Monday, July 24, 2017

Baby's First Vet Bill


Now upon first glance the picture looks like baby Z is just resting his hind fetlock. But as soon as he started walking he dragged it behind him rather alarmingly. 

I had never seen or heard of it, and neither had CJ. She was afraid he broke his pelvis. Luckily this was not the case. While waiting for the vet I posted on one of my fb groups and quite a few people said it was locked stifle. I spent a few monutes googling and it seemed like that to me too.

The vet confirmed the diagnosis and told
Me its common in young horses. The medial tendon that supports the patella was loose and slipping. The vet gave him some IV bute and told me to bute him over the next few days then start exercising him to build up muscle and tighten the tendon. 

He immediately went back to normal! So I guess baby horse has to start "working" a little earlier than I wanted. We will just be handwalking hills, he has a lot more growing up to do before I get too crazy with his work.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Changes


This is the crazy but awesome life change that flipped my world around and has been occupying my time this past month.

We've (bf and I) moved! CJ owned my last house I rented, the 100+ year old farm house. She mentioned to me last year that she wanted to acquire a bigger and better farm that she would love bf and I to manage. 

She mentioned to me back in April that it looks like it might be happening. We both comtained our excitement until the day the new house closed. The house closed on June 15th and its been a whirlwind leading up to that day and still after. 

We officially moved about 3 weeks ago, but we are definitely still unpacking. Naturally a new barn tour is coming but until then, this the specs on the new diggs. 

10 acres, double the square footage (but our last house was a 750 sqft closet), 11 stall barn (9 of which have attached runs), lighted outdoor roping sized arena. Wohoo! Of course our rent substantially increased as well as the workload, but I couldnt be more excited for the possibilities. 

Oh and one summer class is down, three less credits until I get my degree! 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cheating


I've been having some really negative thoughts lately. Although Riesling wasn't a dressage horse when I first started with the discipline a few years back, he was taught some basics before I bought him. However, Merlot is truely the greenest horse I've owned that I want to develop with my new knowledge of riding.

And hes so fun and so sweet. But I can't help but feeling disappointed and pondering short cuts. I don't take them, because I've ridden a handful of horses that were trained innocrectly and with gadgets and its incredibly frustrating. 


I keep trying to think of the positive and how lucky I am to have a horse with a nearly clean slate. He doesn't have baggage or really any training that I need to "undo". But its incredibly hard. I know what I want and how I want it to feel, and getting there seems impossible. 


Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor has any horses' proper education. I keep reminding myself the more I chip away slowly and diligently towards the right direction, the better horse he is going to be. Eventually, I hope to look back and laugh that my current struggle of getting him connected into the bridle seems so impossible. I know my trainers and know myself as a rider and just need to trust the process. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Riesy Update 7/2017



Who is that handsome grey beast?



Running in the breeze! 

 My life has been a good kind of crazy lately that I'll get to catching up to eventually. But last month there was nearly two weeks where I thought I was going to have to put Riesling down. Not exactly sure what happened but he suddenly became dead lame. Couldn't walk, foundering status. I had the vet out ASAP and he wasn't foundering and we ran a bunch of expensive blood tests that didn't determine anything. Cool thanks Ries. 

It was painful to watch and I couldn't stand to see him in so much pain. I honestly spent most of my free time in his stall crying and petting him while he sucked down some bran mash with his bute. I really felt like I was going to have to say goodbye soon. But fortunately all the bute (and hopefully not the death of his GI tract or liver) made him more comfortable and I am beyond beaming to see him so active. 

But future good crazy shenanigans to follow!

Monday, June 19, 2017

That Horse

Man this month has been nothing short of insane. But here is the story of Merlot's first horse show! 

Storms a brewin
June 10th was a league dressage show at a local barn in town. J still has Mr. Merlot at her house for various reasons and was planning on doing this show so I signed us both up and she loaded the trailer! I believe Merlot has been to some rodeos (to hangout at the trailer) and trail rides, but that is about it. J pulled up to the show around 9 and our ride times began at 10. I signed us both in, and tacked him up quickly and just hopped on. 


Normally when I work with him I lunge him first, not really as exercise but more for groundwork. He isn't one to get tired and that isn't by any means my goal when I throw him on the lunge. Sometimes he has some snorts and scoots to get out but that is few and far between these days. J prefers her horses to immediately start working (aka trotting) when she sends them out, but I prefer a horse to relax and walk. I personally do this because I don't want a horse to feel like the lunge line is always hard work and punishment (not implying that J does). Lately on the lunge I send him out and just have him walk a few laps and focus on my body and vocal language. I digress..


Back to the story- I walked Merlot around the trailer parking area to get a feel for his mood. He was alert and paying attention, but also fairly relaxed and stopping to steal some snacks. I was super pleased with this behavior. He definitely was looky but far from spooky. Because he is green I underestimate myself and get nervous sometimes when it comes to riding. Really he is a fantastic horse and I have nothing to be worried about. 


We walked to the grass warm up arena and I hopped on. J wanted me to immediately start with some trot work to get him focused on working and not looking for things to spook at. I prefer to walk around but I can't argue that walking around wouldn't give myself time to psych out. Trotting was good for both of us mentally. He was fairly rhythmic and wasn't reaching for the contact like at home, but I was pleased. The warm up was right next to a large cross country field and the venue was also hosting an open cross country schooling that morning. Merlot definitely got nervous when he saw horses galloping and jumping huge fences next to him but I did some figures to keep him distracted. Thank goodness they were running behind, it gave me extra time to warm up. 


Towards the end of our warm up we stood facing the dressage court and he was pretty relaxed and even rested a hind leg. He was alert coming out of the arena and definitely showed off his green behavior when he refused to enter the arena to do our test. We got a horse to lead us in and he was fine, minus some spooking at flowers on the letters. Once in the sandbox he wasn't very spooky. Don't get me wrong, the test was...unattractive but is pretty accurate to where we are training wise right now. I've never practiced the test on him (but c'mon it's intro..) and I really was using the show for exposure not because we are ready to kill the competitors at dressage. The test had nice moments and looked better than it felt to ride. He didn't want to stay at a consistent tempo or steer but listened to my whoah and go very promptly. 


Intro B was just a few tests after Intro A and he seemed like he was ok with this whole dress up and ride in an empty arena nonsense. Mentally he was getting over it and I again had to follow a horse in the arena (yeah I could have booted and gotten mean with him but my goal was for a positive experience and getting led into an arena at a schooling show is nbd in my eyes). This test felt worse, mostly because our steering was really gone. Merlot was all "wat r circles" and "I ignore your leg aids for turning because instead I'm wondering whats up with all those horses running and jumping". Again, not necessarily bad behavior or hot and spooky but really better than how I expected him to act. 


I also signed us up for a ground pole jumper division (they held a jumper show after dressage around 12:30) for more exposure. There was about an hour break between my dressage and ground poles so I hopped off and took him back to the trailer. His ground manners were absolutely fantastic and he acted like an old gentleman who has done this a time or two when I was leading him around. It was mostly the whole "riding in new places" that was weird for him. 


He stood fine at the trailer while J and I ate lunch and drank victory beers. Much to my unfortunate luck, right when we needed to get on for the "jumping", it started storming. Nearly everyone was eventers and a little rain doesn't stop their fun so the show continued. The storm only lasted about half an hour and put a pause on the show. I hopped on after the showers slowed. The rain and wind really amped Merlot up though. 


I had to get someone to hold him for me while I got on and he was still extremely jumpy. Because there were no jumps in the grass warm up ring they had open schooling of the show arena before each division. I made the mistake of going in and attempting to school with the other horses. This arena is about the size of a full court and there were probably ten other people attempting to school at the same time. And because it was the ground poles division, there was a slew of beginners who weren't polite about steering and getting close to us. Poor Merlot was terrified of all these horses coming at him and politely asked to just not horse. I made him stand and take the abuse of all the horses that wanted to eat him. Of course I got tons of dirty looks for having "that horse" at the show. Whatever, its not like a bunch of people haven't been in my place before. Gotta start somewhere.


I wanted to know if he would be spooky towards the bright jumper standards so I could plan my attack (because everyone knows how seriously you need to plan a ground poles trip lol). I just had him go through the course once at a walk and exited the arena of terror. We headed back to the grass warm up just to stay away from the chaos. At this point homeboy was feeling insecure and I had to hold his hand. I was admittedly a little nervous with his behavior (I mean..I did break my foot falling off him in the dumbest way last year) but tried to stay calm and supportive. As we waited for the juniors to do their rounds I kept him busy by just walking around. He was on high alert and sometimes refused to turn. I mostly just let him go where he wanted as long as he stayed reasonable and walked politely. A few girls that had just trailered in were beginning to warm up their horses with some quick cantering. This made Merlot nervous again but he got through it. 


When he seemed to be more relaxed we would take a few minutes to stop and he would rest a foot and be mostly ok with the situation. As soon as he became nervous again we went back to walking and I think the regularity of me guiding him through the scary day helped him out. It was time for our round and poor dude did not want to leave the warmup. The ring steward was kind of being a bitch and wanted to skip over me (obviously need to take her job seriously at a schooling show..) and kept yelling my number saying it was my turn. She was only twenty feet away from me. Luckily some innocent bystanders were nice and were basically like "yo lady calm your tits her horse is scared just give him a few minutes its a schooling show" (not really but that's what I would like to imagine). 
An older gentleman came in the ring to escort us and Merlot tried halfheartedly to escape the terrifying human coming towards him. Luckily as soon as he walked forward he realized the man was a nice hooman probably harboring cookies somewhere and following was safe. He was actually relatively calm in the arena when it was just us by ourselves. He wasn't spooked by noises or the whistle but was definitely slightly on edge. I asked for a trot and pointed at the brightly colored sticks and he was like "yeah sure whatever I'll go over things but I'm going to periscope up to monitor small children on fat ponies that might attack". He did have one random NOPE moment with a decent spook in an unrelated spot in the arena. I stopped and patted him and we moved forward pleasantly. We trotted nearly the entire thing and I was happy that he gave no fucks about the "jumps". I gave him big pats and he almost seemed relieved when we crossed the finish flags and the crowd encouragingly hollered. I hopped off right there in the arena and gave him a big hug where I could feel him release nearly all his tension. 

 Cringing watching this..

We had done the thing! Immediately after getting off he returned to old pro at the horse show status and I had a big smile plastered on my face as I took him back to the trailer. 

The whole "jumping" phase was kind of a shit storm because of the weather and poor warm up but I'm really glad we both were pushed outside of our comfort zones and successfully completed our first show together! We even managed to get a second place at Intro A! (I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious lol) I'm super proud of how Mr Green Bean performed and am excited to come back in July! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Danielle Thomason Clinic Day 2


Clearly I'm very late at this..and unfortunately did not get a lot of media on day 2. It was awhile ago so I'm going to attempt to jog my memory.

I rode Evita first and we moved to the full court higher on the hill. I've never worked up there but after a quick look around E was ready to go to work. We had fun with more lateral movement and really worked on super quiet hands and using my seat for most of my aids. I'm fairly new to the whole dressage world so I'm just now starting to develop an independent seat and not relying on my hands. 

We did a lot of voltes and also worked on getting halts. DT commented that Evita's canter is at the stage where it is cute right now but we need to work on gaining more power and ground cover. She wants to see E come up and through her shoulders with each stride. It was a slightly shorter lesson than the day prior, which I was thankful for because man was I sore. E promptly developed an abscess that lasted for ever the day after and had three weeks off. Womp womp.

Next I hopped on Vermont. I could tell he was already feeling better than the day prior. We focused again on walk trot transitions and keeping him straight. There were some fun poles thrown in the mix and towards the end of the lesson I was starting to get Vermont to feel like a normal horse again. DT is very adamant on quiet hands and ignoring his headset. Once we got him working forward and through and reached into the connection and was nearly on the bit! She explained to me her previous work with thoroughbreds and what she has learned. We both agreed that he needed to regain his confidence and then he would be back to normal in no time. We also discussed lunging him in a single outside loose side rein to give him more support and structure while we lunge so he doesn't just fling wildly. (Have since been doing this and hes gotten much much better!). 

Overall I had a really really fun time and definitely got worked hard. I enjoyed her teaching philosophies and each lesson felt like a conversation between me, her, and the horse. I'm excited to clinic again!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Where to begin


Holy crap my life has been crazy lately! A good kind of crazy! I'm determined to catch back up on blogging (including reading all of your posts!)

Bf has left and come back from his trip to Canada and I found myself spending 6+ hours in my car everday- hence lack of blogging. 


Thank god my car gets good gas mileage. I got tired of the radio after the first hour and remembered my post a million ages ago about podcasts and finally downloaded some and audiobooks! 

I listened to The Book Thief (fiction novel) and BossyPants (by Tina Fey). I found that I got kind of bored of audiobooks but if you need some laughs and have a long time to spend in the car, definitely listen to BossyPants! Tina gives pieces of advice based off her life stories and also throws in a ton of humor. I didnt have an opinion on her before listening, and I love her now. 


I've also downloaded the Horse Radio Network App and it is life for me now. I still am spending an ungodly amount of time in my car because of summer classes, but Im not even mad because I love listening to these shows. They are mostly educational talks but also include coverage of events and people. Obsessed. 

One thing that used to bug me about myself that nearly all of you are better at than me is keeping up with riders/horses/events. I now am starting to feel like I could hold a conversation about the goings on in eventing, dressage, and hunter/jumper! I also could throw in some track info because OTTBs are fantastic and even though our local track is gone, I like keeping up with racing. 


Do you listen to any horse radio? What would you do to stay sane when you basically live out of your car? 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Busy Bee


Holy crap does time fly. As much as I want to say I've been partying I've instead been super busy. May leads itself to some major life changes. 

1) Decide to take summer classes to expedite my degree

2) Quit my office job of the last 3 ish years

3) Unexpectedly get offered a job working at Idaho Horse Rescue as a farm hand and take it

4) Have some alone time as Luke is spending 3 weeks in Canada for National Guard duty


5) Juggle house sitting, working, and taking care of my own farm. So many miles on my car. 


So those are the main bullet points of the last two weeks that Ive unwillingly abandoned my blog. But I'm learning to find time and use up ever part of my day. For example I am writing this in my car at the barn as I am an hour early to ride (work went quicker than planned). 


I'm not super stoked about summer classes. Im taking my second Business Statstic class here at the end of the month and it is 5 weeks of 5 days a week 9 am to 11:30 am. Far from the worst thing in the world but when coupled with working at the rescue when I get out of class, my unlimited riding time seems to be cut shorter than I wanted. 


I'll have some more detailed updates and thoughts coming soon! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Party Time!


Semester is over! 9 credits closer to getting my degree! Wohoo!

But I am trying to hustle and summer classes start at the end of the month. Oh well, time to cherish these few weeks of not being guilty that I didn't do my homework! I mean..uhh...SUMMER

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Danielle Thomason Clinic Day 1


So I was super nervous for my first clinic ever, but it was SO MUCH FUN! And I hurt so bad omg. Here is my short recap from Saturday.

I was scheduled to ride at 10, and because my shit was most definitely not together, I arrived at 8:45 to clean tack and make Evita super presentable. Right after her I was supposed to ride Riesling, but I retired him last week. I didn't want to be out clinic money so I instead decided to ride my mom's horse, Vermont. If you saw my clinic prep post you'll know how confident I felt about this. I was able to have my mom come around 9 am to get him ready so I could just do a quick swap after riding Evita. 

I got her looking nearly show ready and hopped on. Danielle vaguely saw me ride Riesling at the show in Jerome, ID two years ago. However, she is very familiar with Evita and I believe showed her and rode her prior to the last owner. She commented that she was disappointed how she lost so much muscling before we got her. Immediately she had me ask for a more forward march and more engagement in the walk while lowering her poll and lifting her shoulders. 

We moved on to trot work where Danielle had me really work hard on emphasizing E to lift her shoulders and belly and get her working over her back and through her hind end. 
We moved on to a little bit of lateral work, which E excels at. Danielle was aware of the last owner having issues with changes and knew that when I started cantering her when I first started leasing her she was very on the forehand and plowed into the ground. 

We worked on some exercises to get her to fill up my outside rein and have her body supple before asking for the canter. While I didn't feel as prepared for the transition as I do when I lesson with CJ, I followed her instructions to canter and it was surprisingly not the train wreck I expected with the not perfect transition. 


E gets super stiff in her body at the canter and doesn't push from behind. We worked on getting her to stay connected, have bend in her ribcage, and take a bigger stride. Interestingly, when I first started riding her she would nearly run away with me at the canter. The past few weeks however she has been prone to breaking. I was told this is because it is hard for her to use her body and carry herself. 
We ended the lesson when E wouldn't break and maintained bend and lightness in her mouth. It took a lot of work from me to keep her together and she was quite tired but still wanted to try really hard for me. We were both exhausted but felt pretty accomplished. I jumped off E and handed her to my trainer to hand walk her in the upper arena and immediately jumped on Vermont.

Mind you, this was Vermont's second ride this year. He is incredibly crooked and tense since his last ride was before I broke my foot last year. Luckily, Danielle also had him in her barn for two ish months when his old owners tried to sell him and before I scooped him up for the stellar deal. 


We agreed that he is extremely out of shape and is trying to hard because he has no confidence in himself. We only walked and trotted and focused on forward and straight. When he was straight and seeking the connection he got rewarded heavily. He seemed to remember what this whole riding thing was all about and started to settle down. For whatever reason (needs chiropractor tbh), when we go for a downward transition he throws his haunches to the left. 

We spent nearly the entire lesson working on transitions. When the trot was straight and forward we would slow it down until he started to throw his haunches left (almost to a walk). It was a slow and probably extremely boring lesson to watch but near the end we did almost get a straight transition. 
To break up the transitions, in the middle of the lesson we introduced some poles. There was just two widely set at an unrelated distance. The goal was to keep him engaged and happy and straight over the poles. He perked up a lot at the poles and nearly tried jumping them the first time through. Quickly we got forward, straight, connected, and a steady tempo. We rewarded him heavily. 

We moved back to transitions to end the lesson and he was starting to gain more confidence and remain straight. Compared to how stiff and tight he felt when I first got on, his back was swinging and he was happily relaxed at the end. I was super proud of him. 

CJ's property is situated in the foothills and there is a nice incline on the sides of the areans. Danielle wanted me to get both horses fitness up by walking the hill a few times a day. After my lesson on Vermont, Danielle had me take him up the hill. 


Remember, unconfident, underfit TB who can be silly? Yeah here he came to the party. Walking up was NBD but walking down the hill he couldn't go straight and wanted to side step because he is weak. This defeated the whole purpose so I pushed him to stay straight and he realized it was too hard and his brain started leaving. He was threatening to rear and just overall couldn't horse. Thank god CJ came to my rescue and ponied us up and back down the hill. I'll be leading him up and down the hill until he decides it is NBD then I'll try under saddle again. Don't want to die. 

By this point it had been nearly 3 hours since I first got on Evita. I was exhausted and tired. Luckily my mom was there and helped me liniment the horses and put them away. Holy crap had I just got my butt kicked, but honestly it was really fun and rewarding! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Clinic Prep

AKA, how not to prepare for your first clinic ever.

C'mon Vermont give me some of this! 

Step 1) Sign up horse that hasn't been ridden since last summer and had lameness issues.
Step 2) Ride him a few times and decide he is to be retired.
Pls canter like normal horse
Step 3) Beg to borrow another horse so you aren't out clinic money
Step 4) Acquire TB that was a brat to ride last year and hasn't been saddled since last fall.

What is this foreign language

Step 5) Accidentally perform the rain dance for Mother Nature securing the fact that you can't even ride the dumb horse before the clinic
Step 6) Attempt to calm yourself two days before the clinic by telling yourself he will surprise you and be a saint
Pls be good

Step 7) Pray to clinic gods that it will get rained out and you won't have to tempt fate on sassy TB

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Throwing in the Towel


I've spent the last two weeks trying to bring Riesling back into work. And while he stays sound on the lunge for a short period of time, after 15 minutes under saddle he goes lame. The damage has been done to his fetlock and as much as I want to fight to keep him sound and showing, it isn't fair to him. 




I've poured an enormous amount of money in him last year between injections, supplements, body work, x-rays, nerve blocking, new tack and the rest. He had all winter off. However he damaged his fetlock last spring, it's effects are here to stay. The silver lining is that he is pasture sound and will be able to live out his retirement happy and spoiled rotten in my backyard. 





I came to this decision yesterday and consoled myself between endless red wine and crying. I love this horse. I've had him for 8 years this year. I know I can hop on him and he will melt all my stress away. I know him so well. Despite his shark fin, I loved spending hours riding him bareback. 



Its not that I still can't hop on him in pasture and toodle around, but I'm going to miss the challenge of figuring this whole dressage thing out with him. I selfishly wanted one more year out of him, but after consulting with my team, I don't need to invest myself financially and emotionally into a horse that has done his job for me for the past 8 years. It is time to let him just be a horse.  




Friday, April 14, 2017

WTF Friday

What. Is. This. 


Where am I?


Thats Riesling down there. I feel like that scene in Wizard of Oz.."Ries...we aren't in Idaho anymore.."

EXCEPT WE ARE. I'm so so confused. WHAT IS LIFE. I'm going back to bed.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

March Lookback




























You know..only halfway through April. Actually I've managed to misplace my planner and it is driving me nuts.

So here is what my march looked like. I rode 7 times and worked out 7 times. Not awful but not what I want. On my week look I like to write about how lessons went and how workouts went. But again...misplaced planner soo I will feverishly look at it and hopefully April's post will be more thorough.

Looking back at my yearly goals, I'm definitely making progress towards them. I haven't even ridden Ries since last year still but that situation just changed. More fun things on the horizon for April! Gotta keep hustling!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Which way is left?


I had a super intense lesson last night. I have this problem when I'm focusing so hard on riding I lose my sense of direction. I'm pretty sure my trainer wants to throw tomatoes at me when this happens, but I sometimes forget which way is which. 

"Ok now left bed. Left bend. LEFT. LEFT LEFT LEFT" And it is at this point that I realize that I'm clearly doing something wrong and I'm using my right leg and still trying to bend right more.Whoops. Here is my quick lesson recap;


We warmed up with a nice stretchy trot and CJ had to remind me to A) not let her fall in with her shoulder, B) I control the tempo, and C) Evita is not a canoe and I need to bend. 

I managed to get myself under control pretty well and she didn't have to spend a lot of time getting me to actually ride. From here we criss-crossed my stirrups over the pommel and began some real trot work. The past few lessons we have worked on serpentines to keep her body supple. The main issues we have are I brace too much with my leg and bounce at the sitting trot instead of absorbing the movement through my core and letting my legs relax. Also, around the turns we tend to get to canoe form again and Evita will dive in with her shoulders. I had to work on maintaining bend and wrapping her barrel around my inside leg and holding her shoulder up through the turn. We actually managed to perform this really well after a few tries! Occasionally I'd go across the diagonal and shoot for a medium trot. 



Up until this point Evita remained pretty soft on the bit. CJ reminded me that as soon as we loose bend and malleability in her body, she takes the bit and runs on the forehand with it. And then we steer into the fence to stop. And it isn't fun. 

We moved on to the most difficult canter work I've ever done. The canter work really stresses E out and when she is susceptible to becoming a freight train. We focused on walk canter transitions and spaghetti circles. I've done plenty of spaghetti circles at the walk but the canter was tricky. Basically the idea is just doing random changes of bend. However this was through a change of gait. We would canter on a left bend circle then transition back to a walk for a stride or two, change bend and immediate canter transition. I totally got reamed the first time because I didn't listen to CJ when she asked me to canter. Instead I didn't feel like I was ready so I waited a few strides. And what do you know, it completely fell apart. From then on I listened to her right away and every transition was on the aids and beautiful. 


We actually were able to do twenty meter circles and laps around the arena on a super soft and light rein. It felt amazing! I can't lie that Evita was extremely intimidating to want to move forward at first because I was worried about the freight train and my arms getting ripped out of my sockets. But yesterday's ride was super nice and confidence building. I love this mare!