Monday, January 31, 2011

And the best part...

about lessons when you're out of shape?

The "good sore" you get when you know you've worked hard.

Also, I was told to put my heels down in my lesson today. Regression, anyone?

My response to that was to drop my heels in the most "eq princess" technique I could muster, trying to be a little obnoxious.

The response? "Yeah, thats good."


I now have shin splints.

Midwinter lessons

I hauled to Amy's for lessons with Letha today.

Brandy and Ari were both good ponies, I wasn't really wanting to jump because I feel totally out of shape and mostly pretty useless, and my ponies are out of shape and... basically I'm just unmotivated.

Anyway, Amy convinced me I needed to jump. I had a really good warm up on Ari, Amy told me he looked stiff and I remembered that he can stretch... guess we missed the long and low the last couple rides since he was busy doing tempis and bucking everytime I put my leg on. We did some lateral work... I need to do MORE when I ride because when he gets it, its good, but a lot of it is just half hearted. Anyway, he felt good in warm up and I think we got "the ride" several times jumping. I was still really "meh" about jumping as a whole today, but Amy set up some technical but not hard exercises that were a lot of fun and made me feel like we'd gotten something accomplished.

I rode him in the baucher today, wondering if he would like the stability. I still have issues with his head tossing out of old habit and it had all but disappeared in the happy mouth that I was riding him in and resurfaced after his lay off this summer because of the abscess. So now I'm trying to sort out what needs to happen to fix it. I've been working to make him more accepting of the bit and that has made a VERY LARGE difference, but I think there is some connection with his mouth. He will go in anything, but goes happily in only some things. His current dressage bit in a loose ring single jointed snaffle but I think I need a hair more for jumping. I probably need to try a single jointed happy mouth or maybe a single joint eggbutt. Oddly, I think he's happier in the single joint.

Anyway, Brandy was also good, she's really relaxing over her back and slowing herself down. She's beginning to reach for the bit as long as I can ride her from my leg. Amy's focus today was getting her to accept a connection from both hands, thinking about how slooooow we can go and pushing her shoulder over to make her "let go" through her body. Probably our best flat work we've had in a really long time, and frankly, she was great to jump. First time in awhile that it wasn't a struggle. I actually had several moments that all I had to do was sit up and she rebalanced herself, which is a big deal for her- usually she just pulls and gets lower. Our last fence was brilliant. She was pushing up onto the bit, I put on my leg on and had the "bungee" feel Amy always describes- adjustability! I've felt it and I know it really exists!

So anyway, I'm glad I went for lessons, I felt like I got a lot out of them considering its the middle of winter and we're all out of shape.

Both horses need a trace clip ASAP, but right now they're happy and naked and muddy and being "real horses" for one more day. Temps drop into the 30's tomorrow night so they'll be back in blankets. I ordered Ari's new sheet tonight- got a deal I couldn't resist. I'd decided to sell his current Rambo sheet moments before (75", no fill, attached neck, 2 seasons old, $200 if you're interested) and when I was trying to find a good price on a new one, I snatched a new Rambo Optimo for way less than retail. Lucky find, I guess! Love the design though, and optional liners. It comes with a 300g and I will probably buy him a 100g so he can have an in-between his medium and nothing at all.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011- the year of TRAINING!

Since I'm not riding much (I hate winter) I've been doing a lot of planning, catching up on bookwork, computer stuff etc. etc. Fortunately, it's supposed to be REALLY WARM this weekend, so I'll hopefully be teaching my brains out, even if it means hauling everyone to Triune to ride. We'll be SO GLAD to be on horseback!

So, I've been debating posting my goals for the year, because something I read or listened to early this year said something about not setting goals that are "unreachable." Not in the sense of totally out of the realm of possibility, you know like "Ari and I will run ROLEX this year!" but things that will be disappointing if you don't reach them for some reason.

Anyway, what fun is that? Here goes.

My first goal for the season is to take Brandy training at MayDaze. She will do the Area 3 championship at Poplar, a tough novice, and then move up. After that, the focus on Brandy will be selling her (if she doesn't sell before that, of course), but if she is around for another HT, I will probably take her out again.

My next goal is to train with at least 3 big name riders. Walnut Trace is bringing in Jennifer Wooten Dafoe in March, so assuming it is cost effective, I would love to ride with her. Stacy and Amy, in conjunction with MSEDA are planning a Hilda Donahue clinic in May, so there is 2 and as many of you have heard me prattle on about, I'd really like to ride with Becky Holder this year, as well. Indiana Eventing Association is hosting her in Aug, so that is on my schedule, if not a trip to GA, where she is living.

My goal of training with Amy every two weeks this winter has been a bust, but I'm hoping to stick with that going into nicer weather.

My last goal is to be training Ari to get ready for him to go training. My very, very, very, very tentative goal is to try to bring him out at Jump Start in Sept. He will probably only have 4 or 5 novice runs at that point, and possibly a schooling show or two, so it will just depend on how he's developing through the summer. If Jump Start isn't the right one for him to move up at, he'll get a couple more N runs through the fall and I'll move him up at MayDaze next spring. He does things on his own timetable, so I have no reason to rush it. I want his first go at training to be with the utmost confidence from both of us.

Some other points of interest in 2011:
Hopefully, at least two of the students I'm training will be doing their first recognized horse trial at Maydaze! Anna will do her first horse trial there on Smurf, and hopefully, that will be Jessica's first BN with Gracie, as well. I'm hoping that Olivia will also get to take Major and I will have 3!

I am also hoping to take my students in training to two "away" shows this year! I'm looking at Leg Up Horse Trial at Hoosier Horse Park as one, this would be July 2, and would be instead of the schooling show at Poplar. The fear of the unknown may win out, though, and we may go back to Poplar. I don't want to haul 5 hours without knowing everyone is going to have an AWESOME weekend.

The other "away" show we'll go to, hopefully, is Octoberfest at Kentucky Horse Park. Can't beat the KHP as far as atmosphere and as long as everyone is still gung-ho about riding after a long summer, it would be a GREAT weekend.

ANNNNND... add one more goal to my checklist. Lee Ann from Indiana just announced the addition of a long format Novice 3 day to the IEA HT. My goal was to do a T3D with Ari in 2010, put way off by the whole "losing an eye" thing, so I won't have my qualifying rides in to do a long format this year, but I WILL next year- be it a late season T3D with Ari or an early season N3D with Ari, I will be training to run a long format in 2012!

So, what are your goals for 2011?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The "good" side of winter...

My horses both come when I call them, now, since all I do is change their blankies and feed them cookies.

Don't get me wrong, I wish I was riding them, but I'm not even THAT upset that they're on vacation. When I hauled the two of them to Triune to ride last week, they were both fabulous, so I really think the rest is good for them, recharge their brains, not stress their bodies...

They'll come back better than ever for the spring season and it won't take long to get them back to where they were.

I've been invited to ride in the indoor around the corner from us, so I think I may try to haul them a little more often to do a little dressage school here and there, but in the end, I've made it this far with both horses not having had an area for the last four years, and they're doing just fine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And then.. my house got broken into...

I think I'm a little shocky.

We were really lucky. Really really.

Robin was gone to work all day, I was house sitting at the Efingers and I had my dogs with me, so we weren't home. Yazoo was in her crate (unfortunately- she probably would have been a pretty good deterrent) but Poe was out in the house. Yes, a 45lb Husky was in the house, VISIBLE and no doubt waiting at the back door as they kicked it in- not that she's aggressive, but there would have been some noise, for sure- and they still broke in. They pried the front screen off, but couldn't get in the window- when that didn't work, they went for the window above the sink- no go- and then they just kicked in the back door, which is all glass. They tracked muddy footprints all over the carpet and, of course, there is glass everywhere. They got into Robin's room first, snagged her little flat screen and rummaged through her things, but it doesn't appear that they took her jewelry, they left her DVD player, nothing besides the TV seemed to be missing.

They hit my room and the guest room and found nothing of interest- I keep some (substantial) cash in my room and it was not very well hidden, so I'm really lucky it didn't disappear. Judging by the footprints, they were within six inches of discovering it. Needless to say, its now VERY well hidden. The only other thing of value in my room is my printer and it was untouched.

They also got Robin's nice camera from downstairs, but left the lenses. They tried to grab the Wii but left it sitting on the floor connected amongst glass and mud.

Of course, Poe got out, but she stuck close enough to the house that Robin caught her pretty much as I was pulling up.

So, aside from some damage, only the TV and camera missing. We're lucky they didn't vandalize or steal a lot more and I'm infinitely grateful they didn't find my cash. That would have been crushing. Robin and I both had our laptops with us (that would have been the next worse, we have so much on those), I didn't leave the Efingers all day, so had I not been house sitting, I would have been home... would that have stopped them? Yeah, probably, but in the case that it HADN'T, I'm glad I wasn't home. Because I wasn't home, my dogs weren't there- they also would have been out- but who knows how that would have ended- maybe they would have been enough of a hassle and they wouldn't have broken in- if they'd have gotten out I can't imagine what I would have done, especially if something happened to them. The husky has some street smarts, so I wasn't as worried, but my heart still stopped when I found out she was missing. You can only assume the worst.

The police officer was very nice, he did a good job and was able to get some partial prints off the Wii- hopefully it will help him. Apparently there has been some activity of this kind in our neighbor, so we've had a private security service patrolling and, ironically, there was a neighborhood watch meeting this evening with about 8 police officers in attendance. He did assure us that they have a suspect, the break-in was very similar to the others that have been happening in our area so they have no reason to believe it was not the suspects. They're basically just waiting to get everything sorted out to apprehend them. (I sound so CSI, don't I?)

Amy talked me down on the way from Efingers to my house and kept me from totally freaking out and Robin's bosses all came to make sure everything was okay. Porter's parents drove in from Portland and helped us clean up and kept us company until Porter arrived, and he and I barricaded the door with a fence panel from the backyard (convenient, no?) and it sounds like Robin and Porter are planning to stay there overnight. I left Yazoo with them because she is the best alarm system we have and I have my guys, obviously, and Poe with me, since our backyard is going to need to be shop vac'ed to get all the glass up- she can walk Yazoo and Poe can enjoy the fenced in backyard here. So I'm feeling pretty comfortable- I have six dogs with me.

Regardless, I do really want to learn to shoot now. Jerry and a couple other of my adult friends have mentioned it a time or two and there's no time like the present, seems like a good idea to have a hand gun in the house and I know most of my friends will agree. A baseball bat by the bed, too.

Right now I'm just trying to de-stress and debating between crying, vomiting and just falling asleep right here.

So much for boring, eh?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here's a great post from ecogold...

Included is a great video of Karen O'Connor that is a Must See.

Anyway, Ecogold's 14 secrets of success can be applied to anyone doing anything. Riders, trainers anyone in the world who is just trying to be successful at anything- life, job, school... study up!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Facebook posts.

Sometimes I post a bunch of things on facebook in a short amount of time and then I think about how random I am and then I laugh at myself.

For example:

Gio has his medium weight blanket on and Shea is borrowing his no-fill sheet. And she look hilarious. Just sayin'.

Just remembered the incredibly bizarre dream I had last night where Beamer (the first horse I started for Anita) changed into a person and I recognized him instantly out of nowhere... Crazy much?
loves that my dogs not only cuddle up to me, but they also cuddle up to each other.

I'm looking for a dresser for my room- would like a white six drawer style, but am not totally picky. Anyone have anything?

Adam Porter's dog has the stinkiest farts ever.

Anyone need a sweet little boy beagle???

At least they're mostly dog themed?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Today... was one of those days....

You know, the day where you DRAG your horse through the gate as slow as molasses, and as soon as he hears the latch drop back down in place and realizes that you've separated him from his friends... he proceeds to grow six inches and piaffe the whole way up to the barn, tail flagged, breathing fire, the whole nine yards.

ADD to that, of course, that as you're leading your piaffing monster up the driveway, all the other horses are trying to figure out what is coming to eat your horse, so they start galloping madly up and down the pastures, bucking and farting and kicking up their heels, which makes your piaffing, fire-breathing, now-17-hand- monster of a horse even MORE animated.

I decided not to ride my horses yesterday, since the footing was a little soft, and I'd ride them today after it had a chance to dry a little.

I got on Brandy first, and it was overcast and a little breezy, but not bad at all. We had a nice ride, she was a good girl, really enjoying some lateral movements and finding a nice little canter stride. I was looking forward to riding Ari next.

I had to take a break to try to figure out what was going on with my cell phone and try to get my insurance information faxed over (unsuccessfully). When I came back out, the wind was WHIPPING across the fields and the temperature dropped some 10 degrees.


At this point I'd decided I was going to ride my horse, by God, and I wasn't going to NOT ride him. So, I drove down to his pasture, put halters on him and Sam and dragged them through the gate. Cue chaos.

Sam and Ari spooked at something at the same time, and in the mayhem, I dropped Sam's lead. Lucky for me, I thought, since Sam wouldn't go anywhere and Ari would have taken off up the field 100mph.

Hardee-har-har-har. I thought I knew them so well.

Sam realizes he's FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and goes off in a lovely passage (bad stifles, my @ss) and proceeds to catch the attention of the other goofballs turned out in the pasture he's now running free in.

While he and his four new friends we're showing off their finest upper level dressage moves, Arizona was sad that he wasn't joining in the fun and trying to rip my arm off. Added to THAT is the fact that he doesn't have a left eye. Ever try walking a piaffing monster that can't SEE you?? Ug.

I managed to get him drug through the gate and turned him out in the round pen and went back for Sam, who was glad to let me catch him after a little cat and mouse with him and Rocky and myself. I dumped him in the roundpen, muttering the whole way, reclaimed my horse and headed down the barn aisle.

So, I put Ari in cross ties and started grooming... and then the wind blew over an empty garbage can, which rolled down the aisle. Loudly. Then the garbage bag poofed out of the top of it, so it was loud and moving and swishing and coming directly at us...

Lucky for Ari, I saved his life by intercepting the garbage can and putting the big barn door down so nothing else would come after us. He seemed to relax a little and I got him tacked up without much excitement. I grabbed a longe line (I'm no dummy) and headed out to give him some play time before I got on him. He was actually pretty reserved on the longe line, so I untwisted his reins, took off the line and put my left foot in the stirrup.

As SOON as I did that... it started to rain. I looked up at the sky and pondered if this was a sign. You know, one of those days where every bit of cosmic influence is screaming "DON'T GET ON YOUR HORSE... DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200!!!" and I'm blatantly going along on my merry little way thinking "ponyponyponyponyponyponypony..."

So, I got on and headed out to the field... every time I was facing due west I thought I was going to be blown away... it was miserable. Ari was actually pretty good, but about five minutes into the ride I could tell he was getting more and more worked up, bless his little heart. I asked him to trot and he complied... and then started hollering. I can't tell you how long its been since he called in the middle of a ride... he was about as wound up as he could possibly be, but we managed to have a really decent ride. I just kept everything low key and easy- a good canter transition each way with a dozen soft, quiet, adjustable strides and thats all I asked for. A little bit of leg yield and shoulder in each way and he stayed pretty soft, round and submissive... good boy, lets go back to the barn since obviously someone doesn't want me to be ON you today for some reason.

We headed back to the barn... loose rein, both of us happy to be heading in that direction unscathed... and then the wind gusted, a tree creaked, some branches rustled... and Ari teleported about 15 feet in the other direction.

*sigh* No harm done, but goodness, what a freaking day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You've got to love it...

This is totally cute.

And it reminded me.

Cathy and I were coming in from Anna's lesson today and we saw Major playing with Bandit. Bandit is the heeler cross at the barn and has a tendency to chase horses when he's feeling goofy or something sets him off.

Well, he and Major were running amok today before Marie brought them in and we noticed as they ran down the fence line at top speed that Bandit was in the lead- MAJOR was chasing BANDIT! Then they turned around and Major was in the lead! They were undoubtedly playing.

As soon as they'd made a lap down and back, Bandit ducked under the fence, riled Bella up and then she and Major played chase back and forth up the pasture- running as fast as they possibly could, and then Bella showing her... athleticism... by bucking like a banshee at the end of the pasture. It was so fun to watch them just run and run and run.

If you ever get a day off and want to learn something, come to the barn in the morning, around feed time and stay until the last horse has been put in their stall for the evening. Just watch the horses. Watch how they interact with each other, who does what, where they go, when they go... you'll learn more about horse dynamics this way.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What a difference two years makes...

By some strange twist of cosmic fate, Megan, Hub, Amy and I happened to be all in the same place at the same time on New Years Day, so we did what we always do... ate food. We had a glamorous meal at the Subway in the Kangroo gas station.

Like I said, glamorous.

Anyway, in the midst of our hilarious lunch, I made reference to a picture that comes up in my scrolling photo screen saver first every time, since its the first picture in the first album in My Pictures folder and how ridiculous it is.

And I'm going to post it. Ready?

 Sept, 2008
Here's the slightly more hilarious part...
Not five seconds earlier, I FELL OFF when he refused this log.

Two years (of good instruction) later...

 Oct, 2010
Jumping around Novice (mostly) successfully.
 What a difference two years can make.
And its NOT that Ari was green or hadn't jumped bigger than that.

This is the year before the tiny log picture, jumping BN at Beech Grove.
 June, 2007
Which was before my confidence had sunk to rock bottom levels...

And then there is this epic-ness:
March, 2008
 Notice liberal amounts of mud from falling not once, but twice, that day.

 And since I'm posting old photos, I feel the need to post this, just for proof:
Yes, this is Ari jumping down into water. Willingly.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How to survive winter with horses, part 4


Since apparently Middle Tennessee is getting The Most Rediculous Weather Patterns Ever, it was like, 60 degrees and we had torrential rain and thunderstorms New Years night. It was a sloppy wet mess at the barn today, so besides Shannon's trail riding lesson, I had to cancel my lessons for the day.

I gave it some thought and since the day was, overall, pretty nice, I didn't want to deprive the kids their "horse time!" so I wrangled up some takers for an unmounted lesson.

We started with bridle races... I made everyone take their bridle all the way apart- all buckles unbuckled, flashes out of nosebands etc... and gave them a ten minute time limit. The 10 minute time limit came and went and we still didn't have our bridles back together. I was picky, of course, all the little leather flaps had to be in place, hook studs turned in, everything untwisted... and THEN... everyone had to name ALL the parts of the bridle and tell me what their bit was called. Once we got the bridles together we had to do all kinds of research to figure out what our bits were called... ahem...

 "I don't even know what this is!!"
"We have HOW long to put these together?!"
"Amanda, I know you think you're going to win, but you should probably understand that I'm going to win."
"I know you think that, Anna, but I'm a force to be reckoned with, so I wouldn't count on that..."
Nancy: If I just put it around my neck...
Tori: Its a good thing I have tiny fingers!! Total advantage!!

I think Amanda ended up winning the bridle competition, she definitely got it put together the fastest!! Great job, girls... we'll be practicing this one a lot, so I hope you remember how to do it the next time!

And then we learned about different bits and why we use them, the difference between leverage, curb pressure, single and double joints, elevator vs kimberwick and what a HANGING CHEEK SNAFFLE IS!

After that, we did a crash course in walking strides and how many feet a typical horse stride is... we practiced walking lines with noodles! Everyone picked it up pretty quick- even if we did have to use our fingers to count!

"That isn't a jump, Lauren, its a Noodle."
"Um... how many steps again?"
"1...2...3... and a half??"

Its always nice to learn, even when we can't be in the saddle! 

Arizona and Brandy each got a GIANT candy cane for Christmas. Arizona ate half of his then decided it was too much work, but Brandy, on the other hand, ate her whole thing, and loved EVERY BITE of it. I brought my camera out to get Ari eating his, but he was boring, so I didn't bring it for Brandy, but I wish I had! She. Was. Hilarious. She had pink slime flying everywhere and was smiling and slurping and flipping her nose up and bobbing her head. She is such a cookie hound.

And some more of Denny's goals for kids...

77. Ride in gymkhanas, and do all kinds of classes...
Hmm... maybe a trip to Triune this summer??

78. Ride in places that are totally foreign and unfamiliar to what you are used to

79. Real horsemen understand that holidays for humans don`t mean any lessening of the care they give their animals. They keep the same schedules their horses depend on, and expect.

80. Tour all the exhibits at the Kentucky Horse Park. For a HUGE goal, compete there some day!
Showing at the horse park really is something to remember!

81. This one`s for kids who jump. Plan to jump ONE FOOT HIGHER than is comfortable for you, normally. If you can jump 2 feet, stretch to 3 feet. And so on, knowing that at some point, even McClain Ward hits his limit!

82. Become very familiar with all the movements of classical dressage, such as piaffe, passage, pirouettes, tempi changes, extended and collected gaits.

83. Go to a summer camp with a horsemanship/riding program.

84. Visit some of the major stud farms, especially those of the breeds that you follow, and see some of the famous stallions first hand.

85. Get a summer job at a horse farm, so you can learn from the inside, what goes on.

86. Run a neat, clean, shipshape operation, barn, tackroom, horses, even your truck! (Well, maybe not your truck.)
Anita and Jerry are grooming us well for this one, huh?

87. Work cattle.
I'm working on this one...

88. Be a judge, at a show, or event, or trailride. Start with something lower level, and if you like the experience, grow from there.
A good way to earn money right out of college!

89. Learn how to use your watch when riding. Many events are timed, so start practicing sooner rather than later.

90. Weaning a foal from its dam can be a traumatic, sometimes risky procedure. Learn techniques for doing this safely.

91. Attend clinics. Do more than just be there, study avidly.
Watch some other groups besides your own!

92. Develop some sort of knowledge of and appreciation for the various breeds of draft horses, the gentle giants which opened up this country starting in the 1700s, and continuing until the early to mid 1900s.

93. "Crew" for a friend at an endurance race

94. Like "crewing" at an endurance race, assisting at a show or horse trials is a great way to learn what it`s all about.

95. Learn to basically ignore the weather as it impacts your competitive goals. As Bruce Davidson once said, "Horses are 4-wheel drive."
We're good at this one, aren't we?!

96. Design and paint stadium jumps.

97. Develop an awareness that how you do in the arena in the sun and warmth of next July is apt to depend upon the practice you did or did not do in in the darker, colder months of November, December, January, February, March------.
Not that I'm trying to draw attention to this particular one...

98. Work with good instructors who have already achieved the goals you seek.

99. Become knowledgeable about thoroughbred racing, a gigantic world somewhat apart from the sport horse world, but vitally connected.

100. Learn to jump various kinds of cross country "questions".

101. This one`s for eventing kids. Learn all about starting box procedures, how to start your watch, and when, how soon to enter, how not to "break the barrier".

102. Also for eventing kids. Learn how to teach your horse do deal with double or triple bounce banks UP.

103. Teach your horse how to deal with double or triple bounce banks DOWN.

104. Be totally familiar with the 6 steps of the dressage training scale, to the extent that you can explain each of them to another rider.
Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection

105. Give side saddle a try. Earlier generations were thrust into this form of riding by rigid standards and conventions of the time. Aren`t you fortunate that times have changed?

106. Learn how to walk a stadium jumping course prior to riding it, complete with knowing the striding, where appropriate, between fences.

107. Just as with goal No. 106, learn how to walk a cross country course, complete with knowing striding, where appropriate.

108. Travel to foreign countries to learn about the differences and similarities between their horsemanship cultures, and yours.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

You say goodbye, and I say hello...

My time at SPF has seen LOTS of changes.

We started as a family of something like 9 people, when I started boarding there 4 years ago. Sending out an "email blast" was a matter of remembering the other 8 boarders and Anita and hitting send.

Now that we have 40something horses, its not quite as small and familiar of a family, but a family none the less.

Today, one of our family members moved on to another barn and we'll miss her so much!

It's never easy when someone leaves, either because they've sold their horse, they're moving away or simply moving on, but everyone who boards at SPF leaves hoof prints behind and most everyone knows "we'll leave the light on!"

Its always weird for me when I look back at my old calendar and see names of horses that I was riding in a certain month- things move so fast, I forget sometimes.

But with every "exit" from SPF, a spot opens up and new opportunity arises for a new family member...

And everything just keeps on turning...