Monday, March 29, 2010

The Horse Gods Must Be Happy...

...but the weather gods are NOT! After last weekend's gorgeous temperatures (which were certainly out of the ordinary and totally teased me...!!), we are back to freezing cold temps and now rain today and for the rest of the week! BLAH! At least the rain brought back "warmer" temps.!

It was so chilly this weekend, down into the 20s and 30s. I was unable to ride on Saturday, which was probably just as well. It bummed me out, but I had no childcare. :( On Sunday I was able to ride both of the mares, which was great. It was still chilly but the sun came out after lunch when I went out to ride.

Dreamy felt the best she has all year. She is becoming stronger, and our trot work was pretty darn good finally. Back to where we were in November. I felt she was strong enough to begin asking for more leg yield, which really helps engage her hindquarters and balance her quite well. She was pretty soft in the bridle too, which was nice. She still wants to be fussy in a side to side motion tracking left. I am sure this will work itself out as her fitness improves....and I can take a lesson!!!! :)

Her left lead canter was great again. She has finally discovered how to canter in connection to the bit without completely losing her mind! LOL! This feels like it has taken forever! :) I got a bunch of nice 20-30 m. circles at the left lead canter. No more rushing or diving into it...just a nice even canter and transition back to the TROT! WHOOO Standardbred dressage mare! :)

Her right lead made me worry....until I finally just asked. And she picked it up, no rushing, no weird cross cantering in the back, nothing! :D I only let her canter about 6 strides, long before it started to feel like it might fall apart. I did a few trot/canter/trot transitions, took a walk break, and did it again. She was great each time! I do think we will conquer this lead after all! The lateral work at the walk and trot helped...I always worry about doing too much lateral work in the beginning of the spring, as I do not want to make her sore. But I think I used just enough to really get her body moving correctly. Ah, I love this mare. We will conquer Training 4 this year!!!!!! :D

Reva was great too. It must have been a good day for the horse riding gods.....ha ha ha. She was super good warming up at the walk, lots of bending and small lateral steps to really bend her ribcage and move underneath herself. She really acts like she likes her work, which is nice. Her trot is really becoming stronger and steadier...I wish I could video her so I could see what she looks like! She feels great, but I want to see what she looks like! :)

Her trot work was so nice, I decided to ask for a canter. She picked up both leads easily again. Her canter is so rocking-horse and slow. I like that for now. :) She is actually bouncy, but in a different way than Dreamy. Reva does not get that flat in the canter like most Standardbreds. I only let her canter a few strides around half the 30 m. circle for now. She really likes cantering so I then asked for the trot and really had to insist on the trot afterward. A firm half halt seems to work, but she was like, "Well, I rather canter than trot, so why not Mom?" She tried the trot with the jumpy almost canter transition. Nope, not gonna work. :P She is a nice horse and I am super excited to show her Intro level next spring 2011! I think we will actually be schooling a level above where we are showing! LOL!

After, I decided I might as well let her walk around the back part of the pasture where I ride. I figured she would either be fine or dump me. Either way, it is time to start doing new things besides ride on the "ring" section. She was funny and wanted to go NOWHERE near the preschool sized soccer goal that is still out there from last summer. LOL! It is about 15 feet from where I ride, so she has seen it plenty. She wanted to just walk like a crab past it, but I made her walk up as far as she would and stop. She stood there and sniffed the air towards it. LOL! Then I asked her to move closer. She would only go far enough to lean out and sniff it. OK....she sniffed it and moved a step closer. GOOD MARE. She continued to sniff it and finally let out a big sigh. LOL! So it is no longer scary. I was proud of how calm she was about something "scary". I like that she trusts me enough to go closer...I wondered for a moment if I might have to dismount to reassure her from the ground, but she was fine. We rode around the back part of the pasture for a few minutes, and again, she was fine. She enjoyed looking at the (now empty) pig pen on the other side of the fence, the big tree with swaying branches (OH yeah, did I mention it was WINDY yet again??? This time, no spooks! LOL!), and the soccer goal was not scary at all approached from the other side.

So far, the girls are coming along well. Dreamy just needs to become more fit and Reva needs more miles. I am not planning on getting two horses into "show shape" this year, but I do plan to ride Reva at least 3 times a week once show season is here. Speaking of shows, I am signed up for the first two of the year. I am not nearly as nervous about showing rated this year as I was last year. I was peeing my pants a year ago today! LOL! Planning to do the same tests also helps...we've done it once, so we can do it again!

April goal = Schedule the first lesson of the year! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Conditioning Continues...

"A good friend once told me that she felt that working with horses is like being on a long trip. It's a journey with no destination -- an unending process -- and everything that is important is 'as you go,' not when you 'get there.'" -- Mark Rashid

This past weekend was GORGEOUS here in Maine! It was in the 70s which is crazy for March! The snow is pretty much gone, except a few areas in the woods and near the house/barn that gets very little sun.

I rode Dreamy three times last week, two of which we did dressage work in the field and one day on the trails. She was great, except we seem to have lost the right lead canter yet again. I am going to chalk it up to her lack of fitness, but it sure is frustrating. She can pick up the lead but cannot seem to maintain a canter. :( Rather than push her to the point where she is frustrated (and right she would be because she just cannot do it...) I just ask for a few canter steps, back to trot, then canter again. On a much better note, her left lead canter is pretty darned great. So I guess you cannot win them all. I am hoping as her fitness level increases and I am able to begin lessons again, we will sort this out. I REALLY want BOTH leads figured out this year. (Yes, I keep thinking of the quote I put at the top...but I STILL really think it is time for our right lead to be as good as the left!) And come to think of it, she is barefoot still. She gets shoes the first week of April, so that will help as well. She does seem to like the traction of shoes despite the fact that I like the idea of her staying barefoot.

Our dressage work at this point is pretty basic, just focused on balance and rhythm. I try to limit the bending and lateral work for now, and focus more on transitions and steadiness. Our hack on Sunday went well, as she is no longer a fire breathing dragon (well, as much as Dreamy can be.....LOL) because we have been out on the trails a few times now this spring. So far, I am pleased with where she is (well, besides the right canter....grrrr...) and how our conditioning is going.

Reva was very good this past weekend. Right now I am only able to ride her on the weekends, which is not ideal but better than nothing. Things will get easier as the spring unfolds and we get into a routine. I am only riding her for 20-25 minutes, with much of the work at the walk. No more cantering for now. ;-D

We did a lot of bending and lateral flexion at the walk, and she is doing quite well. She seems to bend easier to the left than right. Reva is surprisingly willing to accept the bit, which is great. We did some trot work, with some trot/walk/trot transitions. So far, she is pretty balanced and responds easily to the bit and my weight. I hope her good attitude about work continues even as later on she learns "harder" things. I am wondering what her frustration level will be like.....so far everything has seemed "easy" to her.

She did have her first spook EVER under saddle on Saturday! LOL! It was a bit windy and the leaves were making big tornadoes....usually this is a non-issue to Reva. But at one point after we had trotted, she jumped sideways and hopped maybe two strides before coming to a dead stop. She craned her head around to look right at me, as if to say, "WHAT happened, Mom?" I reassured her and gave her a good pat. :) It was funny because it was so unlike her and only lasted maybe 2 seconds. So, yeah, the first spook under saddle was pretty mild, to say the least! LOL! Such a good girl.

Sparky is doing well.....I would feel as though I was forgetting someone if I left her out! :) No conditioning rides for her. I do hope to ride her a little this summer, maybe hook her a few times to the carriage, but she seems pretty content to be retired and just be groomed. Her weight and attitude are outstanding for her age (27 years young!). She seems to really like Reva and they will stand as close to their fence as possible to be with each other. Reva does like to engage in "face biting play" (which would be halter tag if they wore halters in turnout...LOL) and both Sparky and Dreamy will put up with it for a while, but then take a step back from the fence. It is quite funny. I have considered just opening up the back paddock to allow Sparky and Reva to hang out together, but I don't know. I get the feeling Sparky enjoys having her own space; while she can be near Reva, she can also move away if she wants to be alone. I might consider trying them together at some point just to see. But I am guessing Sparky might like to be alone at times....and at 27 years old, I never want her to feel pushed or rushed by a younger horse. Reva is pretty easygoing, but she is much younger. And she likes to buck and play much more than Sparky.....while Sparky will buck and play once or twice with her, she then will stop and watch Reva carry on.

Today it was spitting snow and it is supposed to be down into the 30s on Friday. Ahhh, the joys of living in Maine..... ;-D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

...and the Filly becomes a Mare.

Happy 4th Birthday to Reva the Super Filly! Now I suppose we'll have to call her the Super Mare, though.


ETA: I know, I know, Standardbreds (like Thoroughbreds) officially age a year on Jan. 1. But I much prefer using their real birthdays.....so Dreamy is actually STILL only 18! ;-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Conditioning

Long slow miles.....spring conditioning is always the same for me. Because I ride in one of my fields, which takes time to dry out each spring, the best way to condition the girls is to ride the trails! Thankfully I live at the beginning of a discontinued town road, so I can ride just over 1.5 miles to the end of it (which is in the next town over! LOL) and back. It is the perfect way to build up a horse each spring. The footing was pretty good the last two days, with most of the road now dirt. There were some areas of snow/slush, but nothing serious. There are a few gradual hills as well, which is nice.

So far I am having a great long weekend! :) Friday was a "furlough day" in my district, which basically means we got the day off from teaching without pay. :( It stinks, as I rather work and get paid, but a furlough day is a cost saving measure for the district. I rather take one day without pay than lose my job, of course. So far, it seems I will be employed for another year, despite the $1.2 million state funding cuts we are facing in my district. :( But you never know.....thankfully I am well educated and a hard worker, so I know I will be OK if I need to find a new job someday....or even a new career. But then again, if I lost my job, I could be a stay-at-home-mom again! LOL!!! We did it for four years....so I know we could do it.

But anyway, I got an unexpected day off to play with the horses. My mother had planned to take my son for the weekend, which was an even nicer surprise. :) He loves visiting his Grammie!

Dreamy was good on the trail both days, if a little looky at the beginning. It was windy and everything was going to eat her! OMG a leaf is blowing by me! LOL! We walked for 95% of the ride, with a brief trot at the halfway point where the footing is flat and perfect. She settled in just fine and seemed happy to be out and about on a loose rein. :) Today I went out to check the field when we returned to the farm, and to my surprise about half of it was dry. Almost all of the snow is gone as well. (That won't last with the rain we are supposed to get tonight/tomorrow, but oh well...) I just wanted to ask for the canter, and I am so happy I did! She was perfect both directions, no pacing, no rushing, no attitude, despite the fact that it is early in the year. She stayed connected to the bit even on the right lead! WOW! I am pleased and hope that she just continues to improve as she gets into shape. Also, I am hoping to start lessons in April, as long as my instructor's ring is ready and Dreamy is in shape! :)

Reva was good too, despite the wind. She was a little looky at first too, but completely settled in within the first circuit of the field. I was pretty impressed, seeing as she will be four this month! She has the demeanor of a horse more than twice her age. :) The first time I asked her to trot, she went a few strides smoothly and then I felt her gather herself to canter......LOL! Now that she has cantered under saddle, that is all she wants to do! I just sat back and half halted (which she is beginning to understand at times...) and pushed her forward into the trot. No more cantering for now anyway. Plus, she seems to be smart and I don't want her to think every time we go forward into a faster gait it is the canter. :P

I am still amazed at how easily she carries herself and relaxes into the contact. Crazy!!! She has the funniest frothy lipstick after each ride, which I try hard not to get all over myself when I dismount. No matter what I try, there is always a huge slime on my coat. LOL! Today it was not huge per se, but there were three spots. SIGH

I tried to take a few new pics of Reva, but it was hard. The wind was blowing and I could not get a good angle for the life of me. My horse pics always look like they have huge heads and underdeveloped bodies. LOL! Though her ears ARE pretty floppy.....LOL! :D



Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Riding! And Reva Surprises Me...

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.” - unknown


What a GORGEOUS weekend we just had here in Maine! :) The quote sums up my weekend!!! This weather is unheard of in early March...but I am not complaining! I'll take it! LOL! After such a fun weekend, I found out the first MHA class list is posted! YAY! I love getting the first class lists of the year...it means spring/summer and SHOW SEASON is really coming! :)

Dreamy was excellent both days. She was a little quick to the left in the trot (OMG I am so excited, look how fast I can trot Mom!!!) and her right lead canter was unbalanced in the transition, but that is to be expected from an out-of-shape horse! She was more "up" yesterday than today, because that is just how it is when we ride again after a few weeks off. LOL!

But today she was perfect. Still not a great canter to the right, but the footing was softer and muddier, and she is without shoes. Add that to being out of shape, which makes her weaker behind, and actually I am surprised her canter was even as good as it was! LOL! Her left lead was fine, balanced and rhythmic which was impressive. She even dealt well with the footing being softer. She was a little heavy in the downward transition, but she did trot and not pace, which again, is great for this early in the year. To have her this good in MARCH is amazing. I hope it continues! Today is was warm enough that I actually hosed her off! LOL! I took out my barn hose for the first time since last fall to do morning chores, so it was right there...now I have guaranteed we will get a two foot snow storm this week! ha ha ha

Reva was so funny yesterday. I really have not been on her much this winter. She started blowing and fluttering when we walked out to the field. I decided to hand walk her around each direction before I got on her. If I had a helper, I probably would have had that person walk at her head while I rode...but being alone, I did the next best thing and hand walked her myself. She was so good though. She is not a spooky or jumpy horse. Despite her young age (she'll be four this month on the 20th!!) she keeps a really level head. She walked around and settled right down.....oh yeah, I remember this riding stuff, she seemed to think. We did do some trotting and she was very good. No drunken sailor moments, and she was bending at the rib cage, stretching to the contact (!!!) and very rhythmic.

There was one spot that was a little deeper in the snow, and I felt her gather herself and want to canter. Horses always seem to rather canter than trot in deeper snow. I thought, What the hell?" I half halted her, gave her the canter cue, and SHE CANTERED!!!!! LOL! Little Miss Green Bean, who has never cantered under saddle before, who has NO idea what the canter cue even is, reached down and picked up the left lead like she had been doing it all her life. I made a HUGE deal over her and asked one more time just because. :D She did it again! I only let her canter for about 5 strides, but it was so cool! I asked her in the other direction as well, again just for the heck of it. She cantered again without an issue. Seriously?? It was that easy??? Dreamy and I worked forever to canter.....and I did a whole lotta crying! I only asked Reva once to the right and we ended the ride with lots of bending/moving away from my leg. She wants to only do turn on the haunches instead of turn on the forehand....Dreamy used to be the same way. Miss Former Racehorse thinks there is a race bike behind her!

Today's ride was exactly the same as yesterday, minus the blowing at the beginning. In fact, she was totally 100% relaxed (as opposed to yesterday when she was only 99% relaxed....she is such a WILD horse! LOL ;-) She really seems to enjoy her work, and at the very end I asked for the canter again. She got both her leads and cantered no problem for 5 strides again! LOL!!!!! She did buck once behind to the left, but I bet she was cross cantering that first stride and fixed it.

Good lord, she is too darn easy. She actually reaches for the contact, stays soft on the bit, and bends easily around my leg, which is amazing. She is not supposed to know all of this already! I literally put 10-12 rides on her last year, with the first few just little "pony rides" around her paddock. I asked her for a little trot, basic bending, turning, halting, but not much more than that. Did she sit around and chat with Dreamy about this dressage stuff this winter??? LOL!

I can already tell she will be easier than Dreamy (who was pretty easy...) because she actually WANTS to reach for the contact. Dreamy rather not, thankyouverymuch! Dreamy and I have had to come to a fragile agreement on the idea of contact. She is fussy and has a very small palate, which does not help. If I half halt too hard (in her opinion) she will get offended and it takes forever to convince her that steady contact is truly a happy place. She does not really like the idea of accepting the bit, but will do it because I ask. Reva, on the other hand, was reaching and finding the bit all on her own! She did it some last year, but I mostly chalked it up to her attempting to be luggy and heavy, getting used to the whole balancing a rider thing. But this weekend she was soft in the bridle, right THERE in the contact. Not heavy at all. It was unreal. She blows my mind. I cannot wait to get her to my instructor's farm, in a real ring as opposed to my unlevel field.

Because she is so easy, I have to keep reminding myself she is green. And young. I did not plan to canter her until later this summer. I think I will have to restrain myself from asking her for a while......I rather get her into shape and really get her solid walk/trot. I swear I could do an Intro level test with her this year! LOL! But I won't. No showing until 2011. We will obviously be schooling Training level (I would think...!!!) by the end of this year, so waiting on Intro will be the best thing. And then she will be five. I rather not rush her AT ALL. There is plenty of time, and I have to remember that, even if she is the Smartest Mare Ever. LOL! Super Filly has become Super Mare!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Odds and Ends

Make somebody happy today. Mind your own business. ~Ann Landers

I just love that quote. X-D And it applies so aptly in so many life situations lately......LOL!!!!

Life is good. Work is good. The ponies are doing well. Not much to update about this week. However, lately the weather has been great, so much of the snow is gone. Some of the frost is out as well. YAY! This weekend is supposed to be lovely weather too, so I hope to get in lots of horse time. Daylight Savings is coming, so our conditioning will soon begin in earnest.

Also, I have been working hard to secure sponsors for the Maine Horse Association's three shows with a Standardbred division. We have seven classes this year! They include in-hand, 2-gait pleasure, 2-gait equitation, 2-gait championship, 3-gait pleasure, 3-gait equitation, and 3-gait championship. So far we have four secured sponsors and three more that say they will sponsor but have not sent a check yet. It is great to be able to provide this breed division for the Maine horse community. I hope we have a great turnout and show off our STANDARDBREDS from MAINE! Whooo! :D

And my PSA for the day...wear your helmets folks! I am sure the majority of you have heard about Courtney King-Dye's accident. While I do feel bad for her and her family, this is what happens when one is not protected. WEAR A HELMET! Evey time, every ride. They are not just for us lowly amateurs, they are for everyone! Thankfully another dressage rider Heather Blitz is launching a helmet awareness campaign. It is about time all these fancy pants riders realize that there are fatal consequences from choosing fashion over safety. I know I sound harsh, but seriously! It is sad that so many riders think they are invincible. And it is NOT true that top hats are required for upper level dressage....see USEF rulebook DR120.4. :D

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2009 SPHO-NJ Banquet!!!

Sunday, February 21 was the 2009 Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey (SPHO-NJ) banquet! It was held at Freehold Raceway and it was SO. MUCH. FUN!

I flew into Newark the day beforehand. It was such a cheap flight and much easier than driving 8+ hours. The flight itself was just under an hour. My friend HG picked me up and I stayed with her and her husband J for the weekend. Ten of us all went out to eat on Saturday night, which was fun. I was in the beginning stages of my sinus infection, so I felt pretty crappy, but I did not let it stop me from having SO MUCH FUN!

H and I woke up early on Sunday to get to Hay Fever Farm to ride. You have GOT to see the website....this farm where she boards her gelding JB is out of control gorgeous! I am so jealous!!!! LOL! I got to ride JB and she rode one of the farm's horses. It was really fun and I am thankful H gave me the opportunity to ride her horse. He is a sweetie (except for the whole face brushing thing.....LOL). I hope I did not look like too much of a fool in the unfamiliar forward seat jumping saddle, short(er than I am used to) stirrups, and mounted on an unfamiliar horse! :)

From the barn, we headed to Freehold around 10AM to set up for the banquet. It took MUCH longer than we expected (I think we were there for about five hours...???) but it was all worth it in the end. The awards were gorgeous, the Chinese auction items were great, and the tables looked so good! We spent most of our time doing the balloons for the table.....oh what a PIA! LOL! But see how nice it all looked....

This was my table...


We ran out of the weight things for the balloons and H and I ended up filling balloons with water. Oh, too funny. SPHO-NJ bought our lunches for us, which was a very unexpected but delicious treat! I had such a good time helping out. It is tough to be so many miles away (I live in Maine, which is quite a haul from NJ!) and not be as active of a member as I would like to be. :( But I do get to go to NJ twice a year for now.....once for the banquet and later in the year for the National show!

Anyway, we headed home and got all cleaned up from the barn and dressed for the banquet. We had to do some last minute details at home, but we got back to Freehold around 5PM. The banquet itself was fun, even though there was SO many awards and SO many auction items (this year we had over 60!!!) It did take a long time, but it was OK. I think having a sinus headache made it harder for me to concentrate! LOL! I won two things in the auction...a subscription to Horse News (I think it was called...) which is a local NJ paper. I gave it to H! LOL! I also won a "Boney Bonez" dog treat basket. This was funny, because the night before, H and I made up the two Boney Bonez baskets at her house! LOL! My dog Lucy was very pleased to have the yummy treats.....I had to leave the cute wire basket at H's though, since it would NOT fit in my carry on with the ribbons and trophies! :( Oh well. As H's dog Jessie proved, Boney Bonez are like doggie crack! ROFL! :) Funny story there....

I got to meet John Duer, the person who gave Reva to me! That was cool, seeing as I have only talked with him on the phone. :) My "date" was J.Brennan....LOL! Not really, he and I just happened to be the odd ones out at our table of ten, so H joked that J was my date. He looks pretty impressed with the entire thing, huh??? LOL!!!!

I also made another "Year in Review" slideshow of all the pics members sent to me. It came out pretty good, with the theme of versatility and some fun songs. You can view it here. It was shown on all the simulcast television sets around the room. If you look closely at the photos showing the tables and balloons, you can see the TV's!

Also here was the USTA article.

After dancing and having a good time with everyone, we left pretty late. I remember that I got to bed around midnight, I think. All in all, it was a great, if tiring, weekend. H brought me back to the airport on Monday morning and I was back in Maine by lunch time. A big thank you to H and J for keeping me as their house guest for the weekend! Enjoy the pancakes!!! ;-D

Dreamy won six 2009 year end awards from SPHO-NJ:
  • Champion Combined Training
  • Reserve Champion Dressage
  • Fourth place 2-gait Senior Horse
  • Fourth place 3-gait Senior Horse
  • Fourth place Demos,Expos, Parades award
  • Sixth place Versatility
(Senior Horse does not refer to the horse's age, but that she has won more than 12 blue ribbons...it is like the "open" division).

Here is the combined training award...


Here is the dressage award...


I love being a member of SPHO-NJ. Not only is both the National show and year end awards program outstanding, I have made some really great friends. Unfortunately, they are all down in NJ! But FB and email connect us despite the distance until I can visit again!

All pics taken by Vicki Wright! :)

Lots of gorgeous awards!

H and J.....such a cute pic!

Best pic of RP with TF's tiara! LOL!

Here is another of R with H this time...

A shot of our loot! LOL! That is me on the left...most of it is H's though. She and JB were amazing this past year! :)

Cute pic of H and I. You can tell how tired and sick I am. :( I drank lots of water all night!!!

This is a great series of pics where we all decided to go dance behind J. LOL! He is trying to pretend we are not there....

Love you all, my NJ horse friends! <3

Education is good - NEDA Flextime and SMDA clinic

Not only am I signed up to work with Reva with Chris Lombard in June, but I have also been accepted to ride Dreamy in two NEDA Flextime lessons this year! WHOOT! I am again riding with Gwyneth MacPherson at Pineland Farm in New Gloucester as I did last August. I am really looking forward to that! Also I am riding with Jennifer Wilson-Horr of Cedar Hill Farm in Springvale. I can take my two lessons anytime this spring/summer.

Plus, I sent in my application for the SMDA clinic with Heather Blitz! I have not yet heard if I got a spot though, as the closing date is not until March 31. The clinic is May 1-2 at Pineland Farm and of course I would ride Dreamy. I really hope I get to ride with Heather! I am hoping that if I get a spot, I will then try to ride the next month with one of my NEDA instructors and then the other the following month. It will be like having three dressage clinics for three months! LOL! And of course, I hope to work at least bi-monthly (but preferably weekly) with my super instructor Judy T!

It is funny how much riding education means to me lately. I LOVE taking clinics and lessons and learning as much as I can. I know in the past two years my riding and equitation has improved dramatically. :)

Where did February go...?

Whew! Where did February go!? Not that I am complaining, because it is not my favorite month here in Maine, but this year it seemed to go especially fast!

I had big plans for February school vacation...but everything came to a grinding halt when my son came home Friday before vacation with a fever of 102. :( So, I spent the majority of vacation taking care of the little guy. It ended up being a double ear infection and nothing very serious, but still, all of our fun plans to go ice skating, to the movies, etc. went down the drain. And of course, I only got to ride twice the entire time. But hey, I am a mom first, so it is all good.

Both rides over vacation were great. Dreamy is well trained at this point and all I really need to do is get her in shape this next 6 weeks and we are good to go!

Then of course, not to be outdone by my son, I had to get sick! LOL! Only I was not as easy...I ended up with a nasty sinus infection and ended up missing most of the following week, our first week back at school after vacation. UGGGG! But thankfully the doc finally gave me antibiotics this past Friday and I am feeling 100% better.

Geez, what a fun last two weeks of February! :P

But now that March is here, the long slow miles of conditioning begin. :D Daylight Savings begins in less than two weeks, so weekday riding will become MUCH easier. Dreamy is sporting a new trace clip and will be getting shoes at the end of the month (well as long as Mother Nature continues on her mild streak...) The weather has been pretty agreeable around here. Hopefully when my instructor's outdoor ring is ready, we can start LESSONS!!!!!!! :) YAY!

Sparky is doing very well...she is shedding like crazy of course. She lost 99% of her long Cushing's coat last year, so I am hoping she sheds out again like that. In the past, I have had to body clip her in May, but last year for whatever reason, her coat looked almost normal. YAY! Her weight is excellent and I am super pleased with her body condition for age 28. The only complaint I have is why do older horses have to get such gunky eyes!? It seems like every single day I have to wipe out dried gunk! It is clear and not anything serious. My vet says it is because older horse's tear ducts often do not work as well as they age and can become clogged. They are not clogged, but I just hate seeing her eyes crusty each afternoon. :( It is a sign of her age, and I hate it!

I have been asked about how Reva is doing. :) She is growing like a weed! LOL! I bet she will hit 17 hands. I have not measured her lately, but I ought to. Her bit is now a size 6" and her browband is oversize. She is one big girl! She had a cap that was stuck back when we did teeth floating on November 19. Plus, she has a lot of things going on in mouth, with teeth erupting and such. She did an awful lot of drooling for the first few months I owned her. After her cap was removed, it did seem to hinder her chewing slightly. But within a week to 10 days, she was not dropping nearly as much grain as before the floating.

We are all signed up for a clinic this spring with Chris Lombard on June 13. He is not a crazy Natural Horsemanship trainer....I am not really a "NH" person myself. LOL! Obviously, I believe in working with your horse to build trust, communication, and all that. But I like Chris and think working with him and Reva first in hand and then under saddle will be beneficial. I am going to try to get her off the farm to my instructor's beforehand, but this might be her first trip off the farm here. We shall see!

Here's hoping the weather continues to improve and riding will resume in full force! This is the time of year when I always start getting anxious to ride, ride, ride! LOL! We have had plenty of time off and are ready to gear up for our first show of the year in April. Thankfully my mares are not "prissy" show horses.....LOL! Dreamy will be in great shape without needing any fancy indoor, she does not need "limited" turnout but instead gets to be a muddy mess in 12-15 hour turnout, and I don't have to do anything more than a trace clip to get her ready to work. I don't know what I would do if my horse was more high maintenance than that. :D Fancy and prissy pampering does not equal ribbons!!! ha ha ha ha