Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I am off travelling for the holidays. One family visit complete, one to go. R and I have enjoyed the sights in Pittsburgh, PA. We visited the Strip District, and bought a meal for a homeless guy named Terry. A sweet and polite man. We also visited the Carnegie Science Museum, mostly for the miniature railroad exhibit. I remember the train from my childhood, so it was awesome to see it again. In a new sports complex part of the museum, I got in a little rock wall climbing. Pictures sometime soon... =)

Now, we are off to see R's family. The airport is snowy today, and beautiful...
If I do not get another entry up.. may I wish you and yours
A Very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12/18/10 Heartbreak

Ransom went back to BRM today. He let me know how he felt about it very early, getting away from R trying to change his blanket in the yard. Took a few scary minutes to catch him, but he was uninjured. Loaded, and arrived safely mid-morning.
Very little words were shared as we put him in their round pen. I got to say my tearful goodbye's, and so did R. I left him with his vet records, turnout blanket and sheet, and love.
We walked off at one point, but I snuck out of the barn moments later... and got the "head up Hi Mom!" face. I snuck another smooch before driving off.

"Farewell, good friend. When it hurts a little less, maybe I will come see you again. Until then, take it easy! Don't overdo it! No galloping fits, no sillyness! Babysit those folks that will exercise you... no jumping high, no trotting extended. Just go easy, eat lots, and love more.."

Friday, December 17, 2010

12/16/10 Romeo Plans

Rode Romeo bareback for about a half hour, western bit. He obeyed mostly, and I stayed at walk & trot. Some pesky things popped up during the ride that I'm going to focus on with him in 2011.

Verbal "Whoa" means stop n-o-w. Not ten feet later. Bit pressure should NOT be necessary for a verbal cue.

Neck reining could use a little touch up work with repetition.
Stops are very harsh on front end. He needs a butt-down stop.

I'm going to work on these things with Romeo next year. I'll probably employ Julie Goodnight's elbow pull system (or one similar of my creating), and he'll spend some serious time on a longe line in the elbow pull, learning how to relax to the bit pressure. I'm also going to spend some serious time working on halts - backing him up a few steps from every halt out of walk and trot. I'll also work on his canter stops, as Julie suggested in a TV episode, going to an opposite diagonal trot everytime he stops ugly.

Soon, you will see some 2011 Goals for Romeo, and for Harley. I've let out my thoughts on Romeo goals. What do you think would make good Harley goals? Competing? Judge comments? Certain scores? Accomplishing things at home with video for proof? What say you?

12/11/10 Training #3, S. Malone-Casey, Judge

Training Level #3,
S. Malone-Casey, Judge
1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
7 = don't drift right to turn left

2. Track left at C, Left at E, circle left 20m at X
6 = stride needs to be longer, 2nd 1/2 better than first

3. Circle right 20M at X, B turn right
7 = getting better

4. – 5. Circle right 20m at A, right canter lead first quarter of circle
4. Transition
8 = fluid
5. Circle
7 = circles don't have corners

6. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
6 = allow horse to trot, balance will be better

7. A Medium walk
7 = nicely ridden

8. K-B free walk
6 = a little tight in back

9. B-M medium walk, M working trot

10. – 11. Circle left 20m at C, left canter lead first quarter of circle
10. Transition

11. Circle
7 = don't go so deep in corner in circle

12. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
7= fairly well balanced

13. C, circle left 20m, rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward, shorten reins before C
7 = keep outside rein steady, just bend to inside

14. Half circle at E 10m to X, X straight ahead, G halt salute.
7 = straight, square, but neck short

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 7

Learn four points of a circle. It doesn't have corners.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12/15/10 Harley Meets Dressage & the Clippers

So much in a short time. I had a little sunshine left, and the winds had calmed a little, so I thought. I walked into Harley's pasture, halter in-hand, and he walked over to me, nickering a little. "Do you know, Harley, that you're filling a hole? Because you're sure starting to act like a pocket-pony, nuzzles and all."

A little grooming to get the hay, grass bits, and dust off his coat, and I saddled him dressage for the first time. I only used a square pad, hoping to get him warm enough riding to test saddle fit. It seemed okay from the ground, but I wanted to be sure.

As soon as I got on, it was "go go go". Harley didn't want to stand, and he absolutely didn't want to halt. His head was up, his ears in every direction, and he felt tense. I'd be tense too, with less padding between my back and a human atop me, wriggling around a lot. When I added leg, he immediately bounced into his trot, and it was even bigger. After a few minutes, and lots of turns and bends, Harley settled down, obviously starting to understand the changes in body position and weight shifts. I didn't ride more than about 10 minutes or so, before my headcold started to whoop me, getting spats of coughing and sniffles. I dismounted, and took the saddle off..

I found he'll be needing either a wither riser pad, or my Mattes sheepskin halfpad for the near future, until he builds up some topline and wither muscles. Most of the saddle fit great, but there was a patch of cool skin under his withers, just below the backbone. Darnit! :) It's okay, Ransom had it too when I first got him, so I know how to fix it. I'll be pad browsing online today, so if anybody has experience with this and has a suggestion, comment please!!!

I glanced down at the clippers, looked at Harley, and told him, "Well, let's give this a whirl. You were pretty quiet considering the tarps were flapping in the wind, tree limbs blowing all over the place. I'll be happy if I can just turn them on near you. We've got to start somewhere."

I walked him back to the barn and the power plug. I plugged the clippers in, and turned them on. Harley's head popped up, and he took a step backwards. I rested the clipper body on his shoulder, and rubbed his sweetspot on his forehead. He eased his head down, and gave me a deep sigh, licking and chewing.

So I got brave. I put the clipper body against his nose, with more rubbing, and when he didn't spook, I turned them around, and started coarsely clipping nose whiskers. No reaction, in fact, he leaned into it a little. Cool! I asked him to lower his head, and clipped a little bridle path. A little nervous head-up, until he realized it wasn't going to hurt, and he relaxed again. Feeling even more brave, I clipped those pesky long under eye lashes. Harley actually lowered his head into the clippers for this, and I was verbally cooing and cahhing, praising him the whole time. "What a brave boy you are! This is awesome! Super good job, Harley!"

Finally, I reached up, again with the body of the clippers, inside his ears. No reaction. So I clipped a tiny bit of that ear fuzz near the bottom of his head. Still no reaction. I very coarsely clipped bits of fuzz inside his ears. I didn't "show shave" them short, but just clipped bits here and there inside of both ears. All with zero reaction, except a good head-shaking as I walked around his head to the other ear. Amazing.. good job Harley!

Another success! I'm guessing that was his first time with the clippers, and I'm happy it went well, peacefully, without a problem. Makes me want to body clip him, to make our winter rides easier.. really, really, really does... I probably won't this year, but if we get another warm burst after vacation, it's going to be awfully tempting.

12/15/10 Fifteen with Ransom

Ransom and I rumbled to the arena, where I put on his twisted wire O-ring, and hopped on. He was a little jittery in the sharp wind gusts. That makes me laugh, you know? He's 20 years old, almost 21, and he still squirts at the tree limbs blowing around.

Rode all three gaits, both directions. I actually was able to lean forward, sort of in a two point, for his canter, which was pretty fun. Most of the ride was just walking, though. I laughed at him and his amazing work ethic. As soon as I sat down on his back and grabbed the reins, he bent his neck and nose, and I felt his back round up. He thinks everything is work work work, and I can't blame him. He's worked his whole life, at something or other. No reason for him to know any different.

I didn't ride long. His feet are long, and he's due for a trim. He tripped a bit, and felt very stiff. Three days off, with zero warmup, and long feet, usually leads to some stumbling.

One more Ransom ride scheduled for Friday ... I'll put the saddle on that time, though, and probably let him think it's a workday.. One. Last. Ride.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 Goal Update

Now, this cheers me up.. I set some pretty high goals, and I got super close to meeting them!

Learn to ride a good sitting trot - Ransom.
Complete! I don't have a lot of video to prove it, but I can drop my stirrups, collect him up pretty, and sit that trot!

Compete Ransom Training Level 1 & 2 with two scores 67% or better.
Fail, Sort of ... top Training 1 & 2 score of the year? 64.348% was the highest. I say "sort of" because look at the next one! Smoking GOOD!

Compete Ransom Training Level 3 & 4 with at least one score over 60%.
Complete! 65.2% and 67.2% , both for Training 3

Compete Ransom Hunter over Fences 2' with a clear round at a schooling show.
Fail... Change in plans. I decided to focus 100% on dressage, and with those scores above, I think it was the right decision.

Determine a "Career Path" for Romeo & stick with it.
Complete! His Career Path? My ultimate stress relief, my mail carrier, my trail partner, my all-purpose "hey I wanna test this out but if I suck at it Mo won't mind" horse.

The extra achievements I never expected?
Adult Amateur Highpoint Sash winner at TWO HDS Schooling Shows! TWICE!

12/15/10 Ransom, What's Next?

I thought about keeping him forever, taking his shoes off, and letting him be a pasture puff.
I thought about using him to teach me flying changes.
I thought about using him to pony Harley around, and teach him.
I thought about trail riding for a year, putting my show dreams on-hold.

The first one? I wouldn't be able to do it. Seeing him in the pasture, knowing his potential, and his serious dislike of not working, running fenceline while Romeo and Harley dance, I know it would hurt him more than if I kept working him.

The last three? Those all mean either some moderate level of work, or some serious injury risk. Ransom can't hold up to those last three dreams, no matter how hard I try to convince myself of it.

So, with tears, and serious frustration, I've come to the conclusion that Saturday, I'm going to get up, feed him, wrap his legs, load him on the trailer, and return him to BRM where he came from. Hopefully once the pain has wore off watching him walk away into his pasture the last time, I'll be able to return up there and admire his cute personality. Maybe even hop on him bareback for a walk. Keeping him sound isn't possible on my watch, despite all the things I have tried. He's not going to continue to score well in the dressage ring, and it's not fair to his joints and muscles to ask him to jump again. He's ready to retire, to go back to his pasture puff life he had before he found me.

And I, like many other bloggers lately I've been reading, am pissed about it. It flat out, no doubt about it, sucks. I had dreamed of bigger things with him, and they're just not going to happen.

With all this in mind, this afternoon, no matter how bad this headcold is making me feel, tonight.. while the winds are still warm, and the sun is still shining, I'm grabbing my boots, my helmet, my twisted wire bit, and Ransom, and we're going to play in the arena. I have zero goals, zero intentions of "things to accomplish" with him today. It's the first time I'm riding him with NO intentions of "feeling something", or "learning something" or "fixing something". I'm just going to ride, and try to enjoy it as much as possible.

12/11/10 Schooling Show Championships Pt II

The championship class was next. Ransom's last competition test, at least with me. What happened? Well, I'm going to be a big pouty baby, and stomp my feet, swing my arms about, and holler, "I don't wanna talk about it!" And I don't.. not just yet. For now, let me say this.. The outcome wasn't real good, and I don't understand it.

Faithful readers and lurkers anonymous, please understand there's a reason I'm withholding the details. It's not that I'm ashamed or embarassed, that's not it at all. I'm frustrated, and almost angry. I've discussed this with a select few, and those who know, please don't comment with details? Thanks.. I've asked some questions, and I'm waiting on those answers. If they arrive, I'll probably be more forthright here...

I know I owe you guys and gals video, and I will provide that, um, *cough* once I watch it myself. That should happen tonight, I think... If I can get it hooked up to the TV so I can watch it. I also owe you all judge's comments for Test #3, which I will provide if I can ever remember to carry the score sheet to a computer. =)

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/11/10 Schooling Show Championships

The title says it all. R, Jen, Ransom and I, dressed and loaded, headed for Houston, to the Houston Dressage Society Schooling Show Championships Saturday morning. We were qualified, and were entered in two classes.

We arrived nice and early, and got everything unpacked, Ransom settled in his stall, and even had time to fix up a few braids he undid overnight. Rested and ready, it was near time for our first event - Training Level, Test 3.

I'll add movement scores and judge comments in some time this week. For the sake of folks reading, I'll cut to the chase.

Training Level Test #3, Sue Malone-Casey, judge

It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that this totally sunk in. A 67.2%! That was our

I found the ride a little nerve-wracking. The wind was howling in the trees to the side of the show arena, and our warmup was quite chaotic (too many horses, too small a space, plus a few wayfaring non-attentive pedestrians littering the warmup). Ransom felt a little stiff to me, and I attributed it to a less than adequate warmup. Nevertheless, when I got my test score sheet in-hand, I glowed. We didn't win first place with it, but what a delightfully awesome score!

However, that's where the delight just about ends. It will probably take me the rest of today, and maybe even tomorrow to summarize what happened in the Championship Test #4 class. I'm still stunned, confused, and maybe even a little mad.

12/10/10 Ransom

Ransom rode with a particular snark Friday. You know, the attitude of, "I know something's coming, I can feel it in your behavior Mom. So watch me be a dork, just to challenge your confidence."

And me oh my did he start out the ride horrid. Head in the sky, hollow back transitions, a few gallops rather than canters, and a trot that was so irregular I couldn't even post it, let alone sit without bouncing about. Blech!

I did a longer set at the walk, stretch, collect, stretch, collect, stretch, collect, HALT. A few of these, followed by circles with his head turned slightly in the circle, and slightly out of the circle, and Ransom realized I wasn't playing games. I was serious.

Finally, he started to behave. I was able to ride test pieces that concerned me, and even finished up with some fantastic stretching trot circles. He rode for nearly 45 minutes, and the last 20 of that were awesome. An ugly start, but a fabulous end.

Ransom got a bath, he even got his mane braided.. But why would we go to all that trouble? Locked up in his stall and paddock, dressed and covered, he ate hay for the night, staring longingly at the trailer. What were we ever going to do with the fancy show horse?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

12/6/10 Harley Meet Dr. Sam Pt II

Dr. Sam had his tech, Seth, set Harley up on their gravel driveway. Sam said to me quite cheerfully, "If he's got any lameness issues, this gravel sure will show it."

On the first trot-off, Harley hopped up in the air, all four feet off the ground, obviously terrified of all the clucking, kissing, and arm-waving that went on around him. *giggle* I told Dr. Sam, "I've been trying to teach him to trot off in hand, and it hasn't gone so well. Sorry about that." Sam replied, "Oh it's okay. He'll know how to do it when we're done here today."

Flexion up front, on both legs, 100% completely, totally, sound!

Before moving to the rear legs, another client showed up to retrieve a mare in the paddocks. He loaded her, and drove his truck and trailer directly by Harley and the vet's staff.. I stood to the side, cautious. You know, that cautious, "OMG, if Harley does spook, he's going to end up on the highway, in traffic, and... OMG I hope he's quiet." Harley watched the truck, trailer, and mare go by, and didn't even raise his head to do it. Completely passive about the whole event. *whew*
Then onto the back legs. Dr. Sam tested his entire rear leg, in parts. First, the lower half, then the upper half. Each in its own time. Each time, as Harley trotted off, Sam stared, studied, in his deep concentration sort of way. He kept grinning at me after each piece, as if he had a secret he didn't want to tell me.
Rear legs flexion, 100% completely, totally, sound!
Dr. Sam hoof tested each foot, squeezing in all kinds of places. Not a wiggle, not a flinch, not a hesitation from Harley - he just stood there, statue-still. Hooves? Pass!
The Good Doctor asked me what I intended to do with Harley, and so I told him. He then said, "If he were any older, and had done any strenous work, I'd suggest radiographs. Honestly, since you know his history, you know what he's done, where he's been, there's nothing worth looking at further. He's good to go, no problems, no issues." I asked about the old scar on his front right hoof, inside. As hard as it was hoof tester squeezed, with no reaction, it's cosmetic only. The same with the indentation on his rear left quarters. Dr. Sam explained that it's a surface muscle, in a group of muscles that are very thick, and very strong, but serve only to hold other very important using muscles together. "It's a connecting band of muscles, not a functioning band. It's not bothering him, so again, only cosmetic."
I'm waiting for the final report write-up to arrive at the house. That all being said..
Dramatic Drum Roll Please.. (badabadabadabadabadabadabadabadabadabadabada)...
I contacted Harley's current owner, and told her, "Write him up, Bill of Sale, terms and conditions as already discussed. I'd like to keep him, if that's alright by you."
That makes it all but a signed check of official... Luken For Blue Skies, aka Harley, is now a member of the family.

12/7/10 Ransom, not yet!

Ransom got to enjoy the entire arena Tuesday night, as I worked through all of the pieces of Training Test #4. The "one loops" were pretty darn good, and to my absolute delight, the canter work was fantastic! Absolutely zero change in stride from the straightaways to the circle. Fantastic! We even had a few fabulous transitions down to trot right at the center marker. His stretch trot right still isn't super long&low, but it's pretty good. The free walk, by far my favorite part right now - he's coming in and out of it from working walk without that goofy "please let me trot" spat.

As he started getting tired, he also started getting lazy. Hanging on the forehand, leaning on my hands, I believe in a attempt to pull my shoulders out of socket. I wriggled and battled, and finally started hard half-halting back at him every time he did it. With a few huge stumbles up front, Ransom seemed to remember that if he leans on me, he doesn't stay up right very long. Right after each half-halt, I was releasing big, and when he tripped he did it hard.

Cheer up Ransom! You're supposed to be a great ride Tuesday! It's Thursday you get to be a goober, and make me wonder what we're doing.. Oh yeah, readers delight.. Great Things coming this weekend.. CountDown, 3. More. Days. Can you wait that long?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12/6/10 Harley Meet Dr. Sam

Sunshine in the sky, turned on the all-heavenly vaccuum cleaner yesterday afternoon. You know the one.. That mysterious suction that, if you stand in the hallway at work long enough, pulls you right out the door, and sets the "out of office assistant" right on your heels? Yeah, that one.

I went home, hooked up the truck and trailer, caught Harley, wrapped his legs, and loaded him on the trailer. Big step up for a little guy, and after one cautious look inside the trailer, he stepped right in. I drove carefully to the vet, paying attention to traffic, but more to his behavior. Not a step, not a sound. A peaceful ride.

Arrived at the vet's office, told Harley to wait patient, and walked up to the office to let them know I'd arrived. As I walked back to the trailer, Harley called out to me, and I grinned. "You ready to get outta there? I'm sure glad you see me, and you're happy about it." When I opened the trailer compartment to unload him, Harley turned around, thinking he could walk out forwards. "Nope. No go buddy." I turned him around, and backed him out carefully. With a few hesitant steps, he unloaded. As soon as that first hind hoof hit the gravel driveway, he relaxed.

One of the other patient horses called out to him, and Harley answered. I wiggled the lead rope and scolded him, and he dropped his head. A cute apology, I thought. I unwrapped his legs, and introduced him to Dr. Sam.

Sam walked him over to the stocks as I rolled the last leg wrap. I watched carefully, and noticed, not another sound from Harley, nor a hesitation as he walked right into the stocks. There was another patient horse in the other stocks, um, oh, about 20ft away. They exchanged glances, but nothing more.

Harley stood quiet for the entire physical exam. Temperature, heart, lungs, gut sounds, ears, and the like. Dr. Sam had nothing but compliments.

Last to complete, was the soundness exam. Flexion tests on front legs, and rear, including hocks and stifles. How did he do? Well you'll just have to wait and see... 'Cause I'm gonna drag this one out a little!


12/5/10 Ransom Delight

We're like a hand and glove. A matched set of fine china. A great CD in an awesome sound system...

Ransom and I enjoyed about 45 minutes together, after a nice longe on the side reins, I hopped aboard. All the transitions were pretty, all his trot work was steady.

What I'm learning to love, is his canter. I played a little with stride length, pushing with my seat a few strides, and then relaxing a few, just to see what would happen. Ransom enjoyed the game, because I could feel him push from behind when I moved my hips more.

Enjoyable, and at least four times I caught myself smiling without being intentional about it.

Something big is coming! Countdown, 4 days. Can you figure it out??

12/4/10 Harley, The Video

I really thought this went out yesterday. Note the random musical selection. *grin* How funny!!

I got about 45 minutes of total video, and this is probably the better of the clips. I longed him a while, to get a good video of his movement, rode a while for the camera... Then we worked on a few leg yields, which went particularly better than I figured they would.

Finally, this linked video clip was collected. Directly after this video was taken, Harley was sweaty, and warm... So I walked him over to the pond, and dismounted in the field somewhere near the pond.

Hand walked him over to it, and, with a little encouraging, he stuck all four feet proudly in the water. Splashed around with a front hoof a bit, and laughing at him, I carefully led him out, and back to the house.

Monday, December 6, 2010

12/3/10 Harley, Talking to Myself

The conversation in my head went something like this...

Why won't I just start cantering Harley? I mean, really... There were how many different horses for sale that I hopped up on, without thought, threw caution to the wind, and asked up into the gait? For heaven's sake, there was even the one I rode without the owner riding first. That one on second ride bucked hard with the owner! I'm a frigging chicken! He lives here! I know his history, I know he knows how. He's got the muscles now. It won't be pretty and collected, but he'll go for sure!

So I grabbed Harley, dressed him all up, and walked him to the arena. I longed him out a little first, and he was quiet. I asked for canter, and got decent movemetn without a lot of effort. A little canter-departs, a circle or two at a time, and easy downs back to trot.

I hopped on. He found his "Go" button, for sure, and it's in a driving seat. I pushed him on at the walk, and he popped to trot. Can't fault him for it, I was asking big. So I left him go. The trot got a little pokey lazy, so I squeezed again. Harley responded with this gigantic trot - You know the one. That "I'm almost in the canter so you might as well just squeeze me again" trot?

So I did. Steady on the circle, I prayed he'd stay there. I squeezed solid, and kissed hard. Harley lept up into his canter, and I quickly relaxed, and kept kissing to him. Gawgeous. Just outstanding, beyond my expectations. Really?! Has he been hiding this all along? I gave him a heavy sigh, and he eased into a trot. A big trot. Nearly as big as the trot-into-canter-trot. Forward!!!

A little more trot work, a little more canter-left, a little more trot. We eased into the walk, and reversed. More of the same. His canter-right? Equally delightful. This little boy is not only bright, he's even. No "better direction", he's about the same both ways, which is fantastic!

I lost track of time, thoroughly enjoying myself, probably glowing and elevated about 3" above the tack, tickled I was brave, and Harley was so willing. We rode for nearly 45 minutes. As I realized how long it'd been, I slowed him to a loose rein walk, and relaxed, with plenty of "atta boy" pats and praise.

I scheduled video taping for Saturday. If he felt that great, I was highly curious what he looked like. Is this the dressage horse I've been looking for, all this time? Have I been driving all over Timbuktu, spending countless hours, gallons of gas, and earned grey hairs, when the horse I'm looking for has been in the yard right outside my door?! Seriously?!

Friday, December 3, 2010

12-02-10 Ransom

Ransom got about three to four minutes on the side reins each way. The sunshine is dimming a little every evening, and that leaves little time for solid rides. He got the hint quickly I meant work and business, so he complied.

I got on and rode a bomb of energy. He was ridiculously forward, and was actually disciplined with some harsh half-halts when he wouldn't mind. Obviously happy about the weather, he then thought it'd be fun to hang on the forehand, and pull the reins out of my hands, which pitches me forward in the tack, and causes me to squeeze, justifying him going even faster. Monster...

After some strong half-halts, and a talking-to, I got some of the most excellent trot work imaginable. If I sat, he got even more forward, so I steadied his gait with my posting rhythm. Nevertheless, it was still outstanding work, and I was able to bend him through some serpentines, and some 1-loops as we'll be riding in Training #4.

Countdown to Championships, 8 days. Dec 11th. I have yet to receive ride times or any additional information. Hope that means I filled it all out right and sent it in correctly. *sigh* That would sure stink, wouldn't it?! If they say they didn't get it all in time. pfft. Let's be hopeful, shall we?

After the ride, and saddle removed, it was still rather humid out, and Ransom was quite sweaty after working in his winter furr. So we stood together a while, and we talked. I asked him what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and where he'd like to be. He nuzzled my hands. I don't know if that meant, "Stay with me", or "Got another cookie in there?" I've got some serious thinking and deciding to do here very soon. A lot of options before me, and I need to think very long and hard before I do anything outrageous I could regret..

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

Okay, of the season is more like it...

No words,
My tears won't make any room for more,
And it don't hurt,
like anything I've ever felt before, this is
No broken heart,
No familiar scars,
This territory goes uncharted...
Just me, in a room sunk down in a house in a town, and I
Don't breathe, no I never meant to let it get away from me
Now, too much to hold, everybody wants has to get their hands on gold,
And I want uncharted.
Stuck under this ceiling I made, I can't help but feeling...
I'm going down,
Follow if you want,
I won't just hang around,
Like you'll show me where to go,
I'm already out, of foolproof ideas,
so don't ask me how
To get started, it's all uncharted...
Each day, countin' up the minutes,
till I get alone, 'cause I can't stay
In the middle of it all, it's nobody's fault, but I'm
So alone,
Never knew how much I didn't know,
Oh, everything is uncharted.
I know I'm getting nowhere,
when I only sit and stare like...
I'm going down,
Follow if you want,
I won't just hang around,
Like you'll show me where to go,
I'm already out, of foolproof ideas,
so don't ask me how
To get started, it's all uncharted.
Jump start my kaleidoscope heart,
Love to watch the colors fade,
They may not make sense,
But they sure as hell made me.
I won't go as a passenger, no
Waiting for the road to be laid
Though I may be going down,
I'm taking flame over burning out
Compare, where you are to where you want to be,
and you'll get nowhere
I'm going down,
Follow if you want,
I won't just hang around,
Like you'll show me where to go,
I'm already out, foolproof ideas,
so don't ask me how
To get started,
I'm going down,
Follow if you want,
I won't just hang around,
Like you'll show me where to go,
I'm already out, foolproof ideas,
so don't ask me how
To get started,
It's all uncharted

How to List For Sale

I've read blog entries like this a half dozen times or more. Honestly, I've been searching for a little over a month now. While this may not benefit a single darn person out there, I'm going to vent just a bundle, and if by some miracle chance somebody listing a horse for sale stumbles on this entry, maybe, just maybe, they might learn something.

  1. Good Pictures! I don't mind a little mud, but clean up the legs, and a straight shot, please? Not head-down, grazing, at an angle to the shoulders. All this does, is make me think you're hiding something
  2. Video! If your darling baby is listed as ridable, PROVE IT! All three gaits, both directions. I don't need professional quality, so get your husband, boyfriend, BFF, your teenage child who owes back taxes, I don't care... even the stall mucker can hold a camera for ten or fifteen minutes. Show me the trot going both ways, and please show me your horse can canter both leads! A one-leaded horse, in dressage? Hmm.. bad bad bad...
  3. Describe their temperment. Don't tell me little miss mare is a delightful ride, tell me if she is a "Pocket pony" or if she's all business all the time. Is your horse cheerful? Happy to see you every day?
  4. Give me their faults outright. As a result of all of my bad search trips, I've started to ask quite the list. "Does your horse kick out? Will they pick up all four feet willingly? How many extra aids are you adding on to make them go forward? Have they EVER thrown a temper tantrum about anything, ever, in their entire life?"

I'm sure it doesn't help my cause each and every prospect I've searched for is at least 2 hrs drive one way. But I AM in Texas, and everything here is big, and far off. I don't mind the drive, but I've started asking all the stupid questions, digging for behavioral problems before I ever commit to the trip.

If this helps you, great. Mostly, this was just for me, to get all the gripes off my chest. I'm going to get back to searching now.

11-30-10 Ransom

I think I've figured out how to show Ransom if I mean "goof off" or if I mean business - side reins. The last few times I've hopped on cold, or just free longed, or gotten on bareback, he's a goof. He won't stay steady, he won't stay collected, he just won't mind real well. But tack on those side reins & longe for a few minutes (even 3 each way, as I did Tuesday night), and I have my game-horse.

After his brief longe, I hopped on, and walked maybe 4 steps on light contact before gathering up the reins. He IMMEDIATELY came up into contact, collected himself, and started a very steady marching walk. Nifty!

We rode for nearly 35 minutes, oops! I lose track of time whenever he's that forward. He was in fact VERY forward at trot, and so I played with it, transitioning in and out of canter a LOT. Are his canter trans bad? Nah.. But I figured it would build muscle memory. What I did discover, wasn't about him, but about me.

I will probably play with it more this weekend, but I was able to study very hard how much my outside leg was moving for the transition. I'll admit it, Ransom has spoiled me. I can ask in a circle with just my seat, and he gets his lead right. But I need to experiment a little with asking on a straight line, concentrating on my outside leg. I tried asking with just leg and a little seat, and found his canter less pushy and more light and UP. This is worth experimenting with just a little.

Delightful as always. The cooler, crisp weather makes him a little slow to warmup, but very forward, and energetic. Whee!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11/29/10 Hi Harley! Get it!

I grabbed Harley and we had a little chat. "Listen, sweetie. Let's stay up in your pasture, so I don't waste time catching Ransom. Be good, because there's not a lot of daylight left."

He was a little fresh during his longe warmup, but nothing unreasonable. It was nice to see him feeling good. I hopped on, and got straight to business. How to make him go forward, at the walk, with me on his back, and get out of that goofy plodding pokey walk?

I squeezed with calves, nothing. I kicked, nothing. I wiggled my feet and my lower body, nothing. Finally, I started pushing forward and back, with both hips at once. BinGo! Harley pushed out into this amazing, head swinging, ground-covering walk! I praised him, patted him, and laughed with him. I felt a little lick & chew, and smiled.

The same for the trot. If I posted the trot, he'd start to poke. So finally, I sat a little while, and pushed pushed pushed with my hips. SucceSS!

The key to Harley's forward, lies in my hips and my seat. I was a sore little lady after the ride, from pushing with every lower body muscle given to me. It's going to surely get me fit, riding this lazy little monster. But, in the whirling wind, a cold and warm front meeting, and varying little pockets of air temperature, he stayed calm, and listening.

Delightful little monster.. I just need you to keep moving, with a little less "help" from me.

11/24/10 The Search

My first horse of the day was a cutie pie. There were a few things I didn't particularly like about him, and I told the young girl showing him about them. He wasn't real willing to pick up a hind foot, and wouldn't take his right canter lead. An unfortunate deal-breaker, unless they can figure out what's going on there.

I hadn't planned on "outing" the barn where this next incident occurred. However, they've made zero effort to update their listing of the horse in question, and someone could get hurt worse than I did. So, here goes. If you're from that barn, and you'd like to respond to this incident, contact me.

We arrived at the farm, and found it much drier than the previous visit. Horse in question, Sport, was standing in the working round pen, waiting for us. He was caught with minimal effort, and brought to the truck to be saddled. I hadn't messed with his hooves on the first trip, but Mrs.M had rightly pointed out some problems, so I looked much closer.

I picked up front hooves with no problem. I walked to his left rear, and tried lifting it. He walked away. Reasonable enough, sometimes Romeo does that, Harley as well, depending what kind of mood they're in. I tried again, and again, and Sport kept walking off. The handler boasted, "We've never had a problem with his back feet. He must be sore or off today." I ran my hand down his rump, and down the leg. No flinch, no fuss. I repeated trying to pick up the hoof. Sport kicked out. I managed to get away before he connected. Handler didn't react, other than to repeat his claim "We've never had a problem picking up his feet. I don't know what the heck his problem is today."

I tried a few more times, a little slower. Finally, Sport got his way, and kicked me. Nothing serious, but his hoof connected with the back of my left arm, and the back of my left thigh. I sprung away from him quickly, and decided to call it "done". NO horse kicks me and gets away with it. The handler, did nothing. Absolutely nothing. He didn't whack the halter, he didn't back the horse up, he just made more excuses, blaming the weather, a sore day, anything he could think of.

He asked if I wanted to saddle him anyways. "No thanks. I'm done. I won't tolerate a horse at the house that won't lift feet. I don't care how sore he is. My senior horse at home is always stiff on his left hind, and while he's slow about it, he'll pick up all four feet without incident. I will NOT put my farrier through this much pissy attitude."

We left, furious. I'm still fuming about it. After contacting the handler who originally introduced me to Sport, I found out the second handler lied to me, and knew the barn had always had problems lifting hind feet. The original handler apologized to me for the incident, and explained, "The owner of the barn has suspended second handler without pay until further notice. Lying is not tolerated at our farm, and again, we are very sorry this happened to you."

Be on guard, ladies and gents. If you're looking to buy, I'd say give it two tries to pick feet up. If horse refuses, be on your way. Don't get little bit bruises like I got, because it could've been much worse.

Thanksgiving Updates

Let's see...

11-23, Harley and I braced for war in the strong winds. He was delightful as always, for about 35 minutes plodding around at walk and trot. He's slowly building topline muscles, but still moves sooo slow at the walk, it's nearly frustrating.

11-24, I went horse-searching. More on that in a bit. I've got a video that'll probably frighten ya'll, so let me summarize in another blog entry ...

11-25, Thanksgiving Day! I was able to ride and enjoy the weather. Ransom was truly delightful, all three gaits, and with minimal effort. His free walk to working walk refresher seems to have stuck, as he isn't trying to break up into trot as often.
Harley and I worked through his paces, and I found him to be a little more willing to work, without argument. About 30 minutes, and I started to get tired riding him about.
Romeo, well, is just Romeo. We played bareback in his pasture, and, after he argued a little, and realized I wasn't playing around, he got serious as well.

11-26, R and I got ridiculously early, and ventured off to test-ride a 3YO OTTB, and a 5YO grade gelding. Both had good and not so good features, but so far, are the best of the bunch. It was a very long day, however, and we finally pulled into my driveway again at 2am 11-27. *yawn*

11-27, A day of rest, reflection, and a little sadness. Anytime I think too long, too hard, about sweet Ransom's retirement, I well up pathetic, and begin missing him before he's even gone.

11-28, I enjoyed Ransom's dressage perfection again early in the morning. He was absolutely amazing, as always. As soon as he feels the side reins, he seems to travel to a mood of, "Got it, Mom. Let's get to working!"
Romeo and I, well, goofed off again. It's not that I don't want to be serious about building him up some muscles and remind him of his job, but some days, his job is just to relax, and help me unwind.

Harley 11-29 will get his own lovely little entry..

But first, let me work up an entry about the absolute disaster that I faced on 11/24. I hope someone may learn from my mistakes, and not face the same risk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11-22-10 Ransom Walk

I grabbed Ransom, and his twisted wire bit, and the longe line, and headed to the arena. Longed him just a few minutes, check for a happy sound creature, and I hopped on.

We only worked on one thing... In and out of free walk and working walk without breaking to trot! If you saw the show video, you probably noticed him breaking gait twice (or was it three times) to trot during his working walk out of the free walk. He's anxious to do his job, and I can't fault him for that - he wants to go go go!

His free walk has come SOO far from when we first started working together. Honestly, it's amazing. Instead of yanking the bit from my hands, Ransom very slowly eases down, and relaxes, his nose near the dirt. Coming back is also a vast improvement, as he settles back into contact and collection without arguing. He tried breaking to the trot twice, and was harshly punished with a strong voice, and a hard backup. Getting the idea I wasn't playing his game, Ransom decided to come in and out of free walk politely.

I finished up the ride with spiral in and out on the circle, again at the walk. Ransom loves that game, and can bend in his middle and make the prettiest tiny circles.

Total work, about 25 minutes. There were strong SE wind with the occasional burst throughout the ride, wind howling and singing through the trees. Ransom spooked once, I suppose as the wind blew up his tail. He squirted about 4" forward, but kept me aboard, safe & sound.

Psst.. in case you didn't notice, the entire ride was bareback. Yep, I was wearing my helmet, too!

Monday, November 22, 2010

11-21-10 Harley

I woke up waaay too early for church, so I fed the boys in the dark. Had breakfast, got dressed, and murmured to myself about being bored while I drank my coffee. Well, might as well do somethin' with all this extra ambition, before it runs down the road with me.

I grabbed Harley from the pasture. He walked up to me, apparently eager to get his job done for the day so he could spend the rest of it munching grass niblets. He saddled up and accepted the fly spray like a true gentleman. I praised, patted, and cookied his success.

We walked calmly to the arena, and he longed out for about 10 minutes in his halter. I didn't quite know what I'd be asking for, so when I had his mind, I stopped, put on the bridle, and hopped on.

I worked all the basics, walking, trotting, halting on light vocals. I also started playing with my seat, moving my pelvis forward and back, and learned something about his previous training. If I sit with my butt-muscles behind my pelvis bone (i.e. crotch bones sort of plugged in forward towards the saddle front), he moves on with good forward. If I push that bone group back, (i.e. barely lean forward), he stops quickly with zero bit pressure. Hmm.. interesting. I monkeyed with that a while, and when I understood it, I started experimenting with how little seat cues I could exert for forward motion. Much less than leg bumps alone. Nice!

Then, I loosened the reins to no contact, and started to ask for wiggly turns, direction changes, and serpentines, all on neck reining and leg pressure. He's great turning left, in fact, fantastic. Turning right? We have much to do. I finally got some decent turns with only minor tugs on the right side of the bit before quitting for the day.

In that early crisp morning air, I could hear all the birds fluttering and chirping around us. There was only one car adventured down the dirt road in the distance. It was quiet, and peaceful. A good time to concentrate on just the horse, and the ride. By the end, walking out, I could feel him breathing lightly, and matched mine to his. Harmony... Or something like that. =)

11-20-10 Romeo Throws a Fit

He tried to, at least. I grabbed Mo, saddled him up Western saddle, English French link bit, grabbed the side reins and lunge line, and headed to the arena. See, earlier the previous week, I longed him very briefly in the sideyard, short rope and a halter. Romeo thought it'd be funny to play kick towards me twice that evening. I settled for respect that night, but knew it was time to remind him he CAN have a job if he acts like that.

I longed him only briefly in just his halter, before the sillies started coming back. Stuffed the bit in his mouth, and held his head where I wanted it with side reins. Ran the line through the bridle. whee! There he goes! Romeo fought it for quite a while, gnawing hard on the bit in sheer disbelief. His eyes called out, "You're kidding me, right? I haven't had to do more than work on a loose rein in, um, over two months! Not a chance, lady! I ... can .. fight ... this .. oh , well, maybe they won't loosen up if I keep bracing." Finally, after fifteen minutes, Mo settled down, and dropped his head.

With my creature's attention again, I took off the line and side reins, and hopped on. Again, Mo thought work hard was over. Nope, not a chance, son. I pushed him only at walk and trot, but insisted on short reins, and a little collective work. Romeo was quite ticked off, obvious by his swishing tail. The only time he was allowed to relax, was when he stretched into a free walk. As soon as he popped his head up again, I shortened the reins, and put him right back to work. After another twenty minutes, I let him wander aimlessly on a loose rein. He let out a heavy sigh, pleased that the torture was over.

So I wonder if Romeo has some "work" in him, again. This has been a debate in my mind for almost two years, as long as Ransom's been around. Can Romeo keep himself together long enough to train in low-dressage, or will he completely go bonkers like he did in the hunter three-month series, determined to kill us both by the end? I'm debating putting up a video of his movement for ya'll to tear apart.. I'm also debating hauling his lazy arse to the vet, and asking Dr. Sam to give him a look-see and evaluate if he's got a future showing..

11-20-10 Ransom says, "Pfft, told ya so!"

I gathered Ransom up in all his parts & pieces, and off to the arena we went. He nudged me towards going down the road, but, given his last performance, he didn't need a break, he needed to work.

And work we did. He tried fighting just briefly on the longe line and side reins, before a few tug-backs, and some harsh words came from me. I wasn't tolerating it again. I even had to carry the longe whip, and push his feet to make him realize it was time to work.

After about 15 minutes, MisterLazyBritches was obeying stop, go, gait change, all relaxed. So I hopped on.

The ride? Phenominal. There were only a few ugly transitions, but overall, he worked up nicely. We danced together for nearly 35 minutes, when I glanced at my watch, summarized his work time in my head, and eased up to a good free walk. His trot felt very steady and forward, and the canter was awesome as always. There's still this pesky habit of wanting to come trot everytime I come out of free walk to working walk. hmPH! I don't remember starting that habit, but I better oughta break it before championships..

=) Good work, fine sir.. exactly what I know you're capable of.

11-19-10 Harley's Adventure

I got home from work, got changed, and grabbed Harley. Then, I had a decision to make. Was it back to the arena for focused concentration, or a wandering down the road kinda day?

I chose the second. He hadn't worked in a few days, so I figured we'd start in the yard, and if he longed pretty, stopped nice, minded well, then I'd push him a few steps farther down the road than he may want to go (just beyond comfortable, in the event he got nervous), and aim to get as far as the third driveway away.

Longed beautifully, after a few speedy boogers escaped from his legs. Began responding to a verbal, "Whoa" without fuss.

Added the bridle, my helmet, set the phone on "SHH.. you're just there in case I splAt", and hopped on.

He didn't move. Still as a statue, until I changed my body language to "forward". Started to walk on, ears pricked up, head down relaxed. I didn't even pause in the yard, but headed straight down the road, forcing myself to relax, and not get jittery about anything.

After a mild request to turn back home, he gave in, and gave me the most mellow, relaxed walk I could've hoped for. Absolutely, entirely, relaxed. No break to trot, no turning sharp to head on home, just relaxed.

I got as far as I wanted to go, without even one hesitation. He did not want to walk in a straight line, and insisted a few times on either running my head into trees overtop, or stumbling on the rocks on the road. Finally, after a few harsh trips, and a swoosh of branches along my sleeve, Harley realized that where I was putting him was a safe place to be.

The total walk was about 15 minutes. When we turned for home, he didn't try to rush, he stayed the same steady-eddy speed we'd left home with. It was an absolutely delightful walk down the road, with zero uhoh's or spooked incidents. Outstanding!

not bad for a 4yr old, eh?

The Horse Search Continues

I'm waiting for an overnighted video DVD, and I've received a few more last week worth the trip to go see.

There's about three "haven't seens" on the wish list right now. I have two others that I've ridden once, and would like to try again.

After reading GoGo's blog, I realized one idea I thought I almost had a deal on wasn't so unreasonable. You see, Andrea is considering a free lease for a year or two. Under her plan, the horse would receive some teaching, the owner would get back a brighter smarter horse, and Andrea would get a ride without a lot of commitment. I thought I'd found one similar. The owner was eager to talk to me, and eager beyond imagine that I come ride her horse. When his purchase price was explained, I declined, "Whoa, he's way outta my price range, but thanks."

Then, after more questions about my age, occupation, income, living quarters, pasture and stall arrangements, she was even more eager I come ride her horse, and lease him. So I laid out the terms of a free care lease, that I'd keep up with ALL the horse's bills with spoiled lavish care, but pay no additional fees. The owner immediately wrote back against the entire idea, and replied, "She doesn't know anyone that would ever lease a horse for free. That's just nonsense!"

I later discovered, if the horse were boarded at the barn he lives in now, it'd be a free care lease. If the horse leaves that barn, it is no longer a free care lease, but instead a pay-lease. The horse? A jumper... And a neat looking one, at that, but still a jumper. Only horses I'd even consider pay-leasing, would be lease-to-own, or a fantastic dressage schoolmaster. I responded to the owner my regards, and a gentle, "No thank you."

Received another email this weekend, asking me again to consider, and offering up the pay-lease costs. I haven't answered. I can't justify paying to ride a horse not trained and experienced in dressage.

Friday, November 19, 2010

11/18/10 Ransom Say

Screw you, Momma. I don't want to work on side reins today.

I said.. "Tough pickles, Son. Now get out there, and get working."

There were about four deer of the female variety bouncing around the pasture. I'd like to say that was the cause of His Highness' grief, however, I know better. He just didn't want to.

I pushed him out for a good 30 minutes, whether he wanted it or not. About 15 of that was spent on the longe line. He tried to kick out, tried twisting his body, tried bucking a little, but nothing worked. I pushed him on anyways.

Due to his little temper fit, he'll have today off. He won't be so successful after today though. Back to action Saturday, full steam ahead. :) Monster can't use the deer, or the weather, as his excuse. I know better.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

11-17-10 Public Service Announcement

and no, I'm not freaked out "gonna shoot at every moving blade of grass tonight", but I'm getting there...

Public Service Announcement, because I'm pretty sure the fellow who made the accusation today followed a link to my blog ...

No, dude. You and your family be happy, and content. I advertise myself here as "Taken White Female", and Facebook says "in a relationship". If you really thought, for one minute, that I was flirting, or advertising, you're desperate for love.

Not a snowball's chance in hell I want ANY of that, ever. Just because we agreed on a political debate, stood on the same side of the aisle, means in no way I'm looking for an alternative to what I've got. I have other conservative friends who in no way assumed I was flirting by describing myself, by blog, by Facebook, or otherwise.

Alright, now, maybe I am creeped out.. So I leave the readership with this...

My pistol is still loaded. Gun Control Means using Both Hands.

Now if ya'll will excuse me, I'm going to get back to riding horses now.

This now concludes this public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled equine adventures, already in progress.

11-15-10 Happy Spit

Harley amused me Monday evening. I grabbed him quick after work, saddled, and all the extras, and prepared for whatever I'd get. Daylight shortened now, I was a little concerned. Just how much could we accomplish before dusk, deer, dogs, and cows ruined our time...

He lunged out really quiet, and I considered adding the elbow pull and lunging more. I even considered just lunging, and not riding. Oh well, I won't know how he can handle this unless I try. I stuffed my head into the helmet, put his bit on, prayed just a bit, and hopped on.

Awesome. He immediately broke to walk, just as my right foot settled into the stirrup. No time standing around today! Fabulous! I praised and patted, and heard a heavy sigh. Maybe he wasn't supposed to walk on after standing still a while before, but I'm not a big fan of "waiting". His feets are already stickie, no reason to encourage more standing.

I asked for a trot, and only directed his feet, and let him keep whatever tempo he wanted. It easily steadied into a nice posting trot, something I could work with my seat. Feeling a little brave, I asked him to turn on neck rein a while - it's improving. Finally, maybe more stupid than brave, I asked for turns on leg only. Even better! Serpentines, circles, and weavy little figure 8s, and the praise continued. Consistently improving with every cue, and I'm happy for it.

Back down to the walk, and knowing Harley's not a fan yet of bit contact, the weavy little snakey movements, I asked for a straight line. Not on the rail, but by focusing off at an object outside the arena, far off. A significant improvement! Much better and much straighter than we've ever had. Again, much licking, chewing, patting and praise.

Finally, as a last test of "new things", I decided to introduce a little collection, bending at the poll. I brought him to halt, and very lightly picked up both reins, wiggling what in my mind was "inside rein". When he gave at the poll, and collected up, I dropped both reins. This only took two tries before every "inside wiggle" got a bend, and even held it for a few seconds. I squeezed him up to a walk, and tried it some more. This was a little more difficult, but after about four tries, he realized that giving meant I'd let go of the inside rein, and he tried to hold it. Lacking still the muscles to hold it, we'd get about two steps collected before I'd lose it. Still, while they were collected, they felt slow, and stickie. Darn it.. Must find a way to collect and still be forward... I'm not asking for high-collection, just long&low. Not real sure how to accomplish this yet...

My patient student and I headed back to the barn, where I undressed him. I glanced at his mouth, and found the neatest thing. Spit Marks! All around the top of his lips, where the bit was resting. Happy Spit! This is a HUGE FIRST for Harley, as he's always had a dry mouth after work. YahOO! I praised and cheered, cookies abounded, satisfied we'd accomplished something amazing.

11-14-10 Ransom

Ransom and I enjoyed about another 45 minutes of bliss Sunday. The weather was nice, and he decided this was a good day to again behave. We actually got a LOT accomplished.

I got some work in on the "one loop" in Training 4. I also pushed him into some stretch-down trot, which was nice. He obliged my poor balance, as I for some reason couldn't hold onto my stirrups evenly.

So back to the walk, and I concentrated. Right stirrup, longer than left stirrup. How, it happened, who knows. So I raised the right up a hole. Success! That was the last lost iron, and a much happier horse & rider pair.

His canter up and downs were a little stickie to start, but improved incrementally over the ride.

We're both enjoying the smooth arena, free of holes, and freshly rained on / watered. It is making for a nice ride, where I can focus and he can concentrate, all without having to worry about stumbling. Peaceful!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Search Update

Fast forward to about 7 minutes to get beyond the walking and trotting.

Rode him once, and he was a saint. This visit was in the evening, deer were on the far side of the arena, and apparently he's not a big fan of them.

It might've been the deer
It might've been the weather
It might've been the lack of a lungeline warmup

No matter, I'm not a big fan now.
Yikes ...

11-12-10 Harley

Since Harley appeared to be munching peacefully, I caught him with zero effort - he actually walked up to me! :) Sweet! Tacked him up western, took him to the arena.

Free lunged just a little while before adding the elbow pull, and lunging some more. He is starting to get the general idea of the elbow pull - relax your neck, bend at the poll just a little, and that tension on your mouth goes completely away. Good Boy!

I took all his extras off, and noticed he was standing very close to the mounting block. This has been a problem, because he's absolutely convinced the arena fence is hot tape. It's tape, but it's wrapped around each T-post - Not Hot! Today, though, he was right by the block. I very carefully moved his feet a little at a time, front, and back, closer to the mounting block. I could see scared in his eyes, but told him, "You'll see why this is better here just in a second. Be patient with me. I'm putting you here for a reason."

I stepped up on the block, and very gently put my leg over, and sat down. Harley walked off, licking and chewing, with a heavy sigh. I'm hoping that means he understands why I want him by the block, and that makes me getting on a lot easier on both of us.

We worked on walk, and trot. I found straight lines are just about impossible.. Might need to lay out some ground poles in a "tunnel" to improve this. Harley wiggled all over the arena. I rode circles, serpentines, and plenty of transitions.

Deciding he was done, he broke to walk, and started to tip toe back to the mounting block, I assume because he thought that'd be a break or an end. I wiggled my legs, kicked, smooched, clucked, did everything I could think of to get those feets a movin'. Finally, I reached back, and tapped him on the rump with my hand. Whoosh! Whee! He shot straight forward. I pushed him up at the trot just a little, before asking him to walk. I asked for a trot with a squeeze and cluck, and he trotted off. I asked for a walk, and got it with less tiptoe. Great! Maybe, again, he's learned it's easier to go than to be swatted for it.

Total work, about 40 minutes. Fun for sure!

11-11&12-10 Ransom

Gathered Ransom up in side reins on the 11th, and lunged him out nicely. He was a gentleman, obviously refocused back on work after his gallop day. Silly boy ...

He lunged for about 30 minutes, all gaits, lots of transitions.

The 12th I grabbed him again, in all his dressage glory, and asked him to work. For about 35 minutes, we rode all the gaits, all the transitions, and stayed on a nice circle. I did a few long free walks, transitioned up to working walk, then halt, rather than pick up trot. He flubbed the free walk to working walk at the last show, and I want to break that habit soon.

I heard Harley calling out for us from his pasture. When I glanced down there, Harley was laying down, after rolling totally over two or three times. As Harley was laying there he was stretching his neck out straight.

I scrambled to the pasture with Ransom, put him in his paddock, took the bit out, the saddle off, and apologized for the abrupt ending.

Walked up to Harley's pasture, kissed to him, and he hopped up. Harley shook all over, and walked away, grazing. I looked later as I was hosing Ransom off and putting his tack away, to find Harley in his pasture, grazing peacefully. Little snot was helping big brother get out of work. hmph. It's all an equine conspiracy. hmph. =)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Romeo, Romeo.. What to do with my boy named Romeo. Oh, I know.. We've done it with Ransom, let's see if you'll let me..
The tractor was running about in the arena. After napping on the mounting block in the sun, I decided it was time to enjoy the weather aboard the Little Guy. I grabbed Mo, and his western bit, and that was it. Straight to his pasture. We walked a good long while, then trotted circles, serpentines, and a bunch of figure 8s. A few trot to halts, and I got a brave idea.
It's Mo.. I mean, really. It's Just Mo. He ain't gonna do somethin' stupid, and R's over there if I wipe out... I grabbed a wad of mane, tucked my heels down, squeezed hard, kicked harder and smooched to him.
Loping along on my flat fat pony. Wow. Yeah, flat. Best I know how to describe it. Ransom's bareback canter, requires lots of hips... and lots of relaxed leg. Mo? Yeah, a teensie weensie bit of hip, but mostly, just sit up there & enjoy the ride.
A super fun 25 minutes goofing off, in the beautiful fall sunshine.


Ransom had an entire week off after the show. I wasn't feeling 100%, and, since we've not a lot of things to accomplish for the final show, there's no reason to train "hard", but more maintain.
Saturday, 11-6, the arena got a discing munch up. It looks great! As a result, Ransom doesn't have any holes in the arena to work around, no lumpy bumpy spots, all even chunked up sandy dirt. It's awesome! He, however, thought it'd be a fun day to gallop around with the tractor. Fortunately, no injuries, but additionally, also no riding. I could see the stiff and sore in his eyes and legs as he came to the barn for supper.
Sunday 11-7, I grabbed Ransom, and my bareback pad. There's something about cool temperatures and great weather that encourages goofing off. And that's what we did. Lots of long and low walk, a little trot, and a bit of playful canter. Throughout the ride, I could feel his energy underneath me, like he'd explode at any moment.
And So Monday, 11-8, I entertained his wishes. I came home from work, scurried about with the pups, then OUT dressed to ride. Lunged Ransom left in side reins, switched to lunge him right, and the gallop started. I know he's been "asking me" for a gallop about the arena day for, um, two weeks now. The arena being freshly disced and soft, this is as good a time as any. I unlatched the side reins, lunge line, and picked up the lunge whip. I didn't even unwrap the string from it to start. I walked over to him, and tapped him ever so lightly on the rump with it.
GONE! Like a flash! Wheeeeeee.. ran the old man all around the arena, flying changes at X every time. He didn't have his tail up flashing, he was just AT IT. Ears pricked forward, running and running, and ten minutes later, he trots up to me and halts, heaving in his breath. I laughed at him the whole time. I never swung the whip string at him, I never had to push... I just stayed facing him, and pretty much tried to stay out of his way. He has those days, and despite his age, and "Unsoundness", I see those running galloping days, and I think, "Self, you've done good. The old guy still LOVES his life, and LOVES his job. Press on ahead."

We still had a patch of daylight, so I hopped on, and rode him anyways for about 20 minutes. No stretching down trot, but a few long free walks, LOTS of canter circles and bends... I enjoyd the disced dirt for trots down diagonal, no worries of tripping on a hole or a hard spot. Got a little canter work in, but I took note of the heavy breathing, and short daylight. Called it done a little early...


Note readers: I'm way behind again. I'm going to capture per horse what we've done that's worth mentioning. And starting tomorrow, I will update per day per ride. Blogger is giving me fits, only allowing irregular log ons. At a minimum, all rides will get recorded on my computer, and then updated as I can copy/paste. Too much to learn here, and, as I hear it, I'm inspiring some folks to want to ride more. No reason to quit blogging there, huH?
Harley, where we've been
Harley has had, 11/3 or so and 11-7, and it was just like he'd had frequent saddle time. We got a good solid 30 minutes together again, while some was on the lunge line, he's got a real knack for letting me know when he's done on the line. Repeated halts, turn to face me, licking and chewing. "Get on with it already, Lady. I know you're going to ride me, so Just Do It!"
Our rides are a LOT of walking, and a good amount of trot. The first trot ride, I focused on going in decent circles. He's sticking out shoulders, which is expected. What I am enjoying, is his "give" to the bit. He very quickly realized that to get me outta his mouth right now, all he has to do is lower his head. I'm giving him the inside rein loose, but holding a little on the outside rein. "Keeping up the wall", you might say.
His second trot ride on 11-7, I was a little more direct. I started out in circles, serpentines, loop-dee-loo's all around the arena. Realizing he was a little bored, I started guiding with my legs, and only using rein if I had to. Again, he's a fast learner. There were a few "ah hah" moments where I looked where I wanted to go, started to prepare my body, only to find him turning with me. Very nice.
Perhaps Harley's most inspiring moment lately, involved some cows. 75% of one long side of my arena is bordered by brush & trees, and behind that, the neighbor's cow pasture. Harley kept coming down the brush side, slowing, pausing, and looking. I assumed it was the neighbor's, their kids, dogs, deer, or cows. Then all of a sudden, Harley planted all four feet, refused to move on, and stared into the clearing. In a matter of seconds, a few dozen cows came bursting out from behind the brush, and moseyed on down their pasture lane towards the barn. As the last one became clear from the brush, Harley walked on peacefully, twisting his eye up to look at me. You know what I heard him say?
"Idiot Lady! I kept trying to tell you the cows was over there! But NOoOooOOO you didn't want to listen to baby horse me! I didn't need 'dem dere cows spookin' ya... So C'mon, next time I tells ya there's something over dere like dat, LOOK!!"
Silly Baby horse! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Show Video!

I was going to link up my show videos.
And then I wasn't.

And, now, I am. And you know why? Because I'm willing to accept the criticism anybody has to toss my way. I've got the scores and the results to go with these rides, from rated judges. These aren't USDF rated shows, they're little schooling events. Thus the lax attire. :)

So, watch, enjoy, critique. But, I will ask this. If you've got it to say, say it here. Comment, Email, or tell one of my frequent comment folks to pass it on anonymously. Please don't link it on your blog, or your friends' blogs, or on any public viewing forums. Speak your peace right here. We've got a beautiful ribboned wall showing how great we've done this year.

Oct 9th Sienna Stables, Training Test #1

Oct 9th Sienna Stables, Training Test #2

Oct 30th HearthStone Stables, Training Test #3

11/1/10 Romeo with Ease

Mo has a way with me. It's almost hard to capture in print. I suspect a video might show some facial expressions for us both that may come closer. But I'm going to try...

I walked towards his pasture, halter in-hand, and Mo nickered at me, his head through the pipe fence. "Yeah, buddy. You're up today. Ransom's on holiday. You ready for this?" He slid his head back into the pasture, licking and chewing.

He trotted alongside my quick long steps back to the trailer, his head at my shoulder. He knew enough of my body language meant business. I could almost hear him snickering at Harley as he jogged by. "I get to show you what it looks like today. Watch close, little one. This is how you get the GOOD cookies." Romeo tacked up a complete gentleman, and accepted the western bit a little easier than normal. Showoff in full mode, I see...

I walked him to his pasture, got out to the middle of it, and hopped on. Mo doesn't need lunged out, just walked enough in the saddle to tighten the cinch. We walked quite a while, and as he started lowering his head, and letting out heavy happy sighs, I squeezed him up. It wasn't long before we had a pleasant jog, neck reining various sizes of figure 8s all about the pasture.

I gave him a walk break, and admired the sharp south-east breezes and clouds rolling in. Cold front coming in that night, the wind whistled through the trees and brush. Romeo's ears flickered at it, but we both knew it was nothing to worry about.

With a little kiss, and a hearty kick, Romeo burst into the lope. He wanted to fly, and I obliged. Since we've spent so many hours loping and galloping around his pasture, I didn't spend much effort directing his feet. He knew were to go, and as long as he didn't dart to the barn, I left him alone.

And with the wind blowing my hair all about, the trees and weeds bending in the gusts, Romeo's little mane flapping with each stride, I laughed right out loud. THIS is what I love about this little horse. I haven't ridden him solid in over two weeks, and our last five rides I can remember, were bareback, and we didn't break out of the jog. But yet, even in the gusty weather, deer bustling in the shadows, I had him going as fast as his legs would carry us, totally, absolutely carefree.

And in that moment, whizzing around the arena, I glanced at Harley, and found him watching intently. I looked across the fenceline at Ransom, and he picked up his head from grazing, long enough to watch us briefly, before settling back on the grass.

Little Mo, you're no show horse. You're too slow for dressage, and too fast for western pleasure. You hated to jump, but carried me through a three-show series so I could learn. I'm not into cows, so who knows if that's the talent you hide. You're too little for halter, and still too small for reining. You were shot at by your last owners, so I know mounted shooting isn't in our future, either. But I can put anyone on you, any day, any time of the year no matter the season, and you're always the same. We won't wrangle any blue ribbons from rated judges, and folks can tease your legs aren't quite straight, and your neck shows just how much you cribbed as a kid. Nevertheless, Romeo, canter us on, across the green pastures, through the weeds and mole holes, choosing every hoof fall carefully, protecting yourself, and me. I know if I sold you, I'd have one heckuva dressage mount in the barn, for your worth is high. But sweetheart, I just can't do it. You'll carry my kids around some day, and any of my friends that want to ride. With happy tears, I tell you, you're not going anywhere. Rest easy, Five S Romeo, for you've found your forever home.

10/31/10 Harley Moves On

Rewarding Ransom for his service and efforts at Hearthstone, I walked him gently to his paddock. "Week off, sweetheart. Your shoes are loose, your toes are too long, and you've done well. Rest up, dear. We'll pick it back up on Friday or Saturday."

I retrieved Harley from his pasture with minimal effort. He licked and chewed as I latched the halter. Interesting, maybe he's starting to be happy to see me halter in-hand. I took him to the trailer, and with only a little fuss, got the fly spray on, got him groomed, legs wrapped. He moved off when he saw the saddle, I suspect a little disappointed we weren't only going to lunge lightly.

Saddled, with the bridle, lunge line, elbow pull, helmet, all in-hand, we wandered out to the arena. Harley hesitated a few times, I suspect thinking about some previous arena battles we've had. I made sure my gloves were on tight.

He bounced off on the lunge line from his halter, at a lofty little trot, tail extended. However, that didn't last long, before the burst of energy ran out, and he settled into a nice easy trot, asking for walk at every opportunity. After five minutes out on the free line, I put his bridle on, and added the elbow pull. It's a little too long to get a good result, and I'm either going to need to make another one, or add some knots by the clips, to shorten it a bit. Nevertheless, with it rigged up, he still had to lower his head & neck some at the walk, and plenty at the trot. When Harley found the release and held it a few trot strides each way, I stepped in front of the drive line. "Shhh", I told him, and he stopped quick, facing me. He walked towards me, licking and chewing. The look in his eye was honest, "I'm ready, Lady. Let's do whatever you came out here to do, because for all the stuff we've got here, I suspect you want to ride me. C'mon already, and do it."

Helmet on, I did what I always do before I put a foot in the stirrup with Harley. I prayed for a safe ride, and a quiet mind, for both of us. I asked him to walk on, and he obliged. Within no time, we settled into a rhythm, his legs and my hips. I walked him quite a while, until he started to remember that the bit meant turn, and I started to remember "direct rein only." See, too many rides on Romeo neck reining, I've picked up this habit of laying the indirect rein while tapping the direct rein. For Mo, that works - because I'm also using leg pressure. Harley, however, hasn't made the full connection of leg, to neck, to hand. We figured each other out turning at the walk, and I asked him to halt, seat and voice. With zero rein pressure, Harley came to a gentle stop.

With my bravery on all-out, I asked for walk, clucked to him, and squeezed my legs briefly. tap tap tap, Harley's head popped up and his body pushed into the trot. Bounce Bounce Bounce. He headed into an extended, slightly scared trot, and as I lifted my body into the posting trot, Harley's head came up. I slowed my post, and tried to post the tempo trot I wanted, not what I had. I bumped the inside rein, and he dropped his head with a heavy sigh. "Good job, Harley. That's what I want." I kept a light contact with my outside rein, bumping the inside rein only when he lifted his head. His nose wasn't flexed in, but at least his head was relaxed. Baby steps.

Our total time together came to about 40 minutes when we reached the trailer. I'd met a new goal - we're no longer working in Harley's pasture, but now out in the arena. The arena fence needs mending, again, so had we parted company, it would've been a long tedious retrieval. But Harley seems to understand his job - do what I ask, try hard at what he doesn't know, and the release will come.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

11/02/10 Public Service Announcement

Get out the Vote!
Get your tails moving to the polls!
If you've voted, Good For You!
Now, go tell your friends, your family, your co-workers, *grin* go tell your enemies!
Let your voice be heard!

Monday, November 1, 2010

10-30-10 Training #3 D. Meyer, Judge

The weather was chilly! Our warmup lasted about fifteen to twenty minutes, no lunging. He warmed up stiff to start, as a result of the still and cool trailer ride. When he settled into his work, he was moving much better than the last Sunday show. He felt more even, more steady. And while still senior-ish stiff, Ransom had a perky attitude, and happy ears. He almost felt like he was smiling, happy to be out & about, in the ring, and feeling Momma's "show mind" reeling.

Training Level #3, D. Meyer, Judge
1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed wg orkintrot
6 = nearly square, could be more straight

2. Track left at C, Left at E, circle left 20m at X
6 = needs suppleness to bend

3. Circle right 20M at X, B turn right
5 = some loss of balance, some unevenness

4. – 5. Circle right 20m at A, right canter lead first quarter of circle
4. Transition
7 = obedient, could cover more ground

5. Circle
7 = covered here more ground, but steady tempo

6. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
6 = stiffness but comes against bit

7. A Medium walk
6 = slight braced in trans, some march

8. K-B free walk
7 = needs more swing through back

9. B-M medium walk, M working trot
4 = broke gaits

10. – 11. Circle left 20m at C, left canter lead first quarter of circle
10. Transition
6 = needs power from behind

11. Circle
6 = needs impulsion and power; bobs head

12. E-B Half circle 20m, near centerline working trot, B straight ahead
6 = heavy on shoulders

13. C, circle left 20m, rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward, shorten reins before C
4 = no stretch shown, looks uneven, short L hind

14. Half circle at E 10m to X
X straight ahead, G halt salute.
5 = uneven steps. Halt L of CL

Rider comments
Gaits = 5
Impulsion = 5
Submission = 5
Rider = 6

Good team, strides become uneven when change direction in trot and weight shifts down on shoulders. OK in canter. Needs down stretch in walk and trot circles.

Um, Yeah... Okay.. So in Working Walk B-M, as I shortened the reins, Ransom felt the crisp, cool air, and absolutely insisted that trot was the right answer. LOL It made me giggle then, and it makes me giggle now, too. He felt good enough to WANT to work, and that's awesome. As to her other "4" plus comments, he didn't stretch to the ground, but he absolutely relaxed and reached some. There was much to see around the arena, though, as other horses, riders, and humans were wandering around. Ransom only wanted to say "hi!".

Ya know, I read this, and thought, "That's out of the way." Then, I remembered I left out ribbons. Shame Shame on me.. Especially for you folks who aren't on my Facebook.
First Place, out of Four Adult Amateurs!!!

10-29-10 Ransom Final to Show

Gathered up Ransom, all his lunging toys, and my mental awareness, and to the arena we go's.

He lunged very pretty, seemed his normal agreeable self. After a solid 10-15 minutes warmup & loosening up, I hopped aboard.

Ransom delighted me by not pulling out his "pre show crabs", but instead was entirely delightful. I got a nice 45 minute ride in, with solid hard work sets, alternating trot & canter. His free walk was average, stretchie trot not the greatest, but good enough.

I gave his ears a quick clip, shortened and thinned his mane a little, but opted against a bath. It was Thursday, after all, and if he had all day Friday to think about it, certainly he'd lay down AND roll. No point in wasting the soap, water, or my time.

I praised him for his good nature, blessed him with magic "do goodin" cookies, and had a mushy sappy "dang it gonna miss you old boy" moment. It still tears me up knowing we're nearly done...

Bring it, Ransom! We'll have quite the audience Saturday morning! Now, Momma's gonna go away tomorrow, go see another horsie-critter. While I'm gone, you keep moving around the pasture, keep those sweet legs loose, and all those muscles a movin'. Saturday, we're kicking tail, and takin' names! Let's do it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10-26-10 Harley Quietly

I saddled Harley, wrapped legs, and walked him to the pasture. I prepared to lunge him just a few minutes, gauge his mood. He walked off from me, and as R latched the big gate, and turned around to watch, pOOf! Harley's spook button went off. He spun a scared 180, looked at me with terrified eyes. It took a few minutes lunging and calming him away from trotting down to a walk before he settled. Lots of soothing words, quiet body language, and oh! telling R to "stand still, and don't make any goofy crazy noises, eh?" I think the gate latching combined with some deer rustling in CRN's yard startled Harley all at once.

With Harley settled, relaxed, and ears/mind on me, I put his bridle on, and hopped aboard. With absolutely zero extra motivation, I squeezed my calves, and he walked off. We walked for about ten minutes, quietly, calmly, with very few halts. I patted his neck, talked sweet to him, with abundant praise for his quiet way of going.

We also rode a few minutes of light trot. R observed a few things for me:
He moves UP, but is NOT tracking under himself at trot - things to work on
He DOES track up plus at the walk - steady and evenly
He halts square, almost every time. If he doesn't halt square, he's backing to square up.
His eyes wrinkle and his ears point to a sound before he reacts in any other way.

Total ride was about 15 minutes. I unsaddled, praised with cookies and love, and turned him back out. A second great ride, even with the brief spooking.

10-26-10 Ransom Here We Are

I hurried home for an in-house vet call. I had a blown trailer tire, and couldn't get it changed quickly enough to meet their schedule, so they came to me.

Dr. Sam arrived, and, in his quiet inquisitive way, immediately starting watching Ransom, even as I walked him out of his pasture. His tech assistant, Bubba, took the lead rope from me. He walked Ransom up and down the side yard, and trotted him up and down the side yard. Bubba also lunged Ransom left and right, changing directions multiple times, maintaining a steady trot. He also performed flex tests on the left hind, where I have seen some of Ransom's stiffness. He hoof tested both front hooves.

And the verdict? It was almost gasping funny, folks. Dr. Sam's words were much like, "It's very obscure, it's very hard to see the lameness at all. He is shorter strided on the left hind, but not by much, and not all the time. He is a little sore on his right front frog today, and hoof-tested, it's either mild navicular pain, or just a tender spot today. I am having a hard time seeing what they are seeing, and it's frustrating." Dr. Sam prescribed a course of action for Ransom, and said he'd review the x-rays, and let me know if there's something obvious happening.

The vet diagnosis? Arthritis. The remedy? Mild pain management, and suggest a shoe change to my farrier for next week. Dr. Sam suggested I just go easy, work light, and short, and participate in this Saturday's show anyways.

I watched Dr. Sam and Bubba drive away, flabbergasted, and utterly confused. The judge 10-10, along with a few others, have mentioned him "lame, sore, too old to continue", and my vet whom I trust sees almost nothing. While I recognize dressage is a sport of perfection, and the test of the ultimate horse's movement, I'm starting to question the sport. These are schooling shows I haul to, guys and gals! NOT USDF rated competitions, and I'm sure not out there even trying to qualify for USDF competitions.

Furthermore, Ransom has never refused work. Now, he's been crabby some days, not wanting to collect, not wanting to stop lightly, and running through my little tender fingers, but he hasn't ever refused to go forward, nor has he ever run away with me. Ransom loves to work, he loves to show - seriously! This is one of the few horses, even watching other show participants, that doesn't fight his warmup, doesn't spook at the moon, doesn't act up when other horses cut him off or near run him over in the warmup ring. He doesn't pin his ears at me, or anyone else, for that matter. When Romeo gets the day of work, and Ransom doesn't work, it's a disaster. Ransom runs fence line, nickering, calling out, pivoting hard on front or rear feet, and works himself into a sweaty frothy mess. He panics, and even if Romeo stays in sight, just the visual of Romeo working, and Ransom not working, and Ransom needs more cooldown efforts than Romeo does. That to me displays a horse that loves to work, loves his job, and hates standing still. Ransom doesn't seem to me to be a horse that wants to retire.

So, yes, he isn't a bunch of 10's gracefully capturing the judge's hearts. He isn't a WEG-dressage potential. He isn't even a USDF rated competitor - I know that. I'm not trying to force him above Training Level!

All that being said, later in the evening, I tossed Ransom out at the end of the lunge line. I saw some improvements in his way of going after the vet's visit. Still, as the vet said, the "problems" are so very minor, it's also hard to see improvements.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

vet says

equioxx shot today, see how he goes. any lameness is very subtle and very hard to see.

Ransom Ransom, Sad Monday

I have sent out a few text messages, emails, and a Facebook private message. I talked to Barb last night about Ransom, and here's how it went..

First, in the email, I told her how the judge had reacted at the Sunday show, first calling him up lame, then awarding us that 65.2%. I told her I have registered for a show this coming Saturday, I'm qualified for HDS Schooling Show Championships, and then I will regretfully be looking for a new horse. Ransom's ready to retire, I think.

She called, and first we discussed Ransom's condition. Her suggestion was to retire him now, maybe take a few light trail rides, but quit competing immediately. "He's too sore to push him. You're only doing it for yourself, and it's not gaining you anything. Scratch this weekend, don't go to the show."

Then, after more discussion, she suggested I call my vet, and find a way to work us through this weekend coming, and the championships. I have the call into the vet (made it before we even talked), and will persist with them today until they call me back.

I'll be honest, fellow readers and riders - this sucks. I am a sappy emotional useless mess just thinking about typing it out here. I've gone from absolutely terrified to ride a canter at home, to nearly ticked off I didn't get my ribbon sash when I earned it at a show for high-score (more on that later). I know it's selfish to want to keep riding him, but I also know how ticked he gets when Romeo goes to work and he misses out. I know when he doesn't feel real good, and I go easy. When he's giving me his best, I ask for more. He's been stiff on his left hind since he came to me - I've got him on supplements, I've done hock injections, I've taken him for chiropractic adjustments. I've done everything I know to do. And I know, yes I know, he's old. I can't expect 8's at every show - this I know. Not once have I let it bug me when the judges comment his trot isn't quite right.

So is it time to "pack him up and send him home"? Do I throw in the towel today, and schedule his delivery back to BRM for retirement? Do I force myself to tack him up and trail ride alone? Or do I talk to the vet, and search for a temporary solution to manage us through the end of the year? I had already decided Ransom and I would part company at year's end, and I'd start praying for another miracle horse like him to land in my pasture. That was a given. What I didn't plan on was quitting now, with two shows left, the last being the biggest I've ever been in.

Feel free to comment, leave feedback. There isn't anything off limits, I'll entertain all comments, thoughts, and ideas.