Wednesday, April 30, 2008

He's My Romeo

Romeo the cowhorse... ears up, on the cows, tight as a lugnut on a trailer tire... All ears & mind on the cows... yet the cows stare him down, as if to say, "Yeah right, fairy horse. We see your rider, we see the helmet, tall field boots, and that gawd-awful fairy saddle. You won't come into our pasture dressed like that, you fairy horse!"

And that tells the story of our cool-down last night. About an hour's work, walk, trot, fences. Both standards are set up in the arena, so one is natural post rails, the other PVC pipe. A cooperative horse, overall. A few rider-pilot glitches. I really might get out my stiffer spurs tonight, tack those on, see how he does. He just might need them. One or two *gorgeous* jumps landing in a gentle canter. I was overall pretty darn pleased.

In the cooldown, the neighbor's cows wanted to come see me & fairy-horse. As they were walking about, I focused on one little steer. The steer stared us down, finally backed away from the fence line, then as soon as he knew Romeo wasn't going to force him to move, he went right back where he was. Little bugger.... I know the breeder told me some "cow horse working ranch horse" stories, but I just don't buy it. Romeo's a cute hunter pony, and a neat trail horse, but a cow-ranch-horse he is not.

Hour's work, all cooperative. No wild spooking fits, no temper tantrums. Just a cooperative horse. C'mon Sunday Show!

I miss riding Chewie... He misses me ... At least I think he does ....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

4/24 to present

4/24 - Romeo, arena. Hour's work of good flat work & fences. During the cool down walk, I was just about ready to drop my stirrups, when he spooked at a white van in a neighbor's pasture. Unintentional dismount. He spun his rear like a rodeo horse. Not a darn thing I could do about it. No serious injuries. I got him under control, and hopped back on, finishing the ride on contact at the walk.

4/25 - Chewie, arena. Lunge line, side reins, good solid warm-up. Jumped on, walk, trot, a few crossrails (lowest hole). Chewie sensed some tension in me, along with the saddle a bit forward (sorry buddy). As a result, I had lots of little bittie strides at trot, followed over fence with big trots over. *giggle* Little bittie, little bittie, Hop Hop, little bittie.. That's my boy. Hour's work.

Romeo, arena. Again, a good solid 45 minutes walk & trot, followed by 4 fences each direction.

4/26 - Bring on the rains. MacKenzie kept me up some of the night shaking, panting, a nervous wreck. Two valium - one Friday evening, another Saturday morning. She was calmer, but still a mess. Heavy storms brought in at least an inch of rain, probably more. Puddles abound on the property. Mowed grass, sprayed permethrin for flea & bug control, killed weeds around trees & the rock walkway. Got a haircut, ran some errands.. did everything I could do but ride, since the weather wasn't favorable to ride.

4/27 - Romeo, pasture, lesson.. Arena & round pen still wet, front yard puddle. Moved one crossrail to Romeo's pasture.. Worked on flat work on the lunge circle. He was pushing his shoulder out to the right, so worked on that a while. Jumped to the left about 5 times. Then the cold front started blowing in. I would have probably been fine, had I not looked up at the trees blowing all over the place. Nerves kicked in, along with not being able to find a comfortable route to the right. Called it an early lesson, back to focus on flat work until I at least overcame that fear.

4/28 - No ride. Doctor's emergency clinic. What I thought was a spider bite, isn't a spider bite, on my right arm. Medication started. Worked on trimming a huge tree limb that was over the fence line & fell in front of the trailer. Got that all cleaned up, laundry, fed the crew, fed me, called it a night. Hope to get back after it tonight. Walked the arena yesterday, and by tonight, it'll be back to 100%. Round pen looks good as well. Good to know that much rain, that quick of a storm, it does puddle a bit, they recover nicely.

Show May 4, same location as April 6. Same class list, same intentions. Solid performance, clean rounds. I will aim to go & do my best, improving on elbows, eyes, and forward motion over the fences. I intend on being the pilot before, during, and after the fence. Everything else is candy ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lovebugs 1, Spooks 1, Chewie 2

Chewie, Round Pen. He's getting bored, and the lovebugs are overwhelming. Warm-Up about 10 minutes, side reins 5 & 6.

Under saddle, to the right. Asked for trot, went about lap & half, 2-point, asked for canter, he was nearly there, when something outside got his attention. Head up, ears forward, and I chickened. Let him trot, then waited at trot for my heart rate to come back down.

Cantered left twice, no problems. Overall, many direction changes, lots of trot, and generally, he was just in a bad mood. Head-tossing, fussing with the bit, tripping... LoveBugs trying to fly up his nose...

Untacking, I found him covered in sweat, even in between back legs. It was our first "hot" day workout. When the weather starts changing to warm again, he is a little more fussy than normal. I'll check this day off as a learning, and give him the "out" on grouchy based on weather & bugs. I give him a "2" for score since I did get two pretty transitions in & out of canter left. I was able to focus a bit on pushing with inside leg rather than outside to keep him going, so that was good.

Total work, about an hour. He'll have about two days off, and I'm sure much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Chewie, Round Pen. Side reins 5 & 6. Spectacular transitions - all three gaits. Very forward moving, very light strides. Warm-Up lasted about 15 minutes.

Under saddle, walk, trot, canter left. Instead of staying at two point for transition, I planned the canter, "video played" it in my mind, and as I was sitting back down, asked for it. Beautiful transition! Just gorgeous! Fell out to trot the first ask, so I asked again. Beautiful transition up again. About a lap & half, then back to trot. Transition sweet again.

He wasn't spooky, wasn't avoiding gait, behaved just like an angel. I told him last night, "Chewie, Momma is finally catching up to you... I'm moving all the right parts all the way, and letting you show me how smart you are. You're awesome, and I appreciate that."

Total work, about 45 minutes. Cooled down with long & low trot, followed up with some turns on forehand & haunches.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching Up, Again

Wednesday - Day off for all.

Thursday - Romeo, arena, hour's work. Started out with lunge line & side reins, which he did not appreciate. After he threw a few fits, and realized that the only way to get off the bit pressure was to relax, things improved. Under saddle walk, trot, crossrails to & fro.

Friday - Romeo again. Remove side rein lunge, repeat same otherwise. It had rained good Friday morning, and the arena was a bit slippery until we really got it worked in. Stayed off of Chewie, afraid he'd pull a shoe. Romeo handled the weather good, and the footing didn't seem to be a jumping issue for him. Hour's work.

Saturday morning, Chewie, round pen. Walk, Trot, Canter on side reins, 5 & 6. No problems, no issues, no fears. Climbed under saddle, walk, trot, canter (left). First canter transition he dropped & twisted his head, tried to disagree with the notion. I got about 5 strides, then he quit. I realized I can't stay in two-point after the request. So I went to 2-point, asked for canter, and as soon as I had it, sat down. Chewie responded with about two circles around, on nice bit contact, and a very gentle stride. Felt quite a bit slower than usual - I think Rider has just gotten used to staying relaxed. He seemed to appreciate the stretch at the canter. Rest of the ride was fantastic. Nice full trot, collected up on the bit. Hour plus work.

Saturday evening, Romeo, Lesson. Robin pointed out in trot warmup that I was slightly more in the left stirrup & seat bone than the right. Took stirrups up & over saddle, and tried more sit trot. Found the problem. Romeo was a Steady-Eddie trot while I figured myself out. Got my weight balanced again. Worked on crossrails with wooden posts, and then switched off to crossrails on PVC posts. I expected first fence of PVC to be big, and Romeo didn't comply. I prepared physically for a big jump, and he barely cleared it. Pilot-Error! Lesson over fences concentrated on fine-tuning mid-air and landing, keeping pressure & energy up, and thinking 3 -4 strides after the fence. Good overall.. Hour & half lesson.

Sunday afternoon, Chewie, Round pen. See, Saturday, repeat, add more canter. Cantered to left about 4 times. First few I only got a couple strides, one even wrong lead. I think wrong lead I had outside rein pressure (whatta smart horse!). Learned how to rest hands on his neck without grabbing mane, so we should be able to eliminate that "grab a wadda mane & pull up" auto-canter panic thing he does. Almost cantered to the right. As I was preparing for it, a HUGE gust of wind blew across the property. Scared the beejeebies out of Chewie. He shot forward from a slow walk into one stride of canter-near-gallop. I stood up in the stirrups, then realized that was the wrong way to slow him. I sat deep, let out a huge "shhhhhhh", and he stopped! My boy went right back to a walk, let out a heavy sigh, and relaxed. Three months ago, I would have probably been in the dirt, and all would've been wasted, ruining all those good canters. I'm finally learning that if I'm on the horse when something goes wrong, it's best to stay on, rather than bail out.

Sunday late afternoon, Romeo, arena. Walk, trot, crossrails, and spooks. Halfway through warm-up, Romeo was shying at the far end of the arena, focused on the trees. I trotted him forward the first time, then circled back to it again. Second time, he tried to bolt. He got about one panicked stride (maybe two), before I kind of went back to old ways. I pulled him down to a one-rein emergency brake stop, and got him to halt. He was obviously scared. We went a few strides forward down the long side at walk, then right back into trot. I gave him a circle at the near end to reassure, then went right back down the other long side to the spooky far end. He was still a little jittery. A few laps later, he relaxed his back, lowered his head, and started licking & chewing. Walk break, a few goes at fences, and we were done. Fences to the right final, he knocked down one rail twice. Once I reset, then next time, we just went right back to flat trot, sitting & extended. I know he was tired, but the laziness was irritating. I got his mind back on me, and walked him out.

Wind spooks? Certainly overcome for Rider. Spooks from boogity-men in the forest? Just about conquered as well. We're well on the way for the May show plans. Everytime I type these out, I feel a little more progress is being made. Sure, I'm not at Training Level with Chewie, and I'd like to get there. Perhaps the Fall or Winter Series at Sienna will be the breakthrough spot for him. There's plenty of warm-up space there, and it's a pretty laid back atmosphere.

Failed to mention, Romeo's on a borrowed bit (Thanks Robin!). Chewie's french link & bridle are now all his own again. Robin lent us a full bridle & eggbut snaffle. Romeo is cooperating quite nicely. The Korsteel copper link loose ring snaffle I ordered is on back-order (gasp.. the horror), and may not make it for the show. We'll continue on with Robin's borrowed tack until mine arrives. Chewie likes having his own slobber on his own bit, and Romeo is learning how to cooperate with an equally moderate bit. Grinning to myself, knowing that the eggbut snaffle is still milder than anything I saw at the April show. Go Romeo the CowPonY!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday 04-15

We're on the way now! Chewie, arena. Lunged warmup with side reins 5 & 6. He flipped out a couple times, pulled the rope outta my hands. I think it was just general grouchiness of , "Mom, I'm tired of cantering in circles. Let's get to work."

Wind was howling around the property. As we were warming up, a few neighbor cows were strolling across behind the pasture. I acted like they were nothing, and so did Chewie.

We worked on all kinds of walk & extended trot. I stuck with posting, sitting just a few strides on each up & down transition. Circles, diagonals, serpentines galore. He stumbled a few times, forgetting to look where I was looking. Anytime he would look outside the fence, at deer, or cows, or rustling trees in the wind, we'd change. Transition up, down, start a circle, reverse, two-point, whatever I could. I considered the crossrail (as did my adorable horse), but it didn't seem like the best idea at the time, since nobody was there. I wasn't too keen on setting it back up & jumping off & on him until we cleared the fence.

Total work, nearly an hour. I almost lost track of time, since things went so well. Thinking back, I don't think I relied on his 'air brakes', even once. Downward transitions were all from relaxing seat & hands. Even had my little mini-spurs on to keep him moving forward.

Fear of gusty winds... accomplished. Fear of riding horse in what he believes is an open space... accomplished. Focus "inside the fence", ignoring wind, deer, cows, traffic... accomplished.

Canter work in arena... yet to come.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why Centralized Medicine is a Bad Idea

In this edition of "People are Stupid", I describe an actual multiple-day saga trying to get blood work scheduled. This is all done in one office, with only three medical professionals involved. Adding centralized medicine would, IMHO, only make this take longer, and add more uneducated beaurocrats.

Call Doctor 04/07/08 to make an appointment. I described the previous weekend's sickness, and the desk clerk said, "Are you sick now?" I responded, "Well, no, right now I'm talking to you." Tee hee hee... Clerk scolds me "because I haven't been there since 08/06." I respond, "That's because I haven't been sick. Why should I come in if I'm healthy?" Appointment scheduled after much discussion, explaining to desk clerk I wanted an appointment for follow-up to the 08/06 test Doctor did that I'm still having trouble with.

Doctor's visit, 04/10/08. Doctor say, "I need you to get fasting insulin, fasting blood sugar test. I will check with the lady that does our tests, and she'll get back to you."

No word from doctor. By 04/15/08, so I take matters into my own hands.

04/15/08, I call Doctor's Office. Clerk answers, and says, "The lab is open every day. Just come in." As she proceeds to cut the call off, I asked, "How was I supposed to know that? I was told to wait on a call, and it never came." She says, "Well, it's protocol. Every three months you have to come in for a medicine check." Ahhh... I said, "Now I see, I'm not on any medicine." She says again to come in any day for the blood work. I interrupt one more time, to ask, "What times is the lab open?" She says, "Monday through Friday, 8-11", and attempts to end the call. I apologize for taking up so much of her time and being an inconvenience, and hang up.

About an hour later, I got a call & voice mail (cell phone), from the Doctor's Nurse, stating, "Miss Jennifer, we need to know where you got your lab work done, because we haven't gotten results yet."

So I went to lunch & another meeting to cool down, pretty angry the stupid desk clerk & nurse apparently don't talk. Hours later, I get another voice mail (work phone), "Miss Jennifer, we need you to come into the office at your convenience for some lab work. Our office is open from 8:00 - 11:30, Monday through Friday. Please fast for this test."

So it took three business days for them to realize I needed the blood work done, tell me where to go, and when to be there. Since I've changed my diet, and I'm feeling a lot better, I guess I'll take my time, and go for blood work on my Friday off.

this concludes another session of People are Stupid. Tune in another time for the next episode full of real-life events about general mankind that astonish us normal rational folks.

Robin cancelled for tonight, so I think that means me & Chewie, hunter, and arena. I'll get out the side reins, make the boy work a while. Romeo will enjoy two days off, then it's back at the grindstone.

Lessons, Shoes, & Spooks

Friday, as scheduled. Chewie walk, trot, canter in the round pen. 45 minutes. Solid, steady, and pretty darn overall cooperative. He's a pleasure to ride, and I was eager to get him to the arena.

Romeo, arena. Again, a complete pleasure. Walk, trot, a little over-coming fear of the rail, and a few ground poles. I didn't force the idea of jumps, as my standards weren't out there, and I was more concentrated on getting over the arena-spooks for Saturday's lesson. 45 minutes.

Saturday, Romeo Lesson. Carried the PVC poles and standards out to the arena. A hour plus lesson. First few looks at the crossrail, he sailed it plus a foot or more. We were jumping left, and that meant jumping facing the barn. Romeo was eager to 'get home', albeit only in his little imagination. He was incredibly cooperative. We worked mostly on fine tuning my timing. How incredible ... it feels neat even typing that out. Rather than working on overcoming fear, or overcoming staring at the fence, we were working on my spur-tickle, crest release timing... It got better the longer the lesson went on. Robin rode after, and Romeo was less cooperative, more pushy. He was trotting like a maniac to the fence, and trying to canter away. I don't know if she had more energy than he needed, or perhaps a little fear. I didn't ask, but marveled that Romeo was incredibly cooperative for me.

Saturday afternoon, Chewie to the arena. I had plans for lunging and a light ride, minimum walk & jog. Well, that's what I got. What a joy... He lunged without issue, no bucking, no fighting. I climbed aboard with a little hesitation. o O ( This is the first time in this open space carrying me around, good golly I hope he doesn't spook at somethign & show me how easily he can jump the rail fence... Good grief I hope he doesn't look at that crossrail set up & insist on jumping it... man I hope nothing spooks us ) O o .

Whatta horse... is all I can say to describe him. We had two deer sprint across the pasture between the arena & barn. One went in the woods, spooked out a momma hog & two baby hogs. The hogs took off parallel to the long side by the woods, and then here comes the deer again, trying to reunite & figure out how to stay away from us. In each case, when he saw the animals scurrying around, he stopped. No encouragement from me, he just stopped. No taking off, no jigging about, just stopped. I couldn't have been more pleased. We ended the ride with some decent trot - not an extended tigger-trot by any means of the imagination, but a trot that was easy to post with. He wasn't trying to take off, not even facing the barn.

Sunday, during Romeo over cross rails, waaaay off in the distance, across my pasture, down the powerline straight, across the dirt road, behind the neighbor's front yard, here go about 50 cattle, galloping out of the woods headed down the fence line. Behind them, here come at least two herding dogs, nipping at hooves, barking up a fierce storm. I had just intended on my first jump attempt, when here comes the chaos! I didn't give up, pointed Romeo at the fence. It was as if he said to me, "Hey Mom! Look over there! O oooh.. wait... Think, Jump, Land... Hey Mom! They're still over there! MOM!! LOOOK!!!!!" He focused on the job just long enough to get it done, then back to lookie-see. We cleared about four fences, then, knowing I was tired, and still had Chewie to work, I cut his ride short, at 40 minutes.

Caught Chewie, walked him to the trailer, right foot hoof pick.. Oh Dang It! Right shoe missing... that silly boy! Turned Chewie back out, he was grouchy, and I was disappointed.

Monday ride, with not enough evening time for both horses & a decent dinner, Romeo was the pick. Warm-up was a solid trot with incredible variety. Serpentines, circles, down the long diagonal, up & down centerline, anything to keep it interesting. He was a little distracted to start, but once he realized everytime he lost focus I was going to change something, he quickly complied. Jumps both to left & right, about 10 to the right, and 4 left. Had some issues with aiming at the fence straight, and going away straight, in the right direction. He was headed at it straight, then would jump diagonally, headed to the rail. It may have been what he thought I wanted, since I was trying to keep him on the rail to keep him focused on "the next job" after the fence. Anyways, with some left leg, and solid right rein, we fixed ourselves right. No spookie cows, no goofy deer, no wandering hog families. Total ride, about an hour.

Things are taking shape. I'm no longer tacking up thinking, "oh geez, what's going to scare my horse & ruin the ride today?", but instead, I'm thinking, "wow, I'd love to clear fences today & not have to reset anything... I hope my timing is better. I wonder what new pattern I can work on."

Chewie's shoe replaced Monday. Robin is scheduled to come over tonight. She'll ride one, I'll ride the other, then we'll switch. I hope to get some fences in with both horses at trot tonight. She may discourage jumping Chewie, as it aims my two-point a little more over his front end, which makes Romeo too heavy to jump, but I know Chewie loves jumping, and I'd love to give him, and my confidence, that opportunity.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another Week Gone By

Monday - Day Off
Tuesday - Chewie, round pen, walk, trot, canter free.. Walk, trot under saddle. Riding Chewie now resembles sitting on a hard-bottomed chair - muscular, yet supportive. Total work, 45 minutes. Chewie was lazy, and a bit tough to keep moving, but I expected it, given the time off he's had.

Wednesday - Chewie, round pen, more of the same. High winds, with plenty of gusts. The weeks with Romeo have fortunately taught me that weather doesn't scare the horse if it doesn't scare the rider. Thanks Romeo! Total work, 45 minutes

Thursday - Attempting to take Romeo tacked to the arena, Chewie began to fart, buck, bite & play. Romeo got away from me, and they were off. Romeo kept trying to get back to me, with Chewie getting in between, playing all the harder. After about 20 minutes of their antics, I retrieved Romeo, no damage to horse, slight scratch in saddle, and no other tack damage. I was surprised. Took Romeo to the arena, and after some walk, trot, and desensitizing to the arena fence, called it done. Total work, including the buck & run, arena, and desensitizing, nearly an hour.

Tonight, I hope for Romeo, arena, ground poles. Chewie, round pen canter, arena walk. Lesson scheduled for Saturday 10:30am.

Doctor says Reactive Hypoglycemia. I'm still trying to learn more about what's going on in my body, what to eat, how much, and how often. He suggested more tests, and a few nutritional store supplements & minerals. Will give more details when I understand better.

For those reading, please send up prayers for my grandfather, who's not doing well, and I wish I could go see...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 6, 2008 Part Three

Fences to the Left, Rail 6 Down
Last Place

April 6, 2008

Jumping to the Right
First place

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sienna Stables, April 6, 2008

Woke up around 6:00am, after accomplishing only about 4 hours rest. Still weak, but darn determined not to pack up & go home. I ate a little breakfast, and headed for the arena.

It was peaceful & quiet there around 7:00am, which I found strange. By 8:30am, Robin arrived, found us tacked & ready for warm-ups. I finished dressing for show, and off we went.

Navigated a while at the trot around some other horses, and when the arena was all ours, sailed over a few cavaletti poles around 12" high. No big deal. Romeo was a little more energetic, and I found that he needed no push over fence #1, a rest, and new pressure over fence #2. Knowing the rails were really spread out over the arena, I figured I should continue this in the class.

Class #1 walk/trot on flat, Class #2 Warm-Up Fences, One time around to the right (two crossrails on each long side) Class #3 two times around to the right, Class #4 two times around to the left.

I'll put up the good news BEFORE the video clips.
Flat class - 3rd of 5
Warm-Up Jump - Clean... HUGE jump at 1 & 3, but rider in the center, and no rails down
Jumping Right - 1st of 4
Jumping Left - 4th of 4 (rail 6 down)

My Summary.... The flat class was judged for dressage-balanced riders (higher hands, legs in front). I rode my best.

Warm-Up, he tried to avoid #1, and #3, and I forced it for both fences. Got some huge AIR over them, but never felt like I lost control.

Class Right over Fences, just a clean, good, solid round. I felt in control, and got the impression my horse enjoyed his job. He cantered just a little from 3 & 5, and came right back underneath me.

Class Left over Fences, he got tired, and lazy, and I forgot to add leg. #6 one rail down.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Friday, Saturday, Show Schooling

Friday noon lesson was good. Romeo cooperated until the rains came. We worked on a few high crossrails, then straight to 2'. One fence only, never got back to the series of bounces. Heavy rainshowers shortened our lesson, as Robin tore the tack off of him, and I ran him to the stall for shelter. Everything, and I mean everything, got wet. Saddle, pads, bridle, his wraps, my boots, helmet, all of it. Dripping, irritating, soggy, wet. Total lesson, exactly 1 hour, but unfortunately no cool down. Focused on all the same things, hands, elbows, heels down, eyes up, forward energy...

Robin somehow got a flat tire, discovered at the house. Mike came & they repaired together.

Saturday morning, lesson 9am. Lesson lasted 1.5 hours. Knowing we had to have at least one bad day, this was it. First twenty minutes, Romeo was my screaming 2 year-old kid in a candy aisle. "I wanna candy! I wanna candy! I won't cooperate until I getta candy!" So I pushed and pushed. Tried many many transitions, changing anything at all every time I lost his attention. That worked a little, then he got worse again. Finally started just pushing him with strong legs, forcing him to bounce into the bit. All of a sudden, at the far yard end, in a circle, he tucked his head, let out a huge sigh, and began to work. Word of the day? PERSISTENCE!!! After he calmed down, focused on one crossrail three times, one 2' fence multiple times. Got a lot of clean jumps, good focus on elbows, eyes, and nice crest releases.

Bathed Romeo, packed truck, trailer, wrapped legs, and off we went. Total travel time, a little under 2 hours.

Arrived at the facility increasingly overwhelmed. Whatta fancy, rich, upscale place! I felt pretty insignificant arriving there in my little trailer, with my little horse. I was greeted with a gator-driving teenager, who helped me unload horse to stall, as well as tack. Turns out the stall comes with a little tack stall, grain bin, hay rack, and automatic waterer. How fantastic! All supplies unloaded, trailer in a far parking lot unhooked, I gathered my horse.

Rode solo in the little covered arena for nearly 30 minutes, walk & trot. Romeo was fairly well behaved, nothing like in the morning. Got him past some spooks like viewing gazebos, buckets, gates, and the train whizzing past behind us. He seemed pretty eager to pay attention. I watched a teenager in the jumping covered arena whipping her horse's hiney with a crop with fear. There's no way I'd ever do that to a horse. (That meets this edition of "People are Stupid!") As I left the smaller arena, comments arose like, "He's a cute mover! You're doing great!" *grin* That's my adorable, crooked legged, inside tracking little cow-pony!!!

When the jumping arena cleared, I asked the owner where the rails were in there at my level. She pointed out one crossrail, and off we went. Everyone meandered away, and feeling pretty secure, we walked & trotted the rail in the big arena. I aimed at the one crossrail, pointed, and pushed. Romeo hesitated, a little timid about the big PVC pipe rails he was about to jump. And JUMP he did - about 3 ft in the air. I managed to stay with him, and out of his face, courtesy of a wad-o-mane. We accomplished a few more successful jumps, with a little less air, and called it quits. Total work, about 50 minutes.

Headed for the hotel, arrived there at 7pm. Had pizza dinner delivered, promptly found out the toilet wasn't working. Relocated to a different room, and bed by 10:30pm. Got incredibly sick overnight, low blood sugar (doctor's appointment scheduled to try to learn more).

Next post covers the show, and some video clippets of our stellar performance.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lesson 4/1 , Shoes for Chewie

I avoided typing out what happened Monday, but it was a learned lesson perhaps nobody else wants to repeat; thus I will mention it.

Monday's ride with Romeo started out okay, but got progressively worse. For the first ever time, Romeo pushed straight through a 21" vertical, with zero effort to pick up his front feet. I stopped the ride, walked him out and hopped off. Knowing this wasn't typical Romeo, I carefully untacked, and checked everything I could. As I took off the polo wraps, I saw blood on the back of the wraps. Frantically removing the wraps, I took of his bell boots, and found the problem. The bell boots neoprene "heel keeper" had rubbed the back of his ankles raw, to the point of bleeding. I felt horrid. I hosed his legs down, talked to him gently, and sprayed Furazone all over the wounds. The bleeding stopped, and he seemed to appreciate the treatment. I still feel absolutely horrid about it, and can't believe I didn't notice it under saddle. He's an amazing horse. I brought pain on him, and, rather than buck & rear, or put up a huge temper tantrum, he just stopped trying. I'm glad I didn't force the issue, and didn't insist he jump.

Mike & Robin came together Tuesday afternoon. They both peeked at Romeo's feet, and thought he'd be fit for work. Chewie was caught, trimmed, new shoes, new Equilox. Mike says no need for pads, but he will need to stay out of the loose footed arena and round pen until it packs down. I have the drag, and now should have all the pieces to hook it up. I'm hoping the little drag will pack it down at least some, combined with my mower tires squishing the soil.

Lesson... With Romeo tacked up, NO bell boots, and polo wraps run all the way down covering the sores, we went off to work. High crossrails warm up was good. Robin immediately raised the second rail to 2ft, and off we went. Hang Time! That is, by far, the best fun in riding him. He lifts himself straight up, and seems to truly enjoy the job. I was tickled purple over every fence. Our only rail down was right at the end, last vertical. Robin thought that was the prettiest effort, with the best hand release, forward-leg I had. I found a "sweet spot" on him, where I can tap with my spurs, release with the reins, and get an arched back just before the fence. Total lesson about 40 minutes. It was hot, and Robin needed to get going.

Got all things done around the barn, water buckets washed, litter boxes cleaned. Hauled all but Nelda to the vets for boarding. I'm away from home for work until Thursday. It's Wednesday morning, and I already miss the horses. I'm sad I won't ride tonight, and won't even get a little nicker at feed time. It's a hassle to clean stalls, and sometimes I dread barn chores. Romeo's little nickers when he sees me are a cheer in my day, and that's not replaceable. Summary? I miss my horses...

Romeo will be lunged tonight by Robin, Thursday off. Friday noon lesson, Saturday 9am lesson. Hope to be on the show-road by 1:30, arrive by 4:00.