Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Romeo was up first again, and I hopped on without warm up. Day 3, he's smart enough to know there's no point in silly business...

I focused on trot to halt up first, with a turn of some sort at each halt. Turns on forehand, turns on haunches, back up ... In the trots, I tried to improve his reaction to neck and leg reining cues. I was hoping to accomplish two things at once - increase reactions , and get the lazy off. Romeo has gotten lazy in his reactions. He'll turn, eventually, after I kick at him a while... And he'll neck rein, most of the time.. It's solely my fault and I accept full responsibility. With focus getting back on track, he can be more sensitive, and we'll work on it. His canter work almost resembled a pleasure lope, super slow, but still 3-beat. Not super relaxed in his front end, but again, things to work on.

Harley and I headed out second dressage. His warmup was very nice, and the ride was impressive. He started feeling lazy and dragging, so I sent him over the x's at trot twice each way. First over was a true pause-jump-land in canter, correct lead. I gave him a good pat for it, let him canter out a few strides, then eased back to trot. By the fouth over, he was lazy, stepping over it lightly. yack..

Harley had some nice collected trot, and each ride brings a few more on the bit canter strides. There is usually one or two collected long&low canter strides, then I immediately release and praise. I stay in the canter, however, so he doesn't get a full-break, and still has to work. This is a spot I'm going to need some formal help him, however. Plans I had don't look like they're going to materialize. I haven't heard a single thing, facebook, email, text, or otherwise, from Sam since she said she'd come get Boss. Very unfortunate... but now I must resume the instruction search.

Sunday afternoon, R and I headed back to Houston to pick up my newly regulleted saddle. Bill at Charlotte's reported no trouble changing the gullet. The staple that holds part of the saddle together is still broken, but the gullet was changed. It would be Monday before I could try it out, and see if it fit any better than the last gullet the saddle wore.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

1/28/12 I can't make this stuff up

So tonight, I grabbed Romeo first. More on the past week, and yesterday, well,, in a day or two. Now, the story from today is just too darn funny to pass up.. Anyways now.. I grabbed Romeo. Headed to the arena. No longe needed, he'd gotten that yesterday. I got him dressed, and off we went.

Played a variety of music on the mp3 player while we rode. Canter here, trot there, little walk now & again. After about 7 songs, and 40 minutes, we'd both had enough. I looked over, and remembered the pond was a bit full still. YAY it rained! Again, that's last week.. Now, where was I..

I walked Mo over to the pond. He buried some hoofs in the mud, and I thought, "Hmm.. Could be interesting enough." Walked him TO the pond... He hesitated, as if thinking, "Mom! It's muddy in there, and wet! And it's kinda cool out! Did I mention it's WET?!"

That's all it took. Harley, in his turnout sheeted, baby-face, smart alec self, says, "Hey Mo! Chicken! Here's how it's done!" And with all he had, Harley sploshed right into the water. In fact, Harley didn't just splish splash splosh in, he PAWED at the pond, looking back at Mo, giggling.

Mo got all "old & brave". He wandered through the water, even pausing a bit himself for some childish pawing. "Knock it off, you old fart!" I barked... Mo got the hint. We walked through the water a time or three, and started back towards the arena to gather his halter.

Harley, again, decided to be the dork in the pasture. Walked back into the water, pawing, splashing, making all a fuss. I turned Mo a 180 back to the pond, laughing. "Harley! Get outta there! SHhhht.. pssst! go GO!" No Go..

IN fact, Harley decided to LAY DOWN. That's right, folks.. Please laugh NOW. If you weren't laughing already, NOW is where the laughter goes. Harley LAID DOWN in the pond. He didn't roll (thank you very much), but he laid down. Now, I'm IN THE POND with Mo, who in no way wanted his feet to be wet at all, not to mention this long, making every single noise I knew possible in an effort to get Harley back up right again. NOTHING was working.

All laughter, I gave up. ."ah screw it! Mo, back to the barn! This is nucking futs!" I turned back to the arena yet again, and then Mo's head pops up. "MOM! Look at that freak!" he squealed at me, as Harley took off at a full out "lookie me racey" gallop back to the barn. I think I heard Harley holler, "Sh!t that's COLD!" I kept Mo heading back to his halter, when he turned 180 facing the barn. "Oh my, now what?!"

Here comes Harley, into the arena with us. Mo and I pushed him, like a stoopid cow (which he was beginning to resemble) out of the arena. I walked Mo back to his halter, there's Harley, right behind, licking & chewing. "Oh my goodness. You're soaking wet, son!"

His sheet was wet
His legs were dripping
I got wet
Mo was dripping
The SADDLE was wet

When I grabbed Harley to ride, I put the same endurance saddle on him, and headed to the arena.

Imagine my surprise, 45 minutes later, when Harley hesitated at the pond..

oi vey .. I can't make up stuff this funny...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What are They Supposed to do?

*2:15 PM CDT Update - Descriptions of the links, just so you guys aren't scared to go read...*

Fugly Newbies post this ....
Fugly new writers make fun of folks with bad grammar, trying to sell off their horses dirt cheap. They poke fun at the low prices, and further make fun of the owners for breeding their horses. Pretty much saying, "How could someone be so stupid to breed when they're not rich?"

Rescue groups go and do things like this ...
Rescue group sarcastically offers $2,000 "to anybody who can prove to them why we need horse slaughter". It's very sarcastic, because absolutely nobody can make a proof they buy into.

So what's an owner to do when they're in a tight spot? Here's the scenario...

Married, have a few kids, live in a decent house (that's not paid for), own a decent truck (that's not paid for), and a few horses in the back pasture.
Lose your job, run out of "stash emergency money". You've got to choose between your mortgage, groceries, and the horse feed bill.

Can't starve the horses, now. Can't even skip a bit, and let them lose any weight, or your neighbors are going to report you. Can't give them away, rescues are all filled up, and even if they weren't, you can no longer afford the fuel to haul them 3 hrs one way. You could call the vet in to euthanize them, but vet says over the phone, "There's nothing wrong with them, no reason to put them down." You could humanely shoot them, but you don't know anybody with a tractor powerful enough to dig the holes, and your kids sure don't need to see you shooting horses, or the big "mystery horse size dirt piles", either.

So you list them online for sale. List them cheap, and be honest about their limitations. Just had the farrier out to trim, and a few of them have tender toes, but they'll probably be better in a week or so. Got to be grammatically perfect now, or you'll end up getting teased and attacked for not advertising your back yard horses just like those fancy sport horse warmblood breeders.

What is someone supposed to do in that case? Just how much money do you set aside for an emergency? How low do you let those funds get before you find a way to get rid of the horses? O Oh wait, can't "get rid of them", either. Those same anti-slaughter, pro-rescue, "save the ponies" people? They think you own a horse for life, no matter what. "Sorry kids, no supper tonight. Go eat hay with the horses, if there's any left."

It's Not as Easy as It Looks

Hey SunnySD, neat blog post riding the Western Pleasure lesson horse. I'm linking it up here, so the folks who don't frequent your blog can see. It reminded me of a short story from championships that's worth retelling.

We were outside after the awards ceremony. A lady was sitting on her horse near me and Harley, a higher-level rider/horse pair than us for sure. Another gentleman was riding a gorgeous paint horse in an arena just beside where we were, warming up for an Open Show in another arena at the showgrounds. The paint was toodling around at a western pleasure lope, as the rider was gently guiding her off his leg and the bit in small circles. The horse would give to the bit and leg, collect up, and he'd release the horse down the rail. It looked relaxed, slow, and fun to ride. The horse's eyes were alert, ears looked happy, and I didn't see the slightest sign of tail-swishing in frustration.

The lady barked to me, "I hate how they ride those horses! They torture them to make them go that slow. Worst riding style ever. They make those horses do awful things to make them go that slow. Look how he's banging on her with his spurs!" I glanced over, and noticed the rider gently rolling his spurs up the horse's side, and the horse lifted its back quietly in response.

I responded to the lady, almost laughing, "No worse than the rollkur dressage crap. There's torture in every horse competitive field, with bits, with spurs, with stupid riders. Don't act like we're so exempt."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Harley and I had a MUCH better day than Friday. He was fairly motivated, and much less wobbly. We also rode a bunch of serpentines, and a handful of smaller circles. 45 minutes of good solid flatwork. After a bit of arguing about canter departures, I was happy to feel him round up and give me some lightly collected canter. After each set of nice canter work, back down to trot, I'd ask him to stretch down. He responded, both directions. Very nice, and I believe a sign he's picking up on the collected canter.

Romeo and I lost track of time. I didn't have my watch on, so I didn't ride the exact set times of each gait in his fitness plan. When we finished up, it'd been about 35 minutes total. Lots of walking around, bending, circling. I did quite a bit of work with the reins resting on his neck, guiding him around with just my legs. That was fun. Neat to know he is that tuned to what I want. Only a few times did I have to pick up the reins in that trot work to get a good turn or a decent reaction. He's not "spin on a dime off just my legs", but he will get the idea after a few strides and make a gradual turn.


Rode Harley on the flat. We got all the way to the arena, I noticed he didn't have any rear leg protection on - I forgot to put his R.E.S. boots on. So we stayed away from poles and X's.

He was wiggly-wobbly. Maybe from the jump line, when I wasn't totally focused on straightness, but he was all over the place. Maybe also still adjusting to his new feets from the Sunday trim, not sure. We worked on any kind of a straight line I could get. I argued with him about collection, and then finally had to settle for light on the bit just to get lines.

Romeo and I started our fitness training.
5 minutes longe
10 minutes trot/canter nonstop (5 minutes each direction)
5 minutes walk (backing, circles, turns on fore/haunches, sidepassing)
10 minutes trot/canter nonstop (5 minutes each direction)
5 minutes walk (backing, circles, turns on fore/haunches, sidepassing)

Romeo got tired quick, then gained some energy towards the end.

1-21, Jen and I travelled to Houston, then back home. 1-22 we went back to Houston, and watched a GSWEC HDS recognized show. Interesting to see most of the competitors there at the "big show" are the same crowd as the schooling series.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

1/18/12 Changes

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

As my hay stack dwindled, I began the search. Websites, craigslist, newspaper, word of mouth, facebook pleas, phone calls. You name it, I was searching every way I knew possible. What I did find, either had pictures of what looked like to be cow-quality, was identified as cow-quality, or cost a small fortune. By that, I mean horse-quality hay (of varying grassy types, from bluestem to coastal bermuda) costing $13 to $30. One store had coastal square bales for $30! They were apparently "big & heavy", but I couldn't even imagine paying that much per square. A facebook friend had posted $9.50 a square for coastal, but when I did the math for fuel, it worked out to more like $12 each. [Fact: each horse at my house receives a ration of 12/8 pellet grain, and one flake of hay, twice per day.]

I had a lead last Saturday. Jiggs, a type of bluestem, for $9. Had I called a few days earlier, it would've been $7, but the seller "had to pay somebody to gather it up and load it on a trailer", increasing the price to $9. The plan was go to get the $9 hay Sunday afternoon. That Sunday, at 12:10pm, a phone call was made to the seller. The hay was gone, it had all been sold. All 200 bales were no longer available. I didn't want 200, I was happy with 30, but "a longtime customer showed up", and the seller sold all he had.

Devastated, the search continued. Knowing the balance in the bank account, and that, if I found any decent hay at a moderate cost, I'd have to buy every bale I could afford, and that wouldn't be much. I looked in the barn, glanced over the pastures. Frost had recently come over the place, most likely killing the nutritional value of my pasture grass. What little hadn't been dried up in the drought was recently frozen.

Monday, I contacted Sam, Boss's owner. I explained I couldn't find hay, and he would probably need to go back home. Her answer seemed uninterested, as if it didn't make much difference. Puzzled, I thought about the whole situation some more. I sent her another message, explaining I could return him no sooner than this coming Friday, since I was working. Did she want to come and pick him up before that? Over four hours went by, no response. Again, I was puzzled. I called, and was almost immediately dumped to voice mail. I left a message, and a tense one at that. Within three minutes, she calls back. She explained she was busy with some personal company, and could come pick him up Wednesday. The call ended rather abruptly, and I was still puzzled. Monday night kind of late, R shows up, and tried to sneak his truck back to the barn. Kenzie gave him away, "boofing" her bark in that "stranger danger" sort of way. I found him in the barn, stacking 4 bales of what I know was $13.50plus tax coastal bales. "You didn't have to do that. I'll figure something out. I wish you would've asked me before you spent some of my hay budget." He replied, "You didn't buy it, now did you? I was trying to surprise you. shhh, it'll be okay."

Tuesday, I contacted the facebook friend with the $9.50/really $12 hay. We had a deal. R was going to travel there and get 30 bales. While he was gone, I nearly held my breath. Would the same thing happen again? Would I still be without hay in the barn? R called around 3pm Tuesday. "I'm here, it's beautiful, we're loading it now. Call you when I'm on the road heading home."

He arrived about 7:30pm Tuesday evening. 30 square bales of coastal bermuda hay loaded in a little trailer and in his truck bed. We cheerfully unloaded and stacked it all in the barn. We laughed as I was sweeping and scooping every loose bit of hay up and feeding it to the three horses.

Last night, when I got home from work, Boss, his saddle pads, and bridle, were gone. I assume Sam came to get him, as she never responded to the directions I sent to her house, or that she made it or left with him. I'm confused by the whole thing. Maybe cost of hay isn't an issue in her situation. The drought spreads over nearly the whole state, but I haven't paid attention to the rainfall totals near her family's home. Maybe she's mad I made the quick change. I spent about two weeks searching for hay. Maybe she saw the 30 bales stacked, and doesn't completely understand that *might* be enough to feed Harley and Mo until spring cut.

Not much matter now. I put Mo back in the pasture and stall where Harley had been, and put Harley on the pasture and stall where Boss had been. Things are back to where they were in early November before Boss came. I don't know what will happen with Sam and any sort of lessons. I'm disappointed in how it all happened, but until it starts raining here, and the economy starts to turn around, it's pretty much out of my hands.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1/15/12 Top That, Baby H!

Harley saddled, my legs still aching from Saturday and the just completed ride on Boss, I was hoping to go easy and stay light. A brief longe, and I decided to hop on and join the fun.

Walk, Trot, canter, all light on the bit. I asked for some collected trot, and he was amazing. I saw drool from his lips fall to the dirt on a corner. Amazing. Very Very nice. Up to canter, and I looked to the X rail again. Hey, he was good yesterday, why can't he be great today?

Jump! Straight over, but with some side to side hesitation. Hmm.. Don't like the feel of that. I kept him in canter, and aimed to the X again. Harley ducked aside of it at the last possible second, and my inexperience didn't quite know what to do. I stopped him pretty hard, made him back up a couple steps, followed by some side to side flexion, a stern word, and back to trot. Quickly, we were back to canter.

I kept my legs on now, and held light bit contact until the absolute last second I could release. Harley tried wobbling out to the side of the X the next three times, but by the fourth, must have realized the only way to get through it was to jump over peacefully. I rewarded that true jump with effort by a long walk break. . It was for he and I both, as by then, I was breathing pretty hard, tired from that effort.

Up to canter left, and I aimed for the fence. I realize horses have "two brains", and "teach the right still gotta teach the left", but Harley seems to remember from one side to the other. Either I was steadier in my seat and legs, or he just knew it wasn't going to be a game.

He wobbled a little, but never tried to outright refuse. Four solid jumps over the X, with no breaks in between from canter, and I relaxed us to a walk again. Fantastic! Like he's been doing it forever. Me? Eh, my legs were crying...

Determined to not quit dressage, or the benefits of the training, I sent him back out on collected trot. Asked for two sold long sides at canter both ways, shortening my reins. Got some absolutely fantastic canter with collection, as I felt his butt come up behind me for the first time ever under saddle in canter. Fantastic! More pats, more praise.

Ample cookies for the student today as well. He's picking up on the jumps so fast. I am eager to see what I can try next. Now, for the humor that most jump folks and dressage riders alike will probably howl aloud at.

I did all of it, in my dressage saddle. I *will* change my hunt seat gullet before we do it again. It is a good fit for him, and knowing it's fitted well to him, I decided the dressage saddle doesn't put me up in a tight 2 point, but it sure does keep Harley ultimately comfortable for his first experience. I will be happy when my leg isn't so long on the flat before the fence - make it easier to "stay with him" with leg contact before the jump. Furthermore, being up in a forward 2 point sure will make the release on the reins easier. :)

And, yes, I see you delightful "trail riding" folks with the comments. Competitive Trail? Uh, not my idea of a good "first experience" for the baby. I'm not that brave or confident.. I'm still hunting down clinics though, as well as a sturdy friend or two for a short ride in the park. Now, however, we're not just tackling dressage, but jumps, too! That oughta open up another universe in goal suggestions. :) Don't quit on me now...

1/14/12 Harley

Harley and I went to the arena. I felt brave, so I set up a tiny little crossrail. Lowest holes on my jump standards, means the middle of the "X" is about 12" up. I hand walked Harley over it, and he knocked the entire thing down.

Oooh boy, so that's how this is going to go...

After a little longing, I hopped on. Took him through walk, trot, canter, all on light contact. Asked for a little collected trot, with good results. A brief walk break, then back to trot. I pointed him at the X at trot. I clucked to him a ways back from it, and sent my eyes to the treeline beyond the arena over the X.

Here goes nothing. C'mon Harley! Show me Yer Stuff!

Hop. I was tickled. I giggled happy, and when he landed in canter (correct lead-right), I laughed and praised. A hearty few pats, and a nice settling back to trot. I was giddy. His first over-X, and it was perfect. No toe knocking, no overly dramatic "oh my gosh I better jump plus 3' so it doesn't eat me", just a little hop with both front hooves. We repeated this, both directions, 4 times. Each came with some more verbal praise. By #4 (both directions), he was stepping over it in the trot.

Huh,,, lazy as always, H.

Back up to canter, with the intention of only cantering on the flat, and calling him "done". Then, I did it. I looked towards the X, then looked up over it. Harley made a sharp turn, and started down the imaginary line to the X rail..

Uh Oh. Can't discipline him for going where I'm looking, and sure can't break gait, or he'll pick up a bad habit. When exactly was the last time I cantered over a jump? Ooh yeah, Ransom, felt like an over jumped sheer disaster. I did think I was going to die that day. I hope I know what I'm getting into.

Jump! Harley paused his feet just to get an idea what to do, then with a little kiss from me, jumped straight over the X. Landed, again, in a canter, correct lead. I let him canter a few strides, "shh"d him down to trot (verbal only, no bit), he obliged. I cheered, patted, praised, and laughed a while. Way To Go Harley! Good Boy!! How Brave are You, Mister BabyMan!

Knowing ya can't train only one direction, I sent him back the other direction at canter, aimed at the X again. Almost holding my breath, but trying to be consistent.

Up And Over. With amazing results, Harley did a plant & jump directly over the X. Fantastic. Not over jumped, no toes ticking the wood rails. Just up and over. More praise, a relax back to trot, and then walk.

I glanced at my watch. 45 minutes. No way I could ask for any more. I felt bad for asking for that much. We walked a while so he and I both could catch our breaths, and headed for the house.

Cookies, Cookies. Job well done, baby man.. Job well done.

1/15/12 Round Two!

Again, I started with Boss. My legs were crying from Saturday's antics, but that sure wasn't going to stop my stubborn self. Ooh no, I can do this...

Out for a quick warmup longe, and I was up aboard Boss. No 4wheeling child in sight, I was happy to have my whip in hand. I tapped him with it once at the walk, and he moved out to work.

All three gaits, plus a bit of fun new today. New for me, for sure.

Shoulder in Trot
Haunches in Trot
Leg Yield trot

Fantastic. I was apparently "in the spot" with Boss, as I barely had to use my legs to get a change in gait. I shifted my outside leg back, started to squeeze, and he was in his canter, off we go! Boss glanced at the poles in the arena, I talked him out of it. :)

Insert Harley fantastic-ness here.

I grabbed Romeo, through screaming calf muscles. Mo, no funny business. It became apparently quickly into the ride, Romeo heard all but "no" in that sentence. Off he went, and the slightest nudge from my legs sent him bursting into a gallop. Wrong leads, and he didn't want to come back to a trot to change, either. NOT one of Mo's good days. Didn't help the game much I wasn't up to 100%, so I couldn't do a lot to control him through my seat, except to sit it out until he calmed down. Had I felt stronger, I probably would've ran him even longer, let him barely air-up, then go for another round. Instead, I settled for 30 minutes, and brought him back to the barn.

All three boys got new hooves trim today. Boss decided to try to wiggle around, and finally got his trim, after some serious discipline. I don't know if he gets bored, or stiff, but he doesn't stand with a hoof up for too terribly long before he gets antsy and pulls it away. Monster..

1/14/12 All Three

I caught Boss first, and tacked him to go. Part of me worried he'd be the biggest effort, and doing him first would make me too sore for the other two. Eh, spurs if I have to, and make Mo go by verbal only.. . I can do this.

Boss longed nicely, quickly lowering his head, looking a bit bored. So I hopped on. As I mounted, I realized I'd forgotten my dressage whip, and the spurs weren't on my feet. Oooh boy ...

We rode for about 20 minutes. Walk, Trot, Canter. Things went pretty good, and I attributed his energy to the cooler weather. A neighbor boy whizzled by on his 4 wheeler. Boss looked inquisitive, but unbothered. The child, thinking he'd be funny I'm sure, whizzled by again, only this time, he played with the gas throttle, zoom zoom zooom, sput sput sput. Now, Boss was concerned. Those things never made funny noises like that anywhere else he'd been, with considerate barn owners, I'm sure. I glared at the child. This was apparently a wrong choice. Now junior-neighbor-4-wheeler proceeded to zip in and out of the treelines around the arena, zooming the engine anytime he could.

I glanced at my watch. 20 minute ride, 35 since we started. Okay, Boss. Kid wins, for today.

I came inside, got a quick drink, and grabbed Harley.
intermission, Harley gets his own posts for 1/14 & 15, you'll see why later.

Delighted with Harley's performance, I ate most of an apple (Boss finished it for me), and grabbed Mo. Mo was his solemn little self, and after a bit of goofy on the longe, he settled under saddle into a horse requiring a little effort and a lot of relaxed.

Mo went for about 35 minutes as well, and looked rather pleased with himself when we finished up.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

1/13/12 WarmUps

Last night, I longed Harley and Boss. Both on the halter only, about 40minutes total for Harley, 25 for Boss. Harley had a gorgeous cadenced canter... made me wish I was riding it. I flexed him left and right, worked on turns on forehand/haunches, backing up, and a little desensitizing.

The neat part about "warmup day" for Harley? I find holes in his ground work. Last night, I tossed the leadrope over his head, and he startled. As a result, I tossed the rope over his head from both sides at least a half dozen times. He started out concerned by it, then relaxed. Success. His back-ups in hand have gotten a little stubborn as well. Something to work on, probably better with a dressage whip in my other hand, so I can do something other than smack halter knots on his face.

Boss was fantastic. Again, made me wish he had a bit and saddle on. I would've ridden. He was "up" for about 5 minutes, then relaxed his neck and was trotting all the way through from his tail to his nose. Neat to watch.

Ran out of daylight, or I would've done the same for Romeo. Poor guy, he looked jealous of the others. Mo, you don't need the "warmup day", that's what's great about you. Everybody gets new feet Sunday afternoon, so I'll be getting rides on all three today and tomorrow morning. Monday will probably be "adjust to our new hooves" day, which makes riding questionable at best.

SunnySD was the first brave soul. I know 'DG-irisMA' had some ideas, but they didn't come through - send 'em in Facebook or email, please ma'am. Sunny - Let me see what I can find in trail clinics. I don't know too many quiet folks that do trail riding, and the large group rides down here turn into beer-fests, something that I don't know is terribly fair to Harley for a "first start". A trail clinic sounds fantastic though - a good chance to desensitize him to so many things, and get him "out of the arena" in a way. Thanks! I'll report back what I find.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 - You Set the Goals

I see goals. All of ya. Amazing bunch of folks I follow in this here cyber-atmosphere, do ya'll know how awesome you are? I see folks setting riding goals, competition goals, getting fit goals, weight loss goals, goals all over the stinking place!

Me? I can't think of anything worth sharing publicly. Sure, I've got lots of wild ideas of things I can do. Things I'd love to do with Romeo, but I don't want to go it alone. Things I'd like to learn from Boss, if we don't kill each other first. Things I'd love to try with Harley, but I hate making assumptions that I'm doing it "right enough" to progress him farther at anything.

So here's the challenge. You guys and gals, from the blogspot readership, from my old DG-hangout days, from Facebook lurking, and even you random folks reading that are terrified I'll find out you're reading (*giggle* I see you!!!), Comment, Facebook, Email me.. Something! Send me an airplane with a banner across my back yard. Snail mail if you're brave and you trust my postal carrier not to drop it in a puddle.

Suggest some 2012 goals for Romeo and Harley. I've got an idea for Boss, but I'll keep that one to myself for now. You've got until 1-31-12.




1-13-12 Update

Cold, blustery morning outside. A light frost sheened over the pastures, and I whimpered just a little leaving for work. That means the little bit of green grass the rain and sunshine brought? Yup, frozen, dead, taking all the nutritional value with it.

My fever has finally given up the fight, and I was delightfully back to normal this morning. Irregular weather, and the dry air, I'm still battling sinus drainage. Ear pressure, mild sore throat. I'll give it a few more days, and if it persists, call the dr yet again and ask for a different answer. Grr ..Being stubborn, I'm going to get out and at least longe one horse tonight. Tomorrow, more of the same, along with at least a light ride on Romeo. I'm tired of sitting inside, watching the sun shine, knowing that doing a lot or doing nothing, I still feel about the same.

I must say.. Thank you for all the comments, the follow up feedback, and the picture praise. I do apprecite seeing my writing and publishing isn't only for my own entertainment and record keeping, but that many of you out there are enjoying what I write and share. I felt a little like The7MSNRanch yesterday morning, publishing a humrous story to go with a few photos I took. They're certainly not of her photo quality, but came with a funny and true storyline. Keep the comments coming, I do appreciate them!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1/11/12 The Hawk

I'm hanging out at home, as the antibiotics fight off my sinus & throat infection. This one came with either a flu bug, or just nastier-than-normal germs. This is the longest-running fever I've had in a very long time. So, instead of riding, I thought I'd share a few pictures from last night.

We have a hawk living in the neighborhood, and occasionally, he comes to visit. He was hanging out around the round pen gate, sitting on the fence posts, and looked to be darting to the ground in hopes of pulling a field mouse out of its little house-holes.
Hi Hawk!

OoH! Hi Harley! *who came out of his stall, and was immediately startled, as he didn't know I was out by the barn. See the wrinkly eyes? I disrupted supper!*

Well, that's that.. Didn't come to see me? Came to get a drink.

Okay.. back to the pretty bird.
Harley! No, thanks! I don't want a water bath!

I started back to the house, when Hawk came even closer to the barn.

Hi Hawk ! Hi Boss!

Boss then informed me it was time for his daily scratching. After he bumped into my camera a few times, I gave up. Instead, here's what I think is one of the better Hawk pictures of the night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1/8/12 Instead

Mine & Harley's plans were changed Saturday night. Available lesson time was too reasonably late to get back home, unpack, feed everybody, eat my own supper, and rest, then wake up Monday morning for 4:30am alarm. In some ways, I like my work schedule, when I get every other Friday off, and am able to get home before it's dark in winter time. When I have to end Sunday evening activities early enough to get rest, it's a hassle to be at work at 6:30am. *sigh*

Sunday morning, I decided to make the best of the situation. I put the HDR event seat on Harley, as my Collegiate hunt seat needs a gullet change. Thinking it would fit him well enough, I put it on with a simple square pad, and off we went. At the arena, I realized it was a bit too wide for him. Yup, that's why we're going one narrower than avg on the hunt.. grr. This changed our plans just a hair... anyways..

After a quick warmup longe, I hopped on, laughing at myself. Ouch, my legs screamed. We haven't been this bunched up in over a year, lady. What makes you think we can stay up here and not use different muscles? Ouch! It took me nearly fifteen minutes at trot and canter (even with trot over poles) before I felt my balance again without leaning forward. My heels bounced down with every trot stride, making me laugh quite a bit. Boing!

I sent Harley through the trot poles posting trot, with the same success he's had. Stepping lightly through, no toes on the poles. Fantastic, despite my wobbly legs. Good kid.. I lifted myself up into two point, and he came to a walk. Seems Harley thought Mom was falling forward, and didn't want to lose me. Cute kid! I went on the rail at two point trot a little while, moving my upper body upright enough to keep him going forward, inching up a little on his front end, while clucking and talking to him. A gentle pat, and he realized he had the right answer by moving forward. Through the poles again, two point trot, great results.

At the canter poles, we had all the same problems. Two point in front of them, and he was back to trot. *sigh* Back up to canter, two point on the other rail side, upper body inching forward just a little while trying to keep heels down and centered over the saddle. Aimed at the poles, kiss kiss kiss, through them again with no toes touching.

Changed direction, and now realizing I wasn't going to fall off when I leaned forward, Harley was more agreeable to the two point over poles.

I had this brave idea in the morning that, if the ground pole work went well, I'd set up a tiny x-rail. This was a great idea, but knowing the saddle was a bit too wide, and therefore sat a little too close to his withers, I scratched that plan. This would be Harley's first jump over anything beyond a ground pole, and I didn't want to risk any sort of discomfort, at all, due to tack fit.

I'll change the Collegiate gullet out today or tomorrow. Seems my ornery little head cold has migrated up to a sinus/throat infection. I finally gave in and went to the doctor yesterday (1/9) afternoon. I'm sure I did more damage out riding all weekend, and bathing Harley with cool water. Ah, well.. too stubborn to quit until I know for sure my activity makes me feel worse rather than better.

Harley enjoyed a huge handful of cookies after his near hour long efforts. R was out in the arena for the end of the ride, and got the pleasure of watching H work through the ground poles near effortlessly. We're not perfect yet, but he's enjoying his work, and I am enjoying something other than 20m circles. Jump and huntseat work will break up the dressage boredom, at least until the temperatures are trending warm again.

I didn't meet my "mailbox goal" for 2011, so it'll be back on the books for 2012. I think I'll start with hand walking again, and progressively go farther from home every trip. Plenty to get his attention down the road, with young boys playing sports in the front yard, vehicle traffic (of all kinds, shapes, and sizes), neighbors walking their herd of dogs, along with the occasional "doesn't stay in their home yard mutt". Add a paved road, and a line of horse-eating mailboxes, it's a journey of wild baby-learning adventures.

Monday, January 9, 2012

1/7/11 Next in Poles

Knowing trot poles were a non-event for Harley, I adventured to the next level - canter poles. I set up two poles at a reasonable distance apart, and started him out with a longe over them. He was lanky, disorganized, and broke gait almost every time before or during the poles. I could see wrinkly thinking eyebrows, and decided about the only way he'd understand what I wanted, was if I rode him through the poles.

ooh boy.. here goes nothing. We rode through the trot poles three times in one direction, and then I picked up his canter. Past the poles like they weren't there, back around past the trot poles, and line up with space. He broke to trot the first time through, and easily went back to canter. Realizing I didn't offer enough leg or voice support, I lined him up in front of the canter poles again, and kissed gently as we approached.

loose reins
hands forward
heels down
eyes looking up
da da dump, da da dump

Harley stepped up and over the two poles steady at canter. I gave him a nice pat, and some verbal praise, and asked for a gentle trot back down the other long side. A short walk break, and a change in direction.

We had about the same results heading in the other direction. A few weebly wobbly entrances, a break in gait, but then finally a nice canter over both poles. It took nearly 45 minutes to get there, with lots of walk/praise breaks, and some floats over the trot poles. Fun, but physically exhausting. Harley was tired, and so was I.

The weather was unusually warm, high near 80, and moderately humid. Romeo broke into a sweat just wandering the pasture. I couldn't bring myself to ride his sweaty self.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

1/6/11 Trot Poles, and My Mo

Boss Update
Ate good yesterday, drank better, good uh, *clears throat* output. :) He even stood patiently in his paddock while I rode the other two, a miracle I didn't expect. I did him a favor, and didn't take Romeo down the road, even though I wanted to.

Worked 45 minutes. All three gaits. I found a little "go" in his giddyup. Spurs. Little 1/4" nubbies. Not much, but when I asked with my calves and he ignored me, I gave a little nudge with my nubbies. Good go. Rode through the trot poles about 6 times each direction. I rode three times through each way, then picked up canter in the next corner. Wow! Lots of good "go", correct lead. One of the trot-pole sets leading into canter, I must've accidentally glanced at the pole set. Harley quickly turned, and lined up for the poles. Oops, not at canter, babydoll. Oops! I will set up a pole by itself today and try canter-over. Anxious to see how *that* goes. While I know there's plenty to be done at the "collected gaits", I'm bored, and I suspect Harley is, too. He is fighting the bit more now than he used to, and I really think he's just bored with the repetition.

Another 40 minutes. Good. Delightful, in fact. All except for that whole "left my spurs on, taking off" part. :) Yeah, everybody's reading this, and giggling to themselves, thinking, "Well, genius, whaddya expect? Put spurs on the horse that's already responsive, he won't slow down!" Yea, Yeah... enough from the peanut gallery out there.... ;)
Romeo and I rode through all the gaits, turns on forehand, haunches, side pass. Backed up circles each direction. I skipped rollbacks, since he was already pretty darn forward, he didn't need any encouraging. His canter was fast, and fluid. There for just a second, I imagined he was a nice reining horse, circling wildly around the arena. It was just for a second, then he tripped. That's my Mo. ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

1-5-11AM Boss update, and other musings

I arrived home from work, and after letting the dogs out to potty, wandered back to Boss's stall. I found only an inch down off his pretty big water bucket. Shucks... After discussing with Dr. Sam and Jen, I gave Boss his 1/4 supper, mixed with antibiotics, electrolyte powder, a bit of water, and a touch of corn syrup (after finding some of the AM antibiotic powder still in his bucket, monster). He joyfully gobbled up supper. I found two nice poop piles in the paddock (and he gave me another while I was preparing supper for him and the others). I later found a tiny bit of grain "mush" left in his bucket. Added a touch more of water, and held it to his face.. Slurp!

Later in the evening, I found about two more inches down off the water bucket, so he was drinking a bit more. Good!! This morning, no change in the water, but the same joyful Boss dove into his breakfast. Good news again.

I'll be riding Harley and Romeo through their paces, and fighting off the rest of this awful headcold. Stuffy, sinuses bring on an inflamed headache by day's end. I have been fighting it since last Friday, when it began with a weak sore throat. I don't have any of the true signs of a sinus infection except for the evening headache.

I'm *still* excited about upcoming Sunday with Sam. Most Excellent!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Boss 1-4-12

Boss had a LONG day yesterday. I went out to feed breakfast, and found a handful of grain and all his hay from supper still sitting. He nibbled at breakfast grain, but wasn't really interested. I called R, and asked him to "go visit" Boss in a while and see how he was feeling and acting. I tore off down the highway to work (and said my prayers as I sped by the county-mounty police officer on the highway).

R called around 8:00am. Said Boss hadn't touched his breakfast, and wasn't acting quite himself. I took emergency vacation from work the rest of the day, and by 8:30am, I was on the road home. I called Dr Sam on the way, got some instructions, and kept on for home. Arrived back home around 9:15am.

I immediately gave Boss a full 1250# dose of Banamine paste, which he agreeably took. Hmm.. not a good sign. I hand walked him while R cleaned out his stall and paddock completely. No more hay scraps or grain nuggets, or old poop in the paddock. I even lightly longed him for a bit, and the longer I waited, the lazier he got. One tiny little fart, and no poop in sight.

Two hours later, we were pulling into Dr Sam's office, and Boss had pooped about ten hard turds. Not good either... Heart rate normal, temperature normal. Gut sounds limited. He checked for sand colic, nope. Found some very solid hard poop trapped in his colon, and got *most* of it out. Then, in through the nose the tube went into his tummy. Dr Sam pumped him full of water, mineral oil, epsom salts, electrolytes, probiotics. Boss stayed at Dr Sam's office for the afternoon. All vitals checked out good in the late afternoon, and he was able to return home.

Boss is on a modified diet for the next four days, and antibiotic powder. He's locked to his stall & paddock, and dove face first into breakfast. Well, after a little sniff to identify the antibiotic powder. I'm sure his nose said, "What's that?" And his brain said, "don't care.. Hungry.. Eat!"

This means Boss WON'T be making the trip with me to go see Trainer Sam this Sunday. Boo.. But! It does mean...
*drum roll pleeeeze*

Harley gets to go!! Road trip and his first "formal" lesson time. Fantastic! Should be fun!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bringing In 2012

First, after the Championships, I gave Harley a few days off to rest.

Then, it rained. Not complaining about the rain, but it rained. Quite a bit, quite a few days in a row. Then, I got busy with holiday cheer, and cooler weather.

Now, I've got a head cold. Sinuses are stuffed up, sneezing, coughing a bit. No fever, so I am trying to do my best to avoid anything worse than just a viral cold. To that end, I haven't been riding a ton.

Harley hopped through some ground poles at trot with me, but otherwise, I have had some loose rein rides with him (something that puzzles him... work without bit contact... time to refresh that memory and make him go independent of me).

Boss and I have learned a dressage whip is our friend. :) Not as many difficult rides physically. Lesson coming with Sam soon. YahOO!

Romeo? He's just Mo. Walk, jog, lope. Turn on forehand, turn on haunches, side pass, back up. Back up circles, stand patiently. He does well. I don't expect perfect, since I don't ride him often enough to keep him fit for perfect. But he is paying attention to me, and being polite