Thursday, December 13, 2012

12-9-12 AHHf Pictures

All photos courtesy of Sherry Bowman, All Heart Horse Farm

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-9-12 AhhF Training 1

12-9-12 All Heart Horse Farm
Diane Rochau, Judge
Score 61.250%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
6.5 awkward halt.  Unbalanced but very immobile

2 C Track left
E Circle left 20m
6.5 needs better bend and suppleness.  Stiff in shoulders, neck and poll, circle good shape

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB Working canter
5.0 running through bridle. Reluctant to canter. Came late

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
6.0 lays on left side, needs bend and suppleness
5 Between E & K Working trot
6.0 cruised through transition but maintained steady rhythm

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
A Working trot
6.0 inconsistent but occasionally head lowers but needs to go much lower than withers.  Good last few steps

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6.0 needs activity

8 FXH Free walk
H-C Medium walk
6.5 could cover more ground, good top line stretch, quietly back to medium

9 C Working trot
6.5 lacks bend and suppleness throughout. Very steady in trot

10 B Circle right 20m
6.5 1st half a little large but some nice moments through back in 2nd half

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
6.5 awkward transition. Needs to be more supple and through more. Better canter this way.

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
6.5 lacks bend and suppleness
13 Between B & F Working trot
6.0 chooked in transition and on rail, especially after F

Chooked?  HUH?

14 A Down centerline
X Halt, Salute
5.5 fairly straight centerline, but rider drifting left, especially in halt. Horse losing balance but was still

GAITS (freedom and regularity)
IMPULSION (desire to move forward, elasticity of the steps, suppleness of the back, engagement of the hindquarters)
SUBMISSION (attention and confidence, lightness and ease of movements, acceptance of the bridle, lightness of the forehand)
RIDER'S position and seat
RIDER'S correct and effective use of the aids
HARMONY between rider and horse

Very attractive horse.  Good rapport with him.  Really nice when he settled into his job and relaxed.  Good luck.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fall Mo Update

Two months of stall rest.
Two and a half months total injury time.
He's back! :)

Last Thursday, Mo and I went to see Dr. Sam.  We got the ultrasound going, on Mo's newly clipped leg.  (At home, minus the downer drugs.. YAY!)  All clear.  I need to get comparison pictures.  A little of the skin infection remains and is healing up nicely.  Otherwise, there's no swelling visible, and the lesion wasn't detectable on the ultrasound.  Dr. Sam compared old to new images, and cleared him to restart activity.

Mo and Harley switched side in the stalls, giving Harley Mo's grassy pasture, and Mo has H's paddock as his new, larger "home".  Since Dr. Sam cleared Mo for light hand walking "15-30 minutes a day, for at least a week before progressing to riding the walk", I got creative.

Day 1, Friday,  I saddled Harley up endurance, polo wrapped Mo and Harley's front legs, gave them both a stern talking to.  Headed to the arena.

I ponied Mo from Harley.  I was scared, I won't lie.  Amazing Harley didn't jump out from under me, my legs were both shaking like mad those first few minutes.  Harley isn't 100% confident all on his own, and knowing Mo could very well be fresh from his long vacation, when I got on Harley, I was terrified.  Mo walked up behind Harley, and must've touched him on the behind.  Harley spun around, faced Mo, pinning his ears.  I forced Harley to move Mo's feet around a while, and then the two settled.

Twenty minutes, wandering around the arena.  Direction changes, circles, lots of lines, all avoiding tight places and ground poles.  I was delighted.  Harley has NOT been a pony-horse before, and he's no perfect neck reining critter, either.  Yet, once he understood his new job as "leader", he took it on proudly. 
Both horses were rewarded with good pats, and lots of treats at the end of our walk.  I plan on doing this more in the coming weeks, probably once a week until Mo is cleared to ride the walk again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What's Harley been Up To

Oooh.. about 15.1, 15.2... *giggle*  sorry, sorry...

Seriously.  Harley lately has been:

  • Brief leg yields at trot
  • Learning to lift his front end a lot more.  This has sacrificed nice "bend at the poll", but since it appears this is "success" locally at Training Level, I'm trying to work through it
  • Long & Low trot, for longer than a stride or two.  It's a slow process.  Some days, he really gets it.  Other days, pure disaster.
  • Quiet trot and canter in hunt saddle, including two point.  His canter isn't quite there.  He doesn't race off, he doesn't get stupid.  He brakes gait to a trot, sometimes the walk.  Kid thinks he's going to lose me, and I admire that.
  • Trot poles, varying heights.  Total success.  The more difficult I make it, the better he is. 
  • Cross rails, trot, varying heights.  From tiny low to significant, he's not had refusals or tried to swing around them.
  • Canter poles - fail.  Epic fail.  I think it's the two-point hesitation, along with general "well, I know I can trot these, so let's try that"
Around the barn
  • Brief trailer loading problem has been resolved.  Yesterday I loaded and unloaded him twice, just to test. 
  • Plastic bags.  He sniffs to them rather than runs away.
  • Trotting in-hand.  Finally got this!
  • Understanding a popping "move your feet" whip to a "desensitizing".  We're getting there.
Trail Walking down the road
  • Chickens?  No problem
  • Oncoming traffic?  No problem
  • Barking dogs?  No problem
  • Deer?  As long as they move slowly and don't spring out of the bushes, we're good. :)
We have one more show this year.  Next Sunday, AHHf.  Going to ride out Training 1 again, and add Prix Caprilli.  I believe my Intro C days are complete.  They served the purpose.  Unfortunately, it does appear that Intro C allows all that "long neck, low headset" , while Training discourages it.  He's getting confused, and so am I.

I'll post tonight on Mo.  I owe a new picture of his leg, and an update of our vet appointment yesterday afternoon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know, the horses

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been very different if you weren't here
I never got to do what I wanted to because of you
you'll never succeed in life if you keep that up
you got yourself into that mess. we're not helping you, so don't even ask
you've had your chance at freedom, now I want mine
God's punishing me for having you
I hate this house. Too many terrible memories in it.

Where do the horses fit into all of this?   I don't have some miracle story, where I sat down in the saddle on a school horse, and "realized I have purpose in life", or had a show ride on Ransom/Harley where I came to terms with who I am.  It's not nearly that pretty, or fairy tale -esque.  Just isn't.

Instead, it's a sensation.  A feeling.  Work can suck, my parents can fight, I can feel lower than the crap that hides under a cowboy's shoe.  Something on the job, or personally, can go wrong, and I can feel that if only I'd done ___ or not done ___, it would've all been right.

Then I go outside, and put a saddle on the horse.  Walk to the arena, and mount up.  I can control the ambitions of a 1000# four legged flight animal with the urge of my seat.  I tip my pelvis under me, and he walks on.  I shift my weight, and he will canter off in a fury.  I can channel that energy up in the air in a leap, and with a heavy sigh, come to a complete stop anywhere I choose.  Does this always work exactly like I want?  No way.  More often than not though, I can control my horse much better than I can control my life.  When I feel out of control everywhere else, they ground me and center me.  They give me the feeling of authority and power, even when I'm mid-air looking for the softest dirt patch to land. 

This is my effort to explain who I am, where I've been, and only small pieces of what makes me this way.  I'm incredibly opinionated, and often isolate myself from every other human I see.  I chose retreat over defend nearly every time.  And I still have to "shut off those old tapes" often, to remind myself more of the kitchen table, and less of the insults/defeat/lectures/physical scars.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know, Pt 4

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been very different if you weren't here
I never got to do what I wanted to because of you
you'll never succeed in life if you keep that up
you got yourself into that mess. we're not helping you, so don't even ask
you've had your chance at freedom, now I want mine
God's punishing me for having you 
I hate this house. Too many terrible memories in it. 

Fast forward to now.  I have a lot of days where I can shake loose of all that crap.  I can ignore it, I can look around my little "island", and see how I have ended successfully, if this is even the ending. 

I have a decent home.  I am making all my bills on time.  I have a good job, and I'm good at it.  I've come to terms with who I am, and frequently make jokes at my own expense.  I'm a chemist, not a psychologist or an educator.  I don't claim to be the life of the party.  I'm incredibly naive, and I don't pretend to be "experienced". 

Recently, I learned that last statement.  My parentals are moving.  The house itself stirs up miserable memories, and the neighbors aren't good enough.  A "for sale" sign lurks in the front yard.  Even if I wanted to go home, there won't be a home to go to.  Their new chosen location is farther away, and more difficult to visit.

I'm indifferent over the whole thing.  I can't imagine the interior without a screaming fight, or the sting of getting slapped, again.   But lurking in that house, is a recovery from surgery.  A moment with God that shaped my life.  Post-surgery, 1991.  I sat at the kitchen table, fighting off another headache.  And it was then I realized.. I was spared.  I was saved for some spectacular purpose.  Some purpose my 12-year old head couldn't grasp, but it was out there.  I wasn't punished because I needed the surgery, and it wasn't some punishment like my mother claimed.  Her life wasn't being punished by my illness, and neither was I.  I was changed in the surgery.  A voice that was mine was replaced.  I was spared, and healed, quicker than predicted by anyone with a medical degree.  And even though she said my pain was so she could suffer, it just wasn't true. 

That house holds that moment for me.  Now, I will need to hold it in my head, that kitchen table in the dim light.  The puzzle pieces I was trying to connect.  The realization I had at that moment I could have been dead, and I wasn't. 

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know, Pt 3

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been very different if you weren't here
I never got to do what I wanted to because of you
you got yourself into that mess. we're not helping you, so don't even ask
you've had your chance at freedom, now I want mine
God's punishing me for having you
you'll never succeed in life if you keep that up
I hate this house. Too many terrible memories in it. 

He explained that "his life would've been so different without me in it".  He "gave up the chances at doing what he wanted, when he wanted, all because of me".  It was the same childhood argument I'd heard so many times.

I lashed out, again.  "No way I'm at fault.  I didn't make me, and I refuse to take responsibility for that action.  If you're going, don't let the door hit you on the @ss on the way out.  Go, and I hope it's worth it."

It was, apparently, but not for long.  I endured the screaming phone calls, from both ends of the family, for about six months.  My grandfather passed away, and my father removed the last of his belongings from the home, all in the few days I went home to mourn.  I lost everything, in just a couple days.  I returned to TX, and I hid.  I didn't take calls from either of them for a few days.  I couldn't handle it.  I was being blamed for what they thought they had to do.  I was half way across the country, living on my own, taking sole care of myself, and I was still "to blame". 

On the way to choir one night, I took a call.  Once again, I was the useless daughter who doesn't care about anyone other than herself.  I wasn't calling, I wasn't checking.  She could be dead, and I wouldn't know.  It's all my fault for not being there for her.  I bet my response was shocking. 

"Remember before I came here?  You made it very clear I was on my own, it was my mess, and I'm cleaning it up alone?  This might not be a mess, but it's not my fault.  I didn't make me.  I didn't get married, and I sure didn't stay married.  I'm here.  If you want to move here, you'll need to get a job and carry your weight.  I refuse to add your cats to my household.  I already have the maximum in annual vet bills I can sustain.  You will have to work to support them, and keep the lights and A/C on.  It's your choice.  However, you won't continue to blame me."

A few years later, they're now co-habitating again.  I guess things are better.  I try to stay out of it.  There's an old saying, somewhere, about beds and lying.  We all know it, but nobody wants to say it aloud to the affected parties.  They made more decisions lately, and I'm here, half a world away, left to understand and adjust.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know, Pt 2

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been very different if you weren't here
I never got to do what I wanted to because of you
you'll never succeed in life if you keep that up
you got yourself into that mess. we're not helping you, so don't even ask
you've had your chance at freedom, now I want mine
God's punishing me for having you

I hate this house. Too many terrible memories in it

My mother has a way of saying exactly what came to mind the instant she thought of it.   It's something she passed on to me, and then attacks me every time it happens in her presence.  Thus #4 on the list.  She'd holler and yell, I'd speak my mind, usually get slapped across the face for it, and then she'd bark out that, or something like it.  I remember the day I went to the bus stop, and my friend H asked "what's that mark on your face?"  I reached up, and realized it was blood.  My mother held my face so hard in her fingernailed hands, she broke the skin, in multiple places. 

So when I called home, and explained I was suddenly unemployed, her answer shouldn't have surprised me.  She left me without any kind of answers, other than isolation.  I spent the entire next day preparing for a colonoscopy, a test that determined "stress" was causing my digestive problems.  "Just let go of the stress in your life, and it should go away."  Not a problem, now that I don't have a job to go to.

I ran food and waited tables at a restaurant for a while.  The interviews began rolling in.  I landed here in TX after folding a US map in half, and praying for the "right half".  My home town falls right in the middle of the country, at least on that map.  So here I am.  No one "helped me" here.  My father came to my SC home and loaded a few of my items that the employers' mover didn't take.  He drove here, unloaded those things into a motel room, and left the next day.  "I offered to do more, but your mother wouldn't let me."  I remarked, "The ONE time I asked for support.  I didn't ask for money, remember?  I didn't ask for bills to be paid.  I just asked for some help finding a new job.  Did that all on my own, too." 

Now, I live too far away to visit.  And, it's too hot here, too d#mn hot.  Or, there just isn't enough vacation time to miss work or a paycheck, so my holiday trips home, I was alone more than I had company.  

One day, travelling with the trailer (and Chewie) for a riding lesson, my father called.  Seemed he'd had enough of being a responsible married adult.  He'd decided he wanted time alone.  His reasons, brought me to tears, and another confrontation.

More Than You Probably Wanted to Know, Pt 1

biggest mistake of my life
things would've been very different if you weren't here
I never got to do what I wanted to because of you
you got yourself into that mess.  we're not helping you, so don't even ask
you've had your chance at freedom, now I want mine
God's punishing me for having you
you'll never succeed in life if you keep that up
I hate this house.  Too many terrible memories in it. 

Welcome to my childhood.  It's no wonder I have seriously grumpy, depressed spans of time, now, isn't it?  See, most folks have an image of my life... The cute, perfect childhood.  The small family, small house.  Nice school, second home, decent mid-sized cars, one child who must be spoiled rotten since she's an only child.  Fancy college, and grad school.  Yeah, she must be spoiled rotten to afford that.  And look how far she moved from home.  Yup, got to be spoiled rotten.

Growing up, every parental argument, and there were many, someone would storm off in a vehicle, and tug me along.  I'd hear about how horrid the other parental was, and usually one of those first three statements would pop into the conversation.  Some form of, "it's your fault as the child because you're here.  Not because you said or did the wrong thing, but you exist".

It took 20 years before I stood up to that.  Parentals were fighting, yet again.  I had good grades in college, I was working multiple part time jobs, cleaned the house, washed the laundry, cooked the meals.  All for the whole family of three, not just myself.  I was in my room, hiding from the shouting.  My mother went outside to clean the pond, and I could hear things hitting the ground as she threw equipment around.  I went out to help, hoping if I offered a lending hand, nothing else would be broken, and there might be peace. 

She shouted at me.  "Just leave me the H&ll alone!  I wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for you!"

I lost it.  "I didn't create me!  Your egg, his sperm, created me!  I am NOT to blame for your marriage.  YOU chose to get pregnant, and married soon after."  She asked me to lower my voice.  I refused.  "You two have been screaming my entire life.  It's MY turn to let the neighbors know that I am not responsible."

She went back inside, asking my father "to control his child", as they both closed every window, hoping to contain my emotion.   I shouted more.  "I am BOTH your child, not just one or the other.  I have cleaned, cooked, washed YOUR underwear.  All the while working on and off campus.  And getting damn good grades, in case you forgot what last semester looked like, or what every exam looks like that I set on the kitchen table.  NO more blaming me, NO more shouting at me, NO more holding ME responsible for your sex and your choices.  That's iT!"

I took off.  I left the house, got in my car, and drove.  Nearly an hour, and I ended up less than 2 miles from the house on campus.  I was sitting on one of the building staircases, begging God for answers.  "If I'm not to blame for their misery, then why do they continue to say it?  Aren't my grades good enough?  Don't I cook good food?  Aren't I cleaning the toilet every week?  Am I not hanging up his shirts fast enough?  If I moved out, would it change?"   When I returned home, I spoke to no one.  I continued with my own routine for at least two days, only caring for myself and my own needs, while attending school and work.  I spoke to everyone on campus and at my job, like nothing had happened.

I moved away when it came time for graduate school.  My undergrad advisor said to me, "You can get into grad school on your grades, and they'll pay for all of it.  You're that smart you can get a full scholarship, including living expenses."  I applied, and prayed.  It was *just* far enough that nobody in my bloodline could get to me without a phone call first.  6 hours' drive, one way.  Worse in the winter.  A full 24 month program.  Accepted, and moved, I settled into my own independent life.

I only cooked for one.  I only cleaned for one.  I only had three loads of laundry at the public laundromat after a week or two.  I made friends.  I bonded with people.  I explored a form of religion that was unlike what I was used to.  I discovered my faith was stronger than I thought.  I confronted a church elder before his sexual harassment got out of hand.  It got close, and I still struggle with that. 

I ended up working in South Carolina for two years after school.  That ended abruptly, two months after the building was complete on a brand new house built just for me.  I was faced with two months' severance pay, no health insurance, a mortgage, car payment, and utilities.  I was terrified.

I'll never forget what was said when I called home with the news.

Friday, November 16, 2012

11-11-12 AHHf Training 1

11-11-12 All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay, Judge
Score 58.542%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
6.0 halt on three tracks

2 C Track left
E Circle left 20m
6.0 needs a little more prep before C; circle – round horse, a little braced in rein

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB Working canter
3.5 difficulties in canter, loses it, picks up wrong lead twice

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
5.5 should come closer to B for half circle

Here, she drew a picture of a half circle. I don’t know if this was sarcasm, or what, but not needed…

5 Between E & K Working trot
6.0 needs prep and balance

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
A Working trot
5.0 horse needs to stretch down much more

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6.0 needs prep

8 FXH Free walk
H-C Medium walk
6.0 shows some over stride, needs to stretch down much more

9 C Working trot
6.0 a bit braced

10 B Circle right 20m
6.0 horse loses balance a little at E

I’m sorry, can I have that in true real Speakie-Englishie, please?

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
5.5 Early

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
6.0 needs to be more supple
From folks watching outside the arena, “The second half of his last canter looked awesome! Good job!”

13 Between B & F Working trot
6.0 needs prep and balance

14 A Down centerline
X Halt, Salute
6.5 almost straight

GAITS (freedom and regularity) 6.5
IMPULSION (desire to move forward, elasticity of the steps, suppleness of the back, engagement of the hindquarters) 6.5
SUBMISSION (attention and confidence, lightness and ease of movements, acceptance of the bridle, lightness of the forehand) 6.0
RIDER'S position and seat 6.0
RIDER'S correct and effective use of the aids 6.0
HARMONY between rider and horse 6.0

Attractive pair! Use preparation before movements to help horse perform better.

I know the second canter here was early.  Why?  Because after his first canter-disaster in this test, I was determined to keep him IN the gait, and keep him moving.  I held it coming down the long side as long as I could, coming down to trot just about at F. 

Big picture, I wonder about what she might have wanted at the free walk.  He sure felt stretched to me, but not "nose in the dirt", because he usually trips and stumbles when he gets that long.  Win some, lose some. 

It does tickle me that his Intro C score was the highest out of all Intro competitors.  I wasn't "happy go lucky" about the test, and knowing it was the best score... well... again, win some, lose some.

11-11-12 AHHf, Intro C

11-11-12 All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay, Judge
Intro C
Score 62.500%

1. A to X Enter working trot rising. Halt through medium walk. Salute - Proceed working trot rising.
6.5 Straight Halt; Drifting left after X

2. C Track right working trot rising.
6.5 needs a little more energy

It’s worth mentioning that right here, going into the circle @B, the judge blew her little “you screwed up whistle”. I rode up to her, asked “What’d I do?” She then realized she wasn’t reading the right test, wasn’t paying attention, or something. She laughed, apologized, “I thought that circle was supposed to be somewhere else. You can go back to the circle @B”. I laughed back, and hid my frustration.

3. B Circle right 20 meters.
6.5 circle needs to be a little more round

4. A Circle right 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of the circle, right lead.
Before A working trot rising
6.0 a little early. Should go to A, then pick up canter

5. (Transition in & out of canter)
6.5 fairly smooth

You know something’s wrong when you get a 6.5 on “fairly smooth”, right?

6. K-X-M Change rein, working trot rising.
6.5 fairly straight. Needs to stretch over the top line

That’s odd. I don’t see “Stretch down” anywhere in the diagonal trot requirements…

7. E Circle left 20 meters.
6.5 circle to be rounder

8. A Circle left 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of the circle, left lead.
Before A Working trot rising.
6.0 wait until after A to pick up canter

9. (Transition in & out of canter)
6.0 needs prep and balance

10. Between F & B Medium walk.
7.0 fairly smooth

See, here it got a 7. Real consistent, eh? *sarcasm off*

11. B-H Free walk.
H Medium walk.
6.5 shows overstride. Ask for more stretch down

12. Between C & M Working trot rising to A.
6.0 a little fussy in bridle

13. A – G Working trot rising; Down centerline. Halt through medium walk. Salute.
5.0 straight on centerline. Halts at X rather than G

Darn me. I couldn’t hear the caller in the wind, and I flat out forgot it was G rather than X. oh well.
Collective Marks
Gaits (freedom and regularity). 6.5
Impulsion (desire to move forward with suppleness of the back and steady tempo). 6.5
Submission (acceptance of steady contact attention and confidence). 6.0
Rider’s position (keeping in balance with horse). 6.5
Rider’s effectiveness of aids (correct bend and preparation of transitions). 6.0
Geometry and accuracy (correct size and shape of circles and turns). 6.0

Attractive pair! Encourage horse to stretch over topline more. Wait until after A to pick up canter (circle starts at A, so 1st quarter is after A)

I respectfully disagree, but without video, I only know what I remember riding it. I thought I picked up canter on that corner, well after A. In fact, I thought I was late in the second canter, since we were fighting the wind. Ah well…

Monday, November 12, 2012

11-11-12 AHHf Show ReCap

It was one windy gusty day.  Lots of gusty wind.  Jen and I arrived with Harley in good time, after a late start.  Harley has recently decided he doesn't like to load on the trailer.  A problem for which I have no good assignable cause, but I'm working to fix it. 

He warmed up great on the line, with one hissy fit (metal stall door clanging open and closed).  As he moved into the wind, I could see him flinch and flip his ears.  He was almost cringing into the breeze, which was cute and funny.

I'll post the tests and score remarks soon, but here's the skinny...

Intro C 62.5% 1st place, AA High Point, and HDS Intro Medal
Training 1 58.54% 2nd place

Harley not only fought the wind, but three high-energy stallions that also trailered to the showgrounds.  They were a little, uh, stallion-ie.  Noisy and high HIGH energy.  Did I mention high energy?  :) 

A well done day.  He was more relaxed than he has been, and wasn't fighting the bit contact near like the last show.  I was happy that I've learned the secret to a good test ride - walking the warm up.  I got nearly dizzy walking him around in circles.  It was nice.  I barely cantered his warm up, and didn't trot an awful lot, either.  I actually didn't test his canter until right before the test, in the show arena.  thank you, stallions Instead, it was lots of walking and bending and bending and walking and bending and walking and walking and.. you get the idea. 

After we were all done riding, Jen and I stuck around long enough to watch a few Prix Caprilli 1 test rides.  NOW they make much more sense, and will be on my agenda for things to try later. 

The scores yesterday qualify us for Championships in Intro, but not yet in training.  So close!  0.5% more and we would've been in.  darn it!  One more good solid AHHf chance to qualify yet in early December.  Much to work on until then - you'll see why in the scores and my remarks to go with them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Despite the crash, Things are well

Romeo is healing up nicely from his skin infection, and the tendon looks terrific.  I suspect another week or two of healing skin time, and I should be able to get him back in for the ultrasound.  He's behaving in his stall, and I'm beginning to scour the world for some serious support boots for his rehab riding when that time comes.  I've always kept "light support" in the boot department, wanting to keep riding horse sound enough without the support, so they can compete without increased injury risk.  I always figured if they always went in boots or polo wraps, and they were ultra supportive, when you went into the show ring without them, there was an increased risk of injury.  Now, I need to find some super-support for Mo's legs. 

Last week, I had a wonderfully sweet conversation with Jamie at SmartPak.  She was calling to check on his progress, see how the SmartFlex Rehab was working out, and develop a plan of action on his treatment. :)  Very nice, and very considerate, those SmartPak people are.

Harley has made great strides... Pun intended.  I had Jen over last Thursday (yes, same day as splat), and she gave us a few suggestions of ways to increase the energy of his trot.  Harley has pretty much quit fighting the bit again, so I moved back to the french link from the Myler combo (#1).  He argues at the start, but is settling into work and relaxed form pretty quickly.  I should say... it's funny.  I was used to a 30+ min longing warm up ... Harley?  Ten minutes TOPS and I'm aboard riding him.

Received the tragic news that on Oct 30, 2012, Skys Blue Boy passed away from euthanization after a founder incident.  We lost a true quality stallion when Blue galloped on.  Harley and I will keep on riding in his memory, and try to live up to his standards. 

Clinton Anderson gone wrong

I have gotten into the habit of flexing Harley left and right at the start of his ride, somewhere in the middle, and again at the end.  Harley, likewise, has gotten into the habit of trying to nibble at my feet, stirrups, saddle, or his shoulder, scratching an itch.

This went tragically wrong last Thursday evening.  I was preparing to pop him in the nose with my boot for biting, when his mouth met my stirrup.  With his lower lip tangled over the stirrup, he couldn't break free from it. 

He reacted, and started to fight the stirrup's grip.  I went down, and so did he.  In his "going down", he also broke the saddle.  Yup, I just had that saddle checked the previous Friday by the Scottish saddle fitters.  A broken girth strap.  I have to drive northwest of Houston this coming Friday to get that resolved.

Since then, I've had one ride in the endurance saddle, and one in the jump seat (the fitters flocked it up nicely, now it actually fits him).  Endurance saddle canter brought a tense pony, Harley not remembering what that felt like.  Hunt saddle?  Well, after our initial ride in it, he's been super mellow. 

As in "taking advantage of me having a new body position where my butt isn't as plugged-in" mellow.  Having to relearn my body position, and find a way to get him up IN the canter without vocal kiss sound.

Perhaps tonight I will set down some trot poles and trot up over the X-rail a few times, get his mind off my wonky position.  We're set to compete this Sunday at AHHf again, Intro C and Training 1. 

What I have noticed, in flexing him,.... ironically enough, his mouth has stayed closed since the accident. 
Neither horse nor rider were seriously injured in the making of this incident.  Harley had a warm shoulder and neck, while I have two bruised knees that are healing. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Often do You Ride, and For How Long?

I am curious if I'm under-riding, over-riding, or if it's just right at my house.  I know each person that follows and reads has their own life outside of the horse.  Many of you are married, with kids, a busy job, sometimes involving distant travel... While others aren't working full time, single, and have to travel a distance to see the horse. 

How often do you ride?  Daily?  5 times a week?  3? 

How long is an average ride?  20 minutes?  40?  Hour & a half? 

Looking forward to your comments... Give me a little perspective, will ya?

In My Eyes

Late last year, Harley went into the winter and 2012 spring with his canter leads all sorted out.  He came to me with an unreliable left lead, and a steady right lead.  That came back to haunt us a bit over a month ago.  I had tried all the tricks I knew - ask in a corner, ask on a circle, ask with steady rein contact, ask with outside leg back, bend his head in, bend his head out, loose rein and vocal kiss only (no leg pressure), spurs, no spurs, you name it.  The canter on the longe has been perfect, under saddle's been a nightmare. 

Yesterday, he started this up again.  Heading left, on a circle, in one spot, he'd get it.  Another spot on the circle, four misses in a row.  I was entirely annoyed.  I barked out, "Harley!  What the h&ll has happened lately?!  You knew this before!!"  I asked for a trot.  We both settled down.  I made sure my reins were even, my legs were even, and I sat deep.  I looked up and around the circle -

Left lead canter.  No hesitation.  A bit of it, and back to trot.  In a different spot, I asked again.  Reins, Legs, eyes, seat.  Left lead.   I even repeated it a third time.  Thinking I had this figured out, I let my eyes wander just barely outside the left-circle, and asked again.  Right lead. 

Harley's had that left lead all along, he was following my eyes, and counter-cantering because it's what he thought I wanted.  He thought he was going to turn right, and was leading off for it.  All that time, Okay, at least 6 months, I've been working on it, trying to figure out why it felt like he was guessing every time I rode.  It wasn't him, it was me.  I have trained him to follow my eyes, and as a result, my upper body.  He's gotten that bright. 

Wow... I had it all that time.. Eyes Up! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Harley Conformation Pictures

Harley, 10-25-12  I'm gonna be a little silly following, but here's a chance for anyone and/or everyone to comment on his conformation.  I'm curious what everybody has to say, so don't be bashful.  You can tell me he's gawgeous, you can tell me he's butt-fugly.  I know he's good at his job - see the show videos and the jump clips for movement.

Wait a minute, Mom.  I gotta itch!

Hi blogger peoples!  I'm getting ready to dance with Mom, but she wanted me to come say, "hi" for the camera first.  So , HI!
Mom, not my best side.  I know when I'm a naughty pony you call me "donkey", but taking a picture of my tooshie?  NOT NICE!

See, now I've got a funny face, 'cuz you were laughing at me.  Are you done yet?  I'm ready to go dancing!  

Thanks Mom, This comes AFTER dancing.  Foods!  Yum Yum

Here.. You want some?  I'll sharre with the reader people, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If this doesn't make you stop & think...

then check your pulse and make sure you're still breathing.

Comment along after me, and let her know we're reading along, cheering, praying, and wishing her more rides, and more stories.

Me?  I'm going to ponder that one for a while, wondering if perhaps some of my mental writing block is because of the same secretive spirit...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10-10-12 Harley Adjustment

A few too many frequent rides for about two weeks, Harley was throwing a temper tantrum.  First, he was breaking from canter-left to trot, and I squeezed him up pretty hard and scolded him.  His response was to dart to the inside, and start tossing his head.  I have a hunch his hiney came up during that fit as well, as I came off.  Slowly, and with all kinds of control.  I hopped back on quickly, and we went right back to canter-left, with lots of leg and lots of kissing.  No way he's getting away with that.

The second time, one of the neighbors fired off one rifle shot, way off in the distance.  Harley stopped, turned to face me, and a second or so after that, tried to take off bucking and kicking on the line.  I barked at him, and immediately put him back to work at the trot, stop & turn anytime he tried a wild canter or a head tossing.  Note, I didn't go after him for an immediate fear spook to the gunfire.  He waited 3-4 seconds after the gunshot to be a wild goofball.

A third time, it occurred when I started trying to get him to move his canter out.  I lifted up to 2-point, came down the long side, and pushed him again.  Temper tantrum, and off I went.  Slid off carefully yet again.  Hopped back on, and instead of pushing a canter, I asked for LOTS of long extended trot.

Harley rode about, puzzled, ears going every direction, and he continually asked to relax his trot stride.  A couple times he tried to pop into a canter.  In the arena corners, I could see the wrinkly, nervous eyes.  "What on earth does she want?!  She's asking like a canter, but I'm still trotting!  How weird!"  Finally, he settled and pushed in the nice trot.  I shortened my reins, and, as long as he stayed settled, relaxed, and didn't throw his head around (or twist it to avoid the bit), I'd leave him in an easy light trot.  The slightest bit of a fit, and we were right back at that long trot. 

This seems to have made some good change in his attitude.  I had already checked his back for pain (nope), he had a dental check earlier this year (didn't need float), and since it happened under saddle and on halter longe, it isn't rider-caused.  I'll keep everybody updated.. I'm still hopeful to catch a fit on video, and see what's causing it.. If it's truly spooks (deer, bunnies, snakes, moles) moving around that he sees and I don't , or if he's just angry I'm forcing more out of him performance wise. 

Last Sunday, I tested the recent training.  Longed him a bit, then hopped on.  A brand new cold front had burst into our region, and we were totally blessed with temperatures in the mid 50s and a nice breeze.  Harley was relaxed, quite, and alert.  In the ride, a gun went off at random probably 4 times, off in the distance.  Harley flicked an ear, and tensed up, but did not take off, did not get silly.  A neighbor was working on a tractor, and made some loud noises as well, but he didn't have a wild moment.  Something in the trees blew hard, and while it got a reaction, it got a good one - he picked into a long trot, but stayed within my legs and hands.  Finally, at the last gunshot, Harley turned to the middle of the circle I'd put him on, and slowed from a trot to a walk, ears on the gunfire direction.  I praised him with each and every calm reaction to all the loud noises and startles going on around us.  After the last gunshot reaction, I decided walk and trot was a good way to end the ride, leaving canter off the books that day.  We trotted easy a bit more, on the bit (with very little head tossing), and I walked him out. 

Here's hoping I've made the adjustment, and won't need it again anytime soon.

10-10-12 Romeo Update

Tendon injury is looking better.  Right front leg has a goose-egg on it on the canon bone, and so I've been cold hosing and doctoring it as well.  Now, I'm learning that Mo's skin doesn't enjoy being wrapped all the time, or damp and wrapped.  Doctoring for what appears to be scratches will begin this evening.  All the dampness, combined with cling wrap, sealing in the moisture, has NOT made the leg hair or skin happy at all..

Had a colic scare Saturday night, but resolved it with some banamine and a trailer ride to "shake it loose".  Easily resolved, and he's back on his normal grain and hay starting this evening.  Should make him incredibly happy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

09/28-09/30 Romeo

Friday, when I hosed it down, it was looking really good.  Applied the sweat (nitrofurazone), cling wrap, polos.  He got a pedicure Friday around lunch, and enjoyed a little grass from a small pen in the back yard while Mr Eddie trimmed Harley.  He ate very quietly in the pen, and behaved himself nicely.

Saturday, the swelling had increased significantly.  Where his leg was shaved, it looked a bit irritated.  I hosed it a few extra minutes, wraps only.  A bit more grass from the side yard.  - It POURED rain Saturday, with a total of 3-4".  Puddles and mud everywheres.

Sunday morning, the weather was brisk, wind blowing gusty, and I made the unintelligent decision to trust Romeo in the small pen while I cleaned his stall.  He proved there is in fact enough room to run stupid in that tiny pen, so I quickly snatched him back up and locked him back in the stall.  PM hosing looked really good, but the skin around the tendon lesion was incredibly red and scabby-irritated looking.  No sweat applied.

Tonight, we go back to Dr Sam for a quick check-up, and another laser treatment.  Easy enough.  Then back home to stall and pony-jail.   He's been on 2g bute (1g/2x day) and will remain on 2g for today and tomorrow.  I will reduce it after this to 1g/day for another week and a half.

The only other addition I've made, is ordered SmartFlex Rehab for Mo, to arrive sometime this week.  As always, the SmartPak folks were incredibly helpful over the phone at making this choice.  It's loaded in supplement goodness, and should help with the healing.

It's slightly overwhelming, all of it.  R installed a light at the washrack corner of the house, so I'll be able to start riding Harley again right after work, and hosing Mo's leg after dark.  Okay, time to be honest with myself.. it's incredibly overwhelming.  Did I not keep him fit enough that his little hissy fit a few weeks ago caused the injury?  Is he overweight enough that it was hard to run?  Should I go on a run all over my pastures and/or have a tractor come in and mix up all the dirt to eliminate any holes (that snakes and/or moles will just re-create anyways in a matter of days)?  Or is this just bad luck finally landed in my pasture? 

Dr. Sam has only planned the next month of rehab and healing for Romeo.  What comes next?  I don't even know, but I don't figure it's much cantering around the arena.  Probably the biggest disappointment?  I had set a goal to compete Mo in a Competitive Trail Course.  Not going to happen now, as I don't figure he'll be healthy enough to get back in shape needed to compete.  Huge disappointment ...

Romeo, The Diagnosis 09/27/12

Dr. Sam did some basic examination, flexion, longing, all kinds of manual pressure tests.  One of the techs, Jamie, gave him an injection to calm, so another tech Bubba could shave the hair off, and Dr Sam did an ultrasound.  I took this picture before the shaving, while we were waiting for the injection to work.

Click on the picture to see the teenie tiny red arrow I drew on it.  The horizontal lines?  Those are from the polos he was wearing before the picture was taken.

Diagnosis?  Lesion on the Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon, SDFT.  Fancy description for bowed tendon. 
The treatment?  I had three options...
#1 Stem Cell injection - At least one injection, $1500 minimum.
#2 PrP injections - Platelet rich Plasma injections - $300 a shot.  At least two shots.  PrP's are supposed to "concentrate the blood around the lesion, increasing cell counts and reducing inflammation, healing the injury faster.
#3 Laser light treatments, stall rest, Bute, sweats every other day, hydro & wrap daily.

Since Romeo isn't a "show pony", he's not in training for some big event, and he wasn't exactly the biggest investment I've ever made, I made choice #3. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things I Don't Understand

  • Why do we bully a child's posted ride video or pictures?  What good does it do to insult the child's riding equipment or skill?  Does that really honestly encourage them to want to be better?

Here's a challenge ..

If you're going to critique a kid's ride video or picture, DEMONSTRATE.  Go make a picture of yourself riding, or a video, and show us what your skills are.

That goes for grown-ups, too.  If you have the time to snarl at a beginner/novice rider, make the time to "show us underlings how it's done".

We're waiting ..

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Romeo.. Romeo...

Monday evening, I cold hosed his leg again.  It looked terrific, so I left the wraps and the nitrofurazone off overnight.

Last night, he came up for supper, and it was all puffed and swollen again.  After he ate, I took him back up to the wash rack, and got back to hosing.  The swelling looked like this ..
 Leg closer to the camera, the one you can't see hoof on.  That's his front left, from his perspective.
 Look at that tendon closer to the camera - EWWW.
Previously, the ankle was swollen.  Now, it's that gnarly tendon.  I cold hosed again for 20 minutes, rubbed the excess water off, both of which reduced swelling in the tendon. 
By the time I got to nitrofurazone and polo wrapping both legs, the front right ankle was a bit swollen as well.  Nasty!

Calling Dr. Sam again this morning, and we will probably get to visit with him this afternoon or evening. 

Mo, you've taken good care of me.  Now, 'tis time I take care of you.  But seriously, son.. You can QUIT trying to be a wild man like your baby brother... Relax more!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

9-23-12 AHHf #5 Training 1 Remarks & Score

9-23-12 All Heart Horse Farm
Leslie Cummings, Judge
Score 62.917%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
7.0 quite straight

2 C Track left
E Circle left 20m
6.5 needs more bend @C

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB Working canter
6.0 prompt depart then hollow with nose right

4 B-E Half circle left 20m
6.0 falls to forehand, hollow

5 Between E & K Working trot
6.5 maintain energy

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
A Working trot
6.5 want more consistent stretch

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6.0 add activity

8 FXH Free walk
H-C Medium walk
6.5 relaxed but needs more swing

9 C Working trot
6.5 bend through corner

10 B Circle right 20m
6.0 no straight sides on circle

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
4.0 sticky to canter, broke

12 E-B Half circle right 20m
6.0 falls to forehand
13 Between B & F Working trot
6.0 heavy to trot

14 A Down centerline
X Halt, Salute
8.0 quite straight

GAITS (freedom and regularity) 7.0
IMPULSION (desire to move forward, elasticity of the steps, suppleness of the back, engagement of the hindquarters) 6.0
SUBMISSION (attention and confidence, lightness and ease of movements, acceptance of the bridle, lightness of the forehand) 6.0
RIDER'S position and seat 6.5
RIDER'S correct and effective use of the aids 6.5
HARMONY between rider and horse 6.5

So good-looking!  Energy seemed to fade as test progressed.  Need to maintain enthusiasm and ground cover to develop balance off forehand and out of hands (bit).

9-23-12 AHHf #4 Intro C Remarks & Score

9-23-12 All Heart Horse Farm
Leslie Cummings, Judge
Intro C
Score 61.75%

1. A to X Enter working trot rising. Halt through medium walk. Salute - Proceed working trot rising.
6.0 Resists into halt @X

2. C Track right working trot rising.
6.0 steady but reins loose at times

3. B Circle right 20 meters.
6.0 show more bend in circle

4. A Circle right 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of the circle, right lead.
Before A working trot rising
5.5 nose twisted left

5. (Transition in & out of canter)
6.0 could be more balanced

6. K-X-M Change rein, working trot rising.
5.5 looks to outside, needs inside bend

7. E Circle left 20 meters.
7 better bend this way

8. A Circle left 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of the circle, left lead.
Before A Working trot rising.
5.5 resists contact

9. (Transition in & out of canter)
5.5 needs balance in transition

10. Between F & B Medium walk.
6.5 add activity

11. B-H Free walk.
H Medium walk.
8.0 clear difference & willing transition

12. Between C & M Working trot rising to A.
6.0 argues with contact

13. A – G Working trot rising; Down centerline. Halt through medium walk. Salute.
6.5 drifts right after X

Collective Marks
Gaits (freedom and regularity). 7.0
Impulsion (desire to move forward with suppleness of the back and steady tempo). 6.0
Submission (acceptance of steady contact attention and confidence). 5.5
Rider’s position (keeping in balance with horse). 6.5
Rider’s effectiveness of aids (correct bend and preparation of transitions). 6.0
Geometry and accuracy (correct size and shape of circles and turns). 7.0

Adorable Horse!  Must develop a willing acceptance of contact to bit so rider can begin to have influence (more) in balance & transitions.

9-23-12 AHHf #3 My Thoughts

I am working through the judge's comments, and posting the test movements and her remarks.  Here's what I thought overall...

Intro C - he felt quiet in his body, but super tense in the neck and face.  I didn't warm him up in the neck stretcher, and I paid for that choice.  Had I been at home, at that point, middle of the test, we would've done some tight circles, and some serious flexion both ways.  I also probably would've grumbled at him a bit, and told him to "knock it off".  He was almost constantly fighting my hands, and arguing with the contact.  I remember lengthening my reins, hoping that might help.  Watching the video, it didn't.  All that did was make inconsistent rein contact, and me almost whacking him in the mouth instead of staying in contact.  This probably made the test worse, too. 
Overall - his FIRST canter in a competition setting.  No wild bucks, no train wrecks, and in fact, nice transitions for a green baby. 

Training 1 - Still stiff.  We left Intro C huffing and puffing.  The warm up ring was pretty stuffed with critters, and in the baking sun.  I was hesitant to run him out there in the chaos.  Looking back, I could've accomplished some things at the walk, and at the least, I should've been flexing him left & right MUCH more while I was standing around.  Instead, I was talking and yapping with a few other folks that stay at AHHf, joking around and goofing off.  Is this all bad?  No, as I'm usually tense, focused, and pretty unsociable in a competition environment.  Is that because I'm competitive?  No.. it's because I'm insecure, and don't want anybody else knowing just how terrified I am that I'm embarassing myself and my horse. 
We entered Training 1, and he felt lazy.  The longer the test went, the harder I was kicking, and the more tired I was getting.  The stretchie circle?  Poo, just as I expected.  He's just not that good at it yet, and it was a risk competing the test knowing the stretch just isn't consistent yet.  However, I'm not loving the Intro C Canter, where Training 1 canter is BIG and LONG.  It gives him plenty of space to move out, and I think better experience at it. 

The judge was glowing smiles the entire time.  Every time I rode by her, she was beaming smiles at Harley and I, and I found that comforting.   She was NOT a Ransom fan, and usually gave him a lot of low marks.  To earn >60% from her with Ransom?  A small miracle.  I don't remember this judge ever marking him above a 65%.  There were also folks around the arena in a few places watching, all grins and cheers.  Also comforting, and made me feel a little better about how the day went.  After I cleaned Harley up, I went to retrieve my tests.  I found out we're not only halfway qualified now for Schooling Show championships in the Dressage club I'm in... We're also halfway qualified for the AHHf Championships in December.  One more set of tests there, similar or better scores, and we're in, at both events.  Wow!  Not bad AT ALL for our first canter tests, and our first competition of the year. 

Delightful for a horse/rider pair that haven't been riding intense all year, due to his problems and mine.  I'm anxious to get back to it.  With some of my neck problems sorted out (and the rest of the solutions to come this week, I think), we should be back to jumping soon too.  I haven't popped over more than a crossrail at trot since these awful headaches started, and I miss it.  I know Harley does, too.

9-23-12 AHHf #2

Before I list the test and the scores, here's some video.  By some odd miracle, I was able to load them both last night.  Intro C was up first.

Training was next.  Notice near the end - He *had* the correct lead.  I was stunned when I first watched it, and in fact, backed it up twice more to make sure.  The "4" I earned for the transition was entirely my fault, as he had the correct right lead, and I transitioned him out of it.. *sigh*  Oh well.  Lesson learned, gotta start somewhere.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Romeo, not to be Outdone

 Wednesday evening, Harley and Mo went to fooling about in the pasture.  Romeo spooked and ran, and that turned into a wild game of "watch me do my best Arab impersonation".  He ran, bucked, kicked up.. Yeah, quite the sight.

 Thursday morning, he made sure to get my attention, with a swollen left leg. Looked like a baseball bat instead of a hoof. And so I cold hosed it, poulticed, wrapped, and stuffed 1g of bute in him.

We went that way all of Thursday, and Friday am. Three hose/wraps Thursday. Friday late morning, I called Dr. Sam. On the way home from work, I picked up some nitrofurazone, cling wrap, and gloves. (You KNOW that looked like a prank at the grocery store, gloves and cling wrap.. I digress...)

I cold hosed , added topical and medicine, all weekend. Sunday I skipped the bute, but kept up with the rest. Tonight, his leg looks like a leg again. Fortunately that means (I think) nothing serious. Much more energetic, and almost back to being ornery again. I think he's just jealous, and wants to play too.

9-23-12 AHHf #1

Harley and I competed at All Heart Horse Farm yesterday.  Weather was nice (for late September.. translation: no hurricanes, and it was less than 95F. See that look on my face? That says, "I'm staring at Harley's ears, and had absolutely no idea you were including ME in the pictures." I share this because Harley was insistent when we got back home that everybody see his bling browband I got for MY birthday. I got HIS bling. :) He likes it.. I am not loving that caveson, it looks thick on his little muzzle. It'll grow on me, I think.

OH!  You ARE including me and the ribbons in the picture!  Sweet!  Guess I'll smile now.
Intro C - First Place.  62%
Training Level 1 - Second place.  61%

I will post test details, scores per movement, and judge's remarks.  For his first canter show (and only a year into competing), he did great.  No wild spooks, no goofy moments.  In fact, I was convinced yesterday he struck off into canter-right on the wrong lead.  I asked for a trot, and picked up canter again (in my mind, delightfully happy he got the right lead as asked).  Eh, no.  I broke gait for no good reason.  He was in canter-right the whole time.  Earned me a "4" for that brilliant moment.

Regardless, we had a good set of rides, and a fun time.  All Heart is a very relaxed atmosphere, and filled with kind people. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

9-10 to 9-13

I had to travel for work last week, fairly close to the Houston area.  Rather than leave my habit hobby at home, I made some awesome plans.

I took Harley with me!  All Heart Horse Farm was fairly close to the hotel I was staying at, so I contacted them and made arrangements.  They were fantastic hosts, and gave H some pretty awesome care. 

Monday, after we arrived, I took him for a quick longe and a nice ride in the covered (show) arena.  He was fantastic, and perhaps remembered his show there last year.  Very well behaved, and very calm.  We had a nice long look at the pony in the mirror, something that wasn't as easy for him to see at the show.  Total ride and longe about 45 minutes.

Tuesday night, we worked in an open field bordering some grazing paddocks.  I chose this over the arena mostly for the "open space", and the distractions.  There was a lot going on in the paddocks all around, and it was easier to work off the fence than right at the rail.  This meant I had to control H's feet, and he also had to concentrate pretty hard on what I wanted done.  He had one good hard spook, I suspect from a neighboring filly watching us.  Not totally sure, I was focused on him, and managed to ride the spook out, immediately putting him back to work.  Total 40 minutes.

Wednesday during the day, it poured rain.  Rather than a hard work day, I tacked him up and walked him down the farm dirt road to their cross country jump course.  We walked all over the course, around the small pond, and over one log.  Nothing large there to spook him (thank goodness), and as he was snorting at a small A-frame jump, I thought, oh crap,  I hope there isn't a bunny or a mouse under that A.. .  Fortunately, nothing jumped out from under the "A", so it was a good experience for him.  I was highly pleased with how quiet he was in a strange, brand-new area.  He was a little tense, but not an explosion waiting to happen.  Very curious, and brave.  Total ride 40 minutes.

Thursday, we loaded up and came on back home.  A very nice break from training class every evening, to scurry from the hotel after class, dressed to ride, hit the highway and quietly relax at the farm with lots to experience for Harley.  A great trip.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day, Swimming #2

Harley was backing away from me, his distance from the edge of the river increasing with every hop.  I held the rope as long as I could...

Then I had no choice but to let go.  Off he went, turned tail and went across the river.

My show horse.
In the public city park.
Me, splashing through the river on foot, trying to catch him.
Screaming at R to help, at the absolute top of my lungs.
which, on reflection, pisses me off nobody else came to see what the ruckus was about

Harley crossed water as deep as his belly.
And I walked.
And walked.
And I .. Splash!
I lost my footing. 
I had to SWIM after him.
Harley at this point is still in the river, opposite bank from where we started.

He got to the bank, and started to walk back UP stream.
whew,, now I might actually stand a chance to catch the snarly monster.
I'm still hollering "whoa Harley" at this point, in case anybody thought I was just trying to use facial expressions.
I caught the tip of the rope.
And he went BACK in the water.
I held on just long enough to get pulled off my feet again, and nearly face-plant in the river.

There was R, standing at the other bank.
And there went Harley, straight across the river.
Almost straight to R.  In fact, a few feet away.
Harley turned to go back down the bank, only to find he was cut off by the brush.
R walked up to him, grabbed the lead rope right up by the halter.
By now, I'm about 20' away from them.
R starts walking H away from the water's edge.
I hollered, "Oh NO YOU DON'T.  I did all that chasing, he's darn sure going to pay for it.  Don't Move!" 

I walked up to Harley, backed him up off the rope a little.

Then I walked him right back over to the river, and we started over.  A few walk throughs, and I brought him back up to the gravel edge.

R says to me, "You wanna saddle him and make him carry you after all that work he had you do chasing him?"
I replied, "Oh h&ll no.  I can't even breathe still.  We're loading up and going home.  That's enough chaos for one river trip."
R smiled. "Well, there's at least one bright spot here..
wait for it, folks... wait for it ...
At least he isn't scared of moving water!"

No horses, or humans, were injured during the making of this event, or the retelling of it.  I'm almost laughing about what happened.  Did I think he'd get caught eventually?  Yes.  Did I think it'd take me that long?  No.  Was I terrified I'd be calling my equine insurance provider with a claim?  You bet'cha.  Are we going back to the river next weekend?  No way in H&ll. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day, Swimming

I owe some pretty darn fantastic ride updates from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as Mo's Labor day.  However, Harley wins the award for the most exciting equine moment of the long weekend.

I loaded him up in the trailer, and promised something fun.  We unloaded at the city park, which has a nice, usually shallow, nice-moving river.  Back home in PA, we'd call it a creek, but they call it a river here.  *cough*  Anyways, I walked Harley down to the river.  It involved a few good steep hillsides he had to negotiate.  We don't have steep (or even weenie) hills at my house, so this was nice.  He had to think about his footfalls, which was a nice change of pace. 

We arrived at the river bank.  He snorted at the water, then sniffed it.  Splashing himself in the face, he realized it was just water.

Harley proudly pawed at the water, then walked right in. 
Huh.. Moving water, check! 

I "longed" him at the walk in and out of the water, both directions.  He was startled by some leaves floating down river, but quickly got over it.  Then, something caused him to lift his foot extra high.  Front leg now OVER the lead rope. 

Harley started to back away from me swiftly, INTO the river.

to be continued, because this is just too darn entertaining to tell y'all in one post...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Frustrating medical updates

I motivated the neurologist to make one more call to the insurance, and, suddenly, the other test was approved.  Completely clean, didn't find anything. 

Went to an orthopedic specialist in Houston.  Speedy place, meant swift service, but also hurried.  Felt almost more like a walk-in clinic and less like a specialist.  I started to explain the source of the pain and everything I'd tried so far, and he quickly shuffled me to a set of x-rays.  Once they were read, the results are... "mild early arthritis, and inflammation".  Ortho says "go to physical therapy, it'll all be okay".  I explained it's pretty painful, some activities make it worse, some better.  His response?  Even though riding doesn't increase the pain, or cause pain, quit doing it.  Instead, "Just take it easy".  Uhm.... I have been, and that doesn't help, either.  I asked what pain medication solutions there might be until the physical therapy starts working.  "Advil", he quipped back.  I responded, "Advil tears up my stomach", and went back into details I won't mention here. 

His response floored me.  "Well, Advil can give you a bleeding ulcer, but it would reduce the pain.  A bleeding ulcer can kill you.  Pain won't kill you.  There is nothing else I can do."

I turned in the PT request yesterday.  September 4 is the first appointment.  What I'm supposed to do in the meanwhile, I have no clue. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ovation Fixes It

A while back, I was at the Dover Saddlery store in Dallas..  I bought a pair of lime green Ovation gloves for practicing. 

Would ya believe that *already* they're falling apart at the seams?  Literally!  What a mess!  How entirely disappointing!!  I realize I ride a decent amount, but with the neck and headache pain lately, Harley's getting 2-3 days intense ride a week, and that's just not a long enough time for gloves to start unsewing themselves.

I contact Ovation - Yeah, I know .. Long Shot, and they'd probably say "get what ya pay for".  They weren't super high-dollar gloves, but light enough for daily summers here.  In about 12 hours, I got an email back.

They've got me a new pair of gloves on order, should be here early September (backordered to arrive at their shop 8-31). 

Whatta way to do good business!  Clap Clap cheer cheer! 
I'll update the quality on the new pair, and let everyone know how they hold up.

As for me, I got some riding this weekend.  Learned that, at least in this heat, Harley needs spurs to jump worth a toot.  Didn't knock the rails down, but he sure didn't leap over them joyfully, either.  Mo and I stayed around the house, and got some arena fitness work in.  We're riding a few days a week, and keeping it simple. 

Heading to a different specialist in Houston this afternoon.  It doesn't seem to matter what I do, the high neck/base of my skull pain remains.  The more I move about, the worse it is.  If I stay really still, it's even worse.  Crazy, huh? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I did it, again

I dared disagree with the FuglyMob.  :D  Welcome you fugly followers who found my comment on their WP rant. 

Yep, I said it there, I'll say it here.  That free moving in the pasture video of the groomed up Zips Chocolate Chip?  DROOL!  I love it.  He's beautiful.

Do I think the super slow jog is ridiculous?  Yup
Do I think a 4-beat lope is hideous?  Yup
I didn't see Chip lope 4-beat.  It was a beautiful cadenced 3-beat, easy, light, lope-along.  A pleasure to ride, I'm sure.

I can get Harley to lope that slow, with his neck level and nose out, usually pretty easy.  The hard part now?  Trying to lift his head up and balance that nose in so he's got the "collected dressage body". 

Come on, flamers.  Hit me with your best shot!  :) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Woke up feeling good.  Hmm.. Let's try this a little differently, and maybe I won't be owwwchie when I'm done, hmmm..

Harley, dressage, more of the same.  No longe warmup, just crawled on.  I added more contact, and asked for more from him.  He complied, mostly.  We rode a TON of transitions, not cantering for more than about 8 strides at a time before easing back to trot.  His canter-to-trot is lovely.  All of his up transitions?  Need more reminding.  Walk to trot got MUCH better as I kept at it.  Trot to canter was mediocre.  Can't ask for much more at Training Level.  I've seen some blogged videos, and the test scores.  I'm sure not riding in the same region, but I think we'll be alright.

Rather than anger my neck lifting the endurace saddle, Mo wore a bareback pad.  Still rode all three gaits, but less canter than Saturday.  Lots and LOTS of trot, me focusing on my position.  Heels down, toes up, posting trot.  Arms out airplane, Arms up over my head.  I wouldn't recommend this to anyone that's not in a safe enclosed area, that doesn't 120% trust their horse to stay calm in a nervous moment.  Please do not try this at home, fall on your head, and say I told you to try it!    It's a great drill, no saddle no hands, for building balance, and add a posting trot for leg strength training.  I felt it good after.. but at least it was in my legs and core, and not my neck.

Sunday came and went, without the need for pain medicine.  Monday, more of the same.  Yesterday, I got too much darn time at my computer in the afternoon.. Paid for it dearly.  I had two pain pills yesterday evening, one before and one after supper.  Huge disappointment.  I've called into the doctor, been more persistent than previously, and there's progress being made.  A completely different unrelated appointment this afternoon, and hopefully some neck-pain progress in the next few days...

and perhaps some Mo-therapy tonight.. if I can get the saddle on his back from the front porch...


Ever have one of those days?  You know, wake up, and say, "Screw it.  I shouldn't, and it might not help my body, but #@$*^ it, it's going to help my mind.  I'm riding today."  Yup, welcome to my Saturday morning.  I had coffee, protein bar, and Advil for breakfast.  yeah yeah, I know.. Advil's terrible for acid reflux.  tears my stomach up.  yeah, well, so does the coffee, so screw it.  I am already sore, my neck hurts, but heck with it.  I'm riding.   That was me ..

I grabbed Harley first.  Dressage saddle, helmet, longe line, bridle, gloves.  see?  Helmet!     As I sent him out on the line, he meandered to the worn-to-the-dirt circle, and hopped to a trot.  Happy kid to be back to work.  A ten-minute longe, and I climbed aboard from the mounting steps, dang it.  not dumb enough to strain my neck pulling up from the ground.  Harley walked off, and seemed pretty darn happy with himself. 

We rode the gaits, light contact, then went over some turns, backups, straight lines, diagonals, figure8s, anything but "ride the rail".  His trot to canter was crazy-lazy... I had to dig my legs into him, and kiss loud.  Lazy snot.   Total ride, plus warmup, 40 minutes. 

Then I caught Mo.  I grabbed the endurance saddle, and launched it to his back. ouch, dangit.  That monster's heavy.. owwwww... neck hurts... owwww... crap....  Shouldn-a-ought-a done that.  crap!  
Rode Mo all three gaits as well.  On the line warmup, Mo thought he was a big monster, running like a nit wit.  Didn't take him long, before huffing & puffing in the heat, I heard him.. "Mom, that was stupid.. can I just carry you now??"  Mo and I rode happy, 30 minutes, so another 40 minutes total.

I went inside, showered, grabbed a snack.. Started cleaning house.  Pushed the vacuum around the house.. ow.. heavy... owwwwwwwch.. crap!  Took some pain medicine prescription, and took a nap.  Woke up still hurting, but not as bad.

I rode anyways. :)

8/10/12 The Buffet, is Cut Off

R snuck over to my house last Friday, riding mower in-tow.  See, my riding mower has flipped me the mighty engine bird.  It refuses to turn on, second year in a row.  Last year, it was repaired with a clean-up, and was cooperating.  Oh no, not this year, nyuh uh..  Might bird flipping mower.. Anyways..

He mowed the front yard, and the sides, and even the back yard.  Nice, generous, and short.  Looks good.

Then, he mowed the arena.  On his way to the arena, he reported Mo and Harley running laps up and down their shared fenceline.  RUNNING, people.  It's well over 100F heat indeces during the day where we're at.  RUNNING... freaking nitwit horses.

Harley, seeing R on the mower, shortening his grass buffet in the arena, walked around in front of R, munching the taller grass.  As the grass got cut, the 'tall stuff' got less, and less... and less.. and less..

And eventually, in total frustration, Harley took a look at R, stopped a minute..

and calmly left the arena, head hanging down.

Daddy-R cut off my Buffet, MaMa!  I swore I heard him tell me at supper. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Since The Last Post

Not much has changed.  I'm still fighting the pain from true hell with no assignable cause headache.  Can you even believe it?  Dr had a test run, saw nothing useful.  Battling insurance to get a second test done, and reports so far aren't sounding like it'll happen.  I'm running out of ideas, and energy. 

I rode last Friday morning, both horses.  True rides, rustling through the arena grass with Harley and Romeo.   The rides were awesome, but I paid dearly for it later.  I had a splitting headache, and had to resort to strong medicine to ease it.  Sunday morning, I took Harley for a short walk.  Lifting the endurance saddle to his back increased the pain, so I knew better than to repeat with Mo. 

Last night, I grabbed my helmet and Harley's bridle.  I clipped my helmet chin strap, bitted him in the arena, climbed on from the mounting steps, and we went walking.  All over the pasture, total about 15 minutes.  I feel like I'm letting him down.  I know he wants to do more, he let me know when we got done, and I was safely out of his pasture by running amok bucking & farting.  He is bored.. and it's driving me as crazy as the headache is.

Edit after the fact:  I forgot to tell Harley's funny story last night.  I walked him towards the pond, he splashed in, walked up to the deep end, and stood.  Pawing at the water, he got himself wet up to his neck with splashes, and my jeans were wet up to my knees.  As we approached the water, I realized, "My horse hasn't had true work or a routine in about a month or more.  I haven't been riding much at all.  And here I am, bareback, helmet, bridle, on a loose rein, asking him to splash through muddy water he can't see through.  I have utterly lost my mind, and apparently without realizing it, I'm learning to trust him.  Ain't that nifty."

So much going on outside of my little world... The Olympics yielded the US Zero medals, first time in a long time.  Beezie Madden is reported to have whacked her mount suspiciously hard for a few stops, Rich Fellers got so super close but had a few blips.  I watched Stefen Peters' last ride, and compared with the Brit who won gold.  There's a blip in her ride, around 3:15min.  Give it a look.  What on earth happened there, and how did that NOT push her out of the medals?  Was she consistently better on all the rides?  I watched Rafalca's first ride, and was mezmorized.  Jan Eberling is one heck of a rider. :)  LOVE LOVE seeing riders pleased with their horse, no matter if they're 80%+ perfect, I love seeing riders praise and love on their equine partner.

Then, of course, EVERYONE has blogged about the Kittel rollkur BS, and that Canadian horse with the suspicious cut on his coronet band.  My opinion?  Cheaters suck, and they should be taken to the metaphoric woodshed and whacked with a riding crop.  I didn't see either incident live, no video of either the rollkur happening live, or of the Canadian horse's hoof cut.  Cheaters suck. 

If you're well enough to ride, and your horse is healthy enough to carry you, go ride please.  I'm going to keep limping along at the walk with the occasional harder ride (pain killers ready at the end), and nagging the doctors for answers..