Saturday, August 31, 2013


Harley - dressage. Side rein warm up followed by a 30 minute ride. 

He started out stiff, as I expected, but submissive.  The trot work was nice - I should have done more serpentines and less circles, but I worked on circles to straight lines, back to circles.  Just a couple leg yields at trot, and they were decent. 

Knowing I didn't feel 100%, I chose *one* thing to work on.  Transitions.  Lots and LOTS of them.  Walk/halt/walk, walk/trot/walk, trot/canter/trot.  Walk/halt/walk took the most work, in both directions.  I'll be doing that again today.  Walk/trot/walk was really nice, for the most part.  Trot/canter/trot need work, and I already knew that, especially left side.  He throws his head up to the left, but stays pretty quiet to the right. 

Got through the whole ride in my cool vest without incident or troubles.  Quite tired by the time we were done, but I expected that.  What I didn't expect was after the ride in the rest of my day.

No matter what I did, I was easily winded, and tired.  Running the vacuum cleaner, short of breath.  Washing Charlie, short of breath.  Standing in the dog wash with the sun beating down on me, sweat pouring, heart pounding.  Showering and getting ready for a concert last night - heart pounding, short of breath.  Absolutely no good reason for it, other than tired.  Late night last night as well, but I'm going to give it my best effort this morning and schedule some rest this afternoon. 

Today, We'll try again.  I'm headed to change for the ride.  Harley, hunter.  Unless I can convince R to set the saddle up on Mo, he'll have to wait another day.  I just don't know how I'm going to get back into riding both - Mo's endurance saddle is SO heavy, and that act of tossing it up on his back gives me the chills.  That's the last thing my heart and chest need right now. 

C'mon Harley.. Let's ride, see how we can tackle some ground poles again.  :-)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tick Tick Ti--c-c-c-ck..... thumpthumpthumpthump

ReCap of the week, while not 100% horse-related, still relevant.

Monday - mild chest pain.  Rained hard at my house (yay!), so I figured it was weather-related. 

Tuesday - it happened again.  Only it hurt even more.  I ate lunch at work, then went to help a co-worker with a computer program question.  I leaned over, and briefly felt like somebody knocked the wind out of me.  Ouch.  Stood back up, and that got better.  It also started to feel like I had run a marathon.  Chest pain, tightness, midget sitting on my chest.  Heart pounding, like it would at the end of a hard canter-set. 

Went back to my desk and sat down to call the doctor.  Answering service, "No, they're at lunch honey.  Call back in a half hour."  Crap, I wonder if I have a half hour..  Went with a co-worker to the work medical dept. BP 158/88, pulse 98.  EKG at work (per nurse practitioner) "worse than it was last time".  Nurses at my plant panicked.  "Off to the ambulance she goes." Loaded up and hauled to the hospital ER.  (Fortunately, the same one that handled the kick initially.)

Spent about 7 hours in the ER.  Conclusion?  "It's not a heart attack.  Blood work is okay, EKGs are okay, aspirin, nitro, and toradol.  Go home, rest, see your doctor tomorrow." 

Wednesday - chillin' and relaxin', dr 2:00 pm.  BP 128/78, pulse 81.  He gave it a listen.  Yep, the tricuspid valve is still leaking, he can hear it.  Ordered and Echocardiogram, and a CT/contrast.  Cardio doc said, "All things considered, I'm in very good health.  Heart is strong, I'm in good shape.  Keep exercising, keep eating really well, and be very attentive.  There is very little chance this valve will kill me, but we need to determine what's next." 

Thursday - Went to work in the am, BP at work medical 120/80, pulse 69.  Echo - technician acted normal.  He told me he can still see the leak, it's still there, things don't look 100% normal, but he doesn't know how bad it is.  "Looks a lot like the last time, but I'm not the doc."  CT for next Tuesday. 

Friday, today.. I will ride.  In about a half an hour, I'm going out there.  It's humid, but in the 70s for temps (yeah, upper 70s. yuck).  I will wear my cool vest, I'll take the ice water jug out there, and Harley will longe in side reins before I hop on.  Dressage, and I'll take it easy.  Enough ride to work on one thing, but not multiples like we've been doing.  I haven't checked BP/pulse yet this morning, but I suspect it's like it's been.  "Normal" BP for me is 110/70, pulse 70 or lower. 

I haven't really changed my diet.  I'm still riding, though not as much due to the heat.  Work hasn't been anymore stressful than normal, and I might even be brave to say things have been less stressful lately.  Just as busy, but not as emotionally stressful. 

I was hoping to kick off our formal jump training very soon with Harley.  Now, it's a big "pause" until 9/18 and the doctor decides what to do.  There are a few treatment options, so we wait and see.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Harley dressage.  Started out in his show bit (we've been going in the Myler 04 combo, middle ring) on the side reins.  He settled into it nicely, so I crawled on top.

Nice ride.  He was sticky halt/walk/halt, not wanting to walk off.  A few moderate dressage whip taps, and he got the idea.  Things improved gradually from there.  Saturday, I found him very stiff on his circles, more left than right.  Sunday, things were better.  He had a better bend, and seemed more alert.

Rode through TL#1 to see how it'd go.  Both canters, both directions, 3/4 into the first circle, he broke to trot.  Easy enough back to canter, and he held it better on the long sides than he did in the circles.  Monster.  Later rode some more canter on circles, and he had his mind in the game.  He's not as "put together" as I'd like in the test - probably because I'm focusing so much on "what's next", rather than riding the movement in front of us.  Things to work on for sure.  His stretch trot and free walk were much improved over what they've been.

Long walk break, followed by a few brief trots asking for shoulder-in.  That's a long ways away, I fear.  He's barely getting it now, and it's usually with a LOT of protest in his face and neck.  Baby steps, Harley.. Baby steps

Monday, August 26, 2013


Gathered Harley up, and, after spending nearly a half hour combing the dead grass clumps out of his tail, and removing all the tangles, I dressed him hunter, and headed to the arena.

No longe again.  I felt good, he seemed quiet enough.  And he was.  Walk, trot, canter all on the flat.

Then we headed towards the trot poles.  MUCH improved over the night before, of course at the trot.  No stumbles, no poles kicked.  Relaxed, but steady to and during and from the poles.  I tried very hard to look at tree tops over the poles.  If I don't focus, I end up looking at nothing still.  My brain focuses so hard on his legs over the poles, I stop seeing.  Very strange stuff.

Canter poles - improved.  First over - trot.  Second - Canter.  Third - huge stumble in the middle (his own four legs, not the poles).  Changed direction, all three were spot-on.  Back original direction - first - canter, second - canter.  Called it quits right there.

Finished up the ride trying to work on my hunt saddle sitting trot - a serious challenge.  I can't seem to find where to put my butt or my legs for that to allow my hips the freedom they need to sit that big new trot in the hunt saddle.

Monkey Mondays August 26, 2013

MoJo started complaining about the same old, same old.  He didn't want to see the same places he's been.  Things here in South Texas are stagnant in the summertime. 

Why, you ask??

Because it's blood boilin' HOT here in the summer.  June, July, August, and some of September.  We just don't get out much.  Air Conditioning, Popsicles, and cold drinks. 

So, I sent MoJo on a road trip.  But where did he go?  You'll have to wait on September to see!

 TX issued interstate travel passport.  Be sure to click on that one, and read the fine print.

 MoJo's travel supplies.  Soap, towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, toothpick, squirt gun.  Why squirt gun?  Because it's a little hard to carry a real gun and ammo across state lines. 

MoJo, in his wrapping gear, preparing for the trip. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I figured out a way to get Harley to ONLY walk. 

Take the saddle and longeline completely out of the equation. 

To accomplish such a task, I went out to the pasture holding the bridle and my helmet.  I bridled him in the pasture, walked him over to the mounting block, clipped my helmet, and crawled on him.

We walked for 40 minutes.  Some around the pasture, but a lot of focused walking in the arena.  I thought going over the trot-distance (4'6") poles at walk would be easy.  HAH.  Not even close.  He stumbled, fumbled, tripped, even stepped ON them a few times. 

When he finally cleared the poles in both directions, I checked my watch.  Yeah, that's 40 minutes, and a good place to stop.  I took the bridle off, and proceeded to the pasture gate.  Harley followed. :)

So I put on his halter, walked him to the wash rack, and hosed him off.  too bad I couldn't have done the same to me.  My jeans were wet,  YUCK!

Friday, August 23, 2013

8/22/2013 Harley

Headed out to the arena last evening Harley dressed in his dressage garb.  Didn't even longe him.  Heck, I was in jeans.. and we were only going to walk

A good ten minutes in, he tucked his head, lifted his back, and started a nice working walk.  So I asked him to trot.  Zooma Zoom!  Forward, and while not bending on a single circle I sent him out on, he was forward and obedient.  Lots of circles, serpentines, and general squiggly lines.  I wasn't going to work him, only walk.   Then, I had a solid, relaxed, bent around the circles horse.  Hmm..

So we cantered a tiny bit.  He started those stiff too, wanting to only barrel away down the long sides.  NOT what I had in mind.  Frustrating, in fact.  That only lead to a little more canter until he was moderately bent, and I believed his mind was at least on the circles.  Back to trot.

More good working trot circles, rounded and behaved.  I sat a while, he gave lightly.  I resumed posting, still quiet.  A total 40 minutes of a submissive, quiet horse.  Imagine my surprise when I dismounted and checked my time to see I'd been up there that long.  Harley had more in him.. but my blue jean rubbed legs sure didn't. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Later in the evening, I was able to take Harley out to the arena.  It was fairly warm, in the mid 90s, but we had a solid 15mph breeze, and shade on the lower half of the arena.  Good enough for me!

Jump saddle, and about 45 minutes.  He longed nicely, just lazy.  I walked him out a bit, checking my body position.  When I asked him to trot, he sprang forward, just like I've been asking him to.  I started to curl my body up, and sit deep on my butt.  Ahh, legs slipping all around the saddle.  I sank down into my heels, leaned slightly forward, and viola!  There it was!  The body position I used to have. 

Conclusion?  Harley is giving a bigger trot than he previously was.  This is terrific, and exactly what I want.  My body just wasn't ready for it, apparently.  I physically responded unconsciously by curling up into the "I'm going to fall off and die soon" posture, and thus my legs had no way of balancing and lengthening.  It's not something that can be fixed by "dropping my stirrups" -  that just sends me long & low like a dressage body position, heels down, legs around Harley's barrel, riding along perfectly find.  Holding my heels down in the short stirrups and sitting slightly forward is a whole new lesson to learn. 
On the upside?  No spurs, and no dressage whip needed.  I could simply tap him with my calves and he'd burst forward.  Fantastic! 

We got a bit of nice trot in 2point, but his canter is still weak once I left up out of the saddle.  Something we need to work on, and other than audibly kissing to him, I'm not 100% sure how to stay in 2point and keep him moving forward.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

8/16 & 18/2013

Harley, dressage, focusing on getting him back to loose & obedient.  He was pretty good.  A few lazy trot steps, but after I got to the arena, I realized I didn't have my dressage whip with me.  Made for extra work on my end, but still a nice ride.  In the dressage saddle, I asked him to canter over two ground poles, 8' apart.  What a riot.  He broke to trot the first time, then cantered the second.  Changed direction, and he cantered the first time, stumbled to a trot the second.  With a lot of laughter, I was happy he at least kept the poles where I put them, and didn't kick them out of line. 
45 min total.

Romeo, wild & crazy man.  I sent him out on the line a little bit, where he bucked and farted like a 2yr old (again).  After a few minutes, he settled, and we worked together a solid 35 minutes.  W.T.C., a few rollbacks and turns on forehand/haunches.  Backed up a couple of circles.  I held him on a short rein the first canter, and once he started to relax in his back, I softened the reins. 

Harley, dressage, nearly an hour of delightful riding.  I had the dressage whip with me, and, when I tapped him, he took about a second to react to the tap.  Sprinted out forward, and gave me *exactly* what I wanted.  A nice, swift, obedient trot.  Fantastic.   Trot poles a few times to measure the new energy of trot against the 4'6" poles.  At the bigger trot, the poles aren't far enough apart.  How wonderful is that?!  Little horse, and a big trot when he wants it!  :) 

Romeo, hunt saddle.  It didn't fit him perfectly, but I needed to figure out why my legs were so loose the previous Sunday on Harley.  Within a few minutes, I was settled into the saddle, and Romeo was more than obedient.  He tolerated the pad sliding underneath the saddle for w.t.c., and I recognized that, if I sit in a bum-leaning posture (dressage), my legs slide all around.. If I lean slightly forward on my pelvis (a bit in front of it), my heels sink down, and my legs stay put.  Very interesting and educational.  Nice!  Thanks Romeo, for tolerating my confidence check.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monkey Mondays August 19, 2013

MoJo goes to my birthday celebrations, Part Tres

R had me a little gathering of friends and loved ones at my house on the day OF my birthday.  Pretty big deal this year - I shared it with Father's Day.  So hats off to the folks who came to visit.  I didn't check with any of them before posting a MoJo moment, so here's a picture or two of the festivities of me, and MoJo. 

 MoJo Peek A Boo.  See?? 

MoJo and I.  See that cool Shiner Brewery picture above my head?  It's signed, by the BrewMaster and the Asst BrewMaster.  R and I were part of a small group that got a really nice personalized tour of the facility.  Super neat time!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

8/10 & 11/13

Harley, dressage. Light longe to test his mood - entirely awesome. I carried a dressage whip out to the arena with me, and showed it to him from the ground, no reaction. I hopped on, and showed him again, still no reaction. I swished it around his backside, no reaction. Okay, off we go.

I tickled him with the whip a couple times, then asked him to trot. He ignored my leg, not too surprising for the time off he's had. I tapped him lightly with the whip as I added my leg. Off we go! Lots of good forward, Terrific!

Worked on holding the whip, carrying it, and occasionally using it. I found it difficult to use the whip without having to move my hands, so I was also moving the bit. Yuck. Not liking that At All. Gave him a few leg yields at trot on one long side, followed by a couple shoulder-fore and a few haunches in down the other long side. Some were good, some were very sticky. Before the canter work, I tossed the whip to the ground. No sense making it even less uncoordinated.

To the canter! I was awed. He had super light transitions, and a slow canter in each direction. Left and right were both even, and superb. I leaned forward and gave him a light pat and plenty of verbal praise after each nice transition and super canter-sets. Good Job Harley!!!

Finished out the ride with more shoulder-fore and more haunches in. The haunches in still confuses him. Shoulder-fore was pretty nice.. He's not understanding it enough yet for a full shoulder-in, so I'll take what we're getting.. Baby steps.

I set up 2 ground poles 8' apart for Sunday's work.

Sunday, Mo was up first. A nice ride. An obedient horse. MUCH easier ride than the past few. When we began our canter work, I kept a short rein on him until I felt some relaxation, then I loosened them out . About 40 minutes total, and he was barely tired. Booger... Sometimes I think he exercises himself when I'm not watching.

Harley, hunter saddle, disaster. He wasn't the problem.. I sure was. I couldn't hold my legs still at the trot no matter what I did. I hopped him through the trot poles at 4'6", then through them at 8', thinking maybe I could relax. .. I focused my body from head to toe, talking aloud of each part ... soften the back.. elbows bent and give, lower back.. easy... Thighs? Okay, there it is.. lower leg... heels down down down .. Just as soon as I'd quit talking about it, I'd stiffen up again I guess. Knees would start gripping the saddle, sliding forward more and more. At one point, I thought I was going to roll off over his shoulder, so I eased him to walk, and glanced down. Knees up OVER the saddle rolls. What?!

I talked myself into the canter on a circle. Sure glad I did. My canter? His canter? Delightful. I had my heels down, I was upright, legs solid and still. Thinking things might calm down, I went back to trot. Each time after a down transition, there went my legs again.. slip sliding away. All over the tack.

Embarassed, I cooled Harley down by walking him around the pasture outside the arena. Never before have I felt like my riding ability let my horse down so darn much. He was terrific, and patient for not killing me the whole ride. Me? I did NOT give him a fair ride... Skipped the canter poles all together, which disappointed me even more.

Monkey Mondays August 12, 2013

MoJo celebrates my birthday, part Dos.

 This funny button came with a birthday card.  Getting older is a lot like cooking bacon in the nude.  You know it's going to hurt, you just don't know where.

MoJo, posing with one of my gifts.  A birthday mug, with one of his cousins on it. :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monkey Mondays August 5, 2013

MoJo goes to my birthday celebrations, Part Uno

 MoJo, Hey Look!  It's a Painting class!  Lookie?  Easel thingies!  And, yes, I heard it was a wine and paint class, but we're drinking tea.  You do NOT need wine and a paintbrush.

 Yes, dear.  You can help.  But easy on the brush handle, okay?  

 I dunno what we're gonna do with this, but let's be creative, eh, MoJo?

 Peek A Boo!  
 MoJo, aren't they thoughtful?  They knew it was my birthday, and they made cupcakes!  Cute, hmm?

Yes, the finished product.  MoJo helped, um, a little. 

Thanks to Jen for a cool birthday surprise.  We had a lot of fun, and I think MoJo enjoyed it as well.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

8/3/13 *2

Harley was up first.  Dressage, side rein longe to start up.  A much better behaved horse than the day before.  Quiet, submissive, polite.  I hopped on after about 10 minutes, realizing he was in a good mood. 

The ride was super.  He started out quite unwilling to bend, and stiff.  Things settled in nicely with some leg yields into the circles.  A bit of canter on the circle, then back to some sit to rising trot transitions.  Quiet still.  Sent him down the long sides in more canter, pushing him to stay up and forward.  Things are definitely improving there - I get a better canter on every line.  Popped over the trot poles at 4'6" to keep his forward energy going.  Finished out the ride with walk/halt and trot/halt/trot transitions.  I'd let him halt or stand just long enough to rock back before sending him off into more trot.  Total about 45 minutes.

Rather than ride Romeo, I decided just to longe him.  Good choice, me, good choice.  He took off at a gallop, and with every rollback transition (encouraged by a longe whip), he got wilder and wilder.  A little slip & slide on his part for not paying attention, he started to settle, finally.  By the end of a half hour, I had him backing up with a wiggle of the longe whip, from at least 15' away from me.  No participation on my part.  I was able to control the longe direction and the energy without stepping towards him, only by using my arms quietly pointing.  Took a while, but I got his mind back on me.  A good decision to go back to some ground work and respect, rather than hop on blindly and have another Friday.

Working up the energy to ride this morning, if I'm going to.  I want to.  My mind says "go".  Body says  "Oh I don't know about that".  Weather says "c'mon if you dare" at 77F and 97% humidity, Belly bug says "antibiotics SUCK".  Maybe I'll give it a little while longer, see how yuck it is out there once the humidity backs off a bit.

Meanwhile, I think some couch-time is in order.  C'mon puppies (who've already run all over the back yard and wrestled/played hard enough they're all catching some Zzzzzz's on the floor around me, let's go rest a bit, okay? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

8/2/13 Determined

My stomach bug got better a few days this week, then came crashing back yesterday.  I scheduled the dr for 11am today.  Hey, that leaves time to get up early and get a couple of rides in!  Yeah Yeah, mutter mutter butter mutter.. bad idea.. read on to see why.

Caught Harley up first.  Longed him, and he started kicking up and out in the canter with his back feet.  Lovely ... another set of sore heels, son??  I finished his longe, and found he scraped up one of his heel bulbs on a front hoof.  There's one hoof that's got scarring from an old unknown injury, and that's where he broke the skin.  Thinking that might've been the problem, I very carefully mounted, and felt his walk a few minutes.

Harley's attitude said, "C'mon Mom.  Let's go ride.  I see some poles on the ground over there, and I wanna try!!"  So off to trot we went, and after a few bendy circles, I pointed him at the 4'6" line of 4 poles.  Good job.  Like always.  Next, was 4 poles on a bend, 3' on one end, 6' on the other.  Harley fumbled over them the first two times, chipping in strides, and basically trying to find his feet.  A few times each way, and he showed me he had this all figured out.  I was focusing on sections of paint on the poles.. "Okay, this time I'll ride through on only the whites.  Next time, only on the middle colors... Now let's try the next out whites."  With stripes on the poles, it's easy to "pick a spot", and make it happen. 

I skipped the canter work under saddle.  He'd thrown a huge canter fit on the line, and concerned his heel bulb scrape was painful, I just didn't feel like risking it.  I still was feeling a little sour, remember??  Off to the wash rack, where I hosed him down and a bit of me and cleaned his scrape.  By then, it wasn't even bleeding anymore, and he allowed me to rub the dirt off.  Added some TriTec, gave him a block of hay, and sent him to his paddock.

Romeo was up next . He seemed eager to get to the arena.  Hmm,, that's odd..  I hopped aboard (in the french link snaffle, you'll see why this matters shortly), and warmed him up walk/trot. 

I asked him to canter.  He gave two eager strides, then threw his head forward, and coughed.  Thrown way off balance, I apparently caught his shoulder or just behind the girth with my Harley-spurs.  Remember I said my belly and gut were still feeling foul??  Romeo felt the spur, and immediately went to bucking a fit.  He tucked his head, and bucked around a good 10 seconds.  I started to look to the ground to plan if he ducked to the side, then I figured, "Screw him.  I'm staying up here!"  I latched my hand onto the front of my saddle (where an "ohsh!t" handle would be were it a western saddle), and let him have his hissy fit.  Soon, Romeo realized I wasn't getting off, and he wasn't out of the workload.  I sent him back to a long trot, let him realize that was all I wanted, settled, and sent him off to canter.  About 6 strides, then back to trot.  Canter again, 8 strides, back to trot.  I repeated "couple canters, back to trot" probably 5 times.  He started getting antsy again.  I took the spurs off, tied them to the saddle.  I sent him off to canter, and kept his head up with some short reins.  He lowered his head entirely too far, coughed, and I felt my front legs squeeze tooo toooo far forward.  Ah, so that's why he threw a fit.  Too bad.  Doesn't get him out of the work I have planned.  I could hear him huffing & puffing.  "Who did this?!  Not me!  You threw the fit, said you wanted to run.  So, let's run!"  When I felt his body relax a tiny bit, I gave a bit of rein.  He lowered to the contact.  After a bit, I gave a little more.  A little lower to the contact.  Repeated this until he started to show some relaxation.  Changed direction, and more of the same (minus the few canters quick to trot transitions). 

With Romeo's mind back in the arena and focused on the job,  I did a wholesome amount of trot-whoa transitions, all on the air brakes.  He was amazingly well behaved.  They tell me being out of breath and way out of shape for that workload will do that.  We were hard at work for about 40 minutes before my belly could take no more, and I quit.  Hose off, tied to the stall wall, and turned out later when he was nearly dried.

Doctor says it's not food poisoning, it's not accidental turkey ingestion.. It's one of a number of horrid stomach bugs that are going around the area.  To whomever I came in contact with that did not wash their hands.. may the fleas of a thousand camels.. oh nevermind.   Stronger medicine to alleviate my symptoms, and an antibiotic for the next 5 days. 

Does anybody see that keeping me out of the saddle?  Nah, but I think tomorrow I'll make sure the spurs are off before I ride Romeo.  Oh yeah, and I'll longe the boogers off first, too.  Harley had his hunter day today, so we're back to the dressage tomorrow.  The arena has settled in nicely, so I think we're back to long canter lines again, and maybe even some 3-circles.