Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to survive winter with horses, part 3

Well, Denny Emerson has given me some motivation this winter.

I usually tap out on winter and just trudge through, but I'm teaching more this winter than ever before, so I know I have to keep my "kids" (I use the word "kids" loosely, since my students range from 9-50something) entertained, especially when the weather is too crappy to jump, or the footing too messy to cross your own tracks too many times.

Like I said, with Denny's tips for kids, I've gotten some ideas to challenge us without stressing out our horses or our footing!

Nancy and Anna have both had bareback lessons- I didn't manage to get a picture of Anna, but here's Nancy, riding bareback for the first time! On Vanna, no less! They had a great ride with a little bit of trotting thrown in, and Nancy had to battle some typical Vanna-tantrums sans saddle.

And, because I enjoy terrorizing my "big kids" as much as I enjoy terrorizing my "little kids," I made Nancy do around the world, which she may have enjoyed a little TOO much...

Another challenge for the winter will be crafting fake ditches out of a brown tarp and a "liverpool" out of a blue tarp. I can't give Denny all the credit for this one, Amy made me and Stacy and Megan do this in our lesson a couple weeks ago, but I liked it, so I stole it.

You can tell that Major and Oliva were quite concerned about the ditch. Not.

I also made Jess and Gracie play with the tarps one day. Gracie jumped like a gazelle over the first one, but then proceeded to canter ON THE TARP the next time, so I tried everything in my power to make it scarier, with little success. I spent the rest of the lesson trying to spook her with a tarp, and obviously, was very unsuccessful.

Another fun but slightly torturous task I've put my kids up to is drill team maneuvers. This actually worked incredibly well for Tori and Audrey and it was fun for Amanda and Shannon, as well. Maybe we're not the best at it yet, but whats winter for?! PRACTICE makes PERFECT!! (You might turn your volume down for this video... I'm really loud, if you didn't know...)

And what have I been up to, you ask?

Fence demolition. Because destroying things is one of my very favorite past times.

 Susan, Amy and I decided to make a couple jumps out of the left over fence pieces. Stay tuned.

There are a couple other things I hope to teach this winter, including some unmounted lessons. I plan on teaching a lesson for everyone on pace, unmounted lessons on things like wrapping legs, making sure we can all put our tack together correctly, bits and their purpose, different disciplines, stuff like that.

Any suggestions on what else I can teach this winter, mounted or unmounted, are greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 24, 2010

More of Denny's Goals for Kids

Who is this Denny dude and why does he matter?

“One of the 50 most influential horsemen of the Twentieth Century ...”
(The Chronicle of the Horse, 2000). 

The only rider to have ever won both a gold medal in eventing and a Tevis buckle in endurance. 

In 2006, Denny was inducted into the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Hall of Fame. 

Now in his 48th consecutive year of competing at the preliminary level or higher, Denny has achieved much success in the sport of eventing. 

With that...

38) Become the best ATHLETE you can be. Use all sports to jumpstart your phsical fitness and drive.
We could ALL benefit from a little more working out!

40) A fun one. Totally take apart a full bridle into its many parts, and put them on a table. Now, wearing a blindfold, put it back together.
Oh yes, we will be doing this. Just wait for those rainy weekends...

41) Learn a great deal about many different breeds of horses.
I couldn't get enough learning about different breeds when I was younger. I'm a wealth of useless knowledge about various breeds now. 

42) Learn the various parts of a horse.
More fun winter learning! Of course, we know all of these already, right?

43) Learn how to give at least an intramuscular shot. Work with your vet on whether you should give IV shots.
 This is a good thing to know, or at least make sure there is someone at your barn who can do it!

44) Learn various methods of getting even timid horses to load on horse trailers. Also, learn to drive a horse trailer, with horse, correctly and safely.
Another good thing to know, especially when we get so many craigslist type horses who don't know anything...

45) Learn how to use a dose syringe, whether "prepackaged" or one that you must mix up yourself, like bute tabs.

46) Learn how to clip a horse, full body clip, trace clip, bridle path, the works. (As in haying, expect to eat a certain amount of the by -product!!)
But don't learn this from me... because I'm horrible at clipping... (see Ari and Brandy's current clip jobs...)

47) Learn how to halter break a foal.
 Maybe we can borrow a foal...

48) Learn how to put on all kinds of wraps and bandages.
More winter learning...

49) Learn how to thoroughly groom ANY horse!

50) Learn how to set up a free jumping chute, and how to free jump your horse.
We can do this when the arena is done!

51) Learn how to pony one or more horses off the one you are riding.

52) Learn what screw in studs to use under which conditions, and learn how to put them in and remove them.
I'm working on this one, myself!

53) After any hard effort your horse has made, learn how to cool him out and get him to recover properly.
54) Learn how to gallop a horse, in balance, and at the appropriate speeds, both for conditioning work, and in a competitive situation.
We'll do this this winter, too!

55) Learn how to gallop a three day event horse over the steeplechase phase of a long format event.
I'm so looking forward to this part!

56) Learn how do deal with a horse in the 10 minute vet box at a long format 3 day event, between phases C and D.
Coolest. Experience. Ever. 

57) Start to stretch your limits---a little at a time---and it will stretch your self confidence. But push that envelope.
We've been hearing this a lot, haven't we?!

58) Ride a stallion. Alec Ramsey did. It`s cool to say (casually, in a matter of fact way) "When I was jumping this thoroughbred stallion the other day----"
It is pretty cool... but don't go looking for a stallion to ride, ride someone else's already mannerly stallion!

59) Play polo.
Broom polo when the arena is done!

60) Get your photograph taken with Mike Plumb, while the old fellow is still alive. It will be your one and only chance to be in a photo with someone who`s ridden in EIGHT Olympics!

61) Set up some sort of little business where you can make some money. Then you can take some financial responsibility for your passion, and not dump it all on your parents.
I did a lot of dog sitting and baby sitting when I was a kid!

62) Completely design and then set up show jumping courses, including lines with correct distances. Do it on paper, then transfer your ideas into reality on the ring.
This sounds fun, too!

63) Learn how to teach young or green horses to follow you up and down banks, through water, and over ditches. This desensitizes them from their fear/nervousness, so when you ask on their backs, they usually just go.

64) Learn how to operate all kinds of farm vehicles and tools safely, `Gators, Mules, weed whackers, skill saws, so if it needs doing, you can do it.

65) Teach your horse how to jump OVER, not into, a show jumping open water.
 We may have bad luck with this since our horses like to walk over tarps instead of jump them anyway!

66) Learn how to design and construct cross country obstacles.
If we build 'em, we have 'em!

67) Try to "make the riding team" at your school or college, as Bailey Sherran did here at U-Mass, Amherst.

68) Be there when a mare foals. Be able to help, if necessary.

69) Go foxhunting. Learn the traditions and etiquette. (Don`t pass the Master!).
Not for me, but good to learn!

70) Attend lectures on all kinds of horse related topics, like one by David Stackhouse on saddle fit and saddle making.

71) Volunteer at clinics, to set fences, fetch coffee, rake the track, whatever,

72) Learn the difference between correct and incorrect elements of equine conformation, hooves, fore and hind legs, and everything else, especially as it pertains to soundness and usability.

73) Again, like sleighing, not for those who live in Tahiti---- Take someone ski joring. Hitch the rope to your saddle horn, as I`m doing on Core Buff, or hitch to a harness, and pull yourself. Watch out for the snow plow!

74) Keep a diary of your riding activities. Years later, you`ll be glad you did.
At least write down what you did in your lesson so you can work on it when you're riding by yourself!

75) Always be sure that your horse has access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Especially check in winter that he can get at the water, that it`s not frozen, or too icy to get to safely.

76) Attend horse sales and auctions
It IS an experience... 


Monday, December 20, 2010

Denny's Goals for Kids, continued...

21) Whatever your sport, learn its history, riders, horses, traditions. Your sport didn`t just happen, ready made for your enjoyment. Learn more, be ignorant less!
Yes! This! Why do we do things certain ways? Why does XC come before stadium? What is the long format of eventing and why did it change? Stace- would you do a clinic for us?!

22) Learn how to properly lunge a horse. Know all about the requisite equipment.
Something we should all know. We can learn this over winter, too!

23) Understand, as Bowdoin graduate Alison Springer does, that becoming a top rider and getting a top college education, are not incompatible goals.
Yep. A college education=something to fall back on. I have TWO degrees, even!

24) Become involved, either as a volunteer, or paid, in helping to run shows or events. The perspective from "the other side" is very different.
Another thing we should all try to do!

25) Learn how to work horses in longlines.
Another thing we'll be learning this winter. 

26) Try to get the chance to be a scribe for a dressage judge. Even "towering figures" in the horse world will be happy to help you learn.
I bet this can be arranged, too...

 27) Just because these are listed as goals for "kids", realize that you have years to attain your goals.
Good thing, huh?!

28) See if you can get a job on a real ranch, doing real cattle work, some time while it`s still possible. This might be the most fun goal of all!
Working cattle is some of the most fun you'll ever have off a XC course. I'll work on this one, too.

29) Ride your horse all night, from dusk to dawn. Do it someplace where a car can`t hit you. It`s pure magic!
Or at least a moonlight ride, at least once!

30) Go swimming with your horse.
Or A horse. I got to swim a horse in the ocean in Mexico and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Put it on your bucket list. 

31) Teach your horse to jump into water.
Yeah, this is on Ari's list, too.

32) Learn to drive a tractor. It will add enormously to your usefulness around any horse farm.
Hey, Jerrrrrryyyyy....

33) Help with haying. You`ll LOVE it!!! (Yeah, right!!)
Yeah, right.

34) Try to spend time with a equine veterinarian. Some will let you drive around with them. Learn lots of basics, lameness, colic, wound care, as much as possible, because sometimes it`s just you and the horse, until the vet arrives.
This is one of the best ones so far.

35) NEVER think some manual labor type of task is "beneath " you. ALL the greatest horsemen and women have a towering work ethic. They can do everything on a horse farm.
This is so true!  Everything from weed whacking to cleaning stalls to exercising horses. You have to do it all. Ask anyone who owns their own farm. When everyone else is snowed into their house, who do you think is breaking ice off buckets and turning out and changing blankets?!

36) Teach your green babies that the "Ditch Troll" doesn`t really eat them for lunch! But be ready for the gravity defying launch, "just in case!"
We're all jumping ditches this winter, too!! GET READY!
37) Unlike most addictions, tackaholism isn`t bad for your health, just your wallet! Learn all about tack, how it fits, how it works, what`s essential, and what probably isn`t. Especially learn about saddle fit, both for your horse, and for you.
Yep! Why do you use the pads you use? What did I (or Kate) check for when they checked your saddle fit? Can you adjust all your tack correctly? Can you REASSEMBLE all your tack correctly? I see more winter learning!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Denny's Goals for Kids

I love this! Of course, some of these aren't entirely possible, but they're interesting and we can do as many as we can, right?

20) Try to emulate Becky Holder`s total commitment to self improvement, a striving toward excellence that won`t take no for an answer.

19) Create the kind of bond with your horse that Dorothy Trapp had with Molokai.

18) Learn all about bits, and how they work, and the principles behind the various kinds.
 (Why do you ride your horse in the bit you ride your horse in?)

17) Whatever your sport, go watch the very best riders, on the very best horses, at the very best competitions, and STUDY, ANALYSE, and EVALUATE, what you are watching. Become a STUDENT of your sport, not just a dum dum, as a famous trainer says!
(Study, analyze and evaluate ANY riders around you! Ask questions!)

16) Try, try, try to get to ride an APPROPRIATE horse or pony, that will LET YOU MAKE MISTAKES, while you learn.
(Most of us are good, here!)

15) Study--really study---the great riders, so that you have a picture in your head about how whatever it is you want to do, should be done. Another way to say this: Acquire GREAT role models, whatever your sport.

14) Ride in races, either flat or over jumps.
(Okay, maybe we can't really do this, but...)

13) Breed and raise a foal.
(Y'all are on your own here, unless someone decides they want a baby at the barn)

12) When that foal gets older, break him to ride.

11)Try a discipline totally unfamiliar to you, or a breed totally unfamiliar to you, like, perhaps, saddleseat.
(We can do this, can't we?)

10) Ride Western if you ride English, English if you ride western.
(We can do this, too!)

9) Take your horse for a sleigh ride. (This is a toughie if you live in the Bahamas!).
(Weeellll... maybe Major will volunteer for this...)

8) Learn how to determine distances between fences by developing an accurate 3 foot stride. Then, learn ALL the math. Know the normal distance in a bounce, a 1,2,3,4,5 stride line. Don`t be dependent upon a coach to have to babysit you.
(This. We're all learning this this summer. Count on it.)

7) Ride in a 100 mile trailride or endurance race. Or at least a 50 mile.
(Yeah, maybe not this, but we can learn about it!)

6) Show your horse or pony in fitting and showmanship classes.
(This could happen... be ready for it!)

5) Teach your pony to drive.
(Maybe we can learn how to drive already broke ponies this summer... good learning experience, I think!)

4) Clean your own stalls!

3) Ride bareback enough so that you are completely comfortable, on all kinds of terrain, and at all gaits. And, while you`re at it, learn how to get on bareback.
(We're riding bareback this winter...)

2) Start to develop an "independent seat", so you don`t bounce at the sitting trot and canter. Too hard? Then try out for your high school ski team, or swim team,or wrestling team, so you can learn what "hard" means.
(Yep, you should ALL be able to do this eventually!)

1) Learn about sporthorse and racing pedigrees.
(You should learn about different breeds and what they're good for... not sure it matters about the stallions, but...)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Its the most... wonderful time... of the year...

Well, for Ari it is, anyway.

I haven't ridden him in over a week and while irritating, I'm not all that worried about it.

Ari, on the other hand, thinks it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Photo credit Jess Lewis
(This is from fall, notice lack of "yak" outfit, but still!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Horse Trials, 2011

My tentative schedule for myself is this:

March 26: Open schooling at PWP
April 2: MTPC Learn to Event (coaching)
April 3: Open schooling (??)

April 8-10: Chattahoochee (Ari, N)
April 28-May 1: Rolex

May 7-8: Poplar Area Championships (Brandy, N)
May 27-29: May Daze (Brandy, T)

June 24-26: Midsouth (Ari, N)
July 8-10: Champagne Run (Ari, N)

July ?: Away show with kidlets, again, possibly Poplar July 30 (put it on your calendar, moms!)
Aug 19-21: Flying Cross (Ari, N)

I will either do Jump Start or Pine Top with Ari after that, depending on where we are in life.

And you can count on all of these changing before 2011 actually rolls around!

Why I hate birds, reason #8456

So, as you may rememeber from last winter, I often pony horses when its nasty and disgusting and awful outside.

I like all of my horses to know how TO pony, and how to BE ponied.

I figure its a useful skill and when its too cold to take off blankies, I'll often hop on one, pony another, then swap. We're all still learning, but its not a very stressful workout and can be done in the uckiest of weather.

It usually takes some plotting to figure out who will pony well with each other, how fast they walk, mares vs. geldings, those who neck rein, those who reliably move away from leg, those who only direct rein and will require a horse that is experienced ponying.

Today was an easy choice. Belle and Vanna both needed some exercise, they live in the same pasture and they're both S.L.O.W.

Belle is usually steady eddy, requires a pony club kick to move her up into her slowest jog and does way better with "woah" than "go." I wasn't sure if I'd ever ponied off of her before, and I didn't think Vanna had ever been ponied, so decided I'd ride the red head first since she had the height advantage. Of course, since I'm brilliant, I just picked feet, clipped reins to Belle's halter and jumped on right over her blanket. Bareback, yes. Always smart to teach a horse how to pony with no tack on, isn't it?

At least I was wearing a helmet.

No, nothing tragic happened, in case you're hoping for a story of bronc busting and craziness. We had a nice walk around the pasture, Vanna actually walked faster than molasses (although not MUCH faster than molasses, since if Vanna is slow as molasses, Belle is only slightly faster... maybe moves the same speed as honey?) and the girls did very well together. They even seemed to enjoy getting out to stretch their legs.

And then... we saw the newly-formed "creek" that was run off from the big hill we'd just traipsed down.

Let me explain for a moment that since we have no shelter in our pastures, many of our horses wear "combo" blankets- blankets that cover them from ears to tail. From EARS to TAIL. Meaning their MANE in hidden under a layer of 600 denier nylon, 200g of warming fill and a lovely liner. So when someone riding BAREBACK encounters an obstacle that MAY cause a horse to LEAP straight up and over, one MAY worry just a little, since they have nothing to grab onto.

Nope, nothing tragic happened there, either. Belle just slogged across the water like it was her job.

But as we crossed the creek, Belle turned her head, evvvvver so slightly to the left. She didn't spook. Just... noticed... something.

Vanna, ever the blond, just traipsed along in her own world. (Sounds just like her mom, doesn't it?!)

So, I looked at whatever it was that Belle was looking at. And I saw THIS:

Mmmm...hmmm.... not an EMU, this time, but Blue Heron. Peacefully perched about five feet from where Belle was walking. I looked at him and said "Hi Mr. Heron man, could you please just stay sitting down until we're WAAAAAAY over there?"

He nodded in agreement, waited until we were about... two feet in front of him... and did THIS.

Jerk. I all but threw myself around Belle's neck, hoping when she did something ridiculous I could stay ON long enough to remedy the situation.

And what did she do?



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Positive Brain Babble

I highly recommend all you eventing junkies watch this video. If its too boring for you to watch, here's some random, nonsensical notes from it.

Brain Babble:
We can't go more than 11 seconds without talking to ourselves.
We babble at the rate of 300 words per minute!

Creating positive emotion so we can ride with positive motions

The brain has a hard time hearing the world "not"- so "I'm not nervous" turns into "I'm nervous." Try "I'm confident" instead
Example: Close your eyes and do exactly as I say. "Do NOT think of a watermelon."

Avoid negative people! Trash talkers. Blah.

The letter C is the most positive letter- it starts all kinds of positive words. Cute, confident, calm, collected, cookies, cake, cool, clean... think "C"

Use commands with examples/images instead of just commands... use the mind to control the body.
Use images you can touch.
Use images that engage as many of your five senses as you can.
Images that are memorable.

Set attainable goals!

D is the least positive- dislike, discourage, disqualify..

Performance goals
Behavoir goals
Outcome goals

If I focus on performance and behavoir, I have a greater chance of achieveing my outcome.

Rules of goal setting:
when horses are concerned, write you goals in pencil
always voice you goal in a positive way
be prepared to modify goals on the fly!

If we maintain the perception of control, we can control our emotions

Gain, maintain, regain control

As equestrians- we have powerful memories than other sports.

Tough acting: Fake it 'till you make it. Calm, cool, collected. Mmmmhmmm....

Use a sound as a concentration cue-ex: dressage bell ringing (three C's!)
Use a place as a concentration cue- ex: start box (enter the start box, sing your song to make you feel good)
Use a motion as a concentration cue- ex: shorten your reins (shorten reins, lift and separate your shoulders!)

80% of everything you learn every day gets forgotten

How to survive winter with horses, part 2

I posted a facebook status the other day that said something to the effect of "I'm remembering why winters with a thoroughbred is trying, at best."

This came on the heels of riding my darling, wonderful and predictably unpredictable thoroughbred. I have to "ride the horse I'm sitting on" with him, and I usually decide the general idea of what we're going to do enough to pick "dressage saddle" or "jump saddle" and then alter that plan accordingly when I'm sitting on him. In the summer, he stays reasonably consistent, but in the winter- ALL BETS ARE OFF.

I decided to really spend some time playing with some lateral work the other day, since he was mostly quiet, fairly forward and in front of my leg. Well, Julia was walking her dogs and they came by, Ari could see them through the tree line. I let him stand and watch and when they went out of view, put him back to work.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Joke's on me. Gone is reasonably responsive TB and in his place is "flying, one-eyed, giraffe thing." *sigh*

So, we worked through that, but of course, every sound was a horse eating monster, every application of leg an excuse to do tempi changes, every gust of wind a chance to exhibit his Spanish-riding-school-worthy aires above ground, it was an interesting day.

With 15 different horses on my roster to ride each week, you never know what you're going to get when you bring one up.

Horses who are usually easy to catch are suddenly... not.

Horses who are sometimes hard to catch may become your best friend.

My very favorite, however, is when the steady-eddy, always trust worthy, shoves his nose in the halter quarter horse is grazing at the end of the pasture. You walk ALLLLLL the way down to catch Elmer, figuring you can just climb on and ride Elmer back to the gate. And then... Elmer lifts his head in a stately fashion, one you only see in professional pictures of thoroughbreds, pricks his ears, flares his nostrils and slowly his tail goes STRAIGHT up in an undeniable, and very undesirable, Arabian fashion and Elmer does his very best Pepe le Pew impression all the way up to the gate, leaving me standing at the end of the pasture with a halter, a cookie, and a long walk alone.

Another classic is when the normally-must-be-caught-with-a-cookie-or-bucket-of-grain horse gallops up to you as you unlatch the gate and comes to a screeching sliding stop toe to toe and nostril to nostril with you, seeming to say "Hey, Buddy! Time for a ride? Can't wait!" You tentatively slip the halter on and bring Fluffy into the barn to tack up. Fluffy stands stock still and never moves a muscle. You can almost see the glint of evil in Fluffy's eye as you tighten the cinch. You decide to put Fluffy in the round pen for a minute, where Fluffy trots around like a western pleasure pony, peanut rolling and never so much as twitching an ear. Never trusting Fluffy for a minute, you clip on a training fork... just in case... and climb aboard.

As soon as you settle into the saddle, Fluffy takes on a dragon-like quality and you could swear Fluffy is snorting flames. You proceed to try to work Fluffy down in a long trot to try to accomplish something, but all you've managed to do by the end of the ride is post yourself into a frenzied oblivion and Fluffy still sounds like she's going to spontaneously combust at any moment.

And then, of course, there is one that any horse owner will recognize. You go to catch your precious pony, and you can tell, just by looking, that Precious is a little wired today. As you lead Precious up to the barn, you feel like more like you're holding onto the end of the string attached to this:

than leading your normally fairly reasonable mount.

Once you manage to bring the kite back to earth and put Precious in cross ties, Precious suddenly appears larger than life, six feet taller than Precious' normal height of 15.2 and you're fairly sure that Precious has been switched out with a feral mustang from the range. You ponder why you bother to pay the bills that Precious racks up month after month, consider switching sports- from horseback riding to something much safer, like base jumping, cave diving, or even bull running.

After all, it costs more to maintain Precious than it costs to maintain your own life, Precious eats top notch, perfectly balanced and made only with the highest quality, human grade ingredients feed every day while you exist on Ramen and lunchmeat made from who-knows-what. Precious gets designer sneakers every six weeks while you wear the same boots you've had for going on three years and are held together by duct tape and a prayer. Precious gets expensive blankets that end up coated with more mud than you can possibly imagine and you buy your linens at Walmart. Precious gets to see the vet for every and any ailment and you only go to the doctor when you're fairly certain death is imminent. Precious gets everything Precious wants whenever Precious wants it and what do you get in return when you go out to ride Precious for 30 minutes three times a week?

You do a quick inventory- health insurance up to date? Check. Arrangements made for pets should I not return home? Check. Bills paid in case I end up in hospital? Check. Cell phone attached to body? Check. Helmet securely fastened? Check. Body protector? Check.

Then you give Precious a pat and do one of two things (it's like a Choose Your Own Adventure book... remember those?)

A) Tack up, haul yourself into the danger zone and go try to have a decent ride...
B) Put Precious' blanket back on, turn Precious back out and promise to ride one day when the frozen ground doesn't seem as... hard.

Ah, yes. Winter with horses... and its only just beginning!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My favorite thing to complain about...


This time, cold.

You learn ridiculous little tricks to stay warm when you're outside all the time in the winter. Since it's been below freezing the last three days, I've had to remember some of my favorites.

So, now, when you ask me "HOW can you ride in this?!" you'll know!

I keep my boots, chaps, hat, gloves, balaclava and neck gaiter in the office where its warm. Putting on cold boots automatically drops your body temperature and you have NO chance of warming back up!

Base layers! I wear long underwear pants, shirt and my balaclava, which is glorious.

If you spend time outside, you need. one. of. these. It can go under your helmet and will trap some heat, but I use it in conjunction with a fleece hat or helmet cover, and also with a neck gaiter.

WARNING: Wearing the balaclava will make you look like this at the end of the day:

If you put thick socks on, GREAT, but you need to have room to trap air, otherwise you'll be colder! I can wear my normal boots with thermal socks and keep my toes warm, but if I wear close fitting socks, I'm sunk.

BLOCK THE WIND. Seriously. I can wear a simple pair of wind pants and stay warmer than layering anything else. 

A good pair of winter gloves, and you're all set!

When all else fails? Break out the full chaps.

Oh, and for those of you who will, undoubtedly, ask me "WHY are you even BOTHERING to ride today?" I'll go ahead and give you my canned answer now... "Are you going to pay me to NOT ride your horse?"

Happy winter, y'all! If it'll stay above freezing and the sun will stay out, I may make it through this winter with limited whining! (Don't quote me on that...)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, now I've gone and done it...

I took Arizona on a hack today, since the ground was too hard to really ride, we just meandered along on a loose rein, me occasionally reminding him that we walk with PURPOSE! and when I put my leg on it really does mean "GO!"

So, as we were walking along, Arizona mentioned that he'd been talking to Taco (WHEN do they find time to talk?! I mean, really?!) and Taco had mentioned to HIM that Stacy often takes his dictations and lets him post on her blog. Well, apparently blogging is something really Ari is really excited about, he just never got a chance to do it because he says its too hard to type with hooves, he really needed someone with fingers to type for him. So, I told him I hadn't been blogging much since spring, and that really offended him. So, as we went along on our hack, he dictated for me and I promised I'd post it this evening for him.

So, without any further ado, Ari would like to review this summer for you! I took these words directly from his mouth, so I can't be responsible for anything he says. Also, he's a little ADD, but I think we all knew that.

"Well, its been a crazy summer for me, lots to do, places to go, people to see, but overall I'd say it was a successful one. If success can be measured by bags of carrots, I'd say I came out a winner, because mom does this great thing when we go to shows. She buys a giant bag of carrots and whenever I go back into my stall she gives me one. Or two. Or ten. It depends on things like if I was 'good' or 'brave' or 'okay.' Usually if she says "You were such a brave boy!" I get lots of carrots, which is really neat, because I'm usually really 'brave' on the phase she calls cross country. I don't know why she calls it that, but its where I get to run up and down hills and on grass and jump over trees and walls and things. Anyway, I try to be really brave, but sometimes I get distracted by things like noise or bright lights. Mom says I can't help it, though, since I only have one eye. Aunt Amy tells her that's silly and I just use it as an excuse, but really, it is distracting! Try running up and down hills with one eye closed... its really much more difficult than you think. Which is why I think I should get bonus points, I mean, I can do anything most horses can do, and I do it with a handicap.

Anyway, I digress. At the last show we went to, well, not the last one, because the last one mom sprayed me with glitter and we just trotted around in that stupid indoor sandbox with the radio blaring, the last one with the running and jumping, I did what mom called a "move up."

It was a lot of fun! I jumped jumps that were higher and I even had to jump out of the water over a log. I showed off how athletic I was that day because I wasn't running very fast, and its hard to jump when you're going slow. Of course, mom doesn't really understand that all the time, so I try to help her out. Oh, but speaking of water, I really don't like jumping into water. Mom has obviously never seen all the horrible things that lurk in the water.

You just have to be really careful when you jump into water. It could be really deep or some kind of creature could try to eat me. I like to take a really long time to check it out, but mom says that won't work when I start jumping higher. I always put my toes in the water, because she says I have to, something about flags, but then I stop to take a good look. Sometimes she hits me with that pink whip thing, which is rude, but I just ignore her and take a long look around anyway. You can never be TOO careful, you know.

So anyway, that last show was here in town. I got to spend a night at Aunt Susan's, which was really scary, because I was in a big field, alone, but I could see Brandy and she didn't seem too worried, so I just ate some grass and then the next morning we went over to Brownland. I LOVE Brownland. I got to do dressage there, and then stadium jumping. Mom rode me and Brandy and she told us both we were wonderful. She thinks Brandy is much better at jumping than I am, but I would like to point out that Brandy and I BOTH knocked two rails down, so I think we're both about equal. Of course, Brandy and I were talking on the trailer and we agreed that if mom would get out of our way more, we could jump better, but we try pretty hard to accommodate her errors because it makes her give us more carrots when we help her. I did pretty good in dressage, but Brandy didn't too half bad either. I guess I should give her some credit for being in the top six after dressage, because she actually really sucks at dressage. Well, we can't all be as good as I am. Mom says she needs to learn to be submissive, but I just fake it, so I've tried to tell Brandy about that, but she's too much of a hef-fer. Thats what mom calls her, anyway. I would never call her that to her face. She'd probably sit on me.

I tried to tell Brandy she looked really pretty in dressage, but I don't think she believed me. I just can't win with that mare!

I got to go home that night, which was awesome, because mom couldn't catch me the next morning. When she finally did, we went to Percy Warner for cross country. I got to watch Brandy do cross country- she made it look really easy, and since I was second I decided to make mom work for it a little bit. She quit riding me to the fake ditch thing, so I ran away from it. I wasn't scared, I just didn't really feel like it. Then I jumped everything else, but the was a big brushy thing that was near the end and I was kind of tired, so I ran away from it, too. But other than that I WAS really brave. It didn't matter how big the jumps were, I can jump anything. Brandy got a ribbon that day, it was white, I think, but since I outsmarted mom on cross country, I didn't get one, but mom says I did good anyway.

Before that, mom took me to Poplar Place, in Georgia. Its one of my favorite resorts to go to. The stalls are huge and cushy, and I can see ALL my neighbors and there is lots of ventilation and shade and the footing in the arenas is really neat. This time, the cross country wasn't on grass, though. I mean, I could see the grass, but the footing was kind of crunchy and smelled a little like the peanut butter crackers I like to eat. Mom said I was REALLY brave at Poplar Place, and I got to take home a red ribbon, too! On cross country, mom rode me really hard to the first two jumps, so I couldn't stop like I wanted to, and then at jump 3, I really thought I was going to get to run away from it (!!), but she spanked me with that hot pink whip thing REALLY hard. Well, I showed her, I started running as FAST as I could and I jumped everything she pointed me without even thinking about it! I thought maybe I was scaring her because she kept making this weird noise, but looking back at it, I really think she was laughing. I just kept running and running, even down the big hill, and then I thought I was going to get to run UP an even bigger hill, but she turned me through the woods. It was really hot that weekend, but I got lots of carrots after cross country, so I must have done good. Mom says my dressage wasn't very great, but it must have been decent, since I was in second.


Before stadium it started raining like crazy!! I could tell mom was worried when the lady came by and said they may have to cancel it, but we ended up jumping anyway! In the rain! Do you know how hard it is to concentrate on jumping over things when Nessy could be hiding anywhere in the arena? All that water. I jumped well, though, when mom let me. She let me go forward which is what I've been telling her all along, but sometimes she wants me to go REALLY fast and then I get what Aunt Amy calls "flat" and I hit rails with my feet to punish her. Mom should really know better.

The show before THAT was a farm in Louisville. I went to that farm, once, a long time ago when I still lived at Murray State. I think Mom called it Flying Cross. I didn't get to do much that weekend, though, because my foot REALLY hurt. Mom tried to make me feel better, but I just couldn't make myself push though the pain. I tried really hard though, for Mom, since she kept putting my foot in that bucket with warm water in it and giving me carrots even though I hadn't even done anything! I love going on road trips, though, so I guess it wasn't all for nothing! And I got to hang out with Elby. He's really nice, even though he chews on wood. Sometimes my best friend Sam chews on wood, too, I've tried it, but its not very good.

In July, I was at Poplar again, but this time a whole bunch of my friends from the barn came! Piggy- the little dude- was there, and my old girlfriend, Moose! Jazz came (I'm a sucker for spots, but I can't let her know I like her because mom says I'm not allowed to have a girlfriend right now, plus, I think Brandy and I are kind of "talking") and so did my buddy Noodles, I haven't seen him in awhile, but we rode together in the trailer and talked the whole way! Audrey was also there, and  Aunt Amy came with Elby and Baby Flo, too! I hadn't seen Elby in awhile, but he said he was better than ever, so maybe he was on vacation?

It was an awesome weekend and I think Mom had a really good time. The best part was seeing all my friends riders have such a great weekend! They all learned a lot and thought the resort, Poplar, was really cool, too! I got lots of love that weekend, but some of the kids spent more time with that short little horsewithpaws, Tex. He makes loud noises when there is food around, and that kind of annoys me. I'm very sensitive, you know. But Aunt Amy seems to really like him, and I don't want to make her mad. Mom says she'll take away her stirrups. I don't know what that means, but I might not get carrots if it happens, so I'm nice to the horsewithpaws. He is kinda cute. I guess.

Even before that, we went to Indiana! That was a fun trip too! Not only was Baby Flo there, but big Flo came and so did Taco! I got to stay next to Flo in the resort- it was a little more like camping than a resort, but I love Flo because she's really easy to annoy! I kept making funny faces at her. I think she made faces back at me, but I couldn't really tell.
Penny Oaks was kind of like a trail ride with jumps when I went out on cross country! I was very brave there, too, but I did decide not to jump the house looking thing. I thought I saw something off to my right and I wanted to check it out.

It was too bad I did that, though, because mom said I would have had a blue ribbon after my dressage. I'm not so sure about that, it sounded like there was a war going on while I did it!! But luckily I'm kind of used to the sound of gun fire, but maybe there were cannons, too. Who knows, with a show grounds next to an army base! Show jumping there was kind of twisty, but I jumped everything! Mostly I was really excited for my friend Megan and her horse, Big Flo. Mom said they did something really good, something about Training level. I think maybe she cleaned something at Training Level? I don't know how you get a cross country course clean, but I think Flo and Megan did it. Taco helped, if I heard correctly.

In May, mom took me and Brandy to the Kentucky Horse Park together! We had a really long trip there, but thats when I started thinking that maybe Brandy was interested in me because she tried to get really close to me the whole way there! She ended up just kind of sitting on me, but its hard to snuggle in a trailer, so I'm just assuming that she was hitting on me. She's really forward like that, she wouldn't just bat her eyes at me like some mares, she just pushes her big... er... lovely... rear end in my face and kind of tells me how it is. "Me and you buddy, we're a thing. Don't let me catch you looking at any other mares." So, like I said, I think we're talking... whether I like it or not. It's okay, though, because she is kind of cute with that long forelock and that apple bottom...ahem... sorry...
Ugh...I was hoping mom wouldn't pick that picture... I SWEAR I'm not looking at that Irish mare, I'm just gazing off into the distance, but Brandy insists that grey was in my line of sight. *sigh* Women.

Anyway, I think Mom told you about MayDaze already- so I guess my job is done here!

Oh, Mom would yell at me if I didn't mention this, but she got one of those big horse box things and the thing that pulls it. I think she calls it a rig? I was worried for a while after she got the big smelly puller thing because she calls it Truck Charming. I think its a fairy tale reference, like Prince Charming, maybe? I was worried she would love it better than me, but I don't ever see her giving him carrots, so I think I'm okay.

I like her horse box thing, though, mostly because she gets to keep all her stuff in the front, so my clothes and brushes are always in there when she needs them!

Anyway, if you liked my blog entry, you should give mom some carrots to give to me. Success is only measured by carrots, remember, and I want to be successful. I'm going to try to keep mom on her toes and keep updating this thing this winter, because she has opposeable thumbs, and its such a waste that she doesn't use them to type!"