Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone a Happy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What the horses have taught me

Over the many years I have been riding and showing horses, there have been quite a few lessons learned from the horses themselves. They are the best teachers as their way of thinking often challenges our own. These things stick with us from that day forward, when others rattle around in our brain waiting for the day when something finally 'Clicks' and suddenly it all makes perfect sense.  Some horses have a lot to teach us, where others might let us 'coast thru life' and cover our asses for us time and again, making us look better than maybe we really are.

My first horse Tai taught me that when I think I'm a badass, maybe I'm not such a badass after all. I had been riding every and any horse I could, barrel racing, team roping, trail riding, etc. and even showing. I had never come off a horse unexpectedly and I had luckily, never been thrown. That horse unseated me no matter what kind of tack he was wearing. Thankfully I never got seriously hurt. I also learned with him that there's always the time to just get off the horse. My safety would override staying on him when he was being a total dick or when things were about to get all kinds of stupid ugly.

My mare the Mighty Mo, taught me that horses can be trained to blanket themselves. All you had to do to put her blanket on, was hold it up by the back and she would put her head down, looking for the neck hole to stick her nose thru. Hold it up, she stepped forward and then just pull the blanket back over her body. All of my horses after her- I have taught them this same "Life Skill". Kat practically Runs into his and then stands rock still while I fasten the straps. No more unbuckling the fronts for me.

Tess taught me a LOT of things. One being that the mere fact we climb onto their backs, means that we trust them. If we didn't, we wouldn't ride them. This mare also taught me how to Be trustworthy. At least in Her eyes.  ANY amount of contact meant that her back would hollow out and her neck would grow to the length rivaling that of a giraffe as it seemed to end up in my lap. I trusted her enough to ride her, She had to learn to trust me that I wasn't going to get in her face with contact. When the giraffe neck thing happened, I had ZERO (0) control, or at least it felt I did. Which leads to another thing....

It may Feel to us as a rider, that things are going all sorts of ways south, when others see something different. I'm sure we've all been there. We feel like it is a great ride and get the gate in a class, or we feel our ride is going to shit and we end up getting pinned well in the ribbons. Our horse feels like they spooked and jumped ten feet and a day- sideways and everyone who seen it, tells us later there was one or two small steps but that was it.

My wamblood mare Aruba, when starting out on a lunge line would only walk. She made a lap or two at the walk and slowly loosened things up, easing into a trot and eventually a lope or canter. It was so different than having a horse shoot to the end of the line, ripping my shoulders out of the sockets, bolting and tearing around like a jackass. My horses now start out walking on the lunge line, and when I get on them we walk some more. It has become an ingrained habit for them that even if they are on high alert, they know we will just keep walking around and loosening up. I need time to do that too once I get on, because this getting older thing sucks.

Kat has taught me a number of things over the years. That they know us sometimes better than we know ourselves, they can push our buttons better, longer and in ways we never thought of and that they are there for us when others aren't. The other night when I was sick and couldn't make it to the barn to feed, the girl who feeds for me told me that he looked at her like he was asking where I was? I've had him longer than any other horse. He should know me by now...

My TB mare has taught me that we can sometimes be pleasantly surprised when we go on instinct and trust our gut. She has also taught me patience and that sometimes we just wait it out and things get better with time. There have also been reminders of how we tend to expect the worst at the slightest bit of swelling or lameness.

There have been several horses that have taught me, there is and can be, more than one horse we have "That kind" of connection with. To date there have been roughly 8 in my life so far. Tess was one of them that was completely opposite of anything I liked in a horse, which means that sometimes we shouldn't judge the book by the cover? Lol

The thing is, that while I have learned many things from the horses over the years, there is infinitely more to learn. I'm looking forward to the lessons.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Book review II

For those who have been reading my blog all this time, (Thank You!) you know that I don't normally do book reviews. Since my trip back to Hell to see my girls and going to the 1/2 Price Bookstore while there, I had picked up a few books. Obviously they have made an impact or I would not feel the need to be mentioning them here.

The second book I am reading is "100 Ways to Improve Your Horse's Schooling" by Susan McBane. In the store I flipped thru the pages to get a vibe and quick feeling that this book contains a lot of useful information and tips on things to do and try.

Even though I'm not quite finished reading this one, (I'm in the 70's) there have been several moments of pause and things that have made me think. Isn't that the reason we read? To learn. And to learn, sometimes we have to think about the way we do things and why. Obviously we wish to Improve and that's why we look to books or others for input. Hello?!?!?!

In my last post I had mentioned that dressage has been drawing me in more and more and I'm finding it increasingly fascinating. While this book is geared towards basic schooling, it is certainly feeding that fascination, because after all, Dressage means Training. This book delves into how your seat, weight, legs, hands and simply looking where you want to go influences the horse. Another thing mentioned frequently is picturing in your mind how you want the horse to do things.

One of the things about this book is that each exercise is broken down into a quite simple and basic explanation of how to do things. Not only does the author explain the "how" of it, but the "why" that makes it work. For those that look for the logic behind the results- good or bad, they are explained.

This book covers a lot of things we face in training and while there are chapters on ground work, flatwork and lateral work, (for the dressage junkies) there is also chapters on work with poles, basic jumping, hacking and competition for those who aren't so focused only on dressage. The author also makes several references to a list of useful addresses and further reading included at the end of the book. Some of the addresses include websites for a quicker way to get information.

I love this photo which is at the very back of the book.

While reading this, I kept finding close similarities in how the author explains things, with how my friend Cheryl explains things. Cheryl definitely has the creds(!) and we have shared many discussions about horses on a variety of topics. I have yet to be disappointed in what she has shared with me. To find a book like this one? It is almost like having a Cheryl on the shelf in my growing library where I can consult with her at any time about any issue I'm having.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! But as the author states, it is not exactly a book for the stark beginner. Although Ms. McBane often suggests having a trainer or sensible friend on the ground to assist,  she understands that you are looking for help in trying to improve you horse's schooling on your own because these may not be available resources. What you get out of it also depends on what you're looking to impove in your horse and your riding. If you have a decent foundation to your riding, there is a plethora of information in the pages which can certainly be applied to any discipline.  Price in the UK is $20, US- $30 and Canada- $42. I scored my copy for a whopping $8. 

*If I sounded like I was rambling or disconnected in my thoughts, I blame the turkey from yesterday. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What haven't you done?

One of the guys at the barn recently got a new horse. A big, spotted, gaited horse. He kept making comments and dropping hints about having me ride the horse for him some time. The other night he came right out and said, "You'll have to throw a leg over him...."

After cleaning my stalls, trimming Kats feet and getting the feed ready for the night, I went outside and enjoyed the breeze. On my way home later, the truck was reading that it was still 78 degrees outside. Yeah that's pretty warm for November. When he spotted me,  he asked if I wanted to ride the horse. Sure why not?  It has been many, many years since I've ridden a Walker.

Which got me to thinking- What haven't I done?  I didn't get to ride until I was about 14 or 15 and then it was a on relative's horses. From there it was anything further that I could throw a leg over, saddled or not.

Over the years I have ridden just about everything from ponies to Warmbloods, grade horses and registered horses. I've ridden Saddlebreds, Arabians, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, a few warmbloods, Appaloosas,  POA's, mules, Peruvian Paso's, Rocky Mtn. Saddle horses, Missouri Foxtrotters, and a couple of Tennesee Walkers.

I spent some time penning and sorting, tried team roping- I was a lot better at heading than heeling. I have ridden jumpers, done some barrel racing. Ridden dressage as well as saddle seat, there was always a lot of trail riding in beween everything else and I have shown halter as well as a few showmanship classes. Then there was cutting and finally driving. I am just as comfortable in an English saddle, be it dressage, saddle seat or close contact, as I am riding in a western saddle, Austrailian saddle, A McClellan or even bareback.

When I was giving lessons for the ex, I have always encouraged people to try everything. Give it a shot at least once or twice and see how it goes. You never know when something is going to grab your attention and make things come alive for you. My discipline of choice these days?  I still and always will, have a strong interest and passion for driving. I think that comes from one of my distant relatives, a woman, who drove stagecoaches back in the day.  I love hunters as I prefer the form and delicate intricacies invloved with clean rounds. Dressage has also been drawing me in lately too. The tests are some of the toughest easiet, things to do.

So there ya have it folks. I have ridden a lot of horses from an array of different backgrounds. What's your story? How many different types of horses have you ridden? Which different disciplines have you ridden? Breeds?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book review

I haven't ever done a book review on my blog. Not once. There are a few books in my arsenal library and occasionally if I hit a block wall with a horse or come up against some issue in training, I typically know which book to look in and sometimes even what chapter.

So on a quick trip back to Hell I popped into the Half Price Bookstore. This is typically stocked from what people bring in to clear their shelf and space at home or sometimes overstock or other similar suppliers.

I found 3 books actually but I will only review the one for now since although I have cracked open the other two for a brief peek before purchase, I haven't gotten far enough into or thru them to form any opinion on the book yet.

Secrets of the Top Equestrian Trainers, by Tina Sederholm.

She interviewed 10 different trainers from 10 different backgrounds. While a few of them have been to the Olympics, one of them is considered "A Coaches Coach", one trained racehorses in England, one is a Natural Horsemanship trainer and while there is a strong dressage, jumping and eventing influence, reading their words you just get the feeling that they are super easy to get along with.  As we all know- there is some amount of information to be take away from each.

Taken from the chapter on Ann Kursinkski- "I have taken this maxim of Don Millman's. "Compete like you train and train like you compete." This means you are as focused and sharp when you are training as you are when you compete, and yet as relaxed in the ring as you are in training."  Now I know what you're all thinking, because I'm with you on that-> HA! Easier Said Than Done! But it absolutely can be done, of course this means a bit of disrespect and probably thinking some obscenities.  

The book is an easy read. The author's notes, questions or opinion are in Italics and lead into the next point to be made with an easy way of flowing from one to the next. It made my 2 1/2 hour flight from Hell to home go by really quickly even though I was having a tough time seeing the words. Yeah because of age and apparently I must need reading glasses now....

I found my copy for $8 and the price on the back is $29 US. I haven't gotten all of the way thru it, but so far I am not disappointed in it at all. Each trainer interview is roughly about 3-4 pages of reading, so it is an easy book to pick up for a few minutes and set down to come back to later. 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Even if you aren't interested in competing, there's plenty of good information about how you might manage your own horses or barn. All of them seem to agree that it takes work, guts, grit, determination and dedication to get to the top or be successful. They each put in the time to get where they are and still do to stay there. Much respect, they've earned it. 

Cons- the only thing I can think of and this really isn't even any kind of a negative thing- it leaves me wanting more. I would like to see another similar book, a more updated version with more trainers. Maybe a Western version with cutters, reiners, working cowhorse, barrel racers, endurance riders and that type of thing. There could also be one focusing on driving for that matter. Each discipline has plenty of good trainers to choose from. We may not all agree on what or how other people do things, but maybe hearing their words as they explain the method of their madness, we would have an understanding of them and how or why they do things we don't understand.  

Here is the back cover with a few of the names included in the pages.

Richard Davison
Yogi Breisner
Mark Rashid
David O'Connor
Peter Charles
Rodrigo Pessoa
Lyra Kyrklund
Robert Dover
Henrietta Knight
Anne Kursinkski

Monday, October 23, 2017


A couple weeks ago, I was riding a horse for a friend of mine. My two were tuned out in the pasture where I was riding and Katman was having a "Beyond Asshole" kind of day. He thought it was a good idea to charge the horse I was on, just about every time we came near him. Of course I scolded him and even used the horse I was on, to charge back at him with me waving my arms at him and yelling at him to "Knock IT OFF (insert random obscenities here...)!!"

When I brought them in Saturday afternoon, I looked down at my mares leg and noticed her knee was swollen. I brushed it off, thinking it was her 'bad' knee. I looked again and seen that BOTH knees were big. The right one because it just is and the left one was all puffy and swollen. Ahhh Crap!!!!

Of course as we all do, my mind raced to the worst case scenario. "OMG and Son of a B!TCH! Her good knee is f'ed up now too and I'm going to have to put her down. "  Because if her good knee is f'ed up like her bad knee, No I will not hang onto her and put her thru hell for my own selfishness. Sunday both knees were swollen, the right one more than usual. Double Crap!

I started calling aound for a vet to do X-rays. One vet clinic sees horses, but they don't have the equipment to do radiographs. Another clinic- their vet had heart surgery not too long ago and he is "In and Out" so call back to see when he might be 'IN'.  The next one was Gawd Awful expensive and then another one was waaayyy across town. Finally I got in touch with a clinic not far from the barn and was able to schedule an appointment.

The good news...

1) For one, my mare stood quietly and was a Rock Star the whole time and didn't need to be sedated or even twitched. This can be unlike her in new places and it saved me a few $$$ on the bill. Whew!

2) The rads? No fractures. My grey Arabian mare Mi Moneta, years before I got her had been kicked in the pasture and had 'spider web fractures' all over the bone in her right front leg. I feared this for my mare. Thankfully there was nothing of the sort. Double WHEW!

3) There are some changes in her knee, it looks like she has the starting of arthritis in the left knee. Not much but some and it is a relatively small area, so fairly minute.

4) The right knee, even with all of the calcification going on in the joint, the vet said that it wasn't as bad as he had likely expected. Overall, considering everything, he said her joints look really, really good for an 18 year old horse.

That was REALLY good to hear, but also not all that surprising either. She is not worked often and when she is, it isn't exactly strenuous.... Plus she gets plenty of turnout in pasture.

So there we have it. I was going to put her on a joint supplement anyways. Now I just have a more informed reason to do it. And it's not at all as bad as I was expecting. I won't be putting her down any time soon because of this. Hopefully there will be no more surprises like this for a while. A loooooooong while....


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sweet release

Last Monday I lost a dear friend. She had been battling cancer for the past few years. While I'm sad about the loss, I have also been relieved to know she is no longer suffering.

Rather than focusing on the fact that she's gone, I have been remembering the good things she's done and things she enjoyed in life. She loved her dogs and there were several she owned with personalities much larger than they were. 

I imagine her riding her big red horse Rebel. Mounted on him she was fearless. Rebel was a great horse in the fact he was a total badass, yet a babysitter at the same time. They both had their quirks but that's what made them a good match. 

She loved her truck and the Saab she owned long ago. Hated living in Hellizona (that makes two of us!), was very outspoken at times and she was very smart at some things like the rest of us. She was also married to a wonderful man who had also beaten cancer a few times himself. 

Although I will miss being able to call her or text, I know she will be watching over several of us and haunting us when we screw up. She had a twisted sense of humor and if she had her way, at the end of the funeral service, closed casket of course, would have had the organist repeatedly playing Pop Goes the Weasel just to screw with everyone's head.

She will be missed but I'm sure she is happy to be with her parents and family who has passed before her. 

RIP Auntie M. Love ya much and I'll see ya on the flip side!

PS- please skip the part about sorry about the loss. Instead let's use the comment section to celebrate things we have loved about those we have lost

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Just Rotten

From what I've seen online in all my digging to figure this out, Rain Rot they lose hair. River Rot they lose skin. I've also seen Mud Rot and just about every other rot imaginable. So which is it?  Maybe a little bit of all of them.

So far the mare is still swollen and her skin looks like it's all burnt. I wrapped her legs twice and the first time, as I took her big puffy pillow wraps off, they were stuck to her skin in places and the smell of rotted skin was bad. The second time I wrapped her legs, I wrapped them in paper towels first, then the pillow wraps, then the standing wraps.

One of the girls watching me asked if I was seriously using paper towels? Yes. Yes I am. The paper towels would absorb any moisture but when it comes time to take the wraps off, if needed I could rinse the paper towels away. I have another roll in the tackroom and they worked well actually.  

Kat is starting to lose skin and hair and is only swollen behind. He is losing skin almost all the way up the inside, but only from the hocks down on the outside of his hind legs, which doesn't make sense at all.

The filly in their pasture fares the best and although she has a Lot of pink skin, she is already almost thru the process and it doesn't look like it will turn into scratches so that's a good thing. Scratches are a total pain in the ass to deal with!

The gelding in their pasture? I feel so bad for him. They are hardly ever out there and I never see anyone treating him. Poor guy is always there at the gate wanting to have someone dote over him, treat his legs and give him some meds to ease the pain. (Yes there has been inquiries to buy him, but the bottom line price is in the "Crazy money" amount.  Besides that, they are seriously confused or misled about his age. By about 10 years under kind of off.)

Mine have been on low doses of Bute daily and I have been hosing the mud off their legs and spraying them with antiseptic. I have also been soaking the horses in fly spray. I know the mosquitoes are going to be bad from all of this. I also ordered up a dose of wormers since they have been eating outside a lot and who knows what washed thru the field in the high waters.

It's going to take time and it doesn't just happen overnight. The road to recovery is sometimes a long, painful and tedious one.  The filly is almost thru, with very little scabbing left on her legs to shed. My little ponyman is still shedding skin and hair very slowly. Their stalls were dried up enough they could be stripped, left a few days to dry out, packed with sand and bedded with 2 bags of shavings each.

My mare is still out in the pasture as her stall was bedded pretty deep and in need of stripping before the flooding. Now it's super wet, super heavy and digging it out as well as leveling it, will be quite the chore. It was still drying when the horse in the stall behind her, broke the waterer off the first night back in and flooded the 5 stalls their owner occupies. The gelding's owner is part of their "clan" so he remains out in the pasture too although his stall wasn't flooded by the water tub incident.

Because my mare is out, she has dropped weight again. I'm trying to get her back inside so she will again have a healthy amount of feed to snack on at will. She has the pasture and a round bale to share with the gelding, but she sweats a lot being outside. A few people have asked me what she gets and why she's so thin?  For one thing, she doesn't handle change well. When horses moved into or out of the barn and the 'energy' changed, she lost her mind, began pacing and dropped weight in nothing flat. We all know it;s easier to take weight off a horse than it is to put it back on them. Wish we could say the same, right?

She's definitly not an easy keeper! Besides a slow feed hay net stuffed full of coastal grass, she gets a half scoop of 12-8, two scoops of senior feed and about 4 scoops of alfalfa pellets. The 12-8 is 12% protien and 8% fats. It's a pelleted feed like the rest of everything else she's getting. The alfalfa pellets, it seems like a lot to put in front of her all at once, but she has gotten to the point of nibbling on it and picking at it to where I can dump it all in once a day and she still has some the following day when it comes time to add more. She has only coliced once or maybe twice in the 13 years I've had her and the last time was about 9-10 years ago.    

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Something new

I finally got out to the barn on Saturday, a full week since I had been out there. One of the updates I had gotten was that my TB mare and one of the other horses in her pasture had suffered some effects of having stood in the water. Her hind legs were stocked up, or stoved up as some people call it and she was walking funny. Every step is like a hose wearing wraps on their hind legs for the first time.  She picks them up really high like she's trying to either step over something or shake something off. She does this if she has been standing for a few minutes or longer. Once she starts moving though and thing loosen up, she's bck to normal.

I have plenty of Bute on hand and told the girl at the barn to give her 1 gram, see how she does and there's paste and tablets, so whatever she's more comfortable giving her, she can have up to 4 grams a day. I was also thinking to have her hose her legs off, slop on the Mineral Ice and put wraps on. When she said she wasn't comfortable putting wraps on and I realized my wraps are here at the house, I had to come up with something else. Splint boots! Her boots were at the barn and would work in  pinch.  Something is always better than nothing, right?

What I found when I got out there was different than anything I've dealt with before. My mare had mud on her legs again and was still walking funny and Kat was also stocked up in the hind legs. The skin on their legs also seems almost like they've been blistered or something. WTH??? The other horses in the pasture had similar issues, the gelding being swollen in all 4 legs and the filly having the same blistered skin look.

Their stalls are a total wreck and it's probably going to be a week or more until they can come in.  One of the water tubs had mosquitos breeding in it, so I figured I would bring them up to the front of the barn to eat while I brushed them off, assessed the damages and soaked them with fly spray.  They each got some Bute with their food and my mare was okay with me hosing her legs. Most of the mud came off and there was no hair or skin loss. 

When I hosed off Kat's legs though, it seemed to hurt like hell and he was obviously in pain. He would lift that leg as high as he could, leaning as far away from me and the water until he was about to fall over. I felt bad and was apologizing profusely to the little guy. If ever a horse or pony could scream, I believe he would have. I readjusted the nozzle to where it was a gentle spray and that wrked much better for him.

The other two horses also got their legs hosed and were given some Bute and a few of us put our heads together to try and figure out the best course of action. We each felt that Mineral Ice and pressure wraps to keep the swelling down would be good, but then since the skin already seemed irritated and somewhat damaged, the extra moisture from the MI and wrapping them, didn't make sense. 

If wet is what created this, more wet and trapping it in, might just make it worse. Adding chemicals (MI) seems like it would just compound that even more.  I've had chemical burns before from laundry soap and let me tell you, they are NOT fun or anything to screw around with. Anything touching your skin hurts like a mo-fo and even putting lotion on to soothe it- Doesn't!   We all decided to let them air dry and leave them as is for the night while we go home, get online and see what we can find something to explain this and figure out how to treat it.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Houston Strong

A week after Harvey made landfall and we're still here.  Last Saturday, things were pretty much normal. Then on Sunday, all hell broke loose.

I-10 from one end of town to the other was under water for the most part.

These semi's were going thru but when they got thru here, they would be stuck with road closures and high water. 

A lot of the underpasses were flooded and you can see a white truck or car on the far right side IN the water under the N in Transtar. 

Yeah... We all know how high those signs over the freeway are.  That's how deep the water on the freeway was. They were showing one bridge with a sign saying the clearance height was 17' 4" and the water was almost up to the bottom of the bridge.

Last year on Tax Day, April 15  and Memorial Day, we had a Lot of rain and a few places got flooded. Below they were comparing the amount of water that we got. Even as of the time they had this up, they were saying we had far exceeded this and we were at more like 600+ Billion gallons.

They were telling everyone to just stay put. Stay home as long as it was safe to do so.

There was no going to the barn. A lot of people were not going to work on Monday. Tuesday was questionable and Wednesday was still up in the air too. 

Sunday morning I got a text from one of the girls at the barn. At 7 am there was water in the barn knee deep and rising. Horses were all being kicked out into the pastures.  Later she sent me this->

If you look closely, you can see the water is almost up to Kat's stomach. He's standing in front of my TB mare and the water is up just over her knees.  He used to give me grief at water hazards at driving competitions...  little brat.

You can also see there is higher ground behind them and they could go stand there, but no, they choose to stand IN the water.

The round pens in the foreground are under water and so was everything else.

What followed over this past week was, well, interesting to put it in one word. There were a couple girls moved their horses out of the barn, drama erupted on Facebook, neither of them are coming back and at one point the barn owner and everyone out there had to leave the property because there was water being released from a levee and things could be getting a whole lot worse.

Most of the horses were already moved to a neighbors property, but mine stayed behind with a few others. Mine were actually ON the trailer for the last trip out and it was decided that getting out of the driveway one last time, wasn't going to happen.  I let them know that whatever they needed to do with my horses, I'm good with that. They know to behave, are easy to catch, lead, load, tie and just deal with in general. What I heard was that my mare couldn't be caught and nobody at the barn could be reached for updates.

When I spoke to the one girl primarily taking care of my horses, I thanked her for the brief or quick updates every day and I explained to her that I completely understand that at times, she couldn't be reached or fire off quick responses to text messages because she was dealing with shit that changed from minute to minute. I appreciated everything she did for my horses and essentially treating them as her own. She told me it was no problem and thanked me for being one of the easiest people to deal with out there.  When shit like this happens, adding to the drama is just sooo not my game.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Days of Old

A while back I came across a video on YouTube posted by a guy named Rick Gore that goes by Think Like A Horse. He has a whole bunch of videos on there where he critiques other people's video as well as making some of his own when the hate mail comes flowing in. In a way he reminds me of Cathy who posted Fugly Horse of the Day (FHotD). He's a bit snarky while being up front and honest about things.

While Rick has no problems voicing his opinions, I don't agree with everything he says. That's fine, because there's nothing saying any of us have to. Like Fugly, there are plenty of followers who also have their own opionions and the comment section brings them out.

Random links to some of his video's

Baby in carseat 5 minutes
Stallions first time Lunging 12 minutes
First Ride 12 minutes

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walking along

As we made progress going down the driveway and back, a few others at the barn had noticed what was going on and how I have been working with my mare in getting this accomplished. They have seen that while I am not letting her get away with anything, I'm also not asking for anything more than my horse can handle either.

The other night after working her in long lines, I hopped on her to walk her around and cool her out. Since blogger L. Williams has been having lunge line lessons and learning a lot, I figured I would work on me a little in the round pen since I don't have anyone to keep my mare on a line or anywhere to really do it otherwise. I dropped my reins on my mare's neck and put my hands on my waist. It was kind of weird not having reins in at least one hand. A few laps around the round pen without the reins, moving her on and off the rail using only my legs, I figured why not go down the driveway?

We now go thru the gates without me having to dismount so we did that and headed down the driveway. Mostly I was planning to leave my mare alone and not pick at her, as long as we were moving and she kept it at a walk. She did really well and walked all the way down the driveway. Coming back, she kept it at a walk almost all the way. It was a quick walk, but it was still a walk. I kept my hand on the buckle of the reins, my legs hanging close to her sides and enjoyed the walk back to the barn.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Simple things

It's funny how we take the simple things in life for granted sometimes. Like walking down the driveway. My mare had a big issue with this. First we were walking away from the barn and all. the. other. horses. Then I expectd her to walk back. Without all the tenseness, anxiety or anticipation, let alone speed. Was I crazy for asking her to do this? Apparently I am.

My mare lacks confidence in herself and her work. She hasn't really learned that I will help her get her thru things yet or that she will be ok on her own (for real), but we're getting there. Walking down the driveway has been a big deal for her. Something we finally accomplished.

A while back even just taking her to the local arena and not just getting on her but being able to really work her and get some solid accomplishments laid out was a big deal. If any of you remember me taking her along with my WB mare over to Cindy's place (in AZ), she was mostly along for the ride to get used to working and listening , somewhere other than at 'home'. Her first time there, she was all about taking in the sights and riding her was probably not the best idea, which I decided only After I was on her back. Yeah, smart...

The second time I took her, I figured I would do some long line work with her. Get her to moving around the arena sort of on her own and let her figure things out without me on her back and both of us staying reasonably safe. She worked okay for the most part, but walking her around to cool off afterwards was a different story. She wouldn't settle down and ended up sweating nervously more than she had from actually working. This is why being able to ride her at the arena was such a big deal. Not just walking her around, but getting some actual trot and canter work in too without her losing her shit and walking around afterwards to cool her out too- monumental in her case.

My friend and I decided to take our horses out one day, just a short ride down the street. Out and back in 15-20 minutes or so. Nothing major, just a quick trip out and back. Her horse was fine for th most part. My mare got anxiuous and jittery going down the driveway. To the point that my friend's horse was slowly putting distance between us, which added to my mares building excitement level. The other day we tried riding just ut the diveway. Pretty much the same results for my mare. She got herself all wound up and worked up over nothing.

A few weeks ago I decided that this driveway work would best be sorted out on the ground at first. I worked her in the round pen and to cool her off, put her halter on and led her down the driveway. There was excitement and nervousness and she thought she would ignore me, walk over me and do her own thing. She also figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't buying it, not playing her game, letting her ignore me or walk on top of me either. If she turned her head away from me, I brought it back to where she had an ear on me. If she tried going in front of me and looking back, I put her back in her place beside me. If she tried 'leaning into me' and getting in my space, a well placed elbow reminded her it was not appreciated, allowed and not happening. If she took her attention Off me, I just insited she focus on and worry about me, rather than whatever got her attention over there. The first time was pretty bad, but the next time it got better.

Then I rode her down the driveway. She got all kinds of nervous and high strung. What was I thinking, insisting she focus on me instead of her pony whinnying in the barn behind us, the cows-> 3 fields over, the sky being above us, the ground below us, and the tree next to the drivway on the neighbors property? Going out was one thing, coming back was another.

She tried to turn her head back towards the barn, but did keep moving away fom it. Sometimes we inched along, other times we moved a bit more quickly. There was no even-ness in her stride. No rythem in her movement. Coming back she wanted to prance and jig because I wouldn't let her go and let her just take off. No, mean ol' me kept insisting that she walk instead. What a grump I am for that, I know.

The next few times she did increasingly better. She started to relax more and while there were 'rough spots' along the driveway where she would tense up and start losing focus, she started to piece together the idea that when she wasn't paying attention I would ask for her to focus and listen to me. Focusing and listening meant remembering I was up there and wasn't putting up with her misbehaving. Bummer! Slowly things were getting better. There was improvement. Her walking down the driveway was starting to happen more and more. Coming back, she still tried to jig and prance, but that was also going away. Jigging and pancing meant we had to do circles and sometimes ended up walking away from the barn again.

She also got fussy in the face. Leaning on one rein or the other- whichever one was keeping her from the barn. baring her teeth in frustration, opening her mouth with the western bridle in hope of evading the bit and just trying everything she could think of to let me know she didn't like the idea of cooperating and going so damn s.l.o.w. when she could just run back and be there already.

The circles and walking away from the barn became less and less. The initial 'leaving' to go down the driveway became less of an issue. She began to relax a little more each time, both going out and coming back. We were making progess. Slowly, but we were making progress nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


In the last post I wrote about clipping the pony and said I would elaborate a little more on things here.

Ms. S had taken video of me clipping the pony and was going to post it to FB but her boyfriend had told her not to. He felt it would be stirring the pot as the girl who had brought the pony and horse to the sale had already caught flack from the previous owner of the horse. The P/O wanted to know WHY she ran the horse thru the sale at all when she had only bought him 3 months ago? The hose was super cute, quiet and sane and the girl was trying to prove her point of being a good trainer because some guy had said she wasn't.

Let's review a little here people. This isn't exactly some high dollar sale and as a result, it doesn't attract high dollar buyers. This also means the sale doesn't exactly attract 'high quality' sellers either. The girl ran the horse thru and although he is a good horse, worth every penny, she held a reserve on him for $4,000. A bit out of the market for that crowd/ venue to say the least.

So knowing your level of clientele and the reason she ran the horse thru the sale was to prove her point to somebody, it leaves me asking WHY? *If I were her*, why would I care what some jackass at a dink sale thinks about me? If she is a trainer, the only 'proof' she needs of her talents or abilities would be her horses. If they are quiet, calm, sane, pretty, in shape and nice movers, they would be well worth the money and she would be moving them for a lot more than what she is.

Claiming you trained the horse when you've only had it 3 months, is not exactly a true statement. You can work a horse and accomplish a lot in 3 months, but you're not going to completely train the horse in 3 months. That would be one of thosse 90 day wonders and I'm sure we've all seen the results. They might come out the other side and pull off a win in the ring, but when you go back and look for holes in the training, you're likely to find many.

Another thing that I have always questioned about people like this girl, is why they would run a horse thru a sale if they had no intentions of selling them? You're wasting the time of the sale barn, buyers and everybody involved, plus the pass out fee. Now I will admit to going to a pony/mini sale in the past, seeing what was going thru, what people were paying and wondering what they would think seeing a pony like mine (Pi at the time) and although I'm sure there would've been a lot of bidding on her I just wouldn't risk losing my pony to a bid I wasn't willing to accept.

There was also another horse at the sale barn, a big bay gelding about 16h, looked like a jumper and the girl had supposedly gone in as partners on the horse with the seller. The seller was the guy saying the girl is not a trainer. According to her- *he rides really good*, but he needs stifle injections to keep him sound. She was planning to be on the rail when the horse went thru and was going to spew her verbal personal garbage and what she knew about the horse. To me that just screams immaturity. Again, why would I care what some jackass at a dink said said about me? The part about the horse riding really well, that's a common statement around here. Not something I would say, but okay, whatever. To me, this would describe a person, not the horse. Maybe- he's doing well under saddle? But if he was a jumper before they got a hold of him, he was obviously going well enough on the flat that they put him over fences. But that would make sense, right? *insert massive eyeroll*

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Artistry and ignorance

I went to the local horse sale a few weeks ago. To call it interesting was an understatement in the least. What was there was a whole new level of ignorance. As if nobody knew or expected that?

There was of course the horses in the stalls that were rescues waiting to happen and one of them was a BIG draft cross of some kind. Sweet horse but man was he in r.o.u.g.h. shape. He had overgrown hooves and coat and was skinny as hell. Another thing he had was scabbed over cuts across the front of both pasterns on his front legs. From what others said, they were infected and his legs were swollen from the knee down, which I could see without having to touch as some were doing. His left front pastern was in worse shape and rather than having a nice straight angle to it from the fetlock thru the hoof, it looked sort of 'broken' in the middle. He was around 15 y/o and probably the kindest thing would be to put him down, but man oh man the bleeding heart ignorance was rank around him. I heard one woman say that all he needed was a trim. Another girl had spoken to her farrier and he said he could fix the horse (without even seeing him mind you) and from there I had to walk away. I couldn't take it. I honestly don't know what happened with or to him. I hope he finally found some peace.

Then there was the girl with the two animals (a horse & small pony) she had attempted to body clip. Lines. all. over. the damn place on both poor critters. Maybe I'm spoiled, but for me it is so easy to do a great job, I can't imagine doing such a shitty one. Being a rather creative and artistic person, clipping just comes sort of naturally for me. I picked it up quickly, learned from someone who did a good but not great job and perfected my craft over the years. Yes I still charge $150 per horse, can do them in 2-3 hours and in the process I teach the horse to relax and that there is nothing to fear. The one horse I was doing for another trainer/blogger a few years ago, had learned the few times I did him, that being clipped was ok. Nobody was there to hurt him or torture him. The better he behaved the quicker it went and before long we were done so he could go back to his stall.

One of the girls I went to the sale with, ended up buying the pony and after seeing him with lines and patches of hair still left on, I couldn't take it and grabbed my clippers. The girl at the sale barn had said the pony was a rescue case and clipping him was hell. If she meant she did a "hell" of a job on him, I guess she was right in that sense. The pony was okay until I turned on the clippers. Whatever trumatic events he had been thru before, he was making it clear he didn't want to be around for it again and wasn't going to willingly submit to any type of torture to get things done.

What happened was the pony would back off away from me and the clippers. When that was no longer an option, he tried pushing his way past me. That didn't work so he tried going Up. One of the women at the barn Ms. D, asked if I wanted to tie him up. Now she is a nice person, but from getting to know her, her scope of information is limited in some areas. I'm not saying she's dumb, but rather she just doesn't know. She has a very kind heart and hand for the horses, but I don't think she's ever dealt with difficult horses and just doesn't know how to help them get past their fears. No big deal.

What ended up happening with the pony was that he was in my mares stall and I placed him in a corner where he couldn't go backwards because of a wall and going forward I could aim him into the wall too. There's a large window on the wall I used to block the forward motion, but it has a strong wire mesh over it and is high enough the pony could look out, but not get out. With the pony looking out I turned the clippers on and ended up just putting them on his side. I was talking to him the whole time and he quickly relaxed. I moved them around a bit and slid the clippers over his body. The pony was tense, but he tolerated it. so as I was moving the clippers, I moved them to a postion where I could start clipping him and the hair started to come off. He was beginning to learn it wasn't going to hurt.

Before long, the pony had relaxed enough that I had the rope just draped over my shoulder, one hand up on his neck and my clippers buzzing away in my other hand taking the hair off with each stroke. When I got into tickly spots or the pony started to tense up when I clipped certain areas, I talked to him, rubbed him with my free hand and he soon relaxed again. When it came time to do the othe side, he started off a little rough again, but he relaxed pretty quickly and I was able to clean him up pretty fast. My friend Ms. S had been watching over the door and before long, her camera phone was out and she was taking pictures & video. I will cover that flustercluck in my next post.

In all honesty, I was not able to completely finish the pony. I wish I could have, but I'm also not disappointed with how much I was able to do either. Sometimes you just have to do the horse in stages. You work with them and help the horse expand their comfort zone. A little at a time, you start working into areas where the horse may be tense, unsure and possibly even scared, but if you remain calm, take it slow, back off a little and ease back into the problem area, before you and the horse know it, the problem area is done and not such a problem anymore. After doing them once and helping the horse move past their anxiety, the next time around often goes much easier. By the third and fourth time, they know you're not going to hurt them and while you recognize their tension and fears, you will also help them to get past it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Common Sense

How many of us have seen or even bought, the newest, latest, greatest tack item or training device, thinking *THIS*, this thing will *FIX* whatever issue it is marketed at us all for. Has anyone ever read the stuff in a catalog and found themselves asking WTF? Who believes this load of crap?

I remember seeing a bit one time marketed towards starting colts (not fillies, mares or geldings mind you, lol) and being a rather harsh bit it was "Good for getting their attention and making them respond." This bit was also supposed to be perfect for "fine tuning the seasoned horse". Really??? If the "seasoned horse" needs a rather harsh bit for "fine tuning" it seems like something is wrong there. Also, if you need to go straight to a harsh bit right out of the gate with a young horse, again it tells me something is wrong with your program.

Another place I question things is saddle pads. With all the new technology in closed cell foam, neoprene, gel and other techno stuff being used, sometimes the information states that the material doesn't allow every bump or bounce to get thru it, but only allows the "good" pressure to transfer to the horse, I always wonder How does the pad KNOW when you're leaning one way to signal the horse or if you're accidentally leaning because you're actually off balance? The pad will only displace the impact over it's entire surface, whether it's a hard bounce in the saddle, a rider sitting unevenly or whatever else.

The "techno" materials are also sometimes marketed as being able to help make up for bad saddle fit. Let's face it, if your saddle doesn't fit for whatever reason, it doesn't fit and a magical pad isn't likely going to fix it. It may make things seem better for a while, but in the long run it may be masking the problem and actually making things worse. And before anyone thinks that I'm saying "All pads are bad!" I'M NOT! Pads have their purpose. I use pads under all of my saddles and until my mare is working and building up her different muscles, she needs a Wither Relief Pad like the one in the clicky link. I don't expect it to absorb impact, I expect it to pad up her shoulders and keep the saddle up off her spine, which it does. It also makes tenting the pad tough since the relief pad pretty much takes up all available space for tenting, but it ends up being one of those things where you can't have both. Knowing this, I check my mare's back often, before rides, after rides and before putting her away in case I missed something earlier. Maybe I check too much, but again, it's only fair to make sure my horse is comfortable in her work since she's carrying me around up there.

Another thing I'm not so fond of with this pad is that the foam doesn't breathe. It just doesn't. So I worry about my mares back getting hot while working her. I have noticed that with her fleece pad under the surcingle, she gets hot. As in a foamy sweat under the pad hot. I've seen this with synthetic fabrics. Not a fan.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Honesty and in all fairness

For everyone who remembers me from the days of FHotD, you all know I can be rather outspoken at times and have no problem saying what I think. I can also be about as subtle as a brick thru a window at times, blunt and as one of my friends told me one time- "I know you'll be honest with me, even if it is brutally." He knew he could ask me anything and get a straight up, honest answer without all the gooey sugar coating or outright lying some people will do to spare the feelings of others. If someone is truly your friend, you *should* be able to tell them that something they are doing concerns you and they should hope that you *would* step up and say something if you see things going south for them.

So what does all of this have to do with the horses?

Well over the years and on the different blogs, I know there have been times that my comments or replies have rubbed people the wrong way, been taken the wrong way, been misunderstood or come across as rude, insensitive and maybe even downright mean. Most often that was not my intent. I have not "gone after" anyone in email- sending them "hate mail" nor have I blocked or deleted anyone's comments on my blog for pointing things out where I may have misspoken or contradicted myself, because honestly, I try not to do that to begin with.

I have noticed however, different things that have disppointed me in what I may have thought about someone and make me question my personal knowledge of and perception of them as well as other things about them.

We all know that posting online is opening ourselves up for critiscism. Good or bad, people are going to say something and respond. If we post photos or video, there is always good and bad to be found, and with the bad, there is room for improvement. If there is an issue with something, I try to offer a solution or ask- "Have you considered trying this?" unless there is an obvious solution to the problem, then I will come right out and say what it is.

Sometimes people have issues with their horses at home, sometimes it is at competitions. Some bloggers it seems like they never quite 'get there' because their horse(s) seem to come up lame, injured or otherwise taken out of the running in some way, shape or form. I feel bad for people that this happens to, but I also question what's going on that their horses all seem to be 'falling apart', breaking down and things just keep going to Hell on them.

I have also noticed a few people who have claimed- If *THIS* ever happens to MY horse, I will no longer do *THAT* with them. *That* being compete with them in whatever their chosen sport is- Jumping, barrel racing, endurance, or __________ fill in the blank. I picked jumping, barrel racing and endurance because those seem to be things that are A) popular with bloggers and B) tough jobs for our horses. But then even after proclaiming they will stop competing their horse in their chosen event, a few months down the road and guess what? They talk about taking their horse to the comepetitions and entering them to compete.

Now most of you who have seen pictures my OTTB mare or know of her, know she has a huge knee. It was injured at the track, long before I got her and it is why she no longer races. I knew this before bringing her home. It will forever be an issue to deal with. I also swore I will never expect her to jump and I never will. I have seen her bouncing around out in the pasture, going airborne and coming down on that leg and racing around without any problems, but still, I'm not going to put her over fences no matter how small they are or how much she may actually enjoy it. Taking her to the arena and going thru the barrel pattern a couple of times was all in fun. She had never done barrels before in her life and although she wasn't half bad at it, I'm not going to start patterning her and expect her to run and win money at it. For one thing, it doesn't happen overnight even for very talented horses, riders or both and more importantly, it's not fair to her.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Field trip!

The barn I'm boarding at has no arena so one of the girls and I decided to take the horses on a field trip and go to one of the local, public use arenas and work horses. Originally I was going to take both of mine and she was going to take two as well. There was supposed to be another girl with her two horses going along. Things slowly got whittled down to me and the one other girl, one horse each.

She left one horse home because she's had issues with him and wants to resolve them doing something else before getting hurt. I decided not to take the pony because he's been hauled, shown and knows the drill. My mare has been hauled to a few different arenas to work, when we lived in hellizona and she didn't handle it well. She didn't handle the move well either and is finally learning to cope and deal with things. I wanted to focus on her, so leaving the pony at home was the best option.

Her horse is for sale and she was hoping to get some photos of him in action. Apparently he has also never been in a 2 horse straight load trailer. Well it didn't take long to get him in and we were on the road.

We had a good time. My horse was a little wound up when we got there, as I expected. I got her legs wrapped, saddled up and lunged her a bit before deciding to get on. On the lunge line, she didn't exactly go around in nice round circles, but she did go around. She looked at everything, but she never spooked or got stupid so I put her bridle on, dropped my stirrups and climbed on.

Although she looked around a lot at first, she kept her head together and settled right down to work. We had a really good ride. I got some of our best canter work to date and she was light in the bridle, loose and felt really good. We had some incredible trot work and a few lovely canter departures in each direction. Then my friend set up some barrels to try her horse on the pattern. He did pretty good and I thought WTH? Why not give it a whirl? So we did.

I trotted her up to the first barrel on the right. Going around it she was a little wonky. We trotted to the 2nd barrel and around it a little wide. I pushed her into a lope and we made our way around the 3rd barrel, not so elegantly. My friend was laughing and quite impressed. She thought my mare looked pretty good on barrels. Mind you I was riding her in dressage tack. We did a couple more "runs" and the last time thru, I pushed for a little more, guided my mare around the barrel and let her go a little to bring it home. She enjoyed that.

Barrels are not something I will be trying to compete her with. My mare can run and may possibly be good at it, but this was all in fun. I wouldn't expect my mare at 18 years old to really be competitive in barrels and more importantly I doubt her knee would hold up. I really love this mare, why would I want to set her up for injury or a total fail?

After untacking and giving her a chance to roll- she didn't.

Love that face....

Monday, February 6, 2017

Photos don't lie

As riders, we strive to improve. We try to fix things we think we are doing wrong. We don't focus on things we think we're doing right. And then someone comes along and says something and depending on our mood, their words, the tone of their voice and our own opinion of them.....

Yeah. Things change. I used to worry about my lower leg and my hands, a Lot. My hands were no longer an issue after a friend of mine was standing next to the trainer I had started working for about a month before. Watching me ride the trainer told my friend, "She's got the nicest hands I have seen in a long, long time." Booyah! But my lower leg was still an issue in the back of my mind. Until the day I seen pics of me riding one of my mares and I seen for myself that no matter how she was moving, my legs were always where they belonged. Seeing pics of me on another horse and yep. There's my lower leg locked on where it belonged. Riding my WB mare forced me to keep my lower leg back under me in position or she puttered out. I no lnger worry about my lower leg anymore.

Tonight discussing riding and proper position with one of the girls at the barn, she asked me if pic's can help your riding. Absolutely! Pic's don't lie. You're either doing it right, kind of close or you're not. There may be a few pic's when it all comes together and that's great, but when there's only a few out of 20-30 or so, showing things not right or needing work, well now you know what you need to work on and fix.

The same girl has been dying to ride my mare. Since she's finally up to weight and I've been on her, I let her climb on and take my horse for a spin. It's working out well since she's getting to ride a bigger horse, try out a variety of tack, learn new things and I get to see my horse move. Win!