put out much effort, don't bother to try harder and when they don't place or even come in last, blame the horse, blame the footing, blame the judge, blame the announcer, blame the time, blame the place and blame the sky for being blue that day.... AS IF!!! That shit gets old pretty fast and soon we don't want to be around them anymore.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Zen pony

Aruba got worked on a couple weeks ago, getting a massage and an adjustment. She needed it. And now I have a totally different horse. She is totally chillin' now. Completely relaxed, peceful, softer than ever and for a change-> comfortable. I had noticed a while back that when going to the right she wasn't oversteppng with the right hind at a walk and at the trot she wasn't even coming close.

A few text messages back and forth. Hit and miss on schedules. Having the money at the time, then something comes up and it's spent... I knew she needed it and it would help her, but things just didn't work and it didn't happen. I would run into Dana at driving events and club meetings and we would agree- "We need to do this!" and still we tried to figure things out...

I had brought Aruba back to doing long line work and noticed she started having bigger issues going to the left. She seemed tight, stiff and at times looked like she was off in the front, but there was nothing in her feet, nothing to show she should be lame and a few strides later looked fine. I rode her again in the dressage saddle and things were more than obvious, something was not right. Again she was off and on 'off' and not moving like she should. I got on and figured we would work on some stretching and softening work and see if things improved. We ended up going out around the block and just trying to let her relax.

When we got back, finished up and I pulled the saddle there was a big dry spot high up on her left shoulder. That hasn't happened before, so yeah there's deffinitely something going on. After another driving club meeting Dana and I agreed, she needed to come work on Aruba. As much as Aruba was on edge and not sure of things when I led her out of the stall? She was convinced this was for the better and totally relaxed when I put her back. Even Dana made the comment she is a completely different horse now. Yes, yes she is.

She started with the Magna Wave and got the muscles to relax as well as letting Aruba get used to having this weird white thing moving all over her making her muscles twitch. She was reactive in both knees and her left hip was giving her a lot of issues. When Dana pushed on one spot on her hip, you could see the muscles in her back tense up and react. With plenty of work with the magna wave, some red light therapy and time to wait for it, finally Aruba relaxed. Finally the muscle let loose and pushing on it now, there was no reaction in her back. The adjoininng muscles lay flat and unresponsive to the pressure.

Some stretching, a few more releases some of the bound up knots in her neck, back and hips, an adjustment of her spine thru the loins, another resulting in 3 loud pops in her neck and suddenly it was like a light had switched off. She put her head down and was at peace, completely relaxed, soft and quiet. It was as if she was transformed into a state of zen. Aruba stood there as calm as could be as if she could care less about anything and everything around her. I have honestly never seen her like this at all in the 5 1/2 years I've had her.

I had her turned out overnight before her therapy session but when I put her away, I put her in the stall so she could relax in the shade by herself and enjoy her new state of calm peace. Before puting her back, we stood there under the tree, taking it all in and for the first time, Aruba was not only standing near me half asleep at times, but she would reach out to me and nuzzle me, working her nose back and forth the way a horse does when they scratch an itchy spot for each other. She was expressing her thanks for her new found sense of AAAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh. I know how it feels.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Aruba has been not only learning the very basics of jumping, but I have also satrted taking her out and around the block in the neighborhood. She's learning she can go places, see strange things and not only get thru it, but live to tell about it. I survived it too! :-)

She has been doing well enough, but a few weeks ago I thought I would revisit ground driving and long line work with her. It's always a good way to see what the horse is doing when you're going it alone, don't have anyone to take pic's/video or have that other pair of eyes on the ground to coach you and help you out.

The last few times we have done ground work, it has not been anywhere near great, let alone anything really noteworthy. I hoped to change that and get her moving like she should at the trot. This time around started out much like before, but eventually something clicked in my mares brain, something clicked between us and SWEET MAMA!!! she was moving like never before.

Aruba picked up a lose, swinging easy going trot and framed up nicely. I heaped on the praise and let her keep going as long as she could maintain it. She held her position and seemed to find it easier to work like she should. Eventually I would have to ask her to stop and reverse direction. When she did, again Aruba picked up the same easy going, lose, swinging trot and kept trucking around like it was nothing.

The next few times I've worked her in the lines, it has ben the same thing. Aruba has picked up the loose, swinging trot quicker and easier, holding it longer each time. She is balanced, correct and fun to watch. It's nice seeing her work like his, she's developing beautifully and yet I find myself almost dreading getting on her again. Why? Because I don't want to get in her way or otherwise screw her up. Which seems to be something a lot of us struggle with.

A couple of weeks ago I was able to get some video of her working in the lines. I had worked her then grabbed my cell phone for the camera. I had to hold the phone and the right line while I hopefully got good footage. It's ok, could always be better and I'm looking at alternatives to get good solid video of her moving. Because she is just awesome that way and really coming along nicely.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baby X's

Aruba started working really, really well with the new saddle and it seems my riding has improved also too. The saddle was a good choice and I have zero buyers remorse. Things were going so well that I decided to throw out some ground poles and give it a shot, geting Aruba used to watching where her feet are, stretching out and down, using the poles to help teach her to lengthen or shorten her stride, depending on where/how we go thru them....

She soooo rocked it!!! I led her over the poles first, both directions, letting her stop and look at them. I wanted no surprises and certainly don't need to be taking a header off her when she's taller than I am. She looked at them, sniffed them and then could care less. I lunged her and let her walk and trot over them. Again both directions and she had no issue with them whatsoever. She was interested, but not freaked out or woried in the least so I got on.

We warmed up around the poles and finally started walking thru them, going between the poles. Again it was steady as she goes. This time we walked to the poles and I stopped her in front of them. She looked down, sniffed at them and let out a sigh. We stepped over the first one and stopped. No big deal. Stepped over the next one and stopped. Next one, stop, next one, stop and she acted like she was so impressed with her badass self. We started walking thru the poles, both direcions, between them, stopping, sometimes not stopping... She was awesome.

So we kicked it up a notch. We started trotting the poles. Meh, eyeroll, nothing spectacular there either. Aruba handled it like she's been doing it her whole life. She perked her ears up and went thru them interested and careful not to step on them, but no fuss, no muss. So what the hell... Let's push it a little further. I pulled a feed tub in and set up a small crossrail. As in--> small enough we walked over it with no problems.

So we went over the crossrail several times from both directions at a walk. I always made sure she was set up, before we got to the X, and if need be, I would ask her to stop, stand for a second or two before going over it. There was no reason to rush. After going over it several times from both directions at a walk, why not try it at a trot? Okay. This is when it got fun.

Aruba went over it at a trot a couple of times and never once tried to stop, refuse or duck out on me. Instead she perked her ears up as we made the corner coming into it. She looked up, almost lined herself up for it on her own and a few times she jumped it like it was something bigger than it was. Then after she jumped it, she scooted off in a canter for a few strides, doing the happy dance! She also threw in a few jiggy steps as if trying to crowhop on me. Yes she was certainly enjoying herself and showing off some too. All it took was a stern Hey! and she got herself under control again, but then we were around the pen and coming into the cossrail again... lol

The baby X was not big or intimidating in any way and it gave her the confidence to go over it and know she would be ok. We've done a few more 'courses' with a couple or a few baby X's set up and she really seems to enjoy herself. A few times she's gotten a little clumsy or maybe lazy and brought poles down, but she doesn't freak out over it because she knows it's not the end of the world. It's just annoying and when there's enough rails down, I will get off to reset things before we try again.

It's been a lot of fun getting her started with poles and baby X's. She's got a lot of jumpers in her pedigree so it's no wonder that it comes naturally for her. We do need to slow down and focus on the flat work before doing too much more, but this is a great start. Who knows how far we will go with it???

Monday, June 15, 2015

Back to what I know

Another thing I did to hopefully make progress speed things up a little? I bought a saddle. Happy Mothers Day to me! It's a close contact that I got a wicked, wicked good deal on (always!) including shipping (even better!) and although it isn't the same buttery soft leather of my Crosby? I love, Love, LOVE it just the same.

The new saddle has a narrow tree and I bought it for my TB mare. The Crosby is just too wide for her. It looks good on her, but it sits a bit too low over the withers. When I get on, there is no room for margin in there and will only cause problems. It's also a tad too wide for Aruba and *may* work with a wedge pad. When she builds up her muscles, it may fit her still, but that's not going to happen ovenite. Regardless, it isn't going to fit my TB mare, not now, not then, not ever.... So I figured I would take a chance on the new one and see where we're at. If it didn't fit, I could always flip it (easy-peasy) and keep looking.

I will still need a wedge pad for the TB mare, to use either the new close contact saddle or the dressage saddle. At least until she builds up her shoulders & back (which means being worked...) That's just the reality of it. BUT! It fits Aruba just fine. I switched the leathers and irons off of the Crosby to the new saddle and had to get on and try it out to see how it fit me. Oooohhhh let me tell you....

It's been a long time since I have sat on a horse in a close contact. HEAVEN!!! At first I felt 'perched' up there on my seemingly flat seated (pancake, postage stamp, potato chip) saddle, but after we started working a little and feeling things out, I was right at home. It felt good to be there and I was comfortable feeling my horse underneath me as it should be.

I had no problems leting Aruba have a loose rein to walk and trot on. She even seemed to move out a bit differently, as if she was showing off the new saddle herself. I also noticed I rode differently as well. I sat up more, maybe somewhat in two point. I was back to the saddle and style I know and am comfortable with the most. The photos I posted of both mares, they are wearing the new saddle.

Now it comes to the point of selling the Crosby. It's 17.5" Sovereign, stamped RW on the flaps so I'm guessing it is a regular wide tree? I've honestly never measured the tree on it, but I can. I could use the money. Heck, we can all use money!?!?! But I love that saddle too and won't be heartbroken if it stays. It's buttery soft, leather scented, heaven on a horse. I guess if the right offer comes up?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Luckily, some of the bad habits starting were all closely related and 'fixing' one, led into fixing the others at the same time. Some of them (okay most of them) were me. It was me reacting to her and everything escalating from there. Our stops sucked. When she stopped, she might try walking off making it more like a pause. Her head was still popping up and sometimes we almost got into a tug-o-war when she was looking for release and I was expecting her to soften.

The answers were in trusting my horse. I must trust her on some level because I was getting on her. Hello??? Now I had to open those lines of trust and build on them. In trusting her, I had to show her that I could also be trusted. This had everything to do with my head and my hands. I had to stop expecting so much and let go. I had to stop letting her get to me and to let it go. I had to let her know something was coming *before* I asked for a stop. Once I began doing that, our stops improved immensely. Stopping didn't consist of pulling back on the reins, saying whoa and expecting her to just slam on the brakes. Kat did that and I'm kind of spoiled that way. But she's not Kat and she's not exactly built like a little sports car, so she doesn't handle like one. I can't expect her to because it's just not fair.

If she starts walking off, I just ask for the stop again. And again, and again, as many times as it takes until she stops and just stands there. No getting mad, no fustration, just stop. Stop. After having to ask repeatedly once or twice, she's finally getting it. She may creep a step or two now and then, but not like before. It's progress, we'll take it. I also had to turn my thinking around a little and ask her- "Where are you going?" This keeps my mood light and helps hers too since they sense these things off of us.

If she's pulling it's because I'm pulling. Let go and don't give her anything to pull against. I started our one ride with doing some long trotting on a loose rein. If she sped up, we stopped and started over. No big deal. Before long she was keeping a more steady and even pace. I was learning how to slow myself down and slowing her down came with it. I tend to overthink things and riding is no exception. I need to simplify and streamline things. Make them easy for the horse to understand what I'm asking for. It's sort of how Mondo got his name, but that's a story for another day.

So when I stopped pulling and hanging onto my mare via the reins, she started to trust that I wouldn't be 'beating her up' in the face. She started to drop her head, she started to 'listen' to my body movements and things were shifting in a better direction. If she started to pull on me, I asked for a stop, backed her up a few steps and then asked to go forward again, with little to no rein action going on. It was like hitting the 'reset' button for both of us.

Another thing my friend told me, and she wasn't sure how else to put it, wasn't going to sugar coat it or try to play nice about it---> STOP worrying about where her head is at! I had sent her photos of Aruba working on the lunge line and although the mare has nice movement, I keep hoping she would drop her head, use her butt up under her, round her back and look like a 'proper dressaahhhge horse'.

Yeah, she's not there yet.... We're working on it. It takes time. She's building up muscles and that doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes I get a bit impatient and want things NOW. But we're making progress and I see it, so I can wait. What else can I do? lol

Saturday, June 6, 2015


As everyone knows, I have been riding the WB mare a lot more lately. I've been putting the miles and work into her in hopes of moving her along and giving her a great shot at a new home. And lately she has been giving me some seriously AWESOME workouts.

With the help of my friend from afar, as in lessons via email, things have changed. Then something 'clicked' in this mares head and HOLY MAMA! We now have a very forward walk and recently have been getting and expanding on work at the trot. Last night she was absolutely amazing. Funny how I'm making pogress in leaps and bounds, getting lessons thru email, compared to how little progress we made when I had access to a trainer 24/7 as my husband....

But what has caused these changes?
Where do I start?

First I was told to bring my hands up a little and straighten the line between my elbow and the bit. Widen my hands and create a 'channel' for the horse's energy to flow thru. This made sense because this is a big horse and she needed somewhere to go. When I opened up my hands, it opened up what she could do and gave her room to actully move. For a change I could feel the difference in her movement. It was great and I was excited.

Then I was also told to use my legs and ask her to step out, reach further up under herself from behind and start using her whole body. This is to read, as the left hind leg comes up, use my left leg to ask for her to bring it further forward, as the right hind comes up, use my right leg to ask for forward. It basically feels almost like you're the one walking because you are using your legs to push the horse forward with each step. My friend refers to this with her mare as her 'stormtrooper walk'. The horse is going forward with determinaion, confidence and really striding out.

We got this part with no problem. When I got the forward walk under saddle, something switched on in Aruba's head and now? We have that same forward walk A.L.L. of the time. Always. No more dragging her along on the lead, no more plodding along on the lunge line, nope. She moves with purpose, on purpose. I love the idea of not pulling, tugging, dragging her around on the lead. That shit gets old.

But a lot of us may think working on the walk is and can be boring work. **raises hand, that was me!** In my friends words, paraphrasing Xenophon, "If you don't have time to work on and properly develop the walk from the beginning, how will you have time to properly develop anything else?" A few more questions to consider along these lines- WHEN will you have time to come back and fix the walk, if you don't have 'time' to do it right from the beginning? The walk is the basic foundation, if it's not solid and right from the beginning, how do you expect anything else to be?

So we had the walk in the process of being fixed, she's striding out at the walk all the time, maybe it would carry over to the trot??? Ummmmm, no. Aruba would start trotting and it would all fall apart. There was a few other problems popping up as well and they needed to be fixed before it went too far. No need to let little things turn into big things later on. Better to put a stop to it now, than let it go and get worse, sometimes becoming a bad habit that's hard to break.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

WB mare pic's part 2

There are a few in this batch that are a tad blurry on the phone. It's not you, not your computer, it's the phone and the person taking the pic's... Happy Memorial Day tomorow and keep it safe.


Trot on-

Thursday, May 21, 2015

WB mare pic's

I was able to get a few decent pic's of the WB mare last night beore riding her. She is modeling one of the new upgrades I have made for the girls as was the TB in the pic's in the last post. More on that later... For now enjoy the pic's. Again they are pic's of the cell phone pic. Real technical, I know, but at least I am able to post them.

Her very forward walk

Trot on...

More to come in the next post....

Sunday, May 17, 2015


I figured out a temporary fix for the problem I was having posting pic's. These aren't the best, but pic's of pic's on the cell phone will have to do for now...

This is my TB mare. She is so much fun to ride.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Step it up

Last month there was a fire that destroyed a home. Although it destroyed a home, it has not destroyed the family that lived there. They lost the family cat Squeeker, but no other lives were lost and nobody was injured. For this, many of us are thankful. Many of you may know MiKael and her family thru the blog Rising Rainbow. As with every fire, the investigators look for the source and it was the furnace.

I have spoken wih MiKael thru text messages as they were staying with neighbors who were gracious enough to open their home and take them in. One of the first things I asked- What do you guys need? The reply was- What DON'T we need? lol True. But is there anything in particular that they needed asap? She gave me a list. Storage containers, duct tape, gloves, sweat pants and the list went on.... It was a start. I headed to the store and grabbed things from the list, but also things I thought they could use. Stuff that you don't think about until you need it and realize you don't have it.

The package arrived on Thursday, just like the post office said it would. I received a text saying "Your package arrived today. Your timing is perfect. The weight of this challenge is definitely hitting me. It is reassuring to know that somebody still cares. Thank you" We texted back and forth some more and again I asked if there is anything they still need. She gave me another quick rundown of things and then asked if I knew she had also lost most of her tack? Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. No, I didn't know that.

With the excption of bits and her show saddle, she lost all of her tack too. All of it. I know how I feel about my tack. I know some of the blogs I read are posted by self proclaimed tack ho's. I know many of us covet our tack and can't imagine losing any of it, let alone all of it in one shot.

So far in the loss- 5 western & one hunt saddles, pads, 5 sets of Victor custom work tack, all of her clippers, show clothes and custom hunt boots... Bridles, reins, saddle pads, all gone. Although we are heading into spring and summer, I asked about blankets? Yep. A dozen or so of those that were drying on the back porch, plus another handful of them on top of the washer & dryer. Wormer. MiKael kept a full rotation on hand of 3 different kinds of wormer, enough for all 30 horses. Roughly 100 wormers- all gone in the fire. POOF!

I know one of the hardest things to do is ask for help. Believe me, I know. I know they need it and could use pretty much everything. Back in the days of Fugly, where most of us originally 'met', it was preached long, hard and often- Be prepared for emergencies. But how do you plan for somthing like this? How do you plan to lose everything you've busted your ass long and hard for?

On some level I can relate, because thru the sham of a 10 year marriage and then the divorce I lost a lot too. While I lost a lot, I didnt lose everything. I can also relate in that, thru trying times like these, you really find out who your friends are. You also find out how generous others are. How kind, genuine and sincere people can be. Those last three things bear a lot of weight with me.

Although there is a GoFundMe page set up, I recently learned that they take 25% of all money raised as payment for the service. Twenty five percent is a lot. Especially when you'e already in a tough spot. There is also an account set up with Chase Bank, (information on MiKaels blog) and donations are welcome there too.

While there are things they need, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, WD-40, etc., the weight of the liquids adds to the cost of shipping and aerosols are restricted. Instead, you might consider sending gift cards. Think of the places you shop- grocery stores (Safeway), restaurants, a trip to the movies for a chance to get out and away for a little while. A little time to escape the reality of what happened. MiKeal also mentioned they need underwear. To me, this is a personal thing and a check or a gift card would go a long way rather than sending a package of the wrong kind in the wrong size.

If you'd like to donate tack, please do. I know we all have horses of various breeds and sizes, and our tack rooms seem to have a strange way of accumulation when we aren't looking.... If you're not in a position to donate any kind of tack, then how about a gift card at Jeffers, Valley Vet,, Schneiders, Dover or any of the many, many other online places to shop and find things. I know MiKael and her family would appreciate it. One of the things she asked for was Thank you cards and stamps. As another friend of mine put it to me once- "In the middle of her own personal shit-storm, she thinks enough to take the time and provide me with a Hallmark moment."

Friday, April 10, 2015

Timing & being quiet

Recently there was a post over on the Sprinkler Bandit as to things you look for and when it might be best to sell your horse and find another one. She had listed several valid points to consider and while I agree with many of them, there is one other thing that comes into play. Timing.

Sometimes we have the right horse for us, just not at the right time. I have one of those now. My WB mare is for sale as many people know. Between the divorce, moving and everything else, I just don't have the time to put into her or really the money to be spending on her either. What really sucks in all of this, is that while riding her and putting the time and effort into training her so she has a decent shot at a good home, I am finding I am not only remembering a lot of what I knew about training, but also learning a lot too.

While my friend had given me some pointers and I had a few DUH! and A-HA! moments, there are also times I have to think about things and come up with ways to make it work. How to ask more clearly, when to accept what I get and when to push for more. The other night I had another one of those A-HA! moments. Aruba kept dropping her inside shoulder, leaning into the turns as we went around the round pen on the rail. I thought back to all of the ways I knew how to 'fix' it. I brought my inside shoulder back, sat up straight, looked UP, put my inside leg on her to move the shoulders over to the outside (which made it worse by the way), pushed different body parts different directions and while at the walk it all helped more or less... As soon as we picked up the trot it all. fell. apart. Again and again, and again.

I had worked her on straight lines before and decided what the hell. Why NOT try it again? If I was riding her straight at a fixed point across the pen, there was less chance that I would be leaning or riding in any way that would signal her to let things fall apart. Well what do you know??? I would find a post on the other side, aim for it and ride her straight at it, stopping when we reached it. The first couple of lines I will admit, got a little wobbly. Aruba wasn't sure what I was doing, what I was asking for or if I even knew what I wanted?

Part of this exercise was also to quiet me. Quiet my hands, quiet my legs, quiet my seat and just sit on my horse, letting her do the work. I was riding straight forward, so no reason to half halt or signal for a turn. Hands nice and wide, give her room to work and let her go. Quiet my legs- no moving body parts in or out on the circle, just keep it all moving forward between them. Quiet my seat- no posting, just sit the trot and drive her up into my hands to guide her where I wanted to go.

After several straight lines, some shorter and a only couple panels across the pen, some longer and all the way across the pen, Aruba got it and really started to work like she should. No leaning into the turns, no ignoring my legs, no dropping shoulders or hips, soft, forward and awesome. We were both being quiet. She was quiet in the bridle and I was doing my best to sit quietly on her, staying out of her way and letting it all happen like it should. I would pick a post, push her into a trot and aim straight for it, stopping her at the rail, letting her relax for a few seconds while I praised her, turn and find another post, trot to it, stop, praise and repeat. Turns were made in both directions so there was no anticipating where we would go next.

When we had several straight lines, both of us quiet and it was all working, I let her walk on the rail and then asked for a trot. I would sit the trot and she would sart off slowly enouh and as we worked our way aound the pen I felt that sweet spot in her stride when she was balanced and forward in her movement. When her movement started lifting me out of the saddle and forward with her, only then is when I sarted to post. If she started to lean and things slid back into falling apart all wrong, I eased her back down and would sit the trot until it felt right again and picked up posting. Going one direction we did great. When we reversed to go the other direction, things went to shit again. No big deal, we just went back to doing some straight lines and that fixed it. Going around on the rail again, sitting the trot until she had it right, then posting... things just clicked for us.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Reminders & progress

Not too long ago I had taken the two mares down to Cindy's place to use her arena. We got to talking about our horses and training like horse people do and what we both had a laugh over, was having someone work with us or our horses and thinking, I already know this. I've done this before. Where have I heard this and how many times??? And someone she knows had told her, Do you know how much I've spent on lessons, to have someone else tell me how to do something I already know how to do?

When Cindy had taken video of me riding Aruba a while back, I had sent links to one of my friends up north. One of her suggestions for getting my horse to stride out, engage her back end and step up under herself, sounded awfully familiar. I had read it in one of my many books and when I emailed her about this, she not only knew which book I had and mentioned, but knew the author. Not knew OF her, but actually KNEW her. Yeah.

So fast forward not to me getting several rides in on my mare, trying the things my friend has laid out for me to do, seeing some successes happening already and being stoked about it. But there's always a setback or three... While Aruba has developed a Lovely, very forward walk, she gets a bit rambunctious and wants to break into a trot all on her own. Her stops are improving but she would pull the Stop & Pop, the instant she stops, she pops her head up like a giraffe. She might stop, but she tried to creep forward and took any movement from me to mean, go ahead and walk forward.

So how do I stop the creeping? Ask her to stop again. Create that invisible line as if it were a wall and she can't go past it until I say go. if we had to back up a step of two? Well then back her up. The stop & pop? Well we're still working on that, but it is greatly improved. While she still gets excited about working and tries to break into a trot on her own, half halts, asking for bend, moving the shoulders or her butt over one direction or the other can sometimes slow her back down or I just ask her to stop. If she tries to creep a few steps, we back up a few stops and stop again. We have been doing a whole Lot of up & down transitions. Walking, trotting, stopping, waiting, a step or several backing up and of course all of this is at random and mixed up. I have to say that my mare is developing a really nice looking butt! Remember, the muscles that work will be where they sweat.

In all of our work though, besides the progress, there was still a few things needing to be fixed. This late can be a bit bullish and pushy at times. I found myself holding onto the reins in what sometimes felt like a tug-o-war. Now we can never out muscle our horses and if this continued, she would begin ignoring the bit and my hands, so obviously it needed to change. My friend reminded me to let her go and then ask her to come back to the contact. Let her go and pick her up again. Besides remembering to keep my hands wide, up a little and everything else.... While she may start out this way, as we worked thru things, later on she would relax and give in to the work and soften up.

Last night when I rode, I decided to try something different. I got on and we waited until she relaxed before moving off. When we moved off, I let her go a few steps and then asked for the stop. There we stood. Then I asked for a turn on the haunches or for her to move her shoulders over a few steps. Stop and wait. Side pass a few steps the other direction, stop and wait. Move her butt over or turn on the forehand, stop & wait. Walk forward a few steps, stop & wait. We moved around the pen, little by little, stopping & waiting in between each move as I asked for her to move her shoulders both directions, her butt both directions, side pass both directions and walk off relaxed.

While she did really well moving her shoulders over and turning on her haunches, and the side passing, turning on the fore or moving just her butt over was a bit of issue. More so to the right than the left. She tried to move off, move into my leg, not away from it, backed up and acted as if she had no clue what I wanted. I asked her to stop, let her settle down and asked again. It took a few tries and then I got about 3 steps. Take what you can get and go from there. There's always more time to work on it later and ask for more. Look at it like building blocks.

As we worked at the walk, now I asked her to move over one direction or the other as we went around on the rail. Some counter bend, bening to the inside, on the rail, of the rail, use your corners, throw in some straight lines and mix it all up. When we moved into our trot work, she didn't try being bullish at all. What I got instead was soft contact the entire time and a comfortable, easy to sit trot. She did really well. Well enough that I actually had to push her a little to show her, she has a few gears at each gait. Not just fast like she wanted to, not just slow as if she was about to litter out, but somewhere in the middle is a nice, relaxed, working trot. Slowly, we're getting there. It takes time, but we're getting there.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Exciting things

I haven't posted here in a while and I have been super busy, BUT.... I have been working my mares and the TB mare is showing some serious promise as a driving horse. YAAAYYYYY!!!! Because you all know how much I enjoy driving... lol

Another reason I wanted to get this mare going with driving, besides being able to show her off in more ways than one, I want another horse to bring along, so I'm not a one horse wonder where driving is considered. I love it and if something should ever happen to Kat, it would suck to be sidelined or out of it altogether. Sure I will have to bite the bullet and buy more stuff, but as always, I can take my time, find what I want and hopefully snatch it up for a fair price.

When I took the two horses to Cindy's to use her arena, this mare was not all that fun to ride. The first time she was looking around at everything and sooo behind the bit or way out in front of it, that I had little to no contact. She wasn't exactly responding very well either. I kept it short and hopped off when I could. No sense in getting hurt or starting any bad habits. The second time I decided to long line her and man did I find holes in her progress. She worked well enough and looked damn good out there trotting, but when it came time to settle down and walk while cooling her out- she was having no part of it. Zip, Nadda, None.

The mare jigged and pranced and scooted around like she was amped and ready to blow. She was lit up and just would not settle down for nothing. So we made plenty of circles, stopped and started, serpentines, change of direction and just about everything I could throw at her to help her figure it out that if she just settled down and walked, a) life was much easier and b) she would get to quit.

I can say that this mare has reminded me of a few things in the short time I have been working her and while I needed to work on developing her walk, she also needed to do a lot of slow, boring work involving plenty of stopping and standing around. Driving horses need to know that "Whoa" means stop everything. Sometimes it means "Stop. NOW!" Speaking to my friend who is also bringing along a new horse, we agreed on one thing- The power of the plow.

When she started her mare, her trainer/mentor gave her a harness, sans the breast collar & traces. When he felt the mare was reasonably ready, he gave her the 'missing parts' of the harness. When she finally got the borrowed cart to start her horse, the first day hooked, they drove a few laps in the arena and then went off down the street, over to the trainers and he was a bit speechless. When he found out that she had been using her horse to pull a sled of sorts and work the footing in her 'arena', he was a bit dumbfounded. She had been enjoying having such lovely footing to work in and training her horse at the same time. Nothing wrong with that.

Since my mare had been making progress, I decided to make another set of 'shaft trainers' and see how it would go. When I started Kat, I had made some fake shafts to get him used to the feel of having something stiff and rigid along his sides, feeling the weight, having something bumping on him and making noise. Better this, than a cart and having the horse destroy it, if it all went south in a hurry like it always does. So for around $25 I bought a spool of rope, two snaps, some plastic pvc pipe and a fun noodle for the pool. I now have fake shafts for training.

The first night I put the shafts on my mare, she had been working and although she slowed down to a walk, she maintained a very forward walk. When I stopped her and brought the shafts in the pen, she wasn't too sure about it. I led her around with one hand, dragging the shafts with the other and let her hear the noise it would make. She was fine so I stopped her, slid the pipes thru the tugs and snapped them to the breast collar. She may have been forward before, but now she wasn't sure if she should even move at all. I gave her a few moments to think about it and asked her to move off. She walked very sedately around the round pen, doing her best not to bump into the shafts or let them bump into her. My horse that was all about GO? Now only had one speed. S.L.O.W!!!

I picked up my lines and stayed off to the side of the shafts and drove her around the pen a few times, making some turns, smaller circles, stopping and she handled it all beautifully. I have since put the shafts on her several times and every time, she just does so well and handles it all in stride with no issues. While she has her physical limitations, I don't use them as an excuse to go easy on her. If she can handle the work, we do the work. If I need to back up a few steps and fix something, we do. If it's all good, we move on to new things. So far so good. If she never moves up past training level, that's ok. Prelim? Fine too, but I'm not going to push her and expect a lot or even any speed from her right now. She may have been a racehorse before, but it's going to be a different type of course this time around. I have no doubt that she will be able to handle it.