Friday, August 29, 2008
So I rode her two other nights this week as well. She was fine. I did WTC and lots of transitions. I probably gave her extended walk breaks, but again, why rush it? I rather NOT overwork her lungs and just see what she can handle. I plan to ride each day over the long weekend and then give her a few days off....Tuesday and Wednesday. Easy work at the end of the week because we have a busy weekend for Sept. 6-7. Saturday we are marshaling races at the Cornish Trotting Park (just 3 miles from my house!) for the third year in a row. I LOVE doing this. It is such a fun event. No under saddle race for us this year though.....which is a bummer since I LOVE to under saddle race. Think cross country exhilaration without jumps. But I think that pacing a mile right now might severely hinder our training...specifically the canter. She rarely paces now and I rather keep it that way. Maybe by next fall she could do the race again, but right now the lack of pace is still too new. I do think she may be able to learn cues for all three gaits (trot, pace, canter) eventually and understand that she only is allowed to do what I tell her, not what SHE thinks she ought to do. But that time is not right now.....and certainly not next weekend!
Then Sunday we have an SMDA show. It is the final SMDA show of the year, as the one in October is a ride-re-ride. I am not 100% sure if I will do the ride-re-ride, but we shall see. The first time you ride the test the score will count for year ends, which is different than last year. I would like to ride with Keith Angstadt though. We shall see what Dreamy thinks by the end of the season. She'll let me know how she feels.
So....not only is the Dream Girl back to work but so am I. :) I am back to teaching high school English and loving it. I have been home for 4 years with my son (since he was born in 2004) and though I had hoped to be home one more year until he goes to Kindergarten, this opportunity was too good to pass up. I am THE grade 12 English teacher here in my district's high school. It is a tiny school (400 kids in the HS) and I only teach 85 kids! Quite the difference from the last school I taught at before my son was born that had 1500+ kids and I taught 147 9th and 10th graders! I LOVE my job and I forgot how much I love teaching. So while this blog is really about Dreamy, I am sure I might mention my new job.
The best part? I taught for 2 days and have a long four day weekend! YAY FOR VACATIONS! :)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Dreamy has been treated for COPD for almost 5 years now....nearly as long as I have owned her. For the last 3 years I have been able to maintain her without any flareups. I soak her hay, give her 24/7 turnout with access to her stall, and feed her a product called Wind.
Well, because of the GD'ed moldy hay in my barn (plus the fact that I tried to feed her a couple of flakes...soaked...out of one of the bales I thought looked/smelled OK) she started with the coughing and high respiratory rate. BIG SIGH. I should have known better with the hay, but with only about 15 bales left of last year's hay I figured I ought to start feeding out the new stuff. Most of it is unsuitable and completely covered in mold. But I was able to find some bales that really did seem OK. NOPE. My hay guy said he would be over last week to assess the situation. UM......have not seen hair nor hide of the man. And I have called AGAIN....still no call back. I am REALLY angry now.
Anyway, Dreamy is doing OK. I gave her TriHist on Sunday night and then again Monday morning before I was able to speak with my vet. He sent me 10 packets of Dex. So I will do 3-5 days of the Dex (probably will do a full five days because I am neurotic like that) and then 2 weeks of TriHist.
I had to scratch from this weekend's three-phase event. I am VERY bummed, but it is absolutely the right thing to do for my horse. We may have gotten away with it had it been a dressage show, but NOT an event. No way would I run XC on her when she is not 100% "respiratory" sound.
So, now we wait. She seemed fine today. All along she has been eating and happy, which is good. I have been monitoring her temperature to be sure there is nothing bacterial going on. The Dex would magnify any infection anyway and so far so good.
The worst part is getting the TriHist into her. The Dex is easy because it will dissolved instantly in water and I just syringe it in like a paste wormer. But for some odd reason the makers of TriHist put it in a corn meal base. So the corn meal DOES NOT melt in the water (believe me I have tried). So no way I can use the syringe. And of course Dreamy is the most suspicious horse ever, so no way can I top dress it on her grain. She would rather starve to death that eat grain that has ANYTHING on it.
So I mix it with applesauce, stick it on a spatula, and smear it on the back of her tongue. Yeah, that's wicked fun to do 2x a day. (where is the eye rolling icon when you need it?) And it is so messy. And Dreamy sees me coming and she walks the other way, poor mare. LOL!
Ah well. She will be fine. It is just a reminder to me that she really is a special-needs horse even if I forget that she is. Our next show is Sept. 7 (SMDA) so we have some time off to relax and recooperate.
Anyone have any tips on how to feed TriHist to a picky mare?
And boy, not only was it a good learning experience, but also a VERY humbling one. :) Riding a Second Level horse after being on an green/Intro/Training level horse for a couple years really makes it obvious where you are lacking! It was great to ride Violet, don't get me wrong.....even if it was a bit frustrating. I know in my brain what I need to do, but my body just does not cooperate. This lesson reaffirmed how much I don't know about dressage. :D
Violet is a very sweet mare. She is a 8 (or maybe 7?) yo gray TB/Percheron cross and Judy has had for a 3 years or so. She knows nothing about Violet's prior life. Judy was told she was broke under saddle, but she suspects she was not at all.....she was quite upset when Judy first got on her. But it is obvious that Judy has done a wonderful job with Violet and she is really a nice mare. If only I had the means to own another horse.....LOL! :)
The hardest part was getting used to the degree of contact and how short I had to have my reins. Dreamy must have a much longer neck than I imagined....not to mention we are still figuring out how to maintain a constant and steady connection to the bit. I also think I am ineffective with my leg, something that does not bother Dreamy, but Violet was not impressed. She is at the level where if I am not asking 100% correctly, forget it...she will not do what I asked. As Judy put it, "She's a push-button horse!" when I was unable to get her to do what I (thought I) was asking.
Violet had a comfortable canter. But of course, I am still doing my upper body pumping thing. UGGGGGGGG. I....just...can't....stop!!!!!!! For some reason I want to pump with my seat and upper body. It has become such an ingrained habit. Judy was saying, "Stop moving, stop pumping" over and over and I finally had to laugh and say "But I REALLY am trying not to move!!!"
Man, it made me feel like a complete dunce. I know I am a good (enough) rider and I know exactly what she wanted me to do, but I simply could not make my body do want I wanted it to do. I wish I could take a lesson on a horse like Violet about 3 times a week. Heck, I wish I could ride a horse like her every day and it would not take long for me to become the rider I want to be. I should have been a working student. I am very good at mucking stalls! LOL! Ah well. Now I have the husband, kid, career.....it is wonderful of course. But sometimes in the back of my mind I think how great it would be to ride lots of horses everyday and just focus on my riding. Maybe someday when I am retired and C is off at college/being an adult. LOL!!!
I am thankful for having the opportunity to ride Violet. I hope she doesn't sell TOO quickly because I would love to ride her again. ;-)
Monday, August 18, 2008
1st Open 2-Gait Pleasure, Sr.
1st Pole Bending, Sr.
2nd Open Showmanship
2nd Open 2-Gait Equitation, Sr.
2nd Roadster Under Saddle
2nd Open Barrels, Sr.
2nd Open Trail class
2nd Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure, Sr.
3rd Hunter over Fences
Dreamy was good except she was VERY forward and lost her halt. LOL! For some reason she always loses her halt around any track....be it while marshaling a race at Scarborough Downs or while showing when there are horses jogging at Cumberland. She is never dangerous and always obedient, so I felt safe. But my goodness, she gets so REVVED up! She is not nervous but not at all like her usual mellow self...but more like "Dreamy-on-a-major-caffeine-overload." GEESH! :P
We did not place in STB in Hand, because well....she was really naughty and actually did a semi-rear in the lineup. OH boy I was not impressed and instead of continuing to fight with her and try to make her stand, I just did a small circle (continuously) in our spot. I had enough foresight to park her on the end of the lineup so we did not disturb anyone and we had plenty of room to circle. I have shown for years and know what will work. :D
She literally almost had a meltdown because I was asking her to stand still. I swear, she can be the most obliging mare and TRIES so much harder than any horse I have ridden.....but boy there are those rare times I have discovered where you really can push her over the edge. And then she has temper tantrums. I have seen it this year under saddle with the canter....and now I have seen it when trying to make her stand still at the track. I have always been smart enough when under saddle (like when marshaling) to know we cannot halt and I just keep her moving forward instead of forcing her to stand still. Because let's face it, rearing is the consequence when you ask a horse to stand (or go forward) and they much rather not thank-you-very-much. But WHOA, I never figured she would be like that in hand. Oh well.....now I know and will be more careful in the future. Her hooves only came maybe 1.5 feet off the ground, but that was certainly 1.5 more feet than I wanted!!!!!
Ah well. Makes me question whether or not to even bother doing in-hand at Nationals. Granted, she is FINE when we do in-hand at the Hollis Equestrian Park. Is it because it is not a track? Or because she has shown there 10 times already in 2 years (that is where the SMDA shows are held as well as the SPHO-ME Spring show)?? My gut tells me to just skip the in-hand at Nationals and focus on the riding. No reason to make her ugly before I ride. I might change my mind, but at this moment I am opting to not do the 2 in-hand classes at Nationals.
Roadster Under Saddle....
Gotta love a trot with air-time....
I have a feeling that creating a balanced 3-beat "dressage worthy" canter will take a few more of these setbacks. I have been so used to progressing this year that I wrongly assumed the canter would follow a similarly linear training pattern. NOPE. It has literally been 5 steps forward, 3 steps back. Now we seem to have taken a few more steps forward.
At first it was simply CANTER. I did not care what it looked like, I just wanted her to learn the cue to canter and simply that it was OK to canter. I worked on eliminating her tendency to start pacing 30 mph when I asked to canter....and simply go from the trot to the canter. Then we worked on tempo and rhythm. Suddenly in July she began to relax and come onto the bit at the canter. That was HUGE progress. (See my post from July). And the canter had a bit more lift, as opposed to being so flat and strung out. It is hard for a STB who is bred to go long, low, and fast to suddenly collect and have "lift" in the canter. I realize I am working against her breeding.
Then of course we had the setback.....all of a sudden she reverted back to pacing 30 mph when asked to canter and GALLOPING instead of cantering. So I just went back to the exercises I had figured we had mastered (note to self: never assume that again) and suddenly last week the canter magically came back! LOL!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This was filmed at the National Horse Show in 1987. Dr. Klimke is riding his horse Ahlerich in the Madison Square Garden.
So, it has rained 19 out of the last 20 days. It is incredibly frustrating to have THIS MUCH rain. Why is rain bad? Well, let's see...
- I have only ridden a handful of times in the past 3 weeks. I like to ride at least 4-5 times a week and that just ain't happening when every single day is either a thunderstorm or it is absolutely down pouring. I am at a point where I would ride if it were just plain old "raining" but that does not seem to happen. It is all about extremes I guess.
- Last Friday I discovered to my HORROR that nearly all the 300+ bales of first crop we have in the barn are MOLDY! :O I cried for about 3 hours, then I got angry. We store the hay in 2 big open bays on the left side of the barn. There is no hay loft. The big doors (front and back) are always open. Yes it has been rainy but to me that did not seem to be a good excuse for hay to mold. Luckily we still have about 30 bales from last year (I wanted to be extra safe and not run out) and none of that turned moldy at all. Hmmm....me thinks the new hay was wet to start with. GRRR.....Finally talked to my hay guy last night and he apologized for not getting back to me sooner. He promised to make it right and will hopefully be here some night this week to take a look at it.
- Not only is there mold on the hay (!!!), but there is mold on my riding boots and tack. I just LOVE that! :P
- The paddocks are a mess!!! Usually this time of year the mares spend more time in the pastures anyway and the paddocks are cleaned out in the spring. Then they dry up well over the summer and look pretty good. NOT this year. There is mud everywhere and the manure is impossible to pick up. Not to mention most of the manure piles are MOLDY! Grrrr.....
- My jump field (grass) is too wet to jump in. For one thing the footing is just too slippery to jump. Plus, even if I did want to chance jumping, I would destroy the footing. So no jumping for us in the past 3 weeks. I am hoping to jump tonight when I go out and then again on Friday. There is a SPHO-ME show this Sunday and I would like to have jumped before the one jumping class there! :P
- Everything is just damp and miserable. I just hate this much rain. I dread to think what the fall will be like. Usually we got a ton of rain in the fall, so I have that to look forward to. I wish we had had a hot and sunny summer. We did not even put the AC in the window this year!!!!
Ok I feel better. I might have more things to add to this list....but I hear my husband's truck in the driveway. Time to ride!!!! :)
Usually we do not use the ear flymask thing, but the bugs in this rain have been AWFUL! Dreamy was much happier, even if she did look foolish. :)
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
On Friday afternoon (8/1) I received two saddles from Trumbull Mountain in VT. One is a Duett Fidelio and the other a Thornhill Vienna 2. The Duett costs twice as much as the Thornhill and of course it is the one that I like best! LOL! I rode in the Duett on Friday and LOVED it. I had sent wither tracings and pics to one of the fitters at Trumbull and Dreamy was an exact match for this saddle in a 34 cm tree. Bad thing is they only had a 17.5" in stock. So while I LOVED the saddle and it fit Dreamy so well, I felt like I was slipping all over the place. I had to keep scooting myself up to the pommel. Not good.
I REALLY LIKED the Thornhill when I rode in it on Saturday. It was not quite as comfortable as the Duett, however it fit me very well, so it was a better ride. It seemed to fit Dreamy well through the withers and spine, but the panels did not rest flat on her back. Not sure if this is just because of atrophy or an improper fit. They did rest evenly on her back once I was mounted, but it did feel as though it could have used a bit of padding back there (I rode with just a medium thickness square pad...no risers or gel pads, etc). It did seem to put my leg in a better spot, but I wonder if that is because the 17” seat fit me. More than likely this is true...
The only drawback on the Thornhill was the quality. And I did not like the "rough" leather on the flaps. Of course, it is hard to get two saddles to compare and have one literally half the price of the other. LOL! But if this saddle ends up being the best fit, I can handle a lower quality saddle...though I will get the billets replaced with better quality ones!
SO..long story short they are having a 17" Duett shipped directly from the company to me. I should get it tomorrow or Thursday. I am hoping it will be as comfortable as I think it will be. It is such a nice saddle! :) I would hate to end up sending ALL three back to Trumbull. :(
Hopefully this time I will end up with something that really is PERFECT rather than something that seems perfect. It helps to have an actual saddle fitter helping me....though she is in VT. If anyone reading this is thinking of getting a new saddle, CALL TRUMBULL MOUNTAIN! They are absolutely fabulous!!!!!
I sent pics of Dreamy with each saddle on, girthed up. She liked the fit of each, but agreed the Duett was better. It honestly fits her perfectly. I asked about using a gel pad with the Thornhill and she said she does not the gel pads and recommended a Mattes. Well, yes, I would love to own a Mattes! :P We all would! But it is a bit cost prohibitive right now. Maybe.....if I do get the Thornhill I can probably swing it because it is a much cheaper saddle. So paying for a Mattes and new billets would still be cheaper than the Duett. But I REALLY hope the 17" Duett they are sending out fits!
I will say Dreamy was much happier in a saddle that fits. DUH!!! Her back was so free and her trot was huge. We did canter transitions on half of a 20 m. circle and she was good. It sucks to have to take a step back in our canter training, but well, I get too caught up on always having had forward progress this year so far.....I need to remember that is not always reality. :)
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
I was tagged by Now That's A TROT! to write a "Six Things I Am Proud Of" meme. Never heard the word "meme" before, but I figured I might as well run with it! LOL!
- I am proud of the way I take care of my horses. My farm is not state-of-the-art nor is it even very new (the barn is over 100 years old, though the stalls themselves are only 5 years old), but it is safe and clean. I am very particular about how I feed, bed, turn out, and groom my horses. They get the very best farriery and veterinary care. Basically my horses have a better life than most humans.
- I am proud I stuck by my Morgan Sparky. She was in bad shape when I first got her back in 1993, both physically and mentally. In the last fifteen years she has become such a fabulous horse. I stuck by her despite her limitations and when she could no longer jump. I trained her to drive myself after we had to stop eventing. Giving up on her was not an option. Trading her in for a "better" horse that could take me further in my riding career was not an option. I promised this horse a forever home back when I was thirteen and she was ten. And I fully intend to keep that promise....I am now almost 29 and she is 26. Sparky will always be my horse of a lifetime, my best friend, and the horse that I am so proud of.
- I am proud I taught Sparky to drive after she was retired from eventing in 2000. I knew I could not retire her completely....nor did I want to just do dressage at that point. I took some driving lessons on already made driving horses, had help getting the cart and harness fitted, and away we went. I ground drove her and hooked her myself. We ended up competing successfully at the big rated Morgan shows in driven dressage and pleasure. We also competed through Preliminary in CDEs and ADTs. And all this was AFTER a successful eventing and hunter career. :D
- I am proud of how far my Standardbred Dreamy has come. She has gone from race horse to broodmare to show horse! When I got her she had never been ridden. I am proud to be the only person who has ridden her and trained her to this point. Granted, that also means that any bad habits are mine, but I am willing to embrace the good and the bad. Dreamy honestly should never have gotten as far as she has.....she has defied her breed, her age, and all those who never thought we could do it (including my darling husband......:P) I always emphasize how naturally talented she is, but I am also proud that I did have something to do with her success as well. ;-)
- I am proud of my competitive accomplishments. Yes, I like to win ribbons....LOL! But showing is so much more than winning ribbons. It is all the hard work and effort getting my horse in shape and ready to perform. It is hours and hours of dressage and jumping work at home. It is hours of lessons. It is saving my money and sacrificing other things for myself so that I can show/lesson at all. It is cleaning tack and braiding.....getting up early to truck to the show....and riding what comes off the trailer that morning. :) I love the feeling of accomplishment from showing....whether or not we win a ribbon. I feel so proud when we earn a better score than the last show. Sometimes a 77% is first place, and sometimes first is a 59%. So the color of the ribbon does not matter.....improving my score is what matters. And of course, getting out there and just doing it. Having the experience of showing is valuable to me as a rider. Riding at home around a ring or trail riding just does not give me the same thrill as competitions.
- I am proud that I have progressed past the little-girl-crazy-about-horses and emerged as an adult amateur who is constantly learning. OK, so I am still that horse crazy little girl inside, but horses have truly become my life's passion. As much as I love to teach (and teaching pays for the ponies), horses are what makes my heart sing. I am proud to have a passion in my life, as so many adults never find their own. I am proud that I continued riding through adolesence, never allowing boys or such to deter my passion. I am proud that I rode through college and was able to keep my Morgan as well. I am proud that I have become enough of an accomplished horsewoman to have successfully trained my Morgan to drive and my Standardbred to ride. I accept that I will never know "all there is to know about horses" and I like that. I enjoy learning every day, every lesson. Someday I hope to be competing at a higher level than Training (dressage) and Elementary (eventing), but for now I am simply happy to own two horses and be healthy enough to ride and enjoy them.