Monday, December 29, 2008
My two rides were productive....well as productive a ride in the snow on a semi-out-of-shape horse can be. We worked on connection and of course got a little bit of attitude from the Dream Girl, but nothing like she can be. Did some stretchy free walk and working walk transitions. Did some halts. I actually was able to canter on Friday, since the snow had not melted underneath that much. The footing was good, unlike Sunday where all the rain had settled on top of the ground and underneath the snow, so there was some ice and some slush. Only trotting on Sunday.
Anyway, I finally had my best training aid back for the canter! SNOW! YAY! The snow on Friday made her canter so BOUNCY and SLOW! :) Our left lead transitions were fabulous, mostly because she was not rushing and she had to really use her self to stay upright....lol....so her hind end was underneath herself and her back was up. The upwards to the right were a bit rough, as she still wants to throw herself into the gait, but the downwards were pretty nice. I did get one nice upwards, which was encouraging.
So we are certainly not setting the world on fire in our training, but at least I am on her and we have not lost any training it seems. And I have tried to schedule two lessons (just 30 mins. since she is not in shape enough to go for an hour) but of course one weekend was the big ice storm and the other was a big snow storm. I have no luck with lessons lately. Oh well. I am just going to sit tight for now, try not to freak out because I am DYING for a lesson, and just wait and see. What the hell....I can wait until March but I don't want to!
So Saturday was our fun with tarps day. Dreamy has impeccable ground manners, so when I say we do "groundwork" it is not like she is being taught how to lead or stand or whatever. Her ground manners have nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fact that she was well started as a baby out in NY. I give full credit to the STB breeding farm.
Anyway, Dreamy has a phobia of sorts about whips. I ride in spurs, because she gets really jumpy and spooky if I even hold a whip when I ride. (Now, I can hold a jumping bat, but not a dressage whip). And this past summer at one of the open shows we did for fun, we had to walk over a tarp in the trail class. Dreamy stopped, gave it a good look, and LEAPED over it. She only did it because she trusted me, of this I am 100% sure. She did NOT want ANYTHING to do with it, but I encouraged her with my voice (and gently with my seat/legs) and she did it. I was not planning to "force" her over it, since it was not something she had EVER seen before. I figured I would try it once and if she was really upset, I would go around. But she flicked those ears, gathered herself, and jumped it. Too funny. I think we still placed well (a second I am pretty sure) because she did everything else perfectly. But of course, it made me figure I would do "tarp work" with her this winter.
So we worked in the barn aisle, which is about 13 feet wide, after I groomed her. First we did our normal, walk/halt/back/lower head routine. She is fine of course. Then I brought out the whip and touched her all over with it. She does not budge...which did surprise me. I figured she would be touchy. But then I waved it all around, over her head, under her stomach. Yup, nothing besides some ear flicking and a few moments of the BIG EYES. She is really not that reactive of a horse, but she does like to widen her eyes to show the whites and will sometimes do the "flutter" nose noise. That is about the worst of her spooks.
Anyway, so the whip work was fine. Now I think I need to ride with it and not use it. Just hold it there and get her used to the idea of it being there.
Then I pulled out the exciting blue tarp! Again she did not budge but her eyes were as big as saucers. So cute. First I shook it and put it all over her body. She was not impressed with it on her head, but stood still. Then I folded it up to walk over it.....we did that no problem. Then I unfolded it so it was a longer walk over it. Again no problems. That mare will follow me anywhere. I was impressed she did not even try to skirt around it. She just walked over it straight. She has only done a tarp once at that show and while I was "training" her on Saturday she acted like we did it all the the time! Foolish mare. LOL!
Next time I will set it up draped over two standards and walk under it. Dear lord, I need an indoor so I can work on something normal like transitions and connection, rather than play with tarps! One thing is for sure, there is no way you'll ever catch me with a kaorobi fricking stick or whatever it is. Nah, I will stick with tarps and be my own horse whisperer.
Now I have to try both the whip and the tarp while riding. That might be a different story. Now that the driveway is free of ice (unlike the "ring" in the pasture....now I actually WANT half a foot of snow to cover it all!) I can ride in the driveway with my tarp. Good thing I do not have any close neighbors. :D
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Here is the view from the round and fuzzy Sparky. Yes her bridle path is waaaaaay overgrown and my inner George Morris screams in protest every time I look at her. But I want to grow out some of it so it is not so long....it nearly goes halfway down her neck! I hear the latest trend in the Morgan horse show world is to NOT trim them back so far.....and of course Ms. Sparky needs to be on top of the current trends, now doesn't she??
Interestingly enough, Dreamy was royally PO'ed that I was riding Sparky and ignoring her. So here she is standing directly in our path and looking very mean. Even cocking her leg! Man, what a baby! LOL! I usually keep the other horse out of the "ring" in the pasture when I am riding, but because I was only going to be on for a few minutes, I just left the other horse free. Too funny!
Sparky was like, "What is up with you Dreamy?" I was laughing and after a few minutes Dreamy went back to her hay pile. Sparky was so soft and warm....I love her trot! And the snow and footing was perfect!
And here I am trying to get a good picture of the two of us afterwards.
Such a fuzzy mare! She got the BEST winter coat she has ever had, after five years of owning her! So for now she is a shaggy wild pony. If I can ever schedule a lesson on a day it does NOT snow (Sorry Judy, I am really bad at scheduling and too busy to boot!) I will have to trace clip her, but for now she can be a woolly beast. She'll get a haircut as we get closer to spring, I am sure.
So, after Dreamy's performance, Sparky decides not to be outdone. First she meandered off to Dreamy's paddock and Dengie pile to see if she had left any morsels. Abandoning that, she decided to suddenly gallop FULL TILT at us out in the pasture section. Dreamy was being SO GOOD.......tensing up but not doing anything.....like she was saying, "OK Mom, do you see how GOOD I am being while my friend here is roaring around the pasture? I really COULD dump you and take off with her, but see what a nice mare I am!"
Then the gallop! At almost 27 years old, I would say she is feeling pretty darn good!
But then she started running right AT Dreamy. Not cool. So I yelled at her and she stopped her foolishness. But then she decided to follow us around the entire field. What a weird horse! :D
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I do know that it means I have to work my ass off this year!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Just why am I now feeding this?
Well, the Dream Girl has been diagnosed with COPD/RAO for a few years now. The common name is "heaves" and until 2000 this condition was known as COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some fancy group of international veterinarians decided to start calling it RAO or recurrent airway obstruction to differentiate this equine respiratory condition from COPD in humans.
So whatever you want to call it, Dreamy basically has allergies. She has a problem breathing and for years I managed her on 24/7 turnout/stall, a product called Wind by Emerald Valley, and soaked hay in above freezing temperatures. For whatever reason, I was always able to switch her to regular old dry hay when the temps. dropped.
But not this year. :(
Dreamy had a mild RAO attack this late summer in August. She has been on Dexamethasone (steroids) and TriHist (antihistamine) before, so this was nothing new. I figured a round of both and we would be back to normal.
Uh, not this time.
You see, I had a lovely load of MOLDY hay in my barn from the even MORE lovely hay guys I now despise. Yes, that is another blog post around here somewhere. Long story short, just having the hay in the barn was causing my horse problems. GRRRRR.....
So we bought new hay (from someone else...), did the round of Dex and TriHist, scratched from an event at the end of that month, and just took it slow for the weeks that led up to the Nationals in NJ. I was bound and determined that I would have her well enough for NJ. I put her on another product from Emerald Valley, which I cannot remember what it was called, but basically it is echinecea. Dreamy seemed to bounce back fine and we went to NJ without a hitch at the end of Sept.
I first started trying to feed un-soaked/dry hay in November. Within 2 days she was coughing. :( I had this gut feeling that after her episode in August, things had gotten worse. Granted so far I have been lucky to manage her with just supplements and wet hay. I just had this nagging feeling that she was no longer going to be 100%.
So without any way to soak hay in the freezing temps., I had to resort to feeding the Dengie. Here is what the Dengie website says:
Horses suffering from respiratory problems and allergies associated with field-dried hay benefit by feeding our forage feeds. The high temperature drying process eliminates harmful mold spores that can lead to respiratory allergies (heaves), resulting in a chronic cough and decreased physical performance ability. Feeding your horse any one of Lucerne Farms high temperature dried forages will help prevent an allergic cough and to help keep his airways clear.
And truthfully, it comes down to about the same price as the hay I bought after the BAD HAY EXPERIENCE, if not cheaper. I spent $4 a bale on the bad hay, and then ended up spending $6 on the new GORGEOUS hay from NY (thanks Justin!!!!) Dengie costs $12 a 40 pound bag, which right now I am feeding out at 10 pounds per day. That ends up at $3 per day, which is actually cheaper than hay. I have a feeling I may have to up the Dengie as it gets colder. It is confusing because the product says to feed it at a rate of 10 lbs. a day and my vet said to feed it on a pound-for-pound ratio. Now I feed 20-22 pounds of regular hay a day, so there is a HUGE difference between feeding 10 lbs. of Dengie and 20 lbs. of it! I consulted with the folks at Lucerne Farms and they recommended feeding it at the 10 lbs. a day rate and adjust as necessary.
So things are OK for now. Dreamy actually likes the Dengie, which is a miracle seeing as she is the Pickiest Horse Ever. The only bad part is that it cuts down on her "chew time" and then she spends time looking around for things to chew on. I need to get her some poplar logs to chew instead of my barn!! Truthfully, I have snuck in a flake of dry hay here and there at lunch, especially when I am home and it is cold. So far, no problems and no coughing. I hope I can go back to soaked hay in the spring, as much as it is a pain in the ass to soak it.
Man, my horses are spoiled! :) Why is no one surprised? ;)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Yeah JWookie who answered correctly! It is used for colic and fatigue from shipping. This is not an item I have used in my 23 1/2 years of horse experience, but it is something my grandfather swore by. This box is actually from a pile of stuff he gave to me after Volo died. :( It still has the drops in it, but because I am pretty sure this is at least 10 (if not 20) years old, it is sitting in my kitchen as an "artifact" NOT to be used on a horse! LOL!
You can still purchase BELL drops for horses though. I am pretty sure Valley Vet and Jeffers is where I have seen it advertised. Probably not a bad idea to have a bottle in your first aid kit. :)
It is tiny but there is a ton of stuff in there!
Good night mares! :)
Tonight is the last day of my five day Thanksgiving vacation. It is snowing, so of course I am wishing for a snow day tomorrow. LOL! But that is silly. Really it was just so nice to have time off. I am still in withdrawals from being a stay-at-home mom for four years, so having five days off was a treat! :)
I was able to ride three times, which was fantastic. I have a student named B who is also an intern at C's preschool. She agreed to come over and watch C for me in the mornings so I could ride. Yes, I would have to pay to ride, but it was SOOOO worth it! She came over on Wednesday morning and I got in a good dressage ride. We worked on trot leg yields and got a couple of good canter departs to the left. I only rode for 30 minutes, since Ms. Dreamy is out of shape, but it was a good solid 30 minute ride. We are not setting the world on fire, but I was pleased.
Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving. :) Did not get a ride in, as S hunted all morning and then we ate dinner here with family at 3PM. That was OK though.
Friday B was going to call me when she got out of work at 2PM. It would have been perfect, as I could have ridden and then done chores. However, I have been staying up TOO LATE this vacation, so when C asked me to lay down with him at nap time (1PM) I completely fell asleep. I don't even remember laying there for long, so I am sure I needed the rest. Bad part though was we missed B's call at 2PM. I called her at 3:30 when we woke up and sheepishly explained what happened. She was fine with it, but I felt like a heel. Of course I missed out on a ride. Oh well.
Then Saturday.....again I was going to call B when she got off work at 2PM. But this time S came home early from hunting at noon. He wanted to relax and go back out around 2PM, so I took the opportunity to ride! It was cheaper....LOL! I called B and felt bad about it, but she ended up working a double shift at work, so I felt better. Saturdays ride was good. We worked on working walk and long and low walk.....she is getting so good about keeping bit contact! We did some trotting, nothing exciting, just working on a steady connection. Then I tried the canter just for half the 20 m. circle and she picked it up NORMALLY in both directions! YAY! Her right lead canter depart was actually pretty fabulous! No head tossing, throwing herself into the gait! Just a smooth canter with her back up and on the bit! :) That was so cool!!!!
After two good departs in both directions (the downwards need some help.....but one thing at a time!) we did more walk work. We did leg yields (again, as I did them in warm up) and then walk turns on the haunches, turns on the forehand, and then walk pirouettes.
Sunday (today) was supposed to be sunny in the AM with increasing clouds after lunch, with eventual snow. :( But of course it was just overcast and cold all day....with snow that started right at feed time tonight!
S stayed home all day (wonders never cease!) so I did stalls around 9AM and figured I would just ride at nap time. Instead, S decided to do some yard work for about an hour and a half with his father and of course C wanted to be right with them. So it made more sense to ride at 10AM and then get some school work done during nap (yes I had five days and I waited until today...it was only an hour's worth though!). So after two good "work rides", I decided it was time to just hack her out. Plus, at 10AM without any sun, the ground in the field was still rather frozen .
So we headed up the big hill (Pease Hill Road) which gets very little traffic as it is a dead end road in the willywags of western Maine. LOL! We actually did not see one single car in our 40 min. ride! The road is tar and turns to dirt. The tar road was fine, but it got kind of icy on the dirt as we climbed the hill. I was able to get a nice bit of trot in at one point, but that was because the sun had been able to shine in that area. Most of the dirt part of the road is very shaded, so the road was tricky. There was plenty of good dirt to ride on, but there were icy spots you had to be paying attention to. At one point, I just turned around because it was actually dangerous. The entire road was ice and I could not see any point in trying to continue on, as the rest of the road was all shaded and not likely to improve. But that was just fine, as we still got a good ride in.
Dreamy has become so much better about trekking out on her own. She still wants to be spooky in the first 10 minutes of the ride. It is like riding a stuck horse.....leg leg leg leg. She does listen to me and she is MUCH braver than a few years ago, but her "stickiness" makes her bob and weave like a drunken sailor! It is not a fun ride at first. Right leg says GET THAT BUTT OVER, then left rein says KEEP THAT SHOULDER THERE! And on and on.....The best part is that noise effects......she does a funny "fluttery" noise when she is worried. LOL!
About half way into the ride, we trot and she realizes I mean business. Why is it that when you trot the horse relaxes? It is like at a show, if she is being stupid in warm up, I put her right into a trot and she relaxes. Anyway, her fitness is no longer at that point, so I had to deal with the silly noises and drunken bumbling for a bit.
She was good though as she did just what I asked. On the way home, she is a normal horse. Gives me her big old swinging marching walk in a completely STRAIGHT line and I ride her on the buckle. Ah, mares! This is why I love owning a mare.
She certainly would never be barn sour or take off for home, but it is a very obvious sigh of relief when she can turn around and head back into familiar territory. My mare does not want to be a trail blazer! Another good trot on the way back. No head fussing, just a nice rhythmic trot. During the last leg of the ride, I consider teaching her to neck rein at the walk, since when she gets in the Standardbred Zone (I'll define it in a sec...) she is autopilot and I always end up riding along with one hand on the reins. LOL! My little western horse! She does rather like to plop along without contact, so I allow it on the trail at the WALK. I don't dare allow her to do it at the trot, because she is still not 100% convinced to go WITH contact yet. I do make her keep contact 100% of the time now when we "work" in the ring/field. I think she knows the difference between working and hacking out.
OK, so the Standardbred Zone is when she will either walk or trot completely straight, huge swinging gaits and just motor along. It is a comfort place for them I think. On the track, they exercise everyday in a big trot/pace and go straight (pretty much). I mean they go much straighter on the track turns than a 20 m. circles So I swear it is a Standardbred thing to literally get into a straight and marching zone on the trail. She does it on the track when we marshal too. It is just point and shoot.
So I had a good vacation. Yeah, it snowed twice (AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!) but I got to ride three times and they were all great rides. Here's hoping the footing will stay good so I can continue to keep riding.
Now I have to clean my tack. Nothing like a winter woolly horse to make your bridle a mess! :)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
As I drive in my driveway, my heart is suddenly in my throat. Where the heck was my horse? OK, where are BOTH my horses? Dear god, I figure they have been stolen. Stupid, but I admit it was my first thought.
I walk out to the barn holding my breath. Well, they have not been stolen, but are in the stalls. The wrong stalls. Obviously they had gotten loose and someone had thankfully caught them. Hmm.....Dreamy is SOAKING wet and hot, so she must have been running. I throw a cooler on her and put her back into her own stall. OOOOPS, she was in Sparky's stall, so that means she ate about half of Sparky's dinner hay.....DRY HAY! ARGH!
And that meant that Sparky ate Dreamy's DENGIE! AH!!! A Cushing's horse most definitely should NOT eat chopped hay mixed with molasses! Oh crap......now I am imagining Dreamy will be coughing and lame (because her sweat = a mad gallop around the yard = sore/strained something) and Sparky will be colicking. Life is just dandy.
Both mares were shook up - Dreamy because she had been spooked and Sparky because she was in the wrong stall. Whatever made Dreamy run and spook had not affected Sparky because she was completely dry. Weird! With horses back in their correct stalls, C and I go inside to change into warm barn clothes. I also check the messages, and there are 3 of them from various neighbors telling me my horse is loose. Thankfully one of them took it upon himself to call D & L Perkins down the road (they own STBs) and L came up to catch Dreamy. I called my neighbors back and also left a message for D & L thanking them profusely for saving my mare! From the sounds of it, Dreamy was galloping all around the neighbors' yards, up and down the hill on the road, and dodging cars as she went. Holy crap! One neighbor said she "knew where she belonged because she kept stopping to look at the barn." Well, that makes sense to a non-horse person, but it tells ME that she was very scared of something in the barn. She would have been doing that high-headed-completely-still-statue pose, bugged eyed at the "scary" thing, as horses do when they see something spooky. And then gallop around a little more, and then WHAM halt....stature girl again. I am willing to bet she did the warning blow too.
I go out to inspect the damage to the fence. She had completely busted through the front gate, so I mended that and figured all was well. There had been a lot of hunting today in the 100+ acres around us, including two deer being shot according to another neighbor, so I chalked it up to her being spooked by a hunter.
Because I wanted to keep an eye on the mares for a while, I decided to stay outside and finally bring my jumps inside. It was only about 3PM and I have been meaning to do this for about a month, but every weekend lately there seemed to be some reason why I couldn't. And with the recent rain I did not want to bring them all into the barn soaking wet last weekend.
So it took about 45 minutes or so.....C was bored and tried to help. He finally resorted to running around like a crazy child between the field and the barn as I hoisted and dragged standards and poles. As we dismantled jumps at the far side of the field, I realized the entire back fence was down.
Ah-HA! Now I knew why Dreamy was so upset. This looked like the work of a moose, as they normally walk straight through fences and drag them along for quite a few feet...and sometimes a few acres (ask my Bampie and I why we know this....). SO I go about mending the back fence as best as I can, as the sun is setting quite quickly. I figure I can 100% fix it all tomorrow morning.
So now I realize that something big and scary came through the back of the pasture so Dreamy left through the front. Isn't that a law of physics or something? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? I doubt it was a deer, as they normally just jump. Are bears in hibernation yet? Good lord, it could have been a bear. And I doubt it was the work of a hunter, as they would have had to have been REALLY blind to walk through a fence and break it like that. And besides a hunter would have just cut it, not broken it.
And if there was as much hunting as I suspect today (there were easily 20 cars/trucks of men clad in orange driving out of there tonight) then they must have stirred up the animals to the point that something busted into my pasture. Poor Ms. Dreamy. :(
I just went out to check the mares about 30 minutes ago. Dreamy is fine, her legs are cold and tight and she is not coughing. Sparky has gut sounds and has manured a few times, so I think we are in the clear. Whew!
I as much as I love my horses, I hate horse stress. :P
Sunday, November 16, 2008
And of course, Dreamy was a complete and utter fire breathing dragon. Granted, she has not been worked (which has made her PISSED), but it was also VERY windy today. Also the temps have dropped dramatically, and these two things made for one high-as-a-kite pony today.
She is one hell of a crow hopper, I will tell you what. That was a first. :P
When my lunatic mare finally calmed down, I decided today was going to be a fine day to do some trotting, but mostly working on the connection to the bit at the walk. And there was no way I could canter because of the footing being soggy. So I sucked it up, told myself to feel lucky I was riding at all, and put my Puritan work ethic on the back burner. OK, in the trash.
It was actually a good thing for her to be so wound up. Usually she is so calm and stoic at home that I cannot work on relaxation techniques (such as I would need at the track or once in a while at a show). So we practiced marching at the walk and stepping up into the bridle. That one took a while. What a little brat she can be! :P
Then I would let the reins out S L O W L Y. She wanted to grab and yank, but I finally got some great transitions between our working walk and walking on a loose rein. When she feels like working, Dreamy can be pretty darn stretchy.
I did some trot work, but she was so flighty, I limited it to about 5 mins total. Plus she is out of shape. But mostly I was worried that if she did shy or crow hop at the trot, because of the soggy footing in the field, she might slip or hurt herself. The best thing is that while she was stupid, she was not unsafe.....well except for maybe the crow hops in the very first minute of the ride. LOL!
It was sorta like being at the track. She almost wanted to lose her halt, so we did a ton of halts interspersed throughout. She did not mind standing for about 3 seconds, but then wanted to shift around.....not move off like at the track, but just start shifting her weight. So it was actually a productive ride, though maybe not to my Puritan dressage standards, but nonetheless we did accomplish something by the end.
I remembered today that I wanted to do a ton of groundwork with Dreamy this winter (inspired by our run in with a tarp in a trail class this past summer......which she DID go over after a 10 second balk, but she leaped it rather than walk over it) so I must make a list of what I want to accomplish by spring. It may not improve our dressage work, but at least it will give me goals and plans for now.
I am also wondering if a copper bit would help her "dry mouth".....but I cannot find a french link eggbutt with a copper mouthpiece....only french link loose rings. Oh dear, the bit search. LOL! Well at least it will give me something to do.
So anyway, my big mystery of life question......How in the WORLD do earthworms get into the outside water tubs when it rains? I mean, I dump and clean them every day, so don't start thinking I leave them for so long that worms grow or whatever. It is just that when it rains (and it has rained A LOT lately) I have been noticing that there are little earthworms in the bottoms of the water tubs!
WTF???? Having pondered the many reasons why, the best answers C and I can come up with is that they either: 1. Jump in, 2. Fall from the sky, or 3. Somehow hatch in there??? Now while C is pretty sure they jump, I personally am leaning towards answer number 2. LOL!
Seriously folks, how do the earthworms get into the buckets? They are those big tubs and it only happens when it rains. I meant to get a pic today, but I dumped the tubs before I remembered I wanted to photograph them.
The other big mystery of life is why does my barn broom wear out so much faster than my kitchen broom? I just bought a new broom last summer and it is already beginning to wear down. Hmmmm....I think I already know the reason for this. ROFL! :D
Saturday, November 15, 2008
So here we are. I found my perfect job, just as I was Googling for something else. Lauren just happens to be one of my favorite dressage riders too. AND IT INCLUDES FULL TRAINING BOARD!!!!!!!! *SIGH* I would happily muck stalls all day for that.
Sprieser Sporthorse at Clearwater Farm in Marshall, VA seeks a motivated, responsible, high-energy barn manager/working student to oversee day-to-day activities at one of Virginia's top dressage barns. Responsibilities include stalls, grooming, tacking, turn in/out, feeding, riding, lunging and general horse care at a top standard. Applicants must be of excellent character, experienced, not afraid to ask questions, take initiative and put horse care above all else.This job includes a cash salary, full training board for one horse (which includes 6 days/week of lessons and/or training with USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist Lauren Sprieser), and lovely on-farm private residence with kitchen, living room, high-speed internet and satellite TV. There is the possibility to supplement income by providing grooming services to clients, like body clipping, braiding, etc.Applicants need not be experienced dressage riders. This is a small farm with great people, wonderful clients, top horses and lots of opportunities. Don't pass up this opportunity!Please call 540.364.6179 or email lauren at spriesersporthorse dot com for further details. Thanks!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Rest in peace, dear mare.
I am just so sad. It will never be the same for me now when I go to the track. I loved to visit with Ed and Derek. Ed always had a horse story or two to share....OK maybe ten to share. And he loved to share his photographs. I loved seeing what new photo he had taken and that he wanted to tell the backstory. He also photographed at the track with his dad, Ed Sr. whom I also really think highly of. Both Ed and Ed Sr. are just a true salt-of-the-earth type of guys.
My deepest sympathies go out to Ed's wife and young son, as well as the rest of his family, friends, and coworkers. This world is a little bit empty without Ed in it. Rest in peace my friend.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
BIG HUGE SAD SIGH! (yes I am totally pouting)
I hope tomorrow afternoon is better. But then again, even if it is not raining, the field will probably not be dry enough. I HATE THIS! If S was home, then at least I could take a trail ride or something. But I absolutely have to stay in the backyard if I ride when C is napping and I am the only adult here...DUH obviously. Maybe I will just ride at a walk anyway. I am so horse deprived at the moment. I am already wishing it were spring and it is not even the end of fall yet. This is very bad.
I was looking over some of my blog entries and it makes me happy to see we have made progress. That was the entire point of starting the blog, so when I was down about things I could go back and re-read about all the things we have accomplished.
But of course, because of my mood, it struck me how much I struggle. I mean, wouldn't it be nice to just have a "regular" horse (meaning one who is actually suited for dressage)? There would be no entries about "Oh my god, we finally had a normal canter transition!" after SEVEN months of canter training. There would be no "Gee, she still paces sometimes when she is unsure." :(
I think because I am so down about riding (meaning I am not getting enough TIME to ride) I end up beating myself up about my lack of progress. I mean I know that is dumb, seeing as I have taken a broodmare who had never been ridden and now due to my own skill we are (kind of) successful at Training level dressage. And of course, it is a STANDARDBRED not a warmblood or TB or something. So see, I know my attitude is dumb.
But for some reason I just feel disappointed. I mean, I know I have done good things with Dreamy. And I do not need anyone to tell me that, nor do I need ribbons or awards to prove it. But I just wish I had TIME to ride!!! I hate this. And the lack of opportunity to continue her training is completely making me disappointed in myself. There is nothing I can do, short of quitting my job (which I would LOVE to do, but that is so not even remotely reality) so I can stay home to ride during C's nap every day.
Honestly, if I could actually ride 5-6 times a week, our canter WOULD be even better than it is right now. And some of the stupid training issues would be gone, seeing as CONSISTENT work usually eliminates them. I have basically be unable to ride during the week since I began teaching. And I HATE THAT. I really truly do. I almost resent teaching because of it. (OK who am I kidding, I totally do.)
Now part of me knows that next spring Dreamy will pretty much pick up where we left off this year, but right now that is not helping me. I miss my lessons. I miss setting goals. I miss my weekly training plans. I miss riding. Period.
Wow, I am just a ton of fun tonight. I just need to vent about this, because it has made me so stressed out lately to the point of tears. Riding is such a part of who I am, it actually makes me feel sick to not be riding my horse. And she is NOT a happy camper when she is left unworked and only turned out each day. At least she gets 12-13 hours of turnout.
UGGGGGGGGGGGG. At least if there were 5 feet of snow I would be able to rationalize not riding. My patient readers, you do not need to bother to comment. LOL! I know in my brain what I need to do and how I need to view this situation. I just wish my heart would cooperate.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Well, while Dreamy may have thought she was retired there for a while, she was absolutely fantastic this past weekend. I rode both Saturday afternoon (after S returned from hunting of course) and then again on Sunday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous for November in Maine. :) I did not want to ride for that long, as Dreamy is becoming out of shape rather quickly. SO I rode for maybe 40-45 minutes each day.
She has come so far in accepting contact all the time. We did some really nice working walk and free walk transitions, where she actually stayed in contact the entire time. It used to be I had to be SO careful not to actually take "too much" contact at once (or any at all...) because she would THROW her little diva head in the air. Oh boy.
And on Satuday I just figured I would try a canter to see what happened....I was truly expecting it to be BAD. But despite her time off.....um.....like 2 rides in 2 weeks....yeah not impressed....she was really really good. I just did plain old trot-canter transitions on Saturday, and she was very obedient and happy. Left lead was better than the right of course....but it was not like the right was horrible. Going to the left she is accepting of contact and the right is still...>THROW head into the canter and bobble around trying to pace behind a little bit (still...) but honestly it was not as bad as it has been in the past.
Sunday she was being so darn good I figured well....let's see what the walk-canter transition might look like. I tried to just sit up, sit correct, and ask her firmly but without much fuss. And I knew that if I asked TOO HARD she would get all confused and end up picking up the wrong lead.
Well, I nearly wanted to cry. She picked up the left lead canter from the walk with NO PROBLEMS at all! HOLY COW! And the funny part was I could see her shadow when I asked her because of where the sun was behind us....and she actually looked like a REAL HORSE PICKING UP THE CANTER! ROFL!!!!!!! :) It was just as nice and light and off the forehand as a girl could hope for. We cantered for about halfway around the 40 m. circle (that serves as my "ring"...grrrrr....) and then came back to the trot. She was RIGHT THERE. No fussing, no fixing the rein length, nothing. Just canter to trot to walk. Then I asked her again to canter. And four times she did it! WOOO-HOOOO! I know that I probably did not need to do it four times (I know I am excessive), but for one thing it was just so exciting and for another thing it was FUN!
When we tried it to the right it was NOT so pretty. She got all flustered and when I asked her to canter she went into pace mode. UGGG. So, feeling a major hissy fit coming on, I just figured the hell with it. I tried the canter from the trot a few times. Ok we can do that. So then the third time I brought her back and asked from the walk. Whoa, she did it. It was not as pretty as the left, but she did it. I asked her to come back down and I let out the reins with a huge GOOD MARE!!!!! and scratch on the neck. She was really looking for a fight, so I figured once was enough. She did what I asked, though not "pretty", she did it. So I ended there.
I cannot understand why she still throws her body forward in this odd way and flips up her head when I ask her to canter to the right. It is exactly what she was doing to the left earlier in the year, so I am going to assume it will eventually work itself out like it did to the left. I am hoping it is not because something hurts. :( But now she is dropping her head/keeping it still and engaging her butt when I ask her to canter to the left, so I am hopeful for progress. We shall see.
Oh the longer stirrups thing....well Saturday I was cooling her out and started thinking that my stirrups were really way too short. I mean, I am such a hunt seat rider and have always felt more comfortable in 2-point. I WISH I had started riding dressage at age 6 and not hunt seat! AHHH! Oh well....but anyway, having gotten the new saddle this late summer and not always feeling confident in my position at the canter, I opted to go with shorter stirrups for my own security. And then on Saturday they suddenly just felt really short (I took my feet out of the stirrups when I was walking her around to cool down and when I took them back I was all of a sudden surprised at how short they were!) So I put them down a hole....not a huge deal for some, but it was for me. It made me feel so weird. But my position has improved SO MUCH and I am 100% used to my new saddle....so I decided it was time to be a big girl and ride like a real dressage rider. LOL!
And then on Sunday I totally forgot I had put the stirrups down. It dawned on me after our first warm up trot. Ah, these feel different......but not in a bad way, like it would have back in early spring when I could barely stay on when we cantered! LOL!
So, funny thing happened. All of a sudden I can use my entire leg and wow I am more effective! Imagine that. SIGH. Sometimes I feel like the biggest dunce in the world. What's the old adage....the more I learn about dressage the less I realize I know? Or something.
Our canter was better because I was SITTING UP better.....ah, maybe because with longer stirrups I could not physically get myself into my "safety zone" of forward seat riding. :)
So anyway, here's to decent canter departs and longer stirrups. I might not be able to ride as much as I like, but at least the rides lately have been pretty darn good.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Between the end of the quarter grading and getting my hay in, this week has been out of control busy and stressful, so no riding for me. :(
I was supposed to have a lesson this past Saturday, but I got a call on Friday afternoon that the hay I was to buy was here from NY, so I absolutely had to cancel my lesson and drive to get the hay on Sat. morning. Of course, had the 350 bales of hay I bought this summer not MOLDED (grrrr.....that is not a story I feel like reliving right now, as it makes me SO MAD!) I would NOT be getting hay IN ALMOST NOVEMBER!!!!!
But alas, I did need to get new hay. So the 191 bales we brought home on Saturday (home at 2PM....oh how fun....nothing like it taking FOUR hours!!) are just gorgeous. The mares love it and I love it. It actually smells like HAY and there is NO WHITE MOLD GROWING ON IT! AHHHHH, how pleasant!! I never realized how stressed out this entire hay ordeal was making me. Now I feel so much better, as though I can sleep again! The plan was to get the remaining 59 bales tomorrow, but it seems that it is going to rain tomorrow. SO I guess the hay will wait until Wed.
So in the meantime, I have 100+ bales of CRAP hay to sell as mulch. I have to get it out of the barn pronto! Ad is in Uncle Henry's and I am praying someone comes along and buys it all.
I will write more later this week when life slows down. This Saturday marks the start of hunting season....I will officially become a hunter's widow, which is my payment for all the horse shows all spring, summer, and fall. :) It is all good, just makes squeezing in rides (and maybe a lesson????) that much harder.
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Monday, October 20, 2008
I just thought this was fun and exciting.....it is amazing how much my equitation deteriorated after seven years without a riding lesson. Now that my instructor has helped fix all my bad habits (she is a dear and patient woman...LOL!) my equitation is SO MUCH BETTER! And of course, I have suddenly become a more EFFECTIVE rider! Amazing how that works! ROFL!
So here is the before (taken June 2007).....UGGGG it makes me want to cry all over again. Piano hands, my hunt seat posture, stirrups too short......AWFUL! I am almost embarrassed to post this. Now, don't get me wrong, I had some nice moments and it is not as though I was a completely terrible rider. But I certainly needed help. I was not effective at all times.
And here is the after (taken October 2008).
Yeah, that makes me happy.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I love this horse so much. :( I boarded Sparky at my grandfather's farm for many years during both high school and then throughout college......goodness, I boarded there for nearly eight years. Sparky and Volo were like two peas in a pod. I always think of Volo as "mine" and doted on him as much as Sparky. And I totally took over Bampie's barn when I moved Sparky there...LOL! I was a precocious 14 year old and set about directing Bampie about how to build a tackroom, saddle racks, and crossties. We spent so much time fencing in the paddock (white board) and then rotating the grazing pastures all summer with electric tape. And it seemed as though every time I went to move or fix a fence it would RAIN! LOL! :) I really miss boarding at Bampie's.
Volo has been slowly declining this summer....the worst part is that he is eating well, has great looking hooves, and is perky with his typical grumpy-old-man-but-not-really personality. But despite the many many pounds of hay, grain, and beet pulp, Volo has been steadily losing weight and now looks really awful. It would be utterly cruel and heartless to put this old man through another Maine winter. But despite his weight, he is a healthy horse. :(
Volo got that silly "Hey I think I know YOU!" look on his face when I went out to his pasture. He came over and was surprisingly polite when I started feeding him his baby carrots. I had planned to feed him some and then leave the rest for his dinner. OH NO. Suddenly the real Volo came out. He was right in my pocket, not being rude or pushy, but ALMOST....meaning he was being his typical self. Volo always knows where the line is and does not cross it. So he ended up eating the entire bag of baby carrots. Dear lord, that horse should not look the way he does for having such a good appetite.
Volo always does that "Oh don't touch me" attitude when I go to pat or scratch him....even when I used to groom him all the time. But the second you back off, he is right there.....saying, "Hey just kidding, I really do like that."
There are so many stories I remember about Volo. He was the only horse who survived the barn fires back in the 80's at Scarborough Downs. Bampie heard on the early morning news that there had been a fire, and he drove out to the Downs fearing the worst. He approached the barns, seeing that the one Volo was stabled in had been leveled by the fire, and said to one of the men, "Well, looks like he didn't make it." The man told him that as a matter of fact, Volo has escaped his stall that night and was in one of the abandoned barns. It seems as though Volo escaped his burning stall (beforehand or during....we will never know) and parked himself in an empty stall without a door in one of the banrs they were dismantling. Everyone was amazed. Smart boy. After this, Bampie brought Volo back home for good and was able to jog him on the newly completed 1/4 mile track at the farm. This made Nan VERY happy and she was now able to visit her favorite horse every day and feed him his carrots and apples.
Volo only colicked once in his entire life. It was a bad colic and Bampie walked him all night. Volo got down and rolled once, and Bampie thought he would not get back up. Nope, this tough old bird hopped right up after the roll and was just fine. :D
He always had "big" calcified ankles but they never seemed to bother him. Volo's legs now look like the typical "war legs" of a STB who was raced hard. But miraculously he was never unsound a day in his life.
One summer I decided I was going to ride Volo. I think I was about 16 and must have needed a project. That would have made Volo about 24. Volo didn't even notice the saddle and bridle, but he did chomp the bit around for awhile. It had only been TWELVE years since he had a bit in his mouth!
After we braved the paddock a few times, I decided it was time to ride in my "ring". (My ring was merely the infield of the 1/4 mile track). Volo was again perfectly fine, but I will never forget what he did with the ground poles. He never blinked an eye when I asked him to walk over them, but he stepped squarely ON each one, instead of OVER them. And he did this all three times I attempted them.....so I figured we would not worry about doing ground poles....ever. LOL!
Volo always used to paw....but not really. He fake pawed the air.....he never actually pawed the ground. Bampie used to always laugh at feed time and say, "Look, he's saying, 'I'm going to paw...I really am'!" LOL!
Volo has the most gorgeous tail ever....it is a pretty chestnut color and is all shimmery with flaxen highlights. But the poor bugger's mane NEVER grew.....so it has always been wispy and uneven. We thought about roaching it about 100 times, but neither Bampie or I had the heart. His foretop is not bad though. And he somehow lost hair on his nose before Bampie got him at age 6....probably an ill-fitted halter. And it never grew back! OH and he lost a part of his upper eyelid on his near side eye years ago....it never seemed to bother him. But in the past few years it has been weepy, while the other eye is always fine. Volo has always appreciated his flymask, but even more so now that the eye is weepy.
When I boarded Sparky at Bampie's, it was uncanny how much Sparky and Volo looked alike. Now granted, one was a small 14.2 hand Morgan mare and the other a 16.2 hand Standardbred gelding, but they had a very similar chestnut color and almost the same markings. Many many times folks would stop to admire the horses, whether I was just in the barn cleaning stalls while they were out in the pasture and especially when I was out riding.
Well, one day someone stopped and admired them as they grazed. She was convinced they were mother and baby, and as much I as tried to tell her no, they definitely were not, she did not seem convinced! LOL!
Volo has many old winter blankets, one of them being a nice heavy waterproof rug I bought him about 1o years ago. But Bampie went out and bought him a new Baker (the one in the photos above) because as he put it, "The old horse deserves a new blanket." He intends to bury him in his new blanket, and that way he will always be warm. That completely breaks my heart. I asked Bampie if he had one of Volo's leather racing halters around and I would clean it up nice for him. We could not find any of the leather halters (they probably broke and were tossed) so I went out and bought Volo a new leather halter and a new bright red lead rope. I wanted to be sure he had a good halter rather than the worn nylon one he has worn for many many years. (In fact, I think I am the one that got him the nylon one...it was padded on the nose and crownpiece and Sparky used to have a green one that matched! LOL!) Anyway, now I know he will be all set when the day arrives. :( I told Bampie to be sure to give him his hay and grain in his grave as well. We both want to be sure he is well fed.
UGGGGGG.....now I am crying. :( Bampie had nearly run out of grain this past weekend and I had thought he would call the vet this week. But he told me Sunday that he bought more grain....so I know he is just putting off the inevitable pain. I completely understand why. Granted, he figured it is still warm out and he might as well let Volo enjoy another week of the nice grass and sun. But Bampie knows he has to do it soon.....the mornings are getting awfully cold....I told him he ought to figure by the end of the month.
I wish I could be there for the day it happens....I told Bampie I would come down, but he said no. He said he did not want to inconvenience me. Now I am not sure if he truly rather be alone or if he is just saying that. I am not sure. But I will respect his wishes and not press the issue. I just hope the vet is compassionate.....this particular vet is NOT known for his "bedside manners." And Bampie even hinted that the vet might give him a hard time for burying a horse with a brand new blanket on. Well the hell with him is what I said to that! LOL!
So I am now just waiting for the phone call. I know it will hurt me too.....man it already hurts. Part of me is almost glad I no longer board there because it is easier than having to see him everyday and then not see him. But at the same time, I will miss him just as much.
You are a great champion. When you ran, the ground shook, the sky opened and mere mortals parted. Parted the way to victory, where you'll meet me in the winner's circle, where I'll put a blanket of flowers on your back.